Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Man Behind the Curtain

Most of us have seen the Wizard of Oz.  In the movie the great and powerful Oz is this huge figure that is glowing green and has a loud boisterous voice booming through the room with smoke and fire bellowing out around him. He is a fearful, intimidating being that scares everyone who comes in contact with him.  The funny thing is that the actually Oz is a mild and meek person hiding behind a curtain.  He is actually a timid man but when he is able to hide behind the curtain he is able to be forceful and boisterous. 


We each have a man behind the curtain.  Each of us has a different personality or way that we would be if we were able to hide behind a curtain and no one were able to see our true selves.  Sometimes that would be a very good thing and we would be able to share more about who we really are and voice our opinions which we may not normally do.  Others of us may be more wicked or mean spirited, we may try to do things that we shouldn't because the true us is behind the curtain.


Recently I've found out some information about a really close and dear friend of mine who I love very much.  The information is not good and makes me believe that I don't really know who he is.  It confuses me and I am at a loss because I don't approve of his behavior.  What I am trying to work through is whether or not the person that is my close friend is the real him with the loving, kind, wonderful heart, or is the real him the person that makes bad decisions and does things that I don't approve of?  Which one of these personalities is my friend's real personality and which is his man behind the curtain?   I don't know and that is hard.


 I think it is probably a combination of the both.


Have you every thought about your man behind the curtain?  Would that be a good or bad thing for you? I am not sure what mine looks like and who I would come across as.  I hope it would be a good thing.


I think the goal is for us to be the same person whether we are in front of or behind the curtain.  It's like I tell my youth kids all the time, I expect you to be the same person at church that you are out in the world.  I know it is hard with peer pressure and other influences out there in the world but we must be true to who we are and who we want to be.  I hope that your man behind the curtain is more like the man in the mirror for you.  A reflection of who you truly are.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Shoeless Joe ASPer

Last week at ASP a youth from the other church we were with really put ASP in perspective for me.  He told us a story about how he was playing Frisbee with some kids from his site at the ASP picnic and the Frisbee went into the lake.  He had to go after it so they could continue to play.  His shoes got soaked while he was in the water so he had to take them off to continue to play.  The kids had been on a hillside above him but after the Frisbee went into the water they wanted to change places and come down to the pavement. 


The youth said to them that he couldn't go up on the hillside because he didn't have shoes on anymore.  All the kids looked at him really funny and one of them asked him why he couldn't go on the hill.  That's when he noticed that none of the kids were wearing shoes.  When he thought about he hadn't seen them in shoes all week.  After he realized this he didn't say anything else about shoes, he just went up on the hillside and continued to play Frisbee. 


He told us that with every rock or root he stepped on that it reminded him of how fortunate he is to have the simplest thing such as shoes. He told us that it hurt a lot to play without his shoes but he refused to put them back on.


Some of us have a lot in life.  We live in houses with walls, floors, ceilings, heat and air conditioning.  He have stuff like clothes, shoes, jewelry, video games, and tv with cable.  Although we have all of our "stuff", I believe that the people that we visit and help on ASP are the richest people on earth.  They might not have "stuff" like we do but they are extremely thankful for what they have and they have tight loving families who will give the shirt off their backs for each other.  They have traditions and stories that they will share with you. 


A rich person is not someone with "stuff", a rich person has love in their heart, humility in their soul, and family in their arms. 


May we all be rich!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Top 10 Things I learned from my Dad...







10.  There are many colorful words that can be used while working on the car.  I have remembered most of them but most of all I remember all the times that we worked on projects together and anything I know about cars came from you.


9.  No matter how good or bad Virginia Tech is we will always be fans.  Being a fan of Virginia Tech has always been a roller coaster ride but you have always taught me to be loyal and that shows up every year when I get excited for the coming season.  We will always have Virginia Tech athletics to talk about.


8.  Mulch doesn't move itself, the grass doesn't mow itself, and the leaf piles don't blow away.  Yard work was always part of our lives in Clemmons, NC but it was a great feeling to accomplish a task.  Thanks for teaching me that the end of the day you can always look back and realize that you have accomplished so much. 


7.  You should never drink Orange Juice as an after school snack.  Orange Juice was always expensive even when we would buy it from concentrate.  I would always drink it when I got home from school and there wouldn't be any left for the next morning. There is a time and place for certain things, it may be as simple as drinking Orange Juice in the morning, or it might be a well placed / timed hug.  Thanks for reminding me that good things come to those that wait.


6.  Lemon cookies, coffee ice cream, and pretzels are amazing!  Your favorite flavors and foods have become my favorite flavors and foods!  Like father like son!


5.  There are a lot of holes in the sea, which you often find when you are riding on your father's back.  When we would go to the ocean, I would ride on your back as we would go out looking for the Kracken and you would often step in "holes" which made us both go under the water.  Thanks for teaching me that simple things can bring joy and laughter.


4.  Always enjoy the classics.  Ever time we were in the car whether it was a trip, a card show, or just running errands, we would listen to the oldies station.  The Temptations, Supremes, Marvin Gaye, and the Embers became staples in my music library.  Music is like fine wine, it gets better with age.


3.  Laughter is the best medicine.  You have always made me laugh.  I hope that I am able to do that for other people because it is an important part of everyday life.


2. Don't ever give up.  When I was in middle school we went to a baseball / basketball card shows and I bought a box of Hoops basketball cards hoping to get some David Robinson rookie cards.  By the time we reached the grocery store right near the house I had opened 3/4ths of the box and didn't have a single David Robinson Card.  As we walked through the grocery store and I was upset, you told me not to give up.  When we got back in the car, I opened 3 packs in a row that had David Robinson rookie cards.  I knew then that I should never give up!


1.  You taught me what it is like to be a great father.  Although I will never be a father, I hope that I show those around me the same love and support that you have always shown me!  Happy Father's Day Dad!

Friday, June 5, 2015

To the Parents of Our Seniors

This has been the hardest I have ever taken a graduating class of seniors.  I think that it is going to be like this from now on based on the relationships I have with our youth.  The girls that are graduating this year have been with me through thick and thin.  They have been such an important part of creating the program that we have today.  I am two days away from Senior Sunday where I will be talking about them.  Today I want to talk to their parents.




Dear Senior Parents,


I can only imagine the emotions you are going through as your girls graduate High School and get ready to enter the "real" world as college students.  I have been pretty upset these last couple of weeks and I am not even their parents so I can only imagine, the joy and sadness that you are feeling.  I want to tell you a few things:


1. Be proud.  Your girls have done an amazing job in life.  They have learned to balance church, work, school, extra curricular activities, and a social life.  Those are skills that will take them far in life.  They had to learn that somewhere. 


2. Have Faith.  Your girls have been devoted to this youth group and through that they are devoted to God.  They have all made an impact on so many lives through the missions they have participated in and the messages they have delivered.  Someone had to introduce them to faith.


3.  They are all beautiful.  Each one of them shines in a different way and they are ready to go out and explore the world.  They are beautiful on the outside and on the inside and they make the world beautiful through their actions and reactions.  They get that from their moms.  Sorry Dads...


4. Be patient.  Each of these girls is going to go off and explore the world but they will never be as far as a text message, a phone call, or a face time session away.  They will come back home they always do.  You had to leave your parents too.


5.  Love them.  Your girls have amazing capacities to love.  They have showed me that in so many ways, from their mentoring of the younger youth to their love of each other.  They love the world, they love life, and most importantly they love you.  It takes love to know love.  Thanks for teaching them that.


I have loved the time I have spent with each and everyone one of our seniors.  I am excited to talk to them when they come back around and tell me about all the adventures they have been on.  They will always have a home here at St. Mark's and I will always be there when they need me.  Thank you for sharing them!


You can let go of the kite but hold on the to the string! 


                                                                                Love,


                                                                                        Eric

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Letting Go

I have found that I have a very hard time letting things go.  Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing I have a tendency to pine over it and not let it go.  No matter how hard I try I can't let it go.  The only way for me to totally let something go is to put it out of sight and mind.  I have to remove myself from the situation or distance myself from the person in order to let whatever happened go.  It is really hard for me for some reason. 


I know that I wear my heart on my sleeve and that I am too sensitive about things sometimes.  I even know that I internalize almost everything, that I project outcomes before they happen.  Sometimes I am right and sometimes I am wrong when I do that.  Coleen balances me out very well because she is forever the optimist and I take a more pessimistic outlook.  I take that outlook I think because I don't want to be disappointed by people if they don't live into what I expect from them. 


For the past year I have been dealing with something that I knew had a shelf life.  I knew it was coming to an end at a given point.  Even though something has been different about it all year and it hasn't felt the same I held on and wouldn't let it go.  I tried to make the best of it and take an optimistic approach.  Unfortunately it hasn't really helped and I found myself more times than not praying about it or asking for guidance from God. 


One thing that I really enjoy about working at the church is that everyday I can go and sit in the sanctuary and talk to God.  I can work through issues and problems while sitting in a pew.  God listens to me, I can feel that.  I know that he is there and watching over me.  I feel better after I talk with him.


I am not sure what is going to happen with my current situation.  Will I have to remove myself in order to let go?  Will I be able to work through it?  I am not sure which way it will go.  All I do know is that God will be with me through whatever I have to do. 


You need to realize that God is with you all the time as well.  You might have an easy decision to make or a hard one, it doesn't matter because God is with you.  Whether you have to let something go, confront someone about something, deal with an issue at work or school, or just want guidance in making a life decision, remember that God is always there for you and he is listening.  Make sure you talk to him.  I know that I sure do! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Royal Decree






Alas on this the 5th day of the month of May in the year of our Lord 2015, I Eric of the House of Hagman born of the town of Allen in the royal state of Pennsylvania, do hereby decree that from this day henceforth that no senior shall graduate from the school of Higher learning also known as High School.  Upon completion of the grade of 11 all students shall remain in a  space time continuum which will eternally lock them into a state of being a senior or better know as being of the grade of 12.


Therefore they will henceforth and forever be frozen in a state of senior which will allow them to continue in the group of youth for the remainder of their lives. Therefore Harper of the House of Dabagian,  Kenzie of the House of Mathews, Danielle of the House of Galloway, and Lois of the House of Bouassa will be the first in a long line of princesses of the royal kingdom of St. Mark's to live into this mandated decree. 


Many of our fellow brothers and sisters have been lost to us along the way, Ian of the House of Jenrette, the four brothers of  House of Derringer, Josh and Alex of the House of Garner, Philip of the House of Kiwanuka, Delaney also of the House of Dabagian, as well as countless other souls.  This relentless trend of the loss of seniors must stop upon this very day.


There shall be no need for the throwing of the party of graduation or the walking of the stage.  No need for the prank of senior or the doing something poorly because you are not putting enough care or effort into it better known as the slack of senior.  There shall be no need for the service of graduation or the salty discharge from the eye better known as crying. 


From this day henceforth there shall be no grade or education beyond the year of senior.  All youth shall remain in the tender care of their parents and We shall all be joyous and happy for the remainder of our days. We shall all go out into the paths on which the mechanical  horseless carriages drive and participate in the ritual of rhythmic motions!


This is my royal word and because of that it is beyond contestation!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Down by the River



A man decided that he would take a walk down to the river to contemplate life.  He sat down on the bank of the river beneath a large oak tree.  As he sat there twisting a long blade of grass between his fingers and deep in thought, a strong wind blew down upon the man and toppled him over onto his side.  As quickly as the wind came it left.  The man sat back up and brushed himself off.  As he did this he heard a noise above him in the tree. It was the sound of crackling branches.  He looked up and saw a figure sitting on one of the branches.  He was startled.  As he attempted to quickly get up from his sitting position he fell forward down the back toward the river.  Catching himself before he fell in, he stood up.


Before he could say anything a voice came from the figure.


"Do not be afraid my son" said the voice.


"Who are you?" said the man.


"You know who I am" said the voice.


Without saying another word, the man did know who it was.  It was God.  God came down out of the tree and telling the man to sit down with him, they sat down on the bank of the river.  Although the man could tell that God was there with him he could not focus enough to truly see God.


God asked the man what was wrong.  The man told God about his problems.  He talked about his job, his family, the things that made him sad, the things that made him mad, and the general frustrations of life.  The man talked about how he didn't see him (meaning God) in his everyday life and how that scared him.


God listened intently to the man.  After the man was done.  There was a pause. 


Then God spoke, "Life is like this river.  There are ebbs and flows.  Sometimes life will be smooth and easy and sometimes it will be rocky and filled with rapids.  There are many hard times in life and although it may seem like I am not there with you or for you I am.  Look for me in the people that are put into your life when you need them most.  When there is darkness often my light is shone to you though people that I put in your way.  People that might show up out of no where to be there for you when you need someone. Some times people have a tendency to pass right by me or think that I am not there for them by ignoring the people I put in their lives.


  I use you in the same way.  Aren't there times that you feel pulled to call someone or go see someone for no reason what so ever?  Aren't there times in your job when you do something that you might not normally do that benefits someone else? Yes it may be a sudden short term situation where I put you into someone's life, or it might be for a long long time.  Sometimes you will move in and out of people's lives as they need you. 


 I am with you always.  Pay attention to those around you because you never know when I might be starring back at you through the eyes of another."


Upon these last words there was another rushing wind which again knocked the man over.  When he righted himself and sat back up God was gone. 


Or was he?