Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's the small things that make a huge impact...

The youth and I worked the chili supper on Friday night.  It was a lot of fun and the youth did an awesome job serving and helping out in the kitchen.  It is always amazing to watch them so willingly give up a Friday night to help with something at church.  I often ask myself if I would of been willing to help out with something at church on a Friday night? 


The most amazing and touching part of the night had nothing to do with the chili supper at all.  While we were cleaning up and getting ready to leave for the night Alex and Eliza came over and said they had something to give me.  People keep having questions for me so they had to wait but I could see they were excited.  When I was finally able to give them my attention Alex pulled her hand out of her jacket and handed me a package of Reese's peanut butter cups.  She said these are for you.  I asked her where she got them from.  She told me that they got them out of the vending machine.  I gave them a hug and thanked them.


When I got home I got to thinking about it and it really meant a lot more than just someone giving me something.  Those girls spent their own money and thought of me when they saw the Reese's peanut butter cups in the vending machine.  All the youth know they are my favorite candy but for them to take the time to buy them for me meant so much to me.


I don't do what I do in order to get things from the youth but when they take the time to buy me candy, write me a letter, or give me anything it makes me feel amazing.  I am blessed to have the relationship I have with my youth.  My job is so rewarding just because I get to know so many different youth and spend time with the future of this world. 


A small gesture such as buying candy doesn't go unnoticed.  It may not seem like a big deal to the youth that gave it to me but it is a big deal to me!  Thank you Lord for all the blessings that you have given me in my life especially all of my youth! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Letting Go, and Letting God

Yesterday during church I was deeply moved by Liz's testimony.  Having been a part of the process since she originally wrote her testimony for Pilgrimage, I have read, edited, and heard her deliver the testimony numerous times but it was never as moving as it was to watch her up there on Sunday.  Although we have worked through her pain a couple of times I could see her letting go of even more of it as she shared things with our congregation that only a select few of us knew prior to Sunday.


 Liz is a person that keeps everything inside and closely guarded and I have had to use many different tactics to get her to open up and share what is wrong.  All of us keep things inside and they cause us pain and angst.  We often forget that there are people out there that love us and care for us and want to help us through pain and making difficult decisions.  If we don't allow others to help us then we end up doing more harm to ourselves by keeping it inside instead of releasing it.


People say they don't see God in their pain.  They say they don't see him when they are suffering and need him most, yet they overlook that person that is asking them if they are ok or if they want to talk.  I think that is God right there in front of them.  I think God uses us to help each other and we have to open up and share our pain so that God can help us.  I believe he puts people in our way to help us.  A person asking you if you are ok or if you want to talk doesn't seem like anything different or special, but if you notice it often comes at the most opportune time when you need it most.  It may even come from someone you don't expect it to come from. 


It is in that moment that we need to understand that not only is God there with us in our pain and suffering he is listening, he is loving us, and he is sending us the help we need.  80 percent of what I do is listen to youth talk.  I listen to their problems whether they are big or small. God uses me to help our youth just simply by listening to them.  It took me hearing Liz's testimony yesterday to realize how much God uses me for that.


I am so proud of you Liz!  I can only imagine what it was like to go up there and share the wonderful things that God has done in your life.  I am so glad that he gave me an opportunity to be a part of your life!  You are amazing!  I love you and thank you for sharing your spiritual journey with our congregation. 


God is good.... All the time....   All the time... God is good!




 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Day the Laughter Died...


"Comedy is acting out optimism."

-Robin Williams        

           I have always loved to laugh.  Laughter makes your heart smile.  I haven't gone a single day in my life without laughing.  I hope to never go a day without laughter.  My dad is the number one comedian in my life and heart.  He has a quick wit and wonderful sense of humor.  I think that is where I get my sense of humor. 

I love to watch or listen to a funny comedian.  Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White, Bill Cosby, Gabriel Iglesias, Pablo Francisco, Jim Gaffigan, Dave Chappelle, and Tim Hawkins are some of my favorites.  But my absolute favorite that I could always rely on to bring a smile to my face and a laugh to my heart was Robin Williams.  

Robin had a way about him that brought joy and happiness anywhere he went.  If you watch his comedy specials he always interacts with the audiences and makes them a part of the show.  His energy level was through the roof and it was infectious.  He made me want to get out there in the world and make people laugh and enjoy life.

There are so many good movies that Robin was in and he ad-libbed  in all of them. Those movies would not of been the same without his comedic genius.  Although it wasn't one of his best movies according to critics my favorite Robin Williams movie was Jack.  In Jack he plays a kid that has an unusual aging disorder that causes him to grow at four times the normal rate.  By the age of 10 he has the body of a forty year old but still has the mind and mannerisms of a 10 year old.   

Those of you who know me well know that I am Jack.  I am a kid trapped in a man's body.  That is probably why that movie resonates with me.  I can picture myself as Jack and I would be exactly like how Robin Williams played the character. 

He was so talented and so funny and there will be less laughter in the world because he is gone.  We get such a small amount of time on this earth, it's important that we show love to our friends and family, we live life to its fullest not wasting any of it, we are caring and thoughtful to those around us, and it's so important that we laugh. 

Laughter is free and it can do amazing things.

You will be missed Robin Williams.

From the movie Jack:

[Jack, with the appearance of a 72-year old but only 18 years old, arrives at his graduation ceremony]

Lawrence Woodruff: [addressing the audience] Ladies and gentleman, it is my honor to introduce this year's valedictorian, Jack Charles Powell.

[a round of applause approves of this choice]

Jack: [taking the stand] Thank you, Aristotle.

[Due to his aged condition he has to take out spectacles to read the speech]

Eric: Yo Jack, go get 'em!

Jack: I got it, Eric. I'm cool... I don't have very much time these days so I'll make it quick. Like my life. You know, as we come to the end of this phase of our life, we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times, and we find ourselves thinking about the future. We start to worry , thinking, "What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna be in ten years?" But I say to you, "Hey, look at me!" Please, don't worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you're ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day... make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did. I made it, Mom. I'm a grown up.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

It's the small things in life...



The other day when I left the gym I was in a hurry because I was running a little late to start my day.  I parked in the parking deck so I had to go down the escalator to get to my car. As I made my way to the escalators I couldn't help but notice a three or four year old girl and her dad going down the escalator.  By the time I reached the escalator they had made the turn and were headed back up the other escalator to where they had just come from.  As I got on the escalator I watched this little girl laugh and smile and hold tightly to her father's hand as they made their way back up the escalator.

The father and I locked eyes and I smiled at him and laughed.  Such a small thing as riding the escalator, something many of us take for granted, was bringing so much joy to this little girl.  She didn't have a care in the world she just wanted to ride the escalator down and back up again. 

I make my way to my car and threw my gym bag in the trunk and got in the drivers seat.  I started up the car because I was still late and needed to go, but my mind wandered to that little girl and her huge smile and sweet laugh.

I turned the car off.

I got out.

I rode the escalator up and back down again.  Smiling the whole time.

It might not of brought me as much joy as it brought her but it brought a smile to my face and to my heart.  It made me realize we move too fast in this world and we often miss out on the small things that bring joy to life.

What small thing will you do today to bring joy to your life?

Can't think of anything?  I know where you can find an escalator...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Change...




We all have a special jar in our house or compartment in our car where we put our loose change.  You know that change that comes after you go through the drive thru and bought your hamburger and fries. People don't seem to know what to do with there loose change or for that matter people don't want to have to deal with it.  I find nickels, dimes, and pennies all the time in parking lots or in the couches downstairs in the youth room.  I even have youth give me their change on trips because they don't want the hassle of having to deal with it.

It is frustrating sometimes to deal with loose change but if you put a lot of it together it quickly because more than a few cents, it becomes dollars.  That is when collecting change pays off.  One hundred pennies, 20 nickels, 10 dimes, or 4 quarters all make 1 dollar.  It is amazing how fast you can get to a dollar when you have loose change around.  Still people don't like to deal with it or want to have to count it in order to make a dollar.

 People don't like changes in their lives either.  They seem to freak out or get upset when something changes.  we all become use to the way something is done and so we expect it to be done that way.  When someone changes the way it is done, we get mad and angry and we don't understand.

Usually there is a really good reason behind why something changes.  Maybe there is a better way to do it or get more people to participate.  Maybe there is a more cost effective way of doing something, or maybe the old way that something is being done just isn't working any more. 

In youth ministry we are constantly in flux because we have to change the program to meet the needs of the youth. I have to change trips, times, curriculum, and locations to meet the needs of the youth.  It works well most of the time but sometimes it back fires because the youth want to do it the way it has always been done.

I think the major problem with change is the way it is presented.  People who want to make changes don't often do a good job of explaining the situation to those that are going to be affected by the change.  People do not think about the best way to make a change or open up a dialogue with people about the change. 

I think we lose track sometimes about how change affects people.  The change might be needed and might be a good idea, but we don't think about those it affects.  Some people may have given hundreds of hours and blood, sweat, and tears to something only to have it yanked out from underneath them without little explanation as to why the change was made. 

We never know how a change is going to affect someone so it is up to us to be smart, sensitive, and timely when we decide to make changes.  When I make a change to the youth program I discuss the change with my youth mentors, I talk to some of the youth, and then I decide what to do.  I then make sure everyone understands why the change was made and what their new role might be in the change.  Lots of discussion takes place before I make a change in anything that I do. 

Be smart about the changes you make.  Make sure people are well informed and that they aren't surprised by a change.  Most of all, make sure you thank them for all the work they have done on something you never know how a change might change a person's outlook or make them feel.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It is Easier to Gain than it is to Lose



I have a love hate relationship with food.

Okay actually its more of a love love relationship.

Food has always been a stress reliever for me.  I definitely eat when I am stressed and for someone that keeps their emotions inside that can be a "huge" issue.  When I am not stressed I am actually really good about eating and making smart choices that is until you put it in front of me.  For example if you put a package of Oreos in front of me I can't only eat one.  I have to have an entire row.  I also can't eat them without milk so then I find myself in the kitchen pouring myself a giant glass of milk. The thing is that I don't go looking for Oreos, I don't buy them because I know the mistakes I will make.

I have been up and down the dieting circuit.  I have tried many different things from Weight watchers to Atkins.  Some of them have worked and some of them haven't but through all of my eating and dieting I have noticed one thing, it is easier to gain weight than it is to lose it.  I know this doesn't come as a shocker to you but it is the truth.

To gain weight all you have to do is eat, eat, and eat some more.  To lose weight you have to diet, exercise, count calories, weigh yourself weekly, change exercises so that you don't plateau, and you have to say NO to so many different food options and opportunities and people do not make it easy. 

It is easier to gain than it is to lose weight.
When I started to think about it, "It is easier to gain than it is to lose" goes for a lot of things in life besides just weight loss.

When we fall it love it is amazing.  We are so excited and everything is right with the world.  We gain someone special and new in our lives and it is a feeling that is so joyous that it is hard to explain how wonderful it is.  But, when a relationship ends, it is so hard.  One if not both people are devastated and hurt beyond belief. There is a lot of crying, yelling, and even EATING.  It is so hard on us when we lose someone that we loved.

It is easier to gain than it is to lose.

When we or someone we know has a baby we are so excited.  This precious new life that has entered the world brings hope, love, and joy. We gain happiness through new life. But, when we lose a family member or friend we are distraught.  Sometimes it is expected and sometimes we are taken by surprise by death but all the time we are hurt by the loss.

It is easier to gain than it is to lose.

Many of us are sports fans and we cheer for certain teams.  We were winning we are excited and happy and ready for the next game, but when we are losing we are mad and upset and probably say things we shouldn't say to the TV.

It is easier to gain than it is to lose.

There is however one situation I can think of that is just as easier to gain than it is to lose.  That is your relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is so easy to gain because all you have to is except him as your Lord and Savior.  Once you have done that you have a relationship with him, but here is the kicker, no matter what you say or do you will never lose that relationship.  There is nothing that you can do to lose the unconditional love of Jesus. No matter how hard we try, he will always be there for you, he will always love you, and he will always be watching over you. 

No matter what, your relationship with Jesus is harder to gain than it is to lose and in order to gain it all you have to do is ask!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Faith like Ronnie...






We are almost a week removed from our mission trip.  As always we attended ASP (Appalachia Service Project) and we went to Watauga County, North Carolina.  Two teams from our church ended up working on the same site.  Our project was to build the foundation for a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom addition to a house. 


On Sunday night myself another adult and two of the youth went to the site to meet the family and take a look at the project.  Along the way we were told the story of the family.  Due to a meth issue with a family member Ronnie (our homeowner) got a call in the middle of the night from the police saying that if they did not take in the four children of the family member that they would be separated and put into the system.  Without hesitation Ronnie and his wife took in the kids. 


On top of the 4 new children that entered the household, Ronnie and his wife have 2 children of their own.  Now there are 8 people living under this one roof with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. 


That would seem like enough to have to deal with but Ronnie also has stage 4 cancer. 


My biggest problem right now is getting up in the morning and making myself go to the gym.  I can't imagine what it must be like to have to get up every morning and deal with not feeling well as well as taking care of 6 kids.


I thought for sure that Ronnie was going to be a bitter man when we met him.  I was proven wrong the first moment I met him.  He was in such high spirits and so thankful that we were there to work on his home.


One day while I had a very bad headache and was sitting under the tent (yes Lindsay under the tent!)  Ronnie came down and sat down beside me and told me some of his story.  He told me about his strong beliefs.  He told me that Jesus would come for him when it was time but until then he was going to live life.  He was going to take care of his kids, watch them play basketball and grow up to be fine young men and a 1 beautiful young woman. 


He told me a story about how he went in for his chemo and there was an elderly man and his wife there.  The elderly man turned to Ronnie at one point and said "Son don't let cancer beat you, you beat cancer!" Ronnie said that those words resonated with him and that he has lived his life since that day believing that he will beat cancer.


He talked about how much he loved God and that God had given him so much in life.  He wore a cross everyday to symbolize his faith.   He talked about being a truck driver with over 2 million miles on the roads of the United States without ever having an accident.


Ronnie was amazing to listen too.  Here is a man with a home that is not top of the line, 6 kids to take care of ranging from 2 and 1/2 to 12, and battling cancer.  If anyone would have a right to have their faith wavier it would be him.  But his faith is strong.  Stronger than most who attend church regularly on Sunday mornings. 


So I wish for you faith like Ronnie.  I wish for you a love of Jesus Christ that tragedy, sorrow, pain, nor sickness can take it way.  I hope that the everyday problems of life seem minuet today and that you up yourself up to a love that is unfaltering, unconditional, and always there.   May you know the love of Jesus Christ today and may your faith be just like Ronnie's.