Thursday, February 4, 2016


Where did we get off track? 

We live in the age of a technological revolution.  Everything is at our finger tips.  Your phone isn't just a phone, it's a computer, a camera, an mp3 player, and a post office used for emailing and texting. 

We have it all in the palm of our hand...

The thing is, it's so impersonal.  Even if we are texting or emailing nice things to people, it doesn't come across like it is the person saying it to us as much as it is the phone regurgitating information. 

There is a lot that is lost in translation. 

This past weekend at the All Youth retreat we had a station on our prayer walk where parents took the time and energy to write our youth letters.   The mentors each had a group of youth they wrote letters too, and I wrote each youth a letter.  It was a lot of work to write 40 letters and one would question whether or not it was worth all the time and energy.

It was!!!  I personally got 14 cards written to me by youth.  They were amazing cards too.   I get so caught up in all the logistics of retreats, trips, and youth group that I forget how much of an impact we have on our youth.  A couple of them brought up things in their letters that I forgot that I had even said or had done, but they hadn't!  A couple of them were from new youth that were sharing just how much youth group already means to them! 

I would give anything to get a letter from a youth.  Letters from our youth mean more to me than anything they could ever give me.  They are personal and emotional.  They show that the youth took time out of their day to write me.  There is nothing more valuable to me than someone that takes time to do something for me! 

About a year ago I started a notebook with letters, drawings, cards, all different things that youth have given me over the years.  I wish I had started it sooner! 

I think we get so caught up in technology that we don't take the time to be personal with each other.  That may be calling someone instead of texting them.  Writing them a letter instead of emailing them.  Spending quality time with someone by putting the phone away.

So here it is, put down the phone or step away from the computer and pick up a pen and a piece of paper and write someone a letter.  Tell them you love them, tell them how much you miss them, tell them about your week, it doesn't matter because in the end, a hand written letter is like a surprise on Christmas morning, everyone wants one!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Whispers on the Wind

A man sat on a mountain side that overlooked a valley and three other mountains.  He was disheartened by certain things that were happening in his life and he was searching for answers. He began to reflect on his life.  Although he tried to think of the happy times, the funny times, the amazing times, his mind always wondered back to the hard times, the sad times, the hurtful times.

Dejected, the man whispered out loud: " I miss you!"  No sooner had the words left his lips did a strong wind blow from the mountain on his left hand side. He heard a voice carried upon the wind, "I miss you too." 

The man was in shock.  He looked around to see if there was someone else on his mountain side.  He didn't see anyone.  He began to wonder if he was just hearing things or if his mind was playing tricks on him.  He decided he would say something again and see what happens.

"I love you," he whispered into the cool air.  Again just as soon as the words left his lips a strong wind blew from the mountain in front of him and he heard the same voice floating on the wind, "I love you too."

The man sat straight up with this astonished look upon his face.  Where was this voice coming from?  He still thought that might this all be in his mind and that he was just imagining the voice.  Nonetheless he decided to whisper again.

After taking a deep breath the man leaned forward, opened his mouth, and whispered "I need you,"  out into the thin air.  As the word you left his lips, the wind picked up from the mountain to the right of him and he heard,

"I am always with you, through the good, the bad, and the in between.  Call upon me when you need me and I will be there with you.  Holding you, loving you, never leaving you.  You will always be loved because you are my child.  You are a child of God."

Tears began to well up in the man's eyes as he realized that he had been speaking directly to God.  In this great time of need, in this time of reflection, he verbally spoke his needs and God replied and filled his heart.

Too often we forget to talk to God.  We forget to ask God for help.  We forget to remind ourselves that no matter how bad life is, God is always with us.  God speaks back to us through others and through ourselves.  Open you mouth and speak to God.  All it has to be is a whisper and God will answer you.  God will lift you up.  He will show you the way.  He will lead you to the mountain top of the Father, the mountain top of the Son, and the mountain top of the Holy Spirit.

So sit on the side of your mountain and whisper into the wind. 

Then comes the hard part... listening.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Every church needs a TEMPLE!

When a youth hits their senior year in High School they have to make a decision about Youth Group.  They have to decide on top of school work, applications for College, work, sports, and a social life if they want to make Youth Group a priority in their lives.   Sometimes they choose to stay and sometimes they choose to move on.  It is hard when they decide to leave because for most of them I have spent the last six years of my life with them.

There are however those that stay and make Youth Group just as much of a priority as they did in their younger years.  We have been blessed to have senior Youth Group presidents for the last 2 years.  All three of them worked very hard and developed programs that make Youth an amazing fun experience. 

This year Temple has taken on the mantel of president and has been doing an amazing job.  She has only been a youth group member for the past 2 and a half to three years but I feel like I have known her since she was a sixth grader.  Temple has a special something that draws you to her.  She has a loving and compassionate spirit and it shows through her interaction with all the youth in youth group. 

Temple makes time for any and every youth.  She is the only senior I know that will specifically go searching for younger youth to talk to. There are sixth and seventh graders that go searching for Temple just to talk to her. She leads by example and it shows through everything she attends and the work she does to make our Youth Group amazing. 

She is kind, she is considerate, she is understanding, she is passionate, she is dedicated, she is everything that we need in a president of our Youth Group.  Temple is a blessing to everyone in our Youth Group and she truly is a blessing to me! That is why every church needs a Temple!

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Fantasy Draft of Life

It is that time of year again... FOOTBALL!!!!!!  That's right it's back, tailgating, jerseys, non stop games on Saturdays, and of course my Virginia Tech Hokies.  This time of year also brings on the  crazy, exciting, frustrating, and extremely fun practice of the Fantasy Draft. 

For those of you that do not know about this, the fantasy draft is when you join a group of people to pick a team of NFL or even college players that you will follow and work with throughout the season while competing against the other people in your group.  These teams are often chosen through the process of the fantasy draft where each person gets to choose a player each round of the draft. 

These players are chosen by their skill level and where they rank according to different "experts".  The first round is where the best players are chosen whereas the fifteenth round lends itself to players with significantly less skill.  Players are chosen until each person's roster is filled. 

Although it is a lot of fun, there are so many factors in play, from injuries to not living up to expectations.  It can be very frustrating when you think you have picked the perfect team but it doesn't pan out the way you expected it to. 

I believe that God has a continuous fantasy draft going on where each day he decides to add to his team.  The difference between God's fantasy draft and my NFL draft is that God creates his players.  He creates players that have different skills and passions that allow them to take on different jobs, hobbies, and the world.  He gives each of his players the tools to preform but he also gives them free will which allows them to make choices based on their likes and dislikes and their current situations.

You see God's draft isn't in any particular order because honestly, he drafts each and everyone one of his players with the first pick.  In his eyes we are all equal, we are all loved, and we are all created in his image.  Although we may all look, talk, and act differently, we are all the number one pick in the eyes of God.  We are all the best player on the team. 

We are all drafted number 1 in the fantasy league of life, now it is up to us to go out into the world and show God why he drafted us number 1.   


Monday, August 17, 2015

D-Gall- And then there was none...

So Saturday the last of my three Senior girls moved into college.  Danielle is going to Meredith which is right up the street from the church but it still feels so far away.  Danielle and I have been close over these last 6 years and it has been amazing to watch her grow up to be the beautiful young lady that she has become.  She has grown not only literally but also spiritually.  She delivered the message on Senior Sunday. 

Danielle has a way about her that just draws people in.  They want to be around her and with her because she is someone that is in the moment with you when you need her to be. 

I have so many wonderful memories of Danielle.  I can't even begin to tell you how many adventures we have had together.  One of my favorite memories is our first ASP together.  I didn't know her very well at the time but we bonded over that week.  I remember sitting in the back seat of the van with the seat laid back and her leaning over the seat and taking selfies of us looking up at the camera.  The smile that she had in those pictures is the same smile she brings with her anytime that you see her.  It  is an amazing smile that can light up a room. 

I have always loved to watch her perform in theater and see that smile as well as the emotion on her face as she acted out her different roles and parts.  She takes everything she does so seriously and that showed on the stage even when she had the smallest of parts. 

I am going to miss her a lot not just  because of everything she did for the youth group but because of everything she did for me too.  She was so active in everything we did and she always wanted to take a leadership role. She was the first one to step up and always had a way of knowing the right thing to say.  It is going to be hard to do youth group without her.

All three of our seniors made huge impacts on what we have accomplished as a Youth Group.  They were all amazing and will go forth to do amazing things in life.  They have made huge impacts on St. Mark's, on the youth group, and on me.  I can't wait to see where life takes them. 

This was just a small part of their giant journey of life.  I am just thankful that God put them here when he did so that we could witness their love, their growth, and they amazing abilities.

 I am proud of all of you! Thank you for all that you have done...

And now we must exist stage right and move on to the next act! 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I am gonna miss you Kenzie!

I was sitting in my office this morning when I heard someone almost running up the stairs to my office.  I turned to see Kenzie come running in to tell me goodbye before she leaves for college in a couple of hours.  We embrace in  a giant big hug and she told me all about her worries and concerns but also about her excitement about what is to come. 

I love Kenzie!  She has such an infectious spirit about her and you can always tell when she loves you because she shows it.  I first met Kenzie when Harper was in the hospital having back surgery.  She was a wide eyed beautiful girl then (as she is now) and she was full of energy as she was talking to Harper.  I remember just standing back and watching her as her arms moved about as she talked.  Who would of known that that encounter in the hospital would of led to Kenzie being such an important part of our youth group and of my life.

Although at times I have gotten on her about her lack of involvement and commitment to youth group, she always came back stronger than ever.  When I told her what I needed to see to put her back on the Youth leadership team without hesitation she made it happen!  I was so proud of her.

Kenzie is such a hard worker.  When she puts her mind to something she will accomplish the task!

It is going to be hard to do youth group without her.  It will be hard not having that smile around.  It will be hard not being beat up by her all the time, ok maybe that won't be so hard. 

Kenzie I am speaking directly to you now, go out and make this world amazing.  Be the beautiful wonderful you that I know and love.  Don't let people change who you are or what you believe in. God is always there for you and he will never leave you. 

 Know that this world is better because you are in it.  Your laugh, smile, and love fill the world with color.  Thank you for sharing such a small part of your life with us and with me.  You have no idea of the huge imprint you have made on my heart.  I love you, I am here when you need me, and the door is always open when you want to visit! 

Grab a hold of life and make it yours, only you can tame it. 

Go be beautiful, wonderful you!

I can't wait to hear the stories about your adventures!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Thank you The Harp aka Harper!

I have been struggling a little and feeling a little overwhelmed going into this year's youth group year for some reason.  I was having a moment yesterday while working on a few things so I stopped everything I was doing and rearranged my office.  If you know me you know that I like to rearrange my office very often.  It helps me to center myself and get focused on the next thing. As I was cleaning my office I came across a paper that Harper had written for her English class two years ago.  The title of the paper was "Wise Guy."  Her paper talked about an important mentor in her life, someone that she admired.

Her paper was about me.  She said so many wonderful things about me and talked about my passion for my job and how much I loved our youth.  She talked about how I paid attention to the details of their lives, so much so that I once texted her just to see how her Spanish quiz went.  She went on to say so many kind and loving things.  My favorite line from the paper is:

"A mentor is not just someone to look up to; they are a guide that wants to see the person they care for succeed.  They will move mountains and expect nothing in return."

Reading her words made me tear up but also helped me to refocus.  I have had Harper as part of my life for the last seven years which has come to an end, as far as youth group goes.  This will be the first year since I have come to St. Mark's that I will not have a Dabagian in my youth group. 

Harper did an amazing job as the president of Youth Group this past year.  If you knew Harper back in 6th grade you would of never thought that she would of been comfortable as the president of a Youth Group.

Harper, I just want you to know that I am so thankful for all your time and dedication to Youth Group.  You are an amazing person who is going to do amazing things in life.  Thank you for giving me a copy of this paper and for reminding me why I do what I do.  It was a  good reminder that we might not always hear that we are making a difference in the lives of our youth but that we truly are making a difference. 

Thanks for helping me to get back on track to start a new youth group year!  You may not be here in person but you will always be in my heart!  Now go and be the best Spartan you can be  at UNCG!