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?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The End is Near

I wonder if you could ever tell when something was about to end. 


What I mean by that is have you ever felt like you could tell that a relationship / friendship was about to change or end? 


Have you ever foreseen the future of your job whether it was you quitting or you being fired? 


Have you ever known that because someone else has made a change that it was ultimately going to change you in some way?


I have always been a really observant person.  I often people watch.  It gets me in trouble sometimes with my friends because they know what I am doing when they catch me gazing at someone from a far.  I was really shy growing up.  Watching people and learning things about them and before they even say a word became the norm for me.  I could read people.  I still read people.  I catch things that other people don't see purely by observing a person's mannerisms or behavior.


I get in trouble with Coleen sometimes because I am pessimistic and I know how something is going to play out.  She is such an optimistic person, it is one of the qualities I love most about her.  I often tell her what is going to happen and she doesn't want to believe me because it is normally a negative thing.  Unfortunately I am right most of the time.  I don't like it but it happened very recently and although it is hard to believe it is exactly what I said would happen.


Don't get me wrong, sometimes I am right and it's a great thing but most of the time it is the opposite way around.  There are a few things that are on my radar. Changes that seem like they are going to happen.  A couple of them I really get but one or two of them I am not sure why they are going to happen.  I'll let you know if they pan out.


I believe that God has a plan and there is a reason that people are put in our lives or in our way.  Sometimes they just seem to pass through but other times they stay and leave footprints on our heart.  It is easy to let go of someone that is just passing through but it is much harder when they stay and leave footprints on our hearts. 


I am not sure really why I wrote this post, it was just something on my mind and on my heart.  I appreciate you reading and I hope that you hold on tight to those that make footprints on your heart and never let them go!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

#yournotrocky

Yesterday at the bus stop one of our youth got punched in the face because they grabbed someone by the shoulder to get their attention.  Now our youth was in the wrong for touching someone they don't know very well but who just turns around and starts to whale on someone?  I don't understand what makes people feel like they have the right to hit someone without knowing what exactly is going on.


When I was in Middle School I got punched in the nose.  It was in shop class.  I honestly don't even know what it was I did to get punched.  I didn't instigate it or do anything to rock the boat.  I just remember the kid rearing back and punching me square in the nose.  I then remember standing over the big  metal barrel trash can full of saw dust bleeding.  Both the shop teacher and the gym teacher saw me but neither one of them did anything to help me.  It wasn't till I got home and my mother came to school and took care of things did anyone do anything about it.  Everyone knows what happens when you unleash the wrath of Mom! 


I was pretty shy in school so I didn't say anything to anyone about getting hit so my other teachers probably didn't even realize that anything was wrong. I just dealt with the pain till I got home and told my parents what happened.


I am sure that the boy that hit me had other issues and I wasn't the main problem.  I was just an outlet for his anger and hurt.  I think that is what our youth was as well.  Unfortunately we never know what's going on in people's lives that cause them to react the way they do.  Their reaction may be verbal or it may be physical but 9 times out of 10 you are not the cause of that pain you are just the means to an end.


It is not okay to hit people.  You are not Rocky!  Life is not a boxing match, we are not here to trade physical or verbal punches.  Our youth is a great kid with a loving heart, a joyful spirit, and a caring soul.  He didn't deserve to get punched in the face.


I have to say that I am very proud of our youth for not retaliating.  He got up off the ground and brushed himself off but didn't go after the kid.  That takes more guts and courage than throwing a punch.  Looking a kid in the face after they have caused you pain whether it is physical or verbal pain and then walking away is living into what you believe.  It is showing other what following Jesus in the real world looks like.


Walking with Jesus sometimes means we have to walk away...

Monday, March 16, 2015

g4C unplugged

This past weekend we had the opportunity to go on a retreat to the mountains with the g4C team which is our youth leadership team made up of 7 youth from the youth group.  We had a great time because it was a really laid back weekend without a lot of set plans.  In fact Saturday was so laid back that it got away from us.  In the middle of an activity we realized that it had gotten to be almost 7:00 pm.  The youth really wanted to go to an ice cream shop so we called to ask when they closed and we were told 8:00 pm. 


This normally wouldn't have been a big deal but we hadn't even eaten dinner yet.  We talked about it and we decided that we would have dessert first and come back for dinner.  So down the mountain we went to downtown Boone for ice cream.  It was really good!  After ice cream we headed back to the house.  By this time it was around 8:30pm. 


As I unlocked the door I said to everyone that I wished I had left a light on because it was so dark. I entered the house and flipped the switch but the light didn't come on.  I went down the hall and flipped another switch and that one didn't come on either.  The power was out!


The initial reaction of the youth was your typical horror story reaction, a rainy night in a remote dark mountain house, but before I could even say anything light started to emerge.  A couple of the youth had grabbed candles and started to light them.  The room filled with the soft flickering glow of candle light.  I started a fire in the fireplace and we found a lantern to put in the center of the room.


We sat there for a few minutes and then we decided to play Apples to Apples.  We got close in a circle and made sure everyone understood how to play.


For the next hour and a half we played a board game by candle light in the mountains of North Carolina.  I have been on many retreats and had lots of fun and many spiritual moments but for some reason this one was my favorite.  It was a calming moment where everything felt right and no one was worried about anything.


 I looked around the circle and saw the smiling faces of everyone in the room.  The candle light flickered across each smile briefly swallowing them in shadows only to have them reappear immediately without disguising their happiness. 


I think sometimes we need to just be in the moment.  There are so many distractions in the world that we often forget to just relax and enjoy being with each other.  I wish the power would go off more often so that we would all be forced to relax and do something that doesn't involve TVs, cell phones, video games, etc. 


I hope that you can find some time to unplug and just enjoy your family.  I know that I enjoyed my family on Saturday night.  I would love to have that same feeling again. 


Apples to Apples by candlelight anyone?

Monday, March 2, 2015

20000 Strong!

Today I went over 20000 views of my blog!  Thank you to everyone that reads it, it means a lot to me that you read what I write!  I am by no means a professional but I am humbled by the support that I receive by everyone! 


Thank you so much for reading!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Stanley has the Tools

There is a company called Stanley that is a manufacturer of a brand of tools used for building and fixing things.  I have known of this tool set since I was kid.  My father had some Stanley tools around the house.  Most recently I have used quite a few Stanley tools at ASP.  I have used them to work on many different project over these last 9 years. They are dependable tools that do the job, but actually they are not the most important Stanley that has been a part of ASP trips or has played a role with the youth of our church.


Greg Stanley is a math teacher at Sanderson High School and a valuable member of the St. Mark's congregation.  I met him about 3 or 4 years ago when he first decided to go on ASP with us.  I could tell then that I was going to really like working with Greg.  Greg has a way with people, a polite smile, a gentle voice, and a calming personality.  He is proficient in his knowledge of tools and construction but never downgrades or dismisses those of us who are challenged and lack construction knowledge.  He is always willing to lend a helping hand and his heart is full of a need and want to help people. 


Recently we had an All Youth Retreat where I asked two youth to speak about their journeys as part of the youth group.  I asked them to talk about all the mentors and youth that have made a difference in their lives and express what roles they have played in their lives.  I then asked each of them to talk about a relationship with an outside of youth group adult that has made an impact on who they are.  One of the youth talked about Wes Hare who I mentioned in another blog post.  The other talked about her relationship with Mr. Stanley (which is what they have to call him at school.) 


She said that she first met Mr. Stanley at ASP and that he instantly made an impact on her.  He was kind and listen to her.  Since then she often visits him at school during lunch and after school.  She said that he gives up plenty of time to listen to her and help her with some of the issues in her life including some college things that she is having a hard time with right now.  He always has a kind word, an open mind, and valuable advice.  Mr. Stanley has really made an impact on her.  She said that she couldn't imagine going through High School without him.


I don't know that the adults of our church really realize the impact they are making on our youth.  Simple things like listening and just being there for them go a long way.  Greg provides that for them and for that I am very grateful. Greg is a Stanley that has the tools to fix things and help build up our youth.


Thanks for constructing things more valuable then you will ever know Greg! 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

I don't have a daughter but if I did...

We are on the verge of wrapping up another girls' retreat.  This has always been one of my favorite trips because it is just a great time hanging out with all the girls of youth group and getting to know them better.  Each of them is beautiful, smart, and caring and it would be an honor and a blessing to have any of them as my daughter.  If I had a daughter though I would want her to be:


As crazy and daring as Eliza.  I have watched her come out of her shell this weekend.  When she wants to do something she does it like going in the ocean when it is cold out.  An adventurous heart is something that everyone needs.


As giggly and cute as Avery.  Avery has an infectious way of making you laugh by just simply laughing herself.  She brings a smile to my face any time I am with her and that is something that value so very much!


As kind hearted as Maryssa.  Maryssa has a loving soul and is willing to do anything or anyone.  I can always count on her help whenever there is a project that I need help with she is there with open arms to help me complete the task. 


As  family orientated as Margaret.  Margaret has a love for her family.  You can see it in her interactions with her brother and sister and her mother and father.  Their family is very close and you can see the love they have for each other.  I have watched them for such a long time and Margaret shows me that through all of her interactions with her family. 


As observant as Alex.  Alex notices every detail.  She can tell you when something is wrong or if something or someone is missing.  Although we joke about it sometimes, I admire her for it.  I am not as observant as she is and some things I observe I am not comfortable enough to share with others.


As open as Kenzie.  Kenzie is always willing to share her thoughts and feelings and participate in any discussion we are having whether in youth group or just the two of us talking.  I always know where I stand with Kenzie and that is something you don't always get in your relationships with people.


As loving as Liz.  Liz always has a hug and a smile for you.  She has a loving heart and when she cares about you you know it!  Showing affection is something that so many people have a problem with and often it leaves people wondering how you feel about them.  Liz lets you know!


As understanding as Temple.  Temple willingness to listen to people and care about them is a quality that not everyone possesses.  She will listen and comfort anyone that comes to her with a problem. You can always count on Temple to be there for you.


As beautiful as Harper.,  All the girls are beautiful but I see everyday how beautiful Harper's heart is.  She is beautiful on the outside but her love and caring of others, her willingness to share and listen to others, her willingness to serve and do mission work shows her inside beauty. 


As determined as Danielle.  Danielle, has school, work, theater, babysitting, a social life, and still makes every youth event a priority.  She has a determination which is God given because it allows her to do what she wants but not miss out on what is most important to her.


As creative as Grace.  I learned a lot about Grace's writing talents this weekend and her willingness to share those talents with us.  Creativity is a spice of life to me.  I think it is such an important part of life and Grace is full of creativity. 


As patient as Sophie.  Sophie is so patient.  She sits and listens and pays attention and always follows through on assignments I give her.  She is a valued member of our leadership team and her patience is a virtue that not everyone has.  It is such a valuable thing in life to have patience. 


We are all blessed by the children and youth of this world.  Enjoy them why you can because soon they will be the adults of this world!