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. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day is May 13th right?!?!?




Sooooo... I made a bit of mistake. Shhhhh... Don't tell my mom.  I ordered flowers to be delivered yesterday, May 9th for Mother's Day.  It was cheaper to get them delivered on Friday before the weekend and I thought it might be more of a surprise that way!  Unfortunately last night when I went to look up my order to make sure they were delivered it had my delivery date set as Friday May 30th.  I have no clue how that happened.  I was able to get it changed but the earliest day they could be delivered is Tuesday, so Happy Mother's Day tomorrow Mom and Happy Tuesday as well.


I will call my Mom tomorrow to wish here a Happy Mother's Day and she will find out then about my mistake.  Actually she will read this before then so she will have a heads up when we talk!  Either way my Mom will forgive me I am sure of that. 


My Mom is one of the biggest influences in my life.  I would not have the skills and interests I have if it wasn't for her.  I am computer savvy and that is because she had me take classes at the community college while I was in high school.  My love of writing also comes from her.  She helped me to develop my writing skills while I was in high school by critiquing my papers because her Master's Degree is in English.  In fact I am sure she is critiquing this post as she reads it and I wouldn't have it any other way.


She has always supported me in every decision I have made and allowed me to follow my own path.  When life has thrown me curve balls she has been there to help me through the hard times. I can always count on her for advice when I call and a warm hug when I see her!


My favorite memory of my Mom is a Christmas a long time ago.  I have never been able to sleep on Christmas Eve.  To this day I still have a tough time falling asleep.  One Christmas when I was very young I couldn't sleep.  I kept wanting to get up and go look to see if Santa had come.  My mom stayed up with me in my room and read as I tried to sleep.  I couldn't sleep I was so excited and worried that Santa wouldn't come.  She even took me in and showed me that Santa had come and brought lots of presents.  I still didn't sleep.  Mom stayed up with me all night that Christmas.  She read in my room with me as I laid in my bed with wide eyes waiting for 5:00 am to come or something close to that.  It was the longest Christmas Eve of my life I think but looking back on it now as an adult, I don't remember at all what I got that Christmas, all I remember is my Mom staying with me all night long and honesty that was the best Christmas present I could of ever gotten! 


I love you Mom, Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Merge Right



The other day I was driving along the highway and I was praying because it had been a hard day.  I was talking to God about everything from my job to my personal life.  It was a pretty in depth conversation.  I was asking for advise and help in making some decisions.  These weren't difficult or for that matter really hard decisions but I wanted God to play an important role in the decisions that I made.


I got to a point where I just flat out asked God what I should do.  The minute after I said that there was a sign to my right in front of me that was blinking: Merge Right... It just kept blinking the same message over and over.  I was taken aback because that sign usually blinks Traffic Pattern Change and then blinks Merge Right but that night as I drove up on it, it just said Merge Right. 


It could of meant nothing at all. It could of been just a malfunctioning sign, but I took it that I was supposed to Merge Right, meaning that I was supposed to have faith in Jesus and that everything would turn out alright.  

How did I get to that assumption based on a sign that said Merge Right?


Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father. 

 "It is right, and a good and joyful thing,  always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth." 

 God is always right. 

The statements above are what made me think that Merging Right is what God wanted me to do.  He wanted me to understand that he is with me no matter what I decide and will help me through it.  I hope that when you make decisions whether or big or small you will always Merge Right. 

If you come to a fork in road of your life and need to make a decision on which road to travel down, I suggest that you Merge Right and see what happens!