Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Original Fish Sandwich

Fast food restaurants today feed millions of people a day.  Every day people come in for hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, French fries, and yes fish sandwiches.  There are quite a few fast food restaurants with fish sandwiches but I guarantee that the original fish sandwich was created the day that Jesus feed the 5000. 

I mean come on, with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish; Jesus was able to create enough food for not only 5000 men but women and children as well and you can’t tell me that at least one person didn’t think to put the fish they were given on two pieces of the bread and create, oh yes, the very first fish sandwich. 
There are not too many ways that you can eat bread and fish and I would think the combination of the two would be great.  After the first person did it, maybe the next person thought it was a good idea and had some spices that they put on theirs to give it a little kick.  It could have been a kid that when he was handed the bread and the fish he didn’t have any place to put it so he put it on top of each other and starting eating it.
Was Jesus the first fast food chef?  I mean just think about how fast he made so much food for so many people.  I am sure the quality was far better than what you can get at a fast food restaurant now.  I bet you no fast food restaurant feeds as many people in a day as Jesus did in a matter of hours. 
So do you want a fast food fish sandwich which was frozen before it was flash fried in oil for you by some guy in a paper hat?  Or do you want the sandwich that Jesus can give you; fresh, fast, and blessed by the Lord our God?  I’ll take an original fish sandwich.  I’ll take whatever my Lord and Savior will give me.  So many others take theirs from the fast food restaurants; they don’t realize what they are missing.  Spread the news about what Jesus can give people.  Tell them it starts with a fish sandwich but it ends with eternal love for them.  I think that beats the toy that comes with the happy meal!     

Day 26

Well the last two days have been very lazy.  I hope that I have lost some weight when I weigh in tomorrow. Today day was a long day and I didn't get the chance to work out like I wanted so I hope that I can do so tomorrow.  I am very tired today so I am getting ready for bed.  I hope that a couple of injuries that I have had will feel better by tomorrow.  In 5 days I will release my blog so I hope people will like it!  Thanks so much for the support I have recieved from people so far.  I can't do this without you!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

K is for Keys

Before I decided to dedicate my life and career to ministry, I worked for the YMCA.  I loved working for the YMCA and with the middle school and High School youth.  I was in charge of a lot of programs during my time at the Y.  I really enjoyed running lock ins at the Y.  We would have them every couple of months to raise money for Leader’s Club. 

One night a lock in I game one of the youth my keys so that they could get some sporting equipment out of the closet.  They also wanted to get some whistles out of my office so that they could have a referee.  I didn’t think much of it because I often gave my keys to youth so they could set things up.  I remember very clearly that I was sitting in the game room watching TV with a couple of youth when they came into the game room.  The first thing I said was “Hey guys, let me have me keys please.”  One of them looked at me and then turned his face toward the floor. “I’m sorry Eric, umm, We locked your keys in your office.”  I jumped up.  “You did what?” I said, more surprised than mad. 
It was three o clock in the morning and my keys were locked in the office.  We went down to the office and looked through the door and there, on my desk were my keys.  I tried the door with the hope that they just didn’t push hard enough, but it was locked.  The handle was one of those kinds that pushed down to open the door. 
My first response was to go up to the main office and see if I could find some extra keys.  The office was locked so I couldn’t even get in there.  I tried a couple of offices but they were all locked.  I went back to my office door.  By now I had about 5 youth with me.  They were all freaking out that we couldn’t get into my office.  As we stood there starring at the problem, I remembered that if you pushed down on the inside handle, we could get the door to open.   There was a small opening between the bottom of the door and the floor.  If we could find something that we could slip under the door, we could open it by pulling down on the handle.
We searched the Y for something to use and one of the youth came out of a closet with a wire hanger.  It was perfect.  I took it and twisted the end into a loop.  We slipped it under the door and tried over and over again to catch the loop around the door handle.  We tried for an hour, me and the five youth that were with me each took a turn.  After an hour we were ready to give up.  I told them I was going to try one more time then we would take a break.  I redid the loop at the end of the hanger and pushed it under the door.  Twisting and turning, I was able to get the loop over the door handle.  Very carefully and gently I pulled down on the door handle.  Just as the hanger was about to slide off the door handle, I gave it one last tug down and pushed hard on the door.  The door swung open and hit the back office wall with a thud.  We all yelled and cheered and clapped.  We were so sleep deprived and it was so wonderful to be able to get my keys.  I grabbed them and unlocked the door and I wouldn’t give them up the rest of the night.
Have you ever had something that was just out of your reach?  You could see it but you just couldn’t grab it. That door handle was just out of my reach.  I was ready to give up.  Often in life we give up.  We are probably very close to reaching our goal but before we can accomplish it, we give up.  We walk away, but if we are persistent, if we try hard, we can accomplish anything.  If we have faith and look deep inside ourselves and keep trying, we can reach our goals.  
It is hard not to walk away or not to give up when it doesn’t look like you can accomplish a goal.  It is much easier to walk away or let someone else deal with the problem.  Jesus never walked away.  He preformed miracles and helped so many people.  He feed them when they were hungry and healed them when they were sick.  We must be Christ like in our actions and never walk away.  We may not be able to solve every problem or fix every situation, we can try and be there until the goal is reached or the problem is resolved. 
Opening a door is not Christ like, but being persistent, patient, and understanding are Christ like qualities.  May we all be able to open the door for others so that they can walk in the light of Christ.    

Day 25

Today has started off great.  We had a great breakfast and morning meeting for our Youth Group.  We were able to discuss a lot of great stuff and are ready for a fun filled year.  I haven't worked out yet today but I hope to do so this afternoon.  Took a nap and am going to do some shopping in a little while.  What a nice lazy day! 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Slow Down

Tonight I had dinner with a really close friend and her mother.  Her mother is 89 years old and loves to go out to eat.  I helped Agnes, the mother, out of the car and into the restaurant while my friend, Coleen, parked the car.  We sat for a few minutes and chatted before Coleen got back.  After deciding what to eat, we order our food, ate a wonderful meal, had some great conversation and after contemplating dessert for a few minutes decide we were done.
Coleen went to get the car and I helped Agnes up and we started to walk out of the restaurant.  Agnes was having a lot of trouble with her legs and couldn’t lift them very high so we had to stop a couple of times.  It took a good seven minutes to get from our chairs out the door.  As I opened the door for us to get out, Agnes said to me “I am so sorry this is taking so long, I know you are in a hurry.”
I sort of stopped for a moment and looked at her.  I never said I was in a hurry nor did I do anything that would lead her to believe I was in a hurry.  It hit me kind of hard and made me think.  We are always in a hurry, whether we are walking, running, driving, flying.  It is always about how fast we can get there.  The same goes for the information age we are in.  We want it now.  Facebook rules are lives. Cell phones control our time.  We don’t send letters anymore.  Gyms have replaced the evening walk around the neighborhood. No one makes coffee anymore, we all go to Starbucks. 
The earth has moved into this fast paced, nonstop, give it to me now, I can wait for anything, what do you mean it will take that long world.  I think it is time to slow down.  We need to remember everything that God has given us and why he has put it there.  I don’t want to be too busy or moving too fast that I don’t see something important or a don’t listen to someone.  I want to be always in the moment.  I want to be there for people and for them to be there for me.
So I am going to take my time walking and enjoying life.  I am going to put my cell phone away, and I am going to just enjoy life!  Thank you Agnes for showing me the true way that life should be; enjoying the moment!

Day 24

Wow today has gotten away from me.  I worked out this morning, did laundry, ate some lunch, signed a new lease at my apartment, and just spent the last hour looking for other retreat options in raleigh nc.  I am not finding many options.  I have a meeting with the youth mentors tomorrow and I have some work to do so I better get to it!  Workout was good today!  Later!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Crossing the Street

Today I watched a man cross the street.  He didn’t care about the cars and trucks, he just walked right out in front of everyone and expected us to stop.  A couple of cars came to stop with their tires screeching, while others laid on their horns.  I was able to stop in plenty of time but I was so perplexed as to why someone would cross traffic like that.

I have been doing a lot of walking lately and I am always listening to my Ipod.  Because of this I am scared to cross anywhere but the crosswalk.  I press the button and I sit and wait for the light to change and I get the little stick figure that tells me to go.  Then I hurry as fast as possible to cross the intersection.   I run when cars that want to turn come up to the intersection, even if I as the pedestrian have the right of way.  I never cross the street somewhere that isn’t safe.
What is funny is that I think the way a person crosses the street is how their live their lives.  A carefree, somewhat reckless person will just cross the street wherever they are.   A follow the rules personality will stop at the intersection hit the button and walk when the light says too.  These are the extremes and there are a lot of variations but a lot of people fall into these categories.
It would be nice for people who have the cautious personality to have more of the risk takers personality and for the people with risk takers personality to have more of the cautious personality.  I think that a balance is good.  God gave us each our different personalities.  We have groomed them into what they are today but they were originally given to us by God. 
We are so blessed to have our own personalities and to be our own people.  What would like be like if we were all the same?  I don’t think I want to know.  So, I will stop at the light and wait for it to change and cautiously walk across the street.  You do whatever it is that suits your personality and we will meet on the other side of the road.  That’s where we are all headed anyway.  Does it really matter how we got there?

J is for Just call me Chicken Fat

I tried to re-write this blog entry a couple of times and I was having a really hard time trying to say something different or better than another time I wrote about Chicken Fat, but honestly I can’t.  The following post is from my blog on the St. Marks website.  I am posting it here today because it is the one I want to use in my book and I want it here for everyone to read.  So here you go…

  A couple days a week I am met with the sound of “Hey Chicken Fat” coming from the hall outside my door. As I swing my chair around to look out I am always met with the huge smile that crosses my little sandy blond haired friend’s face. I can’t help but smile when I see him. I often reply with “Hey Chicken Fat” right back to him. He will then come into my office and play with the stuff on my desk or just hang out with me and tell me what he is going to do today.

Ok, so now you want to know why he calls me Chicken Fat. I am sure you think it is because I am a portly fellow, but its not. Well, one day he came to the church with his mom and while she and I were running around doing a couple of things, he was with us and he kept calling me names. He called me “eyeball, door, shoe, sock, Mr. Potato head, Seminole (his dad is a FSU fan), Tar Heel (his mom is a UNC fan), window, and tree.” After all those different names, imagine my surprise when he hits me with Chicken Fat. I didn’t know how to take that until his mom said “I don’t know where he got that from, he just started to say that the other day when we were at the mall.” So I smiled at him and said “no, your name is Chicken Fat.” For the next couple of days it was “your Chicken Fat”, “no your Chicken Fat.”

Well, obviously it stuck. Ever since then, we have both been Chicken Fat. He calls me Chicken Fat and I call him Chicken Fat. Every time I see him its “Hey Chicken Fat!” But nothing and I mean nothing puts a smile on my face faster than hearing him calling my name (Chicken Fat) or seeing him run into my office!

His mom came into my office one day and said, “Eric you made the list,” I said “What List?” Last night when his Dad took Chicken Fat up to go to bed he told him to say his prayers. Chicken Fat got down on the side of the bed and bowed his head and said “God bless, Mommy and Daddy, and Grandma and Grandpa, and my sister, and God bless Chicken Fat.” So you made the list. I told her that was the funniest and most touching thing I think I have ever heard.

They say God works in mysterious ways. Nothing is more mysterious than “Chicken Fat.” Who knows where it came from and honestly I don’t care. God knows when you need a pick me up and he puts things there when you need them. The little sandy blonde haired boy with the big smile can call me Chicken Fat whenever he wants for as long as he wants. He needs to watch out though, because when he’s 16 and in my youth group, that’s right, I will still be calling him Chicken Fat!

Day 23

Things are good.  The kids did a great job yesterday working on the house.  I am very proud of them for all the work they did.  I missed my workout on Monday and I am trying to get a handle on today so I plan to workout later today.  I am really tired.  I have a long day today making sure I get some stuff done.  School year is getting ready to gear up and get started!  I can't wait!   Alrighty gotta run out to Denise's house to return her power washer!  Thanks so much Denise!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Love my Kids…

Today, four of my youth went with me to do some work on my house.  My house has been on the market for over 3 years now and we are having a tough time trying to sell it.  We decided to go with a different realtor and she asked us to make some changes to the yard.  I put out an all call and within an hour, I had four youth volunteer to come help me.  It was amazing.  They worked so hard.  They power washed, painted, mulched, removed a bush, and moved pine straw.  It would have taken me days to do what we did in a matter of hours. 
I love all my youth.  They are always there for me and come when I tell them that I need them.  Tuesday we had a big youth meeting that took all day.  We had over 14 youth there to plan the coming school year and help to rearrange the youth room.  It was amazing to have so many of them give up a day of their summer to be at church because it is so important to them. 
My youth make me so proud.  I love to watch them accomplish their goals and work hard.  I love to just hang out with them.  I love to go their sporting events and watch them play.  I am so thankful that God has blessed me with my job at St. Marks.  I can honestly say that most of my spiritual growth comes from my youth.  They help me in so many ways and make every hour I spend on programming worth it. 
I am so thankful with everything else there is in life, they make church a priority.  They make us a part of their family.   I want to thank you my youth for everything you do for me.  Thank you for your hugs, your smiles, your laughter.  Thank you for sharing so much with me and make me a part of your life.  Thank you for helping me to grow in my spiritual life as well as the life lessons that you teach me.  Know that I am here when you need me and always willing to listen.  Remember to be true to yourself and always keep that tunnel vision.  May your free will always lead you to keep Jesus, God, and St. Mark’s an important part of your life.  Love you all!
Special shout out to Chesson, Ian, Katy, and Josh for all your help today!  I couldn’t have done it without you!

Day 22

Today we are headed to my house in Fuquay to do some work.  Some of the youth are going with me so hopefully we can get some good work done!  I was so tired yesterday that I didn't get a chance to write my JC blog.  I hope to get home and write two tonight.  We shall see.  I don't like missing it, I feel like I am leaving something out of my day!  OK off I go!  Talk to you later :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 21

Alright!  Tomorrow will be 3 weeks!  Today was a long good day.  We got so much accomplished at church today with the youth.  I am very excited about this coming year.  I can't wait to get started.  I am so tired and getting ready for bed.  I missed my blog today so hopefully I can write two tomorrow! Tomorrow I am going to work on the house.  Wish me luck!


Monday, July 25, 2011

No Phone

Yesterday my phone started acting funny.  I tried to reset it and I couldn’t get it work right. I took the battery out and put it back in.  I recalibrated the screen a couple of times.  I took out the sim-card and put it back in.  I did everything I could think of to try and make it work but in the end, I couldn’t.  I spent the morning with the help of a co worker on the phone with my cell phone provider trying to fix it.  It was frustrating as they tried to get me to do things that I had already done trying to fix it myself.  It finally came down to me having to go to a store to have it looked at.  Luckily, the phone was still under warranty so I was able to get a new phone when they realized there was no way to fix it.  By three thirty this afternoon I was happily on my way home with my new phone.

I realized two things with my phone issues.  The first was that really rely on my phone for quite a lot.  I check my email with it, it is the only telephone I have to call people, I text message on it, and I often browse the internet on it.  When my phone goes down I lose a very valuable instrument that I use every day for my work and personal use.  I did start to stress out some last night when I couldn’t get it to work right.  It started when we were on our way back from the beach and I had a youth that needed to call a parent.  She couldn’t get it to work right.   That lead to the rest of my night messing with it off and on until I finally set it down for the night knowing that I would have to do a lot the next day in order to get another phone or figure out what is wrong with the one I have.  That was pretty stressful and frustrating.  Looking back at it, I am surprised that it frustrated me so much.

The second thing I realized is something about that frustration.  I think the most frustrating part of my phone issues was the fact that I couldn’t fix the problem.  No matter what I tried to do, I couldn’t fix what was wrong with my phone.  It is hard not to be able to fix a problem that you have.  I think we all end up with those situations.  It might be a fight between friends that no matter what you say or do, the other person won’t listen or forgive you.  Maybe you broke something irreplaceable and there is no way that you can fix it.  It could be that you said or did something that hurt people and you can’t fix it through words or deeds.
I think I will just be happy that my phone is fixed and come to the understanding that sometimes things are out of our control.  We might not be able to mend broken relationships or broken phones but we can always use the hotline to heaven.  We can always ask forgiveness for our thoughts and deeds and pray for those that won’t forgive us. God is with us always and always willing to listen when we call.

Day 20

Yesterday was a very long day.  The beach was great but I was so tired this morning that I fell out of my routine.  I am just now getting around to blogging for today!  Well this week I lost 2.2 pounds.  I am so glad I am still losing weight.  I was a little disappointed only because I worked my butt off this week but I am so happy that I am continuing to have results.  I do feel much healthier with this life style change than with my diet I was doing earlier.  Well I want to write another blog tonight so I am going to go, but I will talk to you tomorrow.

I is for I

Three years ago our youth group got the okay to create a youth area.  We got a hallway underneath the sanctuary designated as youth space.  We decided to paint it a lot of different colors.  The hallway is a very deep green that really draws the attention of people in the congregation.  Since the area is below ground, we came up with the idea of calling it The Way Station, which we modeled after a subway station.  All of the rooms and decorations are based on the subway theme.

The main reason we chose The Way Station was so that we can use the bible verse where Jesus says:  “I am the way, the truth, and the life: John 14:6.”   We even created a t shirt that says “Got Tunnel vision?”  This means that we have our eyes set on Jesus, and we are asking if you do too.
There are so many distractions in the world today.  The youth of today have some many options, so many things that pull them in multiple directions.  School, sports, friends, drugs, peer pressure, video games, and computers all pull at the interest of our youth.  The problem is that often church is the thing that falls to the way side.
Youth look at church sometimes as boring or hard to understand.  They sometimes picture it as extra school work.  It is easy for them to be pulled in other directions and not make youth group and church one of their top priorities. 
A lot of time youth just haven’t found Jesus yet.  They don’t really understand their faith and they struggle with it.  Often they don’t feel comfortable sharing their faith with other youth.  Where were you in your faith journey at age 12,16,18, or 25? 
Jesus said, “ I am the way, the truth, and the life.” 
If we are able to teach our youth that Jesus is the way then we can help them to live the right life, pass by those things that cause pain and strife and stay on the right path. 
If we are able to teach them that Jesus is the truth then they will see that by following him, liars, thieves, and bullies cannot harm them.
If we are able to teach them that Jesus is the life then they will find fulfillment in their faith journeys and will make youth group, church, but more importantly Jesus an important part of their lives.
There is no I in Jesus… oh wait… Yes there is!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 19

It is EARLY! 5:05 as I write this.  We are headed to the beach today!  I am getting ready to head over to church to ice down the coolers.  It is gonna be a great day!  I may not get an actual workout in today but I hope playing in the waves will be enough! Crazy!  Not much else to say this morning as I try to wake up.  Gotta get a shower! 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Skipping Stones

John 8:7:  “He that is without sin among you, cast the first stone.”

Today I went for a walk around Shelley Lake.  As I was walking I noticed two young boys skipping stones across the water.  One of them was very good at it and could get three or four skips before the stone broke the plane of the water and fell into the lake with a  light splash.  The other boy was not as good.  He would try so hard and might get one or two skips before the stone banged into the water with a lot of force and sank to the bottom.  I smiled as I walked by and remembered as a kid attempting to do the same thing.  It’s amazing how entertaining it can be.
As I walked on though I started thinking about the verse John 8:7, “He that is without sin among you, cast the first stone.”  That is so hard to live by because we have a tendency to judge others.  Even though we know inside that we have done things that are sinful, we still without fail will cast stones at people.  Have you ever done it?  Have you ever caught someone doing something that you yourself have done but still you judge and berate them for what they have done?  It is easy to do.  It is easy to think that the sin that they did is far worse than any sin you have done, so you have the right to cast your stone.  The thing is, a sin is a sin and we have all sinned.  We have all been the one that has had stones cast at us.
Some of us are like that first boy.  We are careful about casting our stone and when we do it goes through so many bumps that it dies out and lands with a soft splash into the one we were aiming for.  Others of us are like the other boy.  We cast our stone so hard that our words and actions hit softly once or twice and then smashes into the one we are casting it at and it sinks in hard.
Actions and words can cause so much pain and sorrow.  Although we know better and would rather not have people do it to us, we still cast stones.  I think I took a lesson away from my walk this morning.  I think I will not throw stones.  I will throw love, and  I will hope that others will do the same for me when I sin. 

May your stones be covered in moss for they are lying at your feet.

Day 18

Got up early for a Saturday at 6:30 am and walked Shelley Lake.  Did 4.5 miles and then did some shopping for the beach trip tomorrow!  What a great morning.  I am excited to see if I lost any more weight on Monday morning.  I have got a busy week this week so hopefully I will get all my workouts in and be ready to go!  So excited to talk to the kids about the upcoming school year!  Gonna grab a shower and lunch is in the near future!  Peace Out!

Friday, July 22, 2011

H is for Hospital

Since I started working with youth, I have been to the hospital three times.  Each time was for a different girl in my youth group.  Each of them were in the emergency room for a different reason, one youth hit her knee on a railing while we were playing hide and seek in the church and dislocated it.  Another youth had an epileptic seizure, and the third had some depression issues.

Sitting in the waiting room is not an easy process when anyone is in the hospital, but it is especially hard when it is a child.  It is hard to watch children in pain or for that matter it is hard to watch them cry at all.  I can only imagine what it is like for a parent that loves their child so much to have to go through something as terrifying as the emergency room.  I don’t just have one or two children in my life, I have a bunch and the last thing I want to see is one of them in pain. 
Our youth group is around 30 members, each of them have their own personalities, style, talents, abilities, problems, self esteem issues, and unsure feelings about themselves.  They all bring something different to the table.  The all share their life with me and our church family.
Each time I have been to the hospital for a youth, I have been blessed by the fact that that youth didn’t have any major long term problems.  They were able to go home and after either treatment or counseling, they have been on the road to recovery.  Not all youth are that lucky.
There are so many different reasons why a youth ends up in the hospital.  Some are not under our control like untreatable illness or disease.  Others are treatable like the flu or a dislocated knee.  Some are mental or emotional like depression.  Sometimes it is an accident that was out of our control or an accident that was in our control like texting or talking on the cell phone while driving.
Every day youth end up in the hospital for one reason or another.  I know that the 3 times I have been are not the only times I will go.  I understand that by working with youth I run the risk of seeing my youth in pain.   It is a risk I will take.  I will be there when they need me and I will love them no matter what.  Watch out after your children, if they are in the hospital for any reason at all, be there for them with a loving heart, a open mind, and a heavy soul.  That is when they are scared and need our love more than anything else in the world.

Day 17

Wow, crazy day so far.  Went to Captain America last night.  I didn't think it was all that great.  It was ok.  The Avengers trailer at the end was cool.  Worked out late and getting ready for lunch.  Really hungry.  Gonna do some work around the house and then go to Walmart for a couple of things!

 I am looking forward to the beach on Sunday!

 I just want to thank God for everything he has given me. Life makes me very happy!  I still have a lot to learn though!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What would you do?

 This morning I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items.  It took me about 15 minutes because I decided to use the self check out line.  Those things never work right for me, you would think I have learned my lesson.  As I headed back out to my car with my bags in my hands I noticed a young man sitting on the front bumper of his car.  His car was parked right next to me on the passenger’s side.  He had his face in his hands and looked to be upset and talking to himself.  He might have been 17 or 18 at the oldest.

I walked up to my car.  I hit the button that unlocks the car.  The noise made him pop his head up out of his hands and look up at me.  I popped the trunk open and put my groceries inside.  As I started to close the truck the young man came around the front of the car toward me.

“Hello sir” he said nervously.

 “Hey buddy what’s going on?” I asked.  

“I’m really sorry sir but when I got out of my car, my car door opened really fast and banged into the side of your car.  I didn’t want to go any where until I talked to the owner of the car.” he said.

“Ok buddy, let’s take a look,” I said.

We went around to the passenger side to take a look at the door.  My car is really old and has a lot of scratches.  I looked over the door and there in the middle I saw the smallest little scratch with just a dab of paint from the side of his car. 

I took a couple minutes and looked over it.  I then turned to him and said.

“I really appreciate you sticking around.  I don’t see anything at all from your car door.  Thanks for doing the right thing.  Hope you have a great day buddy.”

He smiled at me and walked on toward the Food Lion. 

Do you know how many times I have let my door hit another car and I haven’t done anything about it.  I just went on about my day.  But this young man stayed to talk to me.  Yes he was scared, upset, worried, probably one of the first times he has been out with the car himself.  He could of easily left without saying anything and gotten away with it.  Even if it was a big dent, it would have been on the passenger side of the car and how many of us look at that side before we leave the parking lot?

I am thankful for when people do the small things, when people care enough about others to talk to people about issues with their personal belongings. 

What would you do?


Here we go!  Day 16.  Things are good, I just got done exercising.  I am getting ready to get a shower and then head to work.  2 days until we go to the beach.  Tonight some of the boys and I are going to see Captain America.  I can't wait!  I think it should be really good!  It is HOT today.  They are calling for a heat index around 110.  It is crazy!  Hope it doesn't stay that way for long!  Well,  got to run!  Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

G is for Groceries

Two years ago we started a new local mission project at our church called Feed the 5000.  Every summer we go away for a week long mission project but our youth group really wanted to do something to give back to the community.  We decided on a canned food drive where we would attempt to collect 5000 cans of food to bring to our local food pantry. 

We wanted to make a difference in our community and just like Jesus feed the 5000, we wanted to be able to do the same.  Our youth have really embraced it, so much so that two years ago we collected over 6000 cans of food and last year we collected over 7000 cans of food. 
We collect for three months and then in late October we have a weekend event. It is a Friday to Saturday.  The first part is that after lunch on Friday our youth and adults start to fast, or go without food.  We do this for thirty one hours over the weekend to simulate what it must be like for someone to go without food.  During this time we pack a truck with all the food that we have collected at the church and then after a fun scavenger hunt through Raleigh, we meet at a local grocery store to spend money that we have raised through a car wash and yard sale on food. 
The youth go through the aisles and collect different canned and boxed food.  They go to the back of the store where lots of canned goods are still on pallets ready for us to take them in bulk. 
Some of the youth help to mark the upc symbols off the back of the cans while others load them in boxes.  Still another crew is outside loading it in the truck.
This is an amazing mission project because of the food we are collecting, the teamwork of our youth, the loving and caring spirit of our adults and youth, the dedication to the mission and the true feeling of Jesus using us to continue his work here on earth. 
We may not have fish and loaves but I am sure you can find some canned tuna and a box of crackers.  That’s what we fill our baskets with and that is what we deliver to the people of our community. 

Day 15

WOW... yesterday got away from me.  I didn't get to write my JC piece and mowing the lawn in extreme heat knocked me out.  I am still feeling it today!  Crazy!  My meals are all out of sync too.  I will get back on track.  I may leave early and work out and clean up the apartment some.  What a day yesterday was!  Here's to today and tomorrow!  15 days in... So far... so good!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 14

We are now 14 days in.  I walked to and from work yesterday.  It was a nice walk.  It will be better in the fall when it is cooler.  I am tired this morning.  I have to go mow the lawn today and it is going to be HOT!  We go to the beach this weekend.  I am looking forward to that!   Something is really bothering me this morning, but I will get over it I guess!  I am off to work in a few!  Talk to ya later...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Silence filled with Laughter

Every Monday we have a staff meeting.  We light a Christ candle and start with a moment of silence.  Normally everything is silent except for the air conditioning running or the rush of cars passing by on the street.  This morning though, when I closed my eyes and reached for silence I heard laughter.  Children’s laughter to be specific, it was coming from below me on the playground outside the window. 

For the past two weeks we have had preschool summer camp at the church.  Today they just happened to be outside playing on the playground during our silent time. I love the sound of children laughing.  When I hear it I know that everything is right with the world. 
Children don’t understand the problems of this world.  They don’t have the many different weights on their shoulders.  They don’t feel the stress of everyday life that adults do.  They just want to play and learn and have a good time. 
Don’t you just want to be a child sometimes?  To be able to forget about the world around us for a day and just play, or read, or nap would be wonderful.    We would not have to worry about the bills, work, school or other people, we could just be carefree for one day.  It would be a day of sharing and love where we could lie on the green grassy hill with our friends and look up at the clouds in the sky and have no issues or problems come into our heads.  We can just tell our friends that that cloud looks like a giraffe.
I think we should invent that day.  We can call it relive your childhood day.   It would be a day of relaxation, of wonder, excitement, and love.   Just one day a month where we could forget about everything and just be.  Where stains on our clothes and untied shoes just don’t matter. 
Today I truly was in a silence filled with laughter.  I could do nothing but smile.  I wanted to be out there with them.  The day that I will be worried about life is a day when children are on the playground and all I hear is silence.

Day 13

Well it was weigh in day.  I lost another 3 points over the last week.  That was great!  I am up and ready to go.  I am getting ready to shower and walk to work.  Hopefully I can get back in the flow of doing my workout on the wii!  Things have been crazy the past couple of days!  Gotta get going!  See you soon!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

F is for Football

I love college football.  I am a HUGE Virginia Tech Hokies fan!  The first youth I met when I interviewed for my current position was a very big red headed youth named Glen.  After talking with him before my interview, I found out he played lineman for his high school football team.
Soon after receiving the job I found myself enjoying my Friday nights at one of the local high schools as I cheered on Glen.  It was so great, I got to watch Friday night football which enjoying the great company of friends and the game that I love so much. 
One game, as we watched from the stands, Glen lined up at his usual position on the line and plowed into the defense.  As usual Glen was on the ground by the end of the play, but unlike usual, he didn’t get up.  The trainer ran onto the field stood over Glen.  He sat up and took his helmet off.  They talked for a few and then Glen lifted himself off the turf and headed to the sideline.  He was favoring his left shoulder.  Glen’s mom went down from the stands and talked with the trainer.  When she returned, she told us that Glen had felt his shoulder come out of joint and the trainer believed it was disconnected.  It was. 
Glen had to have surgery.  The next year, Glen had to have knee surgery because of a torn tendon.  The next year, the other shoulder came out and he had to have surgery.
Each time he had to have surgery, I would go and spend time with him.  He would beat my butt in Madden every time.  We would just chill and talk about life.  It was hard watching him struggle with the injuries. 
Have you ever loved something so much that all you wanted to do was that something?  Whether it was football, soccer, rollerblading, acting, gardening, any activity at all but something happens and you can’t do what it is that you love?  You are stuck on the sidelines watching.  Glen loves football so much and honestly he was really good at it.  It pained me to watch him on the sidelines instead of in the game.  Because of injuries, Glen wasn’t able to get a college offer to play football.  I wonder sometimes what would have been different if he hadn’t been injured so much. 
What’s the point of this story?  The fact is, although Glen might have been hurting inside, you would of never known by the look on his face and his interaction with the team.  He helped to coach his replacements, he was on the sideline to give moral support.  He did everything he could do to be involved in the game.
He hasn’t let what happened to him hold him down.  He wants to coach football as a career and although he might not have the playing in college experience as a background, he now has coaching experience.  He has been at an offensive line coach for two high schools.  One of those was the high school he played for.  While in college he is getting valuable coaching experience that could take him farther than playing the game.
Glen made the best of his situation and did everything he could do to keep his head in the game when his body wouldn’t allow it anymore.  I am really proud of him.  Put the football to the side because without it, you still have a kind, gentle, well loved and respected young adult that has shown more poise and control than most men would have given what happened to him in high school.  It’s no longer 4th down and 10 with nothing but a hazy outlook ahead.  Instead its 1st and goal and there is a lot of ways that he can score in this game of life.  Go get them Glen!

Day 12

Wow... I slept really good last night...  A little too good as I missed working out this morning because I couldn't get myself up out of bed.  Church was good.  I am going to get some lunch and hopefully get my workout in this afternoon. 

We have a feed the 5000 meeting tonight.  Excited to start thinking about next school year.

I am going to look for God today.... He's everywhere!

Saturday, July 16, 2011


               Lemons are really sour and tart.  I just ate a lemon.  I cut it into fourths, pulled away the peeling and ate the lemon.  I bet you would’ve laughed if you could of seen my face.  I love the tartness of lemons.  I got that from my dad.  He really likes lemon cookies.  The difference between a lemon and lemon cookies is what is added to the cookie.  Sugar, flour, vanilla, all these ingredients help to make the cookie sweet and the lemon favor just right.  The same goes for lemonade or lemon drops candy.  It is the sugar or sweetness mixed with the flavor of the lemon that tastes so great.

I think a lemon is a lot like life.  Life is often sour and tart.  Car problems, sickness, money, relationships, school, work, family and friends, all these things affect our lives.  One day the lemon of life can be really sour and tart, almost too sour and tart to handle, another day that sour and tart taste might be just right.    
So what do we do to make life sweeter?  What can we do to make lemon cookies or lemonade with life? 

Just add sugar…

If we add sugar to our life lemon, we will have a sweet, wonderful life instead of a tart sour one.  How do we add sugar?  We do the things in life that make us happy.  Go for a walk, paint a picture, collect baseball cards, go to the beach, play with the kids, play a board game, go to the pool, eat something good, watch sports, play golf, garden, take a pottery class, take an acting class, learn to dance, go to the movies, tell your husband or wife you love them, set goals, spend time with your family, go to church, build something, cook something, pray, enroll in a class, watch your kids play, take pictures or just take a nap.

Do things that make you happy.  Take time for you and your family.  If you add that sweetener to your life then the tartness and sourness on those bad lemon days won’t sting so bad.
The saying is when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  What are you waiting for?  Add the sweetener that will turn your life from lemons to lemonade.

Day 11

Started the day off great with a walk around Shelly Lake.  It was a wondeful, cool, breezy morning.  I really enjoyed it.  I did pretty good yesterday, walking to Food Lion and trying to take a break so my shoulder will heal. Gonna chill today and do some work at church and maybe go hang with some people for dinner. Who knows what I will do today!   Have a great Saturday!

Friday, July 15, 2011

E is for Every

We choose different paths in our lives.  We chose our career path, our family path, our hobbies and daily interest path, and our health path.  We decide what we are doing and when we are doing it.
I choose my path.  I started with a degree in Environmental Science, Natural Resource management and here I sit, a Director of Youth Ministries.  I wouldn’t change it for anything.  That is what is so awesome about.
Every decision that we make, every person we interact with, affects our lives.  I choose to work with youth, I choose to have the ups and downs of the youth around me, I choose to have them crying on my shoulder, or laughing with me.  I choose them. 
What do you choose?  What are the every moments in your life that keep you coming back for more?  Is your everyday fulfilling?
You need to do something that you love.  You need to use the God given talents and abilities that you have been given.  Without them, you will not enjoy your every moments.  You will be void of those feelings of joy and love and will be stuck in an unfulfilling situation that makes you regret the every moments.
You will tell people that every time this or that happens it drives you insane.  Ok, yes I have those moments and when you work with people and kids you will, but are such a small portion of my every moments.
Can you say that about what you do with your life or with your career?
I love EVERY laugh, whether with me or at me, I love EVERY tear whether joyful or sorrowful, I love EVERY annoying song I have had to listen to, EVERY stressful moment that I have been put into. I love EVERY I love you that I get from the kids and even EVERY I hate you.  I hope that I make the same impact on my kids that they do on me with EVERYTHING they say and do for and with me.

Do you love everything? Do you really?

Day 10

Wow... The movie was great last night but has totally messed up my schedule!  I hope to get back on it tomorrow.  I am debating right now what to do for exercise.  My neck has been hurting so I think I will lay off my normal exercise routine and give myself a break for the day.  I may go for a walk to run / walk on the teadmill later.  I think for now, I am going to take a shower and may even think about a nap! 

Feeling good!

Have a great day!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Boy Who Didn't Laugh

Every night there are a group of kids that play in the courtyard at my apartment complex.  They usually kick a soccer ball around.  There are four girls and three boys, around six or seven years old that play together.  I see them down there every afternoon when I go into my apartment.  They are just laughing and having a good old time.

One day I stopped and leaned on the rail and watched them play.  They lined up across from each other and kicked the ball back and forth.  It was like watching soccer practice.  The boys had no problem kicking the ball.  They whipped the ball back and forth across the courtyard.  The girls had trouble either getting it to go the right direction or getting any force behind their kicks. 
Two of the boys were continuously on the girls. Yelling that them to kick straight and harder.  They would tease them when they couldn’t get it to them.   I noticed the look on the third boys face.  He had a scowl and looked very upset.  They continued to play, the boys giving the girls and hard time and the girls getting upset.  When the ball came to one of the taunting boys, he picked it up and threw it hard at one of the girls, knocking her down.
This prompted me to immediately stand up from my slouched position.  I was just about to yell at him when out of nowhere I heard, “THAT IS ENOUGH!” The boy with the scowl, leaned over and picked up the ball.  He turned to the boy who had thrown the ball.  “Don’t you ever do that again,” he said.  He reached down and helped the girl up. He brushed her off and put the ball at her feet. 
I watched as this boy then started to teach her how to kick the ball.  He then went to each of the other girls and taught them.  Before long, the other two boys were helping him.  They paired off and helped to teach the girls to kick.
I smiled and silently laughed. 
Too often in life, we laugh at our problems.  We focus on the negative instead of the positive.  We make fun of people.  We decide to give them a hard time instead of helping out or teaching them how to do it right.  It is hard to do the right thing.  It’s hard not to join the crowd.  Be the boy who didn’t laugh.  Help out instead of laughing or making fun of someone.  Be a teacher.

Jesus was a teacher.  Don’t you want to be like Jesus?

Day 9

Yesterday was soooooo hot and then big thunderstorms came.  The lightening was pretty cool.  Well we are on day 9 of Me and JC.  I feel pretty good.  I have a couple of injuries but for the most part I am feeling good.  It was been really hot so I have stuck to my Wii for most of my exercise.  I will get outdoors more when it gets cooler.  I may use the apartment treadmill this afternoon. We shall see.  I plan to take a nap this afternoon because today is HARRY POTTER DAY!  The last Harry Potter movie comes out today!  I can't wait, it looks really good!  So here we go, Day 9!  See ya!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

D is for Dad

 We often take our parents for granted.  I know that I have done so, especially when I got out on my own and started doing things for myself.  Through my entire life they have always been there for me.  I can’t imagine what it would be like without them.  Even now I wonder how I would deal with losing one or both of them.

About two years ago one of my youth lost his father.  He had been sick for a while and Hospice had been called in.  He was in a hospital bed in the upstairs bedroom of their home.  He didn’t talk much and pretty much refused to eat the last month of his life.  Justin, my 8th grade youth at the time, was very upset about it, but honestly it never showed on the outside.  Justin is such a well mannered boy, he always says please and thank you, he opens doors, asks if he can help whenever he is around and honestly cares about people.  You can tell that his parent s raised him right.

I remember the day his dad died; I got an email from his mom.  The pastor at our church and myself decided around lunch time to drive out and see the family.  Justin’s mom answered the door and we went in and sat down.  She thanked us for coming and said that Justin had gone to a friend’s house to get away for a little while.  She and the pastor began to discuss the arrangements.  I sort of just sat on the couch and listened in and out of the conversation, but my heart and my head were thinking about Justin.  What could he be going through?  What thoughts were running through his head?  Who was going to do all the things for him that a dad does?  Who was going to have those conversations that a dad and his son have?

I couldn’t imagine what he was going through and I didn’t have answers to those questions I was asking in my head.  When the pastor was done, as we were leaving, I told Justin’s mom to have Justin call me tonight and I will come pick him up and take him to lunch and hang out tomorrow.

That next day as we were sitting across from each other at Chili’s and talking, I asked Justin if he was ok.  He surprised me by saying yes.  He said that he knew his dad had been sick for a long time and that he would miss him terribly but he knew that his dad was in a better place and that he was no longer in pain.  He went on to say that things were going to be ok.  He said he had his mom, sister, the rest of his family, and his church and that he knew he could count on all of us.

I smiled at him and just thought in my head, what a mature attitude, I don’t know if I could have that mature of an attitude about losing one of my parents, and I am thirty five years old.  I told him that if he needed anything, all he had to do was ask.  We continued to eat and hang out and after some video game playing at the local video game store I took him home.  As we pulled up in the driveway, Justin asked me a question.  He asked me if I would help him to make a video of pictures of his dad for the funeral.  I told him of course, anything he wanted or needed. 

We made a great music video of his dad.  We made fifteen copies so he could give it to family.  The funeral was really nice and a ton of our youth can to support Justin.  After the funeral during the reception, I watched Justin, his mom, and his sister hold each other and watch the video.  It was such a sweet precious moment. 

Justin showed me that he is wise beyond his years.  He showed me that though his faith, he knew that God was taking care of his dad now and that we would take care of him.  To this day he has never questioned that.

I hope that we all carry just a small portion of that wisdom as we continue through our lives…

Day 8

Today was a late day.  I didn't want to stay up late, but America's got talent went till 11 pm and then I hadn't written on JC blog for the day so I needed to do that.  I finally got started and worked out which was hard.   I really feel it this morning.  I did some more research so I think that I will be switching my breakfast up a little in the morning.  I missed my V8 this morning.  I will get a glass later today!  I like how things are going as long as I am still on the right track!  I gotta keep it up!  Hope everyone else has a good day!  Talk to you later!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


It’s such a small word.  Three letters which are always followed in some way with a question mark.  We ask why questions to our friends, family, pastors, neighbors, criminals, the television, almost anyone and everyone.  You would think there would always be an answer to the question why.  It may not be an easy answer, but at least there would be an answer.  The truth is, sometimes there is no answer to why. 
I tell the youth group all the time that God’s greatest gift that he has given us is free will.  He put in each of us the power, the right, and the responsibility to make our own decisions.  Sometimes we make great decisions and do wonderful things with the why that is placed in front of us.  Other times, we don’t.  We make truly poor decisions.  Life is full of trial and error, why, and because.
I have made mistakes in my life.  I have hurt people, been mean to people, and done the wrong thing.  I have used my free will to do things the way I have wanted them done and that has not always been the way it should be done.  We all have.
And when we do, it leaves people asking WHY?  Most of the time we can’t answer why, because our reasons for why are self motivated and selfish.  We want what we want and then we are left to answer why.  The funny thing is that most people are afraid to approach us with why and when they don’t, we continue doing the same things over and over and still not answering why we are doing it.
So what is the answer to why?

Because…? I meant too…?  I don’t know?   

Sometimes there is an answer, sometimes there isn’t.  Sometimes we just have to practice one of the hardest things to do….Forgiveness…

Day 7

One week in!  Only 51 more to go!  Wow!  Workout was good except my knee was acting funny.  I am going to keep pushing it!  This is hard for me because I am usually pretty lazy!  Two days till Harry Potter!  That will be a very late night, but I can't wait.  I am going to eat breakfast and head to work.  It's time to start getting ready for the next school year!  Have a good day!