Wednesday, December 25, 2013

End of the Year Awards

I hope that everyone has had a wonderful Christmas.  I know that we have had a great time here in Blacksburg which started with snow flurries when we went to church last night and ended with seeing the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  It was a great time with family. 

It is the end of the year which often brings lists and countdowns of the top / best moments of 2013.  I have decided to do my own list of awards this year based on the 2013 youth group.  I am calling them: The Markies!  So let's get started:


Most Likely to End Up on Jeopardy

Winner: Ryan Cherry

Based on the amount of questions that I get asked on any given Sunday, Ryan would definitely be able to give answers in the form of questions.  I would however feel sorry for Alex Trebek and the questions he would get asked during the commercial break.


Funniest Saying

Winner:  Owen Wilkinson

Although I am not sure exactly how to write it, Owen had the funniest saying at ASP this year.  The way he does it had me laughing so hard that my stomach hurt.  He explained to us that there is a woman at the K and W cafeteria that asks people if they want

"anyching else?"


The Shot Put Award

Winner: Temple Shepherd

One time after taking Liz and Temple out to dinner I was pulling out of the driveway when I turned just in time to witness Temple chucking an apple into the woods.  It was actually a pretty good throw but oh course I had to give her a hard time for chucking a perfectly good apple into the woods from a meal I had just bought her.


The Jamaican Banana Award

Winner: Luke Short

At the State Fair this year Luke wanted to play the games to try and win prizes.  He tried so hard but wasn't able to win anything.  After a few games I told him to save his money so that he didn't waste it.  At one point he asked me if he could go over and watch a game while others were riding a ride.  I told him it was fine.  A few minutes later he returned with a Jamaican Banana that I was given specific instructions on how to hold for the remainder of our stay at the fair.

The Spell Check Award

Winner: Alex Almasy

It goes without saying that Alex has an awesome memory.  That being said if I make a statement or exaggerate anything in anyway at all Alex corrects me or calls me on the exaggerating.  It is kind like typing this blog entry and having red appear under mistakes which of course are misspelled words.  FYI  there is a red squiggly line under Almasy as I am typing this!


Best Live Stage Performance

Winner: Danielle Galloway

A wonderful performance as Miss Strickland in the Christmas Pageant.  It was an excellent performance and she did a great job interacting with the young choir members.


Best Movie

Winner: Dan Man and the Fight Against Hunger

This movie was a lot of fun to make and Daniel Miller did an awesome job in his portrayal of Dan Man.  I was quite impressed by his acting skills!  Everyone did a great job including those that played hunger.

Most Amazing Basketball Shot

Winner: Jonathan Garner

With 10 seconds left in a joyful noise game, Jonathan came off a curl to the three point line and drained a three pointer as the buzzer sounded to win a basketball game by 1 point.  It was by far the most amazing shot ever made in a Joyful Noise Game.

Best F4J Message

Winner: Liz Elliot

We have had some amazing messages delivered by our youth during F4Js.  I am amazed at the messages that they bring to the table when they lead the service.  I have to say though on two occurrences Liz has brought wonderful powerful messages that have blown me away.  I am truly impressed by her ability to write and deliver a meaningful and powerful message.  She has a great future in Ministry if she chooses to pursues it!

King of the Court Award

Winner: Daniel Miller

I could not watch a basketball game in which Daniel was playing in without laughing.  He just makes you laugh when he plays whether it was what he said or his actions on the court.  This year was a lot of fun but he made it a riot. 


Scriptwriter and Director Debut Award

Winner: Will Cook

Will put together a great video and did some amazing acting in the Real Christmas Story video.  I was really impressed and I look forward to seeing him play a role in more films that we make.


The Pizza Award

Winner: Delaney Dabagian

Throughout our ASP trip this year our team was constantly reminded of one food back home and that food was pizza.  Delaney wanted pizza so bad that we surprised her and found a place where we could get some so she could have pizza :)


The Unexpected Sportsman Award

Winner: Ben Miller

I had no clue that Ben was even remotely interested in playing football but he played for the first time this year.  I got to watch one of his JV games and I have to admit that I was very impressed.  He looked good out there and has bulked up a lot over the year.  I look forward to seeing him play next year.


The Best Youth Group Award

Winner: St. Mark's Youth Group

I couldn't ask for a better, funnier, God loving, well behaved group of youth.  I have been given the opportunity to work with some great kids and I thank God everyday for them.  I can't wait to see where 2014 takes us!  Thanks everyone!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Taking a Stand!




Often celebrities get in trouble for taking a stand on a topic or situation.  They make statements to the world about how they feel about something which of course is their own opinion but because they are well known and or famous their opinions matter.  This often backfires because that celebrity is judged based on what they say.  They may lose some of their fan base, they may gain some fan base, they probably even have people in their fan base that don't care what they say.

After a celebrity has made a statement is when normal people decide to either back that statement or go against that statement.  They put their own opinions out there for the world to see.  This in turn has the same effect on normal people as it does on celebrities.  Friends of people that post their opinions and take stands on topics will draw their own conclusion about the person that has taken a stand and posted it for the world to see.

Again that person that posted will have friends that stand by them, friends that disagree with them, and friends that just don't even care.  A ripple effect happens and it continues down the line as people then post their own opinions after reading a friend's post.

The last thing in the world I am say is don't take a stand.  If you are passionate about something then you need to stand up for it and back it any way possible.  I'm just saying that if you do this please keep in mind that your friends, family, jobs, etc. will read what you have to say and draw their own conclusions and either back you or not back you. 

If you take a stand on something you need to accept the backlash that comes with it.  If you give your opinion then you need to be open to other people's opinions.  If you make a statement expect others to reply and tell you how they feel about your statement.  If you take a stand on a subject, please realize that people are going to form their own opinion about you and if they disagree with you, you may just lose a friend.

I think there are plenty of things in this world that need to be supported and lifted up.  Just remember that when you decide to do that, the world is watching, opinions are being formed and decisions about your stance are being made by people.  Although we should never judge someone for what they say or their actions, we are only human.  There is a reason we must repent for our sins.  Some people are judgmental and will form an opinion about you based on the things you say and the way you hold yourself.

Please make sure before you take a stand on something that you are fully committed to the backlash and falling out of the statement you have made.  Be passionate and fully committed before you type or speak about topics especially ones that are controversial!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

T'was the Night Before Christmas...



T'was the Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night before Christmas,
And all through the Church,
Everyone was stirring,
For a seat I did search,

The choir was singing,
The advent candles were lit,
The preacher was waiting,
I was late I must admit,

I found a seat,
On a row towards the back,
There was only one person,
He didn't talk smack,

He looked over at me,
And gave me a wink,
He had a white beard and red coat,
Which made me start to think,

I settled in for the service,
I picked up my book,
We started to sing,
But at this man I couldn't help but look,

His face full of glee,
His beard pearly white,
He had a big round stomach,
Off him I couldn't take my sight,

We finished our song,
And before he started to preach,
Up quickly I rose,
And for this man's hand I did reach,

As I passed him the peace,
I told him my name with a smile,
He said his name was Nick,
Smiling and laughing all the while,

He said he was visiting,
Just for the night,
For a little later,
He would have to take flight,

I stood in awe of this little old man,
Could he be the one,
On this night of all nights,
Brings presents to everyone,

I sat back in my seat,
And listened to the story of Jesus and his birth,
For on this night,
He was born for all on the earth,

After the service I watched,
This little old man in the red,
As he exited the church,
Up the stairs he fled,

I followed him up to the roof,
Where he turned and stopped,
That's when I knew who he was,
And my jaw did drop,

He was Santa for sure,
For his sleigh was right here,
With gifts and toys,
And all his reindeer,

He entered his sleigh and,
and looked ready to go,
When he looked over and saw me,
He yelled out a whoa,

I walked over to him,
and asked with fright,
Why he stopped at church,
On such an important night,

He smiled and chuckled,
And looked down at me,
And he explained very carefully,
but full of glee,

He said that nothing was more important,
On this special night,
Then to stop and worship,
Before he takes flight,

A baby was born in a stable,
For all of us he exclaimed,
In a stable in Bethlehem,
And Jesus he was named,

For he is the only present we need,
Please be clear,
For without him in our lives,
They would be full of fear,

So every Christmas Eve,
I find a church to stop,
And praise him and worship him,
Before on my sleigh I do hop,

Because he is the King of Kings,
And the Prince of Peace,
Of Christmas,
I am just a small piece,

I smiled at Santa,
As he told me this story,
And reminded me to God we should,
Give all the glory,

Then me smiled back at me,
And told his reindeer to go,
And off they went,
His altitude did grow,

He whipped around the church,
And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of site,
Merry Christmas to All,
and to All a Good night!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Naughty or Nice?





I hear stories, read articles, witness situations, and see videos about children who have been neglected, beaten, mistreated, and ignored.  I see it happen right in front of me sometimes and I just don't understand it.  People treat kids as property or responsibility and not as little people.  They yell, they scream, they hit, they scold, they beat them down verbally and literally.  I know that not every family treats their kids this way but I don't understand why people don't love the beautiful, loving gifts from God they have been given.  It boggles my mind to see how kids are misunderstood and mistreated. 

In the movie Fred Claus, Santa has a brother named Fred.  The movie is about him and how he has to deal with being the brother of Santa Claus.  In the end he has to be Santa and deliver the presents for one Christmas due to Santa being injured.   Through out the movie Fred is labeled as the troublesome, bad kid. Right before he goes to deliver the presents he says this to Santa:

"You know Nick there is one thing that has been eating at me since I got here.  That naughty nice list that you got, There's no naughty kids Nick.  They are all good kids, but some of them are scared, and some of them don't feel listened too, some of them have had some pretty tough breaks too, but every kid deserves a present on Christmas."

I believe that. There are no naughty kids.  They are loving and caring and wonderful.  Sometimes they have bad days and often they are molded by outside sources that cause they to say and do things that are wrong but deep down inside they are all good kids that just want to be loved, cared for, and listened too. 

I had a bad day yesterday and three of my youth turned my day around for me.  They listened to me, they were more worried about me and why I was angry and sad than anything else.  They hugged on me, laughed with me and just were there for me!  I didn't expect anything from them and was just going to head home and decompress but they were amazing, without them and a couple of adults I would still be upset.

I don't like to have bad days and show that I am having one. It is hard not to show that you are frustrated and angry when you work with youth and constantly need to be "on" and up beat.  I am blessed by the fact that my youth love me as much as I love them.  I am blessed that they are here for me when I need them. 

I hope you realize the gift you have been given.  I hope you know just how wonderful your kids are.  It's Christmas and yes they all deserve presents, but more than that they deserve your love, they deserve your attention, they deserve you.  On Christmas Eve, after you have gone to Church, curl up with them somewhere and just enjoy being with them.  You only get so many Christmases before they will be gone and out of the house.  Enjoy your time together and be a family.  Listen to what they have to say and share, you never know, you may just learn something.

There are no naughty kids, they are all good kids!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dislike...





Sometimes I just don't understand. 

I watch a lot of videos on the internet.  I am always looking for videos and clips that I can use with the youth to help drive home a point or help to build their spirituality.  There are many different sites that I go to, WIMP, Godtube, and of course YouTube.  All of these sites provide places on their websites for people to leave comments and to click on buttons that show likes and dislikes of a video.  They also show you how many people have watched the videos.

Most of the videos I watch and share bring me to tears.  They are so touching and so meaningful and are a blessing to watch.  Today for example I watched a wonderful video about one of the beautiful little girls that was killed during the Sandy Hook shooting.  Her death caused so much pain for the family and especially the mother but through the love of others and the help of God she has started a non profit which helps other kids based on the giving and loving spirit of her child.  It was a wonderful video and I cried throughout it. 

When the video was over I went and looked to see how many people had seen the video.  The number was 304,793.  That was awesome.  Next to that was the like button.  3,996 people had liked this wonderful video.  Next to that was the dislike button, 141 people disliked this video. 

That shocked me. 141 people disliked a video about a family that lost a child and through that tragedy they were able to over come and not let evil win.  They created something meaningful and wonderful.  I don't get it, even if you don't believe in God how could you dislike a video about someone dealing with the pain of losing someone?  Are there really those kind of people in the world or were people just being stupid by clicking the dislike button?

I know... I know, there are people out there that don't believe in God.  There are people out there that believe that God should of stopped this thing from happening.  There are people out there that have evil in their heart and want to do bad things. 

In the video the mother says this:

"People ask but where was your God when this happened?  Why didn't he stop it?  God allowed others to kill his son.  He allows for us all to make our own choices, good and bad, because that is the only way Good can be in us is if we freely choose it over all else..."

I don't know why people choose the dislike button or are so negative in this world but it is their choice.  I choose good.  I choose the like button.  I choose to stand up for what is right and allow God to work through me through everything I do.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Smells of Christmas




This morning I came in early to get a microphone ready for the United Methodist Women's meeting.  I went into the closet in Anderson hall and looked for what I needed.  It wasn't there so I had to go to the sacristy to get the microphone and stand.  I decided that I would walk to the sanctuary to get there.  The moment I opened the doors to the sanctuary it hit me.  The smell of pine of a Christmas tree radiated throughout the space.  I stopped in my tracks because I knew that our tree in the Sanctuary is fake.  I took another deep breathe to make sure that I was really smelling pine.  Sure enough the pine permeated my lungs.  It was definitely a wonderful, opening presents on a Christmas morning, real Christmas tree pine smell.  I started to look around to see where the smell might be coming from and then it hit me.  The wreathes that are hanging on the walls are pine.  They are real and I forgot about them.

I walked closer to them and the smell got stronger and stronger.  As I got to the steps leading up toward the alter I stopped and looked up at both the wreaths and the tree.  It was such a warm, wonderful feeling on such a cold, rainy winter's day.  As I stood there I glanced down to my left and the manger scene got my eye.  I stopped and sat down on the steps and studied the manger scene. I started to think about the smells that most of been coming from that stable long before Mary and Joseph even arrived.  Just think of all the animals were dirty and obviously do what animals do.  No one had time to clean the stable before Mary and Joseph got there.  They arrived ready to give birth and had to do it in a stable.  It's funny how the beautiful manger scenes can't give us the full experience of what it must of been like in a manger.

As I sat there and thought about it, something hit me.  Maybe someone the Innkeeper or Innkeeper's wife went out and cut some fresh pine branches and brought them in and put them on the hay so that they brought a fresh smell to the stable.  Maybe the manger was made out of cedar and even though it had been there for a while it still smelled fresh and clean. 

I don't even know if cedar and pine trees were available in that area but it sure makes thinking about giving birth in a stable a little more tolerable.  I hope your Advent season is filled with the smells that make Christmas enjoyable.  Hopefully you don't live in a stable :) 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Eric's Top 5 Thanksgiving Moments



Everyone has some great and not so great moments when it comes to the holidays.  We are often with family that we don't see very often so it is often hard to tell what is going to happen from one Thanksgiving to another.  I was thinking back to my family's Thanksgivings and I came up with my top 5 Thanksgiving moments. 


5.  One year my Grandparents on my father's side came to Thanksgiving and decided that we would go to the cafeteria for Thanksgiving dinner.  What a great experience having to wait in line to get your cafeteria turkey and dressing.  Having someone from behind the counter yelling "Meat Veg -a -ta- ble  Roll" at you is so much fun.  The saving grace of that experience was the fact that it was a K and W and they had Chocolate Cream Pie.  Don't go to dinner at the cafeteria for Thanksgiving.  It is not a fun experience.


4.  Another year we ate out.  This time it was at a Holiday Inn buffet.  This was actually an exciting and fun experience.  You could eat as much as you wanted and try anything you wanted on the buffet line.  It was nice to have the opportunity to try different things and enjoy time together without having to worry about cleaning up after.  I love a traditional Thanksgiving experience but for 1 time it was a lot of fun and the food was really good.  I am good with any Thanksgiving experience really as long as I get my mashed potatoes.  I have to have those!


3. When we lived in Clemmons, NC we had A LOT of trees which in turn produced A LOT of leaves.  I can remember one Thanksgiving in particular where we had to rake and move leaves all morning.  It was hard work because we had to move all the leaves from the front of the yard to the natural areas and woods in the back yard.  My brother, father, and I were out there for hours that Thanksgiving moving leaves.  I can remember my aunt and uncle and cousins showing up but we couldn't stop, we had to keep going!  My uncle even came out and gave us a hand.  It was such hard work.  The only thing that was worse than raking and moving leaves was when Dad would order mulch for the yard.  Talk about hard work and the smell well that is a different story. 

2.  A couple of years ago I decided that when I got home to Blacksburg that I was going to make a pumpkin pie from scratch, well as close to scratch as canned pumpkin can get you.  When I got to Blacksburg I stopped at the absolutely huge Kroger and bought the ingredients that I needed.  After I got home and visited with my Mom and Dad for a bit I went into the kitchen and started to put my pie together.  Everything seemed to be going well but I did notice that the pie was a little soupy when we put it in the oven.  My Dad and I were sitting in the study watching Virginia Tech play basketball when we heard a scream from the kitchen.  We both went running to see what had happen to mom.  When we got to the kitchen there was pumpkin pie all over the floor.  Mom had gone to check the pie and noticed it was still not firm and needed some more time to cook.  Unfortunately she pulled the oven shelf out too far and the pie had fallen face down on the oven door and splattered all over the place. We did have to give Mom a hard time about it but Dad went out first think Thanksgiving morning and found us a pumpkin pie.

1.  There was a Thanksgiving when we were kids that got us in a lot of trouble.  Mom had been working hard in the kitchen all day and my brother, my father, and I were all three being brats and joking around too much.  We were really getting on Mom's nerves.  She was telling us to settle down and be quiet but we wouldn't do it.  She finally got us to settle down enough to sit down for dinner.  She asked my brother to say grace.  We all bowed our heads and my brother said "Rub a dub dub thanks for the grub amen!"  My Dad and I cracked up but mom threw here napkin onto the table and ran upstairs slamming the door to the bedroom and locking it.  I remember Dad spending the next 30 minutes or so outside the door trying to get her to come back down.  Needless to say we were good boys for the rest of the meal :)  How did she do it with three boys in the house?  I don't know but I love you Mom and I promise to say a better grace this Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Attitude of a Champion




Yesterday, Philip and I, went to the Duke verses UNC-Asheville basketball game.  It was a lot of fun.  After finding our parking spot (just one wrong turn), we made our way to our seats and watched both teams warm up.  The game was close and a little sloppy at first but Duke began to get hot from the outside and hit some three pointers to start to pull away. 

There was a series in the game where a player from Duke stole the ball and hit a layup, he followed that up with an emphatic dunk and then he nailed a three pointer.  It was an awesome display of his abilities but here is where the problem lies.  After he slammed the ball, he got cocky and did a macho walk toward the crowd under the basket. After hitting the three pointer he put his hands out in the shapes of guns and started shooting at the crowd who of course got loud and excited and shot right back at him.  All this happened with Duke up 25 points on Asheville. 

I understand that these are college kids and they get excited but I have never been a fan of a boastful athlete.  I don't think there is a need for that cocky attitude and swagger after you dunk a basketball or hit a three pointer.  I mean, aren't they supposed to be able to be able to do that?  If he plays for Duke he should be able to hit those shots every game!

Tony Dungy says in his book Uncommon Life: Daily Challenge:

"Be confident in your God-given gifts and abilities, but always avoid pride.  Trying to build yourself up will eventually bring you down.  If you catch yourself with a "big head" today, deflate it by confessing your sin of pride to God."

I agree that you should be very confident in your God-given abilities but remember that they are God-given abilities.  I know that you work hard to be the athlete that you are but you have been given the talents in that area  (basketball, football, baseball, etc.) from God.  He has blessed you and it is up to you use them to glorify him. 

I know that Duke is going to have a great season and rightfully so because they have a great team.  I wish them luck and I hope that Coach K can get some of that showboating under control because if he doesn't they are going to come across the wrong team that won't put up with it and the game could get ugly.

God doesn't sit up in heaven and have a cocky attitude or a swagger about him because he created the world.  If anyone deserves to showboat it is God creator of all.  Let's be humble, let's hit three pointers and dunk basketballs, but lets remember who gave us that ability and act accordingly!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Josh-O





A couple of months ago Danielle got a job at Chick Fil A in order to start working toward buying a car.  She got the job at the Chick Fill A at North Hills. I like that Chick Fil A a lot, it is one of my favorite restaurants.  While working there Danielle became friends with a senior at Sanderson named Josh Abbott.  Josh has worked there for over a year and a half.  After getting to know Josh, Danielle invited Josh to come to our youth group because honestly Josh wasn't too happy with his.  He agreed and came to his first youth group about two months ago. 

It didn't take long for Josh to fit in.  He was very funny and a really nice guy.  We hit it off very quickly.  After only being there for two youth groups, Josh offered to go to the grocery store and buy over $50.00 worth of canned goods for our feed the 5000 can drive.  He has such a loving and giving heart.  The more he came to youth group the more I liked him.  He came and helped with the Feed the 5000 program and helped with the yard sale.  At the yard sale I talked him into coming to Pilgrimage even though it was his birthday weekend.  The next day he gave me the $65.00 to pay for Pilgrimage. 

Josh continued to come to youth events  and started to build relationships with the other youth.  He even had a count down clock on his cell phone to the start of Pilgrimage.  He tweeted about the event and how excited he was that it was almost here.  Pilgrimage finally came and Josh really enjoyed it.  He worshiped with us, sung with us, and loved the experience.  On Saturday we had a cake for his birthday at our tailgate.  Even through he was fighting a cold and cough and could of been miserable, he didn't let it get him down or ruin his experience.

I am really impressed by Josh.  He is a down to earth young man that knows what he wants and what he believes.  He is strong in his faith and loyal to all of his friends.  I know that if I asked Josh to do something he would do it and wouldn't question me.  I loved watching him sing and see the emotion in his face as he worshiped.  Josh knows what he believes and doesn't waver from his beliefs.  I wish that I had that kind of faith at his age.

Josh wants to go to Liberty after he graduates from High School.  He wants to continue his faith journey and recently started a blog called: God Drives a Truck: http://goddrivesatruck.blogspot.com/.  I am excited about rest of this year and continuing to build a relationship with him.  I am excited to watch him continue to grow!  I know that it will be a short time before he leaves for school but I can tell you that he has already enriched my life!

Thanks Danielle for bringing Josh-o! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Is God in your Cell Phone...




This weekend we went to Pilgrimage.  Pilgrimage is a wonderful youth event where over 5000 youth gather together to worship through music, skits, videos, testimonies from youth, and a keynote speaker.  It is amazing to be a part of and one of my favorite trips to take the youth on.  A couple of years ago we enacted a no cell phones on youth trips policy.  This policy was put into place because at the time the youth were more interested in their cell phones than hanging out with the people that were with them on the trip.

I catch some grief or it now and then from the youth but for the most part they understand and comply.  At pilgrimage this year there were a lot of youth with cell phones around us.  They were on Twitter and Facebook, sending text messages, and making calls.  It was okay when the actual event wasn't going on but you would think it would stop when the music started.  It didn't.  It continued.  It even continued through out everything that was going on.  When there were youth up on stage providing their personal stories of how they came to find Christ there were youth on their cell phones and talking.  When the keynote speaker was on stage sharing the message, there were youth on their cell phones. 

It was very distracting and disrespectful.  What I didn't understand was that there were adults with all these groups and they did nothing to stop their youth from using their cell phones.  In fact many adults were on their cell phones as well.  It was truly a shame.

Why do I tell you this? I tell you this because I wasn't the only one that noticed the disrespectful use of cell phones and talking that was happening during the event.  Our youth noticed it.  They would tell me after each session how distracting and disrespectful the other youth were who were using their cell phones.  They even mentioned the adults on their phones. They couldn't believe that they were engaged in the message that our dynamic speaker was bringing. 

I know that I made the no cell phone rule but when the youth themselves see first hand why that rule is in place it validates it.  I think it was wonderful that all those youth were there and hopefully through their talking and cell phone usage they still received a message.  I know that our youth did.  I can tell by the tears that were shed during the Saturday night session that our youth heard the message and accepted it. 

I know that you can find God in your cell phone but when he is right in front of you with open arms, put the cell phone away!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Spiritual Football- The Wide Receiver





On offense there are two ways to move the ball up and down the field, running the ball with the tailback or throwing the ball to either the Tight End, Tailback or the one who catches most of the passes, the Wide receiver.  The Wide Receiver lines up on the outside ends of the offensive line and runs different patterns down the field based on the play that was called. Sometimes the Wide Receiver even has to block instead of trying to catch a pass.  The most important thing to a Wide Receiver is his hands.  A Wide Receiver catches short passes as well as long passes. The biggest stat that tells how good a Wide Receiver is outside of how many touchdowns they have is their YAC.  YAC stands for yards after catch meaning the yards that a Wide Receiver gains after he catches the ball.  The better a Wide Receiver's YAC the more valuable he is.

Are you a Wide Receiver when it comes to your Spiritual Journey?

What is your YAC?

The spiritual Wide Receiver  is a person that is open to new experiences and different ways of worship and study.  He is willing to go the distance and try everyway possible to increase his faith.  Often the Wide Receiver will take information that is given to them through bible study or the sermon during worship and go deeper.  They will study it and learn as much as they can.  They will work on their YAC as they continue to gain yards of spiritual growth by putting in extra time and energy after the initial play.  The spiritual Wide Receiver uses their hands all the time.  Whether that is in prayer or packing food for a mission, the spiritual Wide Receiver is always looking for a way to be the hands of God.

The spiritual Wide Receiver listens to the play and goes out onto the field of life and plays the role he needs to play based on that play.  If God expects him to block so that other team members can find their way he will do it.  If God expects him to go deeper he will do it because he wants to always be looking for ways to increase his faith. 

When we accept the role of Wide Receiver on our faith journey we are accepting a role of constant spiritual growth.  When in this role we want to learn as much as we can and share it with the world. Our faith because a valuable asset and we use it to go out and teach others.  When you study the bible or listen to sermon as a Wide Receiver it is not enough to just catch the message right then and there.  To a Wide Receiver our YAC is so valuable.  It means that we are going deeper and are willing to push and fight for spiritual knowledge.  We have to be willing to catch that short pass but try with everything we have to take it all the way to the End Zone.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Spiritual Football- The Quarterback




What if our faith was a football team? 

What position on a football team would your faith be most like? 

Do you feel like you are in control of your faith and spiritual growth? 

Do you feel like you are a starter when it comes to your spiritual growth or do you feel like you are a second string player still working hard to make it to the starting lineup? 

You might even feel like you are still on the practice squad because you haven't suited up on a Sunday yet or accepted the fact that you need to work on your spiritual growth.  I think that each of us has a spiritual football team and we each play a wide array of the positions on that team.  Some of the positions are hard to play while others are easier.  Some of them require different skill sets and stronger faith than others.  There is one commonality no matter what position you currently are playing on your spiritual football team, and that is that we all read from the same play book.

When it comes to a football team by far the most important player is the quarterback. Whether he is throwing a pass or handing the ball to the tailback, it must touch his hands.  He is the key to making sure that the offense works like a well oiled machine.  His confidence level and abilities can make or break a football game.  He leads the team, runs the plays, and makes sure that everyone else on the offense knows what to do. 

On the spiritual football team the quarterback role is strong in their faith.  The quarterback has read the playbook over and over again.  The quarterback is a leader in faith and does so by leading bible studies, preaching, teaching, and serving.  He takes the field on Sundays just like the rest of the positions on the Spiritual football team.  He is willing to share and does not shy away from talking about his faith.  He understands that he can't grow in his faith just by himself and he needs the other members of his team to make that happen. The spiritual quarterback watches over the other players and prays for them.  He is always willing to help a fellow teammate.  He is always willing to pass his knowledge on to other players or hand off to someone that has a better understanding of the playbook.  He is always looking for opportunities to learn and grow so that he can go out onto the field of life and share what he has learned.

The spiritual quarterback is best when he is not pushy or boastful.  He is best when he leads by example and shows the other players that it is okay to live into their faith. When times are hard or the quarterback is unsure of a situation or an answer, he will bench himself and allow God to be the quarterback and help lead.  A good quarterback knows when it is time to lean on God and allow him to show even the quarterback how to play the spiritual game of football.

I believe at some point in all of our spiritual journeys we play the spiritual quarterback.  We might not always feel comfortable in that position but we are all capable of playing it when we put our mind to it and our willing to listen, learn, and read the playbook!  Unlike a real football team on a spiritual football team anyone can play any of the positions!  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I Phony




Social media is one of the best inventions of all times outside of course of electricity and the light bulb.  You can talk to anyone at anytime and you don't even have to dial a number on a phone.  With my I phone I can text you, facebook you, tweet you, facetime you, heck I can actually write a blog post on my phone.  It is amazing how quickly we can find information like a recipe or directions on the internet through our I phones.  We can take pictures of anywhere we are and in real time we can upload them for people to see.  It is amazing what can be done with a computer and a cell phone.

Here's the thing though.  Why can't people represent themselves through these social media outlets the way they portray themselves in real life?  It is so interesting how many youth and adults I know that tell me one thing but then show me another through their social media.  Maybe it's because I work for a church and people are always on their best behavior when they are at church.  Maybe it's  because people know that I have certain expectations of them so they act one way in front of me but another when I am not around.

Don't get me wrong, peer pressure is something that causes some of the posts and pictures that I see.  I understand that.  What I don't understand is why when someone posts something vulgar or inappropriate on their page they don't erase it.  They leave it most of time and when I confront them about it they say that it wasn't them that posted it.

Ok I'm not perfect.  I make mistakes and I am sure that I do things that people wouldn't always approve of but I don't plaster that on facebook, twitter, or anywhere else for that matter.  I wish that people would think before they post something, write something, or take a picture.  Maybe what we all should do is say to ourselves, What would my mom say if she saw this?  Or better yet, what would Jesus say if he saw what we were posting?  Oh that's even harder than what would mom say.

Either way it is important to portray who we truly are and not try to bow down to the norms of social media.  If we can't truly represent who we are in all forms of communication than we have some true self image issues. 

The other side of the coin is that if the real you is the person that is portrayed by the inappropriate stuff that you put online instead of the person that shows up to church on Sunday morning,  we need to talk.  My door is open and am ready to listen.  You can text me!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Escalator





The other day I went to North Hills to visit someone and get something to eat.  As I was coming up out of the parking deck I noticed that the down escalator wasn't working.  I stared at it as I rode the up escalator.  I went to Chick fil A where I was greeted and served by the most beautiful, kind, and considerate Chick Fil A worker I have every seen.  I mean she deserves a raise for as good as she was.  I'm just sayin.  Oh yeah Josh was there too! 

Anyway while I was waiting on my food I told them something which I thought was very profound.  I said, "did you know that an escalator never breaks, it just becomes stairs?"  They looked at me funny and laughed.  I think they thought it was joke, in fact that really pretty chicken order taker asked me if I was going to blog about it.  Of course I said yes. 

Here's the thing, it wasn't a joke.  I think that an escalator is the epitome of a positive way of thinking.  We have all heard the saying, " do you view the glass as half full or half empty?"  We have to choose which way we are going to look at life.  Yes we all get down about things and we sometimes are in a place where nothing goes right and everything goes wrong.  I understand that, but why can't we be positive?  Why can't we be like the escalator?  Obviously something is wrong when it is broken and not moving on it's own but even though it is broken, the main purpose behind the escalator is still there.  We use the escalator to get from one place to another.  When it breaks down, that opportunity is still there and the world doesn't end.  People still walk up or down in even through it isn't moving.

Why does our life seem to stop when bad things happen?  Why can't we continue to move on?  Yes there are repairs that need to be made to get us back to 100% but that doesn't mean that we have to stop everything and think that our life is over.  We can continue on just like those stairs / escalator.  We can push forward and not allow ourselves to be shut down.

So the next time you come to a "broken" escalator and you start to walk up those stairs, remember that we too can keep climbing when we are broken.  We don't have to stop.  We can be stairs for other broken people who need a way to get past the hurt and the pain they are feeling.  Be the stairs of life when the escalator of the world is broken. 

Road Dawg





When I worked for the YMCA I was involved with a program called Leaders Club.  This club was built upon youth not only being leaders in the way they act and the things they do but also in physical fitness.  Each year the club does things for the YMCA with the ultimate goal of  attending Leader's School during the summer.  The first year I went to Leader's School I had one leader's club member who went with me.  I didn't know much about the program so this was an opportunity for me to get better acquainted with the program.

While at that Leader's School I was introduced to Crystal Dunn who was the Teen Director for the Central YMCA in Winston Salem which was in the same association as mine.  Immediately we hit it off and became thick as thieves.  We had the same interests and tastes and most of all the same passion, our kids.  We spent that week getting to know each other and chilling on the front porch in two green rocking chairs.  It was an amazing week and the first time that I had personally connected to someone who had the same job and passion as me.  It was very exciting.

Upon returning back home we kept in constant contact and attended a lot of the same meetings together.  We helped each other's programs and made time for ourselves to get together and enjoy each other's company.  We went on lots of trips together and became road dawgs.  It was so much fun to have another adult on those trips that was my friend. We even had a meeting at a library where we talked about starting our own business together.  Every summer we would return to our rocking chairs on the porch even though both our groups had grown so much that we were now bringing lots of teens to Leader's school and needed to attend to them, we still found time for our rocking chairs.

Outside of my kids in my program telling Crystal that I was leaving the YMCA was the hardest part of leaving.  I knew that we would grow apart because we were headed in separate directions.  I miss my road dawg.  I miss her beautiful smiling face and laugh.  I miss our endless conversations about the Y and our kids.  I miss the green rocking chairs on the porch.  I miss my Crystal and I am so thankful to God for giving me the opportunity to get to know her and have her be there with me through the thick and thin of working at the YMCA. 

Thank you Crystal for everything!  I love you!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Say what you mean to say...

Why is it that I keep seeming to get dragged into conversations with people where they say one thing and do another?  I know that all of us do that at some point in time in our lives but this seems to be constant for a couple of people I know including a couple of youth.  Now I expect it a little more from the youth but at the same time I don't think that I did it that much when I was 15 or 16.  It become annoying especially after you spend hours talking about something only to watch over the course of the next week that person do the exact opposite of what they say.

For example I have a youth that has a friend visiting from out of town.  That friend is a known drug user and the youth that I know keeps telling me how they don't want to hang out or be around that.  They don't want to have to deal with the drama that this visiting friend creates.  I spent quite a bit of time talking about it just the other day.  Literally the next day I see tweets, vines (short videos if you don't know what those are) and pictures of these youth hanging out together. 

I work really hard to be there for every youth or person that wants to speak with me about stuff.  I listen intently and give sound advise based on experiences and things that I have learned over the years.  It is so frustrating to spend so much time in conversation and being in the moment with people that don't listen to a word I say or take any of the advice I give them. 

I know that I don't have all the answers and that I am not always right but I a lot of the time I know what I am talking about and honestly I am an excellent judge of character.  It makes me what to prioritize my time and maybe pull back from people that monopolize my time but don't listen to what I say.  I will have to reevaluate that!

Anyway, thanks for giving me the opportunity to vent!  Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I'll Be




I'll be there with you when you feel alone.

I'll be with you when you feel like your world is caving in.

I'll be the one holding you when life gives you something you think you can't handle.

I'll be standing next to you whenever you have to deal with a scary situation.

I'll be on the other side when you call to me and want to talk about anything and everything.

I'll be at every dance recital, soccer game, band concert, and play.

I'll be holding you up when someone or something knocks you down.

I'll be singing you a lullaby as you drift off to sleep.

I'll be wiping the tears from your eyes when someone breaks your heart.

I'll be giving you the things you need, maybe not the things you want.

I'll be wherever you need me whenever you need me.

I'll be anything you need me to be.

I'll be watching you and making sure that you are on the right path.

I'll be waiting with open arms when you come to me and need me to hold you.

I'll be whispering in your ear when you need an encouraging word.

I'll be standing right next to you when you find the love of your life and get married.

I'll be sitting across the table from you as you work into the night on a big work project.

I'll be holding you when you have your first child.

I'll be there for you to lean on when your children go off to college.

I'll be there when the years of life catch up with you.

I'll be sitting on your bedside as you say goodbye to this earthly life.

I'll be the one that carries you home.

I'll be the one that loves you forever no matter what.

I'll be.

                                                     - God


Friday, September 27, 2013

The Gift





What if God gave you a gift? 

What if this gift was given to you and would be with you for the rest of your life? 

What if you had to take care of the gift, love it, feed it, raise it? 

Would you keep it?

Would you do everything in your power to give your gift everything in life? 

Would you provide for your gift and watch it grow? 

Would you be there whenever your gift needed you? 

Would you sacrifice everything for your gift?

Would you fulfill your gifts needs?

What if you didn't? 

What if you left your gift alone by itself for long stretches of time? 

What if you neglected your gift and didn't give it everything it needed? 

What if you put your needs in front of the needs of you gift?

What if you were selfish?

What if your wants and needs caused pain and suffering to your gift?

What if you didn't care what happened to your gift?

What if your gift was taken from you?

What if your gift was a plant?

What if your gift was a pet?

What if... What if your gift was a child?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Queens of the Court

 


Yesterday we had a practice for our upcoming basketball season where most of the girls playing in the league came and shot around and ran through some drills.  Some of them have played in the league before and some of them haven't.  It was so much fun to be there with them and watch them get ready for the season.

They are all super excited about playing this year and can't wait for the season to start. It is awesome.  I am so used to playing with the boys that I forget how competitive the girls can be and that they love playing.  I saw a lot of passion for the game and a genuine want to understand the game better.  They worked really hard and did everything I asked them to do.  They asked questions and truly want to play well.

I wish that we all had that kind of outlook when it comes to our spiritual growth. Too often we get bogged down with the everyday that we forget to practice our spirituality. We forget to layup a prayer, or block our selves from saying things we don't mean.  We don't spend time in the lane of the bible or assisting others when they need us.  We spend too much time launching the 3s of selfishness and we don't pay attention to the needs of others.  Too often we are busy slam dunking our earthly possessions and we commit the foul of forgetting to store things up in heaven.

Just like those Queens of the court, it takes practice in our spiritual lives to continue to grow!  I am so thankful for all my girls and the blessing they are to me but yesterday, I truly saw the love for the game.  I can't wait to see what they bring to the table in two weeks!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Generation Gap




Yesterday I went to Target to get a few things. There were two situations that came up that really made me realize that it is a totally different world than when I was a kid.  The first took place in the electronic section.  I was back in electronics looking for some printer cartridges for my print when I came around a corner.  There was mother standing there at an end cap and reaching over and picked up a yellow box.  Her daughter, who was standing next to her, looked at her and said, "What is that?"  The mother said, "It's film, you use it in cameras and it is on sale."  The daughter looked away and said, "Oh... That's old school!"  I laughed out loud as I walked by and so did the mother.

The funny thing is that the daughter was right.  Film is old school.  Not many people use a regular camera any more.  Everything is digital from phones to regular cameras.  It is so much easier to get a digital picture than to deal with developing a picture these days.  It's just hard to believe that twenty years ago is considered "Old School".  Makes you wonder what will happen in the future that will make today's digital photos old school.  Maybe there will be mental photos which you will be able to keep in your head and look at them whenever you want.

The other thing that blew my mind was as I was walking toward the check out counter there was another young girl on her cell phone.  She was obviously in trouble for something and was being told to meet her parents somewhere.  She tried to talk a couple times but was obviously being talked over top of by the person on the other side of the phone.  She finally got so mad that she screamed "SHUT UP MOM!  I will find something to eat here," and hung up the phone. 

If I were ever to do that, I would of had the tar beaten out of my when I got home!  I think there is a lack of respect for parents and authority figures these days.  Kids feel like they are entitled to things and so they feel like they can treat their parents anyway they want.  It is definitely different than when I was a kid.  I knew that my Mom and Dad loved me but there were rules and regulations you had to live by and when you overstepped your place, you were told and you accepted that.  I'm not saying I didn't fight with my parents, but I sure wouldn't of disrespected them in public like that at the age of 11 or 12 without some sort of sift kick in pants.

Yesterday just reminded me that yes there are some things that are so much better than I was a kid.  Technology is an awesome thing!  Unfortunately there are some worse things now of days like entitlement and a lack of respect.  I know that kids will be kids but it hurts to see them disrespect their parents who give them so much and love them unconditionally! 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Overkill




Do you ever feel stressed out?  I mean, don't know what you are going to do, heart racing, chest hurting, constantly going to the bathroom, sweating stressed out.  I think at some point in time we all get stressed out to the point that it affects us physically.  What is it that makes us feel this way?  Why do we allow stress to over come us and cause us so much pain.  We stress over things so much that it can ruin a perfectly good day.  The whole day is ruined because of one small stressed filled moment.

The main questions is how did we get to the point where our stress level is causing us physical pain?  My answer is Overkill.  That's right Overkill.  I think that once something sort of stressful happens it sets us off and we actually start looking for things that stress us out.  We start looking for opportunities to increase our stress levels.

Once a small thing happens, maybe its a mean phone call, or a unexpected bill that comes in the mail, we start to stress.  Then as you go through the rest of the day every little thing that happens adds to that stress level.  It causes us to keep building up our stress until our bodies can't take it anymore.  It's Overkill.  It's us allowing the world to rule us instead of us ruling the world.

Let's be honest how many times have you been in a seriously stressful situation at work where everyone is counting on you and the stress affects your body.  It doesn't because you are in the moment.  Yes you may be scared or upset but you power through it because there hasn't been an opportunity for stress to build up to the point of physical pain.

Now if you get an unexpected bill that you know is going to be hard to pay that helps to start building your stress level.  You follow that up with someone saying something negative about you at work that level grows. On the way home someone cuts you off which stresses you more. This continues until you have Overkill.  Until you just can't take it anymore.

I am the last one to give advice about stress but I think that if we can recognize the signs of smaller stresses then we can stop an Overkill from happening before it gets to the point where it cause us bodily harm.  Take some time to think about that the next time something small starts to bother you.  See if other things happen during the day to make it worse.  We have to make sure that we don't allow stress be too much for us to handle! We can stop it before it Overkills us!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Where is the love?





This is sort of a follow post based on my Thankless Job post. Yesterday as many of you know was my birthday.  It was a great birthday which started with the pastors taking me out for lunch and was followed with the entire staff surprising me with cupcakes.  By far that was enough for me to enjoy my day!

But...that wasn't the end of my day of partying.  One of my youth Danielle Galloway, invited me to dinner and said that she would pay.  I don't know about you but when I was 16 my money was worth far more than even the actual value of the money.  Money equaled independence.  So needless to say I was overwhelmed at the fact that Danielle wanted to pay for my dinner and she didn't want to just go to a fast food restaurant, she wanted to go to a sit down restaurant which was even more expensive. 

Still that was not where the night ended.  She said had her dad pretend that he forgot something at the church and needed us to go look for it.  So off we went back to the church where I was surprised by almost all the High School youth in our youth group!  They had cupcakes and ice cream and had decorated the room.  It was amazing1

As if the party wasn't enough I also received two hand made cards from a couple of the girls which were absolutely awesome and a 3 page letter from Danielle which went into detail about how much I mean to her and the impact I have had on her life.

It was amazing.  Simply amazing.  Words can not describe the feelings I had inside of me after what they did for me.  I must have read all the cards, the letter, and the paper which Harper wrote earlier in the week around 6 times last night.

When people are so happy that they have a high paying job and their pockets are lined with cash which allows them to buy anything they want, they are still missing the feeling I had last night.  That feeling of love, excitement, and that you are making a difference in someone's life.  I have played a hand in molding their lives.  Sometimes it is a small part, sometimes it is a large part but I am always  playing a part.

For someone who doesn't have biological kids at least I know what it feels like to have the unconditional love of youth I will cherish September 19th, 2013 in my heart for the rest of my life! 

Did I say this was a thankless job?  I think I just got smacked in the face with the answer!

Love you all!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

National Holiday





For it was decreed that on the 19th day of September in the year of our Lord 19 thousand and 75 that there would forever more be a holiday of the nations.  For on this day in the town of Allen in the district of Lehigh within the state of Pennsylvania was born a blonde haired, blue eyed baby boy to the house of Hagman.  This young squire was given the Scandinavian name of Eric meaning "Eternal ruler".  Upon receiving this name young master Eric embarked on a long and crazy adventure better know as life.

Although his life has only encompassed 38 short years, the road has been curvy and far from straight.  Different paths have been laid out for him along the way but he has always taken the path less traveled.  This has included adventures leading he to work as a Mall purification expert, a cleaner of all things campground orientated, the teacher of things involving the environment,  donning the captains hat as part of a group known for their hit single YMCA, and now his most rewarding job of the spiritual formation and human interaction of young people at the church know as St. Mark's.

I invite you to celebrate this holiday of the nations by skipping school, work, chores, obligations, and celebrating with a joyful day of little to no movement in your personal domicile. Go forth and eat the pastries covered in icing and the cream made of ice.  Be joyful as another year passes and the kingdom is thriving!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Safest Place on Earth

*This is not Agnes and Sean. Just FYI!


Last Saturday was the memorial service for Agnes.  It was a beautiful service filled with stories that brought both tears and laughter.  Four different people got up and spoke.  One of those people was Sean, who was Agnes' grandson.  He was funny, loving, caring, and full of emotion as he told stories based on words he had written down about Agnes. 

At the end of his time he started to talk about how loving and caring she was.  As he did this his emotions got the best of him and he started to cry.  He was able to stop long enough to say that when they were picked up and sat on grandma's lap that it was the safest place on earth.  It honestly had me crying as well.

It was such a wonderful thought of a grandson picked up and placed the lap of his grandmother as she rocked back and forth on a rocking chair, holding him and singing to him.  Makes me think about the times when I was little that people made me feel safe and loved.

I think we each have a person or place that when we are there or with them we know that nothing bad can happen.  We are safe and comfortable and no matter where we go and what we do as long as we are with that person or in that place nothing bad will ever happen.  That person always brings a smile to a face and a laugh to our heart.  They are always there for us.

Life is hard and scary.  There is always something happening and sometimes that something is a bad thing.  I wish for you that someone special that will hug you up and hold you.  That will whisper in your ear and tell you that everything will be ok.   They will wipe the tears from your eyes and hold you tight as they sing to you or rock you.  They will listen and love you no matter what you have done or no matter what has happened.  They just want to be with you and love you and help to keep the bad out and the good in.

I hope that you have someone like that in your life and if you don't, let me be him.  I will provide for you the safest place on earth! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Thankless Job




When I took over as the Teen Director at the YMCA one of the first things that was told to me was that working with teens was a thankless job.  What that person meant was that most of the time you will not hear from the teens how much you mean to them or see the difference you are making in them until they grow up and become adults.  That person was saying that teens are teens and no matter how much you mean to them they don't tell you because they just don't think about it in the moment.

 I actually have seen that first hand as some of my youth from my days at the YMCA have shared with me in their adult lives how much of an impact I had on their lives.  They let me know that they are so thankful for the hand I played in making them the person they are today.  I cherish each one of those conversations, texts, emails, and facebook messages that I have gotten from them.  It truly melts my heart to hear from them and know that yes I have made an impact. 

This past Sunday, Harper, a youth that I have known since she was in the 5th grade brought me a brown envelope.  She handed it to me, told me Happy Birthday, and said that I couldn't read it with her standing there.  She sort of ran / walked away.  I opened the envelope and inside was a paper she had written for her English class.  She had to write about a mentor in her life and she choose me.

The paper talked about how much of an impact I have had in her life and that I was always there for her and available.  She said that I was her mentor because I am passionate, wise, and loyal.  She goes on to talk about my passion for my job and how I am available whenever people need me.  That I am a very passionate person.  She talks about how wise I am and that I am always willing to help whenever a problem comes up.  She talks about how I seem to know the answer to a lot of the things that teenagers deal with.  She finishes with talking about how loyal I am and that no matter what mistakes they make I always have their backs.  I check on them frequently and am always supporting them.

It was amazing to read the words that Harper wrote.  I was so thankful and humbled by her kind loving words.  I am so thankful that she shared this with me and showed me that this is not a thankless job.  My kids love and support me just as much as I love and support them.  Harper finished her paper with the line:

"Without a doubt Eric is that inspiring person to me.  I hope that one day I will be admired the way I admire him."

Words can not express my feelings when I read that sentence!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rated M for Mature




Hi my name is Eric and I am an avid player of Call of Duty, this is my first meeting of COD Anonymous...

Ok its true, one of my stress reliefs in this world is to play Call of Duty, specifically Black Ops 2.  I am pretty good at times and sometime not but most of the time I can hold my own.   Basically this is a first person shooter where you try to kill the other team.  I play multiplayer which means that I play with people from all over the world when I am online.  Through the internet we connect to a game and play together.

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 is a mature video game, it is labeled as such on the package.  For some reason parents don't seem to pay attention to that label and they buy their 10 year old kids the game and allow them to play online.  If you can get past the violence which is why the video game is rated mature, then it is fun but it is the online multiplayer experience that is the reason that I wouldn't want young people playing this game.

When I was a kid 10 years old, I didn't curse a lot.  I didn't hear a lot of it unless I was working on the car with my dad (sorry dad), but in COD Black Ops 2 every other word on the multiplayer is a curse word.  You see I forgot to mention that a lot of these guys that play the game have microphones and can talk out loud during the game.  It is supposed to be for game strategy  purposes but a lot of guys use it to berate other players. 

It is actually quite annoying and disrespectful but it happens all the time.  You have college kids and 10 years olds cursing each other out while playing the game.  It is amazing to hear.  I don't use a mic because honestly I do find myself saying a word or two, not at players but at myself over the way I am playing. 

This leads me to something that I just don't understand.  Yesterday I was playing and I was doing really well.  Unlike others within the game I don't cheat or have a mod controller, I play straight up so I use everything that they game offers to my advantage.  I just wanted to state that, anyway, I was beating up a team pretty much by myself when all of the sudden I get a message on my xbox account from a guy online.  I didn't know him but it was a voice message.

He goes off on my for kicking their tail.  He curses me out, says some nasty stuff about my parents and ends with the F bomb followed by the word you.  Here is the thing that bothered me the most about it.  He was a college kid at least if not older and on the message he left me he called me kid. 

It doesn't bother me that he cursed me out because he obviously isn't very "mature"  but the fact that he called me kid means that he had no idea how old I was so for all he knew he was leaving a message for a 10 year old.  That bothers me. We work so hard to protect our kids but then we give them access to a place where adults don't care what they say or who they say it to.  Parent's allow kids into this world full of violence and terrible language.

I would never say the things that these guys same online to my youth or any other person for that matter.  I guess I am just a very "mature" person. Please be careful what you allow your kids to play and do.  There is not need for our kids to be subjected to this type of behavior from adults and the only way to stop it is to keep them from playing the mature video games! 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lost in the Everyday...



Do you have a daily routine?


I think we all do, whether it is work or school we have certain things that we do everyday.  I have to get up, get ready, go to work, workout, go home, cook dinner, do some work on the computer, go to bed and get up the next day and do it all over again.  To often we get lost in that  everyday that we miss out on small things.  I know that I get into my daily routine and I miss out on opportunities and people that have come into my life.  It is easy to be set in routine, people don't like change.  I think though that we miss out on the world if we don't stop, breathe, and look around.

Tonight I had dinner with a youth in the youth group that doesn't attend very often and is hard to nail down.  I actually didn't know if we were going to have a lot to talk about.  It turns out that we did.  We talked about school, video games, reading, writing blogs, new technology that is coming out, college plans, and of course food.  It was really interesting to hear him talk about things and listen to what he had to say and to connect with him on his level.  Of course I reiterated about coming to youth group and staying on top of his grades for college but honestly I was really impressed.

I wouldn't have normally had that opportunity to sit down and eat with him and just talk if I didn't make the time.  My day could end at 5:00 pm but where is the fun in that?  We all know my schedule is crazy and that I get text messages late at night from the youth but that is what makes life interesting.

So your job may not be as fun as mine and you don't take your work home with you, that's fine but it doesn't mean that you can't stop and take notice of the world around you.  When is the last time you ate outside, or took a walk, not a run but a walk?  When have you spontaneously taken your husband, wife or significant other to dinner?  Have you ridden your bike lately or played a board game?  Do you have a blog? 

My everyday is different from your everyday but they are the same because they are our everyday.  You have to step outside of your everyday or you will get lost it.  That is the last thing you want to do because getting lost in the everyday causes you to lose touch.  Don't get lost in the everyday even if you have to start small doing some things that are out of the normal routine.  Every little bread crumb that you put down will help you from getting lost.

Take the family to the movies, pop some popcorn and watch a DVD.  Put on your coats go outside lay down in the driveway and just look at the stars.  Read a book, write a novel, play in the creek, just live your life.

You feel that?

That's you, finding your way!

Shout out to Tawny!  Happy Birthday!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fall into Fall...




Can you feel it?

I think Fall is almost here!  Football, leaves changing colors, cooler weather, and sweatshirts.  I really enjoy the Fall.  Don't get me wrong Summer is fun and excited but I get hot really easy.  Winter is too cold and Spring brings about what little allergy issues I have.  Fall is perfect, the cooler temperatures are perfect.  I can wear shorts and a sweatshirt and them switch over to jeans when it gets too cold.  I like to be outside more in the Fall because the air is crisp the sun doesn't burn so much and the world seems to move at a slower pace.

The world seems to make a change.  Now I know that we see a lot of that change as the grass turns brown and the leaves fall from the trees but people seem to change as well in the Fall.  I know that people seem to change for every season but during the Fall there is a new found love of life.  People get excited about cooler temps, tailgating, the fair, and football. All of these show that people love the cooler Fall weather and love some football.

I think there is one problem with Fall and that is that people have a tendency to allow their full Saturdays to affect their Sundays.  When you have a full schedule on a Saturday and tickets to your favorite game you make it seem that it is ok to miss church on Sunday morning.  This might be ok for one Sunday but I see where there are families that disappear for the entire football season. 

I love football as much as the next person and I will be missing the Sunday after the Virginia Tech vs. North Carolina game because I will be going up to Blacksburg, but we need to remember who gave us football.  God provides all that we have including the pig skin that is thrown around on the weekend.  He gave us those mascots as well as those sweet uniforms.  He gave us the stadium we sit in and the person that announces the game.  He gave those kids on the field that are playing their hearts out the talent and ability to play on any given Saturday.

God provides all of the football experience that we have on a Saturday, doesn't he deserve for us to be there on Sunday morning to cheer him on?  The crowd should never be thin on a Sunday morning because of football on a Saturday.  We are blessed by everything God gives us and it is up to us to make sure that we don't neglect it!  Make Sunday just as important as Saturday, heck I'll tailgate with you in the parking lot of church before the 11:00 service!

See you Sunday!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

8 Simple rules to dating my Teenage (Youth Group) Daughter

 
 
 



Recently I have had a lot of conversations with my High School youth group girls about boys and relationships.  Unfortunately most of the conversations are about break ups or liking a boy that wants to be with them but because of friends or other situations acts like they don't.  I don't quite understand why boys act the way they do or say the things they say.  I didn't date a lot throughout middle school, high school, or even college but I do know how to treat a lady.  That being said although I will leave the shotgun wielding to the father's of my youth girls here are 8 simple rules to dating my (youth group) daughters.

8. Chivalry is not dead.  You need to do the things that make a girl feel wanted and needed.  Open the school or church or for that matter any door for her.  If your driving, open her car door for her, let her sit down, and close it before you get in the car. Pull her chair out for her and help push it back under the table. Complement her. Tell her she looks beautiful.  It is a simple thing but often overlooked.  FYI all my girls are beautiful inside and out.

7.  No matter what happens between the two of you don't cuss her out or threaten her. Whatever happens you both are young and will do things to hurt each other unfortunately that still happens when you are an adult.  Don't ruin an opportunity to continue a friendship if you break up.  Life is too short to hold grudges.  Remember the good times and that no matter what you are young and other girls will come along.

6. Communication is key.  Gentlemen I can't stress this enough!  The silent treatment is not an affective dating strategy.  It may seem cute to you but you only get so much time together and if you waste it by trying to act cute your missing out.  Actually it is quite stupid especially if the girl is into you.  Have open lines of communication because that is the key to any type of relationship.

5. Leave the bodily functions at home.  So you are at the age where you think farting and burping in front of a girl to get a reaction is funny.  It's a shame you think so because I promise you they don't think so.  Try to get away if you have to but if you can't say excuse me and mean it!

4.  Do nice things.  It's really easy.  Something as simple as a card or letter will make a world of difference in your relationship.  Gifts are nice to but complements (see number 8) take the cake.  Girl's love it when you treat them with respect and kindness.  You should act kind and respectful even if your not dating them.  Hand holding is appropriate as long as you have passed the father test (not me, the guy holding the shotgun). 

3. Meet her parents.  Ok I have joked about dad with a shotgun giving you a hard time but it is really important that you meet her parents and talk with them.  It is so important to have a good relationship with them as well because you are going to be spending a lot of time with their daughter.  They need to know you and trust you so that they know their daughter is in good hands.

2.  Dress and attitude are important.  You don't need to go buy a whole new wardrobe or anything like that but looking nice and having a good attitude are important.  You don't want to lose a girl because of your wardrobe.  Your attitude is so important especially if you act differently with her in front of your friends.  If you are mean to her or ignore her when your friends are around that is a big no no. Your relationship is not going to last long if you are a different person when you are alone with her versus in a crowd.

1.1  Understand that I know all!  That's right, I know all or a have a way to find out something if I need to.  I'm not saying I run a background check on but then again I'm not saying that I don't run a background check on you.  Her parents are the ones you will have to deal with but my girls are my girls and they tell me a lot.  Be good to them and just know that if and when you break their hearts because of their support group there is going to be a lot of people their for her.  Just be a good guy and when and if things end, do it with dignity not by cutting up the teddy bear she gave you and sending her a picture of it.

1.2  It is important that you have God in your life and in your relationship.  When you go out to eat say grace.  Come to church with her and know that we will be waiting with open arms to welcome you.  Know that God is there for you and will be a vital important part of your life if you haven't accepted him into yours yet.  Relationships last longer when they are God centered!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Two roads...




 
 
 
 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled"
 
-Robert Frost
 
 
This past weekend I went to Blacksburg to get away for a little bit.  It was a fun, relaxing, enjoyable time with family and friends.  On Saturday morning we decided that we wanted to go hike the trail that leads to the Cascade Falls which is a local waterfall that is very popular.  It is about a 30 minute drive from Blacksburg.
 
Upon arrival at the park where the waterfall is located, you find the trail head.  At the trail head you are met with two options.  There is an high road trail which is a very wide open trail with few rocks and an easy climb and descent to the waterfall.  Then there is the low road which is along the water that leads to falls. The low road is full of slippery rocks, mud, and rock stairs that make you constantly go up and down.  It is a much more intense trail but the same distance as the high road.  Both trails are 2 miles long.
 
So a decision had to be made, do we take the high road, the easier trail, or do we take the low road, the harder trail.  We decided that we would make that decision when we got to where the trails split.  So off we went on our adventure.  It was only about a tenth of a mile before we had to make our decision.  We decided to take the low road so we crossed the bridge that lead across the creek to the low road trail.  Immediately we were met with an obstacle which were some downed trees which seemed to have fallen the night before.  They were huge trees that had broken in half. 
 
This was an opportunity to turn around and take the high trail, but we chose to climb over the trees and continue down the low road.  The low road was hard and very slick.  Many times I came close to falling.  There was a lot of mud and wet rocks.  The neat thing was at it was right on the water as we walked it and there were so many opportunities to take pictures along the way.  We would stop and take pictures and then move on.  About an hour and 10 minutes into our walk we thought surly we were close to the falls.  We saw a bridge leading back across the creek so we thought that right around the corner was the falls.  When we reached the other side of the bridge, we were met with a sign that said, "Congratulations you are half way there!" 
 
I was in shock.  I couldn't believe it.  I thought surly we were done!  Nope, we had another mile to go! 
 
We finally made it to the falls after 2 hours of walking.  It was hard but at the same time we never would of seen the sights and sounds of walking along the creek. 
 
(Moment of clarification when I say creek this thing had rapids and huge rocks but wasn't as wide as your typical river so it was hard to call it a river.) 
 
Once we had enjoyed the falls we decided to take the high road home and made it back to the parking lot in less that an hour.  It was so easy and well defined.  People were actually running the trail for exercise.  It was definitely easier.
 
I think that is the road that most of us travel is the high road.  The easy road where we can see what is up ahead of us.  The road that we know is safe and free of obstacles.  The road that is well defined and the most traveled.  Unfortunately I think we miss out too often on the sights and sounds of the lower, harder, less traveled road.  The adventure and excitement that fills us as we turn a corner or see something we have never seen before.  Yes that road is hard, yes it is long but the sense of accomplishment or excitement when you finish taking the less traveled road is a far better feeling than when you just take the easy way out.  When you are faced with two roads in life, I suggest that every now and then you take the one less traveled.  The low road that leads to wonder and excitement. 
 
I do suggest that you wear boots though because that road can be pretty muddy and rocky but the sights and sounds make up for it!