Friday, September 27, 2013
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
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
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
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
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
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
|*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
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
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
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
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
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 diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled"
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!