Monday, February 22, 2016

Back to my roots... Back to the Y

This weekend one of my "Y kids" as I affectionately like to call them, posted the above post about our friendship on Facebook.  Chad was an important part of my life and career.  When I first took the job at the YMCA I had no experience what so ever working with Middle School and High School youth.  I had been working with Elementary age kids and specifically with the Kindergarteners.  Chad and many of my "Y kids", that I am friends with on Facebook these days,  played huge roles in my early days working with youth.  I realized very quickly after having them in my life that it was my calling to work with Middle School and High School Youth.  I can't imagine doing anything else.

These "Y kids" are no longer kids, they are in their mid to late 20s and have college degrees, families of their own, and paying jobs.  When Chad posted this picture and his comments, the comments that came in from some of the other "Y kids" was amazing.  I haven't seen many of them in years but they told me all about the impact that I have had on their lives.
It was very humbling because honestly it is sometimes hard to believe that I have an impact on these kids and that they remember me and thank me for the impact I had on their lives.  In the moment, I was just loving them and having a great time with them.  I was given the opportunity to watch them grow and try to give them some guidance along the way. 

When I hear from them and they tell me the impact I have had on them, it reminds me of why I do what I do.  It's not about me, it has never been about me.  It is about them and their lives and who they become.  If  I play even the smallest role in helping them to realize their full potential then I have made an impact.

I know that working with Youth is the job that God intended me to have.  I may not of figured that out until after college but I got the message loud and clear now. 

Thanks Chad for the reminder of who I am and what I stand for.  Thanks "Y kids" for being the original Eric's kids!  You have a lot of brothers and sisters now because I have so many more kids but you will always be the originals.  If I was a super hero, you would all be a part of my origin story.   

I hope that I am able to continue to have the impact on other kids that I had on you, but most of all I hope that other kids continue to have the impact on me that you all had on me! 

Keep reaching for the stars and if you ever need a little help, don't worry, I will be there to lift you up! 

God is good... All the time...  All the time....  GOD IS GOOD!!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Press Conference

So he was a little flashy, a little hard headed, a little full of himself, and a little cocky before the big game.  After the big game it was a different story.  His head was down, his hood up, he was physically and mentally beaten, and made humble by his experience in the Super Bowl.  Cam Newton did not handle himself very well after the game.  A lot of people have ripped him apart for his attitude and behavior at the post game press conference. 

I am pretty tired of hearing about it.  It is a shame that he acted defeated and upset after the game but I can tell you as someone else that wears his heart on his sleeve, it's not easy to hide our emotions.  Cam has been very happy all season long and why shouldn't he be because they only lost one regular season game.  He did dances, took pictures, gave footballs to the children in the crowd.  All things that were fun to watch if you were a fan and a little disrespectful if you were the team playing the Panthers.  Things were good and so his emotions ran high, he was happy and very boisterous in showing the world he was happy.  He was criticized by the media as well as fans from other teams because of his antics on the field. 

If he is happy, he gets criticized, if he is sad he gets criticized, what does he have to be in order to be accepted?

Each of us show our emotions differently.  Some of us are loud and proud when showing emotion while others are more subdue. We each get to choose how we act and how we hold ourselves in the world.  We make those decisions because of this amazing gift that God has given us called Free Will.   We get to choose our own path, sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes we follow the wrong path, sometimes we follow the right path, sometimes we help people, but no matter what though it all it was our decision to make. 

Cam is an athlete who gets paid millions of dollars to play professional football.  He's not a role model, you should never base your role model solely on someone's athletic ability.  He has his good qualities and he has his bad qualities.  We should look solely at his attitude on the field and whether or not he wins football games.  We shouldn't judge him based on his behaviors after winning or losing a football game. 

We all have professions and in those professions we have experienced highs and lows.  I am sure three are times we have not been professional because out emotions got the best of us.  I am sure we have said things to people before that we should of never said.  Cam just lost the Super Bowl and was struggling with that/  They were picked to beat Denver easily!  I can't say that I would of really liked to talk to the media after a game like that. 

Let's remember that we each decide who we are and how we act.  Before we decide to judge someone on their emotional response to something, let's sit back and take a good hard look at ourselves.  Free Will is free so why do some people pay the price for their free will?

(Now we are not talking about criminals or people that do evil with their free will that is a totally different topic and discussion.)

Thursday, February 4, 2016


Where did we get off track? 

We live in the age of a technological revolution.  Everything is at our finger tips.  Your phone isn't just a phone, it's a computer, a camera, an mp3 player, and a post office used for emailing and texting. 

We have it all in the palm of our hand...

The thing is, it's so impersonal.  Even if we are texting or emailing nice things to people, it doesn't come across like it is the person saying it to us as much as it is the phone regurgitating information. 

There is a lot that is lost in translation. 

This past weekend at the All Youth retreat we had a station on our prayer walk where parents took the time and energy to write our youth letters.   The mentors each had a group of youth they wrote letters too, and I wrote each youth a letter.  It was a lot of work to write 40 letters and one would question whether or not it was worth all the time and energy.

It was!!!  I personally got 14 cards written to me by youth.  They were amazing cards too.   I get so caught up in all the logistics of retreats, trips, and youth group that I forget how much of an impact we have on our youth.  A couple of them brought up things in their letters that I forgot that I had even said or had done, but they hadn't!  A couple of them were from new youth that were sharing just how much youth group already means to them! 

I would give anything to get a letter from a youth.  Letters from our youth mean more to me than anything they could ever give me.  They are personal and emotional.  They show that the youth took time out of their day to write me.  There is nothing more valuable to me than someone that takes time to do something for me! 

About a year ago I started a notebook with letters, drawings, cards, all different things that youth have given me over the years.  I wish I had started it sooner! 

I think we get so caught up in technology that we don't take the time to be personal with each other.  That may be calling someone instead of texting them.  Writing them a letter instead of emailing them.  Spending quality time with someone by putting the phone away.

So here it is, put down the phone or step away from the computer and pick up a pen and a piece of paper and write someone a letter.  Tell them you love them, tell them how much you miss them, tell them about your week, it doesn't matter because in the end, a hand written letter is like a surprise on Christmas morning, everyone wants one!