Week ? Of 52: The Good Old Days

img_0004-1“I Wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.”

-Andy (The Office)

Over the past two weeks God has shown me so much about who I am, the community He has placed me in, and how each moment over the past 28 years of my life have built up to where I am today. I have spent time with family, I have seen friends I haven’t seen in years, and I have been surrounded by amazing people I get to do life with every day. In these weeks I have begun teaching a class focused on community, and have spent time dreaming up the possibilities of writing a book focused on community in the church.Through it all, I have realized more than ever that I am exactly where God wants me, and His plan is very much alive in my life.

I began this post with a quote that so many of us can relate to. We look back at the times when “life was good” often realizing that years from this moment we may look back and think, “dang, life was good.”

There are many moments that stand out to me in my life. I can look back at moments with my family up in Oregon, Christmas’ with Grandma and Grandpa as we decorated the house and made sugar cookies. Fast forward a couple years, and I can remember making it to state in swimming as a freshman in High School, or getting the lead in the school musical as a Sophomore.

These moments were great, amazing, and they lead me to opportunities to find out more about who God create me to be. Later I was introduced to a group of people in college that became family, these could easily be referred to as the “good ole’ days”. Trips to the bay with Matt and Garrett, or late night mischief with Guz, and Jordan, Carl’s Jr. Runs with Ian and Kyle, or just long talks with my RA team about what God is doing in our lives. How could this not be the best it’s ever going to be.

But as I spent this weekend with family, and some of those friends that became family, I was brought to a moment with the Lord where He reminded me of the promises that He has for me. I began to look around, and though each moment is met with fondness, I am thankful that it only gets better from here.

Though many of us can relate to Andy, I would like to take a moment and remind us that when we are walking with God we can know that His promises reign true. We can walk in confidence that even in times of struggle, even in times of tribulation, we will look back with fondness of how God has worked in each of our lives.

Reflecting on those memories is not wrong, but when we dwell in those moments as “the good ole days” we miss out on the moments God has for us today.

I am so thankful for weeks where I am surrounded by people who I truly love and know love me, but if we were still in those moments of long ago, I wouldn’t be blessed with 5 Nieces and 2 Nephews. I wouldn’t get to see friends live out life long dreams and pursue vocational ministry. If we were still in the “Good Ole Days” I wouldn’t get to pursue creating community at Little Country Church, and God wouldn’t be placing writing a book on my heart. If we were still in the “Good ole days,” Jud and Scoot would still be running around as dinosaurs not realizing their amazing wives were just a building away.
So no matter what you are walking through, what ever struggles are knocking at your door. Remember, there will be a day when this was “the good old days,” and God will use this moment too to draw you closer to Him, and this moment will be a moment you can look back on knowing that He is preparing you for something great.

Week 16 of 52: God is doing work!

IMG_1368HBC 2017

A week has passed, and I still don’t feel like I have fully soaked in all God has done through HouseBoat Camp 2017. This weekend was one for the books. Between the rain and hail, we saw that there is always a silver lining. As we sat under tarps filled withlanterns, and soaked in the the nightly teachings, we were reminded that God is in all, and through all. Thisis the great adventure.

Last weekend I had an opportunity to see God working through 165 students lives. These students ranged from graduating 8th graders to graduating seniors. Each student with their own story, their own journey that God is taking them on. IMG_1376

Over the past 7 days I have purposed time to reflect on each of these stories. As I have sat looking back at each face, at each story, at each journey, I am reminded that we all have a story needing to be told. These students reminded me that we are here for the person, not the program. As I sat down with students sharing their heartbreak, I was overwhelmed with a desire to see their lives transformed, to see them experience God in a big way.

These students stories don’t end here, their transformation is not complete, and some are still lost, looking for something more, someone more. I continue daily praying that the seeds planted in their hearts do not come up void. These students have potential, they are strong, they are courageous and kind. These students have pain, they have been broken and hurt. Their hope is not in this world, our hope is not in this world. My prayer is that they discover this hope, a hope found only in Christ Jesus.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,  where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 6:19-20

I am challenged to look past the surface. As I sat with these students I was reminded that each of us has a story to tell, sometimes we just need an audience.

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When we make ourselves available to be used by God, He will use us. It isn’t because we deserve to be used, but because we realize that we have nothing to offer, and it is only in Him that what we do is used for the Kingdom. There are people around you that are hurting, people that look on the surface to have everything together. These people have a story, and their story is important. You have a story and your story is important.

I am challenged to be an avenue for the voice of those around me to be heard. Will you be a minister of the gospel, placing people over program. Will you be a place where stories can be told, where Christ can be shown.

I am finding the silver lining, I am learning daily how God is using me in ways I never planned. Sometimes all you need to do is be open and willing to the voice of God, even when it doesn’t make sense.

I am so thankful for the students brought into my life, those that were willing to share their stories with me. I am thankful for a God that uses me in ways greater than I ever dreamed. And I am thankful for Holiday Harbor Marina who rescued a generator after it plummeted to it’s demise in front of me. IMG_1366

Week 15 of 52: A Journey Not Complete

IMG_6365The story is not finished.

The the page is yet to be turned.

We often wait for the last page, realizing if we skip to the end we miss out on why the end happens the way it does.

We must embrace the storms, we must conquer the mountains, we must endure the hardships to truly appreciate the peaks.

This past weekend I was able to lead program for 165 students on Lake Shasta. We set 13 houseboats strategically on an Island where we proclaimed the gospel, sharing the hope found in Jesus Christ.

IMG_7095Every year we see countless lives transformed as we pack 4 days with friends, food, fun, and Jesus. This year was no different and I was able to be a part of seeing students experience God in a new way.

This year as I process the weekend, I look at my own process in ministry. 7 years ago on this Island a man I had barely met sat me down by a tree, it seemed as if we talked for hours, but the only thing Iremember him saying was that I was called to youth ministry.

I laughed in his face and let him know that I had no intention of stepping foot on a church staff. Over the next 5 years he reminded me of this conversation, he reminded me of the call that was on my life. A call to be an influencer in the lives of High School students, walking day by day, side by side as they experience God in a beautiful way.

This weekend, I am looking back at two years of vocational ministry. A journey that has been anything but easy. But an adventure that I would take again and again. This weekend I watched as students gave their lives to the Lord, I listened to the stories of those that have been broken, and prayed constantly for restoration.

IMG_8802I can’t believe I would ever deny that this is what God has called me to do. I don’t know where this journey is going, but I am seeing that the hardships, though not over, are all a part of me growing into the man God created me to be.

I am overwhelmed by the stories, and I cannot wait to see God move in the lives of these students as we continue growing as a body. Seeing God move in a huge way.

Thank you to each student that reminded me of the calling God has placed on my life, and thank you Chad for seeing it in me so many years ago. I will share more stories next week about how God moved in my life this past weekend, but I wanted to share how God reminded me of where He is taking me. I don’t know the time and place, but I know that God has given me a passion for high school ministry, and I needed this to remind me that this journey is not over.

God is good, all the time.IMG_9023

Week 11 of 52: A Week of Humility

IMG_1259Praise the LORD all you gentiles!

Praise the LORD all you peoples!

For HIS merciful kindness is great toward us,

And the truth of the LORD endures forever.

Praise the LORD !

This week has been hectic, so much so that this post is coming out about 4 days late.

As I sit here writing this, I look back at a week full of life, a week full of anxiety, and a week full of God’s continued faithfulness.

This week started off as I had some work done on my mouth. The process was nothing too extravagant, and it brought about two months of pain in my mouth to an end. Though any time you have any work done there is a bit of angst that comes along with the the journey, more so I was overwhelmed with the financial burden of having dental work done.

I don’t know if I realized what it really meant to be an adult until I had to trust fully that God is going to take care of the finances that come with the procedure.

During this time I have also been house sitting for a family at the church who have two very energetic dogs. I didn’t realize that dogs could be nocturnal, but these dogs proved that I don’t know everything. From barking and jumping on my bed to lick my face, my sleep pattern has been an adventure.

I don’t think that any one of these items would bring me to my knees, but the combination of life, lack of sleep, finances, and dogs constantly testing my stability and patience, I am brought to a place where I realize that I have nothing, and the LORD has everything. I am brought to a place of humility where I am reminded how blessed I am to be able to walk step by step, knowing that I have a good Father who desires to know me in a deeper way. IMG_1290

Through trusting HIM, I am able to see how God is continually drawing me closer to HIM, how each step that I take, He has built me a firm foundation to move forward in.

I wish I could say I have have it all under control, but that would be prideful and not true. What I can say is that HE has it under control, HE has my finances, HE has my hope, HE has my future.

Psalms 117 is very simple, praise the LORD, HE is kind, HIS love endures forever.

I am so blessed to know that even through this week filled with anxiety I am not alone, and I can, in peace, give that anxiety to the God who cares not just about me on a surface level, but cares about my finances, my mental well being, my dreams and passions. I get to serve a God who is bigger than my fears, He lives outside my understandings, and truly desires the best for HIS children.

So my prayer is this…

Lord, may I sing praise in the good and the bad, may I see your faithfulness when I don’t know what is next. Lord may I bring you glory in how I walk, each step moving toward you, even when I don’t know what that looks like. Lord may you be my foundation, may my life reflect your will. May I be a light in darkness, may I be truth where truth is not the accepted dialect. Amen

Week 10 of 52: My Dirt Road Anthem

IMG_1258Some days are meant for country songs and back road drives. These days aren’t planned in advance, they have no agendas, and have no schedule. Sometimes these days last a quick minute, sometimes these days last a weekend. On these drives a person is transported to a simpler time, a time where there are no deadlines, and tiredness is wiped away, you are reminded where you came from, and the dreams of the future flow like a river.

I am realizing the importance of these days in my own life. Days to rest, reflect, and to see how blessed I am to be doing the work of God daily. So often in my pursuit of having a relationship with Jesus I forget to observe to process. Seeing how each moment has lead up to now, how every failure has led to moments of triumph, how every unanswered question has led me into a deeper understanding of His unconditional love for me.IMG_1233

The purpose of these drives is not to dwell in the past, but to remember how God is continually doing work in our lives. Allowing us to move forward, seeing that through the highs and lows He is ultimately in the drivers seat. Sometimes the road doesn’t make sense, sometimes the road seems like it’s going in the wrong direction from what makes sense in our minds, but in the end the destination is just around the corner.

A year ago I knew that I would be working in youth ministry, I knew I would be planning camps, and that I would be stressing out over speakers and if the lake was going to be high enough. A year ago I figured I would be making a little more money and be able to start making a dent in my student loans. A year ago I thought that I knew the path that God had placed in front of me. Today, I am seeing how God has used this year of switchbacks and unknowns to draw me closer to Him. Today, I am seeing that by not working with high school students I am able to make a larger impact on the body of Christ, creating community, bringing people together, hearing stories, and getting a glimpse of how the body is meant to work.

IMG_0829It’s these back country roads that reveal to me that where I am today is not the destination, but where I need to be to continue on the journey that God has placed me on.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit interceded for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified. “

Romans 8: 26-30

These unknowns, these times of doubt and questioning if I had heard God correctly, have purpose in my life, they have purpose in the Kingdom of God. For all things work together for good.

IMG_0951I know that I used this verse a couple weeks ago, but it’s a verse that God has put on my heart these past couple months and one that not only hits me where I am at, but one that speaks truth. The storm you are walking through has purpose, and I pray that when we look back we see that the drive was worth it.

Today i don’t need to write pages, instead I am going to take advantage of the beautiful weather, my Whiskey Town parking pass, and the abundance of back roads in Redding, CA.

Week 8 of 52: The Serial Groomsman Part 1

FullSizeRender.jpgIt’s amazing that in the past 10 years I have been in 16 weddings as a groomsman. With those 16 weddings I have been able to witness some amazing moments as two become one. Each time it is a moment that reminds me how powerful a connection between two people can be. In these weddings, at that moment, it doesn’t matter what has happened earlier in the day, or if there was family drama the day before, at that moment, nothing else, no one else, matters.

As I prepare for wedding number 17, I am reminded of these experiences, and recognize the honor it is to be asked to stand by the side of a friend as they enter into a covenant with the woman of their dreams.

So in honor of the 16 couples that have been blessed to have me by their side, I want to share one of my most memorable moments that will one day grace the pages of my future book, “The Serial Groomsman”. I am hoping this book can be a Rom Com similar to 27 dresses, I just have to figure out the end.IMG_1252

The year was 2014 and I was about to walk down the aisle for the 3rd time in a period of 6 days. You could say this was the center of wedding season for me. My schedule was full, and thankfully the bride and groom were understanding. The grooms mother picked up our clothes from the local JCPenney, and we were ready to go. We spent the day before at rehearsal dinner eating amazing grub, sharing stories of how we met the couple, and spending the rest of the evening in prayer for the future of this amazing family. As we dozed off to the images of sugar plums dancing in the air, and the smell of freshly made cake wafting in the distance. This was sure to be the Wedding of the decade.

In the morning we woke up early in attempt to get ready for a day full of pictures. We picked up our assigned outfits in preparation for the day, the ones that were picked out for us, and we went our separate ways to get the day going.

We realized quickly that there is a reason Men’s Warehouse fits each one of their suits to the person who will be wearing their suits. As I put on my pants one leg at a time I realized that this was going to be a tight situation. Slowly as the situation became more bleak, a second realization occurred, in the scurry of wedding preparation we realized that these pants were missing a crucial part of any wearable pants. You see there is part of a zipper called the Slider that allows you to close the pants with ease. Without this, the zipper itself is deemed useless by those in the zipper industry.IMG_1253

With panic a trip was made to the local JCPenney to hopefully find an alternative pair, only to find that the pants were the last of their kind, and somehow, this will all have to work out.

When we returned back to the house we were greeted by the photographer ready to get images of the preparation process. After a long session of brainstorming in pants that didn’t quite fit, and couldn’t quite close, it was determined that the pants must be sewn shut, and because the pants just barely fit over my badonkadonk, the best course of action would be to sew these pants closed with me inside them.

For the next 15-20 minutes each of the groomsmen took their attempt at closing the barn door, all quickly realizing they have never sewn, or even attempted to sew. After each of these failed attempts, as the wedding seemed to approach quicker and quicker we began to give up hope. These pants may never close, so we sent out an SOS to all those involved with the wedding.

After what seemed like an eternity we received a text from a woman that was overseeing the girls house at this wedding. At this point I had heard stories of this lady, but I had never met her, the thought of a stranger sewing my pants closed with me in them terrified me to say the least, but I remembered that the day was not my own. My job was to stand by my friends, and if that meant taking one for the team I was going to do so.IMG_1249

We drove a quick minute over to the house the bride and her bridesmaids were getting ready in. As the rest of the men sat outside the door, remaining their distance from the bride prior to the unveiling later that day, I stepped inside to a woman standing at the stairs with a needle and thread. Without words she stepped up to me, and with a stern serious face, in a less than empathetic voice proclaimed, “Don’t worry, I’m a nurse, I’ve done way worse stuff down here.”
Here is to another season of Weddings, here is to another love story, and here is to the unsung heroes that really make a wedding happen.

I am thankful for the memories, and hope to never have to be sewn into pants again.