Category Archives: My Journey

Does our (fb) status matter?

When i was growing up, they were called chain letters. Then they became forwards in emails. Now, they are facebook status updates.

If you love God, repost this in your status to prove that you do.

If you have a great daughter, repost this to your status to let them know.

I’m more of “this” than you are cause I post “this” in my status update.

I guess all i really wonder is if people repost these things because they actually think it’s achieving something. I’m sorry, but i don’t care how many times you post one of these updates, if you don’t go out and do something, it counts for nothing. You can join groups that support your cause, you can become a fan of something wonderful, but I hope that people realize that facebook and the internet are tools that allow us to make a difference, but joining these groups and posting this updates are not such tools.

If we want to make a difference, if we really care about a cause, our actions and our resources should be involved. Wether that is volunteering your time, giving of your money, or personally saying I love you, get out and do something.

It’s possible that many people post these things and then follow through and do them in real life. (aka. tell their loved ones how much they care or volunteer for a cause) Just a quick note to encourage all of us to live life for all we can and not allow a status update to cure of us of the guilt that comes when we haven’t done enough. Actions speak louder than words status updates.

Examine our lives, Celebrate our loved ones, and Drink deep with our actions.

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Blue Moon Rising

New Years Eve 2009 was the first Blue Moon in 20 years and this is the story of how I was able to make it an especially memorable night for me and Amber, the woman I love. I proposed to her and it was a pretty special adventure for us. It was a very exciting time and of course half of the adventure was in the preparations.

Amber and I had talked about getting married, even in some detail,  for the past couple of months. We both liked the idea of going to Las Vegas for a destination wedding because it seemed to make the most sense financially and because we and our friends have had such great memories traveling there together. Stage one of making this a total surprise was to make sure Amber wouldn’t think I had a ring for her. As we talked about the possibility of getting married I mentioned that I’d been thinking of asking my mother for my grandmother’s engagement ring.  I told Amber that my mother was very sentimental about the ring and might not like the idea of letting me have it for our engagement, but that we should wait to see if my mother would “approve” of her when we went to visit my family this February. Amber seemed fine with it and never gave it much more thought. Secretly I had already asked my mother, gotten her approval, and taken the ring to the jeweler to have it freshened up in a new setting so that it would be more sturdy and durable for Amber, yet keep the mythos of the ring. (She’s a stylist and is rough on her hands due to the nature of the job.)

Next on my agenda was trying to make sure that we would have a fun, light hearted, yet memorable night. I was a little nervous as to how I would plan a fun packed evening without giving away the fact that it was going to turn into the night of my proposal. A few months ahead I started talking about how I really wanted to make a real date night for Amber and I the  next time I visited. (Amber and I live 9 hours away currently) Although we had gone out many times together, we had never in my opinion, had a real “great date night”.  I intended to fix this, I told her.  She agreed to let me plan a “great date” for us and I told her our plans were for New Years Eve.

I talked with several close friends before the date and asked their advice and one piece of advice stuck with me the most. ‘Plan the night, but not the proposal, just let it happen at a moment that is really fun and reflective of your relationship’. This really made sense to me and I kept it in mind as I planned the evening and planned on looking for the most opportune time to “pop the question”.

The evening started out with us going to Headwaters Park to go ice skating. Walking in and finding that it was ‘cash only’ and that I had none seemed to be just the perfect start I was hoping for. We headed back to the car and were off to an ATM to get some green. Having paid, we headed out to get our skates and our bruises. Surprisingly neither of us ever fell as we talked about some of our favorite and most memorable times over the past year. Not wanting to press our luck and end up on our keesters, we headed out to our second stop of three for the evening.

Fort Wayne’s Botanical Gardens was our next stop. Inside there were Christmas displays, a tropical display, and a southwestern display. As we walked through we talked about dreams for the future and what kinds of stories we’d like to be able to tell in the future. Outside there were some metal artwork displays along with a courtyard full of Christmas decorations. Music was playing and the the lights danced along to the music. I noticed that it was snowing and the the courtyard was covered with snow and that  it was beautiful. I thought that maybe this would be the time. What happened next only confirmed my suspicions. Amber busted out doing some goofy dances that were references to some of our favorite TV shows. (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia & Arrested Development) This had to be the moment. It was silly and funny and yet beautiful. Those are definitely words most would use to describe our relationship.

Pulling each other close and laughing hysterically I told Amber that unlike my past, this relationship seemed to make more sense than any other.  She had no idea what I was really saying. I told her that I wanted us to share lots of amazing, beautiful and meaningful stories together. She still had no idea what I was getting at. Hands shaking I took the ring from my pocket and said “There is only one way to make sure that this night is one of those stories…”  Dropping to one knee I held the ring and her hand and continued, “and that’s if I ask you to marry me.”

At this point Amber was in a state of disbelief, excitement, shock, and confusion. She looked at me and said, “Are you serious? Is this real?” Eventually she gave me the answer I was looking for and with enthusiasm said “Yes! Please get up!” After several minutes of explaining how I had pulled all this off without her knowing we headed out to dinner at Eddie Merlot’s and then to our close friend’s house for a cozy New Year’s Eve party.

So that’s how it happened, as best as I can remember at least. Amber says she never heard me ask her to marry her and didn’t see the ring until I stood up, but this is my side of the story and I’m sticking to it. Sorry that this entry is a little sappy compared to most, but I figured it was a special occasion and that it would prove to be helpful to keep the memory alive if written down to share with others. May we all enjoy moments that only come “once in a blue moon” a little more often.

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DR 2009 Video

 
DR Video 09

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Coping skills.

Just though I’d share a quick update on some of the ways that i’ve been coping with the death of my friend, Ben Schone. For the past two years, I’ve been seeing a great therapist to help me grow as a person and to work through issues that I believe have held me back from being all I can be. Needless to say, I’ve really appreciated my time with him since this has all happened. I know my self well enough to understand that this definitely wasn’t going to be something that I was going to be able to just hide deep down inside and not deal with. I chose early on to confront my sadness head on and try to learn from what my emotions and pain could teach me. That being said, here are some of the ways that I’ve found effective in helping me honor my friends memory and move through my grieving process.

slide1

First, I bought a pair of shoes that reminded me of him. Chuck Taylors. I was already considering buying a pair for the summer, but knew this would be a way for me to remember him daily as i got dressed and to say a prayer for his family, our friends, and to seek ways to honor his memory that day. 

Second was to listen to music that reminded me of him, and to check out music that I remember him wanting me to listen to. Ben was a huge Muse fan and so I’ve listened to more of their music. I’m also very excited  that Muse will be opening for U2 when i see them in concert in October in Atlanta. I look forward to enjoying my favorite band and his together in one great night of music. 

Last has been watching South Park. Although I have found bits and pieces of South Park funny in the past, I’ve also found it to be in bad taste from time to time and so never really became a fan. One of the things that I remember Schone doing was impersonations of characters from the show. In particular Cartman and Jimmy were two that he could really get me laughing with. I watched the episode called Krazy Kripples the other day and smiled the whole way through. It was like hearing Ben sitting next to me again, doing his impression of Jimmy.

I know people deal with grief in many different ways and with much different timing. Hopefully in some way this can encourage all who have lost loved ones to find ways to remember with fondness the people who have left us too soon.

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Give this thing a try.

writing-a-book

Tonight is the first night of my summer project. I’m going to try to write a book. Since I enjoy writing I’ve talked about writing a book for some time. Although it has been a serious consideration, i’ve never come close to putting forth any real effort.  I’ve joked about the different books I’d like to write and their wonderful titles. Titles like 101 things a youth director should never say to their students, How to be cool and still be a Christian, and I’ll stop saying it when you stop laughing. 

This past April I was having a conversation with a close friend of mine about sexual relationships and dating and made a comment about wanting to write a book about the subject and he actually challenged me to do it. Of course i don’t know the first thing about writing a book so i just smiled and continued. He said that he was serious and that i should just try to write for an hour on the topic every night and see what i have at the end of the summer. Not to be concerned about whether or not the subject matter was the same from night to night or not, just try to get down thoughts and opinions about the subject and then at the end of the summer, see what I have. I’ve decided to give it a shot. 

Now along with blogging and reading and running, i’ll be attempting to capture all the wisdom, foolishness, humor, and seriousness that i have on the subject of dating and sexuality. This should be interesting.

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Wrap Up (DR2009)

So I’m now back in the US after a great week in the Dominican Republic. I’ll attempt to fill you in on the last few days that i was there. The great news is that I am now officially Crismaili’s sponsor. Joe, our host at the Guest House at Solid Rock Missions was able to run out to CCED and talk with the principle and get everything set up for me. Thursday night I went to the fiesta and was able to spend time with Crismaili and her brother and mother. It was a fun time of playing let’s try to learn spanish for me and english for her. I also found out that she knew Noe Israel! I was a little sad to find out that he and his family weren’t able to come out to join us for fiesta that night because there were power outages running around the city that night. 

Someone asked me to post a link so that others could find out how to sponsor a child if they were interested. And so here it is…Student Sponsorships.

Barcelo

Our last day was spent at the Barcelo Resort. It was a very great way to relax and reflect on our week of mission. We enjoyed the beach and spent a lot of our time looking at the merchandise being sold the vendor and a lot of our time trying to fend off the vendors that were selling merchandise that we weren’t interested in . After a wonderful buffet dinner in one of the most scenic dining rooms i’ve ever been in, we gathered for our last devotional time together. We talked about how it is very natural for us to constantly compare ourselves to others instead of just being the people that we are meant to be. Then we spent some time sharing how we had seen God reflected in the lives of each other as a team as we worked together for the week. The rest of the night was spent enjoying the culture and music at the tiki hut dancing the night away. 

Heading back to the states was really smooth, except for one little incident. On our way down to the DR we had several bags full of things that we would use and/or planned on leaving in the DR to be given to people as they had need. So on the way back we had bags that people could put souvenirs or other items like coffee and vanilla that they had purchased. As we traveled back, I had a bag that had items from our team members that wouldn’t fit in their own luggage. Not a big deal, until security called my name. They wanted to inspect my bag and wanted me to be there. I wasn’t concerned in the slightest bit until i saw that the bag we were going to inspect wasn’t my actual bag, but the bag that was filled with items from our team members. I wasn’t sure what was going to be in this bag as i unzipped it in front of security. I opened it to reveal about 18 bricks of coffee. The security guy asked me if i liked coffee. I said yes, but explained that it wasn’t all for me. That i was a part of a large group and had offered to let them put their coffee in one bag. Laughable when they allowed me to go, but realized that it very easily could have been mistaken for a nice amount of drugs under an x-ray machine. After this fun experience, i’m now known as our resident drug lord. 

We got back to Hendersonville around 11 pm and were greeted by family members and friends that missed us and were glad to see us home. Another great week of sharing life, love, and faith with others. My hope is that our lives continue to bring these things to lives of those we come into contact with everyday.

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Angelina move over. (DR2009)

We walked to the school of the child that I am currently sponsoring today. It’s called the Christian Center of Education for Development- CCED. It open in September 1995 with 170 students in four grades. More classes were added each year and more students as well.  The school now serves grades pre-school thru grade 12.  Twenty-seven students were in the first graduating class in 2001.  All of them now either have a job or are going on to higher education. We got a tour of the school and peek in on classes of many different grades. Some of our preschool teachers even joined in on a class and learned a song in Spanish and taught a song in English. Of course I started to do a little magic again and when another class took some time to come out and say hello to us. It’s so fun to see children’s eyes when a magic trick is performed. Such beautiful smiles.

Although i didn’t get to meet my student, I’ll get to meet him tomorrow night along with his family, I did have a very pleasant surprise. As I was doing a magic trick i felt a tap on my back and turned to see Crismaili. She goes to school at CCED! I talked to Manny one of our interpreter that used to be a teacher at the school to find out how she ended up going to school so far away. He said that many people in the area try to go to CCED because it has such a better reputation and higher standards than other schools. The amazing thing is that for Crismaili it is approximately a 7 mile walk to school and back. I took some time to hang out share a few smiles and take another picture with her before i asked her if she had a sponsor to help her with her education yet. She said no. I’ve never been so happy to hear such unfortunate news. I knew that I had to sponsor her. Not only did i have such a fun time connecting with her last year, but saw her again this year and then she found me while at her school. So today I’ve been working on trying to become her sponsor and hopefully get to word to her so that she and her family can join us tomorrow night for fiesta and have time with her as well as Noe Israel. 

Crismili

I was excited to share the news with others and quickly got the humorous response, “Are you going to be like Angelina Jolie and adopt tons of kids?” Who knows. 🙂 All i know is that right now, I’m excited about my new family members in the Dominican Republic.

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