back from sabbatical

I’m not sure how many people have noticed but it has been a few weeks since I have posed anything on my blog.  It isn’t out of lack of anything to say.  I just wanted to get into the habit of writing for me again.  When I started the blog it was simply a creative outlet.  I love to write so I thought that I would publish some of what I had written.  Over the last couple of months I began writing what I thought others might like.  So the material, although it was my own, is almost guided by my readership and my own barometer of what others like to read.  I just wanted to announce that I took a little bit of time off for a few reasons and I thought that I would share what I learned about myself in the process.

I might be a bit narcissistic:

I feel significant in this world when I am praised. If you are this way, you know what I am talking about, it’s a struggle.  This is why I took time off from posting stuff.  A few weeks ago I caught myself thinking, “people will really like this or relate to that.”  So I have a little folder on my computer of unpublished stuff because I know had it been published I would have been tracking bit.ly clicks or google analytics results.  As I get older the need to die to my selfish desires is increasingly screaming louder in my life.  So, I am going to write just for me for now on.  I might find times when I don’t have anything to say, so I’m not going to post.

My sense significance has been off:

I feel significant because of a lot of things like family and friends and maybe some accomplishments.  But ultimately I need to understand that I am significant because God made me in His image and loves me enough to forgive all of the stupid stuff I’ve done.  When that’s your understanding of who God is, it is very silly to think of your significance based on a position, or something you’ve done. I’ve been drawing my significance from the amount of people around the world who read the blog.  We all search for meaning and significance every day; sometimes there is a realization that your life lacks it.  This is a harsh realization.  For me I realize the most that my life lacks significance when I try to feel significant from something that I’ve done, I think my writing and the things I say will get better when I realize that my creator passionately loves me.

Honesty is still the best policy:

I’ve been a little surprised at the response to some of my past posts.  I’ve gotten e-mails and text messages from people who think I have it all together and have answers.  I want to be honest with my readership and let you know that I am on a lifelong journey of living my life in a way that is consistent with the scriptures and makes God attractive.  So in doing so, there are ebbs and flows of life.  I make mistakes, life change happens and the world changes.  I don’t have the answers and I don’t have it all together, I am simply working it all out, sometimes in a public fashion.

So I am getting back on my blogging horse.  Love you all who are walking this journey with me around the globe.  Although this blog is for my benefit, I hope it will in turn benefit you.

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reveal worth

I learned a pretty valuable lesson from a student who was giving me a really hard time. A while back I ran a community basketball camp for kids in our neighborhood.  I had a student who was supposed to help with the camp but for the first couple of days was a complete nightmare for the adult leadership. The last day of the camp was a water balloon day.  We went through something like 2000 water balloons.  This problem student simply refused to help or to participate in the event.  Voices started to rise, tempers were beginning to flair up when finally at my wits end, I handed this student my camera (in an attempt to get him to stay) and said, “could you at least take a few shots?”  You would have thought I handed this kid a bar of gold.

Before this camp I had two cell phones snapped in half, a camera smashed to bits and a pair of sunglasses broken due to crazy youth ministry events.  I was understandably hesitant to hand electronics to students and they knew it.   When I handed this student my camera he knew that I trusted him not to break it or to do anything that might lead to its demise.  I didn’t just hand him a camera, I handed him self worth and dignity.

I did not hand over my expensive camera with the intention of making this student feel worthy of love, but that was the result and I learned a ton from it.  When he took possession of the camera, his shoulders went up and back, slowly a smile started to come across his face, he took the initiative to clump students together to get the shots he wanted.

One of the things I took away from all of this is that we are a people who constantly try to prove that we are worthy of love.  What do you do in your life to prove that you are worthy of the love and affection of others?  I have had students who indulge in destructive sexual behavior because they are trying to feel worthy.  The day I handed my camera over was the day I realized the power of believing in someone.  When you show them that they are worthy and that you believe in them then their true humanity and beauty begins to rise to the surface of their being.

If we know that humanity suffers from the constant need to prove their worth, then maybe we should become people that reveal their worth.  How free would you feel if you didn’t need to prove your worth on a daily basis?  How much would you change your world if you revealed the worth of others on a daily basis?

By the way, if you are stuck in the trap of trying over and over to prove that you are worthy of love, Jesus Christ has already proven that for you.

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re-purposed

I had a cool experience today.  I went to a warehouse where a bunch of workers repurpose electronic equipment and anything else they get their hands on.  They fix it then they sell it.  And they do pretty well financially.  So I started thinking about what it means to re-purpose something.

Re-purposing something means to take something and change its reason for being.   Think about what your purpose is.  What if someone walked up to you and told you that you needed to be re-purposed…That you were not living life according to your purpose.

Every now and then I need this.  I need to look at life and ask if I am really living up to my God ordained purpose.  If I’m not then life needs to change.

What in your life needs to be re-purposed?

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the best shower i’ve ever taken

I love showers.  My wife makes fun of me sometimes because I shower for too long.  In 2005 I was working as a volunteer relief worker for the Red Cross in Plaquemine LA, Iberville Parish.  It was right after Hurricane Katrina.

I flew in from LA a few days earlier in to Jackson Mississippi.  When we landed we were shuttled to a small hotel.  The hotel was filled with other relief workers as a staging area.  I spent the night there barley getting any sleep.

I wanted to shower but there were notes on all of the faucets saying do not use.  Apparently the water was contaminated due to Katrina.  So the next day I drove into Baton Rouge LA, I stayed the night at another staging area and left early the next morning.  The water was contaminated there too.

When we finely got to the community center in Iberville Parish, we worked all day and slept backstage on the floor.  We were told that we could shower in makeshift public restrooms, but since they were still pulling people out of the flood waters the only shower they could offer us was at midnight and it would be a mixture of half chlorine and half water.  I opted to add an extra layer of deodorant to my already deodorant caked armpits.

On about day ten I was in a Win-Dixie buying some fresh fruit, something I craved due to eating McDonalds for ten days straight, and I was telling a friend that I needed a shower.  I told him that I didn’t care I will find a hose and spray myself off but I couldn’t handle my own smell any more.

We were wearing our Red Cross Vests and a woman in line told us that we should go over to her house and take a shower.  It was like an angel flew down from heaven at that moment because there was nothing more important to me than getting clean.  That night we went to this woman’s house.  Her name was Hope.  She had a great family.  They offered us food and drinks, warm cookies and veggie platters.

Coming from shelter life this was pretty amazing.

Then there it was.  A shower and a shave.

As soon as I stepped in the shower I started to cry.  It wasn’t a sad cry.  It was joy.   I was overcome with Joy that I was able to shower.  I soaked up every minute.  I shaved slower than I normally would.  I let shampoo sit in my hair for a few minutes just so the hot water could hit me for a little longer.  It was the greatest shower I’ve ever taken.

I’ve been alive 9,884 days.  Some days I take two showers if I’ve had a really crazy day, if I’m camping I may not shower.  But I’ve at least showered 9,000-10,000 times, but this one shower is really the only one that I remember.

Sometimes there are things in life that are so ordinary that you pass them by.  You go through life never thinking of their significance.  But when your journey has been tough, when there’s been ups and downs in it, the destination is that much sweeter.

Things like showers become memorable events that symbolize hope.  You’ve probably seen some amazing sun rises but the ones you remember were special because you hiked to the top of a mountain to see them.

How has a long or tough journey made they final destination that much better?

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you are your experiences

Have you ever had a tough journey?  A road that you walked that just seemed too rough? I have had some moments which I consider tough.  There were some tears, I was angry.  There was just some stuff.

But I know some people who have had a far tougher life than me.

This song makes me think of when times are tough.

When projects pile up and you feel like you haven’t been really present for anyone, even though you’re there.

When rejection stares you in the face.

When there is a blatant breech of trust.

When you don’t feel like it is even worth it to try again.

There is an old saying, “You are your experiences.”  I don’t know who said this, but I do feel like there is a ton of truth in it.

I don’t know if it is any comfort to anyone to know that your experiences shape and form who you are.  Maybe if it is only just a perspective shift.  Maybe realizing that you are your experiences makes those times a little more meaningful.

Maybe even the mundane times shape and form you.  The times of temptation bring understanding.  The times where you refrain bring will power and discipline.

When I first saw this video and heard this song the first thing I though of is people who need to trust and love again.

Because how much does life suck if you can’t trust anyone?  How horrible would your life be in the absence of love?

You are your experiences.  But don’t be bitter.

You are your experiences.  But don’t be defined by what you were.

Slow down.

May you remember the experiences that made you, you.

May you be set free from the pain.

May you live free.

May you find healing in and from your experiences.

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