April 13, 2011


We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” - MLK jr

Yesterday I checked in with a former co-worker to see how things were at the music store. She took over as manager at the same time I left, and I like to hear how things are doing from time to time. She said things were fine, but slow. I asked her how all the employees were doing, and she said that one had quit and one was fired. the one who was fired was one that I often worked with. I knew that while generally a good worker, he was not a favorite of my district and regional manager for a variety of reasons, or at least seemingly so. assuming they had finally just decided to edge him out, I asked why he had been fired. "You didn't hear this from me, but he was caught stealing. $3200 since he started working here"


Him? 40 years old. Family man. Working to help make ends meet. This doesn't make sense. I mean, in some ways it makes MORE sense than the standard kid stealing money out of the till or musician stealing equipment. He was working because his family needed the money. So I'm guessing thats why he stole. I don't really know. I don't know the details or his motivations.

We both closed many, many nights. We would sit and talk and play music. We would joke about the stories in the company newsletter of the people who ALWAYS got caught stealing, and the lame excuses (or lack thereof) they would give. And then this??

I feel a variety of emotions about this. Disappointment for his actions. Sympathy for his consequence. The company always presses charges. Now what will become of him? His family? His life must now be in a degree of shambles. How will he find any decent employment after this? Even if he is only given a simple punitive sentence, it will still follow him.

In a small way I felt personally betrayed. This was someone I vouched for when our new manager came in. Someone I specifically requested my hours be given to when I quit, since his had been suddenly cut back and I knew he was supporting a family. Like I said, we spent a lot of time working together, hanging out, talking. I never suspected a thing or would have thought him capable of this.

Even in retrospect, I am surprised. He never gave any clues. He would talk about how stupid it was for others to have tried stealing. He would talk on and on about karma, about getting back what you put in...I guess he was right..but found himself on the wrong end.

In the end I'm still trying to decide what to take away from it. Am I too soft? Should I be "less understanding" of people and put a little more guard up? I would like to think not, to hope not. To always hope for the best and to find reason for compassion. I want to love mercy more than justice. But there is a balance. Sometimes people need a bit of both. I suppose thats something I'm still learning. I used to be very justice heavy. Now I'm very mercy heavy. 

Maybe I'm finding the balance.

December 22, 2010

Lately I've been feeling more down than I'd like. Too often I've found myself gripped by fear, by loneliness, or worst, by apathy. Apathy is the worst, because by its nature it foments other problems. There's truth to the phrase 'idle hands are the Devil's tools'. It puts you into a spiral. You feel useless because you aren't working to accomplish anything, and because you've been apathetic about grounding yourself in the Truth, its easier to lose perspective and begin a downward spiral. You suddenly fear the future. You want to do something, but you feel helpless, spawning more apathy. You don't feel like anyone understands, or that anyone cares. You become overly intro or retrospective. You feel more alone. It makes you wonder whats the point. When you try and break out of the apathy by looking at things you can do, you begin to ask yourself 'whats the point?'. You lose perspective further, and then feel like you lose purpose. When that purpose is in and of yourself, well there's your problem.

Its these slow sideways attacks that get me the worst. But God shines through. In our moments of need and helplessness we cry out and He answers. When we seek, we find what we need. He gives us the perspective we need. He gives us the hope we feel like we lost. His is the purpose we're seeking to fulfill our souls.

Me, I've had a lot go on this month. I've been gone 11 out of 22 days (so far). I'm [cautiously] very excited and optimistic about some upcoming opportunities. but at the same time, I worry about how its going to affect my future. I worry about why I'm doing what I'm doing in school (even though I really do love it. It doesn't matter what I choose, I'm going to want to do 20 different things, that's just how I am. I love knowledge. I love learning. I love a variety of skill sets.). I'm dealing with relationships with friends, maintaining, growing, dealing with changes in them, etc.  I'm dealing with the stresses of the season (multiple family members to visit, and balance my time between and maintain proper boundaries of to make sure none are slighted by myself or another). My car is giving me problems. The list goes on.

All these build up against me and distract me from grounding myself daily in God and his goodness and His provision. But he is faithful to remind me in all the little ways. Today, while talking with a good friend, she got called into her boss's office, and through she suddenly feared for her job future when the boss closed the door behind her, she was instead praised and given a good Christmas bonus, right when she needed it most. I found that ill likely be able to take care of the car problems myself for almost nothing as opposed to the $500+ that was looking probable.

He provides. I just need to work harder to be still (weak in myself) and know that HE is God. When I really do, I'm overcome with peace. Peace that I don't have to know the future. I don't need a goal Ive set for myself to specifically work towards to be fulfilled. I need to take a shorter view of time and pursue God daily before anything else, because He is my hope and peace eternal, and nothing I can do or create can replace that.

December 17, 2010

Be still and know that I am God

Its been a little while since i've posted. I didn't lose interest or material..I got a little busy with school and had trouble focusing on one thing to write about...and before you know it, here we are. However, there have been a few things pop through my mind..so ill share. (Fair warning, i'm very vague on where this post is headed currently, so buckle in and lets see what happens.)

While running (something else ive slacked on :/) I often find myself contemplating. Planning. Creating. This time, I was thinking, "What should I be focusing on. I'm doing Ok in school, where should I be placing my energies to be more productive?". I was slightly worrying about the future..more of which direction to head, what I should be focusing on school wise..and a phrase would keep coming up in my head and giving me peace.

"Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10)

We hear this and we think, "ok, I need to quiet myself and focus on God. I need to not let myself be consumed with my worries, so that I can better listen to Him" which is true. However...theres a deeper meaning.

The Hebrew term is raphah. It has a variety of meanings based on context. In the context used, it means something akin to "to let go" or "to become weak in yourself".

"Be weak in yourself and know that I am God."
"Let it go, and know that I am God."

How much more profound is that when you begin to think in all terms of the word? All of the possible meanings work. They all lead you to where you need to be. You need to be still sometimes. To be still is to forsake all that is going on around you, clouding your mind, keeping you from seeing and hearing God. Let it go despite your fears of doing so. Be weak in yourself  knowing that it is God who grants you strength.

God works best and is glorified most in those who make themselves weak. The more we try and complete in and of ourselves, the further we are from God's heart. Its simple humility vs. pride. If we humble ourselves, and weaken ourselves to let Him shine, He will complete, fulfill, and grow you. If we are proud and demand our own way, we may get it..but fair warning : "History shows again and again how nature points out of the folly of men." (yes, I quoted Blue Oyster Cult).

Me? I pray for God to create in me a clean heart, and to renew a right spirit within me. Because I have a hard time being the kind of humble I need to be. I know I want to be. But I dont always know how to be. That comes from pursuing God. And thats the spirit I pray He will renew within me. Not for me. For Him. Despite me. Despite my shortcomings. Despite my sins. Despite my failures. May I learn to have the right heart that lets God shine and keeps me hidden.

November 10, 2010

Episode II - Ordinary

I found myself in Durham again this weekend, as I often do, and very much at odds with myself as to whether or not I should leave early. In the end..I'm glad I stayed, for a variety of reasons. I got some good friend time in, the things that were prompting me to consider leaving were naught, and by staying, I heard a great sermon that really spoke to me. It strongly dovetailed the things I had been thinking about lately and gave me a wider view and perspective.

You can listen to it here. "David and the Pasture"

It really struck me on two fronts...enough that I had to take two separate sets of notes. One of what we were discussing directly, which was similar to the thoughts from my previous post, and the other of ways in which it particularly applied to me, in a variety of ways.

As far as I'm aware, the people who will be reading this, by and large, will have heard the sermon already, and if you haven't, I highly recommend it. I wont rehash the notes from JD, but I will delve a little more into the other set I took, the thoughts and emotions that were evoked Sunday morning.

I am an oldest child. According to Heather Stevenson and her devotion to concept of Birth Order that means I have the following traits :

Compliant Traits
    * People Pleasers
    * Crave Approval
    * Nurturers
    * Caregivers
    * Reliable
    * Conscientious
    * Cooperative
    * Team Players
    * "Grin and bear it" mentality

Aggressive Traits
    * Movers and shakers
    * Natural leaders
    * Perfectionists
    * Driven
    * Conventional
    * Always have things under control
    * Assertive
    * Want things their way

Common Traits
    * Energetic
    * Logical
    * Ambitious
    * Enterprising
    * Scholarly 

She's far too correct on most of these.

In many ways, at different times, they've manifested themselves. Sometimes, I naturally sought the roles. In other ways, they sought me.

JD made mention of a another sermon where the pastor had members of his audience stand as they filled certain criteria common to traits listed above: academic overachievers, sports leaders, those in political office, business executives, etc. After he congratulated them on the work they had accomplished to have achieved..he admonished them to be wary, because those people tend to have a harder time letting God truly move and work in their life, not because they are unbelieving, but because they don't know how to let go.

That's who I am. 

In all honesty, I'm having a difficult time trying to make this a linear line of thought moving towards what I'm trying to say (probably because I'm not entirely sure what I want to say or how to say it yet), so I'll just skip the the crux. Most of you know me enough to fill in the blanks. If there are gaps you want filled in, tell me and ill do my best.

In my 'natural eldest leadership' type personality I apparently exude, I've attempted to not let it be an idol in my life. I want to be humble and give all thanks to God for all traits and blessings He has given me, but where they've been attacking me is not from the front, but from the sides. And that's what this sermon helped illuminate.

I have a desire to excel. I am competitive. This makes me jealous by default. I can't win them all. Other people win sometimes. I love to create and to build, and as a male, I have the need to be recognized and appreciated for these things. This makes me jealous too. On multiple levels. Like these :

  • People that create the same things I do and do a better job. (This depresses me)
  • People that create similar, but inferior things and receive more praise. (This infuriates me)
  • People that create the same or similar things, and receive praise where I receive none. (This frustrates me)

While hopefully (and I work at this, but please tell me if I'm failing) I've managed to prevent myself from turning into Saul and becoming haughty in the blessings God has bestowed, I have let them control my life too much in the ways listed above.

I have the need to be recognized for my achievements. I've let myself need that bolster in self-confidence that comes not only from the job well down, but also from the accolades. I honestly don't want to be praised and glorified..just recognized. And not every time for everything. I'm not trying to be a pharisee making a scene of giving to the poor or praying loudly to be heard or anything of that sort. That I run from. But, I feel the need to maintain an image of sorts. I almost need to be infallible in things I'm 'known' for. I'm finding too much identity in them. If I lose that...I'm just another guy.

But here's what struck me. These are written in my 2nd set of notes from Sunday. Since I wrote them as brief impressions of thought in stride with the sermon..ill re-interpret them for posting here.

  • Strong in yourself is weak towards God.
  • You cannot attain enough by yourself in your life to fulfill the need to be loved for 'who you are'.
  • The need to compete to be best in the eyes of others is an attempt to personally fulfill what only God is able.
  • The continued attempt to fulfill yourself is a recipe for continued pain when you don't live up.

What I have to do..what needs to be worked on in me, is to deconstruct, piece at a time, this foundation for future security of me and God intertwined that I've built, and remove the 'me' from it. The 'me' in this has been me relying on what God gave me in ability to create my image and running with it instead of properly submitting it. I've submitted it in intention, but not action. I didn't learn the proper role of patience. I looked too far, ran too fast. I built myself into a place where I needed too much from people to feel validated. A variety of circumstances in the past year have illuminated the various infections of pride in my life and allowed me to bit by bit work on turning them over. I have been working. I have come far. I thank God for that. But the journey is far from over.

Now I have to truly learn the proper role of patience and God's timing. To slow down, hold fast and listen for the still small voice is not an excuse to be lazy. You can be diligent in where you are and let God move in you to bring you to His completion. That's the real test for someone like me. To be able to cast off the illusion of losing ambition, and trust God to fulfill entirely. To not worry about the thoughts of others. To sacrifice self in favor of God.


(Excerpts from the next post)
Episode III - The Balance of Ambition and Success

In my previous post, I talk a lot about moving away from ambition and slowing down, becoming "ordinary". I don't want this to be confused with giving in, giving up, or anything of the sort. If God has brought you to this point, you are where you need to be. David WAS king after all. He DID kill Goliath. Joseph WAS raised to the 2nd in command over all of Egypt...

What I want to make clear is that the issue of HEART comes first. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. David, like pretty much all of the greats in the Bible (Save Jesus) was a screw up. But his HEART was right before God, because when he repented, it was true. He wasn't so worked up in maintaining his own image that he let it take over his heart as Saul had. That's why Saul failed. (As a side note, Saul is truly one of the sympathetic characters in the Bible..he was a good man, tall, strong, etc, but I think fully aware of his own shortcomings and afraid of what would happen if he was made King...so he went and hid from it, but was found and made King anyways. Then, once all the pressures came upon him..he became what he feared. And it cost him everything. Its not God's fault..its Israel's for disobeying..but I thought it an interesting aside). David always knew that everything came back to God alone. That's something we all need to live..


November 9, 2010

He has the deed half done who has made a beginning

I've finally joined the blogging world. A place for my internal musings that usually get passed around to a few friends to find traction in the greater world...or not.

Like most things in life, its a work in progress. Right now I'm a little sidetracked playing with design ideas instead of writing (and maybe with the beginning of Conan..). I have every intention of making an entirely new design/layout at some point..but I just cant link people to a site that I don't think looks presentable. Also, I'm carefully watching my spelling and grammar so as to not come under fire *cough* Janel/Christen *cough*. That takes time.

If you're here, you probably already know I'm a fan of discourse. Sometimes I participate, but sometimes I like to sit back and observe. I want this blog to be my honest thoughts on feelings on a variety of subjects. Life. Love. Spirituality. Maybe politics every two years (luckily I'm starting Nov. 8th of an election year, so we have a while). But whatever the subject I want to try and just share my observations. I don't know them to be right or wrong, but I want to know the thoughts of others. Perspective is everything.

Enough stalling.

So, it begins. The inaugural post.

(Since this isn't a script or a paper for school, it looks like I'm going to be long winded..hence, this post will be broken up into a few "Episodes")

Episode I - The Run

Earlier this week I was on a run. Sometimes I run for health. Sometimes I run because it helps me think through ideas. Sometimes I run to work off emotional energy. I think this one was a bit of all three. I was praying while I ran. No iPod this trip. Just me, the sound of nature, and my thoughts. I was asking for guidance and peace. Peace about what I'm doing and where I'm headed. Prayer for wisdom to what opportunities I should be looking to explore. Where should I look to head? What sort of work should I be looking for to bolster my resume? Should I be working towards building my own business? Should I look into summer internships? Then something settled in my heart.

"Have you thought about just living in the present for once?"

I was shocked. I've been through the "I'm not satisfied with where I am, I want to be further in life, I want to be working a real job, living a real life, I want to be in a better personal position", but that's not exactly the feeling I had been having going into this. I'm generally excited with where I am at school, and look forward to  my coming classes, I'm not trying to jump past them. I have, however, been looking into the future trying to set everything up so that I can jump right from school (of which I still have nearly a year and a half) into some sort of work, either as an independent production company, or working to make and maintain a variety of contacts throughout the industry that I may be able to call upon for a job. Both of these would require a good amount of work. Work I enjoy, but work nonetheless.

But then it hit me. I don't know the last time I wasn't working looking towards the future, feeling like life was passing me by in some ways. Not that I'm a workaholic, I hang out with my buddies a lot, but all of my downtime was spent looking for ways to make the next jump forward towards "regular life". A solid job that provides and doesn't leave me nervous as I live paycheck to paycheck. Something that would allow me breathing room to do the things I want..travel..have a regular schedule..serve more..pursue a meaningful relationship...

But I couldn't shake the simple truth that was laid before me. For once, maybe I should take a step back, and explore where I am instead of rushing to where I'm going. I've always had a hard time with this, because I've felt like it was irresponsible to just live day to day without working towards the future..but I'm not looking to be stagnant or lazy. I'm looking to finally stop relying on myself to get me from point A to point B, and to really give that to God. To live here and now and focus on where He has put me and seek His will here and now, and see how/where I can better serve Him. I can be a good steward of where I am, and He will bring me where I need to be better than I'll ever do myself. That's not being lazy. That's being ordinary.


(Excerpts from the next post)
Episode II - Ordinary

I found myself in Durham again this weekend, as I often do, and very much at odds with myself as to whether or not I should leave early. In the end..I'm glad I stayed, for a variety of reasons. I got some good friend time in, the things that were prompting me to consider leaving were naught, and by staying, I heard a great sermon that really spoke to me. It strongly dovetailed the things I had been thinking about lately and gave me a wider view and perspective. 

You can listen to it here. "David and the Pasture"

It really struck me on two fronts...enough that I had to take two separate sets of notes. One of what we were discussing directly, which was similar to the thoughts from my previous post, and the other of ways in which it particularly applied to me, in a variety of ways...


Keep a weather eye open for the next post. It will likely be here soon. For now, however, it is goodnight.