because this is unbearably beautiful and ideal in every single way:

  • ben howard’s music.
  • the shared love of Christ.
  • the rain!
  • the barn.
  • their kind hearts.
  • the videography.
  • the gifts they exchange.
  • the strong father-daughter bond.

i’ve seen this video far too many times.

(via thefallseason)

Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul.

Joanne Harris (via h-o-r-n-g-r-y)

(Source: a-thousand-words, via thefallseason)

Life: The Dream Killer

     There are times in your life when you just want to give up, even on the things that you love most.  You feel inadequate, ill-equipped, and lacking time to fix, repair, keep up with whatever you’re involved in.  This happens often with things we don’t really love, such as part time jobs to make ends meet.  But even the things we love the most: our dream jobs, our marriages, being a parent, and living day to day come to this point several times in our lives.

     I just became a youth pastor a couple of months ago and I am just about at my wits end.  I’m at a point where I question everyday if this is what I am suppose to be doing.  I am struggling with the financial side of things and I’m probably driving our poor secretary crazy as a result of me not knowing the rules of submitting requests and receipts (I am WELL aware now and won’t make the same mistake again).  I am horrid at fundraising and have people coming at me from all sides asking me “When are you going to do this?  Is this going to be fixed?  Are we going to start doing this thing?  Can’t we do this?  Can’t we buy this?” and my problem is I’M A PEOPLE PLEASER!!  I want to answer every single one of these people with a YES, right away!  But I CAN’T.  I have come to the understanding, after trying to and discovering first hand, that I can not fix everything right away and at the same time.  However, as I’m sure other leaders know, the people under you just can’t understand this because they just want THIS ONE THING fixed.  They forget there are 20 odd other people with just one thing they want to do,fix, or start as well.  None of them want to help with it, granted. They just want it to happen. They’re much too busy to help.  

     Wits end, people.  Wits end.

     I wake up and dread all the things I have piled on my desk that I and others want done because I am so short on people and financial resources.  I want to do it all, and I can’t.  And because I can’t, people doubt my ability.  And when people doubt my ability, I doubt my ability.  This happens in every area of our lives at some point.  Do you know why?

     We get focused on the processes, the things, the stuff and we forget about the purpose.  We forget the “Why?” of what we are doing.

     Is The Crave (My youth groups snack store) fully stocked with brand new delicious items? Nope.  Is the paint still horrid red and black? Yep.  Do we have a brand new sound system to replace the broken one? Nope.  Are people in my ministry spending ministry money without telling me? Yep.  Am I having to pour my own money into the youth group to make ends meet? Yep.  Did I almost cause us to miss Youth Convention because of my lack of financial knowledge? Yep. Am I incredibly burdened by all of this and wanting to quit??? YES!!

     I’m broke, I’m tired, I have to spend most of my time making food at a fast food establishment instead of investing myself in this, and I cry myself to sleep most nights because I feel like such  failure.  But you know what’s funny?  When the church began in the new testament, they did just fine without sound systems.  They probably didn’t paint the walls.  There may not have been walls to paint.  They didn’t provide the most popular snacks and drinks.  They met together.  They got to know one another.  They supported one another.  And, most importantly, they learned and taught the Word of God together.

    I suck at finances.  God has called me to speak His word.  I suck at fundraising.  God has called me to help teens.  I suck at being assertive and holding others to the standard I hold myself.  God has called me to do ministry.

     Yes, I need to work on all these things, but the most important thing about a ministry is not the equipment, the decor, the media, the entertainment.  It’s equipping people to live the Word of God.  I can do that without everything else.  

    So for those of you that are wondering why I haven’t fixed everything or bought all the new things or increased the Verge account by crazy amounts, it’s because I am not super woman.  I am doing my best.  Yes, there are areas I need to improve in.  Yes, I am learning.  Yes, this is my first ministry job where it’s all on me.  Please, be patient with me.  If you’re good at finances and fundraising, offer me help instead of looking down your nose at me.  If you have great idea, be ready to help implement them.  

But most of all, I REFUSE to let these things cause me to hate what God has given me a love for.  I love these teens, I love helping them, I love preaching to them, andI love speaking to them one on one.  

Don’t let the difficulties in your life kill your dream.  Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and persevere.  Remember your first love, and don’t let other people or things tear you down.  

Maybe even write a frustrated blog about it……

Hebrews 12:7-12

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?  If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.  Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!  They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet,so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Loss and Love

     I’m in the office today and my sermon is already completed so I decided to write a blog entry instead.  My Pastor has been encouraging me to blog more, so here it goes.

     It was five years ago today that my father passed away.

     First, let me tell you a little bit about the man he was.  He was a quiet man if you didn’t know him well.  Liked to volunteer and help wherever he could, but enjoyed being behind the scenes most.  When I was a teenager and all my crazy,loud, obnoxious friends came over he would retreat to his bedroom, but only after he had purchased their favorite foods and drinks and laid them out in the kitchen.  Every time I sang in public, he cried. When he was just around his family, he could be very ridiculous.  I remember something about him putting on a gorilla suit in the house when my sister and I were kids.  It scared the crud out of me while she loved it.  He would wake up some mornings as “Mrs. Prickley Pear” and others he would start singing some song about how his momma was a fairy and his daddy was a frog.  Occasionally, this would come out publicly for church functions.  There are a few photos of him in a dress and pigtails for a fundraiser and one of him as a ridiculous french chef for another.

     The thing I loved most about my father was how very selfless and caring he could be.  Often when I was home sick, he would come up to my room and watch movies with me all day, usually ending up sick himself.  He was always very proud of my sister and I.  He sang to us every night before we went to sleep, even into my teens, and would make sure he told us he loved us.    

     A few months before he died, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  While I was auditioning for my University’s music program, he had to be taken to the hospital to have fluid drained and while he was there, they decided to put in a machine that would constantly give him chemo.  They told him it would be very painful and may not help much.  He was also on blood thinners for blood clots in his legs.  After the surgery and due to the lack of blood thinners because of it, a clot went to his heart.  I was home when he died.  I was the one that got to him first when I heard him yell.  I remember my sister getting home from school and he wasn’t breathing.  I locked her out of the house because I didn’t want her witnessing what I was.  I didn’t know what else to do, so I got down on my knees with the bible in front of me and prayed promises in the Word while screaming in confusion and agony.  The paramedics probably thought I was the one that needed help when they arrived.  

     On the way to the hospital, my mother was in tears and I was….fine.  I had been taught by some people close to me that if you had faith, then God would heal. I had faith, so I had no doubt that God would heal my dad.  I didn’t know how to respond when I found out my father was dead.  Nothing at first and then….complete and total anger.  It was the next day that I got a letter saying I had gotten accepted to the School of Music at Lee.  He would never know.

    The next Sunday at church I sang no worship songs.  God had killed my dad.  I was done with Him.  I had trusted Him and he hadn’t healed.  I refused to pray.  I would not speak to someone so cruel.  I have never come so close to walking away from the church.  For that one or two weeks, I hated God.  

    It was a few Wednesdays later that I was suppose to sing on the worship team.  I told one of the youth leaders I couldn’t do it.  After talking about the unfairness of it, I remember Him saying something like “If you don’t talk to God, you aren’t giving him a chance to talk to you.  Open up and let Him speak to you.”  

     That night I got up on stage, and decided to let down the walls and give God a chance.  I started worshipping to the first song and …I can’t explain it.  God spoke to me in a way that was as close to being audible without being audible as you can get.  He told me that my dad would suffer no more.  That he was face to face with Jesus now and living the way he was always meant to and that I would see him again someday.  And then an overwhelming peace came over me.  

Philippians 4:6-7 says  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

     I know that peace better than a lot of people, because I could not understand how I was at such peace in the middle of such turmoil.  God allowed me to be more of a support to those around me as they continued to grieve.  It’s not that I was never sad or mournful again, but I had complete assurance that my dad was, in fact, better off than I was.  I was only sad for myself, because there was no reason to be sad for him.  Every family has to have someone go home first at some point.  In my family’s case, it was him.  

     Through the death of my father, I came to know even more of the love of the Heavenly Father.  He continued to cover me in his peace and reassurance whenever I sought Him.  He also brought good out of such a dark place.  A few weeks later when I was leading a small group at a Blackstone Youth Retreat, I learned that one of the students had just lost one of their parents in a fire.  I was able to help them find peace in the Lord as well and grieve with them.  Since then, I have encountered countless students who are dealing with loss, and I now have a means of understanding to some extent and helping them through the process.  In the middle of loss, God has enabled me to love better.

     I know that there are times in life that it seems like its all that we can do just to keep living.  Just to breathe, eat, and go to work.  We start feeling like there is no way a loving God could exist because of what we must endure.  Because of what those around us must endure, but check yourself.    Are you allowing Him to speak to you?  Are you escaping to Him or fellow believers for help or are you escaping to anger, sleep, alcohol, food, tv, books, whatever??  Bad things happen because sin set off a fallen world in the beginning.  If God healed every person that was prayed for, non believers would start figuring this out too and soon enough, no one would die and we would all be stuck here instead of moving on to the real gift of eternity.  Death is never easy.  It was never intended for us before The Fall, which is why I think it seems so unnatural and wrong now.  But for us as believers, we must remind ourselves in the middle of it, death is the beginning of everything; the doorway into eternity and peace.

The Thing About Stories

     Many times in life, we look at movies and books and wish we could escape to them.  We think, “If only that could be my life.”  We seem to forget that perfect lives are not the reason why movies and books are so interesting.  Rather, it is because they are based off of real lives; relatable lives of struggle.  I would challenge you to find a story, a good story, without conflict.  Think of recent popular movies: The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, Thor, even Frozen!  The reason they are interesting is because the characters in each face difficulties and struggle to overcome.

     Conflict gives us hope and faith.  Without it, we would have no need of them.  Without conflict, there would be no resolve. Could a story be good if there was no challenge to overcome?  It would probably look a bit like the first Hobbit movie: a lot of boring walking about. In the same way, we can not truly appreciate the good in life without struggle, for we would have nothing to compare it with and nothing to overcome.

     Love your life.  Do not wish it away.  If you face trouble, then love it all the more for the best stories are those of people facing impossible odds who cling to hope and faith despite it all and come out triumphant on the other side.  


                                          Embrace your own story.

                                You will never experience another like it.

I love Arrested Development so much.

(via liamdryden)

Like a capella?  Like the cup game?  Like the song “Call Your Girlfriend”?  You’ll love this.  Sorry about the first post.  Stupid program posted our first take and the second. 

Somewhere Over The Rainbow Cover