When In Bryan (Month Five)

Well, it’s been a minute since I made myself sit down and reflect on what life has been lately. Mainly because sitting down and reflecting means processing and processing means time and I’d rather not give myself time out of some pseudo-humble mindset thinking that’s the most selfless and servant-hearted thing to do. It’s funny that I perpetually think this way after so many times of realizing that the most selfish thing I could possibly do is not deal with what’s going on with me and the way I feel and what has been great and what has sucked.

 

Don’t worry, the point of this post isn’t to list out all of those things, just wanted to let you know that’s why I didn’t have a blogpost about December and why this one about January is so late!

 

Some things I learned in December/January:

  1. I can’t change who the Lord says that I am. (see this, this, and this)
  2. People really can care about you. It’s O.K to believe them.
  3. It’s O.K for goodbye’s to be hard. It’s actually really normal. So I shouldn’t act like it’s not hard.
  4. “True peacemakers love God, others, and themselves enough to disrupt false peace.” – EHS
  5. Everyone is different from me. So let them be different. Different is wonderful.

 

I’ve been chronically bad at praying for myself for the past I don’t even know how long. My most consistent prayer in the past couple weeks is for the Lord to teach me 1) to recognize my need and 2) to humble myself and just ask for help (because it’s not like I stand a fighting chance of satisfying my needs anyways, honestly.)

 

So that’s the quick and easy version of where my mind has been the past couple months.

 


 

As for work, my job has been a lot of reading, which I love.

We’ve still been going through “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” as a staff and it, of course, has continually be kicking me in the gut and making me realize that I am not nearly as put together as I would’ve said in August (or December, honestly). So I highly recommend it for anyone. Find some pals, get the book, be honest with each other, and delve up all of the fun things you didn’t even know you were suppressing! It’ll be fun, I promise, you just may have to wait until the end of the book to see how fun it is…

 

The other book I’ve been reading is specifically for “worship” leadership, and it’s called “Doxology & Theology“. I’ve been going through it with a couple of friends and am about to teach through it with some of our band members at church. It does an incredible job of teaching the whys and the hows of worship leadership, and it’s also incredibly readable.

 

My team is still incredible. We’re excited to have Blake back from Sabbatical tomorrow and to finally be a full team again. I couldn’t have asked for a better team and family in this season of life. (The people’s faces that are covered are like so because I am not about to potentially compromise their ability to get into certain countries because they are linked to a church).IMG_5093.JPG

When In Bryan (Month Three)

If you know me in any capacity, you know that I love kids. As a matter of fact, kids aged      1½ to about 8 years old may be my favorite demographic of human being on the face of the planet. They teach me so much about living life to the full and having fun and laughing a lot and being an adventurer.

One of the highlights of November was going to watch my pal Jett at his first soccer skills showcase (try saying that 10 times fast…). While it obviously wasn’t the best soccer I had ever seen, it was unbelievably incredible to see how much he lit up when Drew, Marissa, and myself all showed up just to watch him! (It was also incredible to watch his mom play goalie against his dad and hope that he didn’t kick her in the face and also hope that she didn’t beat him up for kicking her in the face).

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There were a few other things that happened in November, as well:

-The Aggies’ football program spontaneously combusted.

-I’ve begun to practice the art of task delegation. Which means I get to actually equip and train people in areas instead of doing jobs myself.

-I turned 22.

-My niece, Zoey (check out the #zoeywatch on Instagram, if you’d like) who is three years old will finally snuggle with me for more than ten seconds.

 

This month has been far lighter than the last couple months and I am so incredible thankful for that. In my last blog, I wrote about how the Lord was growing me in emotional health and that has absolutely continued. But it has been wonderful to live in the kind of freedom that is offered by living in the light. I’m learning how to communicate with my co-workers, friends, and girlfriend better and better. I’m learning that I don’t have to hold in my emotions or how I’m feeling and that it is OK to externally process the good and the bad with my people. However, this month has not been quite as much of a punch in the face as last month was (praise the Lord).

 

The Lord has also been growing me in thankfulness. Maybe it’s just the season, or maybe I’m just growing up, but I wake up most mornings more thankful than the day before. Thankful for my breath, thankful for the ability to move and walk and run and lift things, thankful for people that care, thankful for means of transportation, and ultimately thankful for the fact that Jesus came and took my place, lived a life I had no shot at living and died a death I absolutely deserved. And Jesus did all of this so that I could live with the Father forever? Dang. That thought breeds thankfulness.

 

It’s been a good month and I’m thankful for the breath of fresh-air with which the Lord has gifted me in this season. BRING ON THE HOLIDAYS!

When In Bryan (Month Two)

I can’t even believe it is already November. I feel like October would’ve been nearly non-existent had the LORD not totally began to demolish a bunch of the walls I’ve been building up in my heart and soul for the past five years. This past month has been a lot more emotionally taxing than physically taxing (as September was).

We as a church staff have started reading a book together and spending a good chunk of our staff meeting processing through it together. The book is called “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero. This book has been a consistent kick in the teeth for the past few weeks. Here’s a few things the Lord has been revealing to me about myself (some of which I may write about as the month goes on, but this isn’t the time to go in to detail about all of this).

 

  • I am not good at submitting to leadership.
  • I am not even close to as humble as I thought.
  • I am afraid of being known because really anyone who has truly known me in the past has pretty much dropped me at some point (with a few exceptions).
    • This has led to me choosing to live in the dark on a lot of stuff and let me tell you, I wish everyone would live in the light. It is far healthier and far more bearable and joyful of a life. It far more closely reflects the life Jesus describes in John 10:10.
  • I have an inherent lack of trust for people within the Church.
    • I also generally have unrealistic expectations of people in the church, I think.
  • Love doesn’t hinge on clarity and clarity doesn’t bring forgiveness.
    • Love breeds forgiveness regardless of clarity.

 

And in the midst of all of this demolition of my synthetic inner walls, I’ve realized this as well: I am far less important than I thought I was, but I am far more loved and cared for than I could ever imagine.

I’ve had so many conversations in the past two weeks of repentance and forgiveness. Not because I am fully healed from things that have happened or the lies people have fed me or the abandonment that I’ve faced from people who have used me. No. Those things still hurt. But what’s different now is that I’m not pouring the salt of bitterness and resentment into those wounds while the Lord is trying to bind up my broken heart and heal my wounds. Now I get to sit and be taken care of by the Lord and by my friends and I don’t feel resentment anymore. I can sit and be bandaged and not rip the bandage off to pour in more dirt and salt. My wounds aren’t infected anymore and that is the first step of being emotionally and spiritually healthy.

Please don’t get me wrong, it has been really terrible and exhausting for the Lord to come in like a bull in a china shop and demolish all of my walls. But it has also been so good because I’ve gotten to taste, see, and feel the goodness of God the Father because while he’s come in swinging, he sits there with me while HE builds everything back up and speaks life and speaks identity over me.

“You’re my son.” He says. “Of course I’d fight off all of these lies that have surrounded you.”

October was crazy and tiring, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

When In Bryan (Month One)

Well. I’m officially one month into my Residency program at Declaration Church in Bryan, Texas. And let me just say, it was nothing short of exciting! I want to just highlight a few of things to give you the gist of my first month.

 

 

  • Not only did I reach my financial goal for my year of residency, but the Lord exceeded my goal and He did it through the most unexpected of means!! A HUGE thank you to all of you that are supporting me financially. I obviously could not be doing it had you not been obedient to where the Lord was asking you to give. I so appreciate you.

 

  • We had an overflow room! (kinda…). The first three weeks were absolutely crazy and our seating capacity was beyond maxed out. So, to counteract this so people could come and sit and hear and respond to the Gospel, we worked our tails off to create an overflow space in the back of the building.

 

  • We have interns and they are freaking stellar at their jobs! One of them is specifically our worship intern and he has been an unbelievable asset by helping me shepherd our band members and auditioning new instruments and singers and helping me cast our vision for our worship ministry. It has allowed me to breath a little more. And then our other intern is specifically focused on production. He has been so key in helping me drive up the quality of our worship services so that our excellence will point people to the excellence that is the person of Jesus.

 

  • We had baptism service on the 25th and it was SO INCREDIBLE. Kids were getting baptized, students were getting baptized, adults were getting baptized. The Gospel is advancing in Bryan/College Station and the trajectories of people’s lives and their family’s lives are beginning to radically change!

 

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The bulk of the past month has involved learning that I can’t do everything. And even if I somehow could do everything, I shouldn’t; because then others can’t have a stake in the kingdom advancing.

I’ve learned a lot about delegation and leadership of leaders.

I’ve been starting to learn again that I don’t always have the most important thing to say and that my opinion isn’t always the best one.

I’ve gotten to have incredible Gospel-centric conversations with kids and with students and with adults.

The Lord has been super gracious and kind as He always is and I’ve been growing more and more thankful for all of the gifts He’s lavished on me.

Houses Aren’t Homes

This summer I did something crazy. Actually, I did a lot of crazy things, but they were all sub-things of a 49 day, 11,500 mile, cross-country road trip that consisted of hitting 31 states and two Canadian provinces. I did all of this while sitting 8 inches away from my friend Soup (and our friend Bradley for 10 days but that’s another story). Eight different times on our trip, we stayed with people whom we met on their front porch. This trip was absolutely insane.

B&W Map

One of the most reoccurring questions I am asked is, “So, what did you learn on your trip?” I would like to think that everyone has gotten the same answer; however, I do not think I can confidently say that. But, after taking a month to decompress and think about the biggest thing I will take away from my epic adventure, it is time for me to have a set-in-stone answer for people. So, here it is:

I learned who is friend and who is family.

Now, to clarify, I do not mean that I am just figuring out who my blood family is. I have known them since day one. My intention in using the word family is to capture those friends who are everything that family is, except for the blood; I am talking about people for whom I would bleed. I learned that I am thankful for my friendship with so many people, but there is a handful (given, it is a slightly larger than average handful) for whom I would give my blood like it is second nature.

My junior year of high school I met three of my best friends to this day (shortly thereafter, we added a fourth). Now, they are married and have kids. One of the husbands graduated from A&M and lived in the house in which I lived last year. I had heard story after story about the house itself and how dirty it was and that it literally cannot stay clean no matter how hard you try. Nonetheless, I knew this house by the community that lived inside. I was so spoiled my junior and senior year of high school by a community of guys that lived two hours away from me in this nasty old house on Churchill Street. Once I accepted my admission into Texas A&M, I decided I would be living in this house at some point no matter what it took, because I wanted community like theirs. My entire freshman year, all I looked forward to was living in Churchill and having the same community and same story that my friends had a few years before.

I thought I had to have their story in order to have family.

churchill

Sophomore year I received a pretty substantial slap in the face to wake me up and make me realize that a house is not always a home. I had put all my stock in this house I had hoped it would provide the family I craved. In reality, that was not the family of which I was to be part. I got so frustrated that what I wanted was not happening, I almost moved to a whole different state to run away from everything and start a new story. There were a few factors that kept me in Texas, but the main factor was being invited into a group of brothers that had been family since high school. It is a much more complex story than I will make you read on a blog, but I will just tell you that I was probably 2 days away from accepting a job in Nashville that would start at the beginning of June. I am more than happy that I decided to stay.

I knew I would miss my new roommates while I was on the road, but I was fully expecting to get over it pretty quickly and enjoy some space for a couple months. This, however, was simply not the case. I missed them exponentially more and for longer than I expected. Some of the best times of the trip for me were in New York City, Chicago, and Seattle not only because those places were super awesome (they were), but also because I got to talk to my roommates on the phone.

IMG_3068_1(Spring Break 2015, Nashville, TN)

For the last few weeks of the trip, I began to find myself day dreaming about sitting in the run-down house in which they lived just being with them; not even doing or talking about anything, but just simply being. That sounds like family to me. People who do not need to always hear your words, rather those that want you to simply be with them and they with you; those around whom silence is not uncomfortable or tense, but warm and inviting. Once I recognized how intensely I missed my roommates, I began to realize that it does not matter where in the world any of us are, we are family. If family were bound by convenience, then love would be easily achieved and also easily abandoned. Some examples of convenience are circumstances, time of day, financial comfortability, and location/proximity.

These are the questions I pose: Where is your home and who is your family?

This is where I may lose some of you. For me, my physical home is not wherever I reside; my home is my family and they are scattered thousands of miles apart: Texas, Alabama, Illinois, Tennessee, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington to name a few places. Because of the distance, it is not always easy or convenient for them to be family. It is not easy for me to deal with my entire body aching because I miss them so deeply. It is not easy to wake up in the middle of the night on an island in Maine and not be able to go back to sleep because all I can think about is being back with my family in Bryan, Texas. One of my biggest dreams in the past year has been to stand on the shore in Acadia National Park in Maine. When I finally arrived, it was not enough. All I wanted was for my family to be there because none of it seemed worth experiencing without them.

IMG_5836(Acadia National Park, Maine, US)

You have heard people say that having an experience is better than having material things. I am going to take that one step further and say that having people whom you know as family is exponentially greater than either of the former.