“I am the vine. You are the branches. If you remain joined to me, and I to you, you will bear a lot of fruit. You can’t do anything without me…When you bear a lot of fruit, it brings glory to my Father. It shows that you are my disciples.”
John 15:5-8, NIRV
For the month of September, I have been writing as well as meditating on this piece of scripture. I love the Autumn and Winter seasons of the year. Fall is full of bountiful harvest, the work put in has paid off in time. Winter shows that there is beauty in death and new life will always spring forth again. When I look back over the years, there have been many struggles and trials. Some came from a lack of maturity and believing I knew all the answers, and some came from places I could not control whether it was words spoken over me or being unable to shake off the idea others had of me.
It’s been a little bit since I’ve posted one of these journey updates; I really like doing them because it gives me a chance to be open about where dear Danielle and I are at and some things God has been showing us. We’re about half way through this year, and it’s been interesting for sure. There was a level of wanting to go back to “normal” after the lockdown and the year that was 2020, but at the same time, there was a lot that I wanted to change and grow out of. In that mindset going into 2021, I chose the word of “faithful” as my focus for the new year. 2020 allowed for a lot of self-reflection and a chance for me to really dig into who God has made me to be. My post last week was a lot of the culmination of what I have learned, I need to remember who I am, I am a child of God; unique and different just the way I was designed. I learned that I don’t need to try and fit into what someone else wants or to push back the cemented in time version of me they still see; I just need to be me.
That’s big for me, and choosing the word faithful means that I am choosing to press into all God has for me, and focus on what he calls me into. He calls me to be a good husband to my incredible wife. He calls me to be present and spend more time meditating and listening to the word. He calls me to press into growth, to heal and let go of the past. He calls me to love everyone always, and that includes loving myself.
Another year has passed, and it may just have been one of the most eventful years. For me, heading into this new year, much like my previous new year reflections, was how I can use what I learned to create strong goals for this year. Last year I wanted to be more creative and do more, but what I learned is that in order for me to be the best I can be, I need to know who I am. I found that when the world shut down, I was given time to process my past in order to grow into where I feel called. It was a year to grow and a year with set aside time for that growth.
With this new year, I have more goals, and I want to make sure they are the right goals for the new year.
This past week, dear Danielle and I celebrated being married for two years. It’s been such a wild journey so far. From job changes to moving a long way from home, it feels like it’s been so much longer than two years. I’m thankful to be on this journey, and reflecting on everything, it’s put a new perspective on life. We’re all facing different seasons right now, for some of us, this pandemic has tested us in some tough ways. At the same time, it feels like many distractions were cut away, revealing to each of us what we truly value. It’s an important question to ask ourselves.
What do I value?
What do I need to rearrange to form a new rhythm?
This past year has been one of the busiest and chaotic years to date. As you might know, my monthly posting schedule has been completely thrown out during December. Working a theme park is fun, but working during the holidays and as a new ride opens, it started to become more like hell for a few weeks. Kind of a fitting way to end a chaotic year with a bit more chaos on top. I’ve learned to adapt very quick over this year. It began with me not having my main youth pastor job, and my dearest Danielle and I searching for what was next. With an open door and a need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone, we made the move down to Orlando for Danielle’s Disney College Program. While job searching, I found myself processing a lot of hurts, my pastoring position wasn’t just a job; I had invested in the lives of a ton of students, so when I was let go, I didn’t really know what to do.
I didn’t belong, and I felt like I was letting those students down or abandoning them.
It felt like my purpose was pulled away, I had gotten wrapped up in a place and lost sight that no matter where God had me, I had purpose.
It’s crazy to think that a year ago I stepped into the best decision I’ve ever made. A year ago, on September 22nd, the hottest day of the year, I got to be married to my best friend. It’s now been an entire year, and what a wild ride it has been! The best part of this year has been the moments I’ve been able to share with my dear Danielle. Shortly after we got married, life didn’t ease up. There was a lot of fear, not with each other and our relationship, but the storms of life that seemed to pop in. I talked last week about the importance of storms in our life as the produce growth. This is sort of a part two, last week looking at the principals, and this week opening up about how Danielle and I have been able to see God’s faithfulness in the midst of the crazy. Life is funny that way, it’s not like a movie where there is a beginning, middle, and end, but a continual journey we are all on.
“Make mistakes, learn from them, and when life hurts you (because it will), remember the hurt. The hurt is good. It means you’re out of that cave.”
– Jim Hopper (Stranger Things Season 3)
If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know how weird the past few months have been. I was let go at the start of the year, and that left me with a lot of hurt, feeling unwanted and unappreciated. It sucked, but then, we got a little message from God. Our time in Greensboro didn’t seem to have anything for us, and a door opened to come down here in Orlando. My dearest Danielle started the Disney College program, and it was such a unique blessing for our season. While we’ve been down here, I didn’t have a job offer waiting. I applied a lot, but nothing seemed to be biting for me. Ouch, kinda stunk to have a cool transition to a new place, but still deal with feeling of being unwanted.
In the midst of that, Danielle helped me choose to view things differently. I started trusting God. My prayers were pretty much, “this doesn’t make sense but I trust you.” You see I’ve learned that God’s plan is unexpected and often doesn’t make sense, and that’s beautiful.
It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these journey updates. The flow of these is pretty much just me taking some time to share about what’s been happening to me personally and what God has showed me through it all. It has been an insane ride. I got married, moved in with my amazing wife, got fired, wandered in a state of unknown, we decided to move, had a few panic attacks in there, and are on the job search as we move to Orlando, Florida.
Yeah, a lot has happened.
Just like that, another year has ended. This past year has probably been one of the most eventful years of my life. In the span of three months I was engaged and got married to my best friend! My nephew Gideon was born, and he’s probably the coolest baby ever (sorry not sorry to those of you who had children). I recently got an opportunity to write for Medium on pop-culture, which has always been a huge love of mine (Click here to read some fun stuff!). There have been so many great things, but this has also been a difficult year for me. I was working and carrying out a different vision than my own, and because of that, I stopped dreaming. I found myself working out of a routine because I wasn’t really able to experiment, I’m not saying this is bad, it just became an environment that didn’t help me thrive. The moments where I felt like I was myself were over shadowed by my anxiety to perform well with the hopes of others noticing my work and the craft I was giving. This anxiety really hurt me, causing me to forget who I am. When I was around people that love me and in situations where I could be who I was, that joy came back. As I reflect over this past year, I want to be different, I want to make sure that I am taking care of myself and following what God is calling me towards.
The past few months have been absolutely wild. A couple of these journey updates ago, I talked about how a new chapter of my life was starting, and a little over five weeks ago that chapter began. On one of the hottest days imaginable, I said “I do” to my best friend. It was amazing! Highly recommend getting married to your best friend. While our engagement was only three months (I highly recommend short engagements), there was a whirlwind of things to get done and last-minute details. My anxiety was slightly raising, but when the day finally arrived, it all faded away. The best day of my life, September 22nd, when the new chapter of my life with Danielle began. I know, I know, sounds pretty cheesy but it’s true. Two of my favorite moments from our wedding stood out and I will always remember. We had our first look, where Danielle and I read each other the vows we wrote. The second was during our ceremony, in front of the people who have invested in our lives, and having a moment to worship. We were together, two becoming one, and choosing to worship in the midst of all things.