Joy: Even When It’s Tough

Hey there. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written here. Life decided to get all sorts of crazy. I feel like this has been the year of tests for all of us. I got called back to work, and really haven’t been excited to head back when there are still so many unknowns about this pandemic. We all then, also face personal choices and issues that come up in our lives. In all of these moments, life gets really tough. We don’t know how to react, what to feel, or how we can’t make it out.

The thing I keep clinging on to and the thing that keeps my head above water is this; joy.

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Never Give Up

Life gets really tough sometimes. There are days were you just can’t take it anymore. I’ve had a lot of time to think, just like many of you have during this time of social distancing, and I’ve thought about the events that have led me to where I am now. Looking back, I’ll be honest, there have been a ton of times where I wanted to quit. To just give up and let go. In high school, I knew God was calling me to be a pastor, it’s the clearest voice I have heard. I had a passion to help people and a passion to help young people especially step into who God made them to be. From that moment I felt very weird, I am still so passionate about it, but when I have pursued it, I get push back.

Maybe you have been met with similar pushbacks, you might not have enough experience, might be too young or too old in the eyes of the person in charge, or maybe you’ve been told you don’t have the right x-factor or cool enough. I’ve faced these exact same challenges, but in it, god has been with me. He always reminds me:

Never give up.

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Keep Moving Forward

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

This scripture keeps coming into my mind.

In every season it feels like there always comes a crossroads. A time where decisions need to be made and the next chapter will begin with whatever choice is made in this moment. I’ll be honest, in my life, these decisions aren’t comfortable and often are the result of hurt. I think about how in college, I was interning and it felt like the next steps were so clear, that I would just continue into that path. That wasn’t the case, life often has a way of shifting and moving, and most of the time it’s not the way I would like. So often I used to write and preach about how God’s plan is so much better, yet during these same times I had my plan all mapped out. Things just made sense, but the truth is, God’s plan is so much better, it just means that we have to get uncomfortable to take a leap.

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Stop. Listen.

Culture has a hard time listening. Every day we have messages bombarding us from all over the place. We are glued to our phones, checking notifications and refreshing apps to see what everyone is doing. The TV is typically just on, endlessly playing Netflix. It just gets tough. With all the noise in our lives, we rarely have quiet moments. Even now, as I write this, I find myself looking at my phone. It’s so frustrating, it’s time to stop and learn to listen. I laugh at myself sometimes. Okay, a lot of times, because I tend to do silly things. I’ll get sucked into a TV show that isn’t even that good and then know waaay too much about it (Shouts out to Vampire Diaries and its’ nonsense). I also do things that are a bit more ridiculous. I’m in a season of some unknowns and having to trust God, and many times I find myself saying, “I just can’t hear God.” The truth is, and this truth is the same for you as well, I’m not allowing myself time to listen.

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Your Story is Powerful

Good story makes all the difference. Have you ever gone to a movie where it just felt off? One of my favorite things is to watch really bad movies, or “b-movies,” and laugh at the ridiculous nature of it. We love good story. It’s the reason why we watch movies and read books, and find ourselves heartbroken, exhilarated, and connected to characters who aren’t even real. This past week, my wife, Danielle and I had a chance to go on our official honeymoon to Harry Potter World and Walt Disney World. It was absolutely incredible. Throughout the trip I kept wondering why I was connecting to the environment on a deep level. Yes, it was fun and a great experience, but there was something more. Something I was quite getting, then it hit me.

Story.

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Passion

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of passion recently. Passion is an intense desire, something that almost cannot be controlled. It’s something that drives you, moves you, and causes you to fight for it daily. Events in my life have made me evaluate what I am truly passionate about; it has caused to me look at the why behind who I am. As a Christ follower, I am called to something greater. Passion and calling go hand in hand. Each of us have a calling, each of us have been created with a powerful purpose. There is no one like you, you are an original, a masterpiece created in the image of a savior. Take a moment and think about what drives you. What makes you excited during the day, what do you cling to in the midst of hardship, what could you never go another day without pursuing? I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of passion recently.

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Be Kind

I saw a really cool shirt at Target. My wife and I love to walk around Target, it’s a pretty simple date night (You just have to make a pact not to buy anything before walking in), and now that we have a nephew, we like to check out the kids’ section. Kids today have awesome style options to choose from, but in the girl area there was a shirt that simply said, “Kindness is cool.” What an awesome shirt! It’s kinda crazy to see shirts like that when we live in a culture in America that isn’t very kind. We get angry, often at things that aren’t that big of a deal, and we turn on each other. Normal people who go completely crazy, kind of like the stories that will inevitably come out of this coming Black Friday, or from being a secret werewolf. Okay, yes, that last comment makes no sense, but if you’ve ever played the card game, “One Night Werewolf,” you know just how not kind people can become. The game is played in complicated rules, but it boils down to two werewolves have to convince everyone else they aren’t and get some poor innocent players killed. I love this game, because immediately everyone tries to prove they aren’t the bad guy and throw everyone else under the bus. I highly recommend it for your next game night. What I’m trying to say in all of this, is we have gone far away from being kind, because we are all trying to appear better, and that often means putting someone else down to do it. We gotta change that; it’s what Jesus called us to.

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Harvest: The Results of Sowing

October is here! I always love this season, as it kicks off so many good events. My birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas; it’s my favorite time. It’s a season of change, seriously, it’s the autumn season of change. I’ve been through a huge season of change. This past week I got married to my best friend in the world. It was such a beautiful moment, one that I will always remember as the beginning of a brand new chapter in our lives. I’ll write about that in a few weeks, but one thing that I want to focus on is the season of fall. When I got married to Danielle, I didn’t meet her the week before and say, “hey, we should get like married or whatever.” It was the result of a cultivation of our relationship, we chose each other and invested everything into it. Our marriage is a result of the sowing we made into our relationship. That sowing directly affects the harvest that will come, and as a conclusion of these one-word topics I have been writing on, I want to focus on the harvest.

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Foundation: Building Life on Solid Rock

After the past month, God has really been moving. Much has happened. It was a season of prayer and fasting at my church, wedding planning is continually underway, my jobs were busy and productive; a lot happened. In seasons of busyness, it can be easy for me to lose track of what’s important. I tend to focus on getting the details accomplished only to miss the things God has for me in the midst of the tasks. With the season of fasting, I cut out any non-worship music, and that helped me in more ways than make sense. I always listen to music. It helps me focus and I love new creative endeavors that artists take, but sometimes, it can become a distraction. Many times, I don’t enjoy the quiet moments, but over the fast, I realized that we have to quiet the noise around us, in order to let God, have a chance to speak.

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Faith like a Child

This past month God has been continually teaching me to trust him. Starting a new job, trying to evaluate my purpose in the future, and making sure I’m just generally on the right track is becoming a beast in my life. During the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting at my church God keeps telling me to look at him and trust in his great love. Over and over again, everything I read in my bible points back to the love God has. None of us are perfect and we make terrible mistakes, but God still chose to save us. God sent his son for you and me, paying the price so that we could have a chance. That’s a crazy kind of love, and that kind of love shows me that I can trust God. No matter how much I can’t see or how much I don’t know, God simply calls me his son, and he wants me to have childlike faith. We all need to press into a childlike faith.

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