Monday, May 25, 2015


To Invest or Not To Invest

            Life is full of uncertainty. We face many questions like, what will I do when I “grow up,” where will I live, how long will I be there, and so on. When we arrive in situations where this uncertainty seems to be at an all time high (at this point in our lives), we wonder whether or not we should invest in the people and the place that we find ourselves in. If we know that we will only be in our current situation for a short amount of time, but don’t know exactly when our exit will happen, our tendency is to hold back.
            Last year I found myself asking the exact same question. I had just completed a two-year residency at a church, where I had hoped to be for much longer than that, but God had other plans. We moved into my parents’ basement, which we had anticipated on being for a VERY short time. In the meantime, I was in the process with a few different churches and non-profit organizations. There was one non-profit, that I had interviewed with for several months, which we thought I was nearly guaranteed a position. Within a few weeks of moving in with my parents we had anticipated that we would be moving across the country for my new job. That position ended up falling through, it turns out that again God had other plans for us. After we came to this realization, I continued to apply to various churches and organizations across the US, without knowing for sure how long we would be living with my parents for. As the first couple months went by, I struggled with whether or not to get involved in various groups, investing in relationships without knowing how long we would be in the area.
            After leaving our previous community that we had poured two years of our lives into and not knowing where we were headed next, I wrestled with whether or not I should fully invest in the current situation that we found ourselves in. I was so thankful for the opportunity to serve in our previous community, but it made saying goodbye very difficult. Reflecting on how hard that experience was and the fact that God had seemingly placed us into a holding pattern, We were unsure what our next step should be.
            We took some time to visit various churches in the area before we started attending Southfield regularly (our home church). In September of last year, through the invitation of my parents, I joined the running journey group. I began to get to know more people within the church and grew a love for running that I didn’t know was possible.* Despite the fact that I was interviewing with various organizations throughout the country with the imminent possibility of moving in a matter of weeks, we began to invest more and started to feel more apart of the community. It started simply by dipping my toe in the water by joining the running journey group once a week and then we went for the cannonball. We would touch base with various people on a Sunday morning, continuing to invest in those relationships. My wife and I joined the workout group at church, which met twice a week and began to get to know more people that way.
            Then in December I decided to make an even bigger splash and reached out to Brian, the youth pastor, about getting involved serving in the Junior High Ministry. We had a great conversation, talking about the unknowns that were in Ab and I’s future but the fact that I wanted to serve any way that I could. He graciously welcomed me to the team and the investment grew richer and richer.
            Fast forward 5 months later, Ab and I have moved across the country into a new community starting a brand new investment. There are many things that God taught me during our time in the “holding pattern.” One of the biggest things that I learned was to not be afraid to invest! No matter how long you plan on being in one location, don’t allow that minor detail to force you to miss out of God’s blessings that are readily available to you. God is good all time, He works all things for His good and it’s time for us to believe it, even when you’re not sure what’s next!
            By investing in the relationships that I made during my time in the “holding pattern,” I felt God’s love and felt embraced by a great community of believers. If I had withheld myself from the experience, just keeping to myself because I knew that we were not planning on being there long term I would have missed so much! I have made memories that I will cherish, learned lessons that I would have missed out on and made friends that I hope to have for a lifetime! It’s time to stop dipping your toe in the water and go for the cannonball! We spend too much time thinking about the questions of what if and that I’m only here for ‘x’ amount of time, which is surely not long enough to make an impact (or be impacted). It’s time to forget that lie and jump in, do a cannon ball with everything you got and discover what blessings God has for you in your current situation! I know I am so grateful that I did and in regards to the future, I am committing to not waiting as long!

What are you waiting for, invest in the community around you today, that’s the only way that you’ll discover the blessings that God has for you right in your (current) backyard!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Jump with me!

            On Easter, April 5, 2015, I was reminded of the importance of seeing the world in a different light. We get so hunkered down with the duties, tasks, worries, and problems of our day to day that we forget about all the good and beautiful things around us and all the blessings that we have been given. On Easter, after the egg hunt was over, we were walking back toward the house when I noticed my cousin’s son (Cohen) running with a passion and vigor for life and the opportunities for fun that surrounded him. He went down the slide from the bouncy house to sprint over to the trampoline. He proceeded to climb up and go through the net. He jumped a few times on the trampoline with the biggest smile on his face and then came over to the opening of the net, opened it with one arm and looked me in the eye, and invited me to join him on the trampoline. It’s been over a month since that invitation and I haven’t been able to shake that experience and the lesson that God has been teaching me through it. There are two layers to what I’ve learned through this experience, one is to Jump and two is to Invite others.
            Jump. There is no time better than the present for you to explore your passions, gifts, and the things that give you joy. When I saw Cohen pursue the trampoline with a fervor and pure joy, I couldn’t help but think of how I approach my every day, from the minute details/moments to the big decisions and years that go by. We spend too much time in the doom and gloom state, where we neglect the good and beautiful things that are happening around us, including the many blessings that God has bestowed upon us. I want to encourage you to discover your passions, gifts, and the blessings that you have within your life with the same fervor of a small child running toward a trampoline and jump right in!
            Invite others. Jumping is only the first part to this two-part equation. Just jumping alone for a period of time might be fun but we are called to live in community and to share our joys, passions, and gifts with others. We don’t want to be a scrooge and hoard it all for ourselves, but to be able to take our blessings and bless others. That might mean for you to just invite someone else to join you on your journey, teaching them a skill or craft that you are good at, or just grabbing a cup of coffee (or tea) with a friend and sharing about the blessings that are in your life, ask them about the blessings in theirs and perhaps find a way to bless them too.
            Life would be boring and tiresome, if we spend our days and nights focused on all the worries, problems, and bad stuff going on in the world and doing it alone. Yes, we do need to face our problems, discover solutions, and plan for our futures, but we can’t let them consume us! (Matthew 6:26-28) It is time to remember what it’s like to have the perspective of a child, to love like a child, to be curious, and to pursue the passions that God has instilled in each one of us with a fervor like never before. Don’t let today pass you by. It’s time for you to discover your passions, jump in, and invite others to jump along with you!

What are you waiting for, get out there and Jump!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Thanks for asking

(Rules without Relationship)

      Have you seen any of Marshawn Lynch’s many interesting interviews? He is a player from the Seattle Seahawks, who is not a fan of the media. He has given the media the silent treatment along with some attitude, which led to some hefty fines. Then he transitioned to answering with a tagline to all of the questions for various interviews. These taglines range from “yeah,” “thanks for asking,” “I’m just here so I won’t get fined”(which he is currently trying to trademark) and more. Marshawn is an extremely talented football player who has been a key element to the Seahawks success. In addition, He seems to be troubled and/or annoyed and is looking and reaching out for someone to help. I am reading into the situation, giving my perception of what he might be experiencing, but, until someone actually listens with a desire to know him, things won’t change. It will take more than interviewers just continuing to ask him the same questions over and over again and it will also take more than the NFL continuously fining him without seeking to understand where Marshawn is coming from and discovering what the why is behind his actions.

      With students (employees, kids, really anyone), rules without a desire to know them for who God has created them to be, will get you nowhere. With Marshawn Lynch, the NFL continuously fines him and tries to apply more rules and restrictions on him as well as other players. Don’t get me wrong, whether NFL players like it or not (especially the marquee ones) are role models and should act like them. This standard is not limited to professional athletes, celebrities, etc, it is a standard that should be kept in mind by every (mature) adult. Kids are always watching and we can never downplay our potential influence on the person next to, near us, or within earshot. I wonder if the NFL has tried to sit Marshawn down for a conversation with the desire to really listen and understand where he is coming from. Maybe he had a few bad run ins with the media, maybe he had an event that happened to him as a young man that is influencing his response to those in authority, or maybe he just doesn’t care about following the rules.

      No matter what the case maybe, every person deserves to be known and really listened to, with the desire to know where he or she are coming from without an agenda, besides to love the person. God, has uniquely created every person with unique attributes, family of origin, experiences in their lives, gifts, talents, passions, etc., and we should do all to know that person before we try to think of what we are going to say next or slap another rule (or fine) on them!

A rule without some sort of relationship or desire to know who they are and what makes them tick, seems to only push them further away, let’s change that!

Links to a few of Marshawn's interviews and Stephen A's take

Monday, January 26, 2015

Wisdom from a loss

(Picture of Ryan Picket courtesy of Wikipedia; who played for the Packers from 2006-2013 and currently plays for the Houston Texans. After a tough loss like that, I couldn’t bring myself to put a picture of a current Packer.)

It has now been 8 days since the Green Bay Packers heartbreaking loss to the Seattle Seahawks and the end to their season. This loss was particularly difficult because of the way that it happened. The Packers were up 16-0 at the end of the first half, only to be outscored 28-6 in the second half and overtime.  The Seahawks put 15 points on the board in a span of merely 45 seconds just to stay alive. The Packers were then able to push the ball down the field and score the tying field goal to push the game into overtime. In overtime, after winning the coin toss, Seattle wasted no time. They marched down the field in 6 plays for 87 yards, including the game winning 35yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse.  To many who watched the game, they are still in disbelief. The way the Packers let this game slip out of their hands, made it one that many players and fans alike, will not forget for a long time.
The question that Mike McCarthy, his staff, players, and the Packer organization as a whole now face is, where do we go from here? No matter what the Packers try to do to erase this loss, it has been etched in stone. How do they move on? How do you move on? Is there anything that they can learn from this loss or do we just mope about what could have been?
The question of how to move on is a difficult one when you have just experienced a defeat or failure, but it’s one that we must not avoid. It’s okay and encouraged to grieve the loss for a period of time, but we must move forward. When we face a difficult defeat there are questions we must ask ourselves. First, take some time to look at all the positives leading up to the loss, during it, and what is possible in the future because of it. Next, you need to look at the negatives. What are the missed opportunities? Where did we let up and not give it our all? What can we learn from our mistakes and how can we prevent ourselves from making the same mistake(s) next time? Then, move forward. Don’t allow this experience be the one to knock you out! Allow it to be fuel in the fire. Know that you can’t win them all and that you can’t win unless you play!

What have you learned from a time that you’ve lost/failed?
What helped you the most during that time?

Next time you lose, Remember to learn from it, use it to improve your game, and get back out there!