Sunday, December 29, 2013

the wallflower

I have spent my life as a wallflower. In most social situations, I sit quietly watching the world around me pass, for many reasons. But it wasn't until recently I realized that was because I did not really value myself.

There is something quite beautiful about loving and valuing yourself. I'm not talking about a pompous attitude. No. Trust me, no one likes the pompous attitude. But being overly humble, to the point that you quiet your own voice, isn't exactly going to win you the mantle of Most Likely to Succeed. We value affirmation, but that praise has to begin within us. We have to believe we have worth in order to receive it.

Being a wallflower can be just fine in some scenarios, but it's not meant for us to live our lives entirely that way. We have to love ourselves enough to show the world what we can do. You will only find what you are capable of when you step out from the shadows and be what you were meant to be. Until you love yourself, you will never be ready or able to receive love.

This is a lesson that I'm personally learning every day. I pray you find your love, worth and value as well. And let's enjoy the journey.

Love yourself. You are worthy. Your life has purpose. And it all starts with you.

Do not go gentle.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

death of Superman

1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Hebrews 12:1-13
Proverbs 4:26
2 Corinthians 4:7

I'm prideful. I'm selfish. I can be deceitful. I can be vindictive. I succumb to anger. I'm envious. I fail to uphold my word. I worry. I doubt. I judge. I hate. I lie. I hurt. I fail.

I'm a failure, and that's a beautiful thing.

All of these things are extremely hard to admit, and none are aspirations, but every one of them points towards the fact that I can not do anything on my own. I can only do so much to fix them in my life. Ultimately, I need someone to help me clean house in my life. My own strength only feeds the cycle.

Growing up, I always aspired to be a superhero. I would strap on my Superman cape, gloves, beanie, and some ill-fashioned sword, so that I could race around to save the world. Who wouldn't want to be a superhero? They can do anything. They overcome the greatest odds and always come out on top. They possess great strength and courage. They are truthful. They are valiant. They are moralistic. They are, in many ways, what we all dream of being in our own lives. This is where we learn to try and do it all on our own.

I believe we all are meant for something greater than what we settle for, for lives that are far superior to our dreams. In the text, Paul talks about not aimlessly living, but forcing himself to be better, so that he doesn't disqualify himself from the very prize that he teaches about. If we aren't pushing ourselves to be greater every day, then we are settling for less than our capabilities, for less than we were meant to live for.

Above, I listed some of my faults. If I listed them all, you'd still be reading a super-depressing list. The truth is that none of these things define me. I have to place them in the rear-view of my life and press towards that awesome version of myself that exists on the road ahead. It takes work every day. But, I can not do it alone. I have placed my faith in someone far greater than me, who wants me to be what I was created for. Who would know my purpose better than the one who created me?

Stop trying to be a Superman or Superwoman. In this life, you will find that trouble abounds and when you allow God to handle it and lead you, it is a much easier road.

My failures continue to teach me that there is a better life than the one I live in. I can be better than all of those things. When I focus on what I can control in my life and leave the uncontrollable to God, I find the failures and shortcomings decrease. I find I'm happy. I find my heart headed in the right way. I find that those things I don't like about me are being changed into something better than I could dream. I'm shown flashes of who I really could be.

I fail so I know my life is better in God's strength. I get better and grow so I see Him at work in life, loving me through my failures. A creator creates that which He loves and takes joy in.

Do not go gentle.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


When I look at the road ahead in my life, I can see countless trials and difficulties lying in wait. Even at the present moment, irritations and struggles are crouched in attack position, ready to devour me. What should I do?

Normally, my instincts take over and I do everything in my power to control all the situations, each hindrance as it comes. But, there comes a time when I can no longer fight, when I tire and curse the situation, when I doubt why I'm even on this road. The problem is the road I'm on is my own life. 

We are not built to carry stress and to endure endless hardship, yet our ship is set afloat in treacherous waters. Most of the time, if you are doing something right, you meet the most trouble along the way. Why, you ask? Because our world is not inherently good. And evil doesn't approve of the triumphs of good. Searching your own heart, you know when your intentions are good. 

I have recently learned (and I'm still learning) that I can not carry the weight of these burdens myself. In fact, they are not to be carried at all. When I try and control every aspect of my life, every time I am pulled down, crashing back to earth in defeat. The lesson: stop trying to control everything. Now, don't confuse relinquishing control with apathy. All of our lives have a purpose and we should be focused on their direction, but I'm talking about controlling all the irritants and trials along the way. 

If your focus is on the struggle, you'll lose sight of the goal every time.

We are a ship at sea. All we have is a rudder and sails to help aide us in our direction. We can't look at the rough seas ahead and grow weary, we instead should focus on the light of the calm sea beyond the current storm. It is hope which should drive us, not control.

So, when you are overwhelmed, relinquish control. Lay your burdens down at the feet of God. He who can create from nothing, can heal any burden. Set your eyes on the road ahead and don't let the trappings of stress and the irritations of life derail you from who you are or where you are going. 

Know yourself. Know your goal. Find peace.

Do not go gentle.

Matthew 11:28-30
Isaiah 53:4-6
Psalm 68:19
Galatians 6:2
Proverbs 16:32
James 4:1-2

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

the weight of words

Never underestimate the power of words. The little things spoken or written. Every phrase uttered into existence carries some weight to it. The harshest of words have the power to destroy and contaminate. The most uplifting words can build and create.

In my ever-shortening lifetime, I have seen the power of words create and destroy in my own life. I've seen people that I sincerely loved tear down everything around us with a careless word. I've hurt and broken with brash decisions and ill-timed words. All of that happens because we don't understand that words have value, even the ones unspoken. I'm learning that others are listening more than they lead on. Love resonates and heals even the darkest of hate.

Think on your words.

It is true that those closest to us will hurt us the most. They know us better than anyone else. We speak to them the most. Inevitably, the fragility of the human spirit relents to the chaos that surrounds us.

We don't intend to hurt, but our anger or hurt brims the cup of our life and we lash out. We hurt. When we hurt, our reactionary nature is to hurt back.

Our voice is far more powerful than we will understand. So, shouldn't we use our energy towards building something in this ever-crumbling world? Shouldn't we be more concerned with creating instead of destroying? Life is filled with fleeting moments that the hands of men will never be able to harness. And because of this we, whose very beings are wrapped in the frailty of life's grasp, should desire to uplift each other.

Let us unify instead of divide. Let us build instead of destroy. Love and truth are born in the small words, in the small things of life. What you speak constantly over your life, you ultimately live every day.

Do not go gentle.

Proverbs 10:31
1 Peter 2:15
Isaiah 6:1-8
Luke 12:34

Monday, December 9, 2013


Convinced of my deception, I've always been a fool. 
I fear this love reaction just like you said I would. 
A rose could never lie about the love it brings 
and I could never promise to e any of those things 

If I was not so weak 
If I was not so cold 
If I was not so scared of being broke and growing old 
I would be.................. 

Blessed are the shallow at the depth they'll never find 
seems to be some comfort in rooms I try to hide 
Exposed beyond the shadows, you take the cup from me 
Your dirt removes my blindness, Your pain becomes my peace 

If I was not so weak 
If I was not so cold 
If I was not so scared of being broke and growing old 
I would be..................frail.

Luke 12:34
Matthew 14:23-33
Proverbs 3:5-6
Psalm 9:10
John 15:13-17

Knowing who you are at the deepest and realest level requires letting go. It means accepting your faults. It means looking at yourself in a new light and laying those short-comings at the feet of the King. It means allowing Him to take full control of your life, a life lived without borders and restraints. It requires that which we are far too often ill-prepared to give up, our unwavering trust. Trust requires being frail.

I have often been unwilling to trust fully. I cling to things when I shouldn't. I make it about me and refuse to change, grasping at the things that I think I can control and working feverishly to make them do my bidding. Nothing of value is ever built that way.

Place yourself at the beach right now. You are standing with your toes just being nipped by the last push of each wave, as it crashes onto the shoreline. The breeze whips through your hair, and you close your eyes knowing that you are alive. In that serene place, where there are no stress levels and no driving frustrations, in that still small place where we can close our eyes and focus on just breathing and the wisps of freedom - that is where we belong, that is where we are to live. In our world though, we close our eyes and immediately we begin to fear and worry - the threat of rising tides or dangers lurking underneath the depths, waiting to devour us. That is not trust.

The book of Matthew tells of a time after Jesus miraculously fed the 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and two fish, when he went up on a hill by himself to pray. The disciples were out on a boat in the lake (or sea, depending on your translation). When they were out there, He came out to them, walking on the water. At first they are afraid, but He speaks softly and tells them it is Him. Peter jumps up and asks to come out to Him. "Come", He responds. Peter climbs out and feels his way along the water, at first keeping his sight on Jesus. But, then the waves and the wind take his focus away and he realizes the perils that surround him. So, he begins to sink. Jesus reaches out and pulls him back up.

We are living in the hands of the Creator. Too often we doubt or worry because others doubt or worry. We allow ourselves to be projected into these fruitless things. When you are not trusting, you are allowing everything else to speak their "truths" into your life instead of the truth-filled, small voice of the Only One who can help you. He speaks peace. He speaks love. His words are Truth.

So, when the waters rise, keep your eyes closed, keep you heart focused, remember who you belong to. There is no wave he can not part, there is no danger that He can not overcome. Our finances, our dreams, our worries, our hearts, our plans - we have to give them all to Him. Hand over your schedule and let Him rewrite it. He is writing the story of our lives every day. And the story He is breathing into us rests with our hearts at peace wading into the deeper waters, walking out on the oceans as none can believe possible. This is how seas are parted, how nations are restored, how kings are healed, how love is born - out of the truth of full trust in a Savior, who was also our Creator, and who saw no other way to give us peace than to take the fall for our failures himself.

There is no greater love than that. 

The very simple fact that in order to overcome our difficulties, we surrender. For we all surrender to something, make sure your heart bows to what is already victorious. He has already won.

Thank you Father for shaping me everyday. I fail all the time. This lesson is one that You are speaking into my spirit everyday. I'm not worthy of anything, yet you allow me to find peace, you call me again and again back to you. May I trust your guidance in all things. May control be only mentioned in the same breath as you. I lay all of me at your feet.

Listen to the song below. The words are just above. Close your eyes and pray. There is power in just the simple word - frail. It speaks of trust, of surrender, of the journey ahead. Be blessed.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

discerning the toxic

I've recently been searching and asking to have a truly discerning spirit. It's not easy. There are trappings and judgement calls all over the place that are deceptive. But, something that I've come to learn is that if it doesn't push you closer to God and, more than that, God's call on your life, it is toxic. This goes for relationships, jobs, friends, etc. 

Think for a moment, you may have that person in your life that makes you feel special and speaks awesome things into your life, but you have that project or talent that you lay down when they are around. And, when it comes down to it and you may know in your heart that they are not a part of that project or talent, it doesn't mean they are bad, it means they have to go. Harsh, I know.

God calls us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Too often these days, as people become more and more uneasy being alone, we rush into relationships to mask our own insecurities. Then, we force them to work by trashing parts of us that offend or distract us from the other person. Why would you throw away your God-given talent or calling for someone else? That is the definition of a distraction. 

This is why a discerning spirit is needed. This life is littered with trappings of glittery things. I've come to realize that a simple question helps to discern these things in your life: does this make me the very best version of myself? No one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). 

So, I encourage you today to break of the trappings of a complacent and ill-fated life. Look at those around you. Do they honestly point you towards the calling in your life? Do they make you the best version of yourself? If you can answer those positively, then look at the other areas that may hold you back. Life is not meant to be easy. Life is meant to be lived unhindered and unbridled. Live all out, running the best race you can. You are not promised tomorrow, so make today count.

Do not go gentle.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

the road back

I have been looking through a lot of past blog posts and old writings and things lately. I guess being on the brink of some major changes does have you take a moment to reflect on the road that lies in your rear view. There lots of memories and words that hold extremely different meanings for me now. I am changed. I will never be who I was ten years ago, or 5, or a month ago. And that is awesome. If we are not changing and growing, then we are stagnant and devoid of life.

As I was rummaging through my old things, I found something that I had almost forgotten about. It is not old, just from last year. But, I find myself listening to it and remembering exactly where I was and how I felt then. A rush of emotion that makes me really appreciate the ocean of my future that I am just dipping my toes into now. It is a song that I wrote for a movie I worked on last year. I won't go into details of my surroundings then, but I can hear the longing for change in my voice. It is not the Oscar winner, but I am glad it exists out there in the universe to help me be thankful for the road behind me, and to be excited for the journey ahead.

As C.S. Lewis wrote, "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."

So, I hope you enjoy "Long, Dark Road". It holds a place in my heart for not just reflecting on where I've been, but also the horizon that I am now pressing towards.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

almost being alive

I've always found music to be one of the best therapists that you could ever hope for. No matter what is going on, there is a song for that moment. And the very existence of that song means that someone, somewhere went through some of the same joy or pain as you. It's a beautiful, universally connective thing. There is nothing more unifying to me than going to a concert and standing in a sweaty cluster in the middle of a warehouse, singing my guts out with some complete strangers. For a few fleeting moments, there are no differences between any of you. There is no conflict. Just beautiful strains of poetry passing your lips as you reflect on the simple fact that you are alive. 

Often, there is no other way for me to express what I'm feeling than to put it into a song. Granted, most of these songs never make it past the walls of my room, but they serve their purpose.

A couple of years ago one of my good friends and I were in a little acoustic, indie-rock outfit. We just played a few small shows around our local community. One day, we were trying to write some new songs to play at an upcoming show. Morgan, my bandmate, asked me if there was anything I wanted to write about. It was silly, but I had been having these reoccurring dreams that I couldn't figure out. 

In the dream, I was walking down a quiet, dark road at night. I was carrying luggage and my guitar case in my hand. Lining the road were these nice, older houses that had all of their lights off, except for porch lights. I kept walking up the road, minding my own business, intently making my way towards an empty train stop platform. Every few minutes, I would check my watch and look over my back, as if I was anticipating no longer being the only person around anymore. I climbed the stairs of the train platform and set my stuff down, still looking around somewhat anxiously. Suddenly, I look up and see the train blowing into the stop. Despite it's loud approach, the entire place still felt empty and silent. I look around one more time, let out an exasperated sigh, grab my stuff and board the train headed out of this quiet hell. 

When I finished telling the story to Morgan, I remember her kindly smiling and saying "You're not alone. You've got us, silly." Her and her husband, Si, are two of the raddest, kindest people in existence. I'm beyond lucky to know them.

We sat and talked about the dream for a while. I like to akin the whole thing to the fact that, as long as I can remember, I have been searching for the right person to meet me at the train stop. But it also shows that I'm not afraid to get on that train alone. I suppose in life, we have no choice in the matter. My senior English teacher called me a 'hopeless romantic'. How poetic. If she only knew how right she was.

What I realized through this is we aren't meant to be alone in this life, but you have to be willing to go into the fray on your own. It's a mind over matter type of thing. Your heart is going to cry out for fear of loneliness, but your mind has to treat it as a wound that can be overcome. Some people are going to be blessed enough to walk to that train station hand-in-hand with the one they are meant to take the journey with, others won't. 

We titled the song, that came from that discussion, Carbonesque - meaning having the same characteristics of life. I like to think it is because the dream, that still comes around from time to time, is a personal challenge. If you had to go through this world alone, would you quit walking or would you gather your things, breathe, and step forward into the unknown?

Here is the song. I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

into the fray

When I was little, my dad made sure that I had the privilege of playing little league baseball. I wasn't ever the biggest kid, so in many respects, it was the sport I could play without getting too hurt (at least, that was the thought).

As I grew up in the game and the other kids were allowed to pitch, the game that I enjoyed playing (a.k.a. - picking dandelions, rolling in the dirt (because your uniform has to be dirty to prove you have played), etc.) took on a very different and frightening role. Now, a trustworthy coach wasn't lobbing pitches over the plate for you to hit them, some wild-eyed, crazy-haired kid, that you knew as the school bully, was flinging a hard, leather-wrapped ball directly at your head for fun. At least, that's what it initially felt like.

Eventually, the fear of taking a good, old-fashioned beanball to the dome was not the first thing on my mind every time. As time passed, I began to love the game again. The smell of the freshly-cut grass, the sun beating down, the thrill of being a part of something that is bigger than you, and striving for a fleeting moment of glory - it's all part of the game. I think on those fields, early in my life, was were I learned confidence, but I also learned how to hurt and to take defeat.

I was notorious for being so upset about striking out or making a bad play, that I would burst into tears. It wasn't a selfish act, I honestly would be distraught over letting my team down. Sure, I wanted to personally succeed, but I also feel like the game of baseball gives itself over to a team effort. A well-placed hit or diving play may salvage that last moment and give the team a victory, but there are 9 innings of intense moments that lead to the end, and they all have to fall into exactly the right place.

This is why baseball is just like our lives.

We are all striving for something, and we may be scared to death of what may come next, but the only way that we can hope for success is to stand in there, plant our feet, trust ourselves, and swing away. Plus, life is always much more purposeful when it is about more than you. Taking on the purpose of bettering society, providing for a family, giving someone hope - these are all the types of things we need to invite into our lives - I know I do.

Recent events have made me afraid of stepping up to the plate in some areas of my life. The imposing thought of failure likes to try and stop me from even getting ready to take a swing. I know better, but the heart is fragile and it needs a pep-talk every now and then.

I had a movie recommended to me by a friend, that kind of took me by surprise. It was the movie, The Grey. Now, this is not a movie to watch if you are in need of a pick-me-up. It is definitely a downer-type of movie, but it poses some very amazing questions about our own feeble existence. I won't break down the plot for you, but there is a pretty incredible scene I want to describe. Liam Neeson has just been through hell basically, with a companion just dying in his arms. He collapses on the snowy bank of river, completely ready to give up, and stares up to the sky. He calls out with most of his fleeting energy, "Show me something! If you give me anything, I'll believe in you for the rest of my days!". The sky continues to pour snow on him, as he sits there alone in silence. In this moment, after what he has been through, he has every right to quit. Just sit there on that snowy bank and let his breathing slow, let hypothermia take over and let death come - the only thing that is certain to arrive. But, then he does what most would not, he stands back up. He begins to move with purpose back into the woods, in a hopeless quest to find shelter, to find hope. So, I ask you, what drives us off the banks of our lives, when we should quit?

Take your feet. Step up. Swing away.