Be Where You Are

I recently came across the blog of a random acquaintance, who was spending some time in Dallas, a beautiful city I lived in for two months.

Now, when I was there I had a lot on my mind. I had just graduated college, and moved up there to work and/or attend seminary. I was actually working at Starbucks, and had signed up for seminary classes before I ended up out in Arizona.

I had a lot of friends back in college, and having been there six years, I always knew someone and had somewhere to go. That wasn't the case in Dallas. I tried to get to know people, but it was hard, and I spent a lot of time in the apartment watching Hulu and playing guitar. It was only in the second month that I began to feel more at home, and then...

Well, then the news came, that I was going to be leaving, and for the next two weeks I got closer to my new friends and explored my temporary home city. It was then that I lived, that I was actually LIVING IN DALLAS and not simply sleeping over. We went to concerts and diners and coffee shops, went on random drives to random places, met people at a bunch of singles groups (Dallas is supposed to be the most awesome place for young single people, and I was one), and generally had a great time. I wish I had lived that way for the entire two months.

I think there are a lot of times that change is the norm, that we all have transient seasons. Mine found me in a two bedroom apartment with four other guys, sleeping on a bottom bunk and waking up at 3AM to make coffee for a bunch of rich people. It isn't a life I miss, but it is a life I wish I'd lived better.

Wherever you are, be there. Whether it be somewhere you've always wanted to be, or somewhere you never thought you'd end up, be where you are. Find the things that people miss when they leave, and the people you'll tell stories about 10 years from now.

And while we're on the subject, what's awesome about the East Valley that I haven't seen yet?

Nostalgia doesn't make any sense

It's not this systematic progression of important things that you end up missing. It's the random crap that you never would have thought twice about back in "the day", whenever that was for you.

I remember back in college, when the Baptist Student Ministry was pretty much a bunch of guys and my friend Sunday (a girl), and then a rotating cast of guests. One of my friends was named Jonathan, but somehow he got the name "Jonatello", and then it was shortened to just "Tello". He was 26, the age I am now, and when he would hang out with us, he would be hilarious in this semi-creepy way. We began calling him "Creepy Uncle Tello"... I forget the exact moment, but it always made me chuckle.

Now, whenever I hear the word "Uncle" or the name "Jonathan", I think of Creepy Uncle Tello, and smile.

I can think of a thousand more important, more memorable things to be nostalgic. Yet, it's the stupid stuff I remember most, like the way my friend Steve would refer to flirting with a girl as "reaching out", and how we still refer to each other as "Mr. Reach Out" or "The King of Reaching Out", even though back in college we were pretty much perpetually single (I think we each had girlfriends for a couple of months at some point during my time in college, maybe).

Or even the memory of waking up at my friend's apartment with a cat in my face, or the time we put a temporary tramp stamp on another friend of mine at their apartment. Or all the times I'd have foam noodle wars with the youth group I led, and destroy them even though it was 4 or 5 on 1.

I feel like I did more important stuff, like this stuff shouldn't be what sticks in my memory. I played music in front of thousands of people, and saw kids give their lives to Christ, and graduated College, and did a bunch of other important stuff that should stick in my head. I wish I could remember that other important stuff, but I can't. I'm too busy remembering the time a little girl named Heather sat on me, and the other kids there asked me how that made me feel, and I told them it made me feel "a little under the Heather".

Nostalgia doesn't make any sense. That joke was freakin perfect though, you should have been there.


This world tries to tell you there is, that there is something beautiful and right about being perpetually adventurous and reckless. There is a strange social pressure to never settle down, to never grow up, as if the dreams of adulthood could never match the dreams of children.

The world is wrong. The world wouldn’t exist without the grown-up dreams of those who came before. The world is in the poor state it is in because of the childish actions of the past and present generations. There is something to be said for maturity, responsibility, and following through on our actions.

I see so many people waiting for something to be handed to them. I talk to them every day at my job, and as I hear their voices, they sound like children who have been disappointed by their wish not coming true, children who are still holding out hope that a shiny new toy is waiting in shiny wrapping paper on the other side of the door. I made fun of them when the only one of “them” I knew was my older stepbrother, who still can’t hold down a job and is probably still expecting that call from Disney’s graphic design office, because they once sent him a shiny pamphlet.

We try to hide it, but most of us are still waiting for that shiny pamphlet that will lead us to prosperity and happiness (ever wonder why credit card offers are printed on such shiny paper?). We have the world at our fingertips, and we are provided with everything we need to change our lives, but we are still trying to “figure things out” before we start to move in any direction. I talk to potential college students all day, providing a way to get a college education while still living their “busy” lives, and providing all of the information they could possibly need online, through our website and government websites. Yet, the biggest copout I hear is “Can you just send me some information? Is there something written down that I can look at?”

Is there a shiny piece of paper that I can hold in my hands, look at for hours, and pretend that I’m doing something meaningful?

The generations before us knew what they wanted. They didn’t have so many options, so the choice was a bit more simple, but there was still a choice to be made. There were six women their age in town, and they chose one to court and to marry. There were three job choices (family trade, military, or clergy), and they chose the one that made the most sense. If there was an opportunity for more education, they took it gratefully.

Now, we have 100 choices, and we can’t make one. We are taught that the world exists for our benefit, and we are still operating under that assumption. We never reach our dreams, because we never dream grown-up dreams. We dream of saving the world, but we don’t dream of becoming a policeman or a pastor, for the most part. Thankfully, the world I speak of is mostly confined to the insular western world.

Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t more hope for the Third World than for us.

Fix Me

You ever notice that the hardest person to fix is yourself?

There are these inner battles that you seem to fight endlessly, against that part of you that just can't change, or can't trust, or can't love, or can't help breaking under pressure. No matter how hard you fight, you just can't help screwing things up in the same old way. You begin to wonder if there is any hope at all, or if you are simply irreparably broken, with no hope of being made whole.

This is the reality of life in a fallen world; life as a broken and dirty person, in a land of broken and dirty people. We are inspired by change, because we know there is something inside of us that needs change more than anything. We are inspired by revolution, because we know the tyranny that rules our daily lives. We cry out for something to make us whole, to make us new and take our pain.

It sounds trite to throw the God card in this situation, but how else do you explain this universal deficiency in our souls? We are broken and fallen people, in need of redemption and a healing love that can ultimately only come from something bigger and more perfect than ourselves.

I use these big words and abstract thoughts to universalize what is going on in my own heart right now, because sometimes we just need to know that we aren't alone, that we aren't the only broken ones out there.

This one's for all the broken people out there... we have a hope. He is risen, indeed.

P.S. This is the only version of the song I could embed from YouTube, so don't look at the lyrics... they are horribly misspelled :-P.


I've been trying to find a way to describe my life right now. I mean, when you look at the big picture, I have a lot going for me. I am marrying the love of my life, working at a steady job, leading worship at a cool little church, and there is a lot of opportunity in my future. There doesn't seem to be any reason for me to be unable to sleep at night. There isn't anything obviously wrong, for my mind to be racing the way it is. I'm making my way down the path I feel God has called me to, and that should be enough for me.

But the ground is squishy, like jell-o. One false step, and... stuck.

It's like I don't know what the next step holds. I am trying to be this grown-up, to not make silly mistakes and not look completely lost, but it doesn't always work. Sometimes the ground beneath my feet is enough to hold me up, but other times, I fall. I don't necessarily fall on my face, but I lose momentum and I feel like a loser.

It's like my failures aren't enough to make me fall, just enough to make me doubt. I've had a lot of these little failures lately, at my job and with the new apartment and a bunch of other areas. I'm not doing horrible, I'm just not doing as well as I had planned. I'm not a complete failure... but I'm not the expert I thought I'd be, either.

That's what these first steps into married, corporate, grown-up life feel like. It's like the first 25 years were training, but reality isn't quite as simple as it seemed before (when I was simply training for it). I am thankful for what I did learn, and thankful for what I am successful at, but still...

I thought I'd do better than this. I thought I'd be strong, sure, and solid.

Squishy was never part of the equation. It's hard to sleep when your life is squishy.

I've Had Enough

I've had enough to break me in two
To tear me apart, what am I to do
What else can I do?
So sing me a song, and let me hum along
at the top of my lungs, while I come undone.
What else can I do?
What can I do?

-David Crowder Band

It's amazing how life can so easily stress you out. I never thought I could get tired of people, but I'm getting pretty close. There is so much going on, and nothing ever works out the way you expect it. And what's funny is, there isn't anything huge to point out and say "THERE! That's why I'm stressed out! That's what has my stomache in knots!"

No... it's just a cacaphony of little noises, a collage of tiny bits of chaos, that combine to overcome me for the moment.

For the moment. That's the key. The key is to remember that every trouble is light and momentary, and even when we have no words, we can still hum a tune of triumph. What else can we do, but remember that life has it's ups and downs, and we are simply strangers in a strange land?