Blogging Everyday in July|Social Media

Do you ever log onto Facebook and see someone’s post about something great that happened that day?  Do you log onto Instagram and see photos from some new and exciting adventure?  Do you see tweets on Twitter from all your friends who appear to be hanging out without you?  Can I let you in a secret?  It’s not real.  Not really.

Yes, great things are happening in your friends’ lives, but that’s not all.  Think about what you post on social media.  You only share what you want people to see.  You of course share the good times, the fun times, the spontaneous jam sessions, and midnight adventures.  How often do  you post the dark times, the lonely times, the times you feel left out?  Exactly.  Because when people are negative on social media, they look annoying and pessimistic, unless they find a way to do it in a funny way.

And I’m not saying any of this to point a finger.  We all do it.  I do it.  Go through my feed and you’ll see photos from my adventures and posts about how great my friends are.  I once had a friend from college say that I only take photos in scenic places.  Which is only true because that’s what I share.  I do my best to make my ordinary surroundings look extraordinary.  I go out of my way to find something beautiful.  I push myself.  And I think for a while it became less about the adventure and more about the photo.

When I lived at the camp in Mammoth, 85% of my photos were taken in the same location, but if you didn’t live there, you’d never know it.  I could walk less than 200 feet and get a completely different vantage point.

I took far too many ski lift photos to show how sporty I am.  Except I rarely skied more than three hours at a time, and I usually went up for less time than that.  But that’s only because I had the luxury to do so.  I want my life to be an adventure, so I did my best to show that I really was adventuring.

In reality, I spent a majority of my time at work, and the rest of my free time drinking, sleeping, or wasting time with the boyf on Netflix.  I’d probably ski once every week or two.

I gave the illusion that I travel a lot.  I’d post photos of Costa Rica or Ireland like it was no big deal.  But those trips were life changing, and I have no idea when I’ll be able to do another one.

A lot of times social media can bring depression.  We feel alone or sad or lost, and people post about how their lives are so great.  You’d never know that those same people have struggles too.  If social media is getting you down, maybe you should unplug for a little while.  I know I’m thinking about it.

Because social media isn’t all negative.  It has a way of building community.  I am able to keep in contact with my friends from literally all over the world.

So we have to take the good with the bad.  Step back, look at what you have.  And maybe, the next time you get annoyed at how great someone’s life appears, think about what you’re sharing.  Because you’re probably comparing their positive with your negative, and that’s never a good idea.

Blogging Everyday in July|Connections, Choices, and Everything in Between

Something I think about a lot, and that I was definitely thinking about yesterday, is how everything is connected, and how if one choice was made differently, than not only would my life be changed, but so would the lives of so many other people.  One of the biggest things that makes me think this is when I get snapchats from one of my friends that I’ve known since I was in high school, who is now very close with my best friend, who I met in college.  She posted one the other day that had friend that I knew in elementary/middle school, and have seen from time to time since then.  And my college bestie was in the snap too.  My mind was suddenly blown at that random connection.

My parents first moved to Bishop in order to go to Church on the Mountain in Crowley Lake, CA.  They attended that church until my brother was small, because it was quite a drive from their house.  They started attending the foursquare church in Bishop, which is the church that I grew up in.  The pastors of that church were an influence in my life from birth.  They both attended Life Pacific College when Pacific was still Bible and the location was still Echo Park, CA.  So I grew up hearing about this school.  And because we attended this church, I attended Old Oak Ranch, a camp I grew up in love with.  Because of loving camp, my first job out of high school was at that camp, which has led me to work at 2 more camps.  That camp also always had reps from Life Pacific, so that was another influence on my college, besides God telling me to go, which happened at a convention that I went to with the youth group from the church I grew up in.  But I only went to the convention because one of my friends who also attended the camp, but was from a different city, was also going to be there and I wanted to see him.

Anyway, I often think about what it would have meant if I had waited to go to college, or if I had chosen a different college, because I often wish I had my degree in English, or literature, or creative writing.  However, although I have always been a writer, I didn’t realize that that was what I wanted to do with my life until I was already in college.  And I may have never figured it out, had I not attended Life Pacific.  Also, it is because of my friend, Aaron, and his Yarning in the Round parties that I realized my love for story, especially other people’s stories.  That was where I realized how much hearing other people’s stories can build community.  If I had chosen a different school, I never would have met Aaron.

Another person who I never would have met, or who would have never met me, is my best friend Michelle, had I never attended Life.  If I had chosen a different school, I never would have met my best friend.
If I had moved to Portland when I graduated from college, I probably never would have moved to Mammoth.  Had I never moved home to Mammoth, Michelle would never have been compelled to visit me, thus, she would have never moved to Mammoth and found her happiness and home there.
Also, if I hadn’t moved to Mammoth or started working at The Station, I never would have done the School of Supernatural Ministry, which would have meant that I never would have seen a blind woman healed in Costa Rica, nor would I have met Ray Hughes, so I never would have gone to Ireland.  If I hadn’t gone to Ireland, I never would have moved to Alabama, and I probably wouldn’t be writing this right now.

If I had chosen to move to Alabama right when I got back from Ireland, I never would have made a lot of choices that I made leading up to my move.  But my brother probably wouldn’t have gotten his first house as quickly as he did.  However, if I had stayed longer, my brother wouldn’t be constantly looking for a roommate, and I probably wouldn’t have moved into a 2 bedroom apartment because there probably would have been a one bedroom available somewhere.

If I hadn’t started working for the resort, I wouldn’t have the confidence that I can find a job no matter where I move, because there are hotels everywhere.  But if I hadn’t worked for the resort, I wouldn’t be convinced that I like working in hospitality, which I have learned that in the South, I don’t, because I am not Southern, and Southern Hospitality is a whole different game.  However, if I hadn’t gotten the job at the hotel, I wouldn’t have known about another opportunity for a very fun job, which I interviewed for, and am really hoping that I get.
I also never would have met two of my favorite people in Alabama outside of my Ireland pals, had I taken a job somewhere else.

I could go on and on about connections and choices.  Because they blow my mind a lot.  If even one thing in my life had been different, I fully believe that nearly everything in my life would be different.  And maybe that’s a conversation for another day.  So I’m both miserable and happy.  I am thankful for my choices because of their connections.  And I’m disappointed, because choices sometimes bring hardship.  But life is a journey, and it’s a learning experience.  It’s nice to see how far I’ve come.  And it’s nice to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned.  There’s no point in dwelling on how things could have been different, because really, do I want them to be different, or do I just like to have something to complain about?

Blogging Everyday in July|A Little Prophetic Poetry

Today at The Ark, some prophetic things happened during worship, which I’m realizing is a regular occurrence.  During this time God gave me a word, a poem, but I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to share it.  Also, I’m an awkward and uncomfortable individual, so, even though I am very comfortable speaking in front of people, drawing attention to myself in order to make the sharing of a word happen is hard for me to do.  I haven’t been at The Ark long enough to cause commotion.
Anyway, I got this word, and I wasn’t sure if I should share it, but I had the feeling I should.  I just kinda told God that the attention would be put on me, I wasn’t going to take it, if he actually wanted me to share the piece.  I made eye contact, but no movement to jump in.  However, now that I am home from work, I still feel the need to share it.  Thus, here it is.

Sometimes we feel let down
And we sing words, repeating
“You will never let me down”
Feeling we are already down
Not realizing the down
Is not really down
But leading to the highest high
The upest up
It’s all just a part of the journey
And looking back
This down will be nothing
But a stepping stone
A learning block
Left behind you
As you have moved on
To the bigger and the better
So keep your head up
Your eyes forward
As he will never let you down
He will never let you stay down
In fact, you are not even down
Held aloft
In his arms

Blogging Everyday in July|Bad things, Good People, and Whatever’s In Between

There is a such a common question that is asked.  It’s asked to trip up those who have faith into doubting what they believe.  It’s asked genuinely, really wanting to understand if God really is as good as we say he is.  It’s asked out of curiosity.  It’s asked, just to see what kind of answer I can come up with.  But I’m okay with not having all of the answers.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

I believe that God is perfect.  He created the world to be perfect.  But we failed, thus the world was corrupted.  However, God continues to love us anyway.  Because his love is perfect where we fall short.
Some people like to think that God orchestrates everything that happens in this world, but that’s not the case.  I mean, yes he could do that, but he gave us free will.  So, as humans, we have choices to make, choices to do evil, and choices to do good.  Hating someone because they’re a different gender or race?  That’s a choice.  Loving someone, even though they’re different, or might not love you back?  That’s also a choice.  And for those of us who had the misfortune to be born after the original sin in the garden, sometimes making the right choice doesn’t make sense.  Because we were born into sin.  So vision gets skewed sometimes.
But choice doesn’t answer the question as to why some people get cancer, or are born with a mental “defect” that makes life harder, or why people develop dysphoria, or even why I’m bipolar.  Am I not a good person?  I’m not answering that.  But it’s because this world is corrupt.  This world has sin in it.  And sin isn’t just an action anymore, it’s in the world.
God did not create the world originally to contain sickness and hurt and anger.  Those all came after sin.  And even if someone tries to live their whole life never sinning, they still live in sin.  Because sin is in the world.  It’s in the air we breathe.  It’s not something we can just escape.  We can’t fix a corrupt world overnight.  I’m not even sure if we can fix it at all.
And if we ask why God doesn’t step in and destroy all of the things that are not of him, I think it’s because he loves us still.  He loves us regardless of if we love him.  It’s not as easy as, “those who don’t accept Christ are going to hell.”  It’s complicated and unexplainable, God’s love.  His desire never was, is, or will be to destroy us.  Even when he told Moses on the mountain that he wanted to kill all the Israelites and start again, he didn’t destroy them, and he never ceased to love them.  Even when he sent the flood to make the world new, he broke his own heart and promised never to do it again.
But all of these answers aren’t really answers.  No answer I can ever give will ever be good enough.  And I’m okay with that.  I’m okay with the mystery of God’s goodness.  I’m okay with simply knowing that we don’t know what he’s doing, because we are inside of time, where he lives outside of it.  We don’t know what awful thing he’s going to use for some amazing goodness in our future.  And we also don’t know what awful thing he hated to allow, but did because of the corrupt nature of the world, and the rampant free will that he didn’t interfere with.

I’m bipolar.  And I accepted my crazy a long time ago.  I used to believe that God created me this way, and that somehow it was going to be used someday, and I spent so many hours angry at him for it.  But maybe he didn’t create me this way.  Maybe I just am this way because of the corruptness of this earth.  But that doesn’t mean it won’t be used someday.
I both do and do not try to hide my crazy.  I can get really excited and feel so much love for my friends and want to do so many fun things.  But that excitement will get used up.  I’ll hit the mountaintop and drop off a cliff.  I woke up yesterday knowing I shouldn’t see people.  But I chose to drive to Nashville for the first time with them instead.  If it had been smooth, with a plan, and a city tour guide like I had in Michael Glenn, or Jackson, or even Jamie with his San Francisco list, or Aaron with his Portland list, and maybe a whole day, then my landing at the bottom of my depression might have been smoother.  My city exploring might have been something worth doing.  But instead, instead the chaos inside my head matched the chaos outside.  Instead I didn’t know what I was doing.  Instead, it was as if I had never been to a city before and things like paying for parking had to be mansplained to me.  Instead, I saw no river or beauty, I saw the ugliness that comes with all downtowns.  It was loud and hot and too much.  Why I ever thought that kind of adventure on a bad day would have been a good idea is beyond me.  Because I can’t explain my broken soul to those around me.  I’m unhelpable.  I’m broken.  But I’ve accepted it.  It’s just embarrassing when I’m spilling out onto the floor and the only thing that can be done is to mop me up.
Life is chaos.  Life is chaos.  Life is chaos.  And I could go on screaming at God to take me from it, because I’m not going to do it on my own.  Or I could find a way to take this chaos and make it art.  Find the beauty in the ugly.  Be Tyra Banks for a moment.  That’s not something I know how to do at the bottom of the cliff, but I will find my moment at the top again, and I will be living amongst the beauty again.
And none of this is to say that I had zero fun in Nashville, because I did have fun.  I love my friends here, they care about me.  It wasn’t there fault that I can’t handle my own existence sometimes.  That will never be anyone else’s fault.  That’s not what I want to be taken from this.  I am flawed.  We are all flawed.  Welcome to honesty hour.

 

Blogging Everyday in July|What Music Does

A few people have asked me to write about a few different aspects of music.  Why it’s important.  How it affects people.  How it changes things.  What it means.  I’ve even been bugged because I haven’t written it yet.  So here are some thoughts.  Apologies now if they’re not all together.

Open your computer.  Go to spotify (assuming that you have it) and pick a playlist that you made a couple years ago.  (This works with iTunes too).  Set it on shuffle and close your eyes.  Do you remember why you made it?  What do you feel?  I have a playlist on my spotify account simply called “Sad.”  I made it my junior year of college, and I remember listening to it on repeat.  I used to spend a lot of my life simply that, simply sad.  Music had a way of speaking into that part of me.
I have playlists that I made because the guy I was hanging out with at the time showed me all these bands.  Those playlists made me feel closer to whoever they were for.
I have playlists from road trips I took with my favorite person, my bestie, my soul sister.  Playlists filled with songs we would belt like ballads, songs that we would fake sob to, and songs that just made us laugh.  I’m a lyric person, she’s a beat person, so when we find the perfect combination, the song is gold.

Often times, people will say something that will remind me of a song lyric and I’ll just quote it, or start singing the song.  It makes me laugh.  It reminds me of a different time.  It gives me something to share.

There are songs that I could almost say have saved my life.  I think God speaks to me through music sometimes.  And he quite possibly uses my music to speak to people sometimes.

Sometimes there are no words to say.  But then a song says it.  Songs say what you can’t say on your own.  They have the depth, tone, and emotion that words on their own don’t.
I know I’ve talked about it before, but the song Jesus, Jesus by Noah Gundersen is one that I keep coming back to.  There’s an honesty there that is hard to find.

Jesus, Jesus, there are those who say they love you, but they have treated me so god damn mean.  And I know you said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,” but sometimes I think they do, and I think about you.  If all the heathens burn in hell, do all their children burn as well?  What about the Muslims and the gays and the unwed mothers?  What about me and all my friends; are we all sinners, if we sin?  Does it even matter in the end if we’re unhappy?

That’s not something that you can just say to most people.  Put it in a song?  It says it all.  Songs have soul.  You want to see a glimpse of someone’s soul?  Hope that they’re a musician.  I firmly believe that anyone can find a song, even if they don’t get to play it or sing it more than once, ever.

Imagine a life without music.  Without birds that sing.  Without love songs and breakup songs and songs about Jesus.  A lot less would be said.  A lot more broken people would be unheard.  Music makes us whole again.  Go find your song.

Nobody’s Story

Nobody’s story is simple
To get to where you are now had to come from somewhere
Even growing in perfection has moments of misdirection
Every stained glass had its broken moments

The one who has it all together had to learn to stretch to wrap their arms around the broken years
The one who shines so brightly in the light has trouble falling asleep at night because of fear of darkness
The early riser, morning conqueror never fell asleep in the first place
The one so quiet and concentrated has learned to gather scattered thoughts to keep from going crazy

We try to put everyone in a box
Believing no one can understand
That everyone’s life must be easy
Because you can watch them breathe while you feel as though you’re suffocating

Things don’t go to plan
Because the chaos of the universe already has its order
As we try to grasp it we fall apart
Developing a story to be told

Nobody’s story is simple
To get to where you are now had to come from somewhere
So tell it

Dichotomy

Dichotomy
Broken in two
Because you let him have a part of you
You can’t escape this
Constantly torn
Between love for who doesn’t deserve you
And dreams worth chasing

Dichotomy
Deciding between what is easy
And what is right
Following a voice
Making a choice
Breaking one more heart
Or letting go of the possibility to touch thousands of hearts

Dichotomy
Your bleeding heart
Finding love too soon
Hiding in loneliness
Losing yourself
Go get it back

You bleed ink
As your heart pumps out poetry
Catching you
In this dichotomy

You have already found what you’re looking for
Just too accustomed to searching
To stop and catch your breath

Think back to your past
Remember your dreams
The stories worth telling
Always took place here

This is your dichotomy
It’s time to find your way home