Busy, busy, busy…

“Dude, you need to slow down…” Yeah that’s probably true. So often life tries to swallow me whole. I get caught up in this and that and before I know it, I’m knee deep in a project I never intended to take upon myself to begin with. Yeah time management is huge, but sometimes too much is too much. I think that as people we all need to have wisdom in discerning when we’re doing too much and/or when we need to prioritize our time better. So here’s some quick tips I’ve learned over the past year.

1: If you have to do two things at once just to keep up with the pace of life, you’re doing too much. Splitting focus is never the right thing to do. If I as a person catch myself trying to do two things at once I know I’m wrong. You see, either one or both of those things aren’t going to get all of me now. One project will get the energy left over from the other. If not, then both projects will only get half of me. I learned a wise saying at a wrestling camp that I think applies here: “Extension equals loss of power.” If I’m trying to extend myself beyond my full potential by doing too much, my work won’t have the same power in it.

2: If you’re always tired, you MIGHT be doing too much. I say might because we have to soberly take into account our sleeping habits (or lack thereof), our diet, and even exercise. If we’re not taking care of our bodies we shouldn’t be surprised if our bodies aren’t taking care of us. If we are taking care of our bodies though, we’re probably trying to do too much. Sometimes being a little tired is unavoidable, but when it becomes a constant in our lives we need to do something different. Try running a car on empty and see how far it gets you… We want to FINISH the race that is life. Not go a couple of miles and then run out of drive.

3: If you have no time to work on your passions you’re definitely doing too much. Even in just writing this post it has taken me what seems to be an eternity. (It’s been about a month I believe) If there’s no time to work on your passions and joys, eventually one of two things will happen. You’ll become bitter or unhappy, or you’ll feel unsatisfied. Writing is something I really enjoy. This blog is my outlet (sometimes an unhealthy one when I’m not careful or wise). I notice that when I’m drawn away from it for extended periods of time, I’m more and more irritable and less and less at ease. I catch myself in ruts of repetitive pondering on unexpressed thoughts and I feel bogged down by them. I also feel as though all of these busy tasks that have pulled me away from what I’m truly passionate about never fulfill me. I’m left wanting more sustenance from life.

I still struggle with a lot of these things. I know I make myself too busy. I know I get caught up in the more tedious of tasks. All I can do is reset, find my focus again, and pray that I can be less busy and more effective. I hope this helps you, the reader, in even the slightest of ways. Just trying to add a little bit of value to this world. Just trying to make a difference the only way I know how: with my words.

Self-LESS

In a weird transitional season, it’s hard to get used to what’s going on around me. It has been three weeks now back home and in internship. I still somehow feel like I left a huge part of me at camp though. I feel as though I’m not engaged in things here. All of me is so caught up in reflection. People I had to leave behind. Some that I’m still desperately clinging to so I don’t lose them. All it does is bring me sadness though. It brings me to a disconnect from reality. I can’t have that happen again.

I was praying the other week. I’m not even entirely sure when. But I felt as though God spoke. He said, “I’m going to teach you a joy like you’ve never known.” A joy like I’ve never known… It’s definitely not this feeling I have now. I know this one all too well. This past Saturday I was at one of MainstreamOrlando’s prayer meetings we have on the first Saturday of every month. These meetings are called The River. So I’m there and I catch myself reflecting on what God had dropped in my spirit a couple of weeks back. And then a word pops into my head. Selfless. But it isn’t written that way at all. You see, anyone that truly knows me knows that I’m fascinated with words. The way they’re written. What they mean. I’ve never been artsy, but I feel as though if a picture can paint a thousand words then I better get started on writing out those words. I say that to draw attention to the way the word was penned in my thoughts. It was written Self-LESS.

‘Self-LESS?’ I thought. What in the world was that supposed to mean… I thought about it for a while. I even slept on the thought. I began to slowly grasp at the concept of it though. It was pretty simple actually. I probably should’ve figured it out sooner. So here’s what I found Self-LESS to mean to me: LESS of myself. In the song “To Be Like You” by Hillsong, there’s a line in it that says, “more of you, less of me.” In essence, if there’s less of us that we’re projecting. Less of our thoughts. Less of our sinful human nature. Then there can be more of God. We can be more like Him.

What does that have anything to do with “a joy I’ve never known” though? (I love this part!) The less of myself there is within me, the happier I can be. By removing my problems and thoughts. By casting my anxieties upon the Lord, I can have a joy like I’ve never known before. And then one day, I’ll truly be able to say that the joy of the Lord is my strength. Amazing! It seems like such a simple lesson from God, but it’s fresh. It’s relevant to the season I’m in. And it’s encouraging to know that I’m continuing to grow in the Lord. I really felt like sharing that with you, the reader, in order to encourage you hopefully. Sometimes the simplest of lessons from God can keep us going. They can keep us moving in the right direction.

Externalizing the Internal

Have you ever felt like you’re not good enough? Like your efforts are in vain? I think that most of us have those times in our lives. We catch ourselves making silly mistakes. It seems as if we’re in quicksand. The harder we fight, the deeper we sink into this trap of the mind. It’s almost as if we’re unintentionally torturing ourselves. Like nothing we do is good enough to others.

I guess I’m in a weird place in my head. Personally, I feel as though everything I touch is coming up short. I know I shouldn’t take it personally, but it’s hard not to. Things at home seem tense. I feel as though when I’m home I’m walking on eggshells. My mind chatters, “When will you make the next mistake?” And if that isn’t enough to drive me mad, I feel as though everything I do in internship at my church isn’t good enough either. All the projects I take on seem to come up short. People don’t like my graphic designs when compared to others. My lessons seem to be “too wordy”. As hard as I try to do right by others, it only seems to be getting worse as well.

So I have two options: 1. I can wallow in self pity and continue down the slippery slope of bitterness that is soon to set in. OR 2. I can know that I don’t work unto man, but I work unto God. If I’m truly trying my hardest and not meeting criteria, then I simply come up short. As long as I’m doing right in God’s eyes, I shouldn’t worry about all the extra emotion that comes with failing. Things will be fine. I’ll shake the dust off and try again.

I guess I’m writing this to get it out. You see, if I know that you, the reader, know where my head is at then I’m more inclined to pick option number two. I’ve let you in to my world. But if I internalize it all, then nobody even knows what’s going on. While I work this thing out, the healthiest thing for me to do is to make sure that it’s out there. Because if it is, I’m no longer alone. We all relate in more ways than we think. That’s part of the beauty of life.

Keep me in your prayers. Send a care filled thought my way once in a while. Encourage me if I look down. I’m going to make it through. Not by my strength, but by the strength that God has allotted me.

Does this shirt make me look “hipster”?

Does this shirt define me?

A year ago, I’d never even dreamed of wearing it.

Now though, labels couple with my clothing and turn me into something different.

But I’m still the same person, aren’t I?

I mean yeah I do drink a lot more coffee.

And I guess you could say my fashion sense has changed a bit.

But nothing has replaced my wit.

My thought process is still the same.

What about my new dreams and passions?

Is that a result of growth, or change?

What if the boot fits?

I wish I didn’t have to be defined by it…

After all, it is just a shoe to protect me on the path I’m walking.

If ever I had to take on a label, Christ follower would be it.

This world views a label as an identity.

Not knowing that a simple phrase or term could never sum up an entire entity.

All the walls we can build with a simple change of clothes.

A shirt worn a certain way, or the choice of brand we portray.

They try too hard to categorize us.

Not by our words or actions. Never by our thoughts.

Simply by our appearance. The initial impression left after singular fleeting moments.

A button up and tight jeans make you “hipster”.

Baggy clothes make you a “thug”.

Skimpy clothing makes him assume she’s easy.

All the stars on his shirt scream that he’s on drugs.

Simply put, this is what we do in our heads.

I’m guilty. But black coffee and a button up should never define me.

The aroma of The Lord is my swag.

The only drug I need is my One True King.

All of my affection comes from Elohim.

Think what you may, the surface is never all there is.

Learn someone’s story. Ask their innermost thoughts.

It’s brilliant the things we dream of.

It’s wonderful to hear of the battles we’ve all fought.

And who’s to say that you’re not more like me?

Or how do you know that we haven’t been through the exact same things?

Judge a book by its cover and you never find out what each page holds.

So much wisdom in a simple saying that is truly age old.

What Does Your Life Mean?

I think that growing closer to people and forming solid relationships is important. We’re not supposed to be surface level in my opinion. I learned from a friend once that everyone has an unwritten story. We’re not all former presidents or history shapers on a grand scale, but that doesn’t mean we don’t leave our mark on the world. Everything we all do is more important than we even know. The kind word a stranger speaks to a passerby could change the course of history. Who are we to say that isn’t true? This view of the world makes me want to live intentionally. It makes me want to grow closer to as many people as possible so that in some way I can be a part of their lives. I want to leave behind memories of joy, peace, and inspiration wherever I go. The world will know my mark not by what I accomplish, but by what I help others accomplish. You see, a world changer can do nothing alone. Not in today’s society. World changers need a team of like minded and truly inspired people to take on some of the grandest of tasks. Like ending human trafficking, or solving the complex equation that is world hunger today.

We’re supposed to be points of light in this dark age. People that add value to the world. I have people in my life that have shaped me for the better. I would not be the man I am today without some of them. You don’t realize how big a part of your life someone is until some time passes and you reflect on your memories. John didn’t write his gospel until around 50 years after Jesus died. He had time to think about what was important to share. Time to think about what the world needed and what was necessary to include in his narrative in order to portray Jesus the way He should’ve been. He had time to think about what Jesus’ life did for him. Our relationships should be like that. We should be able to look back years from now and think about how someone impacted us for the good.

What are we living for? What do we believe in? I believe in investing for the future. Children are our future. If we don’t realize that and invest in them now, then what will their worth be? They won’t have points of light to look back on and rejoice over. They’ll just have the world with its contorted view of the truth. If I could be in more places than one at once… I’d pour into as many lives as I could… Because people mean something. People need people. A mentor of mine says see the need be the need. Or fill it to say it in a different way. I wish that I could be what everyone else needed. I wish I could see so deep into their souls that I knew exactly which life remedies each of them needed. I’d be able to fix everyone. To mend their broken minds. I’m just as broken though. Just as lost.

What defines a deep mind? Is it the thought process, or the thoughts themselves? I try to be as far from shallow as possible. Empathy pours out of me for the world. I’ve been through enough to know that life isn’t all sunshine and roses. There’s no such thing as a fair playing field. People will hurt you. They will let you down. Nobody is perfect. Nobody can be. As much as we want to roll onto our sides and give up though, that’s not what we’re made to do. We’re made to fall forward. To fight for everything we believe in and stop only when we die. We’re wired to be more than conquerors over this world. Over our struggles and shortcomings. Knowing this makes me see the pain we all feel. I know that behind every smile there’s a story. Hidden behind each tear is breakthrough. Every laugh has a hint of harsh reality in its reverberation. When I think of what I’ve been through my imagination is left to only wonder what others have experienced.

I write all of that to leave you with this: What difference will you make today? How will you change a small part of the world? What will you leave behind as your legacy? We only get one life with no how-to handbook to guide us through it all. There are no resets or 1-ups for extra chances. Be intentional about how you decide to live today. Tomorrow is never promised.

All Dried Up

I’m am honored and proud to present a piece to you guys written by the always wonderful and gracious Rebekah Haddock. She is most known for her amazing skills in worship at Mainstream Orlando. She sings and plays the piano along with the acoustic guitar. (I’m pretty sure she can secretly play other things too.) What I love most about Rebekah though aside from her talents in worship are her talents in writing. I think that kindred spirits tend to flock together and get along and that’s most evident in our relationship. You see, both Rebekah and I use writing to express our innermost thoughts. We also use it to inspire and lift others up. What I love about her writing is that it always hits so close to home for me. I hope you get as much out of this post as I did. Here’s her guest post: “All Dried Up


We’ve all experienced those days we don’t want to get out of bed; the days that are spent most comfortably hidden beneath our bed sheets.

Sometimes things unravel into patterns of discontent when expectation levels aren’t met the way you want them to be, causing us to become more negative in our outlook, barely desiring to break out of our comfort zone. Our, “new” comfort of constant pessimism and irregular mood swings: “I’m just not happy here anymore.”

If I can be completely honest with you, it’s been like this for about two years with me. Thoughts always seemed to be my battle, however pessimism was something that developed slowly over the course of years. Generally, I tried to keep a smile on my face no matter the occasion, however in the past month I found it more and more difficult to smile, let alone find genuine joy because my expectations weren’t being met. My optimism slowly diminished, as my first thought in the morning changed from, “today is the day the Lord has made…” to “why bother anyway?”

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”

Proverbes 17:22

One day, praying over some situations, I ran across Proverbs 17:22 and everything just made sense. Here are a couple things I received from it:

1. You are who you hang around.

So, the first part of the verse states, “A cheerful heart is good medicine…” This doesn’t only speak towards your heart, but the attitude of those around you. The bible says that “Iron sharpens iron…” however if the “iron” you’re sharpening yourself with is dull, you are aimlessly chasing a relationship that will either a.) hinder you, b.) create an expectation gap, or c.) dull you along with them. If you want to sharpen a dull knife, you would sharpen it with something sharper. Just as knifes are to iron, friendships are to accountability. A negative person will rub their attitude of on you if you aren’t being sharpened by a greater source [God]. Hence the second part, “a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” If you be’ chillin’ with a crushed spirit…. your bones will become dry.

2. A cheerful heart starts with your every day attitude. 

As I stated before, I used to wake up with the attitude that “this day was for the Lord” until the way I wanted things to go weren’t happening. My attitude towards things I loved started changing, because my daily routine was being hindered by the condition of my heart. Pride.

Pride will kill you! Pride is anything centered around yourself, not just arrogance. Meaning, anyone who has low self-esteem or trust issues also has pride issues because they are constantly thinking about themselves in scenarios, rather than whom or what they are serving. Personally, my pride was, “why don’t things go the way I imagined them to be, why is everything so hard, why do I get the short end of the stick, why can’t I do anything right, why isn’t there anyone around who I can just tell things to…Why, why, why, me.”

This “why me” attitude will destroy you if you don’t catch it on time! To avoid this, you have to stay grounded in the word of God. Remember, if you loose joy in what you are doing, ask yourself who are you truly doing it for [to edify your negativity, or for the glory of God].

Which brings me to my third point….

3. What is it that is bringing you down?

Is it your friends? Relationships? Maybe it is a passion that you’ve dismissed? Or perhaps you’ve allowed your passion to become an idol in your life?

It is extremely important to pinpoint the source of your frustrations (note: being happy is an emotion, therefore pinpointing your “unhappiness” will only lead you to confusion, because you will always dwindle between being happy and unhappy…joy is what is permanent). People pleasing can lead to frustration, pride, and negative attitude towards serving others.

Idols are also huge mood-breakers. If something has become an idol in your life, you are basically devoting yourself to something so much that this “thing” will effect your entire day, rather than living in the joy and pursuit of God. Sometimes your hobbies can become idols, even people. If you truly are participating in an activity for God or for the advancement of His kingdom, your spirit would be cheerful, for “where your treasure lies, your heart will be also.” If you place your treasures in people pleasing, objects, your new job, instrument, insert-anything-you-like-here, then your outlook will result in a crushed spirit. [Remember, sometimes things you began doing for God, can turn into idols if you aren’t careful. It is important to always ask yourself why you are volunteering or doing the activities you are involved in.]

I’ll leave you with this: don’t let yourself be all dried up!
Don’t allow this world, expectation gaps, or situations around you bring you down! No matter what situation may arise, remember you will always find joy in your creator. Also, sometimes battles just take time. But if you are persistent and don’t give up, you will have your cheerful heart, I guarantee it.

“Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, or when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”

James 1:2-4 (TLB)

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Letters in Red

Foreign lands and a brand new species.

Stress is gone, but the burden is increasing.

Days packed with talks of weeks to come.

Hearing stories of battles both lost and won.

History and culture permeating the air.

Generations full of life changing moments.

Like electric shocks streaking high above the oceans,

We are vast. Complexly created to be individually unique.

As if the well of inspiration it takes to create us is exponentially endless.

Ten to the square root of forever, we go on dreaming up our dreams.

So many times caught up with what it all even means.

No vacancy signs illuminated around claimed hearts,

Relationships seem to be mainstream.

Detached from a population of potential greatness.

Frat guys and housewives at home for the first time in nine months.

Excitement mixed in with exhaustion.

Comfort sparred for opportunity.

Ears ringing with the beating of souls.

More than work or ministry,

This is real and tangible life change.

Forever recorded in mere seconds.

Like spontaneous combustion, their hearts catch fire for the King.

Frozen social gatherings fill time.

A sense of obligation mixed with excitement help lubricate conversation.

Competition drives a group to new levels.

Draws them closer even.

With new blessings come new devils.

It’s all part of the changing seasons.

And so we fight.

We dig deep within and search our hearts to find what’s right.

Still, we lose sight and fall.

There’s an army rising up. An army answering the call.

We stand for our fallen.

Though the waters get rough, we know we can’t stay frozen.

For we have been chosen by Something higher than intellect.

Something that desires to use empty vessels.

Willing bodies ready to impact culture.

“Go therefore,” He said.

So I’ll scream from the mountain tops all these letters in red.

Waves

I wonder what it feels like to drown… Like water filling your lungs as you cling to life type of drown… You fight with all your might, clawing at water as if it were something to be scratched, but you continue to sink. As your air supply becomes depleted, you panic even more. You know that once you lose consciousness, there’s no hope left. I can only imagine… From what I hear, it’s a terrible way to die. Some say it’s worse than burning to death. I think I’d much rather burn myself actually. I’d be in tremendous pain, but I’d still have breath in my lungs.

I can only wonder what it’s like to drown in water, but I know exactly what it’s like to drown in life. To drown in sorrow and depression. To drown in self-criticism. To become so overwhelmed with something that it takes complete and utter control over your mind. Anxiety claws its way to the forefront of your emotions. Drowning in nothing. It’s a sad thought. Did you know that you can drown in a teaspoon of water? That’s amazing. So then we can drown in just a small part of life too can’t we?

Lately, I feel as though I’ve been keeping my head just above the surface. I can still breath, you know? I’m tired. My being burns with effort, but I keep my head up. Every once in a while, a wave of something will cover me and I’ll go under. I’ve learned not to worry anymore though. You see, when a wave passes over eventually the swell will get to its low point. And at the bottom crest of that swell I can look up. I know that I will break the surface soon and catch another breath of air as long as I stay calm and don’t panic. I think that’s the trick… To know that when the water rises eventually it will fall. I don’t think that life is a still water at all. I think that it is a tumbling ocean. Some days the waves are pleasant. We can rest in them knowing that they won’t overtake us. Other days, the waves seem so unrelenting that only trust and timing keep us alive. We’re beaten down and battered. Short of breath and exhausted. We’ve gone under more times than we can count. We always find our way back to the surface though. Life is deep water. That shouldn’t be an excuse for us to quit. It should make us understand that the battle has only just begun. Fight for every breath. Know that there are better days ahead. Live above the waves.