Sunday, June 26, 2016

I'm Leaving the Country!

So, I have a big announcement for ya'll.

Yep, I'm going to Africa.

Ok. I'll admit this news isn't exactly new for me. One does not simply walk into Africa without a moment's thought. I've been very busy getting vaccinated, paying for plane tickets, packing, and registering for a passport. (Sheesh, who knew this stuff was soooo expensive?) I could talk for hours about it, but I'll just give you some of the basics about it. 

I'll be leaving in July and I'll be gone for two weeks. (Rest assured, I have some great posts lined up for my absence.) I will be heading for the Pearl of Africa, Uganda, to help finish the construction of a school among other things. This is a big deal for me, as this is the first time for many things. I'll be flying in a plane for the first time, leaving the country for the first time, I'll get to see two new continents, and live without basically everything I normally have, for two weeks. 

I'm traveling with a group of twenty-nine individuals, twelve of whom are from my own family. (Which is simply put, AWESOME!) I'll have my dad, two brothers, four cousins, two aunts, one uncle, and Grandma along with me. Going to Uganda is almost like a family tradition. This trip takes place every other year and started about sixteen years ago (so, just a little older than me!)  It's built schools, dug wells, fed children, and tried to be Christ for all.

(Here's a video from one of the previous trips)

This year is my first time, but hopefully not my last. They say everyone always wants to come back to Uganda for more. I wouldn't know, but I believe them. 

Granted, this is going to be no picnic, so I'm asking humbly for your prayers for me, my family, and all of us going. Despite being excited for this, I know it's going to be hard. I can be a petulant individual, I dislike hard work, and I have a thing about germs and uncleanliness in general, which is why I'm going, I need to stop fearing pain and struggle. I need to take a step away from who I am and become more who I should be. I need to be the person God wants me to become.

I'm not looking for some cool pictures, a good time with my family, or something to brag about. I'm seeking God. I'm looking for Him in the fellow traveler beside me. In the many faces of abject poverty before me. In the sight of a beautiful life being lived, despite the heartbreaking circumstances all around. I need Him. I need Him in me because I can't do this on my own.

When I look at the pictures of previous trips, I'm struck by how happy they are. I'm amazed at the commonality between us, between countries, between continents, between cultures. The joy and light of Christ are common in us all. The more we become like Him, the more human we are. Love, peace, joy, fun, happiness, sorrow, concern, compassion, charity are all things we share. In every person, there is a flicker of the Divine. The more we forget ourselves and turn to the aid of others, the greater that flame grows. I can only hope that fire shines brightly at the hour of my death.

I'll admit, I'm afraid. I'm afraid of leaving everything I know behind. There are people I'd rather not leave home without. Despite Divine assurance and hope of salvation, I don't think I'm ready to lay it all down. Despite every precaution, there's always going to be a chance of danger in everything we do. I can only pray that I will be strong enough to lose everything. To lose it all. After all, in the last and darkest hour of my life, what do I truly have?

I have Christ in my heart.

And that's enough.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Help me out here.

What am I supposed to do, in a life that's centered not around what you know, but rather, who you know?

 It's hard for me. The fact of the matter is that I love learning about God. Theological concepts, proofs of morality and ethics, insights into the realities of Heaven, those fascinate me greatly. After all, from a scholarly point of view, there's a lot to learn about God, regardless of whether you believe in Him or not.

Reason is an incredible, amazing gift that we've been blessed with. Reading more and more about God is like piecing together an incredibly intricate, perfectly placed puzzle. Everything just makes sense. It's also remarkably practical, believing in God. Just look at Pascal's wager. I’m reminded of a quote from G.K Chesterton that always makes me smile.
 'I'm afraid I'm a practical man,’ said the doctor with gruff humour, ‘and I don't bother much about religion and philosophy.'
‘You'll never be a practical man till you do,’ said Father Brown.”
And it’s true. If God is real, then believing in Him is a very practical, realistic course of action to take.

Just the same, mere faith is not enough. I know a great deal about God and I believe what I know. So does the devil. The difference is that he rejected God. He couldn’t return the love he saw in Him.

There are three critical virtues, faith is only one of them. Faith, hope, and love. Love is the greatest because love remains. In Heaven, there’s no need for faith or hope. The struggle is over, the journey complete. You don’t need faith to see something right before you. You don’t hope to attain what has already been gained. But you always love. There is always love.

The problem facing me, I feel, is rather serious. I’ve already established my faith, my hope. I’ve barely touched love.

I look at Jesus and all I see is facts. I know He is 100% both God and Man, united in the love and circumincession of the Trinity, a unity of three divine Persons, all uniquely distinct, yet still one God. And I know He loves me, but I don’t feel it.

If God is my lover, creator, savior, redeemer, then why does it feel like I’ll need an introduction in Heaven?  I don’t need facts, I need Him!

I’m supposed to desire the Lord above all things, but I feel my heart tossing and turning in a sea of materialism.

How am I to desire someone that it seems like I’ve never met? I’m not asking for a blare of trumpets, I'm asking for a friend!

I want more, I want to love. I want Him to be my closest companion, my guiding star in the night. I don’t want to know about Him, I want to know Him! I want His whisper in my heart. I want to know why He loves me. I want to be familiar with His joy, His mercy, His compassion, His wisdom, even His humor. I want to know whether I should call Him, God or Lord. Savior or Redeemer. Father or just Daddy.

But I’m tired. I’m tired of asking questions that I can’t answer. I’m tired of knocking at doors that, despite divine assurance, never seem to open.

I can only run so far before I fall.


But I’ve forgotten. It will never be my strength, my sheer willpower that allows me to succeed. It’s never been that way. It was Christ who bridged the gap, not me. It is Christ who is with me, even now. And it is through Christ, that I will be lead home.  

Grace has always been the answer. That’s why we call it amazing.

Sometimes, God feels so far away. Yet, I know in the end,

He's never quite unreachable.

 I still have hope.

It's not over yet

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Love is Enough

It seems like we're always longing for people to see us.

Notice me and my efforts are made worthwhile.

This thought has bothered me for a while. Humility is something that I struggle with. I need people to see me. To see that I'm a good piano player, to see that I'm a quote/unquote "amazing" writer, to see that I'm a good Christian. I need you to see me, otherwise, I'm not important. I'm nobody. Just another face in the crowd. 

I need to be needed, to be essential, to be important. Big crowds don't bother me, being part of one does. 


What do I do about it? How do I change this desire, this need for attention, respect, or acknowledgment? I feel like I'm starved for something. It's not hard to find. 

Even if I have the approval and praise of everyone, that's not good enough. I think I know why.

I'm always looking to be seen, but never realizing how much I am known. Every minute of my life, there is Someone who says: "I love you." It's because of this love, that I breathe. It's this love that's given me so much. A family to love, talents to use, friends to trust, a Savior to believe in.

So often, I need to prove that I'm "something" to people around me. Strangers, friends, family, it doesn't matter. If they don't see me excelling, then I'm not special.

Does a diamond become less valuable if you hide it away in a box?

It's nonsensical. We don't need to prove anything! We might as well say the Cross isn't worthwhile because we didn't see it.

After all, the cross was just an ugly piece of wood. It's just a brutal, inefficient, macabre torture device. There's nothing "special" about something just because it's good at what it does. The cross was designed to kill people and cause pain. It performs its job hideously well.

That's what we look like without love, covered in sin. That's what our talents become if we lose our love. We become mechanical, boring, stale, inhuman, dull, painful.

The cross became beautiful because it was touched by beauty. It became holy because it bore holiness. It became lovely because love poured out upon it.

Love doesn't need an audience. It needs only one other, Love Itself.

Talents and good works mean nothing without it. God doesn't need talented people, He needs willing hearts. Love does all things well. We can struggle along on sheer willpower and talent, but a plant without the Sun will die, no matter how beautiful it is.

Give me sincerity over superiority any day.

We don't need spectators, fans, or fame. We need God. He's promised to be with us forever, have we ever considered what that means? God's at your dance recital, the finish line of your race, the encore of your concert, the last sentence of your novel. Why don't we do it for Him? Why don't we do everything for the love of Him? God is easy to please. Every little thing we do for love of Him is incomparably lovely to the finest sonata ever composed.

If you want to find the fulfillment of your talents, then turn to the One who gave them to you. Spend time with the source of beauty, excellence, goodness, and love and you'll reflect that in all you do. The moon is beautiful because it reflects the sun. Alone, it's just a cold, dark, lifeless chunk of rock floating in the sky.

“At the end of life, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”
-Mother Teresa

It doesn't matter what you are. A painter, novelist, blogger, musician, plumber, that's irrelevant. God is going to look at your life and judge it on one criteria: Love.

Nothing else in your life matters as much as love. It's the key. The key to free your heart and unlock the beauty within.

Yes, I'm important, I'm special, I'm amazing. Not because of what I do, but because of who I am

I am loved by God.

And that's good enough for me.

Who needs applause anyways?

Sunday, June 5, 2016


Hello, ya'll.

 Here I am.

 I feel overwhelmed. 

I feel lost.
As with all moods and feelings, they never last. Happiness doesn't. But neither does sadness. They all wash away, like specks of dust on a window pane. It seems when we get caught up in the daily struggle, the surface of the glass, we lose sight of the light shining through it. If we become so focused on ourselves, then we become murky and opaque. The light shines just as brightly as before, but no one can see it through us.

How do we deal with this? A thousand different obligations, all pulling at us. With ten things always on our minds, it's hard to focus on just one. Deadlines looming, people expectant, how many more times can we use the excuse, "I'm busy!"

I don't know why it is that way. Why do I always say "yes" to the next project, the next obligation, to the next responsibility?

We can't look back, we can't pretend away certain things, we can't abandon that which we already have.

But we can forget. We can forget certain responsibilities that don't seem that important compared to the latest flash and glitter. We can ignore the things that don't press for our attention, that don't seem "worth" it.

You've probably guessed what thing I've forgotten. It's God.

Sometimes, we look around our lives and ask "How can we have SO MUCH STRESS?"

For me, stress comes from several areas in my life. One, the tedious amount of responsibilities I have. (Most of which, seem non-negotiable.) Two, from the anxieties of that which lies ahead. (Which seem so real.)

I've got movies to edit, school to learn, music to practice, dances to ready for, college to think about. I've got the world to worry about. Trips to foreign countries, wars between nations, the political scene, the never-ending decline of morality, the growing darkness.

And in that moment, I forget who I am and who He is. I'm nothing myself, but I have everything. I have a God who has done great things. A God, who has shown strength with His arm, who has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly, who has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

I have a God of unimaginable glory. And He's on my side.

We need to remind ourselves of that every day. Night and day, rain and shine, happy or sad. If we forget to look for the light, why do we complain of being in the dark? If we turn away from our God, why do we cry that we're abandoned? If we pull away from our only strength, why do we wonder at our failures?

Leave the past in memory. Leave the future to the One who plans it. Pray for the grace to see the present through, one step at a time. Buildings are built one brick at a time. Races are won one step at a time. Why do we try to overcome it all at once?

Wherever you are right now, put your strength into that. Don't worry about the appointment you have this afternoon or the piano lessons tomorrow. Focus on the beautiful opportunity before you now. That doesn't mean forgetting your responsibilities, it means knowing your limits.

As Mother Teresa put it beautifully:

"We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something."

 All that is required of us is to give our best. God will take care of the rest.

After all, what can we do on our own? It was never about our strengths or talents or abilities. We're helplessly weak, unable to save ourselves, much less care for others. And that's a cause for joy. In our weakness, the light of Christ shines brightly in all that we do. It's one thing to say, God is good, when we are filled with every earthly blessing. It's quite another for the least of the earth to say it. The downtrodden, the abandoned. The forgotten, the lonely. The destitute, the sick. The ones who have been dealt the harshest blows life can give. What if they say it? What if they shouted it for the world to hear? They, despite everything, are filled with an unconquerable God. They have joy. They are living beautiful lives because God is more. Because God gives them the strength to carry on. I've seen people like that.

A beautiful life never depends on circumstance.

In the end, what do we have? We have worries, stress, multitudes of responsibilities, an overwhelming amount of distractions. Aren't they the ones who have nothing? If that's true, then God give me strength. Give me the strength to seek You above all things. Grant me the courage to lose everything that distracts, worries, and pulls me away from Your love. For without You,

I'm lost.

Just so you know, this is an older post I wrote a while back. I'm feeling much better now. :P