Monday, February 28, 2011

another week, another metaphor

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about oranges, time, and work. I believe that God has given me a gift of using metaphors to explain things well. This isn't to say that it's the only way to help people understand, only that it's a way that I have found easy to use to help people understand. And it's because it's easy for me that I think God has gifted me with it.

Two years ago I worked for the summer at Camp Brookwoods in Alton, New Hampshire. I was a counselor for the Wildcat cabin, which is the second oldest in the camp (other than the LDP campers who are there for the whole summer). Because I was a first timer I got to take the campers on the second hiking trip of the summer. We went to the Kinsman mountains, which was a phenomenal hike. It was tough...but working together to get up to the top was totally worth it. If you are in any way connected with Brookwoods/Deer Run (the girls camp) you received the Weathervane and there was a photo of me and my boys on it. If you aren't connected the photo is of me and the campers on the summer. We are standing, with the Franconia notch behind us, with our arms thrown above our heads.

The feeling going up that mountain was not good. I honestly didn't know if I could make it, because a New Hampshire mile and a Missouri mile are two different things. Give me the plains and I can run across them, mountains are different (turns out). But that feeling on the top with those guys...I'll honestly never forget it.

I read one day in "My Utmost for His Highest" that we shouldn't always be wishing for the mountain-tops. That we should be content with the valley that He has put us in. And I agree with that, for the most part.

But think about your life, or my life. What does it take to get to the top? It takes effort, perseverance, patience even. It takes planning. But when you boil it all down you know what it takes?

One single step out the door.

It's great to say that we are "waiting on God." It's also great to say that we are "waiting for His plan." But who's to say we can't go for a Hike while we wait? Who's to say that we can't get out and see the glory of His world while we wait? Who says we have to sit on a couch and wait? And also, who says that we have to do it alone? Lately life has been hard because I feel like I'm stuck in a place and I don't know how to get out. But I think that God has me here for a reason, and while I'm here I'm gonna get to know the people that He has here as well.

And I may even go on a hike with 'em.

Thanks for reading, back to a planned blog next week

Monday, February 21, 2011

what i want to be when i grow up

Thanks for voting folks! The fun little widget over there told me that 75% of you want me to write about what I want to be when I grow up. I'd say that I was grateful for the calculation, but figuring out what percentage 3 of 4 is isn't too challenging. I was looking for some inspiration though, so it was helpful.

What do I want to be when I grow up? I suppose I should preface this with the things I used to want to be when I grew up:

1. Chemical Engineer. This one is pretty easy to explain: my Dad is a Chemical Engineer, and I really just wanted to be like him when I grew up. I love my Dad, and I guess that the way I showed that love was wanting to be like him. He provided for me, put me through college, and continues to be a phenomenal example of what it looks like to be a Christian man, and a Christ follower. I later found that you had to be good at math for this career to work out, and while I could be if I wanted...I didn't want. Thus, I'm not making $50,000 a year.

2. Youth Pastor. This was what my first major in college was, and the reason why I wanted to do this was Joel Marshall. Joel was my youth pastor growing up, and he is an amazing man as well. I was mentored by Joel in High School, we met every other week for the better part of two years. Through his experiences at Antioch Bible Baptist Church I learned what it meant to work in a church, and eventually learned that I didn't want to do that.

3. Counselor. I enjoy listening to people and making up metaphors for their lives. This was why I eventually landed on Psychology as a major, and Christian Leadership as a minor. I think that this desire is one that is still within me. I could see myself doing this for a living, though it may require a different type of schooling than that which I'm pursing right now. But you always need a plan B, right?

4. Professor. While at Belmont I had the opportunity to lead some Introduction to Psychological Science labs. I loved helping the intro students understand what they needed to do for their course, and teaching them about Psychology in general. One of the great joys in my life lies in teaching, in being in front of people and making something that is complex simple for them. This choice is the one that I am currently pursing, what with grad school and all.

I'm sure that there are other things that I wanted to be when I was a kid. I remember joking that I was going to be a trash man, thinking that going to the moon sounded neat, and wanting to be rich enough to not have to do anything. But now my goals are a little different.

I don't have any clue what the future holds for me, and to be honest that scares me. I have thought a lot lately about how this life is my one shot. I don't get another chance at it. And I really don't want to screw it up. We live in a time where frenetic action is looked highly upon, and where waiting is seen as weak. But I feel as if I'm in a place in life where I am being called to wait. This could be God trying to teach me that He has something much better for me that I could even think of (which I've been told over and over again), or it could be Him trying to show me that I can't do anything worth any value without Him. Or it could be that I haven't done well enough to get to where I want to go.

This may be the most real I've been with some people that are reading this, and I hope you won't think less of me for it. But lately I have been thinking that I really don't try hard enough to get the things that I want. I want to go to grad school, but I really kind-of phoned it in with my applications. I didn't have many people proof my personal statements, and I got my supporting materials into the schools the day they were due. I don't say this to make you feel sorry for me. I say it to paint a more accurate picture of the place I'm in right now, which is ok.

When I grow up I no longer want to be a chemical engeneer or youth pastor. I no longer want to be Chris or Joel. I want to be Luke. And I want Luke to be a guy who cares about the people who he is around, no matter who they are. I want Luke to be responsible, to do not only what is required of him but to do extra. I want Luke to be content wherever he is, even if it kind-of stinks. And to be honest, I want the same for you all as well.

Thanks for reading


Thursday, February 17, 2011

time, work, and oranges

Last week I was driving east on Wedgewood towards the neighborhood - I think I was between 12th and 8th, probably coming back from Dose. The local sports radio station was on, but I was tuned out. I was thinking about what I could do in this time to be "productive." To get more work done, since I was obviously wasting time just sitting there in the truck. And this was me thinking about what that actually meant. And then I started thinking about oranges.

Do you like oranges? I do. But I really like orange juice - I don't eat very healthy, so I get Simply Orange to offset the cheez-its. While sitting in traffic between 12th and 8th I was thinking about making orange juice. How do you make orange juice? Well, you squeeze the life out of some oranges. You squeeze and squeeze and squeeze until there's nothing left, and then you enjoy your beverage.

Isn't this what we do to our time? We try to squeeze every last drop of productivity out of our days. We work, and we toil, and we flex, and then it's time for bed. And then we get up and do it again.

Imagine for a second that you are walking through an orange grove. How many glasses of orange juice will you see growing off the trees? God made those oranges just the way they are, and that is how we should first enjoy them. Only after we enjoy them for what they are can we enjoy them for all the rest of the things they can become. And some people may argue that you'll never have a juice, julius, salad, or chicken that tastes as good as that orange.

Now think about how God made your time, my time. Did He give it to us filled with things? I don't think so. I think that we fill that time with things. And just like that orange, might our time be better if first enjoyed the way that God gave it to us? This isn't to say that we shouldn't do anything (though sometimes that would be nice). This is to say that maybe, just maybe, we should enjoy our time peacefully. Enjoy the day and how it is presented to us. If it's nice outside, enjoy that gift. If it's rainy, close our eyes and breathe in that smell of fresh precipitation.

I'm not very good at this. Like I wrote above, I am always thinking about ways to be more productive, get more done, be better at my job. But I do think that if I enjoy time in it's "natural habitat" I might just be more productive in the long haul.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"it's not you, it's me. strike that. it's not you, it's the other applicants more qualified than you."

About six to nine months ago my boss (Brian) asked me which job I saw myself stepping into more: Director of the after-school program for youth, or Manager/Roaster of Humphreys Street Coffee Company. And when I thought about it I couldn't see myself stepping into either of them. So I started taking stock in life and trying to figure it out. I came to the conclusion that I needed to apply to graduate school for Psychology. A Ph.D. would allow me to do research and teach, two things that I am very interested in. So I started taking the steps to apply to graduate school. I studied for the GRE, I sought letters of recommendation from former professes, and I paid the exorbitant fees that schools charge to merely apply. I got a ok grade on the GRE. Good enough for three schools that I was looking at: KU, Colorado State, and Syracuse.

This Saturday I received a letter from KU, and found that I wasn't what they were looking for.

As a person I'm not used to rejection. This is partly because I don't get rejected all that often, but mostly because I don't through myself out there enough to get rejected. I don't ask girls on dates, I don't make risky moves with my life, and I generally try to get along with everyone. But when applying to grad school you face certain rejection. The letter told me that I had a %5 chance on getting in. And the odds aren't all that straight, because I'm a white male. And my kind has reaped the benefits of oppressing people different than ourselves for ages. But that's another (more inflammatory) post. I honestly don't know how I am dealing with this new rejection. I'm not taking it personally...but I'm also not really thinking about it. And perhaps that's for the best.

What this rejection is forcing me to consider is my future. For the past two years I have "known" that I was going to grad school, then I was going to teach. But what if that's not what is in the cards for me? It means that the plans I have are no longer. It means that I need to re-evaluate not only those plans, but my life in general. I had a conversation with a friend from Kansas City (Mary Beth) last night talking about just this. And she brought up the very valid and extremely good point that it's a good thing that life hasn't turned out the way that we thought it would. So many options would be closed to me if life had gone "according to plan." I have bundles of opportunity wrapped up and waiting for me merely because I am a young single man. If I was a young married man, or a young married dad, those opportunities would have to be left alone.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that life has worked out so far. I'm gonna choose to believe that it will continue to do so. Even if it means my plans fall through and I have no clue what to do with my life. Or even who I am.

Sorry for the late post all of you who read, I'll try to be more timely in the future.