Wednesday, February 16, 2011 you wear it on your sleeve?

This week i have had more than a few conversations that have stoked a fire within me to engage. I've been wanting to write for several months and have been trying to determine what purpose I want to use this blog for. For now i've decided I don't have a specific purpose so it's time to unload.

Monday was Valentine's Day. In years past, it was a day I never missed blogging. My Valentine's Day Top 10 lists (Top 10 reasons I don't have a date on Valentine's Day/Top 10 Favorite Love Stories etc.) was some of my favorites to post. This year was a little different. I didn't make plans with my (also-single) brother. I didn't have any special Valentine's Day plans with a lady. I actually spent the morning driving home to spend the week with my parents.

I decided to check my mail and facebook before I hit the road and ran across a status update from an author who I recently befriended after hearing him lecture at a local university. I bought his book over a year ago and had yet to crack a page. His lecture was one of three in a two day span and although I'm not sure what was said at the other two...the one I attended felt lacking BUT decent enough that it made me curious enough to want to read the book and see what else the guy had to say.

The book and his lecture is about the reconciliation of the church to the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transvestite) Community. I don't want to get into this book or this topic in this specific blog...but would be up for some discussions at a later time.

The status in question started with the following sentence. "In most cases single people are treated as crappy in church circles as LGBT's." It was an opinion, which he is allowed, but two things bothered me. First, I think this is the most ludicrous statement ever. Second, dozens of people were agreeing which bugged me even more. I, of course, commented...leaving the only dissenting opinion - but this statement would not give me peace.

I have been in a few churches as a single person in my 20's and 30's. I have at times been disappointed in a pastor's or leaderships lack of effort or even overkill effort in the way single people/ministries are viewed/ran but rarely have I pointed my finger at the church as a whole....and never would I compare it to the things that an LGBT goes through. I know it's not what anyone wants to hear but "in most cases" churches do NOT think kindly of anyone in that (LGBT) community. I understand that it would be difficult since the churches view is in direct opposition to the beliefs of these individuals. I realize that some churches do an extraordinary job of reaching out to people....but most probably do not. But again, that's not where I want to go. I've never heard of a "single" person wanting to kill themselves because of the church, a church parent disowning a child because they are "single", getting beat by a complete stranger(s) because you're single, not being able to talk to your friends because you're "single" (this one could be argued)....but these are the things that people mention when they talk about being gay or "coming out". I'm not saying I agree with the lifestyle of a homosexual....but it would pretty much suck for any of these things to happen to me because I'm "single"....and I'm sure I haven't scratched the surface. Is this like comparing not so bad to something like the Holocaust? Is being "single" and being "gay" really comparable? Does the church really treat a single person as an outcast? a leper? My first response is, if you are in this situation (as those that agreed and liked the comment) talk to your church, be proactive in helping begin or change a singles ministry, or simply find a place that will love you regardless of your status.


The comments were varied but some said things like. "Everyone thinks i'm available to baby-sit, house-sit, or chaperone because I have so much free time." "They have Couples Banquets, Valentine's Dinners, Couples Night Out, so we do get ostracized a lot." "I feel the same on Mother's Day because I can't have kids." I guess I "could" get upset about some of these things but why? It's true that it's "more likely" for a single person to be available to do the first things listed and instead of getting upset about it be honored that someone would trust you with their child/children or their home. If you cannot or don't want to do it say no and don't feel bad about it. The Nights out and banquets.....i think this is something couples do because they rarely get to do it otherwise....unlike single people. This is one of those "gifts" of being single. I can go to Waffle House at 1am because I'm free to do so. I can go see any movie I want during the week because I don't have kids. Furthermore, one day when you are no longer single you'll look forward to these events. The Mother's Day complaint may be legitimate but you have to decide to not let it affect you. How do you let it not affect you any other given day when you see a mother with their child? Surely coming to church on Mother's Day can't be the only day this bothers you.

This could be a completely different post but in response to all of these responses my question is still there... Why? People seem to forget that they have a choice when it comes to how they are going to go through each day. Valentine's Day may be the worst day of the year for many but I don't understand how people let their feelings dictate their lives. One of the reasons I'm still single is because I am certain that in the overall scheme of things Love is a "choice" not a feeling. You have to decide you are going to love someone and I haven't found anyone that I've wanted to make that all out decision for. Are "feelings" involved sure....but do you always "feel" like loving someone? I don't think so. Do people really sit around on Feb 13th thinking, "Oh no, tomorrow's Valentines Day" and let the next day go by groaning and complaining all day? Singles Awareness Day? The greeting card and candy companies didn't create this event....people wallowing in self-pity did. Why isn't every Friday or Saturday night "singles awareness night? Give me a break people.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I love Colorado.

I love the outdoors.  You wouldn't guess this about me if you knew about my multiple visits to the theater in a given month or if you've seen my collection of dvd's, both of which imply I like to sit in a dark room for hours on end.  Also, my mountain bike is covered with pollen and dust from sitting unused and my hiking boots normally sit in a closet for 360-some days out of the year.  I guess when you have to get in your vehicle to drive thirty minutes to an hour-and-a-half to find good bike trails, or a nice serene place that's quiet, you start to think it's not worth the effort.  Local parks may seem like a good place to get away but when people pass you on the trail talking on their phones so loudly that you are in the conversation it takes the peacefulness out of being outdoors.

I was born in the mountains....okay, not 
literally, but the only thing between the 300 or so yards from the hospital where I came into this world and the back yard where my parents took me home to spend the rest of my life is a stretch of the Kentucky River.  I believe if my parents were to drive to the hospital (abiding by the designated speed limit) it might take them 4-5 minutes.  However, if I jumped off the porch ran up the embankment, crossed the old railroad bridge (where this photo was taken), toward the tunnel and ran up a trail on the side of a steep hill....I might be able to beat them there.  I spent countless days and nights running around our neighborhood, playing manhunt or capture the flag, hiding out in the woods, goofing off by the river, and going down by the tunnel to catch crawdads.  There isn't much to do at home, but I know if I ever need to think or get away from everything it's one place I could go for some tranquility.

Growing up in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains I learned to love riding 35-40 minutes one-way to church (4 times on a Sunday) on winding roads or visiting relatives every weekend over an hour away.  I loved playing in creeks, hiking, or riding my bike into town.  I remember when it was a big deal to stay the night with a friend.  I couldn't wait for "the big snow" in the wintertime, and it was truly brilliant to see the green in the trees give way to the red, orange, and yellow every fall making the sides of the mountains look like they were burning.  I remember always being outside talking to neighbors.  It was a calm time. 

I recently had the opportunity to attend a conference in Colorado.  It was a Thursday-Saturday conference so I knew going up early was my only option to extend my trip.  I flew out of Nashville on Tuesday, which gave me two full days to relax, check out the area, and prepare for the conference.  Since I had to be at the airport at 4:30am, I decided to skip sleeping altogether and I arrived (rather sluggish) in Colorado Springs around 9am to an unsuspecting sight....the Rocky Mountains. 
I know i've seen thousands of pictures of the Rocky Mountains but I think I assumed that those pictures were taken in some foreign country.  I grew up in the mountains.  I've driven all throughout Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and into Pennsylvania, and recently was able to drive into Boston from New Hampshire.  I've made several trips into Gatlinburg, TN, for vacations and retreats.  I didn't think Colorado was going to be much different.  I was wrong.

I actually packed my hiking boots because I wanted to trek up to Pike's Peak but settled for some lower trails since it would mean giving up an entire day.  This is a view from atop the Olympic Training Center as well as a few from the Garden of the Gods National Park in Manitou Springs, which has some incredible rock formations and great trails where you can see the summit of Pike's Peak. 

I was a little disappointed that I couldn't make it up the 14,000 feet to the summit, but the prospect of having to find my way back down the mountain in the dark made me feel a bit better about my decision.


I know I've said I could live in various places across the country (New York, Boston, etc...) but I think if I had to choose a place to get away from everything Colorado City seems like a logical choice.  A few reasons why (besides the scenery); they are more concerned with bike lanes than parking spaces, I had my first piece of buttermilk pie (which surprised even me), i met two different individuals that grew up less than an hour from my hometown (very small world), King Chef's Diner is a great little dive....and it would be easy to make New Life Church my home and listen to the Desperation guys lead worship every week!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Great Awakening

Looking at the calendar I've noticed the summer has flown by, yet in my mind, it was creeping along at a much slower pace. I spent a great amount of the summer working (which was unusual), traveling, and being able to minister in music at a few churches, and of course I made it to my share of theaters to check out the newest crop of summer movies. In the midst of all of this, I spent a great amount of time in prayer about my past, present, and future.

I had moved to Tennessee 7 years ago with nothing more than a job opportunity, which lasted for a mere 6 months before they decided to close the store and send me job hunting. I quickly realized paying the rent on my one bedroom apartment was going to be the least of my worries. I had been plugged-in to a local church since the day after arriving in TN. I had already developed some strong relationships with a number of people that I wanted to continue. I had already become a leader in my church and was seeing some of my dreams turn into reality and I even noticed some new ministry opportunities heading my way, which I hadn't really considered before this time. I knew I was in the right place at the moment and I knew that God would work it out.

He worked it out. He always does. Several years later a simple test led me to believe that everything seemed to be coming full circle. I had continued to stay involved in church, my passion-although sometimes demoralized-was never broken, and I still found myself wanting.

I realize everyone wants the opportunity to do the things that they are called to. I was taught at an early age to serve and when it came to matters of the faith, to always be ready. I couldn't find the answer by myself, and I couldn't get the answer from anyone else. I had plenty of encouraging words, a few promises made, or sentiments that seemed true enough, except they all failed to have follow through. Over the course of a decade there was only one thing that I knew for certain…that God doesn't call lazy people to the ministry.

While on a mission trip in Mexico I finally started to understand. An evening sermon from a good (albeit child-like) pastor, a disturbing conversation taking place immediately after the sermon, an overwhelming evening the third night, when I had to leave the meeting because I thought I was having a break-down, a good friend lending an ear, and finally a sermon on the ipod when traveling home brought me to my conclusion. I was guilty…of striving. I'm not sure when it started happening. Although I knew God was the one I was relying on, at some point, I shifted my attention from God and was expecting to see promotion from man, which is always biased. It is God that sees the heart of man, and it is God alone that promotes you. His anointing and His gifting promotes you. This constant striving was causing me to lack confidence and I was putting unnecessary pressure and expectations on myself.

I decided to do what no musician, or anybody in ministry ever wants to do. I stepped away. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done because I thought I was in the right place and I truly believed that if God wanted me to accomplish something whether it was now or later, it didn't matter to me, I would stay the course and wait it out. Immediately after I made the decision, I debated on whether I had done the right thing. I asked God if I was making the wrong decision to give me a simple confirmation…not setting something on fire, just a conversation. I never received it. I resigned myself to being content where I was.

I was at the movies when I finally received that confirmation, but it didn't come from anyone, or the way, that I expected it. It seems I was praying for the wrong thing. I was asking for God to give me a confirmation if I had made the wrong decision. I hadn't considered that God would give me confirmation for making the right one.

We had already purchased our movie tickets and another friend was running late so I went back out into the lobby to buy her ticket so we wouldn't miss anything. While standing in line, I looked over and saw a man that I had met about three years earlier and while I debated on going over to say hello, since he wasn't noticing me, I decided to just stare a hole through him. After a few glances my way, he gave me a strange look, and as I started walking toward him the following conversation took place:

Him: I know you
Me: Yes
Him: Jason?
Me: Yes
Him: Brother, where are you leading worship?

Not how you doing? Not how's life? Not good to see you? Just a direct question, that I can only believe was precise for the moment. He then continued to tell me that the Lord had put me on his heart and he had been praying for me, had no idea where I was, had no way of getting in touch with me, and started telling me things that the Lord had shared with him which coincided with everything I had been going through...right down to specific phrases I used in my prayers to God. Now I realize that's a lot for some people to handle, but beginning in my teen years this was a common occurrence in my church. The only downside to this, is sometimes you don't want someone telling you what God told them if you're not doing something you should be doing…or rather doing things you shouldn't be. 

We said our good-byes and I gave him my phone number. Although I had felt at peace about my current situation, I felt a heaviness being lifted after our conversation.

Looking back at the exchange I began to analyze things. What if I had just waited in the main lobby for my friend? What if I had went on in to get good seats, which is my normal routine? (I'm usually seated about 10 minutes before the movie begins) What if he hadn't cancelled his class that night (which he had never done before)? What if his wife hadn't been running late? And finally, what if I hadn't taken that step and walked towards him to talk to him? As a matter of fact, the only thing that doesn't surprise me about the meeting is that it happened at a movie theater.

I knew immediately after our run-in that things were about to change. After a succession of confirmations from a half-dozen people, both friends and strangers, I accepted the worship pastor position at the church. In ancient times "seven-year" periods meant completion or finality. I realize that God is never finished with us as we are all in process, but the 8th year signifies "new beginnings." I have been so enamored with God over the last month as He is continually moving me, and stretching me. I have heard the phrase before, "Lord move, or move me" and I occasionally found myself uttering those words…so if God is calling you; trust in Him, walk in faith, and let Him bring it to pass

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Reynosa, Mexico

I don't believe that I have ever experienced such a roller coaster of emotions as I did in the week that has just concluded. It's been a week full of hurt and hope, disappointment and decision-making, of questioning and prioritizing my beliefs and the way I live. The weird thing is some of this had nothing to do with Mexico. 

I left here with no expectation, except that I wanted to help someone. I wasn't sure what Mexico had in store for me. I knew I would shed tears because I often refer to myself as "a big baby" …although it is nice when others make me feel better by using the term "compassionate." I have returned with a heart that has been crushed by the ungratefulness that the majority of us have in our lives. We usually turn our words around to say we are blessed, when we really have way more then we could ever need, myself included.

We built a house that a mother, daughter, and granddaughter would all live in (and possibly at times other family members) the size of which, most of us would build in our backyard to hold tools or a lawnmower. The mother is a diabetic that cannot afford any medicine, and she already had to have a toe removed because of her health, yet she was up on her feet continually gathering food, cleaning buckets and dishes to fix us a meal. I believe she had two chickens in the cage when we arrived and after the meal she only had one. It made me feel as if she was breaking out the china or opening some vintage bottle of wine….not that we were Jesus, but it seemed as if Irma was having a "Mary moment" except you couldn't find any Martha's around to complain or question what she was doing.

Several years ago I was asked if I grew up poor, because a church I attended was taking a youth group to my hometown to give away clothes and toys. I continue to run into people that still take groups there to reach out to people. I'm positive that I had everything I needed as a child. I may have even had everything I wanted, but don't recall really wanting much. I rarely remember anyone in my school that I considered "poor". After this visit to Mexico I can safely say I have seen what poverty is and the truth of the matter is it's probably not the worst place in the world.

I remember last year in New York City trying to give a man that was sleeping on the sidewalk a blanket and him turning it down saying it would be too hot. I began to think the man was just lazy and didn't want to carry it around because although it may have been warm that night, December was only a few weeks away. That same man would be grateful to find a sidewalk or a patch of grass in a park to lay on in Reynosa. The streets of Reynosa aren't streets; they are more like post-apocalyptic wastelands. The wind constantly blows dust and dirt in your eyes, there is no such thing as a right of way, and when you hear the loudspeakers blaring in the streets you don't see children running to buy ice cream (which we deem a necessity at times) but someone "selling" water from a truck where people don't have any. "SELLING" water! Enough said.

I love this excerpt from Rob Bell when speaking about poverty and the church's response to it:
I think that we have been blessed beyond measure, and if we don't give it away and steward it well, our own souls are going to shrivel up. This is about the state of our own souls. According to Jesus' teachings, we're in trouble if we hog it or keep it to ourselves.
The bible contains 2103 verses on the poor and oppressed. This is how Jesus began his first sermon: 'I've been anointed to preach the good news to the poor.' God is with the poor; we're with God when we're with the poor.
God has no interest in us building our empires.
While I'm not a "relevant" fan of Rob Bell (what I really mean to say is…I have read more than Velvet Elvis, or any Donald Miller book) I have to agree with Mr. Bell on this point. I've changed the way I view many things after seeing what other's "lack". 

As stated in the beginning, before I stepped foot across the border the message given at the camp on Sunday night helped me change my view on something that I had been having a hard time with. This same thing happened on the way home while listening to a random podcast. These things had nothing to do with missions, serving the poor, or mexico….but I believe by being obedient and going on this trip some of my questions were answered. I didn't consider it when I felt prompted to sign up and go on the trip….but for whatever reason my heart is saying this isn't over....or i'm missing something....i can't put my finger on it. I'm not sure if it's with Reynosa, or Mexico in general. I'm not sure if it's with Mission Discovery. It may be something else entirely that I'm not realizing yet. 

Give freely and spontaneously. Don't have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God's, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors. Deut. 15:10-11 (Message)

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

I'm a collector!

This summer while I was browsing the video aisles at Hollywood Video (what a shocker, right?), a movie entitled "Everything is Illuminated" caught my eye.

A young Jewish American flies to the Ukraine in search of a woman who helped his grandfather escape Europe during World War II; he has a photograph and the name of a village. He hires the Odessa Heritage Tours, made up of a gruff old man and his English-speaking grandson. The three, plus grandfather's deranged dog, travel in an old car from Odessa into Ukraine's heart. Jonathan, the American, is a collector, putting things he finds into small plastic bags, so he will remember. Alex, the interpreter, is an archetypal wild and crazy guy. Alex asks the old man, "Was there anti-Semitism in the Ukraine before the war?" Will they find the village? The past illuminates everything. (Plot summary from

I'm a huge fan of most independent films and of Elijah Wood, so I enjoyed this one immensely. The reason I connected so well wasn't because of the acting or the movie itself in as much that I identified with Jonathan because he was a "collector."

Now I realize that people collect things. I have shelves full of books, cds, and dvds, many of which I've never read, listened to, or w
atched respectively. I also collect things to remind me of events, places, even "reminders" of times good and not so good. For example:

I collect McFarlane Sports Figures.

I don't collect them all, just ones from my favorite teams, or in cool poses. I spent many years collecting, unopened action figures hoping that one day they may be worth something....Not these....they are lucky if I make it out of the store without cutting myself while opening the dangerous "clam-shell" packaging.

Then there are things that I just thought looked cool...

It could hold spare change, or a set of keys, lately it's held my "shuffle" like it's something to be beheld. If you turn the light on behind it and look straight at can see the light coming through it's eyes and that can be kind of creepy!

This little thing I picked up in New York at a street Festival...

It's made of recycled motorcycle parts...and it's a scuba diver! It doesn't matter that I haven't been scuba diving. I've always wanted to!

And on this shelf...are tons of memories/reminders...but my "monkey nut" I picked up at Ichthus last year and at the time contained a tasty beverage to enjoy in the humid day.

So why am I talking about all of this? Well I have almost every movie ticket stub, sporting event ticket, concert ticket, and any other armband, lanyard, or piece of information that got me into any conference, concert, or activity that I've been to. I guess they aren't necessary. For the most part they sit in a drawer or a box until I decide if and how I'm going to display them. However on my latest trip I took the greatest caution when carrying my newest keepsake.....a football ticket. Now this wasn't any ticket. This was the ticket to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to Lambeau Field, to see Brett Favre play his "possibly last" home game. I won't bore anyone with why I like Brett, except to say he's the responsible party that got me started watching NFL football. So I take a lanyard from something I attended and put it in my bag, knowing that I wouldn't want to put the ticket in my pocket and bend it. It survived sitting at my apt for 7 months before the game. It made it to Wisconsin with all of my luggage and Christmas stuff to take home. It was pouring the rain and I had put the tickets in the pouch - under my jersey - which was under my big jacket. We're sitting outside the gates before the game in the freezing cold and as they finally open the gates to let us in I hand my ticket to the "kid" at my station and what does he do..... HE BEGINS TO TEAR IT IN HALF!!!!!!!

Now I wanted to document this...because I realize that people have to tear tickets if they aren't being scanned. I guess the Green Bay Packers can't afford to scan theirs. It seems with 70,000 people in attendance at the game and most every game, the people tearing the tickets would KNOW the correct way to tear the ticket. At the bottom of this ticket (where my index finger is pointing) is a perforated line making it easier to tear the ticket. Out of habit (or out of being compulsive) I sometimes even start bending my ticket before I give it to someone to make their job easier. This happens at concerts, movies, anything. So i'm just standing there with my hand outstretched, my mouth hanging open, and he looks directly in my eyes and says, "Oh man...sorry about that!" "Sorry?" I wanted to shout? He didn't even act remorseful. He knew when handing it back that he had tore the ticket could see it in his eyes. I wanted him to be skinned alive right then (I've seen it done on Buffy) or at the very least be given an autographed jersey or been able to go to the team Locker room to meet everyone...but NO, I just got an "Oh well it happens" type of response that left me lit for the next 10 minutes. All that preparation was nullified in about 2 seconds.

I kinda got over it, but now when I see it laying in my room it irritates me even much so that I've dedicated an entire blog to it. That's not healthy.

Monday, January 1, 2007

2006 Year in Pictures!

I've seen many surveys/lists recently reviewing the year 2006 and after downloading my latest "batch" of pictures I decided on a year of photos.

Okay, so I haven't quite figured out this blogspot thing yet...but it seems I can't tell a story with a bunch of pictures. Hopefully when I have less pictures to show I can do what it is I wanted to do. Enjoy these and Happy New Year to each of you.

~ Jason

Monday, November 20, 2006

It begins like this...

My first glimpse of writing on this new site will start with a little background.

I decided to switch from Xanga (a true blog site) to Myspace at the insistence of several of my friends. In the beginning I was very skeptical and found that just like most other means of communication (transistor radios, pagers, cell phones) communicating with my friends via myspace would soon come to a close. It started innocently enough. Someone would leave a comment on my page. I would comment back. Someone else I know would comment on what I wrote on my friends page. People would start writing things on other peoples pages knowing that other people will see it when they go to leave a comment. You start adding a band or two and other bands would ask for an invite as well. You would start adding people that you haven't talked to in years and they still don't realize that just because you've added them doesn't mean you're friends again without taking some kind of step forward and actually commenting. People don't seem to understand the concept of a friend. It's not that you can get in contact with someone at any given time. It's that you ACTUALLY get in contact with them. Now, I get invites from people wanting me to view their webcams and before you know it nobody cares when you blog...they just want to have a large friend count and see what other people say when they comment on your page.

Alas, I'm starting over. I'm going to keep my myspace page for a bit...I actually still have my xanga although I never use it. When I have something to write this will probably be the place I write it. Where do I go from here?