Thursday, October 25, 2012

Love. True Love (An Engagement Story)

God is incredibly faithful and his timing is unmistakably perfect (although it doesn't always appear that way).

It was at NCC's Leadership retreat where I first said the prayer, "God, please provide a way for me to ask Amanda to marry me in October."

Even when I said it, I was shocked that those words came out of my mouth. A real Holy Spirit inspired prayer. And who am I to argue with the Holy Spirit? So I started praying that God would make a way for me to ask Amanda to marry me in October. I wrote in my journal and just kept praying. I knew a job would have to come first. Freelance is fun but something more stable would need to be in place before I asked this woman to marry me.

So I prayed... And prayed... And prayed some more... And prayed some more... And kept on praying and praying and praying, waiting for God to open the right doors and provide a way. But nothing stuck. There were lots of applications sent out. But not as many hits as I would've hoped. There were interviews... Lots of interviews but no one hired me. I was hopeful, frustrated, heartbroken, and still comforted knowing that God would make something happen. Plus, I had Amanda, who is without a doubt the most encouraging and amazing person I could've had by my side during this period of time.

All the while I started to put some things in motion. I knew that I wanted to make a scrapbook for the two of us of all the awesome things we were doing together, so I started collecting pictures Amanda would take and ticket stubs, drawings, any little thing that would make a great scrapbook. And then I had "The Idea."

If you know me, you know I am a little obsessed with Pixar. They make great movies. One of their finest is Up. Ellie's Adventure book would make a perfect scrapbook. So I Googled it. I wanted to buy the Up Adventure book for our scrapbook. And sure enough, you can buy one! So I bought one and started filling it.

About mid-September I knew we were starting to get into territory where it was going to be hard to ask Amanda to marry me in October like I'd been praying. But I knew I still wanted to marry her and if it took a little longer, so be it. So I called my friend Julie about a picture. The Adventure Book is awesome but it needed a little something extra. So I asked Julie to draw a picture of the Up house floating with the balloons and have it say "Will You Marry Me?" Julie was excited and went to work.

Side bar: Julie is amazing!!! She went above and beyond. She even Drew this picture, just because.
So we went to Alabama. And I knew after that week that I had to marry this woman and I had to ask her soon. So I took another step of faith and inquired about getting some money from a savings account so I could start looking for a ring.

The next day I got a text from my brother-in-law telling me I had a job. Not only was it just a job but it was a job in my field and something I could be passionate about and really make my own.

Are you kidding me? So now I had the idea of how to ask Amanda to marry me, the money for a ring, and a job!!!!!!

To be honest, I had given up on the idea that my prayer to ask her to marry me in October was going to be answered. But God's timing and mine are not the same and God decided that he would show up BIG TIME and make sure that prayer didn't go unanswered.

So Saturday night I took Amanda to dinner at Twisted Vines. Near the end of dinner, I told Amanda I had something that would work well with her Halloween costume. (Did I mean that SHE suggested we go as Carl and Ellie from Up for Halloween?!?!?!?!!! I seriously love her!!!!!) And I pulled out the Adventure Book. And when she turned the last page and saw the picture she just said "YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!!" So I pulled the ring out of my pocket and got out of my seat when she instantly grabbed me and starting kissing me. After a minute, I was able to get down on my knee and ask her to marry me.

I am so incredibly blessed to have Amanda in my life and I couldn't be happier or more excited that she is going to be Mrs Patton!!! :D

But it would not have been possible if a) God hadn't blessed me with this incredible woman in the first place and b) if he wasn't faithful! God is good!!! Even when it seems like he's not listening. He still knows what's up!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It Must Be Rated R

I want to blog more and blog more about important stuff. But instead I'm updating on my journey through my playlist.

Currently listening to S.S. Bountyhounter's self-titled record. Just jumping into letter S.

Next Five Records:

Metallica - S&M
Denison Witmer - Safe Away
Sever Your Ties - Safety In The Sea
The Appleseed Cast - Sagarmatha
Damien Jurado  - Saint Bartlett

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Walk On Water: Where Faith and Fear Intersect

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:22-33

I think we read things and hear stories so many times that they can lose meaning to us and we miss little things. Or we are so familiar with a story and it's concepts and life applications that we miss out on it affecting our lives and challenging us in our current season because we already know the outcome.

But I was hit with some principles this morning reading the story of Jesus walking on the water.

First is Jesus' relationship with God. Jesus has just performed a HUGE miracle feeding 5,000+ people with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. So with the 12 leftover baskets of food Jesus sends the people on their way and sends his disciples sailing.

First off, how did the disciples think Jesus was going to get back to them?

Jesus - "Hey guys. Why don't you guys get a head start while I finish sending these people on there way. Go get the boat ready and start sailing for our next destination. I'll catch up with you guys later."

Don't you think someone would've said, "Hey Jesus, we only have one boat. How are you going to catch up with us?" Maybe it was faith, or maybe someone put up an argument that wasn't captured by the writer. We may never know.

But after that Jesus finds a secluded place for him to pray. I imagine Jesus was pretty tired. He spent the afternoon healing people and making a feast where there was no food. But Jesus still makes the time to spend with God.

So Jesus prays just about all night, giving the disciples a nice head start. The bible says they were a considerable distance from land. No big deal to Jesus. He just starts walking. And not speed running like Dash in the Incredibles ( So it's gusty and the waves are going nuts and Jesus comes out of the dark nowhere, walking on the water and scares the living daylights out of the disciples.

I can kind of imagine that. I went sailing a couple months back and it rained the entire afternoon we sailed. The water was choppy and it made steering and see difficult. I imagine a really windy night is not what one would consider ideal sailing conditions.

So picture the scene: You and some friends are out sailing one night and the wind gets pretty rough. You're already a little on edge that the boat might tip or something bad is about to happen. The sun is starting to come up. That'll be helpful. But way off in the distance you see... A person walking towards you. You're not dumb. People DO NOT walk on water. So obviously your mind goes to something much more sinister. It must be a ghost. Full blown panic sets in and the commotion and distress probably has the boat rocking and tipping even worse.

I bet Jesus chuckled for a second. Walking towards the boat and seeing the panic grip the disciples and the boat start to really rock and tip. But He regains His composure and reassures the disciples.

“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Verse 27).

It doesn't say panic stop. It says Peter issued a challenge. “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”

Peter isn't waiting around to see if it's really Jesus. He's going to find out if it's really him.

Peter: Alright... If you really are Jesus, tell me to walk on water towards you and if I can, then I'll believe it.

And Jesus says go for it. "Come."

I like this interaction. It's faith in action. Peter isn't waiting for Jesus to come to him. He's willing step out trusting that it is Jesus and if he steps out on that boat he'll either walk or sink. If he walks, then it is Jesus and there's no reason to be afraid of what will happen. If he sinks... Well, he'll probably send that boat into an even bigger panic. The disciples don't really seem to be the type of people who might fight the guy walking on water, scaring them.

So Peter steps out... And he walks on water. The disciples' fear is put to ease that it is Jesus walking on the water and Peter is experience something no one else in human history gets to experience.

But then the saying. "Don't look down" comes into play. Peter is having an awe inspiring moment when he looks down. He takes his eyes off Jesus and starts taking in the world around him. And panic resets itself in Peter and he's goes sinking. He has this amazing experience, yet forfeits it's full reward by letting fear grab a hold of him.

Peter's issue is an issue that plagues me. Fear and the world around me, keep me from fully trusting God and have me forfeiting full blessings. Yes, Peter still got to walk on water and claim that. But his lack of faith and letting fear over take him cause him to miss out on the full reward.

Jesus' response could be the response to me on a million different things each and every day.

"Why did you doubt?"

The list of all the awesome things God has done for me is super long and grows with each and every breath. But I still doubt that God will come through at times. I did it yesterday and I'm sure I'll do it at some point today and fear will win the battle over faith and trust.

God has got this. And by this I mean everything. There's no need to fear and let fear rule us and let doubt overtake us where we are forfeiting the full rewards and blessing from God.

One last note.

After Jesus rescues Peter he get's on the boat, he calms the wind and eases all panic and threat. And that's when the disciples worship him and say "Truly you are the Son of God."

Not after the miracle of him feeding 5,000+ people with so little food. Not when Peter stepped out and walked on water. But after he had eliminated the threat and saved their lives.

Human nature hasn't changed. We worship God only after he has saved from the threat or disaster. Not on land after the miracle where we're still safe and sound. But on the boat, after the wind has died down and there's no more threat of harm.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Get Real

This past weekend I got to share my testimony with a group of junior high students. These are my notes for your enjoyment.  ~ BP

Going to church is easy. Right? It doesn’t make you a Christian. I know when I was in junior high and high school church was a place for me to hang out with my friends. But that didn’t make me a Christian.

To give you a little back-story, I grew up in the church. My parents were Christians and going to church every weekend was normal. When I was in kindergarten I gave my life to Christ. In fact, I gave my life to Jesus every day at recess for at least a week. I just wanted to make sure that I was going to heaven. Not going to hell was very important to 5 or 6 year old me. And while I don’t question the validity of my commitment at the time, 5 or 6 is a young age to take such a huge step and make a life commitment.

So life happens. We get older and our teenage years have us wanting to fit in and be cool and have lots of friends. I was not cool and didn’t have lots of friends. But I had some core friends who I would get into trouble with. But I still went to church. I loved church. I was home schooled, so church and youth group were the times when I got to see my friends and hang out with people. Sunday morning service, Sunday night bible study, and even Wednesday night youth group; I lived for church. I was more faithful about going to church than my parents were at the time in my life.

My problem was I lived for church and not for God. Like I said, church and youth group were a time for me to hang out with my friends. Bible study wasn’t always a time I got to hang out with my friends but there were pretty girls at bible study and it was a time for me to show off my debate skills. I knew the bible and I knew how I could use it to argue points brought up in bible study.

I had grown up in church. I knew what to say and how to look to act right. I would volunteer to pray over meals or for service. When it was time to worship, I would raise my hands and sing loudly. I was good at doing church.

The problem with being able to do church really well is I wasn’t doing a good job at following God. I wasn’t always very nice to my friends. I would use people, as it would benefit me. In being the bible study debate champion, I would say some hurtful things. And honestly, I wasn’t very happy. I was an over-weight, dorky, home schooled kid. I was into punk rock and heavy metal and just didn’t really fit in with my friends or the people I went to church with. I felt like an outcast.

The turning point came when I was 16. I was at a conference with my youth group, a couple months before heading out on a mission trip.

Let me preface my next statement. People say all the time that God told them this or they heard from God that. And I don’t discredit or disbelieve any of that as being true. And so when I say God spoke to me, there are only 2 moments in my life where without a shadow of a doubt, God spoke to me. It was a little more than an impression. It wasn’t an audible voice but it was without a doubt God speaking to me. And this is the first instance.

We were sitting in this conference and the worship band was playing the last night. I don’t remember anything else about this conference or even this session except that during worship I heard God say to me “Are you going to be real with me or keep faking? Because if you’re going to keep faking you might as well quit all together.”

In Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller tells a story of when he decided to stop believing in God. Miller said, every night he would go on a walk and tell God all the reasons why he couldn’t believe in him anymore. And one night he heard God say, “If you don’t believe in my, how come you keep talking to me.”*

*Note: I'm not entirely sure why I included this little piece in my message. I'm sure there was a point but I didn't really tie it to anything. 

I knew at that moment that I had been giving God lip service and not actually following him.  I cried. I apologized for all the people I had wronged but more importantly, I had to ask God’s forgiveness for being such a bad representation of who God is. I don’t think the weight of my half-hearted commitment sunk in until I was on the mission trip. I was having a conversation with one of my best friends at the time and he said, “Bryan, you’ve always been someone I looked up in church. You gave me the courage to raise my hands in worship and pray and be outspoken about my faith. I want to thank you for being a great example of what it means to follow God.”

Guys, I was crushed. It broke my heart. I had had such a huge impact in someone’s life, who I didn’t know was paying that much attention or looking up to me as leader, and I was faking it!!! It killed me. Think about how much greater an impact I could’ve had if I wasn’t so busy trying to act cool or get my way but instead just actually served God.

In Matthew 23 verse 25-27 it says:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”

I love coffee. I drink coffee and tea a couple times a day. Have you ever poured your coffee or milk or soda into a cup with checking the inside of the cup? This happens to me more often then it should. I will wake up, stumble to the coffee pot, grab a cup and pour my coffee. And I drink. Every once in a while I will get to the bottom of my cup and as I am drinking the last sips of my coffee I see the bottom of the coffee cup… And it’s filthy. All sorts of brown caked on awfulness. Whatever it is, I don’t want to have just drank it. But it’s too late that point right? I thought my cup was clean but it was just filthy on the inside. That’s what Jesus is saying here! He’s saying make sure the inside is clean. Jesus had a problem with the Pharisees doing church and Jesus had a problem with me doing church. God doesn’t want us to go to church and look like we belong at church and do all the right things and spout the right words. God wants our hearts and our love and affection and time and talents.

And it doesn’t matter what’ve done or what we might be doing. Romans 5:8 says that God loves us so much that even though we are sinners and even though we were not or are not following God, He still sent his Son, Jesus Christ to die for us. That’s great news. Because I didn’t need to get right first and I’m not able to do enough that God will stop loving me and go back in time and make Jesus not die me. 
What I do know is God loves you. And at the core of the bible, God just wants you to love him back. Life isn’t perfect when you follow God. I still have rough days and disappointments. Life doesn’t always seem to go the way I planned or dreamed. But I know God works all things for the God of those who love him as they have been called according to his plans and purposes. Life isn't perfect, but life following God has been worth it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

What IF?

What if I spent an hour a day face down before God?

That was the question going into Lent and it was how I was going to challenge myself over 40 days.

While denying our flesh is part of the purpose of fasting, it's very easy for me to give things up for a season. Food, internet, alcohol, coffee, TV, you name it and I could go for a season without. But the point of fasting isn't for me to give something up, and while I did give something up for Lent, I also wanted to issue a challenge; To set aside a designated period of time each day to step away from everything and spend time with God.

It was a completely focused time of prayer. I had outlined 4 specific short-term and long-term goals I wanted to be praying for every day. I had people and situations I wanted to be praying for every day. I had some great conversations leading up to Lent, which helped me to define some short and long term goals better, so I could be more specific in prayer.

It wasn't easy. The first 2 weeks were extremely strong and great. I don't know if I've ever had consistent prayer time that was so focused and determined, so rich and passionate. But it didn't last. I became tired and weary of praying the same things over and over again. I would be tired one day or unmotivated or too hungry. But I kept at it. And the final week I had this thought while running: Finish Strong. And I was determined to finish Lent strong and pray harder.

I had two passages in the Bible that I prayed every day.

The first was 1 Kings 18:36-39

"At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”

Elijah called down fire from Heaven three times. The first day of Lent I prayed, "God I want a faith that can call down fire from Heaven and bring YOU glory."

The prayer isn't about wanting to call down fire. The prayer is about having a deep faith that God is bigger than I can ask or imagine and I want a faith where I believe what I pray. That if I present my requests before God, I want to believe that if I'm praying in accordance with His will that He's going to come through. People in the bible did incredible things and I need a deeper faith if I want to see what happened in the bible happen in my life for the glory of God. Because it's not about me.

I must decrease so He can increase. I want to be filled up so I can pour out. I wanted to be blessed so I can be a blessing to those around me. And if I'm not going to use God's blessings to bless others, than I don't want to be bless.

My other scripture for Lent was Romans 8:28.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

This has been my new life motto. There were some amazing great things that happened over the last 40 days but it's also been filled with disappointment and moments where it felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

But honestly, most of the disappointments weren't disappointments. They were prayers answered. If you pray for God's will in your life and for him to close doors you're not supposed to walk through, you better be prepared for him to answer with closed doors from time to time.

And what seemed like divine appointments and God moving in one direction, only to have those doors close turned into great moments where I was able to thank God for answering my prayer and not letting me go where he didn't want me to. Plus, it was those moments where I could see other divine appointments that weren't as in my face where God moved and used someone to speak into my life and help me.

I'm not trying to spin bad things. Yes, closed doors sucked. But knowing that I prayed for open or closed doors, and knowing that God works all things for the good of those who love him, and spending every day on my face in prayer, you begin to connect the dots and put the puzzle together piece by piece. God has a much larger plan than I can see and getting glimpses of the puzzle as it's put together is God enough for me and God gets the glory and praise for moving and doing great things in my life.

I've seen prayers answered and I have prayers I need to continue to pray.

What IF I spend an hour a day face down before God? Life changes.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

No Reason Needed

As I was prepping for small group this morning and going over all the answered prayers I had this thought:

If you need a reason to praise God, you need to check your heart."

God doesn't need to prove himself to us. He's God and He's already done more then enough that's worthy of our praise. If God does nothing for me ever again, never answers another prayer, He's still worthy of my praise because He Is! God is not to be worship only when things are going good and prayers are being answered. He's to be praise all the time! Just because!

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" - Philippians 4:4

Friday, February 3, 2012


This is going to be another one of those vague in details but the idea is important enough to write about posts. Sorry.

While I know God's in control and has everything taken care of, I don't really live like I believe this. I worry and wonder why things are happening the way they are and get frustrated. But yesterday I began noticing pieces coming together and started seeing how all these areas and opportunities actually worked together and how one was an answer to prayer about the other... Good things.

Like I told my girlfriend yesterday: One day I'm going to get it through my head that God's got it covered and my worrying is pointless.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Reflections: 21 Day Prayer/Fast

I don't have a ton to say in reflection. Well, I have a ton to say but I don't have a ton to share publicly. But I wanted to share a couple thoughts here.

In the last 3 weeks I have seen God answer prayer. Prayers for myself and prayers for others. I have seen God answer prayers no but give a reason as to why it's a no.

Side note: You know how hard it is to thank God for answering a prayer with a no?

I've had to pray some desperate prayers over the last 21 days. I've had to rethink prayers. I've had to take myself out of prayers. I've had to stop praying some prayers. And I've started praying some ridiculous prayers.

Sometimes God doesn't answer prayers because we need to be fully dependent on and desperate for Him first. Our desperation allows God to prove himself faithful in our lives.

And sometimes the requests that God lays on our hearts and the things we're praying for end up turning those no answers into not yet answers. Because sometimes we need prayer A for prayer B to work. But sometimes we have to be led to pray prayer B, which is crazy and irrational and seems impossible so God can do a miracle in answering prayers A and B. (Was that statement confusing to anyone else?)

And now that the 21 days is over I need to press in even further and keep praying and pray even harder. Because I still have a lot of unanswered prayers. I still need a ton of direction and clarity in my life. And I have new dreams and visions I need to be chasing and praying about. As faithful as God has proven himself and as good as He's been over the last 21 days, it's just the beginning. And if I let it be the end then what he's started won't come to fruition.

Time to dig deeper and go further.

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." ~ Philippians 1:6

Monday, January 23, 2012

Berlin Gallery Part Deux

Having spent Thursday night up until almost 2 in the morning trying to put together art pieces with Amanda I left her house wondering how we were going to get everything ready for our gallery on Friday night. At one point on Friday I said to myself; "I'm lacking sleep, I haven't eaten much, and it's going to take a miracle to get these art projects done and ready for our gallery> It's just like Berlin."

And just like in Berlin, God gave us favor and every piece of art was done and on the walls. Every one remembered the parts to their songs and for a third time Team Berlin put on their art gallery. A ton of people showed up, a lot more than anyone on the team was expecting to be there, and we were able to show people what our missions trip had been about.

If you came to the gallery, thank you so much for your support! It was great to share our pieces and experience with everyone!

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Game Changers - The French Press

I like coffee. Ok... I love coffee. I drink a lot of it. I don't always need more coffee but I'll drink more. If you know me (and I imagine if you're reading this, you do) you already know this fact. Nothing new being revealed here.

But I had never had French Pressed coffee before. Seriously. This little fact I admitted to Amanda, who couldn't believe it. She was so shocked that for Christmas she bought me a French Press. (Have I mentioned how awesome she is?)

I know there is good coffee and bad coffee. The coffee I had in Berlin was amazing. The coffee at Starbucks... Well it's pretty terrible in my opinion. But seriously, how much of a difference was a French Press going to make?

The answer is a lot. The French Press makes a seriously killer cup of coffee. Why did I not I know about this until now?

The French Press is a game changer for sure!

Friday, January 6, 2012

About a Girl

So before Thanksgiving I wrote about letting go of the good thing and going after the God thing. While general good advice, this was an answer to a specific prayer for me and looking back it was probably a double sided answer. But naturally I didn't see it as such so I kept praying. An out of the blue conversation with a friend of mine should've been the confirmation and green light I needed. It wasn't. A second conversation pushing me should have been what got me going. But it too was not enough. And I was still praying about what to do. Finally God, as he almost always has to do, yells at me.

*Note - Actual yelling did not occur.

So while praying asking God what I should do, I hear "Bryan, you know what you want." I imagine the conversation with God could've gone something like this after that revelation.

Me - Alright, I got it God. I should go for it.
God - Well I'd freaking hope so after all the hints I've dropped!

**Note - I imagine the casualness of that exchange with God might upset some people. I apologize. That's how I roll though.

***Note - If the title of this blog didn't give it away, yes this is about a girl. The tone of this post is going to change drastically for some of you.

So I think it took at least 3 or 4 tries before I actually let the call to Amanda go through. Sitting outside Frozen Yo, nervous as hell, not sure at all what to expect. She answers and the conversation went something like this:

Me - I was wondering if you'd like to go out some time?
A - Sure. When?
Me - Well I know your schedule is crazy. When are you free?
A - ::Rattles of a week full of activities with absolutely no free time::
Me - Ok...
A - Well let's play it by ear and we can work it out when something is available.
Me - Sounds good.

That's right, I asked her out and didn't get a hard date set in stone. Not a great confidence booster. She had an out. We hadn't confirmed anything. She could just never talk to me again. I suppressed panic as I had other things I needed to focus my attention on. All the while thinking in the back of my mind that this was never going to actually happen and it would just be a moment in our friendship that we never talked about.

But the next day she texted me with a Tuesday availability. So we went out. And it was nice. Texted her the next day and said I had a great time and would like to go out again sometime. She didn't text back... Well she said she had a good time but didn't respond to text number two. Instead an e-mail invite was sent to me, asking if I'd like to join her at her office party. Of course my answer was yes. Here was the small issue... I had to wear a suit.

If you're shocked that this is an issue, we probably aren't good friends then. I didn't own a suit. I didn't know how to tie a tie. I had no need for any of these things. That's how awesome my life is (or lame for some of you). Tried to use one of my brothers’ but it was a no go there. So I bought a suit. Yes, I bought a suit to go out with her! It's crazy and a pretty big investment for a girl that you have no idea what she's thinking or feeling but I bought it nonetheless. As I've explained to my younger brother, guys will do crazy things for the women they want to impress. And I bought a suit!

So I still didn't have a read on her. Like... She seemed to have a good time but I still wasn't getting any real positive this-is-moving-forward type vibes. That was until date number three was initiated by her. We went ice skating. And even while we were out I wasn't super sure what she was thinking. But I was having a great time.

But something changed that night. I don't think either of us has really been able to say what exactly that was, but something changed.

Anyways, I think I've been pretty detailed so far so I'll just leave the story there.

I'll just say it's been a pretty incredible month with an amazing girl who I feel blessed to have. I mean... I'm kind of a giant dork and the fact that she wants to be around me is pretty cool. She's beautiful and encouraging and just extremely amazing! I'm super thankful for her! God was super cool in blessing me with such an amazing girl. I look forward to many more adventures with her!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Let It Go

One of my all time favorite tv shows in VH1's Behind the Music. Great show. The greatest moment on the show ever is also one of the saddest things you'll ever watch. Behind the Music: Leif Garrett had a moment where Leif and one time friend Roland Winkler were reunited. The two hadn't seen each other really since a car accident in 79 that left Winkler paralyzed (the show aired in 99). In the most touching Behind the Music moment ever, Garrett issues a heartfelt apology, talking about how the guilt has eaten away at him for years and this accident has affected his entire life. On the flip side of all this is Winkler who accepts Garrett's apology and admits that he forgave Leif years ago and has moved on with his life and is really happy and that there's no reason why Leif should still be so guilt ridden over this incident that happened 20 years ago.

As I was reflecting and praying on Pastor Hall's New Year's Eve message yesterday afternoon this moment came to mind. It's always been a scene that was really sad to me. Leif Garrett carried around this guilt for 20 years. It ate away at him and tore is life up for 20 years while the person he had hurt and who's life he had damaged was able to move on and have a happy life.

And as sad as the moment is that's how so many live. We are unwilling to let go of our past mistakes and failures and we carry them around with us and let them affect parts of our lives they shouldn't have any control over.

I don't know if I can one of my favorite Markisms (because I'm a fan of them all) but I love "Your best days are ahead of you." I think it's a positive attitude to keep in mind. But in order for your best days to be ahead of you, you can't let past failures and mistakes control you. Our past mistakes and failures are things to learn from. The consequences are still there from our choices and there can be pain and lingering affects that we will carry with us forever.

Without a doubt my favorite song by Relient K from a lyrical standpoint is Who I Am Hates Who I've Been. I love the bridge.

"Who I am hates who I've been
And who I am will take the second chance you gave me
Who I am hates who I've been
'Cause who I've been only ever made me"

Our pasts, full of heartache, disappointments, failures, rejection, mistakes, and more are what help us to become who we are. But only if we're willing to learn from our past and continue to move forward.

God has great things in store for us this year! Don't hold on to that which he's already forgiven you for. Let go, seek forgiveness, learn from the past, and continue to move forward.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Out With the Old - An Ode to 2011

This is a long one. Read at your own risk. You've been warned.

Another year done and a new one ready to start. Don Miller has said he loves new mornings, new days, new weeks, and new years because they mark a starting over. I like that. The Bible says God's mercies are new every morning, which is awesome. I like to look at new years as new starts. January 1st is a good time to refocus and move forward. This year it's a time to build off all the good that has happened in the last 6 months.

In reflecting 2011 it's sad that other then seeing Godspeed You Black Emperor at 930 Club I don't really remember anything that happened before I went to Disney World. Which means the first 5 months of 2011 were pretty boring. How sad.

So I went to Disney World. Disney World is awesome! If you don't think Disney World is awesome than you need awesome lessons. Disney was fun. New Toy Story ride is slick! Toy Story Rides at the Disney Theme Parks is sweet, even if I do suck at interactive shooting games (and they both are). Here is my beef with Disney World...

Some people, like myself, might be overgrown children and collect toys (just saying). I was looking forward to grabbing some action figures of some of my favorite Disney and Pixar films. But alas there were no such toys at Disney World. There were these, kind of, neat collectable figures that they were selling and I picked up a couple but I had brought a nice chunk of cash to blow on toys (Yes, I understand how old I am). I did get a killer, and large, coffee cup and new Winnie The Pooh but the lack of action figures forced me to spend my afternoons on Ebay.

Can we talk about some firsts? Of course we can! It's my blog and we can talk about whatever my little heart desires!

So I've lived in the DC area my whole life. This isn't news. But there are things that one would just assume that I have experienced in my life because I've been here. But that's not the way it works. So Fourth of July.... Kind of hate July the 4th. It's not because I don't appreciate my freedom and it's not because I'm anti-American, I just think it's an over hyped holiday. It's hot as nuts outside and fireworks aren't that great. And yet I'm expected the sit out in the heat, sweat, and watch fireworks for 20 minutes? No spank you! I will stay inside my air-conditioned house, enjoy a cold beer from fridge, and watch a movie about blowing stuff up (because what's more American than that?).

So obviously, given the nature of my rant, you've probably figured out that in my life I have never been downtown to the Mall to watch the fireworks. It's never happened. Ok... It might have happened when I was super young but I don't think that really counts. One of my goals for 2011 was to be more social. No seriously, it was. Stop laughing. All done now? Ok. Like I said... Be more social. So some friends of mine met across the river in Virginia to watch the fireworks. And I went. It was hot, I was sweaty, and it was awesome! The fireworks were actually pretty damn spectacular. Met a lot of awesome people and just had a fun time. This will be happening again for sure!

I'm going to jump ahead several months since we're talking about firsts. I had never been ice-skating outdoors. This mostly happened because of my ignorance that such a thing could be done in DC. Not ok. But a couple weeks ago with put that on the done and done list. Went to the Sculpture Garden, strapped on a pair of skates and went around in circles for two hours. One of my favorites nights of the year (but more on that at a later time).

I guess I can't talk about 2011 without talking about the end of an era, the end of a solid couple years run, the end of a relationship that I struggled with for it's final fleeting months as the end was forced upon me. I of course am talking about my relationship with hair gel (What did you think I was talking about?). The fine folks at Garnier decided that the audience of one that was buying the hair gel that I used religiously was not enough to keep the product on the shelves. Naturally, I did what any self-respecting person would do. I went to every store in the area and bought every bottle of hair gel I could find. And then the day came... No more gel on the shelves... No more gel at home. How was I going to maintain the rock star chic (yep) hairstyle I had perfected and worn for years? One can't just change gels like that. But there was time for the 12 stages of grief as I had to head off to Berlin. So I packed and took what the Hair Cuttery recommended as the best alternative (uh, negative) and used that until I had run dry. My bitterness towards Garnier would not last long as I made the switch to a pomade that they make. Pomade is more rock and roll anyway. Right?

I bought a suit and learned how to tie a tie. Yep.

In the done and done category we can add drove across the country. It wasn't the extensive road trip I would've liked it to be but I still did it. California to Maryland in 3 days. I did get to see my buddy Wil which, although way to short, was AWESOME! There's still a ton of things I need to see and another road trip across the country is for sure in order at some point but I'm glad I can say that I did this. Although spending 3 days driving by yourself will make one go a little crazy. I'm 100% convinced this was the catalyst to the end of my introverted self.

I went dancing. A lot. At one point it was up to 7 weeks in a row. Sad when that awesome streak ended. Looking forward to more dancing in 2012. And there's sure to be more of it!

I did go through a break-up this year. Hindsight is everything but even after it had happened I could see that the relationship needed to end so God could start something awesome in me and move into the places He wanted. Life has been better and God has been doing a lot of awesome things in my life. It's been exciting and if things needed to end with her so God could get me where I am now, than thank God that they ended. I know that sounds harsh... But I couldn't be where I am now without things happening the way they did.

This summer's God Anthology series at church was one of the greatest sermon series I've ever heard. Challenging each and every week. A 9 part series that brought my world crashing down every week as God was working and revealing Himself in new ways to me. Each week was a different challenge and the processing of what God was revealing was different each and every week. I chronicled my thoughts through that series pretty well already so you'll just have to go trawling through past posts if you want my insights on that series.

The ending of that series with the God Anthology live album recording concert was amazing. Great time of worship that was super needed in my life. As someone who plays at church every week, those moments when I get to just worship are nice. One of the highlights of the year for sure.

One of the dreams I've had for many years is to have sort of arts based community thing... That's about as detailed as I can ever get. I've had the name Something Beautiful for years but never really got anything going. The dream has burned strong at moments in my life and has been pretty dead and missing at other points. After a conversation with a girl who was struggling with finding acceptance as an artist I decided it was time to stop dreaming and start acting. So I put on an arts and music gallery. It was small, poorly organized (shocker), and not completely what I had envisioned. It was also a huge success! Everything has to start somewhere and actually, finally, doing something instead of talking about it felt good. Everyone involved had a great time and most importantly it was a step taken.

I run this music blog. No big deal. I'm a music nerd. It's a lifelong obsession. So review records and have a podcast. It's something I started... Well because I wanted to. So I've run this jimmy jam for 2 and half years now. But this year my traffic started to increase. This first half of the year I was getting a ton of hits. While the hits have leveled off, it's still more people hitting my blog up than I thought would ever happen. Plus I got to interview Hands (who released my favorite album of the year), was asked my The Make to help promote their brand new single, and have started working with Blood and Ink Records doing reviews for them. That's pretty freaking cool if you ask me. Nerd Win!

Berlin was the highlight of my year. A couple weeks after my cross-country drive; I got on a plane with a dozen of my new best friends. I think I went into the trip expecting it to be awesome and things to change in my life but I don't think I really expected to build such great relationships that have carried over. Group hugs (that may or may not weird other people out), lots of dancing, and general uncomfortable conversations have been a staple in my life since Berlin, and I wouldn't trade it for anything! I love the people I went with. It was an awesome trip (also well chronicled on this blog).

Was that it? Did I cover everything? I'm not sure. I feel like something is missing... Oh well. I think you get the idea. 2011 was kind of awesome! So 2012... Bring It! Let's Rock!