Christian Blogger

trying to forgive…

The Door Of Forgiveness

i’m always torn about how i feel when it comes to my childhood. i didn’t have a bad childhood but it was no sunny spring day when i look back. i’ve dealt with situations in my life that have scarred me for what I believe will be an eternity. no matter how often i say “i’m over it.” out loud, the truth is “i’m not over it.” i’m broken. broken into a million little pieces and i simply don’t know where to start putting it all back together.

i believe people on the outside believe i’m perfect and that my life has been easier than most. but that’s only due to not revealing a stained past. a past i still relive in my mind weekly. it haunts me and for the longest time i dreamt of having that part of me surgically removed. i simply find it astonishing how our mind and body allow us to relive past events as though they happened yesterday simply through a rush of emotions.

my father was an alcoholic when i was young. he was a bartender, a carpenter and a man with a sharp tongue. he knew all the right things to say and all the right moves to make. my mother was always in the medical field and she had a heart bigger than this world could bear to hold. she wanted to take on everyone else’s burdens and solve everyone else’s problems. not too say that she wasn’t a good mother because that would be far from the truth, but there was room for improvement, like most mothers, i presume. i honestly don’t know where to go with this because my story is so intricate and i’d hate to paint the wrong picture and give you the wrong introduction to my life.

all i wanted to say today is that the hurt i feel is crippling to the person that i can be.
crippling to the person that i want to be.
and crippling to the person that i will be.

is there really a way to overcome so much pain, so much anger, so much hurt that you can live a productive life? a life that won’t allow you to continue taking steps back every time those painful memories come flooding back in, filling every crevice of your mind. i don’t know. is there a separate Bible chapter for dealing with this kind of hurt? does it get better with time or do you simply suppress it every time it resurfaces?

why is walking through ‘the door of forgiveness’ such a daunting task?

turning thirty…

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I believe that somewhere in the past I was a birthday person, but I’m not very much of a birthday person anymore. I’m not sure if that is something that comes with ‘age’ or maybe its the realization of that you actually only have one ‘day of birth’ and the dates following that are only a reminder of your existence, or something like that. I thought that thirty would feel like some huge milestone. Like, I would be thirty and I’d be able to look back over all my accomplishments while sipping an over-priced latte and say, “all is well”. But that’s not how it turned out.

I’m thirty and I have a list of things to show for my twenties. The years that apart of me feels like I let go to waste waiting for my dreams to come to me as opposed to chasing them. I don’t intend on letting my thirties fall prey to the same condition. I’ll be more intent with the way I spend my time. I already know that my relationship with God is at the top of the list of things that need to be worked on. I haven’t been praying nearly like I should, it’s almost safe to say, I haven’t been praying. God hasn’t been at my center and I’ve been feeling off-balance because of it. I find myself listening to mainstream radio, becoming convicted by the lyric content  and turning on some CCM (Contemporary Christian Music). I find myself telling people I’ll pray for them and I never get around to officially praying for them so I’ll say a quick something in the car on my way to work. I pick up the Bible with the intent of reading but I set it down in another location and begin doing something else of less importance. It almost sounds like complacency but I’m not completely sure what the root of the problem is but I know that it starts with me.

But this post can’t feel completely doom and gloom because some beautiful things have come out of my twenties and I’d be remiss not to mention them. I was still trying to figure out who I was and where I wanted to go in life when I moved to Sevierville, TN to attend culinary school. I was young and ambitious and I knew that I needed to leave Oak Ridge if anything would ever happen for me. I loved living alone and having my own space to explore the details of who I am and what I wanted to be. I made some great friends along the way and I lost some friends along the way. Some people became estranged and that can feel a little overwhelming when I think about it but I try not to think about it.

I met my beautiful wife in my twenties and we’ll just leave the whole fighting cancer thing out for now. But she’s on of the best things that ever happened to me and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel as though I deserve her. I left Sevierville and moved to Knoxville and then moved to Nashville, which I would say is the best thing I’ve ever done. I love Nashville and I love that it’s a city that breathes and inspires creatives of all types. I’m not sure what it is I want still? I’m not sure if I should sit down and make a list of pros and cons or if I should just keep doing what I’m doing until that moment of clairvoyance takes place.

All I think I know is that I want my thirties to be better than my twenties. I want to love people more and I want to be fearless in seeking friendships. I want to have meaningful connections with people beyond good mornings and hellos. I want to find people who will be invested in knowing me the way that I want to know them. I want to find a church home and begin to plan for our future as parents and productive members of our community. We bought a home this year and I want our neighbors to know us and I want them to know Christ if they don’t already. I want to begin leaving a carbon footprint that’s worthy of taking credit for. I desire to be more organized in my thoughts and not feel so overwhelmed when I have multiple tasks. I want to live with less stress and I don’t want to dispute mundane details. I want to take advantage of beautiful weather and go for walks and hikes and explore the beauty of living in Tennessee. I want to live with the intention that I’ll leave a mark of positivity on every one that I come in contact with–a mark that will leave them wanting more out of life as well.

I’m looking forward to my thirties and it is my prayer that God will bless me with the health and ambition to accomplish all these things. And during the process, I’ll continue to strengthen my relationship with Him. Be blessed and have a happy Sunday.

 

Sunday Tunes: Bryan & Katie Torwalt

Bryan And Katie Torwalt | Silence And Chaos

Bryan & Katie Torwalt are relatively new to the CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) world and their music is nothing short of a breath of fresh air. Katie’s voice a soulful quake of praise-filled melodies that you can’t help but to get lost in. Bryan’s voice contrasting in rich tenor tones that support Katie’s qualities to a tee, together they are a powerhouse and I can’t wait to see how God uses them to do his will in the kingdom. I accidentally stumbled upon their music when ‘Nothing Holding Me Back’ came on my Jesus Culture station via Pandora, which is a track form their freshman album ‘Here On Earth’. And I haven’t stopped listening since, always in anticipation to hear something new. So it goes without saying that I will be purchasing their new album, Kingdom Come, and recommend that you do the same if you are a fan of such bands as Jesus Culture, Hillsong United, Gungor, or JJ Heller. I know that you will absolutely love everything that Bryan & Katie Torwalt are. Here are some of my favorite tracks from them and a link for you to listen to them live. Its the perfect beginning to an already blessed filled Sunday morning. After all, you’re alive.

Nothing Holding Me Back
I’m A Lover of Your Presence
I Breathe You In God
Glorius
Weight Of Glory
I Will Trust You
He Is The Light

And here is the link to watch them perform some of their freshman album and their new album live. I highly recommend clearing your schedule and grabbing a cup of coffee, you won’t want to miss a second of it.

INKED THOUGHTS

Evening LightIt’s been overcast all day, only remnants of sun barely piercing through the cumulus balls of fluff. I was so late to work today that I was ashamed of myself and I allowed it to get the best of me. The remainder of my day was off kilter and I simply couldn’t get it back together. I drove home down the backroads listening to NPR but not paying attention. I think they were discussing ISIL but then again, who isn’t? The world is truly a frightening place though most of us have become numb to it. The tragedy in the lives of others rarely affect us if we don’t allow ourselves to feel the emotions.

Today’s Inked Thought is from my junior high school year’s. I’m not truly sure what the basis of it is, but it is one of my favorite poems. As I look through my  poetry–I realize most of it is rather moody but I guess that’s just who I was and partially still am. I believe it is from the era of my parents relationship beginning to deteriorate in front of me. But any-who, as I sit here enjoying this ‘good’ evening light, the dilcid swoons of Birdy– I hope you’ll enjoy this piece of me from yesteryear. so please, feel free to grab a cup of dark roast, turn on some indie tunes and just read. its good for you.

 

UNTITLED

as time goes on

and days go by

my life seems to fall apart at the core

where the lava of spirit boils over

my desolate night sky

invaded by inquisitive midnight creatures

and crescent moons ascend

that interminable darkness of my mind

seems to get trapped in the depth of my soul

where the stars behind my eyes gaze

alone and awaiting to be lit

 

the field of my heart is sinking

to new lows of despair

which can only be revived by another’s spirit light

a lantern that sets upon the shelf of my soul

adorn my lonely hedge of blue

with your tears of sullen joy

that I might feel your void

 

and together

we. will die alone

I want to be yours…

Abandoned Home I’ve always been a dreamer. I can’t tell you when it started or if it will ever end, but I can tell you that right now, in this space–I still dream. I get lost in foggy mornings and rainy days on a regular basis. The smell of rain has to be one of the most intoxicating things I believe you can experience. I’m not sure why anyone does drugs. I’m not sure why we don’t love life more and take in all the ‘little’ things. Have you ever stopped and listened to yourself breathing? Every inhalation is a divinely crafted push of air from God to you. Take a moment and run your finger from your palm to your shoulder blade and notice how the feeling changes–its so subtle and yet so magnificent that I tend to get goosebumps. What is this? All these beautiful things that God has created and yet I neglect Him daily, I pray less instead of more. When life gives me lemons–I cry in the silence about things I can’t control and I refuse to believe that He will free me from these burdens. How is it, I can be so ungrateful to a God who’s continually covering me in grace?

When I think about the honor it was to grow up in a Christian home where I learned the Bible and drank God’s word on a regular basis–I feel so blessed. But when I think about how far removed I am from it and how I can barely recollect many scripture verses, my heart weeps with discontent. I find myself wanting to exchange literature of poets and lyrics of musicians for that of scripture. Why, have I become so lost in these wordily things and forget about my maker until I’m knee deep back in sin?

I pray that God have mercy upon my soul and lead back to where He and I were in constant fellowship. I pray that he would restore in a heart that yearns to learn more about Him without hesitance. I pray that He would consume me and lead me to drink from the well of life once more, to leave behind the things of this of world in exchange for the love of heaven. I want to be more like Him. I want to see people as he sees people. I want to love people as He loves people. Dear God, I want to be yours whole-heartedly without condition. I simply want to be yours.

Holidays…

If you were to ask me how I feel about the holidays, I wouldn’t know where to begin. It’s honestly a love-hate relationship at its finest. Years ago, I too would’ve swooned at the thought of changing leaves, chilly weather that required the wrapping of scarves and the rolling in warm blankets. But life has changed drastically since that time. My parents got a divorce that took a lot out of me mentally and emotionally. I assisted my wife in the fighting of cancer for the first two years of our marriage. And there were so many other internal stir-abouts that I was continually struggling with that were pushed to the back-burner.

Every year we begin planning our holiday season with whose houses we are going to first? Though this is always a no-brainer because my family is no longer on time and does not plan properly. This year my wife’s family came in from Florida, Missouri & Arizona. It’s the first time in a while that they’ve all been in one place together for the holidays. It was indeed fun for the first couple of days and then of course with any family time, the charm begins to wear off and you’re longing to be back to normal again. Entertaining guests is such a monster of its own, especially when 24 people are involved. But anymore, I look forward to spending more time with my in-laws than with my own family.

It breaks my heart to see those words materialize but it’s the truth. I called my mom to ask what they’re plans were? She said they were on their way to eat and then try to leave and go shopping for the early Black Friday sales by four o’clock. Well, what you should know is that it was already ten minutes after two when I called. So naturally, I wasn’t going to drive 40 minutes from my in-laws to my mom’s house to rush through a meal that should be savored and enjoyed. So I suggested that we come by on Friday after they were done shopping and just heat up the leftovers and have a more personal Thanksgiving that didn’t require speed eating.

My wife and I arrived a little after three-thirty to my mom’s house. We walk up the blue steps to the front porch, knock on the door and hear it unlock. There is no one behind it but there is soapy residue left behind on the doorknob and we are greeted by no one. No warm hugs and kisses, nor the warm aroma of turkey and spices that I encountered yesterday morning. Moments later, my mom proceeds to walk down the hallway in her pajamas with a blanket in hand. She walks over to the couch, which I presume is where she plans take residence. She drops off the blanket and comes over to give us a hug, and at this very moment I was screaming on the inside. In that moment, I felt like an abandoned child in a shopping cart waiting for someone to pick me up and save me from the hurt of neglect I was feeling. In that moment I wanted to be anywhere else but “home”. She proceeded to tell me that they didn’t get back in from shopping until 2 a.m. Meanwhile here comes my sister down the hall in a similar get-up and the same complacency as if we didn’t take a four and a half hour trip to spend the holiday with them.

I walked in to the kitchen to see that yesterday’s leftovers were set out on top of the stove but they were lacking warmth. Well, that’s because it was cold. Any-who, I asked. “Where is Christopher?.” (my brother) And he was with my dad, which is the typical because my mom can only handle my dad in small doses because he cheated on her. So eight years later, we still haven’t learned how to be civil for the sake of our kids.

We sat in the living room with many awkward silences and nothing really to discuss. My mom, sister and now my brother are all on some form of antidepressant. This has been a slow downward spiral over the last several of years. And my tear ducts have run dry over the severity of changes my family has gone through in what seems to be such a short period of time.

I’m continually falling to my knees in my prayer over these circumstances and I can’t always say that I come to God with the most sincerity. I find my flesh to be doubting whether or not he’s working in their hearts anymore. I know that sounds awful but I give you truth. I don’t know how to be a disciple to them anymore. I don’t know how to save them. And there is never a day that  goes by where I don’t question their eternal fate and how I will have played a role in it.

 

 

Inked Thoughts

English was one of my favorite classes in school but I never cared for grammatical guidelines. Conjugating this, past-participle that. All I knew was I thought without commas, periods or semi-colons. Words just flooded into every cell in my mind like the interminable journey for happiness. Which brings us to this Inked Thoughts selection. I broke it down to make it easier to read though I think it is best in block format. I was sitting in a grave yard when I wrote this, and I know you will think how morbid or disrespectful. But I can assure you, they don’t care. So you shouldn’t either.

Life in Run-On

I think in long bits and pieces
it never seems to end
it just keeps going
sometimes im afraid ill crash
ill run straight into something
because i was too busy dreaming
dreaming about things that may or may not
come silly things
serious things
things that only consume my mind and no one elses
dont judge
i merely dont have time to defend my myself
imthinking
thinking of something great and full of grandeur
im curing aids im reading books
im curing cancer im giving hugs
im healing broken people through my prayers
i dont know what i desire from this life
im doing Gods will or am i
maybe im just existing and i have no earthly idea what im supposed to be doing
maybe im not praying enough
maybe im not living
speak to me please im talking to you
yes you there in the corner
doe-eyed in sullen shades of gray
speak to me
im thinking out loud
when was the last time you thanked someone
greeted a stranger
or stretched a helping hand
no judgement just questions
im breathing rather irregularly
my chest feels heavy and is that wheezing why yes yes.it.is
dont leave me here to rot
i dont like to be alone
im not afraid of the dark i just dont like to be alone
please leave the matches on your out way
ill catch up with you later oh my
where did all these ashes come from
dusty sut smeared upon my heel
whos going to clean this mess
i suppose it is i
doe eyes has already left
what are we all doing here
are we breathing
are we living or just existing
NO no no no no no no I want more for me.
I want to do more than just simply stand here on the sidelines. There is a plan for me. I just have to wait it out. I have to be faithful to a God who’s provided more than I could ever imagine. But will there be times when I will revisit this hole? Why, yes. I would say so but I won’t dwell there; I’ll only stay for a moment or two and then carry-on with the plan. We’re all apart of the plan. The bigger plan…right?

New Year…New Mind?

It never seems to amaze me that every year after the gluttony has pursued. The Waste Management plant is overflowing with Santa-stamped wrapping paper and you’re trying to figure out when to return Grandma’s ugly sweater. That we find ourselves creating another list, one that is very reminiscent of the one that’d fallen into the night stand waste basket last year. Yes, once again. Here we are, swearing by our double chins that we will eat things we love in moderation, that we’ll visit the family more, volunteer at the local shelter or church, maybe even give a pint of blood. But why won’t we just be more realistic with ourselves about what it is we can achieve.
We as humans are such flawed specimen and every year the suicide rates, depression meds, and therapy appointments never cease to exist. But did you ever think that maybe if we were to tackle our lives in a more realistic, and simplistic format that maybe we wouldn’t endure such hardships. If we just vowed something as attainable as learning five new neighbors in our community, being genuine when asking someone “how they are doing?”, asking your spouse or kids “how can I become a better father, mother, husband, wife, lover or friend?” Not just being a Christian at church or with church members but also at work and in everyday life. Something I’ve struggled with is being a Christian of convenience. You know what I’m talking about. I have so many opportunities to shine bright for God and many times I fail. Only because before a previous conversation took place where I’m given the opportunity to speak of my faith. I was just ragging on how lazy my boss is, or how I’m tired or how I’m in much need of R&R. All in a tone that never spoke to my faith in Jesus. And then, all of a sudden the conversation takes a turn and I’m back to, how good God is and I’m recommending local churches and podcasts to listen to.
I no longer want to be that person. My New Year’s objective is to simply Love God at all times. Not just when I’m in need. But in my happy moments as well as my moments of desperation. I want to love people as a whole. I want to be less judgemental and have a genuine interest in the lives around me. This year I want to Love people in a way I haven’t before due to my sinful nature. I want to make God famous through my optimistic attitude and seek him through prayer when I feel myself going astray. I want to become less, so He can become more.

Sunday Tunes: Natalie Grant

I grew up in a black Southern Baptist environment that gave me very little insight to the world of CCM. I knew of Michael W. Smith & Stephen Curtis Chapman to name a few, but Natalie Grant, I was totally in the dark. That was until I met my wife. And now I’m pretty sure that I’m a bigger fan than she is. She’s got such a power house voice that demands your attention.The thing I love the most about Grant’s music is the sincerity and authenticity behind the lyrics. There’s a handful of artists who can evoke emotion within me while listening to their music and Natalie is one of them. I can relate one of her songs to a moment in my life where I felt that way or I’ve thought that thought. I remember my wife putting in her Awaken album and I heard make me over, and the rest is history. All of her albums are what I call ‘listen through’ quality. That means you might have some favorites, but you can put the album in and just let it play because it’s that good. Here are some of my favorites! And if you enjoy these selections also check out some of my other favorite female CCM artists, Rachael Lampa, Nichole Nordeman & JJ Heller. Enjoy!

I will not be moved
Your Great Name: Song Story
Human
Our Hope Endures
Our Hope Endures: My Wife’s Cover
The Greatness of Our God
So Long

Inked Thoughts

It was a rainy day in June 2009. I remember riding home on my way from work and I was listening to a bjork album, but had begun to tune it out. You know what I mean if you’ve ever heard bjork. But I vaguely remember being overwhelmed with the want to cry. It came from nowhere. I wasn’t thinking of anything painful nor was I having a bad day. But I remember pulling into a gas station to write this down.

desert arrhythmias

she appeared out of the blue
concocted from the winds cold hands
and the warmth of the sand
there she lay barren to the suns harsh heat
and the stares of souls past
she was fragile and as frail as a starved child of many wars
awaiting a vessel of hope to be offered
from a warm hand
overwhelmed with the cracks of times
hurt      anger      pain       love
the pearls of perspiration waltzed across her mountainous brow
where the agony of the heat pierced her shallow flesh
and the sun contrived hills and valleys from the pain in her soul