Friday, August 24, 2012

God is essential to the helping relationship

I'm taking a class called Counselor Professional Identity, Function, and Ethics.  Every week we have to write a little on something we've learned.  I draw from two books, which are cited at the bottom, one called Competent Christian Counseling and one called Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality.  I think it's an important message for counselors and for Christians alike.  Please take a minute to read what I wrote.

This week I want to share about the  importance of including Christ in the helping relationship with people. Competent Christian Counseling (p. 38) quotes another book by McMinn (1997, p. 17) that has a passage that encourages counselors to include religious experiences and spirituality into sessions because they are a very important part of the human experience. McMinn charges us to realize that our goal shouldn’t be changing behaviors, rather, bringing spirituality and God into the healing process in that person’s life (p. 17). Most people in counseling are coming for a sense of rest, freedom, and stability and that is something that our spirituality brings. Psalm 62:1-2 and many other verses in the Bible tell us that our soul finds rest in God and that God is our refuge and strength (NIV). If we are to bring rest, stability, and freedom into a counseling session, our clients must explore their spirituality in regards to God. 
I found it interesting that Clinton and Ohlschlager quoted Isaiah 62:1-2 because I had been thinking about those verses for a while now (2003, p. 32). I would include verse 3 because it really paints the picture better. The first two verses tell us as counselors about our calling, but verse 3 tells us that we have that calling so God can create “oaks of righteousness” so that His glory can be seen (NIV). I’ve been thinking about it, because, yes I have those callings, but it isn’t even about me and what I can do, rather what God wants to build up and grow in our clients. 
Therefore, it’s essential for us to realize, that our work will be meaningless unless we help people come into a life-changing relationship with God. We should focus less on changing behaviors and people, and more on introducing people to God, who through the Holy Spirit can bring real change into people’s lives and release them from their bondage to sin.

Clinton, T., & Ohlschlager, G. (2003). Competent christian counseling. (Vol. 1). New York, NY: Waterbrook Press.
 McMinn, M. (1997) Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Basically the idea is that if we are trying to help people, it's all in vain without the healing power of God.  God can bring the rest, peace, and strength that people need, we can't bring those to our clients.  Also, since we aren't capable of changing people and their ways, the Holy Spirit is key in changing who they are and what they do.

There is strength and change that comes with a relationship with God.  My job is in vain if I don't include that life-changing force in my work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Live now... not later (Pt. 2)

This thought has been on my mind for a few months now, I wrote a similar, less detailed post a while back if you want to read it.  Live now... not later (Pt. 1)

Right now, I'm halfway through grad school.  I'll graduate in March and in May I am qualified to be a counselor with the company I currently work at.

I have spent the past three months thinking about what will happen a year from now.

Last night at church the pastor gave us this verse:

James 4:13-16Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.

That verse is so true in that our plans about what we'll do in the future, don't mean but so much.  We can't even be sure we'll wake up tomorrow.  My big plans for a year from now mean nothing.  I can't spend my whole next year focusing on what happens next summer.  Rather, I need to give my life fully to what I'm doing right now.

I'm about to head to work as I'm writing this... if I'm thinking about how awesome next year will be, then how hard will I try tonight when this is just something I'm waiting to end...

It's irresponsible of me to focus on the future this much.

It's irresponsible of me to not give my all to the kids I work with at Intercept.

It's irresponsible of me to not give myself fully to all the ministries I'm in from: 
where I live, to The Gray Haven Project, to the three churches I serve at, to my friends, and to my job.

Yeah, it's great to have an idea of where I'm going... but I'm spending so much time thinking about that idea, that I'm letting time slide by right now and I'm not giving it my all.

I've learned so much about myself lately.  This time of "waiting" has been so key in shaping who I am and who I will be in the human services field and in the kingdom of God.

Don't focus on tomorrow, rather, do the best you can today.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When they attack

I hate confrontation.  I don't like to upset people.  I don't like when people don't like me.

I've been trying to change how I handle confrontation... especially when I didn't do anything and someone is lashing out at me.

This can really be put into effect at work.

When people attack you, and it appears to be without reason... or they have a reason, but the attack seems too big to be justified by the reason...

... the real reason isn't you.

I'll give an example and then tell you the real reason.

This situation makes me think of when I worked at Ukrop's.  I worked in customer service, so I typically helped people who were having problems.  Sometimes, people were upset because an employee wronged them in some way... justified.  Other times, we didn't have their favorite cereal in stock, and somehow that was my fault and I'm an insignificant, worthless human because of it... unjustified.

The truth is, that customer wasn't mad enough to curse me out and insult me because we didn't have their cereal, most likely they had a bad day, or they were going home to a family that was falling apart, or they hated their job, or they had a fight with someone they love.  Maybe they are just an awful person... but most likely, they're upset about something else and they're choosing to take it out on me.

I learned the worst thing you can do is to let your emotions be affected by their emotions.  The best way to handle those situations is to realize that their problem is their problem.  They aren't really that mad at you, you just happened to be there when they felt like exploding.

So if someone attacks you and it seems unjustified: choose to not fight back, listen, and make them feel heard.  Don't let their frustrations with life affect your day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Liberty doesn't extend to everyone anymore

The Statue of Liberty has a poem on a plaque that's actually really pretty and here is a snippet of it that I think our nation has lost sight of.
"Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Let's be that nation that is loving of everyone and that can provide refuge to people regardless of race, language, or culture.  Let's ensure liberty for everyone, not just the privileged whites.  Let's not let xenophobia rule us, rather, let us strive for the love, freedom, and unity that Christ calls us to.

Let's strive to be without judgment

"One's native language is an intimate, integral, and very personal part of the self.  To have it recognized and valued is a boost to one's self esteem.  Conversely, to have one's language discredited or negated can be an assault on one's sense of identity."
Think about that next time you want to judge someone's intelligence, social status, or worth based off which language they speak.  We are a nation of diverse people.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Young and Inexperienced

I was humbled last week.

I am a young professional in the workforce with older professionals.  I've been told that people don't think I'm old enough or that I don't have the experience to do what I'm doing.  Because of that I overcompensated and acted arrogantly by pretending I could do more than I could.  That caused a little conflict at work.

Never act like more than you are.  Not only is that irresponsible to my clients, but it's lying about who I am and what I have to offer.

I learned that even though I don't have the experience to guide me like my older coworkers, and I don't have the age that gives more authority, I still have a lot to offer.

I'm not jaded.

I have more energy.

I have compassion

I can empathize.

I am ambitious.

So why would I pretend to be something I'm not?

Especially when I have been given gifts that make it so I have a lot to offer the human services field even without experience or age.
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12
The best way for me to show what I have to offer isn't by overcompensating, rather using what I do and say, lovingly and gently of course, to show that I have something to offer.  Even more simply and responsibly than that, I should use whatever skills I have to help my clients the best I can and not even think about what others think of my experience or age.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Live now... not later (Pt. 1)

How often have you gotten coffee with a friend, but have been simultaneously planning how you're going to get homework done or what you're going to do between getting coffee and work?  We all experience things like that every day.  When you're with someone talking, but you're thinking about something else, you're really just talking to yourself.  Don't spend all your time planning what's going on in the future, or you'll miss what's going on now.

Be in the present, be here, not there.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Change... can be good

Lately, I've been thinking back on high school.  Honestly, it was fun, it flew by, and now it's gone.  I played music with friends often, we went to Wendy's several times a week and hung out, we all hung out at church events regularly, we played video games for hours, we went to football games, we went to movies, we would show up at each others' houses unannounced, andwe just hung out and did anything and everything.

Now, I spend very little time with my friends (which doesn't meant I'm lame and don't hang out with people at all), I do school work most of the day, I'm working, planning for something, or reading.

What happened?

A lot has happened to me in the past 5 years since high school.  I moved out of the house I lived in for 18 years and moved roughly 4 times after that, my mom got a DUI and lost her job and everything that came along with that wreaked havoc on my life, I went to and graduated college and now am attending grad school, I was in a serious relationship for 2 years that ended awfully, I began and have been in a great relationship for a year now, I've lost friends, gained friends, changed churches, started new hobbies, learned Spanish, and so many other things.

No wonder things aren't the same, my experiences have changed my responsibilities and my ambitions in life.  I would love to do all of those things I did in high school, but honestly, they aren't top priorities.

I want to serve God fully with my career, at my church, in my community, and in my family.  I want to have a job where I can make peoples' lives better.  I want a job that challenges me to be a better person.  I want to graduate with my master's degree in counseling.  I want to marry and then support my family and love my family with all that I have to give.  I want to travel and meet people who are in need and meet those needs and I want to stay here and do the same.

Yeah, things have changed since high school, but that's because I have.  I've had so many experiences that shaped me and I know I'll have many more.  Really though, I'm fine where I am.  I'm more than fine.  I know that God has been working in my life for years, and has set me up to do some awesome things.  All of those experiences have enabled me to be where I am and to be doing the things that I'm doing and that I will be doing.

I love where I've been, where I am, and where I'm going.

Choose your 'tude

If someone is "upsetting" you, you are allowing them to.  Typically, unless someone is punching you in the face, they aren't making you upset.  You are allowing what they say and do hurt you.  They aren't physically making your brain hurt.  You can choose not to allow other's harsh words hurt you.  Today, choose not to let other people affect your emotions so much.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chill out bro

Never yell at anyone.  When you yell, the other person automatically becomes defensive and will listen to nothing you say.  Chances are, they'll yell back, and you will become defensive. Then communication is pointless and won't happen.  Chill out.  Inside voices.  Listen.

Friday, May 25, 2012

My "Wisdom"

When you and another person have a problem, go to them an apologize.   
I have found that if you are in a fight with someone, and you go to them and apologize for all that you did wrong or that the other person perceives as what you did wrong... then they in turn will realize what they did and apologize.   
I don't mean make up a bunch of stuff that you did wrong... seriously, you got in a fight, you played some role, even if it's small.   
Account for your sins, and the other person will account for theirs.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Thought I'd share a great song with you guys.  I heard it a few years ago, and I just love the style and love how joyful everything about it feels.  The artist is Evan Wickham, and the song is called Everywhere.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Life is starting

Play this and read along!

Wow, so much going on.

Well, I'm finishing up my fifth week of school right now.  Let me explain quickly how this works, because I know it's a little different.  I need thirty credits to graduate.  The semesters are done as sub-semesters.  Each sub-semester is eight weeks long, and during each eight weeks I take two classes.  Therefore, I'll be done about december.  I'm taking 2 classes now, so 6 credits this semester, and then 12 over the summer and then 12 in the fall.   Point is, I'm doing a lot of school-work in a very short amount of time and I'll be done with grad school in about 8 months total.  I'm loving it.  I love being in school and learning things.  I'm especially loving what I'm learning right now because it has so much to do with how people work, and people fascinate me.  I know my calling in life is to get my hands muddy in other people's struggles.  I know my calling is to help people fight through rough times.  This is totally preparing me for that.

I have two 15 page papers due in three weeks.  Almost all of my research is done.  For Human Growth and Development I'm writing about Language Acquisition and how it happens to children their 1st language and how it happens to adults and children for their 2nd language.  For Intro to Human Services, I'm writing about the struggle of being a Latino in the United States.  I'll mostly be covering poverty and discrimination and how those affect Latinos.  Research is always a pain, writing won't be hard though.  I really love how the goals for my classes aren't to study for hours on end, but rather, learn a lot and then apply it to things in my research papers.

Good news, I have something else that might prepare me for the future.  I had an interview at Intercept Youth Services as a Therapeutic Mentor, which is basically a mentor/life-coach/counselor kind of thing... I'm so excited.  Anyway, the interview went great and I was offered the job.  Now, they're doing background checks and checking my references.  I know nothing will turn up bad, but I've gotten my hopes up before about jobs and nothing panned out, so I'm just hoping with the knowledge that it still might not happen.  If it does happen, I'll be giving one on one mentoring to kids and helping them overcome big behavior issues they have.  They told me that if I stay with them until after I graduate they will help me become QMHP certified.  That means Qualified Mental Health Professional.  I found out that it means a clinician in the human services field who has experience and training providing mental health and psychiatric assistance to people with psychiatric disorders.  I will qualify when I have a year experience.  I don't even need the master's to get that certification, but the master's will definitely help me in life. So, that's really good news, and I pray that it works out well.  God always provides, so regardless, I'm going to be fine.

I'll try to write more, even though we all know that means I probably won't.

Friday, March 30, 2012

So far...

Two weeks into school, I feel like I've learned more than I have in my entire life.  For those who don't know, I'm taking classes through Liberty University Online for my Master's in Human Service: Marriage and Family Counseling.  I'm taking Human Growth and Development and Intro to Human Services.

Human Growth and Development has been interesting because it's all about how our mind and body work and how they grow.  I already feel like I'm analyzing everything that's going on around me.  Intro to human services has taught me about the history of human services and I've learned some counseling methods and about confidentiality in regards to patients.  I know this is exactly where God wants me to be.  I spend about 5-6 hours a day reading books, writing papers, researching, taking quizzes, writing discussion board posts and contemplating what I've learned.  I hate reading boring things, but this is all so interesting that I don't mind reading about the growth of an infant in the first few years of their lives for about 4 hours.  I don't mind reading about confidentiality laws for 2 hours.  I am so excited to work hard and make a difference when I'm done with college.

More than a month ago, I was here, and now that I'm experiencing it, I know that it's good.  I should graduate in December, but I'm not sure if I want to spread out my classes a bit more, because that's non-stop classes until I graduate.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

As of March 11, 2012

Hey guys, enjoy this while you read.  It's called "For all the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti."  I know not everyone is big on banjo, but this is beautiful

Hey guys, I just wanted to give you all an update on life lately.  It's been kind of lackluster.  I have been hanging out, enjoying my last bit of free time until I graduate in December.  It's been boring, but overall, pretty nice.  I've worked hard my whole life, so it's nice to relax and not worry for once.  That's all coming to an end March 19th.

I begin my first two classes.  One class is called Intro to Human Services.  What I can tell from looking at the book, is that it's about: ethics, morals, and what to do with people who experience: substance abuse, child abuse, are elderly and need care, and adoption.  It looks like it will be a very informative and interesting class about the world of Human Services.  My second class this semester will be Human Growth and Development.  It looks like we'll be talking about everything that happens physically and mentally in a person from birth until death.  My semesters are 8 weeks long, so I'll be done May 11th, and three days later my summer semester will start.

This will be really good for me, as I said in this post, I always need to be learning something to feel like I'm doing something good with my life.  It'll be really good to be actively making myself smarter and more useful.

In other news, I'm looking for a part time job.  Before I decided to go back to school, I had applied to nearly 40 professional jobs.  I got really discouraged, but through all that, I realized that I needed to get another degree to get where I need to.  For the first time in a month, I've applied to several jobs.  I applied to Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, La Petite Academy, Aqua Tots, Intercept Youth Services and as a Tutor for Richmond Public School.  As you can tell, I'm clearly open to several different jobs.  I'm not really looking for a career at the moment, just something to make some money and fill time that I'm not doing schoolwork.  Every now and then I look to see what a Master's Degree in Human Services can get me, and I'm always happy to see hundreds of jobs to choose from.

Things are looking up!  If you can help me find a job, let me know!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Don't Stop Learning

I always have to be learning something new.  I don't feel like I'm bettering myself if I'm not.  Even if I'm not in school the rest of my life, I will definitely be learning something on my own.  Why would anyone be okay with a stagnant mind?

Lately, I've found out that a lot of people are okay with not learning new things.

I tutor and I'm around a lot of students all the time.  I hear how hard things are, and even some people giving up because of how hard things are.

If school isn't hard, you're probably not learning anything.  If things are easy, you're not challenging yourself to become smarter.  If things are hard, it's because your mind is actively trying to figure them out.

If learning something is really difficult, it means you're learning.

I hear all the time how our school systems in the United States are lacking.  I think a huge part is laziness in learning.  People don't want to put forth the hard work to push through those difficult learning situations.

Every student I have in Spanish says that it's difficult and at times they want to give up or slack off.  In the world of language, once you push past the first two years of grammar learning, things become easy because all I had to do my last two years of college was talk and present.  All it takes sometimes is trudging on.  Don't give up and don't be lazy about it.  At times, all of my students do their homework and study half-heartedly.  It's really disheartening to see people waste their potential.  They're all really smart, but don't let themselves experience more than the difficult time before they learn.

This has really been on my mind lately.  I see so many people wasting their lives away by not pushing their limits academically.  Challenge yourself.

Don't waste your potential to become a smarter, better person.  Be curious about the world.

Let me know your thoughts on this.

I'm not even in school right now, but I'm still curious about things, so I research them.
Here are a few other posts I wrote about things I researched:
I'm a huge nerd
What do they think?
- Why be bilingual? parts onetwo and three

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What do they think?

To me, cultural differences are one of the most interesting things.  I even think some stereotypes are interesting, ignorant or not.  I did some searching to find out what English people think of Americans.

What do they think?
The first source I found was a more educated, internet article from The New York Times.
The stereotypes mentioned were:
    -  Everyone carries guns
    -  Loud
    -  Country-bumpkins

The writer found when he visited the United States that Americans don't all cary guns, they aren't all rednecks and that they are hospitable, friendly, very polite and offer thanks for almost every service.  Another thing I thought was interesting is he said that we are very charming, but you don't always notice it as charm.  He talks about the charm in terms of friendliness.  He mentions his flight back to England.  When you sit down next to someone on an airplane, you say hi and possibly start a conversation, the English aren't much for that.  He also talks about where he plays tennis in England.  When he starts to play a game or is leaving a game, almost no acknowledgement of the other person is made.  In the United states, the is unacceptable and inconceivable.

The writer of that article mentioned something interesting about the "loud" American stereotype.  The thought is that Americans have no fear of being overheard.  He said most English assume that everyone loathes each other and just keeps it in and to open your mouth is basically to offend others.  So they talk quietly so they're not overheard.  Americans have no fear of offending others by saying just about anything because of freedom of speech.  That is why Americans generally speak louder; it's a little deeper than just being annoying and loud.

My next resource is a less educated, forum-style source.  I don't mean less educated as in dumb, but less educated meaning it's opinions of real people.

The first response talks about how we're generally looked down on for our "right wing" ideals and because of those, how poorly we deal with our poor and jobless.  He mentions our media being very skewed.  He talks about how only 1 in 10 Americans have a passport, yet claim the U.S. is the best country in the world, but know nothing of the rest of the world.  There are apparently a lot of jokes about our obesity as a nation, yet he acknowledges that England isn't far behind at all.

Here are some other stereotypes and thoughts about Americans:
    -  Ignorant and arrogant
    -  Our TV is most people's eyes into our culture and it portrays us as stupid and obese
    -  Racist
    -  Polite and friendly
    -  Cousins

Another very important factor in what they think of us is the difference between accents.

My first source is another forum-style website with some interesting thoughts and examples on spelling and pronunciation.  The first post is asking the English people on the message board to be honest about their opinions of American English based off of their interactions with Americans, not based off what the hear on TV.  He knows a lot of Englishmen who think that Americans have murdered the pure Queen's English.  He wants to know if they view us as lesser and lower social standing because of how we speak.

The first response mentions differences in pronunciation and spellings.  He gives us the following as examples:
British:        American:
colour         color
plough        plow
theatre        theater
analyse       analyze
centre         center

He also points out the difference between the British "aluminium" (al-you-min-e-um) and the American "aluminum" (ah-loo-min-uhm).

Another poster says that there is a campaign in action trying to make sure that English words aren't replaced by American.  Many people dislike that American spellings are being used instead of English.

There are many counter responses talking about how spell-check and teachers will mark your words as wrong if you use the British spellings.  We have strong rules enforcing our spelling here, so we can't just change them now.  Another person said they love the freedom that our language has linguistically.

My last source is another forum where someone asked what the English think of our accents.

The first response was full of compliments.  The person said that the southern style is: melodic, colourful and charming, the northern style is clever and refined and the Californian style is laid back and smooth.

Surprisingly, a lot love the southern accent.  But, similar to Americans, a lot of people hate it.  I love it.

A few people mentioned, that to English ears, American English sounds nasally.  They also said it's hard for them to understand a lot of our accents clearly.

One person said it is a cute accent because we smile a lot when we talk.

I just wanted to show you all what the world thought about you from an English standpoint.  I hope it was interesting and not too nerdy for you!  You really should check out the links, with the exception of the first one, they're all really short and simple responses.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I'm a huge nerd

I have spent hours, probably days of my life looking up stuff like this.  It's so interesting to me...

I love different accents and I love different phonetic sounds languages make.

Oh where to begin?  I'm like a kid in a candy store on youtube with this stuff.

So here's the thing... since you speak English, you can't fully understand or appreciate all the sounds, the rhythm and the flow of your own native tongue... crazy right?  When you hear someone speak English, all you hear are words and you're too used to the rhythm and sounds to really point out the uniqueness.  I found two videos that just use the phonetic sounds of English to show what English would sound like to someone who doesn't know the language.

This first one is a super old song that was filmed for an Italian tv show.  The first bit before the music is Italian, but when the music starts you'll hear what English sounds like to non-speakers.  You will think you hear words, and some of the sounds do kinda make words, but it's all gibberish.  Unfortunately, it's blocked from being used on blogger, so you need to go to youtube... but it's worth watching.
The crazy thing I noticed from that video is that is how many "d, g, b and j" sounds there are in English.  I always thought it was kind of a harsh language, but all the sounds are pretty soft.  The rhythm is a little jerky though.

This second one is similar, but it's spoken instead of sung.  Sorry, they for some reason do cuss a little even though it's supposed to be gibberish.  But, it's a really cool example to what it might be like if you were at a restaurant in America, and you didn't speak English, and you heard it being spoken at the table next to you.
The first time I watched this, I really thought they were speaking English but I couldn't hear it, so I kept turning up my speakers.

Next, I'm going to show you some different accents within our own language, it's beautiful how many variations there are in English alone.

This woman is just super impressive.

I saw this next video a long time ago.  I don't know why, but I think it's funny, when in reality, it's probably kinda stupid.  I am guessing he has his own web show, I had never heard of him.  But he is challenged to speak in his best American accent on some show that was trying to raise money for a charity.  His accents aren't really great, but it's kinda funny still and he has fun while doing it.  It starts about 51 seconds into the video if you wanna skip a bit of talking.

This next one shows a good example of a variation between British English and American English.  It's called the glottal stop.  A lot of times, in British English, letters just seem to disappear.  For example: the word "butter" could become "buh-er."  There are also some pretty good stereotypes in this, kinda funny.

Okay, I know I just gave you a bunch of nerdy, long, boring videos, but like I said in these posts: Why be Bilingual- parts onetwo, and three, I really think there are just so many interesting things about language.  The intricacy and beauty that languages have, even our own, is just overwhelming to me.  I might revisit this later, I'm sure I'll watch more videos soon.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Last night I took about a 45 minute walk just to think.  I needed to get out, think things through and clear my head.  I wanted to listen to something on my iPod that I knew would foster thinking, so I chose to listen to My Epic.  Every time I listen to their music, I learn something new.

Honestly, lately I've been terrified of not finding my place in the world and in God's plan when I graduate.  I'm afraid I'll have a heap of loans and no way to pay them off and no way to make the world better.  A lot of people, that I graduated high school with, aren't doing much at all, and I'm afraid I'm going to fall into that.

This song hit me, I don't know if it really helped me with that problem, maybe it did.  But, it reminded me that anything good, true and beautiful that I do, is only because of God.  I can't keep trying to do things on my own.  I mentioned it in this post with that line about my plans, being bright as a billion stars, are never really that bright at all.  Any thing that I seek out to do, will not be worthwhile unless God is behind it.  Anything good, true or beautiful I do, is not by my doing, because those are qualities God has.

Another line that struck me was the one that said "I'm tired of striving to be, who You already say that I am.  I am Yours."  That line really sums up what I'm seeking a lot, I strive to be God's child.  I already am God's child because God said so.  There is nothing I can do to earn that, it's freely given to me.  I really just need to chill and be with God.  God has me in His hands and I'm already doing His will if I'm seeking Him out, I just need to trust that everything will go well.

I know that didn't go anywhere, but those are just some thoughts I needed to write out.

Give the song a listen:

My Epic- Author

I have nothing new to say. The world is so terribly big, it keeps spinning and shaking loose all my constants and making me see that the sun has been burning too long to have not shed its light in every direction.

All I know is that beautiful in me is You... beautiful in me is You.
(All... I... know...) Every good thing, every true thing, beautiful in me is You, beautiful in me is You.
(All... I... know...) Every good thing, every true thing, beautiful in me is You, beautiful in me is You.
(All... I... know...) Every good thing, every true thing, beautiful in me is You, beautiful in me is You.

I see a thousand young men, they're all marching in time with the war on their doorsteps and their lovers behind them, and all of their glory flows back to their master, but they care not for honor, for they wear His robes.

I'm tired of striving to be, who You already say that I am. I am Yours...

Take what You need to take, say what You need to say to make me who I am meant to be, You can have it all. Take what You need to take, say what You need to say to make me who I am meant to be, You can have it all.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Music that moves

Here's the thing, I was hesitant about posting this, because I know most of you won't like this kind of music.  Screaming is an immediate turn off to a lot of people.  Honestly, that's kind of unfortunate.

Imagine the times when you were most emotional, you were either: sobbing, yelling at someone, or yelling at God.  Yelling is a very emotionally strong thing to do.  Granted, this is hardly metal or anything at all, it's mostly spoken word, with a little screaming, but you would scream too if this was something you had to experience.

Another thing that makes this music undesirable to a lot of people is the story is sad.  People don't like something if it isn't feel good.  Sorry, this isn't another generic song about love, this is a heartfelt, depressing song about some journal entries a parent made while their son was fighting cancer.

Lately, I've learned to love music that is really well thought out, that moves my heart, that makes me feel what the singer feels.  This song and a few others have moved me, almost to tears.  I love that the music does more than sound good, it makes my heart hurt and sometimes it makes my heart elated.

This song is called I See Everything and it's written by La Dispute.

The song moves me because the kid has to go through all the hard things a 7 year old shouldn't have to go through.  However, at the end, he passes away and is freed from the cancer.  His last words are "I see everything."  The parent is left, faithless and struggling and the last thing the parent says is "my eyes are closed."  What do you think the final words mean?  The ending is kind of bittersweet.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Who do I think I am?

Play and read while it's playing.

In case you're wondering why I want you to listen to music, it's because I want music to match and give a feel to what I'm writing about.  Sometimes the lyrics match what I'm writing about, sometimes it's just the feel that the music has.  Enjoy!

I've been leading worship for maybe about 4 or 5 years total.  I had a long break for about a year that ended a few months ago.  I've been leading at my church youth group, I've led at my college group about 4 times and I had two churches ask me to play at them recently.

The thing is, I'm not a great musician at all.  Guitar is an instrument that you can slide by not really knowing anything about music.  Unfortunately, as I've found out, it's still really hard to slide by.

God's grace is the only thing that makes me worthy and capable of leading worship.  That is the only explanation of why someone who sometimes can't: keep rhythm, sing on key, not lose his voice during pre-worship practice and forgets chords, is leading worship.  God sees me as worthy and makes me worthy.

I always feel attacked by spiritually before leading, the enemy always reminds that I'm not worthy and that I sound awful.  So I always seek spiritual counsel.

Before worship I asked my friend to pray with me.  He did, and then proceeded to tell me something.  He told me that since everyone knows me, sees my heart, knows who I am, that it doesn't matter how I sound.  Those who know me, will connect with God regardless partly because of my relationship with them.  Those who will comment on the music probably aren't very focused on God anyway.

God will be glorified regardless of how I sound.  Let's be honest, who do I think I am, that I can get in the way of God?  That's a pretty conceited thing to think that I can somehow ruin worship and keep God's will from happening.

So worship started, and was going really great.  I was worshipping God.  About three songs in I started losing focus.  Luckily, then we had a time that we were all supposed to pray individually.  I started praying hardcore about the rest of worship, that I can worship God joyfully, stay focused on Him and that He would play through me.

After I finished my prayer, a friend walks up to the stage and hands me a note.  Keep in mind, everyone else was still playing, so it wasn't distracting or anything.

Now, I'm still getting used to this kind of stuff happening.  This is only the second time I've gotten a direct message from God.  For most of my christianhood, I went to a church where the holy spirit was restricted.  That's not the case at this church.  God speaks through people.

The note said:
Dear Landon,
With me behind you, who can stop you?
I see your service, and thank you for doing it selflessly!
In your service my light is spread.  You are my son,
and the desires of your heart are not unnoticed.
Rest in my love and my peace,

That was exactly what I needed to hear at that exact time.

God backs up my ministry, He sees what is being done as good and as being done with a good heart.

I really just wanted to keep sharing with you all how God can be super active in your life if you let Him.  You can also do really sweet things.  I wouldn't be leading worship off my own power, I am in no way good enough, but God opened that door and pushed me through it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Recent Thoughts on Worship

Play this song and read while it plays.

Psalm 100:1-5

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
   come before him with joyful songs. 

3 Know that the LORD is God.
   It is he who made us, and we are his
   we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name. 

5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues through all generations.

The first time I heard this song, it was actually in a recording of a worship song.  It wasn't sung, just spoken.

I always thought it was really powerful and really describes how I feel we should approach worship.

Worship should be joyful.

Worship should be about God, the creator of all of us.

Worship should be about giving thanks and praise to God.

Worship should be an outpour of your soul.  Your soul should overflow with worship to God.

Sometimes I think "I'm just not feeling worship" or "I don't like this band or this song."  That's wrong... it isn't about me at all... I'm not worshipping myself, I'm supposed to be worshipping and giving everything to God.

As believers, your worship experience shouldn't depend on your emotions and feelings.  It should depend on how much of yourself you're willing to give up, including what you think of the band or the song.  Put aside your thoughts on the music and do what you're there to do.

If you have the opportunity to worship God, why waste it?  Take every opportunity you have to worship God joyfully.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Where to from here?

I'll be honest, life has been hard lately.  Despite what I said in this post, some days I really don't feel a reason to get out of bed.  Don't get me wrong, I love life and all its fullness.  I have hope that this will pass.

I'm in that awkward stage of life, somewhere between childhood and adulthood.  I have spent about 20 years of my life in school.  Adjusting to life outside of school is difficult, because that's all I know.

I loved the fulfillment that learning brings.  I always felt like I was bettering myself.  I know, that for the rest of my life, I will always be learning something new.

So, here is where I'm at right now.  As my other post said, everything is in God's hands.  The problem is, the places God wants me to be, I can't get to unless I do more schooling.  Now, God is all powerful, and can get me those jobs if He wants, but sometimes He makes us do the hard things.  At the moment, I might be applying to do online college courses to get a Master of the Arts in Human Services.  The school that is looking most promising is Liberty University Online.  This would only take 3 semesters and at the end I will receive a Master of the Arts in Human Services with a concentration in Marriage and Family.

This is hard thing to go forward with, because it will be more work than I've ever done in my life and it will add roughly 15,000 more dollars to my student loans debt.  The great things are: that I will have a Master's degree, I will have infinite jobs options, I will push my intellectual limits and I will have learned new things.

All of the jobs in the field I'm going into want you to have a Bachelor of the Arts in Human Services or Social Work.  Some jobs allow a Bachelor's degree plus 2 or more years of experience, and no one is willing to give me the experience.  The plus side to getting a Master's degree is that, other than experience, I'll be more qualified than a lot of other social workers in regards to education.  Also, don't forget I'm bilingual.  This could open so many doors.

The classes look super interesting:

CORE COURSES (18 hours)
HSER 500 Introduction to Human Services
COUN 502 Human Growth and Development
COUN 506 Integration of Psychology and Theology
HSER 508 Studies in Interpersonal Communications
HSER 509 Multicultural Issues in Human Services
HSER 511 Group Dynamics

COUN 5011 Counselor Professional Identity Function and Ethics
COUN 5051 Counseling Techniques and the Helping Relationship
COUN 601 Marriage and Family Counseling I
COUN 603  Premarital and Marital Counseling


This looks like a great opportunity, please just pray that I'm seeking God's will and not my own.  I know God has big plans for me and I'm just worried that I won't follow His leading.  Let me know what you think.

Friday, February 3, 2012

God of Action

My friend Geoff showed my bible study this verse last night.  I really loved it.  It definitely goes hand-in-hand with my convictions.  
Isaiah 61:1-3
1 "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, 
   because the LORD has anointed me 
   to proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, 
   to proclaim freedom for the captives 
   and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a] 
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor 
   and the day of vengeance of our God, 
to comfort all who mourn, 
 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— 
to bestow on them a crown of beauty 
   instead of ashes, 
the oil of joy 
   instead of mourning, 
and a garment of praise 
   instead of a spirit of despair. 
They will be called oaks of righteousness, 
   a planting of the LORD 
   for the display of his splendor."

God calls us to action.  He calls us to love all of the broken people of the world.  So lukewarm Christians, do something.  Hateful Christians, be loving for once.  People who think all Christians are bad, please don't think that, just some are, our God wants us to be loving, caring and intent on helping the broken.

We need to do these things.

James 1:27
27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Helping those in need is true religion to God.
God is against injustices and pain in the world.  As believers, we should be also.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Not my will

As a lot of you may know, I've been on the job search lately and have had no luck.

I've put out about 40 applications.

I've come to realize more and more lately, that I am way too involved in this.  Now, that may not make sense... but if you look at the first two sentences I wrote, pay attention to who is doing the searching.

Let me explain...

So two weeks ago, I got a phone call and an email from Verizon wanting to do an interview.  I waited a day to respond just to pray about it and think about it some more.  Leney and I decided that I should just go through with it since I have nothing else to do right now.  It's not the ideal job, but it's a job.

That same day we decided to go through with it, a random guy walked up to me and told me God wants me to stop worrying about getting a job.  I don't know if all of you believe in that kind of thing.  But that stuff still happens and it's biblical.

I've never experienced that before.

That's kind of frustrating really, I am so ready to start working again, but God had something else in mind.  I took that as, if I were already planning on doing the will of the Lord, why would He say anything?  God spoke so clearly.

Yesterday at the college church group that I go to, during worship God broke me down.  The second song, physically sat me in my chair.  I have never felt physically pushed by God before.

The first verse goes:
"I can't comprehend your infinitely beautiful and perfect love.
Oh I've dreamed dreams of majesty as brilliant as a billion stars,
But they're never bright enough after all."

The first line reminds me that God loves me and is in control, but I can't always understand it.

The second two lines, really just kind of punched me in the face.

I have spent so much time, trying to do these huge awesome things.  Clearly it is all in vain, because the  big, majestic things I seek aren't nearly as big and majestic as God's plans for me.

During worship, two bible verses came to mind, and I looked them up.

Deuteronomy 8 talks about not forgetting the Lord.  The latter part of it talks about remembering that we only have what we have because God has given it to us.  I can't get a job on my own.  God has to provide it.  I can't get it on my own strength, God can.

James 1:27
"Religion that God the Father accepts as pure and faultless is this;
to look after orphans and widows in distress and to keep
oneself from being polluted by the world."

That verse says two things.  The first is that God's desire is that He wants us to follow Him by serving the hurting, innocent, poor, broken and lost.  The second part is to keep ourselves pure and out of the world.  We shouldn't waste time seeking after things of this world, rather seek after Him and to care after the hurting, innocent, poor, broken and lost.

I know big things are coming.  The verse from James is something that God has always placed on my heart.  Even when I volunteer at Social Services, my heart breaks for the single moms taking care of their kids and how they can't even feed them.  

My heart breaks for the broken.  I know that's where God is leading me, I just need to pay attention and find my strength, confidence, and hope in the Lord.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why be bilingual? (Part 3)

This will be the last thing I write about bilingualism.  For now.  But here are a few ways it can enrich your life.

Now... I know this is nerdy... but...

Different alphabets, letters and sounds
Obviously we know about the Latin alphabet, because that's what we use in English.
This is one of my favorite alphabets:
It's the Russian Cyrillic alphabet
Yes, that's my chest.

I think it's beautiful that there are so many different characters that can represent sounds and there are so many sounds that some languages have, but others don't have.  My tattoo, is pronounced something like (sloo-gah).  Not only are there different letters, but letters we know in English, have different pronunciation.

It's also crazy that even within languages, there is extreme diversity.
In Spanish, in Central and South America, whenever a "c" is before an "e" or an "i" it makes it an "s" sound.  For example, cena (dinner) is pronounced "say-nah."  In Spain, you would pronounce that "c" and also a "z" like a "th" sound.  So in Spain, cena would be "thay-nah."

You can totally see the differences in English between: American, British, Canadian and many more. Each country's version of English can be broken up even more: Southern, Liverpool, Boston, Texan, London, etc...

Music in other cultures can be a very different experience too.  I've grown to love many bands that play music only in Spanish.  Even if you can't understand it, the different sounds are beautiful.  If you can understand it, it can give you a view into the culture.

Let's be honest, how likely are we to listen to accordions in American music?  You'll experience new things and love them.

(this is Portuguese and a little English)

Language doesn't help you enjoy food more, not literally anyway.  However, good food is always surrounded by good company.  To fully enjoy the eating experience in another culture, it really helps to be able to converse with someone.

Pad Thai


Exciting new experiences throughout the world really are at your fingertips when you learn new languages.  My world has really gotten so much bigger because of what I've learned so far.  I've experienced a lot of different people, ideas, food, situations, music and really just grew to love and appreciate diversity so much more because of all of that.

The world truly is a beautiful place.  I honestly believe if you were to expand your lingual palate, you'll be able to enjoy it more fully. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Of Want and Misery

I've listened to this band a long time now.  Unfortunately, they broke up a few years back.  Even though this album is pretty old, it's one of my favorites.

As Cities Burn- Of Want and Misery
I watched you float away on a wave of want and misery
now I've got to find you
I watched you float away on whatever caught your eye
now I've got to find you
'cause I've got to keep your head above the water
while the current pulls me under

I will hang my life in the space between the noose and your neck
I won't let you die just yet

I will love you even when you won't let me
and you will kill me by doing nothing
but I know it's not you, my dear,
I know it's not you
I know it's not you, my dear,
it's the nothing that kills

I can't save you
control is something out of mine
no, I can't save you
control is something out of my control

I will love you even when you won't let me
and you will kill me by doing nothing
but I know it's not you, my dear,
I know it's not you
I know it's not you, my dear,
it's the nothing that kills

I can't save you but I will love you
no, I can't save you but I will love you
I'd like to think that this is love
lost in second chances without end
this is romance

I have always kind of viewed this as a letter from God to us.  This song is passionate, gentle, heartfelt and intense.

        "I will hang my life in the space between the noose and your neck
I won't let you die just yet."
The song talks about how God stands by you and waits for you even when you don't want Him.  This line says that you're never out of God's reach.  You're always safe in the palm of God's hands, even if things seem grim.

"I will love you even when you won't let me
and you will kill me by doing nothing"
God is right beside us, loving us... even when we don't love Him.

This last stanza really sums things up.
 "I'd like to think that this is love
lost in second chances without end.
This is romance"
That's exactly what it is.  God's love is full of abounding second chances.

Unconditional love.
That is true romance.