08/07/2016: Los Fines

Well, it’s finally here: the end.  Technically speaking, my YAV year ended last Sunday/Monday, but suffice it to say, my past week has been absolutely crazy.  I left at about 7 am CST last Monday and drove from New Orleans to just north of Birmingham.  At that point, I needed gas and food.  So, filled up my car and drove to the Arby’s next door.  After finishing with lunch, I got in the car and realized there was something wrong with my car: it wasn’t shifting right.  So, after getting it to the repair shop, I found out the shift cable had broken.  The next day, as they were fixing that, they figured out that the shifting rod was completely rusted through, as was the entire transmission.  As a result, my father drove through the night to pick me up.  So, after two days in Alabama, hoping and praying that my car would be fixed, my dad sold the car, we reloaded all of my stuff into his car, and we drove the 700+ mile journey home.  So ends the story of my car.

After getting home, I spent the whole next day unpacking and putting things in their proper places.  I can’t remember a time when I ever unpacked that quickly, but I was fairly impressed.  Regardless, later that day, my sweetheart came over and I finally got to introduce her to my parents.  Admittedly, I was a little nervous, since it was very important to me that it go well, but it went over better than I could have asked.  They like her as much as her parents like me, and I couldn’t ask for it to have happened any other way. 🙂  Anyway, she and I also got to go on a date last night to see one of my high school friends in “Beauty and the Beast.”  It was a great night, and I just hope we have many more dates as special as last night.

Anyway, now starts the process of finding a new car, work, health insurance, and all those great little things you have to do to be an adult.  My journey as a YAV has ended, and my new journey as an adult is just beginning.  Where this journey will lead me is yet to be seen, but hopefully it leads to bigger and brighter things than I can imagine, just as my YAV year did.  Again, thank you all for following me through my journey.  I can only hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.  As always, may God bless you in all you do.

07/12/2016: Family

Good evening all.  I hope you all are well.  I come to you tonight with a story about the family I’ve made down here.  The eight of us moved in together last August, not knowing a thing about each other, and tonight really displayed how close we have become over the last ten or eleven months.  We had a meeting, like we do every Tuesday night, and after the activities wrapped up, we did a relaxation exercise, where we all laid down, and we were able to go to someone and, without speaking, put pressure on him or her as a way of saying thank you, wishing them well, and showing our care for them.  After that happened, we all began piling up on the family room floor.  We were all laying on each other’s stomachs and backs, our hands, arms, and legs going every which way, kind of creating a single unit.  We laid there for a while just talking, laughing, and crying, and I loved it.  The fact that we were able to share that kind of closeness with one another was a really sacred thing.  After, we listened to and sang along with various love songs, laughing and loving each other’s presence.  All I can think in looking back is that I will miss this when my year gets done.  The thought of leaving this family I’ve made is heartbreaking.  I by no means claim that we are perfect or that we always get along.  We have fought with each other, and there have been tempers and tears, but there have also been many laughs, smiles, hugs, and growth.  While a dysfunctional family, we are a family nonetheless, and nothing we say or do will destroy the sacred bond that we have made.  I will miss these girls and guy when I leave, and I’ll be a bit heartbroken, but I’ll survive.  No matter the distance, we are still a family, and nothing will ever change that.  Anyway, I could go on, but it would just be repeating what has already been said.  So, until next time, may God bless you in all you do. 

07/06/2016:  Happenings

Hey everyone.  So, I realize I haven’t posted in a while, but it’s because my life has, for lack of a better word, “exploded,” much like the fireworks that have been going off since last Friday.  It exploded in a good way though.  It started with me submitting my Personal Information Form (PIF) a couple weeks ago.  Since that time, my PIF has been referred to five churches across the United States.  In doing a little research, I have also found two churches to which I’m planning on self-referring.  So, the last week has been filled with reading over their information, doing a little research, and making both a spreadsheet and cover letter (which are yet to be finished).  Regardless, I’m very excited, but I also don’t know where to start.  So, it’s a new adventure with new obstacles I intend to tackle to the best of my ability.

In other news, Chaplain Jane left for a few weeks of rest in Italy a few weeks ago, leaving me to run the Pastoral Care department at Touro, which in and of itself has been an adventure.  While I respected Jane before she left, I have renewed respect for what she does.
Lastly, I started my second novel last week.  I’ve written the prologue and five chapters so far, and I’m very excited to see where this story goes, because, while I know how I want it to end, even I don’t know how it will get there.
I’m really sad to be seeing this adventure in NOLA come to an end in a few weeks, and I already know that I will be bawling my eyes out on the last day.  I like to think though that the hardship of closing this chapter speaks volumes to how invaluable and how important this journey has been for me.  Anyway, until next time, may God bless you in all you do.

06/13/2016: Reflections

Howdy, everyone.  So, there are a couple things that have been on my mind as of late.  I’ll talk about the sad one first, so we don’t close on a sad note.  As many of you may know, there was a mass shooting in Orlando over the weekend.  I’ll be honest: I’m baffled, both because of the senseless violence and unnecessary killing, and because of the resistance for better gun safety laws.  What’s even more curious though is that, before I heard about this terrible event, I was reading a chapter out of a book called Waking the Tiger, which talks about how animals in the wild, although they face death every day, don’t really suffer from trauma, like humans do.  The author then talks about why we as humans, the more “evolved” species, have the hardest time dealing with it.  It’s a very good book and I highly recommend it to everyone, but I digress.  So, in the chapter, the author discusses violence and how it’s fed by trauma.  He makes a great point that, with very few exceptions, humans are the only species of animal that kills its own kind, mostly in the hopes of contending with their own traumatic experience with violence/war.  So, while I am sad for all those who have been victimized by this horrible event, I feel sad also for the shooter.  What he did was atrocious, no doubt, but I wonder how society fed that compulsion he had to do what he did.  What happened in his past that traumatized him and brought him to this extreme measure?  It isn’t about gun safety anymore, I  realize that now.  It’s also about looking into better psychological care for the US and its citizens.  These two solutions must both be in place if we are to ever see an end to the senseless violence.

On a happier note, I flew home two weekends ago to go before the Committee on Preparation for Ministry in the hopes of being pushed through to the next part of the process.  So, after a few days hanging out at the house and going to visit my sweetheart on Sunday afternoon, I went before the committee, defended my Statement of Faith, and gave a sermon.  I was very happy to find out that I was pushed through and am now “certified ready to seek a call.”  The next phase is finishing the information I’ll be uploading to the website, which consists mostly of getting my Statement of Faith down to 3,000 characters, including spaces and punctuation.  At first, it was almost 5,900.  Now, it’s about 4,200 or so.  So, that’s 1,700 down, but 1,200 more to go.  Then again, anyone who knows me knows I don’t give up easily.  I’m going to keep pushing forward, and I’ll let you all know when I’m finished.  So, until next time, may God bless you in all you do.

06/02/2016: Going Home

Tomorrow, I head back to Michigan for four days.  I have a meeting with the Committee on Preparation for Ministry on Tuesday, and I will find out whether or not I am ready to begin the process of searching for a call.  The weird thing is, I’ve always been nervous about those meetings, but this time, I’m not.  Maybe that speaks to how I’ve grown over the past year, or maybe it just speaks to my sleep deprivation.  LOL.  Seriously though, it’s a weird feeling to not be nervous about the meeting for the first time in my life.  For lack of a better word, it’s liberating.  What’s even weirder though is the thought of going home for a few days.  Since I arrived here on August 20th last year, I haven’t left the New Orleans area.  I did go on a couple retreats and to orientation, yes, but those were official YAV events.  This is my first trip somewhere that’s nothing to do with YAV.  Now that I think of it, it might also be my first time flying alone, but I digress.  Honestly though, after eating, sleeping, and breathing New Orleans for 9 months, to be back in Michigan will be very different for me, especially since I will be seeing it with a new set of eyes.  I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.  I do look forward to seeing family again though.  I have missed them, and getting a chance to see them again, to hold them, it’s not an opportunity I plan to squander.  I’ll be sure to keep you all updated.  So, until next time, may God bless you in all you do.

05/24/2016: Breathing Room

It’s been almost a month since my last post.  Since then, I have mostly been working on all the paperwork I have to submit for my next meeting with the Committee on Preparation for Ministry.  This consists of an updated statement of faith, a sermon script, and a literary analysis of the text that I’m using in the sermon.  Suffice it to say I’ve been a busy bee, and I’ve spent quite a bit of the past three weekends glued to a computer screen trying to make headway with all this paperwork.  Fortunately for me, I have a very supportive group of family and friends who have either prayed for me and/or helped me with my writing.  I cannot express how grateful I am for the support I have from them in whatever form it might take.  I submitted the materials earlier this evening, realizing that I have done what I can on them.  Now, the sermon will be edited a little more as the meeting approaches, but I have been told that I will be able to revise it up until the morning of the meeting.  So, all that remains is revising the sermon and preparing for any questions they might have for me, leaving me some room to breathe.

In other news, I also did my first crawfish boil earlier this month.  All things considered, I love crawfish, but they are a messy food.  I didn’t think there was a food messier than ribs or wings (my family knows just how messy the ribs/wings I order can get, lol), but crawfish win, mostly because the juices are more liquid than sauce.  So, they run up your arms.  Also, in breaking them open, the juices can squirt others around you (something I did a couple of times on accident, lol).  They are delicious though.

Outside of that, nothing else is really new.  I’m hoping to get back into blogging now that the paperwork for the meeting is submitted, but that’s yet to be seen.  So, until next time, may God bless you in all you do.

04/26/2016: Spring Retreat

Well, it’s been a while since I last posted.  There really hasn’t been anything major to report, with the exception of the retreat this past weekend.  Starting last Thursday, the NOLA YAVs traveled to Gulf Shores, AL, and met up with the YAVs from Little Rock, Nashville, Asheville, Atlanta, and Miami.  We stayed in the same house for three nights, worshipping, eating, and playing together.  My favorite part of the trip though was getting to see my sweetheart again and spend the weekend with her.  Walking down the beach, playing in the pool, watching sunsets and sunrises, it was absolutely amazing.  I’d even say it was nothing short of blissful.  What I didn’t realize until afterwards though was just how out of place I feel in NOLA, and not because of the culture, the weather or anything like that.  It’s because I am a nature lover.  While I was out there on the beach, you could see, hear, smell, and feel the blue waters as they gently crashed into the shore.  The crisp blue waters set against mostly clear skies and the sounds of seagulls overhead, it’s very melodic, very soothing, in short, very spiritually rejuvenating.  I felt so alive while I was there, so blissful and calm, all of which disappeared when I got back Sunday afternoon.  I’m not saying I hate it here, not one bit.  I’m just not a city boy, and the weekend away reminded me of that.  Regardless, I came back feeling refreshed and ready to take on whatever comes next.  I just hope that, someday, when I’m the pastor of a church, my Sabbath Day (whichever day of the week it might be) will be just as refreshing.  Anyway, I’ve put some pictures below.  Until next time, may God bless you in all you do.

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