We live in a world of sin and imperfection. I am a child of God striving each day to live out my calling. Welcome to my blog where you get the inside scoop of this Youth Pastor's world!
"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

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hungover?

(I would like to preface this post by saying I typed it while waiting at the car place for my tire to be fixed, and when I got home it no longer existed, so now I'm retyping it, I hope I remember it all)

Today is one of those days where I am sure that everyone who has seen me thinks that I am hungover. I mean I just threw on some clothes this morning, I am incredibly exhausted, I have a pounding headache, and my eyes are even a little bloodshot. But I can honestly say at 24 years old I have never had a sip of beer or any other alcoholic beverage. So this hangover is not the normal kind for someone my age, but it could probably still be considered a hangover. As I sit here at Newton Tire waiting to hear the diagnosis of my rear driver side tire, I can't help but think back over this insane month of June.

June came rushing in with a mighty blow. Monday morning, June 3rd my college theatre director Scott MacLaughlin passed away, after trying to recover from injuries from a Tree Trimming accident in May. I usually approach death in a very pastoral way. He is in a better place, he isn't suffering anymore, and death is merely part of life and he is in perfect peace with his Savior now. Of course all of these thoughts were going through my head a long with a lot of others. This death was different, this death was hard, this death shouldn't have happened, and I am NOT ok with this. I knew in my heart that this was coming when his wife posted on Facebook Sunday afternoon that they were praying for 100% healing, no matter what form it came in, but there just was no way to prepare my heart for the break that was coming on Monday. I battled through work Monday - Wednesday, I cancelled all of my Bible studies because there no way I could lead one when my soul was so upset. Wednesday afternoon I knew I couldn't stay in Hesston any longer, so I went home. Thursday brought some much needed distractions with library time with the little ones, and building a pool out of legos. We also celebrated my parent's 26th anniversary since we were all home. Friday, my father went with to celebrate this life that was lost. Through the tears and heartache, healing began with the incredible music that poured out of Steve Butler's soul as he helped us all say goodbye to our friend, teacher, mentor, father, brother, family member. I left that day knowing it was ok to be feeling everything that I was feeling. I didn't need to feel guilty for feeling frustrated with God for taking this man away from his family. I didn't need to feel guilty for feeling frustrated with God for loss of one of my greatest mentors. I knew that it was ok to feel whatever I needed to feel, and God understands and as long as I'm communicating with God, its ok. (I knew all of this before, but it didn't stop the guilt from flowing and creating a battle in my heart).

I drove back to Hesston on Saturday, because we all know that real life doesn't pause for tragedy and I had to be at work on Sunday morning. As I pulled into my parking spot  my car started making a horrible sound, and I knew in my heart that it was the transmission. I decided to see just what was left and drove to the church, as I pulled into the parking lot I felt it break. I just sat for awhile thinking what a PERFECT ending to such a PERFECT week, but I refused to let myself fall into a "poor me" state of mind. I went inside and found that one our church members was actually there, and I figured since he owns a welding shop he should be able to confirm my thoughts that my transmission just broke, or he would have something else to say. He came over and drove my car around (it wouldn't go anywhere before). He came back and said to drive it home in neutral but then not to go anywhere until I could get it looked at. (MY CAR DROVE IN NEUTRAL!!!) So I did, and then between multiple phone calls with my father and my cousin (an awesome mechanic at Kansasland Tire in Wichita) it became very apparent that my car was dead. So I started looking online for different cars.

I road my bike or walked to work on Sunday and Monday. My parents came up Monday night and stayed with me, we began car shopping first thing Tuesday morning. After a long, hot, frustrating day we ended up at Ford of Augusta. They didn't let me leave until I could afford a vehicle. By about 8 Tuesday night I was the proud owner of a 2005 Ford Freestyle.

Wednesday was 5th & 6th grade VBS at the church. I could not have made it through that day without the incredible volunteers that helped out. The day went smoothly and was successful.

Thursday a friend and I loaded up the items the kids had collected during their scavenger hunt, and we filled the back of my car. We took these items to UM Open Door in Wichita. It was a great day and it was awesome to see where all of our donations went to work.

Sunday after church I drove back to Winfield for a wedding and had a great time with my family. And was able to spend Father's Day with my daddy.

This week started fairly normal. Work has been chaos this month with the transition from our previous pastor to the new one we will have in July. We have people filling the pulpit, a lot of packing going on, and things are just kind of crazy but that kind of feels normal at this point.

Tuesday I met with one of my friends, we are accountability partners and we had a great meeting. I love being able to be completely honest and open with people. I realized then just how many emotions I hadn't worked through in the chaos of this month.

Wednesday I had a meeting with our new pastor, that went well, and I ended the night with a 12 mile bike ride. That was when it became very obvious to me that I had a lot of pent up feelings that needed out.

Thursdays are my day off, so I slept in. When I woke up I started to watch some TV and then I got the KSOK breaking news text from my home town. My heart shattered. This story directly affects someone that I consider family, and a huge, HUGE, part of my life. My soul just exploded in tears as I started throwing things into my duffel bag and hit the road. I didn't know what to do but I knew I couldn't do it in Hesston. A year and a half ago this same kind of thing happened to this same family and it was horrible for them, and insanely hard for me as well. As I drove home Thursday I prayed the whole time, and that prayer was just, I don't know what to do, over and over again. I got to my parents house and crashed for a couple hours. Once I woke up, I knew I had to go over there and see how things were. Same journey, a year and half later, and it wasn't any easier. I think it was harder this time, because they were finally starting to heal from the previous encounters. I spent about 2 hours over there, just existing with this girl that owns a huge part of my heart. After, I met back up with my parents. I saw her again on Friday before I headed out. I know in my heart that she will be ok, even though this ugly journey is just beginning, and there is no good outcome for this one.

Last night I drove back in time to pick up some of my high school students to turn around and go play laser tag in Wichita. We had a blast. We played three games, and then went and ate dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. When I got finished dropping them off and finally came home, I crashed even though it was only 11.

So when my phone rang this morning at 9:19, it woke me from a dead sleep. My awesome upstairs neighbors had noticed that my driver's side rear tire was going flat. They wanted me to know so I could go get it patched. I let the "of course, my tire is flat" thought go quickly through my mind, and then pulled myself out of bed and threw some clothes on. I went outside just as my neighbor was pulling his compressor over to air up my tire so I could make it to Newton. I got to Newton Tire and was informed that I had an hour to kill before they could get to me. So I went and got gas, and some caffeine (my head is throbbing) and drove around a bit before going back and waiting there.

A $14 nail later, and few hours, I am back home, feeling incredible exhausted but even more blessed. This month has not been easy, and for the most part it hasn't been good. It is a month I don't ever care to repeat, but so many amazing things have come out of this month. I am surrounded by people that love me and care about me. I have neighbors that check on me, and won't let me drive around on a low tire, and sometimes they feed me. I have a church family here that even though they don't know all of the things going on in my life, they are willing to pray for me, support me, and let me take the time I need to deal with everything going on. I have friends and family that I can lean on over and over again whenever I need to. And even though it is really easy to only see the bad the past few weeks have brought, I am trying to focus on the good things. Like the over 500 items we collected for the Open Door in Wichita. Things like Laser Tag with 5 high school students, things like bike rides and walks through town with friends, 26 years of marriage and family time. A brand new married couple and the promise that holds. A full time job that I love, and a new car that allows me to get where I need to go even at the drop of a hat. Technology that allows me to stay connected with home when I am here, and with work when I am home.

As I try to transition my mind into this last week of this month, I know this will be an equally hard week as the past three. I am headed to Camp tomorrow, for a week of Performing Arts Camp. The idea of doing theatre right now in the aftermath of the death of one of reasons I love theatre, is one that I'm struggling with. Camp is always emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally exhausting, and I am already incredibly exhausted in each of these areas. I am also allergic to the sun, so the idea of being in a place full of sun just doesn't sound fun. But I miss camp. As much as I love Hesston and my job here, I miss camp. This place means the world to me and I am praying that this week will be that for each of the campers that go, the 16 at PAC, the 3 from Hesston, and all the others as well. I pray for everyone's safety and that lives are changed for the better this week. Even though I should be preparing by packing and looking over the script again, I am going to prepare, with a nap! :)

The original plan for this blog entry was to be a reminder to myself and everyone else that we should not judge people when we see them. Today I am not hungover because I partied hard last night. So when we see people that look like they have gone through Hell, just remember that they just might have. This month has felt like Hell on Earth to me. I am dragging myself through each day looking for the light and the peace that I know is coming. As I got out of the car this morning this song was playing, God speaks to me through music and this is perfect for today. So if you are going through something, helping people through something, or even if your life is full of rainbows right now, just remember that Every Storm Runs Out of Rain. So even if your heart is broken, or your soul feels trampled on, today is a new day. You're still breathing, you still have a purpose and rain makes flowers grow, and rainbows appear. Keep your head up, keep walking on, lean on the people in your life, and don't shut God out. "In times where nothing makes sense and the heart aches beyond words and the soul knows not what to pray or the mind what to think... "the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans" ... "and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him." Romans 8:26-28"

I leave you with Gary Allen  Every Storm Runs Out of Rain

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Love Always Wins

A couple of weeks ago my parent's celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary. In today's world that is something to be proud of. I have been thinking a lot about love and weddings recently, it tends to happen when you are my age and most of the people you know are getting married, including my own brother! :) A lot of girls my age would look at all of their classmates getting married and be jealous or feel lonely and then the idea that a younger sibling is getting married first is often too much and makes a girl feel worthless, but not me. It is going to take someone very special to move me into the married world!

I have had an incredible example of what love really is. I grew up with parents that lived a Christian Marriage the way it is meant to be lived. They have set the bar and then taught me to never settle for less than that.

The things I have learned from my parents!
  1. God always comes first, without God in the relationship it doesn't work.
  2. Church is vitally important. It is important for a family to worship together, learn together, and serve together.
  3. Marriage is a partnership, you can't hold yourself above your partner. Their needs & dreams are just as important as your own. 
  4. This partnership also means that decisions are made together.
  5. My dad has always been the man of the house, but he never let that go to his head, my mother's thoughts and opinions were just as important as his, if they had to he had the final say, but I can't remember a time they didn't agree.
  6. Spouses should be each other's best friends. Too many couples don't really like each other, if you can't be satisfied with only your spouse's company during a snow storm then something isn't right.
  7. NEVER talk bad about you spouse to anyone. Don't call them names or belittle them in public or even to your closest friends.
  8. NEVER go to bed angry.
  9. NEVER fight in front of the children or anyone for that matter.
  10. Shared checking account is another way to solidify the partnership, what's yours is mine and what's mine is yours.
  11. Your spouse's family is now your family too. There has never been a big deal about "in laws" we are all just one big happy family.
  12. Support each other's hobbies. My dad loves to hunt and my mom loves to decorate, so the deer heads hang on the wall, and my mom decorates them for each holiday! My mom also lets my dad buy whatever tools he wants, and she gets a new camera whenever she wears her's out! :P
  13. Couples should be able to tease each other and have fun together. Each couple's version of fun is their own, but there should be a relaxed calmness about spending time together.
  14. ...There are many more things I have learned, they just aren't coming to mind at the moment!
My parents really love each other, they are each other's best friends and they honestly enjoy every moment they are together. My parents often match each other when they get dressed in the morning, its cute! I just love discovering each way they really complete each other! 

My father has set the bar pretty high on what a Mann, and a man, should be like! I refuse to settle for anything less. So as I watch friends and family get married I always look at the relationship and take mental notes. I see my brother and his Fiance and I'm not jealous of what they have, that is just the kind of love I'm looking for. 

I know God has created a special man for me, and wherever he is, I pray for him, a lot. Life is hard, and it is not meant to do alone, so I pray that he isn't alone wherever he is, I pray he has a family that loves and supports him like mine does me. If he doesn't I pray that he can feel the prayers for him and know that he is not alone.

There is no clock, or time schedule on matters of the heart. My sophomore year of college I gave God the reigns to my heart in all ways. I was tired of being hurt by guys and just gave up control. God has a plan for each of our hearts, and even if he has called me to a life of solitude I know that I am never alone, because whatever life throws at me love can handle. Love from family, friends and most of all the love from God above! 

So for anyone who thinks I'm running out of time, or that I'm missing out on something just know I'm not afraid of being single, I mean I am learning a lot about myself. I look forward to the day that I can put into practice all the things my parents have taught me about being in a partnership for life, and God is controlling this heart of mine! Love always wins when love controls the heart and soul. God is love, love always wins!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

This Moment, Right Here....Gone, Forever!

This Moment, Right Here....Gone, Forever!

As we got the news yesterday that Scott MacLaughlin had passed away, Facebook exploded with memories and pictures of this incredible man that we (theatre students) have been blessed to know. It was incredible to see just a sliver of the mark he made on this world. Cowley College is unique in the fact that it is only a two year school, but many students would have stayed all four years if the option had been available. The sense of community and family that was built there was something that was often missing when we moved on to wherever life took us.

Scott had this ability to bring a group of misfits together and in a couple months a magical show would appear on stage. As I read my friend's memories of him they seemed to mirror my own in a lot of ways. He was known as the Theatre Director, but honestly theatre was the bi-product of this man that cared so deeply for his students. It was always evident that he loved Performing Arts and he was doing a job that he loved, but in midst of the insane hours spent in the theatre making a show come together he always had time to take care of the people that were behind the characters seen on stage. He dreamed for us many time when we couldn't manage to dream anymore and he dreamed with us when our dreams started to take flight. I spent many hours in my two years at Cowley with this man. As his work study I saw a different side to him than he probably wanted any student to see. I have vivid memories of walking in to his office to find him with tears in his eyes and his head down, he would look up and just say will you pray with me? And we would, we would pray, usually for the chaos of a show that was supposed to be opening soon, but I could tell he would be praying for so much more. He carried the weight of the theatre department and the students and faculty that were part of it. He felt our pain and frustration and our joy and celebration. He had a picture frame that usually sat on his shelf that had a letter from God, that said Scott, "Don't worry, I have everything under control." - Jesus. If he was struggling or feeling the weight that frame could be found on his desk where he could see it better.

I have never known another man that could teach you how to put your make up on and then in the same day go coach baseball or spend some solitude time hunting. He was such a man's man, he loved to build and destroy. He could often be found in the shop working away on some thing for the show but he also knew how to fix the temperamental sewing machine in the costume shop and he knew how to sew too. He would work hard to help fix our broken hearts and our broken grades. He pushed us to our limits because he knew there was much more we could offer.

Scott believed in his students a lot like he believed in the community of Arkansas City. I remember listening to the Justin Thurber trial in his office, he had to shut it off before he got too angry. He was very passionate about turning the Burford theatre back into the original theatre that it once was. When we had the first performance on that stage he was excited for what that meant for the community. He was very active in Arkalalah and all the festivities that brought with it. I think he would have been just as involved even if coronation didn't happen on his stage. He made sure he was available to pull his kids through the Kiddie Parade and they always had the coolest costumes too.

As much as Scott lived for theatre, I think he lived for the off season even more. The off season (usually a week or two & summer break) meant more family time for him. He was very adament that family always comes first, and if he had to miss a ball game or something he was not a happy person. He was so proud of Britton and Spencer, he loved coaching their sports teams, and participating in school activities. He was at every end of the year party they had. He often brought Britton along with him to some of the activities that we did, and I'm sure since then Spencer was able to go as well. One or both of the boys could often be found in their father's office when they didn't have school, and they were always a joy to hang out with. His family and his faith were the two most important things to Scott. His job at the college, his house, his truck, even his ability to walk or talk could have been taken from him and he would still have been everything he was meant to be, because being a Father and a Husband were his true calling, and something he did not take for granted.

I woke up this morning in an emotional hang over. It is hard to know what to think and feel right now. The youth pastor in me is giving myself a whole lot of advice that I don't really want to hear. The Christian that I am, I know that Scott is no longer in pain and he is living in glory with his Creator, but that doesn't stop the tears or the heart ache. My heart breaks for Rhoda, Britton, and Spencer and the rest of the family. The idea of moving on with life without him must seem impossible, but knowing Rhoda and the boys they will, because Scott wouldn't want them to be held back without him. He hated being an inconvenience. Rhoda's incredible faith over that past two weeks has been a role model for all of us. It is ok to mourn the loss of this man, our friend, mentor, and role model, but one thing he would never settle for is for any of us to let his death bring us down. So this morning as I made myself get up and go to work, I heard in my heart the words from Queen's famous song, "the show must go on." Often in theatre we treat life as if it were a show and many of us even have a soundtrack that could be played for our lives. It is true though, the show must go one. The world feels darker today and less peaceful but we still have lives to live. We still have a chance to make something happen. Scott has left behind an incredible legacy, in 39 years of life, he lived and he lived well. He made something of himself and everyone that came into contact with him. He was our role model while he was here, and I think he should continue to be just that. A role model of how to live our lives.

Faith - he always had it, in God, and in us. It is our job now to continue on in faith. God was always in control of Scott's life and he should be in control of ours as well. I always admired his ability to combine God and theatre, two worlds that are often separate but not with Scott. So we need to continue our faith in God, deepen it, find it again, and live it. We also need faith in ourselves and each other as we continue on. We have a purpose and a reason to still be here. Scott's earthly journey is over but ours is still going and we owe it to ourselves and to Scott to live our lives to our full potential.

Family - we should always remember that family comes before work and play. Cherish your loved ones, make sure they know you love them, and don't take them for granted.

Work - Find a job you love and love it. Don't settle for something you hate, but be willing to do whatever it takes to pay the bills. Give 100% and more.

Don't get tattoos, you will regret it later! (He would say this while showing his American flag tattoo that was covering up a tattoo he got earlier in life. He was not proud of it)

Don't worry, don't be afraid to dance, let go and let God handle it.

This is your life, you have been given: This Moment, Right Here....Gone, Forever!

Gone but never forgotten!






Saturday, June 1, 2013

Waiting for Summer's Return

This past week I finished reading Waiting for Summer's Return by Kim Vogel Sawyer. This book ended up on my reading list because my mom told me when it was free on Amazon for Kindle. I have the Kindle App on my phone and it seems to be the only way I read a book these days, because it is always with me. My Kindle App is one of my favorites on my phone, it saves me from feeling awkward when I'm eating somewhere by myself and since I am perpetually early for everything it makes those waiting periods easier as well, but enough about the app let's get back to this awesome book.

My mother has been friends with this author since she was in college, so I have grown up knowing about her books, but never picked one up, and I'm pretty sure they are all on shelves at my parent's house. She mentioned that word free, so I went ahead and downloaded it, figuring I would read it eventually. I mean my Kindle is full of books just waiting for me to read them. I started it and then got busy and forgot I was reading it until about a week ago. I must have been in a reading mood, it helps that it is summer time and all of my favorite TV shows are taking a break for the summer and my best friend is currently on a cruise with her family, so reading it is.

This book takes place in the prairie days here in Kansas. The main character who's name is Summer, finds herself in a German Mennonite town called Gaeddert. Now I had never heard of this town but I am familiar with Hillsboro and the Cottonwood River, which are also mentioned. I also happen to live in a Mennonite Dominate town so I was intrigued from the beginning. Summer had talked her husband into traveling to Oklahoma from Boston in their covered wagon to make their own claim in the developing land. On their journey the family all dies from Typhoid Fever. Summer finds herself alone in a this prairie land full of German speakers that look at her as an outsider.

She finds a friend in Peter Ollenburger he needs a teacher for his son Thomas who broke his ribs falling from a tree. She is a sad, hard, woman who wanted to give up on life. Peter is a strong man of God and he meets Summer consistently with love and grace. The community has a problem with an outsider living in the community, especially because she ends up living in Peter's house. He moves himself to the barn and allows her to have his room while she teaches his son.

This story is a story of true love. The kind of love that comes from the soul and then becomes a story of love from the heart as well. I love how pieces of German were included in this story, and Peter's broken English was fun to read as well, I sometimes thought it was like reading something Yoda would say.

This was definitely a good hearted book with nothing but pure, innocent, beautiful words. If you are looking for a good Christian fiction story to read, I highly recommend this one!


Red Devil Nights

I decided at the beginning of this year that I would write a blog post about each book I read this year. Well I'm a little behind. A month or so ago I read Red Devil Nights by Lewis Mann. Yes, we are somehow related, my dad had decided to read his book since we are related so when he finished I decided I should read it. My dad is dyslexic and reading isn't easy so when he really likes a book I know it is going to be a good one.

This book takes place in Lamont, Oklahoma in the 50's. Obviously neither my father nor myself were around back then but we know that town and the other towns mentioned in the story. This book is fiction but it is based off of a lot of true stories that happened back then. It is a great coming of age story from a tiny town in Oklahoma that most people haven't heard of. I don't want to give too much away to spoil it for someone that might want to read it. Good luck trying to figure out the fictional pieces and the true ones.

For me it was really cool, because I have grown up going to Lamont for Easter every year that I can really remember. I used to go hunting with my father and grandfather there as well. We have family there, and then the story talks a lot about Blackwell & Enid. My grandparents and a lot of my family live in Blackwell and that is where my father is from. I always find it interesting to read a book that takes place somewhere where I actually know where it is and have been there.

I recommend this short country book about growing up in Oklahoma!