Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Story of the Disapearing Klock

There have been a lot of people who I have not been in contact with over the past few weeks and months. Some of you have sent messages and I have yet to respond and some of you I have in the past kept up with on here in the past but have been really bad about checking in.

The reason why is because things here are a lil' nuts right now. I am currently preparing for the most difficult 57 days I have had to endure. Why 57? Because that is how many days I have left to get all of my work turned in for graduation. If I do not have all my work complete by December 15th, 2006, I cannot officially graduate until May 2007. If I do not graduate until May then that is five months I have to sit on my duff doing nothing while in the meantime I cannot prepare or get hours to count towards state licensure or apply for jobs under the pretense of having my Masters.

So what do I have to complete before December 15? Well, I am glad you asked. I currently have to read a minimum of 4 1/2 assigned books plus whatever books I need for my research paper. I have to write a 20 page research paper on Calvinism vs. Armenianism, write an 8 page opinion paper on the importance of the quest for the historical Jesus, write 4 book reviews on books I have read, and prepare for and take 4 exams. This is surprisingly the easy part. I really do not think I will miss the deadline there and am not really too stressed out about it.
The difficult part comes in that I have to complete 85 face-to-face counseling hours in addition to roughly 60 administrative hours. 85 hours is going to be tough to drum up while the 60 should be no problem. It has taken me 48 days to get 35 face-to-face hours so this not going to be a small feat. I am working with various other counselors to get clients or sit in on sessions, which will count for my face-to-face hours, but I still need 85 of them.

Meanwhile I am doing all of this while working a full-time job because I have to qualify for benefits so I can get my aching neck and back looked at. I also have to provide for myself because my parents moved and are in absolute chaos and pandemonium. So quitting my job is not an option because my parents (who I don't like to rely on for money anyways) said even if they wanted to, they could not bail me out financially if I get in trouble.

So to recap: lots of school work, lots of internship hours, full-time job, and coo-coo parents.

I say all that to say I am sorry for not keeping up but it is only going to get worse until December 15th so I would appreciate your prayers and support. And while I may only get limited chances to respond, I still appreciate reading messages. Please check in on December 15th to see if I made it or not. It will be an exciting guessing game and I highly encourage placing your bets in Vegas now.

Ta-ta for now,

Monday, August 21, 2006

Quarter-Life Crisis

The other day I turned 25. You can read my other blog (Blowin out the Candles) to get a little more insight. This is a two-parter though they can be read in any order.

I am currently undergoing a little quarter-life crisis. I know that there are some folks on here that are older than me who have been through it or are still dealing with some of the issues I am going to share but just because you went through it, doesnt make it any easier on me.

I have been going to school straight for 19 years now from kindergarten through my second, and last year of grad school. I have not had time to slow down. K-12 I was forced to go. But shortly after becoming a Christian, God laid my purpose before me and I have been gunning for it ever since. I will hopefully be done in December with my MA in Counseling. 19 ½ years of school will be complete and I dont anticipate going for my PhD in the near future. It has been a long tough road and many, many sacrifices have been made a long the way. But the end is site. However, issues now arise as to what I do when I get done. Do I take a break? Do I move? What is out there for me?

I am also not spiritually where I would like to be. I suppose I will always desire to be in deeper relationship with Jesus. But I dont get to my Bible as often as I desire to. I dont memorize Scripture verses very well. I often feel stuck in my prayer and devotional life. And I have an all around desire to serve God with my gifts more that I have been. I wish that I can be a better witness.

As I spoke in my other blog, I have been missing out on good community for a good little while and I am craving to get it back in my life. But I am kind of stuck. There are people along the way that I have met who are good people but I am not going to trust them with my core which I believe to be essential for good community. They have said or done things that have sent up red flags all over the place that make me not want to share a lot of personal stuff with them because they either are gossipers, or they only give advice, or the worst being those who in more-or-less words tell me that I shouldnt be feeling what I am feeling or completely negate my feelings (a. screw them, b. hopefully you are not them). So I shoot myself in the foot and dont develop community.

Another big (actually huge) issue is my relationship with women, or lack there of. My friends know the back story and consequently my excuses. I am not going to broadcast them out there but know that they are there and if you are interested you can ask me at anytime. Like I said, I am an open book. Friends that know about everything and havent been in touch for a while, it would be worth getting an update as reflection night brought on some new revelations.

As I approached 25 I could feel the dread coming on knowing that there were so many things I wanted to do and had not yet done. And yet I still could not find a way to get to them. I swear if I am at the same place at 30 I am joining a monastery or shooting myself. I suppose part of the dilemma is that I imagined myself being at a very different place by 25. I thought I would be more successful in what I was doing, married, thinner, and in a better groove. Instead my body is battered with one injury after another, my mind is shot from all the reading I have done and still have to do, I am single (see the above paragraph), I have been in school so not earning great income, and my emotions are neglected.

There is so much more that I could add but I am getting drained. I think I need to temper my expectations in a lot of areas so that I will not be as disappointed at 30 as I am at 25. God has blessed me so much and often times I feel as if I take His blessings and never use them.

Blowin’ out the Candles

The other day I turned 25. The problem with this blog is that I don't know where to go from here because there is so much to say at once. I have to divide it up into two blogs.

Since my move to Charlotte I think I have been missing the community I had in college. I crave community. I was talking to my best friend the other day and he knows and understands my hurt. I have been living here two years now and do not have anyone I could call a close confidant or friend. I have friends (and for my Charlotte friends, know I love you deeply) but I doubt if polled any of them could say that they truly know me intimately like my college brothers did in half the time. Perhaps part of that is a failing on my part. Perhaps I haven't pressed people as much as I should have to get to know them or perhaps because I am working on counseling, every time I have tried to get to know someone they feel like they are getting psychoanalyzed (trust me, I much too lazy for that) and distance themselves. But ask my friends, I am an open book. Ask and I share.

This lack of community became apparent as I celebrated my 25th birthday in a Caribou, by myself, with a school book and then went home and sat on my porch for reflection as I stared at the woods behind my apartment. I am not a big flash and dance guy and long ago gave up on the importance of my birthday passing my 16th, 18th, and 21st with little more than a check from Grandma to remind me. It became so unimportant that I actually did forget my birthday one year until my mom reminded me that night. It has become just another typical day. The past two years I have gone to work, come home, done some things around the apartment or read and then went to bed. I want to stop my harping for a minute and thank everyone who sent me a myspace or facebook message and hope that I individually thanked each one of you. I think my biggest issue is that when I already feel like I am missing out on community and craving it, the depths of my despair becomes amplified by the silent phone and the stillness of the woods as I was reflecting. That is in addition to my quarter-life crisis (see Quarter-Life Crisis blog). I think sometimes it is nice to feel celebrated and because I try not to be a selfish person, my birthday is the only day I would even see it as appropriate for me.

I hope after reading this you (as the reader) are not feeling like I am angry or that you should feel pity. That is not what I am trying to evoke. Sure it saddens me. But I am not angry. I suppose more than anything, I want to be bare before you and let know a little bit more of me. And here is the beautiful part, the redeeming factor in this blog. As alone as I felt last week, I was not alone at all. Jesus Christ loves me. And I do not say that passively or go through some sort of verbal yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean I really know that He loves me and though life may not turn out as I would wish it too, He has spared me from so much additional hurt and sorrow and has filled my life abundantly. He puts people in just the right spot at just the right time. My joy rests in Him even when I feel down or unimportant. I hope that if He is not at your center that you will make Him so. Live for and crave this joy in Him. If you are unsure of how, please talk with me or a group of committed believers who will love you while they talk to you.

It is in His Grace and Peace and Love I hope you reside.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Wonderous Mystery

It is a shame that we do not remember being infants. Think of the joy of remembering our first steps or forming our first real word or sentence that made sense. I would love to feel that astonishment and joy. Or to discover little things for the first time that we take for granted today like what dirt feels like, or what a dog looks like, or a plane flying.

I first thought of this about a year ago when a friend's child was first learning to talk. I was holding him and he looked at the sky and suddenly got really excited shrieking "plane! plane!' And I couldn't understand at first why he was so excited. I wrote my thoughts down on a post it note and re-discovered it last night and it holds just as much for me today as it did then. I began to think that part of our problem today is that we are no longer amazed by much in the world around us.

Our faith can be like that sometimes and we get further and further from our date of salvation we can often forget what it was like to be truly lost and then to learn bit by bit who God was and how forgiven we are.

Or speaking to the non-believer (some believers too): we become so enmeshed into our world that we no longer have the chance to step back and be surprised. Everything that we want explained has either been explained by someone or dumbed down for us so we don't have to spend much time thinking about anything. But I would confess that very little has been explained. Take for example your elbow. Most people can bend it back and forth without much effort. It takes little thought and the movement is so fluid that it seems to just happen. Now some scientist out there could discuss the firing of neural synapses that leads to muscle contraction which allows for the bone to rotate. But how did those unrelated things become connected? How did we suddenly know how to bend our elbow? Why, with all the technology that we have today, has that fluid movement not been replicated in a non-biological creation or even those biological manifestations that humans have made? Think about it a bit and then ask is there another answer. Is there a God who encourages us not to take a simple answer but to ask questions and in return, sometimes be left with no answer but just amazement?

Today, go out and re-capture your infancy. Look at the world in new ways and ask "why" and "how." But most of all, allow the thought that you might never know. Go and be amazed again.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

First Time

The other day I was doing a favor for a friend of mine. He is a mid-high youth minister and is taking his 6th grade students on a retreat this weekend. I went with him to pick up the vans so that he could get them back to the church. After dropping off the vans he turns to me and says, "Kevin I need one more favor out of you. I need somebody to fill in for me on Sunday morning back here at the church."

Oh wow!

Basically after the early morning service I have to take the 7th and 8th grade students, whom I have never met before, and conduct youth group for them. Now the good thing is I was given a topic. I am going to be using this Nooma video (if you have never seen these, they are 15 minute topical vignettes and are really cool and well produced) and then build a discussion and lesson about forgiveness.

I have often thought about one day doing youth ministry in some capacity but with graduate school, I have never had the time to even volunteer. So here I am getting ready to lead youth group for the very first time with 35-70 kids that I have never met before. I typically don't have a problem with public speaking but I am nervous as all get out.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Future Plans

In December of 2006 I will be graduating with my MA in Counseling. People have told me over and over again the biggest regret that they have had was that they never did anything big when they were done with school so I have been thinking about doing something. I am still young, healthy and currently not in a a relationship. What will I do? Probably nothing. I will work on getting a job and moving to wherever, becoming another person with regrets.
However some ideas that I have been kicking around (all have certain conditions):

Idea number 1:
This is the big one. I have been thinking about doing it for at least two months. The conditions are that I need the money, my shoulders need to be healthy, and I need a TON of planning.
I would like to hike from Charlotte to Seattle. Why Seattle? Well my best friend Mike lives out there for one so it is a place to go. I would depart Charlotte and hike. No hitch-hiking, no highways, all backroads, and no hotels (unless it is an emergency). I would hike as far as I could each day and when I was getting tired I would stop at someones house and ask if I could pitch a tent on their property and re-charge my phone in their house. I would also be filming a documentary so I would have a video camera and interview each person that let me stay. It would be a great view across America. I would get some quality time with God and always have a story.

Idea number 2:
Conditions would be purely financial and would help if someone would go with me. Go visit another country and tour around for a little bit or even live in another country for a little while. Not sure exactly where. Definatly not England because I have relatives there and have been there enough. Maybe India, I really like the stuff I have seen about that country and am often intrigued by the culture. It seems like a really neat place.

Idea number 3:
Go on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ. I really like college ministry. However not growing up in a Christian home did not leave me with an extended list of people that I could comfortably go to and ask for support. Plus I am terrible about asking other people for money. I always feel bad about doing it. I don't even ask my parents for money.

Idea number 4:
Conditions are acceptance and money. I would go and get my doctorate in Psychology or Counseling. If I could go to Stanford or University of Washington and get my PhD under Irvin Yalom or John Gottman I would do it in a heartbeat. Both are very liberal schools but I think I could choke it down to learn under them. Both are in cool cities and I could have my PhD before the age of 29.

I would love any feedback. More ideas may come but I told Mike today that on a scale of 1-10 with 1 = joking, and 10 = 100% doing it, I am currently about a 6-7 doing idea number one. If all three of the earlier mentioned conditions were met, weather permitting, I would leave on the morning of Jan 1, 2007

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

New Territory

Well I finally I did it! I left my job at The Department of Social Services! After working there a few days shy of a year I turned in my two week notice, used a week of built up vacation time, and today was my last day. It was kinda of sad/neat to see a little of the impact I was able to have on people. I have seen people leave before me without much fanfare but my team brought breakfast for me, some folks I eat lunch with got me a huge cake, and people talked all day about how much they were going to miss me and how I made the day go by easier with my good sense of humor. I don't say that to toot my own horn, I was just really honored and humbled because folks don't usually tell me that type of stuff to my face.

Now what next? Well the primary reason I left was because I have a really tough semester in my graduate program and so I am going to scrape by and concentrate on school and hopefully an internship. I need to do some part time work and have a possibility lined up getting people free estimates for gutters and siding. The pay is really good but I feel a little uncomfortable about the idea. Another possibility is window washing and power washing driveways and such. My best friend introduced me to this idea while I was in Seattle and I spoke with his boss about what it would take. It is feasible there has been enough interest from co-workers that I might be able to jump on it. (By the way thanks Mike to you and Courtney for such a great time and great hospitality, really, I'm indebted).

I guess it is a little scary right now. I know God has my best interest and this is only temporary (unless business really takes off washing). But I have lost steady income and healthcare in one swoop. My parents said that if I get in a jam they will help out. However I don't want it to come to this for two reasons: first I HATE taking money/gifts from other people. I just feel awful doing it and is something I have had a hard time getting over. The second reason is that if I accept the money then I have accepted failure. I succeed in most things I do and all though this is completely new, I don't want to say I couldn't cut it.