The Weight of Brokenness

I moved this past year from an on-campus dorm to an apartment. It’s nice. Nice amenities. Nice location, but somehow I look at the niceness of this place in comparison to the brokenness that is surrounding me and start to wonder a simple, yet seemingly profound question: How would this environment change if people knew the true source of love? Now, I see parties with girls going into houses and I wonder- what will they encounter there? Would I feel 100% at ease if it was my daughter going into those houses? Probably not. Paradoxically, in a search for more belonging and meaning they encounter more hurt. This, of course, is because true meaning and love can only come from knowing the source of that meaning and love. The world is full of placebos and false-promises. Just do this and you’ll be satisfied! Just try this and you’ll belong.

Friend, there is only one person in which you can achieve your full-identity and self-worth in.

His name is Jesus. The Jesus who knew you before you were born. The Jesus who still knows you inside and out. He knows you’re not perfect. He knows you’ll never be perfect. You don’t have to be. He lived the life that you and I could never had lived- all so that we could be set free from our sins and past vices.

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“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.””
‭‭John‬ ‭4:13-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/59/jhn.4.13-26.esv

Come to The River- Housefires

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How Stroke Struck My Family

On January 4th, 2004 my life flipped upside down. I was merely a kid, unaware of what was happening, but that turned out to be the day where nothing would ever be the same. That was the day my dad had a massive stroke, a day that will forever live in infamy. It started out normal enough, but as my dad left the house and went to the grocery store, he could tell something was wrong. He kept dropping his grocery list, and when he arrived home, he told my mom what was happening. They eventually decided to go to the hospital, and I vividly remember looking out the window of my house and seeing my dad and mom hop into the car. Little did I know however, that was the last time I would see my dad in a normal state.

The next time I saw him, he was in urgent care with tubes all over him and desperately fighting for his life.

He survived, and spent months in the hospital relearning how to do the once simple tasks he took for granted.

The stroke had left him completely paralyzed on the entire left side of his body, and with significant brain damage.

Gone was the dad I once knew, replaced with someone almost unrecognizable.

This dad had verbal outbursts, and would often get angry over trivial things. This dad could no longer play with his sons, or help them with homework. 

This dad required 24/7 care and support, and was hardly even a dad anymore, at least in the normal sense of the word.

When I was fifteen, I would later get a call telling me that my dad was dying, and that I needed to take the next plane out to Tennessee if I ever wanted to see him again.

He died as I held his hand, and I can still hear the sound of his breath growing shallower and shallower, until it stopped.

This all happened because of a stroke, something that was a random and unfortunate occurrence, and just so happened to choose my dad.

I guess I’m sharing my story in hopes that others can see just how devastating the effects of stroke can be, and to bring more awareness to the victims and survivors of strokes.

If you or anyone you know has been personally effected by a stroke, hang in there. Have faith that tomorrow will be better, and that the best days are still yet to come.

Stroke might make some things harder, but there are still things that are possible.

Here’s a picture of my family before my dad’s stroke:

Reflections on Life and Death

Dying doesn’t really scare me anymore. It used to, but I’ve seen enough of it to know that everyone must go on at some point or another. What scares me is not really getting to fully live, to experience life to the fullest extent possible. As I write this in the very room my dad died in, I can’t help but to remember the events in this room that occurred while he was on his death bed. I was merely a kid back then, with no real clue of the value of life. Sitting beside him and holding his hand, I began to somewhat comprehend the true value of life. I began to understand that this life is the one chance we get on this earth to make an impact, and that it’s up to each and everyone of us to live a life with meaning and purpose.It’s funny how we go through everyday life and rarely take the time to think about the things that truly matter, as we are too busy doing this and that. But then in the end, some of us realize that we spent our whole lives never really living, merely going through the motions.

I don’t want to come to that conclusion at the end of my life. I want to have loved well. I want to have given more than I took. I want to be able to truly say I have no regrets, and that I spent my time here to the fullest extent possible.

Holidays and Loss

It was nearing 9:30PM, and I had only a few more minutes before I finished my dinner and headed back to work. It was dark, and as I stepped outside, I was suddenly surrounded by Christmas music and the lights from the recently lit Christmas tree. I made my way over to Starbucks to get a better view of the tree, and to gather my thoughts. I spoke out loud now, softly, almost in a gentle whisper. 

“I’m so sorry, Dad. It shouldn’t be like this, you know? I love you.” Those were seemingly the only words I could utter, in what seemed like eternity. Staring at those lights, listening to Christmas music, I found myself desperately wishing that my dad could be there, that I could say one final thing to him. That would never be enough of course, but it was all that I could hope for.

There’s something about the holidays that makes grief stronger. Maybe it’s the Christmas music, the way everything is lit up in a beautiful way, or maybe it’s just the fact that during these special times when we gather with family, there will always be an empty chair there to remind us of what we are missing.

I’d like to think that this is going to get better with time, that somewhow this pain is going to subside over time, but I seriously doubt that’s going to happen.

In the meantime, it’s time to take in to account all the things that I do have, and all the family members that are still around.

After all, one day they simply won’t be anymore.


Reflections on CPAC 2017

CPAC 2017 is now officially over, and as I sit here trying to digest all that I’ve taken in over the last couple of days, I keep returning to the same few thoughts. One, the conservative movement seems to have completely bought into what Donald Trump is selling, which is sad for some reasons. Two, every time I want to start liking Donald Trump, he does or says something that reminds me why I never have nor probably never will like President Trump.

Yesterday as President Trump spoke, he went on a ten-minute tirade about the fake media and news. He then went on to say that “Nobody loves the First Amendment more than me.” He says this, and then just today I read where he’s skipping The White House Correspondence Dinner and has banned several media outlets from his press briefings. Keep in mind that Sean Spicer, his Press Secretary, has said in the past that he would not ban the press and that doing so is something a “dictator” would do. So yes, that’s hypocrisy to the max.

I then listened to Education Secretary Betsy Devos talk about how there’s no such thing as a “free lunch,” but I guess she forgot about how millions of students receive free and reduced lunches.

Finally, there was Scott Pruitt, who says that those who want to kill the EPA are “justified.” Mind you, this is the very agency he leads, so I’ll let you think about that one.

In short, CPAC was a very eye opening and thought provoking experience. Donald Trump seems to have hijacked the  GOP and conservative movement, and it seems as if no one is willing to stand up to his hypocrisy and dangerous rhetoric.

Let me be clear: Donald Trump is not a conservative, and he never will be one. He is a con artist, someone who is obsessed with himself and his image.

This is no Ronald Reagan.

This is a President who desperately wants to be king.

What Easter Means

For far too many, Easter simply means a chance at free chocolate and a visit by the Easter bunny. However, Easter is so much more than that, and one would be gravely mistaken to just treat it as just another holiday, because it’s not. Easter is so much more than chocolate and Easter eggs, Easter has real meaning. Easter represents one man’s conquering of death, so all of us can have life. Easter is a time to recognize a greater love, one that knew no bounds. It’s a love that caused a flawless Savior to be nailed to a cross, only to rise again three days later. It’s a love so revolutionary, so unlike anyone has ever seen, that it completely flipped the world upside down. It’s in times like these, when death seemingly abounds and suffering seems endless, that we must remember this love. We must remember that death, although hard beyond measure, is not permanent.

Easter reminds us that love conquers all, and that death is only temporary.

Now that is something to be thankful for.

Dear President Trump, Stop The Deportations

Dear President Trump,

I am writing to you today concerning a very important and relevant topic in today’s society, immigration. Sir, I have grown increasingly concerned with the increased ICE raids and deportations, and am asking you to please reconsider what you are doing and the effects that it has. I want to first clarify that I am all for deporting criminals and violent offenders and that I see nothing wrong with sending them back to their native country. However, I have several issues with the recent deportations I have seen on the news of nonviolent immigrants. For example, the mother who was recently deported in California had several children and was an exemplary citizen by all accounts, who had done nothing of significance wrong. Sir, think about the effect that this must have on her children. They now have no mother and are stuck to wonder if they will ever see her again, and will now most likely have a negative view of the United States government. Sir, all I am asking for you to do is to reevaluate your immigration policy and to ensure that it is reasonable and humane.

Think of this quote by Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird,” You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view.. until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Think of all the sacrifices that immigrants make on a daily basis, and then think- should they really have to worry about being deported?

Dear Donald, Do You Really Know How to Lead?

Dear Donald,

   Do you really know how to lead? I’m asking because by the looks of it, the answer would be no. A quick look at your Twitter account reveals desperate attempts at bullying and shaming your critics into submission. However each time you tweet, the opposition only grows larger. I wonder why this might be? You promised to unite our divided country, but your tweets are doing the exact opposite. They spread division and uncertainty, and make me ashamed of our current political climate. Donald, real leaders don’t insult and criticize through a keyboard, they strengthen alliances and build trust through understanding. Real leaders inspire through unity and strength, not hate and division. Leaders make mistakes and fail, but they have the courage to admit the mistakes and learn from them. Leaders build bridges, not walls. Leaders bring out the very best in others, and help them reach their full potential.

Donald, now ask yourself: how are my tweets making me a better leader? How are they setting an example for the next generation?

The answer? They aren’t.

Prayers, Not Politics Please.

Today in Washington D.C. a gunman opened fire at a baseball field where Congressional Republicans were practicing for an annual baseball game. Several were injured, including  House of Representative Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Lousiana. Soon after the tragedy, keyboard and social justice warriors were quick to attack the 2nd Amendment and gun ownership in The United States. Seemingly unshaken from what just took place, many took what happened and used it as an opportunity to spin it in a way that benefited their own personal agenda, regardless if it hurt or upset others. There’s a time for politics and political discussion, but it isn’t now. Not when Congressman Scalise is battling for his life, and other members of his security detail are still in the hospital. Today is the time to pray, to reflect, and to put aside our political differences. There will always be another day to discuss guns and other hot-button political issues, but today simply isn’t that day.

Today, let’s push back against partisan politics and remember that no matter what our party affiliation, we are all Americans.

Trump’s Twitter Trouble

I am legitimately embarrassed by The President of The United States. Mr. Trump is almost 70 years old, but a look at his Twitter feed reveals the emotional maturity of an eight-year-old. Instead of being a leader and attacking an argument solely based on its merits, Donald decides to opt for the personal attack, going after someone personally and calling them names. To make matters worse, Donald decides to do this on Twitter, a social media platform with millions of users. It is the mark of immaturity, as well as insecurity, that causes Donald to do this. Can anyone imagine if Ronald Reagan sent out some of the Tweets that Donald Trump has sent? The outrage would be non-stop, and Reagan would surely not have the reputation he does today. Donald, what joy does it bring you to attack people personally? What good does tweeting out insults really do? You’re the President of The United States, it’d be nice if you started acting like it. You claimed in your victory speech that you wanted to unite this country and bring people together. Your tweets do the exact opposite. They say the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. If that’s the case, we’re in for a long four years.

I’m urging you, Mr. President.

Put down the phone and start leading by example.

Be a President everyone can be proud of.