Wednesday, December 31, 2008

attitude really is everything...or at least something really important

one of the many wise things that my mother taught me growing up is the adage "attitude is everything." it frequently was accompanied by the encouragement, "act enthusiastic and you'll be enthusiastic" to which i mostly rolled my eyes. there have been several times in my life where i have been put in difficult, frustrating, and/or stressful situations where the awareness of my attitude really has allowed me to not lose my mind at those moments. let's take an example from last week:

not having much extra fundage this holiday season, i kept putting off doing my Christmas shopping as i figured out who i could buy for, and who would have to settle for my love and friendship. finally i went to the mall on tuesday night. i left my house at 8:30 hoping that by going late i would avoid some of the insanity. i went into knowing it might be crazy and just said, "alex, be patient and you'll be fine." i got to mission valley mall, parked in the first place i saw (no point in driving around for hours trying to find the closest spot), and ventured into the mall. it was busy but not overwhelming. i stopped in aeropostale to get a gift card for my roomie and saw the checkout line stretching out the door. i took a deep breath, looked around the store, and one of the employees said, "come back in like 45 minutes and the line will be gone...we're open 'til 11." i had other stops to make so i journeyed on. went to sports chalet, target, and best buy and never waited more than 3-4 minutes in line. upon my arrival back at aeropostale i discovered that indeed the line was very minimal. i made my purchase and headed back to my car. i could have gotten frustrated with parking lot stupidity, lines, and rude people stepping on my toes and cutting in line, but why? deep breaths and a smile can make a huge difference.

i've tried to continue with that perspective, but driving lately has been making that difficult. i typically have a lot of patience, but i have found myself lacking it more frequently lately. i find myself yelling at other drivers, catching myself, and taking a deep breath. my grandmother had a magnet on her refrigerator (still there today) that says, "grant me patience, o Lord, but hurry." how true is that?! we're willing to acknowledge our need for it and ask, but we don't want to wait! one of my new year's resolutions will be to be more aware of and focus on my attitude. i won't always succeed, but hopefully making an effort will not only make a difference in my relationships but in my own sanity as well... ~aroll

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

a new civil rights movement…part 2

so i know that i said in my next post in this series that i would discuss the separation of church &'s coming, but something has been pressing my heart more lately. we as a church, and me as an individual, have talked about the need to put a face to this fight/movement/"issue." this movement is about human beings - not religion, not faith, not legislation. it is about people made in the image of God, children of God equal and loved in His eyes...just not apparently in the eyes of a majority of His followers.

john smulo posted about our billboard and emailed me a note of encouragement. this led to him asking if i would do an interview. the entire interview can be viewed here, but i wanted to post a relevant part of it:

John: In one of our emails you said something that you wished people would stop talking about this as an “issue”, and instead see that they are actual people that are impacted here. Can you expand what you mean by this?

Alex: There was a very real sense for me, and several members of our community, that the Prop 8 campaign was very “us vs. them.” The gay agenda is out to corrupt children, destroy the church, break up families....which is all false. When we first got a postcard at our offices about The Call at Qualcomm, our volunteer coordinator (straight, 19 yo female) immediately wanted to be there with a group of people wearing shirts that said, “I am the face of those you hate.” She felt the need to put a face to this fight. If they say we are out to destroy families and corrupt children, what about the countless straight families who brought their kids to the candlelight vigil? What about the young girl standing on the sidewalk during an equal rights march with a sign that says, “I love my two mommies”? This “issue” within the church does have scholarship and texts to understand...but it is also real human beings made in the image of God earnestly seeking to live a life more like Christ. And outside of the church it is real human beings with the created need for companionship who are wanting to COMMIT to one another in devoted love, and that is something that should be celebrated. Beyond that, I could spend a few pages talking about the need for the separation of church and state and legislating morality (see my blog for more thoughts on that).

From my experience, many conservative Christians do not have relationships with gay & lesbian men and women, or they do and don’t know that their friends are gay. When someone close to them comes out, they are forced to deal with real life, not just words and arguments. Look at the story in Acts of the Church in Antioch...the Gentiles who were choosing to follow Jesus were being asked to subscribe to Jewish laws and customs, but Paul presented the fact that without living under that law they were still showing signs and fruit of the Spirit. The Council of Jerusalem could not argue with the living proof of God’s presence in their lives. When you begin to deal with people instead of an “issue” it does get messy, but you have the opportunity to learn from their experience and witness the presence of God in their lives...or in the context outside of the church you see couples that have been together 20+ years who simply want to have their commitment recognized and be afforded the same rights as straight couples, rights as basic as hospital visitation. Throughout Scripture we see how God constantly sought to redeem people not an institution. Jesus was about people not about religion.

i challenge all of us to remember that we, on both sides of this "issue," are dealing with real live human beings - with brains, lives, emotions, experiences...if you are reading this and don't know someone directly affected by this movement (which i would honestly find hard to believe), then check out this link and see the faces of many - gay and straight - who are simply asking to be treated as an a human being. ~aroll

Friday, December 19, 2008

germany in the movies...

something random occurred to me as i was watching previews before a movie the other night...there are currently 3 movies out or soon released dealing with various aspects of nazi germany in and after world war two. "the boy in the striped pajamas," "the reader" (releasing jan. 9), and "valkyrie" (releasing Christmas day). i have only seen the first movie i listed and thought it was very well done. i was not prepared for the ending at all, but the story of the film was beautiful. it shows in great detail the affect on families that the war had as a young german boy befriends a jewish boy being held in a concentration camp his own father oversees. "the reader" appears to do something similar as it chronicles the life and relationship of a woman who became a soldier and a young man who read to her as part of a secretive affair. he re-encounters her 8 years later as a law student observing her as a defendant in a war crimes trial. finally, "valkyrie" portrays one of a dozen or so attempts to assassinate hitler.

as someone who studied history in college, i have always been leery of people taking movies of historical events as solid true history. some films have done a great job at documenting the events that took place, others take considerable artistic license. at any rate, it seems lately that hollywood has taken an interest in telling stories that before have possibly gone unnoticed. hollywood is in the business of entertaining and telling stories. but what prompts three different studios to make these films at the same time? maybe i'm just searching for significance where there isn't any, but is there something to this? are we as human beings no longer content settling for one version of a story? maybe our culture as a whole is realizing the true value in exploring all peoples stories, for when we learn the story of the other the distance between us diminishes.

hmmm, should i link this to my civil rights posts? ~aroll

Friday, December 12, 2008

a new civil rights movement…part 1

in june of 1969, people began to stand up for the rights of gay and lesbian men and women following the raid on the bar at the stonewall inn in new york city. ever since, baby steps have been taken to recognize members of the lgbt community for exactly what they are – human beings no different than any other person on this planet. it’s interesting to me that in the same time period when tens of thousands of people fought for equality for people of color – a battle that was long overdue and vital to the continuation of society – another group of people fighting for equality battled in silence without gaining much ground. please do not hear this as comparing the plight of the african-american community to that of the lgbt community. that will always be The civil rights movement (capital “T”), but nonetheless this is “A” civil rights movement. but 40 years later, people are still fighting to be considered equal. this is not an “issue” but is about human beings.

many people, especially in the conservative church world, have to continued to advocate exclusion, judgment, and condemnation of the lgbt community. in spite of their efforts, progress has been made. one of the most significant steps forward came when the state of massachusetts legalized gay marriage. several years later, may of 2008 to be exact, the california supreme court overturned prop 22 (a ban on gay marriage) as unconstitutional which then launched the creation of proposition 8. in the midst of the battle over prop 8, connecticut even legalized gay marriage. then on november 4, 2008 the fight for equal rights for the lgbt community suffered an emotional blow: not only did prop 8 pass in california, but arizona and florida both passed constitutional amendments further defined the right of marriage away from the lgbt community, and arkansas passed a ban on adoption by gay couples. in one day, rights were taken away from a group of people who had been given rights, and rights were distanced from others even further.

throughout history, the church has been a voice of fighting for the rights of others: john wesley & william wilberforce in the fight to end slavery; William booth and the salvation army fighting poor working conditions for women & children in match factories; dr. martin luther king, jr. and the battle to end segregation. and now the church is leading the charge to deny a group of human beings equal rights under the law…the law. in the justification of “loving the sinner and hating the sin,” many within the conservative church compare homosexuality to rape, murder, adultery, etc. those “sins” are acted on other people against their will...people are entitled to their convictions, but voting yes on prop 8 acted those convictions on a group of people against their will. the right to live as the men and women God created them to be is not acting on anyone against his or her will. government’s role is not to legislate morality; it is to protect the rights and well-being of its citizens – all citizens, especially the rights of the minority.

my next post in this thread will be on the separation of church and state…

journeying in life, love, and the pursuit of Jesus…~aroll

a long-anticipated follow-up to “taking a stand”

several months ago i posted the majority of a letter i wrote to compassion international in regards to the wording of their sponsor documents. see the post here. after sending in the letter and forwarding it via email to a friend who works at compassion, i was able to speak for about half an hour with mark hanlan, sr. vice president of us donor relations for compassion. we talked about the language and how exclusive it feels to members of the lgbt community and its supporters. he shared his concerns about the language as well, and committed to advocate the rewrite of those documents to remove language about homosexuality, specifically, in favor of more neutral language.

fast-forward to saturday, december 6. while in toronto, i received a phone call from tony jones who was aware of the conversation i had been having with compassion. he was at an event in memphis for emergent village, and spoke to a guy (we shall call him chris) who works for compassion who had just received an email that after several months of heated conversations and dialogue, compassion has rewritten the sponsor documents and removed all language regarding sexuality. there is still language asking sponsors to consider the content of photos and letters that are sent to children (i have not yet read the language myself…this from chris and the 10 minute conversation i was able to have with him), but the language is no longer exclusive of a particular group of people. what chris was able to pass along to me is that they realized the need of children to be cared for is greater than compassion as an organization taking a stand on a particular theological issue.

it honestly took me a few minutes to wrap my brain around the reality of the impact. from my conversation with mark at compassion, i realize that there were probably conversations in the works already, but it seems as if missiongathering’s letter and subsequent conversation sparked some level of action. for me this certainly serves as an encouragement that the winds of change are beginning to blow on a wider scale. there is hope. dialogue is happening. it is only the beginning. ~aroll

i'm back...

so after way too long of not posting, i'm back. i had some time to write on the plane home from toronto and the canadian youth workers conference, so here are a couple of posts with more to come! lots to think and write about heading into the holidays during this season of advent... ~aroll

Monday, November 3, 2008

a missiongathering siting...

so i stopped by one of the many local markets walking home from the office to pick up a few items for the impromptu gathering at my house tonight, and had a cool little encounter. when i walked in, a middle-aged women wearing a lovely pink track suit was at the counter purchasing her items. i wandered around the store seeing what snacks i could come up with, and decided upon some gluten-free corn chips and salsa and some popcorn. after grabbing some cranberry juice and coke, i proceeded to the register.

while standing there waiting to check out, i noticed out of the corner of my eye that the woman kept staring at me. i turned and she said, "are you that guy from that church?" i said, "yes." she said, "i thought look much taller on the stage." we chatted for a bit about her love of singing gospel music that keeps her attending another church while she loves what we say at our church and do in our community. she wants very much to get involved in our street angels ministry, our outreach to homeless teenagers. after suggesting she sing in the morning then join us for the 7:00p service, we said goodbye and she went on her way.

just a fun little encouragement in the midst of crazy times that this funky little expression of God's grace is spreading the message of grace and hope in our community...and people are listening! ~aroll

Thursday, October 30, 2008

NO on Prop 8...part 2

i fully intended on writing more posts on this topic, weighing in on more of the arguments, but frankly i've grown weary. i see the ads, i read the articles, i get the emails sent to pastors from "yes on 8," and while this is a very emotional issue for me and my community i'm tired of dealing with it. no matter what happens on tuesday, this is not over. if prop 8 passes, there will be many hurting people to help make sense of it all. if prop 8 fails, then the conservative evangelical church will only be that much more riled up to "fight the darkness that is advancing."

really? darkness? evil? marriage is a civil institution. yes it has existed in virtually every religion that has affected humans on this planet, but "marriage" as we know it is an institution regulated by the state governments that acknowledges a commitment between two individuals and guarantees those individuals certain rights. would granting that same acknowledgment to same-sex couples really bring the demise of this country, the church and humanity? oh wait...the world has not come to an end, heterosexual marriages still function (well, 48% of them anyway), and the church is still marching - and same sex marriages have been legal now for several months in california and even longer in massachusetts. the language of the current law on the books specifically says that churches retain autonomy in choosing for whom they will perform weddings. some churches now refuse to marry heterosexual couples who are living together...what do many of those couples do? they go down to the court house and have a judge marry them. do i want my wedding to be performed by a judge? no, i would rather a minister perform my ceremony because i want my marriage to be a covenant between me, my future partner, and God because my faith is important to me...always has been and always will be.

proposition 8 isn't protecting is stealing it from a group of people. proposition 8 would write discrimination into the constitution of california. it is the church seeking to exclude people in the name of the same Jesus that i love and worship...and it's making me sick. it makes me horribly sad to see what this issue is doing to the Church. it has caused division among the body of Christ, and i hate to think about what this campaign has said to the thousands of people around the country who are outside of a faith community and may never engage in a conversation about faith because of the hate they have seen. as a result, a group of my friends and i are drafting a "manifesto" of sorts to say that we are Christ-followers not defined by tolerance, but by acceptance. we are Christ-followers who believe in the transforming power of God, not the conforming nature of religion.

i think about all the millions of dollars that have been raised in the name of discrimination and hate. yes, millions of dollars have been raised by "no on 8" as well, but that money wouldn't have been needed if proposition 8 didn't exist. how many homeless could have been fed with that money? how many sick people could have been given medical treatment with that money? at my small group last night, a friend put it this way, "one dollar gives one person in africa clean water for one year." think about that. how much further could this money have gone in helping humanity? i am ready for this to be over so that whatever process of healing and reconciliation that is needed can begin.

if you are a praying person, please pray that God's love, grace, and truth will prevail and that hate perpetrated in the name of God will not win out. if you are in san diego, please join thousands of people in a candlelight vigil at 9:00p on university ave. in hillcrest to show unity against hate and discrimination. vote NO on prop 8. ~aroll

the need for dialogue between differing opinions

sorry it has taken me so long to get these posts up, but here we go...

so as i said before, the first sunday of two gatherings was great...exhausting but great. it reminded us of the fact that there are people who haven't heard the story of missiongathering and the expression of God's grace that we strive to be. the people who typically find out about mission in our neighborhood have seen a billboard, a rave card, an ad in glt or citybeat, or better yet have been invited by a friend. most of those people are checking us out because they have been searching for a progressive church where they might experience the healing of God's love and grace.

in bringing future of forestry in to do the music for the kick-off of our evening service, it brought people who haven't had any context for who we are - a Jesus-centered, loving church with progressive theology. that sunday also happened to be the launch of our sanctuaries (our small groups) for which there was a flier inserted in the bulletin listing the groups. as soon as i finished announcements and stepped off the stage, a young man approached me. it was his first time at mission, and was there for the band. he introduced himself, and immediately pointed at the flier and asked, "what's this all about?" he was directing my attention to the gay men's and lesbian women's sanctuaries. i said, "those are groups for gay men and lesbian women to meet together and discuss their faith journey." he immediately launched into his (what seemed rehearsed...) argument against homosexuality. this was all taking place right next to the stage in the middle of our service during our "pass the peace" (ironic?) time when we mingle and meet new people. he was still arguing with me as rich was taking the stage to start preaching. i let him know that i'd love to visit more with him after the gathering, and he then walked out, taking several friends with him, and they didn't return.

it's a shame they didn't return, because i think they could have benefited from the message that night. rich talked about the need for people of differing opinions - nations, churches, politicians - to sit together at the table of dialogue. people aren't always going to agree on boring would that be?! and granted, dialogue is difficult. yet people seem too often to take the road of rallying around those different than themselves to create a common enemy...that seems to be easier than wrestling with the possibility that your ideas could change. (i've got a whole post coming on the topic of "the other.")

what did i learn from this? information in print doesn't communicate the same thing to everyone if everyone doesn't know the story of the one printing it. i have gotten comfortable in the fact that a majority of the community/neighborhood in which i live has been exposed to the story of missiongathering. when we invite people from outside of that microcosm, we need to use the lens/filter of retelling our story in the midst of communicating things that are going on in our church. then maybe in the context of that story dialogue can ensue with those who differ with us. ~aroll

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

and so it begins...2 gatherings!

well, missiongathering is now officially a multiple-service faith community after our first 7:00p gathering last sunday. it was a crazy and long day, roller-coaster of emotions (see subsequent posts...i've got about 4 that i'm currently trying to get out of my head and onto the blog), but was an exciting new chapter in the story of missiongathering. between the two services we had over 225 people walk through the doors of missiongathering and experience our expression of the story of the grace of God. i know i was incredibly nervous about whether or not anyone was going to show up on sunday night, but we had 130+...apparently covering an entire college campus with bright orange rave cards is somewhat effective. future of forestry brought a great vibe musically, but i must admit i'm ready for the beautiful rescue to rock it next week. plus it means i don't have to break down my gear after the 10a gathering. wahoo! it's the little things, eh? the more thought-provoking posts as a result of sunday's experiences. ~aroll

Thursday, October 16, 2008

new gathering times at missiongathering

i can't believe that it's already here, but we launch our 2nd gathering at missiongathering this sunday. i'm not sure that it really has hit me (or most of the staff) yet, but it's exciting. hopefully we'll have people show up...if you go to mission, don't forget that sunday morning gathering time moves to 10:00 this sunday. we'll see you there. you can still download and save the card below by clicking here to send to your friends! see you sunday... ~aroll

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NO on Prop 8...part 1

so here is part 1 in my effort to get the word out about how inaccurate, inflammatory, and inhumane prop 8 and its propaganda is. the new "NO on 8" television ads are starting to directly refute the "yes on 8" tv ads that use outright lies and misinformation such as churches losing their tax exempt status, citing a single incident in massachusetts to incite parents of school children, etc. this is a paragraph from the decision handed down by the California Supreme Court overturning Prop 22 (paragraph breaks are mine for easier reading):
A number of factors lead us to this conclusion. First, the exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage clearly is not necessary in order to afford full protection to all of the rights and benefits that currently are enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples; permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not deprive opposite-sex couples of any rights and will not alter the legal framework of the institution of marriage, because same-sex couples who choose to marry will be subject to the same obligations and duties that currently are imposed on married opposite-sex couples.

Second, retaining the traditional definition of marriage and affording same-sex couples only a separate and differently named family relationship will, as a realistic matter, impose appreciable harm on same-sex couples and their children, because denying such couples access to the familiar and highly favored designation of marriage is likely to cast doubt on whether the official family relationship of same-sex couples enjoys dignity equal to that of opposite-sex couples.

Third, because of the widespread disparagement that gay individuals historically have faced, it is all the more probable that excluding same-sex couples from the legal institution of marriage is likely to be viewed as reflecting an official view that their committed relationships are of lesser stature than the comparable relationships of opposite-sex couples.

Finally, retaining the designation of marriage exclusively for opposite- sex couples and providing only a separate and distinct designation for same-sex couples may well have the effect of perpetuating a more general premise — now emphatically rejected by this state — that gay individuals and same-sex couples are in some respects “second-class citizens” who may, under the law, be treated differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals or opposite-sex couples. Under these circumstances, we cannot find that retention of the traditional definition of marriage constitutes a compelling state interest. Accordingly, we conclude that to the extent the current California statutory provisions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, these statutes are unconstitutional.
even if you may not agree with my stance on this issue, if you are a california voter, please at least do your own thinking and own research and don't just buy the propaganda that would deny basic human rights to a group of human beings. i will be continuing the dialogue here as we get closer to the election. ~aroll

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

remember Jesus...the offensive Gospel

i have heard and spoken frequently on the "offensive" nature of the Gospel for several years. it's the idea, and the reality, that the basic message that God tells through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, is offensive and off-putting to those steeped in the institution of religion.

in the time of Jesus, it was the sadducees, pharisees, and other religious leaders who were upset by the fact that Jesus lived and taught that the kingdom of God was for all people while hanging out with lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, and others marginalized by society. they were offended that someone would dare discuss the scriptures and things of God, Yahweh, with those not good enough to be allowed in the temple...the unclean in their eyes. how dare Jesus defile religion in this way.

"love God. love others. everything of the Law and the prophets hang on this." the very words of Jesus, God in the flesh. this Gospel is still offensive today, and it's offensive to those steeped in religion. starting with our Easter ad campaign, our public "branding" (for lack of a better term) has been a direct reflection of our theology: Christianity for ALL. with our current round of fliers and billboards advertising our new service times, we have been trying to get them in college newspapers. we just got an email last night from a local Christian university saying they won't run our postcard insert because "it violates our mission as a university." and apparently the message of Jesus scares large evangelical megachurches to the point of taking shots at "a certain urban church" for preaching such an offensive message.

please...because of the love of God: remember Jesus. ~aroll

Monday, October 6, 2008

sermon notes - remember Jesus

here are my sermon notes from this past sunday if anyone is interested. the two books that supported me the most in this sermon are by don everts: Jesus with Dirty Feet and God in the Flesh. you can listen to the podcast here. enjoy. ~aroll

Remember Jesus by alex roller

I am going to do everything I can to make this message as apolitical as I can. And I am going to tell this opening story with as much grace and compassion as I can muster. So, with those disclaimers, here we go…

Adams Ave. Story
- young woman
- heard about us from someone who attends MG
- seemed very planned
- round and round disagreeing
- “I appreciate that you’ve done research and studied, but I want to take Scripture in context.”
o Uh…that’s what I was doing…the ORIGINAL context
- “Well, I have to go with what I have been taught and what the Holy Spirit has confirmed in my heart”
o Uh…that’s what I am doing too…listening to the Spirit.
- “scripture says the church should be unified”
- Around what? - truth…what is truth?
- Rolls eyes…Jesus is the truth
- I said exactly…and that’s what I want to talk about today…Jesus.

I know it may seem rather simplistic. In the last couple of days when I have been asked what I was preaching on this morning, I would almost feel lame in saying, “Jesus.”

God Reveals Himself in Jesus
• This Book, the Bible, is the story of God and His people.
• God has a long history of revealing Himself to His people.
Walked with Adam in the Garden of Eden.
Burning bush, pillar of fire, still small voice…a donkey (Numbers 22).
But God’s people didn’t always, and still continue not to, get it nor pay attention.
• From the time of the last prophet of the Old Testament – the Italian prophet Malachi – until the time of Jesus, God was silent for around 400 years.
• And then something happened. God grew tired of the meaningless sacrifices and the separation between Him and His
• John 1
Jesus was fully God and fully human…but being fully God He is a perfect revelation of God.
Logos – all logic, reson, reality – everything that has ever been true, real and resonated with the universe.
Sarx – literally flesh or skin
God in the flesh…
God wasn’t in the Holy of Holies anymore…He came out!!
Out of The Message – “God moved into the neighborhood.”
Pulled back the curtain.
He was no longer hidden from the world
Immanuel – God with us…
Passage from Jesus With Dirty Feet (p.32-35)
Through the life, words, and actions of Jesus we see the heart of God:
Compassion, Grace, Love, Community, Instruction, Life, Sacrifice
The disciples got an incredible understanding of who God is in the 3 years they spent with Jesus 24/7.
• The disciples who were rejected from being rabbis because they weren’t good enough got a better understanding of God than the rabbis themselves.
• There was still mystery…certainly things that they didn’t understand about what Jesus said or did sometimes, but they saw the heart of God.

When It Comes Down To It…
• The reality is that God is all there is to know. It sounds simplistic and churchy, but it’s true.
• God created everything and is therefore the true source of all we need to know.
• There are a lot of things about life, the world, other people, science that are definitely important and good to know…we would be in a world of hurt if we didn’t know some of those things.
o But when it comes down to it, God is what we need to know.
o As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2: “I’ve resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
• In the midst of knowing God, though, there will always be a tension of mystery and revelation.
• Regardless we look to what we do have and know, and that is the life and person of Jesus, the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) who was the fullness of God (Colossians 1:19).
• There are a lot of questions that we have, other issues about Scripture and life that the church has made important, has argued about, has even killed over in the course of history.
• Let’s go back to the early church, though.
o Focused so much on Jesus
o Gospels were written to tell the story of Jesus…the details of how He lived, who He touched, hung out with, healed, talked to, didn’t talk to.
o The teachers of the Law wanted to focus on the list of things to do and not do, but Jesus lived a bigger picture of that…a picture that we are called to follow as “Christ-ones” or “Christians” as it became.
o The church was about telling the story of Jesus…every detail, every person’s story, every miracle.
o “That’s church. Transmitting from person to person the truth about Jesus.” – Don Everts from God in the Flesh, p.17
• Jesus lived a life of grace…
o He went to the outcasts and sinners
o He defied the religious leaders of his day
o It was about grace and love
o Matthew 22:34-40
• “love God with all your heart, soul, mind & strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.”
• This is the basis of it all…everything about the life of Jesus and His ministry
• All the other things that we may have confused don’t really matter.
• Are there things in scripture that we need to know? Yes
• Are there things that are right and wrong for our lives? Yes
o We are called to be followers of JESUS…
• Not the idol of Scripture, but the LIVING WORD.
• Not the idol of Paul’s letters, but the One Paul pointed to.
• Not a set of moralistic rules, but the One who fulfilled the Law.

Live the Person of Jesus
- So as we follow the person of Jesus, we are called to live our lives modeled after Jesus, transmitting the truth about Jesus from person to person.
- St. Francis: “preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.”
o Sometimes what we’re doing in life speaks so loudly people can’t hear what we’re actually saying with our words.
o Colossians 3:12-14, 17
• Every part of our lives should and can reflect and reveal the reality of God.
• It’s our attitudes, how we treat people, how we think.
- But it’s bigger than our attitudes.
- Sometimes love requires action.
- We are called to reveal the love and the compassion of God to all people.
- Following World War II some German students volunteered to help rebuild a cathedral in England, one that had been badly damaged by the Luftwaffe bombings. As the work progressed, they weren't sure how to best restore a large statue of Jesus with has arms outstretched and bearing the familiar inscription, "Come unto Me." They were able to repair all the damage to the statue except for Christ's hands which had been completely destroyed. Should they even attempt to rebuild these? Finally, the workers reached a decision that still stands today. They decided to leave the hands off and changed the inscription to read: "Christ has no hands but ours."
- It breaks down to those cheesy little bracelets that were everywhere about 10 years ago: WWJD.
- Jimmy t-shirts – the reality is more like: HCIDWJWDIIDKWJD
- We have let our picture of Jesus become blurred.
o Gnostics – separation of physical (bad) & spiritual (good)…led to them believing and teaching that Jesus wasn’t human.
o In recent years in order to make the idea of Jesus more palatable, we have focused on Jesus as human, a great teacher.
o They may have been well-meaning, but it has eroded our picture of Jesus.
o Even those of us who have spent most of our lives in the church can become “home blind” to the person of Jesus and the stories we’ve always known.
- Paul writing to Timothy…leader of the church, one day a Bishop, reminded him of what was important.
o 2 Timothy 2:8-9
o Remember Jesus…this is my gospel
o Resolve to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

- God in the Flesh p.22-23

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"welcome to the end of productivity"

in the witty words of travis, apparently my ability to get anything done is now coming to a screeching halt. after many years of resisting online social networking sites, i have broken down and created a facebook profile. i will admit the straw that broke the camel's back was getting an invitation to join facebook from my cousin beth. i figured it was about time i join... so if you're on facebook, look me up...write something on my wall. (it's gonna take me a while to get used to the new lingo...) ~aroll

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

tattoos galore!

last weekend, our church had a booth at a local street fair (adams ave. street fair). it was my first time to that street fair, and i was blown away. the fair was huge with multiple stages for live music, carnival rides, and of course food, food, and more food. thousands of people from all over san diego came to hang out, eat, listen to music, and be inundated with tons of businesses trying to sell them things.

at our booth, we did free airbrush tattoos. most people were surprised that we weren't charging, and that a church would be doing tattoos. there was a group of elementary-aged boys who kept coming back to get more, and i'm pretty sure they had every stencil that we brought tattooed on them somewhere...well, except the little butterfly one. i enjoyed seeing the smiles on people's faces - kids and adults - having fun with it. more than once we had adults who wanted to get one to scare a spouse. i wish i could have seen the spouses' faces! i will say, though, that the sound of an air compressor at this point might send me to the mental institution! here are some photos from the weekend:

Friday, September 26, 2008

scary celebrity obsessions

so the "news" finally broke yesterday that clay aiken is gay. was anyone really surprised? i think it's great that he can be open about who he is and not live a life in hiding. i greatly respect his thought process about raising his son:
"It was the first decision I made as a father," Aiken told the magazine, which arrives on newsstands Friday. "I cannot raise a child to lie or to hide things. I wasn't raised that way, and I'm not going to raise a child to do that."
it takes a lot of courage to be a single parent, especially as a gay man. clay seems to have many people around him who care deeply about him, to support him, and to support his son.

okay...enough about clay. i was reading an associated press article where they were discussing the reactions of clay aiken fans - "claymates." wow...some crazy responses that i find scary, truly sublime, dumb, and somewhat ridiculous. i feel bad for people who have such little excitement in their lives that their worlds begin to revolve around celebrities. for example:
"This is really shocking news as I had no idea he was gay," read a comment posted by "Sheridansq." "And now I have to deal with this. I am not sure what to say to people who know I was a fan. ... I didn't go to work today and am not answering the telephone."
really? not answering the phone for fear of ridicule for someone you don't even know personally being gay? Lord help us! ~aroll

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

home sweet urban home

ah, how good it feels to be back home in san diego. i had a great time at my reunion, catching up with old friends, laughing and reminiscing, seeing family and friends in okc, but i am very glad to be home.

while back in okc i had a bit of culture shock. not the culture shock you would assume coming from the west coast back to middle america. it was actually socio-economic culture shock. i went to a small independent private school in suburban oklahoma city. the vast majority of students who attend there come from wealthy families. (on a side note it was interesting to see how much more money has poured into that school since i left.) my family didn't have a ton of money...we were comfortable, and my parents did a lot to be able to provide for me and allow me to do a lot of the things i wanted to do, but we certainly didn't have the same money that most of my classmates did. my mom was a teacher at my school, so that helped with our tuition significantly. regardless, i was around and in a pretty upper class, white, suburban world.

fast forward 10 years to me living in a neighborhood under redevelopment frequented by police cars and helicopters, with bars on the windows, cool local coffee shops and the constant parade of homeless people. i've been in this neighborhood 1.5 years, and i love it. it's home. i am lower middle class, living paycheck to paycheck and rarely need to go more than a mile from my house, walking to church, riding my bike to the office, walking to the grocery store and countless new local restaurants and bars. going back to okc was weird. i've been back for holidays, but something was different. i was at a luncheon at the home of the parents of a former classmate with their 5,000 square foot home on the lake eating lunch under a tent on their tennis court. it's a gorgeous home owned and opened up to us by a wonderful family...but it was so foreign. please hear me - this is not an indictment on white suburbia. if i had stayed in oklahoma, there is a strong likelihood i would still be in that world. but now i'm not, and it felt much safer, in a weird way, to be driving back into my far more urban neighborhood as jay drove me home from the airport on monday. it's not the world in which i grew up, but it's now normal to me...home sweet urban home. ~aroll

Monday, September 22, 2008

reunion playlist highlights

so in my last post, i promised a highlight list of some of the songs i have on the playlist i created for my 10-yr high school reunion last weekend. i pulled together songs that were significant to us as a class and popular at the time. in no particular order, some highlights are:

i'll be - edwin mcccain
all for you - sister hazel
closing time - semisonic
bittersweet symphony - the verve
good riddance - greenday
how's it going to be - third eye blind
too legit to quit - mc hammer
you learn - alanis morissette
one week - barenaked ladies
a long december - counting crows
champagne supernova - oasis
everybody (backstreet's back) - backstreet boys
the freshman - verve pipe
so much to say - dave matthews band
friends - michael w. smith
angel - sarah mclachlan
one headlight - the wallflowers
i've got friends in low places - garth brooks

it was a fun trip down memory lane putting the whole playlist many songs i had forgotten about!! it's fun and scary to listen to. ~aroll

Friday, September 19, 2008

back in oklahoma

well, i arrived late last night back in oklahoma city for my 10-year high school reunion. i can't believe it has been 10 years since i graduated high school. i am actually looking forward to seeing people. i have only kept in touch with my friend lance cook who was my best friend in high school, so i think it's going to be fun to see how people have changed (or haven't), hear what people are doing, etc. my graduating class was 65 people, and of those 65, 37 of us were together since the first grade - a group known as the "lifers." of the lifers, i think something like 25 of us had been together since preschool. crazy, eh? needless to say no one really dated within our class as it would have been like dating your brother or your sister.

reunion festivities begin tonight with a dinner before the football game (which we are favored to win 33-14 over davis), cocktail party tonight, picnic tomorrow afternoon, then party tomorrow night at a hotel downtown. i'll keep the blog updated with any crazy stories. oh, and i'm putting together a playlist of music from my high school days. i'll post some highlights of that playlist in another entry.

on a somewhat unrelated note, i was just outside on the phone with my high school youth pastor (who i hope will still be the best man at my wedding) and saw a row of "mccain/palin" yard signs...i truly am back in oklahoma. *sigh*

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"a change will do you good..."

well, in the immortal words of sheryl crow, "a change will do you good." i have been waiting to post this bit of news until it had been officially announced. starting monday, september 22, i will be full time at missiongathering as the pastor of connection and spiritual formation! i have resigned my full time position at west elm, but i will be staying on in a casual role there working one day a week or so. while i have learned a lot in retail management and the world of sales, it's not who i am wired to be.

i have known since i was in high school that i wanted to be in ministry. while in college i served as the junior high intern then as the junior high director at asbury united methodist church in tulsa, oklahoma. i then moved to san diego to be the middle school pastor at journey community church. after 3 years there and volunteer hours at the national youth workers convention, i joined the staff of youth specialties to help train and encourage youth pastors. my journey into retail began when zondervan bought ys and my job was downsized. thankfully in the midst of these and some other circumstances, i had found missiongathering - a community of faith where, on my first sunday there, i felt like i was home.

i have been playing in the band at mission for two years and have been on part-time staff for a year as part of the teaching team, helping with programming and production, and coordinating special events. now that i am full time, i will be overseeing leadership development (we're growing and can't afford to have the staff driving everything), spiritual formation (small groups, retreats, spiritual direction, spiritual growth), community connections (connecting people within mission and connecting mission to the community), and providing some structure to new ministries and programs within mission. we are growing in some great ways at missiongathering, but boy do i have my work cut out for me. regardless, though, i am very excited to be serving my church in this way and am excited about being able to wake up looking forward to going to work.

so there we go...a new adventure ahead...more to come, i'm sure. ~aroll

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

a 12-mile walk...

imagine having to walk 6 miles one-way to get water or get to school. imagine having to walk 6 miles back home. this is the plight of thousands of women and children in zambia, africa. in a country ravaged by poverty and disease and the AIDS pandemic, education, clean water and sanitation are keys to growth and survival.

this saturday, september 13 is the second-annual walktheirwalk walk-a-thon to raise money for the region of twachiyanda, zambia. last year the walk raised over $27,000 to complete the building of a school, with 125 walkers participating. this year we are already at 250+ registered with a goal to build 2 fresh-water wells and a latrine. for more information, to donate, or to register visit

if you're a praying person, please pray for safety, good weather, enthusiasm, still more walkers, and that the event and the money raised will change the hearts of students and people here in the united states and change lives for the better in zambia. ~aroll

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sermon Notes

So those of you who are waiting on my sermon notes from my message on Paul's Letters and Homosexuality, they are coming. I have to rework them so that they make sense for normal readers. Also, the podcast is going to take a little while. Our sound guy accidentally erased the recording of my sermon while trying to save it. I will be redoing the sermon in the office just for the sake of having a recording. It will still likely be a couple of weeks before it is up. Thanks for your patience. If you have any questions in the meantime, email me at ~aroll

Friday, June 27, 2008

making a statement

several weeks ago missiongathering hosted the church basement roadshow. that tour is partially sponsored by compassion international. members of our church sponsored several children, and we took a special offering to donate to compassion in lieu of our normal offering. here is the bulk of a letter i just finished on behalf of our church that we will be sending with the donation:

One of the couples that are a key part of our leadership at the church sponsored a child and brought something to our attention. While going through the materials about what they are and are not allowed to send to their child, they read this section: “In addition, we will not forward materials depicting persons dressed in immodest clothing or engaging in activities inconsistent with our ministry values and beliefs, including the living out of a homosexual lifestyle.” This section specifically was brought to our attention, as our church is an open and affirming church with several homosexual men and women in key and active roles in our community. While I understand the reality of other cultures where Compassion is working, this policy and perspective on a group of people is very disappointing to hear about an organization I have supported for years.

The message of Jesus is one of grace and inclusion, not judgment and exclusion. Jesus reached out to the marginalized and oppressed, the tired and hungry, the poor and the needy, and the shunned and outcast alike. The gay and lesbian community has been for so long condemned and ostracized by the church, and even those that have found a connection with their faith again (or for the first time) are very sensitive to language of exclusion. Are you suggesting that homosexuals are not or cannot be Christians? Missiongathering believes in the Grace and Love of Christ, and we seek to extend that to all people. Could the language of your materials take more into consideration the cultures to which sponsors are writing instead of imposing a set of beliefs on someone who might believe in the cause of social justice? Beyond the gay and lesbian community, even those in our church who aren’t gay but have been marginalized or hurt by the church are sensitive to the reality of exclusive language instead sharing the reality of the Grace of God for all people.

I don’t expect one letter from a small church to change the opinion of a large, international organization. I don’t expect the story and heart of one group of believers to affect the beliefs and doctrine of the executive leadership. I wrote this letter with a sense of hope. My hope is this: that Compassion International as an organization will open its eyes to the reality of those still marginalized by the people of God even as it endeavors to help the needy and oppressed in the name of God. We as a church are firm believers in speaking for the orphans, the widows, and the helpless. Missiongathering does so in many ways including supporting Invisible Children and through our own Street Angels Ministry, which is an outreach to homeless teenagers in San Diego. We also believe firmly in the truth that God’s Grace extends to all people, and we stand up for that message in every arena possible.

i believe in the work that compassion is doing, i was just struck by the wording of the statement. as the leadership of the church discussed this, we decided to still send the money as a matter of integrity, but to also voice our beliefs and understanding of the gospel of grace of Jesus. we must continue to stand for the truth as people of grace. it's not always easy to find the ways to do that, but we start where we can with what we know and what we do. ~aroll

Monday, June 16, 2008

the good ole' days

i can't believe at the ripe old age of 28 i am already saying things like this, but my how times have changed. on wednesday of last week, i filled up my gas tank to head up to los angeles for a couple of days to help some friends with an event. i had not filled up my tank in several weeks. it cost $75 to fill my tank!! my heart skipped a beat, i think, as the numbers just kept going up until the pump finally clicked off. on my way home tonight, i stopped to get some gas and paid $4.59 per gallon. back when i was a kid and first started driving at the age of 16, i paid $.76 a gallon. at one of the intersections near my school, there were 3 gas stations - 7-11, conoco, and phillips 66. they were constantly having price wars which made that corner the cheapest gas in all of oklahoma city. it was my sophomore or junior year in college before gas prices went over $1.00.

i am just grateful that i don't have to drive very far these days. my two farthest drives are to work and to the turf club. it's one of the great advantages of now living in a more urban area, and in proximity to so many things. next step is getting my bike fixed so i can start riding to more places...maybe even to work!! ~aroll

Thursday, June 5, 2008

the merging of story, art, and clothing

i just got back from a meeting with my friend kevin murray at jedidiah about our street angels ministry that is a part of our outreach at missiongathering. in that meeting, kevin was updating us on what's new with jedidiah and told me about a cool new community they are building online. each month they ask a question and have people submit stories around that question. the staff then picks three of the best stories and creates artwork for a t-shirt around those stories. they will then post the artwork for the community to vote on. the winning shirt will be added to the jedidiah collection that will be sold in stores and online. how cool is that? letting art imitate life, letting art tell story, and celebrate the stories of a community. check it out here. ~aroll

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


so after months of being in the "emerging star" program (management training) at west elm and weeks of going back and forth regarding when it was going to happen, i f was promoted today to coordinator! it's still an hourly position, but i will at long last be getting paid better for and have the authority to do the manager functions i've already been doing for months. i'm not an assistant manager yet, but at least it's a step in the right direction. i'll have a store key to open and close the store by myself and everything...after hours at the store!! ok, not really, but i've thought about throwing a hell of a party in the store. watch out, corporate, here i come! ~aroll

Friday, May 30, 2008

the collective gasp

i went to the midnight showing of "sex and the city" last night. yes i know that might be a little frightening/sad for some of you, but it's carrie, miranda, charlotte, and samantha!!! if you haven't seen the movie yet, stop reading here. i'm not giving anything major away, just a fun moment in the movie. when big shows carrie her closet in their new house, it is an awe inspiring moment. big opens the double doors into the mansion of a closet he built for carrie, and at that moment there was a collective gasp in the theatre that sucked nearly every bit of oxygen out of the room. i looked around and saw every woman with their hand over her mouth in amazement. i laughed. sure, i was jealous of the closet too, but not enough to contribute to the vacuum. if you ever saw an episode of "sex and the city," you must go see the movie. if you haven't but like funny, art-imitating-life movies, go see it. ~aroll

Thursday, May 22, 2008

missional church series & my posting...

so at missiongathering, we have been in a series for the last few weeks about the missional church called "heroes: save the church save the world." we created a website for the series for a couple of reasons: 1. we wanted to create an open source website for other churches to use the material and have access to graphics, videos, etc. sermon notes are posted as well. 2. we wanted to create a place for our community to connect and dialogue about the content of the series. in light of the website and my lack of time to barely keep up with one blog, the vast majority of my ideas on church and theology will likely end up there. check it out by clicking here. ~aroll

the grandeur of a "calling"

last night at my sanctuary, we were talking about what it means to live missionally - a topic that i preached on sunday morning. in the course of the conversation, jay brought up the question of what each one of us is doing to act on it this week, what is our "piece" of living missionally. we went around the circle sharing what it might look like for each one of us personally, with it being acceptable, of course, to still be figuring it out. one girl shared that she wasn't sure what her calling was so she didn't know what her "piece" was.

in the last 3-4 months, this is an idea/issue i have been wrestling with quite a bit. there are several components of my life - job, relationship, circumstances - with which i'm not very happy/satisfied/content. through many conversations, tears, and journaling, i've come to the reality of the need to simply live in the present. my friends holly and ryan sharp from san francisco wrote a song called "you might not know you're home 'til you've landed." the chorus closes with the line "your two feet may tell you where you're standing." there is a sense in which i think we caught up in the grandeur of a calling. it sounds so noble: "i am called to help the poor in india." is a calling a good thing? absolutely. for me, my perception of my calling and passion has been a source of frustration and sometimes depression. my calling is much bigger than my circumstances are allowing right now. what i've realized is that i need to look where my own two feet are and do the best with my circumstances. i may not have everything i want now, may not be doing everything i want to do now, but now isn't forever. so what can i accomplish now? how do i live into who i am in the context of my life at the moment.

so what's my "piece" right now of living my faith out? i am being open about my faith. for a long time when i would be out meeting new people, i would be shy/reserved/hesitant about mentioning my involvement in a church and my faith. why? i suppose i was afraid of being labeled, rejected, or written off given the experience many in our community have had with the church. since my decision to not really care how people react when i talk about it, i have had some really great conversations about church, God, faith, and life. some people have mocked and been negative, but mostly people are intrigued or honestly don't care one way or another. the lesson: don't get lost in hope of finding and living the grandeur of your calling (which you may or may not have/find/know) and simply decide who you are now and what you do in the moment. calling will come without sacrificing the impact i can have now. ~aroll

Monday, May 19, 2008

music makes me happy

in college i started out as a double-major in history and music. music has always been a huge part of my life. i took piano from the age of 4 to 17. in middle school, high school, and college, i studied classical vocal music - opera, art song, etc. when i lived in tulsa during college i would frequently go to the opera, the philharmonic, and the ballet with my aunt and uncle. in my 6.5 years of living in san diego, i had yet to go to any of those musical/art experiences...until yesterday. sean laperruque, the violin player in our band at missiongathering, got us tickets to the symphony. i was so excited. there was the music from a ballet inspired by oscar wilde, the Tchaikovsky piano concerto no. 1, and Dvorak's symphony "from the new world." i left the hall with a big grin on my face. it was a wonderful afternoon. music really does make me happy....more on this topic coming soon. ~aroll

Monday, March 10, 2008

an almost perfect day...

this month is a bit on the insane side for my schedule. yesterday our church moved to a new location (luckily just across the street) on daylight savings day (that was brilliant for our community who can't be on time on a normal sunday), this coming weekend i fly to st. louis for my college roommate's wedding, then it's Easter, and then we host the emc tour with brian mclaren. after church, a few of us decided to go hiking on cowles mtn. it's a beautiful and not-too-strenuous hike. danica and jason brought their dog colbie, sarah brought her water bottle, and i brought my nalgene...but i intentionally left my watch and my phone in the car. those who may know me even a little can appreciate what a monumental moment that was for me. we hiked to the top while about every other person warned us of a rattlesnake further up the trail. that part was rather anticlimactic as the snake was curled up asleep under a rock. it was a beautiful day...after the hike we decided to head back to danica and jason's place to hit the hot tub where my best friend jay joined us. we then ordered pizza, i made my special coronas, and we watched the simpson's movie. and by watched i mean most of us drifted in and out of sleep while the movie played. we had all had a very long weekend. it's been a while since i've had an afternoon just to relax with friends like that. it was really fantastic. can't wait for another sunday afternoon like that...sometime in april! ~aroll

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

update on sweet baby james...

so i got my tickets from my parents!!! i think they're going to be good seats. section b, row c, kind of off to the side. it's going to be so awesome to be there. thanks mom and dad for such a thoughtful birthday gift. of course everyone is now asking me who i'm taking...july is a long way away...i have no idea. i guess i can start taking applications and bribes... ~aroll

Thursday, February 28, 2008

sweet baby james

when i picked my phone up out of my locker on my lunch break yesterday, i had a voicemail from my father. i haven't really spoken to him in 2 months. his message asked me to call him so that he could talk to me about my birthday. it's 2 months first thought was that they wanted to fly out here for my birthday or send me a ticket to fly home or something. as it turns out, they want to buy me tickets to the new james taylor tour this summer. i grew up listening to james taylor, simon & garfunkel, peter paul & mary, etc. my parents have seen james in concert 5 times, and i never have. his new tour will combine his old full band stuff with his new one-man-band music. the show will be at the greek amphitheater in los angeles. i was blown away. it's an incredibly thoughtful birthday gift...i'm so stoked!! thanks mom and dad. tickets went on sale today...can't wait to find out what they get! ~aroll

Saturday, February 23, 2008

why blog?

i posted the "most annoying things" post while on my lunch break the other day. the corner bakery cafe across the street from the store has great pasta and free wifi...nice combo. i returned and made some comment to one of my managers regarding my blog post about our annoying sale customers. he said, "blog? who reads it?" i paused for a moment and realized that nobody really reads it - occasionally some friends and in the beginning my parents. judging by the lack of any sort of post recently, i'm guessing that again no one is reading it. so why do i continue to post? i suppose it brings some form of catharsis for me. i love to write, and i don't have much opportunity to do so anymore. i also usually have a lot going on in my brain and need some way to process it. then why do it in a public space? i don't know. some level of pressure to be "hip" creeps in. maybe it's some level of hope that my thoughts or observations could be helpful to someone somewhere. i don't really know, but i will continue to use this blog as a place to muse, rant, vent, cry, hope, dream, laugh... ~aroll

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

the most annoying things...

on my way to work this morning i was listening to the jeff & jer showgram on 94.1 fm. i am a faithful morning listener (when i'm up in the morning during the week which is everyday but thursday). this morning they had people calling in with their ideas of what are the most annoying things. responses ranged from automated phone messages to people bringing fruit to the office from their own backyards. one of my favorite ones was "inner-office envelopes." that one was suggested by laura, one of the on-air personalities. i thought that one was brilliant. they are annoying - all of those names scratched off, the little figure-8 string that inevitably comes i was listening to the responses, i wanted to call in and say, "sale customers...definitely the most annoying." i arrived at the store at the same time as my manager sabrina who had been listening as well. ironically she had brought fruit, but not from her backyard. she absolutely agreed that sale customers are the most annoying...they hover over you expecting you to mark things down more; they pull everything off the cart and out of the wall; they come in everyday and do the same thing hoping that items are even cheaper; then, they return it all. really? return something that's $1.99? ugh...i can't wait until all of our sale merchandise is gone!! ~aroll

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

the happiest place on earth...mind over matter pt. 2

sunday afternoon i went to disneyland - the happiest place on earth. jay's girlfriend's 6'5" little brother was celebrating his birthday, and they needed more adults to be around. so i got a free ticket to disneyland. i haven't been since the anaheim ys convention in 2004. jay and i drove up in the afternoon after church/load-out/in-n-out and got there around 3:30. given the post from last week, i wasn't in the best place psychologically or emotionally. i had a good time. we laughed a lot, made memories, enjoyed the fireworks, watched interesting people. but i will have to say i felt this immense pressure to be happy. jay even said, "if you can't be happy here, you can't be happy anywhere." theme parks are hard for me lately. i'm not a rider of roller coasters (ironic given my last name), and seeing families/couples together is really difficult. in spite of my last post, i found myself forcing my mind and my heart to be happy...or at least smile and laugh. it was a big day for jay - hanging out at his favorite place with his girlfriend and his best friend enjoying great food after a morning of church and playing music. i think a part of it was not wanting to bring the day down for the other people around me. it was exhausting. i don't like not being happy. my gm at the store even said the last week that i've not been myself lately. disney is celebrating their "year of a million dreams" making trips and experiences - dreams - for people come true. what about my dreams? can mickey make those come true? lol...maybe one day... ~aroll

Friday, February 15, 2008

mind over matter...

i've heard that phrase for most all of my life. my earliest memories of that are from my mother...when i was sick, when i was upset, when i was being tickled. low and behold it has worked for most of my life. as i grew up, i used it to suppress and hide my emotions - when i was sad, upset, frustrated, angry, even happy sometimes. i believe there is some truth to the "power of positive thinking." again from my childhood: "act enthusiastic, and you'll be enthusiastic!" i'm at a place now where i'm trying my darnedest to live into that. maybe it's my current life circumstances, but i'm finding it increasingly more difficult to live in that frame of mind. as much as i want to have a positive outlook, the honest truth is that i hate my life right now. my job is not fulfilling, my relationship with my parents is beyond estranged, my bank account is non-existent, my hope for a dating relationship is mind isn't powerful enough right now to rise above the reality of my life. yes...i am very blessed in many respects - i have shelter, a job, a car, an amazing group of friends and community, a church that loves and supports me. the reality and emotions of the matter looms so large that it seems insurmountable. so my mind tries a day at a time to survive this period of desolation as it longs for some sort of consolation. ~aroll