Saturday, February 21, 2015

A life verse and an honest confession

So recently I have been really challenged by a verse in the Bible, and when I share it some of you may laugh and say "yeah, you totally need to embrace it." And I would agree, but hopefully you will keep reading and allow for me to explain why.

Each year I have been trying to find a word, verse, chapter, or passage in Scripture that I can make my "life verse" for that year, and my life in general. It has been a while since I have talked about this, because well, duh, I haven't written in a long time. But this verse has been something I have wanted to talk about for a long time! So here verse this year is James 1:19-20 "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of man."

So let me hit the obvious first. I like talking...A LOT! There have been times that certain people in my life gave a look, a smack, or just told me to stop talking because I tend to take over conversations. And most of you reading this know that about me. It isn't like I am espousing some awesome new truth about the life of Nick. I like to talk, which is probably one of the reasons I am in the profession I am now.

But this verse has more to do with my life than just telling me to shut it, and if you will bear with me for a short (hopefully short) while I will try to explain it.

I have noticed this past year that in many situations I have controlled a conversation I shouldn't have. I have talked way more than I should have and didn't listen nearly as much as I needed to. If I have done that to you, please accept my sincere apologies. It is never my intent to do that and I know that I have probably alienated some of you by doing so. I never look to take the spotlight or to be the focal point, but I know it sure seems that way.

This verse has been jumping out to me like a slap to the face since November of this past year, and I only began to listen around Christmas time (another character flaw...I am super stubborn!). And when I began to listen I realized that yeah, I talk a lot but I also don't listen. If you have ever been in a conversation with me you may have noticed that when someone else speaks I tend to finish their sentences, or immediately jump in when they pause to breathe, or I just start talking over them.

Realizing this has been hard on me. I have realized that I have made others feel like what they have to say doesn't matter, I have seemed prideful, and I have pushed people away because I don't listen. Again, I am sorry for this and that is not who I am nor who I want to be perceived as.

This verse has challenged me to not only be slow to speak but also quick to listen. I love to fix problems! Most guys do, and because of that we, I, often offer up solutions without truly hearing what the other person is saying. So I am striving to make that my goal this year. Not to stop being a fixer or problem solver, but instead to listen, to process, and respond in kind. For me that means pausing before speaking, truly listening to others, and processing what to say in response to what was said.

Hopefully you will begin to see a difference in how I respond when we talk. Know that this is a process for me and I am learning through this. Please help keep me accountable and be willing to grab me by my face to make me listen if necessary (just not too hard, I am pretty fragile), and be praying for me. God is teaching me a lot and I have been really challenged by this. My prayer is two-fold in this. One that God helps to make me a better Christ follower and leader, and two that others may see Christ in me and have a desire to grow to be more like Him as well. I want to be man of God who is seen as righteous not because of anything I do, say, or think but because I am following the Word of God and living by it.

So there it is. An open and honest look into my life and how God is stretching me. Thanks for taking time to read this.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Life update and my attempt to get back into blogging

Wow! It sure has been a while hasn't it? It has been more than a year since I last wrote. That isn't because I don't have anything to say or because I lost my love of writing, life just got....well busy. My last post was from shortly after Elise and I said "I do", and then from there life took off for us! It has been a whirlwind to say the least, and I know if you read Elise's blog you have probably been more up to date with our lives. But I figured I would give everyone a glimpse as well to start off my foray back into blogging. Oh and if you are noticing the new design and layout, you can give props to Elise because she redesigned this a little while back and did an amazing job!

So after I wrote my last post, Elise and I were enjoying our new found life of marriage, but I was also looking for a new job. Many of you know my passion is in youth ministry and helping students to see the love, grace, and healing that Christ brings. And because of that I had been looking for youth ministry positions for a while, and God's timing couldn't have been more perfect.

I had a great job that I was super thankful for in Clinton but it was coming to an end and I knew that I would soon be unemployed if I didn't have a new position, but God led Elise and I to Parkview Church in Iowa City. Now neither of us thought we would end up staying in Iowa. I for one was not really sold on the whole Midwest style of living. Coming from the most densely packed state in the country to a river town with not much around was a complete culture shock for a Jersey Boy like me, but Iowa City was different. It was more urban but with a small town feel. The university and hospital was bringing a ton of young people in, and the surrounding area was exploding with people moving in. It seemed like every day something new was being built.

When Elise and I visited we were a little bit skeptical because we had a packed schedule over a weekend visit, and from the moment we arrived we hit the ground running! Dinner, visiting with staff, dessert, grabbing some sleep, breakfast, contract talk, coffee, meeting more staff, lunch, touring downtown, coffee, more get the idea it was a lot of meetings and food. And let me tell you...The food is amazing!

Anyway, we wrapped up the weekend with me teaching Sunday morning and then attending a Sunday night Youth Group program and we headed home late Sunday night. The whole way back (in fact the whole weekend) Elise and I couldn't stop talking about the church and how we felt there was something different about this position. A couple weeks later after a lot of prayer, conversation with some awesome Godly people, and talking with one another I formally accepted the position at Parkview and joined a team of two others to form a complete Student Ministries office.

Elise then transitioned to part-time with the newspaper she worked at, and as that was happening I was commuting on the weekends to Parkview to begin working with the team and the students. It was a lot for us as newlyweds to handle, but it seemed that God was giving us the strength to make it through it all. I mean I honestly wouldn't recommend to anyone to get married, switch jobs, and move with a 2-3 month period. It was a little crazy to say the least!

Our first few months in Iowa City there were crazy times. We were settling in, trying to adjust to a new pace of life, dealing with dental issues (root canals), transitioning jobs again for Elise, and just trying to live as a married couple. It was tough at some points but through it all Elise and I grew closer and our marriage continued to get stronger! We made some awesome new friends, adjusted to life in a university town (or small city depending who you ask), settled into our jobs (both now at the church), and began to see why God wants us here!

I am loving the ministry I am in, and Elise has jumped right in to help with the high school youth ministry, and has been a huge asset to what we do here. Now life is settling into a pattern, as much as it can being in ministry. We have some super busy times, but always find time to be together and just enjoy being married.

Here are a few other brief updates on my life:

  • Currently our youth team is planning our first concert at Parkview through our Student Ministries office and having The Digital Age come out on March 1st. It promises to be an awesome time and the outreach will be great as the Gospel will be presented. 
  • I have applied to and been accepted by Liberty University and plan to pursue my masters in Biblical Counseling with a Youth and Family Emphasis in the Fall of 2015.
  • I am beginning to work on two books and hope to eventually finish them. One will be on youth ministry and the different styles of leadership. The second will be semi-autobiographical with a focus on dealing with abuse in a Christian home and how to help all those involved (parents, siblings, the abused, and the abuser) as well as the church's response to it.
  • And I am another year older! Bring on the thirties in less than a year.
I hope that those of you who read this are relatively caught up, and hopefully looking forward to my ramblings. If not, just pretend you are so I feel good (haha just kidding). But I do plan to write a bit more now and share some of my thoughts, passions, and understandings of life, Scripture, and a little bit of everything else. God bless all!