Monday, June 22, 2009


This next post was much sooner than I had anticipated, but tonight my heart is broken.

Tom is a man I have gotten to know well over the course of the past year. After having met him at a dinner called Soul Feast, I quickly learned he was an entertainer. He never fails to have a joke on hand and is unafraid to burst out in song at any given moment.

He has been an encouragement in times when the smile upon my own face was forced. I could go on for hours explaining the ways in which this is true, but unfortunately I don't have time for that and must continue on to my point.

I have only seen him once since returning to Nashville and that was about four weeks ago on the steps of the place I first met him. Downcast and void of any sort of expression, he was admittedly depressed; said he hadn't been to church in a month, couldn't pay his electric bill, and was apathetic toward life. This is not the man I remembered; there was some sort of switch that had taken place but due to the fact I wasn't alone, I had to leave before finding out the extent of the present situation.

For the duration of the past weeks this has been heavy on my heart and I have often wondered what I could do. Since he didn't have a phone, I couldn't call. But I remembered a note he had written me awhile back with his email and proceeded to email him.

Today I received a reply. And my heart breaks even more. He said he had been shot and robbed, but that's not what upsets me. What upsets me is that no one came through for him. No one checked on him. And no one gave him a ride to church when he couldn't use his leg very well to walk even though several knew full well where he lived.

Though misunderstandings may be present, that doesn't change the fact that he feels betrayed by those he calls his friends. His direct quote was this:
...No one came by my house to check on me or pick me up from church. I don't need so called fake friends. I don't plan to go to that church anymore. I don't harbor hard feelings toward the kid that shot was just about the money...but the people of the church, they know where I live, so I do take that personal...You don't preach one thing and do another...
And so my heart breaks for him with the reminder that all people are flawed; even those within the church. And I remember the extent to which we all need grace.

Friday, June 19, 2009

For several weeks now I have intended to begin this blog and I'm finally going to make it happen. So welcome to my life :).

Where am I? you ask.

Nashville, TN is where I currently call home; Music City USA; the buckle of the Bible belt; home of the Tennessee Titans. From a tourist's perspective, this city is filled with glamour and cowboy boots. But after having spent a year here in Nashville, I find it is a great mistruth to assume that is the extent of Nashville.

Venturing here last fall to attend Trevecca Nazarene University, my heart has been broken time and time again by the endless amount of stories told by people who have come to be some of my best friends. It is after joining the CSM staff that I am encouraged by what is being done on a larger scale in regards to solving the ever-pressing issue of poverty. And while I am encouraged by what is being done, I am also more aware of where the systems are flawed. But in the midst of this "brokenness," God is and has undoubtedly been at work.

Long conversations and late schedules are worth every minute as youth groups that come in from around the states begin to delve into various issues and brainstorm the possibilities of what it would look like to live radically in the world today. But perhaps the most beautiful evidence that God is alive and well can be found in human interaction: laughter, tears, hugs, playing tag, finding out how people got where they are, smiles, and conversation both meaningful and mundane. Through friendship and genuine love, dignity is being restored. And if only for a moment, dreams are dreamt again.

And so I/we are discovering what it is to genuinely love; what it really means to live out the greatest commandments of all: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37, Deut 6.4-5) and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:39, Lev 19:18).

There's no place in the world I'd rather be right now than serving here with CSM; watching the lives and mindsets of many, including myself, transform as they are continually challenged to see the world through God's eyes.

Oh, and this is my family for the summer....

This pic pretty well exemplifies all of our personalities...yep.
(Austin, Bethany, Heather, Jody, Me, and Jarred) Love them.