Archive for the ‘Coffee Conversation’ Category

Dear Warrensburg,

Words cannot express the times I have had abiding here. I came to you a naive, confused, self-conscious 18-year-old kid who thought he had his adult life planned out perfectly. I came to you in chains- dragging along my religious, personal, and emotional baggage. It was here, that I gained the closest friends I’ve ever made. It was here that I learned to accept who I am, and be at peace with that.  It was here that the moral-system I upheld so zealously (and blindly) was continually challenged and transformed. It was here that I experienced some of my lowest points. It was here that I realized how utterly broken I was, so that I could accept the grace-rooted life of Jesus Christ. It was here that I laughed, cried, hugged people, ate, played music, sported like 8 different hair cuts, helped people, dated, started protest rallies, drank lots of coffee, philosophized, socialized, made a bazillion Taco Bell runs, and learned how to truly share life with people.

In the last four years there have been a number of people who’ve invested in me and spoke wisdom into my life. These people have had made a difference in my life by how they live and how they interact with others. (Disclaimer: none of these people are perfect, nor would they prefer to be put on any kind of pedestal).  Most notably Roger Brant, Sara Johnson, Mark Bliss, and Carson Conover.

Carson and Roger were one of the first few people I met here at UCM. Carson was a senior and a student leader at the BSU. Roger was the new campus minister at the BSU. (They knew each other before-hand). I always kinda looked up to Carson because he was a few years older than me. It was one of the first times I had met a young Christian who lived the Christian life with a non-judgemental, loving attitude everywhere he went. Not to mention he’s a pretty intelligent dude (though he tries to hide it with quirky humor). Carson, obviously didn’t stick around long because he graduated in 2008. I did however get the chance to hang out with him and chat a handful of times later down the line. Every one-on-one conversation we had was profoundly meaningful and surprisingly casual. This helped set a foundation for many other things to come.

Onto Roger…Roger is a very peculiar man, but one I’ve grown to love and respect. He’s got a lot of deep layers to him, that I’m not even going to begin to tackle. Roger is someone who has seen me from the day I was a freshman to the day I graduated. He saw how I changed, struggled, and grew. He was never someone who tried to spoon feed me all the right answers, but instead tried to ask the right questions. Roger helped me look at my faith seriously and honestly. He is no longer at the BSU, but instead the “leader dude” at Wayfare Church in the Warrensburg. This is another community I’ve gotten the joy of being a part of since Sophomore year (2009). I will dearly miss Roger, and his wisdom, quirky/sarcastic humor, and mandolin skills.

Sara Johnson was my Residence Hall Director/Boss in Fitzgerald Hall and Nickerson Hall, while I was a CA in those buildings. I can’t honestly say that I was always completely open with Sara (til the last month lol). But her humble, hard-working, optimistic characteristics were an inspiration for me. I admire her persevering faith. She taught me to “Choose my ‘tude” daily. She taught me to not overload myself, but to roll with my creative inspirations. She was always a great listener and always someone I viewed as a friend just as much as a boss.

And Mark Bliss…Oh Mark. Dude, I’m gonna miss you. Jam sessions. Waiting on you to show up somewhere. Sociology classes. Solving the universe’s problems inside Java Junction. Though you may not be the most organized person, you are definitely a friend I can count on to lend a helping hand (as long as I call you spontaneously and not ahead of time lol). I admire your heart and respect you like crazy man. Best of luck to you on whatever you end up doing in life.

…like I said there are a TON of other people who’ve invested in me, loved on me, and been a huge part of my life. Every year here (and almost every semester) has been different. It’s been a blast. So thank you to everyone else. It was the people at UCM that made my college experience special and memorable.

So long UCM! So long Warrensburg! I’m gonna miss you like crazy. Seriously.

Next time I return I’ll be Alum… Weird.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the crescendoing academic buzz on social media, texting, and other means of technological communication. We’ve talked about it on more than one occasion in Sociology and Philosophy classes. I’m not gonna lie. I’m very social media-ified. I have Facebook, a MySpace Music page, An Official Music Website, A Facebook Music Page, a Twitter, and a WordPress account. Wow, writing all that down seems a little much. But that is the culture I’ve been engulfed in. Not gonna lie though; I think I use all of these (except for maybe Twitter) as a means for promotions for events I am involved in (my Music, UCM Housing, etc.). As much as I loath the inauthentic cyber-reality of social media, I recognize that it can be pretty useful in advertising for events. Call me old school, but I often long for the return of word of mouth. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that telling someone word-of-mouth about an event or activity creates a MUCH higher likelihood that they will attend.

But beyond promotional endeavors, why do we like social media? I know all the conventional answers- “Because it helps me communicate with my friends better”, “I get to keep up with my long distance friends”, blah blah blah etc. But is that really the answer? Or is our American culture just increasingly becoming more standoffish. Our physical comfort zones, as big as they are seem to keep expanding. Even though we long for personal interaction, we settle for cyber interaction (including text) because it’s convenient, and because we (for some odd reason) feel more at liberty to say whatever we want behind the cover of a computer screen or a cell phone.

Quite hypocritically, I have noticed myself becoming increasingly engulfed in generating cyber-popularity- having lots of Texts, Tweetbacks, WordPress stats, Facebook notifications, etc. I don’t like to talk about it, because it’s really quite pathetic. It’s almost like the inner-high-school Jordan, that was uber concerned with impressing people and getting attention, is being sneakily brought out in the cyber world. There are days, where I won’t get a notification or a text, and I get this strange guilty feeling of loneliness. This is getting really pathetic, writing all this down (I hate vulnerability). I’m really tempted just delete all of it (again…yes I’ve done this before), and live as un-cybernetic as possible. I wonder how many people are also (un)secretly obsessed with their cyber popularity. I wonder how many people would be willing to admit it, and take the steps to fix it.

So, do I hate technology? No. I have a Mac. I just don’t like how my generation is becoming increasingly communicatively relient on it.

Am I becoming Amish? No, but I do admire them.

Here’s the continued delemna, and connection to the first paragraph. I keep needing social media and texting for promotional endeavors. I keep telling myself, it pays numerical (unfortunately not financial) dividends. So I press on, and I pray that I, and furthermore my friends, start becoming (de)progressively concerned with other people’s ‘actual lives’ than our cyber popularity.

“The authentic self is the soul made visible.” -Sarah Ban Breathnach

This summer has been good for a lot of reasons. I’ve gotten to work with some really awesome and dedicated individuals. I’ve learned so much personally and professionally.

But, all good things come to an end. And to be honest, I really miss my friends. My Real Friends. I miss having people to hang out with. I spend a lot of time alone in my apt or walking around Emporia. I miss the constant possibility of social interaction. I miss having deep 1-1 conversations over a cup of Java. I miss the Burg.

…August 4th I look forward to you, and a final lap around this college track.

“Complexity of God” (originally written June 24, 2009)

I’ve been thinking about the complexity of God….which is basically a guaranteed mind explosion. Being human, I try to analyze him, study his ways, and box him into my dumbed-downed understanding. But I just can’t wrap my mind around him. First off, He’s always been and always will be. He never had a beginning and he won’t ever have an end. Nothing that I’ve ever known in my 20 years of life has NOT had a beginning. Then he made the universe, the earth, the wind, lightness, darkness, the animals, the fish, water, and humankind just by speaking….WHOA! Then after creation rejected the creator by sin and pride (painfully idiotic), God was faithful still- ransoming his ONLY SON so that we can again be called blameless and his beloved children. I can’t wrap my mind around that kind of love. To some, it almost seems dumb, foolish, and pointless for the God of the universe to give a hoot if we mere humans live or die. But in his eyes we are special, we are his own, we are unconditionally loved. That free gift of salvation that he offers through his son, Jesus Christ, saves us from our faults and failures. This is more than just a gift- it is a breathtaking grace-filled love that I and so many others search their entire life for. I can’t help but joyfully and eagerly accept it and intentionally share with others. But with that free gift comes responsibility. Responsibility to grow in love with christ instead of sin and trust god more every day. Now that I’ve tried to summarize a glimpse of the good news my mind is still on one thing…
Complexity of god. What is it? How can i describe?….well i honestly can’t. Because the God i serve and love is too unfathomable to be explained or comprehended by mere words. That is why I will forever worship and serve him.
As you can tell I have a lot of trouble trying to explain God. Really, who can? But I know this. The God of the Universe loves me more than anyone else ever can, knows everything about me, and wants me to worship and honor his glory with my life. Who am I to reject to that?

(these videos are a little addition. They are pretty stinkin’ awesome.)

Well I am now living in Emporia, Kansas for the summer. As I previously mentioned I’m doing an internship with Emporia State Residence Life through ACUHO-I. I’m going to be working on ‘Hornet Orientation’ (week of welcome type thing) and an implementation of programming and assessment called FYRE (pronounced like ‘fire’…it stands for First Year Resident Experience). FYRE is a project of some sort to try to get students to have more positive experiences in their first few years so they stay and feel part of the university. So far I’ve met: my advisers Carol, Josh, and Cass; and the summer staffers (RAs)- Shawn, Liz, Kelly, Jessica, Lisa, Kris, Amanda, and Russell. They all seem really cool, and I look forward to getting to know them all throughout the summer.

Yesterday I started P90X!! woohoo! My chest and shoulders now hurt. My advisor, Josh wants to work out with me. I told him, “Show up at my apartment tomorrow at 8 am.” I think I’m gonna just do the ab workout tonight after LOST (Season 6 Episode 16- “Why they Died”).

Anyways, continuing with yesterday…After going out to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant, Carol and Josh gave me the rest of the day to do whatever. I took the opportunity to go search for a summer job around town. So I set off on foot (yes on foot. I have no car) with my backpack, moccasins, and Cannon EOS 20D (with lenses the 55mm 75mm lenses of course). I ended up applying at different 8 locations and plan on maybe applying for 2 more. Included in my favorites were Java Cat, Wheat State Pizza, and Bobby D’s BBQ. I figured I should apply at mostly food places because I could get good night & weekend hours and I am fairly limited on money and food supply for the summer ;-). I’m also thinking about looking around town for possible venues to play small shows with Natalie and the Jingle Shoe…maybe at the Java Cat. After about 6 hours of walking around town (I probably walked about 4 or 5 miles), applying for jobs, and meeting people, I decided to pack it in for the night.

The town of Emporia shows promise. My apartment is the biggest I’ve ever had to myself (which is not saying much). The people are really down-to-earth and friendly. Here are a few pictures I took around campus:

The bottom right picture is where I am staying; they call them the “Twin Towers”. eek!

As some of you already know, I’ve moved a lot. I’ve lived in 6 different states and 8 different cities. And I don’t regret it one bit. In a lot of ways, it has shaped who I am today. However, the whole phenomena of packing up everything and moving to a new place every 2-4 years has taken its toll and left a few scars. These scars intrigue me. I like to pick at them, figuring them out and discover their deeper meaning. One reoccurring trend I’ve noticed in my life is my struggle to find loyal, close friends…you know the kind that you spend most everyday with and know each other and love each other despite each other’s vices…two people who pick each other up when one is down. I’ve noticed that I’ve formed this ideal friendship in my head, by watching people who seem to be very close, but it seems that it is something I’ve never been able to grasp or fully be a part of. The obvious thing for me would be to blame it on moving around so much; and this seems plausible. After all it takes about 6 months to a year to really get close with someone. And then after that it takes many years of spending time with that person to develop a loyal bond. And when you have the mindset of “well I’ll probably be moving again in the next year or so” it’s hard to bring yourself to get into that kind of friendship. Yet this is what I crave right now. Just one lasting friendship. Someone who cares about me and shows it. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gone through this. There are countless youth minister’s kids and army brats that probably go through something similar. But maybe my desire for intimacy has been a search in all the wrong lands. Or maybe I’ve been looking in some healthy places, but not packed enough supplies and tools to survive. It has crossed my mind many times that I should let Christ be that friend, but to be honest I’m having a little trouble placing Jesus (God) in that role when I have never physically seen him and never audibly heard his voice. I have no doubt he exists, he loves me, and plays a continually huge role in the direction of my life, but I think having someone here on our level on earth during our human existence is valuable. I would call it more of a father-son type relationship than a buddy-buddy relationship.

Don’t get me wrong. I have tons of good friends…no, great friends, and I care about them all deeply. But they are all very busy people. Unfortunately I’ve just picked kind of a bad time to “evaluate” my friendships. Spring time on a college campus is when everybody is crunching to make good or decent grades, and spring time is when a ton of events are going on. And to be fair, I’m a fairly busy person myself. I think the difference is that I tend to wanna make time for friends whereas most of my friends only wanna hang out when it’s convenient or when they need me for something. It’s frustrating, and sometimes I wonder ‘do they really care about me?’. But I’m trying to not put too many expectations on friendships revolved around what I sow, because I’m finding that my life is not all about seeing the harvest. I mean, do we really fully reap what we sow? Is our investment in friendships and relationships all about the end result, what we get out of it? Or is it about the process of growth and camaraderie? If it’s a process of growth that sure goes against everything that goes on in the capitalist mentality I’m surrounded by.

My friends whom I philosophize and drink coffee with have reiterated on several occasions that friendships are important and meaningful. Even in our increasingly fast-paced, technological world we strive to create meaningful bonds with our peers (i.e. social media, texting, blogging). However, this goal of making people more connected has actually disconnected them in a physical way. Think about it. How many people do you know seem outgoing and personable when you talk with them online or through texting, but seem really distant and socially awkward when you meet them in person? I see myself sometimes falling into that trap. Even in writing this blog, it is somewhat of an attempt to let people look inside my thoughts from there distant computer screen, instead of just opening up to someone face-to-face. I also think many Americans try to very hard to ‘be unique’, when being unique may not be the most realistic goal from a social/cultural standpoint. In reality I think many of us become a collage of puzzle pieces taken from a variety of puzzle boxes; and we try to piece them all together as if they were meant to be together. As we force them together we exclaim- “TADAA! This is me.” And it very well may be. But maybe finding lasting friendships is not about glamorizing ourselves by trying to be ‘unique’. I think the key to finding lasting friendships is time and trust. As for time…well that’s just common sense. If you want to build a strong bond with another person you have to spend time with them. Time develops loyalty, and enhances friends’ ability to understand one another. We all (including myself) long so much for intimate relationships, but we often either look for it in unhealthy environments or we allow our scars to hinder us from ‘putting ourselves out there’ (being vulnerable). For example, my scar is distrust. Because I’ve been burnt in the process of finding a philia-type relationship, I am often afraid to tell people about my deepest issues. I’ll sit there and listen to their problems all day long, and try to help them solve the problems; But when I am asked in return I’ll either say “I’m doing good” or I’ll vaguely prance around an issue I might be going through.

Lasting friendships=hard to come by.

I wanna end this scrambled post with a story that will maybe pull things together or shed this post in a different light….

The Parable of the Unhappy Pig>>> http://wordbytes.org/parables/unhappy_pig.htm