Thursday, March 25, 2010
"Small, simple, safe price,
Rise the wake and carry me with all of my regrets.
This is not a small cut that scabs, and dries, and flakes, and heals.
And I am not afraid to die.
I'm not afraid to bleed and fight.
I want the pain of payment.
What's left, but a section of pigmy size cuts.
Would you be my little cut?
Make a mark leaving space for the guilt to be liquid
To fill, and spill over, and under my thoughts.
My sad, sorry, selfish cry out to the cutter.
I'm cutting trying to picture your black broken heart.
Love is not like anything,
Especially a knife."
[I write the excerpt to show that cutting is not something that just takes the place in the bedrooms of a couple people in this world. Its all over. Its everywhere. Bert Mccracken wrote this little poem as an opener to the song, "I'm a Fake." I did censor the except because there are profanities throughout the whole thing, but regardless, just look at those words. How much truth about the addiction of cutting lies in just those words? The one part that really just hits me hard is, "make a mark leaving space for the guilt to be liquid." As disturbing as that is, I don't think I could put it any better than that.]
One thing that has become something very important to me in my life over the past 5 months is a series that my church has started called EXPOSED. The point of the series is to take topics that are somewhat "voodoo" to the church. Topics that nobody wants to talk about. The stuff we all deal with, but don't want to talk about because its messy. I commend my church for taking on this series, especially in a time of political correctness. Nobody wants to ruffle feathers, or do something edgy anymore it seems, unless you sacha barron cohen[borat and bruno for all of you who don't know who that is.]. God bless him. haha.
But honestly this series has become something that I pour a lot of my time and thoughts into because I want kids to have something I didn't have. I want kids to be able to talk about those things they shamefully tell one or two of their friends one night over a text, and hope to God they'll understand, because they need someone. They need someone to talk to about this thing they are going through because its got to the point where they can't look at themselves in the mirror anymore.
I've been there. I too many times have found myself staring into the person in the mirror shaking my head and saying how could you? Or, your a monster. I've been there, I find myself there every now and then still. So thats something that motivates me to want to do this series. I want to be able to walk into the corner of that mirror as the kid is staring into the mirror saying "how could you", or "you're a monster", and say, "hey, no you're not. I'm here, I understand you're pain too. You're not the only one that struggles with this, you want help? Come on, lets talk." Thats what I want for this series, I want it to be that escape from the pain. I want them to see their not the only ones, and more than that, I want them to see that they are surrounded by love. Love from people who want to help them with their pain.
So with all that being said, last night we took on the topic of cutting. Cutting is something that is very close to my heart. I have had a couple of friends who have struggled with cutting and been very vocal about it with me. I've been that friend who has kept quiet, when another friend tells me, "I'm cutting, but don't tell anyone. What should I do?" I've been standing there completely confused and shaking with worries for my friend. I've been that guy lying in bed, not being able to fall asleep wondering if my friend will be alive the next day...
Cutting is something that may have been around for a long time, but it really has taken a big leap and reached a spotlight in our society today. I read that 1 in 4 girls will commit some form of self mutilation, wether that be cutting, or eating disorders. I read another statistic that said, 1 in 200 girls cuts regularly. That is an outrageous amount of girls in our society today who are marring their bodies, cutting away their problems. That is just too high a number for me to just sit still or quiet...
Yet our society does. Why?
Why is no one talking about this?
We see news specials all the time about this celebrities divorce, or plastic surgery. That doesn't affect anyone!
Why aren't they talking about this?
1 in 200 girls.
There are 626,144 people who live in just nashville alone. Lets say that out of that 626, 144 people that only 313,000 represents the amount of women in nashville. That means, that out of 313,000 women, 1,565 of them are cutting regularly. That is just in nashville alone. Over 1,000 women are cutting regularly. Over 1,000 women hide in their bathrooms. Over 1,000 women find themselves in front of that mirror. Watching a little bit of red spiral down the sink and then looking up to see themselves in the mirror. "What a monster." "How could you?" "You should just cut deeper next time you big disappointment." These thoughts enter the minds of over 1,000 women just in Nashville!
For all of you who are cutting I want to apologize to you on behalf of the rest of the world. I am so sorry that we have allowed you to find that place of darkness and allow you to hide in it. I am so sorry that our churches across the country are not brave enough to address you on this topic, and if they do, address it correctly. I am sorry.
I want to say to all of you who are cutting, there is hope. There is.
For all of you who are cutting, and have tried to stop, and find yourself cutting again, There is hope. There is.
We as christians should be the first ones there for these girls and guys who are hurting and cutting. We should be the first ones there to kiss the open wound. Let us. Let us help you. I know it sounds ridiculous that someone could possibly understand what you are going through, or that we could somehow help even though we don't know you very well, but thats not true. You can help a complete stranger. You can change someones world in the matter of 30 seconds. Let us. Escape the world that you have locked yourselves in. Let someone in.
Now that I have apologized and told you there is hope, I do want to issue you one warning though. People will fail you. People will always fail you. Your struggle will not go away. But some people will. So the responsibility does rely on you when you get stronger. You are the one who holds the safety pin, razor, or glass to your skin. You are the one who feels the euphoria as you cut. You are the one. Not the person who is trying to help you. So don't get discouraged if someone fails you. That doesn't mean that you're doomed. That doesn't mean that you are destined to cut yourself for the rest of your life or until you final cut too deep. Don't get discouraged if one of your friends can not handle holding the weight of knowing your little secret...
But if you're friend does fail you, maybe you should realize thats because this isn't something that is small. This is something that is life threatening. This addiction is something that could eventually lead to you accidentally bleeding yourself out. Thousands, THOUSANDS, die every year from accidentally going too fair with their self inflicted harm. Thousands around the world are hospitalized for cuts that have become life threatening.
As a person who has stood by a friend while she struggled with cutting, I ask you one thing. As hard as it is, as hard as it is for you to accept anything from anyone saying anything about this topic, listen. You need professional help. You need to contact a counselor. You need to tell someone who can do something about this, and who can help you. A friend can only help so much.
Maybe you're a friend reading this now, and you don't know what you can do. You feel like if you're friend were to cut too deep that you would feel guilt for their harm. Because you knew. I am telling you, the best thing you can do is encourage your friend to seek a counselor. You are only hurting them more by staying in the shadows. By keeping quiet. By seeing the amount of cuts on her arm start to multiply, and doing nothing.
Staying quiet only hurts the person more.
And to you who are cutting I want to say one last thing. Whatever you are hurting over. Whatever has brought you to the end of a sharp object. There is a peace to it that you can find. Most of the time, the thing that you need more than anything is someone to talk to.
Lets trade bloodshed for tears.
Instead spending those hard moments alone in a bathroom or bedroom, or rooftop with a sharp object "making a mark leaving space for the guilt to be liquid. To fill, and spill over, and under your thoughts." Instead of spilling your blood to make yourself pay for your wrongs, or for the feeling you receive from the cut; instead, talk to someone. Instead of being alone in a bathroom, go talk with someone. We are all human, we all understand pain. Talk to someone, someone who you know cares and will listen. Trade your bloodshed for tearful moments with your friend or a counselor.
Trade the blood for tears.
Its still spilling out of you.
But this time,
Theres no shame.
No looking back in a mirror and saying, "You're a monster."
Look in a mirror and love the beautiful amazing person you are. If you're self esteem is low, you're view on yourself is crap, look in the mirror. Realize you are beautiful. You are alive. You are blessed. Surround yourself with people who you know truly love and care for you and build you up. That let you know you're worthy. You're loved.
You're not worthless.
Bert Mccracken wrote:
"Love is not like anything, especially a knife."
And I agree, Love will never compare to a knife.
A knife will leave you bleeding, a knife will never better you.
Love will raise you above this addiction. Love will conquer this pain.
Don't shake you're head and say love is what got you in this mess. Love made you cut.
I mean true love. True love, from a friend, you're parents. You're Savior.
Let us love. Let us kiss the open wound...
For all of you who read this and struggle with cutting and have no one to reach out to I urge you to visit this website,
To write love on her arms is a foundation that was created to help write love on the arms of a girl who carved a profane word in her arm. She wrote what she thought she was, a screw up. The creators of this foundation found this girl and loved and on her, and lead her to help.
Let them lead you to help. Let them love you. Let them kiss your wounds.
Two other great resources are:
S.A.F.E. - www.selfinjury.com – “S.A.F.E. ALTERNATIVES is a nationally recognized treatment approach, professional network, and educational resource base, which is committed to helping you and others achieve an end to self-injurious behavior.”
Self Mutilators Anonymous - www.selfmutilatorsanonymous.org - "Self Mutilators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other, that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from physical self-mutilation."
Please if you are cutting, please seek love.
I'm not asking you to tell me personally. If you want to, I am always there for you. But if you don't want to tell me or anyone else. Seek these resources. Let them help you.
Stop looking at yourself in the mirror and saying, "Will this ever stop?"
Yes. It will. And it can stop
Media Associated With This Post:
Song: A Time For Yohe
Artist: Between The Trees
Album: The Story and The Song
All pictures high jacked from Google Images
Exposed Logo cropped and created by Tanner Pemelton
Friday, March 19, 2010
"Walking down the halogen lit halls,
the world around me passes in slow motion.
On the left of me passes a gurney,
and on the right a woman full of emotion.
Stare into the eyes of the wounded,
while the screams of joy fade from your ears.
This place, this crossroad, makes me smile then cry,
This hospital hold many tales through its years.
May they be happy or may they be sad,
The tears will flow abundantly, I fear.
So stare into the eyes of the wounded,
While the screams of joy fade from your ears.
As the cries of a newborn rings through the halls,
So does the cries of a widow, so mournful.
Today we are born, and tomorrow we die,
Wether at life's entry, or at its exit, we are here,
At the hospital."
The last 2 days I have been working at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville. Hospitals have always fascinated me. It is a place that I really can only describe with words like, "raw" or "real." It is a place where the truest and purest forms of human emotion are truly on display around the clock. One of the hardest things for me to do is walk down the halls of a hospital, or to see people in a waiting room. I hate seeing people in pain. Its just something that is hard for me to handle. I know pain, and I see pain all the time, but not the pain you see in a hospital.
The pain I am use to is like, "Cindy broke up with me," or "I broke my arm." Things that are big but not major or detrimental. The pain that I only see in hospitals is a group of people walking together to a room and the father prepping the kids. I passed a family this morning and the father was saying, "the two boys are dead." The little girl then just looked up at him and just said "Dead? They're dead?" The kept walking and their conversation faded as they left my range of hearing. The whole ordeal didn't really hit me until later. How traumatic. How devastating. How can I complain about anything when that family is going through something like that?
A customer walked up to the counter a couple of hours later after I passed the family. She seemed a little worn out and was slow to speak, so I just asked her how her day was going and she said alright. I then asked her if she had been on shift very long. She looked at me and told me that she didn't work here, but that her husband was undergoing surgery. I asked her if everything was alright and what he was having the surgery on... She just looked at me and said it was heart surgery. Thats what all that needed to be said. I could see the worry and pain in her eyes. She was so worried about her husband that it was literally pouring out of her. I then gave her the books she purchased and told her I'd be praying.
At the hospital that pain is all around you. You walk down the halls and you see a woman following a gurney holding her mouth and her eyes wide open not knowing what is going to happen to her relative as she is being rushed into surgery. Or you walk out in the hall and see a woman fall apart into the arms of a doctor who tells her her husband didn't make it. This pain, so raw, so real, is on display daily at a hospital.
The weird thing about the hospital though is that it is also a place of joy. There is a special place in the hospital known as the delivery ward, which delivers so many of our young infants everyday. Tears of joy stream down the faces of so many new mothers and fathers, and proud grandmothers and grandfathers. The first cries and shrieks of a newborn echoes through the halls. Smiles are broadcasted across the faces of the doctors as they pull down the mask that covers there mouth to tell you, It's a girl. It's a boy. Its a place that is just full of such joy, such excitement. The beginning of life. The start.
Its so weird though that a baby can be born and his cries can echo out into the halls, while the whole floor is filled with joy and happiness, while just one floor below a new widows screams echo off the walls as she leans over her husbands body. This place is so odd. It just makes you really think.
The hospital is where life starts and ends. We are delivered into the world into a hospital, and then pronounced dead at one. We start, we end. At the hospital. That is just such a weird thought to me. This one free standing building is so significant. A hospital is so much more than a building, in a totally geeky way of putting it, its like a portal. We enter and then we leave. I really can't wrap my mind all the way around all the stuff that happens in these walls. Can you imagine all the stories that these walls would tell if they could talk? All the amazing miracles and last minute adjustments that happened that literally made a persons heart start beating again. But they also would tell sad tales of people not getting the treatment they needed in time, or not surviving surgery... This building may have its good tales, and it may have its bad, but thats life. Its never just a good story.
But the characters that play the vital roles in these stories, are the doctors and nurses. I have such a high amount of respect for these men and women. They dedicate they're lives to serving us. I mean really we are alive and here today partly because a doctor came along and helped us at some point in our lives. I think its fair to say that there isn't one of you reading this who hasn't had a doctor intervene in your life, and may have even saved your life.
I think one of the reasons I respect them so much is because I don't think I could handle their job at all. I am a person who doesn't like to see people in pain. And they see people in the most severe pain, mentally and physically. To have to look at people in the eyes everyday and see that hurt day in and day out, would I think kill me. I don't think I would be able to separate my patients from my life. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night knowing that Mr. Walker is slowly passing away in his bed that night. That would be a job that made me sick. I have the upmost greatest respect for the men and women who are able to do their jobs, and still live their own lives. It is remarkable. I thank you so much for the service you have done for us.
So I will pack up this bookfair and be on my way. I will leave this hospital and go on with my life. I will probably see the insides of a hospital again, sadly. But I think I have just a newfound respect for the place.
I realize this place is so much more than a building. Its a life center. Its where we come and go. Where we are born and where we die. It is a building that facilitates miracles. It is a building that houses true raw emotion. True raw pain. But thats the beauty of it. You can do that here. You're not out there, outside the hospital. You are here and we all understand. We all know this place is full pain. Wether you are the beholder of the eyes of the wounded, or the owner of the vocal cords screaming for joy at the beginning of a new life, we understand. We know that this place holds both joy and pain. And that's ok.
"Stare into the eyes of the wounded,
As the screams of joy fade from your ears."
Know as you walk through this hospital that you will see a variety of all human emotion on display. But don't just let it pass you by next time you are there. Look into the eyes of people there. Look into the eyes, you can see the pain or the joy. The eyes tell us so much some how. Just from a simple look you can tell if the person is in mourning, worrying, or in complete joy.
So as you're walking through the halls the next time you are there at the hospital, look around. Look into the eyes, and then take a step back and really evaluate you and your situation. Realize we don't have much to complain about. We probably have it better than most the people who are walking around with the pain just pouring our of their eyes. The little things I worry about really fall into the category of miniscule in comparison to the woman who is barely keeping it together while her husband undergoes a triple bi-pass. I have nothing at all worthy of complaint. This hospital really does make you really think about life. You see a woman being pushed in on a wheelchair holding her belly and ready to bring a new life into this world, and right behind her a gurney is being pushed by EMT's who are desperately trying the defibrillators to start back up the heart of the elderly gentlemen. Just really makes you realize this place is special.
This place is where life truly starts and finishes. And it also makes you realize how fragile life is.
So live life, and live it to its fullest, from your beginning here at the hospital to your end here at the hospital.Live your life! Please, don't find yourself lying on the bed in a hospital saying all that you wish you had... Lie on that table and smile and the doctor and tell him all that you did.
Media Associated With This Post:
Song: 3 Libras
Artist: A Perfect Circle
Album: Mer De Noms
All Pictures High-Jacked From Google Images
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
On Monday March 15, 2010, my journey/adventure to Florida came to a close. The scene ended, lights faded and the curtains drew to a close.
I woke up at 5a.m. grabbed all of my stuff, quietly, and then went out the door. It was such a weird feeling to walk out in the awesome 65 degree weather and look up at the stars and then back at the house. This place had been my home for 5 weeks now. A quick slideshow rapidly played through my head and then I got in my car. I put the keys in the ignition, started the car, and selected Needtobreathe on my ipod. The band that will probably be forever associated with the trip to Florida.
I got up at 5 a.m. on purpose. I made up my mind the night before that I would drive to a beach and watch the sunrise at the beach to start off my days journey. Yeah, it was probably really a dumb idea-wise when it comes to going on a 12 hour trip. You probably shouldn't drive an hour out of your way to start off a trip. But thats what I did. I jumped in the car and headed straight for my favorite beach.
It was so weird driving down the main strip right before you enter Clearwater. Memories of the last 5 weeks were flying past me as I was passing buildings and sidewalks that I now have established memories on. Like when I passed the Borders in Clearwater, I couldn't help but smile because all I could hear was cooper's voice in my head. "PULL OVER THE CAR, I"VE GOT TO GO!" OHHH!!! OHH!!!" Then all of us cracking up but looking back to cooper holding his stomach as if an alien was trying to pop out of his stomach. I then passed the sidewalks along the beach on Clearwater. All I could hear was Josh, "I'm going to kill you guys. I can't believe you made me walk all this way. By now we would have been eating and full, but NO." Me, Coop, and Nate just smiled, we had walked to our favorite Frenchies on the beach, but when we got there we found that it was an hour wait. So we walked all the way back to where we parked, next to the other beach front frenchies. And we were seated immediately haha
I pulled into a parking spot in Clearwater looked out onto the dark beach, and then opened the door. The smell of the salty ocean hit my nostrils immediately, all I could do was smile, and say aloud to myself, "I'm glad I did this." And I think I said that to myself about 20 times throughout the whole hour I spent on that beach. I got out, bought a parking ticket stub, and grabbed my camera and walked out onto the beach. At this point is was just me on the beach. Staring into an ocean whose might and majesty was overpowering to my senses. It was amazing, the sound of the waves was so loud. The wind coming from off the ocean was blowing in my face. The smell was that of the beautiful ocean. And the sand beneath my feet was loose and cold.
I turned around and saw the beginning of the sunrise behind the city scape. A beautiful yellow and orange color starting to outline the buildings. I kept looking at this view and just shaking my head. I then became distracted by the screams of sea gulls on the beach crying out loud to each other, and fighting each other over fish and crabs in the high tide.
The sun rose, and colored the clouds and sky beautiful colors. Even now as I sit hear, at a bookfair, recreating this image in my head. I can't help but smile. The customers must think I'm crazy. haha. I left the city of Clearwater with my windows down and Third Eye Blind's latest album blaring through the speakers. That album was made to be listened to on the beach. Especially, Bonfire. Bonfire was the first song I put on. It just en-captures joy and love of being on a beach.
I then made the long drive home with a playlist that would probably ashame most of you, but you would also secretly tap your feet to and think of the lyrics that you shamefully know by heart in your head. Everything from Christina Aguilera to N'sync to Eminem, to Impending Doom, to Third Eye Blind. It was awesome. With a minor detour in Atlanta, a minor 3 hour detour, lunch with Ike and joe. haha, I was home in Nashville by about 10 O'clock.
I didn't realize that I had missed home so much until I saw the At&t building(The batman building). All I could think was oh, wow. I am home. And I smiled. I then pulled into my driveway walked into my house and saw my brothers and some of my visiting cousins and then gave my dad a big hug. I was home. I am home.
I had a friend ask me last night, "How was the trip? Was it all that you expected?" And that question just kept me thinking a little bit after I gave him answer. And for all of you who have wondered that question, here is my answer. It was far beyond what I expected. I expected a lot actually, more than I thought I should for a trip, but I did. I had some expectation that maybe I would leave with a least a little bit more knowledge than I came with. And I believe I did.
There were many instances that I would just sit there and think, or would go for a bike ride by myself, or just go off and take pictures. It made me realize, I can't live in the same routine all the time. Its so easy to just keep doing the same three things. Eat checkers, go to mckays, watch movies. All three are more than amazing, but when you do it more than once or twice a week, the magic leaves mckays. Checkers doesn't taste as sweet, and the movies aren't as special. Taking just a bike ride one day, made me realize, I and so many of us, fall victim to routine too too often. So I learned that while I am young, I want to live my life to its fullest. Theres many things to do in Nashville, andI only know maybe a quarter of the things. So I learned to live my life out of routine.
The one thing that I would probably say though that was probably the most significant was something I learned the wednesday night before I left. I went to Jeff's class. A class that takes media, mainly movies, and exposes the biblical principles and morals of them. Pretty fascinating class. But in that class we broke off into small groups. And we talked about where we were in our lives. My group consisted of me, a 19 year-old. And about 4 other guys. One guy about 45. One around 55, another 51, and then another coming closer to 60. We just sat there and it was amazing how much age really doesn't factor into the hardships of life. We all eventually said were just trying to find where were suppose to be. Jeff's teaching was all on Calling and Assignment. We should look at what people call, "God's calling," as an "assignment." And then he talked on using your talents for God. You can't be a world class swimmer for God if you can't swim. That may not be your talent. But you may be a talented guitar player, so use that. Pursue what you love and keep God in it, and be sensitive to God, and follow His direction. It just hit me so hard. It made me realize its ok, to pursue areas in my life. I really love film and writing. And it finally felt ok to say that I'd like to maybe pursue that and just try. Another thing I got from Jeff was that Trying won't hurt. Experiment. Just try and see if its the right fit. He didn't say those words so don't quote me on that but thats what I got from him. And that felt so good. I'm not afraid to try something. If I fail at it its ok. I can get back up and go on my next adventure.
So how was my trip to Florida? Amazing.
I got to stay and live with five amazing people. The Graves family has always been just an extension of my own family. I am truly blessed to have them in my life. Thank you guys so much for putting up with me, listening to my crappy music, and buying me pretzels and Jello. haha. I love you all so very much. These few little words can not capture into words my gratitude and love for you guys. Thank you so much. And I love you.
So now one curtain has closed, and another has opened. I love my life, and am so thankful for everything everyone in my life has done for me. I am excited to see where life will lead me in the next year. I know this year has been one to remember, for good reasons and bad. And I am excited to find out what this next year has in store for me. I feel the stage light beginning to shine on my face and feel the curtains opening. I am apart of this scene and it is unpredictable as of now. But I know a year from today I'll look back and go Wow, that was awesome, and can't believe that's/this is where God and life has lead me.
Let the show go on.
Media Associated With This Post:
Artist: Third Eye Blind
Album: Ursa Major
Curtain Photos taken from google images
Friday, March 12, 2010
Last night me and the boys went and saw the band Needtobreathe. When I first got here I knew I wanted to go see a show with my Florida brothers. I had not ever been to a concert with them and I knew I wanted to share that experience with them. I know that they love music, and concerts but don't go to many of them very often so I just wanted to make sure we went to at least one while I was down here in Florida.
I searched and searched the web for concerts coming to Tampa, and even though their was one in particular I would have loved to go with them too, (Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, and Flyleaf) the ticket prices were outrageous. So I just kind of gave up.
I have been really into the band Needtobreathe since about September of last year. They truly have been a band who has picked me up when I was really down, and truly just been a blessing to my life. I know that sounds absurd, they are just a band, and I don't know them. But their music has truly been there for me when I was laying there with my wounds exposed. The air may have causing the wound to sting but once I put in their music, they began to start healing me. They just were the stitches and bandages for a terrible time in my life. They are just a band full of such hope and love, and everything that I stand for as a christian.
So while looking for concerts again a couple weeks later, it hit me that I should just check out Needtobreathes tour schedule, just to see. And to my excitement I found that they were playing about 30 miles outside of Tampa in St. Petersburg. So I told the boys about it and they were excited about it. For a couple of days we lightly listened to the band so they could hear some of their music, but then, we just kind of forgot...
We just kind of kept the concert in the back of our minds but didn't think much of it. We just kept telling each other we have to get tickets soon. So the week of came, and us telling each other we need to get tickets became a little more evident and more frequent, but still we didn't do anything about it. haha.
So the day of the concert rolled around. And we still didn't have tickets. Which wasn't a huge ordeal, I had checked tickets that morning and they were still available. So the plan was to wait for nate to get home and we'd use his card to pay for the tickets. So nate got home right before work and gave me his credit card number so I could get them since he was rushing to get to work on time. So he texted me all the information and I just kind of forgot. About an hour went by and I realized that I should be getting the tickets. So I went online, and once I got on Ticketmaster.com the availability of the tickets was gone. A message at the bottom of the screen said that tickets are taken offline hours before the event. So I was freaking out, we all kind of were. So I texted nate and we decided to just take the risk and drive up to St. Pete and see if tickets were available at the door. We kept calling the venue and getting a voice operating system that kept saying tickets are still available, but we still knew it was a risk.
So me and Josh just waited at the house for Nathan to get home. We both sat in Josh's room playing and listening to music, and then ended up just both laying down on Josh's bed. And then Josh looked at me and asked if I wanted to go to the show with Just nate? I knew by him asking me that and his eyes looking like they were forcing themselves to stay open and look at me, that he was asking me that because he was tired and was thinking of just staying home. So I looked at him and said, "Well bud if you want to stay home, its up to you. You're call." And then he went on to say that he was just really tired, and just didn't know if he wanted to go. And I nodded but then something in me just clicked and I looked at him and shook my head and smiled. I said, "nope, you're going. We're doing something you wouldn't normally do. We're not going to go to bed, we're going to make a memory. Tonights going to be a good night. We'll either go to an awesome show or we'll get there and see tickets are sold out and then we'll just drive back and watch Boondock Saints. Either way its going to be a good night." He smiled and said that it sounded good.
So Nathan got home and we loaded up in the car and made the 45 minute to an hour journey to St. Pete. We had Needtobreathe blaring through the speakers in my car and nathan was reading the lyrics and singing along with me to every lyric on the bands latest release, "The Outsiders." Josh in the meantime was listening and enjoying the music and playing with my camera and taking pictures. So we were three boys just having fun in a car on a rainy night driving to a show that we honestly know if we'd be able to get in or not.
So we got there, found a parking spot the second we pulled into town and walked about a block to the venue, and got in line. I ran ahead to the bouncer to see if tickets were still on sale and he nodded and told me yes. Thank God. Thank God, we hadn't driven in vane. So I went back and joined the boys in line. We were all pretty excited and really didn't know what the night had in store for us.
So we got in found a spot right in front of the stage at this small venue and waited for the show to start. The show started with an awesome opening one man acoutic act by the name of, "Graham Colton." He was really good. And he looked surprisingly identical to my dad. So then the next band, "Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers" took the stage and just like the first act, blew us away. We were shocked that both opening acts were as great as they were. How did we get so lucky? The Sixers ended their set with probably they're most solid song of the night and then left the stage. Needtobreathe was next and we were pretty excited.
We were standing their talking bout the acts and how the venue wasn't as crowded as we thought it would be, when the lights went down. Everyone in the venue started to cheer and scream. And then we could see the back door to the theatre open and the band members start to pour into the theatre. They walked on stage grabbed their instruments and then looked at each other. They all turned to the keyboard player, and then the show started. It started with the keyboard playing the opening riff to "Prisoner" off their last album. The whole band then kicked in on cue and the lights and sound just was spectacular. Everyone in the show knew from the very beginning this was a band who knew what they were doing and that this would be a fun show. We all started clapping along with the band, and singing every word with lead singer, "Bear Rineheart." It was amazing. The show continued with more songs, and we all kept clapping and singing back to the singer. At one point in the show though I looked around, and I saw the crowd. Thinking about it now, I can only remember it in slow motion. To look around and see the people standing their with their hands in the air singing back. This was worship. This was church. We were at church with Needtobreathe. It gives me goosebumps and a smile on my face to think about it.
The highlight of the show for me was when the band played their song, "Something Beautiful." The lights were dim and blue and I looked around the room and I saw that the whole room was together as one in singing these beautiful lyrics together,
Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire, 'cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I'm in reach
'Cause I am down on my knees.
I'm waiting for something beautiful
Oh, something beautiful
We were all singing full heartedly hands outstretched in some parts of the room, some had their hands on their hearts and their eyes closed. It was pure intimacy. It was a group, singing back these lyrics, to our God. Not Needtobreathe. To God. We were as a church on Sunday mornings in a worship service. It was a moment I will not forget.
They ended the show by coming out with acoustic guitars, tambourines, and Cajon. People started screaming requests, and he said, "This one isn't by request. You should know by know were more stubborn than that." They then started to play the song, Washed by the Water. The second they started people wanted to sing along. Once the chorus hit the crowd started to sing loudly, but then he stopped. He looked at the crowd and smiled and said, "hold on, hold on. I'll tell you when its your turn, I can't hear myself sing to get this song started." haha So then he started over, and the video that I recorded starts right as they started up again. The crowd then eventually starts to sing loudly with them again.
It was amazing. The turned off all their amps and just started playing acoustic. It was one of the most intimate times I have ever experienced with a band. It truly was just magical and truthfully spiritual. To be able to all be singing together singing those lyrics,
Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water
To be able to be in a room where the voices were loudly ringing throughout the whole venue. It was a once in a lifetime experience. I am so glad that I went to that show. I am so happy and thankful that I was able to share that experience with my friends, and I thank God for the band Needtobreathe.
I know that they have played a huge role in my life, even without me ever speaking to them, they have impacted me so much. And I thank God for music, and the work he does through music, and his servants. Last night was one of those nights that you just felt God moving through a room. A spiritual experience at the rock show. It was just so inspiring and just flat out amazing. I am so blessed and thankful for my God putting me here in that venue, in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Needtobreathe is coming to nashville in about a week at the Cannery Ballroom. I am driving home in 3 days. I am very tempted to just go see them again, just to have that experience again. If you want to watch a band who you know truly have their hearts in the right place. Listen to and support Needtobreathe. Its an experience like no other, being at church, at a rockshow.
Media Associated With This Post:
Song: Something Beautiful
Album: The Outsider
Pictures the two of the inside of the car taken by Josh Graves
The rest of the photos and video taken by Tanner Pemelton
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Today is a beautiful day in Land O'Lakes Florida. The sun is shinning bright and its around 70 degrees out. Its beautiful, its one of those days that you can't help but just be completely in love with the world around you. No matter what is going on you walk outside and your day is better.
Today I found out that I have to go home a couple days earlier than I had planned on. Which is ok. Kind of a bummer though. So I had that kind of weighing on me. I also was trying to get a video done to meet my set deadline on it, and the camera won't work, so that was also another building factor. So I decided since I was home and Mrs. Kim and Mr. Jeff were in a meeting that I would go for a drive. So I grabbed my camera and my ipod and jumped in my car.
Where was I going? I really don't know? Downtown Tampa was kind of in the back of my mind, but really I was just driving. So I plugged in my ipod and just started listening to Brand New's first album, "My Favorite Weapon," really loud and rolled down all the widows. Once I left the neighborhood and started driving faster and feeling the wind hit me in the face, and the warm sun beaming down on my arm outstretched out the widow desperately trying to catch the wonderful air, I felt the worries and stresses start to just roll away. It was as if just the wonderful weather just stripped me down to reality.
These little things that bothered me this afternoon. They really don't matter in the big picture. Yeah, I had plans to stay an extra 4 more days, but its not that big a deal. Its just 4 days. Its not like its a week. And the camera ordeal, the video will come in time. I set the deadline myself, they never said they needed by today. Just take a breathe Tanner, breathe in that florida air.
So I did, I kept breathing it in, and kept driving loudly singing the lyrics,
home on a Saturday night with all my doors locked up tight.
I won't be thinking about you baby.
It was just like one of those summer experiences just an awesome feel good day. I kept driving until I reached downtown Tampa. I just stuck my head out the window and just looked at all the towering buildings. I went to pull into a parking lot and when I went to pay the guy I realized my wallet was still at home. So I just laughed and said sorry man, I don't have any money. So I turned around and kept driving through the huge city, music still blaring and head still out the window. And I could really have stayed in that car for the rest of my life it felt like. I didn't want to drive back, I didn't want to leave the feeling of just driving with music blaring and the sun beaming on my face.
Eventually after enough one way streets I ended up on a highway headed home.
It was awesome. It reminded me that some days we let the little things, and sometimes the big things get us down. And yes it is healthy to have down days, but then somedays you just need to get in the car by yourself and just drive. Just drive. As The Passenger by the Deftones says,
Who cares what's behind
Just like always
Still your passenger
Chrome buttons, buckles and leather surfaces
These and other lucky witnesses
Now to calm me
This time won't you please
Roll the windows down
This cool night air is curious
Let the whole world look in
Who cares who sees anything
I'm your passenger
I'm your passenger
Sometimes we need to just jump in the car and let the wind blow on our faces and let the worries just strip off us. Sometimes you just have to leave that which is stressing you out, and just drive with the windows down.
Media Associated With This Post:
Song: Last Chance To Lose Your Keys
Artist: Brand New
Album: Your Favorite Weapon
All pictures taken by myself.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Last night I sat and watched the 82nd Academy Awards with my buddy Nathan Graves. We are both huge film nuts. We love movies, and actually made it a goal to try and see as many of the Films nominated this year. So we did see most of them, but not all of them. I saw 5 out of the 10 nominated for best picture, I did not see Precious, Up in the Air, An Education, The Blindside, or A Serious Man. But I did see the other 5, Up, Inglourious Basterds, The Hurt Locker, Avatar, and District 9. This year was in my opinion a really good year for movies. I know I read somewhere on Facebook that someone had said, "why of all years are they deciding to add more nomination for best film from 5 to 10 THIS year?" I had to disagree with that person. I think this was a really good year. I saw a lot of really good movies come out of this year. But that statement alone creates another question. What creates good film? What makes a movie good?
Now can I give you an answer that is universal and will give you all the answers to film? Heck no. haha This is a blog, it is opinion based, so don't get offended if you disagree. This is my take on what makes a great film.
For me I am a person who is story driven. I live and thrive on a great story. That is the number one thing I look for in a movie. I look for an interesting story that I haven't heard before. The story is the root, the base of it all. If you do not have a good story than what made you want to make a movie?
story can captivate you, take you to somewhere you've never been before. Make you forget about your troubles, your day for an hour and half and make you focus on the piece of film that is playing before. A good story does that, It en-captures you and doesn't let you go, until the credits role. One example of this for me it the Lord of the Rings series. Yeah, first off I've got to state, I'm a geek, and I'm perfectly ok with that. I am a person who loves fantasy. I love it. And the Lord of the Rings series did that for me. They took me to a land I've never been before, I've never seen and for 2 and a half hours you really feel like Middle Earth is in danger. Middle Earth needs frodo for its survival. And then the credits role, and you blink and realize, "Oh, yea, just a movie, now where did I park?" and you move on with your life. But for that 2 and a half hours you were completely kidnapped of mindset and logic. And that for me, is one of my favorite things about film. How it can remove you from your everyday life, for a short time, and then gently put you back down.
thing that is obviously necessary is good acting. Everybody loves movies that you feel what the actor is portraying. You watch them cry and you feel tears behind your eyes. You like to watch and relate. Thats something that is important in film, how we relate to the picture. How we can feel the pain that Rob feels in "High Fidelity," when he loses Laura. How we can relate to that. We know what its like to be dumped, we know that pain, and John Cusack performance is so amazing that he brings those feelings back, you sympathize with him, you know how he feels. You feel his pain. We like to relate. We relate to Atticus in "To Kill A Mockingbird." You know that he has been handed an almost impossible task of defending a black man in the newly segregated south. You know and feel that he is doing the right thing, and you like that. And when the case is not ruled in the favor of Atticus and Tom Robinson, you feel that. You feel that it was a wrong decision.
Acting is such a huge part of a film, it will make it or break it as some people like to say. You could have an amazing story but terrible acting and the movie will fall flat. Because it doesn't tug at your heart. You don't feel those emotions that the characters are facing, you more or less are just apathetic to if they live or die.
point of the movie is another big thing for me. What is the agenda being pushed with this film? What is the overall statement that this movie is making? I'd like to say that this doesn't affect me in movies but it does. I just recently watched a movie that I liked when watching it but when it got to the end and I saw one of the main points they were pushing it just kind of made the movie ok to me instead of great. The movie was "The invention of lying." Its a british movie by the genius Ricky Gervais. I love him, I think he is hysterical and very witty. But he also apparently a very outspoken Atheist as well. The movie is about a man who lives in a world where there is no such thing as lying, everything is always spoken truthfully. One day Ricky Gervais's character somehow learns to lie, and he is the only man on the planet who can lie, and everyone believes everything he tells them. So in the end tells everyone that there is a place called heaven that you go to after you die, but in the end you realize he just is telling a big lie and isn't going to tell anyone. So basically one of the points of the movie was that Christianity is a joke, it is a big lie. Yes, the movie was fictional and funny, but it came off a little offensive too. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a super sensitive guy when it comes to movies, I sadly enjoy most bashing on christianity because I like seeing what the world thinks of us, and sometimes its just down right funny. You can't just be a person who takes offense to every little comment made on the subject of Christianity, but this was different. It wasn't a punch line, it wasn't just a joke, this was the whole point of the movie. And that was hard for me to just swallow and be ok with. So points to a movie are really a big deal to me.
One last thing I'll focus on is just how the movie makes you feel. Yeah, maybe I get way into movies but I think most everyone who watches film knows what I am talking about. Some movies are just feel good movies, they may not have the most unique story or have the most amazing actors in it, but the overall feel of the movie makes you love it. One movie that I think of in saying that is That Thing You Do! That is one of my favorite movies of all time. It is just an awesome feel good movie. Not only is it just flat out funny and completely original but it leaves you wanting to watch it again. Yeah, the cast isn't a very well known one, and the story maybe something we see everyday with bands, but it is amazing movie. The writing is outstanding the lines in that movie are ones that you find yourself saying over and over again. Another movie like that I think is Anchorman. Another one of my favorite movies, When the movie is over you just feel good.
The movies for me is an escape. It is taking me from where I am sitting and my worries and takes me to a whole new world. Whether its in Hogwarts or Brooklyn, it takes me away from my worries and stresses and takes me somewhere new. It also is the appreciation and glory of story. We all love stories, how many of us were read bedtime stories as kids? How many of us have found ourselves sitting around a campfire telling stories to our buddies? We live and thrive on stories, and thats why I love film. I love the en-capturement of stories, and the unique way they are told. One of my favorite movies of all time is Pans Labyrinth movies of all time. It is a beautiful movie that tells a unique almost bedtime story that this little girl escapes to to run away from the evils of the world around her. It is a beautiful movie that has all the elements that I have mentioned above and drives me to tears every time. It leaves you with Hope. It leaves you feeling good, even though it is a tragedy.
We live in an advanced world, and truthfully I am thankful for that. I do love film. I love that I live in an age where I can experience film. It is an area that I am looking to pursue maybe in the future, and I am thankful that I have the freedom to maybe do that one day. But there is one thing that I hope I never lose even if I go into film.
That is the love of film. And the innocence and fascination of just being a film lover. I don't want to ever lose that joy of watching a movie, or the way I view a movie and am able to be fully captivated by it.
So go and watch some movies. Don't waste your life behind a television set, but every now and then it is perfectly fine to just sit down and enjoy a good movie.
Media Associated With This Post:
Artist: Alien Ant Farm
All pictures highjacked from google images.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
"It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something."
Last night I watched one of my favorite movies of all time. Crash.
Crash is an amazing movie that focuses on about 8 to 10 peoples lives and how their paths cross throughout the course of about 4 days. It is one of those movies that I watch and just go thats what I want to do. I want to write a movie like that. A movie with such heart, emotion, truth, and grit. It moves me so much every time I watch it.
But this time I thought a lot about it after it was over. There is just so much in that story, how can you not walk away and chew on it for a little bit after?
I realized after the movie was over what the message that I got from the movie was. The message was pretty clear to me. And that message was this: We run into people everyday. Everyday we meet someone new and then never see them again. Everyday we are put in a position, placed in another persons life for however long. How will you act? How will you handle that situation? How will you respond and act to all the people who are placed in your life? To put it in a much simpler form the message was: People are placed in your life for a reason. Are you going to figure out what the reason was? Or just let it pass you by?
I feel so strongly about this. It is something that is very true that I see in my life everyday. That person that you are watching kids with at sunday school, why is he there? He has entered your life for the next hour, what will you do? Will you chose to just be friendly and forget of his existence? Or do you strike up a conversation with him and get to know this stranger. Will you take advantage of this new situation at hand?
I know in my life I have been shocked by the roles that strangers have played in my life. People I would have never ever dreamed of impacting my life, took advantage of the situation and truly shook my world.
One example of this happened about 2 years ago in Gatlinburg Tennessee. I was on a youth trip and we were staying in some cabins up there for the weekend. It was a hard trip to be on. Most of my friends had left the youth group and I was probably the oldest kid on that trip. Ive mentioned this trip in an earlier post about Amanda Fordham. It was trip that I had to look outside of the student body and formed some really awesome friendships with some of the leaders. Well it was the first night I was there and I was just kind of walking by myself on this huge balcony that surrounded the cabin. I looked up and saw a man sitting in a rocking chair. I recognized him, he was a new leader, didn't really know his name but I recognized him. I asked him how he was doing and he said good, and then he struck up a conversation with me. He asked me sit down in the rocking chair next to him, and then we had one of the most influential conversations I have ever had. I had never spoken to this guy. But he asked me to sit down and just talk for a couple minutes. Those couple of minutes turned into 10 minutes, then to 20 minutes I want to say we sat up there and talked on that balcony for at least an hour. It was really pivotal in my life. I was going through what most seniors go through at the last term of their high school career, I was struggling with finding what I wanted to do with my life, and just thought I had to know. So he eventually asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I had interest in music business. And then he just looked at me and told me he was in music business. He told me all the angles of the job all the things required of it, and I realized I would not want to do that job at all. haha. This stranger entered my life and changed my whole perspective on what I saw as my future for the next four years. In an hours time he changed what I thought was my plan for the next 4 years. I'll never forget that conversation. It ran much deeper than just music business. It was an amazing conversation about faith as well. John Johnson was the name of the man. And after that conversation and forever after I have always respected him so much. I really do look at John Johnson in a light of such respect, he truly is a man of God and wisdom. And I thank God that He allowed John to enter my life on that balcony. I thank God the John took that initiative and took advantage of that situation. He entered my life for a reason, and me in his, and he took on that challenge. He very easily could of let me walk on by, by no in that moment he chose to allow that situation to happen. He took advantage of that hour that I first entered his life, and him in mine.
I have one other time that I'll talk about . One night when I was at church, I was standing there just kind of staring off into the ceiling just not really doing anything. And then I looked down and saw a group of kids standing by the bleachers. I knew most of them, but there was one guy I didn't really know, but recognized him and had heard a lot about him. So I walked over to the group, and just said Hi to this kid Shaun Paul. He smiled back and we struck up a conversation. I had heard he had struggled with a little bit of depression from one of our friends, so we somehow on the topic of depression and we ended up having this amazing conversation. I won't go into the details of every bit of that conversation, but that one night struck up a friendship. I love shaun paul so much. He's another one of my brothers.(If you've been keeping up with my blog, I wouldn't keep count of how many brothers Ive said I have. I have too many. haha) Just that night of looking at the situation and seeing him our paths crossed. And in that moment I decided to talk with this kid and get to know him and through that a huge friendship was formed.
We can't live our lives in fear. So many times opportunity flies by us. We watch it as it goes over our heads, and then we're left their with our heads looking at our feet and us say, "why? why did I let that fly past me?" We can't live in fear of people. People enter our lives every day for a reason. A reason I don't understand most of the time. But then time passes and I realize the impact of our lives intersecting. I realize the impact of that conversation.
The movie Crash, is a wonderful piece of cinema. And the message is pretty clear. How will you act when someone enters your life even for 20 minutes? Will you just let it happen and completely forget about the exchange/intersection? Or will you take full advantage of the situation?
I love the opening quote of the movie, "I think we just crash into each other to feel something." He's addressing that we live in a culture that is all self and nothing else. We are so focused on us and our task that we don't even realize that we are surrounded by people on a street. We've got to get out of our heads. We have to start living in this day and age, not in our heads looking towards the future. We need to feel love and relationships with people. Strike up conversations. And just lend a helping hand to the guy trying to get a lift home on a rainy day. We don't need to live our lives only feeling something in the pain and the crashes. We got to live in full awareness and feel all the great joys of life. Not living numb until we're in the pain.
Live your life in full awareness of life, don't wait till the car crashes to feel something.
Media Associated With This Post:
Song: Maybe Tomorrow
Album: Crash Original Soundtrack
All photos highjacked from google
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Somewhere between the end
And the point where we begin
There's a fire burning brightly
That's found it's way to dim
When the feeling's gone
Shine on, Shine on
-Shine On. Needtobreathe
As most of you know I am staying down in Florida with my second family, The Graves. Well I came down here right after they just started a church with their long time friends, the Q's is what I'll call them, theres no way I can spell that last name. haha. So needless to say they are heavily involved with their church. So last night they needed help with childcare during their first night of small groups. So I told them that I would be more than happy to help them with that.
Being a brother of 5 brothers and sisters I know a little bit about kids, and have a patience for them more than some haha. So I knew it was something that I could handle and it was a paying gig. A college kid refuse money? I think not. haha. So I got there around 6. I met the wonderful woman who runs the children's department, she was very sweet and loving and made me feel like I had known her for years. She then pointed me to the room that I would be watching. My Assignment: 1st-5th grade.... Gulp.
So I walked in the room met the two other teenagers I was serving with and just jumped right into playing with the 4 or 5 kids that were there. I walked in, just looked around a little bit, walked over to one side of the room and just sat down in one of those classic kid chairs. You know 2 1/2 feet off the ground, yours knees are stabbing you in the chin. I looked over next to me and there was this little guy just staring at me, couldn't be more than 6 years old. He was just standing there with his jacket still on, because in Florida 65 degree weather calls for heavy duty jackets?(what the heck people? haha) But anyway he just stared at me and I stared back. Then I smiled and asked him his name, and he told me timidly, and then I asked him his grade, and if he liked it, and he said yeah. And then he smiled. And that was it, thats all it took, we were best friends after 3 questions. We then started playing keep the ball off the ground, Yes for all of you that read that, I do have that name copyrighted so yea, no stealing my game name. You know the game where you bounce the ball off your head and hands and do your best not to drop the ball on the ground(or lava depending on how adventurous you get with the game haha). And we started playing with just me my new friend and another kid. We were having fun just keeping a stupid ball off the ground. And then more kids kept coming in and kept wanting to play our game, So they would just walk in throw their jackets on the ground and join in. Not all of them joined in, some decided to just play it safe and color at first. But not these kids. It got to a point where there was probably 10 or 11 of us playing variations of keep the ball off the ground/monkey in the middle/football/everyman for himself/chaos. haha.
It got pretty chaotic but it was fun. These kids didn't even know me and they just jumped in. They had everything or nothing to risk depending on how you look at it and just jumped in and started playing. Where is that separation? Why are kids not afraid to jump into something so willingly without thought, and then kids above the age of 12 are? Why are we all so afraid to just jump in and not care what anyone else thinks? These kids weren't worried about if they looked cool or not. Heck, I had a boy playing who literally had a princess dress on and was running around the room declaring, "Yes! I finally go in the girls bathroom." haha At 10 years old I don't know what his intentions for doing so would be other than just to laugh full heartedly when he tells his buddies, "they get a couch in there, and they don't have urinals! hahahaha" These kids had no fears in the two hours that they entered my life. They were just there and completely vibrant and unafraid. It amazed me. I know that it would take so much more time to get a bunch of kids in 7th or 8th grade to all participate in a game full heartedly without fear of what the other kids will think of them. But not with these kids they were 110% there and themselves and they had not ever met me!
One of things that got me was how they laugh. They laugh full heartedly. They laugh with there full bodies when they think something is funny. We were playing a game where you had to be quiet and throw a ball around the people in your circle and then clap however many times the caller says before you catch the ball. Basically if you drop the ball, don't clap the right amount of times or talk your out and have to sit down. So one kid, who was our vibrant trouble maker of the group ran over to the toys when he got out and grabbed the etch-a-sketch. He wrote the word out and held it up in the air above his head. All the kids died laughing. Some fell to the ground holding their belly's. Some ran around the room laughing so hard. Their was so much joy in that room. If joy lit a room, our room would be as bright as the sun. It was magic, it was contagious. Watching those kids completely innocent, completely human in the purest form, just laughing, made me just so happy to be alive. So happy to be in that room. So happy to be sharing that moment, that exchange.
Why can't we be like that? Why can't we laugh full heartedly. Why can we not fall to the ground holding our belly's? Why do we act and think of what others will think of us first? These kids taught me, joy is joy. Laughter is laughter. Who cares whose watching? If its funny i'm gonna laugh. If its funny enough I'm gonna fall to my knees and giggle incessantly.
Makes me wish I was a kid again. Makes me wish I could be there in that moment at 8 years old, no real worries except maybe the thought of "will mom let me stay up a little bit longer when I get home?" or more simple, "will we get milkshakes after church?" I want that innocence. I want that joy. I want that instant love.
Whats stopping me? Whats stopping all of us who are above and beyond 5th grade?
Nothing is stopping us from living full heartedly. Laughing full heartedly. And instantly loving someone just for the sake of being human like you. Why do we just get older and convolute something so simple?
As Needtobreath repeats in their song, "Let Us Love,"
Let us love
Like we were children
Make us feel
Like we're still living
In a world I know that's burning to the ground
Give us time
To beat the system
Make us find
What we've been missing
In a world I know that's burning to the ground
"Let us love like we were children." That sentence to me is so powerful sitting here writing this because I saw love last night. A little boy who stood there timidly staring at an awkward 19 year old kid sitting in a chair that is meant for a person 1/4 his size. He stood there looking at this weird boy not knowing anything about him, maybe a little scared at first. But the second that weird boy said something to him a lilac of love from inside his chest started to bloom. And with three questions from from this weird boy, the flower had fully bloomed and a friendship was formed. Three questions over the course of maybe 1 minute and 30 seconds. Maybe. A friendship was formed. That little boy looked at me the rest of the night as if I was his big brother, as if I were apart of his life. And for 2 hours last night I was and he apart of mine. The little innocent things he said, the random things he said, the laughs he let out, the way he played full force. It all made such an impact on me. That little kid, impacted this 19 year old more than he'll ever know.
If our paths never cross again little boy, Thank You. Thank you for showing me joy. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for showing me there is more to this world that is burning to the ground. I full heartedly will smile at thoughts of your joy. You will forget me. You will get older, and you may lose that innocence in time. But I pray you hold onto that for as long as you can. There is nothing more pure than the innocence of a child. Nothing as contagious or lovable than the joy of a child.
So my goal is to try my best to live my life with the joy and innocence of a child. Why convolute it with the crap of the world that doesn't affect me? Why? So I'm not going to let it affect me if I don't have to. I'll stay here in this room, playing keep the ball of the ground, and full heartedly laugh, and be full of joy. Full of innocence. Again I thank that little boy for opening my eyes to not what I didn't know. But what I have forgotten. The joy of a child.
Media Associated With This Post:
Song: Shine On
Video from youtube.com
Music by Needtobreathe-Let Us Love
Pictures all highjacked from google.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Tonight was a very good night. For the first time I think ever, I hung out with Josh Graves. Now wait thats absurd, what I mean is, I hung out just me and just josh for the first time I think ever. Its always been me, nate and josh. So we're always around each other but I don't know that I've ever gotten the chance to just have one on one time with Josh like I had tonight.
For those of you who don't know Josh, Josh is another one of my brothers. Well, brother from another mother. I've known Josh since he was born. Our families have been close since before I was even born. My dad is actually the reason Jeff,( Josh's dad, My second dad), met Kim,( Josh's mom, my second mom. ) So needless to say our families have ties in them that are very very close.
Josh is an awesome 16 year old guy who really has everything in the world going for him. He's funny. He's a good looking kid. He is heavily involved in his church, so much so that he actually runs the middle school program at his church. He's smart, he's caring. Ok is this starting to sound like an eharmony add? haha You get the picture.
I love this kid so much, and I was blessed to have a night out with him tonight. First we went to Wiregrass, the local mall in Land O' Lakes Florida. We just walked around a little bit, went into Hot Topic and Barnes and Nobles. We then and were on a mission to try and get something to eat and catch a movie, so we stopped at quiznoes and then drove all the way to the movie theatre. We got to the movie theatre and realized there was nothing that we wanted to see haha. So we drove to Best Buy tried to find a movie to watch at home then drove back home. Needless to say we've got plenty of movies to watch here at the house so the trip was pointless. haha. But overall the night was fun.
The one thing I think I took away from tonight though was the awesome conversations we had. I honestly am glad we didn't go to a movie. I'm glad that we sat down at a restaurant and ate. We had probably some of the most intimate conversations we've ever had together. We talked about so much, everything from music(his favorites being everything from king of leon and muse to U2) to just life. It was awesome. I just sat there just kind of amazed at my friends heart. He has such a huge heart, such a loving heart. It really just touches me to see the passion he has and the goals he has. It made me just so happy to be there in that moment there with my friend and just listening to him pour out his heart about girls in high school and the way guys mistreat them. Hearing him just talk about how this next year is going to be hard when his brother moves out to college.
This trip has just been so weird because I have had to view this kid that I've always viewed as a little brother, is now becoming a man. Hes no longer my little brother who just sits there and laughs at all we tell him. Hes growing he has opinions, hes actually a very intelligent person, who I wouldn't be surprised to grow up to do something huge. I know God has huge plans for Josh. He has such a heart for helping people. Thats all he wants to do, is just be there to give you that big hug when you've fallen. He wants just to help you. How is that not just touching to hear? How can you not just love him regardless if he may be loud or smelly at times? haha just kidding. But really I love this kid so much. He truthfully is impacting me more than he knows. He is such a great example for the kids he teaches on Sunday mornings. He is a man of virtue and gentleness. And it amazes me to watch him with the kids he teaches on sunday mornings. They really listen to him, and they really love him, and he loves them.
Its just so touching to me that a 16 year old is truly moving mountains and I don't think he realizes it. I don't think he realizes that he truthfully is shinning example of Jesus through his skin. He is loving, compassionate, and only wants to help. Its so touching, and inspires me. He talked about girls in his school and how he just is there friend because he knows they need to be loved on. Not like a pig, not some pervert, he knows that these girls are hurt from their family lives and abusive relationships and just wants to be there for them so they know they are beautiful and are loved. How awesome is that?!
He told me somedays he will just text some of those girls and let them know that even though they are down they are beautiful. They are beautiful. Joshua Edward Graves will one day grow up to be an amazing husband, who I know will have a wife who will know she is loved all the time. She will be one lucky woman. I promise you that.
Josh I just want to tell you if you haven't gotten anything else from this post, I love you. I thank you for being my friend, my brother. You are growing into such an awesome and strong Christian man. The things you take on with your friends and church kids is remarkable for a kid your age man. You really do have a maturity that I have underestimated. Yes, I will leave this post and we'll both laugh at a poop joke, but I'm not talking about that maturity, I'm talking about your serious and spiritual maturity. It really inspires me. I love you buddy so much, and am so thankful that I got to hang out with you tonight. It made me see the real and true beautiful person you are. The love and grace you have pours out of you as you speak man. You are moving mountains in kids lives now, at 16, I can' imagine all you're going to do when you get older. I love you so much buddy, and thank God for you and your family. You guys have always been there for me, and I will always be there for you guys. But Josh you know that I am not only one of your brothers best friends, but I'm also your friend. I would do anything for you buddy. I love ya man.
Media Associated With This Post:
Album: Black Holes and Revelations
Pictures Taken By: Tanner Pemelton
What do you do when you have a friend who is walking into danger,
what do you do when the fires begin to capsize them?
Where do you go when you know the words you say won't change her?
Where do you go when the fires spread beyond him?
No one person burns alone,
He always brings it home.
Friends are a very complicated thing. Some days friendships are easy, and some days they are as hard as walking into a burning building. How many of us have had hard decisions we've had to face with our friends. How many of you have been pressured into doing something you didn't want to do by a friend? How many of you have been told something you couldn't tell anyone else even though you knew that you should tell someone? How many of you have been told that your friend is cutting? How many of you have been told that your friend is experimenting with needles? How many of you have been told your friend is being abused by their boyfriend?
How do we deal with these situations?
How do we escape the fires that come our way that we have to face head on?
Honestly I am going to tell you from the start I don't have all the answers. I'm sorry if the beginning intrigued you and made you think oh wow Tanner's really going to drive the point home, but what I am saying is I ask myself those questions just as much as everyone else. What do we do in these situations?
In my life I have seen many "fires." So many of my friends have reached out to me and told me things they are struggling with or that they have done. So many times have I been faced with that question of what do I do in this situation? And I know that I am not the only one who has been faced with this question. So I thought it would be appropriate to share a little bit that is on my heart about what should be done...
1) Be a friend
I think one of the hardest things to do when a friend comes to you and tells you something like they are cutting or they are suicidal, or they have been raped, the hardest thing to do for some people is to just love the person the same as you did. They aren't a freak. They are a person, who more than ever probably needs your love and compassion so be a friend.
Every different situation is as I said, different. But in my life it seems that people finally get to a point where they just want to talk and share whats on their chest. And what you need to do is listen. Listen to them and comfort them.
3) Don't be afraid to do the right thing
Now this is the hardest thing I think for everyone to grasp is this one thing. You can't be afraid to do what you know is right. Now what I mean by that is sometimes you have to break a "promise" because you know its the right thing. When you have a friend who looks at you in the eye and says, "I'm going to tell you something that you can not tell anyone about," and you say, "yes," do not think that is written in stone that you can not do what you know is right. When you're friend tells you that and then tells you, "my boyfriend is beating me every time we are together and I can't leave him because I'm too scared he'll kill me." Or "I've been raped." Or "I'm cutting and I'm afraid I'm going to really kill myself one day." Or "I'm addicted man, and I can't stop and its scaring me." How many of us have heard these sentences? Too many of us have! Too Many! I'm not saying that to put blame on the people who have said that, I am saying that because theres too much hurt and evil in this world. And it makes me sick. But you've got to realize that even though you may have said "yes, I won't tell anyone," You may have to go above and beyond your promise. You can not be afraid to do the right thing. If the right things is to call the authorities because you know your friend is getting beaten by her boyfriend. Or if its to tell her dad whats going on and that his daughter is in danger, or if its to tell a mom that her daughter is cutting and she needs help, or if its telling a dad that his son is addicted to pornography or drugs and its starting to spin out of control. Some times you've got to take control and do the right thing. As scary as it is and as big of a request as it is, its truth.
This is the hardest one for me to write but I am learning more and more that is something that has to be in place. You need to be there for your friends and be close, but you can't take the whole weight of the world on your shoulders. You have to have some boundaries. When you're friend is cutting you can't just take that on and try to be their personal savior. I've done it, I've tried and guess what guys? Ive failed every time. I have honestly hurt my friends more by not telling someone who could help them what is going on with them. Its so easy to feel like you are the only one who knows so you have to take this thing on. How many of us have sat in our rooms on our beds staring at the ceiling trying to figure out what we can do for our friends? The answer is simple, be there for them, love and care for them, know when or if you need to make appropriate actions, and be healthy about it. Don't take the whole situation on yourself. Its not your job to fix someone!
ITS NOT YOUR JOB TO FIX SOMEONE
I had to write that in all caps because that is something I have had to come to grips with. Now that sounds merciless or heartless. But really what I am saying is its not your job to take on someone else's pain alone. It's your job to be the best friend you can be and sometimes that requires you to do something you don't want to do. Like reach out to someone when something is too big for you to handle alone. There have been times where I have had to reach out to other adults around me or my dad because I couldn't take on someones pain and hurt alone. Thats not a sign of weakness guys, its a sign that we can't live this life alone. We are meant to be in community with each other and help each other when were hurt, even if that requires breaking a promise.
Honestly I don't know that I could tell you why I wrote this post. I just knew it was something I needed to say. I just was looking back today on things that have happened in my life with my friends and their pain, and I know what its like to be on the other-side of pain. The side that is listening and sworn to secrecy. Its hard. Its a huge weight to carry. And I'm telling you that are reading this that feel that weight on your chest and on your back, I just want you to know its ok, to distribute some of that weight, if it benefits your friend, its ok to reach out and tell someone who can really help. We're not therapists, we're not rehab specialists, were friends. And sometimes we have to do the right thing as a friend and take a step for the right thing.
Nobody burns alone
its true, nobody needs to burn alone, nobody needs to burn.
Don't be afraid to act for a friend who is hurting. It is only prolonging the pain and making it worse when you keep it a secret and keep their pain on your shoulders. Reach out and really help your friends.
And I know it may feel like I'm taking on a spiritual thing here at the end for a spiritual pat on the back or something but really one of the biggest things if not the biggest things you need to do in these situations. Is pray. Pray about every decision you and you're friends have to make. Pray that God will give your friend clearance of mind, and you as well. Pray that you are making the right and best decisions for your friends.
As fireflight put it in their beautiful song, Wrapped in Your Arms
You cradle me gently wrapped in your arms,
I'm home. I'm home
She is talking about the love and compassion that God has for us. He loves us and wants to wrap us in His arms and make us feel at home with Him. He is there and wants to aid our wounds. He wants to mend our wounds. But we have to allow Him in our lives to do so.
So pray, pray that you feel wrapped in His arms. And reach out, reach out and really help your friends.
No one has to burn.
Media Associated With This Post:
Song: Wrapped In Your Arms
Poem at the beginning of the post by Tanner Pemelton
Pictures Highjacked From the Internet