Chicago – New Friends and Necessary But Unfortunate Epiphanies

25 Jul

Welcome back everyone! Sorry its been so long. From my trip to El Salvador to being busy with sports camps since the beginning of July, I have not had the time I need to sit in front of my computer and exhale.

Ahh.

So my apologies on my absence. It indeed has been too long and I will do my very best going forward to not take month long breaks.

Now before I begin, I’m going to pick up where I am. Right now. If I attempt to catch up from where I last left off, I will be perpetually behind (which would defeat the purpose of my blog). So if you are curious about El Salvador, that post is coming very soon. First things first–I need to find my rhythm again.

So here I am. Jupiter Outpost– Fulton Market, Chicago, IL. Chicago, the place where it all started. To understand the nostalgia, I’m going to give you a very brief Jason history lesson.

Its September 2010. With a $400 flight voucher, 3 weeks worth of vacation adventure days stacked up, and a desire to gettheheckoutofcostamesaandspendsometimealonewithGod (yes, that’s a word), I booked a trip that would change my life as I knew it.

September 9th I departed on my 25 day (3 weeks with weekends book ending) journey that would take me to Denver (5 days), Dallas (2), Chicago (7), Philly (4), New York (4), Boston (1), Seattle (2),  and San Francisco (1). Denver and Dallas I stayed with friends that were gracious enough to host me, but in Chicago the only things set in stone were the Cubs games for which I had tickets (Cubs fan for life). I landed at O’Hare, took a Holiday Inn Express shuttle to get me off the airport property, then walked until I couldn’t walk anymore, found a motel and crashed.

Chicago was quite a few firsts for me–the first place I ever couchsurfed, the first place I stayed with a stranger I met (a vagabond, a photographer, a lover of Christ, and the guy I’m crashing with again right now), and the first place I really learned to travel (and be) alone. In case you are wondering, my friend’s name is Joe Lieske (his photography can be found here, including our road trip to Portland). If you are at all curious about stories from my first trip, let me know and I’ll include them in future posts.

The greatest advantage traveling alone has is the amount of strangers future friends you meet. Remember that. Better yet, try that. You won’t be disappointed.

Saturday morning I said good bye to UW Sports Ministry at Chicago Midway airport (my team flew off to other destinations, I requested to extend my stay in Chicago before I went home) and took the orange line into downtown. While riding the L (eLevated train), a friendly man on the train asked the people around him what stop he should exit to get to Millennium Park. Since I was headed the same way, I told him to get off at Randolph and Wabash. He thanked me and called his family. As he was on the phone, I noticed he was using a DROID2 (obviously I knew a thing or two about it). So when he got off the phone, I sat next to him to demo Google maps and its transit line feature (every bus and L stop is detailed along with running times). I told him I used to manage a store so I walked him through it as if I was still at my shop.

As we talked, he told me his name was John and he was on vacation with his family here for a couple days. Then, he told me they were going to a Cubs game on Sunday. A few moments later he said, “We have an extra ticket, they are great seats…” and I thought, is he going to offer me his ticket? He continued, “Do you know the best way to go about selling a ticket on short notice?” I wasn’t surprised, I mean, I had known the guy for five minutes, why would he offer me his ticket he spent a good deal of money on? I told him Stub Hub, but mentioned that if he couldn’t sell the ticket before gametime, I would be willing to give him some money for the ticket. My budget was going to be small–I was going to the Manchester United game that evening and had already been to a Cubs game–but some money was better than no money, right? So he took my phone number down, we exited the train and talked as we walked towards Michigan Ave.

Coming down the stairs, he noticed my Osprey backpack and asked why I had so much stuff. I told him I was wandering around, traveling alone and exploring. He told me he had a pack like mine, and that he did the same kind of adventuring when he was in his twenties. Not long after, we parted ways and went about our day. I met Joe at Intelligentsia (the coffee house he works at) and we hung out. That night I went to the Man U v Chicago Fire game at Soldier Field. Great fun.

The next morning I went to The Line, the church I had went to in September when I was here. The sermon I heard that morning brought me to tears. Over the past few weeks, I have been hit with this realization that I was not the great boyfriend to Jessi that I believed I was. Pastor Aaron articulated my feelings much more eloquently than I could have at the time. To quote him,

 

“Looking back on these nine years [of marriage], my idea of romance has shifted considerably,away from fantasy and toward fact. The reasons for this shift are many, but one prime mover was the discovery of my capacity for inflicting pain. In my head I would write poetry, bring flowers, build her a home with my bare hands. In reality, I was critical, detached, more prone to destroy than create anything.”

 

This sermon was delivered more as a story/monologue than your typical, free-to-ramble sermon. No silly, impromptu quips or self-deprecating jokes were to be found this Sunday. The way in which 

Pastor Aaron delivered his message in the dimly lit pub-turned-art-house-style-church absolutely rocked me. I identified with his misled idea of romance and ultimately the unfortunate disconnect between the love he imagined and the love his wife received. Jessi used to tell me that I was detached and that she didn’t get “the Jason everyone else got”–which I would dismiss because, in my head, I was writing poetry and bringing her flowers. It didn’t make sense until now. Well now.. now, it makes too much sense. The gross injustice of love I committed, continually, weighs very heavily on my heart as I write these words.

I ask God, “Why? Why didn’t you make me aware of the iniquities sooner? Why not last year or before we got back together? Why now?” I haven’t received an answer yet.

While taking communion in a corner of the pub, I sat. A few tears rolling down my cheeks. And then the thought became bigger. Well if I did this to Jessi, I must have done this to other people I love. Mom and Dad? Check. Sister? Check. Close friends? Checks.

I think know, in this year of travel and solitude, God is really going to change my understanding of love. Love for family, love for friends and love for my future wife.

There is much more to the sermon than what I have given you. He talks about Paul and his love for Corinth. I would urge any of you to take time out of your day to read it. It impacted me much more deeply and in more ways than I can convey in this post.

Before church had begun, I got a message from John:

“Jason! Hey its John Smith calling. I was on the train with you yesterday. Going to the Cubs game today if you’re interested…”

I sent him a text in response as church was starting saying I wanted to go and what he was asking for the ticket. He responded:

“Jason, we will give you the ticket. You can buy my wife and I a beer. 🙂 …”

Amazing. I was stoked. Great seats, great people, new friends, Cubs game. Does it get better much better than this?

 

I got there in the bottom half of the first inning and got to meet (in order) his wife Carol, daughter Molly, her boyfriend Andy, and son Jackson. From the second I sat down I felt like family. They were all so much fun and welcoming. They even invited me to stop by their house in Missoula, Montana to hang out, go to the river and go tubing. Am I going to go? You better believe it.

The game went into the 10th inning, the Cubs loaded the bases with one out, and won the game on a single. Cubs WIN! We said good bye at Wrigley, then met again on the street, walked to the L, then parted ways. What a fantastic day.

Dear Smith Family, I think Mr. Frank Sinatra said it best,

“Now this could only happen to a guy like me
And only happen in a town like this
So may I say to each of you most gratefully
As I throw each one of you a kiss
This is my kind of town, Chicago is.”

Thank you John and Smith family. I look forward to seeing you all in Montana very soon.

I got home, uncapped a brew with Joe and went to his roof to recap the day. What a place to converse with a good friend.

Tonight, Monday the 25th of July, I am doing dinner with Daniel (who works alongside Joe at Intelligentsia) and his wife Kristen Dake. Members of The Line church, they welcomed me into their home on my birthday last September 19th and made me dinner. What a blessing.

I love life. I LOVE life. I LOVE LIFE.

My friend Kylee, whom I know from Pennsylvania, commented on my Wrigley Field check-in on facebook, “haha, your ridiculous life. wow.” Its true. I am so grateful for the experiences shared with such wonderful people. Without you, none of this would have been possible. Joe, Daniel and Kristen, The Line Church, and the Smiths– thank you.

And God– You. You never cease to amaze me. I have no words that can accurately describe the emotions I feel. Even when you point out my greatest faults to the point where my soul hurts, I rejoice knowing its because you love me and are refining me. That’s James 1:2-4 right there. Keep it coming.

Friends and Family- Thank you again for reading. The El Salvador post is coming along with more Chicago stories. I love you all.

Jason

Three Weeks of Camps Down…

24 Jun

It has been three weeks and a day since the last time I have had a computer sitting in front of me. I have been going, and going, and going, and going. Did I mention going? This may have been one of the most exhausting three weeks of my life.

I definitely have a few different emotions inside me. A part of me is stoked to take a break, a part of me is sad that I don’t get to work with kids next week, and all of me is just plain tired.

I want to start out by saying how thankful I am for the opportunity to work with the little ones this summer. I got to coach 6-12 year olds in soccer, tell them about athletes that have lived out our theme, worship with them and share with them the love that only Christ can give. The program that UW has is wonderful–through the song and dance (even though part of me isn’t the biggest fan of the very literal song motions we must do with each song) the kids learn lessons reinforced  in our Bible time (I love leading worship and observing how intently they watch you to learn the motions) and through the sports sessions the kids just love to play with you. Just your presence alone excites them. From Oklahoma City, OK, Cashiers, NC, and New Castle, PA, spending five days in each city with these kids gave me memories I will keep with me for quite some time.

The first week in OKC was long. From we did sports camp at Crossroads Church in  the mornings, then training until 9pm. After dropping everyone off at their host homes, we didn’t get back home until 10pm. Leaving the house before 8am and getting back after 10pm–not something I’m used to.

Oklahoma City was wonderful for a few reasons. Firstly, I had the best host mom, Sande Johnson. Let’s just say she loved to laugh, stocked taquitos and pizza rolls  in her freezer, and had four kinds of Dole’s juice blends in her

refrigerator at all times. She had an adorable accent and was as sweet as the tea we drank (which is slowly growing on me). I was so thankful for her. Hanging with Levi, Kellyn and Janae at the home was fun too. Another reason was Crossroads Church. They are freaking rad. Pastor Kara and the gang were great. Welcoming, loving, forgiving, and just plain fun.

Now, there’s one thing I learned about UW Sports Camps that I didn’t know before hand: Friday Fun Day. Here’s the deal–on the last day of camp, you get to dress up as stupidly as you can think of (and then some). If you know me at all, you know that I like to live by the motto, “Go big or go home.” Some may call me ridiculous, but I just embrace any time where dressing as goofy as possible is encouraged.

Had I known, I would have brought a few crazy elements from home and put together an outfit for Friday Fun Days. But since I didn’t know before hand, I relied on good ol’ Wal-Mart for my insanity. And boy did they deliver, $40 at Wal-Mart well spent.

Crazy right? Sam, one of the main guys at UW, said it was probably the craziest Friday Fun Day outfit he has ever seen. Not bad for a first year guy. You should see the kinds of looks I’ve been getting from campers AND coaches (and parents for that matter, since Friday is the day they all show up to watch the games). It has been quite a fun day for me. 20% of my camp time is spent in sparkly pink tights. Ha!

North Carolina was a completely different ball game. We flew into South Carolina, then drove to a Holiday Inn Express in Georgia. Let’s just say we were in a land unfamiliar to me. Flea Markets with indoor wrestling matches (we drove up to see what the deal was and saw human beings I have only encountered through television while watching “Swamp People” on History Channel), General Stores, and pretty much nothing else. It was pretty awesome. Needless to say, we could have died there and no one would have known.

When we got to North Carolina, we stayed in a nicer mountain community where shops were open from 11am to 4pm, restaurants closed by 6pm, and there was absolutely no extra curricular activities to be found (except one lone ice cream shop open till 9pm, which turned out to be quite tasty). Luke and I stayed at a quaint little establishment called the Laurelwood Mountain Inn.We had our own little two bedded room to ourselves. Cozy. If I were to ever stay in that place again, I would prefer it being with a woman I am married to. Ha. It was nice and free, since someone from the church owns it. Blessings.

Oh and yeah, my team. Kind of forgot to mention them. Katrina Schmitz (my friend Louie’s wife), Kellyn, Luke, and Amy. Every camp we went to loved us. We came together, first and foremost, for the kids and their relationship with Jesus Christ. We preached, taught, instructed, and played together–it wasn’t always easy, it wasn’t always fun, but we overcame our differences and served two camps together. It is times like those that I will look back on and see the Lord working despite AND through our silly trials. I just have to remember:

James 1:2 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you
encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Cashiers, NC camp was great as well. We started our three week of camps in OKC (training week with a large group of UW staffers) at a church with 230 campers and transitioned to NC camp with under 40. It was very different. We had about 14 kids in soccer. Working with Pastor Kris and his wife throughout the week was a pleasure. They were so nice and grateful for our help and coaching, and seeing a friendly smiling face every morning was fantastic. It was also our first week of working alone as a team. Like I said, interesting. On paper our team was great, in reality, we had a few kinks. Issues arose, they were addressed, and after that I really didn’t have another issue. It was a lesson in teamwork and in following. I had been leading a team of my peers the past four years at the Verizon store, so it was interesting following another person’s lead and observing their style of leadership. After four years of triumphs and failures in leadership, you have a different perspective in being led. I can throw these few weeks into my bag of experience that will help me in my next leadership position I am in.

This last week in Pennsylvania was great. I had a stinking blast. The church, First Baptist, has been running UW Sports Camps for over six years (or more). They know their stuff. The volunteers coach Amy (who was so fun to work with–she is also from so cal) and I had in soccer were great. They coached well, loved on their kids even better, and had great hearts. We were able to hand the campers off to their coaches for every drill, giving the church volunteers (coaches) time to really bond with their campers. They even had flat land that we could play soccer on (the only camp I’ve been to with a proper pitch). Through it all, I greatly enjoyed working with Coach Amy. She is quite the funny one, I enjoyed hearing stories about her life and training week at camp. Thanks for all the amusement Amy. I also got to work with Coach Katrina in Bible time. Katrina has been doing UW Sports ministry for five years now, and really knows how to work with the children. She is exceedingly good (and adorable) at teaching the Word to the little ones. She always has her lessons down pat, her transitions are always smooth, and she looks completely at home on stage. It was nice to get paired up with her teaching the 8 and 9 year olds Bible stories this week. I learned a lot.

Side Note: We got to visit Pittsburgh and also got to see the Amish people in their world. So fun!

I would also like to take a second to say how much I love Coach Luke and Coach Kellyn. You both are rad. Luke and I kept each other company (and sane) through out the trip. I could have been paired with many other guys in UW, but Luke (with an Amish hat) was the best. We always had fun no matter what we were doing or how little there was to do. Always in good spirits, and always fun. Good man. And I am thankful to Coach Kellyn (who is dressed up as Shawn White for her sports story), who was always fun and entertaining. Luke and I made her act out (on many,

many, many occasions) the Best Buy commercial “Outdated World” (she would run in a circle reenacting the little girl saying “you got the wrong TV silly head”). Epic. Both Luke and Kellyn were fun, sarcastic, and great senses of humor, being able to take as much as they gave out. You make me smile.

I have also been extremely blessed to stay with George and Marian Pastore during my stay here in Pennsylvania (they are letting me stay until Monday too). They are amazing followers of Christ with many stories of God’s faithfulness and wisdom to pass on. I don’t think it is by accident that I am staying with them. I have a couple more days here, so at the end of my stay here I will tell you all about them. Fantastic people.

Our verse for the camp is Hebrews 12:1-2:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded bysuch a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

It is funny. As much as I have been teaching, God has been working on me. He has shown me a few things about myself that I needed to be reminded of, and is refining me as I speak (and obviously always will). Its funny how when pride gets in the way, sin entangles and hinders us from encountering God. The five of us, all passionate lovers of Christ, got caught up and hindered ourselves from full team unity. It isn’t ideal, but the lessons we learn will stick with us throughout our lives. For that, I am thankful.

I am signing off. This is my first night where I can relax alone (with the Pastores) and not have to worry about being up at 7 or preparing a lesson. I can sleep in and turn my alarm off and wake up when I wake up! So relieving. Ministry is exhausting–but so worth it.

If you can keep me in prayer, please do. For a good night’s sleep, to rest up, for solid quiet times, for humility, for sensitivity when necessary, for discernment in my travels and decisions, for patience with others, for compassion and grace, for fundraising for UW, wisdom in teaching, and a deeper understanding of your love.

I love, appreciate and miss you all.

Jason

A Little Bit Like Home

2 Jun

Its 8:15am Thursday morning. I’m sitting in the airport in Colorado Springs en route to Long Beach. In between being a wanderer and a summer intern with UW, I need to go home and repack my bags—I won’t need my tent, sleeping bag or mat for this next chapter in my adventure. I can’t believe May is already over. It feels like just yesterday I hopped on that Greyhound (read: MISTAKE)  and headed to Denver. Only recently did I come to the realization that I’m not going to be working a regular job for quite a while (read: NOT-A-MISTAKE). It took me nearly a month to really figure that one out.

I am really sad to leave this place. The Springs grew on me.

If you can remember a couple weeks back, I was getting kind of .. umm .. lonely. There is nothing inherently wrong with that feeling—I (in a moment of idealism) prayed for it (but actually glad I did, I just like to joke). But seriously, there are only so many times you can bike 35 miles to see people that you know (at your internship) or bike to the local coffee shop just to not feel stir crazy (which made me feel stir crazy on its own) in Northern Colorado Springs. I was just so far from the heart of the city. Had it not been “the worst May in years” (as described by many locals), going outdoors and reading, writing, and camping would have been incredible. Unfortunately, consistent sub-40 degree weather with rain, hail and snow shut that down. Darn that weather *shakes fist at the cold, overcast sky*! I had (in my opinion) overstayed my welcome and was mildly frustrated with God. People were supposed to be opening their homes to me and inviting me to stay in right!? Ha. Doors were supposed to open on my timing. Duh. As my fallback, I could find a place on Couch Surfing (in case God didn’t open doors for me, I would open my own—As if!). Ten Surfing requests sent, ten rejections. Suck. Then, once I had decided I was going to leave (worst case I’d throw my tent up somewhere), Brett Owens responded to my request letting me know I could crash with him for 2 or 3 nights—and what a freaking blessing it was (which turned into 12).

He gave me his address Thursday night, and I pedaled my way nine miles to his house. Can I just say how much fun it is to turn on Google Navigation on my phone while bike riding with headphones on? Either way, I’m telling you anyways. I set my phone to walking navigation mode, and my phone audibly directs me through streets, parking lots, and back road trails through my headphones (with the visual navigation blind to me in my pocket). In the middle of a Thrice song, adrenaline pumping, pedaling feverishly, the lady in my ears says (in a mildly robotic tone), “Turn Left on North Academy Boulevard.” I’m flying downhill on Voyager at least twenty miles per hour, and fifty feet before the intersection she decides to warn me (fifty feet should be sufficient for someone walking, so I can’t really complain). Its rad not having any clue where I am going and seconds before I approach an intersection a voice pops into my earbuds telling me where to go. Its like I’m a super secret agent following my handler’s directions while she watching me live on NASA’s super hi-res satellite cameras (a little like that movie Eagle Eye—if you haven’t seen it, you’re not missing a whole lot).

I showed up at his house Friday afternoon around 1:30pm. He opened the door and greeted me with a hug. We sat down in his living room with Jake, his friend and summer roommate, and chatted about Jesus, music, art, and adventure. Next, like all of their new house guests, I had to give them a tour of the house. Ha. Yes, I had to give them a tour. A slightly put-you-on-the-spot moment, but who cares? Ha. It was brilliant. Apparently I gave them one of the better tours of their house so far. +1 for me. As I introduced them to their townhome, I led them to the basement. Unfinished, they turned it into their prayer room. Paintings and prayer requests inscribed on index cards covered the walls, while rugs, pillows, a random couch and an old beat up recliner made it feel homey. I knew I was in the right place.

After the tour, we went to the garage, sat on their comfy arm chairs, lit up one of the many pipes that littered their round metal-wire table and talked testimonies (aka life stories). I fancied myself a much older, wiser man while puffing on a pipe—wishing I had a flux capacitor  and a Delorian to escort me back to the times of C.S. Lewis to sit on a porch with him and chat (maybe if I lived during his time I could more easily comprehend his writings). Within fifteen minutes of knowing these guys, we unabashedly shared the most intimate details of our lives. And it never stopped. Over the past 12 days, I have gotten to know these two guys and I have nothing but amazing things to say about them. They are great. They love the Lord, love their friends, love people, and love to have fun. I have been encouraged in my walk seeing how Brett and Jake pursue the Lord and love him with a raw, desperate passion. Without a shadow of a doubt, they are friends for life.

From then on, the Springs felt like home. We went to The Mill (the twentysomethings Friday night church at New Life) and met a ton of other great people in their friend group. After church, we went long boarding through the streets and parking structures of downtown Colorado Springs till 3am and ended the night with a breakfast burrito and horchata from a 24 hour Mexican food joint. My kind of night.

My favorite reoccurring theme of my stay with Brett and Jake was how they would introduce me to their friends. When we would encounter one of their friends, they would enthusiastically ask, “Hey, have you met our Vagabond?” Ha. Even though it sounded a bit like I was their new puppy, it was rad. Half of the time I would meet people who knew who I was already. They welcomed a stranger into their house and their group of friends without any hesitation. Thank you Brett and Jake—I  freaking love you guys.

In the two weeks I was there, I twice went hiking with the boys, camped once, got $2 brews at Old Chicago, played ultimate Frisbee (so. dang. good.) and had countless old-man-pipe sessions in that lovably dingy man garage (which has all sorts of man paraphernalia, mostly posters with Ali and Fraser and Leonitis from 300).

(Left-Right: Aaron, Me, Brett, Jake Vee, Andrew, Josh, Kevin)

As an entire group we had BBQs, bowling nights, and just hung out. Like every friend group there werefunny quirks, but everyone was genuine and loving, seriously encouraging each other in Christ as brother and sisters in Him. I applaud them.

Another huge blessing was getting to have one-on-one time with a number of the new friends I met. It was amazing to not only fellowship as a group but be able to have heart to heart conversations and really get to know my new family in the Springs. I got to bond with Aaron in the garage, spend time with Cassie at her house (and found out her cousin is Joey Talley who grew up with my wonderful ex-girlfriend Jessi Duke in Hemet, CA), talk life with Chris and Kandilyn in the prayer room, explore with Melissa in Manitou (pictured above) at Grafitti Falls, and converse Brea and Julie over a delicious meal they made at their apartment. I learned how much I have a heart for college kids. Its probably because I still think that I am one of them.

(Row 1: Jake Vee, Melissa, Brett; Row 2: Alyssa, Brea; Row 3: Kandilyn, Chris, Julie)

As I finish this post my room in my house in Costa Mesa, I want to say thank you to everyone who made the last half of my stay in Colorado Springs so awesome. You welcomed me into your home. You fed me. You picked me up to hang out and you drove me home after a long night. You shared your thoughts and your heart with me.

Thank you Brett, Jake Vee, Aaron (pictured right), Chris, Nathan, Michael, Kevin, Mikel, Charles, Josh, Melissa, Alyssa, Brea, Julie, Cassie, Kandilyn and Cortney (and anyone else that I may have forgot to mention).

-Jason

PS – Tomorrow I fly to Oklahoma to begin my summer internship with UW Sports Ministry. I am unable to bring my laptop but will be updating my blog from my phone, so it may take a little longer to write each post.

Thank you all for reading my blog- your comments and prayers are such a blessing.

#6 – I’m Not In Kansas Anymore…

22 May

I believe it was Saturday, May 14… 8:30 pm. I had gotten back from hanging out at the local coffee shop- reading, writing and relaxing. Having just met two people from a church in the area, I was excited for Sunday. I was making my usual meal- Hormel Turkey Chili and white rice- watching TV and hanging out alone at Josh and Katie’s place. Suddenly, for the first time, I realized I had nothing to do. I could call no one to come hang out. There was no one who knows ME who I could spend time with. I was alone.

There I was, alone on the couch, clutching my Bible, my heart too hard to open it. I knew this was coming, I just didn’t realize it would happen this quickly. I knew God would start to break me -break me of my dependence on my past relationship, break me of my dependence on my friends and family. Break me of the busyness and clutter of my life that had kept me from truly encountering Christ (I have always been busy doing something). I was too stubborn to open up my Bible to read through Psalms, so I just laid still. As my eyes welled up from the emptiness I felt, I briefly exchanged words with God for taking me up on my prayer to be broken. A few minutes later the microwave beeped, I ate my $1.50 meal, and fell asleep watching Sportscenter.

The next morning it was 35 degrees and snowing/raining. I rode my bike from Northern Colorado to church, 12 miles south. I passed about 12 different churches in that hour, tempted to cut my ride short and attend one of them, but decided to keep pedaling anyways. In a nutshell, the people at the church were super friendly, and something felt kind of… off. I went to brunch with them after the service and got a ride from a kid named JJ back to Northern Colorado Springs. Really nice people. I did a little Googling on their denomination (International Church of Christ) and found some interesting results (if you are interested in finding out where they go wrong, feel free to Google their denomination, the first search suggested search after typing ICOC is cult). They preach straight from the Word, but something felt off. To be honest, I was confused as to why I even went there. I was expecting it to be a rad church, but after I realized I didn’t want go to back, I was bitter I spent my Sunday at that church.


Tuesday was rad. I made the 35 mile round trip to work and back to help and hang out with the UW folk, got home and made dinner… then went to hookah with Jesse Medina. Freaking awesome. Got there at 10, left at 1:30. What a blessing to be able to talk to such a rad, wise brother. It made me feel not so far from home. (And saw Dave Martin- who hasn’t changed since college- amazing)

Wednesday night was great as well- my buddy Louie from UW came and picked me up and took me to Old Chicago to grab a brew with him. I am thankful for his friendship. Throughout the week we went on Sonic LimeAde Happy Hour run, Mickey Deez runs, and just fellowshipped. In an unfamiliar place, I am stoked to have people like Louie reaching out to me.

As Wednesday night passed, I was getting anxious. I had been looking for a new place to crash (I had been at Josh’s place for 10 days and didn’t want to overstay my welcome) but I couldn’t find anyone to crash with. I had hit up 12 people on CouchSurfing, but no one was home or had a free couch. I had been praying for a week that I would find a rad group of believers to crash with, but nothing was happening. So Thursday night I did some laundry, packed my bag, and decided that I was leaving Friday no matter if I found a place or not. If the weather permitted, I was going to camp.  If not, worst case I could get a motel. I was not worried that I would find somewhere to sleep, but I was genuinely frustrated. Then, as I was making dinner, a guy named Brett replied back to my CouchSurfing request:

“bro! i’d love to have you, that should totally work! I have one roommate here with me this summer and an extra couch. ideally, how many days would you like to stay in colorado springs? and what ministry are you workin for? 

hit me up on my cell! 303-555-5555″

(no prank calling him…. yet.)

So Friday afternoon I hopped on my bike and rode 10 miles over to Brett’s house. And how ridiculously awesome it has been since! But that will be a whole ‘nother post. 🙂

Before my trip, I definitely anticipated feelings of loneliness. I wanted to foster an uncompromisable reliance on my Father, I just didn’t know the process would begin so soon. It surprised me (by about 3 months to be honest). I guess this was a part of His plans. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, I have constantly needed to give my heart and my thoughts up to Him. I have struggled with letting go of my past relationship- the good and the bad. This past week has been extremely difficult. I have yelled at God (at the top of my lungs) to take her off of my heart multiple times on my bike rides. Despite those prayers, the pain of my failed relationship and the loss of my best friend still stings my soul. So on I go, giving it up every minute of every day. Its going to be a process. Daily giving thanks to my Father in Heaven for loving me in my strengths and my weaknesses, my brightest and darkest moments, and through my triumphs and missteps. He forgives me for every single thing I regret. Accepting grace is becoming more and more real every day.

Thank you Lord, even in the worst of times, You are Good.

Amen.

#5 – Bicycles, Buses and Bathroom Breaks

13 May

Hello everyone!

Welcome back. Thank you for all the prayers, I had a wonderful week. Its been four days since the last post and I have quite a few stories (as the title may or may not imply), so here we go!

This was an exciting week! Monday night, I got picked up by Josh and came to his house. He and his girlfriend Katie have been so welcoming, its such a blessing. They offered up anything in their house for me to eat or drink. Anything but the Diet Pepsi, though in good conscious I can’t take advantage of that offer. I did, however, try a Mountain Dew White Out (described by Josh as “Mountain Dew and Squirts lovechild” ha) and it was delicious. When I found a bike on Craigslist, Josh and Katie offered to take me wherever I needed to go to pick it up, even before they knew where it was. So Tuesday afternoon,  Josh and I headed out to pick up my bike. Thankfully, the nice man selling it lived a couple blocks from his work, so it was super convenient. So around 3:30pm, I had my first taste of freedom in Colorado:

And guess how much this freedom cost me…

$60! So sweet!

Every other bike on craigslist was twice as much and half as nice. So after I handed the guy the money, he pointed me towards a trail ride that would take me home to northern Colorado Springs. I estimated it would be a 14 or 15 mile ride, which would be as long as the ride I went on a year or two ago. No problem right? Ha. Ignorance is bliss until you start hitting the Colorado terrain. Costa Mesa is literally translated as “flat table.” A 14 mile bike ride is not a big deal when you are riding on a flat table.

The first section of the ride was glorious. I had a decent bike, I had a mode of transportation, and this was my view:

I was pretty pumped. I’ve never had that as a backdrop for my bike rides. Absolutely gorgeous. The excitement soon faded as I made the turn north– the view changed, the wind was blowing directly in my face, and the terrain became decidedly uphill. Oh, and did I mention the ride was longer than 14 miles? Try 21.5 miles.

Needless to say I got home, was extremely tired, hungry, had a headache and I fell asleep pretty quickly.

Wednesday I had a lunch meeting in Denver with Tom Tillapaugh, the founder of the Denver Street School and the Street School Network.  They work with kids who have dropped out or been kicked out of normal high school programs, and get them back into the classroom. They are a Christian organization, and incorporate that into everything they do. The class sizes are no more than 10:1, and all the teachers know all the students by name. They genuinely love these kids and help them do more with their life. Pretty rad. I don’t think I will be working with them any time soon, but if my path led me that way, I would be stoked.

To get to Denver, I had to ride my bike to Monument to catch a bus ($7.25 one way to and from Denver). The weather was perfect for riding the first week in Denver, but when I left the house at 8:45am, it was 30 degrees, windy and snowing. After two miles of the wind and snow blowing in my face, I stopped at the first store I saw and defrosted my hands and bought gloves (I know, I know). When I got to the bus stop, I was two minutes too late. Sad day. Two hours later, after reading and drinking delicious hot chocolate, I caught the next bus up and had lunch with Tom.

After lunch, I arrived at my good friend Morgan’s house. It was great to hang out with her, and she let me crash in her empty second bedroom (if anyone is looking for an apartment in the Denver Metro area, hit her up). We went to Little Man Ice Cream (yummmy), Dick’s and REI. I got some more appropriate shoes (my ALDOs weren’t cutting it, and the Timberland boots were mispriced at $30 instead of $60!) and a waterproof jacket. Thanks Morgan. You are fun.

Some of you might know a man named Bill Dogterom. If you don’t, you should. He is a very wise man (very unassuming, no huge LOTR wizard beard or anything) and he was kind enough to take time out of his day to talk with me about my trip and how to walk with God day by day. The funniest thing about talking with him is that I learn I always over complicate my life. The themes he has been teaching me are: accept Christ’s love, find who I am in Him, living one day at a time, its not your job, and to meditate on Scripture. Everything I bring to him makes me feel silly, as if “Jason, why didn’t you just think of that?” To answer my own question, I wouldn’t know because I haven’t been radically pursuing God long at all, duh. I just need to take life one day at a time, that is my only job. The best advice he has given me is this: Have your hands open, say yes and thank you. Simple enough.

After talking with Bill and being in prayer for the past week, I accepted the internship with UW! Looks like I will be traveling around this summer! I’m super excited.

So I’ve talked about Bicycles, I have mentioned buses, so what about bathroom breaks…

So around 5:30pm I left Morgan’s apartment. I made it to downtown Denver in about 40 minutes. On the ride there, I had drank 50 oz of water. Ruh-roh. I made a quick pit stop before we left, and was on my way. As I was boarding the bus, Irresistable Revolution in hand, a guy came up to me and said “Irresistable Revolution– thats one of my favorite books.” What I have yet to mention is that I had prayed that I would have a great conversation with a random stranger on the bus. And that I did. His name is Jamie- we talked about our lives, his passion for the Lord and children (he and his wife are going to adopt an orphan from Ethiopia), the time he spent at The Dale House Project (a home for abused and neglected kids that cannot return home), and our faith. It was rad. We exchanged blog info, and you can find his on my blogroll under 5 Million Kids. Near the end of the conversation (and 35 minutes from the next stop), the 50 oz of water came a-knockin’. I looked to the back of the bus… no bathroom. Hmmm. Thirty-five minutes can’t be that long, I thought. Just don’t think about it. Ten minutes later, as the situation became more urgent, I walked up to the bus driver and politely asked if pulling over was an option. Like a school bus driver would answer a child, he said “No, we are only 25 minutes away, you’ll have to wait.” He assumed I was being dramatic. Nuh-uh! So I sat in my chair- Jamie snickering, the girl two seats in front who had been listening to this play out smiling- trying to pray this away. I begged God, “Help! If you only answer ONE PRAYER this entire trip, make it this one.” I paced up and down the bus. Five minutes later, prayer not helping. Jamie pointed at a trash can up front and mentioned taking it to the back of the bus. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I contemplated it. I looked at the back seats of the bus, and there were people on both sides! Plan foiled. Jamie asked me if I had a jacket to cover my would be soiled pants up with, and I sadly replied, “Yes.” So I walked up to the front of the bus, put my hand on the trashcan, and said to the bus driver, “I can’t wait. Can I take this trash can to my seat? I am not going to make it.” He confirmed the urgency of the situation, and signaled to pull over. By this time, all fifteen-or-so poeple on the bus knew exactly what was going on, but I was too desperate to be ashamed. With the bus pulling over to the side of the road, I waved back at everyone and with an I-know-how-humorous-this-must-be-to-you smile said, “Sorry guys, I won’t be too long.” As the bus driver opened the doors, he motioned to the sparse covering of the winter-beaten trees and I ran. I ran into the trees with the desperation of Mr. Gump and the speed of Usain Bolt. If you ever some how read this Mr. FREX bus driver, thank you again. You are an amazing human being.

This week, God has been loving on me. And by that, I mean I have actually been letting Him. I realized that it is impossible for me to truly show God’s love to others when I don’t really know God’s love myself. How is it possible for me to unconditionally love another person when I haven’t accepted God’s unconditional love and grace? Its not.

I am getting near the end of “Irresistable Revolution,” and the main thing it is impressing on me right now is showing Christ’s love to others. It is pretty simple. When Jesus walked the earth, he loved on sinners and clashed with the religious folk. He chose to hang with the broken and chose to dance insanely clever, revolutionary circles around the Pharisees. In Mark 2:17 (NASB) Jesus says, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Now, we know we ALL are sinners, myself included. The Pharisees were sinners just as were the prostitutes and the tax collectors but would not acknowledge it. It is all about the state of the heart. Am I, Jason Hardy, going to look upon myself and my trip and think “I am righteous and pursuing the Lord” or “I am a broken sinner- I need the love and grace of Christ in my life so I will pursue it unabashedly”? Two trips, two completely different mentalities. One will further ingrain me in religiosity, the other in the heart and mind of Christ. The NLT translates Mark 2:17 a little differently, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor–sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” This week, I have added to my list of prayers is that I would never lose sight of the sinner I am and will always be. Never in my life will I be “healthy” and without need of Christ. This is the love and grace I need to show others- the love that has first been shown to me.

-Jason

#4 – The Internship Opportunity

9 May

Hello Friends-

Thanks for coming back. It is now Monday, and I have almost offically been here an entire week. It feels like so much more. I have been Skyping with a few of you out there, and its been very encouraging. If anyone else would like to Skype and shoot the breeze, add me on Skype (or Qik)- jasonalanhardy. If you are reading my blog, you know what’s going on in my life and I would like to be encouraged by what is happening in yours.

I also would like to thank Dahle for hooking me up with his friend Josh. I didn’t have a place to stay after tomorrow and he is letting me crash at his house for as long as I need (within reason ha). Prayer answered.

This weekend was a much needed break. I got to relax, play 18 holes on a golf simulator (I would love one of those in my house), tennis and disc golf all for free (thank you Nate and Julie). It was quite fun. I have enjoyed volunteering with UW Sports, but have stayed just as busy as I was in Cali. Since Wednesday I have been working 8-5 (which has been tiring since I haven’t been able to sleep till at least 1am each night). I have had some great conversations with my brothers here in Colorado Springs about Christ, our personal journeys, and a plethora of other topics. To be surrounded by amazing people within hours of being here–blessings. I do, however, need to guard myself from busyness (both social and work lives). That bad habit has kept me from pursuing my relationship with Jesus since college, and I need to maintain a healthy balance between fellowshipping with those around me, serving, and staying true to my pre-trip goals of reading both my Bible and other reading lists daily. If I’m not careful, I can and will get caught up and miss out on a huge part of my trip. That would suck.

So on to the exciting news….drumroll please….

On Friday, the crew at UW Sports Ministry offered me a spot to intern with them this summer and work camps from June till the end of July! There is usually a process to working these camps but they had two spots open up and want me to join them. I really want to do it but want to make sure I’m not jumping into anything without first offering it up to God. Due to time constraints, they need to know by Friday at the latest. Here is my thinking:

Reasons to Be Eager: The trip dates are the June 4th-25th, then July 11th-29th. I would get to spend the entirety of the summer serving churches and working with children (ages 5-12) preaching the Gospel. It would be an incredible challenge (each week you work with 2 churches- half days at each church) and it would strengthen my patience, endurance and faith (all of which could use some work). I would get to grow and serve with the same group of people throughout June and July, and serving one ministry for three months–which would be more productive than three ministries for one month each. I also am going to El Salvador with Vanguard University to build roads on a missions/service trip from July 1st-10th. During that time frame, UW will all be overseas doing their own ministry, so the time frame of my El Salvador trip fits perfectly in with UW’s schedule. As icing on the cake, I would be in Washington State on June 25th when we break for overseas missions. My brotherfromanothermother Josh Lomas will be returning to Seattle from Africa on June 26th, so I could spend some quality time with my brother before I head to El Salvador. I also am proud to say I am a part of Daniel Cook’s wedding, and I would need to be home the first of August for that. So once again, the puzzle piece that is UW fits perfectly in with my previously placed puzzle piece.

Reasons to Be Cautious: I am already in the midst of raising money for El Salvador ($1000 of $2000 for El Salvador, check the link at the top “Support Me”) and I would need to raise an additional $1500 minimum before August to intern over the summer with UW. If this opportunity is to be a part of my journey, God will most definitely supply the funds necessary to go. I just don’t want to assume anything. We all know what assuming does. Also, when I started this trip, I envisioned more of a vagabond style trip where I bounced around more frequently and didn’t make solid commitments of more than a month. I’m not opposed to a commitment, I just want to make sure I’m being prayerful about this.

I’m so stoked for this week. Week 2. Please pray for me about the internship! Let doors be slammed closed or let the pieces fall into place. Next post will include pictures from local outreach at Chick-Fil-A on Saturday and OPPs (Office Personnel Profiles).

-Jason

post script. Thank you to EVERYONE who has responded in any way to my blog. One thing God has taught me through this is that my journey and steps in faith with Christ has been encouraging to other’s faith.  Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” I started to write this blog to share what God is doing with a life given up- but I didn’t anticipate the love and support I would both give AND receive through it.

#3 – Please Step into my “Office”

7 May

Hello friends!

Thanks again for reading. If this is your first time (and you have a few minutes) read back to the first post, it explains a bit.

Also, I just figured out how to add a subscription option! Woo. It is immediately to the right. Enter your email address there and it will notify you when new posts get thrown up there. If not, feel free to check back whenever you’re bored. If you have a blog, leave it in the comments, and I’ll add it to my blogroll on the righthand side!
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Less than five days ago I departed on a Greyhound (fail) and had no clue where I was going to be staying, what I would be doing. 28 hours later on Tuesday I had a place to sleep, and 13 hours later on Wednesday I had a place to serve and a place to sleep till Sunday. Freaking rad.

Its now Friday afternoon, less than 4 days since I left and I’ve already been able to serve UW Sports Ministry (Uncharted Waters, http://www.unchartedwaters.org/) for three workdays. Again, rad. I’ve made my own makeshift office, though I have no door or walls for that matter. But I’ve made it mine.


This is where all the magic has been happening. And when I say magic, I mean paper cutting, hole punching, packet binding, CD labeling, jewel case packing, paper folding magic, name-tag making magic. I now know what it feels like to be a secretary. Not the good looking secretary who makes answering phones and typing up interoffice memos look gooooood, but the office-assistant-that-just-does-what-they’re-told kind of secretary. People just bring me monotonous tasks and say “Hey, I got something for you!” ha. They are all fun and nice about it. And I love it. And I’m not getting paid. Its exactly what i signed up for. Only God could ready my heart to love this form of service.

The people around the office are really fun too. We take actual lunch breaks (unlike at the Verizon store, we eat when we aren’t busy until we are, which means sometimes we eat lunch at 5:30), we wander, have desks and cubicles, and walk by and make random conversation. Its quite entertaining and fun.

Jason: Would you like to meet some of the people at UW?
You: Of course I do! Can you post pictures so I can put names to faces?
Jason: Of course, anything for you.


Name: Nate Robertson
Age: 30
Position: Director of Resources
Work with UW: 2 year employment, 8 years total

Nate is an awesome guy who has been working with UW for 8 years. He also (along with his roommates Brooks and Kyle) has been gracious enough to let me stay at his place. He has a nerf basketball hoop over his trash can which is directly across from his desk. Enough said.

hello friends.

Name: Louie Schmitz

Age: 27
Position: Hispanic Coordinator
Work with UW: 6 Years

After chatting with the UW crew on Wednesday, it turns out Louie grew up with my good friend Dan Ford in Jersey. Strange. Second person with a mutual friend at the office. He is married to another U-Dubber, Katrina.

Work at the UW was fun today. We got in at 7:30am (which is 6:30am to my body). I don’t know what these guys did all day, but when they weren’t focused on a specific task we threw hacky-sacks across the office, played trashketball, and had a few laughs at Jimmy Fallon’s episode of Jersey Floor that aired last night (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were Jersey’d out).

Near the end of work, I got to speak with Tim, El Presidente (you’ll be introduced to him next post). I am trying to find a balance between being completely open to any call God would have and also making commitments along the way. He encouraged me to work with different style organizations while I’m out, and dedicate a set amount of time to each, as working with a missions organization is going to be different from working with a church. Each leg of my trip will be different, each group I work with will teach me something new, and each experience will challenge me in more ways that I’m probably comfortable with.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned. I have a decently large decision to make in the next week and I would love to have you praying for me.

-Jason

PS.. Feel free to leave any thoughts in the comments. I would love to hear your feedback. And don’t forget to subscribe! Love you all!

#2 – Finding My Place

5 May

NOTE: If you didn’t read the first post, you should scroll down. It will make more sense.

Hello everyone, thanks for reading again!

Lets Start Monday Morning-

I’m ready to go, enormous backpack packed, filled to the brim with excitement and still no ride to Denver (BTW I never explained why I picked Denver. Simply, I liked the city when I was there in September and a few friends live here now so why not? In a real nutshell). I was originally hoping to find a ride on Craigslist’s Rideshare program, but no one was headed out to Colorado. I had thought about flying, but wanted to slowly transition from Orange County to Denver. You know, a scenic transition from OC to CO. I thought about taking a train, but between transfers and bus rides between stations, it would have taken over 2 days. And I would have spent more than a flight. So logically, I thought “A bus ride shouldn’t be too bad. I’ll save a few bucks and get to sit back, read, and enjoy the drive.” Fail.

In all reality, the bus ride wasn’t THAT bad. People live in poverty and don’t have food to eat, so I won’t sit here and complain about a bus ride. All I’ll say is that the buses were dirty, the people were strange (which turned out to be amusing and interesting), the seats weren’t comfortable (expected) and sleeping on a Greyhound was not enjoyable at all. Next time I’ll walk.

Moving on. I left the Santa Ana station at 3pm Monday, and arrived in Denver at 8pm on Tuesday (2 hours late, because Homeland Security decided our bus was a threat to national security, so they searched and cordially interrogated every single rider.. so fun!). I got to finish most of the book I’m reading, The Irresistable Revolution by Shane Claiborne. Fantastic read, I recommend it. So I get into Denver and, after almost couch surfing, I end up getting the ok to crash at Michael Cook’s house (Cori is out of town). So I take a bus from Downtown Denver to Wheat Ridge. As soon as I get on the crowded bus, some random guy exclaims “Go Cubbies!” (I was wearing my Cubs hat, obviously). For the next twenty minutes, 2 random guys and 1 random girl are debating the beauty and merits of Coors Field and Wrigley Field, with the girl saying arguing how much better Coors is than Wrigley. HA. Biases aside…PLEASE.

Suddenly I remember– I am on a bus! Unfortunately, my revalation was 2 miles too late, so my sixty pound behemoth and I had to walk 45 minutes back to the Cook’s. Finally, I walked into the house and get to hang out and catch up with Michael. Always great seeing him. Thanks again Mike if you ever read this, I greatly appreciate your hospitality.

Rewind back a few weeks ago– a guy named Tim, in a Bible Study with my dad, told me his son Nate works with a sports ministry called Uncharted Waters, and is based near Denver. Having no concrete plans for the next year and needing somewhere to serve, obviously that sounded pretty good.

Fast forward back to Monday (two days ago)– I call Nate, he offers me a place to stay and a place to work through the end of the week, and he will be coming to Denver Wednesday morning and can pick me up and take me back to Colorado Springs. AMAZING.

So this morning (Wednesday), I get up, get ready, and Nate knocks and comes in as I’m packing  and he walks around the house, sees a picture and asks “Is this Cori’s house?” Haha. Of course. He worked with her at Rock Harbor a few years back. I should have figured.

I’m so freaking stoked, today was perfect! I got to serve UW (Uncharted Waters) in Colorado Spring by doing some office work– binding packets and packing CD’s in jewel cases. I was doing average office work, but it was nice to show up there and say “I’m here to volunteer. Put me to work, please,” and be immediately put to work. I even met a guy who grew up with Dan Ford. Again, the random connections are crazy.

One thing I learned today: Qdoba will sell you beans and rice for $1.70! That is going to be the diet I LIVE off of for the next year. I’ve got to make that money last. Live minimally. And I learned to bargain shop for groceries. At 26. Look at me go. I got 9 meals for 15 bucks. Not going to lie, I’m pretty stoked. Mary Poppins was right…anything is fun when you turn it into a game.

Thus concludes my first real day here. I am thankful for having a roof over my head the past two nights, food in my stomach, and a place to donate my time with people passionate about what they do and who they do it for.

This is going to be an amazing trip.

-Jason

First Things First.

5 May

Hello friends.

Welcome! If you are reading this, thank you. I am stoked to share my journey with you while I am out. I am going to take a second to backtrack and share where my heart was to get me to where I am at now.

In an above-average-sized-nutshell..

I want to serve the Lord in a radical way. I am single with no job (I quit on April 29th!), no loans, no lease, and no other commitment of any kind. No other time in my life will I be this free to do anything at the drop of a dime. I am offering myself up to be used by God. I made the decision/mistake  of praying “Jesus, anything you want me to do, I will do. I don’t care what it is, I’m there. Just use me,” (I don’t really mean a mistake, its that God has a bit of a reputation of taking those prayers quite seriously and sometimes literally, so be careful what you wish for).  Michael Cook told me a story a while ago that when he prayed for God to break him, he soon lost part of his toe. Ha. I hope all of my limbs and appendages remain intact.

I have lived my life on my terms for most of my 26 years. I’ve had a ton of fun, made great friends, and have great memories, but I am not overwhelmingly satisfied with where I am or more importantly who I am. I am shorter tempered than I would like, I am too quick to judge, too defensive, inconsistent in my faith, not as secure as I would like, and have cared more about what people think rather than what God thinks. The list could go on, but most of you know me so feel free to add on to it (in your head, not in the comments mmk, thanks). I know we all have lists of strengths and weaknesses, and none of us will ever be perfect, but I don’t want to live the rest of my life as I am now. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks—I disagree with that, but I definitely believe it is FAR more difficult to teach an old dog new tricks. The older we are, the more we are who we are and will continue to be that person. And I’m not getting any younger.

My greatest fear is to be on my deathbed and realized I wasted my life. And by wasted my life I mean not fulfilling the desires of my Father in Heaven for my life. As a Christian, I know that I was created not to live a life alone, but rather engage in an intimate relationship with Him. That’s it. And by that definition, I have wasted the majority of my life. So the desire for my trip and the next chapter of my life is simple: Daily submit myself  to Him, study the Word, and pray for help. Help to love others more deeply, to be more generous, to live a life of servanthood. In essence, I am praying that God would transform my eyes to see what He sees, my ears to hear what He hears, my tongue to speak His word, and to mold my heart to His. If you pray only one thing for me, please make that your prayer.

I believe in the redeeming power of the cross, the grace of God, and the unconditional love of Jesus—and I am taking Him up on it all. I have been forgiven of all of my missteps, given more love than I can comprehend, and can’t help but want to show His love to others.

So here I am—taking one day at a time. Living an adventure, serving wherever I’m at, and trying to pursue God epically.  I’ll keep you posted on how its all going.

I love you all.

-Jason

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