How do you spend time with Jesus?

Living by oneself definitely takes some getting used to. So I’ve been trying to keep myself busy by job hunting and looking for those kind of connections, or enjoying hobbies such as this or videogaming. But this morning, something happened that made me feel peaceful, or see “unexpected quiet time” in a different way.

For some reason, my TV would not work until just a little bit ago. Technology is only great when it works, am I right? But instead of getting angry about things not working like I normally would, I calmed myself and was like, “Okay. I’m going to focus on other things today instead of being upset and wasting time on the TV.”

As soon as I shifted that mindset, I began to actually enjoy the complete silence and feel content, and later asked Jesus to bring me closer to Him in any way, take care of me and forgive me. And since then, I’ve felt peace today. And I don’t often have this kind of thought, because I don’t really think that deep about it. But I wish I could physically SEE Jesus, talk to Him, and spend time with Him. It was like missing a friend and wishing you could see them again. I felt sad.

Even though I’m sure it was a hard life 2,000 years ago in the Middle East, I wish I had been able to tag along with Jesus and the Apostles back in their day. Witnessing miracles and seeing Jesus for myself would’ve been indescribable. I would’ve wanted to sit next to Him and be close to Him wherever He went. Although I know I would’ve been like Peter, when he said, “Depart from me, Lord. For I am a sinful man.”

Peter felt unworthy of following Jesus. I do too. Always. I never consider myself a leader or as strong in my faith as I think I should be. It bothers me when I sin one moment, and try to read Scripture or pray the next. But then I remember Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, and am renewed day after day. It wasn’t always like this. I used to despair over whenever I would screw up, and feel like I was doomed to be in trouble. But constantly beating ourselves up is denying the healing that Jesus can bring. And He can bring us this healing and peace anywhere, and at any time of day. All we need to do is focus our minds and hearts on Him and ask.

Before I moved into the apartment, I often found peace and Jesus outside in nature. I love being outside when it’s warm out. But now I am finding Him in volunteering to help people, studying Scripture from time to time (I need to do that more often), and today, in the quiet time created by no TV, even though it wasn’t what I was expecting.

Jesus is always there. We just have to calm our minds, pray to Him, and allow our mind and heart to go closer to Him. Finding Him and growing closer to Him doesn’t have to mean simply going to Church every Sunday either, although I encourage everyone to go if that’s how they find Him the easiest. But you can find Him and spend time with Him everywhere. He brings unbelievable peace to those who find Him. It’s like you don’t have to worry about anything, you’re content, secure, and stronger in your faith. And you’re more capable of being patient, kind and loving to others. More like Him.

The importance of family and friends (Part 2)

Hey everybody! I’m back! Hope everyone’s having a good Martin Luther King Day! 🙂

But I thought I’d pick up where I left off, and introduce you to some of my good friends. They’re the circle of people I roll with, haha. It really is interesting how life gives and takes certain people from our paths. In my past I had some of these same friends, but I also had other people I used to be friends with and talk to all the time. I thought they’d be around for a while. But life, perhaps different views on values, and other things took them off my path.

I used to be really sad whenever I’d lose a friend I thought would be around for a long time. But now I realize that life is always changing. It’s never constant. Plus I also understand now that people are blessings, lessons, or both. And losing people also shows me the kind of ideal circle of friends I want to surround myself with. It helps me learn what I want and don’t want in a close friend. I am friendly to just about everyone. That’s me. If I don’t like someone, something’s wrong. But if I see someone as a lifelong friend who is worth my time and energy, I give them everything. So let’s meet “the gang” shall we?

Tony

I first met Tony back in early 2011, when I was a freshman completing my second semester at Kent State. I remember three things about meeting him: It was cold and snowy since it was January, I felt instantly comfortable talking to him, and I actually met someone who could keep up with me when it came to talking sports! We discussed the upcoming NFL Draft that day, since it seems like our beloved Cleveland Browns will ALWAYS be in rebuilding mode.

We’d always hang out at least once a week when I was on campus too for lunch and bond that way. I miss those days. Now I have to venture up to Kent every few months to go see him, but I always carve out “bro time.”

Folks, if you know both me and Tony, you already know how we are personality-wise, but if you don’t know us, let me just say: if you watch us interact within the same room, you’re in for a laugh riot! I don’t know why Netflix hasn’t come calling either one of us yet for our own comedy series or standup special. They’d make buku bucks off of that! Two guys with Cerebral Palsy who are brutally honest straight shooters, who love sports, and who have a wicked sense of humor when it comes to our conditions and SO many other things? They’re missing out! Every time I visit, it’s probably a max of five minutes until either one of us is dying laughing about something!

I’m glad he’s in my life because of how much he makes me laugh. But he’s also been there when I haven’t been laughing and smiling. He’s seen plenty of tears, too. He has been there for me through all of my low points and stressful times, and has pushed me and kept me going, and not let me feel sorry for myself. Which is all too easy to do sometimes. I consider him my closest friend, and talk to him every day. And I told him that if I ever get married, I would definitely consider him for my Best Man. Although I don’t know if I’d want him planning my bachelor party, haha! We’re going to still be friends when we’re a couple of old men in the nursing home. He’s my “big brother.”

Alex

Alex and his girlfriend, Madison

Alex has been my oldest friend. I can’t even remember how long we’ve known each other, but it’s at least been 20 years! His sisters Cassy and Bryanna used to babysit for my sister Christy and I when we were little, and Alex and I grew up riding the school bus too. I used to spend a lot of time with him at his parents’ house. There was always some kind of game or fun going on down in the basement. Even as grown men now, we still do that from time to time. Especially when he comes up from Alabama to Ohio with Madison to visit. When he’s there, we always have to hang out and drink a cold one at least once at Paul and Sue’s. Or when it’s warmer out, light a bonfire, have some friends of ours over and have a good time. His parents are wonderful people for letting me spend time with him and everyone at their house. Paul always cracks me up, and Sue is a sweetheart!

Alex, or “Al” as I sometimes call him, is one of those friends who I keep in touch with, but he’s such a close friend that if I don’t physically hang out with him in a few months, whenever we do hang out, it feels like we didn’t miss a beat!

We always talk Buckeye football too. He’s the biggest Buckeye fan I know, and that makes sense considering he and Madison both graduated from THE Ohio State University! Every Saturday morning during fall Saturdays, one of us always texts the other “O-H!!!” and gets a hearty “I-O!!!” in return! He’s a Steelers fan unfortunately, but that makes for some interesting comedy and conversation…even if most of the time I come out on the losing end.

It’s really neat how he’s still here, and always someone I can reach out to. In spite of all the twists and turns we’ve both taken on the path of life, he’s still there. I think that’s God telling me to keep him. And I definitely will!

Slade

Slade and I with his aunt and uncle at a Cleveland Indians game, 2013

While I try to be friendly to everyone, and definitely was that way in high school, Slade is probably my closest friend from that time in my life. I knew of him of when we were teenagers, but we really got to know each other when I was a Sophomore in high schol, and he was a Senior. He’s two years older than I am. But we first got to know each other in Mrs. Tanner’s class.

Slade and I are both hardworking, intelligent guys, but Mrs. Tanner was our special education teacher when we were in high school. It took me longer to finish complex homework, and she sometimes helped him to get concepts he was struggling with. We bonded over sports (what else? Haha) and drove Mrs. Tanner and our classmate Korey absolutely crazy with it! He’s a big Cleveland sports fan like I am.

But I also admire him for his extremely high work ethic. He works hard and busts his butt with everything he does in life. If the world had more Slades, things would get done in a HURRY!

He’s sometimes socially awkward, and shy, but once he knows people, he’s got an absolute heart of gold and will give anything to those he cares about. He’s always been there for me. And while we’ve both taken care of each other, one instance of him taking care of me sticks out in my mind as to how far he’ll go to take care of those who matter to him.

I was home for Christmas break one winter, and we were spending time with his friends Dylan, Lisa and Julian, who is from Germany. We were outside in the snow, and it was bitterly cold. The wind stung my face, and the snowflakes felt like tiny little darts. We went sledding if I remember correctly. I don’t know why I wasn’t wearing gloves at the time, but before I could put them on, I was pushed down a snowdrift and fell out of the sled, and used my bare hands to catch myself. Not smart. At all. Wet hands and bitterly cold wind? That’s a good way to get frostbite and lose a couple fingers!

I only have seizures from queasiness once or twice a year if that. I haven’t had a seizure in almost three years, knock on wood. But as soon as my hands got wet that night, I couldn’t move them and thought I had frozen them. I thought I’d eventually lose a few fingers or my hand! Then the seizure started kicking in, and I felt lightheaded and tried to alert everyone that I wasn’t doing well. No one seemed to understand right away what was going on, but Slade did. He took me back to Dylan’s truck, helped me in, and cranked up the heat. After I warmed up, he asked if I wanted to stay with everyone, or go with him to his parents’ house. I went with him back to Jeff and Theresa’s house.

As soon as we were inside I felt so much better. I relaxed and recovered, even though I couldn’t feel the tips of my fingers for at least another day afterward. We watched episodes of a hilarious adult cartoon show called Metalocalypse, and shared a good laugh, and then all was normal again.

I didn’t realize that night how much he helped me. But as the years have passed, I realized that’s what true blue friends do. I love Slade for his sense of humor, he inspires me to work hard because he works hard, and he’s always ready to talk about the Browns, Cavs or Indians. But I admire him most for his heart of gold. If you’re ever fortunate to meet someone like Slade, keep them. The world is full of fakes. But he’s as genuine as they come!

Dave

Dave, his girlfriend Ashley and I at the Ohio State Spring Game last April

Dave is another high school friend of mine. I graduated from Carey High school in 2010 with his older brother, Scott, but I first met him when I was a Junior and he was a Freshman. We got to know each other in Mr. Asher’s Human Conflict and War class, which would’ve been a really neat class if Mr. Asher would’ve actually bothered to teach it instead of taking a nap, haha!

But he’s always been good to me and kept in touch with me. Even though we’re both busy with life, he always tries to get me out of my apartment or parents’ house to have a good time whenever he can. Whether it’s at the Ohio State Spring Game, or simply spending time going out to eat at Texas Roadhouse or Buffalo Wild Wings, he always livens things up, or we crack each other up! Aside from my parents, Dave and his girlfriend Ashley were actually my first visitors to the apartment after I’d moved in. When you’re living alone, it really is special when people go out of their way to visit you, or make you feel welcome. And Dave has always done that!

Melissa

Last, but most definitely not least, is my friend Melissa. She’s a more recent friend, but she’s still important to me. I first met her in August 2018. My girlfriend at the time was a bridesmaid for a childhood friend of Melissa’s. She’s unique in my circle of friends in that she’s English! Yep, she came across the pond to help celebrate the wedding, and that’s where I first got to know her.

I wasn’t sure how to act around her or the other English people at the wedding at first, just because I’m a loud personality, which, no pun intended, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But as I got to know her at the wedding, and in the weeks and months after, I realized that she was fun to talk to, laid back and very understanding. Some people might have this stereotype of English people being prim, proper or rigid, but she’s not like that all! She always makes me laugh, and she’s very informal, which is definitely more my style.

I also enjoy texting back and forth with her because we both use our versions of slang, and can learn new sayings from each other. Up until a couple days ago, I never knew what the acronym OAP means, and she doesn’t often hear the word “shucks” used in everyday conversation, haha. I just think it’s neat learning different cultural things from each other, or teaching each other what life is like in our part of the world.

It’s really cool too how we can have polar opposite political views and religious beliefs, and still be respectful and good friends, and have deep discussions from time to time. I am a Christian who leans right on the political spectrum. She’s an atheist who leans more left. But our respect for each other trumps everything else.

I have never been out of the country before, but someday, I want to travel to England to visit her, her husband and daughter. Although I’ll have to be on my best behavior when she shows me around. I can’t be a loud, obnoxious American over there. The Brits have their rules, after all 😉

I would rather have a few people I could count on to keep in touch with me and be there for me, over hundreds of acquaintances I don’t get to know on a personal level. Blessed to have all of these people in my life!

The importance of family and friends (Part 1)

I have always been a people person. Some have called me a “social butterfly.” I just love being around others. I am at my absolute best when I am in the company of those I care about. Which is why it is definitely taking some adjusting getting used to truly living on my own for the first time in my life. I cannot just go down the hall here at the apartment complex and chat with people like I used to do when I was in the dorms at Kent State.

I have no roommate or girlfriend. I am truly alone. It’s a scary and sobering experience. Until I remember my circle of friends.

You know, as I get older, I realize it’s so much more important to have a close, tight-knit circle of people there for you when times get tough, or you approach a new stage in life. Many acquaintances are a dime a dozen. But a handful of true friends and family are like fine gems. Hard to find and impossible to replace.

I don’t know if she was right. But for some reason, a quote by a character named Karen Page from one of my favorite TV series, The Punisher, hits home: “Sometimes I feel that all life is, is trying not to be lonely.” I think there’s definitely an element of truth to that.

But I have leaned on my family and friends through everything, and they have leaned on me too when they’ve needed help and support. They’ve gotten me through many rough and uncertain spots. From two college degrees, the death of my cousin and grandmother, the worst breakup I’ve ever had, and getting my own place. If they weren’t here, I’d be in a world of hurt. I’d be an absolute emotional wreck.

I’ll never understand people who completely close themselves off from this kind of support either. Humans are social creatures, meant to be in the company of other people. That’s how God created us. To love and to be loved. When we close ourselves off, we become bitter, miserable and angry. And who in the hell wants to live like that? I don’t!

I feel I should tell you a little bit about the people who are the biggest stabilizing influence in my life right now, starting with my family.

Me, Mom, Pop, and Christy

The two-parent, “normal” family is rare anymore. But I am glad my mother Stacy, and father, Larry have been married for almost 30 years. (Their 30th Anniversary is actually on July 12th!) Have they had a perfect marriage? Absolutely not. But they have raised my sister and I in a loving home. They’re old school in their values, such as hard work, having faith in God, and respecting others. But “old school” is refreshing in a world where it seems like everyone is so confused about many things!

I view Mom and Pop as two personalities that balance each other out. Especially when it came to raising me. Pop was “the heavy” and laid down the law when I screwed up. But he was, and still is also the first one to give me a hug and encourage me when I do right! He showed me how important it is to be a man with character. He’s taught me to be a man who says what he means, means what he says, and who tries to live by that. And to stand up for people and myself. He toughened me up.

Mom was definitely the nurturing one, as most mothers probably tend to be with their children. She was patient with me growing up when I was a small boy with Cerebral Palsy. I am sure it absolutely was not easy seeing me walk with braces or a walker. Or teaching me necessary life skills. That’s probably hard enough for a parent with a physically normal child. Let alone one with a condition of any kind. But she let me know I was loved all the same. I was not “different” or “ugly” or not worthy of love. I was just me 🙂

My sister, Christy and I definitely have different personalities. She is Type A, where she is very goal-oriented and driven, and that’s awesome! I myself am definitely Type B, in that I still work hard at something I want to accomplish, but I think I slow down and try to enjoy life more because I cannot go at her speed or pace. I tried doing that in the past and it drove me crazy, stressed me out, and simply wasn’t me. What makes us happy also seems different. If I had people over here in the apartment to visit, or I went home to visit Mom and Pop, that would make me happy in that I am a homebody. Someone who feels content to be close to family and loved ones always. Christy and I both love our family, but she’s more of the adventurous type who travels a lot and sees new things. I want to be more like her in that way. One of these days I want to travel either to Las Vegas or England to visit a friend and her family!

No matter how different we are personality-wise though, I am also learning something important as time passes: The sibling rivalry of the past (and we had a LOT of it), fades. And you start to realize that you can get along better, and be there for each other when needed. I now chuckle at, and agree with what Mom used to say. It was annoying at the time, especially after she broke up fights between Christy and I, but now it makes perfect sense: “You two are the only siblings you’re ever going to have! So quit fighting and get along! Because one day your Dad and I will not be here!”

I am truly fortunate to have my family. I always have to work not to take it for granted that I have such a good one. Because in today’s society, a tight, two-parent family who is always there for each other is a rarity. Or at least it’s becoming more and more rare unfortunately. Where children learn to be decent people, and how to treat others, begins in the home, with hopefully a good family. And when times get rough, if this person has a good family like I do, they are supported, loved, and helped through everything until they can get back on their feet. Aside from Jesus’ sacrifice and life itself, my family is God’s greatest blessing!

But I also have other blessings too. They’re called friends! Stay tuned, and you’ll meet my friends Tony, Slade, Alex, Dave, and Melissa 🙂

Until then, catch ya on the flipside everybody!

Gnostic Gospels

This has definitely been a change of pace for me over the last few days, but I have been interested in reading something called the Gnostic Gospels. That is, the lost and rejected gospels attributed to Peter, Thomas, Mary Magdalene, and even Judas Iscariot. Most people are interested in a standard Bible study of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

But I was interested in reading these “lost gospels” for a few reasons. Mostly because I wanted to see how they differed from the regular Gospels. But also because I wanted to see if there was anything I could learn from them that wasn’t in the Bible, and because I was interested to see what the Church was hiding, if anything.

This interest came from when I watched a documentary called Pagan Christ. A former Catholic priest stated that Jesus never existed, and that all the miracles, stories and sayings attributed to Him were made up, and that He was a character that represented the struggle of Man to be the best version of ourselves. I strongly disagree with him. I think he is wrong and misguided. Jesus was not only a historical person proven to exist by non-Christian sources, I believe that He is the Messiah of humanity. He is who He says He is.

But I still believed the Gnostic gospels were worth checking out, if not just out of curiosity. I’m still digesting them, but of the ones I have read, I understand why they were rejected. Here’s what I found:

Gospel of Thomas: Rejected probably because any familiar sayings in it were borrowed after Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written, and the “unheard sayings” didn’t sound like Jesus, or didn’t make logical sense. There was also a saying in the Gospel of Thomas that inferred that Jesus wasn’t God, but merely a man. You’ve heard the “Give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s” saying. But instead of the saying we know in the Bible, it was tweaked, and instead says: “Give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Give to God that which is God’s. And give to me that which is mine.”

Gospel of Judas Iscariot: This was the one I was most interested in reading, because there is reportedly a conversation between Jesus and Judas, in which Jesus explicitly tells Judas to betray Him. If that indeed happened, it would paint Judas in a TOTALLY different light. Instead of being synonymous with “traitor,” Judas would be the facilitator of our salvation by helping Jesus complete His plan, and might be in Heaven, instead of Hell, where we expect him to be.

I haven’t yet read Peter and Mary Magdalene, but I am definitely interested in them as well. I encourage you to all take a look at the links to Judas and Thomas at the bottom of the page. And read them with skepticism. Keep the faith you have, but also keep an open mind, and make your own conclusions as to what they are. I am not trying to corrupt anyone. I am merely trying to share something I find interesting.

Gospel of Judas

Gospel of Thomas

Violation of individuality?

I saw something that angered me earlier today for a number of reasons. A 9th grade girl from Kentucky was expelled from her school, Whitefield Academy. But it wasn’t for the reason you might think. When people get expelled from high school, it’s usually for drug possession, possession of weapons, continuous fighting or other bad behavior.

But Kayla Kenney, the girl in the picture above, was expelled from the school after administrators caught sight of a Facebook post by her mother in which she was wearing a rainbow shirt during her birthday celebration, complete with a rainbow birthday cake. Let’s turn a blind eye to bullies who have gotten worse thanks to a lack of parenting, and other serious issues high school students face like depression, and finding out who they are, as well as their purpose in the world, and kick a girl out of school for a shirt she wore. If the administrators really were THAT upset over things, they should’ve given her another shirt to change into, let her do so, and then remind her of their dress code if they have one. That’s what administrators would do at Carey High School, and it seemed fair to me.

But I digress. The real issue here, at least to me, boils down to one simple thing: Whitefield Academy, and so many other schools, are focused more on political correctness. Rather than protecting, nurturing, and encouraging children to be who they are, or at least try to help them find out who they are, and enjoy doing so. I don’t know how you all were as teenagers, but I hadn’t found my identity yet back in 2006. Hell, I’m almost 30 years old now, and I still am searching for my place in the world.

But instances like this favor a school’s policies over the healthy growth of children into unique individuals who each have their own gifts and personalities to offer to the world. It stifles individuality. You can see how this gets me going. I already don’t like institutions telling others how to live. But when a person’s individuality is threatened, that’s two strikes. This country already has enough mindless drones and sheep who can’t think for themselves. What it needs are individuals. People like Kayla Kenney who bring joy, and a breath of fresh air to a bland world. I hope Whitefield Academy pays dearly for this in whatever way possible. Schools should be places of learning and discovery. Not a place for bureaucrats to enforce rules.

Article link: https://fox8.com/2020/01/15/lifestyle-violation-9th-grader-expelled-over-facebook-birthday-photo-with-rainbow-cake-t-shirt/?fbclid=IwAR3Gu5_oZnkFtTRoPeTNNf6WCH0oRXYnxIjBqdBT9bPlVv5iNB61D5F9V-o