Our Birthday: Twin-ship

Our Birthday: Twin-ship

“Do you like being a twin?”

This is one of my most frequently asked questions. I don’t dislike it, as much as I used to. My answer had always previously been something along the lines of, “I’ve always been a twin, but it’s cool I guess…” with fake laughter to follow, attempting to break the awkward silence. Today being my birthday, I get this question about being a twin: “do you like sharing your birthday or not really?” My response was always similar to the answer of the other question. But what are people wondering this for? Usually I would guess because it’s something different; something they either dreamed of or thanked God they did not have; something they’ve always wondered what it would be like.

To me, being a twin is an extra title I often don’t think about. Not because Stephen isn’t awesome or that we aren’t close, but because I identify myself as an individual, not a multiple, and I think this is a healthy thing that I hadn’t always done. I’ve learned to let go of a lot of insecurities through my early adult years (that I am still going through and growing through, at 22.) This was also installed in us at a young age to be ourselves and that it is good and ok to be unique.

The ironic part is as we grow older and separate into much different atmospheres and work places, we seem to be growing a lot more alike. We are both pursuing much different things, but through the same looking glass of Jesus. Our differences compliment the others strengths and our weaknesses keep us humble, yet fully complete. It has been an amazingly diverse and evolving relationship through the years, but has never been healthier since we have both for real taken our human efforts and focused them to Jesus, then others, and lastly ourselves.

Sharing life with Stephen is a blessing I will always cherish and will always be thankful to the Lord for because he’s helped challenge, love, lift up, and walk beside me in this journey of becoming the man I am today. He’s special to me. We evolved from fetal humans to full grown 22 year olds together, never too far from each other, and though we won’t always live under the same roof or possibly even the same country forever, nothing can separate the bond of twin-ship.

Ps. some honorable mentions of twin questions:

Q: Is twin telepathy a real thing?

A: Kinda, but not at all.

Q: Who is older?

A: No comment ( or he might have been born first, but I was conceived first)

Q: Are you identical?

A: No, we are our own eggs. We just happen to look similar.

Q: Who’s the favorite?

A: tbd

My Life is NOT My Own

My Life is NOT My Own

Life.

This word has been presented to me year after year by platform after platform. I’ve been told it’s found in letting go and I’ve struggled with the thought of my life being out of my control, my life not being my own. This notion has always been in my mind because of repetition in teaching and songs, written in my poems, but never being written on my hear in more then dry erase on a white board.

Since a young age, I lived for the spotlight. Being the youngest, being told go away, you’re too young or not yet were sucker punches that to me then, didn’t make sense. When your identity is in being along, being alone doesn’t leave much identity in the mix.

As grew up, where acceptance lacked, I gained in grit, and a determination to find a way to be known by the likes of anyone willing to notice. With each step into a new year, I tied myself to a new tactic, from sports like baseball and gymnastics to humor and wow factor. I pursued women, lust and pornography to try and fill the empty feeling my shallow friendships and rejection from the last girl couldn’t fill within me.

This lead my into a hatred of myself and my own body, my own mind and identity. My christianity was my life in the light, my vice in conventions and retreats, but it was my shame in the evenings and in the deleted history from my phone screen, but no matter how hard I’ve tried to delete that history, the memories and shame would never delete.

My comfort soon came to me in routine. This routine was comfortable, like being in a prison cell. The routine creates normality, but not because it becomes better, but because there is survival in the numbing, but no, no there is not living. I would start out the week with a community, broken, yet free, spotted with others like me. I would fill my mind with words and quotations, to later fill my schedule with anything that would give me my fix, pick any from above, whatever one I could get. If it was the word of God, I’d meditate on it, to later forget, and be filled with loneliness again, to turn to another vice much more destructive.

See, religion is all fine and dandy, and in the scripture, there are rules that have helped frame me into a moral human being, but without Christ Jesus, those were just words. Words that cut me open and showed me how dirty I really was inside. But oh how life is different on this day!

FLASH BACK: 2014, filled with pain, emptiness, and a glimmer of hope.

FASTFORWARD: 2015,  a year of thanksgiving, renewed life through Jesus Christ, realizing not just everyone else, but I was loved and adopted by my creator, nothing inside could change that he is love and he is light. I became a friend with my savior.

FASTFORWAR: 2016, the pain and emptiness had not been dealt with in full back from 2014, and struggles came and went, and complacency was my reality, but not my intent. Perseverance and self control were in the development stages, as I re-indulged myself in some of the sin I claimed freedom from just a year prior, as I re-applied shame and condemnation daily, like that old Coppertone sunscreen. It went on thick, but the more I rubbed it to try and hide it, it sunk deeper in to the pores of my being.

FASTFORWARD: 2017, a year starting with not wanting any friendship with complacency, not just interested in intimacy with my creator and king, but desiring to give him everything.

NOW: My identity in him is the only thing I’ve ever found to be satisfying, and as I give away my life, I find myself so alive, a truth that only God knows why, but he promises it to all who are willing to give Him their hears. Now when I start to fall into thoughts or actions of lust, personal condemnation, self pity, or identity in people and things, I come back to Jesus quicker then ever, with surrender. I know where life is, I’ve known where life is, but I now confess it with my mouth AND believe it in my heart; Jesus Christ is Lord!

I am not only saved, but set free. If you can’t say the same, I challenge you to join me.

Don’t Fear: More than Bee Stings and Honey

Don’t Fear: More than Bee Stings and Honey

Meet just a few of my pets! Normal pets haven’t necessarily been something I’ve had for the most part. I started with worms and bugs, moved to toads (up to 4 or 5 by the end), to hamsters, to a rabbit (for a week, but it died unexpectedly and seemingly for little to no reason) to a wonderful puppy, Bean, who was tragically hit by a car, to now, about a year or so later, to bees.

These creatures are so much smarter then I realized and frankly so much more necessary then I ever imagined!

These are some pictures of when I first introduced my bees to their hives.

 

Now, months later, they are two hive bodies high (the deeper boxes) and as of lately, two honey supers (the shallower boxes) high!

 

They’ve been improving and growing in leaps and bounds, but it’s more than just about a hobby or anything that has to do with me. It has to do with bees, food and God’s creation.

These honey bees play one of the biggest roles in pollenation for a lot of our crops. They’ve been struggling to survive because of how our humanity treats our environment, invasive species and other implications resulting in bees dying off, CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) and Africanization. (These problems are problems I understand are on the front burner here in the USA, but I’m sure if you’re not from the US, there might be similar or different things going on with your bees.)

These implications are huge, and I honor anyone who is involved in research and development for these different areas to try and reverse some of the causes and effects we have created, but how can someone like you and me make a difference? Well, the most direct way, if you have the funds is to start a couple hives of your own! There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of videos and resources for anyone to learn how to get started from the city to the country.

For me, to make it more feasible, I started my hives with a friend; my cousin Hunter. This helped divert the cost and also gives you some fall back if you need a hand harvesting honey, inspecting a hive, or even just with motivation. This has been helpful for me and has made it a lot more fun!

WARNING: Honey bees are NOT aggressive creatures. They are much more focused on supporting the hive’s health then stinging you, that results in their own death. Honey bees are only going sting you if they feel like you are a threat to their hive or naturally if they get caught somewhere they can’t escape, like under your foot, piece of clothing or between your arm and side or legs or something to that nature. With the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) getting stung is inevitable, but not something to fear. Also, their are different remedies for curing the pain of a bee sting nearly instantaneously.

They are a lot of fun, and ironically provide for a very relaxing hobby. There is a lot to learn and so much more I need to learn, so I would highly suggest some personal research, contacting some local bee keepers and always asking questions from them and also the many forums on line. Between my cousin and I, it cost around $1,000 to get started and it will cost some more hear and there, but that is the one big number expense for starting two hives with some PPE and tools included, but remember, if you’re hives prove to be healthy and are taken care of correctly, you will be able to harvest honey yearly (excluding the first year) that will offset many of the expenses through the years.

What if you can’t start a hive? What can you do? Well I’m sure there are even more options then this, but be involved in supporting your local bee farmers and get educated on ways to help around where you live to support the bees with your vote or your voice.

These bees are the reason we have life, so lets make sure their thriving! God bless you and I’ll leave you with this quote:

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.”

-Albert Einstein

FULL of Emptiness (Poem)

FULL of Emptiness (Poem)

I am full, yet I am empty. It is not simply content that can fill the void inside of me, but only silence; only solitude will truly bring me into a place of fullness of joy and identity.

To say all the right things outwardly, to do all the right things publicly, it only blows up the outward appearance like a balloon. From another’s vantage point, it creates an illusion of fullness, while in reality, it only makes the emptiness that much greater.

As I sit, I saturate, and I absorb as I meditate. I am satisfied as I loosen my belt and rest, as I sease to strive. This phenomenon does not exist for irony’s sake, but for the one that did create, who does not cease in His goodness, who does not falter in any way.

We’re filled when we’re empty, we’re strong when we’re weary, we know peace in calamity, and we’re wise when we embrace simplicity.

This is true, because at the end of our abilities, we are able to embrace humility. At the end of ourselves, in the rest of our Heavenly Father, we are filled.

So I throw aside all of my distractions, sit in His presence and saturate in His goodness, meditate on His word and absorb it’s challenges and its promises that hold true. I’ll rest in his peace, even when everything around me is in peaces, and in simple faith is where my strength and confidence will stand undefeated.

I know the practicals, and I believe it in my mind, but Jesus, would you change my heart.

 

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (ESV)

Garden Restoraton (Poem)

Garden Restoraton (Poem)

I’ve wrestled with my mind in desperation
And I’ve become crippled by its convincing blows.
My defenses were weak and the forest of my mind was overgrown.
The lies have become trees that block the Sun’s rays
And my mind was shielded from its promises, with little light shining through the trees and heavy haze.

But while my defenses were all but destroyed and my mind almost def from all the noise, an old friend introduced Hope.
Hope has no one face, and is friends with Joy, Patience and Grace.
These strangers saw my forest and all the mess along with it. But most of all, they saw the little light shining through and knew there was more I could get.

These strangers and I began to landscape.
Where each tree was erased, the light began to replace.
With the brush dragged away, a fresh wind removed the haze.
Now the land is clear today
Of any tree able to decay.
Only one tree remains.
It has been there all along.
This tree will always stay and always be strong.
But the difference between this tree and the rest, is this tree brings life to the land, not death.
It’s shade is calm, it’s fruit is sweet.
It brings rest to all who need.

The friends who came were all unique and born to different lands, through my old friend brought them to a new clan.
This friend was Love, who’s spirit carried the best of everyone of them and so much more.
And thanks to Love, I was no longer torn.
I was in their clan, forever and more.

There is a hidden beauty in the garden that has now been discovered.
Through hope and joy and all the others,
Lies were uprooted and life was uncovered.

written: 3.26.15

longlasting Longing

longlasting Longing

Full of that heart pulling, gut dropping ache. Hear again, there again ache. Longing for more then a day, lasting what feels like eternity. Simultaneously, my mind turns inside out, up, over and down, as my longings and passions seem to drown and be pushed down by circumstances that surround, but the business and yawning can’t drown out the pounding in my chest for clarity; but not the kind that I know every step and outcome that surrounds each moment of my life or some magical treasure map of what step is the right one and what one leads to sorrow. I want the clarity of mind to know my longings are not in vain. I want to be so close to my maker that my confidence is in his words, and can proudly bare a seal with his name.

The late king of Israel wrote famously that the Lord would give me the desires of my hear, but less famous are the preceding words. Trust in the Lord and delight yourself in the LORD, but I often find my trust in my limitations and my delight in places of danger. My longings are pulled and my trust is invested, so my longings are tested. Is the heart with brown eyes to be a part of my heart in time, or is my romantic mind leading me toward wasted time and a fools surprise. Are the pursuit of hobbies and passions leading me towards success, aka happiness and fulfillment through those I bless, or am I spreading myself thin, to where my joy will be lost in the business and different directions, taking a right hook from hope in the chin.

Each outcome is followed by something new, and my longings have been long on brew. These longtime longings will take time to go through, but what is there to do but through all my pride in the air, take on a life of service, always in repair, and learn from each desire that wells up and never giving them up without understanding what’s up. I will wrestle with my heart, hand it over and over to, not just my Lord, but also my savior and listen closer. Am I longing for more then ideas that looks good on paper? Time will testify the faith big and small and the true integrity in my heart.

 

More Than Just a Kids’ Song: Jesus Loves You

More Than Just a Kids’ Song: Jesus Loves You

If you grew up in the US and ever went to a VBS or Sunday school class, you definitely know at least the beginning of the song “Jesus Loves Me”. If you now doubt the claims made in this song or possibly never really believed them, I can totally relate. At one point, I thought, “who cares if the Bible tells me. I want to know for more reason then a book telling me.”

Over the years, I thought about the lyrics to this song a criticized it:

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but he is strong
Yes Jesus loves me
Oh, yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so
As I think into my life though, I begin to see beyond just love because my Bible “telling me so.” I know that to some, the Bible doesn’t hold much weight, but you can relate to wanting to know something that’s real.
Why does Jesus love you and me?
Where this question can start being looked at is you. You know yourself probably much better then I know you, but I do know, that throughout your life, there have been times where, if you’ve given credit where it’s due or not, Jesus has given you second chances, displayed his beauty to you through his creation, and has given you oppertunities to recognize him and even has given you the invitation to have him as your good father, your sacrifice and savior, your pilot and even your best friend! Now, like I said, you know you, and I know me, and if I look into my life, I do not see a deserving candidate for such an offer. I actually see the opposite: I see a selfish, impulsive human that tries his best to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, but fails every day at it.
When we take a look into our own lives and focus ourselves on the goodness of God, and even look into other’s lives that have lived faithfully to his words and commandments, we see him keep his word and our focus begins to shift. Focusing on the question “why do bad things happen to good people?” and blaming God for actions humanity consciously makes is counter productive to our own growth, because He’s letting us make our own decisions, something I see as incredibly gracious instead of making us into robots or striking us down when we make mistakes. He even allows bad things to happen to us to draw us closer to his side and even provides peace in the process. Every time, it is worth it when it’s done by the side of Jesus. There are countless testimonies that attest to this truth. Contact me if you would like to hear firsthand from cancer survivors, X-drug addicts, dealers and smugglers, X porn addicts, people who have conquered depression or even people that are going through those struggles as we speak.
Moses told the Israelites this as they were going into the land God had promised to them:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

We read on and hear of God’s faithfulness and the ways He was with them, and still protects them to this day. And for us today, Jesus promised this to those who love him:
15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17 ESV
Jesus has given his spirit to anyone willing to receive him and love him. So as I look at Jesus’ faithfulness and accept his love for me, may I no longer wonder if he loves me and why there’s tension or un-fulfillment when I’m trying so hard, but may I ponder the following questions:
Do I love Jesus?
Am I willing to let his love into my life and give him an opportunity to change my life?
If we only know because the Bible tells us so, and if it is true, isn’t it worth giving him a chance at our heart? I have and I would encourage your “YES” more than anything in this world!