Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Let go.

I lived in Eugene, OR working as a Social Service worker for a homeless shelter.  Four years I spent doing this.

Initially, my heart was full.  I was wanting to give everything I had to help the people I came into contact with.  Show love to the ones who hadn't felt it in years.  but what I didn't expect was how much it would have changed my heart.

Within the first month,  I had heard and tried to live by a rule of "every human being is equal."  Trying to change my viewpoint of looking at every single person as no better or worse than I am.  It was an eye opening experience, but it was also an experience that damaged my soul.

Every day something would happen, something I thought only happened in comedies.  People completely drunk, high, mentally ill, or mentally fried from previous drug experiences, taking a slam on the porch, floor, street, wall... basically anything you can imagine, someone has pooped (and worse) all over it.

After catching someone doing it, they would either be defensive acting like they weren't doing anything wrong, or aggressive wanting to slit your throat.  

I had met some beautiful souls that had been forgotten and also souls that were pure evil.  

The good:
Getting people into programs that helped with housing and financial help (monitored) to get people back into society.

I had placed over 50 U.S. veterans into housing.

A gentleman by the name of Harry had lost his wife over twenty years ago.  In his grief he had mentally snapped and didn't know how to live anymore.  He moved into the Mission twenty years prior to us meeting.   There was not a bad or mean bone in this mans body.  He was humble, gentle, sweet, complimentary.  Nothing manipulative (more on that later).

I had learned he was a vet that never took advantage of his rightful services.   We got him on his Social Security and through the VA we got him a housing voucher that helped out with getting an apartment.   The heart-breaking thing about Harry was how his humility was more of a worthlessness than true humility.  Being able to tell him how much he's worth, not only for the sweet man he was but also his service, was so emotionally wonderful.  I had to do some manipulation myself... plant the idea, make him think on it for a day... then make him make the decision himself the following day.

He is still happily living in a 55+ community, still walks the streets to go to the market, still smiling and being an amazing soul.

Ron was a special case.  A grumpy old man, no teeth, very dirty minded, but man I loved him.  He would bring laughter to the days that were dreadful.  He had stayed since '99 from being addicted to heroin and alcohol.  He brought an evenness to the community that lived there, always correcting peoples "better than" or "worse than" attitudes by bluntly saying "you're staying at a homeless shelter, we're all the same bro".  He was so lovable that no one would question or argue and just go sit down.

He, again, had self destructive "humility", finding his only worth in what the shelter had let him do at the front desk.  I told him after a few months of knowing him "I am going to get you disability, I am going to get you teeth, I am getting you your own apartment.  You deserve more than this."

For months, we got his disability paperwork, doctors appointments to show his health, and other situations set.  After fighting the initial denial,  Ron was given a lump sum that was pretty hefty.  He received his disability, we got him dentures through another service, and I found a new program that would offer a free single apartment for the rest of his life.  

Every time I would take him to an appointment he would say "Man this isn't going to happen, they're turning me down I can feel it."  I would always reply "We're getting you a key to your place, I've got you furnishings, you're going to be out soon and the first night by yourself is going to be so peaceful."   It happened.

I followed up with him for months, but I hit kind of a wall where I needed to shut down work from life for a while.  He tried to contact me a month before he passed away from drinking himself to death.

Someone so joyful, thankful, emotional... now dead because he didn't know what to do with himself once he had a "real" life.

Daily connections:

Every day I would hear terrible stories, death threats, lies, and manipulation.  What has happened to me?  Why have I become so callous?  I watch my back every day from the day I started there.

One man who was high on meth and refused a drug test (which I was in charge of giving/watching the guests take) saw me on the street, walked directly behind me like a ninja and said "I'm going to f***ng kill you faggot."  There were multiple occasions like that and I can only thank Christ for my safety.

The place was a second prison stay for most, it was the literal filth of the earth.  Child molesters, murderers, rapists, people you never want to meet, all jammed in to one place.

I'm going to continue on with a few stories in the next few weeks...  I am trying to just clear my head and write what I experienced and try to heal.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

One giant leap for Jeff-kind.

TL;DR: I'm moving to be close to my beautiful Lauren, I accepted an offer to be a worship pastor at Westminster Presbyterian in Lubbock, TX.

At the first of this year, I was at the end of my rope. Tragedy upon tragedy kept happening.  There was something drastic, dramatic, and emotionally crippling that happened the first seven days of 2016.  I cried, I freaked out, panicked, pretty much all the stages of grief smacking me in the face each day.

During my prayer I felt I needed to come home, something I didn't want to do and often said I never would unless God screamed at me that I had to go.  I reluctantly followed with the help and guidance of my best friend, Quinton, to come back.  Immediately there was a sense of relief and rest.  In that I was offered to help a new plant in Huntsville, Essential Church. Getting to know Tim, Lee, and Chase has been an experience I will be grateful for the rest of my life.

They were welcoming, comforting, and it was exciting to be with a group of people hungry to help the people of Huntsville.  The church body at essential was healthy and so active in helping in everything.  It was quite an amazing sight to see.

From March to June things were quiet in my life.  I felt rested and at peace, but still a bit shaky from coming back.  My prayer was that God would keep an adventure in my life burning and not to get complacent in this place.  At the end of the first week of June, I received a message from a woman that I've admired for many years, but hadn't spoken with for a time.  We spoke for two days and it felt like we'd never stopped.

Lauren Dunn had opened the door to my heart and drive for adventure.  While we spoke, I'd never felt such a peace to speak with someone before, it felt good to hear her honesty and for me, being able to tell her the things I've wanted to say for all these years.  She lit me up (and still continues to every day we speak).  Her desire for the Lord, the deep conversations, the freedom of expressing ourselves about life and faith, the fact that she laughed at my horrible jokes.  All of it made me fall into the deepest love I've felt in this time on earth.

Well... she lives in New Mexico.  The place that I've always wanted to live since the time we met as counselors/worship leaders at Lone Tree Ranch.  How on earth would it be possible to get there?

We discussed a bunch of different scenarios for about a month and I began applying to churches and other places near her.

I got a call back from two different churches in Lubbock, TX (three hours from where she is).  This was insane.  I had applied so many times to churches and never had a single response besides your generic “Thanks for contacting us” email.  I had a tremendous peace with the interview at Westminster Presbyterian, something I never get with interviews (yay anxiety!).

Cut to a month and half later, I was offered the job.

Never in my life have I seen or felt Christ outline a path for me and everything align so beautifully. I've always tried to follow Him, but reached out to whatever would grab back (which has been an amazing journey in itself). I am overwhelmed in this and cannot sing a higher praise and thank you to God and all my friends who've been praying for me.

Leaving Alabama, my friends, family, Essential, is definitely going to be bitter-sweet, every single one of you guys on the praise band we've got going, you guys are amazing and have blessed me so much and I am a better person to have met you.  But to all of you, know I love you and am so thankful I've gotten to be with you for this season in my life.

So on November 20th, I'm moving out as soon as we finish up the last service I'll be leading at with Essential to go onward to the west to be with the one I love.

God is good, even in the hurt, confusion, and loneliness. He knows what's best for you and will help you understand (which I still don't fully) in time of why things are going the way they are.  It's something that I always fight and question when I'm going through it, but He always holds on to me no matter how ridiculous I get. Keep your faith and trust in Him and run towards him as hard as you can.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A rhythm of falling.

I have had the song Rhythms of Grace in my head the past few months,  it is one of my favorite songs to sing to God about who I should be, and how He is always there for me through everything even though I don't show Him the love he deserves.  A lyric from the first verse is "My life is a light for Your cause", a sentance that I should be able to boldly proclaim but the last few months I've felt incredibly dim.  

I've been struggling with anxiety and depression recently.  I do see and thank God for the blessings He's given me with my job and living situation, but I haven't felt like I've been affective in any way with the people I'm surrounded with.  It's gotten to the point where even seeing certain people makes my stomach immediately turn to a knot to the point of throwing up.  

The second line in the verse is "My will laid aside by Your call." A lot of my problems are coming from my own expectations of myself, pushing on things to happen because I'm tired of waiting around, or praying on things for months and feeling like a dream of mine is coming true and falling flat on my face with it.  With that example, I can have a million arguments on "it's not God's timing" to "God wants you to put things to action and walk with him while doing so", I've heard it all, asked it all, and answered myself to all at one point or another, and it all comes down to just walking with Him and not being selfish, and damnit I want to be selfish, a lot.

Every few months I get to this point for a week or so of just feeling useless or worn out, and I'm sure I've written about it before.   I just want to be a light again.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My Father.

God is incredible.  His love, grace, and gentleness.  You always everyone say hear He doesn't give you more than you can handle,  He wants you to be patient and depend on Him, and I was tested pretty recently with this.

I was needing to move out of the house I was at last week.  Within a month I saved up for a deposit on a new place thanks to my job for giving me a raise and more hours, as well as my family being awesome for my birthday.  I found a little spot that if I lived there I'd be living on an extremely tight budget. My awesome boss lady tells me there's a position for a low income/developmental disability housing on site manager that I should apply for, working three hours a day for an apartment to stay in.  I do it, and literally a day before I was supposed to be out I'm called for an interview.  Meanwhile, the little apartments I was looking at finally answer their phone and tell me I'm approved on the way over for the meeting.  I'm okay with it, I don't really think much about what I'm going to at this point, thinking that the chances of me getting this would be slim and the move in date would probably be a while.  I pray, I'm unusually comfortable and almost numb walking in to the building, and the interview starts.

The main supervisor is a guy I've met a few times doing volunteer work over at the Mission, it's my boss lady's husband, incredibly nice guy.  We start talking about usual interview stuff, how to handle situations and conflict etc., next thing you know it's been almost two hours, they ask me to go check out the apartment to see if I'd even be interested.  We head over, and it's huge.  The place is so nice compared to what I was originally looking at.  They pull me to the side and tell me that they've interviewed a number of people before me and I apparently nailed the interview.  They then told me I would get the key to the place that day if I wanted the job.

I said no.

The end.

Not really, I tried to hold back the excitement and be normal, but on the inside I was about to explode with happiness.  After three years of being out from Alabama, this is the first time I'll be on my feet financially and be able to help with things I've dreamed of.  Jesus, through my boss, just dropped a major blessing on me and I don't even know what to do now.  I'm used to having to fight through things, yes God has kept his hand on me throughout this with everyone in my Crash family helping me out (which I am eternally grateful for), but it's nice to see ahead of me without being a burden on anyone else.

With these blessings, I still see my friends hurting with various troubles, some major, some minor, but in the end it all comes down to patience and depending on Jesus.  I ask you guys to pray for us all out here, there's a lot of pain that needs to be healed, financially, emotionally, and physically.  We can't get anywhere without God, and i there are a lot of battles ongoing and ahead of us.  So keep us strong!  I've not done everything right since I've been here, and still God just slaps me in the face with love right at the last minute.

Love you guys,

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


How many times have you experienced joy or excitement for something that you think is going to happen and it falls through?   Not just petty things like a new album from your favorite band coming out, then cancelled, or going to a restaurant you've planned on going to, only when you arrive they're already closed.
I'm meaning life-long goals, yearnings, things that you think God are showing you, yet they suddenly just up and leave you flat on your face.

I will admit, I am extremely excitable over things,  maybe that is my main problem.
The second most discouraging thing I've experienced lately is the fact that I've been wanting to go to school for a while, everything looked like it was about to happen, then... nope.  I try to pray through everything but it hasn't really given me much comfort lately.  In fact I've been ridiculously depressed these last few weeks.

God's got me at a spot that is really low.  No job offers or call backs, I'm barely getting by on things. The Mission is a great job, but it's just not cutting it financially.  I'm fine and dandy, but dadgummit is it easy to fall back into the "woe is me" mentality.

I would love to say all of my joy comes from the Lord, but when you feel like things are happening after asking Him if it's the right thing, things build up and then it does a ninja spin kick to the knees.

Bleh, without failure you can't grow, but I want to freaking grow already.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Struggles and insecurities

Tonight I was baptized. A public profession of my faith, something I've done before, but I was too young to understand what I was doing. I was nine or ten the first time, and basically I was doing it because I was told to and I wanted to be praised by my parents and get attention. I wasn't even a follower of Christ. Well, God I apologize for my foolishness as a child, I didn't really know any better.

It was definitely different tonight and 100% for God, but in the back of my head I'm struggling with other things. I wanted to proclaim my God is with me, but at the same time my brain is throwing me on a different path. I am so self conscious in everything I do and I invest my intentions and thoughts into something that I shouldn't, to the point of being physically stressed out.

I want to apologize to everyone, I want to be Christ like, but I get too wrapped up in myself. I really don't want to be in a bad mood, but sometimes I cannot help it. So please forgive me guys.

I just wish God could slap me in the face and yell at me when I'm about to do something foolish, or reveal to me what I'm about to do is going to hurt more than what I expect. I guess that's my pride getting in the way, even when I really thought I was being sincere and doing the right thing. Maybe it's just life and encouragement to seek God 20 million times harder before I make a decision.

Well, again, I apologize to any of you friends that I've hurt recently.

With love,

Friday, February 15, 2013

I feel very Kenny Rogers series, minus the dove.

"I am a twenty-five year old man."  I really don't like the sound of that.
I've reached a point in my life where I really wished I could change my past, being more courageous and not such a small minded nincompoop.  Every day I feel like I have these goals in my life and if I accomplish this goal it will make my life happier,   there are many of that I've had for years now and I've accomplished none of them.

Good jobs, ladies (oh yeah.), education, and my walk with Christ.  Sadly, the walk with Christ is almost always the last option I try to work on.   

I am a twenty-five year old man-child who expects things to work for him, I get close to any one of the selections above and crumble by doing or saying something ridiculous, or having the wrong intentions.  I'm hurt, I'm lonely, and instead of talking with Christ I'd rather talk with someone I can see like they'd have a magical answer that will fix my life.

Every situation I get myself in to I feel inferior, I can pretend that I'm not, but that's just acting, and dadgummit I should get an Oscar for that sometimes.

So I guess my prayer for today is to find true joy in the things God gives me, and to stop feeling sorry for myself.