Last night, my buddy, Phil, came over to the house to look at a job I’m hiring him to do, and we got to talking about life happenings in the past year. I was reminded through that conversation how if I knew what all the steps were to get from the fiery trial I was facing to get to where I am today, I probably wouldn’t have properly stretched and had my endurance grown in the process. I had to take one step at a time, one day at a time in faith that the path He brought me to was the best path for me to take.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
-James 1:2-4, NLT
As we navigate the seas of change, I realize how imperfect I am. I realize how susceptible I am to the lies the Deceiver presents to me that says I can’t do this…I’m not good enough…that I’m not worthy of love. But I choose to move forward one step at a time, one day at a time. And I praise God that I’m not walking this path alone.
“Everybody’s scared to death when they decide to take that step out on the water. It’ll be alright. Life is so much more than what your eyes are seeing. You will find your way If you keep believing.”
In spring of 2002, my little sister, Jen, slowly Army-crawled across the deck behind our parents’ house to catch a wild kitten that had been hanging around with its two siblings. When Jen caught this kitten, it made some of most horrible, angry noises I had ever heard come out of an animal, especially of that size.
Over the course of several days (and much to the chagrin of our dad), Jen would keep it locked in a bathroom the few times she didn’t have it in her arms forcing love upon it. It took quite some time, but this little cat finally relented and became one of the family.
Jen named her “Phoebe”, and she lived in the house with us until Jen and Stephen got married to moved to a house in Mansfield in 2005. Phoebe lived with their growing family of children and pets and moved to Lexington with them in 2010. It didn’t take long to become apparent that Phoebe wasn’t happy with the move. She wasn’t eating, and she was marking the kids’ things. Jen and Stephen knew they couldn’t keep her anymore.
I wasn’t interested in any pets. I had a crazy schedule and really didn’t want the responsibility. But, that cat was special to me because of the circumstances surrounding the way we obtained the cat, so I told Jen I would take her. I was fortunate to have purchased their house in Mansfield from them when they moved, so Phoebe was coming back to familiar territory.
Phoebe wasn’t a needy cat. She did her own thing, and she made spots around the house her own. She would follow me from room to room, chilling out on the floor or adjacent furniture. Once in a while, she would come up to get her ears scratched. When she had her fill, she would go back to lounging. When I would go on overnight or weekend visits or be gone for camp, my mom would come make sure she had her food and water. Mom told me on several occasions Phoebe would run to the door when she’d come it only to act annoyed that it wasn’t me coming through the door. I remember many times coming home from those trips and she would be meowing at the door before I could get it unlocked. I’d scoop her up and scratch her ears until she’d had her fill. Then, she would wander off to lounge.
A couple months ago, I came home from an overnight trip to find she hadn’t touched her food, which was very odd. She also had been dropping more fur than usual. I decided I had better take her to the vet. Some medication cleared up the fur issue, but she still had some issues that kept her from eating. A couple more visits helped things along, but this ended up being something she couldn’t bounce back from.
I did my best to keep her comfortable. She slept in my lap while did things on my computer. I made sure she had food in case she wanted it and water in multiple rooms. Phoebe fought hard. My family and I thought she’d go sooner than she did. Jen, Stephen, Mom and I got to say goodbye to her yesterday before we did some family things. And Phoebe peacefully went to sleep for the last time.
It’s going to be weird not having my little roommate of 5 years pawing at my shoulder in the morning when the alarm goes off because she knows that means treats. It’s going to be weird not having her run from the opposite end of the house because she hears me opening a window for her to sit in. It’s going to be weird not having to vacuum the rugs in my room multiple times a week. It’s going to be weird not coming home from a trip and being able to scoop her up to scratch her ears because she missed me when I was gone.
I’ll miss you, Phoebs. I already do. Thanks for being the Queen of my Castle.
These last few months have been agonizing at times. Not just for me, but for people close to me…family and friends alike. There has been death, sickness, endings to relationships, insecurity, lapses in judgement, loss of trust, depression, financial strains, and the list goes on. It feels like every time I turn around, I’m hearing another story about someone going through a really hard time.
I often wondered why this is…why is it that so many that are close to me are dealing with so much. While I pondered these things over the past couple months, I was reminded of some things.
It started at the beginning.
I’m referring to Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve had one rule to follow: don’t touch the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 2:16-17). Except they couldn’t handle that. In Genesis 3, Eve listened to someone she shouldn’t have listened to and ate some of the fruit. However, before the woman-bashing starts, lets not forget the end of verse 6 which states, “Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too” [emphasis added] (Genesis 3:1-6). Way to stand up, Adam. Sheep.
So, as a result, we get fun things like pain during childbirth, working hard to live, and death (Genesis 3:16-19). Goodbye, perfect world.
Jesus said this would happen.
This one got me when I was reminded of it. I was at camp attending morning devotions, and the camper who was leading the discussion asked us why bad things happen to good people? My pastor, Joel, said that Jesus said it himself:
…everyone will hate you because you are my followers.
But the good news is the rest of that verse:
But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Mark 13:13)
Lots of junk is going on. It hurts. I know. I’m experiencing some of it. But there are a couple things I like to remember: a) I serve a God who is bigger than all of it and b) I’m not alone in my struggles or pain. We’re all in this together.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
Some of you know that I help out at the girls’ summer practices and open fields. It gives me an opportunity to help support an organization I believe in while getting to know the coaches and students better so we have fun with the photos I take during the season. On Wednesday, the girls were faced with the dreaded Cooper Test.
Based on what I’ve read, we do a variation of the test. We run three laps on the track, rest for 60 seconds, then sprint one more lap. On of the students needed a partner to track their time, so I decided I’d jump in and run it as well.
In the second group, one of the other students was hurting pretty bad by the end of her three laps. We all encouraged her to give it her best shot. She needed some extra rest, then she went to walk the last lap with a few of us to make sure she was alright.
But then something really cool happened. We got to the last 100 meters, and she says out loud, “I’m finishing this,” and she took off on a sprint. I hollered, “I’m right there with you,” and we sprinted out the last part of that test.
The interesting thing is at this point, the coaches and the rest of the team was already moving to the next part of practice. She didn’t have to do anything other than walk it out. But instead, she wanted to finish…and finish strong.
I met Joe Rubino 12 years ago at camp. I had just graduated high school, and Joe was starting into his first youth ministry. One of my friends was in his youth group, and they were preparing to run a week of junior high camp the following summer. She kept telling Joe, “You’ve got to get Jon Cole to work camp with us,” as they were looking for extra help, especially in the worship band. It was a fun experience. I found out how much I enjoyed getting to act like a 12-year-old and have a real purpose for it. 🙂 Not long, after that, other friends of mine from camp that were also in Joe’s youth group started to lure me across 2 counties into Wooster to start spending time with them. What happened after that was nothing short of amazing. Continue reading →
I had the opportunity to spend Saturday evening with my good friend, Donovan, and my new friend, Chelsea. Family Force 5, which happens to be Donovan’s and Chelsea’s favorite band, was playing in Dover, and they invited me to come along. Now, to be quite honest, my glory days of concert-going where I would drop some change, weasel my way through shoulder-to-shoulder sweaty people, and stand for several hours listening to loud music have mostly passed. Well, unless you’re talking about Trevor McNevan and Thousand Foot Krutch…that’s another story altogether. 🙂
My mind is a-flutter as I write this, so bear with me.
Last night was the girls’ soccer banquet which capped off yet another tremendous season. The way these girls work year after year to get to their high level is amazing. When I started shooting for the team, I took it for granted the way the organization operated. Once I started talking to other people who were a part of other soccer organizations, I started to fully realize how special the Clear Fork program truly is.
I’ve just finished my third full season with this team, and it has gone by quickly. It seemed like just a few weeks ago we were starting summer practices, and I was running around gathering up equipment for the coaches and introducing myself to new players. And now it’s done.
Some of you know my story. My good friend, Katie (who was one of the assistant coaches at the time), asked me to shoot some photos to raise some money for our mission trip at the end of the 2009 season. What started as casually shooting a few games turned into a desire to use my talents and passions to their fullest extent. See, I’m a natural-born sidekick. I thrive on being one who can make someone else’s visions come to life. About 10 or so years ago while in college, Continue reading →
This will be the only reference to Huey Lewis in this post. 😉
I always find something positive to come away with when I shoot a wedding. Saturday, Joseph and I had the opportunity to shoot for a military family. Since one of my best friends is current deployed, I have a renewed sense of deep appreciation for those who serve in our armed forces. They have to make a lot of sacrifices.
When it came to the dancing portion of the night, the bride and groom shared their first dance as per the tradition. Next up was the father/daughter dance. However, the DJ handed a microphone to the bride who in turn explained what was about to happen. One of her sisters got married to a Marine about 4 years ago, and because of the craziness of fitting in a wedding with about 2 weeks of planning due to an impending deployment, the sister never got to have her father/daughter dance, and she had talked about how she had wished she could have had that. So, the bride dedicated that first dance to her sister.
It was a beautiful moment. I’m thankful to see there are other families out there who are close to each other like mine. I am spoiled and blessed by my family.
Coach Bechtel sent the girls on their water break yesterday during practice. They sat in the shade to recoup and chat with each other. Then, something really cool happened.
I hadn’t noticed that the freshmen had sat down in their own little group away from the rest of the team at first. Then, one of the veterans hollered toward the freshmen, “hey…come over with us. We don’t bite! You’re a part of this team!”
This is one of the many reasons I love this team. They are one. They are family. They have each others’ backs. And they don’t leave anyone behind.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen some churches who could take a lesson from my girls. We’re all in this together.