Friday, October 29, 2010

WARNING: Don't Become a Same-Sider!!

You know who you are. You might not admit it to others but one day they'll see you out and about and they'll know the truth. You will hang your head in shame and then beg for forgiveness. That's right, you're a same-sider.

If you aren't currently cowering in fear, you might not know what a same-sider is. Let me explain it to you. You walk into a restaurant. It could be a Chick-Fil-A or it could be a 5-star fancy restaurant. You sit down and in the next booth over there are two people staring right at you. You think. "hmmm I guess the third person has gone to the bathroom." You guessed wrong. These are same-siders. They are couples who purposely sit on the same side of the table when they go to restaurants....

To answer the question that is formulating in your brain right, I don't know why they would do that.

But they are still there and they are still staring at you. Why do I dislike same-siders with such passion? Well I'll tell you.

1. The Staring - When sitting across from each other your head blocks out the person behind you. With same-siders that blockade isn't there. This leaves your face in direct line with both of them and the staring commences. This is the point that I start to freak out. Why are they looking at me? did I drop honey mustard on my shirt. My nose itches, but if I scratch it they'll think I am a public picker! It's really quiet overwhelming.

2.The Conversation -  Believe it or not, the human head blocks roughly 83.4% of conversation. When that head is no longer there, guess who receives a full 100%??? I mean really, do I have to hear EVERYTHING that you are saying?  I mean really, I get to hear about your hernia surgery? Yippee! I'm so glad that I'm eating right now.

3. The Cuddlers - When you add the first two to the third you get a lethal combination. Cuddlers are same-siders who apparently forget that the booth at a fast food restaurant is a different social atmosphere than their honeymoon. They are practically sitting on top of one another and have given each other 14 Eskimo kisses. Add that to the conversation of "no, after you my snookie-wookie-ums" (ah yeah! a Jersey Shore/Star Wars reference! I think that might be the first in history.) Or "This tea will never be as sweet as you, my love."  That line alone makes you want to heave a large cup of sweet tea in their general direction. At least they are sitting close you might hit both of them.

The only way to fight "the cuddlers" is to randomly point at them and scream "HAND CHECK!" If you time it right, you might just break the cuddlers up. Other than that they just sit there and stare at you all while giving you looks that imply "you'll never be as happy as me!"

4. The Lack of a Face Checker -  We've all had it happen. We get a little something stuck in our teeth. We have some ketchup on our cheek. It's all good though....if you have someone in front of you to see it and tell you. But what happens when that person is sitting next to you and can't see your face?? that's right. You look like an idiot. You might be in a happy relationship friend but you have a waffle fry stuck to your face. I usually feel bad for a guy and try to signal him about it. This leads us to an awkward game of charades in which we are casually making hand gestures and motioning to our faces. He never realized he had something on his face but he is considering stealing third base.  Seriously though, never underestimate the usefulness of a face checker.

These are a few reasons that Same-Siders drive me crazy. Do you have any reasons?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Smelly Car

Think back to elementary school....Think back to glue sticks and walking in lines..... Are you there?  There was always one kid in your class. He was the kid who didn't take the hygiene talk literally. He though it was metaphor for roll around in the mud. You know who I'm talking about. I'm talking about the smelly kid. You always steered clear of the smelly kid. It was more of a necessity than a preference. I mean the odor would cause you to burst into tears, and being the sensitive kid that you were, you didn't want to walk up to him and make him cry.

Fast forward 20 years. I'm sitting at a stop light in my 1997 Honda Accord. All of a sudden I smell it. You know the smell. It smells like someones care is about 30 milliseconds from catching fire. That day I'm sitting at the stop light and my nose is starting to burn from the stench. I'm looking around at the cars around me.

9 times out of 10 the smelly car is easy to spot. It's usually the car that was made in the 80's. It has at least 5 holes due to rust. There's enough smoke pouring out to make you think that someone just elected the pope. (oh yes, a pope reference.) This car usually has $500 rims. I'm not sure why. It's just always how it is.

so I look around me. New car, new car, new car. that's weird.

And then I see it.  There's a wisp of smoke coming out from under my hood.

The truth hit me like a ton of bricks. I Drive The Smelly Car.

That's when I realized that everyone was staring at me. Staring and holding their noses as if they were in a closet with someone who had passed gas. This little old lady next to me was starting to cry. I guess I can add her to the list of girls who I made cry

I sat and stared forward hoping that no one else would notice my smelly car. My light turned green and I drove off.

It turns out that I had an oil leak and it was burning off on the engine block. But that's not the only thing I've endured with my car.

I've had the shaky car - thanks to a loose engine mount. (I had a student think we were having an earthquake)
I've had the noisy car - thanks to a rattling muffler. (I stopped going through drive through because people would come and crowd around the window to see what was happening)
I've even had the "all of a sudden there is no power in the engine while I'm driving down the interstate" due to a bad O2 sensor. (let's just say, prayer life is enhanced now.)

Each of these things was an easy fix but it's just a realization that my car is getting up there and I'm going to have to move on to a newer one soon.

Any of you have an old car story??  Drop a comment about it below!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Play the Comparison Game

I constantly compare myself to other people. It's true. In almost everything I do, I compare myself to the people around me. As a result I judge myself quite a bit. I know that's kind of shocking coming from a guy who wrote a blog titled, I'm Better Than You . But it's still true.

I compare myself to others because at times I'm not overly confident in myself.

He's a better handyman than I am.
That blog is better than mine.
I'll never be the Youth Pastor that he is.
We'll never be able to afford what they can.

I constantly check my stats for this blog.Seriously.  How many people are reading it at 2:37pm???  How long are they staying on the site? I actually compare my stats verses my wife's blog.  As of this writing my blog has gotten roughly 1200 page views. Roughly 600 of them this month.  Mollie's blog has gotten almost 3000.

I'm not as good of a blogger as my wife. (you can increase her stats by going to

My constant stat checking and comparison making drives Mollie nuts.  And it should because it's not overly healthy.

Constantly playing the comparison game is never healthy. 

I mean sometimes it can be helpful. "Hmm In comparing my wardrobe to the people around me, I notice that no one else is wearing their bathrobes at Panera. I also notice the manager coming to talk to me. "

But using the comparison game to belittle yourself is not healthy at all.

Why you ask?

When I belittle myself by comparing my life to others I'm essentially belittling who God created me to be.

I tell my students all the time that they are created in God's image and that's all that matters. We were created in a way that God can use us to His glory.

God didn't want me as a handyman. It's fairly obvious. Whenever I try to fix something I break it more. I'm really good at breaking stuff. Maybe I could have side job in destruction.

I'm the youth pastor that God created me to be, reaching the kids that God wants me to reach. I need to be perfectly ok with that.

There are a lot of blogs that are better than mine. Despite the fact that I want mine to be a source of income (hence the ads), my blog might not ever make money. But it sometimes helps people. I might never reach 90,000 pageviews a day like some blogs, but if something I write helps just one person, I should be overly excited by that. (and I am).

I find that I need to be more satisfied in who God created me to be. After all, God is perfect and I am not.

What about you?
Do you find yourself constantly playing the Comparison Game?
Do you often wish that you were someone else?

Take this truth and never forget it. God created you in His image. And there is nothing better than that. You might not be everything that you want to be in your mind, but you are God's and that is the greatest truth you could ever know.

Take comfort and knowing that God created you. Take comfort in knowing that you are created in His image.
Take a minute relish that thought.

Let's give up the Comparison Game and never look back.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thank You Captain Workout.

The gym is a pretty intimidating place to begin with. It starts with the ever awkward new member tour. Here someone walks you around and points at all the machines all the while not giving you any instruction on how to use them. The members on the Cardio equipment give you a look that says; "Look at the new guy. He's gonna be out of here by the beginning of March." All of a sudden your tour guide leaves you because she has to refill the empty coffee pot. You are standing alone in a room with people glaring at you. This is where I stood once.

I decided to try out a treadmill. That seems easy enough. I mean how hard is it to walk in place? I slowly walk through the rows of sweaty people who are wearing tight outfits that no human should wear. They all scan my clothes. A t-shirt and jean shorts. Apparently that's not kosher for the gym.

I climb on the treadmill and am greeted by roughly 32 buttons. I mean really? You only need a key and one button to launch a nuclear missile. Here I need an advanced degree to walk.  I don't want to be seen as an idiot so I start pressing buttons and hope that I'm not fired off the back of the treadmill. Nope, 4.5 mph hour. A good jogging speed. I'm golden.

A guy hops on the treadmill beside me. He's got  matching running clothes. His shorts are about 5 inches too short and he's got one of those ipod arm bands. He stretches for a second and then hits a button sequence that the pentagon could use as a secret code. His name is Captain Workout and he's about to live up to his name.

He starts running. not just running, he's sprinting. 9.0 mph. Captain Workout isn't even breaking a sweat. He decides that running at the speed of sound wasn't challenging enough, he should converse with someone. That someone was me.

"You new here?"
*gasp* "yup" *gasp*
"welcome, my name is troy.. I enjoy a light workout every day for 2 hours."

I had a new mortal enemy. But I couldn't focus on that now. 4.5 mph was proving to be a good workout when done for 4.5 consecutive minutes. I slowed down to a more relaxing 3.0 mph. I look over and notice Captain Workout slowing down as well. HA! I knew he wasn't super human. he slows to 5.0 mph. That's pretty standard I think. I look down to see my time. When I glance up Captain Workout is running backwards.

"really?" I ask incredulously.
"it really works my quads"

I had to leave before I hit him with my 1980's water bottle. I head over to the machines. Being new to the gym, I have no clue how anything works. I squint at the little picture and try to copy it to the best of my ability. A couple of teenage girls start snickering at me. Apparently, I'm doing it wrong. But I don't care. It has to be working some muscle.

Captain Workout moves next to me and starts lifting. He moves 8 plates when he lifts. I move 2. Yes, I'm the two plate guy. When he inhales and exhales things in the room move. I feel like I'm in a tropical depression due to the force of air moving throughout the room.

Captain Workout is now sweating more than middle school boy at a school dance. I've taken showers and been less wet. His face is as red as a tomato, yet he is still lifting.

I give up and head to the locker room. I grab my bag and head towards the showers. I open the door and see a wall with a line of shower heads. What is this high school? I put my stuff back in my bag and start to head out. In the lobby Captain Workout is making his own whey protein shake. While I try to figure out why he has his own blender at the gym, he looks at me.

"see you tomorrow newbie"
"uh yeah"

Thanks Captain Workout, but I think I'm gonna go home and sit on the couch. I'm not even going to make it until March.

*no this didn't really happen to me. Yes, it was inspired by comedian Brian Regan.*

Friday, October 15, 2010

You can save a life today.

So I had something funny planned today. I mean really it was good. But I stumbled across a blog on my reader that I love called Stuff Christians Like.  SCL was started by a guy named Jon Acuff a while back. It's a great blog that I highly recommend.

Several months ago, Jon issued a challenge to his readers. He wanted to raise 30,000 dollars in a month to help build a Kindergarten in Vietnam. So what did his readers do?  They raised 30,000 dollars in 18 HOURS. In fact they went on to raise $60,000 and are building two kindergartens.

Today is at it again. This time they are fighting Malaria. If you donate $10 you can  provide a mosquito net to a child in Uganda. They were hoping to raise $10,000 in 24 hours. (as of this writing they were at $18,500!!) This project ends at 9am tomorrow morning so you should go now!

I would like to use my blog as a way to encourage you to follow up on this. SCL has a great thing going and I wanted this small blog to be a part of it.

Go to for more information. There is a link on his page that you can click to donate.

Remember, $10 today can save a life tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Twofer Tuesday: The one about Bowl Cuts

Back in April, I wrote a post about the Theology of haircuts.  You can read about that one here.

As it turns out haircuts are making a bit of a comeback recently. Here is a video from a couple of guys named Trip and Tyler. They made this with singer Chris Tomlin. I'm thinking we should definitely bring back The Bowl Cut. (keep an eye out for the Francis Chan cameo!)

I'm not sure how the rest of their videos are but I thought that this one was funny. Have a great afternoon.


Twofer Tuesday: The one about Making God Proud. (and Wiffle Ball)

There is a memory that I have held on to for a long time. It's one of the earliest memories from my life. Let me take you there.

I'm five years old and it's early spring. The sun is shining and it's warm outside. I'm standing beside my house holding a long yellow plastic bat. My dad is standing about ten feet away holding a white plastic ball that has holes all over it. You guessed it, a wiffle ball). My dad is teaching me how to play baseball. He asks me if I'm ready and then takes a step and lofts the ball underhanded. I swing and miss. He offers me advice on how to hold the back. Choke Up. Swing earlier. Keep my eye on the ball.

He pitches again. I swing and smack the ball over his head. He claps and tells me that I did it perfect. I did a great job. He goes and grabs the ball and we repeat the process a few times. We keep going until I hit one that soars over his head. He tells me good job again and goes to pick up the ball.

Except this time there is a man walking down the street who is watching us. The following is a conversation I'll never forget.

"Hey there" - the man said.
"Hey" - my dad responded
"You guys playing baseball huh?"
"Yeah we're just learning" - my dad replied.
"Well, he can certainly smack that ball"
"Yes he can" my dad replied laughing.

At that moment I knew something. I knew that my dad was proud of what I had done. You could see it in the way he smiled from ear to ear. You could hear it in his voice. My dad was proud of me. It was the best feeling in the world. A couple of years ago my dad wrote me an email that laid out how proud he was of me. That same feeling came rushing over me. How great is it to know that someone feels that way? 

We long for someone to be proud of us. We long for our lives to matter.  There are so many times that we work and work and work so that someone will be proud of what we've done. And so many times that affirmation doesn't come. As a result we are let down and after a while we don't even try anymore.

We spend our lives doing nothing all the while still hoping to make someone proud.

Fast forward 24 years. I still long to make someone proud. Everything that I do in my life I hope and pray that it makes God proud of me. I long for the day when I stand before Him and He looks at me and says "Well done my good and faithful servant." It's been a long road to get here. It's been a road full of mistakes as well as glories. I want my Father in Heaven to be proud of me. I want my life to count for something more.

I want your life to count for something more. I want you to stand before God and hear Him say that He's proud of the life you gave to follow Him.

I know that sometimes life keeps you from this.

Some of you are too busy to follow God.
Some of you are too angry at God.
Some of you have never realized that your life could matter.
Some of you have never realized that the creator of the Universe could know you much less be proud of you.

The truth is that He knows you more than you'll ever know. He loves you more than you ever know and He desperately wants to be proud of you.

He desperately wants to be proud of you.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Playing with Plungers

Kate In the Bathroom
If you know me, you know that I love my little girl Kate.  I like to think she's a daddy's girl. We play together a lot. It's great being a dad and watching her grow up.  It's amazing to watch her become interested in different things around our house. Notably the bathroom....more notably the plunger.

One day Kate started going in the bathroom and closing the door behind her. She would then shout in the darkness to see what would happen. Then she would open the door and step out and smile like she had just discovered the world....cute right?

After a few times of doing this I just assumed that's what she would anytime do when she went into the bathroom. Yeah, I was wrong.

One day we were sitting in the living room when we hear Kate do her usual yell in the bathroom. All of a sudden things got quiet. Working with teenagers I've learned at least one thing. Quiet is bad. It means someone is up to something. I sat and listened for a minute. Flwop.....Flwop.....Flwop, Flowp, Flowp..... I got up and walked over to the bathroom door. I opened it slowly. Kate was standing in the middle of the bathroom bouncing the plunger on the floor. Flwop. Flwop.

Now Kate knows that playing with the plunger is not an ok activity. We have caught her several times playing plumber in the bathroom. Each time we tell her that the plunger is not a toy to play with. You might be saying, Jon a 17 month old might not understand all of that....oh, you just wait.

When I got up and found Kate Flwopping in the middle of the bathroom, I walked in, returned the plunger to it's corner, and told Kate that we did not play with the plunger.

Kate, with her beautiful blue eyes, simply looked up at me and reached for the door. She closed it every so gently while never taking her eyes off of mine. She shut the door and it was silent for about 5 seconds.


She had looked at me and stared me down and INTENTIONALLY closed the door to do the thing that I just instructed her not to do. Now if she didn't know that it was wrong, why did she close the door in order to hide?

I'm like this with God so often. I get caught up in sin and God gently but firmly reminds me, "This is not what i have for you. If you want the best life, you shouldn't do that. It goes against my way"

And in my own little way I try to hide my heart and my life from God. I think that somehow I can hide my sin from God. All the while He is simply waiting for me to come out of hiding so that He can show me what it means to truly live.

He wants me to have abundant life. I want to play with crap covered plungers.

Here's a question for you. 

Are you experiencing abundant life?

Or are you playing with plungers?


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

2 For Tuesday... My Treadmill Skills Need Work

This post is in honor of my first post today. If you haven't read it you need to in order to have the right background. You can check it out HERE.

 This video is from the band OK GO. The name of the song is Here It Goes Again. (Capitol Records 2006)

Clearly my treadmill skills need some work.

2 For Tuesday How Your Gut Can Kill Your Pride.

Ok, I have to be honest. I'm the man. I know that I'm supposed to be humble and all that but for real, I'm the man. It's hard to be humble when you are as awesome at exercising as I am...

That's what I thought before yesterday.

At the end of August my wife and I decided to start a weight loss challenge. Every other day we head to the YMCA and do some cardio and some light weights. We watch what we eat and we make it a point to try to be healthy. And since the last week of August, I have lost 8.8 pounds. Pretty impressive right?  Yeah, I thought so.

To be honest, my weight aside, it's the most active I've been in my entire life. I run 3+ miles three times a week. Every new week I push myself to work harder and go longer. And as a result, I've developed a little problem with pride.

That brings me to yesterday. Yesterday I was running for distance and speed. I cranked up the treadmill and ran at 6mph which is a tough pace for me (I started at 4.0 mph in August). Today I was busting it and it wasn't even phasing me. Here's what I was thinking:

"ha! 6 mph isn't even a big deal anymore! I'm so amazing at this." I kept running in a way that was almost strutting. My stride was long. My back straight.  A big smile on my face. "Look at me world...Look at......"

And then it happened. Apparently when I was in my prideful stride I didn't realize I was running faster than the treadmill. I slowly crept up on the front of the treadmill. My gut reached the front of the treadmill first (because it was sticking out). It was at that time that my stomach pressed the "emergency stop" button.

The treadmill track stopped instantly. The only problem was that I was still in my pride stride. I lurched at the front of the treadmill and bounced off of the handle. I then bounced from one side to the other. I felt like I was playing treadmill pinball.

I even let out a yelp which caused the guy next to me to look over. I took my earphones out to see what had happened. I looked over at him and he simply looked at me and said "your stomach hit the button".

Ouch. All my pride was quickly gone. What I was prideful about minutes earlier was replaced with the realization of the work I had left in front of me.The following verse came to mind.

Proverbs 16:18

 18 Pride goes before destruction,
       a haughty spirit before a fall.

I find it interesting that in my case yesterday, pride led to literally a fall. Sometimes my pride keeps me from accomplishing what God wants for me. This is a good reminder to approach everything in life with a lot humility.  I'm going to continue to exercise and run. It's a good way to lose weight and relieve stress. From now on I'm going to be a little more humble about it...


Saturday, October 2, 2010

How I Made Two Girls Cry.

I've actually made more than that cry. It's sad I know. But the other day I was sitting and thinking about all of the things that God has done in my life. I was thinking about how far he has brought me. All of a sudden I pictured too girls. I had made both of them cry. One was in 7th grade. The other was this past spring. These two girls pretty much define what God has done in my life.

One was named Wendy.
The other one I never caught her name.

Wendy was a girl who was a year behind me in middle school. I was in 7th grade and she was in 6th. She was a little overweight and she had a feisty attitude. In middle school we would have "put down" contest. Pretty much we would be on the bus and two kids would face off and start slinging "put downs". "Your mom is soooo fat.."   "You are soooo poor..." and you would add a witty ending. Everyone on the bus would crowd around and laugh the whole time and cheer on the winner.

Wendy was in a contest with one of the 8th graders one day. They were going at each other pretty bad. At one point I decided to join in. The 8th grader threw out a put down and I moved and added an extra line. The extra line clinched it. The kids on the bus howled with laughter. They gave high fives to each other and to us. They had declared our side the winner.

We laughed and cheered. Wendy sat and cried.

I'm unsure of the specifics but there was something about what I said (it was about her father) that really cut her. It cut her deep. She sat and cried. I stopped cheering and just stared at her. I had done that. I had cut her. My victory didn't matter. I felt like the biggest loser of them all.


I was going to eat Chick Fil A earlier this spring. On the way in I noticed a young lady standing on the corner with a sign. God immediately let me know that I should do something for her. I went  and grabbed my lunch and ate it. On the way out I bought her a combo meal. As I was pulling up to the corner where she was standing I noticed something. She wasn't like the other people who stood at this corner. She held a sign but she didn't look up. She looked at the ground. Her shoulders slumped forward. She wore her shame like a jacket. 

I pulled up next to her and rolled down my window. I called her over and gave her the bag. She thanked me and I told her that God loved her. As she glanced in the bag she looked and me and said "WOW!" There was genuine shock on her face. Just then a woman came up behind her and gave her something as well. The girl broke into tears and started to cry on the side of the road. They weren't tears of shame, but instead they were tears of joy.  I drove off and prayed for her.

It's amazing how you can influence other people.
You can give them tears of shame, or you can give them tears of joy.

Which one will you give?