Category: Essay (Page 1 of 2)

This Gift Called Life

Why do I write? Why poetry? Why?

I don’t write to strive.
I don’t write to thrive.
I don’t write to arrive.
I write because I’m breathing.
I write because I’m alive.

Those are simple words to explain why I have a passion for writing. At the core of it all, I write because I am alive, because it is something I feel that I have to do. There is so much that happens in my life that I would not be able to process if not for writing. It goes deeper though, back to a conversation with my oldest brother. Back to the day he told me I should try to write. In that conversation, with him telling me how much writing had done for him I knew that it could do something for me. So I wrote. I wrote some of the worst poems that have ever been written, but they were my poems. For the first time in my life, I had created something completely on my own, and I felt alive. I knew right away that there was something here –more than a passion.

I know I’ve been gifted.
Found gold in sand I sifted.
From my first words felt lifted.

Nothing brings me joy and good feelings about myself quite like writing. It is my escape to a world I control. I can be whoever I want to be in that world, and I can do anything I want to do. I don’t know where I would be in life right now if not for my writing. I’ve often been asked if I want to write books and have a desire that my name be known. To put it plainly: I don’t. Don’t get me wrong. I would love to write a book of poetry and have it published, but not to get famous. I want to write a book filled with poems that make me feel lifted up. My hope would be that just one person would read those poems and know they are special.

He made us all unique.
He gave us all a gift to seek.
Find it and reach your own peak.

So let me encourage you today, seek your gift and USE IT, whatever it is, because it very well may not be writing. It could be so many things. It could be painting, encouraging, athletics, music, technology; it could be just about anything. What it may be is less important than you finding it and using it. I am blessed to know so many people in my life who show this kaleidoscope of gifts.

Don’t think less kid.
Of the gift you’ve been blessed with.
No one gift is best.
Each one offers hope.
A hope you’re part of.
God’s great kaleidoscope.

I pray you walk away encouraged. I pray if you have not found that gift that you will take some time to seek and find it. I have no way of knowing exactly who will read this, but trust me when I say I am praying for you. You are special, and you have a gift that can change the world. If you do know what your gift is, stop waiting, get up, and change your world. One day at a time, one moment at a time. I believe in you, and God is ready to use you.

What are you waiting for?
Stand and walk out that door.
There is a world to explore.
You’ve been made for so much more.
Look for the God-given gift.
See the amazing things He has in store.

Depth of Hip Hop, Part Two: “Black Sugar”


“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so intense.”

That wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it’s the truth I received from my wife a few weeks ago. We were driving home on Interstate 78 in New Jersey, reflecting on my conversation with Beleaf Melanin after the Dream Junkies show at William Paterson University.

“You really talked down about yourself.”

Well, welcome to me. I can riddle this page with excuses about the lack of sleep I got the night before the show, but there’s no evidence on this planet to prove my words that night were any different from my usual thoughts about myself. The only evidence one could offer would likely confirm my low self-esteem.

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I’m no longer the elephant in the room

Photo by Steve Rhodes

I was once voted Vice President of my high school’s “Students for Republican Ideals” club. Make no mistake, we were a Young Republicans Club, but I guess we didn’t care for traditional nomenclature. A few months after being elected, I got voted out of office because I didn’t make it to enough meetings. Remaining on the football team took precedent in my mind, but I wish I could have made it to more meetings where they declared support for out-of-state Senate candidates.

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Reduced

This is another older piece from my college days. I find it pretty entertaining and it is all true, mostly.

I decided the summer before sixth grade that I needed a change. I never had any money and that needed to change. My mother saw an ad for a paper carrier position in our local newspaper, The New Castle News, and she hung it on our refrigerator.  This was her way of telling me to call and set up an interview. This interview led to a job, which led to fame and glory – or at least cash in my pocket and a Carrier of the Year trophy in my room. But it also led to something that I will never, ever lose or forget: a huge scar on my right knee, and another one on my heart.

Just a few short months after starting my position as future Carrier of the Year, I began to deliver the paper to three buildings on the campus of Westminster College. The buildings were separated by three steps and a few thousand feet of rough, grey sidewalk. No big deal. That is, until the day the sidewalk sought revenge for the daily trampling I gave it.

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Persistent Prayer

I want to share with you a very powerful, yet often-unappreciated weapon that you have in your arsenal. Honestly, for years I didn’t understand the power of it and questioned whether there was any validity to it. I can now say beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is my go-to resource for just about everything. I’m still working on making it number one for everything, but I am still a work in progress.

This great weapon and tool that we have is prayer, and it does so many things. First, it connects us to our Heavenly Father. It isn’t just a ritual that we perform when we need something from Him, nor is it something that we should only do in the good times or before meals. It is something that we need to constantly be doing all the time. He wants to talk to us and wants to hear from us. So why do we avoid talking to Him?

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Labels

Stupid.  Fat.  Stuck up.  Junior Highers.  Awkward.  Not fun.  Ugly.  Senior Highers.

Don’t look at me. I’m not saying these things. They are. And they’re saying these things when they describe themselves.3898591046_de92b6281f_o

This past weekend I had the honor of helping to lead 115 teenagers and adult staff in worship at the Free Methodist Pittsburgh Conference’s Winter Weekend 2016. God made some big things happen through little people and events. It was awesome.

On Saturday afternoon, the students had breakout sessions where they were able to meet in small groups and dig deeper into the theme of the week, “Custom Made,”  which was pulled from Colossians 3:9-11.

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Depth of Hip-Hop, Part One: “Red Pills”


I don’t know how I started listening to Beleaf, but I know it changed my life. As I suffered through health issues in 2014, I was seeking God’s help in a lot of different areas, and one of the biggest ways I found Him was through Christian music, specifically hip-hop. While I had been mildly interested in the genre prior to that time, I was mostly limited to top-tier secular artists. I knew Lecrae, Da T.R.U.T.H., Trip Lee, and some of the other big CHH artists, but they weren’t getting regular plays on my iTunes account.

Interestingly, one of my favorite albums as a kid was Ill Harmonics’ Take Two. I can’t say for sure that there is any connection between my love for that 2002 smash hit and Red Pills, it’s at least funny to think about. Still, since that album and a few listens to John Reuben’s bigger hits, my interest in CHH was arguably non-existent.

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When Grace Becomes Gauche

Photo by Daniel Ramirez

“Grace?  She died thirty years ago!”

If you’re not sure where that phrase comes from, set aside an evening during the 2016 Christmas Season.  You and I have plans. 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is one of my favorite holiday movies, second only to A Garfield Christmas.

Why am I beginning this post with a quote from a movie that many consider to be, let’s say, unedifying? Because miraculously, Grace didn’t die thirty years ago. She’s still alive – barely.

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Cold Lamb Sandwiches

A week ago my employer sent out an email that would make anyone with Generalized Anxiety Disorder shudder. Our “Diversity and Inclusion” tip of the day was to “Sweat the small stuff.” This, at first read, felt like insanity. If I were to spend my time sweating the small stuff I would blow my entire budget on deodorant. I’m already a compulsive worrier – Photo by torbakhopperI didn’t need to be told to worry more.

But after my initial reaction, it caused me to reflect on how I think about the small stuff. In my experience, it is often the small stuff that I love about those I am in relationships with and miss about those I am separated from (either by distance or by the ending of the relationship).  The inside joke, the strange greeting, or just the timbre the conversation takes on between certain people.

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Walking Safely on the Troubled Sea

Today, I want to look at what was described in Matthew 14, right after Jesus feeds the 5,000. If you read verse 21, “The number of those who ate was about five thousand, besides women and children,” you understand they were even greater in number than just 5,000. We often simplify the story by referencing that number, but it was likely an even more mind-blowing number than that!

But the next part of the chapter is what I want you to take a real look at. From verse 22 through verse 33, it’s about Jesus walking on the water. But I don’t want to focus on Jesus walking on the water – I want to focus on Peter walking on the water.

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