Friday, September 23, 2005


Recently I've begun signing my blogs Tom/Bob. While some readers will know what that means I figured I should explain to those who don't know me with the youth group.

About a year and a half ago (Spring 2004) I really began IMing people on IM pretty regularly. While I've had an account for years (about 7, since my London trip in college) I didn't know very many people who had IM. Mostly a few people at work, so we only talked when we needed a quick question answered.

Anyway, in the Spring I was on IM and got an IM from someone I didn't know. It went something like this:

Them: Hi, do you know Bob?
Me: Huh?
Them: Do you know Bob Carl?
Me: What? Who is this?
Them: Do you know Bob Carl?
Me: Seriously, who is this? What are you talking about?

At about this time a completely different screen name I've never seen comes on and goes something like this:

Them: Do you know Bob Carl?
Me: What? Who the heck is this?
Them: Do you know Bob, Bob Carl?
Me: Ok, I'm beginning to think this is some IM spam. I'm thinking of warning and blocking you.
Them: It's Bob, Bob Carl
Them: Hahaha, It's Liz and Tegan.

From that point I began being called Bob by the two of them and their other friends. It's now stuck so hard that everyone in 9th grade or below calls me Bob. Even to the point that some parents don't even know what my real name is (for one family I only knew the daughter's nickname for about 6 months and her parents only knew me as Bob).

While I've told people that I now respond to Bob as much as I do Tom I wasn't completely positive about this until our Hershey Park trip. We got in the park and everyone scattered to the wind. I went a main eating area with about 50 - 75 people in different lines and all of a sudden I perked up. Someone was yelling Bob and I heard it over the complete din of the eatery.

Also during the day I thought I heard people call Tom a lot, and kept popping my head around looking. If you think about it though, Tom and Mom sound pretty darned similar, and eventually I just stopped looking. So, you could almost say that I respond better to Bob than I do to Tom at this point.

Anyway, after the mission trip everyone (the other church and even some of our adult leaders) were calling me Tom/Bob (or TomBob). Since the event really changed me so much I really began adopting the name more. Accepting and really enjoying having something unique and special.

Ok, this was a long explanation to a simple thing. But there you go. I'm adopting Tom/Bob at this point. Since so many people use the name I doubt it will change. 10 years from now it may not exist, but for the moment it's a great key to hanging on to some of the most amazing times and memories I've ever had.


Practicing what I preach

Life this past week just doesn't feel like it has been going well at all. I have been failing at so many things in so many different ways, letting people down at work, at church and at home. It is one of those weeks when you just feel like nothing you do is right.

I tend to get in these slumps every now and then. Usually after a major screw-up I then focus on the minor ones and everything just starts piling on.

I mean, in the past 7 days alone I have

  • not organized the youth group well enough at an event (and kept us late);

  • lost about 7 hours work of work entered by co-workers trying to do something quickly (leading to them losing faith in the application);

  • been away from home multiple nights while Rachel has been sick;

  • seriously doubted my role as youth minister;

  • seriously doubted my role as a project manager;

  • And given advice to youth which I don't even follow.

And these are just the 6 things which I can think of right now. Who knows what other relationships I have hurt without realizing it or what other confidences were lost through my mistakes.

When you think about it, things all could have been worse. I mean, someone could have died because of something I did. Worse yet (as Richard is fond of saying), someone could have been driven away from Jesus because of me, and not found that eternal life only He can give us.

Last night I went to bed thinking constantly to myself, man I've messed up pretty badly. What in the world can I do to get out of it? The thoughts just kept rolling around on ways I could solve the problems myself.

This morning I woke up realizing I can't fix this myself. I can't fix some of these problems at all.

So I stopped trying to find solutions to the problems and find a solution to the problem (and even figure out what the problem is). I stopped asking myself what I could do and began asking God what He wants me to do.

Two thoughts came quickly and clearly to mind. The first was a conversation I had with Rob about cracking my crown (I have, well had now, a dental crown on my front tooth). He recommended going home, taking some Motrin and trying to relax. Interesting advice since I know he'd never take Motrin for pain unless he'd cut off his finger, and even then he may not take any medication or even go to the doctor (ok, he would probably go to the hospital, his wife would convince him to).

It got me remembering a conversation I had with one of the youth earlier this week. We were talking about how bad life can feel sometimes and I was giving advice on ways to work through the really stressful parts of life (something I know a LOT about from growing up). More than anything I keyed in on the part where I told her that having a private journal would really help her work through some thoughts. It's a time you can get your thoughts out of your head and out there and open yourself up to advice from God. Interesting advice since the last time I kept a private journal was in high school (possibly college). More interesting since I gave the same advice to another youth about a year ago.

Why couldn't I follow my own advice? I know a private journal (sorry, it's impossible to really write it publicly, I rant and rave against anything and everything sometimes, and need it just for me and God to share).

In the short term I have a direction, to begin journaling nightly, even if I say absolutely nothing besides "I had a decent day". I need to really work through what's going on in me to really find some peace and open myself up to hearing His long term focus. I'm looking forward to what He has to say.

As a side I'm also thinking of sending an apology letter to the co-workers whose data I lost (wholly unprofessional in the eyes of our company). Any thoughts?

I have to tell you, it felt good. I am still feeling crummy because of all the things I've messed up, but at least I now have the beginning of a path to follow. I'm excited to learn where it will lead.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

When the Father trumps the father

I talked to my dad a few days ago about my thoughts on starting the discernment process (for those of you not reading much, this is when I start to figure out if God is calling me to be a priest).

His words on the matter were that "it's a good idea. It's a great second career for when you retire."

I of course mentioned that I'm thinking about it now. So it'd mean retiring in the next few years. At this point he pretty much said what he's said before, that it doesn't make sense financially. Sometimes to get what we want we need to do what we don't like (sometimes for a long time). I should wait and save money before taking that step.

Now, there are a lot of sides to this. With a 2 second history, while I was growing up my parents struggled financially. It was a large part of the reason they ended up getting a divorce (but there were many, many other differences. Thankfully they are still friendly to each-other). So my dad has always wanted to make sure I was even more financially secure than he was. He's often pushing for me to get an MBA and actively pursue being a VP within our company, regardless of how I personally feel about it.

Now, in all honesty, this is a pretty minor disagreement. I know that my dad really does care about me, and regardless of the decision I make he will do his best to put his personal opinions aside and support me. Heck, if he could support me with some of my crazy girlfriends in the past, he can support me in this.

It did kind of hurt to hear dad be so negative about the idea. But I have been mentioning this so much because I do want honest feedback. If someone believes I really am not ready or able to make this huge step in my life, then maybe it is time for me to evaluate the reality of what I'm considering.

I'd pretty much moved past it all and was happy thinking I had no idea what to do with my life. Then I received another e-mail from our pastor Rob about the ordination/discernment process and it again threw my stomach all in a loop. I mean, what am I considering, changing absolutely everything in my life (and at times I have a hard time changing when life feels stable)? Leave my company which (in my dad's words) is one of the best companies you could work for, there aren't any others like them?

But I'm beginning this process now because I truly believe God is telling me that it's time for a change. It's really time for a huge change. I don't know yet if the priesthood is it, I feel led there, but really, what can I contribute?

Dad mentioned that I can wait to begin the process. That I may have to wait to get what I want. The problem with that statement is simply this... This isn't completely something I want? I mean, I do want to follow God, so in that sense it's my decision (I could always say "no, God. Not convenient right now, wait a couple years and I'll get back to you if I remember"). It really is God's plan for me that I'm following, who am I to say no to the almighty Father?

So here I am in a dilemma. Do I listen to my father or to my Father? Of course, I'll continue to live as I already have, listening to my dad's opinion and thinking about it, but decide based on my own feelings and my own path. Heck, I didn't listen to him much in high school, why start now, right? Heh, seriously though, I am glad he cares and is worried about me. But I think this queasy feeling whenever the topic is mentioned (something I didn't get before) and so many signs are leading me toward this change and my dad will have to enjoy the ride with me.

How about you all? Have you been putting something off because of someone else's opinion (even a parent)? We all need to listen to them, but ultimately it is our journey (they are hurtling along on their own personal journey). Why not get uncomfortable and try the change?


Friday, September 09, 2005

Scattered Lately and Bryan's Pad

If you haven’t noticed, my postings have been a bit scattered lately. This is kind of because my mind has been leading the way. Life just feels like it is all over the place. Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m on a path without really remembering how to walk?

As I mentioned a few weeks ago (and again, and again, and again) God is calling me someplace away from work. At the same time, when I look around I also have this feeling He wants me to stay with the job for a while longer. Instead of dropping everything and moving on, it feels much more like a slow transition.

Right when the slow transition seems obvious I start thinking that God doesn’t want me comfortable and moving slow. When He wants something done we should do it as soon as we can. I believe this feeling really comes from myself… If I don’t do something right away it may not get done at all (or take forever… how long has Rob been waiting for his laptop to be fixed)?

So, if things seem to jump around a bit I apologize. If you have any suggestions on focus I am definitely interested in hearing them.

For the moment I’ll close with yet another scattered tangent. I just came across this person’s Web site (he’s the driver for a MobMov in California) and it is one of the most interesting and unique sites I’ve ever seen. Definitely awesome!

Bryan's Pad


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Are You Comfortable?

My friend and pastor Rob send out a link to a blog by another church leader, Kem Meyer. He has been putting up key points noted during a conference for leaders (specifically religious leaders) at Willow Creek.

The following point is made by Kenneth Ulmer, the Bishop at Faithful Central Bible Church:

We need to let go of the responsibility and success of what we’re doing and put it in God’s hands. Ultimately, if we’re on mission, we’ll be in an uncomfortable place. If we’re comfortable, it’s in our hand. Place it in God’s hand. Value is exponentially multiplied.

This statement seems to hit right about where I am in life. As some of you know, and all of you now, I will be starting the discernment process as a step to see where God really sees me fitting in this world (as a priest, or in some other area). Where I am right now is not where I should be.

More and more things are going on with youth group. I just realized what a blessing the morning is, from 7:30 - 8:30 most youth in Loudoun Country have some free time, since they wake up around 7 or 7:30 and school starts at 9. I would love to dedicate each morning to having coffee with one or two people (adults or youth) and just start off the day talking and praying together.

But then comes the many problems this causes. Getting into work much later (and I can't work late since we need to get Rachel from daycare), forcing my wife to get into work later, forcing me to get up earlier (and man do I hate that... heh heh, not really). Work is the main hindrance, how do I get paid for an 8 hour day when only working 6?

I also attended a Loudoun County youth leader's meeting yesterday. The meeting was awesome. But it went from 12 - 2:30. Thank goodness they only happen once a month. But it again cuts into work plans.

Here I am though, having coffee every now and then, going to youth leader meetings and going to at least 2 church events each week (and often 3 or 4). I'm considering working from home, to be able to work a more flexible schedule. This will definitely hinder my career growth, and right now I do need to keep working. I love our daughter Rachel, my wife Erin and (frankly) our home, we've put a lot into it and I'd hate to lose the pride I have in this place.

Things became even more confusing and uncomfortable since the church has decided (rightly so) that we are not ready to hire a youth minister full time. Now, I certainly wouldn't have even been guaranteed the job since there are far more experienced youth ministers out there (heck, am I really all that qualified?). but it would have been nice to figure out how to make finances work and dedicate my time, breakfasts, lunches, days and (some) evenings to furthering God's word.

God's plan for me is not long term youth ministry. He well knows that having the position I might get comfortable as a youth minister, letting things go and me becoming stolid in my ways. As I've mentioned earlier, God sure doesn't want me comfortable.

so, for now I continue to love, live, and question. There are great things in store for God's church, our youth group and this world. I thank Him for letting me have a pivotal role in those plans (when it boils down to it, all work we do for Him is pivotal and necessary).


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