The End of Summer

Do you remember the best summer of your life?

I’m trying hard to remember mine. When I was 16 or 17, I probably could have told you… but now that I’m double those years… it’s hard to even know which summer was which: they all blur together.

There were elementary school summers where I went over to my friends house (who lived around the corner) almost every day and played video games, ate red vines, drank coke and went swimming in his pool. We lived off Kraft macaroni and cheese and Top Ramon. I would get pissed off when I lost at Mortal Kombat or Baseball Stars and go home angry, only to call my friend twenty minutes later and return for a game of backyard basketball (I usually lost that too).

There were summers in middle school and early high school when I went to camp in the mountains. Those were “coming of age” summers, full of crushes, overcoming fears of nature and the great outdoors, finding my faith and finding my voice.

Then there were summers in late high school and early college where I traveled to South America on missions trips with my church group.  My eyes began to open to the vastness of human experience and how secluded I was in my little suburban Southern Californian town. I found my heart, my soul, and my acceptance of those different than me.

There was the summer after graduating high school, when I went to Hawaii with two of my best friends for a week of “being free” from school, my parents, relationships, everything. Just us, the ocean, the beaches, and as many resort hotel pools and spas as we could sneak in. I think we nearly died multiple times on that trip, but I made it home alive although super reluctant to start college (Jr. College).

There was the summer of 2002, after my first year of college, where I traveled to Chile (one of the most amazing trips I have ever been on), and came home to my Grandma dying, and shortly after that, my lung collapsed spontaneously, which left a scar deeper than just a physical scar. It would leave me counting my breath for years and years to come, always fearful of the possible collapse of my body. That summer burns bright in my memories.

Then there was the summer of 2004, when I worked at a summer camp with three amazing friends. I learned so much about myself that summer, about who I wanted to be, who I was becoming, and who I definitely did NOT want to be. I remember late nights of philosophy and theology over a bowl of Lucky Charms. I remember reading Siddhartha, and a New Kind of Christian – both of which really opened up my mind on religion and spirituality. I got engaged that summer, and forever tied myself to my wife. It was, looking back on it, a monumental summer.

The mid 2000’s were spent working as a Youth Pastor, planning trips, summer camps, and weekly activities and youth groups. In 2008, I led my first mission trip to Peru with a group of high schoolers. It would be my last and final summer as a Youth Pastor.

That same summer, the summer of 2008 – my wife and I moved to Portland, Oregon with our oldest (and then, only) daughter.  The old Southern Californian summers were gone now. Replaced by a completely new meaning of summer. A respite from the rain. A few short months filled with sunshine before the clouds and showers came again. In Portland, summer became a time of relaxing, traveling, refreshing… and sweating.

In 2009, we bought a home and welcomed our second daughter.

In 2010, I started my freelance web development business.

In 2011, we moved to Santa Cruz.

In 2013, we moved back to Portland.

2014, 2015, now 2016. In the books. Those three years, much of the same. The girls take a trip down to Santa Cruz to visit my wife’s parents. We do some weekend trips to the coast, we play outside, we go to the park, we try and stay cool, we play, play, play.

For my daughters, it’s their elementary school year summers… and we’re back again. Everyday they asked if they could see if they could play with our neighbor friends.

And now it comes to an end. Another summer, in the books.  They seem a little more uneventful these days (for me). That’s what happens when you work full-time. Summer just becomes months where it’s warm outside but you can’t go out and play because you are stuck inside working. It’s a little different for me, with kids and a teacher wife, so there is that end of school year / beginning of summer and then the close of summer and the start of school again. But they begin to blend into one another.

I’m looking forward to the cooler months. That’s become a thing. At the end of each summer, I welcome the cooler air, the leaves changing color, the rain settling in, and the start of a long, cold, wet Autumn/Winter.  But that coldness, that wetness is what I am used to – and what I love. It gets hard towards the end, but the summer is just the right shortness. Enough to refresh, but just long enough where you start to look forward to the changing season.

And here I am, at the end of this post. I really though it would be more reflective and deep. I guess I am losing my insightfulness to old age (and parenting). Perhaps I am deeply depressed, a combination of things that has made me lose feeling… lose perspective (save for moments here and there). Perhaps time has become a blur and it is hard to pinpoint moments of clarity and “life changing” moments. Does life change happen after you turn 30?

 

 

Exodus Part 3: Hope

Hope

“I’ll be done with this post since I’m getting tired and my thoughts are not as clear and crisp as they could be.  But in my next post, in the future sometime, I want to touch on how my beliefs have changed in the last 5 years, who has changed my mind on certain things, and where I find hope now.  That last part, the hope part, is so important.  Because I get that there are a lot of disenchanted Christian church people out there who might relate with some of this stuff – but still love Jesus and want to find something to believe in.  I know. Me too.  And I think I’m coming out of the dark cloud pillar… but only to realize I’m wondering in a wilderness for the rest of my life. (I love the Exodus story for Moses and all that if you haven’t picked up on that yet… brilliant writing. Seriously. Brilliant.)”

Me – Exodus Part 2


A little something for you to listen to while you read the rest of this post. ^_^

Leaving “The Ministry”

Sometimes I stare off and wonder where the hell I’ve been the last 4 years. I mean after leaving my job in the church as a Youth Pastor in Thousand Oaks.  I wonder if it’s been worth it, or if I made some grand mistake.  It’s not that I am not happy with where I am today, but it is easy to look back and wonder “what if”.  For those who know anything about chaos theory, there are an infinite number of results to every decision made every single day. What if I went left instead of right?  What if I went 65mph instead of 45mph that one day?  A good example: just today there was a shooting at the Clackamas Mall (less than 10 miles from our house in Portland) and I can’t help but wonder… what if we were still there? What if we never left?  Only God knows if we would have been there today…  Ok, I encourage you to stop thinking about chaos theory if I got you started – it never leads to anything productive.  But it is definitely interesting to wonder…

And for this particular post, I am interested in where I have come spiritually over the last 4 years as a result of leaving the church (and friends) behind and moving on to other things.

Continue reading “Exodus Part 3: Hope”

Will launch later

I have no idea where to begin with this post. It’s hard, when you stop writing, to come back months later and attempt to unload all of your thoughts, feelings, and ideas.  I can never summarize all that has transpired in the time between posts, so it usually ends up being about a specific, relevant thought, feeling, or idea.  But you have to start somewhere. You have to reach down, through the muck, and pull the plug.  And the draining begins.

I am so full of stress. It’s crazy how invisible and hard to diagnose stress is. But it’s heavy, super heavy.  If a scale could measure stress as well as body mass, I’m sure my scale would be off the charts right now.  Perhaps my greatest cause of unrelieved stress is that I never talk about it.  I never pull the plug, and let it drain.  I guess I never think I have to – like I said, this is some invisible stuff.  But right now I feel awful, and it’s either a health issue – or its stress.

So what is so stressful…?  Well, maybe I should make a list:

  1. We just moved to a new town
  2. … right next door to my in-laws
  3. … a new town in which I have no friends
  4. … and I know nothing about.
  5. I’m working from home (if you don’t work from home, you don’t know how stressful this can be)
  6. I’m running my own business
  7. I’m parenting when I am not working
  8. I’m working on the house when I am not doing one of the two things I just mentioned
  9. I have no local friends, no one to call to go see a movie, go get a drink, or to bitch to about how stressed I am
  10. Robin is pregnant. And I’m trying to be helpful.
  11. Add all of this up, and add on top of it the guilt of feeling stressed, the inability to say anything because I feel like I am complaining – even now I want to apologize for making this list and say I’m not trying to complain. Sheesh.

There you go.

I feel sick. Literally. But I don’t think it’s a disease.  I think it’s stress.

So what do I need?  God, that’s such a hard question.  I have no idea. Somebody help me out here… what do I need?

Our first session of marriage counseling, me and Robin’s counselor asked me: “Jim, what do you need?”

And do you know what I told him?

“I have no idea”.

Why is it so hard for me to admit to what I need? No. Not just admit, I can’t even think of what I need.

Ok, I think I know:

I need someone who cares about me. Is it bad to say, I need someone, who is not my family, and not my wife, to care about me.  You know… usually we call them: friends.  But not friendS – just

—————————————— UPDATE ———————————————-

Weird… I wasn’t done with this post and for some reason WordPress published it.  Strange. Maybe I scheduled it without even knowing.  Hopefully my site was not hacked.

Tracie, thanks for the response, even though I guess this post wasn’t ready yet.  In a way I’m not even sure I was going to publish it…but I guess I’m glad it got published.  I don’t even remember titling this “Will launch later” – strange.  Anyway, more complete thoughts to come in the future.