14 years ago today.

I was 17 years old. I had run away from home. I was staying with some cousins after being kicked out of two friends’ houses for being really disrespectful to them and their parents.

I was hanging out at Fashion Square Mall in Scottsdale in a music store on February 13th, 1996. I looked around, the coast was clear, so I stole a Wu-Tang Clan cd. I went back to my cousins’ house to listen to it. I had a stereo with two 12″, two 10″ and two 8″ speakers set up in my  room, which made me the perfect house guest. The Drunk Student Crossing and huge pot leaf posters hanging on my walls were a nice touch too.

The music was playing when the phone rang. It was my cousin Lois, she was sobbing. My dad had died. They eventually said it was due to “cardiac arrest”, but we knew that it was actually due to 25+ years of heavy drinking, smoking, and a brutal last few years of life.

His death was my entrance into a life of even more anger, addiction, and darkness.

But it all led me to this place… to a completely new life.

That was a dark, dark day. Walking in and seeing him there lying on the ground in the trailer he had been borrowing. I couldn’t zoom out and see what God was up to. I had no idea. Nothing made sense.

If it wasn’t for that day, I wouldn’t be who I am. I know that for a fact. And for that reason, I’m grateful for it. I don’t like saying that since I would love to have my dad in my life. But I know that I’ll see him again. I can see how it all worked out now, 14 years later…

It’s this story that helps me to trust God at those times when nothing makes sense. When life hurts, I know from experience that God heals. He doesn’t waste pain. It sounds a little bit cliche, but it’s my story!

I hope this gives you some peace today.

God has already started making all things new. Even when you can’t see it.

Colt McCoy’s Post Game Interview

His team just lost the National Championship.

He’s probably been dreaming about that game for most of his life, and then he gets hurt and doesn’t even get to play.

This is how he responds!

I always give God the glory. I never question why things happen the way they do. God is in control of my life.I know that if nothing else, I’m standing on the Rock.

Christmas!

Lindsay and I are hopping on a plane next Monday and heading to Westerville, Ohio for Christmas. I look forward to this every year. I married into a pretty awesome family, which makes the holidays a whole lot better! I know some guys and girls who married into, um, less-than-awesome families. Every family has a Cousin Eddie.

“Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?”

One of my favorite things to do in Ohio is NOTHING! I hardly ever have downtime in my everyday life, so this week of nothingness is something I look forward to all year! I’ll spend a few afternoons at the Panera across the street with my bottomless cup of coffee, next to the fireplace with a book.

What are YOU doing for Christmas? Are you traveling, staying home, or a little bit of both?

Handing in my Man Card

Mark Connelly

It felt good to confess from the stage today that I have no idea how to cook food on a grill. I know I’m supposed to be able to, being a man and all, but I never learned how!

I thought I’d keep going with this confession thing. Here are a whole bunch of other things I can’t do that “men” are supposed to be able to do:

Cook. I have no idea how to cook a steak. If it doesn’t boil or go in the microwave then forget it.

Change my own oil. I think I did it when I was a Webelo once, but ever since then I’ve paid someone to do it.

Change a flat tire. I think I can, but you better not ask me to.

Jump start a car. Is it the red one with the blue one? Is there a blue one? You might want to call AAA.

Household repairs. I have no idea how to fix sinks, toilets, ovens, wobbly tables, broken garage doors, or anything like that.

Landscaping. I can’t plant grass, plant flowers, set up sprinklers, trim foliage, or anything like that.

Dance. Nothing in me wants to move my body to the music, fast or slow. (Exception: mosh pits in the late 90’s).

Whistle really loud without using my fingers. But I can whistle really loud with them.How do guys do it without them? So cool.

Find my way without a map. I use a map every day. Thank you Google.

Hmm… there’s got to be more than this, but this is a good start!

I’ve handed in my Man Card.

What about you? What are you supposed to be able to do that you can’t?

the comparison game

“Comparison is the enemy of your contentment.”

I repeated that over and over during my messages this weekend at Mission.

I talked about my desperate attempt to climb the popularity ladder in high school. I worked at the mall and had stolen thousands and thousands of dollars in clothing while there. I worked at a few stores, and I won’t tell you which one in case you get sassy and want to convict me for a crime that’s like 15 years old. God forgave me, and so should the mall.

My closet was JAM PACKED with clothes. Shoes were everywhere too. I was stocked for life. I was ugly, but I had a lot of really nice clothes. Nicer than his, and his, and his… I was winning. But I was playing a lose-lose game.

When I became a Christian I still had a closet full of clothes. But I didn’t want to play the game any more, so I emptied my closet of everything that I had stolen and donated it all to a charity in Tempe. When I was done I had ONE shirt.

A white t-shirt with armpit stains.

But I was done playing the game. I was done caring about what everyone else was wearing, saying, doing, buying, and thinking. And I was done caring about what other people were thinking about what I was wearing, saying, doing, buying and thinking.

I was determined to be the best me I could be, and not the second-best anybody else.

I began to pursue the person who God was making ME to be.

Because God says I’m valued, loved, and worth dying for. Sometimes I don’t feel that was, but if God says it and I disagree then… one of us is wrong.

I can fully attest to the fact that “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones“.

backfired

I sat next to an LDS girl in an “American Religious Traditions” class every day during a semester at Mesa Community College. I set out to convince her that Joseph Smith was a false prophet. Frankly speaking, it’s kind of an easy thing to prove…  After talking about it EVERY DAY for an entire semester I was sure that I had showed her the way, the truth, the life, all that. How did she respond on the last day of class?

“I want to thank you Ryan, because our conversations have actually strengthened my faith.”

Backfired.

About five years ago I talked to a student in my ministry about singing in such a way that she wasn’t a distraction to the other students. She had a huge heart, but her zeal for worship had created a tension in the room. She seemed to agree with what I was saying, but she never came around much after that. Today I received an email from her thanking me for that conversation. It led her to embrace paganism.

Backfired.

Not as I had planned.

Have YOU ever backfired, or am I the only idiot left on the planet?

Temptation!

When you know that its ideal to wait for something better, do you have the self-control to make it?

Check out this video. It’s all about instant vs. delayed gratification. Apparently the battle starts when we’re very, very young!

So, how well do you deal with temptation? Would you have made it as a 4-year-old in this experiment? Would you make it NOW?

I think marshmallows are gross, so this experiment would be easy for me. Throw some Taco Bell on that plate and I’m going down in flames…

allergies are destroying my face

face_punchToday was one of the worst days of my life. I think I sneezed AT LEAST a thousand times. My nose is rubbed raw from sneezing, blowing, and wiping. I even used the Kleenex with aloe, and it still feels like I wiped it with a cheese grater.

I never, ever, ever had any sort of allergies before this past year. But now they have conquered my face.

It feels like there are thousands of microscopic ninjas in my nose and sinuses. They’re shanking me with little ninja shanks. I’m tempted to snort a line of Anbesol.

Claritin failed. Zyrtec failed. Fluticasone nasal spray failed.

Do you have allergies? When did you get them? What do you do to not let them ruin your life? Is it possible to get a new nasal cavity? Can I have yours?