Thank you Lord for being here.

God has a great sense of humor, even if I don’t always agree. For the past several months I have developed a few friendships with the kids in the 3rd-5th grade room. I know I’m not supposed to have favorites but Varnelle is definitely one of mine. We always shoot around at the basketball hoops and I ask him about his week and he will usually launch into some of the favorite things he got to do. This week he received a new Lego play set and he was super stoked. After we played for a while the music started and it was time for programming. If you have never been to Flatiron’s Kid Ministry, it can be chaos.

During service a bunch of kids by the basketball hoops were talking and cutting up so I went sat over by them.  I handed Levi a can of thinking putty to open and play with as it calmed his mind and aided in his focus to what was going on the stage. There is something about using our hands to shape things that allows us to hone in more. Varnelle came and sat by me and showed me a gigantic foam popcorn box that mirrored the thinking putty. We passed it back and forth for a bit while listening to the lesson. He leaned over and whispered, “Remember that time you gave me a can of thinking putty? It was blue and changed colors to red and I play with it all the time.” We sat through the teaching of Jesus healing a blind man with mud and spit, and the boys around me cringed and giggled and wondered at the story.

Afterwards, I led a small group of thirteen kids in an activity where someone was blindfolded and had to have someone else lead them by their voice to find a bean bag someone placed within the circle. Kids ran and played and giggled as they took turns being blind and fumbling around the ground. I wrapped up the game and we sat back down in the circle as we discussed the activity and what we learned in the lesson.

I asked if anyone had any prayer requests and told them if they didn’t want to share out loud that they could write it on a card and hand it in so that I could be praying for them and their request throughout the week. Varnelle came up to me and handed in his request as I high fives him and told him thank you for trusting me with his prayers.

He ran off to play and  as I unfolded the paper the wind was knocked out of me, not because there was something insane written down, rather the simplicity and beauty of what he had written. “Thank you Lord for being here.”

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I swear that this little notecard was a hand delivered message from God Himself.

This week for some reason has been hard. My body has seemed to forget that it should be healthy and paired with that,  I’ve found myself in some sort of weird existential funk and everything feels heavy. There are times in my life that for whatever reason seems like a drought in the desert, no matter what I do, I just can’t seem to find nourishment. I feel like a blind man on the side of the road with no hope of healing.

I absolutely love what I do in kid’s ministry. I love all of the games and stories laughter that weave throughout the weekend. I love getting to build relationships with our kids and the leaders that serve alongside me. It’s also a place where I constantly bump into Jesus unexpectedly, just like the blind man in our story tonight.

Mark 8:22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to (Jesus) a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus[c] laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

It has always amazed me that Jesus used his own spit and dirt from the earth to use in healing the blind man’s sight.  There is something very raw about this that almost feels unnecessary. All Jesus had to do was touch the man, or even say He was healed for it to be so. So why lead him out of the village and use spit and dirt?   I’ll be honest, I have no idea why this event happened the way it did.

I do know that Jesus is in the business of leading us somewhere. That somewhere leads to healing.  I’d like to think that Jesus used this as an example to show us sometimes we have to trust him to where He is leading us and at times we are going to get dirty and it’s not going to look exactly how we thought it would.

In the moments when I feel like I can’t see, in the time when things are heavy, He is here. And I am so thankful for the times he uses things in the world around me to show me that He hasn’t left me. Tonight that came in the form of a note. I’m glad that Varnelle loves hanging out in kid’s ministry. I’m also glad that I have to spend my week thanking the Lord that He is here.

And for now that is enough.

 

 

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Present it anyway

I have a confession. I’m kind of (okay, I am) obsessed with the Great British Baking show. It started innocently enough. I came home one day while my wife Lizzie was watching it. The thought of watching twelve people race against a clock to make fantastical doughy creations didn’t seem exciting at first, but my propensity for devouring sugary confections eventually overtook any objections the logical side of my brain had. Before I knew it I had binged watched six seasons of biscuit battles like it was a tower of doughnuts set in front of me.

I’ve always loved cooking and creating. My Mamaw Lowe taught me had to roll a pie crust at the age of four and my dad would catch me creating odd breakfast combinations at all hours of the night during high school. To this day I have no idea where I thought up habenero shrimp omelettes drenched in maple syrup but they need to make a come back.

In season six of GBB there was a phenomenal baker named Ian. He was just a normal guy that entered into the competition and wowed the judges over and over with his ambition and creativity. There was a point when the six bakers left were tasked with a challenge that required them to make a sort of ice cream cake with all sorts of bells and whistles. The day was particularly hot and as the challenge wore on and the clock dwindled Ian was panicked that his ice cream would not set. The sponge cake, filling, and everything else he had looked absolutely gorgeous. He went over to retrieve his ice cream from the freezer to find that someone had left his ice cream out when they took their item out. It had melted and there was no hope for it to set in time. In a temporary moment of outrage he grabbed his entire creation and through it in the trashcan and stormed off at the verge of tears.

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As a viewer I was shocked. “How could he do that!?” He should just show the judges what he had made and explain what happened!” I shouted at the television frantically.

The time came for Ian to present his cake and he brought the judges the trashcan and said he had nothing to offer them. The judges asked him why he didn’t show them the work he had completed. He said something along the lines of “It wasn’t good enough, and it was missing what it was supposed to have and in my frustration I tossed it.”

“I would have liked to at least try it, it sure looked lovely.”

It wasn’t good enough. By who’s standards? Why was he willing to throw away hours of work because a small mishap? Sure he wouldn’t have won, but the judges are gracious and would have let him stay. Instead he threw it away because in his mind it wasn’t perfect.

That night I was infuriated by something that plays out in my life over and over. It also reminds me of a parable Jesus once told. In Matthew 25 Jesus tells a parable of three men who were given talents when their master left on a journey. When the master returns he checks to see what each man has done. Two men made a lot of investments with what they were given and happily reported this. They were rewared. The third man came to the master and told him that he heard rumors of the kind of man he was and decided to bury the talent so he wouldn’t do the wrong thing with it. Needless to say the Master was not happy and the servant’s story didn’t end well.

This story and that moment on the Great British Baking show both speak to me.

There are so many times in my life that I let fear control the decisions I make. And this usually looks like burying my blog posts into my trash folder, avoiding the conversation I’m supposed to have, or even skipping the gym because I’m so afraid that what I have to offer won’t be good enough.

I look for excuses or stories to reinforce my belief and follow that instead of being vulnerable and trusting God with the abilities he has given me.

A friend told me last week that I have to become comfortable with the fact that not everything I do will be perfect, but it is still important that I create things and that I do.

He challenged me to sit down at my computer for 15-30 minutes, write something and publish it without overthinking it or over editing it.

So after about 30 attempts at sitting down at my computer I’m doing it.

Of all the things we do in the world, showing up is the most important. We will stumble and fumble around plenty of times, but our Good Father will be with us every step of the way. He can’t walk along side of us if we aren’t willing to take a step.

So hopefully in the future instead of cowering behind excuses that whatever I’m writing isn’t as good as what i’ve done, I will be diligent with my word and what the ability God has given me. And maybe one day that will turn into something beautiful, and wonderful. Right now it might be a melted ice cream cake but I will present it.

This week may we all have the courage to take the next step, write the next sentence, and finish what we have started.

Chosen

My wife Lizzie and I went to look for our first Christmas tree last night. We recently moved into our new place and after the chaos began to dwindle down into a neater puzzle, we decided it was time to add some Christmas spirit. Christmas is by far my favorite holiday. I love the everything about it. I own a catalog of goofy Christmas sweaters, love every cheesy Christmas movie, have been known to eat my weight in homemade Christmas desserts and candies, and I’m absolutely enamored by Christmas trees and decorations.

My grandparents never had much, but every year my grandpa would miraculously find the most beautiful real Christmas tree. He had red Christmas bells that were his favorite and he would string up outside on the house, but my favorite was the tree.  I was always in awe at how immaculate it looked with each ornament glistening from the light streaming down from the angel so delicately sitting at the top. Peace and joy always overwhelmed me every time I looked at it. It felt like living Grace.

So last night when Lizzie and I went looking for a tree, I had in my head the perfect image of what I wanted to get. It would put Clark Griswold’s tree to shame when it was all said and done. We drove to a lot filled with all kinds of trees with beautiful titles; blue spruce, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, noble fir. They were surrounded by lights and decorations and Christmas music blasting throughout and it was magical. I kept dancing between the trees imaging how majestic it would look in our apartment, and then, my eyes caught the price tag and my heart dropped. The trees went from noble giants to towering green posts that would explode at any minute. We  thanked the attendant and continued on our search for the perfect Christmas tree.

A few miles down the road we stopped at a Lowe’s to look at fake trees we could keep for a long time, and after looking through them we just couldn’t seem to settle on anything. We walked around for a bit and saw that outside they still had some real trees they were selling and decided to take a look. We approached the trees and hope was sparked once again and my heart began to flutter. There were plenty of tall fir trees that were full, lush, and smelled of Christmas cheer.

We rounded the corner and we saw it, sitting in the clearance section, a scraggly goofy looking tree that completely stole our hearts. I can’t begin to tell you why on earth it captivated the way it did, the $15 price tag might have helped, but there was something about it that sparked a little bit of joy inside of me. Lizzie and I looked at each other and knew that this was the one.

As we were carrying it through the store to the checkout someone laughed at our tree when they saw and referred to it as the “Charlie Brown Christmas tree”. He looked utterly surprised and a little disgusted that we were so in love with this thing. We checked out, fit it into my car, and took it home where we hung ornaments on it, wrapped lights around it, and put it on display for all to see.

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It dawned on me then that this is exactly how God looks at each one of us. There are times in my life when I feel beat up and worthless and like I having nothing to give. I feel like a tree that is in the clearance been just waiting to be scrapped and thrown away. But Jesus comes along and picks me up, wraps me up in new clothes, in majesty and tells me that I am loved, I will not be discarded, and shows me off for all to see, and heaven celebrates. He does this with each one of us. God came to earth as a vulnerable baby in one of the lowliest places to show us that even the littlest of things can be majestic. He came to show us that all can be changed and redeemed and welcomed in His Kingdom.

He has chosen us and all of our imperfections, the things that others see and say are worthless or not good enough and instead says that we are loved, accepted, and puts us on display for all to see. That is the beauty of Christmas and and that is Good news.  

This Christmas season may we be reminded that we are loved by the Creator of all, chosen and accepted, and give that gift to others. Amen

 

1 Corinthians 2: 26 “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”d

The Ways of Hide and Seek

My heart racing as I ran down the hallway, I begged God, and everyone around the house to just give me a little whimper, a whistle, something, to let me know I was close. Frantically opening every door and cabinet, ripping all of the sheets off lived-in beds, I began to lose hope of ever finding anyone.

I crumbled to the floor, desperate, defeated.  Just as I had began to lose hope and started developing a foraging and hunting strategy for my five year old self to survive, I heard a slight tapping downstairs.

This was either one of my family members, our poodle Princess, or a terrifying ghoul, but at this point I was willing to welcome any other being of existence with open arms. I got up off the floor in my misery and began walking gently on tipped toes, creeping along the hallway and looking back and forth intently for the culprit of the taps.

The taps would happen intermittently. Surprisingly enough every time I would begin losing hope that I would never find my family again, they would start up lightly and gently, quietly reminding me not to give up hope.

The taps became louder as I got closer to the basement, so I rushed towards them! Just as I rounded the corner a hand zoomed around and wrapped me up.  I was lifted into the air and a low, but welcome voice growled happily “Got ya!!” There I was in my father’s arms giggling away the fear that had filled me, safe and overjoyed.

There are times in my life when I have the exact same feeling as I did playing the seeker. Lost. Alone. Hopelessness and helplessness permeating through the unknown. Knocking down every door I can find, frantically searching for even the smallest shreds of clarity or guidance.

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Unknowingness has a way of debilitating me. It wraps around me whispering lies that become all too true in my head. It creates noise and an alternate reality that is easily available and believable to me.  It paralyzes me from moving forward. I easily give up.

While this is happening God has never given up and will never give up on me. He gently taps against the walls of my heart, patiently waiting for me to tune in and listen.

Am I truly listening for Him, or am I caught up in the present circumstances, so focused on the fear and what is happening around me that I am deaf to the whisper of the spirit?

Psalms 46:10 states, “Be still and know that I am God.” God is with me just as my father was during hide and seek. My ability to hear Him is correlated to my stillness. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It is accessible, always.

This day may we still ourselves long enough to hear the whisper and have the courage to follow it. May we find the Father and allow Him to wrap his arms around us tight. In His arms we are safe. We are secure. We are full of joy.

 

Who am I?

I remember the sweat dribbling from my forehead down onto my quivering lip as I stared straight into the face of a giant beast they called a defensive tackle. He was at least 4 and three quarters my size and I could tell he loved the taste of a small fourth graders blood.

Football players at line of scrimmage ready to snap football

I’m no football expert but I still have no idea why the coach decided to put a boy with the stature of Frodo Baggins on the offensive line across from the bloodthirsty, orc-sized humans on defense. What’s even more confusing is that I continued to listen to everyone around me, line up right of center, and get squashed on every play.

I enjoyed watching football with my dad and listening to him and my cousins talk about it relentlessly, but the truth is I had no business being on the football field. I wasn’t fast enough for running back, I was too scared of getting hit to be a quarterback, I had a 40 yard dash time reminiscent of a soaking wet sloth, and if I mustered all the strength I had, I might have been able to topple over a newborn calf, but nothing close to a living, breathing football player.

What I did love was reading and listening to music, spending hours practicing piano and writing stories of animals and people defeating dark forces. I would wake up before dawn and sneak into the kitchen to make a mouth watering concoction of whatever I could find in the cabinets, and then I would spend the rest of my day following people around talking their ear off about the most recent game I was playing or the plot points of my new favorite book.

So why on earth did I want to quit doing everything I loved to get repeatedly pounded into the ground?

I wanted to belong.

We moved to a small rural town in Oklahoma when I was eight and I was afraid the people who surrounded me wouldn’t accept me for the person that I was. So I became what I thought they wanted me to be.

I decided to choose “safety and comfort” in the the acceptance of those around me because I was afraid. I was afraid I would have no friends, or that if people saw the real and quirky me they would laugh and walk away.

Choosing the path of conformity seemed like the best option at the time but it was often at the cost of true belonging in God and who He created me to be.

There is a whisper (the Holy Spirit) inside of each us that speaks to our soul, that encourages us, that speaks to the good of who God created us to be.  When we choose to listen to this, to pursue this, to believe the whisper, it leads us to freedom, and living through it we can accomplish great things.

In competition with that whisper though, there is a mind numbing shout. That shout says things like “you will never be good enough unless you are like them.” “You won’t be accepted if you do this, so go and do that.” “You need to be this,  you should have done that” …. and the list goes on and on.

Shame lives in the words need and should. Shame lives in the thoughts and feelings of “not enough.” It feeds off fear and insecurity.

Shame has no place in the whisper. In fact, the more intently we listen to the whisper the quieter the shouts become. Shame does not thrive when we live out of a place of belonging, and it ceases to exist when we live out of the belonging that comes from being a child of the Living God.

I am so glad that I don’t have to continue to line up on a football field I have no business being at to find my belonging.

It has taken my whole life to realize that I don’t have to keep pretending to be something I’m not. God created me to be Joseph Hoffman and no one else.

There are good days and there are a lot of bad days. It’s so much easier to listen to the shouts then it is to truly hear and listen to the whisper.

The truth is God is overjoyed at who he created me to be and loves me for me. And the same goes for all of us.

Ephesians 2:10(NRSV) says this” 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”

What would happen if we chose to believe that God not only loves us but He likes us?  He is in love with what he created. Not just us at our best but in all of the goofiness and awkwardness, the falls, the triumphs and especially in the ugly crying.

I believe that we live our best lives when we truly see ourselves how God sees us, which is loved, redeemed, beautiful and belonging.

This week may we choose to listen to the whisper, and walk in the confidence that we are children of the living God.

 

 

Jump anyway

There I was, sopping wet and shivering, standing 15 feet suspended in the air looking down at a blue expanse that seemingly spelled my doom. Clutching the sides of the death trap I tried to steady my breathing and not curl up into fetal position.

What was it about this water in front of me that called me to jump, and what was this other terrifying sensation that insisted that I do nothing of the sort?

Exhilaration followed by paralyzing fear and then followed by a decision I had to make. Jump and discover the unknown, or climb back down to the safety of solid ground and certainty.

I hate to admit it but I have made the decision to climb back down those steps more times than I can count. Each time carrying a burden of shame and regret back down with me.

But man, I remember when I finally took that leap. Air flew through my air, the world raced past me as an  exhilarating sound escaped my lungs, and then the splash!  Ice cold water enveloped me for a second like a great big hug and then I rose up out of the water, feeling free and finding myself rushing back to the stairs to experience it all again.

 

Freedom. Exhilaration. Awe. Bewilderment.

It was all waiting for me at the end of the jump and I absolutely loved it.

That summer I spent hundreds of hours racing back up that rickety ladder to experience the joy of the jump over and over again. Summer faded into autumn, and the seasons took their course, taking the memories of those feelings with them.

The next summer I climbed up the ladder again, I saw the water welcoming me back, and I dove with a giant grin on my face, just to have the surface greet me with the loudest sound and the most painful belly flop that pool had ever seen. This did not feel like freedom, and exhilaration: this felt like betrayal.

And just like that, all of the joy that I had expereienced the previous summer, all of the the fun memories, were wiped away from my memory with one resounding SPLAT!

All I could seem to believe about that water then was that it was unforgiving and cold and frigid. Fear became an unwelcomed guest and the terror at the top of the diving board appeared once more.

 

The times that I’ve experienced the pain of a belly flop when jumping off that platform make the next jump harder if not paralyzing. It’s much easier for me to climb back down the ladder into comfort and certainty instead of experiencing that pain again.

It’s the same with life isn’t it?

It can look like a lot of different things.  A new relationship, a job opportunity, a move, etc.. It starts with excitement and endless possibilites, but sometimes something  happens and I leave the situation feeling hurt, betrayed and a lot of the times angry at God for the outcome. These times or situations feel like full belly flops and they hurt.

This has translated into my life as the fear of failure, fear of the unknown, and anxiety about outcomes I can’t control, forgetting about the amazing things that I have experienced and the times that I have felt abundant joy and God’s prescence in my life.

Has anyone else been there?

John 10:10 Says the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy.  Fear is a thief. Fear will do anything it can to keep me on the sidelines, at the top of the ladder looking down, or paralyzed from making any decisions. It will remind of the pain and all of the things that could go wrong. It wants to keep from doing anything, especially jumping, trusting.

Yesterday I was having coffee with a friend and he reminded me of something.

God is at the end of each jump regardless of the outcome. He celebrates with me in the triumphs and will be there to comfort me in the flops. The water is cool and refreshing and filled with His love and His strength.

To experience this I must jump.

Jumping is scary, especially when all we can remember or feel beforehand is the time we were met with a jarring landing instead of a welcome embrace.

God’s challenge to us is to jump anyway.

Joshua 1:9 ” Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

John10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

This week may we jump and experience God’s love in a new and profound way. May we live this life we have been given to the full.

 

The Lego-tastrophe

Proverbs 25:4 “Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel..”

IMG_9160There are days when cleaning can be fun, carefree, and filled with plenty of dancing and sing alongs; the other day, however, the lego table decided it should go otherwise. As I was wiping down the gameroom, my hand ran across something that caused me to pause my Moana soundtrack singalong and stare down in sheer horror.

I’ll spare you the graphic details, but it did involve layers of grime, hair, and fluids mostly associated with allergies and flu-season and kids that don’t know what the purpose of a kleenex is.

What once was a lego paradise gleaming with creativity and bright colors became a land bogged down by months of build up. To clarify, the lego table was completely sanitary and still functional. It gets sprayed down with disinfectant every week, and hazards are removed so that kids can have an awesome time building and creating every weekend. The issue is what lay beneath: things that build up overtime and tend to cause problems when they are not taken care of intermittenly or regulary.

This is not a thesis on how to ensure a clean play area in the elementary room (everyone does an incredible job of creating an excellent, safe, and clean environment for our kids). Instead, it reminded me of what Ben taught on last week, and something that happens in my life all of the time.

Hiding.

Isolation, neglect, and fear of failure (or of what people might think) lead me to shove a lot of things in my life under the proverbial rug. When fear, shame, doubt, insecurity, sin, you-name-it, go undealt with for a long period of time, they can cause all the other areas in my life to lose their shine. I feel myself slowing down and becoming frustrated with all sorts of minor things until it usually blows up in my face, or until I have the courage to step out of hiding and face whatever it is.

Last week Ben said this: “Forgiveness starts when you step into faith. But healing starts when you step out of your hiding place.”

Confession is a spiritual discipline, and one that I am terrible at. What if we as a team reguraly took inventory of our lives, confessed what isn’t working,  prayed for one another, and moved forward in the strenghth that Christ gives us? That is such an amazing picture of wholeness and community.

James 15:16 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. 

What is one thing in your life that you would love for Jesus to heal? 

What is one step you can take towards healing this week?

Ephesians 3:14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Love you all!

See you this weekend!

JosephIMG_9311

The Doughnut Intervention

If you have known me for very long, you probably know at least one thing about me. I am obsessed with doughnuts. Not just the plain jane kind of doughnuts, but all kinds. I love variations of doughnuts, and experimenting with different sugars and fillings and toppings, and I could go on and on but I’ll save you the time. If you are imagining me as Homer Simpson right now, I would have to say that is minorly correct.

It all started when my grandma brought me an apple fritter from a local doughnut shop when I was about two years old. I fell in love. Both my dad and my grandpa were pastors so I have had my fair share of Sunday School confections over the years.

I remember the first time I ever had a hot and fresh Krispy Kreme doughnut fresh off of the line. It was life changing as a middle schooler living in the middle-of-nowhere-Oklahoma, and several years later it would play a major part in my life.

In August of 2012, at the beginnning of my senior year of college, we discovered that my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. A tumor began to grow at an astromical rate and the doctors decided to attack it aggressively through intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments. To say this was devastating is an understatement. I was confused and angry and overwhelmed by the fact that this could happen to someone that I loved so dearly. She didn’t deserve this. She was so impactful in her community as a teacher, a mom, and a pastor’s wife. She moved to Oklahoma City for treatment, so I began making the hour drive a few times a week to see her and sit with her through her treatment.

During this time, I discovered that there was Krispy Kreme right next door to the treatment facility and, conveniently, on my way back home to college. It started out innocently enough – I would stop by on my way home and grab a free hot and fresh doughnut, and sometimes buy a few for my cousins and roommates back home.  One day I saw that they began running a buy one dozen get one dozen free special.

How could I pass on such a great deal?! Before long, I began binge eat a dozen on my drive home, and return with a dozen doughnuts for my friends, family, to share. They were happy and thought I was so thoughtful. I was happy(or at least something other than sad) from the sugary numbness that came with binge eating this addictive confection. Over the course of two months, I gained thirty pounds, began to isolate myself, and leaned into the numbing habit more and more.

I came home one night, sporting my signature box of doughnuts, to my best friend and cousins sitting on the couch with a serious look on their faces. They literally had a doughnut intervention with me.  At first, I thought this was absolutely ludicrous, but as we began to talk, and I started to share how I was really feeling, something started to happen. I began to feel, and to cry, and to let everything go that I had been holding on to and numbing for so long. God used these people in my life to bring healing and change. I felt a huge burden lifted and no longer felt alone.

I tell this story for two reasons. 1. Looking back on the fact that I had to have a doughnut intervention is really funny. 2. I am so thankful that I had people in my life that could be completely honest with me and had the best intentions for me. That moment in my life reminds me of what the church looks like, and what Keala and I want the vision of the 3-5th grade room to be.  A safe and nurturing place for kids and leaders that are walking alongside them. A place where we can pray together, laugh together, and grow together, and when the moment arises, maybe even hold sugary interventions for one another.

We are starting this blog, The Doughnut Diaries, as a medium to share what God is teaching us through this ministry, in our personal lives, and to allow everyone to be open and grow together.

My prayer is that through this and serving on weekends together, God builds an amazing community that supports one another and causes an incredible impact for the Kingdom. See you soon!

With love,

Joseph