Tag: Good Life

Pass It On: Hardcore Crowd Dances to Miley Cyrus’ “Party In The USA”

I don’t care who you are or if you like the music or not.  Seeing Hardcore Guys and Gals have a dance party to Miley Cyrus’s Party In The USA gives me hope that humanity will eventually be able to overcome our differences and solve the problems of war, hunger, poverty, disease, and self-destruction.  Well, I would like to think so anyways 😉  I find reasons for hope just about everywhere these days!  Thanks @gizmodo for the heads up.  Enjoy the vid and think about how you can overcome a boundary or intolerance in your life 😉

Less Stress: The Big Picture Belongs to God

Stop stressing: Leave the big picture to God

Published Monday, March 7, 2011

Sometimes seeing the big picture is hard. I once heard a story, and I will tell it how I remember it, about a newly married woman. Her husband made enough money so she felt blessed that she would be able to be at the home to keep up the house, take care of future children, cook meals and do the day-to-day business of the family.

One day her husband returned home and noticed half a bag of potatoes sitting around the kitchen sink. Hearing sobs, he followed his wife’s voice until he found her. He asked, “What is wrong? What happened?” She just continued in tears unable to speak. The husband felt terrible and figured he had done something wrong.

When she composed herself and was able to speak, the woman told her husband what had happened. As she was peeling the potatoes, she started thinking about all the years she would be married. She multiplied how many potatoes she had by an approximate amount of times she would have to peel potatoes over the years. Millions of potatoes filled her mind and she was simply overwhelmed by the enormity of her commitment.

When we look at the big picture on any project or the human condition around the world it’s easy to be overtaken by a sense of helplessness. Big is big — no way around it. We want to count our lives in minutes, and then realize as we age it’s easier to tick off decades. If we counted each minute and accounted for everything we have put our hands to, we would simply shut down. While it is nice to reminisce, spending too much time on the past can leave you stuck there.

The Prophets weren’t well-liked in the old country of Israel. I think it was simply because they told people what was going to happen, and it often wasn’t good news.

God saw the end of an age and in sorrow allowed a few people to tell their friends that faith was dying and self-dependence had replaced a prayerful dependence on the Lord. Isaiah spoke God’s word, “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me.” God calls them to seek justice, end the evils among them, and turn back toward their original love for God’s goodness. In foreknowledge he knows of that the destruction of their nation was on the way.

I am thankful God never leaves us to wallow in our distress. Though we have times of trouble, God speaks blessings such as this, also from Isaiah’s book: “Zion will be redeemed with justice and a promise is given that in the last days,” the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.”

After all the potatoes have been peeled, even after we have spent eons tending to our world, God promises to shore up our efforts with His strength. So we do all the good that we can, but also are assured that the greatest good is still coming. We remember that God walked among us 2,000 years ago, and His spirit is with us today.

This promise is for everyone who has been worried about the big picture. Anyone who has lost sleep because they see the world ending in a great fire with all lost to chaos.

God is saying to all of us: “Leave the big picture to me. I am your strength.”

Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him on Twitter @dannonhill.

Despite What We See, Humans Are Capable of Great Hospitality

Humans are capable of great good

Published Monday, January 10, 2011


The irony of American culture is that while we try to practice the art of hospitality, we are confronted by many stories of the opposite.

Murders, shootings, burglaries and other injustices are reported so that we are aware of what’s happening and can remain safe, but hearing about these occurrences also confirms something in our souls: Something isn’t right with us if there is always such bad news.

Then there are the stories that hit closer to home — that we don’t talk about in polite company, that are only whispered on the side. Our stomachs churn when we hear them, and our eyes squint because the mind and heart are not made to take these things in.

This is nothing new.

Do you can remember in Sunday school when you were shocked to find that the Bible doesn’t just record the good stories but also the ones that are terrible, if not horrifying?

I remember my friends asking our teacher about the stories of rape, murder, prostitution and incest in the Bible, wondering why they were in there because the Bible was supposed to be a tablet of morals like the Ten Commandments. We didn’t yet realize that even God’s people weren’t perfect, and that darkness and injustice in the hearts of people might be the biggest reason Christ’s sacrifice was seen as a game-changer.

In one event at the end of the regular life of Jesus, people saw that evil has consequences and that God cares more about justice than we realize.

This Christmas season, Bluffton felt the pains of inhospitality in our own community when a shooting in a local neighborhood left a father dead in the street on Christmas Eve. This story is now whispered among us, and increases the irony we feel — a family has lost someone they love, and at a time of celebration and a time to remember hope. Once again, we are forced to deal with the ugly side of humanity.

Collectively, it seems that we are losing the art of Gastfreundschaft, a concept first discussed by the brilliant writer Henry Nouwen as “friendship for the guest.” His words on hospitality echo in my mind: “Hospitality, therefore, means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy.”

It is a positive philosophy of welcoming others, and it is a choice to let others in, and to experience them for who they are. But if we all close ourselves off, more and more atrocities will occur.

Reaching out and caring about those who are alien to us is a primary way to reclaim who we are as human beings. Believe it or not, we are made to do good, and can accomplish great things together.

Remember the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis? His brothers had sold him into slavery in Egypt, and when they later asked for forgiveness, realizing the slave had become a king, he responded, “‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.nesis 50:19)

While Joseph could have retaliated and continued the cycle of evil, he turned events around and made a hospitable space. That kind of justice puts a stop to cycles of evil and frustration. It is the way the irony we live within, with God’s help, could disappear.

Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him on Twitter @dannonhill.

Cafe/Diner Coffee – Oh Yeah.

Simple pleasures in life are often the best.  Little things like 2D sidescrollers with very little challenge and infinite lives make me happy.  A potato chip after a bit of work tastes so good, and a glass of iced water on a hot day is close to heaven. This morning I experienced simplicity as I have many other mornings but only now I am giving it some writing time: the Cafe/Diner mug of coffee.

It’s infinite.  As long as you sit there, it gets refilled.  Though it is not deeply roasted like Starbucks, or brewed to golden perfection like staple Dunkin Donut drips, it is perfect in its ease of use.  I show up at a local cafe for breakfast with some people I know, and a pot shows up in a waitresses hand.  I can choose decaf or caf (I always choose caf), and I am able to decide how hopped up I want to be for the rest of the day.  Extra charged – 4 cups, charged up – 3 cups, normal – two cups, laid back and slightly drowsy – 1 cup.  O cups is not an option.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of the not so perfect, extra simple, infinite cup of dark brown joe with a little bit of steam from your local cafe/diner – go!  Get some.  Its a simple pleasure waiting for your consumption.  Put away the Mountain Dew and appreciate the not so appreciated mug of coffee 😉

Making The Best Change Possible: A[(n) Old] New Year’s Resolution

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

-The Book of Jeremiah (29:11)

The second New Years 2011 hit, we were deluged on Twitter and Facebook with various articles on resolutions and what we’re all going to do better this year over last.  Personally, I vowed not to resolve anything.  For myself, resolutions are a daily thing I do with a To Do list, as I assess how I failed yesterday and humbly reassess how I’m going to do today better.  It’s a part of my personal confession, and a prayer that is continuously given up and redone.  But for half of Americans, New Years is a time for major change – and this year like any others, it is about changing one’s Self that is on everyone’s list.  See Christian Post Article here for stats and evaluation of American Resolution.

The article has an interesting quote that struck me: “While few Americans succeed in keeping their commitments, Kinnaman noted that the bigger problem may be that Americans focus almost exclusively on themselves when wanting to experience some sort of personal change ‘rather than realizing that lasting change often comes by serving and sacrificing for others‘” (italics added for emphasis).  I thought a bit about that, and since I am currently serving God at a Methodist church, which has a huge emphasis on social justice (and I looooove that), something still bothered me about the assessment.  There is a component missing that makes without being said, resolutions still feel empty to me.

At last Sunday’s children’s sermon, done by an amazing parent at our church, “Resolutions” was the topic.  I was struck about the part about making Self-Centered resolutions, and how we often break our promises to ourselves, but – And the message was focused on Simeon, the man who had been promised that he would not die until he had seen the Savior.  God had made him a promise, and in his old age, Simeon in the temple, never gave up on God’s promise – and the promise was fulfilled. The point?  We often don’t fulfill our promises to our own Self, but God always keeps his.  The takeaway – make some promises to others and keep them by following God’s example. A brilliantly crafted message that hits the heart of our selfishness, and puts the center on God.

I would like to emphasize the big point, and many would agree with me, that if you make a resolution, and it is not a promise that comes out of your devotion and love for God, it will not succeed.  As simple and simultaneously complex as we humans are, we are not reliable creatures.  We do not know the future, and our promises mean very little.  God, however, knows all things, and cares for all of us, and it is only in focusing on God, the perfect one, that we become more perfected, and our resolutions (in conjunction with God’s plan for our lives) begin to make more sense.

While I do not make a resolution this year, I will say that each day, I will try to walk more closely with God, and I will rely on God’s faithfulness to help me carry out this plan for my year.

Music as Memory Markers (Identity Guide Posts)

Image Source: http://www-psych.stanford.edu/~mcslab/about-research.php

Many who study human development know that as humans, we all struggle at some time or another with the identity question, “Who am I?” and how we answer that depends on a few factors.  (1) Our family background and how we fit into it relationally, (2) our nature, or natural giftings, (3) the stories, wisdom, and even quips people say that we latch onto, and many others.  One component I would would like to focus on, however, I didn’t even mention, and that is Music How does Music help us orient our identity in the world?

We all have those songs or sounds that bring up old memories.  An easy example is remembering when you started dating.  You heard in movie that couples tend to have favorite songs, so you decided on a song that would mark the relationship.  You listened to it over and over because it was the first song on the mix tape in your car.  It filled the sonic spaces of your life.  And then you broke up.  Suddenly all you listen to is “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” (jk).

What was your song?  If you never dated, think of another powerful time in your life – like your first finals at college.  What songs were playing when you crammed? Or your first road trip?  What songs played in the car as you traveled 1,000 miles.

Now – 5 years later or more, you hear the song on the radio and a flood of memories and emotions come back.  Your face is flush from remembering good and bad times.  Kisses, questions, hugs, laughs, the smell your old car, everything.  It all comes back, but why does it?

It seems that music, being a powerful artform, which can fill spaces and affect our emotions – also acts as a place holder for memories.  Memory means stories, and stories mean identity construction and processing, and so music is intimately intertwined with who we are as people.

What was going on in your life 10 years ago/5 years ago?  Don’t remember, what about when you listened to these songs:

Watch this video if you are at least 25 years old:

Watch this video if you are less than 25 years old:

If you don’t relate to either, watch this:

Regardless of the song that you related to – what were the exact moments going on in your life when you first heard these songs?  Is it easier now that you have listened to some of the music from back in the day?  I bet for most of you it was.

Music is a powerful force in all of our lives. I’ve written a whole paper back in my college years on how music is like a Drapery, or Art that you place on the empty spaces around you.  Silence is the wall, Music is the Painting that colors our existence which we use to guide us as we navigate life.  Sometimes the messages of music help guide us, sometimes the music itself is a journey that helps us get through tough times, sometimes we just want to run over the notes and fly beyond into the ether.

Conversation – Tell me your favorite song and one powerful memory associated with it.

Sunshine in Dark Times – Thank God For Making John Denver Who Made Music

Sunshine can be found even in the darkest times

Published Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Growing up, I had a deep appreciation for the music of John Denver. I’m not sure how that developed, except that I probably heard his music on the radio in the car. That’s how I first heard Simon and Garfunkle and The Moody Blues, among many other bands my parents would listen to.

“Sunshine on my Shoulders” really did make me happy whenever I listened to it, and Denver’s many hits pop up in my mind.

In high school, I remember hearing on the local news station that he had passed away. Imprinted on my mind, I can still remember the words: “Music star John Denver died today. He was recently in the news for issues with alcohol and drunken driving.”

And that was it. A whole life summarized in two sentences, and these words were not flattering at all. Anger and then sorrow swept over me — this guy deserved a better farewell thought for his contributions to the arts alone.

Since then I’ve seen mountains of sadness much greater than this befall friends, family members and many I walk with in ministry. A common prayer request I receive from young people involves loved ones battling cancer, and I see them struggling with the idea of pain, grappling with the thought that someone close might not be with them forever.

The writer of Lamentations knew the hardest of times and said, “My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within, my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed…” (Lamentations 2:11).

There are times when all we can do is wrap ourselves in blankets and tears, unable to imagine that we would ever feel any better. We need to sit with the hurting and give them tangible symbols of our love, but grief comes and then one day it goes away.

On the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Jesus did audacious things, such as tell people that they are blessed even in the darkest times. That would be a hard sell in some circumstances, but it is true. Mourning isn’t supposed to last forever. Perhaps that is part of Christ’s allure — that even death could not defeat him.

When God became a mortal, logically he would die like everyone else. But when he died, and everyone mourned and placed him in his grave, he got back up. We see a hope for a better future beyond our “present suffering,” as Paul puts it.

Despite still feeling sorrow whenever I think of the loss of John Denver, I dug a bit and have found his vinyl records at various thrift stores. Rather than merely remember his death and the meager epitaph that angered me, I focuse instead on the sounds of the best times in his life.

The joy in his voice is a highlight, pointing to a joy-filled creator.

Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him on Twitter @dannonhill.

Read more: http://www.islandpacket.com/2010/12/14/1478633/sunshine-can-be-found-even-in.html#ixzz18DDXQ4Gz

Should We Worry About Marriage? I do.

Over the last two days, I began seeing various tweets about the decline of marriage.  The first came from Christianity Today, then I noticed the New York Times had some polls going, and I saw this: Click here –  Go ahead and click there and vote in the unscientific poll and you will see that around 60% of people say that marriage may pass away as our values evolve, rather than Marriage being central to a healthy society.  In the public mind, there seems to be no consequence should marriage itself completely disappear.

It seems that according to that poll, and various data is also showing that Marriage is declining as a desirable norm, and that statistically, those in poorer and middle class families are more and more deciding that marriage is not in their future.   Various data shows that cohabitation, single motherhood, and divorces are becoming more the norm.  As a minister to youth this worries me because I see how all these things make life harder for the kids.  Children who have a loving and present mother and father have a more solid foundation than children who have absent parents, parents they see only once in a while, or living with people who have no binding commitment to hold them together.  Ultimately, to know who they are and develop well, children need to feel safe – relationally, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

It seems that there is a growing sense of animosity towards the institution of marriage in general.  Lately political battles have broken out about what marriage actually is,  who can legally be married, and on television – liberation from bad marriages is a popular story mover.  I suppose this is because divorce, bad marriages, and separations means more drama for the viewer.  I do think this entertainment seeps into how we see our selves.  Being married myself, and seeing how awesome it is, I often wonder why our culture can’t seem to get a hold of the idea of what a Good Marriage is. I

It is definitely not this simple:

But it really isn’t that hard either.  The giving up of oneself for the other is the foundation living well together.  I know our culture isn’t good about giving up oneself and giving unconditionally, but it is one of the most advanced moral things we can do as human beings.  Going back to that poll, that talks about evolving past the value of marriage, I wonder what we would be evolving toward?  What is greater than what is modeled in a good marriage?  What is above Selfless Love?  Again, I am worried, that we aren’t evolving towards anything – but rather, just giving in to whatever we want at any given moment without any particular ideal in mind.  Experience shows, that if we don’t have an image of the ideal, people wander and while wandering – people get lost.

Worrying About Children is Part of Being a Good Parent

Worrying About Children is Part of Being a God Parent by Daniel Griswold (published in The Island Packet Sept 21st, 2010)

Did you know that being a parent is hard? It’s full of mixed emotions, joys and defeats. It’s quite overwhelming sometimes, but most would say it’s worth the effort.

That’s because children help us remember where we came from. A world without children is a world without a future.

A favorite movie of mine, “Children of Men,” illustrates what a world without any births would be like. In this film, tensions, wars and paranoia become widespread, and the point seems to be that the joys children bring, and the disarming nature of the young, are at the root of sanity and stability of every generation. Hope is lost when children are not born, and there’s no one to protect. Our ability to see the world as a better place withers when there are no generations beyond today’s.

The relationship between parent and child is not severable, because we do not choose our parents. The bond exists regardless of possible attempts to cut it off — sometimes through tears and hard circumstances.

If our identity is a collection of

stories, experiences and images from our past, then how we are raised makes us who we are. We are at all times either an extension or reaction to the lives we lived in the shadows of those who care for us. This fact both comforts and

bothers me as I think of starting my own family — the responsibility is a weight that often has me thinking of quieter times.

Being a youth minister, I think about parents a lot. I see how teens grow and how they care about their families. Even as they push away from the closeness they received in childhood, they still desire the safety of a relationship with those who brought them up. It is an unsaid desire in adolescence: “While I become who I am, I still want you to worry about me.”And if there is no worry in parenting, then I assure you “parenting” isn’t happening.

Have you ever seen your child run away for a minute, only to see them look back for a second, then continue? That’s safety. You are their point of beginning, and that comfort allows them to explore confidently in a world full of chaos.

I think of the time when Mary and Joseph were visiting Jerusalem, as told in the Scriptures. They did what many parents have done accidentally — began their journey home, leaving their son behind. An ancient version of “Home Alone,” perhaps: “Jerusalem Alone,” starring Jesus, then a child.

Mary and Joseph were worried out of their minds, maybe even embarrassed. Imagine all the frenzy they went through to get back to Jerusalem to find their son. And they found him — at the Temple steps talking about the things of God with the people there.

When they saw Jesus, they told him how worried they were. He pushed back with a comment about already being home, but I imagine even the son of God felt good knowing his earthly mother and father, his caretakers, were worried and hurried back to make sure he was safe.

Living with future generations is not easy. The cultures of two generations are often hard

to bridge, but I am so

glad there are people willing to make the sacrifices it takes.

To all the families out there: Your nurture, your worries, your admonitions, your tears, your hopes, your work and all the stories you tell raising children — it makes all the difference as the world figures out what it wants to be.

Daniel Griswold is director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him on Twitter @dannonhill.

Read more: http://www.islandpacket.com/2010/09/21/1379313/worrying-about-our-children-is.html#ixzz1187UQy1J