Thursday, January 06, 2011

Ten from 2010: Chad Brown

My pregnant wife aside, Chad Brown has been one my favorite creative partners in life. Maybe it was because we shared an office at CIY for a couple of years, maybe it was just chemistry. Whatever it was, working and writing with Chad on a daily basis was a true joy. He made me better at my job.

It seems that all good things must come to an end though. Chad moved to Cincinnati a few months ago. When people ask me how I’m doing, how I’m coping with his move, I tell them that Chad Brown is dead to me. That usually makes them laugh. I may smile in return but deep down, a little piece of me dies inside.

Ha. Just kidding. I love having Chad as a friend much more than as an officemate. I’m glad that will continue no matter what changes might come our way. I couldn’t follow Chad to Ohio but you can follow Chad on twitter. – Eric


10. I Need to Get My Hands Dirty

For the past decade, I have been involved in various forms of creative arts ministries. I used to travel the country with my pals in a drama/sketch comedy ministry to churches, camps and conferences. A year or so after that ended, I found myself at Christ In Youth, programming events for high school students. Those years were satisfying and so rewarding. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. However, in mid-2009 I began to feel like I was only ministering from backstage. I needed to get my hands dirty. I felt like I was supposed to seek out one-on-one ministry as opposed to ministry to the masses. I felt like God was calling me into professional counseling. This meant I would need to go to grad school. This meant that…

9. Dang It, My GPA Actually WAS Important.

The morning after my college graduation in 2001, I woke up with the thought, “I’m never going back to school again! My GPA means nothing now!” Idiot. Thankfully, in early 2010, I got accepted to the counseling program at Cincinnati Christian University. Once that was squared away, I set my attention on my remaining time with CIY…

8. Never Take Great Friendships For Granted.

There were individuals at Christ In Youth who could practically read my mind. These were (and are) friends that helped me navigate my journey. These were people I could depend on. These were dependable friends who always had my back. Oh, and I also had to share an office with Eric Epperson. When I wasn’t at work, my wife, Rachel, and I were more than likely with our small group from church. I really miss that group. The laughter, support, and prayers still mean a lot to us. It sounds like it jumped straight from a Hallmark card, but I will always cherish those friendships. While I was finishing up my last summer tour with MOVE, my wife and I were apartment hunting. Here’s a good lesson for you to tuck away:

7. If You Live In Southwest Missouri And Look For Apartments in Northern Kentucky, Never Settle Until You Have Actually Seen The Apartment.

Actually, you know what? I’m feeling generous. Here’s a freebie. We’ll call it:

7.B When An Apartment Complex Uses The Word “Luxury” In Their Name…They Are Lying.

After Rachel and I packed up our house and moved to the Cincinnati area, exhausted, we walked into our new home for the next twelve months. There was a little card placed on our counter reading: WHITE GLOVE INSPECTION PERFORMED BY MOLLY. It easily could have read: CURSORY GLANCE AROUND THE ROOM FOLLOWED BY AN “EHH, THAT’S GOOD ENOUGH” SHRUG PERFORMED BY MOLLY.

We were not impressed. Yet, in my cynical state, I learned another lesson…

6. God Really Does Provide.

It was through prayer that we found ourselves uprooting and relocating. It was by God’s grace that we found a home in our meager price range. It was only by His mercy that we found jobs in a time when jobs were scarce. I could spiral down in my cynicism about my wife working night shifts at the hospital, or my forty-five minute drive one-way to sell moderately priced Swedish furniture each day. However, in God’s own gentle way, he made me aware of my cynicism, and pointed out the fact that He provided what we needed and he will provide for each step that lies ahead.

5. My Wife Is Amazing.

She keeps track of our budget. She knows my own work schedule better than I do. She is much more business savvy than I. While I may think I have a heavy load with school and work, she has worked night shifts at the hospital while handling the sale of our house back in Joplin (did I mention she is much more business savvy than I?) I have so much to learn about being a better husband, but for all the areas in which I am lacking…she manages to love me back. This year opened my eyes a little wider to that reality.

4. My Attitude Toward School Is Different.

My years in undergrad were a blast! I made great memories with some amazing friends. However, my academic ambition was pretty low. I enjoyed the social experience much more than the studying, and it showed. This time around, my wife has actually called me “That Student”. You know, the student who can’t go out because he has homework? That was me this fall. I tried to absorb every word on every page. I’m not trying to pat myself on the back…its just that I learned that I really like being back in the academic setting. Telling you that I just found out I got a 4.0 for the semester…THAT is patting myself on the back.

3. Despite What You Have Heard, The World Still Believes In Absolutes

I now work at Starbucks. People have been known to meet there for coffee and deep discussion over spiritual matters. Often these conversations end up with the relativistic spin, “Well, that’s YOUR truth, but it’s not MY truth”. However, that SAME person will walk up to the counter and ask:

Customer: What’s your bold coffee today?

Me: Christmas Blend

Customer: But Christmas Blend isn’t good.

Me: (silence)

2. I Am A Big Fan Of The Amazon Kindle And Netflix For Wii.

No further explanation needed.

1. Living Out The Message I’ve Preached To Students For 10 Years Is Harder Than I Thought.

“GO CHANGE YOUR WORLD!” This is usually the broad gist of most messages sent to high school students at youth group meetings, camps, conventions, etc. I have stood on stage with a microphone and challenged students to forget about barriers, mockery, or insults. This was never very difficult for ME, because afterward I got in the van with my Christian friends and drove back home where I went to work everyday with my other Christian friends.

I guess I’ve come full circle. I need to get my hands dirty. Listening to my Starbucks co-worker explain the details of getting wasted on the party bus the previous night is a bit more intense than my last co-worker sending prank emails from my computer. I may miss those fun times back in Joplin, but I believe God has me here for a reason. My prayer for 2011 is that it might be a year of fruitful growth!

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