Never Miss Any of the Wanderings

If you’re a Facebook user, you might have noticed posts from this blog and my other one (1000 Reasons I Love You) showing up on Facebook with a little RSS symbol next to them. Thanks to a handy little site called dlvr.it, when I post on either of these blogs, it will be automagically (that’s right) posted on my Facebook page. So if you’re using Facebook, you should never have to miss out on any my posts, whether you want to or not.

If you really, really want to make sure you don’t miss anything, I’ve added a subscription link in the upper right hand corner of the page. Click there to subscribe through any RSS reader like Google Reader, iGoogle, Netvibes, or others. If you’re not using an RSS reader, it’s a great way to keep up with web content on your favorite sites. I personally like Google Reader. And if you’ve got an iPhone or iPad, you can pick up an app like Feeddler that syncs with Google Reader to pull all your feeds over to your mobile for easy access.

Please subscribe and leave some comments every now and then. Hope you enjoy reading and interacting here on this page! I’m always open for suggestions, so hit me up if you have any ideas for stuff that would make this better for you.

My New WordPress Home

Well, after months (maybe years) of debating, I finally did it. I have officially moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress.

From what I hear, a lot of bloggers out there really don’t like Blogger, but I always liked my site there. It was nice looking and easy to use, but there’s just so much more I can do with this site. From the better, shorter URL to the tons of customization options, there are a lot of advantages to this site.

Also, in case you haven’t heard, I’m doing some freelance graphic design work (check out my site at Websterville.net) and one of the ways that I’ll be designing websites is through the Headway Theme for WordPress. Headway is a framework for setting up and laying out sites that will allow me to really cut costs for web design, especially for small businesses. You might be wondering how a blog site can be used to make real non-blog sites, but if you browse the showcase at Headway’s site, you’ll see that you can do a ton of different things with the framework, with or without a blog. This site is a Headway site, and the more I play with the framework, the more excited I am about the possibilities!

So there you have it… new blog, new site, new job, new directions. Life has been pretty interesting lately, but man I’m loving the possibilities out there.

12 Posts in One Day?

In the span of a few hours this evening, twelve new blog posts showed up on this site.

No, I haven’t been hacked and reading this blog isn’t going to cause you to get emails from Nigerian princes. I’ve just taken some time to consolidate all of my various dead blogs into this one blog. I’ve taken all the posts from my old Xanga page, my MySpace blog, and even an article or two that I wrote for online magazines, and added them here as posts.

They’re dated according to their original post date, so that’s where they’ll show up in the archives. Now if somebody decides they want to read everything I’ve written online (bless you, good person), they can do that in one place. Happy reading!

Edit: Make that 18 posts in one day. In 2008, I did most of my blogging on my youth ministry’s blog. That site is gone now, but I still found all the articles that weren’t announcements and added them too.

Blogging, Self-Censoring, and Youth Ministry

Holy cow! Is Jody really posting a new blog? Yes, yes I am.

Inspired by my amazing wife’s new blog, I think I’m going to give this thing another shot. You see, I used to post fairly regularly but somewhere along the way something changed. My early blog posts were passionate manifestos about life and the church. I confessed to sins and struggles while challenging traditions and taboos for what a youth minister could write about publicly (a few examples here, here, here, here, and oh my goodness here.) What changed? Did I mellow out a little as I got older? Did I realize I was going nuts over stuff that didn’t really matter? Did I just get less cocky? Some, but that’s not the main reason my blog cooled down and eventually died.

I started going to a church where church members know how to use the internet.

At my last church, where the average member could tell you personal stories about WWI, I could post my thoughts and feelings in relative anonymity. Heck, I taught the pastor how to use email. No matter what I posted (“Sex is good!” “Obama might not be the devil!” “The church does stupid stuff sometimes!”), I didn’t have to worry about any repercussions. But once people in my church could actually read what I was writing, I got timid.

You see, as a youth minister, I’ve never really felt what you might call “job security.” From what I’ve seen and heard, youth ministers are apparently very fireable. I would hate for a blog post to be the reason I’m flipping burgers to feed my family. However…

I don’t think faking it is the right way to be a minister. I don’t think the way to do church is for me to simply be silent when I feel like I’m in the minority. I don’t feel like I can live up to my calling without be authentic.

So I’m going to start posting again, this time with freedom. I know people will read it and will probably disagree with me at times, but I pray that where we have differences, grace will abound. I preach about being the person that God designed you to be and not letting other people’s opinions be the main governing factor in your life… I think it’s time I lived up to that as well.

I May Have Found My Audience

Thanks to a handy little Facebook application that I discovered today, I have new reason to continue blogging. Using NetworkedBlogs, you can follow this blog on Facebook and get updates every time I make a new post. So basically, I will know that people are at least somewhat aware of my blog, and that’s all the motivation I need to keep writing.

Needy? Nah… let’s just say my little boy’s need to be the center of attention is something he comes by honestly. Speaking of my little entertainer, I love this video.

Please Read My Blog

I am writer.

At least I used to be a writer until I stopped actively writing on a regular basis. I still have ideas banging around in my head that make me say, “I need to write something about that,” but for the most part I haven’t ever gotten around to any actual writing. I’ve decided that part of the problem (or one of my excuses) is that I haven’t had a real place to do any writing. I’m not a journal writer, writing down my private thoughts for my eyes only. I’ve tried two or three times, but I’ve always gotten bored listening to myself. What I need is other people to listen to me! Hopefully with less boredom.

When I was in high school I wrote a column for my hometown newspaper and I learned the pleasure of writing with an audience. Each week I wrote whatever I felt like writing and people all over the city of Sparta read my column. For a seventeen-year-old with a lot on his mind, it was perfect. Part of it was the fact that people told me they enjoyed my columns (and I am a bit needy, so that was nice) but the thing that I enjoyed most was knowing that my words were going out and people were actually reading them. Unfortunately, I don’t have a newspaper editor asking me to do any writing for them. Fortunately, in the digital age, anyone with a laptop can put their thoughts online for the world to see.

That’s why I’m bringing this blog back from the dead. A few years back, I blogged pretty regularly, but as a young seminary student I felt like all of my posts had to be injected with some kind of deep significance. I debated theology, defended doctrine, and attempted to make myself seem smart and serious. I am neither. I’m more goofy than deep. From here on out, this blog is simply an outlet for a writer who wants to write again. I hope to have some readers who will occasionally be entertained or at least interested in what I have to say, but for now, I’m just happy to have all this blank digital space waiting to be filled up with words.*

Maybe I’ll be a writer again soon.

*Yeah, that is completely true, but I also really want to have some readers. Remember me saying I was needy? I don’t mind begging a little bit if it gets me a few comments!

First Things First

I guess it would a good idea for me to go ahead and try to ward off controversy by explaining a little about myself right at the beginning. I’ve noticed while browsing through other blogs that if your blog has a Christian content, you can be sure that as you post, other Christians with blogs will quickly jump in to disagree and point out any supposed doctrinal errors lurking on your page. My subheading states that this blog is one of “a wandering mind stumbling toward the profound.” I’m sure that (assuming anyone will take the time to read this) some people will have a problem with that concept.

First off, should you take that to mean that I intend to proclaim this little slice of cyberspace as profound? I’m not sure that I possess the mental capacity for consistent profundity. My hope is that as I mull over my own thoughts, occasionally I will at least be able to make others think along with me.

Second, some will argue that one does not stumble across the profound by simply wandering, that instead it takes consistent, concentrated effort for one to attain these things. I would agree. However, again, I do not think that with my flawed human mind I can ever claim to make that effort with the fullness it warrants. I’m sure that there are those out there who will claim to have this kind of focus. For myself, though, that kind of focus is a goal that I strive for, but do not believe I can achieve on this side of Heaven.

All this to say, just like anyone else, I will occasionally trip and fall. I do not claim to be a guide. Rather, I am simply a fellow traveler. Forgive me for my inadequacy in this task. Despite all this, if you like, come walk with me.

Random Update

Originally posted on my long dead Xanga page.

Gee golly, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. (That’s what all the cool kids are saying these days – gee golly… when you’re a youth minister it’s easy to stay hip.) So much has happened that I’ve had very little time to document it because I’ve been too busy living it. To save time and clear out all the cobwebs, I’ll just give it to you in brief factiods before I start my major rambling.

1) I’ve officially graduated! I got my diploma in the mail a few weeks ago and now it hanging up in my office at church. Speaking of my office…

2) My officially title at church is now Youth and Children’s Ministry Coordinator. That means that I am working more at church and having to spend less time in another job. It also means I get to play a lot of silly games with small children. Finally, I’m working with people I can relate to! As far as who I’m working with…

3) LifeWay no longer has its shackles on me! To quote Mary Mary, “Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!” And I literally did dance around the room when I found out this job was going to work out at church because I knew it meant I could give my two weeks notice. (I was at home at the time… I actually was so involved that I ran right into the door frame of the computer room. It’s hard to stop me when I’m gettin’ my groove on.) Don’t let The Man bring you down! But with every good thing there must come complications, such as…

4) My pastor resigned the day I was announced as Children’s Dude. (That’s how I see myself.) No, I didn’t run him off. ( I don’t think… then again, one week before I put in my notice, my manager at LifeWay resigned too… hmmm…) He’s going to a church in Dickson. I think that all the difficulties at my church – lack of commitment, laziness, inconsistancy, etc. – just got to be too much. That makes me the senior staff member now. Oy vey! (That’s what all the hip Orthodox Jews are saying these days – oy vey.) Actually I think it’s going to be for the best. We’ll just go from scratch with a fresh start. Additionally…

5) I am now a substitute teacher for the Knox and Anderson County school systems. I gots to pay the bill somehow, so I figured at least this way I’m still playing with kids most of the time… or hiding from them under the desk. Anything else? How could I forget…

6) Right now, my current obsession is Mel Gibson’s new movie The Passion of the Christ. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about the release of a movie as I am about this one. It opens in just a little over a week on Ash Wednesday, February 25. If it wasn’t for the fact that I have to teach the youth on Wednesdays, I’d be at the theatre that night. The movie’s getting great reviews from advance audiences (at least the Christian ones) and stirring up controversy everywhere else. Be sure and check out the website (www.thepassionofthechrist.com) if you want to find out more. I just can’t wait to see what kind of impact this movie is going to make. I’ll be sure and post after I see it too.

Anyway, I guess we’re all up to date now in the world of Jody. I really need to work on making my site less ugly now that I’m not using the free Xanga premium. Right now though, I have a very sleep pug in my lap that I need to put to bed.

My Very First Blog Post Ever

Originally published on my long dead Xanga page.

There’s something very intimidating about making this first post. It seems like the very first one should be something incredibly profound that explains why I’ve decided to share my thoughts with the world. Either that, or this post should summarize who I am, what I believe, my goals in life, and my political affiliation. I’ve decided to resist the temptation to make a mega-post and simply get down to business.

I’m currently eating a very nutritious canned pasta and Cheetoes lunch in the employee breakroom at LifeWay Christian Store, my current place of imprisionment, I mean, employment. Really, I love this job except for when I’m here or thinking about being here. Speaking of work, I don’t plan to use this weblog primarily as a sounding board to decry all the faults of LifeWay, but from time to time, I will rant for a while about some aspect of this company that really bothers me. There are plenty of them, so I should have a ready supply of topics to write about for a while. I may even post the letter of complaint that I’m in the process of writing to corporate headquarters once I finish it. Since I’m still employed by LifeWay, I’m going to hold off on sending that. It’s definitely not the type of letter I want them reading while they still are signing my paychecks. More on that later…

On the upside, my wife Alanna and I just returned to Knoxville after a long weekend together in the Smoky Mountains. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night were spent in a little log cabin just outside of Pigeon Forge. I actually had the time to read an entire book while we were there (Three by Ted Deker, I’ll comment on it later too.) We didn’t even leave the cabin all day Sunday. It was wonderful. We sat around reading, played pool, watched a few movies, lounged in a hot tub and a huge Jacuzzi, and slept. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to be utterly non-productive and be completely unconcerned with what my schedule was for the day. That may have been why it was so hard for me to get up this morning. Plus, it was nice to get a little time with Alanna. We do a good job of making time for each other in the midst of our super-hectic schedules, but it’s still not nearly as much as we would like. This weekend was a nice refresher for us personally and as a couple.

Right now Alanna is on her way back from Louisville, KY where she just picked up a seven-week-old pug puppy that I named Oscar. Tonight should be fun J.

It’s so nice to be writing again, even if I’m not being published in a newspaper anywhere. I miss the newspaper terribly, but there are some advantages to doing this blog instead. In the newspaper, I had to have organized thoughts and worry about how things were going to come across. When you have an editor, you have to be concerned about not offending or criticizing the wrong person. Here, I can say anything I want. For example, most Christians are ignorant about the most fundamental truths of life and in many cases the church is one of the main causes of this ignorance. See? I wouldn’t say that in print. More on that comment later too… I’m leaving a lot of loose ends today, aren’t I?

Three by Ted Deker. This was an awesome book. I can’t say too much about it without giving something away, but it deals with the true nature of man and the war between good and evil. Is that vague enough? It’s the type of book that will keep you on the edge of your seat with the action, but unlike most action-packed novels you will keep mulling over the ideas presented in the book for days.

Well, my lunch break at LifeWay is wrapping up. More to come…

(By the way, now that this log has actually been posted, I’ve editted and re-editted the stupid thing about ten times. So much for not being worried about how profound this sounds.)