A conversation with my friend and known superhero expert, Lou VanSickle, on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's storytelling styles, why we are attracted to them so much, and, ultimately, any underlying themes about what they say about our own stories.
A young person who was convinced their life no longer mattered, yet escaped the guilt and found so much more.
I know haven’t posted in while, but here is quick recap: work, meteor shower, work, work, camp, work, waterfalls, whales, work, family and more work.
But today I don’t want to share with you about all the fun and joy I'm having, but something I am still chewing on and processing.
Earlier this month, I was reading on the lanai at night when all the sudden I heard a loud bang. It was one those sounds where I knew exactly what happened. It was a car accident. I set my book down and began to run.
When I was younger I would walk to the bus stop or even to school, and sometimes would this horrible thought would creep in: that l hope something bad happens. Nothing too bad - just bad enough that they would need me, they would need a hero.
That bad thing just happened.
As I approached the accident I can see a Challenger in shambles, headlights launched out of place, hood crushed, and there was a shadowy figure laying in the street. My heart dropped. As I got closer I realized it was just the light post the car had slammed into. Thank God.
I ran over to the man still clenching the steering wheel asked if he was okay. He nodded his head yes. Meanwhile these two Jehovah Witnesses came out of their building nearby, asking what happened. The light post was still in the street with cars passing by, so the other men and I moved it while I began to call 911. I talked to the operator and while I was still on the line, a cop showed up. The guy got out of the car. The cop asked me what I saw, and then I asked if they needed anything else.
He said no, so I left.
I had done my civic duty.
My 20 seconds of insane courage.
My brave act.
And I had a great story.
I got back to the house told the other interns what happened. They were excited. I got high fives and I felt their praise. I would be lying if I told you it didn’t felt good, but I would also be lying if I told you it felt right.
When I was explaining what had happened, I realized I didn’t know the man’s name. I didn't know the name because I didn’t ask. This man who was probably stressed, scared and in shock...I left. I had an opportunity to show this man the love of Christ and I chose to leave to tell my friends what I did.
I was no hero.
Heroes run for the people. I ran for a story.
I was recently reading the Parable of the Good Samaritan I noticed something I had never seen it says:
Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
Not only did this despised stranger have compassion and tend to his wounds. He stayed the night with him. He stopped his plans and chose to stay with a hurting stranger.
Our "Christian duty" is not the same as our civic duty.
I am learning that yes, it takes courage to get up and leave - but true courage takes more than 20 seconds. True courage is marked by the willingness to stay.
To stay when it is uncomfortable.
To stay with the hurting.
To stay longer than you expected.
I encourage you to be brave, to be bold, to get up and go - but don’t forget to learn the name, to comfort the hurting, to commit to the long haul and show the love of Christ.
Be the hero that God has called you to be.
Psalm 44:3It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
and the light of your face, for You loved them
What I’m watching
Black panther—one of if not the best marvel movies!
This is us- One of the most constantly good shows I haven’t seen in awhile
Blackish- Just recently got into this show with some of the other interns.
Black mirror- A creepy yet accurate look in the mirror of our society. Really thought provoking!!
What I’m listening to
Parade by Lilly VanSickle!!! Not only is she my sister but the album is straight fire!!
Sleeping at Last- If you know anything about the enneagram or even if you don’t check out their song One, Two, Three
A visual poem on what we can learn from just seeing how a baby sleeps.
And here is the poem if you’d like to keep or share it.
Introducing the Seize Your Story Vlog.
Looking for the beauty & power in the everyday stories of life.
Here’s the first episode!
A few months ago, something incredible happened. I was given an opportunity to teach at the high school night here at Hope Chapel.
I say incredible because I wasn’t planning on staying.
It was one of those days.
The kind of day that you are counting down minutes until you can lay in your bed. I was exhausted and I didn’t want to spend another 2 hours surrounded by people.
My plan was to leave after the first 20 minutes so then I could find peace and quiet. But that wasn’t God's plan.
Right when I was about to leave one the 10th grade guys in my small group came up to me and said “Hey Lou. Glad you’re here tonight”. I didn’t even think this kid knew my name but in that moment something changed in me. I decided to stay. And it was incredible.
I say incredible because I wasn’t supposed to happen.
I wasn’t supposed to speak that night.
The TV broke 15 minutes before the message was supposed to begin and at this point the youth group didn’t have a pastor so they had been watching a video series. No TV meant no message.
I was standing in the back and I could just feel God say, “You know you can speak if they need you to.”
I started making of every excuse in the book; “I am not qualified” “I haven’t prepared anything” “I am just a volunteer” “I am tired and plan on leaving soon.” But again, I felt God say even clearer, “You can speak if needed”
So in spite of my fear, I approached the leader in the back and told them if they couldn’t get the TV to work I could share. I figured if God didn’t want me to speak the TV would suddenly be fixed. Right? It wasn’t.
I had know idea what I was going to speak on. I obviously hadn’t prepared anything but all the sudden something incredible took place. I remembered all the last message I gave at EPIC, my youth group from home.
I say incredible not only because I remembered the whole message, transitions, jokes and all that but because it was a message I wasn’t originally going to do. It goes all the way back to July when I was in the Dominican Republic for a mission trip with EPIC.
I was talking to one of my friends who I hadn’t seen in awhile and she asked me if I would be interested in speaking in the next week and a half at Converge, our big summer camp. She explained that she had a lot on her plate the next coming weeks and didn’t know if she would be able to give it the time it deserved. She told me no pressure if I couldn’t and to pray about so I knew that God wanted to me to speak at Converge.
I have seen and done some amazing things here on Maui. Jumped off cliffs. Stood under waterfalls. Saw waves taller the buildings. Watched the sunset above the clouds. But speaking that night?
That was the most incredible thing I've done here yet.
God had prepared that moment for months. There were so many reasons why I shouldn’t have been able to speak. But, by the grace of God, I did.
Sometimes we need to slow down and turn back a few chapters to see how God is working in our story.
Because God moves incredible ways.
Beginning. Middle. End
Rising action. Falling action.
Climaxes and Twists
These are the things that make up our lives.
I love a good story. A thrilling adventure. One where the hero saves the day.
I have watched more movies, followed numerous TV shows and read multiple books that have this format.
The older I get I realize that the story I crave is the not the story I live.
I chose to let the bad guys win. I chose a life of ease. I chose to selfishness over selflessness.
We were created for exploring, making and worship.
You would think living in Hawaii I would be doing something epic and exciting every opportunity I had.
And I did in the beginning; when new wasn’t a choice, it was a way of life.
After a while though, unknown became known and routine filled the schedule.
I began to tame my story.
I was watching life through the window.
But I was fool to think it could be restricted.
When we are following the call of God we are on the greatest adventure of our life.
Hawaii or Florida, mountains or valleys, God’s call is an untamable creature.
Like a wave, full of power and beauty; an unstoppable force of nature. Surfers do not try to contain and tame the waves they ride them! They go where the waves are, they seek them out and they know their power. This week a surfing contest has been postponed for 3 days because the swell they thought was coming hasn’t come yet. Man can not tell the waves when to rise.
Admire the beauty, respect the power and most importantly ride; Ride His story. God took me to Hawaii but this not the end of my story, Just the middle.
Live the story you crave by riding His story.
What I am reading:
Creature Called Stories by Marshall Coleman (what inspired this post, such powerful and simple truths to wrestle with)
What I am watching
Avenger Infinity war trailer (watched it like a billion times already)
This is Us (These last 3 episodes have proven this show is in my top 5 of favorite TV shows ever)
Punisher (Brutal but the best Marvel TV show in a while)
“They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east beyond them far,
And to the Earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.”
I LOVE Christmas. I love Christmas all the time, not only in December, which is why I’ve been listening to Christmas music since before Halloween (I’m that friend.) But I’m in awe of the Christmas story, and I feel like every year I learn and experience more that just causes my love to grow, which is why I wanted to share these lyrics from “The First Noel.”
Something pretty defining about me is that I can’t stand uncertainty. And that wasn’t a problem untilearlier this year. I had everything planned out at this same time last year: I had a good job, a good school, a good plan…it all made perfect sense, but it wasn’t right. And at the end of the day, I knew that it wasn’t right and I knew that I made my life look great so I could have something to cling onto for a certain future.
So I left all of my certainty to embrace what God most definitely is putting into place piece by piece, but He’s still not making everything what I’d like to call “certain,” or “predictable.” And as I get into places of being stuck worrying about the answers that I don’t have, I lose the beauty in the mundane.
Not only do I love Christmas, but I love looking at the stars. I think they’re beautiful and captivating and overwhelming, and I can’t even imagine what this one looked like…I can’t imagine how beautiful and captivating and overwhelming that it felt to follow it.
And the more that I’ve listened to this song (since October) the more I realized something: there’s not much detail. Go back and listen to the whole thing if you’d like, but the gist of it is that it tells the Christmas story and they followed the star. The end. And then I realized something else.
That star & the fact that it continued day and night was the only detail they needed.
So right now, that’s where my beauty comes from; it’s in the fact that our source of amazing, unending light is constant throughout the Earth. My beauty is in the simplicity of that. It’s the certainty that every day could be the best day, the worst day, the last day, the first day, because God knows how to radically change our lives when we least expect it, and maybe even in a way where we don’t notice it. My life is in no way, and in the best way, anything like that I could have imagined a year ago.
In any uncertainty, He’s making the most simple, humble stories to be one of the greatest stories we’ll ever tell.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. "
Tori Haun is the founder of LiveLovedBlog.com, where she shares hope and light through his own experience of life. Be sure to follow her on Instagram @devoe08.
I miss my family.
I miss Chick-fil-a.
I miss Chipotle.
I miss 4 Rivers.
I miss Publix.
I miss a lot of restaurants back home.
I miss working with my sister.
I miss watching movies with my dad.
I miss visiting my mom at her desk.
I miss Monday night dinners.
I miss my house.
I miss having a room to myself.
I miss my students.
I miss being able to teach.
I miss working with my best friends.
I miss Bahama breeze with the boyz
I miss talking with Joe.
I miss midnight mashups.
I miss going to Vessel
I miss going to the Five.
I miss Epic.
I miss home.
Do you know what I can say I didn’t miss?
An opportunity of life time.
That when God said go I went.
In that I find comfort.
In that I find rest.
In that I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be;
surrounded by my new family,
For the past year, I've been writing stories & poems based on one idea:
Your Life is a Story that Matters.
I've even developed this website around that belief. I've felt strongly about that ever since a student in our youth ministry (among a few others) was struggling with suicidal tendencies.
I plan on telling that full story soon, but for now, here is the poem I wrote that started this whole concept which led to this site and, eventually, my new book coming out soon.
May it speak truth to what is written on the heart of your existence.
One thing that caught me completely off guard about my new job here in Hawaii was the age of kids I'd be working with. Back home, the youngest kids I worked with were 11-year-olds; here, the majority of them are thumb-sucking, diaper-wearing, runny-nosed preschoolers.
Just close your eyes and imagine me surrounded by 15 little, loud, and loquacious 2-year-olds. That is my Friday night.
It has honestly been one of the hardest and scariest parts of my weeks.
Don’t get me wrong, middle schoolers were difficult because they were too cool for everything. But preschoolers are a whole new ball game - they just hit for no reason and shout without cause. Sharing is a foreign concept. They are ticking time bombs, just waiting to burst in to tears screaming for their mommies. I was so nervous, a mother would see the terror on my face and skip service just to stay and help me. "They were God-sends (literally)!"
I have never been trained nor equipped to deal with so many of these little guys. Back home, I'd maybe hang out with two kids at a dinner party...not 15!
That's the thing about God. Even though I would have never pictured myself running a preschool program, especially in Hawaii, God has revealed so much of His character and how we're called to live to me through these kids...
Like the way they aren’t afraid to ask questions. The way they trust without holding back. They way they're so open to learning. The way they live their lives being fully present. The way they love. I am learning so much from these stinkingkids!
In Matthew 18:3-4, Jesus says:
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
If there's anything I've learned from kids, it's that there's a lot to learn. So join me. Humble yourself like a child. Don't let pride stop you from loving, trusting, asking questions, being open to learn, and living in the moment. Maybe you'll find yourself wishing your Friday nights looked a little more like mine after all
Living in Maui, I’ve been able to experience such incredible new things. Things I never thought I would do. I felt like I was starting to understand what “new” meant. I thought I knew “new”.
New is stepping off a plane and not knowing anyone.
New is living with a roommate.
New is watching the sunset at 10,023 feet.
New is jumping off a cliff.
New is swimming to find waterfalls.
New is morning surf sessions before work.
New is leading a class of 3-year-olds.
But God has been revealing to me that new is so much more than just doing something you’ve never done before.
New is a choice.
And a choice you have to make every day, no matter where you live.
Even in the paradise that Maui is, there are days I just want to be my old self – the self that was content doing nothing all day, the self that just wanted hang out with my friends, the self that had no desire to step outside my comfort zone.
God states in 2 Corinthians 5 that we are new creations, and our old self is gone. I’m learning that our old self doesn’t go down without a fight - we must choose new, day after day after day.
But what this doesn’t mean is that you have to do something drastic to expose yourself to something new.
New is simple.
New is talking to a stranger.
New is going off the beaten trail.
New is taking the first step outside your comfort zone.
New is a breath of fresh air.
Laminations 3 states that His mercies are new every morning. All we must do is choose to step outside our comfort zone to find them.
pb & j
i've always liked
creamy or crunchy
when i was young
what i am now
and i don't know
when i've gone without
everytime i looked
it was there
to be consumed
or anyone else
in my mind
an endless supply
of peanut butter
to be shared
About peanut butter. And mostly not about it at all.
The God of the Universe is here. Ever present. Never leaving. Always with you no matter where you end up in your story.
So stop for a moment today. And take in this endless supply to be shared.
Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
In light of the horrible Las Vegas shooting, here are a few things you can do right now to help:
1. GIVE BLOOD
One of the most efficient way to help victims. The Red Cross, though not currently calling for money for this tragedy, they are asking for blood to collect and distribute for this circumstance in particular. Click here to find a local blood bank or drive to give yourself to.
A way to help in the long run. There are a few places to help directly and immediately on GoFundMe. Celebrities have started various fundraisers in which ALL FUNDS will go to the victims. For example, Youtube Star Casey Neistat that has raised $150k in 7 hours as of this writing and Steve Sisolak, who is the Clark County Commisioner Chair, has started one that has raised over $2.1 million as of this writing.
(Also do your research for any other organizations or sites taking action.)
Overused? Maybe. Any less important or powerful? Nope.
Finding answers to the question "Why" is nearly impossible to find in situations like this. That's why it's important to go to the God that is Our answer as humans beings. God IS comfort. God IS peace. And most of all, God IS love.
God works in mysterious ways and, unfortunately like this event, so do people. Evil may act, but so does God. And God is too good to let darkness have the final word. Scripture and history tell us time and time again that when we pray, God listens and then He acts in incredible movements of grace, often through His people.
So pray. For healing. For restoration. But actually pray. Don't just share a post on social media that says "Pray for Vegas" and consider that to be done. Put forth the effort. Give a couple of minutes of your time. You can use prayer sites to get more people praying for your request like this one. Or, if you have the strength, maybe look up the few victims whose names and faces have been released, so that they aren't just a story but real people you can lift up.
Pray for the families and friends. Pray for the city. And pray that God works His goodness through this horrific tragedy.
Here are some hopeful words from Jesus in the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount:
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God."
May we act in peace and love for those who need comfort now and always.
"Look, I know God loves me and all but like...how?
And why? I mean why me?
I've done some pretty bad things. Stuff I don't think I should share.
I mean pretty bad for anyone my age.
Like I've *********************** ********************** ****************** *********** ************ ***************** ********* ********. And that's not even half.
But He loves even me.
God. God loves me. God. Loves. Me. Me?
Makes no sense.
I'm glad it doesn't."
Aren't you as well?
Romans 5:2-5 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
You hung on friends
while you could.
And I appreciate
all we that did.
I'll tell of your time
and share it out loud.
But, here, I must share what's
now I must share what's alive.
"I knew that I thought I knew everything.
Whatever I saw in a textbook or lab. It had to be true.
I was 'a man of science for God's sake!'
Then I met my wife. She believed and I didn't. But for some reason her love worked. Tough. Honest. Maybe sometimes brutal. But gracious. Patient. Unconditional.
After all I've done. Who I am. What I said. There's no way I can deny. There is too much connection with us. Too much so called 'coincidence' with this guy Jesus.
I don't know everything after all and I'm okay with that. But I know this same guy Jesus, is as real as anything I've ever experienced.
You know, I guess I still am a man of science, for God's sake."
Deuteronomy 30:6 "The LORD your God will change your heart and the hearts of all your descendants, so that you will love him with all your heart and soul and so you may live!"
This is the first word that comes to mind when I describe my first month here on Maui. There are so many other words that I could use, like adventurous, stunning, beautiful - the list goes on - but the word faithful has taken on new meaning since I have been here.
I have always known God is faithful, but I feel like this month I truly have been experiencing it. I have been blessed with amazing hikes, swimming under waterfalls, surfing before work, breathtaking views and an incredible group of people to share these experiences with. My jaw hurts from dropping so much. I still can’t believe this is my life now.
But I can’t help but ask…why, God?
Why me? What did I do to deserve this?
I don’t deserve to be here; I have made countless mistakes and caused hurt in a multitude of relationships, and there are people way more qualified to be here than me. I remember when I told my youth group back home that I was leaving, one of my students/friends walked up to me and said God kept on putting the statement “Well done, good and faithful servant” in his head for me.
I brushed off the comment because in my mind all I did was take a job in Hawaii. It wasn’t a reward - I was leaving a job I felt I was good at, I had a good schedule, I was satisfied with my community and the friendships I had. So when I felt God was calling me out into the unknown, of course I was dragging my heels a little bit. I was scared to death to drop everything I knew to come here. If you read my post from August 8 I talk about those fears. After being here for a month I can say with confidence it could only be by God’s faithfulness that I am here.
God is revealing himself in ways that I could have never imagined!
I had forgotten what new tasted like. I had lost my passion for adventure. I didn’t know that I could call a group of strangers my ohana after a week of knowing them.
He has awakened a heart of humility in me.
All the fears I had before, God crushed with his faithfulness.
There is beauty and peace on the other side of fear.
And to think I would not have learned these truths if I stayed where it was safe, where I knew the routine and felt comfortable.
I know I am in the honeymoon phase of being on Maui (this place is literally called the ‘honeymoon island’), but God has been so faithful to let it last this long. I am excited to share with you what God is teaching me with these bi-monthly posts.
What you can be praying for:
-That God keeps the honeymoon phase going as long as it can.
-That God would provide volunteers can step up to our Friday night service
"I've been saying for the past 40 years, 'Honey we are going to clear this house out. We don't need all this extra junk.'
I've been the 40 year broken record that my husband can't seem to toss out. 'Course I'm too wiry to stop spinning. Plus I'm the stronger one in this relationship. But you didn't hear me say that so shhh...
So yeah, when we first got married and got way too much: 'Honey, we are going to clear this house out.'
Then when we had our kids: We don't need all this extra junk.
When we became empty nesters and really packed it all on. You get the idea.
And then we just kept getting more and more. Finally, I think with our house being the only one on this street to get flooded, I think God was saying 'Alright. Enough of that.' HA!
It's like we were wrote into our own 40 days and 40 nights legend, ain't it honey?
Hey, maybe they can teach about us old pieces of work in Sunday School. What ya think? HA!
I know, I know. Most people won't go making jokes right now. But I can't help myself. I just gotta laugh. Or, you know, see the good stuff."
Arguably the hardest thing to experience in the remenants of catastrophe, like Hurricane Harvey, is joy. But what God shows us is that even in the middle of the bad in the story, seeds of good are planted.
I believe humor is one of those seeds. Meant to be shared, to encourage, to bring a smile. And to remind us that no matter the loss, pain and struggle, (and even with some much worse off than others), we can see the good. And we can get through.
Zephaniah 3:16-17 CEB "On that day, it will be said to Jerusalem: Don’t fear, Zion. Don’t let your hands fall. The LORD your God is in your midst—a warrior bringing victory. He will create calm with his love; he will rejoice over you with singing.”
"It's all gone.
Shocked can't describe it,
Seven feet of water?
Are you kidding me?
How can this...or we...
and now we still got a foot out here in the street days after?
I don't know...
We've been here 34 years.
Now our kid's pictures are torn up.
Family trips up north.
Their letters from elementary school.
I guess they're only a memory like they say, you know?
everything was okay here.
Now thirty-four years has been washed away, just like that.
But we're still standing, I guess.
A voice that reflects the same thought of so many devastated by the flood waters of Harvey in Texas (and, now, even those left in Irma's path). So many asking the same questions. If you feel led to extend a helping hand there is always something you can do.
- Pray consistently and specifically for those affected.
- Give to a relief organization that is helping in the recovery process (do your research and pray about which to choose).
- If you are free and/or able, give of your time at some point. Whether that means collecting supplies or heading to locations for rebuilding.
The recovery process will be going on long after it's reported. May God work in all our hearts to help our neighbors who are hurting no matter what storm they are affected by.
Matthew 5:3-4 ESV
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.”