Thursday, May 30, 2013

Where I Have Been

My hands sit heavy as I write this... it has been a while. A while since I have written on this blog and a while since I have written in general.

A lot has happened. My life has been a whirlwind and I am desperately attempting to gasp for air so that I can breathe and get some clarity and balance once more.

The last few weeks of school were madness... full of spending time with people, studying for exams, and closing chapters of my life in Chapel Hill. It was absolutely wonderful... most of the time. There were certainly times of sadness and frustration, but overall, it was delightful.

young life end of the year cookout
last young life with these ladies
sloaner vists
jen graduates from grad school... get it girl.
best friend time, always
broskis visit for the grad party

And then I graduated from the University of North Carolina. I turned my tassel and became a graduate, never to be a student again (well at least for a little bit).

mcmansion does graduation
fam lovin'
After graduation I packed up my life in the McMansion, haphazardly throwing things into boxes marked "North Carolina", "Michigan", and "Colorado"... the three states that will all be holding parts of my life in the coming year. While packing, I vowed to never ever become a hoarder and became a huge supporter for donating and throwing away the clutter (of which the McMansion had a ton).

Then I hopped in a car and began a road trip through the Midwest with Jen, spending most of our time in Chicago and northern Michigan. We explored, stayed in swanky places, and hung out with some really amazing friends.

pit stop in carmel, indiana to see t.c. & kendall
karlie came to play in chi-city with us
best travel companion
white sox game... just the most perfect american past time
the bestie surprised me in chicago & we visited the art institute... all my favorite things
high school best friend IN chicago... so awesome.
sleeping bear dunes & lake michigan
lake missaukee sunsets: one of my favorite northern michigan secrets

And now I have landed myself at Timber Wolf Lake in Lake City, MI for a week or so.

After all of that goodness, it would be easy to explain just how wonderful it has been and how incredibly blessed I have felt by the Lord in this time. And while all of that is true, I must admittedly write how tough the past three months have been too... all while I have been having so much fun.

It was not noticeable when I was quickly moving through the end of school, not staying still long enough to realize or process what I was actually feeling. I had just enough time to smile, laugh, casually mention the craziness, and then move on to the next thing.

But a lot of unexpected and not so great things happened as school was coming to a close as well. I tried desperately to fight them through prayer and positivity and it was working... for a little while.

Until one night after graduation... I sat on my bed talking to Bri and I had no choice but to admit that I was exhausted... physically (that I am used to), emotionally (it's happened before), and then also spiritually (my least favorite). There was no more hiding to be done, I felt completely empty and spent.

With each not so great thing that happened at the end of the semester, I started to become more and more discouraged. I tried to stay strong, but each time I started to have a grasp on certain situations, something else seemed to happen.

When talking to Bri, I explained that I did not think there was anything left in me. I had no more energy to fight the negative thoughts, to claw away at the guilt, to work towards healing, or to have any more difficult conversations. I did not know what to pray anymore because I was at a loss for words and for understanding.

Bri responded in the most loving and the most encouraging manner. She simply said, "It's okay. Now it just means God will be the only one to do something."

There was nothing left in me, but all was left in God.

It was then that I packed up my life in Chapel Hill, only to stuff my car full of bags, to head on a road trip to Chicago and then ultimately Michigan for a month or so. At the end of Jen and I's adventures I landed myself in the Adult Guest Lodge at Timber Wolf Lake for a few days. I know that God knew what He was doing sending me on this little adventure. I got to spend so much time with Jen before I eventually move to Colorado and I got to reunite with so many wonderful friends and I got to have a sleep over with my bestie. My heart and my soul needed those days to travel, to goof off, to be adventurous, to not have a care in the world and then it needed those days to sit in a place that I love and to spend time dwelling in God's Word and begin to have my soul restored at TWL. 

In this time I have continued to go back to 2 Chronicles 20. It is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It is the passage where Jehoshaphat goes up against Moab and Ammon. As the leader of the people of Judah he cries out to the Lord. Jehoshaphat's words seem to be the only thing that make any sort of sense to me these days:

"We do know what to do, but our eyes are on you." (v. 12)

He goes on later to encourage the people by reminding them that it is not their battle, but it is God's battle (v. 15). God was going to fight for them. "You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem," (v. 17) said Jehoshaphat.

Today, all that I can muster up the energy to say is: Lord, I do not know what to do, but my eyes are upon You. Please deliver me from this battle. Deliver me from my fears, doubts, and insecurities. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew the spirit within me.

The battle is not mine any longer. I have put in a good fight, but after a lot of desperate attempts to keep it together, I am relinquishing all control. I am in need of the Lord's grace for everything.
I have experienced the Lord in mighty mighty ways here at Timber Wolf and I know that I could be in no better place for this time right now. Some days it may be difficult, but I am trusting that the Lord has not failed me yet and He will not in this time either.

I'm beyond excited for where I am heading after this as well... in just a week, I have the honor and the privilege to head to Michindoh, a Young Life rental property, for four weeks. We are going to have three weeks of WyldLife camping and then one week of YoungLives camping, ministry geared towards teen mothers. I am going to be serving as the admin and retail intern for the month and I could not be more thrilled. It's going to be a time to focus solely on setting the stage for middle school and high school students to know Christ... what a joy. I can't think of anything better. I am so pumped to serve on the Michindoh team and am already anticipating all of the ways that the Lord is going to move at camp. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Funtastic Friend Friday: Hillary Warolin

To put this friend and our relationship into words is difficult. She makes my heart happy every single time that I am around her. Hillary is yet another wonderful friend from Timber Wolf Lake and I have had the privilege to intern with her the past two summers. She is the opposite of me in so many ways, yet she understands me so well and we can relate on so many levels. She laughs at me as I attempt to pick out clothes and she laughs as I try to learn to shoot a slingshot. She calls me J-Bro and she makes me want to be a bro and do all brotastic things... such as snowboard, long board, shoot animals with slingshots, and light things on fire... maybe one day I really will excel in all of those things... for now, not so much. I am always so thankful for our conversations full of laughter and jokes. Hillary has taught me the meaning of spending true quality time with people which she does incredibly well. She has a knack for videography and uses her passion and talents to glorify the Lord with it; I love each and every single one of her videos that she has ever produced. It has been such a joy to have Hillary in my life the past two years and I am so excited for what she has in store in the future as she will be going to Germany for a Discipleship Training School with YWAM. I know that the Lord can and will use her in mighty ways.

femterns 2k12
two summers in a row together for us four
I love Hil's post so much because it shows a ton of who she is... a person who is moving all the time, literally. I love it and it really does add for some funny moments. But in the end, my heart needs to hear over and over again, be still. 


At the age of five I was told I had the potential to become an author one day. My first book was to be titled “ One Thousand and One Ways To Sit In a Chair.” Followed by its sequel  “One Thousand and One Ways To Fall Out of a Chair.” The only problem I would face in this career path would be staying in a chair long enough to write it all down. Throughout my life not only could I be seen bouncing from one place to the next with an unmatched flare for chaos, but in almost every respect, perpetual motion has been a theme for me. 

While this desire for movement has been a driving force in my life, I never took notice of it until it met and clashed with my desire to know God. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes this want for perpetual motion has landed me exactly where I needed to be and there have been numerous times where I have felt God calling me to move which I promptly responded to.  Reflecting on my life it was in those seasons that God called me to move where I have felt the most joy and been a part of some really wonderful stuff. Moving forward in our lives and in seasons of our lives is a good thing, no surprises there, but what about when God calls us to be still? 

Back to where I started, it may sound really weird but a lot of my childhood memories revolve around chairs (or falling out of chairs to be more truthful). One such memory, the place, time, and the person concerned for my well-being, are all interchangeable because of how frequently this happened, but for the sake of this particular post we’ll use what I like to call “The Time at the Crowded Restaurant.” My family, like most, really enjoyed going out to eat on occasion. The restaurant was usually nicer and before we left the house my siblings and I got the whole “Be on your best behavior” speech which generally meant don’t be too loud and sit still. I secretly think the speech was just for me but was said to all three of us so I didn’t feel singled out, because my sisters never really had a problem following that simple request. We got to the restaurant and it was pretty crowded so unless we wanted to wait for over an hour for our typical booth seats, we were given the option (probably to my parents dismay)to sit at a table with chairs. The second we were all seated I did what I do best and began to fidget and move around in my chair. After just a few minutes I had successfully knocked over two glasses of water and received numerous concerned looks from the staff all the while my father was persistently telling me “If you would just sit still you could avoid this mess!” When the food finally arrived and I had managed to steer clear of any further disruptions I was feeling pretty good. So good in fact I started joyfully rocking my chair back and forth to a little victory song playing in my head. My dad took notice of that and quickly reminded me to not tip my chair. I stopped but without even thinking I started tipping my chair back and forth only moments later, right as the waiter walked around the table to set my food down. I remember it playing out almost as if in slow motion. The waiter reaching out in front of me with a plate of mashed potatoes, my chair tipping back just a little too far, my hands frantically reaching out in front of me to grab the table, and when I missed it, the chair, myself, and the plate of potatoes I had managed to grab instead, tumbling to the floor. In my head all I could hear was my father’s mantra from that evening “If you would just sit still you could avoid this mess.” 

Looking back at the most challenging and difficult seasons of my life I remember them like I remember that moment. When it comes to teetering precariously between trusting God and tumbling into a pit that I like to call life my way, more often than not I find myself looking up from the floor covered in potatoes. God calls us to act and to follow Him but He also calls us to be still and know Him. While dashing into whatever He wants me to do and wherever He calls me to go comes easily, trusting Him in times where He calls me to be still has been a struggle for me. In the end though, when I have had enough of my way and I’m finally still, I can honestly say those are the times when I feel the closest to Jesus. When I spend considerable amounts of time and energy solely focusing on Jesus and knowing Him, growth, understanding, and peace naturally follow. 

The past few months of my life have been one of those times where God is calling me to be still and trust in His plan for my life.  It’s been challenging to say the least and I have definitely fallen flat on my face more than a few times but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thankful for this time to simply be still and know God. I have never had an opportunity to spend such a great length of time to just focus on God and forget the rest.  I am so excited for what God has planned next for me but I feel so incredibly blessed, (even through the challenges) for a time of growth, understanding, peace, and stillness with an incredible God.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Funtastic Friend Friday: Ryan Lee

I call this dear friend of mine I call Mr. Lee. We were interns together my first summer at Timber Wolf Lake in 2011. There were two Ryans, so I figured their proper names would suffice and so Ryan will always be Mr. Lee to me. He tends to call me "Abourjoojoo" and is the only person to ever do so. I am forever thankful for Mr. Lee's countless visits into the office that summer to give me a hard time or to just hang out. He has been such a fun person to get to know and someone who encourages me to live a different story that is truly marked by the Lord. Ryan is now living in Grand Rapids, MI leading Urban Young Life and I absolutely love being at camp when him and his guys come. It's an absolute joy to see him lead in ministry and to lay his life down for his guys. 

mr. lee as coach kenny, twl program session 4
with his girlfriend and my sweet, sweet friend, abby

I appreciate Ryan's post so much because it is a true testament to the Lord's faithfulness and then also gives you a glimpse into Ryan's life. He paints a picture of what it means to have faith in God, and for that I am thankful.


“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.  “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”
Mark 11:22-23

When I was 18, I read this verse (for probably the 100th time), and it changed my life forever. I had always believed in God, but a walk with him just never appealed to me. Instead, I decided to do my best to carve my own path. Surely, I could do a better job at making myself happy than he could. In retrospect, it was a stupid plan.

After discovering an empty hole inside, and trying my best to fill it with anything I could, I realized I wasn’t doing such a great job carving my path after all. Then I rediscovered those words in the book of Mark – “Have Faith in God”. As if I couldn’t imagine why I had ever tried anything else, I started making some big decisions. I got a huge tattoo of that scripture on my arm (Sorry Mom), and told God to send me where he wanted me, and I would obey. About a week later, I got a very random call from a man in Kansas City, KS, who said he had heard a bit of my story and wanted me to live in a “Guy’s house” nearby to him. Turned out, this house was a place where young men went and lived in intentional community with each other to learn about God’s will for us. So… I held up to my word. Three days later I moved away from my home in Atlanta, GA.

I stayed in Kansas City for two years, and up to that point, it was the best time of my life. While there, I discovered Young life, met my best friends, and found life-long mentors. By the end of my time, my desires had totally changed. God had revealed to me a love for young people, and a never ending hunger to align my heart with His. He had done exactly what Jesus said He would, He rewarded faithfulness, with faithfulness. 

As I approached the end of year two in Kansas, I was accepted to intern at Young Life’s summer camp in Northern Michigan - Timber Wolf Lake. That summer I was blessed to serve young people with a group of believers who became dear friends (including our lovely Jordan Abourjilie). During my time at camp I prayed that the Lord would once again send me where He wanted me next. He revealed His path through a Young Life Area director in Grand Rapids, MI named Q. After a few weeks of fellowship at camp, Q asked me to consider coming to Grand Rapids, to pursue Urban Young Life. After a few days of prayer, I decided to do exactly what had made sense so far “Have Faith in God”.

When I called my family that summer to tell them I would be staying in Michigan, the response was only more confirmation of his faithfulness. Turns out, they had been praying for months and decided to move from Atlanta to redevelop a Summer Camp that had fallen apart. Their hope was to open the property to intercity ministries. Where was the camp? None other than Grand Rapids, MI. My family moved to Grand Rapids, exactly a month before I did.

I have now lived in Michigan for nearly two years, and work for Urban Young Life here in the city. Every day is different, and challenging, and joy-filled.  As a White guy befriending and talking about Jesus with intercity kids, it’s been made very apparent that my words and actions mean very little when on their own.  Thankfully he reminds me everyday -“Have Faith in God”.

Where I am on His journey now, and where I started, are radically different. Thankfully though, in a world filled with clutter and complications, He makes it very simple. Faith. He doesn’t promise us things will be easy, He doesn’t promise us things will be clear, but He does promise that if we are faithful, He will return it.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


The past two years I have lived in a house with seven other girls. We refer to our home as the McMansion. It's a really special place and we have been incredibly blessed to be able to call it home for the past two years. My memories from the past two years will forever be engrained on my heart.

This post is in honor of those seven girls and all the times that we have spent together. It's also a time to share where we are all heading next year.

the love over the years captured by photos:

first mrs. d's dance party of junior year 80s's baby
carolina fall
plaid & vests
rah-rah carolina-lina
merry christmas 2011
mustaches & anna's 21st birthday party
bali hai for jessica's birthday dinner
sunday evening spontaneous dance parties
out of control
summer kick-off beach trip
cinco de mayo 2012
mrs. d's nerdy dance party to kick off senior year
labor day lake trip
pancake night
game day
football field fun
dresses & boots loves
halloween 2012
dress up night to kick off our last semester

where we are heading...

Sydney: I am so excited about what Sydney is going to be doing after graduation. She is first heading to Frontier Ranch to be a summer long intern in the Kitchen. She is going to be rocking the ChefWear, Crocs, and hats... her most favorite of looks. After that she will be returning to NC to go to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, just outside of Raleigh. She will be getting her Masters in Biblical Counseling... freakin' awesome.

Sarah: Sarah is staying a McMansion girl forever (not really, just for the summer). She is starting her big girl job full time a week after graduation at ROI, an internet marketing company, in Raleigh. She is going to be living with Anna next year... roomies since freshman year of college.

Erin: This girl is leaving the coop the morning after graduation and heading down south and to the beach to Charleston, SC where she will be attending Medical University of South Carolina. She is going to go to Occupational Therapy school... get it, girl. I am so excited for her to live at the beach, in one of my most favorite cities in the U.S.

Elaine: This girl is a freebird. She will be doing freebird things.

Jordan (Me): After graduation I am heading to Michigan for a month and a half to spend some time at Timber Wolf and then to work at Michindoh, a YL rental camp for the month of June. I will be working retail and admin at Michindoh, where we'll have three weeks of WyldLife camping and one week of YoungLives. Then it's two months of playtime, and then I am heading west to Crooked Creek Ranch in Fraser, CO to be a yearlong intern. Bye-bye, NC and bye-bye, besties.

Jen: Jen's heart is in Chapel Hill and that's where she will be staying. She is living with Jessica here in Chapel Hill and will be working at a pharmaceutical research company in Durham. Her work watches Netflix together on their lunch breaks... best. big. girl. job. ever. She will continue leading Young Life at Chapel Hill High School... still reppin' her tiger pride. 

Jessica: Jess is staying in Chapel Hill as well and will remain a tarheel student as a part of UNC's graduate school program. She will be studying Library and Information Science and is well on her way to being the best librarian around. I cannot wait for all that she is going to learn and so jealous that she will still get UNC basketball tickets.

Anna: This girl is heading West for the summer and is going to be a summer intern at Trail West, a Young Life camp in Buena Vista, CO. She will be doing admin and I am so incredibly pumped for her! At the end of August she is returning to NC and living with Sarah. She will be continuing her job at Performance Auto Mall in social and digital marketing.


we ended with a photoshoot...

"with the Lord our bond is strong and strong enough to keep us moving on..."