Friday, March 28, 2014

Equality Within Responsibility

Ashley and I were sitting around talking the other night and the topic of dating came up. We've been married going on five years now and have been in a relationship for seven. It's so minimal in comparison to others, particularly Ashley's grandparents who are going on 58 years of marriage. Talk about the legacy they have! Anyway,  we’re sitting there discussing dating, specifically the pre-dating phase, and I realized that I'm really frustrated with it.  I just feel like there's a major double-standard that people aren't seeing.  Or if they see it, they're disregarding it as no big deal. Ashley told me to blog about it, so here I go. I say all of this knowing it is merely my opinion and I have a personal bias when it comes to the topic of dating. So take this as my opinion based on my personal life experiences.

Here is the statement I want to make up front: guys and girls should be held to an equal standard  of protecting the other's emotions. We all know the people who are too forward with the opposite sex; too charismatic, too flirtatious. They charm you then harm you and it's all a big game.  They're known as players who casually lead others on - it's all about the chase.  They're the girls that your momma tells you to avoid and the guys your daddy wants to threaten with a shotgun.  We all know them; emotional abusers. As men, we are taught not to be that guy.  You are taught, or more instructed, to treat girls with the utmost respect. Do not be the guy who leads girls on. Do not be the one that leads them into an unsure relationship which has the potential to damage their future marriage. Do not be the guy who plays with girls' emotions. All of this is great and valid and important. I am completely on board with the thought of guys stepping up and leading, protecting, and caring for girls. I accept, as a guy, the part I have played in leading girls on in the past.  But there's a very, very big problem with this.  Girls aren't seemingly being taught from the same rule book.   
Girls, for the love of your future husband, STOP misleading guys! There, it’s out. The reason Ashley told me to blog about this. I get so frustrated with guys that are “there for” girls and the girls aren't there in return.  I see young men being vulnerable to girls and putting their emotions on the line only to be disregarded time and time again. These are not the girls that I mentioned in the above paragraph that you'd normally beware of.  These are the girls next door; kind, sweet girls, just being completely oblivious to guys' emotions. Just because dudes play sports and hunt bears and rip their chest hair out to be manly doesn't mean our emotions don't go as deep as yours.  It doesn't mean when you blow us off and we pretend it's no big deal that it doesn't break our hearts a little.  And you need to know that it's a little confusing when you spend 5 evenings a week with us and then suddenly spend Saturday evening out on a date with someone else.'re leading guys on and you don't even know it.

We guys want to show you who we are, but we don’t want to compete for your attention. We can only live our lives like a contestant on "The Bachelorette" for so long until we call it quits . Our persistence, our attention towards you, our “being there” for you only goes so far. So help us out. Think about what you want in your future husband. You want someone who is always going to be there for you? You want someone who places value in you?  You want someone who will open up to you? Then start now. Begin this journey  before you even think there may be something there with someone. Start by placing an equal responsibility on yourself and your future husband.  Don't give in to charm and attention guys are willing to give you now. Start preparing for the future you want. 
Here’s the reality; we try to do things the way we think you want them to be.  If there’s nothing there on your side, let us know. Stop the cycle of brokenness within relationships by placing a higher value on your future relationship. I completely understand and agree with having friends of the opposite sex. I am all for it. But girls if you think the guys may be getting the wrong idea about it, don’t just say, “Oh I just think of us as friends”. I firmly believe that you should just walk away from it. Save the misconceptions and false leads. It may be painful but it may be what’s best for the guy’s future relationship with his wife. It may be what’s best for both parties.

So here’s the closing thought. You, right now, may be in a friendship with someone else’s (future) husband/ wife. How would you want your future spouse to be being treated at this time? Would you be alright with playing games with their heart ? Or would you want it protected from as much pain and heartache as possible?  Be careful. These are individual’s futures we are talking about here. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

The New Normal

We are officially two and a half months down under! It's crazy when I step back and think about it. We have a new normal, a new pace of life, new relationships, and a new church family. I suspected life would change once we arrived and settled in, but I was not suspecting how quickly I would become used to it. I've become used to people driving on the "wrong" side of the road; in fact we automatically migrate to the left side when walking down the sidewalk! Trashcans are "bins", restrooms are "toilets", and I'm starting to appreciate being called "mate".  Walking or riding my bike is the new normal, as is  hearing "so good" said a minimum of a hundred times a day...(make that 100 times every conversation). One more thing, you know you've made it when you're referred to as a legend over here.  Some of these things are definitely Aussie things, but others might just be Hillsong language.  So we are still in the process of sorting that out.  Anyway, Ashley and I have settled  into this season of our life and have begun to really enjoy it.

We live in a house with five girls. A Norwegian, a Mexican, a very British Albanian, and two other Americans. All creative students studying in different areas. There always seems to be singing going on, some dancing, a lot of laughter, and even more cooking.  It's a bit like a family in the house, which is a blessing. Ashley and I wonder what we will do when we no longer live with people. We will then have to begin talking to each other again. I mean how do married couples tolerate each other all the time? Anyway, we feel blessed to have such a great group of girls living with us.  Disclaimer:  This paragraph has all  negative emotions omitted because our housemates will be reading this blog.  Thank you.

School is really great. I absolutely love the classes that I have. Song writing by far is the highlight and yet also the most challenging. It consists of writing a song a week, working with melodies, and creative writing. By the most challenging, I mean it really has stretched me. I have learned to step back and look at my own music objectively and think about what's best for the song. In the workshop we spend time writing and sharing our music. It is so difficult. You should try it some time. You have 60 min to generate a melody and throw some lyrics with it, all the while not using an instrument. Oh by the way you also have to share it with your whole class. Enjoy! In all seriousness it's been amazing though. I have become very intentional about what I feel like God is trying to communicate through the music He has given me. I just approach it now as, "I'll give it a go". It's the Aussie way.

Let's see what else... I have begun to appreciate what I was so formerly used to in life. Things like having two cars (I would be happy with just a crappy one now), Taco bell, going to the movies, hanging out with Ashley's grandfolks on Thursday nights, and most of all American coffee. I miss that. Coffee here is different. I don't really know how to explain it, it's just different.  And it's not that there's not movie theaters and fun things to do - but everything is painfully expensive.  Ashley and I dropped $39 going to the movies for Valentine's Day.  No that didn't include popcorn.  No that didn't include nachos, or a soda, or games in the arcade. Just the movie tickets. So I have gained an appreciation for what was just normal about life. I understand that normal is always changing, thus making nothing normal but just seasons of change. Still, I do miss some things about back home.

Ashley is working at a cafe by the school. She has been able to work consistently five days a week. She seems to enjoy it. She's learning how to make coffee and is gaining an appreciation for Australian coffee because her boss makes her drink a cup every shift. She will also brings home some great food sometimes which is awesome. Since she's working with the locals, she's picked up a bit of the Aussie way of saying things.  Some examples are "How you going?" (How's it going?) ", "no worries" (in response to "thank you"),  and "I'm sorry?" (instead of "what?"),. I personally am not use to their phraseology yet.

The church here is great! I never take for granted being planted in this House at this time. We've heard some incredible speakers, been a part of the new Hillsong recording, but most of all learing to embrace the Kingdom attitude here. There is this overarching attitude of, "Welcome Home". It runs through every area of church life. "Welcome to the family, let's do life together and love on others" seems to just be a way of life for them. We were invited to serve in The Western, a cafe in the church, after our Sunday night services. We get to chat with newcomers, serve them coffee/hors douvers (sp?), and clean up. It's honestly such a great place to serve and personally is stretching me. I have learned so much in the brief time of being in this culture. I am becoming more aware of what I want my attitude to be towards others and what I want my life to look like in service to others.

Well that's it for now. We still have a checklist of things to do while here. See a koala bear, surf at least once, hike the Blue Mountains, box a kangaroo, drive a motorcycle, and get Keith Urban's autograph. Ok, mainly that is my list, I don't know what Ashley's looks like.

We appreciate all the prayers, words of encouragement, and love we get from you.

Much love to all of you!


Friday, February 21, 2014

doubt: a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction

So I have yet to write since moving to Australia. I have been waiting for some clever idea to come to me,  the forming of a mind-blowing "top 10" list, or at the very least a memorable story or experience.  Nothing has come to me though. So for now I will share what's been on my mind.

This move to Australia has been amazing. I know this word is thrown around and has lost meaning in our culture. But let me try to grasp at what I mean. Amazing for me is wrapped in vast emotions. Something amazing is more than just a cool experience. Something amazing, for me, is something that changes my life. It's so outside of my normal realm of experiences  that it alters my perspective and causes a shift in the way I want to approach this life. So this life transition has been "amazing".

Allow me the grace to try and put into words a few of the thoughts that have been forming within me. They come from personal study, the teaching of others, and the daily routine of life. Thoughts have the potential to control our view of self, our ideas of God, and our sense of purpose. I believe our thoughts should always be challenged, expanding, and evolving with time. I don't think the same way I use to when I was 6, or 15, or even 21.  They are shaping my views of God and sharpening my relationship with Him.

I have been studying through 1 Peter in my quiet time. Peter is writing to Christians who have been exiled from their land. They've been cast out from their homelands and forced to live as aliens in a new land. His letter is one of hope, God's faithfulness, and of the calling we have in Jesus Christ. I  couldn't get past verse 2 of the first chapter for almost a week. It drew me in and spoke so clearly into my own life. It begins like this, "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for the obedience to Jesus Christ..." and then I just stop. Breathe it in. Then I read it again, "God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and His Spirit made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed Him...". I breathe in. I let it begin to sink into my  heart. There is so much in  this one verse. How does this not excite anyone who is following after Jesus? How does this not excite those who know the grace of God? Listen to this one more time, "God the Father has His eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus." Breathe that in again and again and again.

Although I felt that God was speaking clearly to me in my time with Him,  this past week I began to seriously question and doubt our move to Australia. I began to question why we are here and why I felt called here. I started to question if God is, in fact, faithful to those who are His children. It's been difficult. Everything that we've always thought were easily accessible necessities no longer are.  Examples would be having a car, A/C in the house, and internet at home (or the ability to easily find it at a cafe). The new normal is changing every day. So my faith began to give, my doubt began to grow, and my questioning of where God is  was constant. Here's the best part though, 1 Peter 1:2, "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father". I just want to shout that out! "Yes God! Yes!"

This small phrase holds so much truth within it. One, God knows where He has called me. He knows the life He has asked me to leave and the life He is wanting me to step into. He knows it all. He has been working in it. He has been preparing this work for us- for me. It hits me like a ton of bricks. My doubt, my lack of faith, my worry, to what avail is it? God already, long before I felt His leading, was at work in what He called me to in this season of life. You really could just stop there and it be enough, and yet there is so much more reassurance to be had in this verse. Two, God is our Father. Before we even get into the work Jesus Christ has done on our behalf God shows us who He is. Our Father. I never worried about food growing up. I never wondered if my parents would take care of me. They always did. My dad always provided for my daily needs. I have God as my heavenly Father doing the exact same for me now. I hear His voice, "Jasper I called you out into this life, I am your Father, trust me." I am floored. How can I justify my doubt or lack of faith? I can't. There is no justification to be found in my self- absorbed lack of faith. I could keep going, but I would be writing well into the night.

God has shown me His faithfulness. In my lowest point of doubt and despair He showed up in a very real way. He never allows His children to go through more than they can handle. He never allows us to completely lose faith in His sovereignty. He is our Father. He is our Pappa. So I'm not sure if the lessons I learn here will be the ones that I set out to learn.  Maybe this season of life that Ashley and I are walking through is to teach me this; God my Father is a faithful God and has called us out to live for Him. I constantly hear the Spirit whisper, "Trust me. Lean on me. Allow me to be your provider. I am a good Father who loves you."


"These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold - though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world."

- 1 Peter 1:7

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


So here's some pics from our first day in "the city" (Sydney) -Ashley

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Unknown Chapter

So it begins, this adventure to Australia. I have a range of emotions running through me right now. Excitement, expectation, sadness, fear, anxiety, and complete thrill. I have known this moment was coming. Now it's here and it's overheming and insane all at once. 

There has been part of me through this whole process that has felt like giving up more than once; just calling it quits before we became too committed. It would be easier to have stayed with what I know. A job, a home, family, my own little family of my wife and two dogs, amazing friends, a great church family. It would make sense to stay where you know people and know the routine of life. I felt comfortable in the "known" aspect of my life. So stay. Call the move off. Be content with the known and do not pursue the unknown. It just made sense.

My life has never been about making sense though. It's in the chaos of it all that I heard God calling me to live for Him. It was in the most self-absorbed moments of my life that God challenged me to live differently. It never has made sense. God, loving someone who only lived for himself. God loving me, who was only interested in the idea of happiness. That, in and of itself, does not make sense. It only seems right then to live out my life in a way that doesn't always make sense. 

I honestly don't know how this chapter of life will end. But I know this is the beginning of something amazing. My prayer is for my faith to become stronger, my love to be more generous, my trust to be more apparent, and my calling to be more clear. 
2014 here's to a crazy ride! Live Loved. Live Loud. Live Forgiven.

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will me made stronger in the presence of my Savior."
-Hillsong United