An Interview with Coby from Dude Perfect

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 We live in an interesting world; fame doesn’t just belong to the people in Hollywood anymore. Anyone can become a viral sensation thanks to social media websites like Youtube and Facebook.  Watch any vlogger on Youtube and you’ll see a regular person with millions of views, comments and followers. We might scoff and think “Wow what a silly thing. Who cares about this guy just talking to a camera?” But, deep down, maybe there’s an aching in our heart to be seen, to be approved of and to be followed just like those guys on Youtube. For me, I wrestle with this “viral” thought a lot, especially as a blogger. I go through this thought process every time I  post something, I think perhaps this next blog post will go viral and THEN my writing career will take off, or more recently “surely once a few people read my book, it’ll get the recognition it deserves and spread all over the country.” I disguise these thoughts with “Oh, it’s all for God’s glory!” and “The more people who know Him the better.”  And maybe there’s some truth there, but I know deep down, there’s a part in me that really just wants the spotlight, the approval, the comments, the likes, the empty praise. Admitting all of this is hard. I feel gross. But, I know it’s human nature and I am not alone.  These are all big heart issues I’ve been dealing with and wrestling with for years now.  And I know I got to deal with them so I decided to ask my friend Coby Cotton (Member of Dude Perfect) some questions about managing internet fame as a Christian and all the craziness that comes with it.  

 Sidenote:  if you don’t know who Dude Perfect is, check out their channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/corycotton/featured 

I understand that DudePefect started out with just you guys in a backyard, challenging each other to a variety of trick shots. When the first video was posted and it went viral, what emotions/thoughts were you experiencing in those first few days, weeks? How has that changed to how you feel today?

As juniors at Texas A&M, we posted our first video in 2009. For some reason I still don’t fully understand, it caught the attention of Good Morning America and they called wanting to air it the following morning! I remember feeling both a genuine excitement and a sense of gratitude that God would allow what we created to be highlighted that way. The levels of recognition we’ve received for our videos since that day have risen and fallen, but I’m still equally grateful that God has chosen to use us, a simple group of friends making fun videos, in His way.

 

You’ve gotten to meet and hang out with a lot of famous people, you’ve gotten to do a lot of amazing things, you have a TV Show, a freaking cool new warehouse.  By the world’s standard, you’ve “made it.” You’ve got the fame, the fun, a dream job. Sometimes I falsely believe that I need stuff, experiences and people to make my life better. If I only could meet this person, go on this trip, have this awesome job, then I’d be happy. Any words of wisdom for me and the people out there who can relate to that?

Dude Perfect has afforded us some incredible opportunities that, earlier in my life, I could have only dreamt of. I never want to downplay the exciting pieces of this journey, but at the same time, each of these experiences come and go and their luster fades. It’s easy for me (and I think for all of us) to live for the next thing: the next tv show, the next concert, the next weekend, the next promotion, the next vacation. We put all of our hope in those things, and then, once each one comes and goes, we’re left chasing the next. If there’s one thing God has taught me over the last few years it’s this. Be faithful where I’ve placed you. Not where you hope to be one day or in a place you wish you could return to. Be faithful with where I’ve placed you today. Ben Stuart says it this way, “Excel at the revealed things.” We don’t know what God has for us next. I think it’s great to be honest with God and ask Him for what we desire. But in the midst of those honest requests, don’t lose sight of all that He has for you exactly where you are today.

How has your faith played a role in your Dude Perfect Journey?

Over the past year, God has been using a specific verse in my life to bring my focus to Him. Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me Your way Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.”  I want my heart to be undivided in its devotion for Him. I don’t want to be distracted by this or that and miss out on what He has for me. In the midst of all the craziness of Dude Perfect, I fail in this all the time and allow myself to be pulled a hundred different directions. But my prayer remains the same, “give me an undivided heart” because I know that all that other stuff will let me down. I absolutely can rely on His faithfulness. He has guided me in the past and will continue to do so.

There’s tons of content creators out in the world, bloggers like me, and Youtubers like you guys. As you reached each milestone in your Youtube popularity (1,000 subscribers, 100,000, 1,000,000. Etc), did you feel any better about life? Any advice for content creators who are Christian and are waiting for that next milestone, hoping it will be what they need to feel satisfied?

This one’s easy: No. I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble or demotivate someone from seeking that next milestone, but just know that it won’t satisfy you the way you think it will. Think about it. Do you know anyone “at the top” who’s really satisfied with where they’re at in life? The richest and most famous people on the planet are some of the most unsatisfied people on earth. At the age of 30, Tom Brady famously stated in a 60 Minutes interview after having already won 3 Super Bowls and 2 Super Bowl MVPs “There’s gotta be more than this.” The answer that Tom, and all of us, are seeking will never be found in another Super Bowl ring or another raise. God offers us abundant life, both here on earth and forever with Him in Heaven. And contrary to popular belief, good people don’t go to heaven, forgiven people do. And forgiveness only comes through Jesus. Make your life about Jesus, not the next milestone, and suddenly you’ll be able to rightfully celebrate achieving those goals instead of riding the emotional rollercoaster of reaching them and finding them empty.

What do you do to stay grounded through all the recognition and attention? Some people think it’d be really cool to have that life of being recognized and having people come up to you and be a source of constant affirmation, but really, how is that life? What are the challenges? What do you lose when you’re in the spotlight?

Different people value different things. Some value money, some value power, some value fame or applause. It’s easy to think that with those things comes real happiness. But all of that stuff fades! You’re only as good as your last performance, your last game, your last paycheck. When all of that stuff fades away, you’re only as happy as the quality of the relationships in your life. You first need to make sure that you’ve trusted your life to Jesus, all other relationships are secondary to that one. But beyond that, you’ll never regret spending more time with the people closest to you. I’ve heard it said, “Everyone cheats. You either cheat your work to spend time with your family or you cheat your family to spend time at work.” We all know people who regret giving whole seasons of their lives to their work at the expense of their families and those closest to them. Being in the spotlight (either through entertainment or rising to a certain position in your workplace or through some other means) may seem desirable, but don’t let it cause you to neglect the relationships in your life that truly matter. In the end, all that really matters is loving God and loving people. My prayer for anyone reading this is that they would pray honestly to God, asking Jesus to change them, and then ask Him each day after that how to live in a way that would honor Him and bring them the most joy along the way.

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I published a book!

Hello Friends,

It just occurred to me that I never announced my new book.

It’s a devotional book called “Show Me Your Love”

 

It’s an ebook, right now. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll be able to sell hard copies.

Thanks so much for your support!

 

 

Preschool stories: Spilled Milk and Frozen

I never really understood the whole “No use crying over spilled milk” thing until yesterday. It was the last day of school and the kiddos (3-6 years old) were eating their pizza at lunch. Our youngest girl some how knocked her cup of milk on the floor. Her eyes welled up with tears, she looked at the puddle of milk, then at me, then at the puddle and back at me. Her shoulders began to shake and the shrieks of devastation soon followed. In her eyes, it was the end of the world. That was only the beginning of the tears. During nap time, she woke up and started screaming for her mom. I went over to her began to pat on her on the back, and whisper “it’s okay…shhhhh….it’s okay.” She screamed louder. MOMMY. I WANT MY MOMMMM. I WANT MY MOMMY. MOMMMMM. Sobs. then she screamed even louder. I WANT MY MOMMMMM. MOMMY. I learned a tactic from another teacher when a similar situation was occurring, I tried mirroring the little girl, helping her know i heard her and understood. “I hear you. I hear that you want your mom.” But that did not work and  it became clear she was not going to listen to my words.

The lead teacher and I exchanged glances and kind of shrugged shoulders. She tried a few things as well. Distraction, a glass of water, a book. Nothing worked. The girl had been sick the last few days and this was her first day back in awhile. My lead teacher said “today was a different schedule than usual, and probably hasn’t helped her anxiety from being away from mom.” . It was so easy to put this girl in a box and label it “loud child, defiant, just ignore.” When she said the word anxiety, I instantly thought of myself. When I’m anxious, hearing “calm down, you’re okay.” doesn’t help. Listening to music helps me. We had tried everything to help her, or so I thought, I went to her nap roll and started singing songs from Frozen quietly. Her loud sobs turned into quiet whimpers. Then when I ran out of lyrics from Frozen I started singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little star. Her breathing returned to normal, she was quiet.  she fell back asleep. I took a huge breath of relief.

It’s easy and tempting to group kids into a different category from myself. I am, after all, 17-20 years older than all of them. However, their younger age doesn’t make them any less human than me. As the little girl cried for her mom,  I remembered the time I was in a hotel in the middle of England with no wifi, and no cell service homesick as ever and crying because i wanted to talk to my mom (as a 21 year old!) I put on my favorite music and told myself I’d be home soon enough.  I’m learning that kids are people too: tiny, smelly, loud, fun, annoying, innocent, but people nonetheless.

Debt

Great news!! I got an email today saying  that someone had paid off my student loans! can you believe it? I had over 200 payments to make and now I’m free!! 

Are you sure they paid for all of it? that’s kind of ridiculous. maybe they left some for you to cover. 

Well, come to think of it, I should make sure that they paid for all of it. let me check my account: “You owe $00.00” oh wow well this is great. I was just getting really overwhelmed at the thought of having to make all those payments. 

Why would someone do that? you probably owe that person now. Nothing is ever free.    email them and see what they want from you. 

Maybe you’re right. Let me email them.  to whom it may concern, I noticed you paid off my student loan debt  I was wondering why?? and was wondering if there was anything  I could do to repay you. thanks, a student  

Look they responded! Hello, yes that is true. because I love students and don’t want them to live in debt. you don’t owe me anything. 

That’s so weird. students are so irresponsible going to such expensive colleges. that person is out of their mind to pay for a debt they didn’t owe.  I know what to do. just keep making payments on the loans. that’s the only way to be sure. can’t trust someone you’ve never met  

Are you sure?? I mean my account said it was all paid for,  that guy said it was covered. 

It’s the only realistic option.

Okay, I guess. I’ll pay this thing off on my own. 

—————

Friends, as sinners, we owed a debt.a debt bigger than student loans.   a debt we could never ever pay off. a debt that earned us eternal separation from God. Jesus paid the debt. all of it. All of it. the enemy is going to try and convince you  otherwise. he’s going to fill you with doubt & shame, he’s going to confuse you and convince you that there’s still payments to be made  but rest assured because  the account is closed. He loves you. don’t live this life trying to pay off your own sin. the account is  closed. you can’t add to it or take any of it away. Jesus paid it. rest in His freedom and grace. you are loved. 

6 things I learned my First Year of teaching

What teaching has taught me the last 365 days:

(For the record, I’m an assistant teacher at Montessori Preschool)

1. Endure the hard days, Enjoy the great days.When you spend 8 hours a day with small humans (#preschoolteacher), your days are going to vary drastically because small humans are human too and have lots of emotions every day. One day can be horrible because no one is listening and and no one is cooperating. And the next day, you ask a child ONCE to do something and they excitedly agree and want to do more and more to help in the classroom.

 

2. You’re going to repeat yourself a lot. You’re going to repeat yourself a lot. I’m sure this is universal for teachers, but like, half my day is spent repeating myself. Whether its repeating instructions to the same child, or repeating the same instructions to different children. If you hate repeating yourself, teaching may not be for you.

 

3. Newfound Respect for teachers. My first few weeks of teaching opened my eyes to just how hard, rewarding, emotionally exhausting, physically demanding and amazing it is to be a teacher. I instantly wanted to hug all my teachers who poured so much into my life the last 18 years. Especially my middleschool teachers. (HOW DO YALL HANDLE ALL THE HORMONES AND THE LACK OF PERSONAL HYGIENE?) Whenever I meet someone and find out they are a teacher, I just want to hug them and say “You’re doing an amazing job” and I also want to hug them and ask “So you know how I feel, right?”

4. Patience, Patience, Patience, Patience….wait for it…..patience.   Even though these kiddos I’m around are 3-6 years old, I can’t make them do anything they don’t want to do. I have no control over them. Sure, I could do everything for them and it would be a lot faster. But then, at what cost? Their independence when they washed their own dish, or confidence when they rolled up their nap roll by themselves. It’s so imperative at this age to let children start doing things by themselves. And with that comes A LOT of patience. We have like 4 or 5 kids who take like 5 to 10 minutes to change their shoes after recess. But to watch them focus so intently and to see their eyes light up when they are done (some of them even say, I DID IT!!!) it’s worth every second.

5. Thighs of Steel and A Bladder of Stone. Yall, I was looking at my legs the other day and noticed a bump when I straightened my leg out, I think people call them muscles or something, I got thigh muscles now from standing all day. Also, my friends and I used to joke that I have a bladder the size of a peanut. But now, I can hold it like a boss. I didn’t really learn this while teaching, but its relatable, teachers can never pee, amirite?

6. An amazing Opportunity.  Where else in the world are you going to be entrusted with 20-150 kids, 8 hours a day, for 9 months of the year?  Sure, you are there to teach them material, make sure they pass that dumb STAR test, and help prepare them for kindergarten,  middle school, highschool, college, or their life ahead. But you are also given an amazing opportunity to impact these kids lives. I’ll never forget a few of my teachers who went far and beyond their job description to ensure my experience in their class was a great one. My 3rd grade teacher made the classroom fun and did not take herself too seriously. When her computer would freeze up, she’d talk to it and then hit it with her shoe and we’d all die laughing. My highschool band director said the funniest things, cared about us as people, and was a great listener. My college professors challenged me and encouraged me. My professors my junior year of college are extra special because they all worked with me on my assignments/exams when I was dealing with my parent’s separation/divorce. The great teachers I had in my life, inspire me to be a great teacher for these little ones.

 

I am embarking on another 365 days of teaching (#schoolopenallyear) and I am excited to learn more about myself, these small humans, and teaching.

 

You Don’t Define Who You are.

I got in my first argument with my mom when I was 3 years old. I wanted ice cream and so I went to my mom and said “Gungah,” which was what I called icecream when I was 3.Where on earth did I get the world gungah from? I have no clue. To this day, I’m still wondering if Gungah means icecream in any language on this planet.   That’ll always be a mystery, I guess. Anyways, so I’m standing there asking my mom for Gungah, and she responded: “Icecream, Marlie. You mean Icecream.”

“Gungah,” I retorted. Duh. Gungah. The cold creamy chocolate stuff that I get all over my face and hands. Gungah.

“Ice cream. Repeat after me: ICE….CREAM…”

“GUN…GAH….” I repeated again.

“No no no. if you want icecream you’re going to have to call it icecream. Let’s take it one word at a time. Say: ICE. Then Cream.”
“GUN….GAH.”

3 year old me was getting flustered. My mom says that I started to tear up a bit and my lower lip stuck out… and I murmured between sniffles, “Gun-gah???” And she caved due to my adorable blue eyes and bright blonde hair. And I got icecream 🙂

I called it gungah for a year. Did me calling icecream by a different name alter or change the fact that icecream was called icecream? No. Bluebell didn’t recall all of its icecream (TOO SOON?) to change the labels from Blue Bell Icecream to Blue Bell Gungah. Just because I called it something different didn’t change the reality that it’s name is icecream. 

Tonight, we talked about identity. And we talked about all the different names we’ve called ourselves in our lives. I’ve called myself plenty of names, very unkind names, things I would never call other people. And when I start calling myself names, it always leads me into a dialogue…erm..argument with God.

“I really messed that up today. I’m a failure.” I said.

“No, you’re my Child and I love you.”

“Failure.”

“My child.”

“Fail…ure.”

“My…Child.”

If I wake up and feel like a failure and call myself that, God’s not going to be like “Oh snap. Thanks for correcting me.  You’re so right, Duh, you are a failure.” No. He’s going to grab my chin, lift it up and say “My child.”

I don’t define who I am, other people don’t define who I am, I am always and forever identified as a Child of God.My favorite song is Cornerstone by Hillsong United. And my favorite part is the last verse.

When He shall come with trumpet sound, oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in HIS righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.

No matter what I call myself, no matter what others call me, good or bad, I stand before God dressed in Christ’s robe of righteousness. I stand before God faultless, loved, co-heirs with Christ.

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

Colossians 1:22

 

Camp Agape 2016

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The world is shouting. Screams of pain, loss, tragedy, starvation, disease, injustice, shootings, disasters. The chaos hit particularly close to home when one of the officers who died in the Dallas shootings was a member at my church. Everything in me wanted to shut the world out, I felt hopeless, I felt useless, I felt worn out. The world shouts in pain  and just before I  decided to tune it all out, I arrived at Camp Buckner for my second year volunteering at Camp Agape. Camp agape is a bereavement camp for children who have had a family member die. I heard the cries, the shouts, the pain of these 34 children. And it was heart-shattering.

A room full of adults and children, candles in hand, tears flowing down cheeks. A young girl sings “You raise me up.” My body is covered in chills and I begin to cry. One by one we light a candle, and share the loved one we lost.It’s awkward, it’s hard, it’s surreal. I added a new name to the list this year, my best friend Katie. We barely get through all the names when the soft guitar music is beginning to be drowned out by sobs and even screams from children. A ripple effect ensues as children and adults realize that it is a safe place to cry, scream, shout, sit, stand, kneel. No one will tell them to stop, or to not talk about their loved one, or to “be strong.”  This is a time for them to grieve. And many do. Their losses are heavy. Children whose siblings drowned, died of cancer or committed suicide. Children with moms who died for health reasons, dads who died in car accidents. No one cried alone in that room, as campers and buddies trickled outside, no one sat alone. No one should grieve alone.

My camper had lost her oldest brother to suicide last year. The first night, before bed,the Buddy’s led devotionals with their campers. I’ll never forget her words, she said “I never got to say goodbye.” And a few minutes later, “I will never know why he did.that.” Death sucks, man. That next day she wrote on a balloon, during a forgiveness activity and released that heavy burden as she let the balloon go.  I wept as I saw the words “I forgive you for what you did, brother,” float up into the sky on that yellow balloon.

My camper loves animals, ketchup and was full of so many quick, witty one-liners. The first time I heard her say “Why run, when you can walk” made me laugh so hard, I doubled-over. One of my favorite moments was when I was telling her that during free time we could choose to swim or kayak. I was hoping she’d say swim, but I made sure she knew I was willing to do either. I said “Hey, so, today we can kayak during freetime or swim, it’s totally up to you.” Deep down i was saying PLEASE SAY SWIM, PLEASE SAY SWIM, ITS 100 DEGREES, PLEASE SAY SWIM. She said very matter of factly “Kayaking is A LOT OF WORK. Your arms get tired and you can’t even get in the water. I want to swim.” PRAISE THA LORD. We went swimming!  The joy she had despite her circumstances gave me hope.

We both drowned our food in ketchup (as she says, “If it’s not covered in ketchup, it needs more ketchup.) We both woke up like 10 minutes before it was time to leave and were ready in time (hair a bit messy, but we were ready!!) We both have brothers, we both love animals, hate running and loved to play Gaga ball. We also both have experienced losses due to suicide. I was her age when I lost my first friend to suicide. It was a beautiful experience to look at an almost 9 year old version of myself and pray with her, cry with her, laugh with her, sit with her, and encourage her.  To listen to one of the voices crying out in this broken world, and to be able to help give her the tools to grieve and to comfort her with the same comfort God has given me was a life-changing experience.

After my friend died in 2007, I found a quote that describes the grieving process so well, and it really captures what Camp Agape was like and so in spite of all my writing instincts, i’m going to end this here blog with a quote.

“Our hearts are heavy and light, we laugh and scream and sing, our hearts are heavy and light.”