In Memory of Katie

Monday night, I got news that my friend Katie had passed away on Sunday. Katie and I were close friends through junior high and high school. We met once or twice to catch up after highschool and college, but it had been a year or so since we last talked. Below, I’m just going to share a lot of memories and stories. Maybe in another post I’ll write about my feelings but right now it’s just time to remember Katie and the impact she had on my life.

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Every 4 years, my highschool band goes on an out-of-state trip. Lucky for us, this trip landed on our senior year. We went to Disneyland and Universal Studios in California. I remember Katie and I went through the House of Horrors together, and one of the funniest moments was when we both  were scared by the employee at the bottom of the stairs who was just standing there to warn us about the steps. This was in 2011 and Facebook Groups were a big deal, and so Katie and I decided to create a facebook group and the title was so oddly specific like: “I yelled at the employee at the bottom of the stairs at HOH in Universal Studios.” I think we were the only members of the group.

One day she invited me to a Jonas Brother concert and i was hesitant, but it was free and Katie was my friend. So I decided to go. I was not a fan of the Jonas brothers walking into the concert venue. The Jonas brothers were more than my little teenage girl heart could take. When the concert was over,  I’m pretty sure I wanted to marry all of them.  A two hour concert that night wasn’t enough JB for us, we jammed to their music on the car ride home. And I spent that night listening to their songs on Youtube.  And we spent the next few weeks/months talking about them. Katie’s passion for bands, movies, music, art was infectious. She’s the sole reason why I went through a Jonas Brother phase.

Speaking of phases, with adolescence comes phases of crippling self-doubt and loneliness. That was a tad bit dramatic, but its true. I remember having moments, days, weeks even when I just felt like no one liked me, that I didn’t have friends, or that I didn’t belong anywhere. On multiple occasions, I remember Katie being the person who brought me out of those dark phases, just by smiling and saying hello. On band trips, there were a lot of times where everyone was just standing around waiting or we would be going to a mall to eat, and everyone would group off with their friends. I knew I could always count on Katie to not run off and leave me. Or to include me in a circle of friends that she was talking to. i never felt judged by katie, I always had this sense of acceptance when I was around her. That I could be whoever I wanted and she’d still love me. Her faithfulness was such a light in my life.

It’s hard to think of a time in highschool where she wasn’t there. Band, band trips to Corpus, band trips to San Antonio for State and BOA, Anti-homecoming, Prom, the Snowpocalypse Texas had a few years ago when we went ‘sledding’ and made cookies afterwards, the trip to sixflags, your harry potter themed birthday party, bowling, my 18th birthday party, New Year’s eve where we played Apples to Apples for 3 hours on the floor by the front door. I’ve never lost someone who I’ve shared so many memories with.

We got together last year for frozen yogurt at the same shopping center where we took our group prom photos. I remember thinking about how everything had changed so much since Highschool. We’d gone to different colleges, met new friends, studied different things, yet, there we were siting on that bench eating Fro-yo like nothing had changed at all. It was not awkward, or forced, it was just authentic friendship. Laughing, talking, venting, dreaming. That’s how I knew i had a true friend. For that I am incredibly grateful. Thank you for your faithfulness, for sharing what you were passionate about with me, for always being down to do anything, for being an open ear, and a great source of joy in my life. I miss you already. but, i know I’ll see you again. 12250083_10153251410263317_5605255206383773078_n

 

 

 

 

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the last day

We’ve all experienced the “last day,” whether it be a last day at a job, last day of school, last day in the neighborhood you grew up in. I experienced a pretty big ‘last day’ recently. I arrived in Texas on Friday after 3 months of studying abroad in London, England. (I’ll blog about it later.) I knew that I had 3 months and 3 days in London. Near the end of the experience, people began to countdown. 2 weeks left, 11 days, 3 days, 24 hours. When Thursday came, the last full day in London, all of us were so excited to make the most of our last day! We spent days planning, we asked each other what we wanted to do. I went to sleep that Wednesday imagining what the next day held: sunshine, roses, cotton candy machines, everyone skipping joyfully and smiling. In reality, that Thursday was just like the other 80 some odd days in London. The only difference was the knowledge that this was our last day in this city.

This applies to any situation where we know its our “last time.” My last day of high school was the same as the previous four years, writing my last college paper felt just like writing all the other papers I wrote. The last time I rode the tube in London, felt just like all the other times. We expect so much out of our ‘last’ moments that we forget its just another day. I had to readjust my mindset about half way through the day in London, I had to lower my expectations: the last day wasn’t going to solve all my problems  (i got 99 problems and leaving London was one),  the last day was not going to provide ultimate satisfaction (only Christ can do that), and certainly Chris pine was not going to fall out of the sky and propose to me (psst Chris pine! I’m in texas now!!) It was just another 24 hours in London.

I think i’m beating this point to a pulp. Moving on.

So, fellow sentimental beings,  what do we do with our ‘last day?” (Again, i’m not speaking of death here, just the end of careers/experiences/etc.) Exchange that feeling of expectation, that “me, me me” attitude, and turn it into action: be intentional. So this is your last day! what are YOU going to do with it? Don’t wait around for the day to serve you, go serve during the day. Be intentional, be proactive.  Make every moment count. stop counting the moments. I think I got that from a t-shirt or an e-harmony commercial,  or something.  Next time, don’t wait until the end to make it count! Start early, be intentional when you have several weeks left. Shoot, be intentional from the beginning! Because when I really think about it, we don’t really know how much time we have in the grand scheme of things.

So, friend, go make today count.

Lie: Love should always feel good.

The greatest act of love in human history was the Son of God being crucified on a cross. Crown of thorns on his head, nails in his hand, 40 lashes on his back, suffocation on a cross.

And we have the nerve to look someone in the face and say “I just don’t love them anymore. That feeling is gone.”

The  greatest act of love in human history did not revolve around feelings. Thorns, nails, whips, hanging on a cross till He suffocated? Sorry if I’m jesus-juking* everyone here, but the Cross didn’t feel good…at all. If we as Christians are to love like Jesus did, then with the pain of the Cross, we can conclude that perhaps Love is not about feelings. then what is it about? well let’s look at the Cross and the man who died on it:

Love is a choice: Jesus willingly came to Earth and willingly died. Every whip, every beating, every breath he struggled for, was him choosing to save you over himself.

Love is action: Jesus didn’t just waltz around the Earth talking the talk telling everyone He loved them. He proved it with his life and death.

Love is sacrifice: Jesus put the needs of others (reconciliation with God) over his own needs.

Love is submitting: Jesus submitted Himself to His father’s will, “Not your will but Mine” He said as he sweat so hard, that he sweat drops of blood.

Want more? please go to 1 Cornthians 13. replace the word love with God.

read it again and replace the word love with your own name. Did ya cringe, feel like you were lying at some parts? Congratulations welcome to the club. We’re self-serving, self-righteous, self-seeking human beings. But God loves us right where we are. I pray  that knowledge travels from our head to our heart., that we may grow in the understanding of the height and depth of our Father’s love for us.

Can love involve feelings? Of course. There’s nothing wrong with that. Do not use the words love and feelings interchangeably.  I heard a pastor say once “As I spent more and more time married to my wife, I realized love was not about my feelings, love was a choice. I had to wake up each morning and choose to love my wife that day no matter what. Because no matter what, God loved her. And who was I to say anything different?”

For God so loved the world…

And who are we to say anything different?

Love today.

(((***In case you are unaware of this term, this is an example of what the kids call being “Jesus-juked”: Boy 1: “these books are so heavy.” boy 2: “I bet Jesus wasn’t complaining when He carried the cross! Boom. Jesus-juked!”*)))

My time with Hollywood

His name was Hollywood. Well, Chris, but everyone who knew him called him Hollywood. He was a snare drummer in our band and after each rehearsal asked if anyone wanted to go to Taco Bueno with him. I remember he had asked me one time if I wanted to go and was surprised he even cared to ask me because I didn’t think we were that close of friends. I said no and blamed it on time and how I had a class at two. He was famous for giving the best bear hugs and lighting up any room he walked in with his larger than life personality.

Every year our band marches in a Veteran’s day parade. And according to the upperclassmen, the parade that happened on November 11, 2011 was the best one yet all because of Hollywood. It was one of those moments you had to be there for because writing it down just does not do it justice. You might ask “How does one guy make a parade so great?” To which all i can say is “You had to have known Hollywood.” After the parade one of my good friends Laura, a bass drummer, asked if I wanted to go to lunch with her and Michelle. I almost said no but agreed to go at the last minute.

They had decided on Chick-fil-a and once we arrived and I saw the rest of the percussion section sitting down, I got really nervous. I was a freshman and a trumpet player. I didn’t know any of the percussionists that well. This was going to be awkward, I had decided. I ordered my food and hesitantly walked to the table with all them. Hollywood was the the first to acknowledge me and said “Hey, come sit down!” A wave of relief washed over me. I was welcome. He asked what my major was and then started ranting about the Chick-fil-a sauce.

“Have you ever tried this stuff? It’s so good I could drink it with a straw. Here try some.”

He talked a mile a minute and quickly slid one of the 8 individual containers of chickfila sauce across the table to me. It was some of the best sauce I had ever had. I nodded in agreement, letting him know I liked it. He seemed happy to have been the one to introduce me to that delicious condiment.

Later on in the meal, we were going around the table asking each other “If (name) was an animal, what animal would they be?”  I silently listened and thought about each person. Dogs, flamingos, and other animals were passed around as ideas for the different people. When it was Hollywood’s turn, a hawk (or some other bird of prey) came to my mind. Nothing seemed to effect him. He had a wife, two kids, his school work, plus marching band and the band fraternity. Yet, he remained seamless and stable through it all. He spoke first.

“I kind of see myself as some stinking awesome bird of prey.” My mouth dropped. I spoke up.

“Me too! I would have to say a hawk. You seem to soar above everything, like nothing or no one can effect you.” I meant it as a compliment and he took it as one. The rest of the meal was a blur, but as we all got up to leave, Chris and some of the others stopped in line to get something else to eat. Michelle, Laura and I had walked out of the restaurant already. Laura stopped, turned around and  as she walked towards the restaurant said to us “I’m going to go say goodbye to them.”  We stood there and both murmured something along the lines of “We’ll see them tomorrow.”

It was a Friday and I had driven home for the weekend. I was on facebook late that night and saw a facebook status explaining that Chris had died.

“What.” I said out loud. “No, no no no no no. Not Chris. Has to be another Chris.”  I commented on the status asking for clarification.

Chris, the band’s Hollywood, had indeed died that night in motorcycle accident. I remember saying to myself over and over, “There’s no way. I just had lunch with him that day. There’s no way.”  He was gone.

Band rehearsal was weird, almost sickening, without Chris. It was still and quiet. The guy who could make all of us laugh without fail during band was gone. The room seemed darker, thicker without him. I had never met someone who had that much influence on the dynamic in a room, just by being there. We all expected and hoped that he would just burst through the band hall doors during rehearsal. Reality sunk in deeper and deeper as the door remained closed and his drums remained untouched.

To this day, I ask for chick-fil-a sauce every time I go there to eat.To this day, I have yet to meet someone who had the same enthusiasm for life and a love as deep as his for people, the drums and his family. I did not know Chris well, but I am so thankful for the time I had with him. Today I pray for his wife, three kids, his parents, and all of his friends who had shared many meals with Chris.

May God comfort them on this day.