Just For You

But, yes, I am getting older, and with that age has come a realization of things I took for granted when I was in high school.

As an adult, and even more as a parent of a little boy who is just over a year old, I have come to appreciate all that my parents went through. So, as we sit in between Mother's Day and Father's Day, here's a list of a few things you may not recognize that your parents have done for you:

The Cure for Laziness

When I was in high school, during those ancient years in the 90’s when we had an alarm clock that was separate from our phones, I hated waking up early.

I Give Up.

It was annoying. It was irritating. It was frustrating.

These are not major things. They are tiny, annoying things that piled up one after another. There are greater tragedies in the world, for sure, but that doesn't mean that I still didn't feel like throwing my hands up and wallowing in my own misery.

But then I remembered something.

Popularity is Overrated: And Other Advice for the High School Me

Well, a lot has happened in those 15 years, and as I prepare to turn the ripe old age of 33 (my Jesus year), I've been reflecting on a lot of hard lessons I've learned along the way. If only there had been older adults giving me advice during my high school years, perhaps I could have been saved from a lot of heartache and bad decisions.

When Heroes Fail

If you're anything like me, you've become pretty disenchanted with many so-called 'heroes' and 'leaders' in our world. The cheating, lies, deceit, and more have invaded my television to the point where I barely turn it on any more.

A few years ago, it was the scandal of Tiger Woods.

Just this past week, we've been bombarded with the confession of Lance Armstrong taking Performance Enhancing Drugs and whatever the heck is going on with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.

Hustle

I went to high school from 1994 to 1998, which makes me . . . well, old. During those four illustrious years, I met some cool people, got good grades, and pretty much stayed out of trouble.

Altogether, I'd say I lived a pretty good life in high school. But there's one thing I wish I had done more.

One thing I wish that I had taken seriously . . .

Hustle

I went to high school from 1994 to 1998, which makes me . . . well, old. During those four illustrious years, I met some cool people, got good grades, and pretty much stayed out of trouble.

Altogether, I'd say I lived a pretty good life in high school. But there's one thing I wish I had done more.

One thing I wish that I had taken seriously . . .

Election Aftermath

It got old watching TV ads about why 'Politician A' is so awful and why 'Politician B' is practically a canonized saint.

I got sick of opening my mailbox only to throw away multiple print ads everyday.

I got tired of the mud-slinging, name-calling, and lying that seems to spread through every election I've voted in.

Finally it's over! I can get back to my normal life, and my friends can get back to posting more pointless memes on Facebook.

Election Aftermath

It got old watching TV ads about why 'Politician A' is so awful and why 'Politician B' is practically a canonized saint.

I got sick of opening my mailbox only to throw away multiple print ads everyday.

I got tired of the mud-slinging, name-calling, and lying that seems to spread through every election I've voted in.

Finally it's over! I can get back to my normal life, and my friends can get back to posting more pointless memes on Facebook.

Tithing: Are You Brave Enough to Trust God With Your Money?

Read that verse again. It doesn't say lay down part of our lives. It says lay down our lives, and that means everything, including our money. For us this hasn't been easy. As we currently seek to purchase our first home, it would be nice to have that extra money to put toward our down payment. But God doesn't promise this life to be easy. He asks us to trust, and that's what we do.

10 Fun Things to Do with Your Summer Break

One of my favorite things about high school was the last week of school. Sure there were finals, but I knew the school year was about to end, and it was almost time for summer break. Ah… summer break. Oh how I would look forward to it. Oh how I would long for it. Oh how I would plan out all the exciting things I was going to do, only to get trapped in a cycle of boredom within a week. You probably know the drill and have been there before. There's nothing to do. It's too hot, and theme parks are too expensive. So, what can you do? Well, if you're not already going to Life Teen Summer Camp, here are 10 fun things you can do with your summer vacation.

I love a good prank (as long as I'm the one pulling it), and, over the course of my 9-year career as youth minister I pulled a few on the teens. My favorite of all-time took place when our retreat kicked off on a Friday night that also happened to be April Fool's Day:

Heaven is Worth it

Life is hard. We will feel pain, but the pain we face as we struggle along in our journey will one day make sense as we reach our 'finish line' and experience perfect joy for all eternity in heaven. It is here where we will be welcomed for who we are, congratulated on the 'race' we ran, and showered with an eternal feast the likes of which we could never have imagined. You see, no matter what we may face in this life, it's worth it because of what lies ahead in the next.

Community Matters

Throughout my life, I've always enjoyed doing things on my own. I couldn't stand group projects. I never enjoyed relay races, and I would rather play Madden '04 on my Playstation against the computer than against another person. So, when I set out to run a marathon, I thought this was going to be another thing I was doing on my own. Once again . . . I was wrong (a recurring theme in my life).

Don’t Give Up Because of Pain and Failure

7th grade rolled around, and it was time to tryout for the school team. I made it past the cut and the second cut. There were 18 of us left to fill 16 spots, and well . . . I was one of the last two cut. It was heartbreaking, but I dusted off my wounds and worked harder. I tried out for the 8th grade team the following year, and guess what? I got cut again . . . one of the last ones. The hard work continued, and I gave it a couple more shots early in my high school career, and, each time . . . cut . . . at the end.

The pain was too much, and I couldn't bear the thought of another year of hard work only to be rejected again. So, when it came time to try out for the Varsity Team my senior year, I gave up. I quit.

How to Persevere in Your Faith

I remember one of my first retreats in high school. I came home Sunday night on fire and ready to be a new person. It was time to change. I was going to go to Confession every week, get to mass everyday, pray the rosary every night, and read my Bible every morning. I was going to be holy. No more making fun of people, bad language, or laziness. I knew I could do it. I was inspired.

And that lasted until Tuesday. Yep. Tuesday. I had so much to learn.

You’ve Got to Have a Plan to Reach Your Goals

If you've ever been on a sports team or in a band, you’ve no doubt had to practice countless hours in order to get as good as possible for your upcoming game or concert. Without this practice, your team would be more likely to lose, or your concert would sound more like a bunch of 2 year olds banging on pots and pans in the kitchen instead of a beautiful symphony (unless they are really talented 2 year olds).

One of my favorite things about being a man is that we know everything. Or . . . no . . . wait a minute. We think we know everything. There, that sounds more like it.

But seriously, in high school I thought I had it all figured out.

Not Cool, Nicki Minaj

Dear Nicki Minaj,

I want to begin by letting you know that I don't know much about you. I don't listen to your music. I don't know your background, and I even had to look up how to spell your name. I think you performed at the Super Bowl this year, but last night, watching the Grammy's, was probably my first real introduction to you. And if it's important to make a good first impression, with me, you failed.

To say that I was offended by your performance is an understatement, and I really don't want to go back and re-live it again, so I'm not going to get into any specifics. What I do want you to know is something all of us Catholics believe.