A Fish with No Boundaries

fish-out-of-water

Tolerance is the most exalted virtue of our culture. The most serious charge someone can make about another person is that they are intolerant or close minded. To have strong convictions that something is absolutely right you’re absolutely wrong is to be labeled a bigot, often treated as one who violates people’s civil liberties.

This has certainly translated into parenting. parents who set firm boundaries for their children often feel pressure from their children, from the parents of their child’s friends, from media and other sources of popular opinion to lighten up, for all their children’s ideas rather than each and enforce a standard absolute right and absolute wrong. Loving parenting is defined by how permissive and open minded and tolerant the parents are, and conversely parents are bad, if not destructive or criminal, fa teach anything that seems close minded and intolerant and strict.

The result is that many good parents have stopped enforcing rules and setting boundaries for their child.

Is this good parenting? Let’s look at this from a fish point of view. Suppose I had a gold fish in a fishbowl. The fish is quite restricted by the fishbowl. Is a small environment, and I might think it is unfair to limit or restrict the fishbowl with such rigid boundaries. So, out of the goodness of my heart, I might just set that goldfish free from its strict boundaries by removing him from the fishbowl and placing him on the floor of a wide open living room. Now, he has practically no limits and no boundaries. I have set him free, proving myself to be a good pet owner.

How would you respond? Assuming that you love animals and care about this fish is well being, you would spring into action and get the fish back into the bowl as quickly as possible. To this, I might unleash upon you a tirade of accusations about you being close minded and intolerant and uncaring for restricting the goldfish to such a small environment inhibited by strict boundaries.

In reality, who is the good pet owner? is it me, who puts the goldfish on the floor in an attempt to set them free from boundaries, or you, who doggedly enforces that the fish stay within its boundaries? Obviously, it would be you since you are doing what is truly best for the fish. My intentions may seem noble, but they are not best because my permissiveness put the fish in danger.

Children, like goldfish, need boundaries. there are environments that are safe for children and environments that are not safe for them, places and situations that are dangerous and unhealthy for them. Boundaries lovingly keep them in areas that are healthy where they can thrive safely. Time and again, we see that children who grow up with parents who refuse to define and forest clear boundaries end up self destructing in some way because they have wandered into territories not fitting for them.

And yet, these parents are treated as the loving ones because they are permissive an unrestrictive and tolerant of all views and behavior. Like the person who is scolded for putting the gold fish back in the bowl, parents who maintain boundaries for their children are often scolded and treated as unloving.

So the question is, as a parent, do you want to be known as cool and tolerant and permissive and open minded and praised for these qualities, or do you want to truly protect and nurture healthy children, accepting that this will come with ridicule and resistance?

Looking back at my own childhood, one thing I am surprised to be grateful for is that my parents were always willing to be the bad guys. When they set boundaries and established standards of behavior and we forced them with discipline, they put up with our resistance and with ridicule from our friends and their own peers and repeatedly failed to measure up to what the media and other sources were purporting as good parenting. They seemed to anticipate this and were prepared to accept it. Their goal was not to win a popularity contest with us or with society; their goal was to protect their children and raised us to be healthy and wise adults.

Perhaps we need some intolerance. maybe we need to be close minded in some areas. maybe wide open freedom is not the highest virtue.

From one goldfish to another, let me encourage you to appreciate boundaries and to value the safety they provide.

The Fishermen Who Walked Away From the Catch No Fishermen Would Walk Away From

Luke 5:1-11 (New International Version)

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.   When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”    Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”   When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.   When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”  So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Fishermen are notorious for boasting about their catches even to the point of lying about, or what they call embellishing, the reality of their catch. Sometimes a catch truly is impressive enough to need no embellishment. these are mounted on the mantle and or the pictures are framed and hung perhaps even in place of their diploma. Fishing feats are indeed a source of great price for true fisherman.

It is hard to imagine, then, would block away from the greatest catch and their life and probably the greatest catch ever reported in the region. A catch that would afford them a lifetime of bragging rights. Not to mention, a catch that would bring in for them a hefty paycheck.

And yet, unbelievably, there was a day when for professional fisherman walked away from just such a catch. it was not just a great catch. it was an epic catch, a miraculous, legendary catch, be kind of cats that could change the fishermen’s lives.

And the situation surrounding it was so bizarre. Fishing is most productive at night, when fish are likely to be closer to the surface. Peter and Andrew had come in from a disappointing night of fishing and were cleaning their nets. A rabbi, who was becoming well known in their area, unexpectedly approached them and asked to preach from their boats. happy to oblige, Peter and Andrew pushed out a little from shore and let the man preach as long as he wanted. When the preaching was done, instructed the fisherman to try fishing during the day. it must have been strange to have an expert in the law instructing experts in fishing on how to fish! They must have already been impressed with the rabbi, because they obey, albeit apprehensively.

This small act of obedience would produce great dividends. When the fisherman pulled in the net, they expected to find nothing. What they found were hundreds of fish, more than their net could hold. In fact, it was more than their boat could hold. the fish were so numerous and upsets great side that their fishing boat began to sink! They called to their business partners, James and John, to bring their boat to be loaded and to divide the weight with them. what they found was that the catch was too much for two boats!

Bizarrely, once back on shore, these four men do not call the local news station or pack it up to head to market and then to the bank. Instead, they leave the catch in the boats and walk away! They walked away from a catch that no fisherman would walk away from.

This is an early retirement of sorts, but not as the rich men they could be. After the catch of their careers, they make a sudden career change.

Why? What would make them do that?

They have found something of much greater value than even the financial and pride pinnacle of their careers. Peter verbalized it: THE LORD! They knew that, to have Jesus and nothing else makes them wealthier than they would be without Him, even with the greatest catch possible.

The Gentle Giant Fisherman

My uncle Clyde was a giant. His large frame and big hands appropriately embodied his masculinity. He was everything masculine a man would want to be. He was an outdoorsman. he was practically unmatched in bow hunting skill and fishing skill and gun proficiency. He was an architect, more than sufficiently knowledgeable about all parts of the construction process. He was a skilled handy man. he was a history buff, particularly knowledgeable about Civil War history. if my memory serves me correctly, I believe he even participated in some Civil War reenactments. He was a respected leader in the small town where he lived, having a great deal of authority not because he was aggressive or loud or domineering but because his few words were chosen carefully for their wisdom. he was a faithful servant in the church, man who could be called upon for any need. those soft spoken, he had a commanding presence, admittedly partially due to his size, but mostly because of earned respect.

Pretty much my only experiences with fishing were at his house, usually under the tutelage of this gentle giant fisherman.

Uncle Clyde recently passed away. It forced me to recall his impact on my life. I admit that early in life, his size and masculinity intimidated me, perhaps even frightened me. my experience with men in power was it they are to be feared, and I certainly ascribed that fear to uncle Clyde. It was easy to be endeared to his wife, my aunt Glenda, because she was a warm, affectionate in person. Clyde, on the other hand, was quiet and reserved, often off by himself working on blueprints in his home office. I did not feel inclined or welcome to approach him to chat or play or even to ask for things. I pretty much gave him his space.

This is not his fault necessarily. It has to do with my misunderstanding of men and of uncle cried in particular. His personality was nothing more than his personality, not a way to keep me at a distance. In fact, there were plenty of things he did to connect with us. fishing is one of those.

Uncle Clyde had a pond in his backyard. The large, spacious lot of land upon which he had built his own house allowed more than enough room for a decent sized pond. He had worked for years to stop the pond with different types of fish. He would go fishing at lakes in the area with the intention of bringing fish back to his pond that we could fish ourselves. I’m certain I never caught a fish over two or three pounds and more than a foot long, but in my mind, I was a fisherman. He taught us the basics of casting and reeling, what type of bait to use, how to hook bait and how to unhook fish. these may not be life skills I routinely use in my adult life, but it did instill confidence in me and nurtured me in my own development into manhood. That is a priceless gift, and investment I am eternally grateful for.

In my adulthood, I came to understand uncle cried much better and realized he had been expressing love in incredible ways all along. One of the greatest expressions of love IRA call is his presence at my wedding. I was getting married in New Mexico , and he lived in Georgia. Earlier that year, he had nearly died of severe liver problems. I believe he even has to have a liver transplant. He had more than enough reason to skip my wedding, and I had told Glenda and Clyde that we knew they love us, so it would be unnecessary for them to make the ED 30 hour drive to New Mexico or risk a flight in Clyde’s condition. Still, to my surprise, they came. it was wonderful to see them, even though it was difficult to see the impact Clyde’s sickness had on his body. I will never forget the effort they made to express their love under such conditions.

His legacy is evident in the fact that, when he passed away, truthfully at a time of year that was not conducive for myself or other siblings to go to Tennessee for a funeral, everyone of us rearrange things to make it possible to be there. No cost of travel was too much and no time off was to inconvenience for this man. He had lived his life well, and deserves all the honor he is due.

The Monster of Ute Lake…

eel_monster_teeth15

The Abominable Snowman, the Loch Ness monster, and Bigfoot may all be legend and lore, but not the Monster of Ute Lake.

First, some background on the situation in which I encountered the monster.

As a youth minister, I had become close with one of the families at that church. A man and his wife and two sons and a daughter. let’s call the middle son Gavin.

At an event for Halloween, I had rented bounce houses for the kids to play in. This is a popular thing to do, and I had done them before with great results. On this occasion though, some of the kids came running inside to tell me that Gavin was hurt. They said he was crying and wanted everyone to stop bouncing and needed help. Gavin was young, approximately first or second grade, but he was a very tough little guy, so I knew that, if he was crying, I should take it seriously. When I got to the bounce house, he was very upset. Despite knowing he is a tough guy, I eventually felt that he was overreacting, probably because he is tired. his parents were there and were notified he was hurt, and they were mostly I’m concerned as well. this is how he had become so tough. His parents did not panic at the first sign of injury. They took it in stride and injury heal. this is certainly not to say they were bad or loving or uncaring parents, they had just understood that injuries are part of life. That was their attitude in this situation. they helped him get out of the bounce house safely, and found him a place to sit down.

Honestly, we all expected him to sit for a moment and then be right back in the bounce house. But this did not happen. he spent the rest of the party sitting and inactive. obviously, something was wrong, but I seriously underestimated how wrong it was.

After a day or two of continuing to complain of neck pain, Kevin’s parents finally took him to see a doctor. They called me soon after with the news. His neck was broken. Not just fracture, broken badly enough to have almost severed his spinal cord. After many visits to countless specialists, he was finally put into an apparatus to stabilize his neck and make it impossible for him to turn his head which could cause the spinal cord to be severed. The apparatus is called a halo. it is secured on the shoulders and bolted into the skull, a large metal after either that looks gruesome. Needless to say, I felt horrible for having played a role in his injury by providing bounce houses. The family was extremely gracious about it I’m a realtor and me they did not hold me responsible in any way, but that help alleviate only a little of the guilt.

A year or more later, I suppose a year and a half later, with Gavin finally out of his halo, I went with this family to enjoy a day at the lake. Ute Lake was one of their favorites family vacation destinations. they had boats and jet skis and all other water toys needed to have hours and hours of fun. I took some of the teenagers with me, and we began a wonderful day playing on the water.

At one point, I got Gavin on the jet ski with me. He was now probably 8 or 9 years old haha but he was efficient riding on jet skis. If that was a much more a dangerous driver then I was, so I knew Gavin could handle anything I did.

We decided to jump the wake of the boats. the water was a little choppy that day because of the win, but I had a little trouble maintaining control of the jet ski. with each jump of the wake, I grew more and more brave.

And that’s when it happened. I hit the wake at an awkward angle, and momentarily lost control of the jet ski. it tips to the right and then I was able to correct it back to the left and stop. Because of what could have gone wrong. Yet again, with Gavin, I underestimated the damage that indeed was done. Softly at first and growing louder, he was saying my name to call attention to his leg. On his leg were three deep lacerations approximately 6 inches long and spaced evenly apart to one another. It look to be claw marks. I heard him back to the campsite, and return to look all over the area or a tree branch or something else in the water that could have caused this injury. I did not find anything. we returned with the boat to look with the depth finder, but again, we found nothing.

This was my first, and to date my only experience with the lake monster.

Get a Bigger Tank

Goldfish

The army motto has, at one point, been, “be all that you can be,” and may still be. This is a brilliant slogan because it speaks to the heart of something that is a concern to every person: how to become the best version of myself.

We begin life with dreams and aspirations that drive us forward toward improvement and progress. this is what motivates us to learn to crawl and then learn to walk and to learn to talk and to learn to ride bikes and climb trees and add and read. There are dreams in little girls for becoming a princess period of being a hero. sadly, this drive is quench for some children by influences telling them they are not good enough or that it will never amount to anything valuable or making them feel guilty about trying to achieve and improve. but still latent in them is the desire to be all that they can be.

Goldfish may teach us something about this.

The stereotypical or iconic goldfish is a small orangish fish in a small bowl on a table. these are featured in countless cartoons, typically with a hungry cat in the same frame. these goldfish typically are not more than a few inches long. However, goldfish, or carp, have the ability to be several towns and well over one foot, possibly several feet. However, this will never happen as long as there in a small glass bowl on a table. Goldfish, you see, grow relative to the size of their tank. the smaller the tank, the smaller the goldfish. In a larger space, a large tank or a small goldfish pond or even a full size pond, goldfish will expand to there full size potential.

So I suppose a key to reaching our full potential is to get a bigger tank.

Let me first explain what this does not mean. This does not require having to get A promotion to a higher position 42 seek employment at a larger Corporation or to aspire to something with more prestige or to move to a larger city or any other literal larger tanks.

Instead, getting a bigger tank merely means to purposely seat situations and environments where we are challenged and where we,, feel small and overwhelmed and incapable. This is, of course, counterintuitive. it would seem that success requires putting ourselves in environments where we harder best suited to flourish, but when we are in situations where we are already as big as we need to be, we will not grow further.

There was a study done of children who were brought into a room with very very high ceilings. add another phase of the test, they were brought into a room with very very low ceilings. Add another phase, there are brought into a room with feelings that were high, but not too far out of reach. What the researchers notice is that, in the room with a high ceiling but that was not too high, the children challenge themselves up and touch the ceiling. this obviously did not happen in the room where the ceiling was unreasonably high. it was so far out of reach, there was not even a thought of trying to touch it. But interestingly, in the room where the ceiling was easily within reach, there was little to no jumping to touch it.

This, along with the goldfish principle, can teach us about what motivates us towards gross and full maturity. To put ourselves in an impossible environment only invites failure. But to put ourselves in easily managed environments that are not difficult and do not challenge us will not inspire us to reach higher. as easy and comfortable and convenient as it may be to stay in environments where we feel competent and able, these are small tank that will keep us small, too.

To reach our full potential, we must purposely put ourselves in situations where we are in over our heads. We need to be in situations that force us to step up and to grow. We need higher ceilings that make us jump, even high enough that we cannot yet reach them. We need to be in tanks where we are not the biggest or strongest or most capable.

In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the master tells his to faithful servants that whoever is faithful with a little will be given more. being faithful in small things is wonderful, but it is meant to lead us to larger responsibilities.

So do you want to be all that you can be? Maybe it’s time to get a bigger tank, whatever that means for you.

Fishing from a Different Kind of Pond

BigFish

There is a Trojan condom ad of a man and woman talking enthusiastically in a bar and all around them are pigs sitting at tables. The text says something to the effect of dating a real gentleman who will wear a condom versus a man who does not wear a condom, making him a pig. The implication is that the man of your dreams, the standard of what defines him as a prince, is that he will wear a condom when he has sex with you versus others who are pigs because they will not.

What a sad, tragic standard people are dating by. Perhaps when we are fishing from a pond like a bar, the greatest character we may hope to find might indeed be someone who will wear a condom when they have sex with you. But if you had your choice of where to fish, would you waste your time fishing from a place where the best fish you could hope to get would be small and scrawny and possibly carrying disease? Absolutely not!

Perhaps it is time to change where we are fishing for a mate. there are places to fish where there is the potential to find some one of the highest quality. Where you fish in many ways will determine what kind of fish you are likely to catch.

In every pond, even ones stocked with the best fish, there may still exist plenty of unhealthy ones, but there are some places where unhealthy fish naturally gather and the environment tends to perpetuate the decline in quality, and in those places, it is rare to find even one average fish.

It is perplexing how some will fish for a mate in places that breed unhealthy fish and attract unhealthy fish and then be surprised and dismayed to have caught an unhealthy fish. People will lament, where are all the good guys or all the good girls?

They still exist, but they are not to be found where these people are searching!

I know this issue from both sides of the shore. I have certainly done my fair share of looking for love in all the wrong places. I have sought mates in godless places where people of low character gather and have still been surprised to find that I could not seem to find a good girl. Conversely, I have been the unhealthy, low quality, diseased fish that was such a disappointment to hopeful young ladies. Thankfully, I eventually began searching in the right places, fishing from the right kind of pond.

This week, I celebrate eleven years with my incredible wife. Fifteen years ago, I was skeptical if I’d ever get married or if I really even wanted to. At that time, the prospect looked grim because of the type of ladies I was catching. If you had told me then that I’d be so happily married now, I would’ve scoffed.

So what made the difference? I changed where I was looking, which changed who I was catching. More specifically, I began looking among God’s people in places where God’s people gather.

As I said before, there are diseased fish even in a place like the church, mates who would not be wise to date. But there is a much higher likelihood there of finding someone of high quality because that’s where they gather and the environment is designed to constantly help improve the quality of those who are there. Not so in bars and clubs and parties of a worldly nature, places that people of quality tend to purposely avoid and environments that tend to further infect and corrupt the character of those in them.

When I decided I wanted the highest quality young lady whom I could potentially marry, entrust my children to, and spend the remaining half-century or more of my life with (hopefully!), I turned to the church and immediately found Tamara. She is the perfect example of the blessings that come with finding a wholesome, Christ-like mate, and that is found almost exclusively in places of godliness.

Some ponds to consider fishing from to find a high quality mate:

. Christian congregations

. Campus and youth ministries

. Mission fields

. Service and volunteer organizations or opportunities

. Bible studies

. Christian singles groups

. Christian universities

. Friends of Christian friends

There are certainly others. And there are certainly plenty to be found in more neutral places, as well, such as work places, schools, public universities, etc., but not likely in such a high concentration.

This week is a reminder of how blessed I am to have such an amazing mate, and there are others out there still, but you’ve got to look in the right places!

Just Keep Swimming…and Other Life Lessons from Finding Nemo

nemo

Finding Nemo is a computer animated movie released by Disney and Pixar studios several years ago. The storyline is of a clownfish who is over protective of his son, causing his son to a bell which leads to his capture, and The Odyssey the clownfish father finding and rescuing his son.

As is true with many Disney movies, there are some profound lessons to be learned from this film.

The first and most overt is the need for a parent to learn to trust let go of their child. The father had lost his wife and most of his children in an attack by a predator fish. it is no wonder, then, that he would be protective of his son. However, it becomes obvious to the viewer or earlier how this fathers loving grasp is strangling his Sun. It is a clear depiction of how parents her parents out of fear May quite literally love their child to death. The title of the book when helping hurts comes to mind. by trying to be so nurturing and helpful, this father was hurting his son.

As a youth minister, I see this dynamic far too often. Parents who do not allow their children to face consequences end up with a young adult who does not weigh the consequences of much more serious actions. parent to take responsibility for their child’s welfare even to the point of demanding very little participation of the child end up with immature and irresponsible and helpless and entitled young adults. parents who rush to the aid of their child for every tiny bruise or scratch and that with children who are unable to cope with pain in a healthy way. parents to consistently make excuses for their child’s misbehavior end up with young adults who are unable to accept responsibility for the damage they do. Parents who do everything for their child end up with young adults who are either entitled and demanding or are insecure and who believe they I have nothing to offer themselves.

Bit dad, out of genuine love and good will, the leaves his job is to manipulate his sons environments so there is no danger. he holds the child so close out of fear that the child will get in over his head and be unable to manage. This seems loving, but the results is a child who feels that his father does not trust him and does not think he is good enough or strong enough or wise enough. the sun’s response is to Rebell in a dangerous way to prove that he can handle it. The lesson that the dad learns through the movie, and with Steve you were also learns, is too affirm the child that he or she is good enough and is strong enough by allowing them to try things that are difficult and dangerous so they learn that you trust them and that they can overcome those situations. by the end of the movie, the dad and son enjoy a much more trusting relationship where the father shows his love by encouraging his son to take new steps and the Sun enjoys showing his father that he can do it.

Another lesson from Finding Nemo is the need for help from others. The dad is on a desperate mission to save his son, and yet he persistently pushes away anyone who tries to help. One fish named Dory, who suffers from short term memory loss, is as loyal a companion as a clown fish could want, and yet he treats her as deadweight or spare baggage. He is constantly trying to remove her from the situation. Likewise, throughout the movie, different characters try to offer advice or directions or encouragement or other types of help, but the clown fish refuses the help. in the end, he realizes that he could not have save his son without the help of some unlikely comrades.

This is an important lesson to learn, thats things that matter are often impossible on our own. if something is possible on our own, there’s a good chance it is not big enough to be significant. but when we do take on tasks that are big and meaningful, we will need the help of people, some whom we never would have considered as allies.

The clownfish father is not the only one to learn this lesson, by the way. The character, Bruce, is an addict who becomes tempted beyond what he is able to resist by himself. His two companions R persistent in trying to help him keep from breaking his sobriety. yet another very practical example from this movie of how vital it is to have companions.

Another lesson is the nature of temptation. in the deepest darkness, Dori and the clown fish see a light that is comforting and reassuring, and naturally, they are drawn to it. only when they are right up on it and endeared it to it do they realize it is the fate of an anglerfish. they narrowly escaped, but the lesson is learned that temptation often comes masquerading as light and comfort in a dark and uncertain place.

Lastly, de song that Dori sings to the clown fish when he is scared and discouraged, just keep swimming, reminds us to keep our mind on our mission and not to give up but to keep on swimming.

In middle school, I was the kid that whenever someone asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, I would just shrug my shoulders and carry on whatever I was doing. Grown-ups had been asking the dreaded question since I was five and with each passing year, the answer was never more clear or apparent than the previous. That was, until eighth grade when our reading teacher assigned us a project where we had to create a music video to our favorite song. While most kids groaned at the thought of another assignment, I approached the task with excitement and imagination and I fell in love. I fell in love with movie making. I fell in love with expressing myself through videos. My entire life I was introverted and quiet and shy, but I had found a medium through which I could portray my thoughts to others without having to speak. The success of the assignment planted a seed that would later grow into a potential career option, although I did not consider it at the time.

Life went on and high school came along with my friends deciding they wanted to be doctors, teachers, lawyers, psychologists and I was stuck still lacking any idea as to what my future held. Everything I considered, just did not quite settle. I was starting to feel overwhelmed, after all, the decision I made would affect my entire life and I was intimidated and frightened that I would make the wrong choice. One day, my junior year, while riding in the car with my mom, she looked over at me and asked me what I wanted to do with my life. With a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, I told her that I still did not know. She was really quiet and I continued to mull over options I did not like in my head when she finally interrupted. “What about filmmaking?” That suggestion took me by surprise. I guess I had never really considered it an option before. Seriously, how is an introverted person supposed to make that a viable career option? You could say the odds were stacked up against me. I had no real experience, no connections, and besides my family, no real support. I did however, hold a passion for expression and creativity that my mom honed in on before I even knew it myself.

Later that year I felt called to that path and I decided to follow. When I told friends and relatives, they looked at me incredulously and I could tell they doubted my chances of success, but for the first time in a while, I was truly dedicated. I took an audio/video production class my senior year, and went into it with the mindset that if I did not like it, then I would not pursue it. Not only did I end up loving it, I established a connection with my teacher that helped me get a job in college. It was so surreal and I was completely sold on this path. I still had a dream of going to ACU, but now reality stood in the way. UNT had a much better media arts program than ACU, and UNT is less expensive and offered me more scholarships. All logic pointed to UNT as the school to go to, and I will admit that I committed here with a heavy heart. Although this was not my first choice school, I absolutely do not regret it. Coming here has been the best decision and one of the biggest blessings ever, and I would not trade the people I have met here and the experiences I have had so far for anything. I furthermore cannot wait to see what else is in store for me here and see how UNT will help and prepare me for my journey. Life is short and I feel that UNT will be the best school to condition and strengthen me to go out into the world and make a difference with the time I have.

Two of the people I adore most in the world are my super, awesome, amazing parents and so I just wanted to take a moment and thank them for everything that they have done for me.

Dear Mom and Dad,

Words cannot describe how much I love you. I appreciate you both more than you can ever know! I am so blessed that God placed me in this family and I cannot imagine life anywhere else or with any one else.

 

Mom,

Thank you for being my best friend through middle school and high school and always being someone that I could talk to no matter what. If I didn’t have you I’m not sure what I would have done. You are such a Godly woman and I can only hope that when I’m a mom, I can be as amazing as you are. Thank you for being a rock amidst the drama and the school stress and whatever else happens to come up(: I have enjoyed all of the fun times and family trips where we stuck together. Also I would like to just leave this comment here: I’ve never been grounded. I made it!

 

Dad,

You are amazing! I can’t even imagine what would have happened if I didn’t have you. Constantly saving me from the depths of technology torture, you were always there with a solution when something wasn’t working right! I also appreciate all of the revising and editing on my papers helping me become a better, more versatile writer. Also I love studying with you. You always come up with witty, funny ways to help me remember things. You are just all around awesome and I know that if anything is bugging me, I can always talk to you.

 

Now I would like to just list some of the things I have learned from my 18 years in your house:

-God is first. Always

-The family that kicks together sticks together.

-Chocolate fixes everything.

-Reese’s fixes everything AND solves world peace.

-Hit below the neck.

-Never under estimate the power of a corny British comedy joke.

-Laughing may not cure everything but it makes it seem a lot better.

-If you ever go camping during a storm, make sure you have some bungees to tie everything down so you can avoid any unnecessary trips to Oz.

-Prepare to —-

-The key to accepting others is first accepting yourself.

-Don’t be embarrassed to be seen around your parents. It’s a lot more fun to make them embarrassed to be seen around you.

-Weird is good.

-Weird is more fun.

-Our family is a lot more fun than most.

-I can’t cook good.

-I also sometimes can’t speak good either. (that’s why Dad revises my papers)

-A messy house is the sign of a fun family

-Yes, I know I was actually raised in a barn.

-I can never have my own fish (but if I do it won’t be named flash.)

-Raising us could not have been easy!

– Entertaining, sure, but not easy.

-I appreciate you guys more than you probably know.

-Galaxy Quest and the Princess Bride will trump all movies. Always.

-God first. Family next. Self last.

Thank you for everything you have done for me and so much more! I love you so, so much!

Hugs and kisses.

Do I know a lot about fishing? No. Do I know anything about hunting? Not really. You may ask what qualifies me to hunt zombies. Okay, maybe you didn’t want to ask me that, but I’m going to tell you anyways. My family is pretty rad, and we like to discuss seemingly impossible situations. I decided to promote myself and my family as professional zombie hunters. I know what you may be thinking. Crazy, right? Come on. You have to admit that it’s at least a little bit fun to speculate what might happen if something (or someone) unleashed the zombie apocalypse. I wrote myself a zombie apocalypse resume for a class I was in last semester in college. It was seriously one of the most fun assignments I have ever done. So here it is. My zombie resume:

Cliché as it may be, the zombie apocalypse is inevitable and when it comes time, every one must be prepared to choose a team that they will count on to have their backs and make sure they make it to the safe zone. Now when choosing a team, I suggest looking for well-rounded people who know what they are doing and can be relied upon to pull their weight. For example, in high school, I was the captain of the color guard in the marching band. With four years of experience behind me, I handle extreme elements from the sweltering Texas heat to the freezing rain in November quite nicely, as well as functioning for long periods of time without water. This means I can spend time foraging for food and water without tiring quickly. If I were to be a member of your team, I would step up to be a mediator between hostile groups because my leadership role has taught me the importance of understanding how people work and the value of the individual. Being a radio, television and film major and an avid movie watcher, I have seen a lot of zombie movies and will bring an extensive fortitude of knowledge on zombie combat to your team, should you ask me to participate. Also keep in mind that I love to run, which would allow me to distract said zombies while the rest of the team escapes. Don’t worry, because I took Taekwondo for four years as well, so if we get stuck I know self-defense and fighting tactics. Taking care of the injured would be a minor obstacle for the team because I am CPR certified as well. Take note that these qualities I am mentioning may be beneficial to you should you find yourself amidst the mass hysteria that ensues when zombies attack. I would suggest including me in your team because when the zombie apocalypse arrives, you will find me among the survivors.