Happy Birthday Jay!

April 24, 2012

10 years ago, I was playing basketball at a church camp in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

I don’t remember much about the church camp, except for the fact that I was playing basketball against some high schoolers that thought they were really cool beating a 13 year old in basketball…at a church camp.

As fate would have it, I was not the only one who took notice at this mismatch, and the drummer from the band that was playing that week decided to enter the game.

Little did I know that he wasn’t just entering the game, but he was entering my life, and that I would be forever changed by this first encounter with Jay Smith.

“We got this man” he kept saying as we started a new game, running up and down the court.

“Just don’t be afraid, we just need a little intimidation.” (this was easier for the 6’4 guy to say to the 7th grader, but I believed him).

Needless to say we ended up winning that day, but we walked off the court with more than just a victory, we walked off the court with a friendship that has continued to last for the past 10 years.

4 years later, Jay started speaking at my home church and we got to hang out quite a bit. We would go grab lunch and dream about ministry and the “what if’s” of life. We attended retreats, camps, movies and all sorts of things together.

Jay invited me to play with him on his basketball team at the light house when I was a senior in high school, and my freshman year in college I played some flag football with him as well.

He was always including me, and it felt great to be apart of something, with someone who wanted you to be there.

My freshman year we decided to go on a road trip to visit some friends in Chicago and also celebrate Jay’s birthday.

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I told Jay I had a birthday surprise for him in Chicago…he thought we were going to a concert or something cool like that.

He should have known better.

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Medieval Times was great!

After an incredible trip to Chicago, we continued meeting over delicious food and had more insightful conversations about what the future may hold.

A couple years later Jay took a full time position at a church in the city, and I was hired on full time to do their middle school ministry.

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We were finally living in the reality of countless dreams. We were doing full time vocational ministry together and getting to try all sorts of cool things out. We planned and executed tons of programs, retreats, events, lock-ins, and parties…and I will forever cherish those moments we got to work in ministry together.

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This past fall, Jay got married! I got the opportunity to stand next to him, as a groomsmen, on his big day.

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(Ten years later, and he was still including me)

This past December, I resigned from the church that Jay and I got to be apart of together. It was one of the hardest things ever, not just because I was leaving the students, but because I felt like I was leaving one of my best friends.

But the beautiful thing about best friends, is they don’t let you leave them.

They chase after you and remind who you are.

They inspire you, challenge you, and keep reminding you that you are on the their team, that you are included.

Jay is one of my best friends, and though we are separated by 6 years of age, I have never once felt unwanted or unloved by him. He is one of the rare individuals that points people to Jesus, not some blue-eyed, plaid wearing, hipster Jesus…but the Jesus that conquers the grave for lost people, not only 2,000 years ago, but today as well. The Jesus that included everyone, especially those that no one else wanted to include. The Jesus who knew that love does stuff. The Jesus that steps on the basketball court when all hope is lost, and whispers

“We got this man”

Today is Jay’s 30th birthday, and I can’t wait to see the next chapters unfold in his life. I know they will be incredible, and I can’t wait to look back in ten years and tell you about another awesome decade of friendship and all that has happened.

Who knows, there may even be another Medieval Times experience in there somewhere.

Happy Birthday Jay!

And thanks again for stepping on the court 10 years ago, it changed everything.

I usually don’t write about my job much on this blog, only my thoughts.

But today I wanted to write my thoughts…

About my job.

The other night I received the following text from an anonymous number

(I knew it was someone I should know, but I was too afraid to ask who, until later)

The text read:

“Question. Why middle school? For you…What draws you to them specifically? answer whenever…just wondering.”

I decided to write back the best I could, and so here is a bit of what I wrote and a little bit more that I forgot to mention.

Hope you enjoy.

What draws me to them?

Great question.

Many would say that I am crazy.

Some would say that I am just using this position as a stepping stone until I become a little more mature and can be in high school ministries.

Some think I am not capable of doing anything better.

Besides the crazy part, I disagree.

I do Middle School Ministries because it is their last glimpse of innocence

They are children when they enter and they exit as complicated teenagers.

They are testing limits and figuring out personalities.

they are strange.

And I absolutely love it!

I love seeing an awkward kid get welcomed into the group

I love seeing over confident, sporty kids lose at something…only to realize life is bigger than sports.

I love the quiet kid who engages the entire time I speak, as he sits in the chaos that is around him in the other chairs.

I love how the girls constantly care about whether I am dating someone or not, and giggle when I ask about their dating life.

I love the boy who is playing games on his iphone in the back, and thinks that I think he is reading his YouVersion bible.

I love the way they laugh.

I love when a student asks to read the scripture.

I love the way they remember things that I forget

I love when they ask “Why?”

I love the look on their faces when I go to a game or school event that their families didn’t show up for.

I love waiting with the last kid, who is embarrassed because his parent is late again.

I love remembering their names

I love the cards and pictures they make for me

I love when I can be there for them.

And in all of this, God is constantly reminding me that in loving all these things, he is making me into something better,

something that points to Him.

I love who they are making me become.

Yes, there are days I want to leave it all and just go be a selfish college student, but God loves me and these students too much to allow me to do something stupid like that.

They are drawing me to him,

and in that

I am drawn to them.

I hope this answers your question.

P.S. Who is this again?

Sincerely,

-AB

A couple weeks ago I got to celebrate the 16th birthday of a girl who is an orphan.We call them foster kids in America, but I think the bible would call them orphans.A friend of mine has decided to pour her heart and time into this girl’s life, and she is actively helping rewrite this little girl’s story.

It’s really beautiful.

My friend decided to throw this girl a surprise birthday party for her 16th birthday.She asked a couple other friends to be there, who asked some of the high school students at my church to be there, and when it was all said and done about 25 people showed up for this girls sweet 16.

25 people who had only encountered this girl a couple times

25 people who decided that on this Friday night, they would be doing something for someone else.

What transpired that evening is something I will never forget.

Never.

I arrived at the party about twenty minutes after the surprise had happened, the kids were eating and enjoying themselves and I walked over to ask my friend how the surprise had gone. My friend told me that when she asked the girl if this was her first surprise birthday party,the girl responded,

“this is my first birthday party ever.”

Huh?

16 years old.

Never one, single birthday party.

16 years old.

Not a single gift.

16 years old

No candles to blow out.

16 years old.

No car waiting in the driveway.

16 years old.

No song of celebration ringing in her ears.

16 years old.

“This is my first birthday party ever”

As her words echoed in my mind the rest of the night, the cake was brought out and the candles were lit.

Everyone started singing Happy Birthday

A song that was clearly written for this moment

for this girl.

And then she bent down to blow out her candles and make a wish, her first birthday wish.

As she blew the candles out, they relit themselves.

(They were the trick candles, and so the only way to put them out is to stick them in water.)

Confused, She blew them out again

They relit

She blew them out again

They would relight

After she continued this process, I started realizing the redemption in this moment.

Every time she blew out the candles, they would relight.

Redeeming all those missed wishes

Redeeming all those lonely, quiet birthdays.

Redeeming what she had lost.

There are moments in this life where God’s kingdom is very evident,

and in the smoke from the candles

I witnessed it.

In the laughter, and joy that was in the room

I witnessed it.

God is alive in birthday parties for orphans.

Though I don’t think she can be defined by that title anymore.

Because orphans feel alone,

And this little girl does not.

My friend is redefining and redeeming this girl’s story.

And it is a very beautiful thing.

Christ in us, the hope of glory.

Today was Tuesday.

On Tuesdays I get the opportunity to spend time with about 15 five and six year olds. I am in a class that requires a field study, and so every Tuesday I have gotten to form relationships with these students, and every Tuesday I get welcomed with loud shouts of my arrival.

I love it.

Today in group time, as we were all circled around the big blue carpet, the teacher was describing all the things the children were going to get to do. She was explaining the plan for the day.

Suddenly one of the boy’s hands shot up in the air.

Everyone got quiet as the teacher called his name

“I am a great painter.” he said boldly.

I would like to tell you that this was relevant to what the teacher was talking about

but it wasn’t

It was a statement, something that he almost needed to get out of him. Something that whether or not the world was listening, he needed them to hear, and so as the class quieted, he informed them that he was not just a painter, but a great painter.

He was not showing off, this was different.He was letting everyone know that he was worth something. He was reminding himself and those around him that he had something to offer.

I think the reason this moment carried so much weight for me today, was because sometimes I forget who I am.

Sometimes I doubt my talents, I insecurely forget about them. I focus on the things I cannot do, and allow other’s successes to become my failures.

I believe with all my heart that I have something to offer this world, but I lack the boldness of a 6 year old who informs his entire social network at group time, that he is indeed a “great painter.”

I want to be someone that knows what they were created for.

I want to see my friends come alive in the things that only they can do.

I want you to know that a 6 year old boy knows he is a great painter.

Because we were all 6 once.

And some of us have forgotten what we are great at

Maybe today you need to be reminded that you are as great at something,

as my 6 year old friend is at painting.

And my friend is a really great painter,

just ask him.

The Wedding!

March 5, 2010

This past sunday night I got to witness and be apart of one the greatest moments of my life.

My sister got married!

She married a wonderful man named Tyler Kelley. Tyler lives out everything others talk about or write about. He loves well, and is genuine. I love the way he looks at my sister and nephew, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to be married to my sister!

My sister is by far one of the most treasured people in my life and getting to witness her big day was surreal. I do not know of anyone more deserving or more loving than her, and getting to walk her down was a humbling and deep moment.

Giving her hand away in marriage, to someone who loves her as much I do, was one of the greatest joys of my life.

I am excited for their future and having another brother is always a good thing!

Congrats Tyler and Caitlin!

Love you both!

-AB

Happy 90th!

April 30, 2009

I have wish I could have blogged daily about this road trip I have been on since Sunday.

But I have not

so here are some updates.

We stayed in Nashville with my mom’s best friend from highschool.

Great people, I really enjoyed staying with them.

I then visited my good friend Lauren Turner at Belmont.

Belmont is a funny place, I mocked it pretty hard, and I don’t really feel too bad about it.

Top 3 comments on Belmont:

1. “At Belmont shoes and showering are neither liberal, nor postmodern”

2. “What’s ice cream? We have gelato here.”

3. “Honda Elements 18, Longboards 11, Tom’s Shoes 27”

We finally arrived yesterday to my mom’s cousins house. It is huge and pretty all around great times. I have been learning a lot about family dynamics and it has been pretty cool experience. Many things are too personal to write on the internet, but what I can say is that this trip will make for some great papers for my Major.

Oh and today is my Great Aunt Georgia’s 90th Birthday!

How does she celebrate you ask?

Watching Xena Warrior Princess while walking an hour on the treadmill.

I hope you realize today that there is a future for you,

and  no matter what happens in that future,

life does not cease.  

Love always,

-AB

P.S. If you would like to see some pics from my travels or just get updates, http://www.twitter.com/abuchner

I just got back from Chicago, with a couple of really great friends. Jay, Chuck, and I went up for fall break, we drove all night wednesday night there and then we drove all night saturday night to come back. It was a great trip filled with many great memories.

Here are just a few…


 We got to vote at the local 7-11

We walked around Chicago

Went to effin Medieval Times! (Red Knight is ours)

 

Brandon holding the sword (that the Male wench let him check out)

Stella and Beki!

(sorry I cant rotate pictures I am a moron)