Friday, October 17, 2014

Things I learned from my dad...

A lot of you know my dad.

A lot of you know the kind of man he is.
He's the guy who would give you the shirt off his back.
He's the guy that goes above and beyond his job.
He doesn't know the meaning of "too much sacrifice".

I know for a fact, that my father would give his life for me.

And I take pride in that.  I know that my father is a man who is looked up to.  I know that my father never raised a hand at me in anger.  I know that when I was disciplined, I was disciplined out of love.  My father has looked me in the eye, and asked me if I thought that he went too far as a parent.  I had no hesitation when I looked him right back and said "No."

I know that I put my father through hell as a child.  I broke his trust, and I disappointed him at times.  And yet I always know that my father is proud of me.  He is careful to tell me that.  Rick Adema is not an easy man.  But he's a good man.  He is a man who made it clear what he expected of me.  He is a man who made it very clear that he loves me.  He is a man who makes it very clear that if I need anything, all I have to do is call.

My dad taught me a lot of things.  He taught me how to ride a bike.  I rode my little bike with the brick looking insulation around the main bar.  I rode it straight into the clothesline pole when I was 6 years old.  And then my dad taught me to pick my bike up, get back on it, and ride away.  My dad taught me how to shoot.  He taught me to drive a manual.  He taught me how to read stories to my future kids.  He taught me how to love children with everything you are, when you are exhausted, or when they cry and turn away because of your beard.  My dad taught me a lot of things.

One of the most important things that my dad taught me, however...

My father taught me how to be angry.

That's right. I said my father taught me how to be angry.  This isn't being mad and raising your voice.  This isn't a needing to work out until you're tired.  This isn't even wanting to hit someone.

Oh no. This is very different.

This is a cold fury that starts at the bottom of your feet and works its way all the way to the top of your head.  This is a rage that fills you when you see injustice being done.  This is a searing pain that makes all fear in you go away and fills you with such passion, that all you think about is righting a wrong.

Whether he knows it or not, my father taught me this.  He taught it to me by his example of integrity.  He taught it to me by every time he told a young person that I met, that if they ever needed his help, all they had to do was ask.  He was always in the shadows, ready.  Waiting for that call to come in.  He was waiting for the wolf to prey on the sheep.  He is the sheepdog.  And so am I.

So here I stand.  I look around and see pain.  I see people hurting.  Hurting themselves because they know nothing else.  They have no other way to feel anything.  They have been beaten.  Scarred.  Wounded.  Taught how not to feel.  This has been done to them by parents, siblings, employers, acquaintances, pastors, teachers, and strangers.

I read stories about parents who struck their children out of anger.  Parents who beat their children for disobeying.  Parents who lashed out because they felt it was their calling.

Well, guess what?  Do you want to know what my calling is?  My calling is standing between you and those who are trying to hurt you.  My calling is to be that sheepdog.  I feel that anger.  I feel the anger that I learned from watching my father quietly stand up for those he loved.  I feel that cold fury that makes me unafraid of what may come.

I was homeschooled.  I was disciplined.  I turned out alright.  Thank you to my dad for that.  Thank you to my mom for marrying him.  Thank you that he has always been honest with me.  Now, I'm being honest with you.  Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself.  You will never be alone.  There's always me.  And my dad.  We're not afraid.  You shouldn't be either.  Stand up.  Be counted.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mumford. Or not. WARNING. THIS IS A VENT SESSION.

I relinquished hope.
I will let you choke,
On the noose around your neck.
Yes, I find strength in pain.
So I won't speak your name,
You broke my trust this time, my friend.

I have other friends to seek in life,
You kept me on the hook, but not this time.
You couldn't speak the truth,
Or find your bloody spine.

So now I'll walk away and plug my ears.
You've thrown away this chance due to your fears.
I gave you every chance,
Now I'll ignore you and your tears.

I relinquished hope.
I will let you choke,
On the noose around your neck.
Yes, I find strength in pain.
So I won't speak your name,
You broke my trust this time, my friend.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Howl

Lone wolf, that's me.
I run alone.
I beat my own drum,
And write my own song.

My coat is dark,
My teeth are sharp.
Get in my way and you'll find,
The bite is worse than the bark.

Don't try and figure me out,
My path is my own,
Don't stand between me and my goals,
If you want to ever get back home.

I sit out at night,
Look at the moon.
If I see another soul,
It'll be too soon.

I don't want to run with a pack,
I don't want to have someone's back.
I want to be on my own,
I want to set my own tone.

So get out of the way,
Don't try and get me to have fun.
I've got my own game,
Lone wolf's gotta run.


Friday, September 5, 2014

The Song of Pain

It never stops.
The chorus keeps ringing.
It sounds all around, just waiting for you to listen.
August said to follow the music,
But this is different.
It's pain.

Everyone feels it.
They all cry out because of it.
Some people can't fight it.
They let it take over.
They let it win.
It ends.

Their only sound is silence.
Their only presence is emptiness.
The space where they should be calls out.
It cries louder than any voice ever could.
It screams through the night.
No one answers it.

We walk on eggshells.
We can't talk about it.
No one will understand.
It makes you a bad person.
Lies, all lies.
It makes you a person.

Some people fight.
They lash out.
They cry out for help.
Sometimes, no one ever hears them.
But I hear them.
I can't help but hear them.

Their scars beckon.
Their downcast eyes call me.
They know what it's like to be dark.
They know how it feels to be on the bottom.
They look up.
I look up.

We look up together.
We've been there.
We've been dirty.
We've been bleeding.
We've looked through tearstained eyes.
Wondering, when will help come.

We reach out,
Hoping for a hand to hold.
We cry out, and all we're met with is silence.
People cross over.
They walk on the other side.
Because it's the easy thing.

We wear our pain outside like a medal.
Some wear it by how they look.
Some wear it by how they dress.
Some sharpen their tongues to cut.
Some sharpen their skills to kill.
They pull themselves up because no one will help.

But if we reach out,
If we quit fighting ourselves.
A hand comes down.
A hand bruised and scarred.
A hand bloodied.
A hand pierced.

It reaches through the black.
It reaches to the bottom.
It grasps ours and pulls us up.
The blood runs down.
It washes the dirt away.
Our voice is silenced.

Our voice is silenced by a cool drink.
Raw throats from crying out are quenched.
Eyes red from weeping are dried up.
Arms scarred from cutting are smoothed over.
Ears jarred by laughter are quieted.
We hear no mocking.

This my cry.
This my passion.
There's no reason to give up.
There's no reason to lose hope.
Our plight is heard.
Our call is answered.

Quit struggling and look up.
Quit fighting and call out.
He will not walk the other side.
He will tend our wounds.
He will hear our cry.
He will heal our land.

If you or someone else you know has ever considered or participated in self harm, or attempted suicide, don't lose hope. We have a way out, that is eternal, and it doesn't come at the mouth of a gun barrel, the end of a rope, the edge of a knife, or the bottom of a bottle of pills.  Reach out.  Keep seeking.  He cares, I care.

You are not alone.

~Levi


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Faith Worth Losing For

This summer has been an interesting one to say the least.  At first glance, I would say that I both loosened up, and became more of a loving person, and an accepting one, but then I would also say that I became more cynical and less trusting.  Those to things don't really go together, and I realize that.  Because here's the thing.

It has taken me 21 years, to actually be able to put a value on my faith.  I have spent so long try to figure out what I believe in, that it isn't until now that I realize what I am willing to sacrifice to continue believing in it.

To say that I am surrounded by happiness is an understatement.  I had over 30 dear friends who have either gotten engaged or married this summer.  These tying togethers of families follow countless hours spent talking or walking, days spent with broken hearts, and months spent with joyful ones.  I wish them all the best and pray that their happiness continues for generations.

But along with this happiness comes a kind of restlessness that I haven't felt before.  It's a desire to love and be loved and to belong with someone.  This kind of feeling isn't healthy, as it can make me lose focus on what is important at this stage in my life.  I begin to look around me at possibilities and where/who I can pull my happiness from.  I begin thinking in terms of maybes and chemistry and possibles and my thoughts get all sorts of jumbled, but it wasn't until now, that I realized that my faith is important enough to me, that I'm willing to give all of that up, if someone doesn't love Christ.

Christ and my faith in Him, is the reason that I have made every good decision I have ever made.  Now I didn't make these decisions on my own, to be sure.  God led me to them, through his spirit.  Whether it was the decision to come to Patrick Henry, the decision to walk away from unhealthy relationships, the decision to relinquish "control" of my life to God, or even the decision to come to Christ over 4 years ago.

I don't take any of these decisions or life changes and choices lightly, but rather want to give God the glory for the results of all of them.  I also want to thank Him for making faith real to me.  When I am willing to walk away from things that may promise temporary feelings of pleasure or happiness and give them up because they do not come with a love of my Savior, that is where I need to be.

Paul said it best.  "I do not consider myself to have already taken hold of it, but one thing I do.  Forgetting what is behind, and striving for what is ahead, I press on to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has taken hold of me."  I only hope that I continue to be willing to die to myself and my own desires, if it means a growing faith in Christ.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What Makes You Matter?

As the clink of crutches hitting the ground filled my ears, I couldn't help but think that people's pity hurt more than the original crack of my kneecap grinding over the bone that held it in place.  Between my inability to use my usual quip about having a strong body and weak mind, or even being able to carry anything for my team, I felt completely worthless.  I could feel the gaze of opposing attorney's as I took the stands, knowing that they were asking themselves if I was just using the crutches for sympathy points with the judges.

That was the second time I felt this way.  The first was during the few minutes of the football game that I injured my knee in.  As I sat on the sidelines, I thought back to the time I spent on the gridiron in high school.  I was what you could call a try hard.  I decided that if I ran harder, lifted more, and put the most work in, my coaches would realize how valuable I was to the team and be forced to play me.  This ultimately led to me being obsessed with football and dedicating about 30 hours of my already busy weeks to the game.  I was always in the weight room or on the field.

This tendency to try hard to prove my worth pushed its way through all of my growing up years.  I was always attempting to lift more, run faster, be smarter, and have more friends than anyone else.  And trust me when I say this, it all backfired.  People don't want to be friends with someone who always is trying to be smarter than them.  People don't want to be around someone who wants to make them look bad.  Not that I wanted them to look bad, but I wanted to make myself look better so that they would understand that I was someone that they wanted to know.

That's what this little post is all about.  The question of "Where do you find your worth?"  In today's world and society, we're surrounded by the mentality of keeping up with the Jones'.  We have to have better test scores, get into a better college, be better at sports, and have the biggest friends list, longest list of followers, and the the most "likes" on the worthless drivel that we have to offer.

For years, I tried to find worth in how athletically talented I was, when athletics had left me behind.  People began to say that I was tough.  I took comfort in that, because it meant that I was "better" than them in some way.  I tried to find worth in my grades in school, but when that didn't happen I either turned to dishonesty, as was the case in high school, or to apathy, which is the case in college.  Do I want to do well?  Absolutely.  Do I work hard at studying?  Absolutely, but if the grades don't show up, I turn away from them in the hopes that maybe something else will work out.

So where do you find your worth?  Do you find it in grades or being intelligent? Do you find it in looks, whether that be from the gym or from the latest styles? Do you find it in work, how many hours you put in and the size of you bank account?  Do you find it in possessions; the nicest car, house, phone, etc.?  I've been there. I've been caught up in all of those things and suffered the consequences.

What happens when your grades start slipping? What happens when you can't work out, have a horrible acne breakout, can't afford new clothes? What happens when you can't work or your bank account begins to run dry? What happens when your car gets totalled, when your house needs work, when your phone dies?  I've been there too.

If you continually find your worth in the things around you, you will always be searching, and always in need of an upgrade.  That is no way to live.  However, if you live to love others, if you find value in serving, and you know that value comes because you are a child of the King of kings, then you and I are starting to get it.

We have worth and value, because Christ says we do.  We have value because His blood covers us.  Without it, we are as filthy rags, but He has washed us white as snow.  The hymn writer Bill Gaither once said, "Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there's something about that name."  It's the power of Christ's name that tells us who we are.  The Romans used to use the word "Christian" as an insult, but we should wear it like a badge.

His name is that which offers life.  In THAT we can take comfort and find value, because when everything else goes away, all our possessions, physical abilities, friends, wealth, and everything else that this world puts stock in, the one thing that will never go away, is the redeeming power of the blood of Christ.

You want to know something interesting?  If you use your imagination, the sound of crutches hitting the ground sounds an awful lot like a hammer driving spikes in.  Just a little something to think about.  Because to spikes are one of the things that make you matter.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Drop in the Bucket.

This is a bad idea. I can just about guarantee it.  See, I'm laying in bed, having just taken a dose of hydrocodone so that I can hopefully sleep through the night.  And yet, like many other things, it has the opposite effect on me.  I'm a little bit foggy, when it comes to motor skills and technical aspects, but it got me thinking about a lot of deep things.  Mostly about dreams.

I sit on my bed, trying to keep my leg from getting stiff.  With a partial tear in the ACL, too much movement can make me gasp from pain, but not enough movement has the same effect.  I'm not sure how bad the tear is, because there was too much swelling and fluid surrounding my knee for the orthopedic doctor to get a good test on it.  Within a week, I'll hopefully know for sure, whether I'll be moving back to South Dakota to recover from an ACL reconstructive surgery or whether I'll be able to stay out here in Virginia.

And yet that week holds so much more that just news on a surgery.  I think that tonight is the first time it really hit me.  This could make or break my plans for good.  I don't know if I'm going to be able to run or juke again.  I don't know if I'll be able to teach a young person how to plant and throw a football, or jump and catch it.  I don't know if I'll be able to make it through OCS, or maybe SEAL school without ringing out.  I don't know if what I've dreamed of will become a reality.  More importantly, I'm not sure if I'll be able to hopefully chase my kids around the front yard before catching them and running inside for lunch.  I don't know.  And that's what scary.

That not knowing has caused me to lay here assuming that I have to have surgery and that it's going to take forever to heal.  We serve an awesome God. He's been known as the Great Physician for long before I've been around.  He spent time walking among lepers and making paralytics into leapers.  He spat in the dust and rubbed clay on a man's eyes and gave his sight back.  What is a ligament to our God?  It's nothing.  Just like the plans of a man.  Or a boy.  Proverbs says that the heart of a man plans his way, but that the Lord directs his steps.  I may not ever go through hell week.  I may not play football again.

That doesn't matter, though.  Will I be able to stop and say, "Taste and see that the Lord is good."  Will I turn to those around me and say that "I know my redeemer lives."  What really matters?  Being able to give people a solid 10 year plan for when you are out of college or being able to give people a testimony of the goodness of the Lord even in a difficult situation.  What is the most important?  "I plan on..." or "Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him?"  Christ took nails for me. So what is a torn ligament in this case?  It is a drop in the bucket of my eternity with Him.  I will trust in the Lord and I shall see His glory in the land of the living.

So if you ask me how I'm doing and I say that I'm vertical, or that I'm above ground and sucking wind, that's the steroids talking.  The doctor said that they may cause mood swings.

I am so much more that vertical.  I am thinking vertically, and I am blessed.