I finally know what I want to do with my [work] life

Lately in my church we’ve been doing a series called “Trusting God with…” and one thing I’ve started wrestling with in regards to this series is work.
I love what I do, and yet I have 3 things on my plate as to what I want to with my work life:
1) Youth ministry
2) Social services, working with those who live with mental illness
3) I’m not sure what the job title would be, but I like what The Marin Foundation does, so something along the lines of building bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community.

But I have made peace and I’m reading to move forward into…*drum roll* šŸ™‚

I’m going to continue on in Social Services, working with individuals who have mental illnesses.
I’ve crossed the threshold of 2 years doing just that, and I like it, but the issue I have is that Illinois is ranked near the bottom (48 out of 51) when it comes to supporting those who need Social Services and funding (pay-wise) those who work jobs in Social Services, but still I am going to give IL a little more time and here’s why.

My annual review will be coming up soon and I’m putting together a proposal as to how my agency can return to a more client-centric approach in how they do things. I’m also putting together a book, a self-help book on mental illness and yet I realize that the general population will benefit from learning what I have learned, that (hopefully) the stigma of individuals living with mental illness will be decreased.

But despite all that, if I’m not able to prove my worth in this manner among other things, I’m starting to look elsewhere. I’m looking back to Memphis TN and see what’s available in this field that has proven to be the most stressful, most tiring, most emotionally jarring job I’ve ever had…but it is also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done job-wise. People are people, and this is how I want to invest my work life.

Part of my game plan does include going back to school, Masters in Psychology with an emphasis in Counseling. So maybe Illinois is where I’ll be, but then again Memphis appeals to me as well for many a reason. I fell in love with the people and that city when I was on vacation, good old “southern hospitality” is what I experienced wherever I went. Plus now that there’s a branch of The Marin Foundation being run by Jimmy Cornfoot I’ll still be able to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

I’m Sorry Campaign – Memphis Pride 2013

So the first leg of my vacation to Tennessee was marked by coming into town for camping, but also Memphis Pride. My friend Jimmy kept me in the loop when I was still in IL, when I was still in limbo with my job pertaining to vacation…but IĀ  made it out to Memphis, and have been enjoying it ever since.

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Okay, so yes I come from Illinois and I have attended 4 Pride Parades in Chicago, so the lag and less of a parade was a little quirky…but still, there were windows of opportunities all around us! People did in fact want to know what we were sorry about, and we talked about the I’m Sorry Campaign on individual levels but also on behalf of Christianity as a whole.

After the parade we all manned a booth in Robert R. Church Park in Memphis, more people talked to us but there were also different churches present who were happy for our presence, happy that (I assume) we were quite the diverse group; both members of the LGBT community, but also allies. I walked around the park checking out the different churches and talking to the people who represented them, it was very encouraging to hear their stories and their church’s goals to promote equality, affirmation, and acceptance as a church community. One church, a Roman Catholic church, has been on quite the journey of being accepting and affirming; after a parishioner’s son committed suicide the bishop, J. Terry Steib, became vocal within his church community but also the community of Memphis. More information about what he said can be found here. It was very encouraging to hear what was said by those who align themselves with Roman Catholicism, because at times I don’t hear their voice all that much or their voices get vocalized by someone else.

It was different from the Chicago Pride Parade, but it was a worthwhile experience. I kind of enjoyed it because it wasn’t such a large parade, which provided more intimacy in putting out there what we were sorry for. Yes I like Chicago for the largeness of it (number 3 in the country, woo!) and for the stop-go foot traffic that gives more opportunities to talk about what I’m sorry about.

I don’t know what next year holds for me in reference to Memphis Pride, but if I can I will be back! šŸ™‚

~Nathanael~

Jesus in humanity in Memphis

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I ran into Jesus in downtown Memphis; he joined me for breakfast and told me his life in the radio business, bit also his life on drugs. He told me about working on the family farm. He told me about his estranged cousin & brother, the last remaining relatives he has. His weathered eyes and hands told their own story.

I could have easily dismissed the opportunity to have fed Jesus, but he was hungry for food & for his story to be told.

Christ in humanity reveals himself all the time. Are you just praying for such opportunities or are you reaching out to him in tangible expressions of love for humanity? Something to chew on.

~Nathanael~

Stepping into history can be heavy; Martin Luther King Jr/Memphis

On Friday last week I went to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. As soon as I left the parking lot it felt heavy, as this was the site where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

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Before even getting here, I the lover of history knew about this site from what I learned in history in my younger years. But reading about such places has a different weight to them, going to such sites can be so heavy.

In case you’ve never been to the museum it goes like this. You park, you walk in the parking lot outside of Martin Luther King Jr.’s room, you go into an underpass of sorts, go into the museum, make your way to the a higher level and there you are in the area where James Earl Ray was staying and conditions of this place are such so it’s presented as it was back then! The bathroom and cracked window in the above photo is where he was when he fired his rifle across to the hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. stepped out…it is eerie for many reasons, it is very matter-of-fact as to what happened.

It was heavy for me because I think about a lot of things, and when I think about individuals who have moved in the direction of progress, a LOT of people die in their prime for what they believe and stand for; Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Bobby Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr…the list goes on.

There’s something to living for what you believe, and I truly try to live out what I believe as a follower of Christ on a daily basis. Yet there’s also something to living what you believe even if it costs you your life. I don’t think I have any threats against me, I’m a peaceable person and don’t get into a lot of arguments. I passionately dialogue and discuss things out, and so I don’t think I’m someone worth targeting despite perhaps coming from a different stance from different people.

Still those who are martyred for what they believe hold admiration on my part, now suicide bombers who martyr themselves do not hold any admiration, perhaps that’ll be another blog post for another day.

***

Martin Luther King Jr. studied the peaceful protesting methodology of Mahatma Gandhi, and he was also a follower of Christ. His words and speeches are prolific and well-known, and he exemplified St. Francis of Assisi’s words “make me an instrument of your peace”. Being where he was when he gave up his spirit and passed on was awe-educing, the silence of that place was deafening. I too want to live out a life of being an instrument of peace, as well as progress for humanity. How will that all look? I don’t know fully know yet, but I am getting to where I need to be in life and I have God to thank for that.

~Nathanael~

Memphis 10-10 to 10-13

I’ll stay in Memphis – Elvis Presley

Thursday morning at 9:05am I left Oswego IL for Memphis

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9 hours, 540 miles later I arrived at my friend Jimmy‘s apartment. He was already chillaxing on his porch in wait of me (perhaps). I was quickly introduced to Andrew, Cory, and Gabe. Ate dinner, built community, laughed a good deal…and before I knew it, it was nearly 2am!

I jumped in my rental car and headed to T.O. Fuller State Park, 20 minute drive I arrived to my campsite and…cleared out my backseat and fell asleep! Reader’s note: The back seat of a 2012 Toyota Corolla is more spacious than it seems, especially when it comes to sleeping.

I woke up to a barred owl hooting above my car, freshened up and set up camp and then headed out to Pho Hoa Binh for some inexpensive Vietnamese food for lunch. Best $6.22 I have ever spent on Vietnamese buffet!

Memphis being a town chockful of history, I decided to go the Civil Rights historical route and went to the National Civil Rights Museum, the site in which Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It was heavy being there, getting an overview of the Civil Rights movement, the bullet shell/pellets/rifle used by Lee Harvey Oswald…it was heavy, and almost for me too much.

The following day I was a part of the I’m Sorry Campaign at Memphis Pride.Ā  Now as someone who’s used to a large crowd and large parade ala Chicago Pride, I wasn’t really expecting that small of a parade.Ā  Still the element of it ending in Robert R. Church Park and there being booths for all different groups/vendors that was enjoyable. I made the rounds to the various churches, I was given a lot of thanks for my participation in the I’m Sorry Campaign and several invites to visit them the following day for church.

Sunday morning I went to Corey’s house church and had a good time. They asked a random question; “what is your earliest memory?” While I didn’t give mine, I did give the one surrounding being on America’s Funniest Videos with my sister at the mall in the early 90s.

All in all it has been a good trip thus far šŸ™‚

~Nathanael~