A Break-Up Letter to Facebook

Dear Facebook (or FB if that’s easier..wait..lazier..),

Our Fifteen year relationship seems to have sped right on by. All the likes and re-posts and the emojis and heart felt videos. In the fifteen years we have been together, you have never said a word. No, not one. Nobody seems to care how many waffles I had for breakfast anymore. I can’t even trust you anymore to provide the correct Birthday reminders of all of my friends! Your reliability and trust is about as stale as this year’s Grammy Awards. (I’m certain I’m not the only human being who JUST heard these songs last night.) It’s really no big surprise that a song that was probably written by a 10 year old, would take home a Grammy in your world Facebook.

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You have sooo many friends and yet have never had a physical touch from one of them. Never sat down to coffee at a real table and conversed with a real human. All those friends and not one hug or handshake of friendship. I should have seen this coming. You made me feel so self-important and entitled. I lost sight of what’s important. In a world of instant answers, gratifications, downloads, incorrect news, and smartphones, it is no surprise whatsoever that PEOPLE would become less and less. Technology-The GREAT TRAINERS of the human condition.

I will miss you though. I will miss the warm feeling you gave me when others liked the pics of my children growing up too fast. I will miss the ads that came up in my feed instead of my actual friends’ timeline happenings. (Especially all those ads for male enhancement!) I will especially miss all the invites to pointless events that meant absolutely nothing to me. I will miss your political correctness and the love you had for our country and it’s politics. Thank you for all the long talks and especially every single mantra posted to your timelines. How in the world did people feed their moral compass without you??

My dear FB, please understand that it is not hate or contempt that has caused me to re-think our long relationship. I gave you my time, my information, my trust, my most intimate photos, and I gave you it all without any questions. It was your responsibility to love me back, to feel what I feel, to love what I loved. It was your undeniable skill to show emotion and human contact with all your algorithms and great causes that never quite resonated. All the suggestions and Fiendiversaries…Thank you for making me feel so ultra-important and for all those times I needed a screen to cry on.

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Lastly, thank you for reminding the world that I am a Narcissist and that every one of your users is one too. How could we have ever known that we were so unstable and in need of so much help. My wife especially thanks you for always staying on the fence with your opinions and guidance in the tough situations of life. One more thing. It is seriously amazing that you could lead all of us (the sheep) to believe things, vote for things, hijack our feeds, feed us only the information YOU want us to have and believe things that simply are not true. Amazing. My hope and prayer is that love and kindness will begin …again. May it be the purpose of us all. If we all began blessing people, the world would need not a single thing.

Your light has gone out FB and the shark is circling the ramp,

Sincerely Yours,

Jason-

NOTE TO SELF: Real human contact may seem far away, but it will (if even by force) make a comeback.

*It is not my intention to make light of serious mental health issues. Only intention is to show just how useful/addictive social media is or can be.

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What’s the Story?

It was 1995 and I was in the middle of my trek through college. Grunge was all the rage and I wasn’t a giant fan but I did have my favorites. Bands like Bush, Silverchair, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, and of course Pearl Jam. It wasn’t until I got hungry and decided to grab a bite to eat at the Student Union cafeteria that I would come in contact with a band that would stay with me everyday since.

I was working as a radio DJ at a local Oklahoma City station on the weekends playing Christian rock, I had received a pre-release copy of DC Talk’s Jesus Freak long before it was released to the public and like everyone else, I fell in love with the title track. During my tenure at SWOSU, there was a video jukebox in the cafeteria free to students. It just so happened to have the Jesus Freak video already loaded on it. SCORE! I punched my selection in and sat down and waited. I mistype my selection by one digit and instead of seeing Jesus Freak, I got to see Wonderwall by Oasis. Who were THESE GUYS??? The sound was simple, infectious and I was singing right along. I was a fan. Not just a normal fan, but I was OBSESSED!

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I ran out and purchased every poster, release, magazine ..whatever I could get my hands on and just sat and listened for days and days after that . Several of my friends have asked why are you such a huge fan of this little band from Manchester England?? The answer is really simple: The music. That and the fact that they came from nothing and all of the sudden had the largest selling album in England. Two brothers who couldn’t get along in a wool sock and just did things their way. It’s been nearly 24 years since I was accidentally introduced to this band and all I can tell you is that at one point I had enough memorabilia to wallpaper a 2500 square foot house and a not a single day has gone by that I haven’t listened to at least one song by Oasis. (no kidding.) I don’t keep up with the Gallagher brothers as much as I did when I was in my twenties, but I do own every album that Oasis, Noel and Liam have released to this very day.

Maybe it was their swagger. Maybe it was me having a twin brother and understanding the ridiculous squabbles they got into. Maybe it was relating to Oasis coming from nothing and having the guts enough to go and GET IT! Maybe it was Liam’s voice and this idea that at one moment in the universe, they were the biggest band in the world. For me it was, is and always will be about the music. The fact that Oasis believed themselves to be the biggest band in the world takes a lot of gumption. Aside from all the band’s shenanigans and sibling rivalry, the music has stood the test of time. I’m just thankful that the music of Oasis will still be in the record stores long after I’m gone. For the sake of my kids, for the sake of the world and most importantly, for the sake of music.

Stay mad Fer’ IT!!

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The Narrow Road

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. -Matthew 7:14

It was 1990 and Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer were at the top of the charts. (this should have been a sign.) Both artists asked me to STOP! It was quite confusing to know if it was to collaborate and listen or if it was Hammer time! I had just graduated from High school and was working my dream job as a radio announcer. A lot of people wish and dream of their favorite job and how they are going to get there and I was already there! I wasn’t one to sit around and ponder what I was going to do with my life. (that would come later.) I had an older brother that I had looked up to. He became a Christ follower and God turned his life upside down, inside out and all the way around. It was-HE was awesome! He had become a full time student at Oklahoma Baptist University. (A really pricey religious college in Shawnee, OK) I didn’t really think about higher education until he was accepted there and I followed in his footsteps. His steps seem to be wiser than mine and I only lasted a semester or two at the University.

With my tail between my legs as a college drop out, I decided to move back to Oklahoma City and live with my twin brother for a minute. We were both on different paths at the time so eventually I would make my way to the University of Central Oklahoma where I would meet the wisest man I have ever met named Charles Lillard. He was the Director of The BSU (Baptist Student Union now known as the BCM) I continued my gig in radio on the weekends as I attempted to become well educated. The years get a bit fuzzy but I certainly will never forget being invited to be a groomsman in a wedding of a friend from that time. He was to be wed at College Station, TX so me and my friends …ROAD TRIP!! On our way to the wedding I would roll the car into a Dairy Queen in Denton, TX and would never make the wedding. All I remember is my car being upside down and a lady running out to my car and yelling, “You have angels! You have angels! No one was seriously hurt but my pride would take a hit and so would my checkbook.

It was maybe two days after the accident when I received a call from a man named Bryan Gilbert. I remembered the name and the man right away. Back in the 80’s he had been a youth Intern for the youth Ministry at Council Road Baptist Church. He asked me if I wanted to come speak to his youth group for a few days at a Youth Revival. I shared with him what had just happened and that I was going to have to leave college(again) and had no money. He sent a madman (I can’t even remember his name.) to come pick me up at midnight and drove me back to the first Baptist Church in Hydro, OK. (about the size of a large science lab). I spent two or three nights asking young people to consider Jesus Christ as their Savior. The revival ended and I knew I was going to have to get ready to face a really tough situation back at the college. I had no idea what I was going to do, where I was going to live and how I was going to get out from under all of the debt I had just acquired.

Bryan and his wife asked me if I knew anything about Southwestern Oklahoma State University and I had no idea whatsoever. Never heard of it. It is located in the small town of Weatherford, OK and it was just a rock’s throw from Hydro. We sat at the kitchen table and I told them the story of my accident and my struggles and we prayed. I would go on to SWOSU and graduate with a 3.7 GPA. I had some fun along the way..a little too much fun. This commitment to graduate and finish school would change my life forever. I was pretty much raised by my mother. I had a step dad during the 80’s but as most of you know, it wasn’t the kind of relationship where if I had these deep questions about life, I would go running to my parents for the answers. During my days at SWOSU, I tried a little of everything. Religion, partying, risky decision making, etc. I so desperately at the beginning of my trek, tied to be an example to my friends. All the while, I was doing weekend shows on the radio back in OKC at a Christian radio station. To put it simply, I was not living the life God had asked me to live and in my Senior year all I remember is that a guy named Kyland came up to my dorm room and grabbed a hold of me and said that he wasn’t going to let me stay the way I am. He was convinced that God’s potential in me was far too great to just throw away. My life would never be the same…

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Like many of you, I struggled in my twenties with real relationships, finding my way in the world and working hard to stay on the straight and narrow. In November of 2000, I would be invited by Sparrow Records to spend a week in New York. They were promoting all of their artists and launching a release by a group called the Newsboys. The Album was called Love Liberty Disco. I would spend a week interviewing several artists and see all there was to see in Manhattan. My favorite part of the trip was being offered tickets to a filming of the David Letterman show. We had to decline as our itinerary wouldn’t allow us time. Once I landed back in Oklahoma City, I was determined to stay in the music business in any way I could. ..Then September 11th happened……

I would throw two hundred and fifty dollars in my pocket, be given a 1985 Dodge Diplomat with a Metallica Sticker on the back and drive non stop to Nashville in June 2001. I was never coming back to Oklahoma..at least that’s what I thought. The horror of the 9-11 bombing changed America. It changed me. It changed our way of life. I was ready to take some risks that I would have been deathly afraid to take just years before. And believe it or not, I felt ALIVE for the very first time!! All the things I was chasing…the music business, radio, prestige, popularity as a morning show host. All these things suddenly fell to the background as I would come face to face with real life tragedy in my own life..

In the years between 2001 and 2010, I would see myself go through a divorce, homelessness, unemployment for eleven months I would also be disgusted by the way humans who claim to be Christians, truly reacted to my darkness. Jesus was always there with his arms wide open waiting for me on the porch. I would stay infuriated with Christians in general for a long time. Like Joshua, I would spend several months wrestling with God. He may not of put a pain in my hip, but what He did do was cause me to see things from a very broken person’s perspective.

Remember the story about the men who cut a hole in the roof so they could lower their friend down to Jesus because the crowd was so big? Do you have friends like that? Those who would RAISE THE ROOF to get you to Jesus? My whole life is filled with empty friendships..those who loved me for concert tickets and backstage passes. Where are they now? Then there are those who raised the roof for me in my darkest hour and the filth of my sin.

I am no longer in the radio broadcasting arena. My list of contacts in Music City is growing shorter and shorter by the day and I no longer need adulation or validation from throngs of souls who listen to Christian music. God knew I needed pain. Pain to grow. Pain to see where I was blind. Pain to feel what I could never feel when things are always good. Pain.

I am convinced that God uses pain to teach us the very best lessons . ...And the way is hard that leads to life.. 

Maybe you are going through the hardest time of your life right now and it seems like you are stuck on the roof with no friends. It feels like you are swimming with swine in the mire of your choices. Maybe it’s time for you to STOP! Collaborate and listen to God. Maybe you just cannot hear him..He never stops calling you. He peruses you with a mad love. Just maybe you will find life in the hardest days of your life.

Maybe God is on your front porch.

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Just Another Day pt. 2

When I was a teenager, my mom had raised three boys and was still raising a new baby girl. All my life I had prepared myself(sometimes unknowingly) for my future employment as a radio disc jockey. When my life was changed by the power of God, I decided I wanted to take music and see how it changes(ed) people. I was into AC/DC, Def Leppard, Quiet Riot, Ratt, VH and if you din’t know who Michael Jackson was in 1982 then you weren’t cool or born yet. I got a small gig as a janitor at a start up radio station called KOKF 91FM (the call letters stood for King of Kings Forever) in Oklahoma City in 1987. This little job, as one in the custodial arts would change my life forever. One night while I was sweeping up and removing the bins, the program director turned and asked me if I wanted to read a liner for a segment called ‘High School Happenings’.

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High School students would call in during the first week of every month and read from a calendar of events that were happening at their school. It would be edited and then aired throughout that month. It seemed there weren’t enough voices to complete the segment so I was asked to do my very first voice over!! The rest is history. I would eventually go on to be an on-air talent for a Saturday Morning variety show, afternoons, weekends, weekdays and finally the coveted morning show! I would stay at KOKF from 87 to 2001 (respectively) I would be asked in 2011-2013 to help with the radio stations attempt to go online. The online venture failed and I accepted my fate and tried to move forward. The owner of KOKF made a promise when he started the station, that he would never sell it..of course that promise was broken. We all moved on..

I was a very immature individual when I was thrust into this world and made several mistakes along the way. My first one was never realizing just how important my role was in the moment. I also burned several bridges with people who really cared about me early in the game. I would work at two more radio stations before calling it quits. This required me to move to Nashville, TN in 2001.

Napster changed everything. I would pack my bags and return to Oklahoma in the last week in December of 2007 and become just another working stiff. Radio was no longer a money generating career so I would also go on to get another degree in Network Administration. Add that degree to my Communications Bachelors with an emphasis in Theatre, and you have a good liner for a kitty litter box!! With my radio days in the past and my hopes of becoming the next Casey Kasem smashed to pieces, I had to let it go, grow up and am now working as an I.T. professional for a Communications company. …But my spirit is now slowly dying inside.

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There is something about being a part of and connected to a cause or person who is bigger than yourself. I say PERSON because God and his son Jesus are so much larger than my mind can comprehend. I have had many privileges others my age will never have and for these I am grateful. Interviewing rock stars, musicians, artists and United States Presidents to name a few!! I suppose I am still hungry and searching for that golden opportunity to be a part of something that changes people’s lives on a daily basis. (why I probably miss being on the radio every morning) I have a rather large family of my own now to love, take care of and make sure we all try our best to be lights in dark places. Well, I’m still here now in a completely different demographic.(you know..the one where you fall off the Earth and no one cares about you anymore commercially) As I sit in this gray cubicle, I simply cannot shake the idea that God certainly isn’t done with me yet.

Just Another Day pt. 1

    So here I am. Forty six years on the planet and still trying to find my place in this world.  It hasn’t been all bad. I have three beautiful children and am now remarried to a wonderful and amazing woman from Texas and my hair hasn’t fallen out yet. When I look back on my life and remember the highlights, several come to mind and as I sit here in this gray cubicle pondering what I have done with my life, I reflect on those moments:

I remember the very first memory of my father back in 1979-1980. My twin brother and I traveled from Oklahoma to Arizona to stay with him for the summer. It was really odd and my dad was an alcoholic and a mean one to boot.  I remember getting in trouble all the time, the next door neighbor walking into a moving train and my brother burning down our clubhouse that season.  I remember running around the front living room and air banding Kiss’ I Was Made For Loving You all summer long and listening to the American Top 40 on the weekends.My father was a loud and violent man back then.

I don’t recall much about elementary school other than the food and my mom’s fashion choices for me being horribly wrong.  Oh yeah, and I was born with serious eye muscle issues and went through several surgeries to try and correct it. I would eventually have a total of eight eye surgeries with the last one being in my very late teen years I do remember this being the reason I was bullied all the way through high school.

My mother remarried in the very early 80’s to a man who would no doubt try his damnedest to be a good step-father and we (my brothers and I) would make this task a very difficult one at best. On August 1, 1981 I remember sitting down in the front room and my stepfather turning on the stereo and getting way too excited about telling us what was getting ready to happen on television.¬† MTV aired their very first video by the Buggles called Video Killed the Radio Star. From this point forward, not only did we get all our fashion sense from this channel but EVERYTHING we did as pre-teens and teenagers came from what we learned and watched on Music television. I’d like to thank JJ Jackson, Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter and my secret all time crush Martha Quinn for¬†their hard work setting me on my own path.

My grandparents (on my mother’s side) made sure all of us knew about Jesus Christ. They also made sure we knew what true discipline was.  I suppose my parents were like a lot of other parents who dealt with blended families in the eighties so they decided one day that we should all start attending church. I don’t know if it was the guilt, the lack of a hobby, the fear of my grandparents wrath or simple religious reasons but we all got into the car one Sunday morning and suddenly became Jesus Freaks. I say this flip-n-finger but I have no doubt that taking us to church was probably the best decision my parents ever made. My entire family would eventually have a coming to Jesus moment and we would all begin down the path of spiritual growth and deeper learning. I have a lot of people to thank for their guidance and teaching during these years. Too many to name really. Much gratitude and thanks to Council Road Baptist Church: Wendell Estep, Claude Thomas, John Kyle, Norman Behymer, Dana Rothus, Kevin Macafee and John and Joanie Pullen. I could use another 30 sheets of paper thanking everyone who spoke love into my family’s life during a time of well…craziness!

-to be continued…

Hide & Seek

Always searching. It seems, this is what every single one of us is in the process of doing on this journey. Merriam Webster defines search as:
to look through or explore by inspecting possible places of concealment or investigating suspicious circumstances.  Remember the old Bible story of Adam and Eve in the Garden? Do you think they had reasons to explore and question everything about this unknown world God had created and placed them in? If memory serves me, God also gave Adam and Eve a direct order not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We all know what happens right? Eve gets hungry and she brain vomits for a second, then Adam follows suit. The Ultimate game of Hide & Seek begins.

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I’m not here to begin an argument or a dissertation over Original Sin or even debate whether the Serpent’s actions or the will of humans is to blame for the entry of evil into the world. I do believe however, that the serpent caused us as a human race to become seekers. Without the actions and reactions of both parties, there would be no suspicious circumstances. Can you even imagine a world of people completely nude, content and happy? Adam and Eve came face to face with self and so did we. Maybe you don’t really consider yourself as a seeker. Do you seek out truth(s)? better compensation at your job? A bigger house? Nicer car? Do you consider yourself as a content person? What is it in us that wants and desires more?

There are several scriptures that ask us to seek. there are many that stick out to me but certainly there are well over one hundred verses that speak directly of searching or seeking. It is best to remember that seeking in and of itself wasn’t necessary before the Fall. We had all that we needed before the fruit was tasted. As a matter of fact Jeremiah 29:13 is engraved into my wedding band!! It would make complete sense that the majority of Bible verses that deal with seeking would plead with us to seek God in all manner of life! It begs the question: If you are not seeking God or the things of God, then what are you searching for?…We will come back to that.

When I was a teenager, I was given one of the best opportunities a young person could possibly dream of. (and this was before the phenomena of the internet and Vlogging.) I was asked to be an on-air radio announcer at a radio station. I was going to be the next Casey Kasem !! I was a radio personality, had my own show and job all before I was even 16 years old!! I went on to interview several musicians, artists, and even a United States President!! ..and yet I was always searching…

In my twenties I spent too much time in college or should I say several colleges? I continued my affair with radio throughout my college life as well as found out that I was not spiritually gigantic as I thought I was. Seeking God seemed to come naturally in the first years but as the years went on and I went through some real trials of life, I began to search for contentment in partying, drinking and the plethora of “fun” that comes along with it. Fun is only great for a season..

Those in the halls of Academia will lead you to believe that higher learning opens your mind and your opportunities and these are the reasons one should attend University. While part of this is true, it doesn’t give one a pass on God. If education does anything, it teaches us that there are rules and constructs that either move us forward, backwards or cause us to stay stagnant. Remember the Garden? Something inside of us will always be seeking. Both Good and Evil know this. (God and Satan if you will.) Evil is here and it constantly reminds us that we need more, we need to be, do, have, and take more. (Does this sound like USA Capitalism or what?? but that is for another blog.)

We all remember as children playing hide and seek. One counts while all the others hide and then the search starts. What are you seeking? What is it that is causing you to search? Are you bombarded by all the wrong messages? Looking for fulfillment in temporary fixes? Fun is only for a season. If you’re anything like the average American, then you have heard these things once or twice..What is it that drives you to continue searching for your own contentment?

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The story of our desperate need to seek doesn’t end in the Garden but becomes fulfilled through God’s son. Maybe you have been hiding long enough and He is saying to you, ” Ready or not, here I come.”