Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being Thankful

As I looked back at my blog posts, I realized this is my very first time blogging about Thanksgiving. Very cool, and very interesting.

To be honest, I feel like I don't have much to be thankful for this year.
My brother died. My grandma died.
If anything, this is the year I probably have the most reason to NOT be thankful for anything.

My family has a tradition at Thanksgiving. We each have a candle clipped on to our plate. One person starts with their candle lit, and they say one thing they are thankful for. They then use their candle to light the candle of the person sitting next to them. This continues until the entire table is ablaze with thankfulness- only then do we begin the meal.
In past years I remember wanting to get on with it so that I could taste the beautiful dark meat of the turkey, and the gravy-topped mashed potatoes. When my turn came to say what I was thankful for, I remember saying the normal things: "my family," "my friends," or "a great year" were classics. I wasn't being a selfish kid, I simply was taking for granted everything that should have meant something in my life. Taking for granted the very thing that made the food on the table possible. Ironic.

In many ways I feel like my response to the thankfulness candle this year could simply be "pass." I've got the excuses and the reasons to be sure. In fact, my family as a whole has every reason to give a big resounding "pass" to the question of thankfulness in 2009.

But I don't think that's at all what Thanksgiving is all about.

The Pilgrims who originally celebrated Thanksgiving weren't giving thanks for the easy situations, simple problems, and "safety", they were giving thanks for avoided fatalities, survival, and friendship. They were giving thanks for what little they had.

History put aside, can I honestly put on a sour face during Thanksgiving? Can I honestly spit in Papa's face for all the relationships he's given me this year? Can I, in good conscience, go pout in the corner and let every joyful moment of the past year slip my mind? No, I really can't.

Is it true that shitty events have taken place in the life of Colin Mansfield this year? Undoubtedly.
And yet, I have so much to be thankful for.

  • One year anniversary of dating my girlfriend, Kona Estes.
  • My nephew, Cole, who will be turning two this January.
  • A dog who, despite losing both of her eyes this year, remains happy as a puppy.
  • True friends who have incredible senses of humor, will pray with me when I need it, and will tell me to shut the hell up when I need it.
  • An amazing sister. Words can't describe how much she means to me, and how much closer we've gotten this year.
  • A real relationship with Papa. I used to know him as my God. Now he's more, he's my daddy.
  • The realization of what Love is. And who Love is.
This is in no way a complete list, or even the start of one.

I really do have loads to be thankful for. And, like the Pilgrims, much of it has come through looking through the lense of loss.

This year, when I get the candle passed to me, I won't have to say pass. Nor will I feel inclined to say any old thing because the turkey is calling my name.
This year, I'll be able to speak with the knowledge that I have so much to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for?


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I've got a feeling

That you're really going to like this video.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thoughts on Sunday

When I think of Sunday, a few things come to mind.
First, naturally, church.
Second, hanging out with my family. Normally this is breakfast after church, talking over the week's events, and laughing alot.
Third, relaxing. A great Sunday, in my mind, consists of sweatpants, dinosaur slippers, a good book or laptop, and (in the colder months) a fire roaring nearby.

Isn't it interesting that the first thing that I think of is church? The American culture has almost sold church as a "must do." It's like, if you want to feel good the rest of the week, you should go to church. Get your god face on, sing a bit, space out, then head home to kick back and let the good times roll.
Obviously something is wrong with this picture.

Some would argue that church itself is the issue. Atheists may say that church attempts to copy that community which families naturally share together already. This artificial ecosystem, they might say, only breeds a gross copy of the original.
On the other side of the spectrum, Jesus-loving Christians might say that the real problem with church is that the building is often filled with fake, mask-wearing, judgmental people. For a church to work, they might say, people must realize that the church building isn't really the Church. Some might even say that church is entirely unnecessary for the Church to exist.

I'm being real here: I really am not 100% sure where I lie in this spectrum of opinion. I would love to say that I know where I stand, what I believe, and that I have the Bible verses to prove it. But I don't.
I'm in process.

What I know (or think I know):
I know I'm not an atheist. I know that many people find value in even the most dysfunctional of churches. I know there are people who feel closer to God in the most religious of buildings, and really can't focus with roaring guitars and a huge sanctuary with overhead screens. I'm close to people who have stepped away from "church" altogether, in order that they might embrace BEING the Church. I see value in that as well.

I know that I don't like feeling like I should go to church on Sunday. On the other hand, I know that the things I don't want to do can be those that produce the most value. I understand that obligation does not breed love, but I'm not sure if love can breed obligation. I know hierarchy is the natural human response to disorder, but I also know that the Holy Spirit can reveal herself like the most wild, disorderly thing there is. I also know I probably offended someone by calling the Holy Spirit a her.

What are your thoughts?

So much to think about, so little time to process.
Well, for now, I will enjoy my Sunday.

Here, have some Calvin and Hobbes:


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Re Blog: Church Alumni

This post is taken from Captain's Blog. View the original post here.

Last week I was interviewed by Recycle {Your Faith} ministry about my current story and thoughts on corporate church. An hour and a half session was clipped into three minutes. Oh my! It is scary to put your thoughts down on tape knowing that someone could edit your comments to make you look other than what is in your heart to share. I'm glad I trusted Craig. I think he did a great job with a dicey topic and an amateur interviewee.

Recycle {Your Faith} produces short videos that are designed to be shown at small groups to introduce topics for discussion. I wonder what dialog will come out of this!

Click here to see the video Craig titled, "Church Alumni."

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Great Romance

So God created us in His image, and He is love.

We are created in the image of Love.

God created us for relationship; with Him first, then with each other.

How does this romance work?

Men naturally will defend women, without thinking.

In the Bible, we are likened to the bride, and Christ to the bridegroom seeking after his bride.

Just as men will naturally protect and care for women, God will naturally protect and care for us.

And with danger looming, how much more?

What would happen if everything we look at: the trees, our jobs, board meetings, donuts, our spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend, related to this Great Romance?

Not like all connected, but all depending.

What would happen if we're not just affected by God's Love, but we depend on It?

The closer we draw to Him, into the arms of our Papa, the further we get from darkness, hurt, fear, and pain.

Papa, draw me close.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

From DC to Annapolis to Philly to West Point

Today was a whirlwind of the best kind.
Right now I'm on the East Coast with my dad, and let me tell you it's been a blast!

We flew into DC last night and immeadiatly went to the White House and Capitol 1:30am! It was an awesome experience to be sure. After done with our late night adventure, we took the 45min drive to Annapolis and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. A great start.

Today was awesome. I've never done anything like it before; seen so many tourist and classic American spots in one day! Starting on Annapolis, we grabbed bfast at Carrol's then headed over to the Naval Academy to look around, and, as a Go Army family, urinate on the parade grounds. Ok, maybe we didn't :) all the same, USNA was a cool sight to see and place to experience. After visiting the gift shop, it was back in the car.

East Coast countryside is beautiful to drive past. Brilliant trees, ground moist from fall drizzle, beautiful sky.
But Philly is a whole other world.

If you were to take New York City, give it a traditional feel, get rid of the huge buildings, and make the people have REAL attitude, you'd get Philly. Let's just for comparing them to NY I'd probably get shot.
So, we did the rounds. Cheese Steak at Jim's was the biggest must-have, so we went there first. I got a steak sandwich with whiz and onions, and it totally hit the spot. :) something beautiful about eating Philly Cheese Philly! Also, we got to see the bar featured in the movie 'Invincible' (pictured).

And now, back in the car, we're headed to West Point in NY! Tomorrow will consist of Touring USMA, then heading into NYC for some Little Italy goodness.

This has been so amazing! I totally can't wait for the days to come! We'll be headed back through Philly to sight see, then to DC for some touring before heading back home.
If ya want to follow my trip, head over to


My Dad and I in Annapolis!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rescuing the Damsel in Distress

What has become of my generation?

Guys treating ladies like trash, girls showing themselves off like trophies to be won. It makes me sick to my stomach.

I take one class at a public high school. Walking down the halls on any given day, I'm astounded at what I see. Gentleman! What kind of monsters have we become? Ladies! Where did the innocence go? The insecurity flows like an ocean tide, filling up the entire building until all that is left and felt is a current of emotions, chief of which is lust.

Oh man! My heart just weeps! So many girls without fathers, without someone who has actually loved them in their life. Looking for a guy to fill them up and make them feel wanted. A guy to just hold them and accept them for who they are. A guy to hold their hand, loan them their sweatshirt, kiss them on the nose. These girls, looking for a love to just BE with them instead get-

Guys! You make me ashamed to walk in the midst of a crowd of females at a school. Where did the expectations of being a "tough guy" come from? Where did the arrogance and fake self-assurance come from? You think you're so cool? You think you're so tough? Try being a gentleman, even for a second. You go to parties, drink, do drugs-all just to show off how cool you are. Try taking the harder road for even one day!

Honestly, I'm pretty disgusted at this whole Twilight thing. It's not the books that kill me. It's not the storyline or the characters or the premise. I get the whole vampire thing. I even get making that in to a romantic story. Here's what I don't get: WHY DOES OUR SOCIETY INSIST ON FOCUSING ON INSECURITY? Can't you see? Don't you understand? Are you so blinded?


Girl's, you don't need to be filled with a guy. You don't need a boyfriend. You need Papa's love. And He is so here to give it to you.

Guys, you don't need to filled up by chicks, porn, or partying. Papa loves you the way He made you: a warrior and lover for Him.

We are the Damsel in Distress, and God is our rescuer. We are the bride, and He is the Bridegroom. God loves us, cares for us, seeks us, woos us, fights for us, defends us. He is here for us in EVERY fashion and in EVERY conceivable way.

I'm speaking to my generation.
Papa loves us so much. He hugs us in His warmth and joy, and has created us to love each other. Why do you resist such great love? Why do you try to find this love in the wrong way? It's all right here, right in front of us.
God is rescuing us, the Damsel.

But then again, who am I to talk? Who am I to judge? I'm just as sick as the rest of my generation- hypocritical, distracted, and seeking the Love of the Creator. Jesus, would you heal my heart?

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Let those words of the Psalmist ring true in my life.

Papa! Hear the cry of my heart! Don't you see what my generation is going through? Don't you see the broken households, the unloved, the depressed? Lord, save us. But, even more importantly, Love us; for what is salvation without Your Love?

A groan from the heart of Colin