All You Can Be

There are moments,

where you take a chance and it blows up

it your face, and you feel like an idiot

but you knew if you didn’t do it, you

would always been standing at the precipice

asking God,

“why’d didn’t I jump?”

Not all risks will end pretty

sometimes you jump and you splat,

but if the intention is honest,

and the passion is real

and you’re not out to play games or plug yourself,

then it’s worth it, because you tried

and maybe that girl will say no,

or the casting director won’t give the time of day,

or maybe nobody will understand what you tried to do,

but it’s okay.

You were you.

And that’s all you can be.

6 Seconds

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via Marines Magazine

Recently my brother-in-law, who is a Marine, shared a story with me the other day about two Marines who stopped a car bomber from killing 150 American and Iraqi troops… in six seconds! When we think of acts of heroism, we think them in terms of heartfelt speeches, counting costs, and tactical actions; but no, these two men were provided none of that. They had a few short moments as the car hurdled towards them to react. All the months of arduous training they had previously received had prepared them for this exact moment.

It is an excellent reminder of two things: 1. The huge sacrifice being made daily, both here and abroad, by our brave servicemen and women. 2. The importance of practice and preparation in our own lives. No matter how you’d wish you’d act or react in any particular situation, it is how you do so right now that makes all the difference.  “Practice makes permanent,” as they say. So, if you’d like to rock that next guitar solo, play your scales. If you’d like to like to score that next deal, rehearse your presentation. If you’d like to have just the right words for that questioning seeker-friend of yours, be in the Word daily.

Sooner or later, the opportunity you seek will come. The question is: will you be ready?

My Faith Story

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Hey friends,

Many people over the years have asked for my testimony or personal faith story. Truth is, there are so many different stories I could tell. Recently, I have opened a new chapter in my life. I think it’s worth telling that story because it shows have great and loving and forgiving and strong God really is, and how small I am in comparison.

In 2013, I was pretty high on life. I had a good job, a good group of friends, and had a lot of fun on the side with filmmaking and competitive eating and other random stuff. Plus, I had the respect of my peers and parents as well as a clean slate financially after years and years of student loans.

On the eve of 2014, I was presented with the opportunity to (A) lead a film crew in a new short film series, and (B) lead a group of young adults in a new church outreach initiative. For years, I have wanted to pursue ministry and the arts in a professional capacity. People say I have a knack for these things. So, it was my dream to make the most of it. Even when both the film series and ministry showed signs of storm clouds ahead, I decided to push onward, because this was my dream and no one could take it away from me.

The answer was “no, someone could take it away.” God could, and He did. He allowed me to have a go at it for a while, but then things started to fall apart. The film crew, as great as it was, was sideswiped by unexpected drama, and expenses started piling up much more rapidly than I was bringing money in. Plus, numbers in the church group dwindled and yet the higher ups in the initiative continued to push for results. As both situations took a dive, I tried coping as best I could. Not running to God, but away from God. Not reaching our to others, but into myself. Soon this formerly peaceful, kindhearted dude found himself full of lust, pride, and drunkenness. My finances were shot. My nerves were raw. My relationship with my wife was in the toilet. Finally, I got to the point where I turned to Katie and I was like, “I gotta get out, or this thing I’ve created is gonna kill me” (this being barely an exaggeration).

We finished the films and made a less than graceful departure from the initiative, then moved to North Carolina (from California) in 2015. I didn’t know what waited next. My first few month were rocky. I couldn’t find a job. But I did find a church. One day, the youth pastor at that time asked me to write him a drama for an upcoming event. I wrote him a musical. I’d never written one before. The first draft (the final being not far from) was done in two weeks. God was up to something. Then, the youth pastor felt called away from his position and offered me the job. What ensued were four months of intensive growth and healing, followed by a full-scale production of said musical.

It was amazing! Within a matter of two years, God had taken everything away from me only to give it back again. True, the old demons still vie for my heart and mind. I’m still in debt. But my wife and I are good again; I’ve been writing a lot; the church I’m at is great (the new youth pastor is amazing!); and the musical will soon be ready for full-scale distribution any day now.

From all this I’ve learned that God is good, and He uses all things, even those things that are hurtful to Him and His name, for His glory. Thank you Jesus for being the God of Four-Hundred and Ninety Chances!!!

Also let me take this moment to assure you, if you feel like you are down and out, especially out, God loves you, God wants you back. Run to Him. He is ready and eager to bring you back to glory. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by an Awesome & Mighty Creator! 

Blessings and love,

Aaron D. Ybarra

Practice Makes Perfection

“Practice makes perfect,”

yes, but what is perfected?

why is it perfected at all?

All those hours of seemingly vain repetitions,

the pain, the frustration

the cursing at the art form

and the Divine

and whatever thing or being you can think of

to blame your inadequacies on.

 

But yet, still, despite all this the best of us press on,

through the dark times

and the periods of fault and failure.

Finally, after all the falling down

and getting back up again,

we reach the top of the mountain

and suddenly everything-

every unsavory experience-

was worth it

for that one, fleeting yet sublime glimpse

of heaven

Out of the Ashes: Overcoming Adversity (Self-Imposed or Otherwise)

Summary: Stop and smell the roses, before you get pricked by the thorns

We all hit the proverbial wall at one time or another. Sometimes, it is because we have taken too much on. Sometimes, it is because too much has been thrown at us. In either case, remember that we are not called to be superheroes. After all, we burn out. We hit our limits. Those who insist on being strong all the time, on putting that on “knight in shining armor” act 24/7, will eventually fall, and fall hard. This is inevitable, even for the best of us.

If you find yourself over your head: Take a moment. Breathe. Meditate. Admit your humanity and weakness. Then, form a plan of attack. That attack may be: re-prioritizing your life, it might be asking for help, might just be saying “no.”

We’re so “yes” minded. We love to say “yes.” It feels good. But, if we say it enough times, especially in situations that put us at odds with our values, abilities, or resources, we will quickly find ourselves in a heap of trouble.

I highly encourage learning new skills, trying new things, and taking on new challenges. But remember to give yourself time to relax, replenish, and savor life. Otherwise, it will fly by and you will be none the wiser for it.

Life is, after all, a marathon. Not a sprint. A baton-toss, not a winner-take-all fight to the death.

So, be wise, be human, and be strong.

Blessings to you in Christ,

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