Archive by Author | The Joseph Craven

Value Cycles (Or, Why Work Doesn’t Define Us But We Need To Work)

I sat down for a moment at work the other day to soak in the fact that I had been running from one end of the building to the other pretty much since I had arrived earlier that morning. For a majority of the day, there hadn’t actually been much to do, but I still found myself going back and forth for a while in the quest for productivity.

I had to stop and sit down in order to take all of this into consideration. I mean, I had just gotten back from a week of vacation time, and to be quite honest, I was getting a little frustrated on Sunday that it wasn’t Monday and it wasn’t time for me to get back to the office. And in the earlier moments of the day, I was frustrated that I just hadn’t quite found anything productive to do with my time. When I actually was given a task, I turned to a co-worker who had noticed my restlessness and proudly proclaimed “I found something to do!”

Sitting on that bench for a moment shed a great deal of light on the motivation I was acting off of. Not just the motivation I was working with on that particular workday, but a greater motivation that seems to live on in all of us. Read More…


It’s a little funny that we celebrate the annual chance to start over. As if there was only one time each year that we were allowed to reflect or begin something new. As if exercise didn’t count unless the routine began on January 1. As if one large decision could totally change us if there isn’t effort throughout the year. As if the first day of 2015 was the answer.

I’ve been thinking a lot about labels recently. The titles that we affix to ourselves or others depending on very strange qualifications. How if you like sports, you’re a “jock” and fit into the “jock” mold. And jocks are dumb and overly macho and uncreative. How if we play video games, we’re a “gamer” and we fit the “gamer” mold. And gamers are clever and can’t grow good facial hair and they’re smarter than you. Oh, and they’re always guys. Can’t have girls involved. Where you’re from defines you. What you look like defines you.

Molds can’t be broken. Labels can’t be removed. Read More…

Worst Show….EVER?

Hey cool look at that! It’s a new video!

This is the first episode of a new show that I (under my workplace nickname of Kreg [don’t ask cause I don’t know]) and my friend Cadden have recklessly put together. It’s entitled Worst Show Ever, and in this pilot episode, we discuss several books we’ve never actually read.

Sound dumb? Of course it does. It wouldn’t be the Worst Show Ever if it sounded like a good idea!

Eat Dessert First

He was the result of unique bloodline. Choctaw, German, Irish, Black. Whatever you could name, he probably had a bit of it floating around in his DNA. It led to a fantastic background story, but also led to a very rare disease that manifested itself after a football injury. It’s a disease that is slowly atrophying his muscles. It’s a disease that he probably had at least a one-in-a-million chance of having. His parents had to both be one-in-a-million carriers who would have to just happen to meet and have him. It is a disease that has manifested itself in a one in a million life.

I was the result of the need for work other than parents paying me to paint the garage. I ended back at my first job out of college. We often jokingly called it “The Family Business”, Disability Support Services at a local community college. My brother works there and my mother teaches at the school. I came back as almost a favor to my family, but one I would be paid for. There were moments I really enjoyed it. There were moments it felt like there was no escape. All in all, it served its purpose, but when something better finally came along, it was time to leave.

That’s how I found myself seated with this man in his wheelchair on my last day of work. That’s how I found myself facing major life change with a man who changed my life in just ten minutes of storytelling. Read More…

Fly High, 65

The cars have lined the neighborhood streets, as teenagers flood out of the vehicles in school colors and painted faces. Many of the vehicles are still painted as well. Their windows marked with the motto that was introduced to our city on Friday night just a week before.

Pray For Walker.

Earlier in the day, hundreds drove to a funeral that shouldn’t happen. We’re not supposed to have funerals for teenagers. Yet as they drove, they passed by brightly lit red and blue billboards, the colors of Jackson Prep. They had a simple message written on them as well: the number 65, Walker’s number. It was a reminder to those driving by and to the whole community that they were not driving to a funeral. They were headed towards a celebration of a spectacular young life.

“I think your second post starts tonight.”

A youth minister’s words hit me as we walked past the cars together. I knew he was right. There was plenty more to write, and he knew exactly what those words needed to say.

“The healing starts now.” Read More…

Rain Like Tears

Sorrow announces itself with rain.

It comes in suddenly, on what would have otherwise been a bright, sunny day. A gorgeous day, one that wasn’t as hot as anticipated, which was perfect for eating lunch outside and driving with the top down. A perfect day for students to laugh and joke with each other just like they would on any other school day.

That would change quickly, though, when the rain fell. And when it fell, it fell fiercely. It fell like the tears of the students at Jackson Prep that were about to fall. Students that were just about to learn that their friend and classmate, Walker Wilbanks, had passed away right about the time the rain came in. Read More…


There is a small sheet of paper that hangs on the wall above my bed. It’s positioned above the place where I often rest my head. It has a list of names. Mostly people, but there are a few locations on it. And the top of the paper simply says “PRAY” in capital letters. It’s my prayer list, and it constantly changes and will soon have to be replaced by an updated list, but that’s okay.

I’m not bragging about my spiritual maturity when I’m telling you this. The list exists because I don’t pray. The names on the list are people I care about, but also people I’ve wronged. There are names on the list of family members who I see frequently, but there are names on the list of people that live across the country that I owe a phone call. The phone call may or may not happen, but the names are on the list. There are names on the list of people that flat out hate my guts. And that’s cool too.  They may never be able to forgive me for whatever reason they have for hating me, but their names are on the list.. Read More…