A Message For Parents - Doug Fields

Are you a parent? Well then do yourself a VERY big favor and take the next 45 minutes to watch this teaching. By tomorrow you are not going to remember most of the useless junk you scrolled through on Instagram or Facebook. So why not do something right now that could have an incredibly positive impact on your children??

THIS VIDEO WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER PARENT. Or at least, if you respond to it’s teachings it will. So watch this for the benefit of not just yourself, but even more importantly….watch this for THEM.

Worth it.

Help Me Bring Joel to Panama!

So first up, I'm way way wayyyy behind on blogging. So I apologize for those who are regulars around here and haven't seen much in the way of recent work. I am planning to get on that soon. I've been incredibly busy and also working through some health issues that have had me fairly distracted the last few months. But keep an eye out for some updates soon! In the mean time, I wanted to share a VERY important post.

In June of 2018 I will be leading a mission trip to Caisan Panama with Eleven22. If you've been following here for a while you may have seen my last trip to Panama. (adamszarmack.com/panama) But now I am being called back and this time to lead! I am incredibly excited about this opportunity since I just led another mission trip to Jamaica back in late August that was amazing. (adamszarmack.com/jamaica) While I was there I met a very special young man named Joel. He is 15 years old and one of the most gifted young musicians I have ever seen. During my time there he and I got the incredible opportunity to do musical ministry for many local kids in Jamaica ranging from music lessons to worship gatherings. Through that experience I developed a great relationship with his family and of course with Joel as well. At the end of the trip, Joel's dad asked me if I could do my best to stay a part of Joel's life and be a role model for him. I promised him I would although at times it has been challenging due to us living in separate countries. But when I found out I was going back to Panama next summer, God immediately put it on my heart to take Joel with me on this trip. But it's not exactly the easiest thing down in Jamaica for their family to raise money as simple as we can here in America.

And that leads me to the point of this post...

I have talked through some logistics with Eleven22 and with Joel's family and I have made it a personal goal of mine to raise the money to help cover the cost of Joel's trip participation. The total amount of the trip for a regular participant is $1,800. If you are reading this now anything is stirring in your heart, YOU can be a part of supporting what would be an INCREDIBLE opportunity for Joel by contributing financially in ANY way you can. NO AMOUNT IS TOO SMALL.

To make a financial donation towards Joel's trip cost simply go to the following link. You can make an online donation and even do so anonymously if you'd feel more comfortable doing so.

And if at this time you are unable to donate, please consider passing this along to someone you know who may be able to.

With absolute utmost sincerity,
Adam Szarmack

ME AND JOEL LEADING SOME KIDS IN MUSIC DOWN IN JAMAICA THIS PAST SUMMER. JOEL IS ON THE KEYBOARD. LISTEN TO HIM GO! HELP SEND THIS GUY TO PANAMA SO HE CAN DO THE SAME THING FOR LITTLE PANAMANIAN KIDS!!

The Faces of Jamaica

About 8 years ago, I took a vacation to Jamaica. After going back a second time for a mission trip, I am not sure I could ever vacation to Jamaica again. (Keep reading)

The tale of two Jamaica trips...

The last time I went to Jamaica, (we'll call that trip "Jamaica A") I stayed at one of the Sandals Resorts. I remember landing at the airport and getting onto the shuttle with a bunch of other tourists. The next couple hours we cruised down the coastline highway drinking Red Stripes and listening to Bob Marley. I remember looking out the window and seeing some of the impoverished Jamaican families living in shacks and run down old homes. At that time, I was about 9 years removed from the last mission trip I had gone on to Peru. In fact, I was about 9 years removed from living out my faith in any kind of meaningful way entirely. I was living for myself and whatever made me feel good at the moment. So when I saw the conditions and how much they resembled past mission trips I'd done, I just did what anyone on vacation would do. I said "wow look at them--that is sad" and then buried it deep down so I wouldn't have to deal with any feelings of guilt while I passed right by them on my way to the resort. Eventually we pulled up to Sandals and we came up to a massive gate. It slowly opened, we drove through and then the gate closed behind us. And the people in need that I saw were closed off behind me. I no longer had to "deal with them" causing me any guilt for all the fun I was going to have. I was free to just enjoy myself.

We spent a lot of time poolside, drinking unlimited mojitos and eating as much as we wanted. We got to do a zip line and some waterfalls too and sure those were cool. Then on the last day we sat on the resort's man-made beach watching and laughing as pasty white northerners would run into the water only to find out that the floor is made of sharp rocks and not sand. We'd laugh as one by one they'd go running in and then slowly (and painfully) walk back out shouting "ouch-ouch". Yeah it was funny, I'm not going to say that wasn't a memory from that trip I enjoyed. But....THAT was the highlight for us. Sitting on a fake beach drinking beer watching drunk tourists cut their feet. Eventually the trip came to an end, we got back on the bus, and came back home to Florida. Was it fun? Sure, it was fun. But 8 years later, it did absolutely nothing to change any lives. Now that trip just rings a bit hollow.

Now let me tell you a little bit about "Jamaica B."

Last week I went back to Jamaica but this time, it was a much different story. 21 people (including myself) went to Jamaica, and 21 people had their lives changed forever. Not one of us came back the same person we were before we left. Instead of watching drunk tourists running around a fake beach with mojitos in their hand, I watched the people on my team step out in BOLDNESS and love and care for the men, women and children of Jamaica with a passion! The very people I turned my back to 8 years ago. Far more rewarding than any vacation experience could ever offer. And on top of that, I witnessed first hand bravery like I have never seen before as people on my team pulled together and helped one another work through some of their deepest most painful struggles. Many late nights with a lot of tears. And it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. I cannot even begin to put into words how incredibly PROUD I am of each and every one of them. On behalf of my AMAZING co-leader Jenn Heller, I just want to say to you all, Adrian, Arden, Aruna, Ben, Brenna, Caitlin, Carrie, Diana, Diane, Doug, Hailey, Kaylie, Leslee, Lori, Matt, Mike, Michelle, Ryan and Sharon......WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU!! I am absolutely honored to call you my friends.

I'll let the images tell the rest of the story. We worked hard but we had a lot of fun too. Take a look at some of our shots from the Eleven22 Jamaica B mission team. And if anything in here tugs on your heart and you want to know more about what these kinds of trips are all about, just ask. The door is open any time. You just have to take that first step of faith and walk through it. coe22.com/missions

Want to see last year's trip to Panama? Ok. Go here: adamszarmack.com/panama

Do You Need a Do Over?

About two years ago, I found myself in a place in my life where I was pretty broken and battling some feelings of depression. I kept it to myself and even my closest family had no idea I was feeling this way. I didn't want anyone to know.

During that time, at my place of work there was a spare office that no one was using and so I moved my computer into it without even asking for permission from my management. The reason I did that was because most of the time I was sitting in there fighting back tears. (And losing that battle more often than not.) Occasionally one of my peers would stick their head in and say "Hey what ya doing in here?" to which I would reply "Oh I think I'm getting sick so I'm just doing everyone a favor and separating myself from the group." But the truth was, I didn't want anyone to see me crying. And when it was time for a company meeting, I'd do my best to push all the tears in and put on my best fake smile--holding it as long as possible until I could get back to that office and be alone again.

I needed a Do Over.

And by the grace of God, he gave me one.

I tend to write too much so if anyone reads this and wants to know the rest of my story, please contact me and let's setup a time to chat more. I'd love to meet you and have a heart to heart.

And if you are currently in a place in life right now and YOU need a "Do Over" too, I've got good news...

Here is the Do Over you've been waiting for...

 Photo I shot of my pastor, Joby Martin, preaching his guts out at Eleven22 on Easter Sunday.

Photo I shot of my pastor, Joby Martin, preaching his guts out at Eleven22 on Easter Sunday.

You Love Me Through and Through (VIDEO)

In all honesty, this isn't a post I am necessarily eager to share. Everyone is their own worst critic and I don't even like hearing my self sing let alone watching myself sing. But in this last couple years I have been working towards pushing my musical talents further which is something I regrettably neglected for a while. I'm still finding my voice a little bit but slowly and surely I've been gaining some more range and control over it. It's nothing earth shattering compared to some singers out there, but it's mine and it's a talent God has given me and so I want to grow that gift and use it for His glory.

This is a very simple song written by Will Reagan and his band United Pursuit. Only 4 chords and basically two verses. But there is tremendous meaning behind these words that can touch your heart if you've got ears to hear.

The message? God loves you exactly AS you are and exactly WHERE you are. He loves us through all of our junk. Just like any good dad who loves his kids unconditionally. Don't ever let your past mistakes make you feel excluded from God's love. He knows about them and He knows the ones you'll make again in the future, and He loves you anyway. Through and through.

My hope is this blesses you.

My Daughter's Awesome New Year's Resolution

I don't use Facebook or Instagram so this site is one of the few ways I share personal stuff about myself. This morning while I was making breakfast for my family my wife took this out of my daughter's backpack and read it to me. It immediately became one of the proudest moments in my 33 years of life.

This past summer I went on a mission trip to Panama with Eleven22. (See the trip here!) I have been on other trips like it before but that was a long time ago and before I had a parent's view of the world. In fact, the last trip I went on I was only 19 years old and had only just met the girl who would eventually become my wife. Fast forward to present day as a parent of two young kids, a trip like that took on an extra meaning. (PS, in August of 2017 I'm leading another mission trip to Jamaica, contact me if you're interested in going!)

When I was in Panama and got to spend time with some of the kids there and I got a massive gut check on just how much I spoil my own children even if I don't realize I'm doing it. I saw kids that were the same age as mine who had virtually no clothes, food or toys. Practically nothing. Some even living under plastic tarps for a "roof". (Here in America we would call it homeless.) And I won't pretend for a second that I have not also done this, but after a trip like that when you get back home and go to a restaurant and see the kids who can't sit still so the parents have to give them an iPhone or iPad to entertain them for 30 minutes, well it just feels REALLY weird. That's not really the point I am trying to get at in this post but, it's just true.

Anyway, after going through that experience I have been slowly teaching my 6 year old about the trip and why I went. With every passing month she continues to learn more in school and get smarter. For class yesterday she had a writing assignment to fill out a worksheet on her personal New Year's Resolution for 2017. This is that work sheet. I am one VERY proud dad!

"I would want to go to poor countries with my dad". I love her!!

By the way, in case it's hard to read...here are the others...

I want to learn how to - float in the pool on my back.
At home, I - want to learn how to fold laundry.
At school, I - I want to show how good we are if a new person is in our class.
I will make a difference by - to be brave if I'm scared.

Shane & Shane Have Changed My Life

About 15 years ago I was on a mission trip to Peru when I was first introduced to the music of Shane Barnard and Shane Everette. I don't always have the best memory but I can specifically remember hearing one of their songs and instantly being hooked. The combo of guitar style and vocals they were doing at the time were not like anything else I had heard anyone else do before. In fact, fast forward to present day and it's still the same thing. There just isn't anyone who sounds like they do. In my opinion, they are EASILY two of the most talented vocalists in human history and, IF they wanted to, could have gone for fame and fortune in the secular music industry and made it big. They are that gifted. BUT, they instead choose to remain simple and humble. They don't dress in rockstar clothing or go out partying. Most of their concerts take place in smaller venues. And as enormously talented as they are, when you see them live you never once feel like they are performing for their own fame or self glory. And at every show they usually ask the audience to stay seated. Who does that??

Anyway if you think a lot of Christian music sounds weird, well.....you're right. A lot of it does. BUT...I hope that you will give these guys a fair shot and listen to a few of these songs. And I also hope that their music will do as much for your life as it has for mine. I mean that whole heartedly.

- Adam

 Pic I shot of them singing at  Eleven22  this past September.

Pic I shot of them singing at Eleven22 this past September.

Steven Tyler Looked At Me

During a corporate event I was filming for in Orlando a couple weeks ago, I had the lucky opportunity to see Steven Tyler perform in a private concert. Closed room of about 2,000 people. That guy's voice in person is one of the coolest things I've ever heard in my life.

Checkout some shots from the event! If you like these you should also checkout the same convention I shot last year where the guest band was JOURNEY!

Gang Raped to Death

First off, I sincerely apologize for that pretty direct blog title. I have no intention of offending anyone but I wanted to grab your attention because I truly believe this is that important. I understand this is probably not going to win me any popularity points. Again, I am sorry if anyone read that title and felt uncomfortable. It is certainly not my goal. But please hear me out on this one.

We are living in some pretty crazy times. It gets said over and over to the point where we are almost numb. It really is too depressing now to even turn on the news. Every day there is a report of people young and old that are being murdered, raped, kidnapped, terrorized or sometimes something worse. And we all seem to agree, it doesn't seem to be getting any better.

So how the heck did we get here and is there even any hope?

With all due respect to whatever your personal beliefs may be, even if they are the exact opposite of mine, from the most sincere part of my heart that I can ask this, please take the time to watch this entire message by Joby Martin. I promise it is something you will not regret listening to and it is certainly not boring. In fact, a non-christian friend of mine attended this very service with me and after we walked out he looked at me and said "Even if you take all the Jesus stuff out, that is message EVERYONE needs to hear."

This is not an easy sermon to listen to. It is a part of the bible that many churches are not even willing to acknowledge let alone talk about. But one thing I love about The Church of Eleven22 is that we have a pastor who is not afraid to tell us what we NEED to hear instead of what we WANT to hear.

Please listen to this and if anything you hear tugs on your heart, let's talk about it. I'm being completely serious. You can email me or call me or text me. Whatever it takes. I'm here for anyone who needs me. Thank you.

The Faces of Panama

Where to even start with this one...

It really is not going to be possible for me to fully describe to you what this trip meant to me and the 37 new close friends I made in Panama last week. The only phrase I can think of right now is, the unexplainable undoubtedly bumped into the undeniable. People's lives where changed. Including my own.

Mission trips are not easy. You have to put yourself in a position to be vulnerable and uncomfortable. Sometimes to extreme levels. There really is no way around it. But for those who really dig deep and find that place of true surrender, the payoff is pretty remarkable. I watched people on my team find that place in Panama last week. Some even to the point of sobbing with tears. And they were some of the most beautiful moments I have ever seen in my life. I'll say it again, people's lives were changed!

To everyone who shared in this incredible journey with me, I whole heartedly love and respect each and everyone one of you. Thank you for these new memories that I will cherish forever. And thank you for touching my heart the way that you did with your passion and courage. And for those who supported me both financially and through donating supplies, I want to say from the bottom of my heart I can't thank you enough.

This trip had a little bit of everything from feeding the poor to construction projects and even a music school for the kids. Some of the photos are fun and laid back but some are pretty intense. Hopefully they serve as a friendly reminder for you as they have for me to always stay thankful. Just a couple of days ago I was standing under a home that was literally a big tent made out of bamboo shoved into the mud with a plastic tarp for a roof. It was not much bigger than my living room and FIVE different families lived under it! Sure makes me feel silly for ever complaining about my own house.

Ok so, come along with me for a glimpse into The Church of Eleven22, Panama 2016. If anything tugs on your heart give me a buzz and let's talk more about some of the things that happened on this trip. Gloria de Dios!