Connely Musings

Writing Place for Ryan Connely

At 35, A New Question to Guide Me

Guatemala LakesideOnce in a blue moon, God will cause my mind and heart to understand my life through a whole new lens. My 20’s and early 30’s were dominated by one over arching question,

“God, what should I be doing with my life?”

Every opportunity, relationship, task, and nearly every day was underscored by it.

“Is this really what I should be doing?” “Is this how I should be doing it?” “Are you sure this is right?”

This question and the ones that came with it caused a nervous undertone to live in my heart and my soul in just about everything. Friendships. Ministry. Entertainment. My Teaching. Family. Etc. It assumes there’s one small dot of what I should be doing, and if I missed it in some way or am doing it not completely on point then I am all off. It resulted in a great deal of snobbishness honestly because if X fell out of what I supposed to be doing then I did not engage it. Along with that it paralyzed me even more often from engaging all the different people and opportunities that were right there around me with fear of not doing it right.

This past holiday break I had just turned 35. I took a few afternoons to go to a coffee shop and reflect on what direction to take my next 35 years. Somehow in that time, He hit me with one of those rare insights that had the potential to change everything.

It was as if He was saying, “I have a different question, Ryan, I want you use to decide Cooper bubblesthis.” I ask for some answers, and He gives me a question, just like Him isn’t it?

“No, longer ask what should I do, but ask what could I do with my next 35 years, my next year for the matter, my next tomorrow?”

What can I do for the students I teach almost everyday to bless and serve them?

What can I do for my family to let them know I love them?

How can I be a loving servant with those I work?

How can I make my niece and nephew laugh for an hour each week as I pretend to be an Evil Zombie Pirate or Angry School Marm chasing them around my parents’ house to let them know how much You love to hear those laughs?

Syler Summer 2015 (2)How can encourage my friends to let them know they belong and that Your love for them is always true?

How can I enjoy the time with the one of the few kids I get to sit with and have a time of fun and laughter almost every week in Syler Buck that he will know the sheer joy You have in him that You cause me to know each time we hang out?

What can I do to for my fellow FBC Raytowners, my fellow laborers in Christ. My family in You to let them know the grace and love You continue to pour out to them each day?

Each day the opportunities are ripe for the picking.Andy Lightsaber Fight 4

Then You take me to a place south of Mexico called Guatemala. I grow such a great admiration for two of the principal leaders there in Sara and Edgar. I connect and grow so fond of this Star Wars enthused, Captain American loving kid named Andy. Briefly get to sample a ministry where You could use so many of my skills and gifts. Headed back I found myself reverting backward asking the old question, “God, what should I do?”

Then you softly whisper, “No, Ryan, it’s what can you do, remember?”

The old question constrained my life. Limited it and choked out the joy of engaging the people and things around me. With the new question, the possibilities are endless, and the nervousness about the how vanishes. No longer checking my “should I be” thermometer stick anymore. You have me right where I am. Let’s see what can happen…


For the Love of Rich Mullins

At the point Rich Mullins’ music became a staple in my life, adult life was kicking my over idellistic butt. I had just began renting my own place, substitute teaching five days a week, and working on my teaching certification wondering all along if I made a complete batch out of all the God had originally planned for my life. It was a hard and lonely time. I had known Rich’s music before.
    I can’t remember exactly when I first heard Rich Mullins’ name. In the campy youth group I went to in my middle school years, we sang “Awesome God” and “Step by Step” quite a bit. “Awesome God” seemed cool on the fact alone it featured the word “awesome” which was still a cool word at that point. Then in high school sometime during my sophmore year I bought his compelation album Songs on cassette. I liked it well enough. Then about a year later I can remember my youth pastor announcing Rich had died in a car accident, so we sang a bunch of his songs that night. But he still just remained an artist I listened to occasionally. Through my years at Southwest Baptist and New Life Ranch I ran into a number of Rich Mullins fans, but I was in love with a band named Waterdeep at the time.
   I think I had to hit real hardship, deep confusion, and painful rejection before God could use Rich’s music to help build me into a man that can truly know God along all the pain, struggle, and joy that comes in living and finding our place. His song “Hard to Get” I cried out along with Rich,

Do you remember when You lived down here?
Where we all scrape to find the faith to ask for daily bread
Did You forget about us after You had flown away?
Well I memorized every word You said
Still I’m so scared, I’m holding my breath
While You’re up there just playing hard to get

His music allowed me to get out all of the disillunsionment with how I understood my life would go, but definitely was not going. But the Lord also used it along with the Scriptures, other authors, and life to start to truly get what actual regular Christ focused servant living looked like in the real world beyond camp highs and college mission trips. Starting with coming to grips with the absolute truth of God’s love for me that continued to draw my heart dispite myself as put so beautifully in “The Love of God,”

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps His fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God

30 Minute Shuffle Vol. 1

The idea is simple. Enjoy 30 minutes of shuffled music on my iPod and write a brief bit on the 5-6 songs that pop up. I love a wide range of music. Here we go.  I posted this last week but deleted the alerts on Facebook/Twitter for foolish reasons. I might do another one of these today.

Hallelujah (Live) by Jeff Buckley

This song has been performed on nearly every singing reality show. The song in its  popular version was made by Jeff Buckley’s cover in 1994. An album highly acclaimed by the music world by an artist who died not long afterwards. While beautiful in its musical quality, the lyrics keep me from liking it too much. Taking the word Hallelujah which means “praise Yah (Yahweh)” and liking it to a broken love affair, hurts the whole thing for me from the start. It’s one of those songs much like John Lennon’s “Imagine” that I don’t entirely agree with, but have because of it’s fame and musical quality.

JarsofClayMuchAfraidHymn by Jars of Clay

One of my favorite tunes from Jars of Clay’s second album Much Afraid. Written with the solemn nature of most hymns, it combines the band’s typical violin and guitar alternative rock sound with the steady pace of an old hymn. All about yielding one’s self and pride to a life of worship unto the Lord.

Love Reign O’er Me by The Who

One of classic rock’s biggest songs. I came to know the song first through the Pearl Jam cover featured in the movie, Reign Over Me, named after the song. To me it’s a song from the perspective of a man crying out for love to rule over all the other conflicting emotions in a relationship and life even when it may be really, really hard.

Like Teenage Gravity by Counting Crows

One of the best tunes from Counting Crows’ latest album Underwater Sunshine. It retains much of the classic great Crows sound I’ve loved since their first album. I think it’s a song about two young people falling in love young, coming to terms with falling in love with the other person, and having the courage to speak it to them.

 What’s the Matter Here? by 10,000 Maniacs

Those who don’t know the band 10,000 Maniacs may remember their lead singer Natalie Merchant. If not, I highly recommend her. She is up there as one of my favorite female voices period. This band was one of the pioneers of the more mellow alternative sound in the early 90’s. This song is about a person living next door to a family where it is obvious spouse and child abuse is going on and how so many neighbors in such a situation although they are torn up about it choose to remain quiet. It’s a powerful lesser known song. I recommend the version from their MTV Unplugged album. MTV once featured high quality music and concerts not just whatever it does now.


Sheep, Can You Hear His Voice?

Have you seen the movie, A Beautiful Mind? It’s the movie where Russell Crowe does an amazing job portraying genius mathematician, John Nash who suffers from black-sheep_10952_990x742schizophrenia. Despite being so naturally gifted, John can’t get past these characters that keep popping up in his life distracting him from what’s real. Eventually he learns to live with it. I wonder if most of us do. What do I mean? While most of us don’t live with seeing false images of people who speak to us, I’d venture to guess most live with some amount of internal voices that attempt to keep us from real life. Insecurities, jealousies, anger, addiction urges, or simple pride that bing us around in life. For some, we’ve been blessed to have another voice come along. One who has spit in the mud, wiped our eyes, and caused us to see. His voice is so very different. From the moment we heard it, we haven’t been able to get over it. Like dumb sheep to their shepherd, we know the voice of the own who truly loves us. The other voices persist. The thieves and robbers who work restlessly for their master. Because we are foolish, we’ll entertain these voices for a time still. But inside we know something’s not right, and we wait for the voice of our true shepherd. I got to discuss the 10th chapter of the Gospel of John with two of my beloved brothers yesterday, and just got to thinking of these things this morning. Wondering how many who know that true voice have been listening to the liars for too long. I know many hours and days of mine, some not too far in the past have been lost listening to them. The Good Shepherd’s voice is there. Calling us each by name. Has been all along. Telling us we will never perish- ever! And unlike John Nash, we will not merely just learn how to live with the voices. His voice will drown out the rest until one day the voices of the liars are no more. He’s calling; do you hear Him?

Remembering the Fun Savage Brought…

I don’t know how many of your famous childhood heroes were real people and how many of them were fictional. The large bulk of mine were both. I have come to terms with a universal truth. Like a lot of the odd forms of entertainment interests, it is impossible for those who don’t have the prowrestling bug to understand those who have it. I have had it in varying decrees since the second grade. Therefore, I will waste no time in trying to explain it now.

When I got that bug in 1989, Hulk Hogan was the main hero; he quickly became mine. His main nemesis at the time was Macho Man Randy Savage. It is a peculiar thing to realize later in life that the guy you booed as a child was actually more talented in 8 out of 10 categories than your hero. This is the case with Savage. In the 1980’s and early ’90s he was second to none at both creating incredibly entertaining matches, performing off the wall interviews, and consistently being part of the most interesting feuds of his time.

Several nights after his death, I popped in the anthology the WWE put out on him several years ago and watched about a dozen of his classic interviews with Mean Gene Okerlund. It came back to me why I loved this crazy ridiculous form of entertainment so much. This guy was absolutely hilarious, and I kept on shamefully wanting to watch more.

Randy Savage was a major key player of something that was so top to bottom fun in my life. As life goes on, you begin to realize how precious those things are. Even though there are many highly entertaining individuals in both the WWE and entertainment today; I have a strong hunch they’ll never be at the level or flavor they were during Savages day. His death has reminded me of childhood friendship long gone, and enthusiasm for this larger than life characters were unmatched. For every kid who did an elbow drop from their parents’ furniture as a kid onto their friends below, Savage’s death reminds those us of more fancy free days.

Keep Christ the main thing, and enjoy the life He’s given you. Don’t despair of it.

The Dust of Disappointment

In the dust of disappointment, I am left with a void of feeling. Perhaps, since I received the news I have tried too hard to answer the questions I should reserve for tomorrow, next week, and the months ahead. I have not failed. In fact, in the tasks I have been judged and graded, I have excelled. Disappointment is a tricky bit of emotion though. I just was not chosen for this one. His providence remains; it never waivers. My disappointment just needs to be dealt with before I move on. It deserves its moment, but nothing more.

30 Favorite Bands @ Age 30

A quickly put together list for my fans for my 30th. The order could honestly change daily, but right now these are the current Ryan Connely favs. enjoy.

Rich Mullins


Caedmon’s Call

Counting Crows



Ryan Adams

The Black Crowes

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Andrew Peterson

The Beatles

Eric Clapton


Natalie Merchant/10,000 Maniacs

Ray Charles


Bon Jovi

Jim Croce

Elvis Presley

Third Day

Led Zeppelin

Bebo Norman

Matchbox 20

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

The Jackson 5

Tracy Chapman


The Who

Chris Tomlin

Stone Temple Pilots


My Month with the Man Dressed in White (so far)…

A cigar smoking, profanity spewing, internally insecure Missourian would probably not be in the official job description for the most celebrated literary figure of the wealthiest nation on earth, but it describes him none the less. For the past month, I have walked through the world and life of Samuel L. Clemens by first reading The Prince and the Pauper for the first time and then journeying through his biography, Mark Twain: A Life, by Ron Powers. I found The Prince and the Pauper to be a delightful classic tale. It follows the journey of the son of Henry VIII and Tom Canty, a poor boy from the roughest part of town and an abusive family on top of that. In an odd turn of events, the boys encounter each other. Both are enamored with each others life, and swap clothes and live resulting in a mixed up adventure for both of them. It is a polished contrast to Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

As for Twain himself, he in a nutshell is an odd, eclectic fellow full of charm and vile who I could see fitting in well with my family especially at Thanksgiving time. Twain went through at least six to seven careers and 30 plus years before he found his place as a literary man which gives myself great comfort (it took me only 29 to find my niche). He floundered as a steamboat pilot, lumber company owner, and gold prospector among others with a myraid of characters and events to color up the years. These trials were not failures, but the substance that fueled his writing in his later years. Brushing up against such characters as Ulysses S. Grant, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Charles Dickens. He lived through the Jackson administration, the Civil War, to the turn of the 20th Century and all the change and event in between. His wit and humor made him a magnet for entertaining whether a large audience in New York City or a small gathering of family and friends at his estate. In the book he is referred to as the United States’ first rock star persona. I imagine, if I knew him personally, I would have a coy, but honest affection for him much the same I have for the Simpson’s or Chris Farley. Those things that I think in my head, “I know I shouldn’t like this, but dang its funny.” He is a true picture of what we tend to love about American way, an unrefined, poor boy who becomes America’s first great author in the face of all the rules that say the contrary.

I still have about 150 pages and 30 years of his life left to journey through. I don’t suspect Samuel Clemens will become a hero of mine, but for some reason I think I’ll like him none the less.

I (123 statements about me)

I (123 Statements About Me)

I don’t talk much about myself.

I keep my thoughts to myself a lot.

I have been told that’s not healthy.

I am going to break that trend right now.

I am Ryan Charles Connely.

I am 29 years and 10 months old.

I have been mistaken for a high school  student at least 5 times this year.

I am loved by God proven by Jesus Christ and indwelled and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

I am loved by my family.

I love them too.

I am distant from my friends.

I am frustrated most often by this aspect of my life.

I am single.

I am not in despair about this.

I like women.

I want to spend my life with one.

I want to really like the one I do.

I want her to really like me.

I am fascinated by connecting with young people.

I love listening to them.

I love pointing them to Christ.

I strive to make them each feel worthwhile.

I am a graduate of Raytown High School.

I graduated in 1999.

I also graduated from Southwest Baptist University.

I loved living in Maupin Hall during those years.

I miss my friends from this time in my life.

I also graduated from Midwestern Theological Seminary.

I have worked for the Mid-Continent Library, Blockbuster Video, and Color-Mart printing shop.

I worked every college summer at my favorite Christian camp New Life Ranch.

I have not enjoyed working anywhere more.

I have worked as a substitute teacher.

I subbed for elementary, middle, and high school.

I subbed at every school in the Raytown district and Lee Summit Community Christian School.

I liked subbing at LSCCS the best.

I have been a 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade Sunday School teacher at FBC Raytown.

I actually miss teaching the junior high classes.

I liked teaching the 7th grade class when Joseph Summers, True Newman, Nic Wilson, Alex King, Thomas Browning, and others were in it best.

I have been a 7th, 8th, and 10th grade small group leader.

I miss these as well.

I have been an Underground volunteer for 6 years.

I miss Halo 2 when it was streamed on at least 6 systems and the volunteers would stay late and play.

I miss Uncle Mike and Fuzzy.

I have been an HG leader.

I liked the year I led with Helmer Jensen best.

I am glad HG groups are no more.

I have been a summer “intern” 5 times.

I don’t know why they’ve even called it an “internship.”

I guess “cheap summer help” just doesn’t sound good.

I have helped lead 1 mission trip to New Orleans and 2 to Houston.

I have been a Know & Go CAMP sponsor for 5 years.

I led recreation for 3 of those.

I helped under 6 youth pastors during my 6 years.

I miss all 5 previous ones at different times.

I miss Ryan the most.

I also miss Nancy’s laugh.

I help with SOS now too.

I think it’s the best thing the student ministry is doing right now.

I am a Title I Reading Paraprofessional at Southwood Elementary School

I am finally really good at it.

I like connecting with the kids the most.

I get frustrated with the curriculum a good deal.

I have worked there for 2 years.

I have worked for 3 principals.

I like my first one the best.

I am almost done with earning my teaching certificate.

I will be able to teach 5th-9th grade social studies classes.

I will start student teaching in January.

I am tired of people thinking I am crazy for wanting to teach middle school.

I like that I am teaching a group of kids who need someone crazy enough to be their teacher.

I like listening and discovering great music.

I like artists from a variety of genres and eras.

I like classic rock and roll artists like Elvis, Buddy Holly, and Chuck Berry

I like soul artists like Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and The Four Tops

I like classic rock groups like the Beatles, the Who, Led Zeppelin, and CCR

I like modern rock greats like U2, the Black Crowes, Bon Jovi, and Eric Clapton.

I really enjoy alternative groups like Counting Crows, Stone Temple Pilots, and Pearl Jam.

I like many Christian artists as well like Chris Tomlin, Jars of Clay, and Third Day.

I like Rich Mullins, Waterdeep, and Caedmon’s Call more than all the rest.

I think professional wrestling is always going to be one of my favorite things.

I love cheering for one of my favorites to win only to get ticked off when the other guy cheats a victory.

I watch RAW every Monday night.

I have been to over 10 live events.

I hope to go to at least one next year.

I like Rey Mysterio and Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat the best of all time.

I will always have a soft spot for my childhood hero, Hulk Hogan.

I currently really like Kofi Kingston.

I think Rocky is the best movie off all time.

I also really like Braveheart, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Pursuit of Happyness, The Star Wars trilogy, Amazing Grace, Gladiator and Cinderella Man.

I like reading a lot but I seldom finish a book.

I think C. S. Lewis is my all time favorite author.

I like being out in nature.

I miss campfire side worship. They’re my favorite

I also miss Morning Camp Parties. I think FBC Raytown could use some of them.

I love playing games with friends.

I think I’m the best at Monopoly.

I love Italian food.

I like my mom’s beef stroganoff more than any other dish.

I really like ice cream too.

I like video games a good deal too.

I still think the Legend of Zelda is the best game of all time.

I think the Office is hilarious.

I really like Bizarre Foods as well.

I think the best TV show of all time is the Cosby Show.

I think Marvel has some of the most creative stories.

I think their absolute best stories are the X-Men’s main story and the Silver Surfer’s main story.

I love being an uncle.

I really like the relationship I have with my sister now.

I have two great parents and am proud to be their child.

I have had 3 wonderful grandparents as well; one of which is still going strong.

I love Jesus more than all these things.

I love being adopted by Him as a son.

I long to lift Him up in all things even though its hard sometimes.

I delight in learning from His word.

I wish all my loved ones, all my friends, all my teachers, all my students would know the joy of being His.

I love to write.

I find it very liberating.

I plan on doing more of it soon.

I cannot believe you read this far.

I hope you have a good evening.    

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