Sunday, October 28, 2012

I couldn't keep this to myself any longer.

This may have just revolutionized the way I look at this phase of my life.

I knew I loved spoken word, but wow.  Just wow.  This hit me so hard when a dear friend showed it to me last weekend.
And it's repeatedly hit me throughout the week, so I decided it was best for me to share it with you guys.

The beginning may be kind of corny (and her name might be kind of corny too), but, man, this girl gets my Jesus-loving, wordsmith's heart:
"I will no longer date, socialize, or communicate with carbon copies of You to appease my boredom or to quench my thirsty desire for attention and short-lived compliments from sorta-kindas..."
"I will no longer get weighed down by so-called friends and family talks about their concern for my biological clock when I serve the Author of time, who is not subject to time, but I am subject to Him.  He has the ability to stop, fast-forward, pause, or rewind at any given time..."

That is all, ladies and gentlemen.

(Now go watch it already!)

Friday, October 26, 2012

On Tolerance (Possibly also known as "Why I Vote the Way I Do")

Inspired in part by this.  (Seriously, please go read it. She's only 18 and has such clear, concise wisdom.)
Partly in response to this.

Terms you need to know:

(All definitions taken from because I don't have a dictionary in my house.  Anyone want to get me one for Christmas?)

Believe - 1a - to have a firm religious faith.  1b - to accept something as true, genuine, or real.

Tolerance - 2a - sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own. b - the act of allowing something

Tolerate - 2a - to allow to be or to be done without prohibition, hindrance, or contradiction.  2b - to put up with.

Guys, I believe the Bible.
I believe every word of it.  It's been a long journey getting to this point and I've struggled through many a trial to get here, but I'm here now.  I'm here, where I believe every word in a Book written over the course of several centuries by several different people, with all sorts of implausible (wrote "plausible" there first . . . hmmm) circumstances surrounding it.
I don't believe it simply because my parents taught me to, or because I was raised in church or for any other reason except that the Holy Spirit within me has taught me when I felt like I didn't know anything and has reassured me when doubts started creeping in.
I may not be able to give you any logical reasons for believing it.  Who knows?  There may not be many logical reasons for believing it.  (If you're looking for logical reasons, though, I'd highly recommend any of C.S. Lewis or Francis Schaeffer's writings to you.)
I may not be able to convince you to believe it or even to respect the fact that I believe it, but I believe it, every word of it.

Without getting too deep into a discussion of absolute truth here, let me just reiterate the fact that, since I believe the Bible, I believe that it is the truth.  I believe everything in it is true.
Sorry.  Not trying to beat you guys over the head or anything.  Just making sure you're hearing what I'm trying to say.

Being in a creative discipline in college exposed me to a lot of the sentiment expressed here.  I completely understand where people are coming from who say these sort of things.  Okay, maybe not completely, but, to a certain extent, I understand wanting everyone to be happy and to be able to do whatever they want.  It seems like a good idea on the surface, and maybe, as the above link suggests, two men marrying each other somewhere will not have any effects on my marriage in the future, or, in fact on my present life.

But, the fact is, I don't make all my decisions based on how they affect me.  I love other people.  I care about how people's choices affect their lives.

Now back to my original point.  I believe the Bible.  In the bible, I'm told that certain things, homosexuality for one (but only one among many others), are sins.  In the Bible, God tells us that people who sin and don't repent go to hell when they die.

That means they die forever.

Guys, this is a hard thing to believe.  It's a hard thing to believe when it condemns people you know and love and have spent a great deal of time with. When it condemns even people in your family.

But I believe it because it is the truth, and the truth isn't something I can shape to fit what I, or anyone else, may wish it to be.

I realize that people believe things other than what I believe, and probably believe them with equal conviction.  I won't, can't, ignore that, and it pains me to see it.  People make choices, though.  They believe what they want to believe and there's nothing I can do to change that.

So let's talk about Tolerance.  What does tolerance mean after all?  I'm not sure any of us understands what we're saying when we toss this term back and forth.  Sure, you can go to the dictionary and define it like I just did (and you can look up "tolerate" too while you're at it, if you want), but I'm not sure that tidy definition is what we mean when we ask for "tolerance" from everyone or for everyone.

I think what we're looking for is something along the lines of "Love one another."
That's in the Bible.

Or "Do not judge one another."
That's in the Bible too.

I have many friends whom I love dearly and who have very different beliefs from me, and I would hope that they can all attest to the fact that I have loved them and that I haven't judged them, but one thing I cannot do is be tolerant of their beliefs according to the dictionary definition above.
This does not mean I'm going to go around hollering at people that they're going to hell.
I don't think that's very nice.
It does mean that, if you ask me, I will tell you the truth without apology, even though it will be hard for you to hear.
Because I love you.
It also means that I will not be voting for anyone who supports sin in any way.

"The wages of sin is death" is also in the Bible, and I believe it is true.
If I believe something might condemn you to death, I'm not about to vote for it.

Because the one thing I can't tolerate is your death.

Please note that I believe very strongly in free speech, so comment away, but if you comment anonymously, please sign your name at the bottom of your comment.
Also note that I believe strongly in private property and the rights to control it, and, until I am told otherwise, my blog is my private property, so I will be deleting any comments that are hurtful to others.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Regarding My Recent Absence

Well, I guess it's safe to say that I will never have anything like what you would call "regularly scheduled programming" on this poor little blog.  Sorry for the incredibly long absence. There's no real excuse, but here's what I've got . . .

Towards the end of the summer, I got the incredible opportunity to join one of my wonderful friends from camp on a vacation in Florida.

That's right.  Florida.  I was beyond excited.
Jennie and I had earned a week's worth of paid vacation over the summer to be spent in August or September.
It was perfect timing.
(Also, let's just step aside for a moment and observe how ridiculously grown-up it is of me to be earning paid vacation.)

We planned our vacation for the week after the Summer Staff all went home.
Apparently that wasn't perfect timing.

That also happened to be the week that Hurricane Isaac hit Florida.
After much drama and many days of dealing with airlines and hotels, Jennie and I transferred all of our reservations to the next week and made it to Florida.

It was the perfect "recovery time" from the summer.  The basic itinerary for every day there was as follows:

1) Sleep in as late as you want, then change straight into a swimsuit and eat breakfast/have coffee on the veranda while looking at this


Those three boats (or some variation thereof) were sitting still in the the water the entire time we were there.  One cab-driver told us they were waiting for permission to dock and would sometimes wait there for weeks at a time.

2)  Lay on the beach as long as you want and alternate between reading books and cooling off in the water


That book?  It's Bloom, by Kelle Hampton.  I bought it because a) I've been wanting to read it and b) I figured what better place to read it than on the beach in Florida? (She lives in Florida.)
I loved Bloom, but there was another book that I borrowed from a friend at the last minute before leaving for Florida that ended up being way better.  It was a collection of personal essays called Cold Tangerines and it was honestly so good that, by the third essay, I asked why in the world I couldn't have been the one to write it.  Really.  It was just so refreshing and real and hilarious and I could go on and on about it, but I won't.


And yes, that's me in the water.  You should be aware that I am somewhat (no, incredibly) terrified of sharks and that I have rarely, if ever, put my head under the water in the ocean, but I decided, on the last day of our vacation, to swim all the way out to that green portion of the ocean, which, by the way, doesn't look that far out, but was actually very far.  I had been spending a good portion of our vacation looking at the line between the green and blue in the ocean and wondering what happened at that line.  It took forever to swim out there and it turns out that what happened was exactly what I thought would happen - the floor of the ocean dropped suddenly and the water got waaaaaaaay colder.
I promptly freaked out and swam back to shore as quickly as I could.
I have to say though, I was rather proud of myself for getting all the way out there.

3)  Go to the porch when the rain comes and wait it out.  Eventually decide the rain won't go away, and go upstairs to get "dressed for dinner" just like in old-fashioned books and shows.
You see, in Florida, it rains every day at 3 in the afternoon.  I never wore a watch, but I always knew when it was 3pm because the rain would come and chase us to the veranda.  We "waited it out" on the veranda every afternoon we were there, but every afternoon, the rain lasted at least until sunset, so we'd eventually give up on waiting.


Mostly, the rain was just little drizzles and sprinkles, but that's not something you want to be on the beach in, so we'd use the rest of our afternoon to shower and get dressed in normal clothes to

4)  Go to dinner somewhere in town. (Sorry.  No pictures of this event)

5)  Watch the moon rise



Since we were on the East Coast in Ft. Lauderdale, we didn't have a sunset, but we got moonrises and sunrises.  Both were so beautiful!  I caught one moonrise and two sunrises.

The first sunrise I watched was the second full day we were there.  It was a stormy and cloudy one, but breath-taking nonetheless.  I sat on the beach, camera in hand capturing every part of the sunrise - every subtle change in light, every new cloud that appeared, every shade of blue-green-grey the ocean and sky went through - and ended up with a lot of pictures that looked like this:


or this:


All during the sunrise, the boats were covered by this giant mass of cloud and I couldn't help but wonder if they were even aware that the sunrise was happening.  It looked so dark where they were.


Then Jesus sent me such a sweet message in those clouds.  I looked away for a bit, and when I looked back, the sun had broken through and illuminated the boats.


It made me think of those times when you feel like everybody else's life is going well/making sense/coming together perfectly and yours isn't.  Then, suddenly, there's the thing you've been waiting for and who knows where it came from or how it got there, but there it is, plain as day.

After that, I went back upstairs and stepped out onto the balcony to see my boats one more time and somehow, in the time it had taken me to get upstairs, the storm had come, concealing all but the closest boat.


But it didn't touch the shore.  It just came to that boat and it reminded me of that place in Job where God asks "Who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; when I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, and I said, 'Thus far you may come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop'?  Have you ever in your life commanded the morning and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the ends of the earth and the wicked be shaken out of it?" (Job 38:8-13)

The other sunrise I watched was on the last day - the one we were leaving.  I woke up not much before the sun and sat down in the sand, propped my camera on my knees and click, click, clicked until the sun had fully risen.  I got a lot of crooked horizons, but several good ones as well.



After the sunrise, I turned away to take pictures of the beach/waves/skyline behind me, then turned back to see this little sail-boat making it's slow and steady way toward the sun.  Sailboats always make me happy because they make me think of my Pop (my mom's dad), so that was a nice little present from Jesus.

He really out-did Himself that morning actually.


During that sunrise alone, I took 600 pictures.
I know.  That's crazy.  And, combined with all the other pictures I took during the vacation, it's taken me this long to get them all sorted out and decide which ones I wanted to include on my blog.
(Such a tough decision!)

If there's one thing I've learned from this vacation/absence, though, it's that I love having a blog, and I don't like to take long breaks from it.
Sooooo, you can bet the next time I come back from a vacation with almost a thousand pictures, I will not be waiting to post other things on the blog just because I don't want things to be out of order.

"Regularly scheduled programming" isn't all it's cracked up to be anyway.