Thursday, July 30, 2009

Part 1: An Encouragement

Do you realize that you are worth dying for?

This post is primarily intended to encourage my girl friends. I've recently finished a book, and there was a segment I really wished to share, and this seemed the best method. Anyway, Rob Bell writes, and I repeat with the utmost sincerity and desire to edify (and occasionally add personal thoughts in parenthesis):

You don't need a man by your side to validate you as a woman. You are already loved and valued. You're good enough exactly as you are. (You're good enough exactly as you are.) Do you believe this? Because it's true. You have limitless worth and value. If you embrace this truth, it will affect every area of life, especially your relationship with men.

You are worth dying for.

Your worth does not come from your body, your mind, your work, what you produce, what you put out, how much money you make. Your worth does not come from whether or not you have a man. Your worth does not come from whether or not men notice you. You have inestimatable worth that comes from your creator. (Unmatchable, immeasurable, limitless, incontainable worth in Christ.)

You will continue to be tempted in a thousand different ways not to believe this. The temptation will be to go searching for your worth and validity from places other than your creator.

Especially from men.

But you don't have to give yourself away to earn a man's love. You're better than that. You're already loved.

When you give too much of yourself away too quickly, you're not being true to yourself... There is a mystery to you, infinite depth and endless complexity.

Your strength is a beautiful thing. And when you live in it, when you carry yourself with the honor and dignity that are yours, it forces the men around you to relate to you on more than just a flesh level.

You are worth dying for.

If you're dating someone, what kind of man is he? Does he demonstrate that he's the kind of man who would die for you? What is his posture toward the world? Does he serve, or is he waiting to be served? Does he believe that he's owed something, that he's been shortchanged, that he's gotten the short end of the stick, that life owes him something? Or is he out to see what he can give? Does he see himselfas being here to make the world a better place?

These are the big questions you need to ask yourself.

Does he have liquid agape running through his veins? (Agape doesn't need a reason. Agape doesn't love because you're worthy. Agape loves in such a way as to make you worthy. Agape shakes us. It's "too good to be true.")

A friend of mine was engaged to a man, and some of her friends were not excited about them getting married. As the wedding day approached, one of her friends decided to say something to her. He said, "When a woman is loved well, she opens up like a flower."

She broke off the engagement soon afterword. In one brilliant sentence, her friend taught her what agape is and what it isn't.

Can you tell him anything? Is he safe? Can he be trusted?

Can you open up to him, allowing yourslef to be vulnerable, knowing that he will protect, not exploit, that vulnerability?

Are you opening up like a flower? (Perhaps like a red rose, or a blue orchid...)

When you live in your true identity, when you find your worth and value in your creator, when you live "in Christ," in who you really are, you force him to rethink what it means to be a man.

(You are worth dying for!)

I think, to try to summarize this whole post: girls are incredibly valuable.
I mean, besides the fact she gave birth to me, my mom is very important. Though we can fight on occasion, she has been a great source of wisdom for me as I've been growing up, especially in the last six years. My sister is also immeasurable valuable to me- she's my best friend, and at times the only friend I've had whom I could trust to talk to about things in life. I can't imagine what particularly the last four years of my life would have been like without her.
The fact of the matter is, you girls are an extraordinary gender. You are worth the respect, honor, protection and love of every guy. No exceptions.

You are worth dying for!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pictures at an Exhibition

...I don't recognize my hands anymore. Staring down at them, unfamiliar scars on my knuckles and elsewhere gaze blankly up. I turn them over, hoping to recognize the inside. Instead, foreign, calloused and stained landscapes instill within me a supsicious captivation. What works have caused such destruction to territory I once knew so well? These aren't hands the hands I knew, nor are they hands I would have ever anticipated owning...

...I do not belong to a "friend group". In short, I hate "groups". I'm not particular interested in ranting about this right now. I just refuse to belong a definable "friend group"...

...I'm very counter-culture. Or, at least, I like to think I am. It's very possible that a part of my brain is missing, or that I lost some vital social skill at a very early age. Whatever the reason, I don't typically do things through convential means. This applies to a lot of things, but probably most noticeably in a relational setting. Often, my anxiety is overwhelming and I do nothing. However, should I begin to feel safe, or should I have a rare moment of daring, impulse takes over. Sometimes it seems entirely irrational, but that's just how I live. I think I much rather prefer to live irrational, unconventional and absurd than to follow the "social norms" (whatever those are, exactly...)...

Selfless love in the name of Christ is the only means to achieving genuine world peace.

Think about that for a bit.

After you've thunk, please go here and vote for Brian and I. You can vote five times, and we'd greatly appreciate it!

I finished reading Passion and Purity recently. I haven't discussed it with anybody, so it is very quickly and largely escaping my thought. It was much more challenging and fascinating than I ever expected, though. The overall effect of that book on me was... simply wow...

It's difficult parting with my DVDs. At the same time, it's inspiring me to become free of even more possessions. It's like, what more can I rid myself of?

God, I made you a promise. Then that happened, and I compromised it without even asking because of my own desire. I need to reinstate that promise before situations arise where foolish me can mess things up from a lack of self control. I promised you a year, and so it shall be.

Do you have any idea what you do to me, how overwhelming you are? I need something tragic and beautiful, and Damien Rice may just do the trick...

Currently Listening:
Shiny Toy Guns - We Are Pilots
(I've had this CD for over a year, and I've only just discovered how good it is.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We speak in different voices.

I wasn't going to blog at all this evening... morning... See, I'm quite tired. Are you surprised?
Anyway, I might try to catch you up on the insubstantial elements of the last week, and I can supplement the deeper thoughts at a later time.

Monday night a week ago, I received a phone call from work. "What are you doing the rest of the week?"
"Not too much..."
"Wanna go to West Virginia?"
And so 12 hours later I was meeting up and departing with "Adventure Camp". It's a middle school camp run sort of through Super Games during the summer for a couple weeks. We arrived Tuesday evening, set up our tents and went to the lake for a couple hours to swim. The net morning, we made pancakes for breakfast and went hiking several miles.
Excuse me, let me clarify: there were three of us counselors and sixteen kids.
After lunch on Wednesday, we went whitewater rafting on the New River, which, ironically, is the second oldest river in the world. I'm determined to go whitewater rafting frequently for the rest of my life. It was AMAZING.
Thursday, we went rock climbing and rappelling, even though it was lightly raining. It really just made the climbing a bit tougher. Rappelling was awesome, though. We went back to the lake that afternoon, and I read a significant amount. I also played some giant chess. That evening, I connected a little more with the kids, playing some tricky word games. Friday morning, we awoke and packed up in pouring rain. We stopped and had lunch at OU. Arriving "home" we unpacked and set up everything to dry out.

Saturday, I set up and ran sound for an evening of worship at the "all-church" campout (which was probably only 5% of our total church, but whatever). Sunday, I did video stuff during the services, band practice, and running sound at CT.
Band practice.... what can I even say? The music we're making is so spectacular, I hardly have words. We're really locking in now, and the whole time we're playing, I have chills and can't stop smiling.
It's just soo goooood.

Today was spectacularly productive. I listed most of my DVDs on, then did my house sitting duties. I watered and pruned flowers, cleared the drive and sidewalk, grabbed the mail, then washed and waxed their boat. That was tiring. I cut some of our grass, too, but it started to rain. I still have to weedwack and also cut most of the backyard. That'll happen in the morning, though, along with shipping off about thirty DVDs that have sold already. I'll also be listing some gear from church tomorrow; just unused stuff we're selling to generate extra tech budget.

Insightful and profound thoughts will come soon enough.
I promise.

Currently Listening:
Seussical the Musical Soundtrack - Solla Sollew

Saturday, July 11, 2009

An Exercise In Prose

This morning, I decided to catch the sunrise. I had not actually been to sleep, and I had just seen Brian off for home. Here is my reflection, written while I observed the sun rising.

A subtle haze crouches close to the ground, its purpose unknown. Geese are calling out as they glide across a calm water, and a lone duck cleans herself. Fish intermittently break the surface, for food or other reasons, while a man stares longingly, yet emptily, in pursuit of those same elusive creatures. As I walk along this familiar bridge, I pull out my headphones. Yet a voice in me conflicts my desire: "You think you could create a soundtrack to this morning better than what I have in store?"

I put my headphones away and continue to walk. Water cascades in routine fashion over the dam, providing a familiar, soothing sound. The kingly moon seems to gaze even upward still of its own heavenly position. Indistinct treetops fill the horizon on all sides, and just above them, the sky is revealing careful distinction between clouds and solemn space. Even now, the gray-blue void is betraying soft shades of pink, orange and yellow, perhaps hinting at something grand to come. A machine nearby drones its steady tone of work, either measuring or drawing power from the cascading water. Several small birds dot the sky, leaving no trace of flight save an image in my memory.

A mile away, enormous power lines smile across the resevoir, but their smile is a force of habit and not an expression of joy. Docked sailboats hardly shrug as water passes beneath them, nearly unnoticed.
A jet tears through the poloroid sky some great distance from here; I cannot hear it, but I see the unnatural trail it expels. Meanwhile, the poloroid continues to develop, filling the crevices of earth with light and revealing greater color overhead.

I'm not lonely, but I'm struggling with the desires of emotional intimacy. I've been warned not to "arouse or awaken love until it so desires." Right now, that only begs the question: WHEN does love so desire? Would these incredibly urges for emotional intimacy be a signal fire that love desires an awakening? Why is the expression of selfless love through self-restraint such a painful challenge?

The sun has finally streaked above the curtain of trees to warmly make eye contact. The geese have withdrawn from the water, and it is quieter. The resevoir now clearly reflects the very sky and clouds responsible for carrying it away in small doses to foreign plaes. The reflection of the sun resembles an inverted torch, as if defying gravity. The vast orb itself still rises slowly, maintaining ever-increasingly bold and persuasive eye contact. I can bare to look no more, instead forced to acknowledge all that has been revealed in the light.

These emotions I hold are not secret. I have freely shared and embraced those who inquire of my feelings. Yet an aching lingers heavily, as though I haven't expressed what I feel in the necessary direction. "Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires." Do you so desire, and would you tell me if you didn't?

Come What May

It may be that I'm just really tired. Go figure. It's 4:13am as I'm typing this.
For whatever reason, though, I don't feel the slightest inclination to blog. Yet, I'm forcing myself to do this. I consider daily reflection, however brief, to be incredibly healthy and beneficial, so I intend to force this into habit.

Maybe I'll do more later.

Currently Listening:
Moulin Rouge Soundtrack

Friday, July 10, 2009

So let's just let it roll.

No matter how busy I get, I'm still in constant amazement at how awesome life is right now. God continues to bless me in overwhelming ways, using friends and family and work. I love my job. I just can't say that enough. Also, I got my check today. Soon, I'll be opening an account with Fifth-Third bank. After all, there's an ATM in the SSC, so that would make banking at school much more convenient. Things with the fraud in my current checking account seem to be resolving... I filed affidavits on Tuesday, they've refunded my overdraft charges and given me provisional credit for the money charged by shady companies. I actually just googled those shady companies; turns out many other people have had identical incidents (or nearly so)...

I'm terribly itchy right now.

I still don't feel like retracing the last five days to catch up on everything. I mean, mentally retracing is excellent, but to retype it all so late after the fact seems inappropriate for some reason.

Today, though, Brian and I slept in rather late. Then we sat around my room for awhile. I made some eggs and reheated some leftover burger-dogs from last evening. Then, Erin, him and I went to UDF for ice cream, then picked up my check. I had to fill out some paperwork, which left them out in the car much longer than I intended. :/ However, I did get some real encouragement from one of my bosses, who said they're all really impressed with my attitude and work ethic. With a job so great, how can I not have a good attitude and give them my best? Though, the credit should primarily go to God for answering my prayers of joy and faithfulness, among the other spiritual gifts, as they relate to working.
I made a pot-pie for dinner, which was mighty tasty, then we went to church to prep and practice for worship tonight. Brian and I, along with James Wallis and Eric Irvin, led for the high schoolers participating in the summer program called Accelerate. Tonight, a missionary (our new missions pastor, in fact) spoke on sharing our faith. We worked though our own stories and tried to condense them into three minutes. It was only intended for three people to share with everyone else, but eventually all twelve students, including Brian and I, had shared.
I really became rather vulnerable tonight. Not many people really know my story, even the three (well, four) minute version. Yet I felt oddly at ease and shared my life. Like I mentioned, this was particularly vulnerable for me, and I allow that to happen unbelievably infrequently. I'm not sure why, but I just let go, and it was good.
I think I need at least five minutes though.

Also, Andy Sieberhagen, the missions pastor, used the word "unpack" twice in about ten seconds. I always think of a couple of people when I hear that word... (And Brian was there, so I gave him a quick glance. :)

I've never quite understood how to put a smiley at the end of a parenthetical statement. The smile is also a close-parenthesis, and two of them looks odd, but one isn't really "right"...

In less recent news, I've been spending some time crafting music to accompany words I've written in months past. They're all so sad, and my mood is much better now. I don't really perceive a comfortable time sharing these songs (or words alone, even) with people. Perhaps it's merely because my moods no longer direct such words. Perhaps it lies in a fear of becoming too vulnerable. I'm scared of what people will think of me when they see how dark I've felt. I don't think anybody really knew how miserable I used to be, and I'm terrified friends would treat me differently, more fragile, if they knew. I'm beginning to tell people now, if they ask, but it doesn't seem "right" to sing songs that put these problems in the present. Yet, I cannot change them for fear of ruining the purity of that pain.
It's an odd paradox.

Well, it is late. I ought to retire.

Currently Listening:
Secondhand Serenade - Half Alive
(I love the whole CD on which this resides. Yet, it's been a year since I listened extensively. Oh, well.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Oh insubstantial me.

It's been nearly a week since a significant post. And this will not be one either.

Brian is here visiting. It's wonderful.

I'll try to update with detail someday soon.
Yet... the more I have real conversations with people (whether telephone or in person), the more I crave that and desire less to maintain my digital lifestyle. I'm not having a change in my paradigm, because there's still something really appealing about my digitial life (which I feel does very accurately reflect me; it's not some facade to lead you to think better of me). It's just, I'm sort of "rediscovering" "real life". I've kind of been hiding in my digital life because it was really safe, and I had been through a lot of relational hurt a couple years ago. But now I'm developing some really substantial friendships that are showing me how great "real life" really is. And I love it.

Well, Brian and I only have a few days of fun together, so I'm off to galavant with him. I will update with greater detail soon.

Currently Listening:
Amante Lacey & The Life Worship Band - Live

Sunday, July 5, 2009

title: 2

Right now, I really want to tell you about my amazing day in full detail. However, I need to be awake in less than five hours for a Sunday that will keep me non-stop busy from 7:30am-9pm.

In short:
breakfast with Sam and my parents
work from 12:30pm-1am
i loooove my job :)

Currently Listening:
City and Colour - Confessions

Saturday, July 4, 2009


It's late. I'm exhausted and really don't feel like writing anything.

Sam came to visit today. We had dinner with my parents, then we went to Red, White and Boom for fireworks. They were literally exploding right over our head. It was awesome. We snacked on some food when we returned home, and we watched 30 Rock. I'd dare to say I have Sam very interested in the show now.

I'm going to sleep. Maybe I'll write out details later.

Currently Listening:
Thousand Foot Krutch - Breathe You In
(One of the most comforting songs for me, even though I'm not feeling discouraged in the least bit.)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

She poses for pictures that aren't being taken.

I can't stop talking about how awesome this week has been so far.

Today, I got to sleep in. I woke up, read some Psalms and read some of Matthew. I played guitar for awhile, played with my kitty, and then Eric came over. I cooked lunch; we split a quesadilla and had burgers without buns. Then we made some cookies and watched a bit of TV. After a couple hours, he took off, and I got some stuff together for worship tonight.
I met up with a friend from the high school group, Michael Vawter, and we played around with a few worship songs in preparation for tonight. Then we went to the church, did a little tech stuff, and practiced some more. James Wallis and Eric Irvin helped us out, too, so we had some percussion (my cajon, played by Eric) and some harmony as well as the dual guitars and vocals of Michael and I. We played Jesus Paid It All, You Said, and a kinda blues-y arrangement of Jesus Messiah that really rocked.

Michael and I were talking about how performance-oriented music has become. Music was such a cultural thing; everybody participated in music. Now it's become a very distinct seperation between the few talented onstage, and a crowd of on-lookers. This has also become very distinct in the worship setting. Many, many churches and other worship meetings generally have a band onstage with scores, hundreds or even thousands of people merely observing.
See, I think this is why I have such a hard time worshiping when I'm out in the congregation (see also: audience). I feel like I'm supposed to be watching some performance, and not participating in the music/worship. When I'm leading, or even playing in a band (come to think of it, it doesn't even have to be a worship band. Any music inspires this:) I truly feel like I am worshiping. I'm pouring out my music and gifts to God in worship. When I'm in an audience/congregation, I'm not participating, and the whole stage thing displaces me from participation; it directs my attention forward and not outward and upward. Now, I have been at some concerts (and worship events) where I've been able to "participate" from the audience, and it's truly a memorable experience.

An interesting question was raised tonight:

Do you really believe in Jesus if you're not willing to live the life he asks of us?

God sent Jesus so that whoever believed in him...
What does belief mean? If you claim to believe in Jesus, but you don't live like him, do you really, truly believe? I believe that jumping from an airplane without a parachute is deadly, so I don't do it. I believe that Jesus is the most revolutionary person ever, and truly understood living in a way that honors God, so I (try to) make every effort to live as he did.

Do you believe in Jesus, or is he just another good idea; your good-luck charm and get-out-of-hell-free card?

I haven't said this in awhile, but please respond if something in this post strikes you.

Currently Listening:
Ben Harper - White Lies For Dark Times
(This guy has some serious soul and talent.)

With all eyes upon him, except two that matter the most.

Today was a great day.
I slept in, until around 9:15am. Then, I read a couple Psalms and a bit of Into the Wild. The latter is rather intriguing, like a mystery of a grand sort. The Psalms are simply encouraging, though I suppose I just expect that these days.
Still in the cooking mood, I wanted to make eggs. I ended up adding eggs to the leftovers from my dinner last night, and scrambling it all in a pan. It may have been too many flavors all at once, or something, but I guess it was still decent. I watched a couple episodes of What Not To Wear and penned my first gentlemanly letter with a fountain pen, and I realized how poor my skills of penmanship are. In time...
I got a phone call asking if I could lead worship for a small thing on Thursday and also for the high school youth group on Sunday. This was so awesome to hear, because I had really been wanting to lead and play some worship with more than my lonely self this summer. (See, being so favorable towards music as I am, playing is my best expression of praise. Also, for some reason, I have a slight disconnect from an "audience" when I'm on stage, so I'm much more solely focused on God. Oddly, I'm most self-conscious being a part of the crowd.) This was a phenomenal answered prayer!
I played around with some songs to get some ideas, but I had to leave pretty soon for work. God proves himself ever more faithful, and he gave me even more hours to work, covering for somebody's shift. It was an absolute BREEZE of a nine-hour shift. There was two hours of travel time each way, which were spent conversing with the other staff guy, Kyle. We only had one inflatable to set (human foosball), and ten small flags. That was eeeeasy, then we waited around forty-five minutes for the kids. It was a really small group, so they rotated in and out with each other every ten minutes or so. We got a light rain, which was a little gloomy, but it really wasn't a big deal. The inflatable was a little tougher to roll from the sleekness, but we still got it tighter than it had been, dry... Anyway, we basically just watched the kids (and camp staff) play for around three hours, then spent probably twenty minutes packing up (and two hour drive home). I mean, seriously, today's shift was a breeze. I loooove my job. God is an awesome Jehovah Jireh!
I spent a decent amount of time texting several people after work, for various reasons. Then, I caught up on facebook and twitter stuff. Lyssa absolutely made my day (which was already awesome anyway) by putting up some pics where she photoshopped me in with everyone. I miss my friends a ton, but that made everything so much better. :)
I'm nearly done blogging, sort of, then it's kitty and sleep.

For some reason, everybody I see these days reminds me of somebody else. Nobody really looks new anymore; there's always something similar in one person that I recognize from somebody else. I wonder if this is anything related to the deja vu I experience several times a week? Frankly, I feel like sometimes I'm losing my mind. I just don't understand, ya know? Everybody is starting to look familiar; every place I go, I feel like I've been there before. I mean, it's really freaky. It's like sci-fi channel stuff.
I'm still not back to the fully contemplative mood I had when I began blogging around a month ago, but I suppose those times will naturally rise and fall.

Currently Listening:
Genesis - No Son of Mine
(I rarely listen to music older than I am, but some stuff is too good to let go.)