The ominous projector screen of ‘life’

Devotional Blog:

“Lights Flashing”, 6/21/2012, 1 Corinthians 4:5

Ok, back to the book after quite the hiatus.

When the Lord comes, he will bring our deepest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives… ~1 Corinthians 4:5

Well now isn’t that a scary thought? How many secrets does one carry throughout life? How many thoughts do we think would we be ashamed of if someone were to actually crawl into our head and listen to. Thankfully people can’t crawl into each others heads and truly hear the thoughts that roll through them.

Funny thing is, growing up this verse made us wary of the ‘big’ secrets…infidelity, sex before marriage, stealing, physically hurting someone etc. Our pastors would often times use the image of a huge projector screen showing all our sins and evil thoughts to the world for all our family and friends to see. Oh the embarrassment! Oh the judgement! Oh the pain we would cause ourselves and other people with our hidden sins that haven’t been brought to light and forgiven. I used to live in fear as a kid, paranoia even that when I died God would put me on a stage and broadcast my entire ‘evil’ life of every little thing I’d ever done that wasn’t 100% ‘saintly’, down to beating the crap out of a stuffed animal because I was angry. Yes, as a child I occasionally beat the crap out of dolls and stuffed animals out of frustration. I ripped pages out of my journals and threw tantrums in my room out of sight and earshot of anyone. Much of my anger and frustration growing up I kept inside, in fact all of it I kept inside. And while these ‘tantrums’ and stuffed animal beatings seem harmless enough at first sight, my thoughts got darker as I grew up.

What about the little ‘secrets’ the thoughts no one hears about, the thoughts that will never be voiced but are nonetheless there… the dark thoughts. Continue reading “The ominous projector screen of ‘life’”

My definition of good must be broken…

Devotional Blog:

6/14/2012: “When good isn’t good enough” Romans 8:28

This isn’t out of the book I am going through which coincidentally arrived in the mail from Thailand in our first round of boxes–this is one I am just going to write.

If you’ve read my previous blogs in the devotion section or perhaps in my life section or such you’ll know how I was raised. In a faith that stresses undying, unwavering faith in God and that everything works toward his plan and purpose. That no matter how ‘rough’ life gets ‘it’s all good’ because God knows how it’ll all turn out and that’ll be what’s ‘good’. I was raised in the midst of prophets who communicated God’s promises to my family, the plans he had, the constant assurance that he hasn’t forgotten us that his plans will come to pass–that we will walk into the awesomeness he has in store for us. I was raised to pray. I was raised to believe. No matter what happens, how many years pass, how many people hurt in the meantime…it’ll all ‘come out in the wash’ persay.

I’m currently encountering an all out mental rebellion occurring due to the clash of what I feel logically should be done and faith.

My mother says when things get difficult and things don’t seem to come to pass its because of choice. Everyone has free choice and certain people choose to ‘bar your way’ in essence, toward achieving the plans God has for your life. It doesn’t mean you won’t achieve it, it means it’ll take longer. My question, if God knows all this, knows people will stand in the way, knows this will drive you mad with frustration, why does he put you on that particular path to your purpose? Why does he pick that path for you?  Why does he put you at the mercy of people who could give two sh*ts or less about God and his plan? Is it supposed to be character building? Faith building? Ok, so God wants us to ‘learn’ something…but what happens when a ‘lesson’ controlled by the choices of people who don’t care about God and his ‘plans’ but directly affecting your ‘promise’ seems to be destined to extend to the end of your days. Ok perhaps that’s a bit melodramatic, but when you are getting past 20 years and have seen no end leading you to the goal of the plan, or even worse, you ‘see’ endings that get taken away from you, I really want to look up at the sky and say WTF.

I was ready to jump ship after 7 years at my Ph.D. it seemed like it was just becoming ‘impossible’ to finish but I knew a ‘finish’ was there, I saw it, it was tangible and I knew exactly what I had to do to obtain that finish. What happens when you don’t know HOW to obtain the finish line? What happens when the ‘finish line’ turns into a moving target of which you cannot predict the direction? What happens when your best, your devotion, your walk, isn’t good enough–why after 20+ years you must still continue to walk through hell, taking it on faith that the promise is somewhere…out there…on the other side? The response I’ve gotten from friends and family in these situations is…well we’ve walked this far for this long we ‘have’ to keep going.

My logic: this situation must change, change it

My faith: keep walking or let them keep walking

My ‘power’ over the situation: i am but a ‘spectator’ in this

My duty: to just pray

My frustration: Magnified a 1000 fold.

My understanding: Apparently very little

My desire: for the situaiton(s) to change or the promise become realized.

There are the examples of Joseph and Job. Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers for decades, God gave Joseph dreams and visions and he ended up an advisor for Pharoh, rich and well situated. Job who lost absolutely everything; his family killed, his land and assets taken, his health stricken and he still never denied faith in God and God rewarded that and restored everything to him in the end. There are miraculous stories within the Bible of God coming into peoples lives and speaking to them directly or such other manifestation of his presence/power. But God doesn’t manifest himself, his power or his promises like he used to…such as in the old testmant or new testament…making ‘faith’ that much more important and easier to lose I suppose too. Honestly though, in this day and age I think if God threw a bolt of lightening down and spoke people would shrug or run screaming thinking we were being invaded by aliens. Such is the skepticism of our time.

Perhaps I have to just ‘come to peace’ with the fact I cannot or am not being allowed to actually change situations myself. Perhaps the first step is to understand that we are not ‘promised’ our purpose. We are promised God’s purpose and it’s our decision to accept or reject that. And apparently accepting that opens us up to all the ‘events’ that come with it whether its personal or mental injury, lessness, starvation, watching those we love suffer…

Therefore, God’s plan and purpose can come with a fantastic potential grab bag of human crap that is out of our control and his because of human choice.

Human choice. It frees us and enslaves us all at the same time.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ~Romans 8:28

 That’s a hard verse to swallow when those you love most suffer. And when life crashes down, and our own expectations of what’s “good” or “fair” even, fall apart, perhaps we think God has failed us. Perhaps we think he does not love us. Perhaps “all things” don’t work for the good, just some things…

I don’t doubt God…but I do have a lot of unanswerable questions.

I wish I had a summation that says “Never Fear! God is Here! HUZZAH and POOF, everything will work out and your dreams and promises WILL all come true, keep fighting the good fight you are almost there!” Why can’t I say that? Because it hasn’t happened yet, because I don’t know if ‘you’, ‘I’, or ‘they’ are almost there and I am personally not privy to God’s plans.

What I can say is that, of all the people in my life that do things by the purpose they believe God has given them, the people that walk through every fire imaginable in their lives, and they spit out the other end…I haven’t encountered one who regrets it. No matter how hard everything got…in the end, they don’t regret it and most are quite happy and successful at the end. So along with the virtual grab bag of human crap you inevitably have to deal with…apparently, in the end, it’ll all be worth it.

Doesn’t make it any easier to watch at present but I suppose its of some small consolence.

 

Gur e m’ anam is m’ eudail

It was my love and my treasure

Short post…sentimental post. Over the past couple years I’ve neglected my love of Gaelic music. I got this love from my Mom who dabbled in learning Gaelic a bit. I remember singing along with some Gaelic songs trying to memorize what the lyrics mean while in high school, college and grad school–out of view of most people haha! My vocabulary is limited to what I learned through the music and I’m sure my pronunciation is pretty poor, but I’m slowly finding my passion for this music again.

Digging around Youtube I came across Julie Fowlis and posted one of her songs that I absolutely love. It’s a love song. A friend asked about the lyrics…haha, I had to use google translate for most of it to concoct the rough translation, then dug around Julie’s site and found the actual lyrics, they are posted below in Gaelic then English.

I love re-discovering parts of me that were lost in the fray of life.

I love re-discovering love.

My source for this is: www.juliefowlis.com/songs

The youtube video where you can actually hear the song if you aren’t one of my ‘facebook friends’ is: http://youtu.be/ez1O5swf1IM

Bothan Àirigh am Bràigh Raithneach (A sheiling on the Braes of Rannoch)


Gur e m’ anam is m’ eudail
chaidh an-dè do Ghleann Garadh:
fear na gruaig’ mar an t-òr
is na pòig air bhlas meala.

O hi ò o hu ò, o hi ò o hu ò,
Hi rì ri ò hu eile
O hì ri ri ri ò gheallaibh ò

Is tu as fheàrr don tig deise
de na sheasadh air thalamh;
is tu as fheàrr don tig culaidh
de na chunna mi dh’ fhearaibh.
Is tu as fheàrr don tig osan
is bròg shocrach nam barrall:
còta Lunnainneach dubh-ghorm,
is bidh na crùintean ga cheannach.

An uair a ruigeadh tu ‘n fhèill
is e mo ghèar-sa a thig dhachaigh;
mo chriosan is mo chìre
is mo stìomag chaol cheangail.

Thig mo chrios à Dùn Eideann
is mo bhrèid à Dùn Chailleann,
gheibh sinn crodh as a’ Mhaorainn
agus caoraich à Gallaibh.

Is ann a bhios sinn ‘gan àrach
air àirigh am Bràigh Raithneach.
ann am bòthan an t-sùgraidh
is gur e bu dùnadh dha barrach.

Bhiodh a’ chuthag ‘s an smùdan
a’ gabhail ciùil duinn air chrannaibh;
bhiodh an damh donn ‘s a bhùireadh
gar dùsgadh sa mhadainn.

It was my love and my treasure
who went yesterday to Glengarry,
the man with hair like gold
and kisses that taste of honey.

You suit your clothes
better than any man on earth;
you look better in your garments
than any man I’ve ever seen.

You look better in stockings
and comfortable laced shoes,
a dark blue London coat
that cost many crowns to buy.

When you arrive at the fair,
you’ll bring my gear,
my small belt and my comb
and my little narrow fastening
head-band.

My belt will come from Edinburgh
and my marriage head-dress from
Dunkeld,
we’ll get cattle from the Mearns
and sheep from Caithness.

And we’ll rear them in a sheiling
in Bràigh Raithneach,
in the brush-wood enclosed hut of
dalliance.

The cuckoo will sing
its song to us from the trees,
the brown stag and its roaring
will wake us in the morning.

Cheap enough to say ‘Phuket’ I’ll go, and other notes on a move.

Perhaps, I’ll title this blog after I’m done writing. Yeesh…last post was end of March and it is now May! It’s been an eventful April/beginning of May to say the least. For those who are unaware or just joining ‘us’ now…after living in Thailand for 2 years Tyghe and I have now relocated back to the U.S. abandoning our somewhat transient lifestyle for 401K’s and adventures we fully intend to have on the outskirts of Washington D.C. For instance this weekend we are heading to Virginia Beach, VA to take a final joy ride in our rental before giving it up for public transit–our foreseeable future.

I have mixed emotions with respect to leaving Thailand. We made an amazing group a friends there, I loved my work; while living there wasn’t the ‘constant’ adventure that many people envisioned us having every day we’d made it our . Albeit hot and humid home, but home nonetheless and I find myself missing it.

Times like this I find it useful to make a pro/con list or rather things I miss and things I don’t miss:

Things I miss:

  • Our friends, I’d write this several times in the list because we really did connect with another ‘family’ while out there and it was amazing. So many times I’d come across people I worked with that were counting the days til their time there was over and many times its because they hadn’t hooked into a network of friends that fueled them like a second family. If we go back to Thailand to visit, 90% of the reason will be our friends, 10% would be the see the parts of the country we missed seeing while living there.
  • The fact I can stuff a 6’5 man full on about $1.50. We now live in one of the most expensive counties in Maryland—DOH!
  • The ease and cheapness of traveling with SE Asia. You can’t beat a $30 roundtrip ticket on AirAsia…sure the airline is like a Thai bus, I think they’d have people standing in the aisles holding handles if they could. Sure Tyghe never fit in the seats as they were made for people not over 5’4 so he had to sit sideways. But you can’t beat $30 to get out of the city for the weekend.
  • The convenience and ease of public transit, the skytrain, subway, bus system, taxis everywhere, motorbike taxis everywhere, rapid bus transit system…if you wanted to go somewhere you really had no excuse–you could get there so really the only thing holding you back would be your laziness or it could be the 104oF heat and 50-60% humidity…ya that’d promote laziness for sure!
  • The smell of fruit, flowers or right before a storm. There were some amazing thunderstorms. The first year we watched them as they passed along the Chao Phraya river which we had a view of from our apartment…on the 12th story I believe that’s where we were. The second year, in our apartment on the 2nd floor you could see the lightening bursts and the trees outside our window would go ballistic, it was pretty cool.
  • Thais are happy people that will honestly try to help you even if they don’t understand a word you are saying.
  • Frisbee and frisbee tournaments..I hear the parties were pretty awesome too but in the two years I went to tourneys I succeeded in making only ONE party–doh! It’s the laying down after my shower while Tyghe showers that gets me every time.
  • The beaches…oh the beaches…the islands (except for Phuket, I strongly strongly dislike Phuket). Though I am amused by AirAsia’s ads for going to Phuket which by the way is pronouced (poo-ket)…but playing off how foreigners pronounced ‘Ph’….

  • The food, even though I couldn’t eat more than half of it because of the spiciness–I still tried.
  • Our apartment, it definitely had quirks but it was spacious and we could easily have friends over. Our apartment now in Bethesda is nice, though not as spacious–we have a den/office which is pretty cool…it’s very….white. I’ll need to remedy that when our boxes get shipped from Thailand. But it’s in a nice safe building that has a gym, business center, concierge, one parking spot in the garage and is almost spitting distance to the metro and bus stop.
  • Board game nights. I think it’s funny that when we left Thailand and posted everything that we had to get rid of, our friends were all worried about what would happen to all our boardgames–who gets custody of our boardgames since they knew we couldn’t take them all back. We managed to bring back Killer Bunnies, Pandemic, a chess game I bought (now we need to learn to play–well play and not suck so much at it, haha).
  • Dinner nights. In Thailand you don’t normally cook as its so hot, basically no one has an oven. Most have hot plates and a microwave. Food is so cheap on the street so that’s what most people do, but their dinner on the street on the way home. And that’s what we did, it was expensive to cook anything western and more expensive to go out and eat western food. Plus we loved Thai food so it wasn’t a big deal. But there were nights I just felt like cooking and often we would invite our roaming bachelor friends or couples to come join because I have a habit of making too much food anyway.
  • The Thanksgiving we had 20+ people over.
  • Inexpensive maid service you often times just ‘get’ with your apartment rental, after moving back I was like “wow, the dishes and laundry aren’t magically getting done!” That spoiled us.

Things that make me glad to be back in the U.S.

  • No language barrier, in Thailand though the majority of those in Bangkok spoke a modicum of English–when you live there you have to deal with things like electric bills that are sometimes late, internet that may not be working and you have to get serviced, banking, public transit etc…that makes getting things fixed a definite challenge. By the end of our two years Tyghe and I were functional in Thai–ie. could get ourselves around via Taxi or public transit, order food, hold basic conversations that included a lot of hand waving and ‘arai na?’ (‘what?’).
  • The heat/humidity. Now I lived in Hawaii a long time and traveled to Costa Rica, Brazil, Ecuador… so I thought I was prepared for what Thailand might bring. I actually prefer heat and humidity to cold and dry–I survived Montana to the hum of a humidifier. I thought I was prepared…not in the least.
  • The smells. Sometimes they were awesome like cooking food, but many times walking down the street you’d come across an odor that could corrode steel.
  • I will not miss sweating. Sweating when? ALL THE TIME. Sweating midday, ok understandable, sweating during frisbee workouts–sure of course, sweating during my morning commute to work at 7am–ok a little annoying, sweating at 2am in the morning–say Wha??? Yes, literally. I got up at 2am to leave for my flight and it was 95oF and 60% humidity. That’s messed up. I will not miss sweating so much.
  • We are closer to family. We had some unfortunate things happen within family during our two years in Thailand and living abroad makes it challenging to respond to such things although NOT impossible as we demonstrated by getting back to the states within 24 hours taking a series of direct flights with little to no layovers.

Overall the move was a smart decision I feel as it allows me to gain experience and grow in my own career and Tyghe gets the chance to hold a normal job again which was frustrating for him living in Thailand. I’m sure you can imagine the ire of a computer programmer who can’t program because the internet keeps going out at his apartment and is no more reliable at a coffee shop and he can’t get it fixed because the technicians can’t narrow down what’s wrong and of course the language barrier. Upon moving back he found out we could get 3 to 4G on phones and Verizon FIOS at our apartment and probably had a small orgasm—oh computer geeks.

Now that we are more or less settled I intend to pick up the blogging again. Interestingly I checked my google analytics and since starting this blog in April 2010 I’ve had 990 page views…that’s not to say that amount of people actually stayed on the page but 990 people have been directed to the site and that’s pretty fun. I have a friend that just got over 1000 pages views which was really cool for her. Her blog is actually really neat–so I’m going to shamelessly plug it. Lately it’s encompassed adventures in serving tables in Hawaii. Her anecdotes are priceless and she’s quite a good storyteller so head over there when you get a chance.

http://upsellyoursoul.blogspot.com/

Our adventure in Thailand has concluded…our adventure back in the states now begins…

Iron sharpens iron…

Devotional blog:

“You gotta have friends” and “where have you been walking?” 03/22/2012 and 03/23/2012, Psalm 119:45 and Proverbs 27:17

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

~Prov. 27:17

While there are quite a few entries in this book where I have agreed with her advice and position there are also those entries at odds with my sense of logic and spirit. Perhaps this is my lack of understanding…in fact, I guess it IS my lack of understanding. In this entry she encourages us to form friendships/relationships with those that build us up and help us make godly choices. Positive people who believe in you and want the best in you. Now none of this in principle do I disagree with. Absolutely, you want to be friends and have relationships with those that will be supportive and strengthen you. However, given this is a devotional and she mentions having friends that help you make godly choices and where to find them such as at Bible studies or support organizations etc. I am assuming she is encouraging us to have Christian friends and it sounds like this is supposed to be preferred exclusively. This isn’t first time I’ve encountered this type of argument…to only consort with those of your own faith lest you be tempted by the ‘dark side’ whatever it might be. I don’t understand why is it that I can supposedly only ‘learn’ from a Christian friend? I have Christian friends and non-Christian friends, why should I value the opinion or advice of one over the other? Though I may ultimately agree with one set of advice over the other, I still consider both equally.

More on this in a moment but I’d like to combine this with her previous entry about “Where have you been Walking?” In this entry she discusses how we need to be aware as Christians ‘where we walk’ in life and to be careful not to fall into ‘subtle’ steps away from the truth such as “spending more and more time with a persuasive friend who doesn’t acknowledge Christ or his principles; reading magazines that make me feel inferior about my body; listening to songs that glorify casual sex; or even walking to the beach instead of church on Sunday morning.” Again I have a lack of understanding here. Why is hanging out with non-Christian friends a ‘subtle step’ toward what is wrong? Why is walking to the beach instead of church on a Sunday, walking away from God? There are plenty people I know that walk to church three times a week and are far from God while other’s fellowship, pray and seek God in a park, on a beach, washing the dishes and I feel they have a stronger relationship.

My point? These entries suggest we have weak minds and little resolve. I don’t particularly like that. Continue reading “Iron sharpens iron…”

where i hide on occasion…

Now to be fair, this was a particularly hectic week and the ‘busiest’ my desk has been but upon reflection it pretty much sums up my existence as a postdoc…”semi-organized chaos”.

Click on the picture to enlarge.

What you don’t see is the 3 pairs of shoes under the desk along with 2 bags and flat rate mailing boxes. On the cubicle wall out of view are several postcards from friends in Boston, Jackson, WY–now Australia and Great Falls, MT, 3D dengue sequence structures and a post it note to pay bills–the line between normality and nerd is definitely a blurry one.

Weight of the world

Devotional Blog:

Burdens, 03/02/2012, Galatians 6:1-5, Romans 15:1-7

Are you a worry wort? I can be. I can worry about the most inane irrelevant things sometimes. Things I cannot control I worry about…I’m absolutely ridiculous sometimes, keeping myself awake at night worrying about things that are utterly pointless to worry about. And I worry about them at the MOST inopportune times as well…such as when I am taking off in a plane and I’m like–huh what if we crash? It’s really dumb as the statistics support me getting  pwnd by so many other causes before dying in a plane crash (1 in 7,032-lifetime odds, Source).

I find it funny that in the same source I have a 1 in 120,864 chance of dying by being pwnd by someones dog. In their wording–“bitten or struck by dog”. Ya that’s right, don’t you just hate it when Mitzy comes up to you and ‘bitch slaps’ you, haha, really bad joke–but really one day, her strike could kill you!

I digress…I think I’ve made my point about pointless worrying.

Continue reading “Weight of the world”

convinced?

Devotional Blog:

The Word of God, 03/02/2012, 2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. ~2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

So I figured I should start chipping away at all the dog eared pages in this devotional book that I’ve been neglecting. I keep up on my daily reading but somedays I have enough time to blog and other days I don’t so they end up dog eared for future contemplation. Oddly enough this entry is about ‘bearing each others burdens’ rather than the word of God but when I read it, I realized I needed to address the ‘word of God’ topic first. I’ll explain…

From the devotional: “We all need to make time for Bible study. David writes in Psalm 73:26, ‘My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’ (NIV)…Only as I make God’s Word a priority do I have anything to give. A Bible study should be a refuge, a safe harbor.”

A week or so ago in a conversation with friends I stated that scripture will never ‘convince’ me of whether someone is ‘right or wrong’. No one will ever ‘win’ an argument with me only using scripture. I think I’ve even stated in previous blogs that I refuse to go tit for tat on Bible verses for various reasons aside from its just plain tedious and I feel its more ‘posturing your verse memorization prowess’, rather than attempting to make a valid point. For the first time now, I am wondering why that is. I am a Christian after all and I believe in God’s word, why isn’t God’s divinely inspired word enough to convince me of someone’s argument?

Continue reading “convinced?”

a typical lunchtime thought process…

Mmmm…hungry time for lunch…
lunch, pork and vegis with sauce and rice
hair in food…
hmmmm…my hair or their hair
*pulls hair from food*
their hair
*flicks hair onto ground, keeps eating*–meh

pause

i wonder how many microbes are on a typical piece of hair
i wonder how many microbes are on my hair
i wash my hair
does she wash her hair
*looks at lady serving food*
maybe

I should culture/test my hair
that’d be interesting
no, not applicable–i need to test a food servers hair
*looks for dropped hair*
its on floor
floor contamination, damnit, can’t test it

someone in the US would wreak havoc if hair was in their food
is it that dangerous?
i should culture hair and see
*eats more food*

coffee sounds good
i should get around to reading Rob Dunn, wildlife of our bodies
he’d know if hair was dangerous
*finishes food, pays*
coffee

i read a lot of science blogs, scientists are getting ‘hotter’ looking
we used to have to hide under rocks
my German friend was surprised after learning i was a microbiologist
i asked why
he said because i’m attractive

i should make a calendar of ‘hot’ scientists
that’d be cool
with links to their publications and blogs
hot.

i should find someones hair and culture it…

Salvation and Sugar Damning…

Devotional Blog:

Christian ‘Culture’, Depravity and Salvation, 2/29/2012, Ephesians 2:8-9

I love meeting new people, hearing new points of view listening to life adventures, life realizations and commiserating on mutual experiences. So 2012 is a leap year and there was no entry in my devotional book for this day so this is my own devotional. Honestly I do have any number of pages in the book dog eared to write about as I am fantastically behind in my posting, but I find I enjoy writing more when I am writing about something that is currently bothering or inspiring me. Enter today’s topic.

I had the pleasure of meeting someone with a very similar upbringing to myself and we bantered back and forth about being children having grown up in the church. Children who grew up in the church, most likely said their ‘salvation’ prayer at a young age, went through the ‘Christian’ motions growing up, sunday school, youth camp, retreats, revivals, door to door evangelism, whatnot. We ‘shunned’ the people we were supposed to shun or hate, we accepted the people that fit into the Christian box and we were encouraged that the greatest calling in life is that of ministry. Christian culture surrounded us, we memorized verses, held our hands up in deference to God during worship, allowed people to pray for us, we prayed for people, we knew all the ins and outs of the culture and we really didn’t have an understanding of what true ‘salvation’ was…but of course we were saved…weren’t we? Continue reading “Salvation and Sugar Damning…”