New years notes from a nomad…

So I don’t believe in resolutions because inevitably its not something that’s kept and its a waste of mind space…so I don’t do them. This year I opted to reflect on last year so I dug into my facebook (timeline is handy for this indeed) as well as some of the other emails, blogs or things that I’ve done to get a feel for last year…

Here are the highlights, anecdotes from my facebook wall, blog, reading, general musings, links etc:

Continue reading “New years notes from a nomad…”

greener grass?

All your life you live so close to truth it becomes a permanent blur in the corner of your eye. And when something nudges it into outline, it’s like being ambushed by a grotesque.

~Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Devotional Blog: 10/22/2011, 10/26/2011, and 10/28/2011; “Being true to yourself” and “Fact and fiction”; Romans 12: 12-18, Acts 2: 32-39, and 2 Peter 1:15-21

I’m lumping these entries together because they speak of similar things regarding how we see ourselves compared to others, how others make us feel about ourselves and the alternate realities we concoct of a life ‘we want’ rather than the life we are supposed to be living. Continue reading “greener grass?”

the good, the bad…the beach

This past weekend Tyghe and I went to the beach thankful for the ability to escape flooding Bangkok, play some frisbee and enjoy the beach. We went to Phuket, a highly built up island in southern Thailand that is run for the most part by the Thai mafia from what we’ve been told and perhaps has links with Russian mafia as well–given the influx of so many Russian tourists, and all three languages (Russian, English and Thai) present on the island, it wouldn’t surprise me. In essence many who travel to Phuket accept the fact they will be overcharged for everything…absolutely everything. But I am not going to talk about our holiday…Tyghe will do a great job of that on his blog so see that for the vacay story and I believe he mentions what I will talk about. His blog will be a great sum up with pictures–the happy stuff which was indeed happy and I had a great time in that respect. Instead I will highlight one not so awesome experience as it resulted in an interesting topic related to faith. This is not a ‘devotional blog entry’…it’s a life entry…life based on faith. Continue reading “the good, the bad…the beach”

Marking memories

Devotional Blog:

Topic: “Mark It”, 10/21/2011, Joshua 4:15-24

First I have a confession…I’d forgotten that Joshua was a book in the Bible! Horrible of me! Raised in this faith and when I saw the verse for the day I did a double take and asked myself–“This is a book in the Bible?…DOH!”. Bible literacy fail. Yes, I know the story of the fall of Jericho is in this book but for some reason I had it in my head that this story was in Deuteronomy–don’t ask why, I don’t know. So, in all fairness when was the last time I heard of this book? Eighth grade Bible history class at Bellevue Christian School where I attended one semester, does that excuse it? Probably not, but its what I’m going with.

The book of Joshua is about the Israelites journey into the promised land. When the crossed the Jordan, the Lord dried up the Jordan momentarily so they could pass. God then asked Joshua (who was leading them, he was the right hand of Moses by the way), anyway he asked Joshua to pick 12 men to take 1 stone each from the riverbed of the Jordan = 12 stones. When they’d stopped at Gilgal the western border of Jericho God told him to set up the stones as a reminder for generations to come that the Lord had pushed the waters back for their forefathers to walk on dry land into the promised land.

Pam, the author talking about ‘marking’ things that matter in our lives to solidify a memory in a solid shape of sorts, like making a stepping stone and putting into a garden then adding stepping stones. Thinking back I can remember all my ‘mementos’, my ‘mark it moments’ and when I got them, how I got them and where they are today and why they mattered. Compared to other families we had a more mobile life growing up so some of these ‘moments’ are no longer with me so I carry them in my heart instead…in no particular order…just as they come to me. Continue reading “Marking memories”

Cascades of mistakes?

Devotional Blog:

Topic: Slippery Slopes, 9/22/11, John 15:1-11

So I realize the author only has a page to get these topics aired out given this is an ‘on the go’ devotional, but this one…

Excerpt: “In my twenty-plus years of ministry, I have seen the slippery slope in many a woman’s life. She didn’t ‘mean’ to have an affair. She didn’t think a few glasses of wine would lead to alcoholism…”

And then she spends the rest of the section on women who ‘unequally yoke’ themselves to unbeliever men and how that leads to a slippery slope of marrying a non-believer and how that’s not right…I could tell she was trying to find a way into this topic specifically so she could spend the majority of her time there. Now I have grown up staunchily ingrained with this belief system. Don’t unequally yoke, don’t date a non-believer, don’t associate with non-believer men…And Christianity isn’t the only faith to somewhat ‘demonize’ (ok that’s a strong word) relationships with the non-believer. Infidels to islamic extremists, it doesn’t even have to be religion–mixing of cultures historically was taboo as well. An Indian buddy of mine during my internship at Yale said that his family specifically told him in college to ‘have as much fun as he wanted’ but marry an Indian girl. During the 1940’s in Russia it was unthinkable for a Jew to marry a Christian…and many of these values/divides between religions and cultures remain today.

This whole manner of thinking rather religious or cultural –I really hate it. Continue reading “Cascades of mistakes?”

When doing as you’re told becomes unhealthy

Devotional Blog:

Topic: Who is God to you?, 9/18-19/2011, Ezekiel 34:25-31 and Psalm 34: 8-14

So I grew up your ‘typical’ Christian kid or perhaps ‘typical’ isn’t the right word since I was raised more on the pentecostal/evangelical side and many other Christian sects think we’re pretty nuts…fair enough. I grew up in with a Christian bent toward pentecostal/evangelical due to where my parents chose to go to church. We started out in Calvary Christian, fairly conservative along with Cornerstone Christian churches then moved into the Vineyard ‘movement’ which was akin to house churches (they were usually small) and they popped up in random places whereever there was space…a strip mall vacant store, a school gym, another churches rec room, someones . To me the Vineyard churches felt very odd…sort of like the ‘hippy movement’ for Christianity. But this was my perception as a young child…

On a side note: It was in a Vineyard Sunday school where I learned about communion and received a piece a bread which is supposed to symbolize the body of Christ/Jesus…at which point I turned to my friend and squeezed the bread to ‘make it talk’ telling my friend ‘jesus loves you’…my sunday school teacher was not amused…

We attended such churches til I was 11 and moved to Hawaii. In Hawaii we attended a First Assembly church which was really small and has since expanded enormously to have satellite chapels all over the Pacific Rim and a congregation that I’ve seen attend at most 1,500 people–yowza! When we first started going I think 50 people on average…maybe 75-80 would attend. The church went from being a First Assembly Church to breaking off into it’s own entity now called King’s Cathedral headed by Pastor James Marocco, a man with several degrees including a Ph.D. from reputable universities such as USC. The man knows his history and theology.

Why do I say all this? Because this is what I grew up in. I didn’t question my faith growing up, it just was what it was. People lifting their hands and dancing in church? Ok…sure. People getting prayed for and ‘falling out in the spirit’…ok no worries. People receiving prophecy from pastors or prophets…this was all on par with my upbringing and it wasn’t ‘alien’ to me, though I’m sure all of this in one place might freak out a non-Christian or Christian with more sedate upbring in the faith. Our church in Hawaii wasn’t like this to begin with, they went through a series of ‘revivals’ and before y’all have nightmares of some backwoods area of a southern state…it wasn’t like that–I think.

Continue reading “When doing as you’re told becomes unhealthy”

Trauma

Devotional Blog:

Topic: Breaking patterns of trauma, 9/15/11, Isaiah 57: 12-14

This entry in the book was ‘interesting’ and amounted to saying ‘get over yourself’ at the end or you are going to seriously $#@! up your kids. The simplicity in which she treats this topic bothered me a little. Now, I agree I just ‘summed’ up the topic above in one sentence but her approach and link to the verse was unclear to me until the end and I still was like…does this make sense in light of her ‘verse of the day’….so I dissected it.

Continue reading “Trauma”

saved for something…

Devotional Blog:

Topic: A reason you are ‘here’… 9/11/11: 1 Timothy 2:1-7

I thought it uncanny and eerie that I should read about this today…it being the 10th Anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy. Last week in my perpetual hunt for books I came across several accounts of 9/11, no doubt because the anniversary was coming up so they were encouraging people to read the first person accounts and stories surrounding that day. There are a lot of first person accounts from survivors and from those who watched and tried to help. BBC wrote an article asking the question “Is there a novel that defines the 9/11 decade?” and sums up the novels and stories that have come out of 9/11 since it happened. I ended up downloading to my Kindle “102 Minutes” by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn which has had incredibly high ratings about the collapse of the world trade centers towers and “Who they Were” by Robert Schaler, which discusses those who ‘jumped’ from the towers during that day and others which forensics teams struggled to identify; which has received mixed reviews. It is widely supported that “Tower Stories: An Oral History of 9/11” is also one of the best books about what happened as well.

Simple perusing of the news pops up hundreds of accounts from survivors all of whom struggle with memories from that day, people, friends, family they lost and why they survived…why them. Artie Van Why wasn’t actually in the towers but in a building next to them, him and co-worker ran out to see what happened then ran toward the towers to help amidst falling debris and people. He says that he always thought that when you fall from high enough you are dead before you hit the ground…but he realized that these people were very much alive holding their arms out as if to cushion the impact as they fell. When the towers collapsed they all ran…he made it, his co-worker did not. [his story here].

Survivors of any terrible experience grapple with survivors guilt…the perpetual question of why me? Why did I survive. I am sure soldiers go through this trauma as well after coming from a fight where they saw fellow soldiers fall and die. The documentary Restrepo deals with this in their portrayal of a group of Marines who were sent to the most dangerous part of Afghanistan, The Korengal Valley, for deployment…not all came back.

Survivors of the holocaust oftentimes will tackle the emotions and convictions that come with being the only survivor in their family and having witnessed such atrocities enacted on them and their friends. I wrote about this in an earlier blog after having visited the Holocaust museum in D.C.

Though we all might not ascribe to the same belief I am sure many of us wonder about our purpose for being here, why we survive things while others do not, how watching someone die makes you realize how infinitesimal your life can seem and how easily it can be snuffed out. There are those of us that ascribe survival and such as “God’s providence”…we have a purpose in life and we will not be taken, not die, til that purpose is completed. This is the general thinking. But as soon as that purpose has been accomplished–poof…time for snuffing and many accept that, although the prospect of death is still hard to grapple with. Not so much because it’s ‘death’…I think many people are more terrified of ‘how’ they might die than actual death itself.

In the end, for those left behind or those that survived, the question remains…were you saved/spared for a reason? Do you have a purpose to accomplish greater than yourself though you may not know it?

Continue reading “saved for something…”

Living vs. Existing: repost from Jan 31, 2007

So while I was during Christmas I encountered many friends I have had since moving to the islands when I was 11 (10? 11?–ah doesn’t matter)…and I saw almost all of them between Oahu and Maui and talked to the rest via phone.  And between the people I know from home, all the friends I met and have through school and family–I have realized there are really two types of people. Those who live and those who exist. Not that one is particularly better than the other, just depends on the person.

When it’s dark outside you can see the stars: repost from Mar 22, 2007

I’m back from Brazil! I am not going to relate the specifics of my trip if you want to know that stuff check out the blog I kept: http://springinbrazil.blogspot.com but suffice it to say it was absolutely amazing.

When I decided to go to Brazil I went to refocus and clarify somethings in my life about my future and where I am supposed to be following the completion of my thesis. I got down there and the people were so wonderful, so passionate about their work and what really matters in life, it was so intoxicating and contagious. They were so full of faith and perserverence. It was such a priviledge just to be down there and help out with their ministries and be with them in general.  Being down there re-confirmed what I already knew in my mind. I had lost my passion, my direction which I know may sound odd since I’ve been on this PhD path for the past 4 years and have never really detoured from it. But I was beginning to forget why I was doing it…who I was doing it for…

I think it’s healthy to every once in awhile really take stock of your life and if you are living it the way you were intended to live it. Idealistic, faith driven–I am…I believe there is a reason for everything, even the shittiest things that happen to us in life. Going to Brazil allowed me to darken my mind and pay attention to the spots of light in my life that I’d thought I’d lost.

I made some amazing contacts and I will be pursuing the possibility of returning to Brazil one day after I graduate or going to the Tenwek mission hospital in Kenya to see about the research ward there. Currently they do not have one, I would love to establish one. The hospital is the only one for 100’s of miles in either direction and it’s a good hospital but I need to look into their staffing for monitoring of infectious disease/epidemiology, outbreaks in the area, and what the possibilities are.

I am so excited for the future, I cannot even begin to describe how much easier I breathe now. I don’t know honestly where I will be when the chips fall, but I walk through the doors that open to me, I don’t question the ‘plan’ for my life, I simply walk it, run it, drag myself through it if necessary, easy or hard–the way I always have and I believe that’s only way I will be content in this life.

It took darkening my mind to see the pinpoints of light representing the good things and promising things in my life that drive my passion.