A year later…providence or pfftttzz…

So in a random turn of events I just decided to check this blog…today is July 15, 2013. My last entry was July 16, 2012. Coincidence?

I find it humorous that this blog has taken the form of most of my journals (diaries) where I have fits where I write everyday and periods of no activity until one day I randomly decide to write again. I don’t particularly advertise this blog aside from the facebook linking for family and friends that might be interested and I think you can find it via google searching. But this white screen that I type into is more for reflection than anything else, if others derive benefit from that, great.

Perhaps it’s providence that I’ve decided to check my blog. My last entry was about ‘dreams’ and where I was at. Since then life has been eventful but I still struggle with what will make me happy in my work…similar musings as to my last entry. Since then, I’ve gotten married, been quite productive if not incredibly frustrated at work, been back to Thailand to teach a workshop, been to Europe to attend a workshop, started a teaching blog for things I learn at workshops, started online newsletters for my field so others can tap into what I find on the internet, finished up a teaching fellowship, explored DC during free time… Life is clipping along as it should…

Somethings I’ve figured out in the past year:

Continue reading “A year later…providence or pfftttzz…”

what’s your dream?

Devotional Blog:

“Regroup”, 7/15/2012, Proverbs 9:9

So last weekend I was talking to my mom and last night I was talking to my sister and with both conversations I found myself pondering my choice of ‘life path’. If you’ve read previous entries in this section of my blog you will know that I’ve said that I’ve always just walked through the paths I feel like God has opened to me assuming that’s direction he wants me to go. It is after all the only path that’s opened up, so I just walk through it. Did I think ‘this’ is where my path was leading? Actually no.
Continue reading “what’s your dream?”

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.

 

God said wha???

Devotional Blog:

Topic: “Confused?…go Back”, 01/24/2012, Jeremiah 24: 6-7

How does one ‘hear’ from God? This is a loaded topic for me…

“I will give them hearts that will recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly” -NIV, Jeremiah 24:7

 

“After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” -NIV, 1 Kings 19:12

 

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” -NIV, Rev 3:22

Confused? Always. I bumble my path routinely in an effort to ‘hear’ God and know what his plan and purpose for my life is. I say the prayers, I keep so still as to nearly faint from not breathing enough, I close my eyes and meditate during worship, think of things I’ve learned, listen to pastors and mentors more learned than me…

Majority of the time I think I must be on the wrong channel…cause all I ever get is static and I rarely know what exactly it is I am doing wrong. Continue reading “God said wha???”

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”

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”

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.