Monday, December 27, 2010

Plans

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

-Jeremiah 29:11

Well, I'm all moved in! :) I've got my very first apartment now and it's a lot more exciting than even I thought it would be.

Is it weird to be stoked about your first electric bill too?

I'm sure I'll hate it in a couple months. ;)

The move went pretty smoothly, however, I will make a mental note to cut down on all the miscellaneous crap that I own; when it came time to finish the move it was all the little odds and ends that were left over. Ugh.

Everything is still chaos in my room, but thats nothing new I guess...

Roommate Rob said he had a free Redbox rental and wanted to know what I was up to. I said I had no plans so we decided to have Monday movie night...pizza, chips and soda included. It was a success! We watched Knight and Day, which, if you don't know is a Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz tag team effort at making an action movie.

While parts were entertaining it left a lot to be desired...of course, what can you expect from a guy who's last interesting movie was....uh....hmmm. Yup, so anyway...

Oh! And later that night my buddy Mike stopped by to visit! So good to see him!

I feel really blessed to be where I am. I do not think it is a coincidence that everything fell into place for the Oshkosh transfer. To be honest I really don't believe in coincidence at all.


I will be honest though, I'm very nervous. This whole move is based on faith...and faith is something I've never been real good at.

I don't like the idea that my life is out of my own personal control. Have you ever felt that way?
I mean, it's kinda stupid...


Life by its very nature is unpredictable. To many variables ya know? It's not a math formula which, by plugging in the right "a" and adding it to the right "b" I will end up with "c". There is never a guarantee that it'll turn out just how I want it to.

So many people live fighting this truth and they end up frustrated and bitter. I know I've struggled in this realm in the past...

But God's words through Jeremiah always bring me back to this truth:

"Yeah, I can't control my life and my future, but God is with me. He guides my steps and wants the best for me."

And knowing this truth, while a little scary, also brings me great peace.

Why wouldn't I want to trust the Creator of the universe with my future?

No matter who you are today, or where you've come from it is my hope that you realize you too are in His hands. Even when life seems chaotic, out of control or so dark that you can't see your next step; He is holding you and guiding you through.

What better plan to be a part of?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shades of Grey

A good friend suggested that I write, and I like writing so I thought it was a great idea. The last few weeks have been kinda rough so I'll give you the rundown. The bad, the ugly but then the good since I want to finish on a positive note.

The Bad:

I have S.A.D.

Its exactly what it sounds like. Seasonal Affected Disorder. Its a form of depression that occurs when people don't get enough sunlight and such. And, well....let's just say that Wisconsin's nickname isn't the "Sunshine State". Especially during the winter. If you haven't ever experienced it I will do my best to describe.

It is the feeling that you don't ever want to get out of bed. To me it feels like loss. I feel each and every loss deeply. First I feel as if I've lost all the passion and dreams that I've conjured during spring and summer months. I lack motivation of any kind. I also feel the loss of relationship. I long for the way things were and it cuts deep inside that things won't be the way they were ever again. Instead of embracing the future I end up lost in the past. Sometimes it feels like failure. Sometimes it feels like worthlessness.

Essentially during the winter I feel drained in every possible way. Physically, mentally and emotionally. This is a reality.

I used to have meds but right now, financially I can't afford them.

(p.s. if you are reading this and think this blog will be purely complaining, stick it through because that isn't all there is! I am merely trying to articulate, honestly, real feelings and struggles)

Work has thus been a challenge. I want to meet my goals but have difficulty doing so. I can't really focus.

I also feel lonely. I tried to share this with a friend but I don't think she really understood. Hell, I don't think I even understand. I mean, I have a great family and friends and yet around this time of the year I feel the loneliest I do all year.

Sometimes I wish I could be like other people and genuinely enjoy winter. To not have to fake a smile and just ride it out...

The Ugly:

Here's the ugly part.

If I'm not careful, I start to believe these feelings.
I begin to think that I am truly all alone.
That I will never be loved or known the way I desperately wish to be known.
That I will never find a corresponding strength who I can share life and treat like a princess.
That my existence is insignificant.
That God made a mistake.

Oh the list goes on.

This is the ugly truth. These feelings are real. They are real emotions that threaten to swallow me whole. To become my reality.

I know myself well enough by now to know this is true.

The Good:

Many people don't understand this. They say that you are having a "pity party". It seems as if they think that those who suffer from Seasonal Affected or any kind of depression for that matter enjoy being miserable.

This is not true.

I don't enjoy this.

And I also don't wish this on anyone. It needs to be talked about and it needs to be dealt with.

Here is the good side. I want to share it to you in the Apostle Paul's own words

" I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations...At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness."

-2 Corinthians 7-10

God doesn't come into an individuals life to be their genie. A relationship with God is not trouble free and I think a lot of people expect this and end up very disappointed when this doesn't happen.

What he does promise is sufficiency.
He promises that I will be taken care of, even if the road isn't an easy one.

My faith is not derived from feeling. Its derived from the truth that no matter how far I fall He is there to catch me every time and to restore me.

I am weak but He is bigger than the weakness I feel.

That is what truly matters.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Complex Christmas Carols

Today I had my last math "class" which was really more of a study period. I think I'm actually going to miss it. The class I mean, not the math. This professor definitely became more and more entertaining as the semester went on.

Today in class one of the needy kids in the front row asked her if she had some tape cause she ripped a page in her portfolio, and the Prof. was like "I do not carry tape around with me." (In a voice very similar to Apu in the Simpsons). It was very funny...
I guess you had to have been there.

I had more important questions like, "How the heck to you do complex numbers?" and "Why are we using 'i' now, when we've been using 'x' like the whole damn semester?" I think I'm gunna ace this exam...which will be the first time in my life I will have passed all my math exams... oh yeah!

My car is still dead. Oh, I didn't tell you about that? Yup. Mah car died. It needs a new battery, at least I hope that's all it is... my buddy Matt has one. I just need to connect with him 'cause we run two different schedules...

Lately I have been a stress monster. And I don't like it. Really, I don't get like this too often; I'm generally a pretty chill and laid back guy, but with the move coming up (to Oshkosh), finals, the car dying, Wednesday night group and friends who want to hang out I feel stretched thin. Sadly, I have let it rob me of living with the joy that God intends for me.

For instance, I am joyful that I have had the experience of school and the knowledge that I can and will succeed. I am blessed with great friends who care about me and actually want to hang out. I have a great car that 60% of the time works every time (actually its more like 99.9%) ;) A job. A church community and family. A great family....

As I start thinking about these things I realize how much joy gets lost in sweating the small stuff. Letting the little things that are temporary win over the bigger picture. In the grander scheme of things we are loved beyond imagining. In the eternal picture each and every single person on this earth is a miracle, a testament of creation and a Creator that loves and creates. I mean, does that make it less difficult when you are running low on money to put the gas in the tank, or when you have an argument with a friend? Maybe not. But the latter do not have to warp our views on the former. We do not have to let despair, stress and anxiety run our lives.

It kind of ties back into the verse from Philippians that I wrote about in my last entry. What are you choosing to feed on?

Recently I have decided that I want to read the entire Bible this year. I missed yesterday, but started again today. Reading the book of Jonah for the second time in my life I found encouragement. (The first time I read it, not so much, but I guess second time's the charm.)

One part that stuck out to me was when Jonah was running away from God's call on his life. He wanted nothing to do with setting up a ministry in the Assyrian city of Nineveh, so he ran away from God.

Not a smart thing to do.

I mean with humans you actually have a shot of disappearing, but when you try to hide from the creator of all I imagine that he must find it comical at the least!

But anyway, if you've heard the story before you know that a great storm comes upon the boat and that Jonah gets thrown overboard by the crew. After that happens the sea immediately calms and Jonah gets swallowed by the whale. The significance I found in this story was in Jonah's interaction with the sailors on that boat. They find out that he is the one who was causing the sea to be stormy and they asked him why. He told them that he was running from God's command. His dirt caught up with him. He didn't want anything to do with God's plan for his life.

Yet when the sailors on the boat throw Jonah over the side and the sea immediately calms, it says that they all made sacrifices and chose to believe in the One True God. How cool is that? Jonah probably didn't realize that despite his cowardice, God still used it to reach the sailors on that boat who believed in various other deities.

Long story short, no matter how I manage to fall short or run away, God is right there taking the loose ends and fashioning them into something beautiful.

That's all I have for now, maybe I'll write some later. Until then adios! :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snowflakes and Dominos

Well, its official.



Winter is here. Its amazing to me that no matter how long I live in Wisconsin, I can never get used to the snow. It wasn't a bad storm or anything. People lose their heads whenever snow hits the ground and start driving stupidly. I don't get that.



I mean, it happens every single year...



Whatever.



My car is still a soldier though. It starts up really consistently even though it's old. :) I love my Civvy!



Yesterday I was at church for about...oh I don't know 9 hours or so. It may seem weird but I actually love it there. Service was great!



We are doing a series called Christmas Choices and the focus yesterday was on how emotions during the holiday season affect us. Are emotions more intensified around Christmastime? Can you choose how you feel? That sorta thing.



Pastor Guy pointed out that "feeding" and "focus" are two huge factors in determining not only how we handle the emotional rollercoaster we face during holidays, but also how we live our lives.



Essentially when it comes to feeding, you are what you eat. He even used one of my favorite verses (and translations to illustrate Paul's advice on this matter)



"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse." -Philippians 4:8-9 (The Message)



How much life do we spend dwelling on the things that are the worst or the ugly?



When I remember the lowest point in my life I can see now the importance and wisdom of Paul's message.



I remember that I had completely lost the ability to see the good in any situation. Anything and everything was cast in a negative light. I was cynical, and skeptical about everything. I remember the despondency. The utter feelings of hopelessness. The feeling that nothing would ever be good again and that I just didn't care if it did.



I remember at one point even telling a friend that "I don't even think God can save me now."

Fortunately, God is bigger than my worries, anxieties and depression. He brought me through that dark place and I am so grateful for that. :)

If one is not careful, the thoughts we feed on can eventually consume us.

We are what we eat.

Some of NextGen went out to lunch at BW3s after church (our college group at church is called the "Next Generation" or NextGen for short). I got to watch the Packers lose. Epic.

Then we went back to church because the elementary school ministry was putting on a musical called "Back to the Manger" (which was kind of a take off on Back to the Future).

My job was to change the dates everytime the time machine went crazy! And I also got free pizza out of it. Dominos! It tasted really good cause I hadn't eaten since BW3s. It was a lot of fun.

Then I came home and collapsed with a comfy feeling inside. Even though its cold God is good and I am blessed with the people I know and this experience known as life that I am privileged to enjoy. :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sometimes

Sometimes I just step back and think to myself...

That it's so cold outside. Even during the summer.
I think its the world.
I think its the things people do to each other, the way we hurt, manipulate and lie to each other.
The way we betray trust. The way we are selfish and self-serving.

Cold makes you draw into yourself. It makes you guarded.
You cannot have any cracks in the exterior you are presenting, or a cold gust of wind will blast into those cracks. A feeling unlike anything else. It sends icy chills like demonic fingers gliding up and down your spine.

That's how I feel sometimes.

Sometimes I think that it's warm outside. Even during the winter.
When I look around I can see the good in things. They wrap around me like a blanket.
Cozy and secure. Somedays the world isn't so bad.
People help each other. They care. They're genuine.
Their smiles light up the night.

There is a security in holding the hand of another. A certainty.
People don't leave. People don't cry or hurt.
They love. They hope. They act.

These two places are very much the same, though they are very different.

These two places live in my head.

I want so badly to give up, but I have much to do.
I want to draw in, but am continually drawn out.
I try to hold on, but people always leave and change.

Will I always walk alone, in the cold world?
Or is there a possiblity of finding something more...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Catching up...

It's been a little while since I last wrote...

School has been crazy! I enrolled at UW-Waukesha to take some Gen-Ed classes. I now know I want to pursue a degree in communications, but for what I'm still not certain.

I've recently joined the To Write Love On Her Arms street team, which is definitely a new experience. It's basically an organization that is dedicated to promoting hope and finding help for people who are struggling with self injury, suicidal tendencies and any form of addictions, which I find incredibly noble.

As I'm sure there will be plenty of blogs about that in the future I'll save that topic for later.

Lately I have been learning about trusting God quite a lot. The virtue of patience has never been a strong suit for me and so this whole process of moving and timing is really stretching me.

Oh! I didn't mention that yet! I am moving back to Oshkosh to go back to school! :) It has been something in the corner of my mind ever since I left the campus... I am very excited to get back.

Upon being back in school I realized how much I missed it. I miss the classes, the opportunity to learn something new each day, to choose your schedule, to get involved with causes (and there are so many to choose from!)

I'll be living on my own for the first time. Working part time, school part time. I still don't have a place yet and the move is happening in about a month. Yikes! Like I said, trusting that God will provide is a little bit difficult since things aren't exactly working on my ideal time table.

I also am learning to trust Him, not only with the details of my life, but with the lives of others. I have discovered that so often I try to act as a savior in the lives of my friends, when in reality I can barely save myself.

God didn't bring me to Him to convert people.

He brought me to Him to share the story He has given to me.

He brought me to Him to love people as best as I can every day, like He loved me.

Yet so often I lose sight of these things. I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders as I try to make everything ok for everyone.

Everything won't be ok all the time. It's a part of life... and to try to be preventative is to hinder His work. It's basically like I am saying "Yeah, I believe you are sovereign...but you really don't know this person. Why don't you let me handle this one?"

Which really isn't trust at all, is it?

Hmmm...

In church we started the Christmas themed series. Each Christmas they emphasize sponsoring a child in Kenya or Nicaragua (where the church has partnerships). As far as I know there are two very good organizations that are primary catalysts in this field of work.

One is called Manna Worldwide, the other is called World Vision.

I chose to actually sponsor a child for a year this Christmas. :) I'm very stoked about it! That's really what Christmas should be about in my humble opinion.

I mean, really...how much more stuff do we need on Christmas day?

I think the better question is; How many people could we bless this Christmas day?

That's about all I have right now..I'll try to be more creative and interesting later. :P