Thursday, March 31, 2011

That One Guy, That One Song

So at work they play this stuff called "Muzak" in the lobby.

Basically the point of it is to be noise, but noise that the clients are barely aware of. So in reality it serves no point except to drone on in seemingly endless strains which have no beginning or end and annoying the hell out of me in the process.

However, upon moving to Oshkosh the lobby music has changed to a shuffle of junky 90s tunes, 80s love ballads and mediocre modern pop. It's an upgrade, but not by much...

One day a guy came in and plodded up to my window. As I began to take care of his transaction he looked at me and said, in a super-legit-dude way; "So you guys bump Owl City here huh?

I tried hard not to just look blankly back at him.

If you aren't at all acquainted with Owl City please understand that it is not the type of music one "bumps." Really. It's not. It's not bad, it just isn't "bumping" music.

However, being the professional worker I am, I chortled along with him and made some witty quip about how we are awesome like that and proceeded to tell him why he should open a checking account...

I've noticed, however, that even the most resilient of minds can be worn down over time.

Every so often a song comes along that is so cutesy and sweet and nauseating that one cannot help but like it. You know the type right? The type of song that every couple thinks is written about them? The type of song that is so sweet and sugary that one needs to go to the dentist afterward to be sure there are no cavities? Yeah, its one of those. The song is called Two Is Better Than One.

I am not a Taylor Swift fan.

Nor am I a Boys Like Girls fan.

And I am rather skeptical about romantic love lately, so I'm not really sure why I like this song other than the fact that I listen to it 8 hours a day.

Some things just stick.

Maybe it was meant to be...

Experience v. Expectation

I'm realizing today just how much my expectations shape my experiences.

Is this a bad thing?

Depends on your expectations...

We all have them, expectations that is, we all plan for certain events to have certain outcomes.

The way I see it, we all have (to some extent) a cause and effect understanding of life.

In elementary school if you did well on your test you received a sticker or a treat. If you were bad you got detention. Cause and effect.

In high school, when you finally got your drivers license it lead to freedom. When you exceeded the speed limit it resulted in a ticket. Again, action and consequence.

Cause and effect understanding drives society. It's choices and the resulting fallout from those choices (for good or ill) that serves to shape our understandings life and our experiences. We are told to be decent to one another. We're told that if you do good things good things will in turn come to you. The danger of this kind of thinking is that with it, ever so subtly, comes the expectation that this is how life will be.

The problem, for many, comes when the "effects" don't line up with the way we think that life should go. When things don't fall into place like they should. In other words, the "good" people don't always experience positive effects and the "bad" people do not always get the negative effects. Have you ever experienced a moment like that?

Maybe it's not even an issue of "good" people versus "bad" people. Maybe you are just a person who has tried hard to live a decent life and have come to a place where it seems that all of life's cards are stacked against you. It hurts and it seems so wrong. So unfair.

The result of this is often bitterness. We look up and lash out. We think that God must not really care because He wouldn't ever let these things happen to someone He truly loved...

Right?

Think about it. Even people of little "faith" strike out at God when their world seems to be crumbling around them.

What I am beginning to realize however is that, instead of pointing my finger at God, perhaps I really need to look inside myself. The more I go through this process of looking inward I see that, not only do I have very high expectations of the way I believe things should go in life, but that many of these expectations (if I'm honest with myself) are selfishly motivated. Not all, but many I would say are.

It doesn't take a very close examination of the world to understand that it is full of disappointment. Turn on the news sometime, you don't have to watch long before you see a string of broken dreams. Promises of a tomorrow that some thought were guaranteed are shattered.

We can't expect so much of the world; the world doesn't have a track record for being faithful to what we ask of it.

We cannot manipulate the world. But we can certainly choose how much or little we are going to expect from different circumstances. We can also learn to be content even when life does not go as we wish. It is possible.

Unrealistic expectation can actually stifle experience.

I can't list in a single blog post the countless times I have let the disappointment with life's twists and turns rob me of the joy that living here and now can bring. What matters is the experience. It is not merely the knowledge that your life is incredible and significant, but letting that knowledge seep deep into your heart. Into your whole being. Because when the heart actually realizes these things experience itself becomes a whole new adventure. Fresh. Exciting. Joyful.

Some of the best things in life often come when one doesn't expect them to...

A cliche'? Perhaps.

But there may be some truth to be discovered here.

I can't tell you the countless number of times people talk about their significant other/ spouse and they relate to me that they only found that special "someone" when they had given up their own search completely. They surrendered their expectation and just focused on being themselves.

Interesting.

Or how about the victims of disease. Nobody honestly expects cancer right? I think many people live with an underlying expectation that their families will be free of disease throughout life and die peacefully at home. They are shocked and devastated when that their expectations aren't met. How could this happen?

Yet what can come out of the devastation?

A family that becomes closer than they ever were in the past.

A community rallies around an individual and fights back together, accomplishing things the individual could no accomplish alone.

A greater appreciation for the little moments and the time spent with each other here and now.

The early church was brutalized. They were wrongfully accused, beaten, tortured and executed simply for wanting to share their truth. Yet the early church made a mark upon human history by its courage, faith and love, even toward those who were mistreating them. They didn't expect anything in return. There wasn't an expectation to be treated "fairly." Yet they lived and loved more admirably than many Americans do now.

Obviously expectations are necessary so the idea is not that expectations are bad, or that no one should have them. Rather, it is a call to discern between realistic and unrealistic expectations we have.

Here is another cool thing that I've found.

As I've started to remove the unrealistic expectations from my life I am starting to find that blessings are abundant. See, when you don't automatically expect something of someone else, and they do respond favorably there really isn't any other word to use except blessing!

It brings a happiness that is much different than one in which you get what you expected all along...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

In Memoriam

I am very put out that Starbucks has taken their little blurbs off their cups!

You know how they always used to have: "The Way I See It" printed on the back of your cup, which was inevitably followed by a short little nugget of pure awesomeness. The contributing authors could be anyone from "Bob the Fisherman" to Oprah to pretty much everyone else you could think of who lives under the sun.

Yeah those.

They were like the Starbucks version of the fortune cookie, only way cooler! Instead of some random prediction (usually involving stocks, happiness, or pandas) they would provide you with inspiring sayings that you could quote on your Facebook at a later time. But alas they are no more (at least as far as I've seen the last couple months).

They probably need to save ink with the economy being the way it is, however, I will most certainly miss the little gems of wisdom that come with every piping hot cup of deliciousness. :(

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sigh No More

A little while ago my friend Eryn recommended the band Mumford and Sons to me.

Typically I make fun of her music taste because oftner than not I end up feeling like I should be wearing a drug rug, or carrying around a tote with multiple buttons and a big recycle emblem on it or something...

But she was spot on with this recommendation!

This is a fantastic album and I would highly recommend it to anyone!

The song, After the Storm, has been exceptionally comforting to me and so I thought I would share it with you! Click the link below and enjoy!

After the Storm- Mumford and Sons

And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
on my knees and out of luck,
I look up.

Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won't rot, I won't rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won't rot.

And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.
That's why I hold
That's why I hold with all I have.
That's why I hold.

I will die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I'll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and man so small.
Well I'm scared of what's behind and what's before.

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What is Love?

I've just recently finished the book titled "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person That Ever Lived".

I very much respect Rob Bell and his passion for helping Christians to see the opportunities we have to bring heaven to earth every single day.

So often, many Christians get hung up on debates that have no conclusion (and will not in this lifetime) and, as a result, miss those around us who we could share Jesus with.

By "sharing Jesus" I don't mean shoving a tract in their face, or trying to impress them with biblical knowledge... I mean actually sharing your experience with Him. Telling others what He means to you and has meant in your life.

I firmly believe that the Bible speaks for itself, that it doesn't need humans to defend it. Time and time again people who have violently opposed the message of Jesus have tried to eliminate it. Time and time again the good news of God has survived and exploded.

Who is this Jesus, that his message has survived some of the most brutal antagonism this world has offered?

He is one who stood up for the oppressed. He cared for those who weren't cared for. He spoke out against the religious establishment. He befriended those that the "good" religious people despised. And, most importantly, he brought a peace with God that we as humans could have no other way.

No. Other. Way.

When I interact with others I want them to know this Jesus.

It is not about proving myself right. It's not that I believe that I am better than someone, or that their soul is somehow at a worse place than mine.

Often, people think that when Christians pray for them it is offensive. They think their prayers stem it from some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. That it is about wanting others to convert to a religion.

This is not the case. When you love something or some one, hopefully you will want to share it with others. Love, to me, isn't about coercion. It isn't about making others see things the way you want them to see things.

It is about invitation. It's about sharing the experience with them.

I want everyone to know Jesus Christ, personally, because of what he has done, and continues to do in my life, and for that matter, the lives of countless others throughout history. It's real. It is good. It leads to a better life.

I am not a follower of Jesus to tell people how much better I am than them, because I am not.

I would honestly challenge those who hold that mentality. I would humbly submit that they might want to take another look at Christ and what He taught.

So, if you are reading this, know that I love you, not because I'm such a great loving person but because He showed me love first.

He showed me love first, now I am able to see what love is.

Love wins.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

If You Only Knew...

I want so badly to put up walls. To keep you out.

It is fear.

It's the fear that no one will be there, that no one will catch me.

That if I scream no one will hear me.


That no one will ever love me completely.

I am afraid.

But, despite this fear I want to move forward and live. I don't want it to hold me back anymore.

This song really captured my feelings the last few days.


Afraid This Time- Celldweller

Even if you want, you can't touch me now
Leave me if you want, you can't hurt me now


Build them up - high and strong,
so you'll never have to hurt too long
Put them up - til they surround,
and there's no real you left to be found
Hold it up - high above,
no fear of hope or trust or love
Close it up - and hold your ground,
and wait until it's time to finally close it down


Even if you want, you can't touch me now
Leave me if you want, you can't hurt me now
This isn't easy to admit, I don't think I'm believing it
I'm afraid this time
This isn't easy to admit but I don't think I'm believing it
It's not the same this time
This isn't easy to admit but I don't think I'm believing it


This isn't easy to admit, but I'm afraid...

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm Not the Only One

Read an interesting article this morning by Jennifer Moses which was published in the Wall Street Journal.

It was very interesting and saddening at the same time.

Why can't kids just be kids anymore?

Why does everything have to be about growing up and having sex all the time?

We need a strong generation of parents who will be firm and loving when their kids hit the place in life where hormones outweigh logic.

We need dads to teach their sons to respect ladies and that there is more to a woman than a pair of high heels, or how much skin she shows.

We need moms to help their daughters realize that just because he says "I love you" doesn't mean he is in it for the long haul.

What it all comes down to, is an incredibly important ideal that we seem to be losing in this American society. A person is more than just the skin they wear...they have hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities.

Being a human is about way more than physical existence. A person is more than just an attractive body.

People want to be significant. I think many young ladies are looking for this significance in the wrong place.

They judge their worth by how many people look at them when they dance. Or how many boys ask them out on dates.

Ladies: You need to know that your worth is more than the clothes you wear. It is more than the makeup you put on your face. You are captivating. Incredible. You are perfect the way you are, despite your perceived imperfections! Don't hide yourself!

I will also make a confession here...

I have not done a good job of this in the past. By "this", I mean of affirming women as the people they are, rather than just the image they present. I want to change this. Life is about so much more than just the skin we wear...

Side note: I learned about a fantastic organization called Respect Rx, check it out!

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Think I'm Falling...

So lately I've just been immersing myself in music.

It's been so nice to just close my eyes and let the sound wash over me...


The latest gem of musical discovery that Pandora has yielded is a group called The Birthday Massacre!



They are a fantastic band, more gothically influenced. Their blend of synth-rock is really cool and I love the artwork on their albums! I found out that they draw some influence from the works of Edward Gorey who is an artist I like so I guess this makes sense...




I think I've fallen in love with industrial/electronica all over again! :)



The song I recommend: Broken

Thursday, March 17, 2011

When We Collide

The other day I listened to the song Collision by one of my favorite bands.

It goes a little something like this...

The calm that comes before this rage
Love that conquers all this hate
The sweating hands that hold on tight
Far too late to stop this slide

Strip this away if it's what it takes
I'm ready to break

Lean forward
I'm bracing for collision
Run faster
I'm chasing Your collision

Shattered pieces in my eyes
Sweet comfort has passed me by
Wings no longer spread in flight
Far too late to stop this dive

I'm not running away
I'm not running away
I'm chasing, I'm chasing You

It's quite simple lyrically but it brought me a lot of comfort.

We all break. We feel like we are in a dive that we can't pull out of. I know I've been there lately.

It hurts and it sucks.

But sometimes the only way to find a new tomorrow is to collide. To hit that place where you can't do it alone anymore. To realize that you need something more.

Sometimes we have to lose every scrap of pride that we've saved up, shatter every illusion we've created. The facades that we hide behind quickly collapse on impact and we are left with vulnerability.

It's scary.

It's also liberating.

Lately relationships have been placed on my heart. The importance of investing in those who can speak truth and life back into you. Because those who give a lot of themselves know that if you give solely to others who cannot reciprocate you will pour out your entire self and be left with nothing left to give.

We need people who give us life. By "life" I mean (for me) support, encouragement, honesty, people who pursue me beyond the times when they know something is wrong. These relationships are the most priceless to me.

I'm colliding with this fact, and I'm realizing that I'm not strong enough to shoulder my own burdens as well as taking on another's without support from others.

Maybe you're at this point?

This is going to be a difficult process but I'm excited about it too. Openness and vulnerability can be terrifying but in the end they lead to freedom.



Monday, March 14, 2011

Please Don't Stop the Music!

Some friends and I were getting together for a dinner shortly after Oshkosh Pulse, and my good friend Britt (who volunteered at the event) said she had a good time, but she didn't understand why founder Nick Hall did a segment of the concert on the mainstream music message.

During the event Nick Hall shared with those in attendance that the mainstream media has an overall negative message. He submitted that there is a message of hope that extends beyond the common themes that are prevalent in many popular songs currently.

Many people maintain that music doesn't affect them. That the songs on the radio are just songs with good beats and nothing more, and I understand what they are saying.

Personally, I can't say this is true in my life because lyrics and the messages behind music are extremely important to me. If I hear a song about someone who is in deep pain, I feel that. If I hear a song that angrily denounces the government (whichever party is in office) I generally start to feel rebellious and very anti-authority, if I hear a song that's happy it will affect me as well.

Why is music so powerful?


I think it's because we can relate.

It's not merely a beat that makes a song, it's the message...otherwise there would be no need for words at all.

Right?

True, just how highly one may value the lyrics versus the music certainly differ, but words and ideas are powerful. They move us whether to joy, tears or action.

I can't speak for Nick Hall on the issue, but I would assume that he wasn't knocking on the artists, nor doubting their talent and their ability to successfully market a product.

In my humble opinion, God has blessed every individual so uniquely with gifts and talents. I believe that each expression of art is really glorifying God, whether it acknowledges the creator in it or not.

Is Ke$ha fun to dance to? Absolutely. Is Avirl Lavigne's new song ridiculously catchy? Yup.

In fact it's been stuck in my head most of the day. Dammit.

So just because music is secular, does that mean it's evil? Not at all.

Does God say you can't bump it on your iPod or rock out to it at clubs or concerts? Nah. Honestly, I really don't think that the last commandment was "Thou Shalt Not Listen To Lil' Wayne." Maybe I've missed something... don't think so.

However, I do think Nick's message was one of discernment and awareness; it was a call for realization.

Take the message out of the beat and think about it rather than just swallowing what's fed to you.

Appreciate the artist, but understand what you do and do not agree with in their messages. Stay informed.

For example, I think that Eminem is an incredible artist. He definitely has a gift for putting together words, analogies and stories in one disc. His production is incredible! I was blown away with the Recovery album.

Do I agree with his messages? I would say, overall...no. It's the same for me with Rage Against the Machine, they are fantastic musicians, and I love their passion! However I disagree with a lot of their methods and who they endorse...

So... where do we go from here?

Ultimately, I think the thing that saddens me most is the music industry's insistence on pushing the envelope further and further with content.

Some examples: S&M- Rhianna, Down On Me- Jeremih, Raise Your Glass- Pink

These are just three random ones off the top twenty play list (Kiss FM).

The themes I've heard for the last decade are recycled and used with a fresh set of beats...

Drink it up, party like crazy 'cause tomorrow we could die

I think I love you so lets have sex...

We broke up cause he/she cheated, it wasn't real love

I hate life

Rhianna's newest collection of songs are far from when she started, and she is played on the radio all the time! Her single Rude Boy was essentially porn, but porn that was broadcast over the radio waves. Stuff that early middle school teens are listening to and singing along with. Yes, they know all the words.

We say we don't agree with these messages, but we sing along with them, we promote them. Seems odd.

On the flip side of the coin, Nick Hall maintains that there is more to life than what a lot of these songs say. There is a brighter future than the one people find hanging over the toilets and spewing up the junk they drank earlier. There is more than jumping from person to person in search of something that will fill you.

It is hope. It is true.

The central message of Christianity at its core, was a group of individuals who insisted that this was not all there is.

That there is more.

Maybe you agree, maybe you don't. It's definitely worth some thought though.

So I guess what I'm saying is...

Yes, we in this country are blessed with so much freedom, and the freedoms of expression and diversity are extremely important.

I would never want anyone to just agree with my way of thinking.

I think there is beauty in our differences.

But being in a free nation doesn't mean you can just do whatever you want to either, right?

I mean, what about the teenagers (my primary area of concern in this post) who idolize Pink, for example? Say she's promoting partying and binge drinking with her song "Raise Your Glass." Maybe these teenagers want to be just like her...is emulating that lifestyle going to be healthy for them at their age?

At this point many would speculate that it is the parent's responsibility to raise their children, to teach them right from wrong. I completely agree.

Of course, from the realist's point of view, we admittedly do not live in a country in which kids growing up have that family support system as much anymore so what then?

Additionally the question should be asked, does this give these music artists the right to say and record whatever they would like?

I don't have any concrete answers, but it is good to think about...

Thanks to Britt for this post! :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Campus Alpha Kick Off Tonight!


This evening is going to be the kick off night for Campus Alpha!

For those who may not be familiar with the organization, let me tell you it is phenomenal!


It basically encourages and invites people of all faiths, athiests, agnostics, skeptics or those who are just curious what the whole "God" thing is about and it opens up a roundtable discussion about the basics of the Christian faith.


This is a place that is safe and welcomes the questioning, the hurting and the confused.


I really believe that this is just the sort of thing that would make God smile.


Maybe some have come from churches or homes in which they didn't feel they could ever ask hard questions. The type of environments that made them feel ashamed for even thinking of these things...


I completely disagree with this approach. Christians shouldn't be afraid of the tough questions just as they shouldn't be afraid of going and learning about other groups of people.


We are all created in the image of God, we all deserve respect and to be known and cared for.


This was the whole mission of Jesus, and this should be the central and core mission of His followers.


I'm so psyched for tonight!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Have you ever noticed?

OK, random, but why is it people use "How are you doing?" as a greeting.

You know, like "hello" or "hey"...?

Let me tell you, it drives me banana-freakin'-sandwich every time I hear someone say that to me because, I will have undoubtedly started to tell them about how slow work was, or how I'm super bummed 'cause I just finished the last episode of Psych season 4...and I'll look up and they are gone!

Vanished!

Suddenly I feel betrayed, used...like they never actually wanted to know how I was doing!

I feel like I should run after them, haul them back to my work station and make them sit as they get just what they initially asked for!

Using "how are you doing?" as a greeting is like saying; "how was that weekend in Chicago?" or "tell me about the rest of Psych season 4, I know you just finished it!"
Both require more explanation and if they are used as a simple greeting they leave the recipient hanging; much like the way Psych season 4 ended...

(By the way, if you've noticed that I'm on a Psych kick it's because it's practically my new favorite show, and I would highly recommended it as it is very entertaining.)

Bottom line is...

If you are going to use a greeting, use a proper one. Don't just substitute any random sentence that requires more than two words to answer. You may just get what you ask for.

The Mondays...

Friday night was Oshkosh Pulse!

It was super sweet! There were about 4200 people in attendance to see Skillet, Superchick and Flame and as the doors opened up and students started pouring in I couldn't help but stand in awe of all God was doing.


The main purpose of the event was to share a message of hope with the UW Oshkosh campus and to help them see that life is about more than just drinking, partying and having sex all the time. There is more...

To be able to share that with a room of 4000+ people was pretty neat and it was stellar to see all the work pay off.

Since the weekend I've been finding myself in need of a reminder of that message.

If you've read any of these posts, hopefully you will know that I strongly believe (and am a prime example) that Christians do not, by any stretch of the imagination, have it all together. I did not become a Christian to preach how good I am to the world, 'cause Lord knows, nothing that I've ever done could even remotely be misconstrued as perfect in any way, shape or form.


So here I am on Monday...

Reflecting on the past few weeks and all that's transpired; the highs, the lows...

and wondering why the hell I'm in Oshkosh.

If you know me at all you will know that I generally don't like change. I don't. I tend to hold onto what was instead of just rolling with what is...

Honestly, I really don't know how to change this. All I know is that I'm back here and things are anything but how I thought they'd be. I feel like a puzzle piece that has managed to jump from its box to another one.

I don't fit.

I really truly don't feel like I've ever fit...

Being a part of Pulse was sweet. It was intense and exhausting but amazing. Yet, if I hadn't been back in town I'm certain they would've found someone who could do the same things as well, if not better than myself.

I really don't think it'd make a difference if I left. Just picked up and moved and didn't tell anyone. Sadly, however, while I may be replaceable, there are so many people in my life that I feel are irreplaceable. If they left my life it'd hurt real bad. But I can't do anything about that because it is a fact of life that people leave.

People change.

Hmmm. So where to go from here...


There's no answer to this one. Guess I'm going to have to wait.


On a completely unrelated note:

Klayton of Celldweller has become my new favorite musician and I've been rocking out to the song Eon for the past day or so, so feel free to check it out... :)