Friday, March 30, 2012

Pieces Fit?

So, I was thinkin' about this the other day...how do we know we got the dinosaurs right?

I mean, you've got a ton of old, dried up bones in the ground.

Some are close together, and seem to correspond, others...not so much. Some are kinda scattered about.

Sometimes paleontologists need to piece them together.

How do we know that the dinosaurs we see in Disney's Fantasia, or in kid's books, are what the dinosaurs actually looked like?

This is the shit I think about...

Take for example...T-Rex.

Badass dude. Kinda the "bouncer" of the dinosaurs, the one you'd want watching your dino night club door...but he's got these skinny-ass arms! What's up with that?

One of these things, is not like the others! Giant muscled legs, strong powerful jaw line, razor sharp teeth and...little, dinky arms?!?!

This has got to be a manufacturing error!

Think about how Rexy, up in dinosaur heaven, was probably dying a bit inside, as the paleontologists unearthed his skeleton...then attached the arms of his last meal to his body. *Facepalm*!!!! "Really guys, really?!?"

Or how bout the Stegosaurus?

Pretty basic, four legged, solid frame. Tail, and......... plates sticking out of his back?? Spikes/club on the end of his tail? Granted, the spikes can make a pretty cool weapon, but how do we know they didn't just attach a random rock, or petrified coconut to his butt?

How do we know the plates weren't actually a part of his skin, rather than a fashion statement?

Some dinos just look plain wonky.

Velociraptors, apparently, have an enlarged toe, that doubles as a shank.
The Brachiosaurus has a permanent goose egg on it's head.

But the one that takes the proverbial cake, in my opinion, is the Archeopteryx.

What in the good Lord's name was somebody smoking when they pieced together this baby??

I don't know how many lizards currently fly, but I'm quite certain they aren't in the majority. It's looking at illustrations like these that makes me think to myself...ok, maybe we missed something, or didn't quite put the pieces together the right way...

What do you think?

Enjoy! :)




This made me laugh, a lot, for some reason...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Do

So we've all heard the stories, right?

Prince Charming battles the dragon, overcomes insurmountable odds, and rescues the beauty.

The princess overcomes adversity, and trials, and discovers her dream man in the process.

They fell in love, and a few months later were preparing for their wedding night.

We know these stories. They're familiar to us because, well, marriage is quite common in our society. In fact, most people I know have talked, at some point, about the person they'll spend the rest of their life with. It's a common aspiration, especially for peers in my age group (21-25 years old).

But have you ever wondered what happens after prince charming plants true love's kiss on his princess?

Have you ever wondered what it must've been like when they started browsing the housing market, or planning for kids?

If the fairy tales were in any way reflective of American society, about 70% of our classic love stories would end up in a divorce. Sad? Perhaps.

Maybe if Flynn Ryder hadn't been hitting the bars every night with his guy friends, Rapunzel wouldn't have felt neglected, and perhaps she wouldn't have found herself in an illicit affair.

Maybe if Ariel hadn't been a shopaholic, Eric wouldn't have gotten so pissed and taken her to small claims court for spending all their money.

I asked my Dad about this once.

My parents are actually a rarity. They're survivors of infidelity, and their marriage, rather than falling apart has actually flourished through the adversity (and trust me, it was no walk in the park to achieve this feat).

I remember saying one day; "Dad, do you think it's possible for people to make life commitments to each other anymore?"

He had to think long and hard about that one.

We live in a different society than our grandparents, or even our parents did.

When we say "I do," and "till death do us part," apparently this means something quite different than it did in the 50's. Now, I'm not saying they had everything together in the 50's, by any means. But, the emphasis that was placed upon couples staying together has definitely become a non-factor in today's society.

I'll venture out on a limb today, and just say what I'm thinking...

Ready?

Marriage, isn't for everyone.

There, I said it. I'm sorry if this offends you, or if this isn't what you believe. This is a personal revelation that I've come to in the last year or so.

Marriage, as I understand it, in the Christian context is a pact between two humans, before God. It's a covenant. A promise. It's kind of a big deal.

Now, we promise all kinds of things to God, and ourselves. We promise that we'll quit the smoking, the swearing, the hook-ups. We promise that we'll go to the gym, and get ourselves in shape again.

We also break all kinds of promises. So why is marriage any different?

Marriage, is about more than just yourself. It's about more than your personal relationship with God. It involves another person. It involves two worlds coming together. It's about learning to share. To put someone elses' interests first, rather than your own.

In a similar conversation I asked my dad; "Do you think that people think about marriage beyond the actual wedding day? I mean, if you asked someone what their marriage will be like, do you think they'll have talked about it?"

I'd say for some yes, for many no.

See marriage, for many, has become about a particular day. Throwing a great party, having the right flowers, and inviting the right kinds of people.

Then after the honeymoon, real life sets in. People have to integrate their finances, they have to arrange schedules to coincide. They have to choose colors for the drapes. How many kids, if any.

This really catches a lot of people by surprise. Suddenly they don't have as much in common with their significant other, as they thought they did. Suddenly, the littlest thing can spark a huge argument. Feelings are hurt, and unless they know how to actually talk it out they wind up in divorce court a year or two later.

I understand that sometimes relationships just go bad, no matter how much time is spent getting to know a person. But that's also far from the vast majority of relationships.

The real problem is that people don't understand what marriage is anymore. And if we don't understand it's intention, how can we ever succeed?

God wants a marriage between two people, to reflect his relationship with us. Marriages are about far more than just sex, and chemistry. It's about knowing a person on a deeper level than friendship. It's about working through things, even when the going gets rough. It's about forgiveness. It's about learning to care for someone more than yourself. It takes grace, and it takes work.

Marriage is more than a fairy tale ending, but when it's done right, it's far more beautiful than any prince whisking a princess off on his noble steed.

Marriages can actually be a reflection of God's love for humanity, to the world.

But it all starts with the resolve, patience, and determination to fulfill the promise that's given, on the day when two become one in the eye's of God.

When you say "I Do," will you see it through?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Worthwhile

Have you ever noticed that, somehow, the food service industry has gotten a bad rap?

What was that thing dad always used to say?

"Study hard, if you don't apply yourself you'll end up flipping burgers for the rest of your life! You don't want that, do you??"

Whenever my friends and I would go into a fast food restaurant, there was always that token 50 year old, who had always worked at that particular establishment.

We'd all look on him (or her) with pity, because our dreams were so much larger. We aspired much loftier goals.

Maybe you know what I'm talking about, maybe you don't.

But we can choose, on a daily basis, if our experiences can be worthwhile or not.

For example:

I currently work in the food service industry. I work with great people. We work hard, sometimes extremely long hours. Sometimes it can be pretty stressful.

Something that I've noticed, though, is that I often come home with a deep sense of satisfaction at the end of a long day. If you've ever experienced this, you'll know that, despite accumulating sweat and grime throughout the day, and although it was tough, you made it through. You did something worthwhile.

When you find that feeling, then you can ultimately find contentment with life. It's really interesting how this works.

Why does that cold beer taste so much better at the end of a long, hard shift?
Why is a shower so much more rewarding than when you initially wake up in the morning?

It's because you've performed a service for someone, and serving one of the things that humans were made to do.

This, I'm finding, is amplified in the food service world. Most every food service establishment that I've worked at, has a definite "family" kind of dynamic. I think it's because we spend so much time together; we laugh, we fight, we make up.

It isn't unlike an actual family... 'cept when people start dating co-workers....but that's a whole different story.

Attitude is incredibly important.

If you enter your job expecting to be served (i.e. expecting to get cut early, or to stay for your whole shift, or something else that caters to your expectation of how the night should go), you are bound to leave feeling unfulfilled. I can't tell you how many times, in the past, I've heard co-workers grumbling or complaining because things didn't go their way.

When they do end up leaving, they leave with a deep sense of dissatisfaction.

On the other hand, if you go to your job (whatever it be) looking for ways to serve others, or to better integrate yourself into the team, you'd be surprised at how a night can change.

What I really strive to do, and often fail in, is to try to put the needs of others before my own.

Sure, it'd be easier to call out for something from the saute' station, but what if I'm not as busy as the saute' guy? What if I can make his night easier, by jumping on and helping him out?

What if that little extra bit of stocking, or cleaning done on a closing shift, will help pave the way for a smooth opening shift for someone?

Can you really change the mood dynamic of your place of employment, simply by serving others in ways both big and small?

I believe you can. I also believe that this is what God asks of those who consider themselves followers of Jesus. It's our privilege to serve others, not a chore.

This can be tough because, as a rule, we humans tend to want to serve ourselves first. But, over time, as we practice being a servant, we begin to find fulfillment.

I don't believe I'll work in food service for my entire life, but that doesn't mean that I can't strive diligently to try to give my best to my restaurant family. To work my very hardest, not just for a check, but because it's something that is honoring to God.

It doesn't mean that I shouldn't use every opportunity possible to try to make someone elses' day.

There's a saying that goes: "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities."

I fully believe that.

In addendum, I would also say that, in being faithful, one can also find their relationships, job, and life in general to be increasingly more worthwhile.

Man Cave


Phase one complete...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

[Music] Sweet Dreams- Sucker Punch OST

Words Fail

What do you do when words fail, when words are all you have?

What do you do when you open your mouth, and emit pure, full, pregnant silence?

What do you do when the right thing to say successfully eludes you?

When your inadequacy falls upon your head,
the weight, crushing, like an immense dark wave.
Stifling, suffocating, making it hard to breathe.

What do you do when you can't breathe?

How can you feel so full, yet come up empty?
How can we live so empty, yet have the daring to imagine ourselves full?

Sometimes we just hit a wall.

The thing we know, and trust, and cling to no longer works.
It's a frightening, lonely place to tread.

The truth is, we're awfully small, in an awfully big place.
The truth is, the things we cling to are quite small as well.

Words are what I know.
Words are what I love.
My inadequacies shatter me.

What do I do when words fail?
I have to learn to dream again.

Perspectives Presents: Words Fail (Life Through A Lens)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Still Frames


My friend Dom recently told me that she has a hard time deleting photos. She said that each image is kind of like a piece of life.


As I flip through photos on Facebook, it occurs to me that our life is a series of stills.

Our lives, while active in the present, are also a compilation of frozen images. A string of constant experience, yet only some being captured. We can never duplicate an experience, the feelings we felt, or the interactions we had.

Each experience is unique.

Memories, the things we cling to, are captured in images. I'll never have an experience again, that will make me feel as I did on my 23rd birthday, but when I look at pictures from that night, I'll remember exactly how it felt.

Photographs are beautiful things.



We live and create. Music is the soundtrack to our lives, but photographs actively preserve the past.

Videos do this too, but photographs, specifically, pique my interest.

As I flip through different friends' photos on Facebook the still frames of their lives, the precursors, which are a culmination of the person they are today, I can't help but wonder what the experiences were like to them. What must it have been like to live their life?

I wonder which experiences impacted them the most. Which experiences induced a rush, and filled them with life, and which ones brought them sadness, or anxiety?

Then, I flip through my life. Sometimes. It makes me sad, and happy at the same time. I know I'll never have these cherished memories back, yet they are, in fact, cherished.

Looking through our still frames periodically is important.

Why?

I don't believe you can fully live, till you remember where you've been.

[Music] Life Starts Now- Three Days Grace


'Cuz life starts now, you've done all the things that could kill you, somehow. You're so far down, but you will survive it somehow, because life starts now!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thoughts on the Jason Russell Controversy

When Kony 2012 went viral people were shocked. Over 60 million hits in the slim space of two days! No video had ever done that before.

Mere weeks later, founder Jason Russell was in the press again, not for the Kony campaign this time, but for having a meltdown, and running buck naked out in public.

The Internet lit up, once again, and critics had a field day.

Anti-Russell/Invisible Children rhetoric redoubled in strength. Straight up hateful strains littered the comments section on various articles. And I'm sitting here thinking...really?

I won't speculate too much as to the causes of Jason Russell's behavior. I would probably guess that it had to do, in part, with the massive success of his Kony project, and the limelight he was violently thrust into. It could also be, in part, to seeing critics ramp up slanderous, malicious accusations against his life's work.

I mean, hey, they guy dedicates the better part of the last decade, trying to help those who live in a country half a world away, escape the terrors that were central to their lives at the time, and the best some can do here is sit on their asses and criticize it.

But, whatever the causes, it happened.

Let me start by saying that I can't even imagine what it'd be like to walk a day in Jason's shoes. Invisible Children is an incredible organization, that does incredible work, for an incredible cause. I can't even begin to imagine all the managerial aspects that need tending to, the schedule that he must be running as the spokesperson for this campaign.

It'd probably be like a rock band's world tour, only he probably ate less, and wasn't hammered the whole time.

Can you imagine what it must've been like? To go from relatively well known, to the forefront of public focus in a matter of hours? Until you or I have felt that feeling, perhaps we shouldn't underestimate the stress that glory can potentially bring.

But the saddest thing to me, is the character attacks on a guy, who's never had this sort of thing happen before.

Think about it.

If Jason had had some sort of track record of this kind of behavior, critics would've hammered this right at the beginning of the Kony campaign! It's leadership that can build or sink causes. Jason is a great leader. Is this an embarrassing mistake? Absolutely. I don't relish the thought of what it must be like to be in his situation right now...

But to have people, who don't even know the man, questioning things like his sexuality? His heart? His motives for trying to help children? His mental stability? If he should be allowed around children?

People, get a grip!

Jason is a human being!

Has anyone ever acted in an embarrassing fashion? Have you ever done something you regretted? Me too.

Let's give the man some grace shall we?

No matter what comes of this controversy, I pray that Jason and his family will become all the stronger, and that Jason would continue to do the noble work he's pursuing.

Everybody makes mistakes, it's how we choose to deal with them that differentiates those who are right in heart, and those who aren't.

The Girl Who Bled

I'll never forget meeting the girl who bled.

You wouldn't know it by a simple glance, because bleeding isn't exclusively physical.

I remember her slight frame, her delightful, if rare, smile. As she peered at me from behind large glasses, I could feel her measuring me, looking through me.

I remember brushing against her accidentally, later on, and I also remember seeing rigidity seize her body. The simplest brush triggering a defense mechanism, deep within.

I knew then, that something had happened. I didn't know what, but something had transformed this beautiful girl. A secret in the past. A haunting presence to this day.

I have the privilege to know the girl who bled.

She's smart, witty, sarcastic. She is passionate about things, if not people. She collects. She creates, and she's quite good at it.

It's hard sometimes. I desperately want to show her that I mean her no harm. That we, men, aren't all like the ones that have shaped her perceptions in the past. I want to slip past the armored, spikey exterior. I want her to know she's loved, and valued for the person she is, and gifts she has. Gifts that can be used to make the world a more colorful, hopeful place.

But broken trust takes days, months, years, even decades to build.

Physical wounds heal, but emotional wounds continue to bleed. Our souls have the endless capacity for joy, but they can also harbor sorrow deeper than oceans. We can actually find ourselves trapped, within ourselves, until a savior can pull us back to the surface. If not properly attended, these wounds, though they seem to have stopped, can become a safe haven for infection.

Healing requires love and trust.

Love begins a day at a time, and that's what I've resolved to do.

Perhaps, someday, the girl who bled will become the girl who healed.

But more importantly, perhaps, is that the girl who healed can also become the girl who lived, and lived like no other... in freedom.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

.grace


A follow-up video to Un-Christian. I know the vocal audio isn't that great, actually going to be picking up a new mic soon, but figured I'd share anyway. Hope you like!

Blessings

I knew it before I actually saw it.
Ever have one of those moments?

It showed up on my news feed, when a mutual friend posted on her wall. A ghost of a smile tickled my lips, but it was doomed to become an apparition shortly thereafter as I clicked on the profile and scrolled down.

Sure enough, as of yesterday: "Holly is engaged to Logan."

My lips split open, smiling wide, as I thought about how surreal growing up can be sometimes.

It feels like ages since I've seen my friends, and since I had the privilege of sharing a tiny part of their story.

Holly I met, while in a darker place.

Disenfranchised, hurt, and angry. I remember nights asking her questions about what this life thing was all about, and what she believed. I remember thinking her answers were ridiculous.

I remember wondering why she even cared, and thinking that she probably didn't, and that she was probably just being nice.

But something about her attitude, and character, told me otherwise. I remember the patient dignity in which she received my drunken criticisms, and the well of grace that overflowed to cover my transgressions. Something was different about this one.

I now know that it was God, working through Holly, but I couldn't have come remotely close to telling you that at the time...

I remember constant encouragements, long talks and did I mention patience? Yeah, this girl needed a lot of patience when we talked. I remember her gentle prodding for me to go on, what turned out to be, a life-changing trip.

God certainly works in mysterious ways, doesn't he?

I was privileged to begin to learn more about her, and was constantly awed by her quiet conviction. Her gentle spirit, and her genuine and sincere love for people. There was no pretension here. It really shook me. I wasn't used to seeing this amount of compassion from a person, maybe I just hadn't been looking before.

And then there was Logan.

Where to even begin?

It was not three months after that life changing experience, that I found myself on the shores of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In fact, I was one of two of the first arrivals. My contact at the airport informed me that we had to meet up with someone named Logan, from Pennsylvania, before we could head back to the projects.

We found him, without too much trouble, and I just remember thinking to myself; "Good lord, this man sure talks funny." Pennsylvanians, you know...

But meeting Logan, right off the bat, wasn't a coincidence. I was drawn to him, much like I was initially drawn to Holly.

Logan is about one of the nicest guys I've ever known. Always a smile on his face, always asking about your day, and finding passages of scripture to encourage you with.

I must admit, growing up in church I was familiar with the Bible, but I don't think in a decade of attending that I'd ever had as much scripture verses thrown at me, as I did the first week with Logan.

But the thing is, it wasn't offensive. I mean, I've had people quote Bible verses to me in the past, and I just want to club them over the head, but not Logan. I always felt that his encouragements were sincere. He's one of those guys that, you can just tell, is driven to lift others' burdens.

I'd never seen someone so boldly, and passionately in love with faith, and Jesus, as this guy. It affected me in a big way in the weeks to come.

Strangely enough, Holly was on that same project as I was...

Do you remember watching Back to the Future, and Marty's stuck in 1955, trying to get back to 1985? Do you remember how Doc and Marty have to do the whole clock tower shenanigans? Do you remember how they pull off, what seems to be, one of the most elaborate jump starts in the history of cinema?

If you don't let me enlighten you. Basically, they have to charge the Delorian, so they hook up a metal wire to the town's clock tower. They wait for about the worst storm in history to hit. Marty has to get the car up to 85 mph, and at the exact time the car hits the wire, a bolt of lightning needs to strike, and blammo! He's back to the future.

Simple right?

Holly and Logan, met like the car hitting the wire, and lightning struck at the exact moment, causing some pretty fantastic fireworks!

I'll never forget when the two of them connected for the first time, there was definitely some electric-Jesus-vibing going on! I mean, let's be honest, two of the most dedicated, faithful people I knew, who loved God more than anything else in life, were within five feet of each other! A reaction was definitely imminent.

And reaction happened!

They started as friends, growing and gaining new found appreciation for the other. I remember seeing how they complimented each other, both getting excited at the other person's stories of the day, both digging in deep to their Bibles, and walking away after ever interaction positively glowing. I'll be honest, I was jealous.

That kind of bond is incredible to witness.

Then feelings began to develop...

It's inevitable when you have such great chemistry to begin to wonder if there might be something more in store. It's just a human thing.

I remember both, Holly and Logan, telling me at individual times that, while they were incredibly interested in each other, that they wanted to focus on the mission of our trip. So they agreed to put off any sort of romantic involvement till after Summer Project. After all, he lived in Pennsylvania, and Holly was a Wisconsin cheese-head. Seemed smart to me. Distance never works anyway...does it?

Apparently something stuck.

They remained in close contact, even after we'd all returned to our homes. They became "Facebook official", continuing to grow in admiration and respect for the other, and the rest, my friends, is history!

I haven't been in touch with them, as frequently as I would've liked since that incredible summer, but they still affect me today. They each have a special place in my heart, and I will always consider them my friends.

Logan, Holly, congratulations!

It's been an incredible privilege to have witnessed a part of your incredible lives. I can't even begin to tell you how blessed I've been by each of you individually, and have no doubt that you'll continue to bless those around you, as one, before God! :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hope

There's a difference between cynics, and realists. A realist dreams, but isn't governed by his dreams. A cynic refuses to acknowledge dreams altogether.

The recent explosion of Invisible Children's Kony 2012 campaign has prompted a mass response across the world, but it's also garnered its fair share of criticisms as well.

Some are bothered by the U.S. troop presence in Africa to assist and advise Ugandan military. Others claim that Invisible Children keep over 70% of donations, making it the most profitable non-profit ever (you can view their financials here and decide for yourself). Still others are bothered, not by the organization itself, but the trendiness of this campaign.

So, where to begin?

I've financially supported Invisible Children and their mission for a couple years now. I'm a part of their TRI Legacy program, which seeks to provide scholarships and education for the children in LRA affected regions. It also used a portion of donated funds to implement an early warning radio network, for the purpose of tracking LRA movements, warning the local populace ahead of time. A practical move, to ensure the safety of children in isolated villages.

I feel privileged to be a part of something that, I believe, brings freedom, hope and peace to those in war torn regions.


As far as troop involvement goes, I understand how some of my friends may be wary. Just because something bad happens in the world, should America just ship our troops out to police different regions? There isn't an easy answer to this. I personally believe, morally, it's our duty to liberate the oppressed, and to defend the defenseless, as best as we know how. We won't always get it right, but we need to try. We've been blessed to grow up in a relatively safe, stable, prosperous nation. Not everyone does.

I think the greatest problem, that several people I know have, with this campaign, is the fact that it's prominent because it's "trendy." This organization has been around for several years now. But, now that it's exploding, everyone wants a piece of the dream so to speak.

I understand that.

It's very hard to live in a secure, overall wealthy nation, trying to get people involved in causes beyond themselves. It's hard to see the indifference of the youth of this nation, who think they have it rough, and choose to live frivolously. I get it.

But here's the thing...

That doesn't change the importance of this campaign.

Tonight, I was reminded of a story in Jesus' biographies about an interaction between Jesus and his disciples. Apparently, Jesus' followers had found out that another man was capitalizing on Jesus' popularity as a rabbi, and was using his name to perform good works. Jesus' disciples were upset, and demanded that Jesus put a stop to it.

You know what he said?

He said; "Let him."

Jesus understood that his name, and the works that were being performed, served a greater good than a man merely trying to gain from current popular opinion.

This is what Kony 2012 is to me.

It's about moving for something that matters, rather than remaining stagnant in our pool of self-absorption. Even if it's only for a year, a month, or a week.

I understand that, for some, this will be about as "socially active" as they'll ever get in their life. They may not ever give a second thought to Uganda, or the suffering of the people of the world once this drops off Facebook. This does genuinely sadden me.

But, does that make the work of the Invisible Children any less compelling? Does trying to free children from abduction, and immersion in a world of violence, lose its value, if those who support the cause aren't die hard, or don't fully understand the significance of the cause they support?

Does releasing a girl from sexual slavery, providing her an education, and giving her a future suddenly become irrelevant?

Absolutely not.

There's a fine line between realism, and cynicism. I used to be a cynic. Unable to see redemptive qualities in anything. Always critical, skeptical, and unwilling to accept altruism. Things change.

As a follower of Jesus, I'm called to spread hope to the world. Not cynicism. In fact, hope is absolutely necessary for the human spirit to flourish, and to reach its full potential. Without hope, life becomes miserable, and meaningless.

It's ok to dream for better, my friends. It's even better to act on those dreams. If I can help to make this world better for even one person, then this life thing is worthwhile.

In life there will always be those who are slaves to trends. There will also be those who are tirelessly working to make the world a better place. But even those who are only involved while the issue is hot, and the graphics are cool, serve a greater purpose, even if they personally aren't enriched in the ways that matter from the experience itself.

Would I love for every social net-worker to fully understand the beauty of the opportunities that Kony 2012 can create for this world? Absolutely.

Will I disparage them from being involved if they don't? Not in the least.

Personal motivations don't change the fact that doing the right thing is right, and they never will.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

[Guest] Untitled

A blogger with a flair for the quirky, humorous and the tragically melancholy. Part-time poet, full time dreamer. I've been following Ande's entries for quite awhile now, and he takes quite a unique approach to each one. With searing insight, his series, "Dear Anonymous," plunges its readers into growing up, with honesty and originality.

I'm honored to have Ande as a friend, and to be able to share a bit of his work here today!

For more of Ande's work check out his space: macphersona


Untitled

There I sat, in my cold, dark room after a long day of class, lifting and practice at the edge of my bed as the tears ran down my face. Pain, frustration, loneliness, and fear dripped out of my eyes, rolled down my cheeks, and hit the cold hard floor beneath my feet. The pain of loss and brokenness, the frustration of not understanding, not knowing, and not being able to help, loneliness of a broken soul, and the fear of an empty future clung to every thought I had that day, and they all finally became to much for me to handle. I couldn’t stand the silence anymore, and even worse, I couldn’t stand the sound of my own thoughts echoing my mind like a skipping song. At that very moment I had finally realized what the events of the last two years had done to me, and it was with that thought that I knew I had finally hit the absolute rock bottom; A place that until now, I couldn’t even imagine.

I knew that what I was experiencing was the beginning of a lot of trouble if I didn't somehow get it out of me and look for help. A couple of days passed and I began to reach out for help. I talked to three of the most important people (outside of my family) in my life, my best friend from childhood (more of a brother than a friend), an ex-girlfriend (turned best friend) and my roommate (one of the two best friends I have ever made since childhood). I didn't know it at the time, but the true friendship they showed me, the love and support they gave me was the blessing in disguise I needed. I let everything inside of me go; letting out the pain, the worry, the overwhelming hate for myself, and the fear of what my sins had brought me. Piece by piece, I tried to find a way out of my struggle and heal the damage inside of me.

As wounds began to heal, and the demons left my thoughts, I started to realize that I had been selfish. Selfish in the fact that what I had in front of me was the best gift anyone could get and I wanted more. From that day forward I started to look more deeply at the things that surrounded me. The pain and frustration I felt were merely distractions that kept me from seeing the beautiful little things that made the picture, my world so breath taking. Not only the beauty in nature, the birds, the wind and water, the trees and flowers, new life and the changing seasons, but also the amazing people, friends, teammates, family, and even the random people you meet at sporadic moments in class or out on the town, and most of all the beautiful gifts of some sort of athletic ability, writing, and a good heart, all made up this glorious world I called mine.

As all these scenes started to compile in my mind, the smile started to come back to my face, and a small song to my heart, as I sat down at my computer to put it all on paper. As I sat there I remember looking out my window and seeing the beautiful sunset over the hill outside my apartment and two very tiny words silently tip-toed out of my mouth and hopefully found their way to God. “Thank you” was all I could think of, and for the first time in a while I felt like that’s all that was needed. He knew what I had been through, how to help me and that like the lost sheep I would find my way back. Over those few short months, I truly learned just how deep my faith was; how even when it seems like everything is going wrong and no one is listening, He always is.

No one has the perfect life, and I’m not telling this story to lead everyone into thinking that I do. I have still a few things I’d like to work on, or change but now I feel as though I’m living my life to the fullest as a sign of gratitude for the gifts I have been given in it. I’ve learned that no matter how bad things can get, I’ll always have God with me, listening intently, and wanting to help me back home. From the things that have happened and how my life has taken a turn for the better, the reminders I’ve seen and encouragement I have felt, I can tell you without a doubt, God works in mysterious ways.

God Bless,

T.E. Kidd

.signs

No, not like the movie. ;) I'm going to start, periodically posting videos here. My own videos. Nothing special, just some thoughts about life, and the things I take away from life lessons. I'm a bit nervous though since, as a general rule, I hate my voice recorded and my editing skills are mediocre at best, so go easy on this guy, ok? :)


Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Beyond Blessed



I mentioned in a previous post that refugees were being resettled in the Fox Valley, through World Relief. Well, on February 15th, our church's first family flew into the Appleton airport.

I was able to spend some one on one time with my new friends Wai Hinn, Nang Schwe, and their adorable little one, Christina. They are some of the most incredibly polite, humble fantastic people you'll ever meet!

I took them, for their first American sit down dining experience, to Red Robin.

As Christina began to construct an artistic masterpiece with the crayons that were provided, I talked with Wai Hinn a bit about how their transition is going so far. I asked him what he would want to do for a job, after thinking a bit he said that it the job didn't matter as much to him, so long as it provided a means to take care of his family.He said that he wanted to live simply. To spend time with his family and raise his daughter. That's his American dream...

I asked him about Burma, and how things were different here. And if you thought his last response was incredible, what he said here absolutely wrecked me. He said, "I feel safe here, for the very first time."

We, in America, aren't wired to think about our safety on a daily basis. Yes, there are dangers in America, just as there are anywhere in the world, but to live in constant worry that your family, friends or you could be arrested, simply because the government pleases, is a foreign ideal to us.

I, myself, like to think that I don't take things like my liberties, and freedom of expression for granted. The shaking nature of his response, however, told me different. I do take things for granted.

But, this post isn't about me. It's about a new friendship that I'm blessed to be a part of. It's about new understandings, and appreciations for old ideals. Living simply, raising a family, forming relationships with our new neighbors.

Yesterday, I went over to their new apartment for a visit. This little girl just about stole my heart! Wai Hinn made us a yogurt drink, and I happened to have my laptop on me. Nang Schwe asked if I could play a disc on it, and I told her yes, so she brought out a DVD. It was Christina's second birthday party. We watched the affair, which had happened just three weeks before they came to this country to seek out their American dream.

Afterward the parents and the World Relief worker, Sarah, went into the kitchen area to discuss paperwork and upcoming appointments, leaving Christina, my friend Kenzie, and I all to amuse ourselves for a bit. This girl is a charmer! She brought over her toys to show us, a stuffed bunny and panda. I showed her some of the games on my laptop (turns out I still suck at chess, virtual or not).

Then, I started playing a silly game of peek-a-boo with Christina. It's amazing how easily amused little children can be, or big children for that matter. I also put my hat on her a few times, she didn't want it though, even though I think she rocks it way better than I do!

As Kenzie and I left their apartment, I was felt a bit overwhelmed. No matter how many times I experience stories of people, whether displaced refugees, or those who had the misfortune of living on the coast as Katrina barreled into our shores, I can never get over how beautiful the rebirth process is. In the midst of uncertainty, or tragedy there's always a new beginning. These three incredible people are right in the middle of a brand new chapter of their life. It's probably incredibly scary for them. They're probably incredibly homesick for family and friends.

And here they are, completely rocking my world and perceptions of life!

That's the funny thing about volunteering to serve others. It takes the idea that you are giving something to someone else, and turns it on it's head. Instead of blessing, you're blessed. Instead of teaching, you become the student. It enriches your life in ways that you couldn't possibly imagine...

I can only hope that I can inspire them even a tiny bit as much as they've already inspired me! I love my new friends, and am excited to further form a beautiful friendship.

[Music] Look Away- Thousand Foot Krutch


Sometimes being told that every thing's going to be ok, just isn't what you need to hear. Sometimes things just aren't ok.

Friday, March 2, 2012

un-Christian (Redux)


This actually tied in quite well to the un-Christian post... :) Hope you enjoy it!

Favorite line:
"Broken, flawed, vulnerable people like you and me, are invited to be the hands and feet of a Jesus who loves us exactly as we are, and yet loves us way too much to let us stay that way."

the gift

Today a friend inspired me with, what I thought to be, an extremely courageous post. It actually got me thinking a lot about courage.

Loneliness is probably my deepest fear. It's why I have friends over constantly, and it's why I can't stop doing things. I hate being at home alone. I love sharing life, and experiences with friends and family. This is pretty normal for many people. I don't know too many people who actually enjoy being alone.

But go a vein deeper, and normal aversion to loneliness becomes lonely-phobia (my own scientific term).

For so long I've wrapped my worth into my romantic relationships. Pre-God, and after even. I have a deep desire for a companion to share life with, on a deeper level than mere friendship. Again, this is a pretty common desire, but it used to be hugely consuming force in my life.

Failed relationships would destroy me inside, and I'd often feel that there wasn't anything worthwhile that would cause the significant other to stay with me longer than a year. Yet, I was terrified to be alone, so I'd play around the edges. Try to get romantically deep with someone, without committing too much. It was a game. A highly guarded game, in which I tried to protect myself, while trying to be open, and vulnerable.

It's a hard game to play.

I think that's where courage and faith come into play. The more time I spend exploring, challenging, and immersing myself within my faith, I learn that God actually cares for me. It's funny how you can hear that so often growing up, but never really process it. God cares. Two simple words. Two simple words that have brought me a great deal of peace in the last year or so...

As that realization slowly began to sink in, I started learning a little bit more about His nature; how He provides, He loves, and He's worthy of my trust. It would take quite a while to write down the tiny steps it took to reach these conclusions, but trust me, it's in the small stuff that you can often find life's biggest answers. At least, that's what I've found.

But then there's courage.

It's one thing to realize that someone is worthy of your trust, but another thing to actually give them your trust.

If you've ever been betrayed, or had your confidence broken you can probably relate to the difficulty, and the courage it takes to give your trust to another again. It's only in faith, and courage that I began to realize more about myself.

I started to see that my worth wasn't wrapped up in another's affections. I began to see that I have a lot of potential, and opportunity just waiting beyond my front door. Transformation began. It seems like it happened fast, because I'm condensing it into a simple blog post, but this took several years. Moving forward an inch, and slipping back several steps. It was an agonizing process. To let go of deep-seated insecurities that one has carried with them for nearly a decade was, at times, almost unbearable.

Almost.

For the first time in my life, I'm learning to embrace singleness. I'm beginning to learn new things about myself, that I was never able to see while immersed in a relationship. I'm taking new risks, having new adventures. I feel a freedom that I've never known before.

It's absolutely fantastic!

This May, I'm incredibly blessed to be able to go on a road trip with a good friend of mine. We're going to take several American icons by storm, and have great one on one "guy time." I've never been so exhilarated for something unknown before.

I can do this without constantly thinking about home. I'm not attached. I don't have to put work into a relationship while on the road.

But this goes beyond a road trip. I'm actually finding a deep seated appreciation for being single, a contentment in the fact that I have so much to do before I ever consider settling do. That God can use me just as much now, as when I'm an old married dude, if not more so. I could work with Invisible Children, or the Peace Corps. I can travel the world with friends. I can have a bachelor pad. I have an open schedule, no obligations, and a whole lot of ambition to fuel the flames of adventure.

Singleness, I'm discovering, is really what you make of it. For much of my life I've viewed it as a curse. A lonely, dark place. Now I see it in a new light...

It's freedom. It's a gift. A gift not to be wasted...