Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year. One and All.

It's a new year. 2012. How do you feel about that? Excited? Nervous? Scared? Happy?

To be quite honest: I don't know myself. I'm not exactly excited. Not nervous. Not scared. Not really happy. I'd say neutral, at best. Which is funny, because, for the last three or so years, I always had this inexplicable feeling of dread. I was so frightened of what would happen when the ball would drop, ushering in the celebrations of a whole new year. Funny, right?

This year, I kind of decided, there was nothing to fear. Nothing to be nervous about. Sure, I don't know what will happen. But, Lord willin' and the creek don't rise, the sun will come up in the East come morn, and set in the west once evening falls. What's that verse? Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Something like that.

And yet, the new year could mean something to people. Perhaps it means the first year without a loved one. In that case, I am sorry. I will grieve for you, with you. If that is the case, I dearly hope that this new year will be a year of mending and healing. Of comfort and joy, with the sorrow fading, but the memory of love ever lingering.

A new year could mean one of fear. Of the unknown. Perhaps you fear the unknown. You fear of failures to come, of no tomorrow. You're scared out of your wits that you will be hated, that your darkest secrets will come to light this year, and you will be abhorred for them. If that is the case, I do hope and pray that they do come to light. But, in doing so, they become demolished, and you find forgiveness. And in that forgiveness, you find freedom.

One last thing. Perhaps this year means hope. A fresh start. New beginnings. I do hope this is the case. I want your mistakes of last year - and all previous ones - to wash away. I want you to live this new year in the light, with you pushing ever onward as a new creature.

And, really, I wish this on everyone. I hope and pray that you all realize that you can be comforted, that you can be made brave - can put faith in Someone who will always hold you up and close in the face of the unknown, and Who can give you a new beginning. A fresh start. Who can wash away those sins and say, "You are a new creature. My beloved child."

Happy New Year! May it be blessed and full of grace!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Lord is good.

I heard in a sermon today that we often forget the real meaning of the season. The Christmas season, that is. And, I couldn't help but think that, perhaps, it's not so much that we forget. It's that we simply take it for granted.

How often to you forget you're breathing? All the time, right? And, it's not that you've forgotten to breathe, heavens, no. You can't forget to breathe. It's impossible, because it's an involuntary action, one completely controlled by your sub-conscious, much like the beating of your heart, you can't turn it off. But, you don't always remember that you're doing it. Not until you think about it (My guess? You're paying attention to your breathing right now because of this li'l ol' paragraph. ;] ).

It's a bit like Christmas. We all know (though perhaps we may not all agree) the meaning and story behind it. How can't we? We see the nativities everywhere, we hear 'Silent Night' fifty times a day, and it is one of the special occasions people who don't normally go to church go to church. But, for how many of us does it still remain special? For how many of us does Christmas remain a sacred time?

Breathing is taken for granted, and yet it's very nearly the very essence of living.

Christ came down on Christmas day, from His rightful place as the Son of God, to be human, and eventually to be crucified on the cross for our sins. He died so we can live. He is the very essence of living. And we take His birth for granted.

Guys. We're really stupid. Really, really stupid. We do stupid things. Think stupid things. We're just stupid. We're full of sin, which is pretty much while we're stupid.... And, seriously. Take a step back, and look at yourself. Truly, deeply, look at yourself. You are despicable. I should know. 'Cuz so am I.

And, yet, here we have a baby born 2,000 or so years ago that loves us way more than we could ever love ourselves. A baby.

The Lord is good. We can all go on all day long complaining about our lives, our family situations, our work, whatever. And we can do it all on before, on, and after Christmas day. And so forget why we give each other gifts, and just take for granted that we're celebrating the day at all.

The Lord's too good for us. And He still came.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bah Humbug!

Let's get something straight. I love Christmas. It's my favorite holiday. I love the look. I love the feel. I love the smell. I love the music. Scratch that. I adore the music! Michael W. Smith? Best Christmas music ever. And that's a true story.

Anyways, so, it's my favorite. However. It's not Christmas yet. Thanksgiving hasn't even come to pass. So, all this Christmas-music-playing-shenanigans? That has got to stop. I understand that it can be good for the business (yeah, I'm talking to you, retail stores!) But, c'mon!! Everybody knows it's coming up!

So, I just wanted you to know. Christmas can't officially start until Black Friday. So there.

The end.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years

Can you believe it's been ten years since it happened? I was eight. I didn't understand what was happening, and, to be quite honest, I didn't care to, either. I didn't understand why we were even watching it, nor did I understand how my mother could cry for so many people she didn't even know. And, honestly, I still don't.

In the following days, I do remember there being a certain sense of fear that hung in the air. Wondering if it's truly safe to fly, hoping that no one will try to crash a plane into our house, and, wondering if we would ever get them, the terrorists, specifically Osama Bin Laden, who were behind this.

But the fear slowly faded, and my lack of understanding about that day was never really requited. No, I never felt the pain, I never understood the prayer that seemed to poor out of my mother's mouth while behind her, on our small tv, there was the image of towers that had smoke, thick, black smoke, poring out of them reaching toward the beautiful blue sky.

How interesting it is that the sky was so calm and clean, clear of storms on that day of death.

How interesting that it has taken me these ten years to come close to realizing what happened, exactly on that day of death.

How interesting it is that it nearly took ten years to bring some semblance of justice to the families who still grieve and feel pain on this day.

When Bin Laden was killed, I had to sort through my feelings about that moment. I wasn't happy, though I was relieved. And yet, there was a slight fear. Fear of retaliation. I suppose that's still there, somewhere, but, I'm not sure.

I wasn't happy because, well, I couldn't be. Could I? A man we've all agreed, at one point or another, deserved death, and here, he got it. Yet, I wasn't happy or pleased. He was dead. Without trial, though I don't believe he needed it. A trial would have been more of a formality than a serious ordeal, after everything he's done.

So, what to do? Only one thing - look back. I looked back at the towers, the smoke, the panic, the death. And, looking back, I realized that I don't celebrate in his death, but, the justice of it. Murders were repaid. Families, I can only hope, can feel a slight bit of healing, another step knowing that their loved ones didn't die unavenged.

My, my. Ten years. They've gone by so fast, and, yet, that image is still crystal clear.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's the Basics.

     Seriously. I have come across two stories - TWO! Count 'em - stories in a row on my writing site Inkpop that did not use quotation marks for their conversations, or apostrophes in their contractions. Those are, quite possibly, the two most basic rules in the art of writing (and, I'm pretty sure I'm wrong, but, for the purposes of this post, I'm not.).
These are quotation marks.
     Now, I will readily admit that I am, in no way, the foremost knowledgeable person on the subject of grammar. I'm awful with grammar. I don't even like to use it all that much, unless I'm in one of my moods. But, seriously. This is what I might come across:

             Billy walked across the street to the playground, where his friend Sam was playing on the 
       swing. Hey, he said. How long have you been here?
             Oh, Sam replied, not too long. Im only here because I was bored. 

     Okay, so, the writing wasn't as atrocious as that little conversation was, not in the least. But, do you see what happened? Billy and Sam looked like they were telepathically conversing! They were missing quotation marks, and little Sam here has clearly never learned how to contract! "I'm" looks no different than "Im." And "Im" isn't even a word, as far as I, or google chrome, can tell. 

     I mean, this is seriously stressing me out. I'm pretty sure I knew about quotation marks before I knew about paragraphs (clearly). I knew that quotation marks indicated someone speaking pretty much as soon as I could read...I guess I assumed everyone else could, too. 

     Alright then, recap: Quotation marks indicate when someone is speaking. "Hey," he said. "How long have you been here?"
     Apostrophes are used for (but not limited to) contractions. "I'm only here because I was bored."

     That's how it's done. Don't you forget it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Thought, the Trinity?

I was quite excited to see that he had finally posted a new album. And by he, I mean, TJ Hester. But I was kind.of disappointed to note that it was a Single. I mean, that's what it said - "Tradition - Single." Bummer, right? That meant that only the song "Tradition" would be there, and not the other two songs. Until I checked it out on iTunes.

Tradition -Single
And, lo and behold! There were three songs, not just one! I was shocked and amazed, overcome by the glory of it all. But then, I was wondering, why did it say single? Why not EP like his other album, "The Wild"?

Perhaps, I wondered, it was some kind of Trinity reference (I sincerely doubt this, it is simply what first entered my thoughts when I saw that there were three songs in a single.). You know, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Makes sense, yes?

God is three persons, this Single is three songs. That sounded very grammatically incorrect. Unless I'm making things up in my head.

Anyways, then I got to thinking, "Well, if this single is like the Trinity, Who do each songs represent?"

I decided that Tradition represents God, Deep River represents the Holy Spirit, and 20 Years represents Jesus. I have absolutely no grounding for this. Just so you know.

The Wild - EP (go...go get it. now.)
It's a great album, though. Go get it. And, while you're at it, go get TJ's first EP, The Wild. Here, I'll even let you preview it: .

I've even shown you the album covers.

And, should you  buy them, you're quite welcome.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

They Say it's Easter....

Yes, today is Easter Sunday!! An incredible day, celebrating one of the biggest days in the history of Christianity. I say it's one of the biggest, because Christmas is the other can't have one without the other, it just so happens.

But, it got me to thinking...I remembered someone asking why we wear crosses instead of the tomb with the stone rolled away, even though it's the resurrection we celebrate the most. Great question. My answer had been, initially, that it's because the cross is where our sins died. I guess you could say that's still my answer.

The point of Jesus dying on the cross was to be the ultimate sacrifice. A sacrifice, in Jewish culture, was a lamb taken to the altar to be slaughtered, in place of your sins. So, Jesus was just that. He just wasn't taken to an altar; rather, to a cross. On this cross, He bore all of our sins, and, when He died, so did our sins. Crazy, right?

So, this all seems good and dandy, the sins dying an' all. So, why is the resurrection so important? I mean, seriously, Jesus came to take away our sins. This is most effective way, dying. I mean, nothing's more ultimate than death, right?

Of course, maybe that's why the resurrection is so important.

Jesus dies for our sins, killing our sins, essentially, too. Now that we've got the ultimate sacrifice, what's next? We wouldn't know, would we. Step one complete, step two...???

The resurrection was to show where we go from there. What's the point of doing away with sins when they kept us from nothing? Except, that the resurrection not only showed God's power over death, but it also showed what our sins were keeping us from. They were keeping us from life.

So both the cross and the empty tomb, are equally important. The cross to remind us that Jesus died for our sins, giving us His life, and the empty tomb to remind us that we get life after that. Hm. Life after Death....eternal life after physical death....spiritual life after spiritual death...should we choose it. Sorry, tangent.

Fascinating, right? So, why wear the crosses instead of the empty tombs? I'd say as a reminder, perhaps. A reminder that our sins are dead and conquered. And, with them, our old selves died, too. We are dead to our sins. Alive in Christ. Alive because of Christ. Alive because of a life given to us by His death.

Easter is great.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In Which I Speak on a Controversial Subject. More or Less.

I was recently reminded of feminists. Granted, this opening sentence stinks. I just need to get this out, though. Because, I'm pretty sure that the work of a feminist is a work against herself. How so?

Lemme 'splain. A feminist, if I understand correctly, is a woman who believe that she, and other women, aren't being treated fairly. You know, equality and all that. So, she sets out to prove to the world, through new equality laws and such, that we women aren't to be treated so unfairly. We're just as good as men, the feminist thinks, at whatever they do   if not better. We aren't helpless, we can take care of ourselves.

This sounds all good and noble, this war cry - if you will - of independence, this call for women to get better treatment, more respect, and whatever else she, the feminist, deems necessary for a woman to stand on her own two feet. Yes, noble. Noble sounding.

The thing is, when she says these things, that a woman isn't treated fairly, is looked down upon, she is openly - though maybe not purposefully - admitting that she once believed a lie that said she was inadequate. That, perhaps, she should have been born a man. Yet, she had a strong grip on her femininity (which is, in itself, wonderful), so she turns these initial thoughts toward, what she perceived as, unfair treatment towards women.

In essence, feminism is saying that women are treated unfairly. Yes, there are some cases, in some cultures - modern or ancient - in which women are treated so. Yet, in the cases in which they are not - for instance, as a generalization, woman can do very little, while a man can do very much in the world - the lie seeps through.

One says such a sentence, and, if others catch on, they believe it. In believing this, they soon get themselves caught up in thinking that they have no rights and act in such a manner. It is similar to how a teenager hears that they are simply a rebellious soul and acts upon it, or that a little child hears that they will never be a good artist from a peer or older sibling and stops drawing all together.

Words are such funny things. Sticks and stones may break my bones...but words will do so much more damage.

What have we discovered so far? They (women/feminists) heard the lie (woman can do little), they believed the lie (and felt trapped), and act upon the lie. But, instead of looking at their current standings in culture, just to see how much they can do with the rights they have, they look toward the lie and are drawn further and further into it's dark embrace.

Joseph Goebbels was one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates. He once said, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

The big lie is that women are suppressed. It's been repeated often. And people believe it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Just call her Bitter. Or Mara. Whichever works.

So, I have to read the whole Bible by the end of June. That's a lot. The Bible is broken up in two parts: The Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT). Between the two, there are sixty-six books of the Bible, the longest of which being Psalms, at 150, or so, chapters. I'm not sure which is the shortest...'cuz...there are a lot of one chapter books.

Anywho, as I'm reading, I have to go through and take notes. I started reading Ruth, which starts out with a family, Elimilech and Naomi, and their sons, Mahlon and Kilion (sounds like Lord of the Rings names...), are leaving Bethlehem (which is in Judah, which is in Israel) because of a famine. Having first read Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers, Joshua, and Judges (I apologize if I get the order wrong), and in those books, the Israelites sinned. A lot. And they got punished. A lot. These punishments varied, so, in Ruth, I see this famine-thing, and I'm like, "Ah. The Israelites must've done some mass-sinning again. When will they learn?"

Then I read on. As the story goes, Elimilech and his family settle down in a place called Moab. Here, the sons get themselves some wives (one each...just so there's no confusion). That's all good, right? Right. Until someone dies.

Elimilech is the first to go, leaving Naomi a widow, but still in the care of her sons. Until they die, too. Can nothing go right for this woman?? Not to mention her now widow daughters-in-law, Orphah and Ruth. So, what can Naomi do now? She's a stranger - an alien, if you prefer - in the land, and doesn't really have family now. So, she decides to go home, back to Bethlehem. She gives both the girls leave But, Ruth refuses.

Which means that Naomi and Ruth go home to Israel. When Naomi's old friends catch wind of this, they rush to see how she is and how she's doing. She tells them to no longer call her Naomi, which means pleasant.

In fact, this is what she says: “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” (Ruth 1:20-21)

I stopped at this. I was like, "Huh. How interesting." Why? I'll tell you.

There are so many times when things happen badly to people, and they quickly say, "I'm cursed." But, as I looked back, I realized that she wasn't cursed. God was simply moving things around a bit in her life for a much bigger plan. 

The famine? Not likely because of sin, probably more to do with ousting Elimilech and his family out of town. Elimilech and the sons dying? To oust Naomi, and Ruth, out of Moab, back to Israel. Why? Simple, God wanted Ruth to meet, fall in love with, and marry a name named Boaz. They became the parents of a man named Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David, one of the greatest kings of Israel. Who came from David? Well, way down along the line (a couple hundred years, at least), a man named Joseph had to take his very pregnant betrothed, Mary, to a little place called Bethlehem - his birth place - for a tax. They, unable to get into an inn, stayed in a stable. And there, in that dirty little cave, was born the greatest king of all, Jesus. 

Go figure. And it all started with a famine in the land.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Home Sharing?

It doesn't work....*sighs* I'm trying to work it with my computer, so I can transfer everything to my laptop, but, it's not working. It's just an error: 9810. No idea what that's supposed to mean. So, I've decided: iTunes hates me.

Why? I don't know. Maybe it's because I only wait until I get a gift card to buy something from them. Maybe it's because I prefer buying the hard copies of cd albums, rather than the digital version. Maybe it's because I'm not actually a fan of the Beatles. It might even be because of my love for all things (well, almost all things) too young for me, and my ridiculous love for peanut butter pretzels. No, I don't know why that last reason is relevant.

All I really know is that it's not working. Home Share, that is.

So...that's all I had to say. Bye.