Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's December

It's December now and I haven't posted in ages.

I think I'm working too hard.

As we approach this holiday season, please be sure to take some time to celebrate your friends and your family. It's a lesson I wish I had taken to heart a while ago.

Take the time to do something you enjoy.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

September...I mean October

It's October.

Strange, isn't it? Time passes by so quickly. I knew I hadn't put a post up in September, but I didn't have anything to say, so I didn't. (A valuable lesson, that is...)

It's gotten colder. I think it's going to start snowing soon...I'm on a trip in Canada right now. It's a mild trip (just hanging out in Toronto tonight and tomorrow) but it should be fun. I'll post pictures of whatever excursions I'm on at some point, I think. One of my friends is in Rome and he is putting up pictures of the art of Catholic Rome. It makes me somewhat excited and jealous because being able to go to Rome would be such an amazing experience.

The contrast is rather striking (Canada is no Rome, that's for certain) [but one of the things I've been trying to do is to be thankful for what I do have...it really is a blessing to be able to be out here on a business trip, even if it's not exactly what I had in mind]. Unfortunately, I am stuck on a bus for a good part of this week, a factor that makes it extremely difficult to get work done -- normally not too big a deal, but there are a number of applications and a variety of paperwork I should have completed by the end of this week and unfortunately it doesn't look like I will be able to get that done without staying up late.

I wish I had something interesting or remarkable to say, but then I realize that this blog was made when I was a wee ambitious young'un so I've never had anything interesting or remarkable to say.

Pray for us!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

VBS 2013

Last week I had the opportunity to take a break from work and help out with my home church's Vacation Bible School, a week-long day camp for kids. I was in charge of a romping crew of 5 first-graders and my job was to make sure I didn't step on or lose any throughout the day (neither the VBS director nor the nervous parent of a shy child appreciated my comment, "I'm usually really good about keeping the kids very focused. Last year, I only lost three of them") and to help them pay attention to the different crafts and stories. It is a wonderful ministry and I have found that I learn as much from it as the kids do. Here is my reflection on this year's VBS.

The Mystery of Faith

Perhaps the greatest thing I have learned this week at VBS lies in a greater revelation of the integrity of the Christian gospel. The truths that were taught to me when I was growing up are the same as those I tried to teach to my kids, the only difference being that I used my personal experiences to frame my narratives. 

There is no greater or more objective principle than this: God loves you and He sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for your sins, and Jesus came back to life so that He could reconnect you to God upon acceptance of His sacrifice. I cannot add or take away clarity or veracity to so simple and elegant a message. The mystery of faith lies in the duplicity of the complexity of this paradox: "Why" this happens is apparent to all of us (even my first graders know: "Because God loves us"), but "Why me" begets the question no theologian, philosopher, mathematician, economist, or mystic can answer: "How much?" At the core of the human element lies our innate imperfection and sinfulness, and a simple glimpse or mere exposure to this core evokes feelings of disgust, horror, and dread. It is not difficult to understand "why" God chose to redeem humanity -- for even we know that human love will cause others to do things which we might regard as sacrificial, strange, noble, or foolish -- but as we begin to understand the depths of our failures we must also begin to question the extent of the love that can redeem us. 

I love reading a good book but I would not sacrifice my life, much less a toe on my left foot, for the chance to read a good book, much less for someone else to have the chance to read a good book. How much grater that a Father should send His Son to die in order to reconcile the sins of humanity! Why am I worth it? Why does God love me so much? How much love does God have for me and when does it run out? The pillars of this week's VBS, no matter how for cornily presented, tackle these questions and doubts head-on. How do I tell the children that God's love or prayer or the Bible helps us stand strong? Is it with a hand motion or a song? What keyword or mnemonic device do I use to help them understand the theology behind the Crucifixion? How can you get the kids to understand the absolute and objective truth behind the Christian Gospel when you can't get them to understand that they should not try to cut each others' hair during craft time? 

There is no greater frustration than to know the Truth and be unable to communicate it because of language, cultural, age, or other barriers -- to have Reality itself presented in front of you but be unable to share it with others. How can I get these kids to understand the truth presented to them when they are still at an age where their first guess at my age is 46? [Note: I am not and (I hope, anyway) don't look 46, either.]

Herein we return to the mystery of the common Christian faith: The Gospel transcends these barriers of age because it is true. Regardless of my struggles or interpretation of the Gospel, it is this objective truth behind this core element of faith that my crew is able to understand the teachings presented to them each day; not because we did an excellent job being leaders, but because there is no other alternative, because there is no other objective principle, because there is no other truth than that revealed by Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection. That the kids can understand the greatest truth they will ever know -- that Jesus came to for them so they can be reunited in holy union with God -- in spite of the flaws and distractions of me, the leaders, VBS, and the church -- that is the mystery of faith.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Oh, Yeah, July...

It seems July has passed me by entirely without having a single post...


Here's how I spent the month of July:

1) Reading: I finished, at the end of July, Ayn Rand's magnum opus Atlas Shrugged. I'm not sure if I will post a review of it or about it. It's simply one of those works that
2) Shopping: I discovered two new websites, one called eBay and the other PayPal. They make purchasing things online very easy, but you probably knew that, because, as my friend related to me, they "are already 'a thing.'"
3) Working: I have been very busy this summer -- not bad, since I've been rather productive. But having to come in on weekends and staying late has been a bit inconvenient. I would estimate I have been at work 9 or 10 hours a weekday and about 9 hours on a weekend for the most of July.
4) Traveling: I had the opportunity to go home and see my family for a week in July. That was a lot of fun, since I haven't seen any of them since Christmas.

Anyway, that was my July. With a bit of luck, I'll have more opportunities to post in August.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Spain, Summer 2013

In late May-early June, some friends and I visited Spain for 2.5 weeks. We first visited a number of cities and then walked the last bit of the Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James. The pilgrimage has many routes to Santiago; we started at the end of the French Way, which starts in southern France, takes pilgrims through northern Spain, enters Galicia (northwest Spain), and ends at Santiago de Compastela, the burial place of the Apostle James (the Lesser), a total distance of about 770km. We walked the last 130 or so kilometers.


A woman re-creating an original painting at the Prado
A guard scolded me for taking this picture.

The football stadium

Plaza Mayor

Cathedral de la Almudena

Palacio Real de Madrid
The bear and strawberry tree are the symbol of Madrid. This symbol was on the sidewalk.
"And if you look to your left, you will see Toledo, built by the Ohians as a stronghold against Michigan..."
The view of the city from one of the upper floors of the building's library
Toledo is the notable because it has a synagogue, mosque, and a cathedral. The sword-making industry is also quite popular.

A fresco from the walls at the Cathedral of Toledo

Dome from Cathedral of Toledo

Doorway, organ, and image of Christopher at the Cathedral of Toledo

The Cathedral of Burgos

The Cathedral of Burgos
The dome of the Cathedral of Burgos
The way the dome let in light was truly amazing.

Light from stained glass windows on the floor.

The window that caused the light to hit the floor in the picture above.

We were walking through the city at night and passed by the Cathedral. They had lights projecting patterns onto the Cathedral. The effect was quite interesting; the textures of the light on the Cathedral were very vivid.
View from my hotel overlooking Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor, Saturday night
The noise was horribly loud. Even at 2am I found it incredibly difficult to sleep. The next day, Sunday, the plaza was deathly empty for most of the day, a stark contrast to the noise, lights, and fellowship of the day before.
The Cathedral at Leon

This is called a Doner Kabob and it was delicious. It cost 4.50 euros.

The Cathedral of Leon
Lugo is surrounded by Roman walls. 

The church where we got out first sello, stamp on our passport. It was about 150 km from Santiago.

The scallop shell is the symbol of St. James. Pilgrims (pereginos) wear the shells on their bags or persons to identify each other. This shell cost me 1.5 euros and is marked with the cross of St. James.

All along the Camino are these yellow arrows to help you find where to go. They can be found on trees, rocks, road signs, on the ground, and even on buildings.

These kilometer markers tell you how far you are from Santiago.

A road marker
Pilgrims carry rocks with them as a symbol of their sins along a stretch of the Camino and leave them on the kilometer markers or these road markers. 
Passsport with stamps
The one in the upper left is from the monastery at Samos; the one from the upper right is from a hotel. Stamps can also be obtained also from churches, bars, cafes, and restaurants.

A small community graveyard along the Camino. I noticed that the graves were all above ground and not in the ground.
Along the Camino
Along the Camino
Along the Camino
Along the Camino

Along the Camino

Along the Camino
The Camino goes through many old towns. Most of these small towns are sparsely populated, with most of the buildings having fallen apart. Some of the buildings still operate as alburges, hostels for pilgrims, or as cafes for lunch. 

The interior of a monastery

Along the Camino
Along the Camino

Along the Camino

Along the Camino

At one of the towns along the Camino, we stopped to eat octopus. It was rather oily and salty but very good.

The Mount of Joy is the first place along the Camino where pilgrims can see the Cathedral de Santiago. This marker commemorates the time Pope John Paul II celebrated mass on the mountain.

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
After reaching Santiago, pilgrims traditionally continued West until they reached Finisterre, what was believed to be the end of the world. This is the most Western point in Europe.
The Cathedral at Salamanca

Monday, June 10, 2013


The other day someone told me that his friend, after obtaining her doctorate in psychology, will be going to work for a veteran's association.

I sat in the car as he continued, saying how she would be moving in the next couple weeks. I wasn't really paying attention, though, to what he was saying afterwards. You see, I was stuck wondering why veterans needed psychologists. Was working with animals really that stressful? Or perhaps the psychologists are for the pets. Do animals need therapy, too?

And then I realized my mistake.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March In One Post

First of all,

I apologize for the lack of posts. I've been really caught up in my work recently....but now that Easter is about to roll around, I've found some time to post.

Some random things that are going on in my life as I think of them:

(1) I had a job interview recently. I should find out later this week whether or not I'll get the job. I'm pretty excited.
(2) A miracle happened last Thursday. I had an 8am appointment so I set my alarm for 6:40. I woke up the next morning before my alarm; I looked at it and it said it was 5:17am. I figured I had an extra hour and a half of sleep to burn, but by some miracle I happened to turn on my phone...and my phone said it was 7:20. I sprang out of bed and barely made it to my appointment on time.
Later, I think I hit the time-zone button in my sleep and caused the alarm to pop back two hours.
(3) I watched Skyfall, the James bond movie that came out a while ago. I also saw The Prestige. Both very good plot lines. Very enjoyable.
(4) I found a $20 on the ground the other day. I asked around to see if it belonged to anyone, and it didn't, so I claimed it :) Made me happy for a little bit.
(5) Here's a picture of Great Falls, Montana.

Anyway, here are 10 songs running through my head, in no particular order:
  1. Come Home - One Republic
  2. Kyrie (Op. 16) - Louis Vierne
  3. 50 Ways to Say Goodbye - Train
  4. Crucifixus - Antonio Lotti
  5. Young at Heart - Mr. Frank Sinatra
  6. Home - Michael Buble
  7. Love the Way You Lie (Pt. II) - Rihanna ft. Eminem (much, much better than the first one, I think) [the clean version, preferrably]
  8. Girl on Fire - Alicia Keys
  9. Sixteen Tons - T. E. Ford ("Sixteen tons-- What do you get? / Another day older and deeper in debt")
  10. Skyfall - Adele (I suppose that's because the opening credits scene of Skyfall was simply delightfully produced and arranged. A wonderful work, and while I haven't jumped on the Adele bandwagon yet, I think it was wonderfully fitting to the movie.)
Have a great Easter!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Saturday, February 16, 2013

This Week

This week hasn't exactly been the best.

Wednesday night/Thursday morning I was working from 8pm to 2am, at which point I decided to go to sleep...so I could wake up at 6:30am to finish my work (around 9:30, which is about the time the rest of my day starts). But I finished, so I can't complain much there.

Last night, I was doing laundry. I moved my clothes from the washing machine to the dryer, put in my dollar, and went back to my room to do a workout. The dry cycle took about an hour to finish, so I set a timer on my phone for an hour so that I could go to sleep as soon as it ended (around midnight). At 11:55 I went to go check on my clothes and saw that they had stopped spinning. I opened the door and reached in to grab my clothes and...they were still wet. I realized that while I'd paid for the dryer, I didn't actually start the machine. The money in the machine was gone (did somebody use it?) so I was stuck paying another dollar and waiting another hour.

But guess what? Laundry's done, work and paperwork are done, and I took a 2.5 hour nap today, so I am a happy camper.

Happy February and hope you had a nice Valentine's day!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

First Post of 2013

I traveled for the new year this time around. I woke up at 5am for an 8:30am departure. I was rather tired, and I wanted the plane to get going, but after boarding we had to sit around for a while because there was a problem with the water on board and we had to get off the runway and go back to dock.

We probably sat in the plane for forty minutes before it took off. I had to catch an 11:15 bus when I left the airport (the one after 11:15 left at 1:15, and I didn't want to wait that long) so I was anxiously (and tiredly) looking at the on-flight TV screen, which was displaying the time.

I kept wondering why it wasn't changing when I realized that 737 wasn't the time but the aircraft I was on.

Have a great 2013!

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