Raindrops

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Autumn is heavy upon us here in the Pacific Northwest, and with it, of course, comes the ever consistent rain. For some, this season is not so welcoming, but I find it remarkably refreshing.

Raindrops falling on one’s head often conjures up the famous melody by B.J. Thomas, the lyrics to which use “raindrops” metaphorically for the difficult or negative things in life. Though the song ultimately proclaims a positive, refuse-to-get-down mentality, it still associates raindrops with the gloom of life. This, I think, is unfortunate.

For me personally, this rainy season brings peace and contentment. Raindrops offer cleansing, they calm my spirit and seems to lighten the load of life. Rain also pokes to life my inner philosopher and writer. I do a lot more thinking and pondering throughout the Fall and Winter seasons, and it is incredibly life-giving to do so.

At any rate, my pondering mind could take this topic on an endless babbling journey, but I must resist. Instead, let me offer the suggestion that those of us who find ourselves being dripped on this season seek to find joy, peace, and contentment in an otherwise busy time of year.

Slow down, smell and listen to the rain, and allow yourself to rest in its prophetic, cleansing presence. Perhaps the rain is exactly what you need…

CN

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Monday Blues & The Story of My Life

It’s Monday.

Usually this is actually a pretty good day for me — it’s the start of a new week, I’ve got a fresh cup of black coffee to get the blood flowing, there’s the familiarity of the work routine and coworkers (even though the work itself may not always be as inviting as one might hope), and a relaxing and/or productive weekend completed. I often see Monday as a slate wiped clean, a fresh beginning and opportunity for me to make it a good week.

While my attitude and choices are always in my control, the things that happen around me aren’t. Today, I’ve been reminded of this reality in more ways than one. Initially, it was the fact that my attempts to awaken my body were useless and I overslept an hour. Fortunately, I still managed to get to work on time and with a hot cup of Joe — but a chink was thrown into my typical Monday routine. Upon arrival to work, with a barely working mind and sleepy eyes, I was essentially slapped in the face with news — very happy news… but frustrating news for me and, as such, difficult to express the happiness expected.

All that said, the song below has been a recent favorite of mine and somehow offers encouragement and hope in this Monday moment of mine. Enjoy.

CN

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My Cure to Me

I know it’s been a while, but don’t hold it against me. There’s really no reason for it other than writer’s block or lack of inspiration. That, folks, is one reason I don’t aspire to write professionally — I’m not sure I could maintain the pipeline of material or imagination needed to produce consistently interesting or quality literature.

At any rate,  while writing has been at a standstill, the never-ending stream of thoughts in my head hasn’t ceased at all. I’m have what some might label a “melancholy” personality, which is a very complicated type. Without too much detail, let me simply explain how that  applies to me.

For starters, I’m an incredibly detail-oriented person. I can sometimes be overly organized and I have a tendency to slip into “perfectionist mode” — drives my wife crazy. But another aspect to this part of me is a crazy introspective, analytic, who can’t stop thinking about… well everything. I analyze everything in my head — though there are certain things I tend to obsess over more. One of those things is me. But not in a narcissistic, arrogant way like that probably sounded. No, I analyze my interactions with other people, usually trying to make sure I don’t offend someone or say something self-righteously stupid. I analyze the impression I give other people with my dress, voice, mannerisms, etc.  — I want to make a good impression, but not just to look good. I suppose I want people to like me for me…

I also analyze the world around me — culture, music, movies, cars, society, politics, kids, families, etc. I can’t shut if off. Just ask my wife. She says I “stream”, which is essentially external processing expressed in one long verbal diatribe. Interruption is unacceptable. Pausing is only acceptable to clarify how to express the thought I just had. Stopping can only happen when I’ve fully exhausted the string of thoughts in my head. Sometimes, that takes a couple of hours… :-O

The point of this particular rambling, which you have the privilege of following, is to say that I believe I have found a unique way to curb the effects of my over-active analysis bone. It’s quite simple really:

  1. reading novels & the Bible
  2. watching movies

I know, profound, right? I think these things help me focus on 1) something other than me and 2) an adventure or story beyond myself and the crazy world I live in. It’s not a cure-all, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want it to be (But my wife might).

But before I leave you with that, let me not forget that she — my wife — is perhaps the most important part of keeping me balanced. She listens when I “stream”. And she interrupts, which forces me to pause (and practice patience), and then she tells me when I need to stop. She is, without a doubt, my better half. Without her — my most precious gift from God — I tremble to think who I could have been and who I would not be.

Honey, if you manage to have the patience to read to this point (perhaps you will be the only one to read this far), I must say two very important things: 1) Thank you — for everything, and 2) I love you.

CN

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Living the Adventure

What is it about the routine of daily life that makes me restless? For some, the ebbs and flows of a predictable schedule are comforting. For me, I might find comfort in such patterns for a spell, but ultimately the absence of change or variety or adventure frustrates me.

I can imagine what your thinking — “go on a vacation,” “get out of the house on the weekends,” “try something new,” etc. Those things help, but that’s not exclusively what I’m talking about.  There’s a daily desire within me to have an adventure brewing, suspense around the corner, a challenge impending! I imagine myself living the vagabond lifestyle of Jack Reacher or James Bond or Jason Bourne, living day to day pursuing an objective, not knowing what the next hour will hold, living off the land, as it were.

Or maybe I’m an ambitious, intellectual writer, staying up all hours of the night researching and writing, while also being an avid speaker and entertainer. With trusted influence, I have friends in high places and knowledge of things most people would die to know. I am the “world’s most interesting man!”

LOL, if that were only true…

The irony is, I often live as if I believe I’m the world’s most interesting man. When in reality, I live a pretty normal life. Not boring and not even as routine as I previously lamented. I have a good job, good friends, amazing wife and family, a moderate social life, semi-interesting hobbies, a cool dog and cat, and I’m a homeowner to boot. All of which are or can be incredibly interesting in and of themselves…

My point is, my desire to mix up the daily grind is inherently well-intentioned, but also incredibly arrogant. I know, there’s nothing wrong with dreaming or hoping for something new or different… But I find that doing it too much keeps me from fully enjoying the present. I become ungrateful, selfish, inconsiderate, angry, and disconnected from reality. My life literally becomes a boring montage of the same daily stuff, rather than an exciting adventure of joy and gratitude.

I resolve to live more in the present, less in the past, and less in the future. Today is the day the Lord has made :-).

P.S. I’m still going to read Jack Reacher novels and watch Jame’s Bond 🙂

CN

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Distortions of Marriage

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about marriage, especially the distorted approach our culture takes toward it. Here are some observations of this society’s perspective on marriage — my personal comments follow in italics:

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Before getting married, one must determine the capability of a potential partner by sleeping with them and living with them. If, after this trial period (which could be any length of time), things seem to be going well, then talk of marriage may begin.

I understand the natural desire to be close to the one you love physically, socially, and emotionally, but what I think is missing from this perspective is patience and faith. Anything worth pursuing, is also worth waiting for. A healthy relationship with a spouse is worth being patient for. Jumping into bed together might feel good, but it often creates an intimacy that the relationship is not quite ready for. That said, our society finds it very difficult to be patient with the natural progression of anything, and I believe that to be a symptom of a lack of faith that patience and persistence can/will lead to something beneficial. Many will hear the word “faith” and think religion, I am not referring to that exclusively. Everyone exercises faith daily — they have faith their car will start, their house won’t be burned down, their paycheck will come. Why is it so difficult to apply that to a relationship? If it’s worth pursuing and things are going well, have a little faith that more patience will only make it better. 

It’s important to have multiple sexual experiences so that you are prepared to please your spouse in marriage. Practice makes perfect.

I must say that this is a big fat lie. Multiple sexual partners/experiences might offer you some “practice” without commitment, but I believe it deepens insecurity and may create unrealistic expectations for your future spouse. It’s way more fun to go through the process of learning and practicing with one person that your trust with your life. If you bring a “diverse sexual history” to the marriage bed, it will invariably cause mistrust and insecurity with your spouse. Practice may lead to “good” and varied technique, but it will not help cultivate genuine intimacy. In fact, it will be laced with superficiality. 

The old “ball and chain” perspective still reigns — marriage is the end of independent, “free” life as you know it. This is a perspective taken by both men and women.

This one always makes me a little mad. If marriage to the one you consider your “better half” or your best friend is going to be that horrendous, why are you even in a relationship with them? In my experience, marriage has constantly stretched me to be less self-focused and more others-focused. It’s no longer just about me. But that was true even when we were dating — we made decisions together, we planned our calendar together, we sacrificed things to make the other happy; that doesn’t change in marriage. Don’t get me wrong, marriage isn’t a prison where you kill all your personal dreams, goals, and interests — those are still very important. But now you pursue those things through the lens of “we” and not just “I”. I purpose that marriage is actually an incredibly freeing thing, where you are no longer alone in life but you have a partner. The pressure is gone, as it were, and you can plunge forward with courage and joy. It’s a a never-ending adventure with all kinds of twists and turns, and it is so much fun.

Even after tying the knot, couples often speak of their marriage as if it has a 50/50 chance (or worse) of survival. Divorce is  a very real and legitimate option for virtually any reason, and it’s usually joked about to some degree and sometimes threatened.

In order for divorce to not be the inevitable end of a marriage, the marriage commitment must include a decision to abstain from talk about divorce in any way (especially joking). It must also include a clearly articulated and agreed upon decision that divorce will never be an option. The whole point of marriage is that it is a life-long commitment. If that is true, divorce should be the farthest thing from a couple’s mind when they run into marital troubles. The first option should always be resolution, giving and taking, forgiveness… this requires humility and repentance. All this said, there are times when divorce is an option, specifically when there is infidelity. I would still say that divorce should still always be a last resort.

Let me end by simply saying that marriage is hard work. It requires intentional effort, patience, self-sacrifice, and so much more. It is rarely easy, but always worth it. My wife is definitely my best friend in the world. That doesn’t mean I don’t get mad at her or she doesn’t get mad at me — we probably push each other’s buttons more because we know each other so well. I would rather have anyone else pushing my buttons :-). Our marriage has taught us both so much and we are both better because of it. Each of us would be incomplete without the other. We are imperfect, by far, but we are perfect for each other — of that I have no doubt.

CN

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Knockout Game Among Teens

Saw this on Fox News today and shuddered. What is this world coming to?? Click the link to watch (I was unable to embed it in this post).

Horrifying New Knockout Trend

For the record, I agree with the panelists on two things: (1) Violent games and movies probably play a part in some of this, but more importantly (2) I believe broken homes and poor or absent parenting is primarily to blame. Ultimately, the teens themselves need to take responsibility for their actions, but the positive and productive influence of parents or other adults or communities would make all the difference in helping teens make good choices. At the foundation of this, these teens have an absence of moral conscience and an inability to discern what is right or wrong…

I was tempted to make some sort of comment like “this is what happens when we take prayer and the Ten Commandments out of schools!” But, upon brief reflection, I have to adamantly refuse to make such a statement. I have always firmly believed that the foundation of a child growing up as a Christian, or simply as a moral and upstanding citizen, has everything to do with their home life. Sure, schools play a significant role in a child’s life, but if a child has a good, loving home, I believe it will trump the influence of friends, teachers, or other communities 99% of the time.

I say all this as someone who attending private, Christian school from pre-school through college. With the exception of college, which was a personal and voluntary decision of my own, I will give very little credit to my education for the foundation of my faith and morals today. That foundation was built primarily at home where I had excellent, loving parents who taught me to love Jesus and taught me right and wrong. I followed their example, as well as the examples of other family members and church members. That brings me to the second most influential part of my life: church. There I had good Christian friends and their families, pastors, elders, Sunday school teachers, and the weekly Sunday services. These things all shaped me more than any school I attended.

CN

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Robertson’s to Produce “Duck Commander Wine”

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I just ran across this news announcement on Fox News about the popular Duck Dynasty family’s decision to produce their own “Duck Commander Wine”. Unfortunately, it is receiving some negative news attention due to an organization that cancelled their invitation to speak in response to the wine announcement. However, in defense of the organization, Family Ministries, I think their decision was wise considering their primary audience at the event was going to be teens, some of which have dealt with alcohol or drug addiction. This is one of those instances where organizations and individuals must be careful not to cause others to sin (Romans 14:21).

On a related note, I was disheartened and disappointed by the many comments attached to this story on Facebook (see the FoxNews timeline stream here). There are many negative, even downright rude, comments that are stating the Robertson’s or Family Ministries are being hypocritical in their decisions. First of all, they have the right to do whatever they desire and both organizations are honoring their beliefs and values. The Robertson’s obviously enjoy wine, and whatever issues of alcohol abuse may have existed in the past must be under control or I doubt they would have pursued this venture.

Secondly, I must say (and I shared this on my Facebook site) that I never understand why so many people seem to think that being a Christian means you are prohibited from drinking. The Bible never states that having wine or beer is sinful, unless it leads to drunkenness (Galatians 5:21) or causes others to sin (Romans 14:21). In fact, Ecclesiastes 9:7 says, “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.” Judging by the Robertson’s track record of integrity thus far, I see no reason to see this decision to produce their own wine as “red flag”. Rather, I look forward to enjoying their wine with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and hopefully sharing a glass with some who don’t yet know my Lord and Savior. This might just be the catalyst to some great conversation that could open doors or knock down walls. I pray the Lord blesses the fruit of this vine for the Robertson’s!

CN

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