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Archive for August, 2009

Cynical Creatures

gollum

Good Morning!  It seems that every time I start to write another blog I have to apologize for the lack of consistency between them.  In my defense, I just got back from my honeymoon, so therefore I had to get caught up with school and work and as soon as I took a breath, it was time for my wife and me to move.  So now we (or what I really mean to say is that my wife) is in unpacking mode, so every free moment I have is consumed by tasks such as mounting shelves and hanging curtain rods.  I promise I will get back to the swing of it all.  Okay, now that I have the formalities out of the way…

The other day on television I was watching one of my favorite chic flicks called Jerry Maguire.  (Side note: if you haven’t seen it, you need to.)  Jerry, played by Tom Cruise, makes the comment that “we are all just cynical creatures.”  Now, that quote does not mean that much to me in its entirety.  But the last part stuck with me; why creatures?  I let these thoughts fade away into the back of my mind as one would do with memories of an old relationship.   I was content to leave them there, but then on my way to work, they were pulled out of that timeless vault.  

I turned the radio to the Focus on the Family sermon station, subconsciously listening in an attempt to ignore the traffic and maintain a legal speed (much to the appreciation of my wife).   Today, the preacher’s message was on the kid’s age old question “Who made God”?  Now, the preacher had mentioned how, at sometime in every child’s early development, they will begin asking questions such as “Who made me?” “Who made the sky, trees, sun, Mommy, Daddy, etc?”  The answer is the same to each question; in big bold letters most parents will answer, GOD!   Most of us know the question that will follow this simple yet profound answer, and if one is smart, he or she will change the subject before the child has a chance to ask.  Even distractions such as ice cream are easier to come up with than answering the question, “Well, if God made everything, then who made God?”  AHHHHHHH!!  No!  Not that question!  

One child from Pennsylvania said that God made himself.  Now let’s stop there.  Maybe that is not such bad reasoning.  But if God made himself, then one would have to conclude that there was a time when He was not there.   That can’t be, so what other options are there?  It is hard to contemplate, because we are human beings; beings meaning that we are dependent on others.  Essentially we are creatures, just like the animal world.  Although we are more intelligent, we are none the less creatures.  

Why a creature?  Apparently Tom Cruise wasn’t the only one who felt this way.   When you really think about it, creatures (animals) need food to survive, as we do.  They need water and air, as we do.  And they need fellowship and community, as we do.  If an infant is not nurtured, it will die.    We are not self-reliant or self-independent; if our ecosystem fails, we die.  We depend on plants, water, food, love etc.  

God, on the other hand, is a supreme being, also known as “aseity”.  No, that term did not come from “Word of the Day” toilet paper.  For those of you who don’t know, “aseity” means self-existent.  It means that there is no dependence on others or on other things; it exists completely in and of itself.  God was not a caused event, nor was He created. He always has been and always will be.

In the story of Moses, after running out of Egypt and being in the desert for many years, Moses one day stumbles upon a burning bush.  Although the bush was on fire, it was not being consumed by the flames.  You don’t have to be a chemistry major to know that something’s off here.  Moses goes closer to investigate, and a voice comes out of the bush.  God tells Moses to go back to Egypt and lead his people out of captivity.  Moses has one question for God.  He asks, “WHO AM I?”  His question reflects his insignificance.  “Who am I to do this?  What makes you think the Jews will listen to me?”  Then Moses asks God, “Who should I say when they ask who sent me?”  God replies Ehyeh (Hebrew), which in English translates to I AM WHAT I AM, or in other translations, I AM THE I AM.

Hayah means “existed” or “was” in Hebrew. “Ehyeh” is the first person singular imperfect form. Ehyeh asher ehyeh is generally interpreted to mean “I am that I am”, though it more literally translates as “I-shall-be that I-shall-be.”

The word Ehyeh is used a total of 43 places in the Old Testament, where it is usually translated as “I will be”, as is the case for its first occurrence, in Exodus 3:14; or “I shall be,” as is the case for its final occurrence in Zechariah 8:8.  It stems from the Hebrew conception of monotheism that God exists by himself, the uncreated Creator who does not depend on anything or anyone; therefore “I am who I am.

Plainly and simply put, Moses is a creature, needing validity and desiring help.  God, on the other hand, has everything he needs, calling himself “I am.”  Not a past tense or future, but present.  Multiple times in scriptures we hear this clanging gong over and over again of “I AM.”  “I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD, I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE, I SHALL BE THAT I SHALL BE.”  So, I guess if we get scared when that little child asks “Who created God?”, and we don’t want to answer, I guess we are just cynical creatures.

Thoughts?  Comments?

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Shared Experiences

intothewild

Okay, life is off hiatus.  I was so overwhelmed after I returned from my honeymoon that I had not had a chance to really get back to the blog. For that I apologize.  But I don’t dwell on mistakes, so let’s move on.  So, last night my sister-in-law Kindra was over; and she, Shannon, and I watched “Into the Wild”.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the movie, it is about a man in his early twenties who, after graduating from college, decides to have a great adventure.  He donated his life savings ($24,000) to charity, burned his identity, and abandoned his car.  His mission was to hitchhike to Alaska and live in the wild.

He started in Georgia, traveling wherever the road took him.   As the story unfolds, the watcher finds out that the young man named Alexander Supertramp (aka: Christopher McCandless) had quite of bit of resentment and bitterness built up toward his parents because they lied to him about how they met.  He learned earlier in his life that his father was previously married and started an affair with his mom, then she got pregnant with Alex and he divorced his first wife.  He did not marry Alex’s mom until after Alex was born.  These new facts created a bitterness that lied deep within. 

In order to escape from family drama and the pressures of society, Alex decided that the Alaskan wilderness would be the best place to find serenity.  (Side note: The photography in this movie is breathtaking and the acting it pretty remarkable.)  Back on topic.  Alex has an amazing adventure on the way to Alaska.  He spends two years on the road running into all kinds of different people and sharing stories with them, but he still believes that true happiness will be found when he is alone in nature.  However, as the movie concludes, Alex realizes that his adventure was only exciting because of the times he shared with others.  After months alone in the wilderness, he writes that he is lonely and scared.  He became trapped after a river he crossed flooded, and Alex realized that he would likely starve to death.

After telling everyone that happiness comes from within and not from human relationships, Alex has a change of heart and, on the day he died, wrote “REAL HAPPINESS IS BEST WHEN IT IS SHARED.”  It occurred to Alex that his experiences meant nothing if he had no one to share them with.  How true is that statement.  Let’s think about this for a moment.  Adam was lonely, so God created Eve.  The animals were loaded two by two into the ark (male and female), and the examples can go on and on.  I know now that since I have been married, I have realized that the things I used to love to do alone are so much better when Shannon is there.  I have always looked forward to going to midnight movie premiers, but since I have had Shannon join me, I no longer want to go alone.  It is so much better to have my better half with me to talk about the experience with.  I guess it all comes down to what were taught in kindergarten; it’s always nice to share.  Real happiness is best when it’s shared.

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The Best Version of You

After nearly three weeks away from work, Chad returned on Monday and has been running around, trying to make up for all the time he was away. Because he is so overwhelmed with work tasks, he asked me, his new bride, to write the blog today.

Chad and I have now been married for 19 days. That’s right, instead of the seemingly endless count-down that we lived and breathed before the wedding, our life is now a count-up. We are where we want to be, and we have the next eighty or so years to perfect it. It’s hard to imagine Chad and myself as one of those elderly couples holding hands, taking ten minutes to cross the street while everyone points and says how cute we are. But I know we will get there. It’s not that it’s hard to imagine being with Chad, I just feel like I’ve looked the same since I was sixteen and I can’t see myself wrinkly with gray hair.

That’s the funny thing about getting older. Your body may change, but you are always, well, you. I remember as a child, adults would ask me every year on my birthday if I felt any older. I would think about it, look at myself in the mirror, and realize that I was exactly the same Shannon that I was the day before. I always worried that one day this would change; that I would wake up and not know myself. That my faith and my values were something that I could suddenly grow out of. But this proved untrue. You don’t grow out of who you are, you simply become a better version of yourself.

One of the joys of teaching young children is that over the course of a school year, you can witness dramatic change in each student. In September, a student may not even know if they are holding a book upside down, and by June they have graduated to books without pictures. But it doesn’t end with academics. Emotionally, the students mature drastically and therefore, become better versions of themselves. A few times a year, I have my students set a personal goal for themselves. At the end of the term, they evaluate whether or not they reached that goal. They almost always make it, which made me realize that perhaps I should set goals for myself as well. As adults, we sometimes begin to believe that we are all grown up, so we do not need to improve ourselves any longer. But why stop now when there is so much time left to become a better version of yourself?

Nothing made me realize this more than my relationship with Chad. When you go through the premarital counseling process, every element of your life is exposed; even the things you thought you could hide from everyone. Now, I do like myself in general, but there were a few things that were uncovered through counseling that I didn’t like so much. For example, when I am upset, I immediately resort to crying. I know that this is annoying and not so attractive, and I realized that crying is not a part of who I am. So I have been trying not to. The better version of myself that I would like to be can take a deep breath and communicate like an adult rather than having her face explode into a mess of tears and snot. And if you ask Chad, I’m pretty sure that he would tell you that since the wedding, I haven’t been crying nearly as much. This is just a small thing to change, but when you change one small thing after another, they really add up.

People can’t change you, and that is a wonderful thing. You have the power to stay you forever. It is up to you, though, to make the effort to be your best, because no one else can do it for you. One wedding card that we received quoted, “NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER GIVE UP!!” That may seem a bit excessive, but it is so true. It is not just up to Chad or just up to me to make our marriage its best. We both have to put in constant effort to be the best wife and best husband we can be. If we do that, I know we will be that old couple hobbling hand-in-hand across the street, oblivious to the fact that we are holding up traffic.

So, take a minute and think about this. What is one small change that you could make to become the best version of yourself? Please share your thoughts or any inspiring stories you may have.

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I’m Back and Married

passportWell.  First off let me thank Leah for hanging strong and posting some blogs while I am gone.  I just finished reading them and they were great.  I liked the pay it forward the best, but thats beside the point.
So for those of you who have been on Planet Mars and didn’t know I was getting married, shame on you; just kidding, well anyways I am back from my honeymoon.  Wow, I am still trying to digest it one piece at a time.  I am sure multiple stories will be turned into blogs and so forth but for now I will just focus on one.

Strangers in High Places

Now before i began let me preface the fact that I am not political savvy, I am lucky that I know who the president is and his policy but that is about as far as I go.   I don’t know the senators, governors, or so forth besides the political ads you see that says don’t vote for this person and such.  Now with that being said, here’s the story.

Saturday morning before the wedding, I wake up and begin to pack of course starting with the passport.  To my amazement no passport found.  Well Shannon and I begin a frantic search all the while she is very understanding that this could happen to anyone.  So after some research on Wednesday morning I go into the passport office in Seattle, mind you my wedding is in 3 days at this point. Shannon (my wife) is already in Oregon decorating and getting everything ready etc..   In the passport office they tell me they can have it ready on Thursday for pickup at 2 pm.  This will not work my wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner is that day.  I thought to myself that maybe i can have a stand in groom for the rehearsal and Shannon wouldn’t know but the It quickly donned on me who I was marrying; So i ask the passport office to fedex it to my travel agent in Oregon.  They said it will arrive friday morning.  Imagine my surprise on friday morning while I am playing a round of golf before the wedding, because Golf prepares the minds of men for the commitment they are about to make, or it distracts them from thinking about it, one of those.  I get a phone call explaining to me my passport was never finished and therefore not picked up.  Panic enters my mind as Nausea enters my stomach,  Whday mean i said to the operator.  I had them change the shipping address to the hotel we were going to stay at that night. Nothing else to do so i accepted the results.

The wedding went through without any hiccups,  it was great we drove away and because I am a talker, many people knew how we were supposed to be leaving for costa rica the following night and I had no passport.  So as were running out to our getaway vehicle on the door is a sign posted ” I don’t need no stinking Passport.” kind of humorous but gave me the unsettled stomach feeling deep down. We drove to portland had a great “Night” wink, wink.  Woke up that morning to find no passport, frantically I contacted anyone i could think of.  After multiple tries got in touch with my travel agent Penny.. Off topic if you want above and beyond service book your travel through Valley Cruise and Travel in Albany, OR.  The ladies who work their Penny, and Lauren especially were godsends.  Penny immediately started to find out some information.  On the friday of my wedding with no passport she contacted the Senator’s office. Senator Patty Murray’s office was doing some digging for me.  They contacted the passport office and was going to have it shipped to where my hotel was that was friday it didnt happen.  So my travel agent was looking at possibly rebooking us a flight, or a vacation or whatever i thought was best.  They did some digging and found out the actual passport office lost my passport.  Can you say identity theft.  The senator who i did not know was still involved went to the passport office to investigate.  The passport office faxed me a new application at senators request, I filled it out and 4 hours later the Senator’s representative picked up my passport and held it.  Shannon and I received the passport  and 10 hours later we were sipping drinks with little umbrellas from a tiki hut in Costa Rica.  My travel agent had no connection to this senator just contacted people she thought could help.  I guess it is true that even the senator cares about the little people and their small problems.  Thank You Senator Patty Murray.  You made the passport thing a small joke to tell that added to our amazing honeymoon, otherwise it would of been a cautionary tale.  It should be noted in big letters “WE PRAYED ALOT TOO”

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