On Obligatory New Year Posts and a New Year’s Post

Everyone gets all sentimental around this time of the year and usually with good reason. Writing a memorable post is usually a must in the blogger world, and in the Facebook world, and in the Twitter world, and just about every single social network that’s out there. But it’s important to remember things all year long. Memories will often fade if we don’t recall them, I find myself pulling these random memories out of nowhere sometimes and I can’t help but smile and laugh at them. One of my friends has a memory jar, and each year she makes a new one and will spend the year putting memories in there. On New Year’s Eve she opens it and relives and entire year, honestly something I’m probably going to do this year as long as I remember. (Ha, funny right?)

Well let’s just get down too it then, shall we?

This past year was a roller coaster of emotions for me. Falling out of love with someone that I slowly fell in love with over the course of a couple years (although I don’t think I’ll ever move past them). Losing old friends and gaining new. Meeting two new friends who are amazing and a lot of fun to hang out with. Playing a lot of frisbee over the summer. Surviving a credit card fraud thing (it was sooooo much fun [if I put emoticons on my pages, I would put one here of me looking incredibly annoyed]). Getting to see one of my closest best friends play his last high school home soccer game. Having a great time with a great group of friends when I’m here at home and away at school. Having a great last (potentially) summer with Upward Bound. And becoming close with all of my good friends.

There were moments of this year that were disheartening, but also moments that made my spirit soar even if I didn’t tell anyone.

So. Patrick, Blake, Andrew, Brittany, Deena, Nick, Cody, Dan, Bobbie, Tiffany, Mike, Jake, Emma, Shakira, Brandon, RJ, Isabelle, Aaron, Katelyn, Jarrod, Mark, Jadon, Kyla, Cameron, Carter, Seth, Katelyn, Mike, Heather, Justin, Meg, Min, Eric, Craig, Jeff, Barb, Karla, Linda, Margo, Bev, Julia (Dr. Davis), Karin, Wendy, Diane, Kat, Moriah, Jazmin, Pranvera, Asia, Brittany, Lauren, Kate, Steve, Kelsey, Sarah, Rhea, Brandon, Cole, Mariah, and absolutely everyone else that I spent even a little time with, thank you for a wonderful year.

I definitely don’t express my thanks enough and will try to more, but even just a brief conversation with you did something for me.

So tonight, if all goes as planned, I’ll spend the last minutes of this year with close friends, and I’ll get to spend the first minutes of another new year with close friends.

A year can bring lots of unpredictability with it, but it will only serve to make life interesting. My words of wisdom, if I can even call myself wise, go and live this year in love. Love even when the other person does not deserve it, because you never know…but that may be when they need to be loved the most.

Cheers, and welcome to a new year. And because I know you’re curious, here’s a rather unflattering picture of myself and two of my closest friends. I’ll leave you to ponder who’s who, although given that you know my age you can most likely figure it out!

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On Holidays

I find holidays strange sometimes. Not because we have them, but because of what they stand for.

Thanksgiving? We all celebrate and give thanks for what we have and then the next day everyone (or most people at least) go out and buy new things for themselves or others.

Christmas? It’s Jesus’ birthday obviously! Actually, wait a sec, it’s really not. Christmas is actually based on pagan ceremonies and in order to “Christianize” the pagan holiday, Jesus was “born” on Christmas.

Easter? Supposedly the day when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, yet even this holiday finds some roots in pagan rituals.

But I do hold all of the Christian beliefs in these holidays, regardless of what I wrote above.

However for holidays, the strangest part for me is when people say “Happy Thanksgiving” or “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter” or “Happy Resurrection Day” or “Happy New Years.”

It just feels weird that we single out these specific days to be thankful and happy and loving. Are people really thankful on Thanksgiving? Some people are, others will say they are but when you look into their life they just complain and complain about everything. Do people really celebrate the birth of Jesus? Some do, but most just exchange gifts and eat food. Do people really celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter? Some do, but most people just exchange candy and eat food. Oh, and go to church all fancy and dressed up because it’s the Christian thing to do.

Me?

I enjoy all of these holidays, but honestly I really do try to avoid saying all the phrases. “Happy Thanksgiving,” “Merry Christmas,” and “Happy Easter,” they make no sense. Why should I specify a certain day to exchange gifts or be thankful or well, I’m not sure exactly what you do on Easter besides celebrate Christ, but still, why specify certain days?

I’ll get gifts for people at random times every once in awhile. Likewise I actually give thanks quite often, perhaps in person or text or letter or on Facebook or perhaps even using mala beads.

So after all of that, here’s my challenge to you. Give a gift to someone for no reason. Buy them a little treat just because you want to. Tell someone that you’re thankful for them AND why you are. Do something that’s out of the ordinary and off of the normal calendar. Why be normal in a world that’s anything but?

Ken Robinson: How schools kill creativity

One of my favorite things to study is the education system. I really enjoy looking into how education systems are created.

I work with teenagers in a program called Upward Bound, and this program offers a chance to go to college to students whom otherwise would not have had a chance to go. I get to work with them all summer and stay in touch with some throughout the school year.

One of the biggest things I hear is how they all get bored and hate school. But learning is one of the most natural things in the world. Give a teenager a video game or a book that they pick and they will learn how to do things and think things that adults would never think of. Little kids create games and uses for things that they would never have come up with if they worked with an adult.

I’m always intrigued by alternative education systems, but I’ll save that for another post and let you watch the following video in peace. It may be twenty minutes long, but just go and grab a drink and watch. I guarantee that Ken Robinson will at least get you thinking about it.

A Merry Christmas to all who read!

Merry Christmas to all of you who read my posts, and a Happy Kwanzaa for those who celebrate! In the next couple of days, look for a post discussing my ideas on holidays. Just as a teaser, I toyed with even making this post. When I was younger saying Merry Christmas to my family was no big deal. But now, it’s the most awkward thing in the world. Same deal with Thanksgiving, but alas you will have to wait to find out!

Take a Seat–Make a Friend

There is something about meeting people, I wish it was easier for me than it is. I wish I could do something like this with tons of people. There’s something for me, hearing other people’s stories, it always intrigues me. Anyways, take a few minutes and watch the video, and if you find the courage, take a risk with a stranger and make a friend.

Phil Robertson, LGBTQ, and Christianity

By now, I’m sure that just about any person in the United States is already aware of Duck Dynasty. And you’re probably also aware that Phil Robertson said some things. And you’re probably also aware that the LGBTQ community was not happy. And you’re probably also aware that A&E has sent Phil packing for a little while (an indefinite hiatus from the show).

Well. Now that you all know that if you didn’t already, what’s there to discuss?

  • I could talk about how the Bible says that homosexuality is wrong.
  • I could talk about how the LGBTQ community is overreacting.
  • I could talk about how the Christian community is overreacting.
  • I could talk about how Phil has a right to say what he would like to say.
  • I could talk about how Phil needs to be careful about what he says.
  • I could talk about how A&E needs to be more considerate about who they work with.
  • I could talk about how people need to just calm down.

I’m going to go with the last one.

There’s a problem in the United States. A big one. One that no one ever really considers.

Are you ready?

There are two sides to every problem.

Would you like my honest opinion?

With most problems, there is no right and wrong. There is no black and white. There is no good and bad. Given this entire situation, let’s look at it from both perspectives.

Christian: Phil Robertson stood up for something that he believes in, the LGBTQ community and anyone who is gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or queer is just gross and disgusting and it’s just plain wrong. The Bible says that no man should lay with another man as a man lies with a woman (Lev 18:22 in case anyone has forgotten). And if the Bible says it, well then it’s true. And just because this group of people was offended does not mean in any way that Phil should be kicked off of the show. I mean, he is a good Christian man, standing up for his beliefs. God and the Bible need to be constantly put first in our lives.

 

LGBTQ: What the hell does Phil Robertson think he’s doing? Who the hell does he think he is? He has absolutely no right, whatsoever, to tell us that we can’t live our lives. He has no right to talk like that and say it’s wrong for us to like the same sex. He says it’s just wrong? His entire belief system is wrong. He really should just go and die in a hole. At the very least, A&E should take the show off the air. They shouldn’t just be letting, you can’t just let someone say that and expect everything to be okay! He’s a sick, sick man and needs to just, gahhhhh!

Okay. Now let’s take a step back. Both sides in this whole scenario really, really, really over-reacted. And I mean they really over-reacted. Like take a breath and simmer down.

In reply to the Christian side, I’ve read and believe the Bible the same that you do. However we have some distinct differences in our beliefs. For the Leviticus 18:22 believers, consider what else Leviticus says:

Leviticus also says do not lie (Lev. 19:11), do not show partiality or favoritism for any individuals (Lev. 19:15), do not slander others (Lev. 19:16), do nothing that endangers your neighbors life (Lev. 19:16), do not wear clothing woven of different kinds of material (Lev. 19:19), do not eat any meat with blood still in it (Lev. 19:26), do not cut the hair on the sides of your head or trim your beard (Lev. 19:27), you cannot have tattoos (Lev. 19:28), stand up in the presence of the elderly to show respect (Lev. 19:32), and anyone caught in adultery is to be put to death (Lev. 20:10).

I can virtually guarantee that no one person or family follows everything listed on this list. So if this is the list that is truly provided in Leviticus, please don’t just pick out the one verse that says most what you want to prove and then say “Well the Bible says it, so there.” Honestly, if I can speak frankly with you, that’s a really stupid argument. If you want to play that game, I can easily find verses that will allow me to say that Jesus approves of suicide. It’s called cherry-picking verses. Just don’t do it.

Now with that being said that there is no real substantive argument against homosexuality or any of the other LGBTQ pieces, is there an argument for homosexuality? That I cannot answer right now because, well I quite frankly don’t know.

One thing that I do know and can pull from the Christianity side is the whole “we need to put God and the Bible first” piece.

I agree with that. We do. But do we? After you turn Duck Dynasty off, do you read the Holy Scriptures? Do you say grace and give charitably and go to services and keep the Sabbath holy and follow every last rule set down in the scriptures and place God before everything that you do and love God more than you love others (including your children, spouse, parents, relatives, and friends)?

I would feel safe to wager that you don’t.

You probably get wrapped up in sports and yell or say or at least think foul things about your neighbors whom you are supposed to show nothing but love and respect for.

My final word for the Christian side, do not use God and the Bible to call for something that makes you uncomfortable unless you can prove that you have no fault of your own according to the same standard that you are using to judge others.

In reply to the LGBTQ side, you do make people uncomfortable. They don’t understand you. I will stand with you and say that your lifestyle is not wrong. But that does not make it okay for you to use your status as a minority group to make people feel bad for you. You should not cry wolf every time someone does something that is offensive to you, because you do just as many things that are offensive to others.

Yes, you have had to fight for things that, as a human being, should have been available to you from the beginning. Yes, you have a ton of things going against you. But why make people hate you more? It is one man, Phil Robertson, who gave his opinion. The big deal is only a big deal for two reasons.

One, because you make it a big deal, and two, he’s a celebrity. If you ran into him on the street and he said what he said, you would most likely brush it off and go on with your day. Maybe it would bother you for a few days, but eventually it would be in the recesses of your mind and long forgotten.

For as loving as a group that the LGBTQ community claims to be, you have within you a few members whom are very outspoken and hate Christians. You bash their beliefs and lifestyle just as much as they do yours. But in your eyes, you are innocent and they are monsters.

The problem here is that both parties are claiming the other is wrong. 

The LGBTQ community, who claims to accept anyone with love, does not do so.

The Christian community, who claims to accept anyone with love, does not do so.

Let me be completely frank, the majority of Christians don’t care about who you date, kiss, and have sex with. And the majority of the LGBTQ community doesn’t care who you worship, pray to, and follow as a deity. Every person is a human being, no matter what they believe and no matter who they choose to have an intimate relationship with. Because of that, every person is worthy of acceptance. 

If you would put aside your indifference, you might even find that you have more in common than you realize. And remember, it was one man’s opinion. One man whom people normally would have ignored and moved on from, but he happens to be a celebrity, and so everyone is up in arms.

Let’s just take a breath, and let it go.

You are no longer children, don’t act like children. Every person deserves love, make that your message and you will find that we are united in our differences.

A Thousand Years

A long time ago I had a series that I wrote, called songs that mean something. Well, here’s another installment!

This time, “A Thousand Years.” The original is by Christina Perri, but I’ve heard at least three covers (all of which I confess are in my YouTube playlist) that I enjoy very much. I’ll post the cover by Kurt Hugo Schneider at the end of the post. Or maybe you’ll get a two-fer and I’ll share the one by Peter Hollens as well.

So…A Thousand Years. Originally it was written for Edward and Bella from the Twilight series (I can hear the groaning already) and I actually enjoyed reading them and watching the movies.

Honestly, I can so very easily see this as a direct comparison between the believers love for Christ, and in my own life as a song for the person I fell in love with.

Heart beats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave
How can I love when I’m afraid
To fall
But watching you stand alone
All of my doubt
Suddenly goes away somehow

Is there any doubt that when we first fall for Christ, we have no idea what it will be like? I know that the first time I met God, I was terrified. 

But I think that my favorite part of the song is definitely the chorus.

I have died every day
waiting for you
Darling don’t be afraid
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I’ll love you for a
Thousand more

I feel that Christ sings this over us quite often. But for me personally, I find myself singing it over the one I love. I could never pretend to dismiss the feelings I have, because they are real and true. That person, I have loved them from the moment we met as a good friend, and it grew from there. I have loved them ever since, and it is like never to change. I guess that there is a part of me that can’t really explain how I truly feel, but I’ll let the song speak for me.