Sunday, February 19, 2017

"Running From, Running From" or "Chasing The Uncomfortable"

End of May 2016

I don't feel pulled in any direction in life at the moment. So many desires in my mind and so many opportunities coming to me from every which way. It seems every new door I think God is opening for me is then shut to reveal a new and more glorious door to walk through, only then to have that one shut as well. I don't know what I'm doing and I don't know where I'm going, but I know God is preparing me for something amazing. Maybe I become a manager of a cafe, or a DJ, or I just move to Texas where my childhood best friend, we'll call him Blake, lives...who knows.


Beginning of June 2016

Sunday night I email my boss and put in my two weeks at the cafe with know back up plan. I just know it's time to move on from this point in my life. 
Monday I receive a text, it's an opportunity to work as a DJ with regular gigs. I think this must be God working in the amazing ways that he does, providing me with a new job that provides for my needs and that I'm excited about. And moving to Texas had only just barely been a serious thought for me, besides, there were people up here in Pennsylvania that I had been investing in. Those going through heartache, stress, disorders. Those who needed someone to talk to, who needed emotional support, who needed help starting a new life. Why would I move to Texas when I had so many important commitments here. And with such an immediate provision of a new job, obviously God was telling me to stay. Doors shut and doors open.
Tuesday night I get call from Blake, he cries as he explains what's going on. He's made a mistake. His wife, who we'll call Anne, has been on vacation with her family but recently called Blake expressing her hurt for how he had acted the other day. She explains that he had too much to drink and said some horrible things to her. She's scared and can't imagine staying with him and any hope of working things out looks bleak. The moment I heard his quivering voice on the phone I knew I was moving to Texas, I was going to drop everything and go help my friend. 

From here on I made my plans to move. Slowly I told my friends and family that I was moving, just giving the loosest details as to why I was going. It was incredibly hard, but I did my best to remain as calm and resolute as I possibly could. I knew now that this was the door God wanted me to go through.
I settled on July 4th as the day I would start my trek. The days leading up to my move I stayed in touch with Blake as much as possible, getting more details and updates about the state of his marriage. I learned that for months the marriage was straining and trust was weak. As I asked more questions I began to realize there was a complex spiderweb of lies and miscommunication that had led to this moment. Even the night described by Anne that had made Blake to be the leading reason for the upcoming decisions was called into question by his family and friends, including myself, having been skeptical from the beginning that Blake would say anything to push his wife to this point. I took each new piece of information with a grain of salt, I was becoming less sure of anything being spoken to me apart from the heartache and the impending collapse of a marriage.
Week after week there'd be an inkling of hope that'd be dashed the next week by a change of mind or a new revelation about one or the other. I prayed and prayed, pleading with God to save their marriage, crying some nights and falling to sleep in a fit of anger other nights. 
Many supported my decision, and many wished for a change of mind but understood my reasoning. One steadfastly opposed it, saying very hard but very true things. As much as I knew them for myself, hearing them spoken was needed, only God could make any difference in Blake's life, not me. I respected these words, but they did not deter me from going.
Each new day was a new push, a new stretch in my resolve, another opportunity to lean harder upon God, there was no way I was about to do this without him and come out of it whole. And I realized that all those doors that had seemed open only to be closed, my not knowing what to do with this chapter of life and my uneasiness with where I was in it, even all the reasons I could come up with to stay, all these things were God telling me to move from comfort to discomfort. For all the good I believed I could do if I stayed, it simply would not reconcile my decision to not go. I had to go because staying was too easy. I was running from God calling me Texas, but all those reasons were the very things I had to run from.

The story is long and many lessons were learned. Five months of impromptu ministry, five months of growth, of pain and great emotional stress, of my heart being wrenched and torn. I cried, I was angry, I dwelt alone. 
As I look back, for every single moment that I failed, or feel that I have failed, I know that I did exactly what God had called me to do. To be a friend, to be a shoulder to lean on and a servant leader to follow. I planted seeds and that's what God wanted me to do.
I learned that so much of this pain that Blake was feeling, pushing him to make many questionable decisions, could easily lead back to the months before he moved to Texas with his family. We both shared in incredible trauma 10 years ago. I handled it one way, and Blake another way in Texas. Emotions were boxed up and pushed aside, and 10 years of this turned it into a habit. This pain being made clear during those five months.

Two weeks after arriving in Texas, Blake and Anne were divorced at the start of his birthday week and it took about a month for the initial pain to subside. Much of his family has a serious health issue of one kind or another, and each had developed a habit that makes it hard to deal with the issues in their lives. Add in financial issues, the death of a childhood dog, the resurgence of other past relationships, and drama upon drama, and dealing with these things becomes harder ten-fold.
This is not what I had expected at all. What had God put me in? I was confident in his plan and trusted his leading, I know that I can do all things through him, but the pain I would experience so deeply and personally I had expected the least.

Just as much as I am able to healthily handle emotions I am also able to internalize the emotions of others. And for all the pain Blake was experiencing, by his own hand or from someone else, this pain was multiplied in me by knowing that what I was seeing in him was not the whole story. His pain goes back those 10 years to that trauma we experienced. Every negative emotion since then has been pressed down atop that and grown, and started directing his decisions. This made even the most seemingly innocent decision he'd make rip at my heart because I knew why he was doing it. I know what he's trying to cover up. I've wept over these things. I know the temporary happiness he receives will just as quickly pass until he deals with what has been hidden in his heart.

But God works wonders, I still pray for him and his family and friends. For every time of turmoil there is a time of growth, and I have surely grown in this. Blake has grown in this. Even though I believe my time of sharing in his experiences is over, for however much as that hurts to say and that I wish it weren't so, I know God is still working in him. 

I've returned a different person. I feel shredded and tired, even after 3 months of being home. Pieces of me were torn off and left burned in Texas, and now God will use those spaces that he chiseled out of me and fill them with his glory. And being patched back up still hurts, but there is solace and a new type of rest in it. Now I look forward and know that I am being prepared for something amazing. Unspeakably amazing.

Yes, the story is long and many lessons were learned. If only I had the time to express every detail and explore it from every side. If there is ever anything to learn from this, it God's Love, Mercy and Grace. He leads, provides and protects. 

"We have come to know love by this: that Jesus laid down his life for us; thus we ought to lay down or lives for our fellow Christians." 1 John 3:16

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Prince Street Cafe

 Cafes are wonderful places. Some are simple, some aren't. Some are small, some aren't. Some are in bookstores, a lot aren't. I'm not at Borders Bookstore (they don't exist anymore) but I am in a cafe. Prince Street Cafe, on Prince Street in Lancaster, PA. Great place, great food, great coffee and wonderful service. Two of my friends work here so I like finding excuses to come and visit (as if I needed an excuse in the first place, I mean, it is a cafe).

 Open since '06 it's been a hoppin' place for years. It caters to the college kids from the two nearby colleges,  Millersville and F&M, as well as to tourists, theater goers who visit the Fulton Theater across the street, business men and women, and enthusiasts of delicious danties and coffee such as myself.

 Prince Street Cafe displays local art and photos showing off great talent from the surrounding area. The incredibly high volume of customers who flow in and out of the cafe makes for great exposure. If you're an artist I highly recommend contacting the owner about displaying your pieces.

 The whole of the cafe is an art piece in itself. It's design integrates a slight industrial architecture with a natural atmosphere. The cafe is supported with coal colored metal pillars and beams which lead to the open coal colored ceiling, pipes and vents and ducts all showing. But all this is magnificently balanced out with wooden flooring, a long wooden table for group gatherings, wooden benches along the back wall, wooden shelves holding plants and trinkets, and stone slabs advertising the delectable menu.

 The menu consists of your normal selection of coffees as well as specialties and teas and cold bottled drinks. They offer several different brew methods to allow for the best taste you're looking for. The tea selection is extensive and imaginative, as with just about everything else that is offered. There is also a healthy offering of wonderful pastries and foods. You will never be disappointed with what you receive and will likely have your taste buds pleading for more. Dairy used is bought from a local shop, and beans come from Dillanos just south of Seattle, Washington. Everything is fresh and delightful.

 It's incredibly easy to lose track of time here. Conversations draw on with free refills of the House Coffee, work and studying progresses while listening to the hum of others words or the music on your playlist, and amazingly the atmosphere allows for private reading despite the openness and hum, as I have witnessed.

 You want a relaxing time? A fun time playing games? Do you want to lose yourself in conversation, or just want a quick drink and a bite? Prince Street Cafe allows for all these things. If you are ever in Lancaster, PA I highly suggest a visit. You won't be disappointed, I promise. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Controversial Gun Post

Gun Control, it's the thing to talk about. There's speculation, there are stats and graphs, comparisons to this country and that country. Blame it on the person, blame it on the gun, the Constitution is old and parts have become irrelevant. On and on we go with our debates. Emotions stir, anger rises, someone missteps and someone else gets hurt.

Then, of course, since someone got hurt the cycle starts all over again. From the way I'm seeing things I think we brought this upon ourselves, and it'll continue getting worse. Obviously something needs to be done, but with everyone blaming someone or something else nothing will get done. 

First we need to be open to other opinions, discuss them in a civil way, and become educated on the other persons point of view. Next we need to know the facts, and ignore speculation and assumptions.

Fact: A gun can do no harm beyond the hands of a human; a creature which makes emotional decisions and has a knack for making mistakes.

Fact: Guns are made to cause harm and kill; both of these things require an emotional decision.

Fact: Some people are better emotionally equipped to use a tool with the purpose of harm and lethality.

Fact: The Second Amendment of the Constitution clearly states a right "to keep and bear arms."
As passed by Congress:
 A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:
 A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
I urge that you click this link and at the very least skim the text related to this subject.

Actual interpretation, reasoning, and defining of parts of the Second Amendment differ as we have recently discovered these past few months. An understanding of the history and reasoning behind this Amendment is key.

When it comes to fixing the problem of gun violence it's important to ignore all current biases and search for the source of the problem, which...Fact: Is not guns themselves.

There have been 14 military related deaths since Dec. 14, 2012, the day of the Newtown, Sandy Hook school shooting, to date. From Dec. 14, 2012 to date there have been 926 gun related deaths in the US. This Military is obviously trained to respect and use a gun correctly as well as correctly responding to a threat, often times involving another person with a gun. Civilians, on the other hand, often times are not professionally trained to use a gun. Usually it's text, a friend, relative, another gun user, or personal convictions that make up their idea of how to correctly use and respect a gun. Considering the numbers above, it may be fair to say that the difference between military and civilian training, respect, and convictions towards weapons may play a quite a role in the amount of gun related deaths in the US vs. deaths in the military.

There is also the media, a slightly more controversial reason for gun deaths, but a very plausible reason, particularly when our most influenced age groups are being bombarded and saturated with violence and a complacent view towards guns. Children, when constantly seeing violent images, playing violent games, and not receiving guidance from their elders in the area of guns and violence to balance these things out, become complacent. But to be allow children to be so saturated and desensitized in the first place I believe is a huge mistake. This is not to say that all these games and media topics should be completely banned, that's impractical. But we have video game, tv, and movie ratings for a reason; so that minds that don't understand and can be negatively influenced by what they see don't become so. There is no legislation that is going to fix this particular problem, this is dependent on those responsible for children, they have the responsibility to protect and teach younger minds. The best the Nation can do in this area is to raise awareness.

Let us consider practical responses to gun violence, and let put our biases and differences aside and discuss with open minds to find a solution to this problem. Research gun laws, discover what has and hasn't worked in the past. Take a look at how other countries have approached this problem. And don't let the words of our leaders be the end all and be all. The direction this country goes is dependent on you and I, not on those in office.

Gun Related Deaths Since Newtown
Military Deaths-Filter>Country>US-Filter>Date
Note: Lack of a Record Returned only means info has not been released, not that there has not been a death.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The 99 Percent

Scenario: There are 100 people just chilling together. All of them have the same blue and orange striped shirt on, all but one person. He's wearing a red and green striped shirt. The 99 other people are jealous of the 1 percent wearing a different shirt.

The 99 percent: "Why is it that you get to have a red and green shirt while we have to where these blue and orange shirts?"

The 1 percent: "Well you don't have to wear those shirts, you just have to work to get it. I decided I wanted a different shirt so I did what I could to get a different one."

The 99 percent: "Yeah right, that shirt was probably handed to you by your parents or some government. We bet you didn't have to do anything for that shirt."

The 1 percent: "Sometimes that happens, but in most cases it doesn't, not even for me."

The 99 percent: "Well we still don't think it's fair. Some of us work hard but don't get any fancy shirts like yours. What's up with that?"

The 1 percent: "I don't know, perhaps you settled for too little when you could be making more but just never realized it. Maybe you just need to say that you work hard and well and want a raise, you just need to say something."

The 99 percent: "We are saying something! To you! And we will say something to the people some of us work for. We're going to ask them the same question we asked you."

The 1 percent: "That's not going to do anything. You're just going to get the same response I gave you and nothing will come of it. From what I can tell some of you just need to work, some need to work harder, some of you need to not settle for less, and some of you just need to let your employer know you deserve more. I'm sure if they believe you're worthy to receive more they'll give you more. There's no need to turn this into a huge ordeal."

The 99 percent: "But it is already a huge ordeal, we want different shirts now!"

The 1 percent: "But it's not! You're not going to gain anything by sitting here and arguing about it!"

The 99 percent: "We're going to prove you wrong! We're going to sit here and demand that we have shirts like yours. You'll see, we'll get what we want."

The 1 percent: "Alright, good luck. But nothing's going to happen."


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wooooooomp...

Ah, music. It gets ya every time, at least for me. I love music, all kinds of it, except for country, bleh. I like music with substance and complexity, but I can appreciate simple music that has a good rhythm. Country, however, just seems like there's nothing put into it. Of course the guitarists are good guitarists, and I'm sure the drummers are good drummers, but over time you realize that almost all country sounds exactly the same. Admittedly there are a few country songs that I like, but that's because they stick out from the rest, I can hear the artistry in it.

For me music is much more than a song with instruments playing in the background. It's the perfect melding of different sounds into a harmony. It's the rises and the falls, the anticipation, the ability to stir something inside that I love. From classical to heavy metal, I think about the talent, the time spent, the practice, the puzzle of fitting different sounds together to make something beautiful.

At this very moment I'm listening to dubstep, which I can only describe as the true modern version of "classical" music. Think about it, it's the intermixing of many different sounds together to make something complex yet pleasing to the ear. You have to listen to a single piece many times to hear each different aspect of the music. The difference between "classical" and dubstep is the medium used to produce it, but amazingly the two are easily interchangeable.

Below I will put two links to show you what I mean. Enjoy!

Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites-Dubstep
Skrillex Orchestral Suite-"Classical" (Because it's a dumb generic term)