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Monthly Archives: July 2007

I originally posted this on MySpace one year ago today. I thought it would be interesting to go back and revisit, seeing where desire meets reality. I’ll post some thoughts on that tomorrow or Monday.

When we’re little kids, we all have our heroes. I had several myself, from Superman to Michael Jackson (this was before he was weird…or, at least, before we knew about it). But, one of my favorites was Zorro. I used to watch The New Adventures of Zorro on the Family Channel every Friday night, and I loved watching The Sign of Zorro, the classic Disney film starring Guy Williams as Zorro.

At that age, I didn’t totally care that Zorro helped right wrongs. I mean, yeah…that was cool to help out people, and I always rooted for him when I watched the show. But, the thing I wanted to emulate the most was the sword fighting. To take a sword in my hand and go up to some rogue and make the trademark “z”…*svit svit svit*…that was a dream of mine.

I remember my dad buying me a plastic ninja-type sword one year at the Tennessee Valley Fair. Of course, I used it more for Zorro fun than ninja play. In fact, in my ever-increasing effort to achieve my dream of becoming the Masked Man, I scotch taped a black crayon to the end of it, and then taped a sheet of plain white paper to the back of my bedroom door. Whenever I felt like it, I would try my best to make that “z” mark without the crayon breaking off. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. But, I had fun, and I got one step closer to living out my dream.

Well, that was roughly…my gosh…16 years ago. Yet, here I am, still trying to make a mark. Though, it’s no longer Zorro’s mark; instead, it’s my own. Sometimes it gets made. For instance, when I first went to UT, something about my audition at the School of Music forced the School to take a closer look at their audition policy for my particular major (music composition). As a result, they saw that there was a need to clarify a few lines of the policy. So, I not only got in, but the situation helped pave the way for others in similar circumstances.

Sometimes, however, the crayon breaks. As many of you know, this has been the result for me more times than not, and for different reasons. But, each time, I’ve taped the crayon back on and tried again. And, as I stand on the brink of attending my fourth college as an undergraduate student, I think again about trying to make that mark. But, this time, I’m taking with me something I’ve never really had before, something that I can look to for drive and focus when they can’t be found anywhere else: a dream.

Up to this point, if you had asked me what I planned on doing with any of the four other degrees I’ve attempted to obtain, I would have said something vague like, “Oh, well…I could do this, or this, or that…and maybe even this over here. But, I’ll figure all that out when I get the degree.” Even early on, I never had a specific dream, with all the little specific things that I would want that dream to include. But, now I do. And it feels incredible.

As far as the dream itself, I won’t go into it here. I figure many of you will hear about it at some point. Indeed, I get very excited merely thinking about it and I love to talk to people about it. In fact, a few people have already given me some really great ideas to consider, either regarding things to study or things to do once I can put my dream into motion. And, I’m sure, it will probably surprise some of you. It is unlike anything I’ve ever really considered doing; yet, at the same time, it’s a combination of so many things I like to do. I can’t wait until it becomes reality.

See? I told you I get excited.

And, so, over the next few weeks, with this excitement boiling inside me, I’ll gather my things, make sure the apartment is ready to be vacated, and that I’m not leaving anything behind since I’m going to be so far from home. I’ll schedule lunch with people, and I’ll have my car checked to make sure it can make it “there and back again.” I’ll likely console my mom as she mourns my leaving. I’ll visit my grandmother in the nursing home. And, of course, I’ll order my books and send my room deposit, crossing my fingers that they’ll have a private room available.

And, once the lunches are had, the visits are made, the bills are paid, the car is loaded up…once I’m ready to close the door to my apartment for the last time, I’ll turn out the lights, grab my sword, and leave the scotch tape behind.

That crayon isn’t going to break off this time.


Jesu, labantes respice
et nos videndo corrige
Si respicis labes cadunt
et fletu culpa solvitur

Jesus, gaze upon those who are falling,
and set us right by the gaze.
Our sins fall away at your glance,
and guilt is dissolved in weeping.

via the Pastoral Ponderings Podcast

This is a tragedy.

The title of the article: “Start Now, Retire Early”

“February 1998–
Bob and Penny took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot troller, play softball, and collect shells.”

That’s a tragedy! That’s a tragedy!

And there are people in this country who are spending billions of dollars to get you to buy it. I plead to you with all my heart, don’t buy that dream. The American Dream: a nice house, a nice car, a nice job, a nice family, a nice retirement collecting shells, as the last chapter before you stand before the Creator of the universe to give an account with what you did.

“Here it is, Lord: my shell collection! Look, Lord! My shell collection! And I’ve got a good [golf] swing! And look at my boat!


Look at my boat, God…”

John Piper, message at Passion: One Day, given on Memorial Day 2000 at Shelby Farms, Memphis, TN

It’s much easier to fight for ourselves and to strive for goals and dreams which are tangible and which benefit us than it is to serve others. I imagine that’s why we all tend toward the former as opposed to the latter. But, at the end of the day, financial success and social success will have come and they will have gone. Right now, opportunities to love others and die to ourselves are all around. One selfless decision, action, conversation, or even one selfless word can make a lasting difference.

Do you have time? Give it away. Do you have excess money? Give it away. Do you have talents or skills? Give them away and use them for the good of the community, whether local or distant. Do you have a wealth of knowledge? Give it away and teach those you come into contact with. Do you have a past (or present) filled with suffering and hardship which you conquered or even merely survived? Give it away and share your story with others in the dark places in life, even if their situation doesn’t match yours.

Do you have love?

Give it away.

This entry comes courtesy of my friend PJ.  She posted it on facebook and was kind enough to allow a repost here.  Personally, this probably hits home a little more than I care to admit.

“easy does not enter into grown-up life.”

this is from one of my favorite movies (the weatherman), except it has never been one of my favorite quotes. probably because i prefer for things to be easy…and also i prefer to not be a grown-up.

i caught a little glimpse of reality today. this little glimpse told me that life is going to be hard. for an idealist, like myself, this is huge.

i see things how they are meant to be, how they should be, how i want them to be. the only challenges i face are in dealing with the discrepancies between reality and the ideal. but i always assume that one day, everything will end up just fine. when the idealistic dream comes true, i won’t be frustrated anymore. and then everything will be honky-dory…because that is the way things work.

it so happens that this is not the case. people are complicated. relationships are complicated. love and commitment are complicated. we are tainted and impure. hurtful. imperfect. messy.

messy is a good word.

i guess i’ve always been so idealistic that i’ve never been ok with messing up. i’ve always been pretty hard on myself and the people around me. i have never been one to hold people with different morals and beliefs to the same standards i hold myself to. but with people i’m really close to, who follow the same God i do…well, i’ve never been very comfortable with them making mistakes that really hurt people–whether it be themselves or the people around them. i am not saying that i am intolerant. i am just saying that i am uncomfortable. and i am not saying that i am uncomfortable only with other people. i am uncomfortable mostly with myself.

mistakes, shortcomings, and insecurities leave me squirming in my seat. i am always thinking “this is not the way it was supposed to be.” this not how God intended it. or…if i am being honest…this is not how i intended it. i intended for things to be more perfect. or maybe…just a little easier?

easy does not enter into grown-up life. “this is not the way it was supposed to be” becomes “this is the way it is.” life is not a math problem with a clear-cut solution, or simply waiting for a dream to come true. life is dirty. sometimes you have to dig through trash. sometimes diamonds need refining.

i need to learn that this is ok. that real people with real hearts are going to be messy. that things are not always going to make sense. they are going to be confusing. and hard. and i will have to work. and be hurt. and love. and disappoint others. and forgive. and disappoint God. and love some more. and not wait for some easy mess-free ending because sometimes the best things are raw.

raw is also a good word.

that is how i feel my life is. it’s not the ideal in waiting. it’s raw and it’s messy…right now. and it will be even more so in the future.

i can love fiercely and still be sick with hurt. i can hope like i have never hoped before and then be crushed at the thought of hope fleeting. when i was thinking about how not easy it is to be in pursuit of something so out of reach, it dawned on me that maybe this is a little like what Jesus feels like. while He is not messy himself, he sure loves a messy bunch of people. and he still passionately pursues us with all that he has. even when we mess up and make him sick with hurt. his love is surely not an easy love, as he went through the greatest torture to commit.

i am learning to expect that nothing in my own life worth loving will come without its fair share of challenges. “easy does it” has never been true…and that’s really not a bad thing.

OCF Shadows

Real prayer, of course, does not come readily. It is no simple matter to preserve inspiration while surrounded by the icy waters of the world that does not pray. Christ cast the Divine Fire on earth, and we pray Him so to fire our hearts that we may not be overcome even by cosmic cold, that no black cloud blot out the bright flame.

Of all approaches to God prayer is the best and in the last analysis the only means. In the act of prayer the human mind finds its noblest expression. The mental state of the scientist engaged in research, of the artist creating a work of art, of the thinker wrapped up in philosophy—even of professional theologians propounding their doctrines—cannot be compared to that of the man of prayer brought face to Face with the living God. Each and every kind of mental activity presents less of a strain than prayer. We may be capable of working for ten or twelve hours on end but a few moments of prayer and we are exhausted.

Prayer can accomplish all things. It is possible for any of us lacking in natural talent to obtain through prayer supranatural gifts. Where we encounter a deficiency of rational knowledge we should do well to remember that prayer, independently of man’s intellectual capacity, can bring a higher form of cognition. There is the province of reflex consciousness, of demonstrative argument; and there is the province where prayer is the passageway to direct contemplation of divine truth.

Archimandrite Sophrony, His Life Is Mine, Ch. 6

Fr. Stephen is getting ready for the wedding of his son to his lovely bride-to-be. Today, he reflected on this and on parenting in general. But, as usual, his words reach to deeper territories than the matter at hand:

…it is still the case that grace has a way of trumping both our best efforts and sometimes our worst failures.

I can look at my own life and see any number of places where events could have turned on the spot in such a manner to have changed the entire course of my life for the worse. On the one hand it says that in certain times in my life I sailed a little close to the edge (this is true). But it also says that despite my own efforts to damn my soul, God saved me. And this is the witness of Scripture, that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”


The Word was not hedged in by His body, nor did His presence in the body prevent His being present elsewhere as well. When He moved His body He did not cease also to direct the universe by His Mind and might. No. The marvelous truth is, that being the Word, so far from being Himself contained by anything, He actually contained all things Himself. In creation He is present everywhere, yet is distinct in being from it; ordering, directing, giving life to all, containing all, yet is He Himself the Uncontained, existing solely in His Father. As with the whole, so also is it with the part. Existing in a human body, to which He Himself gives life, He is still Source of life to all the universe, present in every part of it, yet outside the whole; and He is revealed both through the works of His body and through His activity in the world. It is, indeed, the function of soul to behold things that are outside the body, but it cannot energize or move them. A man cannot transport things from one place to another, for instance, merely by thinking about them; nor can you or I move the sun and the stars just by sitting at home and looking at them. With the Word of God in His human nature, however, it was otherwise. His body was for Him not a limitation, but an instrument, so that He was both in it and in all things, and outside all things, resting in the Father alone. At one and the same time—this is the wonder—as Man He was living a human life, and as Word He was sustaining the life of the universe, and as Son He was in constant union with the Father. Not even His birth from a virgin, therefore, changed Him in any way, nor was He defiled by being in the body. Rather, He sanctified the body by being in it. For His being in everything does not mean that He shares the nature of everything, only that He gives all things their being and sustains them in it. Just as the sun is not defiled by the contact of its rays with earthly objects, but rather enlightens and purifies them, so He who made the sun is not defiled by being made known in a body, but rather the body is cleansed and quickened by His indwelling, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth” (I Peter 2:22).

St. Athansius, On the Incarnation, Ch. II, §17

Right now, I’m in between tests on a day of marathon testing. For those keeping score, that’s roughly 26 miles of tests. 🙂 I’ve two down, two to go.  The class I’m taking them for winds up today, and it is my final class to bring to a close here at Mountain State University in WV. (Though, sadly, I’m not done with college just yet). This last week has been one of the toughest in a long long time.  But I have faith and I pray that it will shape me more into who I should be. 

words/music by Jon and Tim Foreman

Sunshine, won’t you be my mother
Sunshine, come and help me sing
My heart is darker than these oceans
My heart is frozen underneath

We are
Crooked souls trying to stay up straight
Dry eyes in the pouring rain,
When the shadow proves the sunshine,
the shadow proves the sunshine
Two scared little run aways
Hold fast till the break of daylight where,
The shadow proves the sunshine,
The shadow proves the sunshine

O, Lord, why did you forsake me?
O, Lord, don’t be far away (away)
Storm clouds gathering beside me
Please Lord, don’t look the other way

I’m a
Crooked soul trying to stay up straight
Dry eyes in the pouring rain
Where the shadow proves the sunshine,
the shadow proves the sunshine
Two scared little run aways
Hold fast till the break of daylight where,
The shadow proves the sunshine,
The shadow proves the sunshine

Yeah, yeah
Shine on me
Yeah, yeah
Shine on me
Yeah, yeah
Shine on me

Shine on me,
Let my shadows prove the sunshine