Category Archives: Advice

How Are You Thinking?

Too often we ask,

How are you doing?

And more often than not we receive a lie.

I’m fine

Good

Okay, how about you?

We can’t help but lie.

Feelings are fleeting fragments of the soul.

But thoughts,

thoughts are continuous.

I believe a better question to ask is,

How are you thinking?

Are your thoughts manic?

Ragefully pondering revenge?

Flighty?

Peaceful as a willow tree in the heat of August?

Logical and rational?

Wishful dreaming?

Obsessing?

Thoughts monitor behavior,

are you thinking rashly or overcationly?

When we are upset we yell,

What were you thinking!?

It’s not the what I’m concerned about,

I wonder how are you thinking.

 

So how are you thinking?

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Pixabay/user:jbmacros67

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On Education

I am so blessed to be able to list all the homework I have to do this weekend. I am so blessed to be anxious over my next AP Calculus test. I am so blessed to feel like the school day will drag on forever. I am so blessed to not be able to sleep because my mind won’t stop taking derivatives. I am so blessed to have to finish a whole book for AP Composition in a weekend.

My mentor once told me a story of how he was in Nepal hiking to the top of a mountain and saw a little boy running the other way. He stopped the boy and asked why he was running. The boy said that from his house up on the mountain it was a two hours run to the school at the bottom of the mountain. The boy said that he didn’t care that he spent four hours going to and from school because he was learning to read.

How could I ever be grumpy or unappreciative that I have homework when children around the world are crying out for education? I am so blessed to have a socioeconomic status where college is almost expected as the next step after high school.

Syrian refugees have said that the thing that they want most for their children is to get an education. The schools in their refugee camps are underfunded and over-packed; yet, the smiles on the children’s faces look as if they were in Harvard.

I believe that education — along with any opportunity in life — can only be used to the full if it is appreciated. And I wanted to say to Education and all the Opportunities you’ve given me, thank you.

And yet there are others in my school who do not appreciate the gift we have been given, which saddens me because then they aren’t fulfilling their potential. Part of their education is wasted on them because they do not appreciate and thus don’t use it to the full.

Other children around the world plead for the chance that seemed to be my birthright. I was born in the United States of America to two white parents both of whom have professional careers. I was born into a life better than most of the rest of the world could only fantasize about. Frankly, most of history could only fantasize about.

And so I thank you Johannes Gutenberg and Horace Mann and John Dewey for making my education possible. I am grateful that from my education I know your names and how much you have done for me and the world.

The education system isn’t perfect; I’ve experienced that first hand. However, if we expect perfection and nothing less, there will be nothing. We should always be trying to enhance what we have, but attaining perfect is like chasing the horizon. We should not settle but we should know when ‘good enough’ is good enough.

I know teachers aren’t perfect; I’ve also experienced this first hand. However, they are the real heroes of this story. They are the one who taught me my letters so that I could write this short essay. And teachers don’t have to be paid educators in schools. My teachers are my parents, my minister, my family, my friends, a stranger on the street.

But I do have to say that my teachers in school have taught me some of my best lessons. The reason why teachers are the real heroes of this story is not because of what they teach out of the textbook, rather what they teach out of their heart. I have learned joy and perseverance and individuality and courage and wonder and faith and community and kindness and laughter and empathy.

Education is not an act of charity but rather an investment in the future. By paying your taxes for public schools, you are investing in the child who will cure cancer one day. You are investing in future firefighters and entrepreneurs and computer programmers and rocket scientists and social workers and nurses and engineers. You are invested in a future. You are investing in hope.

So I just wanted to say, thank you to all of you who have invested in me and didn’t even know me. Thank you for giving me opportunities and hope. I can’t wait to go out into the world and fulfill your investment. I appreciate my education and I will use my education to the full. Please know it will be my joy to one day invest in other children’s dreams and hopes just like you did in mine.

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More History Than Future

The elderly should not be

ridiculed

oppressed

set aside

quieted

called worthless

because they have more history than future

because they have more achievements than dreams

because they have more experience than boundless zeal

because they have more wisdom than recklessness

because they have seen things, “us younger folks” only wish to see

because they have lived a good life instead of only hoping to live a good one

In the end,

what they have

is what we want.

***

We could carelessly discard the elderly

because knowledge is always easier to destroy than gather.

If we degrade ourselves to only defining

people,

things,

memories,

by their physical production,

then we will be fighting,

fighting oh so hard

but fighting for nothing at all except our own destruction.

We must find recognize the innate value and worth

in each and every person

because otherwise we will have to redefine

“human”

because we will have lost the quality

“humane”.

Respect each other

because “head” knowledge

is different from “heart” knowledge

and is also different from “hand” knowledge.

The elderly may need a helping hand

and give them one

because you will then be paying back

what they already gave you

with the life they lived

so that you can live yours.

hand

 

God Doesn’t Run on Batteries

A couple of weeks ago I had to walk my dog in the dark and by dark I mean more than an hour and half until sunrise. Besides the cold and the rain and the early mornings, the lack of light was really something new to me. I mean I have been on Lake Superior’s shores at midnight but this was a different kind of darkness. Up at the Lake I always knew that I could just walk a couple of feet and find my cabin or walk a couple of feet and find my friends.

But this darkness was different, it was more than just nighttime darkness, it was pervasive, swallowing, encompassing, and lonely darkness. Yes, I had the stars and my flashlight but it was strange to not see other people, other house lights, other signs of life more than the occasional cricket or tree swaying in the wind. It felt like I was the only human in the conscious world. Now I know this all may sound too dramatic and like I am a five-year-old scared of the dark, but to be honest the darkness is scary. The darkness is the unknown and I found a new perspective of that because of my early morning walks.

When I walked in the morning, the only sources of light were my flashlight, the stars, and my house end lights. The lack of light made the light all the more precious and I gained new insight to verses about light, particularly about Psalm 119:105 and Matthew 5:14-16.

My flashlight actually was a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I relied on it to know if my next step was okay to take and where my next few steps would take me. The amount of trust I put into my flashlight is downright crazy. My family has had that flashlight since before I was born and not once did I think about it going out on me. I didn’t once think about the batteries or what I would do if it went out, I just trusted that it would guide me.

That’s the way I want to be with God. To put total trust in Him to secure my next step and to show me where to walk next. I should put even more trust in God than my flashlight because God doesn’t run on batteries. I only knew where I was with my flashlight if I pointed it in the direct I wanted to go, but what if that was the wrong direction? With God, I don’t decide the direction; God does. Oh, am I glad that He is my guide. His timing and direction is beyond perfect, beyond any coincidence I could even think of, God truly still is the God of miracles. How much better would my life be if I trusted Him to guide me to the right path verses trying to stumble my way through the darkness? We should trust God to guide us because He knows the road map when we only have a tiny flashlight.

Just think about how much time and energy we waste having this pent up anxiety about which path to take, what university to go to, which job to take, who is the right partner. Just think how much easier it would be just to give it all over to God, to let Him guide you through life, to let Him be the light on your path. I want to let my path be God’s path, my light to be God’s light, my life to be God’s life. I want to be God’s. I don’t have that much time and energy to waste trying to figure out my life when I know God already has it all figured out and I just need to say “yes”. God is my light and my guide.

The other verse I gained insight to was Matthew 5:14-16, particularly about the city on the hill. I walk my dog around the property line of my ten-acres and my house is in the center of my property built on a hill. I could see my house’s end-lights from anywhere on the property and my house became a sort of beacon. A beacon saying, “Within this light is safety and familiarity, the darkness and the unknown is not present here.” My house and the light was safety, safety from the wild animals that could be just around the next tree, safety from the unknown.

This thought was quite different from my general take away from Matthew 5: 14-16, I had always thought that the ‘city on a hill’ was a light of goodness and hope to a world in darkness. Now I realize different, the city is also a refuge, a shield from the darkness, just enough time to catch your breath before you plunge back into the unknown. The Church should also be a city on a hill, not just source of goodness and hope to the world but a place to go when you just need a break, when you need security, when you have been emptied and need to be filled. The Church should be restorative and a refuge. The Church shouldn’t just be a lighthouse or a beacon saying that hope still lives, it should also be a campfire – a place to come to to rest up and talk with friends, a place of comfort and community.

I realized that the darkness wasn’t scary after I focused on God and on His Word. God was the guide of my path, He had me securely in His light, so I didn’t have to worry anymore. Once you focus on God then the twists and turns and questions of life pale in comparison to His light. God is in control so step back and follow His light.

city on a hill

Priorities, Textbooks, and Bible Verses

My mother does a sign out by the road at our church and on the first week of school – just as reliable as teachers giving out syllabuses – she puts on the sign: It’s time for A B C and G O D.

One of the reasons why we go to school is to hone our talents to better use them to serve God. So then throughout the school year we should keep this in mind. If we set up our priorities the first day of school, then the rest of the school year will follow those priorities. God comes before grades and even in itself, learning. God should come first before anything in our lives.

Now I’m not speaking from a high self-righteous pedestal, but instead as someone who slowly let my strong and close connection with God slip due to different factors, priorities and school included.

I’ve always said that God comes first before anything but sometimes you need to take a step back and see if your actions line up with your beliefs.

For years I’ve always had Bible verses hanging up on the inside and outside of my locker. Before homeroom, during passing time, before and after lunch, at the end of the day, I would read and recite my locker’s Bible verses. They would give me strength and refreshment for the next part of my day.

This past year I didn’t hang up Bible verses. I only put a magnet with a Bible verse on the outside of my locker.

I knew that I was going to be taking harder classes than I ever had before and I needed to use every spare second of my time to study. My textbook was my bus buddy and my lunch date. So I figured that I wouldn’t put up my locker Bible verses because I would need to study instead.

Remember how I had said that I needed every spare second to study, well, reading my Bible verses were not spare seconds, they were needed seconds.

I wouldn’t say that I lost my close connection with God, I just let it slip. Instead of growing my relationship with Him, I let it go stagnate. I grew in my academic knowledge, but was stagnate in my relationship with Christ. However, I firmly believe that people can be pursuing God and life and grow in both. We just need our priorities straight.

I also had an “un-reconciled spiritual difficulty” and I had figured that time would fix and heal it. I was wrong again. Problems won’t go away with time but solutions need to be actively sought. Just like God needs to be actively sought to keep and grow a close, strong connection.

So this year I’m actively seeking God with my locker Bible verses, inspirational quotes and Bible verse cards, Bible magnets, reading extra devotional books, talking more about my faith. It is not easy, but it is simple. Focus on God.


“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

-Jeremiah 29:13

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

-2 Corinthians 4:18

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Beloved, ~ A Petrarchan Sonnet

A poem from the perspective of a character in my novel Varietal


Beloved, inquired for my lust to live

If he comprehend not, have he desire?

I fancy morning dew, du jour attire

Freshly brewed tea, memories to relive

I love these, but theirs is quite allusive

Beloved, same? Love life since it expire

He is overdo to see the hell fire

 

In my brief time, let me teach him to love

Start with simplicity, then live wholly

For love is in the chase, not the binding

Love of life due to celebration of

Dance. Dance with me, Beloved, joyfully

Be unlike morning dew. No love should sting

 

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Pixabay/user:ddouk

Not A Spectator Sport

Every day we are bombarded by the media of conflicting ways to think, act and live in today’s world. These opinions are so overwhelming sometimes that we have no idea what to believe, who to turn to. No matter what is going on in the presidential election, terrorism, or shifting of the stock market, one path never changes: God’s way and will.

Societal pressures comes from worldly temptation, wanting to take the easy way out, wanting to fit in instead of standing out and standing up. We naturally don’t want hardship, yet as Christians, hardship is in the job description. Our beliefs are often in contradiction with the rest of World and we have to face the fact that we will have to fight for what we believe in, which means we can’t fit in. Resisting societal pressures is often a sign of tough choices being made. Continue reading