Saturday, November 22, 2008

We're Golden

Isn't it nice to know? That the silver. Isn't it nice to know? That...we're golden.

These questions were asked by Matt Thiessen who writes brilliantly cliche'd songs for Relient K. I was sure hoping to hear this song live in Kansas City tonight (as well as "For the Moments I Feel Faint", but instead I slept in (because I was over-scrabbled last night), handed out groceries at noon, and went for a mad 2-hour bike trek along the river this afternoon (and if you haven't ridden that 4 mile single track loop, chock full of small climbs and descents, your missing out on a hidden Manhattan secret).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cappuccino on Crack

I probably spent upwards of $60 every month on Cappuccino and other fine espresso products. What does that mean? That means the farmers in Kenya, Ecuador, and Sumatra who harvest my coveted coffee beans probably don’t even earn $60 per month. (Editor's correction: it's more like $80-90 a month, so be honest with people) Well, that’s not the meaning. That’s more of a correlation. Well, statistically, it is not a correlation at all. But those two facts are tied to each other in an extremely negative way. So much so that the very thought is creeping into my comfort zone. I’d rather not think about it actually; especially the suffering and poverty aspect, because then I will begin to feel convicted about my habit. Which, in essence, leads to another actual correlation. Or set of correlations that just came to mind: The poppy farmer in Southern Afghanistan (Abdul Hakim is one of them) and the young women with track marks in her arms in Kansas City. Her name might be Heather Allen. Or what about the coca farmer in Bolivia and the crack addict (he only uses it socially) in Charlotte. The calcium phosphate miner in north Africa and the Crystal Meth “transformed” individual in Seattle or Wasilla (by the way did you know Red phosphorus, which is often used to cook ingredients like sudaphedrine into meth, does not catch fire in air at temperatures below 240°C, whereas white phosphorus ignites at about 30°C. Now I have no personal experience with Red Phosphorous, but I know all about the White kind. Whiskey Pete or Willy Pete as we like to call it will burn under water. Not something you want to handle after ignition).

In any case, am I an addict? Am I contributing to poverty in Kenya or fighting against it? What am I doing to help the other “addicts” in my own broken world? And will the elasticity of supply and demand in this uncertain economic downtown stretch me enough to cease and desist my intake of this fabulous hot beverage of choice? Those are questions that will need to be answered through some deep soul searching, serious counseling, or perhaps a pleasant conversation over a nice cup of java. Anyone want to join me at The Blue Stem?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Captivating Girls

The only things that stands in the way of your beauty are your fears and your doubts.

I read that the other day in Staci Eldredge's book: Captivating
You are beautiful. I observe so many young women who battle with this issue.

Your Hollister wardrobe, maybelline lined eyes, Aussie scrunched hair, and well-practiced laugh can do nothing to change the beauty that God has already created inside of you…

..and what is inside of you will shine, and glimmer, and shimmer, and glow from the radiance of God's love...if you accept it...and live in it.

You are beautiful. Yes, You.

Mr. T and the New Living Translation

In the car the other day I listened to a preacher talk about “taking risks” to obey the Lord.

Dr. Stanley scoffed a little at how we silly humans think it is a “risk” to trust God. Meaning, to live with complete and utter abandon.

Like, how is that a “risk”, if we really believe what we believe is real? And God’s promises are true.

I needed that word, and I wouldn’t have heard it if I wasn’t driving to the meeting that I later found out was cancelled that night.

And that reminded of how powerful God is in communicating. He has like mega-bandwidth to broadcast and disseminate when he wants to. We just need to ensure our receivers are tuned.

And the message was so timely because earlier that day, on a whim, I applied for a job with a particular agency. The job was right up my alley, although based in Charlotte, NC. My resume fit, and it had to do with what I have been doing for many years, and pays a lot more. Here’s the thing…I’ve been talking for months about how I’m ready to hang up my uniform in less than 9 months and live with complete abandon, in some community environment, serving the needy, here or overseas…or whatever.

But as I started contemplating post-military life (I’ve been doing this since I was 17), I started to get “scared”. And feared that my new found passion was becoming a big “risk”.

So, when I got the job announcement in my in-box today, and spent hours submitting the application and resume, I breathed a sigh of relief, and went home to open my bible to Isaiah 22 (New Living Translation), where God asked me: Why are you making all of these feverish plans and not trusting me you fool?! (Yeah, he said it in a Mister T sort of way).

Common Grounds?

So. At Common Grounds the other night, I overheard a young college student, I’ll call her Brandie, and her overtly liberal and soft-accented friend, I’ll call him Alistair, discussing Brandie’s break-up with her boyfriend, Joe. She was so frustrated with Joe, because he was drunk when they got home after dinner the other day, and she wanted to see the photos on his camera and he reused to show them to her. And then it turned into an argument because she wanted to know what he was hiding. And he denied he was hiding anything, he just didn’t want her to look at the photos. And then went round and round for hours.

So here is what I heard:

“I’ve dated every kind of guy there is, and the problem is I seem to only like the bad ones. Dating is to meet people and get to know them, not to fall in love. Marriage is the thing that is forever. But, half of all marriages end in divorce”. What a sad truth. What a very sad truth.

She also said she is breaking up with Joe. Then, in 2011 when she graduates from college she and Alistair will travel to Tibet and live there for a year and really live. She also discussed with Alistair how her mom visited a Tarot card reader and the reader said that her daughter’s new relationship would be wonderful. Brandie laughed at that. She thinks Tarot card readers are scammers, but, responding to a query from Alistair, does put stock in some Eastern medicine and philosophies. Alistair spent last semester in China where he learned to embrace the balanced eastern philosophy of how life should be lived.

Ground Control to Major Tom.

So I ask myself. Why are guys such jerks? Why is it that a woman feels attracted to “the bad ones”? Why are people searching for truth in Eastern philosophy?

I think its because we are all seeking something better than our current situation. Something out of the norm. Something we cannot see. Something extreme. Or, perhaps something balanced. We aren’t satisfied or content with where we are or who we are. We want other people to change us and we want to change other people. And in many cases this can be good. We shouldn’t settle for the status quo if is unhealthy or ineffective to our purpose.

So where am I going with all of this?

I don't know. Do you?