Category Archives: Christian

Adventures Out West: Highlight 1

I’m finally back! I know some of you might have thought that I had forever given up my blogging, because of my not-so-ritual ritual of posting about once every four months or so then expecting everyone to go nuts over my”AAAHHH I’m back!!” post.

I’m so good at words. And yes, those are the best ones I could come up with. And YES, I was an English Major. That’s besides the point.

Since I’ve been gone (cue Kelly Clarkson), I finished a 6 month long-term Substitute teaching assignment that kicked my butt, and now, I can breathe for the first time. I’m not going to go into it that much right here right now, so I’ll save that story for another time.

After finishing said butt-kicking job, I decided to go on a two-week solo trip out west (to breathe for the first time) to Salt Lake City, Bend (Oregon), Yellowstone, and the Tetons (both in Wyoming). That’s right, I said solo. I didn’t say sobbing, but solo. Although I’m quite sure I had quite a few breakdowns during the trip.

I know what you’re thinking: “why would you want to go on a trip like this by yourself? Wouldn’t that be lonely?”

Well, sometimes yes, but also no; yes, because it is nice to share moments in beautiful places like these with someone else, and then no, because you get to learn, like I did, how fun it is to do things on your own. Essentially, I was never really on my own, because I stayed in Airbnb locations where you are usually bound to meet people that you can talk to, unless you’re staying in just a house by yourself. I stayed in a pretty cool one-person hut on a property complete with a greenhouse, some gardens, a chicken coop, a tepee, and even a common house, so I still got to meet new people.

I also wasn’t by myself because I was constantly in communion with Jesus, whether I was super stressed out, or just simply saying “wow God, wow,” at his amazing creation, like, oh this:

IMG_9664

I want to go on a spree and tell you guys everything that happened all at once, but I don’t want to lose you in the process, so I’ve decided to separate this into several different posts. Plus, I love keeping people on the edge of their seats, but not in a dreadful, thriller movie type of way. I’m hoping one day to perhaps write another memoir-type thing about this, but for now, here’s what I have to offer:

Four highlights.

People have asked me so far what my favorite part of the trip was, and, well, as my fellow travel-loving friends know, that question is nearly impossible to answer. So, I’ve decided to say that there were four highlights. I have since revised that list, several times, but there are, for the most part, four highlights. I will, like I said, post these in a series over a few weeks or so.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you in chronological order:

FOUR HIGHLIGHTS!!!!

…and, here we go:

Highlight 1: Bend, Oregon, Week 1, June 12-17

Technically, my journey began on June 10-11 at Salt Lake where I actually dipped my toes (just the toes, nothing more) into said Salt Lake, and saw where the antelope play and the buffalo roamed, but that wasn’t even the best part. Like I said before, this will also have to be another story for another time.

While I was in Bend, Oregon, I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer at a horse ranch. If you ever have the chance to go out there, do it. Not only is Bend a beautiful area with the three sisters Faith, Hope and Charity, and Mount Bachelor all snow capped and doin there good old mountain thang in the background, but also the ranch is such an amazing place. What a great story of how God can use even a forgotten cinder pit and turn it into a working horse ranch that pairs broken youth (both mentally and physically) with horses who are also sometimes both mentally and physically broken. While I was visiting, I didn’t feel like just a visitor- I felt like a valued team member, and even got a t-shirt at the end of it all to prove it.

And by the way, meeting one of the founders-according to our volunteer coordinator at the farm I volunteer at here in Lancaster-is like meeting Pocahontas. She’ll look you deep into your eyes, and it’ll feel like she’s looking into your soul. Try talking to her for just five minutes without spilling out your entire life story and/or crying. Not like I did either of those or anything.

Before leaving, I had the chance to go up to the cross positioned at the top of what used to be the cinder pit, which also just so happens to have one of the best views of both the ranch, and the Sisters. If God can make something that we pass by indifferently on a daily basis (like an old quarry, for instance) different and beautiful, think of what else He can do. After surviving the most difficult job I have ever had for six months, and finally getting away (both physically and mentally), I could take a step back, and look at where I was. God had brought me through everything, and now, I feel different, and more prepared for anything.

So if you can this weekend, take a moment to get away and reflect. I’m sure you’ve gone through tough times as well, but think about where you are now. Those things that happened in the past was God equipping you with tools for the future. I also hate that cheesy saying that goes something like, “if God brings you to it, He can bring you through it”, but it’s true. With Him, you and I can face anything.

So without further ado, I conclude today’s post, and therefore the first highlight of the trip. Hope you’re feeling excited for the next one. I know I am because oooh man, it’s gonna be a good one, I can tell!

 

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Jesus Has Overcome!

It’s been quite a few months since my last post, but hey, I’ve been busy. We’ll get more into that at some later point, but right now, I want to take the time to rejoice on a day that’s meant to be more about joy, and less about self-deprecation, so let me just start by saying:

 

HE’S ALIVE!!!!**

**and that’s supposed to be meant like a joyous thing, it’s not for a mournful/horrific occasion, if you were, say Victor Frankenstein talking about the deadly monster you just created that was out to destroy all of humanity. But this is Easter for goodness sake (and for our sake), and Jesus is no zombie.

 

Anyways, on a much lighter note, I hope you guys had a chance to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection at your church this morning, even if you don’t go to church on a regular basis. I had the privilege of being a part of our church choir, and these lyrics from one of my favorite songs have really stuck with me:

At the cross the work was finished

You were buried in the ground

But the grave could not contain you,

For you wear the Victor’s Crown!

Hallelujah!

You have overcome, you have overcome!

Hallelujah! Jesus you have overcome the world!

(see lyric video here)

 

Jesus has overcome the world. We have a reason to live because he died for us, and no reason to fear because he has conquered all. Lately, there’s been so much unrest in the world, but if you don’t know Jesus, you’re living in fear, and that’s the worst place you could be in.

So if you don’t know Him, introduce yourself to Him today, and invite him into your life as your Lord and Savior- that way when Easter rolls around next year and you find yourself at church, you can fully say this with confidence:

HE IS RISEN!!

HE IS RISEN INDEED!! HALLELUJAH!

The Flashlight

This is going to be a quick post, but I just wanted to share a poem that was inspired by a discussion I had with the peeps from my Bible study the other night. Let me know what you think!

The Flashlight

The Lord is shining a light on my path;

there was only darkness before

so I beam as I can finally see the rocky crevices

appear around my feet.

***

“This way,” He gently whispers

as the beam moves along the path.

I step carefully to avoid the cracks

so I can keep my balance.

***

All of a sudden, the path slopes downward

to a dangling precipice.

“But Lord, I-“

“Just trust me,” He answers.

***

“I can’t- I can’t do it,”

so panicking, I pull out my flashlight,

and pop in the AAA batteries.

“I think I know a better way,” I say

so I traipse out of the light

through the brush and bramble,

letting the narrow flashlight beams

spill out.

I’m going so much faster this way,

going everywhere I like,

whenever I like.

But as I’m running about,

brushes begin to snag

and branches begin to grab.

The flashlight beam is dimming.

“Darn batteries,” I say,

and shake the device. It goes out.

Completely out.

Now I’m all alone,

in the middle of the woods.

Completely alone.

***

“God, I was wrong. I was so wrong.

I wouldn’t blame you, for wanting to leave me

alone.

I’m sorry for all I’ve done,

but if you’re God,

and if you’re loving,

please save me.

Please.”

At that moment, my path lights up

and I can see the rocks and crevices again.

***

“It’s ok, I’m here now.”

I grin, then throw my flashlight to the ground.

I won’t need that anymore.

But I hesitate as the Lord’s light moves along the path

and I look again at the device.

“Go ahead,” God says. “Pick it up.

You might need it later.”

I bend down to pick up the flashlight

for when I’ll use it once again.

***

God knows when we’ll stray away from him and his will, but he let’s us do so, because he loves us. He didn’t create us to be robots, but instead gave us free will to do what we want. He wants us to come back to him, and gently asks us to follow him, but he doesn’t force us to.

That’s what makes him so loving.

A Singed Revival

Hey Guys!!!

You don’t think I would’ve left you guys off with just a depressing poem did you? DID YOU??? Well, the best part of the Easter weekend includes the fact that Jesus is risen. WOOHOOO!!! So this here’s a poem continued off from the main story line.

And this time, I came up with a title. Yeahhh man.

A Singed Revival

It’s now Sunday.

A few days have passed

Since I was here Friday.

*** (again, this is the spacing b/w the stanzas)

I walk through the woods,

Against the wind blast

I pull up my hood.

***

Shame is washing over me

Drowning me, yet holding me fast

I wonder if I’ll ever be free

***

I come to the stake on the mound

Though it seems like centuries have passed

Since he was mercilessly bound

***

I turn away, I can’t stay a second more

Until all of a sudden, as I look with a gasp,

A figure rises out from the ashen floor.

***

The ashes crumble off as the figure stands up

I stand there frozen, utterly aghast

And become as meek as a shivering pup

***

“Why are you afraid?”

The ashen-clothed figure asks

“Don’t you know me? Have you not prayed?”

***

“But-” I helplessly stammer, “you perished,

I saw the flames devour even the grass

And then everyone fled, including your parish.”

***

The being smiles, then shows me his arms,

Just singes, but a stark contrast

Against his incandescent arms, and rope burns

***

“Come,” he gestures past the collapsed forest

And we walk, at last,

To join in the heavenly chorus.

***

The main point that we can take away from Jesus’ revival story is that He’s not only alive, but also risen with nail-scarred hands, making him even more holy and blameless to us. He arose, scarred, but arose just the same. He could have gone around to save us an easier way, or could have decided, “Nah, I don’t really like them that much anyway,” and zapped us right then and there.

But he didn’t. He chose to come down to our world, saved us by dying on the cross, and then returned to heaven with nail-scarred hands because he loves us.

His hands are still scarred to this day.

A poem for Good Friday

I was thinking of attending a Good Friday Service this morning, but I didn’t because

a) They’re always so early. I’ve gone to them before as a part of my high school choir years ago, and we always had to go early. Although I suppose the service might be around the usual time that services are on Sunday morning. Still. When you think you have off from school, and you have to wake up early for a school choir, it counts as really early. So today, I needed some more beauty sleep (because some people actually have to work for it, you know).

and

b) I didn’t feel like it. I’m just lazy sometimes.

As my act of worship today, I decided to write a poem. And yes, this was written in the spirit of laziness, but who knew what fruit could arrive from laziness!

So without any further ado, here is my poem. And since it’s Good Friday, it’s a bit somber, so get ready.

Good Friday Poem (I haven’t really thought of any real titles yet, so if you have some ideas, let me know!)

It’s a Friday. I had just finished up for the day,

And decided to take a walk through the woods.

It had been a rainy day,

And being stuck in the office made it much worse.

Over my head, I pull up my hood.

*** (This is how I’m marking the stanzas, because wordpress refuses to let me space it like a poem)

As I walk through the trees that huddle together

I notice along the winding trail

A few other people, huddled against the weather,

And hooded as well, as if following a hearse

With their dark, narrow faces. But none of them wail.

***

“Hello,” I say, walking closer to them

“Hi Christian,” they say, to me. They know my name,

But I don’t know them.

They don’t look familiar to me, but cursed.

As if they were always living in shame.

***

I come to another group, less depressing than the first

And say hi to them as well.

They’re jolly, and making jokes, but burst

Into laughter when I tell them my name, they seemed averse

To getting to know me, and say, “Go to hell!”

***

Quickly, I pass by that group

I want none of that interaction

So I come to another, a troupe

Of thieves, stealing money from each other’s purse

And making faulty transactions.

***

Without saying hello, I pass by them too

And see, at the turn of the road

Thousands and thousands of other groups that grew

As they traversed,

Until all of a sudden, we slowed.

***

Ahead was a clearing in the trees,

Where a stake was nailed to the ground

A man was there, on his knees.

“Let’s beat him, first!”

Said one from the crowd, as we approached the mound.

***

And so we did. We beat him

With clubs and sticks that we brought

With us. His face was grim,

But even though he wasn’t coerced

To remain there, he never fought.

***

“Let’s tie him to the stake!” We said,

And so we did. We brought the ropes

From behind our backs while he bled,

And tied him to the stake as if it were rehearsed,

Then walked back down the slope.

***

Someone struck a match,

And held it aloft

As a signal. A batch

Of others lit up their matches, a verse

Of ultimate unity and scoff.

***

“Throw it,” someone sneered.

“Someone throw a match in.”

I paused at first, then volunteered,

Throwing in my match, and watched the others intersperse

Their matches onto the dying violin.

***

The wood ignited, surrounding the pole

With a deafening roar.

The figure on the stake just knelt on the coals,

And made not a cry, but instead did the reverse

And remained silent in the war.

***

Hours went by, and I watched this form

As he kneeled, beaten, in the ashes.

“Extinguish the flame,” I thought, when a storm

Was about to begin. He seemed to converse

With an invisible entity amidst the flashes.

***

A tear dropped to my cheek- or was it a raindrop?-

He looked up at me, and shook his head. “Why?”

“Because I love you,” I heard in my mind. Everything stopped,

But suddenly a lightning rod struck the stake, extinguishing the flames. Everyone dispersed

Except for me. Tears dripped from my eyes.

***

The figure slumped, the trees within the forest collapsed,

And the lightning continued to strike out at all of the trees,

Angry for the crime that was committed by the apostles.

What did I just do? I feel much worse

Than before the day began. I am not at ease.

After reading this, I want you to take some time to think on what Good Friday is all about. Think of how on this day, thousands of years ago, Jesus was crucified on Calvary for our sins. Every single one of our sins nailed him to the cross, and each one of us is as guilty as the next.

Not one of us is guiltless

Not one of us is saved

Without the power and sanctity of the beloved cross.

And while you think about how much we have all sinned and how much we will ever sin, think about how Jesus had a choice. He could have gone if he wanted to, but he remained.

Why?

Because he loves us. And that’s all we really need to know.