Fifteen Random Facts…

30 11 2006

1-My fish’s name is Harold, but everyone in my family regularly forgets and calls him Howard.  One of these days I’m going to get one of those “Hello My Name Is” stickers and stick it on his tank, so everyone will remember.       

2- I have the same birthday as Dr. Seuss- March 2nd, which I think is pretty cool. 

3-There are few things I enjoy more than playing and working with kids.  I feel like I get to use all my passions and talents at the same time while doing something I adore.   

4-Lizards are my favorite animal.  I have both a lizard ring and watch that I always wear.  Little boys often talk to me about them, because they generally think lizards are cool, too.  

5-I wear T-shirts with cartoon characters sometimes because it’s a good icebreaker with elementary school kids.    

6-Ringo Starr was my favorite Beatle when I was little because I thought he had a cool name.  Now John Lennon is my Beatle of choice.    

6-I watched M*A*S*H, Happy Days, and the local news for fun when most other little kids were only watching Sesame Street and Barney.   7-I like Alice and Wonderland, especially The Cheshire Cat.  8-The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh is my favorite painting; I love the colors.

9-My brother Ian and I used to debate almost daily whether the bathroom looks better with the shower curtain closed or open.  Nobody won; we just eventually got tired of talking about it.  But I still think it looks better closed.      

10-I’ve had two wedding proposals, but both were in jest.  One was by a five-year-old who came close to tears.       

11-I think dreadlocks that are on the shorter side are awesome, but I also like the “crunchy” (hippie-ish) look.    

12-I always use “Moe” when starting a new online account of some sort.  

13-I look forward every week to reading the Sunday comics, because they’re always in color and there are two full pages.  It’s also the only day of the week we get the paper.   

14-When I was little my favorite game was to freeze my small plastic toys in bowls in the freezer.  My mom would frequently find Batman, and Bert and Ernie all frozen solid in the middle of a bowl of water.      

15- Wearing flip-flops is one of my favorite things about summer, but it’s nice to have a slight break from the rain, too.





Movie Review: The Prestige

21 11 2006

The story opens in turn-of-the-century England, amongst the top hats and theatre shows.  Rupert Angier (Hugh Jackman, Wolverine from “X-Men”) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale, Batman from “Batman Begins”) are both professional magicians struggling to work their way up the ladder of success.  Before long, the story takes a very dark turn, and never turns back.

     

When it comes to well-made movies, this film pretty much has it all; the casting couldn’t be better, the storyline is original and will give you plenty to talk about long after the credits begin to roll, the director (Christopher Nolan, who also directed “Batman Begins”) doesn’t disappoint, and in a dark and often eerie sort of way, the cinematography is beautiful. 

 

Based on some of the movie trailers, I was anticipating a thrilling movie that possibly dealt with the supernatural and paranormal, but instead of being in the middle of something straight out of “The Twilight Zone,” I found myself watching a well-made modern horror. 

 

Yes, the movie is well done, but it’s also horrifying, dark and very disturbing.  I agree with the sentiments of one moviegoer who commented, “It was a good movie… I think I hated it.”  In the hours after the movie has ended, your mind has time to sort out all the little pieces that at first didn’t quite make sense, which only makes it even more disturbing.

 

When it comes to horror movies, this one is well made.  So if you like disturbing and dark films, this may be right up your alley.  The movie isn’t explicitly graphic, violent, or gory, but it is disturbing none-the-less.  Keep in mind it’s rated PG13 for a reason.

 

My main word of warning is don’t ask people who have already seen it what it’s about and don’t read reviews.  One of this movie’s best features is its plot, and it could easily be spoiled with just a nutshell version of the basic storyline.  If you think it’s something you might want to see, go see it, but don’t ask questions about it.  Magicians never reveal their secrets, but moviegoers often spoil plots, and you’d regret having this plot spoiled for you.





Unchangeable and Mysterious

19 11 2006

At church, my pastor’s been going through the names of God.  El Olam (God eternal; unchangeable; hidden) has been the name that’s meant the most to me right now.  If I’m allowed to have a favorite name for God during a particular season of life, this would be it. God is unchangeable.  The same characteristics that are true about Him today will always be true of Him.  In the mists of the whirlwinds of life He is the Rock that we can place our faith in, but there’s also an element of El Olam that is hidden and mysterious.  I’m not able to comprehend all that He does and why.  The last few years have been very hard.  For a long time I thought my dad was indifferent to me, and I was angry and hurt, but then I found out that he wasn’t intentionally distancing himself from me; he was dying and his brain was slowly beginning to deteriorate and because of that he’d lost the ability to be apart of my life.  It’s been hard on all of us; it’s shaken us each to our very core.

I don’t understand why God has allowed these things to happen.  I don’t like it, and don’t always feel loved, but regardless of how I feel and what circumstances seem to be saying; He hasn’t changed. I can know God is still good no matter what circumstances tell me.Even when I can’t see what God is doing, it seems like every thing in life says that God is anything but good, I can hang on to the fact that He is good and that’s not going to change.  Whether God feels close enough to touch, or like He’s taken up permanent residence on the dark side of the moon, everything I’ve ever known to be true of Him still holds true today; God loves me.

I love God’s name El Olam; it’s beautiful and very challenging, because it requires faith in things unseen.  





A Byproduct of Loss

13 11 2006

“An odd byproduct of my loss is that I’m aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet. At work, at the club, in the street, I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate if it they do, and if they don’t. Some funk it altogether… I like best the well brought-up young men, almost boys, who walk up to me as if I were a dentist, turn very red, get it over, and then edge away to the bar as quickly as they decently can. Perhaps the bereaved ought to be isolated in special settlements like lepers.”-C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

Maybe everyone who’s lost someone, or is in the process of losing someone, should be isolated like lepers. I’m sure it would be a depressing colony, but at least there would be people to understand. 

The trouble is grief does isolate you from the rest of the word, even if there isn’t a visible barrier, but you’re not surrounded with people who aren’t afraid of or embarrassed by you and your situation. The strained smiles, fidgeting, short and awkward conversations make it challenging to be anything but isolated. You can’t blame someone for not understanding, because everyone’s grief is unique even if they’ve lost the same person, but it does make it challenging.

After reading “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis, I didn’t come away with answers, or feeling at peace with everything, but it was helpful to read someone else’s fears, doubts, feelings and thoughts as they walked through the long road of grief. To know I’m not alone as I ask my questions that have no answers, when religious comfort that’s offered seems trite and cold, and when the only thing that seems to have come out of this is that I’ve gained a broader vocabulary.  Sometimes the most helpful thing is simply to know you’re not alone.





Based on More than Circumstances

10 11 2006

I appreciate how there isn’t an answer given in these songs for the pain being experienced.  Sometimes, all you can do is hold onto the Cross, and know that because of what He did two thousand years ago, He loves you.  It’s not an answer to the haunting, heart-wrenching questions, it’s not a remedy for the pain, it’s faith that God is still on the throne and even though you can’t feel it, even though you can’t see it, He truly loves you. 

“There was a time when I could bravely face the storm/ Oh, but answers don’t come easy anymore/ Today, I can only trust/ Your hands are strong enough/ To hold me up/ When answers don’t come easy anymore.”

 -from Answers Don’t Come Easy, by Scott Riggan 

I breathe a prayer and dare/ To hope for a reply/ I know You’re there, aware/ And so I wonder why/ So much lost, so much pain/ So are You listening?/ So high the cost of losing faith/ To wishful thinking/ I thought I knew You/ These threads have come undone/ Belief unraveling/ My faith is tangled up/ While doubt is splitting at the seams/ Make my wish to the sky/ What will the answer be?/ Silence is Your reply/ And somehow I still believe/ But I thought I knew You/ And maybe it’s just me/ But I can’t hear a thing/ As hard as I try/ Am I asking too much/ To want You to just speak up/ And tell me why?/ I breathe a prayer and dare/ To hope for Your reply…  

-from I Thought I Knew You, by Scott Riggan and R. Jason Collum





Talking about Grief

4 11 2006

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Few things make us more uncomfortable than words like “grief,,” “loss,” and “death,” so when it comes to dealing with loved ones who are grieving, we don’t know what to do, say, or how to act, and sometimes this ignorance can do horrendous damage to someone already in pain.

While making small talk with some acquaintances, one of the young men in the group, James, tried to mention how his mother is dying, how greatly it’s affecting his entire family, and how hard the stress level and grief has been on him lately.  His friends — who he’s known for several years — suddenly became very awkward and completely tongue-tied.  They began to squirm around in their chairs and franticly glanced at each other as if they were looking for help.

Feeling Uncomfortable 

I’m also losing a parent right now, my dad has a fatal illness, and I’m slowly watching him slip away.  I know the heartache, but I don’t have any answers, no cure for the pain. In fact, I hardly even knew James, but I asked questions about how his mom was doing, how his family was holding up, and most importantly, how he was doing.

His friends continued looking around uncomfortably, and when there was the first break in the conversation, one of them jumped in and changed the subject to something more upbeat. Then, in order to avoid further discomfort, they dominated the entire conversation; a regular “one man band.”  They didn’t want to hear about the heavier things James is currently living with, so they avoided having to listen by not giving him the opportunity to talk about it.

Their friend wanted to talk about the hardest thing in his life, and they responded by changing the subject and dominating the conversation because it made them uncomfortable to talk about grief and death. But I’m sure it doesn’t make James feel comfortable to live with the reality his mother is dying.

Just Listen

Some people — even friends — never ask me how my dad is doing, or how I’m coping with things, even though they know what’s happening and they see me on a regular basis.  Maybe people think they’d be reminding me of my pain by mentioning it, but I haven’t forgotten my dad’s dying.  Even if it’s not living in the forefronts of my thoughts at every moment, the knowledge and reality of it is always there.  They don’t ask for fear of reminding me, but since they don’t ask I assume they’re the ones who’ve forgotten.

“I don’t know what to do,” I hear people say when someone they know is grieving. Well, I’ll tell you, take a deep breath, deal with the fact it’s not your favorite subject of conversation, and listen. You’re right, you can’t change the situation, you can’t make it all better, but they know that even better than you do.   Sometimes, they just need to talk, and they need to know you haven’t forgotten.





Blessings of Soggy Cereal

1 11 2006

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“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” ~Hebrews 4:15

I once had a Sunday school teacher try to explain this verse to a class I was in. We were all very young at the time, so the concept of a “high priest” was strange and not particularly interesting.  If she’d been comparing Jesus to a Ninja Turtle or Mickey Mouse, we might have perked up, but it still would have been a challenge to keep our short attention spans engaged for long.

“Jesus came to die on the cross for our sins,” she said to the class “and He also came so that He’d know what it’s like to live here on earth, so that He’d know what it’s like to… to … eat cereal.”  God left heaven so He could eat breakfast cereal with a bunch of sinners?  Since He’s God — the Creator and all — why didn’t He just make His own cereal?  The only conclusions I could come up with, were either God had a fetish for Shredded Wheat, or my teacher was stranger than she looked.

Temptation is Tempting

“[He] was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  Temptation is tempting; this may sound as deep as the bumper sticker on the back of your car, but when temptation comes knocking it’s hard to say no.  Because if you didn’t want it, there wouldn’t be a temptation.

When temptation hits, you may relate to Jesus, being offered all the kingdoms of the world, everything you want seems to be within your grasp, but then you realize who’s offering you this proposition, and you’ll be paying for it through the nose.  Do the ends justify the means?  The little man on your shoulder — in his cheesy devil costume — whispers something sly into your ear.  You want it so badly, and the thought of letting it go forever seems so horrible, but you take a deep breath, and say no to your little red pal.

I said no to the little man on my shoulder recently.  It was hard, as well as painful, and it honestly still is to a degree.  Letting go can hurt.  But despite this, I’ve gained something important — I’ve learned a little bit more about the beauty of compassion.

Compassion: A Beautiful Thing

It’s a wonderful thing that God not only understands the process of saying no to temptation, He also understands the pain and the heartache that is sometimes inevitable when you’re forced to say no to something you truly want.  The temptations and hardships Christ encountered while on earth extended far beyond a bowl of soggy cereal; He’s been offered the “easy way” out, He’s been tempted with everything He desired most, but He said no.  He doesn’t just know mentally that it would be difficult, He knows from firsthand experience; He’s felt the pain.

This — what my Sunday school teacher tried to present so many years ago — is truly amazing.  It’s amazing that God Almighty would be able to sympathize with sinners in their hour of need.  May we all seek to show the same level of compassion we’ve been shown, to others.

“DIVINE MASTER, grant that I my not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” ~St. Francis of Assisi