Saturday, December 25, 2010

my favorite Christmas poem, ever

The Gospel According to Walter

We passed the the open Bible around & waited.
Round robin, & it was my brother Walter's turn.
He knucklebrowed the passage, grunted, then began
"Yeah, here. Right here it says. Shepherds in the fields
keeping watch..."
he what it was he wanted.
The angel of the Lord shone around them
They were terrified, but the angel said, Do not be afraid

Who the fuck's he kidding? Don't you figure
them guys would blow their cookies when they saw that?
I mean, you really ever see an angel?
Listen, they got the eleven-foot wing spans.
And talons on 'em at least this big.
With shit like that you do not mess.
Fer chrissake think about it: here it is
the middle of then ight & these poor bastards
freezin their cullyones off when wham! they catch
these mothers hoverin' over 'em like fuckin'
Huey gunships, goin' whucka whucka whucka.
Think about it: a buncha roaches like you & me
feeding in the kitchen in the middle of the night
when, whunk! goes the landlord's eyeballin' flashlight
& us there grooling just begging to have ourselves
be stompt & squished when this wingspans croons:
Do not be afraid. You gonna stick around for that?
Whucka whucka whucka & some fuckin' floodlight
saying: Go thou now & catch some stable action
in yonder Bethlehem. Who, me? You're lookin'
at one first-class heart attack is what"
He stopped to catch his breath, his impromptu exegesis
on the Sacred Text & the Sublime fulfilled,
then wiped his hand across his brow & gave the book
a spin. Eddie popped another beernut into his mouth
& winked, as if to say: "Okay numbnuts?
Didn't I tell you so?" The others stared in disbelief
at Walter. Walter leaned back on his elbows
& stared back hard. He was having
the last word on this one if it killed him.
"You heard me," is what he said, "I said a wingspan
at least eleven fuckin' feet.

-- Paul Mariani
Salvage Operations 1990. page 37

(don't lie, you know you've thought the exact same words; I know I have!)

Saturday, October 09, 2010

ruminations of Faith (part 1... ?)

I've been watching these videos, the New Birth Portraits. There are actually very well done "coming to faith stories" put together by Redeemer Presbyterian Church, located in New York City. The pastor of the church is a fairly well-known author, Tim Keller.

I first heard about Pr Keller when my church did a four of five week "faith renewal" in-depth sermon series, bible study, etc based on his book Prodigal God. It was a pretty good book, and led to some interesting thought processes in me. I didn't quite agree with everything he said, but that's for another time. I was drawn to him to a degree through the videos that were shown at times. His soft spoken nature was engaging.

Shortly after that series was done, a book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer came out, entitled Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet Spy by Eric Metaxas. As a result of reading that book I started to "follow" him on twitter @ericmetaxas. He generally tweets about what's going on with his book, but one day he tweeted about his new Birth video. So, I followed the link he pushed through in his tweet and watched it a couple times. And then I kind of moved onto other things, but I did mark the site for the New Birth Portraits, as they are called on my de.lic.ious account and there they sat.

A few months later, I was told about a Lutheran pastor who did youtube videos. They are kinetic and fast paced, but are packed full with good Lutheran theology and are deeply rooted in the confessions of the Lutheran Church. I wrote about his vids in my last post. Since that last post, I have watched most, if not all of the videos that Rev. Fisk has posted. Each one makes me think, take notes, reach for my copy of the Book of Concord, and my Bible. In the last few weeks since discovering Rev Fisk my faith has grown deeper and it is a direct result of getting into the Word and really working with it, or as it we Lutherans say 'reading, marking, and inwardly digesting" it. I've discovered new things I've never heard of before and new authors I've never heard of or read before. It has been a wonderful and strengthening experience; however, this new found zeal, if I can call it that, has made me reflect on the faith I brought to the table, as it were.

One of the things that I have struggled with for a long time is this: I've never really had a "come to Jesus moment" or a "I accepted Christ as my savior moment" that seems to be so prevalent in the post-modern Christian church. The evangelical movement seems to make that a priority in their way of looking at things. It was lost on me and I found myself wondering and maybe doubting a little. I think that is something that many Lutherans struggle with, too.

This whole process has been a bit of an eye opener to me, too. I used to use and example that worked for me when it came to faith. It still works, I guess, but in my mind its changed a little. I used to say that you can't have faith with "I." Meaning that first person singular that is "I" or in this case "me" had a part in faith. There was no faith with the "I." Pardon, but I know realize that this is dangerous thinking. It really isn't. I was dangerously close to saying that I made the decision to follow Christ, when, in fact, through the Holy Spirit I was brought to faith. I didn't do anything. It was all Holy Spirit. Time and time again the human nature to make God small and we Humans big worms its way into Christianity the whole "hey, God, get outta my way, I think I'm gonna drive for awhile," or perhaps "God you really are my co-pilot. Or better put perhaps this video:

I was born into a Christian home, my father was a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod LCMS pastor and my mother always had faith. So I grew up in it. I was surrounded by it. I never realized it, but the Holy Spirit was working in me from day one. I had a what I call a "stand up/sit down" faith. Because I was in it since birth, in the case by "in it" I mean the LCMS, I knew when to stand, when to sit, and when to recite and sing the liturgy. I could do it from memory and not even think about it. I can relate to this video very well:

I don't think I ever got as far as he from my faith as Rev Fisk hints to above, but I did find myself questioning it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

shamed & inspired

This guy shamed me. Made me feel small and not all that Lutheran, err I mean Loofrin. I mean "Loofrin" has been my screen name and internet identity since, I don't know when... 1996? Its an amazing video.

The video discusses the The Book of Concord and why not only is it important to Lutherans, but why it should be important to all protestants (and maybe Catholics, as well). The Book of Concord (Boc) is a statement of Faith. It is the statement of Faith by the Lutheran Church. It is, as far as I'm concerned the second most important book in any Lutheran's library, or at least it should be.

I'm guilty of something. My BoCs (I have three different versions: this one, this one, and this one (except mine is a 1st ed, with errata sheet in the back). It doesn't matter which edition it is. They all have sat on my desk and literally collected dust. That above video kicked my ass and got me to get back into the BoC.

I've toted one of them to work with me (with my Bible so I can continue my 'cross-referencing project" I started about ten years ago)and I've started leaving another one in a particular room of the house that I know will give me an opportunity to read for a few minutes every now and again *ahem*.

So thank you Rev Fisk for the butt kick that i so desperately needed. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep this going. I've learned a lot already.

Friday, June 18, 2010

No Need to Worry Anymore

I am an unrepentant Bible marker.

I had an argument one time in college with a righteous pre-sem guy (aren't they all) who actually took exception to my Bible marking. He thought it unbecoming and he didn't think it was respectful. I disagreed, naturally, and then quoted to him the section of the Lutheran liturgy as found in the "old, red hymnal" aka The Lutheran Hymnal that we should "read, mark, and inwardly digest" the scriptures. That mullified him, but didn't exactly shut him up. As a good righteous pre-sem once he found a topic he became a bit of theological terrier and wouldn't let go.

When I read the scripture I have a pen in hand and highlighter nearby. There are whole pages in my Bible that are highlighted and underlined (sometimes the underlines are three different colors... three different times I've visited that verse or verses). I often cross reference verses to other verses that I've come across and think that one goes well with the other. So, the margins of my Concordia Self-Study Bible are often full of thoughts and observations, there are also old class notes from the Old Testament and New Testament classes I took while I was attending Concordia University (when it was still located in Austin, just north of University of Texas... home...). In short, it is a well, worked-over Bible. I have others that I use from time to time, but my first Self-Study is the old standby, the go to Bible, as it were. Sadly, I don't read it as often as I should. It gets tucked in a corner on my desk, or on the floor by my bed and I see it and think "gee, I should read that..." but more often than not, I get sidetracked by something (or someone) else and the thought goes away, much to my detriment. But, every now and again, I do follow through with the thought and open it up and start to read. Sometimes I just read where it opens, other times, I flip through until I find a page that I've marked (usually heavily) and start reading the notes to self and then go the actual scripture and try and reconnect with that person that read that particular scripture before. In short, I guess, those markings and underlinings are landmarks and spiritual tracks for me to follow, recognize, and to add to.

I also have the regally named Lutheran Study Bible. Its nice, but there's no room in the margins for personal notation. Besides I find the ESV (English Standard Version) to be a tad clunky and it doesn't flow quite as nicely as the NIV (New International Version). I use the Lutheran Study Bible more as a backup and reference book for my Self-Study. All this, though, is, I guess, back story.

This week has been trying for me. It has really thrown me for a loop. I needed some comfort today. It was one of those weeks that makes Jeremiah 29:11-14 relevant:
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (NIV).
I first found this verse shortly after my own seminary experience (yes, I, too, was a righteous pre-sem guy, though I never actually declared myself such in my college studies, I kind of fell into it). My seminary experience was, to put it delicately, difficult. I didn't do very well and left after my second quarter. I'll leave it at that. At the time, I was reading the Old Testament backwards, meaning I started with the smaller "minor prophet" (Malachai, Zechariah, Nahum) books and worked my way towards the bigger, meatier stuff at the beginning. (I did this because I'd tried to go from Genesis 1 forward many times, but would get bogged down in the heavy law books of Leviticus and such, I figured that if I got the "little guys" taken care of first I'd get traction and read the whole of the Old Testament-- kind of like Dave Ramsey's "debt snowball" only in a Biblical sense... sort of...) I was at a loss. I had just left seminary, I didn't have a clue what I was to do, or God wanted me to do, I was, as they say, a drift spiritually, but I was in the Word. And being in the Word at a time like that is the best time to be in the Word because your (my) Spirit is looking for some serious nourishment.

I can still remember the awe that I felt from those verses. I think I read that collection of verses for three or four days straight, over and over again. I wrote the following in the margin on April 4, 1999, I know that it was the day because I actually dated the comment.
He has a plan for me, too! i do not know what it is, but He is in charge. I have to give Him control. He will let me in & know what I am supposed to when the proper time comes.

I must have felt that dating it was important, to give myself an exact moment that I could go back to. And eleven years later, it has done what it was supposed to do. Given me a grounding to start from. At some point, I don't know when, I didn't date it I wrote simply "This is a painful lesson to learn sometimes" and connected it to original scribble with a simple black arrow.

There is more to this. There are eight other verses that I cross referenced to Jeremiah 29:11-14. They add to it, embellish it and give it more force and, to large degree, more comfort. They cross referenced verses help me to focus in, get my head right, and face forward.

The cross references come from my own reading of scripture. I am also a "fan" of the phrase "let scripture interpret scripture" and a firm believer in 2 Timothy 3:14-17:
continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NIV)

Jeremiah 29:11-14 is a comfort verse to me. I often come back to it and read it and meditate on it. It does my soul good to have this soft, spiritual pat on the back from time to time. I have the thing memorized, but reading it, that's the key. That's the thing that really cements it. But the other verses I find, they tend to be the things that give the verse its legs and allow it to move around a bit and give it some "oomph."

Isiah 58:11 is just such a verse. It really gets to the heart of the thing.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail. (NIV)

This verse makes me relax. Its the same feeling I get after reading Psalm 23, the first four verses:

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (NIV)

I know that I am not alone. That I have someone watching out for me. Someone who cares so much for me that He gave His only son to die that I might live. That's some pretty heady stuff. I mean Joey Lawrence "Whoa!" kind of stuff. I know and more importantly I believe it, but sometimes, through a nudge, I need to be reminded that I know and believe it. Sometimes the world just takes me for a ride and I don't know where I'm going or headed and need these spiritual rest areas to catch a breath. That's what these verse do for me. Let me catch my breath, get my bearings and move forward.

The next two verses that I've attached Jeremiah come from the Gospels. The first is from Matthew 6 when Jesus says to us:
“ not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.(NIV)

More often than not, that is my worry. Right there. I'm worried about how I am going to take care of myself, how I am going to pay my bills. How I am going to take care of those who I love. This is just one of those hey-man-chill-I-got-this verses that takes a few loads off my shoulders and back. In short, that verse from Luke is kind a "let go and let God" verse. To a degree, I guess all of the verses I'm highlighting here are that type; and that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is, in fact, a very good thing as far as I am concerned. We all have our own worries. From this blog you can kind of tell where my worries tend sit and come from: the unknown and life change. Two biggies, I guess.

The second verse I have written in the margin is Luke 12:22-34. It is almost a direct requote of Matthew 6. In it Jesus tells us:
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

There are two phrases the stand out to me in this. The first is "O you of little faith!" As I read this I can almost hear Jesus becoming exasperated with me. Its not so much a back slap with this verse as it is more of a back-of-the-head smack. Its like Jesus is saying "if you're worrying, that means you faith is lacking." Which, I guess, when one thinks of antonyms the opposite of "faith" might be "worry."

The phrase the sticks out is "do not be afraid little flock." Wow! "Don't be afraid! That big bad wolf of a world won't be harming you this day, Karl. I am the Good Shepherd. I've got my rock and my staff... you are protected." See how I think? How before long that little gnawing worry turns into something overwhelming? I really do need this spiritual retread from time to time. I need to read these words repeatedly to keep me calmed and focused.

The next verse that must of meant something to me is from Ecclesiastes 7:14-18. It is almost funny.
When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider:
God has made the one
as well as the other.
Therefore, a man cannot discover
anything about his future.
15 In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these:

a righteous man perishing in his righteousness,
and a wicked man living long in his wickedness.
16 Do not be overrighteous,
neither be overwise—
why destroy yourself?
17 Do not be overwicked,
and do not be a fool—
why die before your time?
18 It is good to grasp the one
and not let go of the other.
The man who fears God will avoid all extremes. (NIV)

My relationship with Ecclesiastes is one of caution. I made the mistake of reading Ecclesiastes for the first time right after I graduated from college. Nothing quite like having God tell you that wisdom is meaningless. Great! Thanks. But Ecclesiastes has a lot to it. And that verse quoted above is certainly one of the meatiest parts to it, at least for me. Ecclesiastes is an amazing book that rewards me with insight every time I read it and for that I am beyond thankful. I wrote next to this verse in blue pen the following: "Don't dwell on where you are-- look to where you are going." I tend to dwell and analyze and overthink my situations as I encounter them. That is not a bad thing, per se, but it can get in the way and make it difficult to make decisions. I try and look at all possibilities and angles. Invariably I miss an angle or neglect a possibility. I should probably write this one down on a note card and carry it with me everywhere I go.

The next two come from Isiah. That big honking book in the middle of it all. Its one of those meaty books that makes you slow down read carefully and look deep. You don't want to miss anything on this ride here, but often you do. So you go back and reread and reread (with pen in hand and highlighter nearby). I found this one quite by accident. I stumbled upon it when I was looking for the chapter that comes after it. Isiah 40:28-31 says:
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (NIV)

This is another one of those comforting verses. It doesn't smack me around. It builds me up. It kind of says to me "look, you're human, you're gonna have human problems, human foibles, and human worries; but, the weak are made strong, and your doubts will be eased." It is a breath of fresh air, an ice cold glass of sweet tea on a hot day. It is refreshing. And gives strength when strength is needed and peace of mind when peace of mind is prescribed. The second half of this verse is even more amazing read it one more time:
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.(NIV)
Pow! Gets you, doesn't it? Kind of puts the air back in the tire. You cast your worries aside and put your faith in God and you're going to do amazing things. You will be able to carry on. That just rocks. Kind of grabs you just makes you feel like you can take on the world. Nothing can stop you and get in your way except yourself.

Why is it that God is constantly giving Israel comfort? What do they have to be afraid of? Let's see, they have Cannannites, Hitittites, Philistines, gunning for them and causing them all kinds of fits because they don't want the Israelites where they are, so they have external pressure. Then inside the nation of Israel you start dealing with crazy kings and golden calf. Those poor Israelites were being pulled eighty different directions! Its no wonder they were constantly in getting a talking to from God, which I'm sure to some degree DIDN'T help the situation one iota. Imagine God having a sitdown with you because you did something He didn't like. Yeah, I'm all about having a good case of the worries.

Which leads me to Isiah 41:10,13:
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand....
13 For I am the LORD, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob,
O little Israel,
for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. (NIV)

This one is for strength. We've had the comfort. We've had the "look-I'll-take-of-this-you-just-hang-back," now we get the strength. Its time to build on the rubble of the worries we've had.

I worked at a summer camp in Texas for four summers during my college years. Camp Lone Star was an amazing place. It helped me immeasurably and to this day, every day, something I learned there helps me. There was a challenge course at this camp and there was on element that I absolutely loved to take my kids to. We called it the "Berlin Wall." It was a long horizontal wall that had pegs, pieces of wood attached to it. The goal was to get everyone across that wall from one side to another. There were tires that we placed at intervals along the wall that campers could use to rest, or get their bearings. It wasn't an easy element and it took a lot of strength. Recently, I have started to think of this element as a physical representation of the relationship I have with God when I get in too deep with worries, frets, and frustrations. As the kids navigated this wall, I'd walk behind them. I was there for safety, to make sure if a kid fell they wouldn't get hurt, but I started to do something else. I'd push against their back with my hand. And at first I could feel the kid tense up a bit, not sure what I was doing, but as they climbed across that wall they'd start to lean back on the hand and take pressure from their arms and transfer it to mine. Then they'd be able to hop from tire to tire and before long be at the far end.
As we debriefed the kids I'd often ask them what they felt as they were clambering on that wall. They'd say stuff like "man, that was tough, I felt frustration" that kind of stuff, but eventually after they talked about what they felt inside they'd say something about "and I felt your hand on my back, Peanut." And they'd say "it helped me, man, it really did." I'd smile and I'd say something like "that was my hand, yes, but I want you to think that in your daily life when you have a struggle that hand you feel on your back won't be mine, but God's. He's the one that will help you." I must of said that a hundred times to a thousand kids, but every time I said it, I was saying it to myself. I needed to hear that just as badly as they did.

Then we get to Job. Good old Job. If there is one guy in all of scripture who should get a pass when it comes to the worry-card it's gotta be our good friend Job. The guy earned the right to be a worrywart or at the very least bitter, but it doesn't turn out that way. After everything happens to him, he's still the guy that exclaims "I know that my redeemer lives!" I scribbled in the margin this verse from Job. Chapter 8, verses 5-7:
But if you will look to God
and plead with the Almighty,
6 if you are pure and upright,
even now he will rouse himself on your behalf
and restore you to your rightful place.
7 Your beginnings will seem humble,
so prosperous will your future be. (NIV)

Job is an interesting book because it is a play, in essence. In the 20th century it was in fact turned into a play for the stage. The above verse was said by Bildad, a friend of Job's who had come to comfort him in his time of loss and struggle. He meant well, but he fell short. But one can still find comfort in the words he spoke if taken a tad out of context. If you do pray to God, maybe even plead, you will be picked up, helped, strengthened. And that is important to keep in mind. A little nugget, if you will. Something to hang your hat on. Something to chew on and be thankful for.

Suddenly, though, I have three other verses that I attached to Job. You see how this can kind of get out of hand? You start hopscotching through the Word. Its a beautiful thing. The first one goes back to Jeremiah. But the second takes me back to Psalms. Psalm 40:5 which says
Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare. (NIV)

and Isiah 55:12, which for my money has one of the best declarative sentences in all of scripture:
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands. (NIV) (emphasis added).

I love this for the simple reason that after we get over the worries and fear and even in the midst of them we are commanded to go and worship Him. What an amazing thing! How wonderful! This speaks to the last few verses of Jer. 29:11-14:
12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Getting out of the worry. Bringing it around to the peace. That's what its about here, at least to me. The captivity God speaks of here is the slavery the Hebrew nation was held in Egypt. For us, this could mean our daily struggles with sin and temptation and the World around us. God is giving us a hand, helping us up, keeping us steady. And this, maybe just maybe is God's way of saying "you BEST recognize!" Or better put, "worship me, you are loved."

And then finally, I cross referenced 1 Corinthians 10:13. Paul writes: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (NIV) The most important part of this verse to me, in the context of this long overly written blog post is the final portion of the verse: "he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it." That is the key. The lynch pin. The keystone. That way out is prayer. Prayer from the heart. Fully engaged prayer. His hand will be upon you, us, me. He will hold you up against that wall, allowing you a rest. He will lift you up. He will bless you. He will lead you. Remember he has plans to prosper you. He knows what's coming. There will be tests, it may feel like you're going into the valley, but remember the key phrase to that is "walk through."

I am in the midst of worrying about things I have no control over. I'm walking 'through' a valley. The mountaintop is coming, I'll get there. I'm just gonna need help. And that help is nearby waiting, ready, and willing. All I gotta do is ask. And that is the most important thing.

I'm blessed and for that I am thankful.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Job Search Blues

My friend and recent MLS graduate Erin (who seems to give me writing "prompts" via her posts) wrote a blog post dealing with her job search and some of the frustrations she is encountering.

I've been fighting the same dispirited feelings. I lucked into the position I have now. I got it through a friend, its not a full time position and its barely a "professional position," but it is ina library and I am able to get experience at the university level on a reference desk. I'm lucky I'm in the field of employment I went to school for and trained for. Some of my classmates who graduated with me haven't been so lucky. One of them, last time I'd talked to had just quit his job as a car insurance salesman. That was about a year ago, I haven't seen him since, but that's how it seems to be going.

I am rarebird, maybe, in that you'd be hardpressed to find a male who wanted to be a librarian since he was little. Many librarians I know will say the "fell into it by accident" or just kind of meandered into the profession, I on the other hand have wanted to be a librarian since roughly the age of 12. When I got out of college I started working for a bookstore because that was the closest thing I could find to library work. I've stuck with it for almost ten years and balanced that with the librarian gig I have.

This last year has been a bear. Last July my hour at the library I work at were cut drastically. I was lucky to have the bookstore job after all, but I perservered and most of the hours that were cut last year have been returned to me this year, starting this July.

I haven't gotten as much in class Library Instruction as I'd like, but on the flipside, I have gotten a tremendous amount of reference desk experience and can work over a database like no one's business, I actually surprise myself sometimes. I have been able to refine my reference interview techniques and trust on the college level that is important particularly when a student or faculty member has an off the wall topic, there are times that I have to struggle to understand what it is they want, but that is for another post someother time.

In this economic climate it is tough to be a librarian, sadly the first thing cut from budgets are things like libraries (who needs libraries, right?) They still are important, public, school, and university alike. I could go into that, too, but if you've read newspapers, watched the news or even just seen Yahoo news, etc, you'd see that libraries are playing a more important roll than ever before.

I, like Erin have sent sent out application after application, resume after resume and heard nothing from most of the potential employers. That's just rude, first off all and, to my way of thinking very unprofessional. If I'm lucky I'll get an email saying "thanks, but no thanks." I don't like those, either, but at least its contact. I, like Erin, have had my resume looked over, repeatedly. My cover letter reviewed and have been mock interviewed at least once. The process is frustrating and, at times, can be disheartening, but I continue to search and apply and hope for the great break.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Doc Lit

For some reason, 2010 has been a difficult year for me in one big way: reading. It was almost the end of March before I finally read a book all the way through. That's unusual for me. I usually read a lot. I don't read hundreds of books a year, but I do better than the average. I usually read somewhere between 45-60 books a year. I figure a book a week is pretty good. For some reason, though, the "new year" rolled around and my reading took a nose dive. I blame a good portion of it on my facebook addiction. I also can point to, sadly, my sudden interest in vapid tv such as The Apprentice and The Biggest Loser. I don't know why I got sucked into them, but I did, for shame.

Lately, though, my reading has increased. I think part of it is because the guilt was starting to mount. Doesn't that sound silly? That and I've found some books that have caught my interest. I read a young adult (YA)novel that was just this side of awful and made me lose a little respect for one of the authors, who I heretofor thought was amazing (I'm looking at you John Green). But that might have been enough to prime the pump as they say. Suddenly, I'm picking up all kinds of books and trying to put them in an order that I can read.

Probably my favorite kind of literature to read is what I call documentary literature which is essentially nonfiction, but kind of quirky. For example, I've read books about people who did the and I've read books about over-the-top Scrabble players. I also read a lot of biography, not so much autobiography, but biography. I recently read this amazing bio. I churned through it in less than three days. Right now, I'm reading this little nugget about Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOL).

I particularly enjoy reading about hobbies, particularly hobbists that are "all in" to use a poker term. I enjoy quirky things like that. If nothing else, I'm just amazed at the amount of money those folks will spend on their "passion."

It feels good to get back into books. Its nice to feel the page under my fingers as opposed to a keyboard. The subtle scent of the page. I could wax poetic on the physicalness of reading all day long...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

You Like Me, Really?

I don't think I'll ever quite get used to the ease in which the internet works. I stopped by this here little blog and clicked on the counter. It seems that yesterday I had six people stop and poke around. That's kind of a big deal to me, I'm not a huge blogger, I don't post very often, something I keep meaning to fix, but never seem to really get around to. My counter usually tells me that one or two people visited, but six in one day? Wow.
The search terms people use to find my blog are intriquing and, at times, a tad weird. For example:

male gas pedal pumping
disgruntled world citizen
pictures of the full colts team
blogger male pedal pumping
wiseblood pttm blogspot
give the ball to calhoon
pedal pumping male
ipz chaplain
fullthrottle landline
gas tank for church
how to drain petrol tank
work to empty a tank
pedal on the metal phrase
poem dying with gas tank empty
pedal pumping scenes from tamil movies
male pedal pumping
Pedal to the Metal
rev udhayanesan raji
gas tank words

I know that somewhere along the line I've blogged about many of those topics, except for the "pedal pushing." I have discovered through prior "research" (that is I've Googled those very words because they kept appearing in the section of my counter that tells me what keywords people have used to find my blog) that "pedal pushing" is actually a fetish. Who knew? I certainly didn't. The most interesting thing about the keywords is the "rev udhayanesan raji" he is a pastor at the church I attend. He is part of a mission outreach to the Indian community here in Indianapolis (Indian, meaning from India). I also get a kick out of folks that find my blog because they are wondering what "happens when the gas tank is empty" or "what happens when sugar is put into a gastank" or "how do you know your gastank is empty?"

I started reading a book the other day, This Book is Overdue, a brandnew book about librarianship. The author writes about how librarians took to the web, particularly "younger" ones. She write extensively about librarians and their blogs many of the ones she wrote about can be found here. I don't read them as much as I should, or have in the past, but they are still worth checking out from time to time. Its been an interesting book to read and I've learned a lot. It'll probably end up in my personal library before long.

I don't write much about librarianship in this blog, come to think of it I don't blog much about anything anymore. But I'm not sure if I did blog on librarianship I'd be able to add much that hasn't already been said. I do think it is important for librarians to blog and discuss what's going on. We need to make a lot of noise and chatter. Librarians are on the vanguard, whether they like it or not.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Thoughts on the Situation

I would have posted some pictures I took at the pep rally, but for two reasons. The first is they were kind of boring and second was more important, I can't get my camera to download, there seems to be a problem with the connecting wire, or the port that said wire goes into. Either way the boring pictures are still on the camera and will probably end up in a pixulated-picture graveyard, eventually.

I'm so tired of this economy. I'm trying my hardest not to, as Dave Ramsey says, "participate in the recession," but it gets harder and harder every day to keep my focus, my optimism, and my head above the proverbial waters. I am coming to the conclusion that I am in a career crisis, more than an economic one. But the former is being followed oh so quickly by the latter. Here's my problem, essentially, in a nut shell: I am doing what I've always wanted to do: librarian, but its only a parttime gig. I also work parttime at a bookstore and that is very parttime. I have learned some things thing about parttime work, its good when you can get it, but it can be farily unreliable and you work just as hard, if not harder than fulltimers, and get none of the benefits (insurance, etc). To a degree that is unfair, but I guess that's what I signed up for.

I am optimistic that things will get better. Its just seems so far away. I am frustrated, but not to the point of giving up. If anything I am becoming more determined, but my determination is not making the employment appear any faster or in greater quantity. I am hamstringing myself and I must be fair about that-- I want to stay in the area. I'm not all that interested in moving. There are jobs out there, but I don't want, nor can I really afford to, move to places like Idaho and California.

If nothing else, this experience has taught me to lean heavily on prayer and my faith and that is an important thing to be reminded of. I am also lucky that I have people that are rooting for me, my mother, and most importantly, my girlfriend. Its a little frightening right now, okay a lot frightening, but I'll get through this. The valley, as they say, may be deep, but you know something, it isn't unsurmountable.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pep Rally

I'm going to the Colts' Pep rally today after work. The pep rally is in anticipation of the Colts playoff game against the New York Jets I've never been to Lucas Oil Stadium aka "The Luke", I drive by it everyday on my way home from work, but I've been inside it. I'm kind of curious to see what my raised food/drink taxes have gone. And since the Colts are the "hometown" team, as it were so I'll support them. I have my blue Joseph Addai jersey in my car.

Its going to be a cold and wet walk. I'll leave my car in the IUPUI parking lot and walk the mile or so, maybe its that far, to the stadium. I'm sure it'll be a fun walking with other Colts' fans. When the Colts won Super Bowl XLI I had the opportunity to go to the celebration in the RCA Dome, you can read about that here.

It'll be a good time. I'll take pictures and post them.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

a blog of note

I just "rediscovered" a blog written by a friend of mine. Well, its not so much a resdiscovery as a going back and rereading it. But now that I think about it and reread the preceeding sentence I guess it is, in fact, a rediscovery. Never mind. Really, I'm just prattering on. This blank box does that to me. I feel like I need fill the box up with words; words that in reality are don't mean much. Ah, I digress. Can one digress when one hasn't even made an inche of verbal progress? No, probably not. So to use the word digression is in fact a falacy. See what happens when I rediscover the joys of blogging? I become like a little boy, perhaps like Randy from A Christmas Story bouncing around a brightly lit Christmas tree... never mind. I'll stop trying to be cute and witty; I'm neither.

Okay, honestly, though, I'm trying to be like Jeremy. Really, I am. Trying to be bring in cinemagraphic references. Jeremy's blog is the blog of note I am referring to in the above title. He's a learned fellow, steeped in cinema. He knows his stuff. Me? I'm a neophyte. Hardly worth listening to. So, go ahead. Read Jeremy's blog. You'll be glad you did. Honest.

Hi, remember me?

I haven't abandonded this blog, really, I haven't. I will admit to neglecting it. The weeds seem to have sprouted and the hinges to the doors are a bit rusty, and the floorboard creek a bit when I walk around. I haven't forgotten, really, i've just been a neglectful owner. An absent landlord if you will.

Has it really been 2 1/2 months, maybe more, since I last updated this blog? Yes, I guess it has been. Amazing. My girlfriend and I are still going strong and are getting serious, this is a blessing in and of itself. We "celebrated" our third month anniversary recently and we are well into our fourth. Funny, that.

My job search continues. I am employed, but "underemployed" is the term used now-a-days, i think. But, somehow, I'm making it. I am reminded of the scripture that talks about the lillies in the field being clothed and the foxes having places to sleep. I'm concerned, but not worried. Maybe I should be more worried, but worrying has never done me any good, except make me sick and lose sleep. i am optimistic about the future and i'm ready to see what it, the future, has in store.