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Onward and Upward!

November 4th, 2010 by Aaron

At least, that’s the direction I hope to be headed. Certainly I’m going somewhere these days. Here’s the latest goings-on:

I went on a missions trip to Zimbabwe, Africa for a couple weeks. In short, it was incredible. We traveled all over the country with the Hippo Valley Christian Mission organization, mostly performing a drama and speaking to and with various groups of people. You can see my pictures here.

I’m also in the process of purchasing a house. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s very exciting and I’ll be thankful when all is said and done.

I’m becoming increasingly more involved in my new church. I just helped out at our harvest festival (which had a nicely executed Candy Land theme), working the popcorn machine. It was good fun, though a little dangerous (lightly burned one of my knuckles on the heating pan). I’m also going to be helping out with worship for the youth service and possibly for a mid-week young adults group. It really is amazing to see prayers being answered.

Work has been keeping me busy and teaching me patience, self-control, and gratitude; all things I surely could use some more of.

It seems the winter holidays, like an armed intruder, are suddenly upon us and there’s no turning them away. Although these days I don’t look forward to Christmas as much as I once did, I’m sure to find many reasons to be filled with joy in the gathering of loved ones and thanks for all that I’ve received.

I hope all’s well with you, oh faithful internet reader. And if it’s not (or even if it is), tell me about it. I’d love to know.

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The Latest

July 7th, 2010 by Aaron

холови гарнитуриYup. It’s been a while. But I did warn you, so you shouldn’t be surprised.

Quite a lot has happened:

After being back from the Philippines for a week and some change, I was sent there again, but this time for a whole month. Upon my re-return, I went on a four day backpacking trip in Yosemite with my sister and a friend. Now that I’m back at work again, we’ve got a crazy schedule because of a really important project that I’ll probably talk more about later. Also, while all that was going on, LOST concluded their final season. And some other things happened too; like a giant hole opening up in the earth, a 13 year old reaching the top of Everest, and the World Cup kicking off (yes, it’s a pun).

So there you have it, my life and some world events in an eggshell.

Posted in life, new, news, vacation | Comments Off

something of note

March 23rd, 2010 by Aaron

If you hadn’t heard, I’m heading off to the Philippines for a couple weeks in April on a business trip. It should be quite the experience and, hopefully, fun as well.

————————

On a completely unrelated note, if you frequent this site much, you’ve probably noticed a lack of posts (more so than usual I mean). This is intentional. I’ve really enjoyed this blog and the discussions that have come from it. I thank each one of you for reading it. But it’s going to be getting a lot quieter around here. The main reason is I just don’t feel like I have a lot left to say, in this format anyhow. Sure, I could go on with many ideas and thoughts on life, my experiences, etc. but I think my words have become circular lately, looping back to the same basic ideas. This is not a bad thing, it’s just not as interesting to read. Also, I’d like to devote my time to other forms of expression, namely animation and creative writing. Perhaps they will give birth to a new blog or maybe I’ll revise this one.

Now, I don’t plan on just quitting altogether. I’ll continue to post updates on my life like the one above. But let’s be honest, I don’t think you’d be all that interested in the day-to-day updates of what’s happening with me. I wouldn’t even read that. I’ll let you know about the big things though. And if I think of something really important to write about, well heck, I’m gonna write about it. Also, I hope to keep making contributions to the OLW blog now and then.

If you still want to continue reading what I post here, I suggest setting up an RSS feed, that way you don’t have to keep checking back here only to be annoyed that I still haven’t posted anything. Actually, if you follow more than one blog, it only makes sense to set up and RSS feed.

Speaking of keeping up with blogs, you might be wondering if this means I’m dropping out of the blogging community. Certainly not. In fact, if you post here and have a blog, I’m reading it. I’m subscribed to around 12 active blogs, 25 total, though most of them aren’t exactly what you would call active. So I’m doing my best to keep up with what’s going on in other people’s lives, as much as I have time to do so.

All that to say, I’ll still be around, just doing other things.

-Aaron

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the testing

February 7th, 2010 by Aaron

I enjoy reading stories about rites of passage. There’s something fulfilling about a person leaving behind the safety they’ve known, facing a challenging personal quest and triumphantly returning as a respected member of society. They have faced danger, survived the experience, been changed by it and as a result have crossed over the threshold into adulthood. Why are these stories so cathartic? Perhaps because our society doesn’t have any definite rites of passage. Learning to drive, getting a job, buying a house, getting married, and raising children can all be important steps in our lives, but do this things transform us into men or women? True, getting lost in the woods, searching for an animal companion, leaping face first from a tower, or hanging from hooks embedded in the skin all seem like pretty strange ways to prove someone has reached that certain level of maturity. Still, there was at least a clear way to do so. Such methods don’t make sense to us anymore, but I wonder if we really are missing out on something those practices were meant to accomplish.

In the end, I think a lot of us simply prefer stagnation. We don’t want to leave the comforts of childhood to face real danger on our own. We don’t want to prove ourselves because it’s too much effort. We don’t want to be tested in case we discover that we’re failures, even though by not trying we’ve automatically become so. I find myself tempted to fall into the Peter Pan syndrome, not wanting to grow up, face difficulties, make sacrifices, and accept responsibility. I’m not saying we shouldn’t find joy in the little things of life. I truly admire those who find satisfaction in simplicity and I hope to follow their patterns. We should be thankful in all circumstances. But I must be on guard not to find contentment in the mundane. Have I resolved to build sandcastles on the shores of experience when an entire ocean awaits for me to explore? Am I so afraid of leaving behind what is comfortable that I’ve chosen a life of spiritual paralysis? These are things I must ask myself.

Thankfully, God tests us, whether we like it or not. I often remind myself that everything is a test. In a rather extreme example, God had Abraham prove his faithfulness by offering the one thing he cared about most, his only son. And not just any only son, but the one God had promised Abraham even though he and his wife we far beyond child-bearing years. Sure, God already knew the outcome beforehand, but I wonder what effect the experience had on Abraham and his son Isaac (who, I believe, was a young man at that point). And what an encouragement that story is to us now. Unlike many tribal rites of passage, God’s method is not a one-shot deal where failure is irreversible. Instead, we are constantly being tested. Testing is a purification process, comparable to the way gold or silver are refined through fire. Remarkably, God can work even through our failures. So I hope that I will face the next challenge willingly, seeing it as an opportunity for growth, knowing that, while it may seem terrifying, the outcome far outweighs the deceptive comforts of just giving up.

Posted in adventure, changes, life, story, thoughts | 1 Comment »

death or life

January 23rd, 2010 by Aaron

I’ve heard a few people tell me, “If I weren’t a Christian, I’d be a _____.” They fill in the blank with such things as naturalist, atheist, humanist, etc. Let’s get this straight, I’m not writing this to condemn anyone. What right do I have to do so? None. And for those who are not Christians, I don’t expect them to understand or agree with me. However, I’ve often found that such statements are made with an ever so slight sense of longing. Though I’m sure they’d deny it and it’s likely they are being honest, it seems as if they are really saying, “Sometimes I wish I weren’t a Christian so I could be a _____.” But when I’m in my right mind thinking about it, my own response is (or ought to be), “If I weren’t a Christian, I’d be dead.”

For me, there is no life outside of Christ. Without Christ, I’d quite possibly be physically deceased and would undoubtedly be spiritually and morally lifeless. And I don’t mean lifeless as in what happens after something has lived for a time, but as in having never once lived, a complete absence of even the faintest trace of life. Non-life.

Am I a better person for thinking this? Of course not. I am just as quick to give in to worldly thought and worldly living as the average Christ-follower, indeed, even more so. I’m outrageously susceptible to sin and am constantly underestimating its terrible power and influence in my own life. Nevertheless, when it comes to finding real appeal from adopting other worldviews, I simply cannot. I see no hope outside of Christ. I agree with Peter in John 6:68 when he replies to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” There is nowhere else to turn, nothing else that makes sense to me, no one else who offers an honest, practical, powerful, and reasonable solution to the problems of the human condition. I find no joy, no comfort, no meaning save that which comes from the death and resurrection of Christ. Without it I am forever lost; a creature most pitiable, doomed to roam in futility until its day of ultimate nonexistence. But in Christ I have life; eternal, glorious, victorious, abundant life! May it ever be so.

Posted in faith, life | 18 Comments »

lament

January 9th, 2010 by Aaron

What will it take for us to realize that every passing second is of importance, that every breath is a gift? Why am I so quick to lose sight of the magnitude of living, of just being here? So rarely do those gleaming moments of reverent understanding cross my mind, the ones that bring everything else into focused clarity beneath their glow. How seldom do we really appreciate the human experience, how little we truly value life, the one thing we possess.

Is it wrong to sometimes want so badly for things to be very different? So many of us, myself included, live better than any king ever did, with luxuries surpassing even the grandest imagination of those wealthy rulers from ages past. And yet we are so secluded, so feeble, so vain, so wasteful, so careless, so heartless, and so alone. I heard recently that worship is the only real solution to loneliness. I believe it.

These are dark times and I can see them getting darker. But alas, it is night, and it is always difficult to see anything clearly in the dark. Life becomes complicated and convoluted. The doubts start to overwhelm that inner joy. Still, the day is coming. As the sun faithfully rises once more, its beams streaming across my face, awaking me from slumber, I also rise, allowing air to again fill my lungs, knowing that I’ve been given yet another chance. And as I gaze out upon the world before me, I think, “you haven’t lost me yet.”

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this Christmas

December 28th, 2009 by Aaron

Christmas is always an interesting interruption in the usual way things go throughout the rest of the year. Still, I think it is a good change (for most people) and even a needed one. I always find myself in odd seasonally inspired moods, sometimes very pensive and then suddenly remarkably blissful with Christmas cheer. Plus there’s just a lot going on with me right now; what with figuring how to balance between multiple families, homes, and friend groups. It tends to cause conflicts, mostly internal ones, but not always. With all that, I’m very thankful to be able to spend time with my many family members and friends, feeling grateful to even have family and friends, knowing there are some people who have neither. I know that I am loved by them, and it is a nourishing thing to know.

Christmas often brings with it memories of the past, experiences I’d long forgot about and even some I hadn’t remembered at all (either because I was too young or I just have a poor memory). Whilst recollecting on days of yore and viewing old family videos, I was struck by this thought my sister recently shared with me, “it’s all like looking back on a dream of a different life that someone else lived.” A lot of times it feels that way. Was that really me? Did all that really happen? Living, it’s such a strange thing. I’m still getting used to it for the most part.

It’s odd that during this Christmas I’ve probably learned more about my family in just a few days than I have at any given period of time. There’s a lot of sadness in my family history. But when I look at how things are today, there is hope. Sometimes I still wish things had been different, but I’m at a place of acceptance, knowing the past cannot be changed. It is obvious to me that God is still invading our lives and working in remarkable ways, just as He did long ago when He came down to Earth as a human baby. For all these things, I rejoice.

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prioritizing

December 2nd, 2009 by Aaron

If, while cooking, you follow directions in the completely wrong order, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with a disaster that no one wants to eat. Life’s kinda like that. When we see someone whose life is a mess, we’ll often say they have the wrong priorities. They are placing too much significance on the incorrect thing and it throws everything else out of order. For a Christian, it’s necessary to approach faith with order and purpose, doing the most needful things first. I came up with a list outlining what I see as the proper steps towards Godly obedience. The items on this list are in order of importance, where each step follows another in a natural progression:

-Personal time with God in prayer and worship

-The Study of God’s word in order to better understand Him, ourselves, and the world around us

-Placing oneself under solid Biblical teaching and the instruction of a spiritual mentor

-Fellowship with other believers, unity of the body in praise and worship

-Doing the acts/work of God (reaching the lost, aiding the needy, ministering to fellow saints, serving one’s family, being a faithful worker for Christ, etc.)

Every part is important, but I believe there is a necessary order of operations to be followed. Let me know what you think, whether I’m missing or need to change something and why.

Posted in faith | 16 Comments »

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