Josh's weBlog of Chaos

Monday,
31st of May 2004
morning
Making Time for Others

Along the lines of a blog I did about two weeks ago, Independence/Interdependence, and three weeks ago, Feelings About Leaving LA, I've thought about why I feel unattached to some people, and have come up with some revelations on this point. There are some who I may think we should be closer friends, but our off-balance relationship explains why this isn't true. And maybe this explains why some of our other relationships crumble or are weaker than we think.
I've spent a lot of time going out of my way to visit with some people, making myself available to them because I care for and love them. I give them a higher priority because I esteem them to be special among those God has placed in my life. Yet the reverse is often untrue.
These people think that by taking time out only when I happen to be around and spend valuable time together is sufficient, but this isn't true. It makes it hard to feel cared for when there isn't a mutual sacrifice or a sacrifice given on one's behalf. And if, for this reason, I feel as though I'm only a side article to their lives, then I don't think any of us should be surprised. There's such a difference to those things we do out of comfort and what we do out of discomfort. What distance will we go for each other?
Now this is what I've seen that made GCF so valuable to me while I was at LA. There were those in that group who went out of their way for me, and showed the love of family many don't give. And likewise I enjoyed going out of my way for them to make the feeling of family mutual. And this mutual sacrificial nature is what makes a family strong. If anyone in GCF set their own self and ambitions higher than the rest, not being available and not making time for others, then the feeling of family in respect to them was diminished. As much as any of us may have tried to reach out to them and try to make them feel as though they were apart of our family, they may have felt connected by the sacrifice and effort, but to those of us who gave, they were lost and distant.
Without the mutual give/take and time for understanding, family becomes broken, and it's not surprising that people feel left out. If anyone makes time for me, and I will not for them, I cannot expect them to feel the strength of family. I can be thankful for what they've given me, but while I may delight in the expectation for what they've shown they can share, they cannot delight in anything I can share when I haven't shared a thing.
If any of us who are thankful for what God has given us, but are unwilling to make sacrifices to be with Him, then is it any wonder that Jesus says in Matt 7:21-23, "Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'"? How does one know the will of God other than spend time with Him? God may come to us often, but if we don't come to Him, then where's the family in our relationship? Oddly enough, those who don't take time out for me I also would have to say, "I don't really know you."
Sunday,
30th of May 2004
evening
Bible Translation and Misinterpretation

It's strange how reading multiple translations can clarify verses in the Bible that are written without clarity. Looking at Proverbs 17:9 in the RSV, "He who forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter alienates a friend," I once thought this had to do with repeating a matter once forgiven, however reading the Living Bible and Amplified Bible translations clarify it to show that it's nagging versus forgiving. Likewise, Proverbs 17:17 in the RSV, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity," I might think it's the good/bad contrast often given in Proverbs, however both the Living Bible and Amplified Bible read that the brother is born to help during adversity. The Amplified Bible reads, "A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity."
I find this alarming simply because the two readings mean significantly different things. Because the proverbs are often so terse, I think they are probably more likely to cause confusions like this. And I wonder if I'm not better off reading them in the Amplified Bible than the RSV as I've been doing. :(


Listening and Yapping

There are those people who don't take the time to understand, and proverbs has a verse about them. Proverbs 18:2, "A [self-confident] fool has no delight in understanding but only in revealing his personal opinions and himself" (Amplified Bible). I've met so many people who would rather give advice than ask questions and spend quality time to understand. Their giving advice is like their personal opinions and their own thoughts.
Saturday,
29th of May 2004
evening
Forgiveness & Alienation

Proverbs 17:9, "He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends" (Amplified Bible). This proverb is great because it identifies the importance (wisdom) of forgiveness. In order to allow someone to rebuild lost trust, they need to be forgiven (pardoned) so that they are given that opportunity to move beyond the offense. Otherwise hope and trust is forever lost with them. Nagging endlessly is unhelpful and unloving. This is a really great proverb because it describes a difference between a loving versus unloving rebuke! :)
Tuesday,
25th of May 2004
late evening
The Proverbs Dilemma

Proverbs 12:15, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice" (RSV). Trying to help others is difficult when they don't need to listen. This verse makes me think about the book of Proverbs. In a way, it talks about itself. The fool will be the one who doesn't need to listen to the book of Proverbs (or truthfully, the Bible as a whole) because their own way is right in their own eyes. Almost sounds like it condemns post-modern thought, doesn't it! :D


The Poor

This past Sunday evening I helped hand out extra food to some homeless people in downtown LA with a really good friend of mine. (A truly noble jesture, from her noble heart.) And it felt good giving these people something they needed rather than money which can be so easily abused. But, my friend expressed, what's the best way to declare God to these people with this kindness? And I don't know because these people need so much more than food. Food sustains their life until hopefully they may come to know God, but just giving out food won't automatically point them to God, especially the true living God.
Like she said, the Bible lifts up helping out the poor. And since I've been studying Proverbs, so I decided to do a word search for poor and see what I could find!
Proverbs 17:5, "He who mocks the poor insults his Maker, he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished."
Proverbs 22:2, "The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all."
Proverbs 22:9, "He who has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor."
Proverbs 28:27, "He who gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse."
Proverbs 31:20, "She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy."
Proverbs 19:1, "Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a man who is perverse in speech, and is a fool."
Proverbs 21:17, "He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich."
Proverbs 19:22, "What is desired in a man is loyalty, and a poor man is better than a liar."
Proverbs 29:7, "A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not undersand such knowledge."
Even Proverbs is very much in favor of helping out the poor. Yet the tragic part about this is that sometimes I think some of those poor on the street are what Proverbs would consider to be sluggards, fools, and liars. Proverbs isn't very nice in considering these types of people, saying in Proverbs 1:23-31 (Wisdom saying):
"Give heed to my reproof; behold, I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, and you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when panic strikes you, when panic strikes you like a storm, and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way and be sated with their own devices."
And yet there are poor out there who aren't sluggards, fools, or liars. People who are just forced onto the streets due to hard times and aren't looking to take an easy way out in life. People whose understanding and gratitude would allow them to see God's work in this ministry. And, beyond the poor are those people who may see God's work through the willing sacrifice of Christians to the poor.
My only fear is that at some point we may neglect our Christian brethren at the expense of the poor. If we help the non-Christian poor and lose our brother or sister, then we do need to reexamine our priorities. And there is one advantage to ministering to the poor in that you can see (if you ask) firsthand what leads to poverty. In some cases it may be an absence of fearing God.


The Poor Who Know God

One last comment about sharing the Gospel to the homeless is that this past Sunday we met a man who claimed to be a Christian, except his understanding of God was imperfect. This reminded me of a danger to thinking that someone simply needs to know that Christ died for them, and He is God. I've met several homeless who have no real understanding of God at all. They have unorthodox beliefs, and need real guidance because they really are still lost. Although this is perhaps no different than what constitutes even those who are not homeless, it's worrying that homeless may get an incomplete message and feel sound in their incomplete understanding which should only have be the beginning of a life long search for their God, not an end.
And discernment. Matt 7:6, "Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you." Giving people what they need when they need it is important. Some homeless may need something more personalized and less superficial if God is going to use us in their blessing. And sometimes the time just isn't right.
Monday,
24th of May 2004
late evening
The Beauty of the Retreat

The greatest part of the Harvest SGV retreat was the time I could spend with its members. There was the time and a variety of opportunities to interact with them, things that don't often happen on a normal Sunday afternoon. But the best part was the continuity in the fellowship! Rather than an hour or so and then bye for a week, it was an hour or so, then maybe several hours later, and more chances to share experiences with them. Surely, at no time have I felt a greater bond with the members of Harvest than at this retreat! The availability and time sharing really made it feel more like a family than a simple hanging out time during the week. I'd wish it could last for longer, but everyone has to go their own ways eventually, and the group disappears for multiple days and quality time becomes scarce once again. :(
I feel particular sorrow for those who couldn't make it because of other engagements or illness. And sometimes I wondered if some of those who were deepest in the planning of the event couldn't enjoy it as much as everyone else. I hope that God can sustain them through their sacrifice, and give them other opportunities to feel the momentary closeness I felt at the retreat.
Serving a group certainly feels differently than serving an individual. An individual is like a flower in a garden of flowers. A family is when you not only take time out in the garden, but also attend and take time to share the blessings of the individual flowers. The joy of the garden is not just watering it and keeping it healthy, but enjoying all the components that make up its beauty.


Too Much of a Sweet Thing

The retreat reminded me of my aversion to many sweets. It's funny that I used to not have that problem, but at some point it's become a challenge just looking at sweets. I think at some point it must have been one too many of those parties with too many sweets. Now looking at sweets makes me recall the sickening feelings, and I can only enjoy them in moderation.
I wonder if I could still handle these sweets if I hadn't overloaded myself too many times. I don't know if my aversion comes from anything else. I just know that my tolerance has dropped immensely. Where are those recipe books with less sweet, yet tasty, snacks?! :-O
Saturday,
22nd of May 2004
morning
Justifying the Wicked

Proverbs 17:15, "He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord" (RSV). I know some people who make excuses for people who do wrong, like "they are mostly good," or "he can't help it," or "it's just a stage in life." And I know people who get mad at those who properly correct these people who do wrong (where the excuses are used to justify their own position). It's really sad when people claim to love the Ways of God, and then make exceptions where no exceptions ought to be made. :(


When You Can't See the Road You Are Driving On

Driving up to the SVG Harvest Retreat was an experience! I don't know what to think. Sometimes you could only see a few feet beyond the front of the car, and sometimes you couldn't see anything due to mountain fog. I wanted to continue driving because the conditions were such that I didn't think anyone else would have an easier time, but perhaps Bobby, who was my co-pilot at the time, could have done better. But, God's blessing was on us even though I resisted giving up the wheel to Bobby, mostly fearing he could do no better, but close to the end I was ready to give it up for his own peace of mind. His personal desire to drive up the mountain since I've only been driving for about 4 weeks was completely reasonable. The twisty little roads really made it difficult, and roadsigns and markers were hard to see. (But one is never completely sure at what point one becomes sufficiently capable of taking on a challenge. The first two times I drove long distances on a freeway I was alone and scared, but by God's grace it all turned out all right.)
Wednesday,
19th of May 2004
evening
Starbucks & Wireless Internet

It costs money. And not just a pay per usage fee either. You need to pay a $30 montly fee which is absurd seeing as how I only wanted to use it once, or until my DSL starts working. Oh well. Guess I can't connect to the internet while I wait on my car's tires to be changed. Thanks T-mobile. :(


Predestination in Proverbs

I bet some people don't like Proverbs 16:4. "The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble" (RSV).


A Typical Characteristic of a Wiseman

Proverbs 16:23, "The mind of the wise makes his speech judicious, and adds persuasiveness to his lips" (RSV).


The Strife Bringer

Proverbs 16:28, "A perverse man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends" (RSV). Although a warning about what we can do wrong, it's also a warning about dealing with those who incite conflict and bear messages only meant to destroy relationships.
Tuesday,
18th of May 2004
evening
Always Seeking Profound Relationships

Been thinking about the past blogs. And I realized that along with caring about people, I really do want to have stronger relationships with people -- although I fail for the most part. This in itself is something that requires time and effort. More effort than I think many of us can afford. Relationships always start with the superficial, and unfortunately often end their too. Fortunately, there are a few people in LA that I've really grown to know through my time there. And I can count on us all staying in contact with each other mutually. :)


Patience is Always a Good Idea

Proverbs 15:28, "The mind of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things" (RSV). Further admonition for trying to answer/help people too quickly. I think many of my own rushed responses haven't been the best, and people always seem to respond best after I've had enough time to consider everything as carefully as I can.


What is the fear of the Lord?

Proverbs 15:33, "The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility goes before honor" (RSV).
Monday,
17th of May 2004
late evening
Seeking Discernment

Proverbs 14:15, "The simple believes everything, but the prudent looks where he is going" (RSV). I wish I could be simple, but the truth is that you can't believe everything you're told. We each need to be able to see where we are going, and ask God for eyes that can see.
Monday,
17th of May 2004
evening
Problems of the Day

As usual, the day has ended quite extraordinarily. The professional movers handled everything well, but trying to begin my own trip to SB from LA I discovered my front-left tire was flat, so I had to call AAA (I bet they're getting a little upset with me). Fortunately, the van's spare is a full tire, and I was able to drive really fast all the way to SB to get to my apartment just minutes after the movers arrived! And then this evening I received an automated phone call from Verizon saying my DSL was ready, but I tried and it was all the same. I contacted the techsupport and we messed around some more, but still couldn't get it to work. She said her tests showed everything to be alright, but certainly they aren't! To help she's put a mark on my records to say the next time I call they can direct me to their repair support. I couldn't do it tonight because the backlog was too long, and they'd probably close shop before I'd have a chance to receive help. Oh yeah, I dropped off my tire at the local Firestone this afternoon and the guy said they'd call me in an hour and a half when they fixed it, but they still haven't called and they've probably long closed shop by now. I don't like the idea of driving w/o a spare.


Independence/Interdependence

I was recently thinking about possible reasons why I don't feel like I'd miss many people. And it came to me that I've heard people tell me often that it doesn't matter if you feel rejected because God is always with you.
Well, certainly I believe this is true, although I also believe it is a shame when you feel rejected from His church. I think I've been accepted often enough, only to be forgotten in a crowd, that I don't expect much anymore. I don't really miss people as much as I miss who I once thought people were. I find most of my effort is spent, even when I'm not away from people, trying to understand who they really are. People are complex. Caring in one case, uncaring in another.
Too busy, too busy. I'm too busy to miss people. I've learned how to not count on people. You ask, and shouldn't expect anything. It's quite a blessing when you do receive a reply. And if anyone is consistent in replying, then you've found a gem. (Of course, I don't count unthoughtful replies which aren't worth the time spent composing them.) Give, but don't expect to receive. And if you receive, only give if you have a heart to give, not just because you received. So, if I'm also a sporadic/spontaneous giver, then I can't say I'm surprised.
Really, the only reason I can think of why I keep-in-touch with people is not because I miss them so much as I care for them. The past is not something to dwell on except in respect to the future, so it makes more sense to me not to dwell on people's absence as it is to have a mind for them no matter how far they may be. People 'missing' me doesn't mean much to me. People fellowshiping with me means a whole lot more, and I'm certain it's the same with everyone else too. Because of this, it's not surprising that people request 'visit often', or keep-in-touch. They may wish to be missed, but they don't really seem to make that as high a priority.
Sunday,
16th of May 2004
afternoon
The Last Weekend Visit

Let's start by putting it this way -- some people are busy. Sitting in church alone for awhile, contemplating my latest failure at communication with someone at UPC, the haze was clearing in my mind. The real test to how much people really miss you is not how much they say they are going to miss you, but the level of effort they put will put forward in order to stay in contact with you when you are finally gone. People who hardly stay-in-touch when you are close by can hardly be expected to stay-in-touch when you are away. If they did, I would be astonished! People who at least care will give a call every-once-in-awhile. But even people who stay somewhat in contact when you are nearby will usually not have time to truly miss you while you are away, and this makes sense because why should they? To miss someone would seem to suggest that without them there is something missing in your life, perhaps a deficiency the other person filled.
And as I sat there I could tell who were most likely going to miss me at UPC. There were those I'd met there who were willing to go out of their way today to seek me when I was alone. And then there were those who were -- by experience -- the least likely to approach me at all, those who I always had to seek out. But, as often occurs, those whom you seek out who feel satisfied with how things are currently will not reciprocate. But who would expect it? They are content.


The Worthless Friendship

I have someone who says he's my friend but doesn't show any trust in me. He tells me what I think and why I do what I do and doesn't listen to my own reasoning. Then he says he trusts me. How can one communicate with someone who isn't even seeking a sense of trust? How can I trust someone who won't trust me when I feel I should be trusted? How can I communicate anything to someone if they treat whatever I say with little or now weight? It reminds me of Proverbs 13:18, "Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured" (KJV). If I correct him with my true thoughts, and he refuses to listen, how can I honor him?
Saturday,
15th of May 2004
morning
Week in Review

It's been a crazy week! A whole lot has happened; not having all I needed to live comfortably, the car battery dying, DSL not working, and getting comfortable at work. :D All things seem to be getting along well though. Maybe a little more work that I didn't want to do, but God gave me the fortitude to come through it alright. :)
Friday,
14th of May 2004
late evening
Good Company, Bad Company

Proverbs 13:20, "He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm" (RSV). Sometimes such advice seems obvious, but I don't think even I'm always careful to watch out with how chummy I get with people in trying to appear kind in their sight. The point where you bend to being their companion in foolishness, which can be easy if you are afraid to rebuke them, is where harm probably would be greatest.


Spare the Rod, Hate the Son

Proverbs 13:24, "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him" (RSV). I thought this is great because it reinforces the necessity of discipline. I see so many under disciplined children because hurting them is considered 'unloving'. Yet, not all pain is necessarily delivered without love.


Unsatifiablity

Proverbs 13:25, "The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want" (RSV). Now that I'm making more money than I have ever in the past, I wonder what I'll do with all this that God has given me. Will I be satisfied with what's good so that I will have abundance to share with others? Or will I never be satiated, and spend all the wealth on myself? What does this proverb say about those of us who are always searching, and never see any form of abundance that God has given us?
Thursday,
13th of May 2004
late evening
DSL Excitement

Today I drove to UPS, which is well hidden on Pine St. Missed it the first time and searched diligently the second time before finding their trucks tucked away in a corner! Yes, and then after work, I excitedly plugged it in, and it didn't work! :( But once I figured out how to navigate Verizon's voice automated system by saying 'DSL', I got a very friendly technician to try and help me debug everything. Still doesn't work, but he was very patient with me.


Work Going Well

Things are starting to heat up at work. I'm getting a good feel for everything, so I can see them giving me some more difficult assignments rather than just reviewing the project. I pray that God would help me make good of my effort. I also had an opportunity to go to farmer's market with two coworkers and maybe I will be able to play volleyball on Monday nights.


Proverb on Tarnished Beauty

Yesterday I considered Proverbs 11:22 and thought it really held meaning to me. "Like a gold ring in a swine's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion" (RSV). Pigs were quite unholy (unclean) creatures for Jews, so sticking a valuable gold ring in a pig would be a waste of the ring. I think it puts into perspective the importance of looks versus good character. The gold ring (beauty) is meant to add to what's already there, but isn't key. The character (being) is what really matters because a bad character (swine) simply makes beauty a waste. So God's wisdom is that character is higher than beauty, although sometimes I think many people put way more effort in beauty than in character.


Righteous Caring
Proverbs 12:10, "A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel" (RSV). I thought God's wisdom on this point was quite discriminating. The righteous man cares even the life of a beast, even though it's lower than a man, yet the point where the wicked claims to be providing mercy, it's really cruel. The righteous man's mercy and care are really built in, whereas the wicked can't show mercy because they don't really care.
Wednesday,
12th of May 2004
evening
Feeling Drained

At least that's what my car battery was feeling this morning making it quite difficult to get to work when I wanted. :( I was all ready to arrive at work by 7am, but the car certainly wasn't! It just weezed and that was it... So I walked to State St. to all the stores (about 15 min brisk walk) and found a Kragen Auto Parts and a Sears, but the Kragen wouldn't open until 8am and the sears until 9am! So I waited around and bought one of those portable jumping stations at 8am and carried it back to my car where I jumped it and arrived at work shortly before 9am. (On this short drive the odometer, spedometer, and fuel guage were acting funny -- stuck --, so I prayed just followed the speed of the cars in front of me.)
The adventure doesn't stop because I wanted to pick up my DSL modem today, but after jumping the car at noon, I decided I'd better fill it with gas first, and after filling it with gas I couldn't get it to jump, so I called AAA. It took awhile, so I walked to work, told them I may be gone for awhile depending on how things turned out, then walked back to find a battery-fixit man there. He jumped my car at about 2pm, and I drove it back to work let it idle for 30min to charge, and then left so I could do some more work. Then at 5:30pm I wanted to see if I could perhaps pick up my modem, but found the car dead, and was able to jump my car and my manager let me borrow his portable bike just in case, and I drove directly to Sears.
There I parked close to the garage, and found out about their express battery service place in the garage, but had difficulty re-jumping, so they jumped it for me and I drove in. We pronounced the battery dead, and I bought a fancy new DieHard batter. :D Now I just have to make up for all that lost work time...
Tuesday,
11th of May 2004
late evening
Second Day of Work

Things appear to going well. There hasn't been too much structure to work yet, but they've been clarifying the project I'm on and I've learned enough that I've begun to make my own searches for answers on-line to learn about the project. :) I went out to lunch with one of the new guys today and he's really cool. We discussed the housing situation since he's waiting for an apartment and I found one so quickly. Part of it is that I have so very little so I can choose to move into a small apartment. I'm also getting to know people better, so things are going well! I'm looking forward to using the new pillow I bought at Sears to improve my sleep at night! |-)


Proverbs of the Day

Since I'm reading through proverbs I thought I may as well include a few that I encounter. Like today I read Prov 10:12, "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses" (RSV). This proverb is really helpful in showing one of the differences between love and hatred. Hatred is more interested in keeping contention, whereas love is more interested in getting over it. It's the difference between those who seek to cause dissension and those who are peacemakers.
Tuesday,
11th of May 2004
morning
First Day of Work

I've found that I forgot many things when I came to Santa Barbara. I forgot a knife, a spoon, a can openner, toilet paper, a pillow, a cutting board, pajamas, and things to store food in (like Ziplock bags or Tupperware). It's taken me multiple trips to the grocery stores to remember these because I keep on forgetting all that I need. And of course some things they don't have at the nearby Albertsons or Longs Drugs! Albertsons has next to nothing, other than cutting boards and toilet paper. And Longs doesn't have any decent spoons. They're all either too big and flat, or they are ice cream scoopers. Guess I went the way of the ice cream scooper. :) Still need a pillow, and the pajamas aren't necessary.
Orientation was good, my manager showed me around, and then I was able to get the computer to work and I talked to several people in the group. Still getting to know my way around, and still getting to know people. They gave me some docs to read and I'm content. :) I'll need to ask for a notebook for scribbling down work notes since nothing I do there is allowed to leave. It feels different with work not being taken home quite like at the University setting!
Saturday,
8th of May 2004
morning
Constrained Fellowship

Last night the UCLA IV-GCF group had a farewell party for me. And I was thinking, while they all prepare pages in the scrap book maybe I should be preparing their scrapbook pages ahead of time. :D It only makes sense if I won't be around to do it later... But I didn't. I think I may be able to prepare them later since I'm not too far away.
It was a great time and it really does show what makes long term relationships precious. It really is about being able to understand people better. The more you interact with people, the more you see them and how they respond in particular situations, and the better you can relate with them. By cutting off these opportunities, the relationship can be hampered. This is the real shame about moving around so much and not being able to remain in a stable community.
This made me think about the benefits of moving away. And you know, I could think of several! We all take things for granted when they are just there, whether they be people or objects. Moving makes you appreciate those things that go, or allow you to see them in the proper context. You can always say to yourself, we can meet up next week all the time and keep putting it off when you are living close to your friends, but then they move away and it just makes you want to kick yourself because you took their close proximity for granted. This is good because sometimes I don't notice something until it goes missing.
For example, I'm going to miss the Monday night prayer and accountability group. The availability of everyone in my small group for meeting not only that night, but also throughout the week brought us closer together. And it reminds me of how important it is to be available to your friends. Also the openness of the group when we were together was critical in making us closer. It builds understand you just don't get when you sit nearby yet never say anything that reveals anything about yourself. You can always serve people better when you know them better. It's disappointing when you feel like you are treated generically because it seems to show a lack of understanding. The more you really get to know someone, the more unique they appear and you can't help but treat them in a more unique way.
So, moving is going to make all this more clear to me because communication is going to be constrained. E-mail and phone calls are probably going to supplant the more intimate prayer circle, eating out, walking together, and just being in each other's presence while talking. Even before moving I felt regret for not having time to spend with certain people I wanted to keep close with, so maybe this will help me develope another perspective in regards to them as well.
Friday,
7th of May 2004
morning
Loving Children

Yesterday I was visiting a friend and one of the children lost their toy. Well, more precisely a bunch of people were playing with the toy, and it was one of the types of toys that flies, and it became stuck on a nearby roof. :( So child was ~6 years old and was quite distraught due to his loss. Someone else was playing with the toy at the time and they lost his toy.
I can't pretend to relate to children. My first thought is, it's just a toy! Which makes me wonder, why do I have such a simple view of it? I'm much older, and so when I see a toy or material thing go bye-bye the first thing I remind myself is that it's really nothing. It's not a person, it's not eternal. So, I dismiss its importance. And this makes it terribly difficult to relate to people who really love their toys!
So, while I was leaving to go onto my next event, I thought about it. It seemed right to care for the child's loss because he really wanted that toy -- even if it is insignificant from an eternal perspective. But I don't want to teach the child that material possessions are something to fret over! And yet, while thinking, I decided maybe there are more important concepts to teach the child at this point. I can't imagine explaining to a kid why his toy is not worth crying over. That toy means everything to him now, but it won't in the future. (I just have to look at my own childhood to know this.) I can imagine his perception of such explanations as being justifications to abandon the little toy on the roof of the house to make my own life easier. Do I want the child to think making excuses for my own benefit is a part of the Christian way of life? Absolutely not! So, my own concern should not be about the toy, but about his ability to see the sacrifices I am willing to make to heal his pain related to the lost toy, in hopes that eventually he can understand the lengths at which a Christian is willing to go to heal a broken relationship (peacemaking) whether between he and I, or he and someone else.
But, just so you know, the only reason why I think this way for this child is that from his own perspective it was an injustice that his toy was lost by someone else. If the child was driven by greed and was manipulative, then the Christian role would be to focus on breaking the greed which would separate him from God. But since his focus was on something even Christians care about, justice (the focus of Christ's own sacrifice), it shouldn't be taken lightly, but seriously, so that he can see its own importance in our lives! :)
Thursday,
6th of May 2004
afternoon/evening
People I Can Count On

Regardless of how well I know them, there's some people in LA who I respect and enjoy because I know I can count on them. Whether they are Christian or not, they've stood by me when I've been injured, waiting for me in the hospital when they could have left and slept in bed, they've been available to hang out with, they've encouraged me when I wasn't in the best of moods, and they've shown compassion to others when it wasn't required of them. These are people you can trust no matter how far away you live. :) Probably the greatest danger is to take people like that for granted. Forgetting that they are people who can give what they have sacrificially, yet also have their own limitations, and have things they lack. To forget this and use them for selfish ambitions, rather than remember that they also have hearts and spirits, is what I definitely need to avoid.
Thursday,
6th of May 2004
morning
Possibilities to Stay in LA

Northrop-Grumman contacted me this morning! 1.5 weeks late because I already accepted the Raytheon offer. Interesting twist of fate since they are in Redondo Beach (near El Segundo). One may think, why didn't I wait on the Raytheon offer? But then it was the most perfect offer, doing more of what I've done in my graduate studies. Something I could enjoy doing. Nice and friendly collegues. Only 1.5 hours drive away from friends in LA ... A distance, but not unsurmountable. And yet the NG group has many great characteristics too! The only difference being ultra-high-speed digital electronics and closer to LA. But I had given up hope on it prematurely, so although I considered it, I saw it only as a dim possibility. (It's been 4 months since the interview. I should have called on the status of the position now that I think about it. First job, first experience, first tangle of offers.)
So, there was always an opportunity I didn't think of considering. And it brings up the question, how important is staying in LA to me? Is it important enough to riscend the Raytheon offer for the NG position? Which of course plays on my sense of honor as well. With a contract I've agreed to, the honorable thing to do is follow through with it. Yet, as I wrote on Wednesday, the importance of my life in other people's lives is really unknown to me. If I leave, then I imagine they will be able to continue on. At least I can visit them sometimes ... it's only 1.5 hours away. And I think about the new people I will meet in Santa Barbara. Perhaps God has a purpose for me there? I know He has a purpose for me wherever I go. Where should I be?


Unattachment

It's remarkeable how unattached I feel to most people here. Of those I do feel most connected to, I know that we'll keep in contact with each other. Of those I'm not sure about because the reciprocal nature of our relationships is poor to non-existant, is it surprising that I feel disconnected there? And reciprocation is not just in what I receive materially, but in what I can perceive as what I can give and share. What do I have to give and share that would give strength to the relationship? Without feedback, even giving and sharing takes on the appearance of emptiness. Without detail in feedback, everything looks superficial and the relationship remains as a weak bond which is easily set aside for other superficial relationships. If I'm sad about anything, it's that most relationships I have made here are superficial (at least in my eyes). This leaves only a few where I've find a more profound bond that would ever make me consider staying in LA if I had ever been given a reasonable hint they would be seriously hurt in the move. Some relationships can be maintained, at least on some level, from a distance.
Wednesday,
5th of May 2004
Feelings About Leaving LA

In a way I can't escape the feeling of being heartless leaving all the people whose lives I've become apart of in LA. At the same time I wonder if by leaving quickly I'm taking relationships for granted, and that perhaps I'm not recognizing value inherent in them. Or perhaps I don't know the extent of their value hidden from my sight.
Now, there are some people I will miss dearly because they have been a big part of my life. Yet, there are those that I have only known for a short period of time, and I wish I could have had more time to know them better, but it will fade without effort from the both of us. And there are those who were just another face, so superficial a relationship that I know them no better than any new person I would meet at Santa Barbara anyway.
Of the value I have in other peoples lives is sometimes anyone's guess. The value of a relationship is so hard to convey. I'm me and what is it about me that conveys value to others? I wonder if it is the same for everyone? I don't think so. Sometimes I'm simply too finite to appreciate all of what someone has to offer, and I can imagine it's the same with others (although I could be wrong). Someone may enjoy a discussion aspect, another person a thoughtfulness aspect, maybe a patience aspect, and perhaps there are those who may even find things about me a bit annoying. Maybe I'm a bit zealous, confused, or confusing at times. How do these all come together to form an overall opinion and affect the way people interact with me?
There's a silence in respect to these things. I've often wondered if I should confront people with my own thoughts, but society has seemed to teach not to reveal people's faults to them out of courtesy... although I actually do reveal faults to people I know really well... like my twin (isn't that odd!) and he takes it rather well! Along with Proverbs 9:7-9, this courtesy begins to see even less so, but it's so ingrained in my life that trying to be frank in a nice and helpful way seems to be self-contradictory. I can't help but wonder what reservations some people have towards me (after all, I'm imperfect). Why does so and so seem quite unwilling to speak to me? Probably just a bad day, but maybe not! Could be that courtesy kicking in, and, try as I might, no amount of asking will root out the real cause! It's a conspiracy! :-o
And then there is the reality of being God's. What about me at any particular place makes me apart of His great work among those people there? Am I truly invaluable there? Can't I be replaced by another one of His people? How special am I in any particlar case? If He sends me to Santa Barbara with some plan there, what's to keep me in LA?
And finally, although moving is not like death in that it isn't as great a distance to travel, those of us who believe in eternity know that the separation caused by death is only temporal. Likewise moving is only temporal. Our lives here are temporal. Putting too much value in the temporal could be problematic if it interferes with doing God's will. So, if I move, I hope it doesn't make people too sad. And similarly, if I leave this world I hope people look on to eternity and not be sad in the moment, but glad in the future.

Obtained SB Apartment Yesterday

Everything went well. I went to El Segundo to get the necessary cashier's checks,drove all the way to SB, where I had lunch, and then gave them my money and signed all the necessary papers! So, now I have a tiny, yet nice, apartment to live in at SB. :)
Monday,
3rd of May 2004
Communication Problems

I'm finding that the worse thing you can do when communicating with someone is consistently not come to understanding with them. For me, I know that when someone talks with me and doesn't seem to register what I'm saying, and it is coupled with little or no apparent desire to seek understanding, I wonder if they really care about what I say. Given enough successive occurances and no evidence of the contrary, I begin to feel no connection with them whatsoever, and an antagonism develops so that I no longer have a good spirit of expression with them. Instead it becomes clouded with a lack of trust and hopefulness. Essentially a ruined relationship which is difficult or impossible to heal without effort from the other person.
In a way this makes me sad because I see the wall go up but lack knowledge in how to start any healing process. I'm fearful that my own expression of discomfort will come across as harsh (because of my already tarnished feelings), leading to escalating problems due to defensiveness (which often means rejection of criticism), and a increased sense of uncaring.
When I know someone cares, I'm always more at ease with them because I know they will not quickly jump to conclusions, and will not take offense too readily. So they will be able to see the desire for reconciliation for what it is, and will take the time necessary for the process to be initiated and completed.
Sometimes I wonder how some Christians understand Matt 5:23-24 which says that if you know a brother has something against you to seek reconciliation. Sometimes I find Christians who simply don't respond to questions of clarification or understanding. When animosity forms between you and them, it's almost as though there's none of this brotherly responsibility taught by Christ. It's like you aren't really their brother, just another guy they'd rather not deal with. :(
Sunday,
2nd of May 2004
Communion Reflections

Taking communion this Sunday at Westwood Presbyterian Church, I considered possible significance of metaphors for the substance of the bread and wine. Thinking about linking the Word with bread (as the flesh of Christ) by Matt 4:4, and life with wine (as the blood of Christ) by Lev 17:11. And I thought about James 2:17 (faith with works) and 1st John 3:17-18 (words and truth). So, we don't just live off of the words of Christ, but they must be given life in our lives. :) So we need both elements for completion! An interesting way to see the elements of the Eucharist.


Elements of Compassion

I was considering this morning (from a discussion) elements that would show a lack of compassion. From a recent experience, I considered one way to show no compassion would be to apparently ignore another person's just concerns for their own well being.
For example, I could tell someone a concern I have about doing something, and they could give related advice that doesn't really account for the concern. Then, rather than showing trust in their own advice by making personal surety (sacrifice) to bolster the value of their own advice in respect to my saftey, they can give no sign of how willing they really are to stand by their own advice. It's as though, not only do they not care for the concern, but they also don't trust their own advice, yet they are quite willing to see me follow it and possibly get hurt. To me this can be interpreted as a lack of compassion -- asking someone to do something you don't yourself believe in.
Saturday,
1st of May 2004
Streets of Santa Barbara

Today I tried to find those apartments I located on Friday. It was certainly a challenge. I was early to the first one so I decided to find a place to eat at, and I became a little lost. While scoping out the neighborhood, I almost caused an accident. :( While crossing a one way street I thought I looked and saw was clear (but cars were parked on the side, so it was difficult to really tell) I saw cars coming at me fast and I became scared and used the wrong peddle... I braked and I thought to myself, "This is it! ..." But the person braked fast enough, and we were spared. I could smell the burning rubber and saw that we had come within inches of colliding. Not fun. I pulled over for a moment on the block I had been travelling to just to wait and see if the car would want to have a word with me... But he didn't, so after resting some, I decided to continue my apartment hunting adventure.
Getting to the first apartment was easy. It was a small apartment. (Note to self that a compact 1 bedroom apartment means a studio with a wall inserted between the 'livingroom' and 'bedroom' so they are connected by a hallway and no doors.) Not the prettiest of places I've been to, but I suppose it would do if it hadn't also been the furthest from my job. Maybe if it was just across the street or the last hope I may consider it. :D
The second apartment was difficult to find. Not only did I go the wrong way when I got off the offramp, but when I finally realized it and made a u-turn, I thought I started to go the wrong way again, but it turned out I had made the right choice! (The road at one point looked like maybe it turned...) And I found the next apartment, which was small, but really nice. Close to a trailer park with elderly people in it, so quite silent, except for the hum of the nearby freeway (which the first apartment had as well). :)
The third apartment was also a challenge to navigate to, but I did manage to get there without any wrong turns. It had a small bedroom available, a bit larger than the others, but more expensive, and its only problem was in layout. They had larger one bedrooms becoming available later, that looked much nicer, but too much in the horizon for me I'm afraid. :(
The fourth apartment was easy to find. But, once I saw the room and noted how expensive it was, I realized that the third apartment was far better, if just a little further away from work. It definitely wasn't worth the price unless I was desperate. In the end, I think it was probably as big as the large one bedroom would be at the previous apartment. :| (Besides, they never got back to me when I left a message anyway.) I took an application just-in-case. :)
The last and fifth apartment had a road to it that was easy to miss around UCSB, and I missed it and ended up driving into UCSB and having to backtrack. When I did find it and park, I heard a little horn being blown periodically, and lo-and-behold! An snack truck (icecream truck?) was driving down the street making noise. :-O I've had bad experiences with annyoing icecream trucks, so I become leary. The prices in the area were more expensive anyway, and the apartment I had found a classified for was closed, so I was just checking them out. I think I'll just wait for the relocation rent tour for those. :>
Well, I went to Chilli's for lunch, and dropped by Staples to pick up some envelopes for my application I was preparing to drop off at the second apartment, which I gleaned was the best choice. Easy access to-and-from the freeway with a nice manager. Good price too (for the area). The manager suggested a few other people were looking too, but they've been advertising for awhile, so I think I still have a good chance at it. :)
Now I needed a money order or cachier's check. At the 3rd apt, I asked if they had a BofA around. And so I had an adventure trying to find a street he told me to drive on, and after a fun drive around Goleta, I finally found it and located the BofA in Santa Barbara. I got out of the car, locked the door, and closed it behind me... And it just so happened that the keys were still in the ignition! Ugh! What a day! Well, I went inside and told them my situation, but couldn't get the cashier's check because I didn't have the name of the apts handy, but at least I could call AAA (they were quite nice about it). I waited for the tow truck guy and he noticed my windows were cracked (it was a hot day in the sun), so he tried to hook to what he thought was an electronic lock. :> But it was the window switch... But amazingly enough it worked! :-O I had left the keys in the ignition at the point the windows and electronics were on... Go figure... What a blessing that was! It made the work that much easier. I'll have to be more careful next time.
Anyway, by that time the BofA was closed when I tried to get back in. (It was Saturday, so I must have got there just before it had closed). So, I called my mom and she located a nearby "seven eleven" using Yahoo! yellow pages. :) I drove there, bought the money order, and returned to the third apartment and dropped the application into the office's slot. (Her office hours had expired a long time ago that day.)
Then it was time for the long drive home. My eyes were starting to water because I was so tired. But I managed by singing and humming to myself. And it all went well.
It's been my 2nd week with the van, and praise God that I haven't had/made any accidents yet! Only close... It was cool that the key had been left in the car so that the windows worked when I had locked myself out. I bet that's why it didn't bing at me... But better that way, because it made the job at getting into the car easier. And just being able to get there and back again safely was great! (One-way trip is about 1.5 hours using the 405-101 in clear traffic.)
Friday,
30th of April 2004
Finding an Apartment in Goleta

I found various resources on-line for finding apartments. So far the two best appear to be periodical related. :) There's the Santa Barbara Independent and (even better)the Santa Barbara News-Press. I guess I'm a little anxious to find a place since I need to do so in a very short time period... like 1 week. :-O What was I thinking when I said I'd be ready to work in just 2 weeks after the verbal offer! (On Monday I received a job offer from Raytheon in Goleta.) But, I've called 7 apartment complexes and three of them responded with information (left my name and number on four), so I think I won't have too much of a problem finding a place to lay down my head.
So far, it looks like prices are kind of like in LA. The more expensive 1-BD apartments are closer to UCSB, whereas the less expensive are further from UCSB. We're talking about a $1000 (cheap closest to UCSB) to $830 (cheapest near west side of SB city) spread. I wonder if it has anything to do with trying to milk students who often have roommates...
Just in case I've started the process of having the reloaction rental tour, but they can't give me a tour until May 4th (Tuesday). So, I made sure I could cancel if I find something before then. :D
I finished all the paper work, now I have to get prepared to move and file away all the new documents I have. I'm considering taking advantage of the program to have professional movers move my things, but I was told they have to box things for me otherwise they aren't insured. Oh well. I guess I'll have to make piles and direct them to only pick up certain items and leave my roommate's (Tim's) things alone. At least using this I won't have to worry about fitting the moving in other people's schedules. Although, I would have to wait about a week after work started, so maybe it will depend on how I feel. Maybe I can cancel that too if I just decide to move things myself. :)


Thoughts About Materialism

Today, while waiting to submit my urine for drug testing, I saw an older couple. And I thought to myself, it's awful to see the woman look so decrepit. It looked like she may have Parkinsons because she moved slowly and seemed to have some of the fidgeting that my grandmother had with the disease. This made me think about how she may be able to use prayer. And then it occured to me that everything I had just responded to were superficial! What's more important? Her physical/mental health or her spiritual state with God? I was putting temporal elements ahead of eternal elements of her life!
Sometimes it is so easy to see things from a more tangible perspective and focus our attention on those things we can see. You broke a leg, are ill, lost a friend, so let me pray for you. But the question, if asked, about keeping our relationship strong with God is sometimes secondary. We don't first pray foremost that our eternal spirits would remain firm in the hope of Jesus Christ, but instead pray for temporal challenges to be taken away. And this seems to be reflected in the way we approach others, so readily capable of concern for physical ailments, and not for their relationship with God. So, rather than say, I think it's terrible that so and so is sick, I might prefer to start out by first considering their relationship with God (the eternal) and then move onto getting physically better (the temporal). Perhaps considering this order would put into better context the value they each hold in our lives. So, if someone dies in this world, do we concern ourselves with their physical absence, or with their eternal relationship with God? :)
Tuesday,
27th of April 2004
Poetry at LA Times Festival of Books

I was able to the panel on the magic of words in poetry Saturday morning. I think I was able to pick up some tips from the poets present, although in some ways I'm not sure if misunderstood them, or disagree with some of what they suggested.
Since I've dabbled in poetry, I was able to compare my experience with what they related. The tips I enjoyed was the exhortation to write poetry that has an aura of mystery to it to make the reader more involved in the poem. Rather than be a straight-forward narrative or exposition, it should make the one who would normally just be a spectator be a participant in the unfolding of the poem's inspiring qualities. (Of course, they must be referring to a particular type of creative poetry, not epic or narrative poetry which tell stories.)
It was unclear to me what type of clarity they supported in poems. In some sense they really seemed to push for a poem's substance to be flexible enough to stimulate, but not to lead absolutely to a particular point. I was wondering how they would see my poetry. I like to write with a definite message I'm trying to get across, but rather than say it in a straightforward way I try to build it through poetic relationships (and sometimes at the end I try to clarify the point of the poem). However, I believe some may complain about my style because I often have a strong point I'm trying to convey. It doesn't have the element of lacking certainty that they often described. And although I agree with them that you often learn a lot even through writing your own poem, I tend to think that the real power of poetry is seeking that personal connection with the reader. If you can put them at ease and make them feel at home in the poem, their understanding can be greater than simple narration or exposition.
Someone asked, and they said they revised poems often (even to the point of published poems changing). I also revise, but possibly because I'm not too much of a perfectionist at this point, and I like it to be mostly written through the inspiration of the moment, I don't revise as often as many of them. Besides, I don't have that much time. :D If someone grossly misunderstands what the poem says, I'll certainly go back and revise it!
Probably the last impression was that they suggested flow by voicing it and not just running through it in the head. :) Being a quiet sort of guy, I suppose I tend to fail at this point. Eventually I'd like to be able to control the structure to help in the evoking particular images, but I don't think I'm that far yet.
Monday,
26th of April 2004
Introductory Blog

This webpage is for those who are interested in what I may be doing. With this in mind, I shall endeavor to make it as informative as possible with as many words as possible. >:D And it should be realized that only public thoughts will be posted on this public forum. So, anything that belongs on any other webpage of mine will appear here. In fact, I'll make web links to any new material on my webpage that is relevant to a blog.
It's also important to know that as blogs age so do my ideas. I reserve the right to cancel old blogs which cause excess confusion or edit them for clarification. I'll endeavor to make as many convoluted markings as possible to show what changes were made. Also simple spelling and grammatical errors will be corrected without markings unless I feel additional chaos is needed. (In which case I may add them without requiring the presence of errors.)
If you wish for clarification or comment, please e-mail me in accordance to this proverb:
Proverbs 9:7-9 (RSV) - He who corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man and he will increase in learning.