Weekend Update


OK, been a while since I’ve done a Weekend Update, but also been a while since I’ve had a weekend sufficiently varied to merit it. I’ve had some good weekends lately, to be sure, but they’ve generally been single-topic, a la the improv update or the STS-130 trip, or none of your business, or both. ;-)

I left work Friday and went for a quick hike, and then to Milton Frank Stadium, where I’d never been before. Ironically, the first time this Huntsville High School alum set foot in Milton Frank, it was to cheer for the Lee High School girls soccer team. A friend of mine from church is in her first year coaching the team, and so I stopped by to watch them. I picked a good game to go to — they won for the first time. I didn’t get to stay for the whole game, but I did get to see them score three times. A fun brief excursion, and it was great fun cheering for the Lee girls..

From there, I had a great dinner, getting to know a good friend better. God has brought many new characters into my life over the past year, and they’ve been a real blessing to me.

Saturday was largely lazy and unproductive, which was awesome. The highlight of the day was a concert that night. I knew of Michelle Malone from three songs she’d done with Garrison Starr, whom I like much, and knew she lived in the area and frequently did shows around here, but had never made it to one before. When I saw Friday that she was playing Flying Monkey Saturday night, I contacted some friends and made plans to go. The show was amazing. It was basically just her with a guitar and harmonica (and occassionally tamborine and percussion shaker back-up), but she filled the room. You could easily forget it wasn’t a full band; I very much want to go back for one of her full-band shows just to see what it would be like. The songs I knew were Tighten Up The Springs and Miss Miss’ippi, but there was plenty of other good stuff as well. Check her out.

Sunday morning, I got up early to go to church. I was kind of excited about it; actually gettting to go to the service at Sojourn has been the exception this year, between working with kids on Sunday mornings and being out of town. I got there early to help set up beforehand. While we were setting up, someone commented on how great a day it was supposed to be; I lamented that my plans involved me being indoors the entire time. After we finished setting up, a guy who has recently started coming to our Wednesday night Bible study Journey Group asked if I would want to go with him to get a biscuit before church. On the way, we started talking about some stuff he’s dealing with, and started talking about some of my story, and the conversation continued after we got back. And continued, and continued. Finally, it became obvious that we weren’t going to the service, and so we decided to migrate the conversation to the hiking trail. And, wow. So very cool sharing a literal walk with someone with whom I kind of share a spiritual walk. Great time of sharing stories and ministering to each other. Definitely a feeling of being where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be. At the end of it, we prayed together, and I prayed for him that God do something that day to reassure Him about where he’s supposed to be. Considered praying the same for me, but realized that He just had.

So, amazing church that morning. Someday I hope to actually make it to a service again.

After that, I got an e-mail from my pastor (different congregation) asking if I would want to play disc golf. And so I did. So after bemoaning the fact that I was going to have to spend the day indoors, I got to both hike and play disc golf, so not bad at all.

From there to a housewarming/birthday party for a good friend; it was an honor to be able to be a part of celebrating the occassion.

Weekend concluded with Alice In Wonderland, which was entertaining. It was probably about what I expected in the Depp/Burton weirdness department, but it was a fun romp nonetheless, and pretty visually spectacular in 3D. That said, I am SO looking forward to Tron Legacy. I mean, like, inordinately so.

Stripes of Snow


Yep, more 365project reject pictures. I liked my picture for yesterday better as a photograph, but these capture something that intrigued me as I was hiking yesterday — all the trees in the first part of the hike had a neat stripe of snow down one side. Why? I don’t know. But it was pretty.

Ruach Hako’desh


This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries.

“And the three men I admire the most, the Father, Son and that other guy …”

It seems a lot of times that’s how Christians view the Holy Spirit. Oh, sure, He gets mentioned sometimes, always last in some songs and creeds. You get baptized “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” In the Doxology, we “praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”

But while there are plenty of songs to or about the Father, or to or about Jesus, the Holy Spirit doesn’t get many hymns of His own. He really is just sort of the other member of the Trinity.

Which is sort of ironic, in a way. On the one hand, it kind of makes sense. He doesn’t play the same sort of role in the Bible. He’s never quoted. The Father and Jesus show up, walk around, eat, talk, hang out, do miracles, all that sort of stuff. The Holy Spirit comes and fills people and places with His presence. Just not quite as sexy, you know? So it’s no wonder His Q score isn’t as high.

On the other hand, though, while He doesn’t say anything in the Bible, if you hear God speaking to you personally, yeah, it’s probably coming through the Holy Spirit. So, like I said, ironic — we’re more focused on the aspects of the Trinity that spoke to Moses and Paul than to the one that speaks to us. Why? Perhaps the words given to Moses and Paul are easier for us to hear and to listen to.

To be honest, this has been the hardest of the posts so far for me to work on. I’ve been putting it of all week, hoping that by today I would have something to say. I dedicated my hike this morning to seeking insight in what to write. Part of that is because I’m very much in the middle of this one. Several of the topics on the list are ones I’ve been deconstructing over the past couple of years, so they’re going to come pretty easily. Wait until we get to “the rite of communion.” Depending on how deep I want to get, that could easily be the longest post I’ve ever written. I’ve taken that one apart and put it back together constantly over the last couple of years. The Holy Spirit? Heh. Read my last blog post. I’m very much knee deep in that one at the moment. Ask me in a month or two, I may have something different today. But the prompt came for this week, and I’m writing it this week.

The one bit of rethinking of the Holy Spirit that I have done in the last year or two is having been challenged with the idea that the Holy Spirit does not convict us of sin. It’s one of those things that we just take for granted — if you asked people what the Holy Spirit does, for a lot of them, convicting us of sin would be pretty high in His job description. But supporting that with scripture? Well, that’s an interesting issue. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m just saying I haven’t taken the time to find support for it yet. Instead, what I have found is that the Holy Spirit convicts us of righteousness. He reminds us who we are.

In some ways, it’s similar. When we go astray, He confronts us about it. But the argument is that, rather than pointing out our failures, He points out that we’re better than that. Picture a student who has failed a test he “should have” passed. A parent could berate the child and punish him. Or a parent could say, I know you can do this. What happened? God doesn’t need to convict us of our sin. Since the fall, since Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we’ve carried that ability within ourselves. We’re self-policing. We just choose to ignore that fact sometimes. We choose to ignore who we are, who we should and could be. When we do, the Holy Spirit reminds us.

I’m not saying I’ve completely drunk that Kool-Ade. I’m just saying it’s an interesting argument I’m still considering.

Another fact that I was reminded of in meditating on this blog entry is that I’m not, technically, the Holy Spirit. Oh, sure, sometimes I would like to be, but it seems that the position is full, and that they’re not hiring for it at the moment.

Now, I believe fully that the Holy Spirit can work through other people. If He can speak to a person, He can speak through a person. And I’ve had that happen numerous times recently — people have given me a word that was given them for me by God. Heck, I think I may have had it happen in the last couple of hours. And, conversely, there have been times the opposite has been true. I’ve been given something to say that was a message for someone else. And it’s an incredible honor to be used in that capacity. In some ways, that’s unfortunate, because there can be a temptation to seek that privilege, to take it upon ourselves to serve as the Holy Spirit in someone’s life, rather than serving as the tool of the Holy Spirit. And, really, that’s not such a good idea. Again, a fault I probably have lapsed into during the past week. Sorry.

The other thing that came out of my hike was a meditation on the different ways He speaks to us, which has definitely been a journey for me over the past couple of years. To be honest, me three years ago would probably think me today is crazy. But oh well. I’ve never had Him speak to me in dreams, but I’ve seen it happen. Someone was telling me about a friend who gets mental pictures, and was trying to figure out whey she didn’t. I said I figured it was an individual dispensation, that I didn’t either; only to realize that I did — once. I used to listen primarily to providence and circumstance, and now try to avoid as much as possible relying on those. Occasionally He uses the weather with me, but generally just when He’s showing off. I’ve never heard an actual audible voice, and am jealous of those who have. I don’t begin to understand the whole idea of prayer languages, but have been open to the idea that the lack of understanding is my fault — and then heard a story over lunch today that pretty much sold me on that. Still kinda glad it’s not my gifting, though.

At this point, I wish I had a good conclusion or wrap up or parting thought. But I don’t. Like I said, I’m still working through this one.

Uh, the end?

“The best apologetic for a Christian is the Holy Spirit” — Patrick Collins

Come The Storm


Photo by Tom McCay, courtesy of Bonnie Redmond


It was beautiful all day at work. I knew it had been supposed to rain, but it had been really nice when I went out to lunch, and when I left the office, it appeared that not a drop of rain had fallen.

I’d had an interesting discussion during/after Journey Group last night (probably another future post) and had come across some interesting and related reading since, and really wanted to go for a hike. And it appeared that it was going to be a great day for it, so I headed toward the mountain.

Right before I got there, I ran into the first signs that it might be something other than a beautiful day. Not much, just a few raindrops hitting the window. I almost turned back. If I’d known what the weather was going to do, I would have. But, as it was, I figured I’d take my chances. Worst case scenario, I get drenched and have to change clothes before the play that night. It’s not uncommon for me to go for walks in the rain, but I’ve never hiked in the rain before. Might be an interesting, if muddy, experience.

As it happened, I didn’t get to find out. There was thunder in the distance at various points during the hike, which made for a couple of interesting prayer moments, but not a drop of rain fell on me during the entire hike.

To be on the safe side, I had left my iPhone in the car in case I did get drenched, so I was incommunicado the entire time. As I was coming back, I did see an odd-shaped cloud over the mountain that looked like it had a cylindrical section sticking down, but I could only see the top part of it, so didn’t really think that much of it.

It wasn’t until afterwards when I was talking to a friend who mentioned matter-of-factly that her husband had seen the tornado blow a roof of a house that I found out what had happened while I’d been on the mountain.

Walk The Talk


I did something a little different when I went to Vegas.

OK, well, it being Vegas, I did probably a few things different. But the thing in particular that this post is about (well, OK, not really about, but where I’m starting, at least) is that I took my camera. I’ve never flown with the DSLR before; I don’t think I’ve even ever flown with my “good camera” du jour before.

And that was part of a somewhat different approach in another way — By and large, I decided to let my photos be my souvenirs. Among the lessons of the last year or so: I really don’t need more stuff, particularly just because that stuff says Las Vegas or Grand Canyon. (My trip just over a year ago to San Francisco still stands as an exception; clearly, I do need more stuff just because it has an Apple logo on it.) I brought back a few things for my coworkers, but, even there, I had a hard time finding anything.

That said, I wasn’t able to quit on souvenirs cold turkey — I did bring back two small things for myself. (And one thing that, if I don’t get a chance to deliver it will be for me.) To wit, I got myself two hiking medallions, pictured above.

I had only recently become aware of the existence of the medallions, which you afix to your hiking stick, so when I found them, I went ahead and bought them — one from Hoover Dam and one from the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

The problem is, now I find myself in a quandary.

I’ll interject here that I missed my hiking stick while I was gone. Before we even landed, I was looking at the mountains out the window, so different from the ones in Huntsville, and wishing that I had an extra day to myself and my hiking stick.

On Tuesday, at the Grand Canyon, there was a place where you could climb up a hill and have a good view of the Canyon around you. Granted, it wasn’t that tall at all — 20, 30 feet, maybe? But I was so glad to finally get to climb something.

So the quandary is this. That’s all the climbing I did. I climbed nothing at the Hoover Dam, where I bought the first medallion. I justified to myself that one really didn’t claim to mean anything — you don’t really hike the Hoover Dam, so getting a medallion there shouldn’t imply that I did anything there that any didn’t anymore than buying a souvenir spoon there would imply that I ate soup at the dam.

The Canyon is a little more of a gray area. I did climb something, but I certainly didn’t hike the Grand Canyon in the way people think of. On the other hand, the medallion isn’t for the Grand Canyon in general; it’s specifically for the Skywalk, so arguably my short climb should give me justification to display the Skywalk medallion.

Add to the question this — My stick wasn’t there for any of that; it was hundreds of miles away. So do I put a medallion on my stick for the Hoover Dam, when it never even left Huntsville?

Decisions, decisions.

Miscellany


cake with candles reading 30

Cake and candles from the birthday party we had at the office for my co-worker Heather.


In case there’s anyone out there in danger of being confused, it’s nowhere near my long-gone 30th birthday; that picture is from my co-worker Heather’s party that we had at the office today. I’m mainly posting it as a reminder about the 365project, which you should all participate in. Or not, as you see fit.

I will say about Heather’s birthday that I was proud of myself that I had not a card, but cards, for her. I used to hate buying cards, and was lousy at it as a result. Thankfully, I was introduced to the idea of buying cards when you find them, instead of trying to find cards when you need them. One of Heather’s cards, I bought in June.

Other random stuff going on:

– I ate at I Love Sushi on Saturday. After being introduced to sushi roughly a year ago, I’ve had it a couple of times at Surin, which has a total of one thing I can eat. For those that don’t know, I’m deathly allergic to seafood, which narrows down the sushi options. I had always assumed it eliminated them altogether, but was informed that there is such thing as vegetarian sushi. I had heard that I Love Sushi had more options, but I only saw one. That said, they were a little less clear on the implications of my allergies and the need to avoid cross-contamination. Supper didn’t kill me, but I had to eat it very slowly. Not bad, though.

– I talked a bit in the last post about the difference between the blogging software I use for this blog versus my old one, but neglected to mention that, if you haven’t noticed, I’ve implemented a new design for the blog. Back on ATW, that would have meant going into the code and tinkering with it; here, it means clicking on which design I want to use now. As a result, there are a few things in this design I’m not too sure about, but don’t know how to change. Thoughts, anyone?

As an aside, the whole issue is kind of interesting to me. I do still have some of the HTML skills I cultivated for about a decade, but find myself using them less and less as more and more of my Web time is on sites that I simply post things to instead of coding. This is probably what it felt like for people a generation or two older when they stopped being able to work on their own cars.

– I saw a rather interesting pass of the International Space Station on Monday night. It was supposed to be particularly bright, and was, but rather than getting brighter as it rose higher into the sky, it grew brighter for a while, then grew dimmer and turned red as it got higher, and finally disappeared, not near the far horizon as I’m accustomed to, but at “apogee.” It was neat seeing the station do something I hadn’t seen her do before.

– As I mentioned in the last post, I had promised someone a depressing post that I’m not going to publish. Partially because the situation has changed a little, partially because it didn’t pass editorial review. The gist of it was — I sometimes feel like I may paint a sunshine-and-roses picture of my spiritual walk on here, but, I assure you, I do struggle. In lieue of publishing that post, I’ll post this link. So there you go.

– It’s kind of cold. But I’ve nonetheless managed to get a couple of hikes in lately. It’s required rearranging my schedule; getting into work while it’s dark so that I can leave while it’s light. But totally worth it.

– One day until B.B. King. Two days until Lain and Richie come. Four days until I leave for Vegas. Yay!

My Year In Statuses


Copying this over from Facebook — my year in statuses. Or, at least, some portion of my year, since it cut off well before the end.

Winter


This tree is toward the end of my hiking trail on Green Mountain. I took this picture a while back; I loved how it was basically just a person-height stick with a fun batch of colorful leaves on top:

Last weekend, during the snow, I took another picture of it; I liked the contrast of the bright colorful leaves and the white snow:

I didn’t get to hike again until Thursday. I initially walked right past the tree, and had to backtrack to find it. Even then, I had to pay attention; it had changed a bit:

Sad to see something that had been so colorful and pretty look so lifeless. That tree had become the highlight of the end of the hike, a familiar landmark, and now has faded into dull obscurity. When I found it Thursday, I found a couple of its leaves on the ground — obvious for the fact they were the only ones still brightly colored — and saved them, reminders of what it had been.

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