Friday, November 28, 2008

Have 5 Minutes?

It starts a little slow, but it's worth watching...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dare I say it...???

I am going to attempt to write about something I have been thinking of for a while. I will do my best to explain how I am feeling because I need to make sure this all comes out how it's meant. The only reason I am going to write on what I am about to write on is because a few people who I have confided in about this seem to be struggling with the same thing and I have a feeling there might be more people out there. So here it goes.

Just a note, when I refer to "Christianity" I am referring to the Protestant Christian faith, not any other type of religion that is lumped into "Christianity".

Lately, I have been struggling with Christianity. Before anyone jumps to conclusions, rest assured that the TRUTH of Christianity is not what I am wrestling with. I absolutely believe that the God of the Christian faith is the True and Living God; I believe Jesus Christ is God's one and only Son, who provided the only way to the Father through death on the cross and taking upon himself the sin of the world; I believe the Bible is the Word of God and 100% inherent and I do not believe that any other book or "scripture" has been divinely added to it. Belief is not what I am struggling with.

What I am struggling with is finding the distinction between belief in the truth about God and the heart-changing faith in God. It's easy to believe in God. 98% of Americans believe in the Christian God, right? Even the DEMONS believe and shutter (in the book of James somewhere). But, I know there is a difference between belief in God and putting your faith in God (or being born-again, or trusting in God for salvation... there are many ways we can say that).

And of course, there are certain things Christians do to mark themselves as Christian: we pray, go to church, encourage one another, sing songs, have prayer meetings, tell each other that God has a plan, we try to not to ask questions when tragedy strikes because God is in control, we try to live moral lives, shop out of the Christian yellow pages, we go to Christian schools or home schools, we avoid having too close of "non-Christian" friends, we cringe when someone swears or tells a taste-less joke.... I have been doing all of this (or trying to) for 27 years and for the past few months, I have realized I am a total fake. I do this stuff because I feel like I should; it's the Christian thing to do. The Christian bubble is pretty cushy... we all hold hands and hug and sing and it's like we avoid the world, rather than living in it to make an impact. I mean, really living in it: hanging out with people who don't call themselves "Christian," reaching out to someone and being involved in their lives beyond the 2-hour coffee house discussion, meaning it when we say "how are you?" and educating ourselves on what's out there and realizing that people who have different perspectives are real people and just want to be loved.

By saying I am a fake, I am not saying I am not a Christian; the truth is, I don't know who I am or if I am (here is where most Christians would tell me "oh, I know you are saved" and then they'd provide some good evidence as if they knew my heart). But what I do know is this: I want to figure out who I am, I trust that God has not given up on me, and I am not going to pretend anymore. I am going to be real. And right now, that means that I am questioning everything I've ever known about what a Christian life should look like. It means that I am not going to do the "Christian thing" just because I feel like I have to. I want it to be genuine; I don't want to pretend like I don't have problems or struggles or that everything is "fine" simply because God is in control. This is too serious a matter to continue to take for granted. I need to either be a true Christian or stop trying to be something I'm not (no worries, I desire the former). Maybe I am wrong about all this, but I guess that is ok because my goal is to figure things out.

My goal in writing this was absolutely not to have anyone reassure me or call me or anything of the sort and I apologize for possibly sounding like a jerk; I am just really frustrated. I just think that maybe someone else out there is struggling with the same thing and I wanted to tell them that they are not alone. This is not an easy thing to admit and many people will think I am going through a phase and won't see the depth of this struggle and that is ok. But the truth is, I have denied this struggle of mine for most of my 27 years just hoping that one day it would somehow not be an issue. I've tried to pretend along the way and I think I've done an alright job, but now, I must face reality now because frankly, I don't want to run out of time.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hockey!

Last night, I got to play hockey on a frozen pond! They guys I was playing with say November 21st is one of the earliest times they have gotten so skate on a pond! It was tons of fun and I am super excited for the rest of winter.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Just a thought

Does anyone else agree that no matter what is going on in life, no matter what troubles or worries you have on your heart and mind, that when you are standing in a hot shower, everything seems to be problem free as long as you stay in the shower? I've always thought that, as long as I can remember...

Moving and Such

I am moving again. Saturday. One of my 4 roommates (Angelene) and I are moving to an apartment closer to where I work. I am super excited to have more space and my own bathroom! Plus there is heated, underground parking... what more could you possibly ask for in Minnesota?!?!

My mom, dad and brother John are coming down Saturday to help me move and I am counting down the hours! I've been trying to pack and my roommate and I started to bring boxes over but apparently Tuesday through Friday the elevators are out and since we are on the 3rd floor, we decided to just wait till Saturday to move the rest of our stuff. Carrying boxes up 3 flights of stairs is not too fun. =)

And I keep bringing this up, but I am SO excited for the lakes and ponds to freeze. I haven't played hockey for way too long and I can't wait until I can play. At work, my Claim Rep who I am partnered with lives on a pond with his family and he has people out to play hockey all winter! And I also have the broomball team so I am set for winter sports! I can't wait for big, fluffy snow to fall, but I want it to wait until after we get a good layer of ice so the ice is perfect!

I can't believe I have been living in MN for over 5 months now! A year ago, I would have laughed if someone told me I'd be living here again. Not because I didn't want to, but because I just didn't think it would have happend so quickly. But I can say with 100% certainty, I am SO glad that I moved here. I love being closer to family. I really love my job... more than any other job I've had. I feel like I am making very good friends and meeting lots of neat people. And lets face it, the accent here is pretty much amazing! hehe - 5 months ago, I would not have said I loved living here again, even 2 months ago... but now, I am home. Home sweet home. (I say that now, I suppose we should revisit that love for MN a few months into winter... haha)

I guess that's it for now. I wrote a whole lot for sitting down to write a blog without knowing what I was going to write about, but not being able to write about what I really think (I think that is for my private journal, which I don't have, so I should start one!) hehe

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Getting closer...

I got my skates sharpened tonight! I am ready for the water to freeze so I can play ice hockey!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New Jersey - New York -- Part III and IV

On Sunday, I spent the day with my family (see previous post). Monday and Tuesday were spent all day in the city. I decided to combine those two days as just one post (mostly because I forgot I was seperating them by day and uploaded pics from both days and didn't want to re-do that).

NOTE: There are two, really short videos within the pics.

Monday began with a Subway ride to the Museum of Natural History.


I am not exactly sure what I thought the Museum was going to be like, but for some reason "natrual history" didn't cause me to assume the museum would be packed full of fossils and stuff. We watched a movie (dome, Imax style) on a theory of how the moon was formed (somehow, I believe God's theory more though). And of course, we saw tons of fossils, like this giant turtle!

After the Museum we decided to walk back to Rockefeller Center, rather than take the Subway. On our walk, we walked through Central Park, which was really pretty. They still have some colorful leaves (well, we caught the end of their colorful leaves season).

I stopped to by roasted almonds on our walk to Rockefeller Center. They were pretty good but not as good as they smelled. You can really only eat a few before they are just too sweet.

I wasn't quite used to the city-walking thing because a few times, I almost walked out in front of cars. I think we actuall all did that at times. No one got hit so that was good.

At one of the 5 pizza places we stopped at, there was a Friends poster so we took our picture with it since we are huge Friends fans! And the picture is in NY and that is where they were from... which somehow that just made the poster cooler!
At Rockefeller Center, we went to the"Top of the Rock" - a 67 story building. I hate heights and this was no exception, but it was cool and as you can see, the view is amazing. This picture is the Empire State Building and lower Manhattan...


And this is Central Park and Upper Manhattan.

And the gang at the top of the building....


Ok, the elevator going up and down was trippy. The ceiling was glass and there were blue lights all the way up. I didn't really like the fact that the elevator shaft was 67 stories high, but as many people told me, if it were only 5 stories high, I'd still be a gonner if it crashed to the earth.


And here is the "Top of the Rock" building from earth.


We also went ice skating at Rockefeller Center. This is something I have always wanted to do and the only thing that would have made it better would have been if the Christmas Tree had been up already but that doesn't go up until the first week of December. Oh well, it was still rad!












Here is a video I took while skating... it's pretty short... but it gives you the
view of the buildings from the ice.
video

Ok, so as we were walking along later that night towards Penn Station, we saw this garbage fire on the sidewalk in Times Sqauare. No police or firemen were around and just a few tourists were standing around wonder what was going on. I thought it would be fun to take a picture next to it, so I did. (More to the story is that a friend from work told me that if Obama gets elected - which obviously he did - and we all end up poor and homeless, I can come to her garbage fire. And since I saw a garbage fire, I had to take a pic with it)


After the picture was snapped, a police walked across the road and yelled at me in his New York accent, "What the heck are you thinking??? Get away from there!"

I have to admit that I was more amused than embarassed.

And the firemen finally showed up... here's a video of their big save!

video


I just saw this and though it was cool =)



And this is a Charmin Toilet Paper ad!


Our group at Times Square


I Love State Farm and everyone knows it.
I saw this sign at the train station so I had to take a pic with it =)


Tuesday we went and saw Ground Zero. They have done lots of construction, but I have no idea what they are building since I haven't heard of any WTC 9/11 memorials that are going up.
I figure that when they do make a decision of any memorials or new buildings,
we'd hear about it, right?



At Battery Park, we saw Mounted police.
NYC actually has police in car, on foot at random locations throughout the city,
on horseback, and in weird one-person cars...

A street vendor had some yummy looking candy...


Alicia eating a piece of pizza from, in my opinion, the best pizza place we ate at!


A view of Lower Manhattan from the Statue of Liberty ferry.


Alicia and I on Liberty Island. Lower Manhattan in the back ground.


And, the Statue of Liberty...






Overall, we had a fun time! I can't wait to go back again someday!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Jersey - New York -- Part II

On Day 1, Saturday, we met in the city around 2:30. Some of the group is originally from Connecticut and New York so the NY style pizza was something they wanted to have... every day. Last time Alicia and I went to NY City, we found this good little pizza place right by Port Authority so that was our first stop on Saturday night.







Our next stop was going to be the Museum of Natural History.

We headed down to the Subway, got our subway passes and waited for the train. We got onto a train that we thought was the one we wanted until we heard the word "express" - at that time, we immediately got OFF the train. (no wonder the millions of people waiting for the train didn't seem as excited it arrived as we did).
After waiting for a while, we decided to just forget about the Museum for that night and just head up to Times Square. The Museum would have been closed anyway by the time we actually found it (it was after 5 at this point).


This is just a goofy picture on a set of red stairs in Times Square




Cruising down 5th Ave, we saw this statue so we did one of those things where it

looks like you are holding it up... well, we tried to make it look that way.



Across the street from the statue thing was this awesome church building.

And of course, we had to take a picture of the Plaza Hotel. We waited around to see if any celebrities came out, but none did. Oh well.


Ok, if anyone can tell me how one of these things work....
it's some sort of parking structure where the cars are all stacked up...
I have no idea how it works!

As we were approaching Rockefeller Center, Alicia and I spotted a Christmas tree and started freaking out because we thought it was "the" Rockefeller Christmas Tree. As we got closer, we learned it was just the tree on top of the Radio City building... it was like, half a tree. It's hard to tell in this pic, but it was definitely NOT the tree we thought.
So, apparently this is what a chesnut looks like. I had no idea what these things were so I finally asked. I wanted to try one but you had to buy a $5 bag; you couldn't just try 1. Oh well.
At the end of the day, we stopped at another pizza place and made a list of all the things we wanted to do over the next few days (on a paper plate).


More to come...

New Jersey - New York -- Part I

I just got back from a trip to New Jersey and New York. I stayed with my Aunt Lori and her family in New Jersey. I spent part of my time with my family and another part of it hanging out with my friends in New York City. I will be posting pictures in segments because I have so many pics (over 150) and I need to sort through everything.

This first post is a few pics of my family: Lori, Jana, Ellie and Audrey (I stole 2 of the pics from their blog). I had a blast hanging out with them and getting to know each of them a little better! I also was able to celebrate Aunt Lori's birthday with her! And Ellie turned 3 the day after I left, but it was fun to see her excitment in looking forward to her 3rd birthday!

(oh and Lori tried to convert me to a liberal democrat but I stood strong hehe but we had great discussions and played "find the biases" while watching Fox and CNN)

Jana, Lori, Ellie and Audrey right after Lori's birthday dinner

Little Audrey!

Ellie and Lori


Ellie and I


Take A Nap!

As if I needed anymore excuses to take naps, my friend Erin sent me this link to an article about the benefits of taking naps!

http://blogs.moneycentral.msn.com/smartspending/archive/2008/11/07/why-you-need-a-nap.aspx

Set aside 25 minutes, read this article and then take a 20 minute nap! Or take a 2 hour nap, whatever works best for you!

=)

Monday, November 3, 2008

For Halloween, Taylor and Hannah went Trunk-or-Treating. Basically, the church asked people to show up at the church parking lot with their vehicle trunks decorated and full of candy and the kids went and trick-or-treated to each trunk. There were also fun games for the kids!

Hannah was a Pumpkin for Halloween and Taylor was a UPS delivery girl, just like her dad (except, obviously her dad is a UPS delivery BOY). Instead of a regular Halloween bag for Taylor's candy, Tiff and I used a box and ribbon for her candy to go with the UPS theme =)

The two little cuties.
Getting ready to go!

Taylor got her face painted at the Trunk-or-Treat
(my camera's battery died so Tiff has the pictures of the butterfly painted on Taylor's face).

Hannah and her Pumpkin hat...
She looks kind of bald,
but she is still super cute!


Just playing... she's such a happy little kid!
Hannah is usually smiling!

Taylor... getting ready to Trunk-or-Treat!
video