Imperfect

courtesy of Unsplash
courtesy of Unsplash

If you are like me, when you look at this walkway you immediately see the boards horribly misaligned on the sides. If you aren’t like me…well, what’s wrong with you, those boards are ridiculously misaligned. And yet, while looking at this picture this morning a thought popped into my head. I’m not going to say God put that thought into my head, but who am I to say that he didn’t. The conversation I had in my head went something like:

Me: Man those boards are ridiculous, why didn’t the creator make then flush with each other?

Thought: What was the original purpose of the walkway?

Me: Who cares, it was horribly made.

Thought: What was the original purpose though?

Me: Probably to make it easier to get to the beach without walking on the ground.

Thought: Is it meeting that purpose?

Me: Yeah, but…

Thought: No buts. If it is meeting it’s purpose then who cares what it looks like!

Me: but…

Thought: I said no buts!

Just like this walkway, we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) for a purpose. We were known before we were formed (Jeremiah 1:5) and appointed for a specific service of our creator.

We may be imperfect in many ways according to many scales of perfection. Whether we are comparing our looks to the best looking people, or our skills to Olympians, or our grades to the valedictorians, it doesn’t matter, we will fall short in one way or another. Those are all temporary things, but the one eternal thing we should always keep in mind is that we are perfect in the only way that matters. We are perfectly made for the purpose God, our creator, has set before us. Go and find that purpose and bask in the wonder of how perfect you are in the eyes of the only one who matters.

A Reflection and a Glance Forward

I’m not so much of a resolution kind of guy. In fact I normally shy away from making any resolutions whatsoever. I think the main reason I do this is because I don’t really like to fail (who does really?) and most New Year’s resolutions are grandiose, extravagant and can only be achieve with a ridiculous amount of work for a whole year. I’m lucky if I can remember my goals for a month, let alone a who year. So instead of making resolutions I probably won’t keep, I decided to instead take some time to reflect on the past year and set goals for myself for the month of January.

Last year was a crazy year. It saw the end of language school for me, the end of my first year living on another continent, the beginning of full-time work for eDOT, my first and second visitors and so much more. Here are a few things I learned throughout the year:

  • Full-time language learning is insanely difficult. My brain constantly felt like it was melting by the end of the day.
    • Full-time language learning is the only way I would recommend learning a new language if you have the opportunity. The brain melting thing is worth the results.
  • Not using the language will lead to a quick deterioration of that learned language.
  • Working full-time in an office is way different than teaching.
  • Showing visitors around your new home can give you a certain sense of pride in your apartment/town/country.
  • Europe is so much closer together than the US
    • Within 8 hours by car I can reach at least 8 different countries.
  • I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a better Christian, especially because of the job I’m in.
  • Food here is delicious, but I have no idea the nutritional content of much.
  • Being one of a few single guys in an area with a good amount of single females is not all it’s cracked up to be. 🙂
  • Running in a hilly area stinks!

Taking these lessons into account I have set some goals to work on this month. My plan is to look back at this list throughout the year and make monthly goals that will build on each other, but I’m not going to think about that right now.

January goals:

  • Pick two staple foods and find a healthier alternative (I’m thinking noodles and bread).
  • Find a language partner by the end of the month who will meet with me twice monthly and only speak German during that time.
  • Study German on memrise.com at least 3 days a week.
  •  Have a plan implemented by the end of the month to alleviate the issue of sitting behind a desk all day.
  • Create a list of cities I want to visit for both longer and weekend trips.
  • Write at least one blog a week on successes and struggles on my walk with Christ.
  • Suck it up and start running again at least twice a week.

Alone?

 

 

Today’s prompt comes once again from the Unsplash creative commons pictures that I receive every 10 days or so. I was checking out all of the beautiful pictures that I received  in this e-mail and it took me a while to figure out exactly what it was that I could write about. I kept coming back to the picture below and it finally hit me.
Metro trackIt’s no secret that I have had a hard time with loneliness since I have moved to Germany. I also struggled with this when I moved to Maryland and then back to Toledo. It’s not easy moving to a new location, finding new friends and places to hang out. It’s not easy…but it’s also not as hard as I, similar to others I’m sure, make it out to be.

No here is the tie in to the picture. How often have you been at a metro, subway, or underground station where there is no one else on the platform with you? It would seem pretty lonely, or even pretty freaky, wouldn’t it? The thing is, if the photographer turned around, would there have been people? Maybe behind the photographer there are hundreds of people and if he/she turned around, you would get quite a different picture.

When I, and maybe you, are feeling lonely in a new place or an old place, all it might take is a simple action, like turning around. So before any of us slink back down onto our couch and do whatever we do when loneliness strikes, let’s make a simple action, call someone, Skype someone, or go check out a new place. You might not find anyone to hang out with, but you might and that is more than worth the attempt.

 

 

Regular morning routine

I got my newest set of creative commons pictures yesterday, this time from Death to the Stock Photo. After looking through the photos I settled on writing a post on one of two different ones. One showed an old file cabinet and I thought about how we all store information inside of us and some allow others to see what is in their file cabinet while others keep it locked and hidden away, but I finally decided to talk about this picture.

DeathtoStock_Creative Community6

I have no idea what book she is reading, but it made me think of my struggles to have a regular morning routine. I want to have one, but I am horrible at consistently doing it. Every night when I go to bed I set my alarm to help me get up early enough to do several things that I want to do. I want to:

  1. Read the Bible
  2. Meditate on what I read
  3. Journal
  4. Shave (well, not every morning, but at least twice a week)
  5. Eat a good breakfast
  6. Exercise

Instead most of my mornings look like:

  1. Regret not having time to read the Bible
  2. Pray quickly while showering
  3. Forget where my journal even is, it’s been so long
  4. Grab some yogurt to eat at work

What is it that makes me not get done, what I want to get done? Is 15-30 more minutes of sleep really worth it?

It makes me think of Paul’s words in Romans 7:14-16 and I love the way the Message sums this up, so I will leave myself and you with these words, keeping in mind the very last part; God’s command is necessary.

14-16 I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

Pretty on the outside

I am trying something new on this blog. Periodically I like to try to push myself to write more here and let people see into who I am, what I am doing and where God has brought me from and leading me to. What I thought I would start doing is stretching my writing skills a bit by using prompts. Not the normal prompts you would see in English class in high school, but actually visual prompts inspired by Unsplash. Unsplash provides 10 photographs every 10 days either on their site or through e-mail that can be used for whatever you want (creative commons license zero). The photographs are beautiful and professional.

My plan, then is to take one photograph from the e-mail I receive and write a blog post about something that comes to me when looking at one of those pictures.

So here is the first picture I chose from the most recent e-mail:

Gutman_island

 

So, why this picture?

I know nothing about this picture other than what I see, but that is exactly what I want to talk about.

Last week I led my first small group of the year with 7 Sophomore boys. I wanted to get to know them some, but also help them feel more comfortable in the group so we played a boardgame called The Resistance. The idea of the game is that you have spies and you have resistance members. The spies want to make a majority of the missions fail while the members of the resistance want the majority to pass. Each round a new leader elects people to go on this mission based on their role and thoughts about who is a spy and who isn’t.

Essentially if you are a spy you lie and try to get everyone else to believe that you are a part of the resistance. So why the heck would I have my small group play this? Why would I encourage them to lie? Well the answer is pretty simple, I wanted to illustrate that often you present your outside as different from your inside. I wanted my small group to understand that in that group they were free to reveal what is inside with no worries of judgement. They didn’t have to worry about being caught, or being judged or secrets travelling around the school. They were safe.

That brings me back to the picture. I have no idea what is going on the inside of these buildings, but because of what is on the outside I would assume they look just as nice on the inside as they do the outside. Is that true? I have no idea. Too often we make our outsides looks like these buildings when in reality we are a mess on the inside. We worry too much about presenting ourselves in the best way, but slowly we are corroding from the inside out. Eventually what is on the inside will begin to affect the outside if we never take care of it. We need to spend time with the One who can help us maintain a proper inside and have a group of people who can walk along side of us no matter how gross we really are.