You may have not noticed it but I changed the header photo. It was time for a change though there was nothing wrong with the excellence of the previous header photo. I love this current photo because at times I feel like my life is crossing back and forth. During those times, I feel like there is no direction to my life. But when I can step back I see a progression despite the winding back and forth. So though this life twists and turns, I have a confidence in traveling it because I know the One who made my road.
Monthly Archives: February 2014
Broccoli is a crunchy, zesty, green plant with a flavor that is hard to describe. Think about that latter fact. How do you describe the taste of broccoli? I don’t have broccoli here to sample and give a feeble attempt on its flavor. Is it spicy? Yes but not super hot; rather a taste that piques your taste buds and makes you wonder, “What was that?” Is it sweet? No. A bit crunchy, yes, but not Doritos-style crunchy. Definitely it has a healthy flavor (I find myself becoming more and more perplexed by this question of the taste of broccoli so I’ll stop before I get too deeply confused by it). A quintessential vegetable in nature, it makes many a youngster go “ew!” with a wrinkle of disgust. I find that even some adults do not like broccoli. Indeed, I pride myself on enjoying food that may appear strange or inedible at first glance. Though for many years I have struggled to appreciate raisins, I have yet to encounter a fruit or a vegetable that I cannot eat. So I struggle to empathize with the person or persons who cannot appreciate food in its natural and purest state. This is how God made food to be eaten. Now, I’m no vegan but I’ll admit that, despite my love of sizzling steaks and juicy pork chops, I am coming to appreciate the health benefits of eating more plants.
Last night, the youth from church offered to babysit for any of the church couples that wanted a night to themselves. Not many 15 and younger youngsters were there and our tasks were relatively light, giving us plenty of time for discourse. One of my more memorable discussions came when I asked my friend Anthony if he had ever considered why God made broccoli. That launched a whole discussion on possible reasons why God did create this zesty, crunchy vegetable. Below were the three most credible theories that we concocted. I’ll admit a measure of pride in these.
1: God couldn’t have made just cauliflower and honestly have called it good. He needed something to balance out the cauliflower so He did so with broccoli. Okay, disregarding the fact that the cauliflower and the broccoli are in the same scientific family of plants, this one ought to be readily apparent to anyone who has studied these two in depth. Cauliflower is white, bland in taste, and not as flexible as broccoli. Holding my breath, I consider what I am about to type but I will go out on a limb here and say….that the personality of broccoli is the type of personality that every socialite aspires to: flavor, flexible, and different from the white and bland crowd of followers and yes-men. Yes, I just said that. Cauliflower…now that is a bland vegetable. Fortunately for us who love veggies, God, in His creative wisdom, made broccoli to help us forget that cauliflower is bland and epitomizes what life would be without any diversity.
2: At first God made cauliflower but the Negros in the southeastern U.S. objected and said, “We don’t want none of this white trash” so God then made broccoli. This presupposes that cauliflower, and following the logic of the argument, was a rather late creation that happened in history. And yet can you blame them? Who wants a bland vegetable that does not excite the emotions like broccoli does? Oh, and to clarify, this was not meant to be a racist comment. In fact the joke is on us Caucasian males discussing the existence of cauliflower. In this instance, WE are the white trash.
3: Broccoli is God’s provision for dipping. I tell you, THIS is the best theory. Next time you hold a piece of broccoli in your hand, study it carefully and consider these three points about broccoli. First note how the head is comprised of many small buds at the tips of the branches. The amount of dip you can cram onto a piece of broccoli is phenomenal. I cannot think of any other edible plant in nature that can match the ability to hold the same amount of dip or condiment that broccoli can. Okay, maybe a stalk of celery could compete but it must be a deep dished piece of celery. I posit that ounce for ounce, broccoli holds its own in a dipping contest. Our second point takes us down the stem of broccoli. We come to its flexible, easily broken branches. Why is this so amazing? Well, what if there are different dips that you want to sample? With broccoli it is easy to break off one branch and sample one dip and break off another branch to sample the next dip. And finally, these branches are usually connected to main stalk that is flexible and soft to the to the touch. The point is, it is easy and comfortable to hold. This natural, edible handle makes it easy to use. There is no mess on your fingers, unless you are really aggressive in your dipping habits. These three points of the broccoli make it obvious why God made the broccoli. It’s flexibility and ability to absorb vegetable dip makes it perfect for cleaning out the side of a almost empty dip container. It conforms to any side and any contour of any container. This is my favored theory and I believe that if you study broccoli closely, you’ll come to agree with me that the practical aspects of broccoli point to the Divine reason for its existence.
Most likely, you have never thought so deeply on broccoli. So, what do you think of broccoli?
More great thoughts from a respected elder. Though I’ve been thinking along the same lines, he writes clearly and profoundly. What is the real and the good? Have you found it?
Junk food tastes good. The problem is, junk food is not really food. It does not contain the complex array of nutrients found in real food. It is devoid of nutrition to sustain life.
Junk food takes elements of the natural world and concentrates them in unrealistic and unhealthy combinations. These combinations are hyper-normal. Sugar, salt, fat and other ingredients are combined in concentrations that please our senses but starve our cells.
Given the choice between a candy bar or an apple, most people choose the candy bar. Given the choice between drinking real fruit juice or soda, people choose soda. Given the choice between potato chips or carrots, many people choose the chips.
Entire industries are devoted to producing unhealthy options. They have fooled us into thinking that bad is good. They have successfully sold us a bill of goods. Their products have overruled our senses. Our senses have…
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Lately, I’ve a singular song running through my head. To every regular church goer, it’s a familiar hymn. But every now and then, a group sings familiar songs in a new and fresh way and it enthralls the soul. Such is the case with this song. It is the song Nearer, My God to Thee and James Stevens arranged it for Vocal Point of Brigham Young University. I think it is proverbial ear candy! I fell in love with the song a few months ago when I heard it sung by my friends, One By Grace. Lately, in the last week and a half, Spotify has played this song for me numerous times. Whether I checked emails or worked on a bead belt design, this was the backdrop.
This is one of those songs that just gets into your system and pumps you up! It pulls you all over a vast vocal range. Beginning in a gentle Latin harmony, it moves into a gentle ooh while a solo begins. Pleadingly the cry of the song is uttered “God, draw me closer to you.” From there the tempo elevates and and this time the backdrop is the Latin verse that opened the song. While the solo, and at times duet, are at the fore front of the song, there are multiple parts in the back creating a rich and exotic background. At 2:25, the soloist soars into a bridge that flavors the song and propels it into the last verse. The song terminates with another bridge as the backdrop marches to the finish. The tempo of the song never feels too fast or out of hand. Instead of a contemporary pop feel that so many groups give to older songs, this version adds a richness to the song that is not there when sung straight, that is, sung as originally written. You owe it to yourself to listen to this version if you are unacquainted with the song. Listen to it twice. The first time with the volume set to a regular level; the second time, turn it up and let your spirit soar!Anyway, I’ve written more about the song than what caught my attention one night as I was listening to it.
In the first verse of this song the plea is uttered, “nearer my God to Thee.” That is normal; all Christians have that desire. The desire to be drawn and lifted up closer to God. I have it myself. But it is followed by the permissive phrase “e’en though it be a cross that raises me.” As I was listening to the song that night, I was not looking for this phrase. I was listening for the artistry of the arrangement and the rush that a good song gives to the senses. I was nearly blown back by the significance of that phrase. While I can relate to that desire, I admit I’ve not always had that submissiveness to the method that God uses to bring me closer to Him.
In church last Sunday, we sang the hymn Man of Sorrows. The fourth verse of that song says “lifted up was He to die.” That is what the cross meant for Jesus. When I think of what that meant for Him and what it potentially could mean for me if I sincerely sing/pray that first verse of Nearer My God to Thee my flesh shivers. Death is repulsive to our carnal flesh. But if I can not willingly give up, I can not freely receive. This last sentence contains all sorts of implications. I shan’t go into them. It would make my head spin, and this blog would not be able to contain it all. Suffice to say, I see this being worked out in lives around me.
So sing loudly, live richly, give up freely, and willingly receive what God gives you.
PS: Oops, nearly forgot! Here’s the link. BYU Vocal Point – Nearer My God to Thee (a cappella)
Are you an artist? Ever wanted to be? Do you turn green with envy when you see other people creating masterpieces from common place materials? No, yes, and yes for me. There are times when I wish I had more of an artistic bent, and I get caught up in thinking “if only I could bend a paint brush to my will and make it emit the paint in the scheme that I want it to.” Tis folly to entertain such ideas. Come to think of it, there was a time in my childhood when I did draw. Hmm, maybe I should attempt to reincarnate those days.
The human ability to create is what differentiates us between the chimp and the chicken. I use these two as the chimp because, for all physical similarities, you do not see chimps building homes or discussing their inner chimpness like humans and chickens because, well, chickens are dumb. I should know; I’ve spent the last four days mucking around chicken houses catching them. We all have some ability to create and think creatively. When it comes to creativity, all humans have some; some humans have….a lot.
Like this guy. He’s cool for a number of reasons. First is he is German. That vindicates his talent and creativity. He speaks German, a most lovely, aristocratic, and almost primal language. But what makes him unique is his mode of art. He takes paper and bends it. A lot. In different ways. In two or three dimension. Circles, arches, hallways, and detailed floors. And he uses nothing but paper and creases. To think that FB students compete to get a paper airplane to fly across the length of a room and he folds palaces into being.
Are you jealous or merely awed? All I can say is WOW! Proof that humans are unique. Proof that, as made in the image of a creative God, humans can take the ordinary and add the extra to make it extraordinary.
Oh, and surely you want to see more. Click Simon Schubert to see more of his stunning paperwork. Warning, be sure to translate the page from German to English to facilitate a easier browsing experience.
Thanks for stopping by!
PS: If you liked Simon Schubert and if you have the time, you might want to check out Jennifer Trask. She uses bone and antlers for her artwork and it’s pretty cool as well.
I spent the month of January at home. That fact is notable enough when I think that in the past four years I have spent a cumulative 8 months at home. Living at home after being gone for so long is a little weird. Weird doesn’t even convey the proper feeling of detachment, being out of place, wishing life would just hurry up, and wondering what life will bring. Maybe those feelings are with me when I’m studying at Faith Builders. If they are, I don’t think about them as much but at home, they seem to be more prominent.
So during the month of January, here are a few of my thoughts and actions (you may or may not understand these).
- It’s always a good time with brothers. My younger brother is currently doing VS work in Arkansas. I flew out and spent a few days with him. Grand times talking about life and our dreams.
- The excellency of Kansas hospitality. After visiting my brother, I drove to Kansas. Dad had been asked to preach a week of meetings there. It helped that it provided me an opportunity to visit some of my friends, among them being the brothers Mast, Hans and Benji.
- The frustration of wanting to work but only having seven weeks available to work. Prior to coming home for winter break, I had idealized working 10 – 12 hours every day. (Ha!) When I scored a job on a construction crew during the last two weeks of the fall semester, I was sure that this was to be. (Wrong.) The first week of work was during the infamous polar vortex and we didn’t work two days that week because of weather.
- Taking on disgusting work to earn money. So I talked with my boss about some frustrations I was having about not working as much as I had wanted. He agreed, saying that this year was rare in the fact that there was not much steady work because of the weather. (Me thinks, "Gee, thanks boss. That’s encouraging.") He asked me if there was something that I had in mind and I mentioned that the only job I could think of that does not have a steep learning curve and that seems to always need more workers is catching broilers for Case Farms. I expected him to be a bit hesitant to my idea. Nope, he offers to call the crew and arrange it for me. (Hmm, not bad. Apparently he understands college kids and their desperate struggle for wealth, despite being an Amishman and never putting foot on a university campus)
- Making filthy lucre. Great Scott! If you dislike early mornings, are a priss/yuppie/muppie, or simply have aversions to your senses being assaulted, DO NOT EMPLOY YOURSELF AT CATCHING CHICKENS! My first thought when I got on the van at 2:30 was "Hmm, smells violently of dung." Ten hours later, or 65,000 chickens later, and with $190 in my pocket, the smell had ceased to bother me. In fact, it smelled like money. Having caught chickens on multiple mornings, I still find the smell of chicken feet, which is only erased by repetitive hand washing, to be unsettling. This job shall past and I won’t mourn its passing. Well, except for the making money part.
- The Christian ethics of mass raising chickens. Though I’m doing it solely for the money, I wonder at the ethics of raising chickens for packing plants. Due to the number of Conservative Anabaptists who raise chickens, I stand to step on many toes if I’d voice these thoughts here in my community. Since those thoughts are still developing, I won’t publish them yet. Maybe sometime. In the meanwhile, if you read this post and see me in the coming days, feel free to ask me about them. We shall have ourselves a glorious discussion.
limitedjoys of learning French. So I catch chickens, one of the lowliest jobs available here in Holmes County. On the side, I’m trying to learn French which is the language of haute couture or high fashion. What a contrast. Except that between working two jobs, social life, and sleeping, I don’t study French like I would like.
- The second job. Thank Goodness (capital G refers to God) for a family business. Catching chickens is strictly a morning job. In the afternoon, I help Dad who is trying to build his inventory of premium honey prior to embarking on a three week missions trip to Kenya where it’s 75 degrees and sunny. I’m almost jealous but I need the money so I’m content to stay home.
Wow, this is getting long but there’s more.
- Brainstorming a new service that does not exist in Holmes County. Developing any new business is hard. Studying and ironing out the details. Thinking of all the pros and cons of one method versus another. Thinking of your targeted demographic. Visualizing how it is going to come together. Writing your advertising. I never expected I’d be involved in all of this but at the end of January, an idea seized my cranium-encased gray matter and hasn’t released it yet. I wish I had more time to devote to it but first, there is the final semester of Faith Builders to navigate.
- Being comfortable with being poor and in need of money. Facts speak and none quite so loud as the fact that for the past four years, I have not had a regular job. Translation: “no hay mucho dinero” (Spanish) or “michĩmi pirapire.” (Guarini) (btw, the EJ Scholarship Fund is currently looking for more donors. ) When one of my friends used the adjective “desperate” to describe my signing up to catch chickens, I had to agree with him. It’s not the need for money that is the root of all evil, but the love of it. We need money to live in this world/economy of ours. That, too, is a fact
- Oh yes, during the month of January, I got two of the songs that the Hope Singers will be singing this summer. Two songs in three different languages = more of my spare time taken up. So far, I’ve enjoyed learning these pieces of music. They are relatively easy, and I’m relishing the thought of traveling to a country I’ve never been before . . . Poland. *happy thoughts*
- Life post-FB: The big question is whether or not I complete my bachelors degree at another school. I think I will but behind the first big question is another, just as large question. Which school? To any Ohio readers, any input on these three colleges: Cedarville, Bluffton, or Malone? These are the three schools that I’ve been considering and barring any major advice or suggestions from other people, probably attend one of these three colleges. I know, okay heard, that Bluffton and Malone would be open to accepting credits from Faith Builders but have not gone far enough in the transfer process to discover if this is true.
And that, in a blog post, has been my cranial and physical activities for the month of January.