Writing challenge needed/desired!

I enjoyed writing on a nearly day-to-day basis by way of the 31 day writing challenge…but it only whet my appetite, I want more!

Anyone know of a good 30 day challenge? For the month of June that is 🙂

~Nathanael~

P.S. Heck, I’d be up for 30 different questions from you the readers to write out 1 day at a time, sounds goods? Share the good word, as I don’t think I have 30 readers.

31/31 – Epilogue: A letter to myself

Wow I’m actually here 31 days later! 🙂

Epilogue: A letter to myself (written from a perspective of hindsight, kind of)

Dear Nathanael,

Life is certainly shitty for you at this time, but take heart! You’re getting there, job-wise and financially you’re doing a great job saving up and there’s the prospect of another job of another 40 hour of working…mental clarity and bliss is just around the corner!

It will be tough, but you’re getting there; for your sake getting away from him and the fubar lifestyle is the only way change is going to take place. It might take a toll on your wallet, but you know that it is entirely worth it.

Don’t worry too much about finding your June, keep praying with your eyes open. Please be intentional in finding someone who is like themselves instead of your first love, because you won’t find a girl exactly and that puts her on a pedestal as well the girl you’re trying to pursue. She’s out there, be diligent and God willing you find her.

Moving out to Southern California was one of the better decisions you made in your adult life, you were right, the possibility of an earthquake happening trumps yearly cold weather and that dreaded snow. You get to surf, you get the mountains, if you want cold weather you have to seek it out and it doesn’t come around on a regular basis as it was when you were living in Illinois.

Life will get better, these things just take time, continue doing what you do and may God bless you on your future endeavors.

~Nathanael~

30/31 – Someone in my family that means so much to me

 

Someone in my family that means so much to me

My mother means so much to me. Where to begin? 🙂

When I was younger so much younger than today…

My mother was my teacher; I was home-schooled, my sisters 3 and I were, and with the exception of the youngest who spent 2 years in public school, the rest of us went K-12 under her tutelage to some degree. She was put in a difficult spot with my father being absent to her as well as to us kids, so she had to be both disciplinarian as well as our teacher.

My mom and I have a better relationship these days compared to when I was younger, we fight sometimes but I will say I am glad she’s like me when she’s angry, otherwise I might not know when she’s angry. She’s hard headed, stubborn and verbally loud…just like me, which makes things “better” in the sense that I fight the same way and we’re able to work out things within that context, we’re both used to passive-aggressive people not letting on that they’re angry, and even tho we don’t like fighting with one another we’re able to give each other the space needed when you have two verbally loud people.

I think one of the hardest things my mom experienced apart from my father not being there for her or us kids was when she had breast cancer 6 years ago. My father bailed on her even more so when she had breast cancer, and so I took time off from school and became her primary caregiver. Sitting while chemo was injected into her body, when her hair fell out, when she was in utter pain from it all…I went through that with her, sure she’s the one who experienced it, but when you love someone you go through what they go through although in a different way.

In the last few years my mom has stepped out of her comfort zone into trusting God as she does her part to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community. Tho she’s taking baby steps (if that works for her, no problem!) it’s great to see her attitude change, plus at our local chapter of PFLAG she’s very engaging in conversation to those who gather! They’ve taken a liking to my mom, which I’m glad because she’s come a long way 🙂

We recently have been butting heads and the issue hasn’t been resolved yet, but given time she might “get it” and life will be better for her.

She might not be perfect, but she’s my mom, and she means so much to me!

~Nathanael~

 

 

Thinking about cherry picking while cherry picking

The other day I decided to pick some cherries from the family cherry tree. It had grown to be a beast! Yet one of the things right now is that there isn’t a lot of low fruit, there’s more at the top but that’s out of reach even by ladder. I picked 2-3lbs easily, but my eye was on what was out of my grasp (the fruit is always sweeter at the top of the tree, eh?)

As I was picking cherries, the terminology that gets used quite often to describe what a person keeps in the Bible and what one takes out, that, of course, is cherry picking came to mind and so I decided to write about it.

Cherry picking is defined as “Cherry picking is the act of pointing at individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position.” (Cherry Picking)

Every follower of Christ is guilty of cherry picking; some see verses and contort them to make the Bible and even God anti-homosexual, some used verses to condone having slaves in America, some handle poison snakes and ingest poison because they believe that if they’re faithful to God they won’t be harmed by doing either, there are some people who pick verses (and a commentary) to give weight to some form of a rapture and pre-tribulation or post-tribulation in what they profess to be “the end of days”.

I give examples of what others cherry pick from the Bible, and to be perfectly honest what I cherry pick out from the Bible are verses that describe God’s love for humanity, all of humanity, he looks at creation and he doesn’t retract his “it is good” from the creation narrative.

I also cherry pick that what caused the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah wasn’t a sin of trying to rape the “men” (angels) who came to Lot’s house, but it was their greed that destroyed them.

I don’t know what I truly believe about the nature of heaven and hell, in some ways the Bible doesn’t give too clear a picture about other and the way Christians present it sometimes leaves me bored of heaven and scared of hell, the latter from the way it was portrayed in art during the Dark Ages.

I have faith in God, I have faith in what he did through Jesus, and I have faith in the good things people do in his name.

I choose to love and leave the judging up to God.

I find comfort in verses that point to reconciliation and restoration of humanity to God, a returning to perfect shalom.

I might not read a lot of what Paul wrote but I have faith in what he said in Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” and Philippians 2:10-11 “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

I believe a handful of verses that are translated into English doesn’t cover the depth of what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, the so-called “clobber verses” are simply used as that, verses to clobber people upside the head with, which hardly seems to be anything remotely Christlike.

I believe that despite my cherry picking I need to read the Bible in context, that is, the entirety of the Bible. I haven’t read the Bible from cover to cover in a long time but I am giving much thought to doing it again, including all the boring parts as well.

***

There’s not going to come a time where I will have “gotten it”, that is the Bible and who God is to the fullest. Who knows? Maybe on the other side of eternity it will take me some time to “get it” still, but I am relentless; relentless about learning about God, the Bible, those who have gone before me and those in my midst. These things take a lifetime, and it is certainly is about the journey as it is about the destination.

~Nathanael~

29/31 – My biggest dream in life (I wanted to do as a kid but no longer can)

My biggest dream in life (I wanted to do as a kid but no longer can)

None of my dreams as a childhood were out of the ordinary. I never had dreams of being a firefighter, policeman, astronaut and President of the United States, my “what do you want to be when you grow up” answer was that I wanted to be a burglar.

I wanted to be a burglar because
1) a burglar steals stuff at night, so in my 5 year old mind he must be there during the day for his wife and kids
&
2) a burglar steals stuff… My family was materially poor when I was younger, I was envious over friends who had new toys, I was the oldest and only boy in my family but I still received hand-me-downs from others.

Now my 5 year old self wasn’t wrong, I don’t look back at my wanting to be a burglar with scorn because it is a part of my story, it is something that I processed then because of my given circumstances.

I didn’t have big dreams that were unreachable, I did desire to be a good husband and a dad someday, it’s a dream I still have and God willing I will be both.

~Nathanael~

28/31 – My biggest dream in life (one great thing I want to accomplish)

 

My biggest dream in life (one great thing I want to accomplish)

This question has a two part answer to it, so I’ll just say that two of my biggest dreams in life are to be a good husband and a good father to my kids.

A good husband…

Reading the Bible I have a basic understanding of what it takes to be a good husband, which is submitting out of love for my wife and hopefully she submits to me out of love as well. If both people are giving of themselves to the other, there isn’t room for the patriarchal or even matriarchal authority mindset to take place. I’m looking for a girl who believes in the egalitarian pattern for having a relationship, the mutual nature of giving and receiving.
My parents had their 31st wedding anniversary, I say had instead of celebrated because there’s a severe disconnect between the two of them. I won’t air their dirty laundry, all I will say is that the road to getting on the right track to being a good husband is a good one, because I haven’t seen a good example of what a healthy marriage looks like via my parents.
I will do better than them, and these aren’t empty words of promises or my future wife-to-be, I will do whatever it takes to be a good husband to my wife because she deserves it.

A good father…

My life has an empty gap in it; my father’s there but not there, work takes precedence now and it always has. What he put my sisters and I through has been a generations old problem. He said he’d be there for my mom and us kids, but he didn’t, so it’s up to me to do better next time around. I desire so much to do better than he because it hurts to have a father who is there but isn’t there. Just the other day I was hanging out with my bro, we planned a night of drinking beer, eating pizza and watching Lost. His father was at the table talking to him and he engaged me in dialogue, I talked, listened and then I offered him a beer. I wish I had that dynamic with my father… Little things like this I never had, and knowing how much it hurts I want to do better for my future kids. The generational curse has to end with me, otherwise I don’t see the point of having a wife and kids if I’m not going to do any better than generations before me.

I recognize that what it will take to get me there is Godly men and women who will hold me accountable, individuals who’ll speak into my life and help me make better choices if needed be. I am willing to be held accountable where needed be for the my sake, my wife’s sake and also my kids’ sake. I don’t want there to come a time where my wife or kids feel like they aren’t loved or feel like they can’t approach me about something difficult.

Here’s to making a difference in the lives of others for the better! 🙂

~Nathanael~

 

27/31 – My vocation (why are I here on earth)

 

My vocation (why are I here on earth)

Since I won’t be the next Valentino Balboni (former test driver for Lamborghini) I might as well be me…

My vocation, my calling, is youth ministry. God put it upon my heart in my Senior year of high school, and I have been active with different youth ministries some 9 years later. I don’t aim to reinvent the wheel when it comes to youth ministry, but I do desire to engage students in helping out others, that is social justice; to which I consider myself blessed to have had some students of mine help me out at the local soup kitchen, getting to know the homeless and poor in my hometown and feeding them has made my perspective change 180°.

I do know that some things with being a part of the Emergent church does spur me on in a different way than my Evangelical upbringing. By no means am I dropping Evangelicalism altogether, but there’s a bit of a progression, and so on the shoulders of Evangelicals I’ve become an Emergent. Instead of making “getting to Heaven” the drive for one’s actions, I hope to express and instill in students that while Heaven is part of the equation, the nature of “getting there” isn’t where I’m putting emphasis, but rather living out a life faithful to God, “on Earth as it is in Heaven”, kingdom work here and now, reconciliation and restoration, being part of the process that ushers in perfect shalom…because I think Heaven, for what it’s worth, might not be what Evangelicals have told and sold over the years, and I want to present a dynamic reality instead of a static one.

I also want to further my education by way of getting a Masters of Divinity (M. Div) in either Ireland or Scotland; I want to get some studying abroad as well as traveling abroad in my lifetime, I think this’ll help me get both in, in the proverbial killing two birds with one stone kind of way. I love learning, and I think expanding my education in the realm of what I find my calling to be will serve me well.

I also think and believe that part of my vocation is to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, not that there isn’t any overlap but there needs to be more. I have written quite a bit about that, and at the risk of beating a dead horse, I will just say this; Christians aren’t overall bad when it comes to engaging the LGBT community in a Christlike manner, I just think that we can do more. I also think about who Jesus spent his life on earth with, the ones in his day and age who were people that were marginalized, people who were looked down upon, people who were ignored…if Jesus spent his years here on Earth right now, I think he would spend a good deal of his time with the LGBT community. I think if we’re called to be like Christ as followers of Christ, stepping out in faith and building friendships and loving on the LGBT community is a very good and Godly thing to do.

I also like to write, I don’t know how that works into my vocation at this point, but down the road I might have some clarity that I don’t have at this present time.

~Nathanael~