My writing process

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Good morning 🙂

I don’t always have time to write a lengthy post, but ideas of things I want to write about swarm my mind constantly. So when I’m unable to come to my laptop and write it out, I usually make mental notes, notes on a notepad that goes with me, or notes on the app on my phone. I jot down an outline and that will be enough for the time being.

When I am able to find time for writing I usually play some chill music in the background, have some fresh fruit and coffee ready to nosh on, and off I go…er…write! Recognizing how much time I could spend writing, as of late I’ve been setting a time for 30 to 40 minutes and use that block of time to write quickly and efficiently. If I need to come back to writing, I’ll save it to draft form and come back to it the following day.

I do like writing very much, but while it is a part of my life it is not my life. This is not my bread and butter, it’s just something I enjoy a great deal, and perhaps some day I will have put in my 10,000 hours to make me a prolific writer 😉 or something like that.

So that is my writing process from start to finish. A question to the reader+writer, how do you go about writing?

~Nathanael~

reclaiming my sexuality from Christians

re·claim

[riˈklām]

verb (used with object), re·claimed, re·claim·ing

retrieve or recover (something previously lost, given, or paid); obtain the return of.

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Truth to be told I heard diverse perspectives about sexuality growing up. In my immediate family, mum was the word. Amongst my peers it was something talked about in secret braggadocio whispers about who did what with whom, and in church…well, in church, purity was put on a pedestal.

I was never part of any True Love Waits conferences, the quintessential Evangelical event that coerces instructs kids to make a pledge to save sex for marriage and only marriage. The pledge is as follows: “Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate and my future children to be sexually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship.”
It is sexual to some degree education but solely from an abstinence perspective. While there are some things within the program that might be beneficial, I truly believe that followers of Christ who aren’t willing to give kids a well-rounded/holistic view on sexuality might be setting them up for failure or worse if kids have sex (gasp!) there might be some sense of worthlessness per no longer being “sexually pure”.

This is my story so I will get back to it. Despite not going to any conferences that were promoting sexual purity and waiting for marriage to have sex, some of it seeped into my subconscious. I didn’t ever write off any of my peers if they were not being “sexually pure” or anything like that, but I did know of some peers who seemed adrift and perhaps even at a loss when they went “too far”.

My first dating relationship was to a woman who had two sons, and while in that season of life I loved her unconditionally, it was sad to hear indirectly people talking about my relationship with this woman who had two children who wasn’t married. It pissed me off for many  reasons, but there was the nature of they didn’t even know her and they made assumptions about this ‘promiscuous woman’ I was dating.
I have a great deal of respect for single parent households, it’s a tough position to be in and having been in a relationship with a woman who was for a while I learned quite a bit. Still among Christians there’s a taboo about it. To those who talk and whisper and cut down such individuals to their face or behind their backs, to those who do that fuck your actions!  Engage them in conversation and maybe you’ll find out where they’re coming from.

Now what confuses me is the pedestal in which sexual purity is placed amongst followers of Christ. There’s no reference of saving sex for marriage in the Bible because in that day and age sex was marriage, and even the nature of it was more procreational not necessarily recreational, although if you read Song of Solomon and between the lines, yeah it was to be enjoyed. Marriage was also transactional; to keep peace between family members or tribes, a daughter and son would unite to hold things together in that way. Plus there’s the age in which people were getting “married” in that day and age, individuals in their early to mid teens! Nowadays people are getting married later and later in life, statistically via Huffington Post; “For men, the average age at first marriage is 28.7, while the average woman is getting married for the first time at age 26.5.
There is also the nature of shaming those who are no longer virgins. Everything revolves around being sexually pure and once that comes to an end, you’re used up and discarded. I know I have felt collective guilt in the past for making out, and it was never really my own guilt! I do see that if you’re feeling guilty by your own guilt and not because of some collective guilt…well, maybe that should be your cue if anything.

When it comes down to it I have for sometime now reclaimed my sexuality from Christians. I reclaim it because I realize having lived life for 29 years now that sex is important, but people are more important. I cannot snob or look down upon someone who is having sex or had sex, that is their purgative and not mine at this time. I am a sexual being, but I am a sexual being in waiting; I will learn, I will ask questions, I will cross “Christian” lines to educate myself sexually instead of just siding with “don’t have sex until you get married/abstinence only” rhetoric.

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When the time comes to have children of my own it is my intention to give my children a holistic sexual education.  That includes bringing up abstinence but also different forms of protection for safer sex. I will share with them my story without getting into details that will freak them out to the point of not wanting to discuss sexual matters out loud with my wife/their mom and I, the last thing I want for my children is to feel like they cannot talk to me about anything, now whether I’ll be ready for said conversations time will tell. 😉

Sex is important, and it can be very good at times. It needs to be talked about in a way that doesn’t elevate sexual purity in a way that one’s worth is defined solely on whether someone has had sex or not. In recognizing and engaging my own sexuality I realize that there’s more to sex than sex and certainly there’s more to purity than purity. I am doing what I can to live holistically and through this stance this is how I choose to reclaim my sexuality from Christians.

~Nathanael~

Camping 201; not necessarily for beginners, but for returners

So while I was camping I…wasn’t completely prepared for it, so I’m going to dispense with some camping knowledge for those who are returners to camping not necessarily beginners.

Have appropriate clothes – Might seem obvious but that’s what sent me home early. I had plenty of warm weather shirts and hoodies,  alas I didn’t have a good blanket and pair of pants that would handle cold weather.

Bring more than one pair of shoes – Bring a pair of comfortable shoes for whenever and a more durable pair for hiking and whatnot. When it came to my camping, I had two pairs that were comfortable, as most of the hiking I did wasn’t strenuous but it’s good to be prepared in this way.

Be hospitable – I like entertaining people, even when I camp. So I packed accordingly to share what I had with others 🙂 Alas I was turned down by those I invited to my campsite for cheesecake and coffee, but I was still prepared in this way.

Accept the kindness of strangers (within reason) – At my last campsite a woman who worked the campground gave me 15 pieces of hardwood for my campfire! She even unloaded it from her pickup truck. There’s something to accepting kindness from others, they hardly fit the “stranger” bill afterwards.

Cheat if needed be (when it comes to campfires) – I love getting a campfire going, but at the second campsite I was at there wasn’t a lot of kindling to get a fire going to fuel my firewood. So I went to the local grocery store, bought charcoal and lighter fluid, voila! Campfire! Given that it was charcoal it was sustainable to get my campfire going for quite a while. It’s okay to use these, no need to be a pissy purist if you’re unable to get a fire going.

Take photos – I like photography already, but having snapshots of where I went and who I met and what I ate…they’re a good way to recall such trips. Plus you can always show the photos you have taken to others once you come back 🙂

Bring what you need, but don’t go overboard – I think I brought more stuff than I needed on my camping trip. Realizing that I know how to streamline next time I go camping, because I didn’t read the books I brought and some other things kind of took up space because I thought I was going to use it, I thought wrong.

Carry some ca$h with you – I didn’t have this problem, but some places you go might not accept your debit/credit card.

Shock cords are not universal – I found this out the hard way 😦 As I grabbed the wrong ones to my tent (I have two tents). It was more of a lean-to than a tent, and one night/morning it collapsed upon me, I survived if anyone wants to know 😉

Bring an axe/hatchet/knife/pointy stick – Yes, for assisting in the camping and defending if necessary. The former came into play quite often, but thankfully never the latter.

Manners please – Manners, ’nuff said.

Bring a cooler – I have one and it served me well in keeping my food cool and all in one place.

Bring a lot of water bottles – Thankfully I had potable at each of my campsites, but realizing that it might not have panned out that way I brought 5 Nalgene bottles just in case.

and lastly…

Have fun! – Kind of self-explanatory, but sometimes it’s more of an endurance than a trip or dare I say vacation. Go to town, go walking, go swimming, do something you’ve never done before, try the local grub and craft brews, write postcards to your peeps (don’t forget the stamp in the upper right hand corner), write, journal, meditate or pray, etc.

Happy camping!

~Nathanael~

Prone to wander Lord I feel it; getting community apart from community

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above” ~ Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing


I am a wandering meandering thinking feeling soul. I am 29, but life and what it has presented to me, I have felt old in my younger years and finally the number of my age has caught up to that feeling. 29 years old, which isn’t that old I’m assured, but that’s kindness mingled with something else to suggest that I am not old but in fact still young. What ever it is, it’s not all that reassuring at times.

Anyway, apart from the diatribe of wandering which got me off wandering on my post about wandering… There are times in community that I do not function well; I don’t run to the church when I have problems, I don’t run to people who I know and love who know and love me, I keep to myself and do it myself…to some avail, but total successes, but still, I don’t go to the church as much as I’d like. I guess it stems from growing up in a church where I lived in one town and the church was in another town, and social-economics be damned! I didn’t “fit” into my church and so I was a loner for most of my early church experience.

I didn’t run to the church when my relationship collapsed upon itself and I was left with emotional shrapnel which (until recently) afflicted my body and soul. I didn’t run to the church when I found out my mother had breast cancer and she’d have to go through chemo treatments and her hair would fall out, I didn’t go to the church in the thick of my issues with my father in my younger years and no one ever probed into bruises on my body that weren’t mere “spanking” bruises…

***

In my life I considered nailing down a denomination that I’d align myself with, and that came from some help from a guy I met online who aligns himself with the Greek Orthodox denomination. One of the things I learned from studying Greek Orthodoxy under him was those who were the desert father and mothers; individuals who intentionally left for monastic life with God, and community with God alone. There is much to be learned from the desert fathers and mothers, and I kind of was jealous and slightly zealous to partake in leaving for “out there” apart from community, just God and myself.

But I realized in the 12 days I was camping, I not only need community but I was made for community. I didn’t keep to myself when I was camping, but there were times it was just like the desert fathers and mothers, God and myself in community together albeit in the woods (now if they were forest fathers and mothers…I may have to reconsider what I’m saying here ;-)). I did hang out with friends and new acquaintances while I was in Memphis as well as in Nashville, yet it was in my getting away from community in particular my community in Illinois that I got my needing of it and even desiring it.

The church is a construct of flawed people, and I think that is why I don’t run to the church. I also have a history where the church hasn’t helped me where I would like them to, despite it being tangible and reasonable. I also don’t want someone who’s in a worse place to come along and help me, but sometimes I forget that God is still among people and works through people despite their flawed ways. The Bible is chockful of examples of individuals God used despite their flaws, some of it happened prior to God using them but some of it happened during as well as after. A guy I admire for his writing and what he shared with my church community a few months ago made a very poignant and resounding statement to me, he told me “nothing is wasted” and despite where I’ve come from and where I’m at now, I believe it to the core of who I am.

I recognize that despite how flawed the church is and how badly followers of Christ don’t seem to get it sometimes, but then I genuflect and realize Hey! That’s myself included! I cannot rip on the church and followers of Christ because I am a part of that lot, not apart from it, and until I do what I can to make myself a better person…with God’s help, and certainly, life in community…I cannot degrade it as much as I sometimes do.

So I’m back in Illinois, all fired up and ready to go and be a part of community within my church but also going out from there and doing what I can to impact my roomies, my community, my state, and hopefully the world. I might not always be the best candidate to represent Christ, but I will do what I can to be the change I want to see and usher in the Kingdom of God here on earth. Perfect Shalom is on the horizon, and I know that so much of it begins with community.

~Nathanael~

I’m Sorry Campaign – Memphis Pride 2013

So the first leg of my vacation to Tennessee was marked by coming into town for camping, but also Memphis Pride. My friend Jimmy kept me in the loop when I was still in IL, when I was still in limbo with my job pertaining to vacation…but I  made it out to Memphis, and have been enjoying it ever since.

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Okay, so yes I come from Illinois and I have attended 4 Pride Parades in Chicago, so the lag and less of a parade was a little quirky…but still, there were windows of opportunities all around us! People did in fact want to know what we were sorry about, and we talked about the I’m Sorry Campaign on individual levels but also on behalf of Christianity as a whole.

After the parade we all manned a booth in Robert R. Church Park in Memphis, more people talked to us but there were also different churches present who were happy for our presence, happy that (I assume) we were quite the diverse group; both members of the LGBT community, but also allies. I walked around the park checking out the different churches and talking to the people who represented them, it was very encouraging to hear their stories and their church’s goals to promote equality, affirmation, and acceptance as a church community. One church, a Roman Catholic church, has been on quite the journey of being accepting and affirming; after a parishioner’s son committed suicide the bishop, J. Terry Steib, became vocal within his church community but also the community of Memphis. More information about what he said can be found here. It was very encouraging to hear what was said by those who align themselves with Roman Catholicism, because at times I don’t hear their voice all that much or their voices get vocalized by someone else.

It was different from the Chicago Pride Parade, but it was a worthwhile experience. I kind of enjoyed it because it wasn’t such a large parade, which provided more intimacy in putting out there what we were sorry for. Yes I like Chicago for the largeness of it (number 3 in the country, woo!) and for the stop-go foot traffic that gives more opportunities to talk about what I’m sorry about.

I don’t know what next year holds for me in reference to Memphis Pride, but if I can I will be back! 🙂

~Nathanael~

Jesus in humanity in Memphis

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I ran into Jesus in downtown Memphis; he joined me for breakfast and told me his life in the radio business, bit also his life on drugs. He told me about working on the family farm. He told me about his estranged cousin & brother, the last remaining relatives he has. His weathered eyes and hands told their own story.

I could have easily dismissed the opportunity to have fed Jesus, but he was hungry for food & for his story to be told.

Christ in humanity reveals himself all the time. Are you just praying for such opportunities or are you reaching out to him in tangible expressions of love for humanity? Something to chew on.

~Nathanael~

Stepping into history can be heavy; Martin Luther King Jr/Memphis

On Friday last week I went to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. As soon as I left the parking lot it felt heavy, as this was the site where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

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Before even getting here, I the lover of history knew about this site from what I learned in history in my younger years. But reading about such places has a different weight to them, going to such sites can be so heavy.

In case you’ve never been to the museum it goes like this. You park, you walk in the parking lot outside of Martin Luther King Jr.’s room, you go into an underpass of sorts, go into the museum, make your way to the a higher level and there you are in the area where James Earl Ray was staying and conditions of this place are such so it’s presented as it was back then! The bathroom and cracked window in the above photo is where he was when he fired his rifle across to the hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. stepped out…it is eerie for many reasons, it is very matter-of-fact as to what happened.

It was heavy for me because I think about a lot of things, and when I think about individuals who have moved in the direction of progress, a LOT of people die in their prime for what they believe and stand for; Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Bobby Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr…the list goes on.

There’s something to living for what you believe, and I truly try to live out what I believe as a follower of Christ on a daily basis. Yet there’s also something to living what you believe even if it costs you your life. I don’t think I have any threats against me, I’m a peaceable person and don’t get into a lot of arguments. I passionately dialogue and discuss things out, and so I don’t think I’m someone worth targeting despite perhaps coming from a different stance from different people.

Still those who are martyred for what they believe hold admiration on my part, now suicide bombers who martyr themselves do not hold any admiration, perhaps that’ll be another blog post for another day.

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Martin Luther King Jr. studied the peaceful protesting methodology of Mahatma Gandhi, and he was also a follower of Christ. His words and speeches are prolific and well-known, and he exemplified St. Francis of Assisi’s words “make me an instrument of your peace”. Being where he was when he gave up his spirit and passed on was awe-educing, the silence of that place was deafening. I too want to live out a life of being an instrument of peace, as well as progress for humanity. How will that all look? I don’t know fully know yet, but I am getting to where I need to be in life and I have God to thank for that.

~Nathanael~