There are things I don’t understand, and I’m okay with that – 23/28

I consider myself intelligent in a broad variety of subjects, and I do what I can to learn from the school of life on a day-to-day basis but there are some things I don’t understand and I’m okay with that.

I used to think that when it came to my belief system it was about having all the answers, which is why whenever I’d play “Bible baseball” at AWANA, the only time I wasn’t beaten the shit out of by my peers was when people wanted me on their team because I would ask for the triple or home run questions. I knew the answers, I knew the songs, I knew the framework of the do’s and don’ts within the Christian culture I was in, and I thought that was life of a Christian.

Yet in my early 20s I started wrestling with my beliefs and I gave myself room to doubt the nature of God and even to some extent doubt God’s existence. I asked the “if God is good why are there those who suffer in the world” question and related, and found answers to some but not all of my questions. In my journeys of learning about God I recognize that there are things I don’t have answers for and I have peace with not knowing.

It’s not apathy, it’s not me tossing in the towel because I can’t come to a conclusion, it comes from a place that there aren’t always answers to our questions. Being human should mean asking questions, and with that people want answers to their questions; I see this plain as day with the junior higher students I work with at my church to those I work with at work, answers give us the potential to have a better grasp about something going on in life. A lack of answers can mean a lack of security. I acknowledge good questions and do what I can to answer them, I also acknowledge the fact that some questions don’t have answers much to the chagrin of others sometimes. It can be messy and it can be scary to not have answers, but such is life sometimes and we need to collectively be able to live with that.
It is a tall order to live answerless but it doesn’t diminish our humanity, as it points out our fragility and our temporal natures. We are all human, we all screw up, we all have bad days in our own and collective ways as much as we have good days in our own and collective ways. Where we lack sometimes can be remedied by the company we keep; my problem’s might not be the same as my friend, but where he or she helps me so in some way I can help or she as well, this is the we-ness of humanity.

I will keep asking questions and I will keep answering questions where I can, but for what I don’t know I will smile and acknowledge my unknowing. 🙂

~Nathanael~

The time I went to test drive Lamborghinis – 22/28

Well it happened. I got invited to test drive the Lamborghini Veneno:

as well as the Veneno Roadster:

Two gorgeous if-you’re-asking-the-cost-you-can’t-afford-it supercars put out by Lamborghini. They wanted me to test drive them and give them feedback, both on the road, the track, and the Autobahn. It just so happened that I submitted an essay for non-Lamborghini owners as to why I like this brand, and I won! They flew me out to Sant’Agata Bolognese Italy first class, set me up in a nice hotel and then it was down to business.

I liked the Veneno more than the roadster because of the rigidity that came with have a roof over my head. I floored it and it was more than responsive! It gave what I had to offer and then some. Given that the top speed is in the ballpark of 220mph, they set me up with some high speed tips and tricks from none other than Valentino Balboni who was around for such an occasion. It was encouraging to work with a guy who started off as a mechanic apprentice and worked up to being the test driver of Lamborghini.

It was a fun 2 weeks out at Lamborghini HQ. With every passing hour spent behind the wheel I became more and more confident as a fast but safe driver. It was a shame when it came to the end, not because of this entire experience in and of itself, but rather that it was only a dream.

😦 Dang blazes!

~Nathanael~

Getting into the flow of art – 21/28

https://31.media.tumblr.com/5cefa465bcafa28f53053ba90ade2f57/tumblr_mz2huu8sx11r9ib0qo1_500.jpg
Yes, I made that.

I started off this year with the intention to draw at least once a day (I wrote about it a bit on day 6), and I have backslid. I haven’t been faithful to doing it once I day, but all the while I realize that I am able to engage in doing art more and the flow comes naturally.

The above drawing took me 3.5 hours on again and off again, but because my favorite artist is Vincent Van Gogh and Starry Night is my favorite piece by him I decided to give it a try. It was a labor of love to complete this painting, and it came so naturally once I put my doubts to the side because here’s the thing; as much as I am a right brained kinda guy

I still get bogged down in the details and I realize that this has at time hindered my creativity; if I couldn’t do it better than well, then what’s the point? But in missing the point, I realize I do have artist talent if I just apply myself and accept the fact that mistakes will be made but to keep on keeping on in my artistic endeavors.

I guess this mindset can be utilized elsewhere, not that I’m one to throw in the towel easily but at the same time I know that sometimes when push comes to shove I rather not deal with the consequences one way or another and this is for the easier things of life. Sure I can function and remain levelheaded when the shit hits the fan, but I recognize my limitations most of the time. It also helps that I’m not one to quickly give a yes or no, I weigh out if I have the time and resources to do something, and if I can I will.

When it comes to finished pieces like Starry Night, I like what I see, I like seeing the finished project of what I once saw/what I imagined/what I set forth to do and what I accomplished. It’s good to see things like this to completion. 🙂

~Nathanael~

11 years of youth ministry – 20/28

Over the last 11 years I have volunteered in different youth groups; inside the church, outside of the church, high school, as well as middle school.

The first youth group I helped out with was with a Jr. High youth group at my former church which went by the name CHAOS.

Truth to be told, it was.

I remember how naive then, calling the shots and acting like an authority figure without having a relationship with my group of guys. Yeah, that didn’t work out that well. But I quickly surmised that Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights were not enough, and so I found ways to connect with my group of guys outside the designated times. We had video game nights, my invented sport of “formal basketball”, and a Proverbs Bible study. It was outside the box, it was quirky and it was messy, but those guys I knew back then in my early years of youth ministry, I still keep in touch. In fact, one of my earlier youth ministry students is a guy who has introduced me to his trivia league at a bar in my area (he’s over 21 now so it’s all good) which I try to go to every Wednesday.

I do admit, that there have been times where the CHAOS was more internal or external. When I first started high school youth ministry it was with Young Life. I needed a 2 year internship when I was once a youth ministry major in college, and my bro from community college days hooked me up with the youth group he attended and went on to lead in. I was stoic and reserved, and I kept to myself as a leader because I think I honestly didn’t know how to come across as a ‘type a extrovert who dives into the games headfirst with reckless abandon.’ At that time I didn’t know how to utilize my strengths because I perceived them as weaknesses; I am a type b ambivert who is good with leading a small group. I am also someone who’ll ask the designated questions, and ask more pertinent questions than the ones provided to me. I am also one to call out students who give me answers they think I want to hear rather than the ones that they really want to give.

***

As a result of my strengths and weaknesses in the context of youth ministry, I know where my place is and I am okay with that. Too often ministry in any context appears to be an Anglo-Saxon W.A.S.P. extroverted males club ONLY, but I thank God for diversity and the ability to use my strengths accordingly. I also am thankful that youth ministry isn’t about me, and that I don’t need to put on an air of ‘look at what I am doing’ but rather ‘look at what God is doing’ and I see that on a regular basis.

Youth ministry isn’t where I’m going to end up work-wise, and I’m okay with that. I will still invest in the lives of others but in a different context because I realize where my strengths lie and I’m going to give it all I have.

~Nathanael~

It doesn’t taste just like chicken, trust me I’m a foodie – 19/28

Earlier today I found this as to what makes food that isn’t chicken taste like chicken:
https://i0.wp.com/thumbnails.visually.netdna-cdn.com/it-tastes-like-chicken_5102434f91b3a.png

I beg to differ! Sure there might be a little commonality in taste, but I don’t think people try hard enough to explore their mental palate to come up with other descriptors that aren’t “tastes-like-chicken” centric.

When I try something new, I savor it and try to figure out what’s in it, case in point – Bun Bo Hue

I had this yesterday, and based on the description on the menu it is a “Traditional and famous spicy beef noodles soup w/ sliced beef shank and pork pastries.” So with chopsticks in my left hand and my soup spoon in my right, I dove in.

The beef shank was gamey and slightly gelatinous.
The pork pastries were moist, tender and slightly aromatic.
The noodles were overly soft, as they were sitting in the broth for quite a while.
The broth was spicy, red chilies and green onions with a slight offset of cilantro, and my eyes watered and my throat burned on a few occasions. I balanced out the spiciness of it all (a little, anyway) with freshly squeezed lime juice.

All in all, a good first encounter with Bun Bo Hue. It was overly spicy for me (which is saying a lot) but it was worth trying 🙂

***

So please, take your time in eating food you make or food you eat in a restaurant. Savor it and deduce what could be in your food (if it’s different cuisine than you’re used to) and don’t give up and throw in the towel and say it tastes like chicken if it isn’t a chicken dish.

~Nathanael~