Monday, December 18, 2006

Finding Peace

By now one could tell that I like to talk about faith. It's a topic that everyone has an opinion on even if they don't think they do. It's a topic that is close to my heart.

If you have read my previous post [I Should Have Called This], I said that my faith in God has been my survival. He is my saving grace. He gives me peace.

Everyone finds their peace in different ways and in different things. I have looked into other faiths as objectively as I can, not to test God or Christianity, but to strengthen my own faith. I wonder how people come to their faith, especially atheists, because I think that any faith, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, is better than having no faith, or a faith in Science alone.

But have atheists studied both sides enough to be so certain to believe in no god at all? Is it that agnostics can't make up their minds either way or that they don't care to try?

Because any question about faith and life that I have had has been answered by Christianity. I find it interesting that people who were Christians and then decided to be atheists usually do so because they think that God has failed them. Some tragic thing happens, or they asked God for something, and they heard no answer, they felt no presence. I wonder if they prayed. I wonder what they prayed for and how. I wonder if they were patient.

When I was little and believed in Santa Claus, I didn't stop believing in him because I didn't get what I wanted. And any tragedy in my own life has been easier to go through because of God. I am not always patient, and I'm never sure if I'm praying for the things I ought to, but I won't stop trying.

I read a lot of books and I really like Lee Strobel's The Case For... books [Faith, Christ, Creator]. Strobel covers a lot of ground in his books, asking questions that religious and non-religious both ask from time to time. Every so often, Strobel will ask a question that I think, hmmm, that's true, what about that? Does Christianity have an answer for that? hmmm, doesn't that make more sense? But the Christian scholars always give a reasonable answer.

I suppose I wonder if there is anything more solid, unchanging, more logical than a belief in Christ.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

How I Am Supposed to Feel

Last year, the world lost a most valuable person in the form of an old friend named Rachel. Though I cannot remember the last time that I saw her in person, I thought of her (and her family) a lot over the years.

Rachel had the most beautiful smile to brighten up the faces of those around her.

Her family hosted YFC when I was in hs. Sometimes my parents would pick me up late and I would be the last one to leave. The family was always gracious in waiting for my parents with me.

We tried to meet to have bible study on campus. I think we met only that once, but one thing that was evident was Rachel's heart for her friends, asking for prayer over them.

She could sing too. On a whim, she dragged a couple of her friends up to the microphone in front of the entire camp and got them to sing with her. The song was "Sunny day."

When I went away for college, Rachel was one of the first to send me a card. Everytime I looked at it, I missed home but felt warm knowing that I was still thought of back home. She made it herself with a purple piece of paper, folded in half, and a photocopied picture of a surfer taped to the front. She signed it "Ra-cho." It stayed on my wall for those years.

That's how she is for everyone, warm, giving, smiling.

Just recently, we gave another good young person to be with the Lord. Albert comes from a big family; it was something to see his family, his immediate family gather up to say "farewell." I can't imagine...

Albert's smile is one of the greats also. That's what I have remembered over the years, and will continue to remember. I hadn't seen him since hs, though I knew his brother-in-law from college.

Albert had been in a Math class with me, and I think an English class also.

We didn't hang out with the same people, I can't recall any of our conversations.

Yet, I have thought of him often over the years. Seeing the more recent pictures of him displayed at the service, I knew that smile right away. The brightness of that smile will never fade.

I realized recently that in the past few years, I have gone to more funerals than my parents. It's a strange and scary thing. The only thing I can think to do is to follow the example of what Albert's brother John vowed to do, that he would live his life the best he can to honor Albert's memory.

Other people stay with me over the years, and this is the time to reconnect.

The picture of Rachel in my room now serves as a reminder to live on, and to live more boldly, to honor Rachel and Albert. I wonder, did they know how many lives they have touched over the years?

When I am called up at my time, the question I will ask myself, Did I do all I could for others? Lately, it's been a struggle, but I'm feeling the hint of a second wind.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Breaking Down Online

I had been resisting having a blog site for many reasons. First, I can't stand computers. They are too smart for our good. They always know when we absolutely need them and pick those crucial times to have their own break downs, go to sleep, or have fun at our expense. I generally do not trust them.

Second, the internet is evil for the fact that it makes it too easy for someone like me to hide from the rest of the world. I can say that I KIT with people, but I really don't. Emails and Myspace only make me think that I am. I thrive best on personal, face-to-face interaction.

Third, I can't stand the word "blog." It just feels like a trainwreck in my mouth. It does not simply roll off my tongue. "Weblog" as one word is even worse. Hmm, that will be one of the things on my list, "think of better word to use instead of 'blog.'"

Fourth, the computer screen hurts my eyes. It makes me tired.

Five, I am paranoid about certain things. For instance, I'm thinking right now that I can't show anyone this site because I've said things that they are going to take the wrong way and will never let me explain myself or correct the misunderstanding. I'm thinking that only perverts and identity thieves are going to find my site. Wait, maybe I have nothing to worry about there 'cuz I'm not as outwardly beautiful as I once was, I'm too old and intelligent to become a target for pedophiles, and the identity thieves will find that my identity is useless. Ahh, breathing easy...

Sixth, I ramble too much online that it can be annoying. See now, in person, I am rather quiet and private, but at least not AS annoying.

So despite my best efforts, I got curious and here I am. Again, I blame Jules. Not really.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

I Should Have Called This...

...ihavealotonmymind for the blog address.

Previously I mentioned the "brainwashing" argument regarding Christians.

Personally, I came by my faith in God on my own. Yes, I grew up in church because of my mom's faith, but her faith is not my faith. What I mean is that we believe much of the same things because of our faith, but I didn't just inherit my faith from her.

I don't remember how young I was, but I remember asking Mom how one becomes a Christian? Was it taking communion? Was it coming to church? Somehow I knew I was meant to be a Christian, but she couldn't quite explain the "how" to me. How did she brainwash me when she couldn't answer all of my questions, I will never know.

Then in the summer before high school [hs], I met people of Youth for Christ [YFC]. They had the answer, and I immediately went through the steps to become a Christian. Ah, here's an answer to the brainwashing; I don't spout ingrained YFC mantras (are there any?) whenever I'm feeling righteous, and, while I believe that YFC is a good organization to reach the youth, I don't necessarily agree with one of their beliefs (I'm not going to agree with every fellow Christian about everything). So, YFC did not brainwash me.

I got an answer, I heard a call, and I answered back. Sometimes I think I must have always had faith in God, even before becoming a Christian. I must have known that He exists.

Sometimes I wonder about how people see me, what they think of me. I'm in my late 20's now, having grown up with my mother and father married to each other (as they continue to be), my parents having never been married to anyone else. I have one brother, no half- or step-siblings. Drug-free, smoke-free, alcohol-free, never been homeless, never been abused. People see that, and I think they believe that I had a perfect childhood. I think so. They also believe that means I have no right to hurt, to think, to be saddened.

I know I have been greatly blessed, in so many countless ways that others have not. But I hurt like anyone else. I have my trials and tribulations like anyone else. I have the full range of emotions.

This is the point; my faith in God is what sustains me. I know He is real, that His Son is real, because I could not have gotten this far without Him. I believe He blessed me with this good family because He knows what I need. I can easily imagine how far gone I would be now if I had been born into any other family. In my darkest days, and they can be very dark, I take every blow that the darkness hurls at me because I know that in the end, I will be here. I will survive, for when I glimpse just a speck of light, and I reach up my hand, He will take it and bring me up. He always has, never failing once.

Would you call that "brainwashed"? If I am, then THANK GOD, because I am hopeful because of it.

P.S. Why is it that when people in general come through tragedies and struggles, they say "by the grace of God?" Maybe not when they're in it or right after it (though some do), but in hindsight, they thank God. You might hear "thank Allah," but I have never heard someone thank Buddha or Vishnu, thank myself.

Can't Turn My Eyes/Ears Away

I cannot get my head around politics, and it is difficult to know which source(s) are reliable, but with so much going on in the recent elections, I decided I would make my best effort to really understand what my vote says.

Around August, I don't remember exactly how it came, I watched the O'Reilly Factor. I am hooked. I do not always know if Bill O'Reilly [BO] is right, but he voices a lot of the thoughts I have about certain issues. And in continuing to watch, I get the sense that I can really trust what he says. I will probably be mentioning segments of his show often.

I try to keep up with the day's issues, but sometimes it is too much.

Today for example, O'Reilly read viewer emails about this yound girl being used on the internet to promote anti-religious propaganda. BO called this child abuse and brainwashing. One viewer wrote something to the effect that children in religious households are brainwashed also.

I grew up in a Christian household, and is it not a shame that I was "brainwashed" into being a good student, a hard worker, and to be kind and considerate of others? Isn't that a shame?

I am very grateful to Mr.O for standing up for traditional values that have made this country great. I am emboldened to stand up for my Christian values. I am not always sure that I am right, but what I believe comes from a good place, from caring for people.