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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

lightbulb...

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It has now become an incorrigible habit of mine to write poetry during our history TOG meetings. I pay attention, but verses just seem to come. Anyways-- here is tonight's poem--it's a summation of an analogy of my life. My life is like a lightbulb. If you still wonder what I mean after finishing reading, just ask.

lightbulb.

In the middle of a room
Stands a lamp--with the lightbulb on.
Shining into every dark corner,
Dispelling any gloom.

Despite the brilliance given,
There is still fragility,
A split second of off and on,
And failures in the living

Let my life resemble
This light; for You.
I may break easily
But Your hands assemble
Anew.

Your power is pulsing, flowing,
Lighting me up for the world.
Coursing through my veins and heart,
In the middle of the room I am glowing.

If I lose hope; shatter into pieces,
The light grows dim; darkness returns.
I'm human, I'm fragile I know,
But Your love for me still reaches.

Let my life be a light for You,
Though I break, You make anew.
In the middle of the darkness, surrounded
I'm nothing, lest in Your power am founded.

 five: millions of pieces.
 four: come together again.
three: power to shine bright.
two: darkness reaches.
one: ___ ___ ___
       light.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Flight School...

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     Have you ever wanted to learn to fly? To "slip the surly bonds of earth" as Gillespie Magee succinctly put it? Now, there is an opportunity to do so. In an Aviation Magazine article here, long-time pilot and educator, Barry Schiff offered a $3,000 scholarship for any young person above 16 and under 21 to learn to fly. The winner of the scholarship can attend the flight school of their choice.
   
      Needless to say, I am definitely interested in this opportunity; its wonderful when chances like this are available. In order to win the scholarship, you simply have to submit a 500-word essay explaining why you would like to learn to fly as well as a color photo of yourself. If Mr. Schiff deems your essay to be excellent, and yourself to be handsome, you will win his scholarship, along with other flight-oriented equipment. Cool? Yep. All entries are due by December 15, and are subject to his own opinion and liking, etc.
 
  Need I say more?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cookies...

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     Did you ever wonder, what makes the grass grow? Did you ever wonder, what makes the sun shine? Did you ever wonder, where Girl Scout Cookies come from?
     In answer to the first two questions, God is the one behind it all; as for the third question, the way the cookies taste, God could be behind that too. However, the Girl Scout website says differently. Apparently, the Girl Scouts do not make the cookies themselves, but are only the door-to-door solicitors of goodness. Two outside companies make the cookies themselves: "ABC Bakers" and "Little Brownie Bakers". These companies are licensed by the Girl Scouts of America to bake the Thin Mints, Do-Si-Do's, and Samoa cookies. Just in case you were worried, all of the cookies are Kosher.
     According to the website, the best selling cookie is the Thin Mint, closely followed by the Samoa and the Peanut Butter varieties. No preservatives are used in the making of the cookies, and no animals are hurt in the process of the baking. All of the chocolate used comes from a free trade zone, and not from obscure cacao farms with the beans picked by children. Although some of the cookies say "Sugar Free" they still might possess a small amount of High-Fructose Corn Syrup, making them not diabetic cookies.
    This ends the line of information about the Girl Scout Cookies, and here ends any philosophical status that my blog may have had. Next up--where do the Boy Scouts get all of their popcorn?

And yes, the packages are 100% recyclable.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Alive...

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Another poem spurred on by History last night....


Welcome to my world
Everything is up and down.
Blacks and whites look more like grays,
And there's no direction in this town.

Why can't everything be crystal clear?
My thinking isn't straight.
Looking for a note in all the noise,
Can anything change my state?

I've tried and I've tried, but I still am lost.
I've lied and I've lied, but the truth still haunts me.
Reason only leaves dead ends and confusion to life;
I thought I was living, but is there life in me?

I've looked at everything under the sun,
And yet, the answer hides.
My eyes are open but I don't see,
The Truth that's on all sides.

You surround me; lifting my life up
Yet I ignore Your love and focus on my day
Life is senseless when You're not involved
I choose Your light, Your life--
And in Your arms I'll stay.

Nothing is true unless the Truth is real.
Nothing is living unless Life has awakened it.
Direction is circular without the Way that is Straight
And the One who redeems your life from the pit.

Come awake and come alive,
By taking the hand held out to you.
There's love overpowering and sweet.
There's Christ that makes all new.

Amen.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monkeys or Equality...

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The other day, I made my yearly trip to the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Yes, the one and the same. As the name implies, it deals, not with the history of our nation (that is the museum a few blocks down), but with the history of our world, and most importantly: nature. In the wax figurine caveman displays, and the new, several thousand dollar "Origins of Man" exhibit, the museum also kindly informs the innocent tourist that yes, this shortish, ape-like, less-than-handsome man, was his or her ancestor from 8 or so million years ago. Talk about long-lost relatives. Essentially put, man evolved from monkeys; the same theory that has been furthered for decades by much of the scientific community. In another section of the museum, the curator has constructed another new exhibit, about race. This well put together exhibit concerns itself with informing the visitor about the ins and outs of racial segregation and bigotry. As I perused the hall of the "Race" exhibit, after having looked at the "Origins of Man" displays, a thought came to me: both of these displays contradict each other. How? Let me explain.

Several of the Natural History Museum's displays propagate the theory that all of mankind originated in Africa. This claim is based on the fact that most of all of the 'transitionary' ape fossils such as Lucy have been found in Africa, specifically in the Kenya/Tanzania region. Also propagated is the decades old theory that man evolved, an idea originated by Charles Darwin in the 1800's. This type of evolution refuses a God as the Creator of the world, and as a being in the world. To sum up--the museum states that man evolved, thereby disallowing any action of God, and thereby arguing against the existence of God.
So where's the contradiction? I came across the contrary argument in the 'Race' exhibit.

The essential argument made by the displays on race was that all men are created equal. The info boards took a quote directly out of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal..." But wait a minute, look back at the quote: "...that all men are created equal..." Created? Yes, that is what the Declaration states. If man is created, that denotes a Creator: God. So despite the fact that one wing of the museum denies a Creator and a God, another portion of the museum claims a Creator and a God in order to have equality. Contradiction? I think so. But wait, you say, the word 'created' is just semantics. Evolution creates as well. In that case, look at the first part of the quote: "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." The interesting thing about self-evident truths is that there are none, apart from God. Why? Look at Stalin's Russia in the 1900's: Stalin's communist regime rejected any and all parts or references to God. Alright, so what? In his nation, was equality, or any other individual right for that matter, respected? No. Obviously, the truth of equality was not self-evident to Stalin. Why? Because he rejected God. Only God is the Truth, and only God is the Self-Evident Truth.
This leaves the museum in a quandary: should it elevate the evolution of man in the interest of keeping a more atheistic view, or should it be concerned about the equality of man in race, and admit there is a God?

Keep the monkeys, or keep equality, but you cannot have both.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Arabic Lesson (contd)....

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For those of you who waited patiently to figure out what the two men were saying in Arabic yesterday--here is a translation.
Ahmed: Hello! My name is Ahmed
Najeed: Hello to you.
Ahmed: What is your name?
Najeed: My name is Najeed. Where are you from?
Ahmed: I am from Kuwait. And you?
Najeed: I am from Tunis.
Ahmed: Nice to meet you. How are you?
Najeed: I am fine, praise God. And yourself?
Ahmed: I'm good, praise God. Hello.
Najeed: Hello to you.
(both men look at each other strangely; staring at the other's eyebrows. They turn, take three paces in opposite directions, and fire. The duel is clearly spontaneous in nature. Both miss, then run off-stage)

Now, due to my amateur Arabic skills, the above translation may or may not be up to par, but it gets the gist of the conversation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Arabic Lesson...

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Arabic is a neat language, full of variety, color, and yes, words. Have you ever wondered what a short conversation might look like? Here we go:

Ahmed: Ahlan wa Sahlan! Ana ismi Ahmed.
Najeed: Ahlan biik.
Ahmed: Ism HaDritak ee?
Najeed: Ana ismi Najeed. HaDritak mineen?
Ahmed: Ana min al-Kuwayt. Wa HaDritak?
Najeed: Ana min Tuunis.
Ahmed: Itsharrafna. Izzayy HaDritak?
Najeed: Ana kuwayyis, il-Hamdu lillaah. Wa HaDritak izzayy?
Ahmed: Ana tamaam,il-Hamdu lillaah. Ahlan wa Sahlan.
Najeed: Ahlan biik.
(the two exit stage left and stage right, taking care to cross upstage and downstage at least once, and gesture wildly, leaving the audience wowed, stunned, and confused.)


Have no clue what the two men just discussed? Translation will be posted tomorrow, or for the impatient, Google Translator is always available.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Don't forget how to live...

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     As we go about our daily business, be it school, work, or chores, we oftentimes end up focusing on the things right in front of us. Of course, we have to focus on the work at hand, or else nothing will get done. But how often do you sit back and think about the future, think past what is right in front of you?  Think past college, marriage, and your life, and consider where the world is going. If the world will eventually burn, then what point is there to being creative, being innovative, and being smart? If you think this outlook is pessimistic, you are correct, but this is the mindset that Christians find so easy to fall into. Challenge yourself to think deeper than that. Find the things that do have eternal ramifications, and pursue those. If we have the shallow view that all is eventually nothing, then there is no point to life. But that is the catch. There is a point to life, one that Christians and non-Christians so easily miss and forget.
     Man was created to love and be loved. Love whom? There is only one that we can love, and perfectly be loved in return. His name is Christ, Elohim, God, Elyon, Jehovah, Abba, Father. He is the purpose of life; He is life. When we focus on the horizontal, on the day that is ahead of us, and forget that there is another dimension to our toils, we have forgotten how to live. Of course, when you forget how to live, death and pessimism set in. When you look at the future, ponder the world, ponder life, ponder marriage, ponder college. But never forget that the only way to ever live life is to pursue the Creator.
    Run hard.
  

Friday, October 7, 2011

Get Your Driver's License....

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I recently passed my driver's license test, and am now a licensed driver. Talented though? Maybe not. The DMV certainly makes it as hard and as confusing as possible to get it though, so for anyone in VA, I wanted to lay out what you have to do, and what paper work you have to have to apply. (Of course it involves paperwork--the government revolves around paperwork) So, according to my experience, here is what you will have to do to get your license: (note, this applies to VA residents only. Your state may have similar requirements, but I have not included them)
(another note: the outline below is for homeschoolers--I do not have any knowledge of how it works with public schools)
(third note: this is based off of my experience--laws may change, but this should sum up most of what is required)

1. Get your permit.
You have to have a permit to be able to learn how to drive. So get it. This is the easiest of the whole process: all you have to do is go to the DMV and pass the knowledge test. Want to practice? Sample tests can be found here: http://www.dmvnow.com/dmvweb/kats/sne_intro.asp .

2. Find a driving school course so you can get your required 30 hours of classroom learning.
For homeschoolers, there are a few good online courses that the state of VA accepts. Personally, I completed my 30 hours through: http://www.usdrivertraining.com/. This is a site that is especially created for homeschoolers, and it worked for me.

3. Start driving (with your permit in your pocket) and start logging your 45 hours of driving time
You have to have a total of 45 hours of logged driving: 30 during the day, and 15 after sunset. Although you do not turn the log of your driving hours in, log them because usually you will have to outline how much you drove for the online course.

4. Get your certificate of completion from the online course
You can only do this once you have finished the course, and have driven all 45 hours. Usually, the online course outlines what you need to send them in order for them to send you a certificate of completion. Yes, you do have to have a certificate.

5. Attend the mandatory 90 minute class
This is a new law in the course of getting your license, so if you haven't heard of it, its ok. This is essentially a  podium for the state to speak at you and tell you to drive safely. They have these classes periodically at schools in the area--just google it and see what you get. You do have to attend this class though, and get a piece of paper saying you did. No paper, no license at the DMV. Note: make copies of this paper.

6. Mail paperwork to Richmond (DMV headquarters)
Now comes the paperwork. Because we are homeschooled, you must mail your 1. Certificate of Completion(of the driver's course), 2. Your original (not a copy) paper saying you attended the 90 minute class, 3. A copy of your letter of approval for Homeschooling, and 4. This form: http://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/pdf/hs1.pdf This all has to be mailed to the DMV headquarters in Richmond.

7. Complete Module Eleven
It sounds like a special ops term, does it not? After processing the paperwork that you mailed in, Richmond will mail back to you a letter saying your parent is approved to teach you the "Module Eleven", which is also mailed to you. Note: none of the forms in Module Eleven have to be turned in to get your Driver's License

8. Go to the DMV
Finally, the step you waited for. But wait--do not forget the all important paperwork that the DMV requires. You will need to bring: 1.Your permit, 2. Your Social Security card, 3. Your passport, 4. The letter of approval to teach that Richmond sent you with Module Eleven,  5. The copy of the 90 minute Class Attendance paper, and 6. Your parent whose name is on the letter of approval to teach.(Important, because signatures have to match up) That should be everything you need. After that, all you need to do is pass the road test, and you are good to go.

Have fun getting your Driver's license. Also, the official DMV website for homeschoolers is here: http://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/citizen/drivers/homeschoolers.asp

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rest in peace, Steve Jobs...

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Yesterday evening, Steve Jobs, the former CEO and top innovator of Apple, passed away in his home in San Francisco, CA. A man who revolutionized the computer and technology industry, Jobs was truly a brilliant mind. A business analyst summed him up this way, ""Apple is Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs is Apple, and Steve Jobs is innovation. You can teach people how to be operationally efficient, you can hire consultants to tell you how to do that, but God creates innovation." That was what Jobs was. A human whom God had gifted with an incredibly innovative and creative mind. A man who wasn't afraid to try new ideas out, and scrap them if they didn't work. Unfortunately, there is doubt that he realized who had given him these gifts of innovation, creation, and perseverance. Jobs, as far as we know, followed and believed the tenets of Buddhism, which denies that there is any one God. In denying a God, one denies the One who gives everything. Sadly, for the world's beloved Steve Jobs, this seems to be the case. Today, as we use our iPods, our MacBooks, our iPhones, remember a man who gave the world much, but failed to recognize God who had given him much.  Pray also that the next innovator who rises to the front will realize and praise The Source of his abilities. Rest in peace, Steve Jobs.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Follow You...

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Our Tapestry of Grace history meeting was very good tonight. Inspiring, in fact. Not that I wasn't paying attention, but the Lord gave me words for a poem/song. Its really more of a psalm though.

A Psalm of Trust

I will rise up on Eagle's wings
But where should I fly?
I have refuge in the cleft of the Rock
Does that mean I should hide?
Following, listening, looking for Your voice,
I hear you calling, but to where should I go?

Shall I turn to the East
Or move to the South.
I know you lead me, but where shall I follow?
Do I go to the world,
Or is home the place to be?
I follow your call
Though I cannot see

Doors open and close, do I step through?
I'll wait and again, I depend on You.
Say move and I'll move
Say go and I'll go.
There's a plan You have laid out
A plan for me and the world.

I'll follow to the ends of the earth--
Your ways are not my ways, O God.
There is nothing unknown to You:
Why would I trust my knowledge
As faulty as it is?
Follow is a simple word,
And follow you I will.

Who shows the sparrow how to fly?
Should I follow You? I will not ask why.
High above all else
You reign in all and create all.
Though I do not know the direction,
I will follow You.

When I cry out, You are there.
You catch my every tear
You have shown Yourself true
Through and through.
If I trust You with my strife,
Why not give You all my life?
The way is unclear....
...but Your way holds no fear.

I'm schizophrenic, and so am I....

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     We've all heard the line, "Roses are red, violets are blue; I'm schizophrenic and so am I." This usually serves to throw people off course during introductions at a party, and break the ice. People wonder if you really are a schizophrenic in their midst, or if you just think you are schizophrenic, or if you have another problem that you pass off as schizophrenia. Of course, if they know you, they understand that's.....well....just how you are.
      But now, there's a solution. Its called talk therapy, and it apparently is working for schizophrenics and themselves (err, others). Read about it here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/04/health/research/04schiz.html  Apparently, schizophrenia is marked by of inability to act, due to fear of failure or fear of their other self criticizing them. So these doctors have decided that schizophrenics can use more self-esteem, so they put them through this talk therapy which boosts self-confidence....by having them talk to themselves. Ok, not really. The doctor talks to them, but still with esteem-building comments. Part of this therapy is also having them do simple tasks, such as play video games, eat cake, and make coffee: all things that are easily succeeded at, unless you happen to be blind as well. One lady got so good at making coffee, that she was able to leave the hospital, and she now serves coffee......somewhere. (they don't know)
     The point is though, all of this works. Who ever thought that the simple things in life could be important, huh? While you may not be schizophrenic, take note of the simple things in life, give thanks for the simple things in life, and take part in the simple things in life. Who knows, it might solve something....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Acquitted and free...

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     Last night, Amanda Knox was acquitted of a crime, which the Italian court believes she did not commit. Watching the news this morning, all of the news anchors were ecstatic for this American citizen to be able to come home. The reporters showed shots of the family celebrating at their home in Seattle, WA, as the verdict was read. It was a joy to see the relief and gladness on their faces as they realized that their daughter, niece, cousin, aunt, was able to come home after four years in an Italian prison. Read the full story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/05/world/europe/amanda-knox-freed-after-appeal-in-italian-court.html
     One can only imagine what the press response that the Italian court and judge are receiving looks like. They clearly (or maybe not so clearly) convicted an innocent person and created an international case, not to mention uproar. Was this acquittal due to pressure, or was it due to the facts? Sometimes, the two are almost the same for some courts, and yet, let us believe that it was Justice that was served here, not popular opinion.
   Interestingly enough, two thousand years ago, the entire world was acquitted of a crime that all did commit. The Supreme Court of God loved us so much, that through His grace, He signed a "Not Guilty" verdict. The full story can be found here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+3:16&version=NASB However, God did not just give sway to His love. No. Justice had to be served, and so, a perfect, sinless, righteous man was sent to be murdered and take the punishment in Humanity's place. The only person who is perfect enough to be the sacrifice for the entirety of mankind's sin, was the son of the Judge. Jesus Christ filled and finished mankind's sentence of death, so that Justice might be served, and that true love might be shown. Indeed, there still has yet in history to be another occurrence like this one.
    Acquitted and free. Celebrate the acquittal of Amanda Knox today, and accept the gift of your acquittal as well.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Same as it ever was....

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I had a lesson in the culture of my parents last night. Clearly, as the video shows, the music industry of the late eighties seemed to be running low on intelligence.


Does the song have a message? Of course. To sum up the song in a few lines, it reads like this:
I know what I want and what I wish
I got what I wanted and what I wished
This is not what I wanted and what I wished
Its the same as it ever was.

It is a rather narcissistic view to life, but when you run low on ideas for a song, hey, you write one like this, and become a philosopher.

But is everything the same as it ever was? Granted, history does seem to repeat itself, but is there a flow to life that has an ending and a purpose?