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Archive for December, 2011

31 December 2011

It is officially 6 minutes before the New Year and one of my best friends is lying asleep on a bed nearby.  We leave Florence at 9am heading towards Venice.

Earlier this evening, as I remained in a funk caused by multiple days of travel with a fever, we conversed about New Year’s resolutions.  She has just failed to complete hers of the year for the first time.  I have yet to ever make a resolution.

For me, change comes with a mindset, a commitment far beyond the power of a couple combined numbers–the date of 1/1/20_.

“This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 NIV

Even Michael Jackson understood, “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.”

Senior year of high school I had a teacher, Mr.Bailey, who respected all art-forms of literature, including lyrics.  At a public school of 4,000, he rallied troops of students to act, scream, shout, and live out loud, the truths of “Man in the Mirror.”

May this year be commited to the words I heard first as the New Year’s fire works sparked off:  Josh Groban sang… “I am strong when I am on your shoulders!” Lord, may this be my founding all this year! “You raise me up to more than I can be,” may I know this as my forever Truth!

Have I promised a resolution?  I think not.  However,  with each year comes new growths, findings, character adjustments, and nasty habits.  May this year reveal pieces of God’s character in which I learn to better forgive of a matter without losing heart.

I know not all my words make sense, but the Father knows all anyhow, so no clarification necessary today.

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December 26, 2011

This past semester I had the unique opportunity of being adopted into a Florentine household.  Although I did not choose homestay as my housing option, I dined, spoke, grew, and loved with a family of 5 Italians: a loving married couple, a 17-year-old typical teenage boy, and twins of both genders.  Adorable. Brilliant. Caring. ABC is this family to the extreme.

For Christmas, I was invited into la casa mi famiglia per pranzo Natale (Christmas lunch).  Everyone was sick or getting sick–unknowingly, I was too. During the meal, I witnessed Tomaso melt his violent instincts away in order to care for his siblings, and serve the meal, so that his mother could finally enjoy what she had prepared.  Italian culture is to enjoy food and everything as it is intended–time is not something to let fly by.  This change in character is of utmost beauty: a compassionate heart.

“Let her cry: if the tears fall down like rain.  Let her sing: if it eases all her pain…and if the sun comes out tomorrow, let her breath.” –Hootie and the Blowfish

Although Tomaso is still becoming a grown man, in this moment, he truly acted as a man should.  In the moments of weakness, he stepped up.

Listen intently: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbZDjnWtK1A

“I see your true colors shining through.  I see your true colors, that’s why I love you. So don’t be afraid to let them see your true colors….your true colors are beautiful like a rainbow.” –Cyndi Lauper

I was only in Italy for 5 months, and in that time, God blessed me an insight as to how a Italian boy becomes a devoted husband, father, and commander final decisions.  It has been a beautiful opportunity witnessing to the husband and wife/ father and mother transition between individual and communal responsibilites, and to see the eldest son recognize his mothers place, and commit to humility to step in her shoes on this spectacular day.  I hope his true colors–if these were them–shine much more often.  Laura, the mother, deserves such grace in her life.  I honestly believe that if his respect were her only gift this year, it would be her greatest year yet.

Family–the gift of the Father, who allows us to know Him through fellowship.  Not only will my career pay respect to the power of a family, but my life is family.  For after I chose to follow Christ, I was accepted into the family of believers, and now, he included me in a family of Italian Catholics, who shared their tradition, love, compassion, wisdom, and openness with me.

The greatest blessing of my time abroad.

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19 December 2011

“Amsterdam is more American than America.” –Anders Hamborg

Ethics of Globalization is finished.  I received a B. Honestly,  I am quite enthralled with this letter grade, due to a past incident with my professor: his claiming I “recycled an old paper.”

Grading life achievements: what gives a teacher the right? If we are not to judge or be judged until judgment day, why have we structured schools’ excellence models on such a curriculum that requires harsh labels.  Why is it that we don’t offer critique and invite practice, instead?

Haha…

As I wrote this first part, I then realized I don’t know anything about Cyprus for next semester, and in searching through photographs from past University of Nicosia students, I began judging the 20-something year olds for their attire, comments, and picture-taking ability. Is this wrong of me? Yes.  But it comes so naturally.

It seems, based off of pictures, Cyprus is a Mediterranean California. I hope this is so, but at the same time, will I be so comfortable that I won’t feel challenged to experience Greek and Turkish cultures?

Back to America…

What is America known for? French fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, ice cream, etc…they all come from other European cultures.   However, the franchise I will blame America for.  McDonald’s, Subway, and Starbucks are all across the world.

Even the greatest person who walks the earth is not perfect–well, besides Jesus who was raised again–so, why do we expect countries to hail our nation? If we encourage countries to become independent of genocide and tyranny, why do we force our habitual, technology-savvy ways on such traditional land masses?

Judging a person, judging a country, judging a shoe.. is it based on fit, wear, environment, appearance, or what?

I know my perspective of America on its own, as a world leader, and as humanitarian aid; what is yours?

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18 December 2011

What is virtue?

Socrates a man of many questions, desired to find the universal definition of all the individual virtues.  He asked: “What is justice? What is courage? What is wisdom? What is moderation? What is piety?”

Understanding the essentials of life to be “Know Thyself” and becoming  better person–developing wisdom is to become virtuous.  It is said that ignorance is bliss, but Socrates states, ignorance is equivalent to not knowing what virtue is.

Although Plato wrote without answers in his dialogues, Aristotle sought final answers, he studied all subjects in methodological ways.

In disagreement with the pre-Socrates philosophers,  Aristotle believed in sensory perception and is reliability in attaining truth–common sense.

Art has purpose, it imitates nature.

The art that I am most concerned in, is not of perception and persuasion, but of understanding and living a virtuous life style.

There are two types of virtues: intellectual and moral/ethical.  Intellectual, obviously relates to the study of mathematics,physics, philosophy, and other fields, as taught by teachers.  Intellectual virtue is experience the best life, a life of study, according the Plato.

However, moral virtue is much more personal.  Courage, piety, justice, and temperance are all learned by habit.  As repeated patterns of behavior, imposed by external constraint, it is most important to live a life of moderation.  Finding the “right mean” is represented by a balance of fear and confidence: courage.   It is important to have not too much nor too little of any one thing, characteristic, or person.  Moderation.

Recently a travel friend claimed that I point out when I know the right answer, and therefore, his favorite thing is to joke when he is right before I am.  I have been oblivious to this part of our relationship for 4 months.  How? It is best to know now that never at all, but now I am conflicted by pride…again.

Obadiah 4 “But even if you soar as high as eagles and build your nest among the stars, ‘I will bring you crashing down,’ says the Lord.”

God, may my heart be broken for what breaks yours.  May I hide beneath your eagle’s wings and only regain sight in the experiences you have sought out for me alone. I do not need to be blinded by my own desires, only Yours for me.  This is important, as Your Son sacrificed His life for mine, and now I must make this debt repaid. My life is not a payment, but an offering to you Lord…for I am to adore You, and I pray that I do live by faith.  Faith without seeing, but faith in knowing your Love is in me always and forever.

Moderation between fear and confidence is courage: may I have the courage today and tomorrow to live fully for You! May we give up our concerns, fear only you, and never see ourselves greater than you were as a servant.  May we live fully for You alone.

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6 December 2011

Since my arrival to Florence, I have seen many familiar faces. Or I imagine people from home in strangers, passing by.

Do I miss who I was? Has life escaped me somehow?

If you are reading and wonder who I have “seen” the list is indeed quite random: Jared Barnett, Frank Muniz, Steven/Mr.King Cougar 2009, my deceased grandmother, Kristie Borjesson’s voice on a nearby skype date, and so-on.

Jared is one of my best friend’s dear boyfriend, but why did I see his face and not hers, I don’t know.

Today, I found myself working on a last-minute paper and procrastinating.  During my few moments on Facebook, I had the urge to search an old friend: Max.  He was my date to the wedding I was a part of, and helped me all the way through high school.  We were “meant to be” according to my brothers, but I never saw it.  Then there was my best friend in high school who entered and re-entered my life every time her long-term boyfriend called it quits–temporarily.  I lost touch. I left the high school, the state of California, the continent of America. I was done with my old life.

Or so I thought.

Today, as I typed in Max ____ into Facebook, I found that he still refers to himself as Maximillian, such a burst of energy he is: his name and personality.  His profile picture: him and her.  Her, being my best friend from high school. Then when facebook-stocking her, I find that she is best friends with a girl from my high school small group.  My best friend in high school was far from being a friend at my church, but now, I leave, and they all join together as a social group.  Why was I not the glue?

Because this is prideful.  It is prideful of me to see my own identity sown by that of those who once existed in my life, and see myself as emptiness when I no longer fit in what once was.

I am not defined by any being other than myself.  And even I do not know as He knows.  I have been sown by the threads of redemption.  I am a new being.  Each day a new seed is planted, the flowers grow, the flowers die, pollen is spread, and the disconnected seeds grow new plants.

One seed started it all. First, in Adam, and finally, in Jesus Christ.  He is my glue, your glue, and our glue.  Through Him all is defined.

When His body is resurrected, so will be mine. Until that day, my identity is placed in the search of shelter. The only way is by obedience, trusting the Light ahead, and moving forward in life.

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