I've been on two trips lately and have had a lot of time to just think. Here is where I get those thoughts out, so here we go.
Well wait. First a basic update: Boston was amazing (choir tour) in so many ways and Myrtle Beach (Emmons family vaca) was too in a completely different way. I loved both trips and had tons of fun at each. Boston: Spiritual growth, friendship growth, hard work in God's name, outreach, service, music and STOMP, and a whole new place. Myrtle Beach: "family" growth, deep chats on the beach, parasailing, shopping, doing beachy-things, people watching, and just a really awesome time with a family I feel I'm a part of.
Ok. Now it's time for deep thoughts. (Kid, brace yourself for part of this...) [And people, this is just me talking. I'm not looking for an argument, just stating my own personal thoughts. Don't be offended by any of this. Don't like it? Don't read it.]
Churches and religion can be such a touchy topic for many people, and while I may get defensive about it sometimes, I still find it very interesting to read up on. While in Boston, I went on a prayer walk route that passed two Jewish temples, a Kabbalah center, and a Devotional Elementary school. The Jewish temples were not like anything I've seen here in Shreveport. They were large and majestic, towering over neighboring buildings. We had planned to enter one if we had had more time, but unfortunately we didn't. The Devotional Elementary school was the only Bible elementary school in Boston. We're not sure of the exact teachings that went on because while sitting outside of it, we noticed children of obviously differing faiths on the playground. While this surprised me seeing as I wouldn't let my child attend a school that spent time each day teaching out of the Qur'an or the Torah, seeing as I'm a strong Christian, it also reminded me that there are people of other faiths at Loyola, for example. Just because they are forced to sit in Mass doesn't mean they are forced to participate. It is still a mind-blowing concept to me. The Kabbalah center was very interesting to me. I had never heard of Kabbalistic teachings until this prayer walk. There was a sign outside the center to explain their teachings. Here is basically what it said, "Kabbalah — the world’s oldest body of spiritual wisdom — contains the long-hidden keys to the secrets of the universe as well as the keys to the mysteries of the human heart and soul. Kabbalistic teachings explain the complexities of the material and the nonmaterial universe, as well as the physical and metaphysical nature of all humanity. Kabbalah shows in detail, how to navigate that vast terrain in order to remove every form of chaos, pain, and suffering. For thousands of years, the great kabbalistic sages have taught that every human being is born with the potential for greatness. Kabbalah is the means for activating that potential. Kabbalah has always been meant to be used, not just learned. Its purpose is to bring clarity, understanding, and freedom to our lives — and ultimately to erase even itself." (Ref.)
Interesting. Especially that last line: "and ultimately to erase even itself." Wow. The thing about this teaching is that is sounds so promising, so wonderful, so.... so sad. It's just sad. Searching for truth within yourself will be in vain because we don't hold the Truth. But that's a whole 'nother topic that I'm not going to post because I've already stepped into some touchy stuff. Moving on.
On choir tour, we have this thing called Senior Affirmation. This event is every evening where one senior has to sit in front of the rest of the choir for a while and let everyone say affirming things about them. It's sometimes very emotional because it's a way of saying goodbye too. As I sit and listen to everyone affirm the seniors (and myself), I hear one phrase so many times in various ways: "You've been through so much." That should not be the case. As I started my list, I counted for sure 8 out of the 15 seniors who had been through, or are still going through, something tragic, extremely difficult, and burden bearing. It ranges from loss of parents, serious sibling issues, dea-th, alcohol, depression, and then of course me and my health. I was floored when I really sat and thought about it. This isn't even counting the underclassmen who are dealing with the same things. Why is life so rough that by age 18, we've already been through so, so much?? Is it to shape us to the person we are supposed to be? To build character? Or just drawing the short straw? Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has plans for us, not to harm us but plan to make us prosper. I fully rely on that, but when I can't see what God sees, I have trouble understanding why we go through "so much."
I've started a scripture journal. I have these moments, struggles, and friends and sometimes I just need to pull a scripture out of the air about [insert topic]. So I've created this organized compilation of scripture so that when I need a verse about [worry, dea-th, God's faithfulness, strength, etc.], I have it on hand. It's been a blessing to create it (I still have a long ways to go) and I encourage everyone to do the same. Even if you feel like you aren't that close to God and yet have the desire to be, this is a *fantastic* way to indulge in His Word. To find these verses, I pull from my daily devotional, Sunday School, the sermon, Hallmark cards, ANYWHERE I find a valid scripture that fits under a category. I have a long list of topics so let me know if you need ideas or a verse. :]
While sitting on the beach this past week, I asked my dear sorta-sister, "What makes the beach so beautiful?" Feel free to answer but I have mine. It's the same thing that makes bad words bad and parachute pants popular in the 1980s: because society says so. When generations of people have said the beach is romantic and beautiful and revolved honeymoons, cards, and "long walks on the beach" as a romantic notion for so many years, it's ingrained in our minds that it is so. Don't get me wrong: I'm in the same boat because I think the beach is gorgeous, but I was simply asking, "Why?"
This is quick and simple. Betsy, you might want to answer this part for me if you want. God commands us to follow the laws and authorities placed over us (as long as they don't conflict with God's commands). It would be a sin to disobey or break the laws seeing as that's not respecting authority. I drive without shoes on, which is against the law. Am I sinning every time I get in the car and kick off my shoes to drive? Do Catholics who go to confession remember sins like that too when asking for forgiveness? I'm serious though, is that a sin?
(MRE, this is the part you need to possibly skip over?)
Ok, I'm not going to give background on this because it's not my place, but I got to thinking that in a weird, twisted way, dealing with the loss of a sibling very early on is in a way like dealing with a chronic disease. There is a situation I'm aware of where a friend of mine lost her older sister before she (my friend) was born. A few months before she was born, actually. So the question is raised: when asked if she has any siblings, is it a yes or a no?
Sometimes I have those days where I cough more than usual for me. As any good caring person would do, they ask, "are you sick?" Is it a yes or a no?
While my friend may not have a sister living, she HAD a sister. In her place, I would answer "no" in the same way I say "no, I'm not sick," simply because I don't owe anyone an explaination of my health nor does she her family situation. [To my friend:] In the same way that by me saying "no, I'm fine", my health problems don't disappear, neither does Danielle when you say "no, I'm an only child." Just my 2-cents. :]
END DEEP THOUGHTS.
Whew it's 1 o'clock
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