For a time I thought there was a thief among us

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So it’s been almost two years since I have blogged!  That is bananas!  I haven’t blogged since my daughter has been alive.  There’s been a couple times where I will write up a blog, read it, and discard it without ever posting it.  However, I am starting an English class here again soon, so I figured I’d get use to writing again… so here we are.  Lets fill you in on the last two years of my life:

First and most importantly, my daughter Lily was born in August of 2015.  Completely changed my entire world.  And I don’t mean that in some cliche way where having a child changes everything.  I mean, the way I live in this world has changed since she’s been born.  It’s hard to explain, but things that never use to really bother me, can shake me to the core now.  Maybe it’s because I always imagine “what would I do if ______ happened to Lily?”.  Maybe it’s knowing that even at this super young age (almost two as of this post) she know that she can trust me and run to me for safety and love, and knowing that one day there will come a day that I won’t be able to keep her safe, at least not the same way I can now.  I know that she will experience things you never want your child to experience.  Heartbreak, loneliness, depression, etc.  Sometimes it’s an overwhelming feeling knowing that Lisa and I can only give her the tools to deal with bad things in life, and hopefully set a good example for her to follow.  But for now, she is the happiest (and sleepiest) little girl I’ve ever known.  Puppies, crackers, and Daniel Tiger are just a few of her favorite things.

About 9 months ago, I started seeing a therapist who diagnosed me with “persistent depressive disorder” which according to google “[…]is defined as a low mood occurring for at least two years, along with at least two other symptoms of depression.”.  And this has been a struggle navigating for the last few months.  Never knowing if something I’m really thinking is something that I really think or if its my depression.  And it’s made it hard being a father and husband with it, knowing that I should be happy and sure I can fake it, but not being able to be happy is just so deflating.

About a month ago, Lisa and I purchased our first home!  It has been great, even if sometime challenging.  It’s a great little (just barely above 1,000 sq ft) ranch home in the Hilltop.  Quiet neighborhood and friendly neighbors, no crack houses next door!  Nobody on my side of the family has ever owned a home, so it’s definitely been exciting and a new experience, luckily we had a great agent and lender (let me know if you want their contact info!) who walked us through everything one step at a time.  It was also around this time that I applied for a dream job for me.  It was out of Franklinton, which is next to the Hilltop, working for a company that is all about social change and helping ex-addicts and ex-sex workers.  Such a great opportunity and a position that I was actually qualified for!  However, my heart sank when I found out that I was passed over for the actual position.

I felt so defeated.  You spend your whole life trying to get this dream job, you’re finally qualified for it, but they don’t want you.  My depression was there and was cherishing this moment, telling me how worthless I am, how I’m never going to be anything other than a call center lackey.  I have no skills and only customer service experience, which basically means nobody has ever trusted me enough to give me a real job.  I didn’t know what to do, I hated my job with passion, the thought of going to a job that I had no future and no hope in was so(ul) crushing.  You see, not getting my dream job was just the latest denial I had gotten in my job search.  Most of them didn’t bother me because I didn’t really want them, but a few I actually had face to face interviews for that I really wanted, but alas it didn’t work out.  I was angry at God, why give me a desire to leave my current job, give me a desire for one of these new jobs, give me a face to face interview, get my hopes up, then take it away.  I didn’t know why, I still don’t know why.

Kind of a spur of the moment decision, I decided to apply to Arizona State to finish my bachelors degree.  I graduated from Shawnee in 2012 with just my associates (though I had like 90+ credits) because I desperately wanted to get out of school and finally start my life.  In retrospect I wish I would have just stuck it out a little while longer.  I feel as though I have missed out on a lot of jobs that I was qualified for just on the fact that I had a two year degree rather than a four year degree.  So here I am, June 2017, anxiously awaiting the decision from Arizona State to whether or not I get accepted.  Still applying and hoping for a job that doesn’t make me hate waking up in the morning.  But having the ASU stuff to look forward to has definitely made things easier at work.

That has been the last two years in a nutshell.  Lily, mental health, house, job, school.  Some other stuff I hope to hit on in just future blog posts; becoming more Reformed (big R), why professional wrestling is the only true art form left, and how Game of Thrones points us towards Christ.

43,800,000*

Even before I was a Christian, I wasn’t dense enough to think of the object in this photo to be anything other then a unborn human baby.  It’s not a parasite or a potential human.  It’s an actual living, capable of pain, human.  And it’s perfectly legal to destroy its life.

These last two weeks have really energized the pro-life crowd.  Between the three videos showing planned parenthood haggling over prices of harvested baby parts and the moral outrage shown against someone who killed a lion in africa, it’s made talking about the sanctity of life that much more common.  I’ve gotten in to it a few times on my facebook with pro-abortionists, including one who seemed to make the argument that I couldn’t be against baby slaughtering because I have my own flaws?  Someone else called him out on how illogical his argument was, and he stopped posting.  And that makes sense, because it’s completely illogical to support the mass murder of babies.  In retrospect though, it is also completely illogical to standby as your country commits genocide against the jewish population or enslaves those of a different skin color.  All things that we have let happen in the last 150 years.  The arguments used for abortion is eerily similar to the arguments for the holocaust and slavery.  “They aren’t human”, “It’s my life or theirs”, “The government says it’s okay”.

Maybe it’s because  I’m only 4 weeks away from being a dad to a beautiful baby girl that is reignited my love for the pro-life movement.  I know nothing magical happens in these next 4 weeks to magically transform Lily from a fetus into a baby.  Yet, if Lisa wanted, she could go kill our child and it would legally be okay and it would just be her exercising her right as a woman.  What about Lillian’s right to grow into a woman?  I’m so thankful and blessed that I married a wonderful woman who respects life from its earliest moments.  Lisa and I have talked about how baffling it is that a woman can carry her baby for 9 months, give birth, hold her crying baby in her arms and still reaffirm how it’s alright to kill the pre-born if that’s your choice.

Cecil the Lion gives us an opportunity to really sit back and see how messed up our culture is.  A dentist illegally kills a lion and it’s a national story and is forced to close his business and take his family into hiding.  Arguments against how immoral it is to kill a innocent life that was living in a habitat made to keep the lion safe.  Meanwhile Planned Parenthood  alone is slaughtering over 1,000 babies every single day.  And when you argue against that, you are a misogynistic extremist.

*Approximately 43.8 million babies are aborted every year worldwide.

I Love My church

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The title pretty much says it all, I love my church.  I love the Church as a whole, but I particularly love my local body of church.  I am a member of Veritas West, a part of Veritas Community Church here in Columbus, Ohio.  I love my brothers and sisters in Christ here, I love my deacons, I love my elders, I even love our Bengals loving pastor (why do all the pastors in my life like the Bengals?!).   They are all fall from perfect, but I love them because God has put me here and under their discipline and discipleship.  Lisa and I started attending Refuge Church back in March and became members in June.  So we have only been attending here for a little less than a year. But I have no doubt that this is where God wants Lisa and I at this moment.

Same with our current living situation here.  Lisa and I have felt called to the Hilltop/Franklinton area for a while now, and this past November we finally found a place to rent here in the Hilltop.  It definitely has it challenges, but we are grateful for God placing us here right now.  We have met other people living in the Hilltop who also feeled called by God to this area, and shortly after our move here, our church relocated to half a mile up the road from our house.  I am excited when I hear of other families who want to move to this area as well to help spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Gospel

tmnt-2011-a-lA story as old as time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Alright, so maybe the turtles themselves only date back to the late 80’s, a time when shoulder pads, jelly shoes, wallet chains were all the rage.  It’s not too hard to see how a story based on genetically mutated reptiles who fought crime with martial arts that were taught to them by a giant rat could catch on during this time period.  But at its core, the story of the Ninja Turtles is a story as old as time.  Four brothers who do not fit in with the world around them, who feel destined for greatness, only to eventually face the truth that their existence is the result of a mere accident.

Splinter in a scene from Teenage Mutant Ninja ...

Splinter in a scene from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The origins of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles varies in each incarnation of the series, but it stays similar; a certain chemical ooze gets spilled or accidentally spayed onto four baby turtles.  This “ooze” not only allows them to grow and resemble humanoid creatures, but also greatly heightens their intelligence and cognitive abilities.   They are then raised by a Rat (or Japanese martial artist turned rat, depending on the incarnation) who then teaches them the art of ninjitsu (obviously).  The four brothers are then raised in the sewers of New York City, going through adolescence and puberty while fighting petty crime in the city.

We all experience at least two thoughts during our teenage years, its universal.  1) We are unique, individual snowflakes who are unlike and completely individual from the masses around us, nobody really understands us.  2) We are destined for greatness and nothing can stop us.  Of course, neither of these two thoughts are really true.

Yes we are all individuals and slightly unique, but for the most part, humans are all basically the same.  We are all slaves to our own sin nature, and at the end of the day, everything we do serves ourselves.  Even our “good deeds” are an extension of our selfishness.  Look throughout history and see how similar we currently are to the ancient Romans and Greeks.  We are all sinful humans who, at our core, strive only to satisfy ourselves.  This is one aspect that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles actually hits on quite well.  The turtles are (for the most part) completely different individual from the rest of society.  And what is the thing that they strive for the most?  To be like everyone else and just be able to blend in.

The TMNT logo of the 1987 animated series.

The TMNT logo of the 1987 animated series. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second universal teenage thought is that we are destined for greatness.  We put here by some cosmic force to accomplish something.  However, as the turtles learn, this is simply not the case.  Their entire existence is the result of a mere accident.  They have no great spiritual significance or destiny.  If a little boy hadn’t tripped and lost his pet turtles down a drain, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would not have even existed.  This is contrasted with our reality, where we have been uniquely created by the almighty God and have a distinct purpose and calling for our lives.  It may be something simple as suffering for the sake of Christ, or loving others as Christ loved us and spreading the Gospel through those means.  We have a great meaning in our lives, and we will accomplish it for the glory of God.

Shredder (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

Shredder (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One other thing I would like to touch on in regards to Ninja Turtles and The Gospel is the turtles selfless protection they give to the people of New York.  The turtles are mocked, ridiculed, and persecuted by the people they are trying to save, nobody would blame them if stayed in the sewers and showed no emotion to the people who dwell among the streets.  But they spend their nights saving those who hate them and are scared of them.  They receive little to no recognition, and are often hunted by those who they help.  This is a great picture of what it means to spread the gospel of Christ through persecution.  Our love of people should empower us to go forth and spread the gospel, even if we are mocked, ridiculed or persecuted.  I pray that God gives me a heart similar to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Pub Theology

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I’m wanting to start a Pub Theology group.  I read a little about them online and just can’t get the idea out of my head in the last couple of weeks.  If you are not familiar with it, it’s just a group that meets (usually at a pub or restaurant, obviously) to discuss different theological issues.  It’s not necessarily a “small group” in the traditional sense, though I suppose it could also be one.  Not everyone has to agree on different issues (though, all need to be gracious when discussing theology). Credobaptist vs Paedobaptist, Veneration of Mary, Limited vs Unlimited atonement, what is modesty, etc.  I whole heartily believe that discussing these things with other believers will sharpen us and help us grow in faith and grace.  I know that I personally grow when I am challenged by a different position then the one I hold.  I tend to get lazy and just accept my doctrinal stances without really flushing them out, and when confronted with an opposing view, I study more and look for more insight.

If you are in the Columbus or Grove City area, let me know if you would be interested in attending.  I’m thinking it will be a once a month thing, at least until it gets popular and if more people want to do it more often.

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