Through a Zoom Call Pixelated – Sticky Note Thoughts

{this post spawned from thoughts I scrawled on a couple sticky notes this past summer}

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face;

1 Corinthians 13:12a NASB

This verse inspired the title of one of my favorite albums ever (A Mirror Dimly by Citizens) and is also is one of the most profound hopes I’ve ever tried to wrap my head around. However, since we have pretty great mirrors in this century, the impact of the metaphor never actually hit me until this last year, when a significant amount of my prioritized relationships went through the wringer of video calls.

All the lagging, dropped calls, and “what??” that I’ve had to say has brought me to the place where I can finally grasp the concept of being in significant relationship with someone but eagerly awaiting interacting in person with them due to given the shortcomings of the medium we are currently getting by with. Recent studies have shown that the conversations we’ve had with professors, friends, and family over Meet, Zoom, and even Duo or Snapchat calls are more stressing to our brains than in-person conversations because we have to wait and wade through artificial buffering to interject, laugh, or even see the facial expressions of the ones we love. God programmed us to relate face-to-face, and even our best technology will never (save in an Ex Machina way) be able to truly replicate that in a way that isn’t draining for us.

At the same time, we are wearing masks over our mouths + noses, which strains our brains by taking away vital facial and tonal recognition tools. Our brains then have to work overtime to recognize people and read their body language during conversation, which makes time spent with others sometimes more draining than refreshing. (You may have been an introvert before, but now you have science backing you up!) 

Oh, that I could see your face / How I’m longing for that day

Jon Guerra, Kingdom of God

How does all of this translate to our relationship with God, as we live in this time when we’re also isolated from those He gave us to be in community with? 

Due to this past year of restricted relationships, we can now understand even deeper the coveted beauty of seeing someone you love face to face. Going back to 1 Corinthians, we see God right now as over a video call, complete with low-res video and spotty audio. Someday, however, we’ll see Him not just in HD, not even just in 4K (that our eyes can’t even see/comprehend fully!), but face to face! Right now, it feels like His face has been covered with a mask, where we can’t quite see His face or hear His voice well.

As much as I’ve been isolated in some of my relationships, I know that I’ve always been isolated from God by my sin. To address this broken relationship in the way I know I absolutely need to if I want to survive, I look first at what I’ve done to overcome the obstacles between me and my friends in this microcosm of separation. We set up times to eat outside, send letters, call, and make the most of the means of communication we’ve been given, even though they aren’t perfect. 

Translating that to God, we overcome the distance and separation by meeting Him at His appointed times and creating our own. We commune with Him and His body on Sunday mornings, and we take time out of our days to talk to Him. We ask Him to meet us in our exhaustion when we physically cannot put forth the effort, knowing that grace is not dependent on ourselves. We reread His love letter to us, the Book that tells us who He is, who Love Himself actually is, and what His face truly does look like. We cling to Him, knowing that His Spirit, the Comforter, is living inside us and working to grow us and mold us during this time.

I don’t want to look in a stranger’s eyes
When I come into this place
Let me grow familiar with the lines
The lines upon your face

Tenth Avenue North, I Confess

The greatest danger to a Christian’s life is growing complacent and confident that we can handle life on our own. Living in an era of obvious discomfort helps us keep our eyes on God, and that might not be such a bad thing after all 🙂

The Christian Foundation for the Highest Human Ideals

The doctrine that we are created in the image of God gives a solid foundation for human freedom and moral significance. We do not have to resort to an irrational upper-story leap [from “fact- based science” to “value-based morality/ethics”]. Given the starting point of a personal God, our own personhood is completely explicable…The Christian worldview provides a firm basis for the highest human ideals.

-Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey (p. 111)

Doubting Doubts Gives Us Faith

I just read a really, really, really good post called Faith and Doubt (and how they coexist) at Rethink.
You should go read it. Then you can read my thoughts on it.

It starts off with a great hook:

I’d bet that at some point every person has had some doubts about their faith. But despite the prevalence of doubt in our spiritual walks it’s rarely talked about or acknowledged. And when it is, often I hear doubt talked about negatively. You shouldn’t doubt. You can’t question that. You know what the Bible says is true. We downplay this pivotal piece of our faith journeys.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to read that first paragraph. It was so good to hear someone being honest about the onslaught of doubt that most serious, thinking Christians experience.

I’ve just been reading through Job as part of my yearly Bible plan, and this quote (from the abovementioned post) resonated so much inside my soul.

I screenshot parts of posts that I really like, and this was all just so good!

I left a really long comment/testimony on the post and then realized I should just turn it into a blog post, haha, so here goes:

I am a very analytical person, so I want to understand everything. This means that I put myself in the shoes (and the brains) of other people so that I understand their position. This can get me into trouble when I don’t have a good way to rebut their ideas. I also have a strong dislike of pursuing worthless ends and wasting time. Thus, I constantly analyze what I believe so that I know it’s the truth.

I went through an intense period of examining my faith about a year ago, coming up with what-if situations for Christianity like what if it’s actually a conspiracy, a fake, a lie that we’ve been indoctrinated into? It was really hard for me, despite having grown up having no doubts that God existed and that His Word was true. I struggled mightily for a long time, asking God to confirm His Truth to me in a way I couldn’t doubt.

It all culminated during a staff Bible study this past summer when the staff of Camp Gilead were reading through and praying Psalm 139. All the doubts I had pushed away or half-explained came pouring and pounding into my head, and I realized it was a make or break moment. Either I let the doubts destroy my faith by ignoring them (making me insecure in my faith), or I needed to follow the doubts to their logical end and destroy them once and for all.

I ended up crying a lot that night, but I didn’t shy away from the doubts. I followed them to their source and dared them to try their very best to destroy me.

They couldn’t.

Our God is so much greater than any of the doubts I could ever have, and no doubts make sense without the context of absolute Truth, so they automatically fail anyway.

I was set free that night from the overwhelming doubts that had plagued me for so long, and now I have a new unshakeable confidence in credulity of the Bible and in the God whom my faith rests in.
I still have to ward off the little doubts on occassion, but that comes with the territory of being right, I suppose, haha.

God is not scared of our doubts, so we shouldn’t be either. I listened to their sales pitch and then watched them self-destruct when confronted with Scripture, logic, and The Truth.

Recently, I stumbled onto a song that gave me the title of this post, Doubting Doubts by Citizens & Saints. I wanted to imbed it, but my YouTube app is acting up so you’re getting a link, haha. I absolutely love the musicality of this song, but also the authenticity of the lyrics, their raw vulnerability.

In another vein, our God is so great. I’ve been digging Joshua Aaron’s version (half in Hebrew, half in English) of How Great Is Our God.

Thanks for reading; I hope it encourages you as you work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Deus est Bonus! (God is Good!)

-Sydney

What I’ve Been…

seasoned_croutons_thumb

Consuming:

  • I eat salads for the croutons and cucumbers.  So, I asked my mom to buy me some croutons for the express purpose of snacking.  SHE DID!  They are amazingful and perfectuous to the extent that I have to make up words to describe them.  *absent-mindedly eats entire bag and regrets nothing*
  • Ginger soda (NOT ginger ale) with a motherload of ginger and sugar.  Super epic flavor and kick!
  • Minty stuff:
    • Wintergreen Altoids are my favorite breath mints and they don’t have any horrible artificial sweeteners in them, just art. colors and flavors.  Hmmm.
    • Spry gum is the healthiest gum that I know of — sugar-free because it’s only sweetened with xylitol.

Reading:

I’ve been reading a lot of great books lately, including (but not limited to):

  • Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about. (Mere Christianity, p. 165)

  • The Enchanted Forest Chronicles [series] by Patricia C. Wrede
  • The Ninja Librarians [series] by Jen Swann Downey
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Homles by A. Conan Doyle (which I bought at the library bookstore for $1… it is an unabridged facsimile collection (published in 1975) of the original stories that were published in London, 1892). *squeals of booklover joy*
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (REALLY good book!!)

Listening to:

  • Lots of NoCopyrightSounds (NCS) and Monstercat artists (their Spotify playlists are my go-to)
  • Peaceful acoustic guitar music
  • Michael W. Smith – Sky Spills Over
  • Elevation Worship – O Come to the Altar (Not something I would often choose, but I had to learn it for worship.   Now it’s one of my favorites!)
  • Alan Walker
  • Rich Mullins – Creed
  • And so much more you don’t even have time to read about.  Find me on Spotify under squidtea if you’re curious! 🙂

Doing:
An eclectic history of the past 4-5 months (?).

  • I learned how to knit!  My lovely friend Emily taught me and she’s an amazingly patient teacher. 🙂 A WHOLE NEW WOOOOORLLLLLD! #mylifeisamusical
  • I grew a lot closer to my mom (through not-so-pleasant circumstances, but that’s life sometimes…) and it’s been a huge blessing to have her as not only my parent but also now as my friend and mentor.  I love you, Mommy! 🙂
  • I got my driver’s license!  It’s been awesome to be able to chauffeur my siblings around, and I know it helps my parents out, so that’s cool too. 🙂
  • I became First Aid and CPR certified last week during Camp Gilead’s staff training week!
  • I survived CG’s staff training week! (as mentioned above)  It was probably the rainiest week I’ve ever experienced, and I didn’t bring any jackets, but my tiny umbrella and I did just fine. 🙂
    I won’t be actually working as a Junior Counselor until the first week of July, due to my school schedule, but that’s OK because, once I get there, it will be a well-oiled machine, right?  😉
  • I worked at Mr. D‘s booth at the FPEA Homeschool Convention!  It went super well; we beat our sales record, and I met some crazy cool new friends/Mr. D students. 😀 (Plus, I got paid, so that’s a plus! 🙂 )
  • Saw a lot of rare migratory birds around our area during the spring migration.  Check out my eBird profile for the lists!
  • Took the DISC profiling test. I found that I am a C/I, but very balanced.

Shooting: 

 

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Now, What I’m Currently Doing:

  • Trying to finish school by the last Friday in June
  • Trying to remember to pack a jacket during this *rainy* season
  • Remembering to turn on my lights whenever I turn on my wipers (FL law)
  • Growing my hair out for ponytail purposes.
  • Contemplating getting a nape undercut for pretty practical ponytail purposes. (boom)
  • Praying for the campers and counselors at Camp Gilead.
  • Practicing my instruments (I’m on the worship team at CG).
  • Saving my money from all these summer jobs (yay!!).
  • Enjoying God’s peace.
  • Editing a friend’s book(s).
  • Procrastinating going through/editing my recent photography.
  • Volunteering at my local library
  • Wavering between finishing this post and —

Squid 😉

Follow-Up to “You Might Be a Nerd If…”

Hey, everyone!

Remember that one post I wrote called You Might Be A Nerd If…?  Well, in it, I promised that if I got 5 additions in the comment section, I would update the post.

I only got 3 comments with other situations that demonstrate possible nerdiness.

But, I want to celebrate the 3 people who came up with great answers on the spur of the moment. 🙂

You might be a nerd if…

  1. “You have 12 bookcases and only one TV” -Elisa
  2. “When you begin to notice redundancies in the non-fiction literature that you devour, that may indicate ‘nerdiness’.” -Gabriel
  3. “If you try to pick up the out of reach TV remote… using the Force.” –Anthony Taylor – WRITE OF MIGHT:

Thanks, guys, for your contributions!  I believe that, in that case, though I don’t quite have 12 bookcases, I still count as a nerd.  How about you?

Now, I have more followers — and active ones at that, so, what can you come up with?  It doesn’t have to be something that defines you as a nerd, but something your family or friends does/says.  Now that you have some great examples, I expect some sort of participation. 🙂

Squid

Standing Tall Through Divorce

Tree always wondered

if divorce was like war and

always had a lasting effect

on the people who went through it.”1

And thus ends Chapter 7 of Stand Tall by Joan Bauer, one of my favorite authors.  The book is about a boy named Tree, whose parents get a divorce right as his Vietnam veteran grandfather gets released from the hospital. I reread the book the same day I first read it because I had to write down some of the quotes that stuck out to me.

Since my parents got divorced when I was seven years old, that one in particular stuck out.

No one who hasn’t lived in a divorced home can fully understand how complicated life is in one. Everyone with experience in one has, at one point in time, stood in Tree’s shoes:

He wished life could be simple like a laser pen –

with clean lines and a clear purpose.2

We get sick of putting on a good face to the well-intentoned parent’s questions that we can’t face right now.

We run a very real and very dangerous risk of getting emotionally hardened because we learn not to care too much about things we cannot change, even just to survive the drama of relationships.

We run another risk of equal gravity, that of having unbalanced and stereotyped relationships. The “fun dad” and “strict mom” or the “absent dad” and “let’s-talk-about-your-feelings mom” that you read about can quickly become realities in the kid’s and parents’ minds, though I wouldn’t know anything about that, now would I? 😉 (Hi, Mom)

Point being, we can’t let labels get in the way of healing and restoration of healthy relationships.

All of Joan Bauer’s books that I’ve read have missing and/or unstable parents as a major theme that determines the book’s direction:

Hope Was Here had Hope’s absent and clueless-about-motherhood mom that showed up every 4 years or so, leaving Hope to be raised by her amazing aunt as they moved around the country frequently.

Rules of the Road had Jenna’s alcoholic father who showed up for the first time in years after a messy divorce, prompting Jenna’s mom to let her go to Texas.

Almost Home had Sugar’s gambling-addicted father who lost their entire house in cards, leaving she and her mother homeless.

Lastly, Stand Tall had Tree’s parents’ divorce. The apathetic jock father and the OCD/control freak mother don’t make it easy for him to readjust.

The great thing about these books, apart from the top-notch writing, is the fact that the problematic home life that these young people face makes them stronger. The conclusion of each book shows the strength they have gained by facing their problems head-on with courage and dignity.

In a way, it’s a predictable ending once you’ve read enough of her books. But, it makes you look forward to the climax because you know that you’ll see the end result of the battle each character has endured, the result you’ve been waiting for with them.

For Jenna, it was this:

I always wondered why I had a father who was an alcoholic.

Now I knew.

It made me strong.

It made me different.

It showed me how to say no to the darkness.

Now I see that it isn’t the problems along the way that make us or break us.

It’s how we learn to stand and face them that makes the difference.3

As a reader, it’s closure of the best kind.

I’m not done with my story yet, so my closure hasn’t come, but I do know enough about the Author to be able to predict the ending of a book that He wrote.

When the last page is flipped, I will meet Him on the back flap, see Him smiling from His throne, and hear Him say to me,

Don’t you see now, my child?

I had a plan all along.”

Squid

1 Joan Bauer, Stand Tall (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2002), p. 48.

2 Joan Bauer, Stand Tall (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2002),l p. 22

3 Joan Bauer, Rules of the Road (SPEAK, 2005) p. 200-201

Collapsing From Within

Photo credit to https://pattisonblog.com/2017/01/25/quotes-collapsing/

I fear that these words were prophetic for this decade, and I am apprehensive of what the next years hold. 

However, Trump’s presidency is going wonderfully so far, so I’m quite excited to see what he does next. 

Praying for America; the country God may have placed us in for such a time as this.

Squid

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