December 19, 2012

A Poignant Point from Tim Challies

Tim Challies recently posted something that got me thinking. The post can be found here:

More posting on my part to come soon. I am moving into a new apartment right after Christmas, so things have been a little crazy! Good is good and has been providing through it all.

November 16, 2012

A Thorough and Biblical Roast of "Christian Dating"

This article articulated many things for me that God has been stirring in my heart for the past few months.  I have been guilty of some of the destructive mindsets he mentions; both toward myself and others.  Props to the author, Brian Kammerzelt of

Read the Article.

It's worth it to read the whole thing, though it's long.  Took me two sittings.

Credit for finding it first goes to this gal.

November 11, 2012

Second Dose of (Another) Good Lesson

I had another paradigm shift during a sermon I was listening to in the car several months ago.  The sermon was by John Piper and it was regarding a theology of singleness; a look through the Bible at what it says about being unmarried.  As is a pattern with Dr. Piper, God used his ministry to bring some truths to bear that I needed to hear.  The short of his point is that marriage is a temporary institution, in the sense that it is an Earthly one.  Please check out the sermon (all the way at the bottom) to hear the point fleshed out and found in the Word.

I was reminded of this in a very powerful way by a short mini-documentary about the experiences of a young married couple whose names are Ian and Larissa.  It gave me a second dose of the perspective originally obtain several months ago that had worn off a bit once I made the move to Staunton.  I want to share this with you all, as it is an important point.  The documentary is below, followed by the sermon.

Ian & Larissa:

The sermon that God used to provide a shift in perspective for me:

Need the audio or text instead?  Click here.

New Season, More Lessons

I guess God has a pretty good sense of timing.

As I am now on my own* and in a completely new town trying to make arrangements for the marriage of my dreams and reality (it is taking them a while to warm up to each other) I find myself working more and making less than I used two.  I really don't mind this as I am actually taking steps forward in my career, but this has pushed my focus more toward my budget than my situation in the past had.  I had a great restaurant gig previously that paid the bills pretty well for someone right out of college, and now that's not there.

This has gotten me started worrying more about finances.  Not that I'll ever go hungry or without a roof over my head, but I have gotten very conscious of how every shift I have waiting tables (my second job) counts very much toward meeting the budget at the end of the month.  With more on the line (working hard for my dreams) and less guaranteed shifts emotions tend to run higher when things don't go my way.

A lesson I learned in the last season of life was that, as a waiter, neither the customers nor my boss are, in the end, who provides for me.  It's always God, as He's sovereign over everything; but that can be hard to actually remember in the heat of the moment, hard to use as a compass to tell my emotions that they are misinformed (they really need to do their research sometimes).

And in comes God's sense of timing.  This topic had been on my mind recently.  Then, after a frustrating situation the day before, I had a Saturday night shift (at the restaurant job) cancelled.  I got angry.

So I figured I had the evening to get my perspective back, but I did need to go by job #2 and talk to the powers that be about the now repeated schedule issues.  It was a good talk.

As I walked back through downtown to get in my car, reflecting on how God really is my provider and is God even over shift work, my phone rang.  One of the waitresses had a lot of homework that night and called out; I had a shift again.  And I made very good money that night.

It is a lesson I am still learning.  I am so thankful for a God that will slap me in the face (lovingly) with a educational experience that will draw me closer to Him and train me to keep my eyes focused on things above, instead of this earthly life.  When He speaks into your life, please listen.

Then blog about it.  I want to read it.

*While I am technically "on my own," I am still living with a loving family... just not the one that raised me.  Yes, I pay rent.

November 8, 2012

A Train of Thought, Beginning with Reactions to the Election

I have been trying to make sense of something.  Not the election results.  I don't feel the fear, dread or sadness that many (both Christian and the politically conservative) seem to, and at first I was averse to the comments and posts I saw by Christians who were doing the modern Facebook version of "putting on sackcloth and ashes."  I was averse because I see no reason to worry, even though President Obama and I differ quite a bit politically and several laws were passed that I wouldn't have voted for; and it seemed to me that people were discounting God's sovereignty in this situation.

And as I reflected even more, I realized that many of these people may be right in mourning for the lost and those whose lives will be further drawn away from Christ; but if God calls whom He will and is the Initiator (that line up with Calvin's and Arminian's view on predestination, by the way) is there really any Earthly influence that can even get close to wrecking someone's life whom God is going to call out?  No.

Still, there is something to be said for having a heart for the lost; that is indeed an important thing to have.  I just hope that some of the political comments came from hearts which were focused on this.

Now to my feelings.

Not worried.

Yes, things may "deteriorate."  In one sense of the word; that is, politically and economically.  Maybe.  If Conservative are right and times get tougher because of what Obama's doing, we'll deal with it.  If Obama does fix the country up a bit, I won't complain.  The bottom line is that nothing passes through God's hands without His letting it; He is able to use everything to His purposes, because nothing happens that He did not know about/plan/let happen (it's difficult to pick proper theological phrasing in this situation).

So what if Christians do become a disliked minority, and even my above referencing to certain recently passed laws gets to be viewed as "hateful propaganda?"  What if these stirring of "freedom of worship" and other limits on faith turn into serious concerns for USA Christians?  Oh no, that would just be so terrible!

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Lord. [Acts 5:41]

Whoops, just got interrupted by the Bible.  The living Word of God does that sometimes.

If we are to mimic the apostles of Jesus, what are we going to do if it all hits the fan?


In a strange way I look forward to that.  I realize that things will be tougher; there will be pain and separation, perhaps beyond what I could even consider possible at the moment.  But it will drive us together as a community of Christ and push us towards a radical walk with Him that is forged in the fire.  Just as the apostles, William Tynsdale, Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Jim Elliot did.  And so many more.

October 30, 2012

Bonhoeffer in the Valley

I arrived, the leaves have changed, and now it is cold.  I have been here for just over five weeks.  Over that time there have been several things of note.  The first of which, I finally finished the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer I was reading.

I finished Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Propher, Spy by Eric Metaxas.  Amazing read about a remarkable man.  For those who have not read books giving the details of the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis, read it.  For those who enjoy being a well-read layman of the church, read it.  If this is the first time you've ever heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, do yourself a favor.  Read it.

Metaxas is a Christian thinker writing about a Christian thinker, but he does not over-intellectualize DB's life nor does he soak it in so much Christianese that it is unreadable to those without a NIV and the latest edition of Strong's.  If you don't know what I mean by Christianese is, walk up to me when you've got a spare week and ask me my thoughts on the several versions of predestination are.

I loved reading about DB's life because he was a very real man.  The way he presented his ideas was not always kind to his image when his saying were taken out of the context of their time and audience; he was prone to speak to a very specific issue with very specific got creative with how these ideas were presented.

He read the Bible and found things that other Protestants had been ignoring since the schism, and held to these things and was often stared at for his funny proceedings.  While I don't think any one person can "get it right," he was tuned in with God and His Word and that was expressed through his unique way of thinking as DB.  The reasons behind his teaching methods and preaching style were to glorify and honor God to the fullest; the same reasons put inside someone else could easily produce much different results (varying in style but not in honor).

Some of the most exciting stories about him come from the records of the people he was around.  Those who observed him in prison were amazed at how he took it all perfectly in stride, this man who had been quite high-born, well-to-do and intellectual.  His students witnessed the love of God that was in him, the humility and love for the teaching of the Word of God.  When he wrote a book on ethics, he began by saying it was not a book on eithics; e.g., not a book on how to be a good person.  That question was irrelevant, he said; the true question of "ethics" is "What is the will of God?"

Another point of DB's that he lived out was breaking down this notion of so many things in the world being apart from God.  Of course sin is, and the world is broken.  The beauty of art and nature and music and human relationship, though, to DB all pointed gloriously to their maker.  In that sense he had a wide definition of worship and an appreciation for all the beautiful things in this world that God created.  It was this philosophy that he pitted against the day's version of dualism.

Also, his last name means "Bean Farmer."

October 8, 2012

f(young adult attendance) = (flashiness of website)x(# of restaurants open past 9PM)

I likened the Christian Young Adult (CYA) scene in Warrenton to a used brownie pan.  Most of the CYAs (brownies) had left the pan (town) already, but there were some leftovers hanging out in a few corners of the pan.  Thus began an effort to scrape the edges of this metaphorical dessert tray and through social coercion (emails and mass texts, mostly) get the CYAs hanging out together.  In Warrenton, it met with some success and I was very blessed by it.

Staunton seems to be a much different situation, but the course of action may be quite similar.  There are plenty of young adults (read: unmarried and/or under 30ish) here; I work with them and see them around quite often.  The problem is that very few of them are sold out to Jesus.  I have found 2 that I'm certain have solid faith and have managed to actually hang out with one of them.

Staunton isn't a brownie pan.  It's a bag of Skittles and I'm looking as hard as I can for the red ones.

The first church I visited had 1 or 2 CYAs.  The second had a small handful more, though there didn't seem to be any structure or pattern to facilitate spending time together (I inquired).  This has led me to do something I am nearly ashamed of to reveal publicly... 

I looked for the church with the flashiest website.

Don't worry, I checked out their affiliations and statement of faith and church structure as well.  My reasoning is that if I want to find young adults, and they seem to be sparse,  I'll see if their gathering at the church with the flashy website.  I think there is a rough correlation between trendy-websitery and young-adult-attendishness.  

That said, there are things I am looking for in a church beside the presence of CYAs.  My goal at the moment is to see if they are concentrated somewhere so I can make contact and discover what kind of Christ-centered community they've got going on.  I am above all praying for God's guidance and direction with the choice of a church home, and I am working CYA recon into the search process.  I may need to encourage ecumenicism and take names and start making some things happen.

All things considered, my Average Emotional State is much better than it was in Warrenton.  The proximity to town, higher density of people and (almost forgot this one) GETTING PAID TO WORK IN A THEATER AND FINALLY ACHIEVING FORWARD MOTION IN MY DREAM CAREER are helping out.  Just a little.

I finished Eric Metaxas's bio about Dietrich Bonhoeffer last night.  More on that later.

What? No, of course I don't cry while reading non-fiction!  What a silly question.

September 25, 2012

A Cactus For Remembrance

I moved out of my hometown yesterday.  Everything fit into my little sedan.  Didn't feel real until I got in the car.  The first song on shuffle as I drove off was this one.  A theme fitting for a departure from the Christ-loving community I had been a part of for a decade, though most significantly in the past fifteen months.

And now 'tis the Night of the First Day.  Work at the American Shakespeare Center starts tomorrow; though I'm not sure I can call any activity "work" that is followed by "at the American Shakespeare Center."  Currently working on getting a second job to appease the bank account.  A door or two opened up today... no papers were signed but words were said.  We shall see where these words lead.

I woke up today, and ran just to run.  It felt great to have the motivation to do so.  My body, however, did not share in my heart's jubilee, it's return to the contentment of old, it's homecoming; but through a few more jogs I think it can be convinced to give up it's stiff lethargic ways.

I have not yet gotten to the guitar, but I think it may happen soon.  Still living out of the boxes while some things are juggled around in the living space.  Then, music.

It just feels different to be here.  I am here because I accepted a job offer, though small, and I am living in the town.  I have a purpose that drives me here; my purpose is not elsewhere, my purpose is here.  My purpose is not to search for a purpose elsewhere.  Finally, these things are lined up.

Reading through the Pentateuch I am humbled by how long some of the patriarchs waited patiently for God's promises.  I only waited a year; some of them waited much, much longer.  It's not easy so far; I know I'll be working more hours to be making less than I did previously, but I'm so excited to tackle it all.  God was my provider through the desert that was my time in Warrenton, and I need to remember that.  He brought great people around me as I was forged in the heat.

Now, as he sets me forth in a place I can thrive again, I will not forget him.  That time in the desert fused my need for him into my core so that I cannot replace it, even when I would be tempted to by what surrounds me.  When you've walked on enough hot sand and punched enough cactuses you'll be ready for anything.

July 3, 2012

John Piper Sermons and A Picture of Daisies

On a recent road trip I listen to several sermons.  There were two by John Piper that really Bibled my mind (it's gonna be a thing, jump on the train before everyone else does) and were very challenging.

This first one is described as a "Biblical theology of singleness."  John Piper looks at the topic of singleness across the Bible and shows both and and married life for what they are in view of God's eternal plan.  :It's awesome, and challenged several notions that I held in the back of my mind.

This second one is entitled "Tongues of Fire and the Fullness of God."  If I were to re-title it according to the point that was most meaningful to me, I would call it "The Sovereignty of the Holy Spirit."  Either way, Piper examines how the Holy Spirit operated in Acts and deals with some tough passages.  It gives a lot to think about and is very humbling.

The sermons are definitely worth your time.  Here is a picture I took of daisies in a field.

June 27, 2012

Book of James (Part Two)

Today we learn how to get free stuff from God, who can't find fault with any of us!

James 1:5:
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
And that, kids, is why you never take verses out of context!

Instead, let's look at what James is talking about, and then look at several possible meanings and pick the ones that coincide with the rest of scripture.

In the preceding verses, James is telling us that trails can produce maturity and completeness in us, so that we move closer to "not lacking anything" (i.e., in the way of spiritual and mental tools, skills and habits used to glorify God in this life).  He follows that up with verse five.  I think this verse does not only apply to those who are going through trails, although that may be a moot point because all Christians will at some point.

The point is that if you recognize you lack wisdom enough to ask for it from God, you are already practicing humility and the beginnings of wisdom.  The passage does not specify how God will dole out this wisdom to you; I have seen a new believer pray for wisdom then go study the word and take pages of Holy Spirit driven notes on how to apply the words of the writer to our lives today, without compromise.  This promise is connected to the one on trials, though, so don't be surprised if the gift wisdom is wrapped in the paper of hardship.

Here's my take on the "without finding fault" phrase.  We can say right off the bat that this must be consistent with the rest of the Bible, so it doesn't mean that God doesn't find fault with anybody.  Additionally, that would taking it out of context, even out of the very sentence it's in.  God does not find fault in the act of asking for wisdom; instead his response is to give wisdom generously.

And we can't wrap up this section without the very convicting tag, James 1:6-8:
But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
 If you ask God for something that he has guaranteed in his Word that He will give and then you doubt that promise, you have just doubted that God is who He says He is.  You have told the one true God, omniscient and omnipotent, that you aren't completely sure He can deliver on a promise.  And because God is not obliged to you in any way, He won't deliver.  If this bothers you, ask yourself whom is here for whom; then read Psalm 19 and Job 38 through 42.  Actually, just read all of Job.

And if you read all that and still think that's harsh, keep reading the Bible, then read this book.  Long story short, we are here to glorify God and that turns out to be the best, most joyful and most satisfying thing we can do... because it is what we as humans were meant to do.

June 19, 2012

Book of James (Part One)

Earlier this year I started going through the book of James verse by verse, copying the verse down then taking notes on it and looking at cross-references to see the themes in the book across the whole Bible.  It took me several months to get through James; I've started on Matthew now.  Here are my thoughts on the book of James.

The first thing that happened with my note-taking in James is that I realized the power of cross-referencing topics across the Bible.  In the introduction James speaks to the "brethern dispersed abroad."  The cross-references lead me to several verses in the OT and a few in the Gospels illuminating the theme of the dispersion of the people of God and his standing promise to remember them.  While James was likely simply noting that those he was writing to were in various places across the known world, God has promised that no matter how spread out we are He will always bring us together when He deems it is time.

The next few verses are either baffling or deeply reassuring:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Experience shows, and the text allows, that it is possible not to let "perseverance finish its work."  Most of us have had extensive experience in complaining and pouting.  Breaking the verses down shows us just how to see blessing (and thus have joy) in tough times:

The testing of faith is the testing of your assurance of things hoped for and conviction of things unseen.  When that is tested and you hold onto that assurance and conviction against forces that would tell you otherwise (both circumstances like health issues and explicit things like vocal non-believing college professors) and you make it through, you have just gotten some quality practice at persevering.  The better you get at persevering and the more trials you get through by relying on God and the Word, the more mature and complete you are.

It is the most basic benefit to suffering: getting through it makes you better at living life for God.

Perfection is not reachable in this life, so we will always be able to fall back into sin; and remember, this whole thing has nothing to do with being better qualified for salvation or changing how much God loves you.  No matter how mature we get, we are still just broken sinners and humble saints whom God has chosen to do His work on Earth.

That being said, we can see now how it is possible to consider tough times "pure joy."  Keep revisiting James  chapter one until it sinks in.  In my experience, it sinks in once I can look back on a difficult time and really see the maturing that took place.  

June 18, 2012

Movie Review: Leap Year

I swear I won't only be reviewing chick flicks.

That being said, I enjoyed Leap Year.  I was suspicious during the first half of the movie that it would tell us it's OK to cheat on your fiance if you happen to find your a sexy Irish man who makes fun of you in a cute way.  But it didn't!  That being said, please please please take more than three days to decided you want to marry someone.  Let's continue.

The movie takes just a step or two outside of realism and it benefits from that immensely.  There are doses of quality comedy doled out from small supporting roles, which is a tribute to the writer's skill and the director's ability to pull it off.  Amy Adam's and Matthew Goode's characters are funny because of how unaware of their flaws they are; the rest seem to be small teams of stand-up comics that follow them around and act as a foil to their melodrama.  All in all, the movie has a great comedic structure.  While there are some stock comedy bits (Amy Adams falls down in the mud in heels) and we've seen the "frustrated tension turns romantic love" bit before, there are enough original bits mixed in with the regular equation that the sharp edges of cliche are softened up a bit.  But just a little.

Amy Adam's character was a slight twist on the typical Type-A Female CEO character, in that she seemed vulnerable the whole time.  While I won't make a call to say it was completely intentional or she was a bit out of her range, what it did do was shorten the distance her character had to go to change.  It wasn't a very dynamic shift that she made by the end.  She was already desperate at the start of the movie; that's where we picked her up, instead of getting to see the shift to desperation as well.  Or maybe she's just a normal person who has always felt desperate in some way.  But that makes for less exciting movies, and movies don't exist without an audience that needs to be excited (or saddened or enlightened or whatever).

The realization scene where Amy Adams discovers her fiance is not the right guy is well done for being easier to spot than on oncoming train.  It contains some wonderful storytelling via the cinematography and there are very few words spoken; it only requires the audience to remember a brief but poignant conversation between the two lead characters twenty minutes earlier.

Overall, an entertaining movie that doesn't tell you to cheat on your significant other.  And it's clean save for a humorous moment detailing the differences between what Americans and Europeans consider "decent."

I'm a sap. Jesus died for your sins.  This movie won't tell you that though.

That's all.

June 17, 2012

Movie Review: Easy A

While unquestionably wittier and a good bit funnier than most other comedies these days, I still can't decided how I feel about the premise of Easy A.  I don't dislike movies just because they involved people being normal, sinning human beings, but when a moral message gets sent across the screen I either start dancing in the living room or the whole movie gets flushed down my mental toilet.

The premise is that the main character flippantly lies about what happened on a date just to get a friend off her case.  The lie spreads as a rumor and she perpetuates it.  Eventually, the lie becomes dangerous and destructive and manages to clear up the truth in front of everyone.

Halfway through the movie, she's calling herself a sort of "helper of the downtrodden" because she's lying for people who can't deal with being "uncool."  This immediately got me riled up; the use of lies and avoidance of truth for people's "benefit" is a theme that I have seen many places in TV and movies and it is so far from even being pragmatic, not to mention moral, that it really peeves me.

When the situation is resolved at the end of the film, there is no repenting of the lies.  There is only being really sad that it got so out of hand and, what do you know, there's a boy!

I will take this paragraph to say that the boy-subplot was so canned I nearly put this movie in the same category as Freak Friday.  The boy who has popped up oh-so-conveniently every 20 minutes just falls into her arms at the end of the movie, no questions asked about this huge lie she has been perpetuating by dressing in the sluttiest possible way while attending high school.  For weeks.

Don't worry, girls!  It's totally realistic.

The performances in this movie were really solid.  Ema Stone was great, and the actor who plays her favorite teacher needs to be in more movies.  He is a hilarious character actor, if one movie can be enough to make a call on it.  The performances by those who played her family were also great; some of the funniest lines came from the family scenes.

In summary: while it is a very funny movie, it is very entrenched in modern ideas about truth and makes a half-hearted effort to actually give the movie any helpful point to the whole ordeal.  And the boy thing is just not believable.  Sorry.  It's not.

That's all.  Oh, by the way, I think I'm going to review movies on the blog now, in addition to the other musings.  Carry on!

June 15, 2012

A Division of Eggs

I remember learning something in high school.  It concerned countries whose economy relied upon the exporting of one particular good; whomever the teacher was taught us how those governments need to have a plan B when their one big export doesn't work out for some reason, because they'll crumble without it.  It's the same concept as diversifying investments (I think; Chris Rowekamp, let me know if I'm wrong) and the same concept that inspired the phrase "don't put all your eggs in one basket."  This story is one of how God matures us for just such purposes.  It's also why I can juggle with my feet during a handstand: so that I can join the one traveling circus left in the U.S. if this whole "arts administration" thing stays aloft in Dreamland.

Today, a friend articulated something for me that I had not yet specifically articulated (this particular friend has a habit of this).  If you have ever met me in person, it was likely quite obvious that I am indeed an extrovert.  In fact, that may be too mild of a term.  I feed off of the presence of other people like a fish drinks water.  Those guys hardly come up for air.  What champs.  Worry not, that was not the revelation.  You may wipe the sweat from your brow and sigh.

The revelation is that living in the Middle of Nowhere (I mean that endearingly) and commuting to a job between Nowhere and Fairfax (The Plains, Virginia) for what has now become 9 or 10 months has been an invaluable experience.  Never would I have chosen this situation from among options.  I have felt quite alone and I have learned how to be alone.

I am specific in my use of the word "felt" in the last sentence.  I do not mean to be a drama king when I talk about being alone.  I am not a hermit;  I've been living with my dad, who is one of my closest companions and a brother in Christ who has been quite the conduit for God's transforming and maturing work in my life.  I have found a small but wonderful group of friends in the area whom I am dearly fond of.  You must, however, understand: even given this reality, I felt quite alone fairly often.  It was, at times, quite difficult.  I am energized by the presence of others, especially friends.  I lacked much of the contact I was used to and felt I needed.

It some time, but some vague time near the end of Winter (the beautiful season) some new modes of operations began to emerge in my heart and mind.  I learned how to be at home alone for the day and feel good and get things done.  I learned how to take trips to the park or the used bookstore and pray when I felt myself slipping into destructive moods connected with the loneliness.  Mentally, I became used to a lack of the social energy that often fuels me.  I still love it and thrive on it when I have it; but I have learned how to continue normally when I lack it.

I must be clear:  this post is not at all about a resignation to melancholy.  I am honestly joyful for this journey of growth because God has used it to free me a little bit more from bonds that have held me back.  Perhaps I worry about emphasizing this point too much.  Some of you will know exactly what I'm saying because it's how you operate innately, and your lesson has happen through putting yourself around groups of people and learning how to be with them.  I will phrase it thus: my dependency upon other people was to an unhealthy and severe degree.  I still retain the great joy of being around people, but am not saddened when alone.

My hike showed me that the only things that are truly important to me in this world are Christ and other people.  The time after my hike has showed me how to live with a minimum of other people and to fill the emotional void with Christ.

The time was tough, and if God has given me a choice there's no way I would have done it; but that's because there's no way I could have dreamed of the beauty of the result.  I, Zach Armstrong, to no credit of my own, am finally okay with being alone.

I type that last sentence with a smile on my face.  It is indeed a very good thing.

June 5, 2012

Real Life

It's been a while.  Let me tell you why.

After I left the Appalachian Trail, it took some mental adjustments to get on track with the reality that being a post-college adult brings.  In looking for full-time employment, I realized that there weren't any arts organization lined up outside my door with pen and paper in hand, ready to employ me.  In fact, nine months later there still haven't been any even as I show up at their doors.

I was working part-time at Faang Thai Restaurant in Warrenton and it wasn't looking like they were going to be giving me any more shifts, although I had been promoted to bartender.  I began looking for another serving job in Warrenton that would actually employ me full-time; that's when God sent one to me.  A waiter from another restaurant and his girlfriend were in my bar one day and admired my work ethic, which lead to an interview at Forlano's Market in The Plains, just north of Warrenton.  I was brought on as the lunch waiter after I told my new boss I would be on time every day.  After I showed basic math skills in conjunction with the ability to show up on time consistently, I was brought on as the Catering & Office Manager.  That particular job has been a challenge, but overall it has been rewarding and a very valuable professional experience.

All that to say: real life ain't college.  College, I have learned, was an elevated form of life for me as an 98% pure extrovert; I was constantly around other people, especially good friends who were either next door or a phone call and five minute walk away.  I thrived very easily in that.

Fast forward to real life.  I live in the middle of 10 acres, the smaller of several of the adjacent lots.  There are no windows on the side of the house that actually faces the closest neighbor.  It is a 20 minutes drive into my hometown that has approximately 8 other people my age.  I drive 28 minutes through farmland to get to a town of 285 people where I am 1 of 5 full time staff members in a small restaurant.

The point:  I have to work harder at real life.  That means it takes much more for me to blog or practice guitar or write songs or generally do the things that really enrich my life creatively.  I thank God that I've still been in the Word on a regular basis and that I've been actively reading books to widen and deepen my knowledge of the world and how the smart people of this age think, as well as helping out with the High Schoolers at my church twice a week.  It's only been in the past few months that I've begun to really recapture guitar; and only tonight that I've attempted to recapture blogging.

I've been maturing through paying my own bills, working anywhere between 35-50 hours a week, and dealing with difficult situations at work that are entirely my fault.  I think that it is difficult for anyone to actively pursue a creative passion; as least those who are built like me, where accountability is often a key motivator.  Without grades or people to report to, my practicing and writing can go by the wayside.  But these are things that I want to honor God with, and I would say that it is my duty to develop them and honor God with whatever abilities he's planted in me.  Otherwise I would be squandering his gifts.  And I don't want to do that.

More to come.  I've got a lot to tell you about.