Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Intimate Portrait Part Two: Scars

Comfort is something that all people enjoy, even the people who love change. As a child I grew very comfortable of my surrounding that I called life. I was 11 years old, and summer was had finally arrived! I had close friends and an awesome family. Not to mention the vacation we go on every summer and roller hockey was about to start. I was almost a teenager, and didn’t feel like going anywhere but where I was. I also had a great new dog that kept me company whenever I was lonely and played with me whenever I had the energy to play. I had just finished the best school year of my life thus far, and planned on the summer following suit. I would soon attend YD (Young Disciples) at church and start to be able to actually fit in with the older guys. I loved to play sports with them, even though I did get shoved into a table once and had to go to the hospital for staples (that was by an older girl named Tina). Life was good and nothing could tear it down.
One problem with me when I was young (and still today) is my reliance on others. I have always trusted people too much, and still do, especially when I get close to them. It is there, at the point of love, in which I almost rely on their trustworthiness to get me along. This was true with my parents. I had always been dependant on them, and always relied on them for everything. I almost even held them to a superhero standard. I honestly saw them as near to perfect. I saw flaws every now and then, but they didn’t matter, I was too na├»ve to see deep into a few things. Looking back I can poke hole in some things that I now notice, but to me then their marriage and lives were impeccable.
I still remember the day I realized that the world is not all that it is cracked up to be, and the person I trusted most was not a superhero at all, but a man. I can’t remember the day or even month, but I do remember it was summer, and I was up late. I had spent the day sunning around hitting golf balls with a baseball bat and spending time at church (church was the only place I could go online). I went home before dinner, and I remember my dad sitting me down and telling me he loved me, which I thought was pretty weird. I knew he loved me, and he didn’t usually say it that way. There was something eerie in his voice, but I was too young to notice or even care. After dinner and some play on our home computer, I scooted off to bed.
I woke in the middle of the night and just felt crappy, I’m not sure if it was a bad dream, a loud noise, or just one of those times. First I checked my parent’s room to see if they were sleeping. I might have wanted to sleep in their bed with them, but I think I was past that stage. Either way, they were not in their bed and I was confused. Then I ventured down the stairs to the living room. I got to the bottom of the stairs, and that’s it. The look on my mother’s face was one I wish I had never seen and never want to see again. It was a look of despair and hopelessness. She possessed the look of a broken heart. I asked her “Mommy, what’s wrong?” I was then told immediately to go to bed and I would hear about it tomorrow. I shuffled off to bed in a state of disorder, and finally drifted off to sleep on a wet pillowcase.
I woke to an arm around me. This threw me further into a mental state of chaos. This was no regular arm, no random arm, and no mommy arm. It was the hairy arm of my father. Why was he sleeping in my bed? Why was he cuddling with me? When the heck did he get home?! I really can’t express the utter level of disarray I was in, and I am sure that you have had moments like this. It really was a terrible feeling. My stomach was turned upside down and my mind was totally blank. As I woke to this, I woke my dad and he didn’t tell me anything that was happening except he was either apologizing or saying he loved me. My mind was a little blurry, but he was doing something like that. I wandered downstairs into yet another scene of confusion. I am not so sure who was all downstairs but I do remember my mother. My mom had the same look from the night before, but deeper and more obvious.
The next thing I remember was going on a surprise trip up north later that afternoon. We went up to my Aunt and Uncle’s house for a couple of days with my Aunt and Uncle and not my parents. This was okay because they had Super Mario 3, so I would be satisfied. I was still unaware of what was really going on and the whole time my Aunt and Uncle just told me that my parents had some problems they needed to sort out. I probably had one of the most uncomfortable stays of my young life away from home those next long hours. I felt so confused for so long and couldn’t get my mind off of it.
When I went home I finally found out what was going on. I didn’t know the magnitude of the situation at the time, but I felt the consequences. My dad had to tell me what was going on and I’ll never forget it. His face was cast down with guilt and panic, and his voice resonated with weakness. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I remember what he communicated. First he apologized to us, but we didn’t know why. Then he started balling, that’s when we all started crying for no reason. The next things he told me shook the very foundations of my life. He told us that he had been having an affair on my mom. Ouch.
It still hurts to write this entire story and it pains me that you all read this, but it I one of the biggest part of my life, and life was so different after this little incident. I had found out what happened that night and what had been going on the past months. The man I trusted most had taken my world and tipped it upside down. He had been doing meetings with a woman form our church one-on-one (foolishly) and had gotten a crush on another woman. She returned the crush, and they started sneaking around. The woman also had a husband and children, but that didn’t stop them. I have never learned of the extent of this affair and still wonder about a lot of it. I did learn that on that night my dad was on a date with this woman and didn’t plan on coming home that night, if ever. I’m not sure about details on that night either but it doesn’t matter, it hurt. Somebody had caught my dad in the act with this woman (maybe at Denny’s) and he had a realization at some point of all that was going on.
I am glad my dad came back, but sometimes I’m not o sure my mom has always been. My fears of divorce were thrown in my face and it was as bad as I had dreamed. It felt like my soul was being torn in at least two places, and I can’t imagine the pain my mom felt. The family went through a ridiculously hard next couple of months of my mom yelling at my dad and my dad crying constantly. The one man she held responsible for her life had betrayed her. It brings tears to my eyes to this day to write this, and I’m sure the reading of it will reap tears as well.
My life was already changed. Soon the church knew, and my dad was forced into resigning before summer was over. This meant a lot of changes had to come. Thank God my dad made good friends because he was given a construction job after he was done at Faith, and I’m not so sure if he ever liked it as much as he could have. His whole attitude was changed for a while, and so were all of our attitudes toward him. We lived in a parsonage (home owned by the church) and since he wasn’t an employee of the church anymore, we had to go. Also, we received quite a hefty discount at the Lutheran school I went to (My brother and sister moved onto Public School) which meant I could no longer go there because of the cost. This, in turn, meant that I lost touch with a lot of my friends at the time. My world was flipped.
The end of the summer drew near and my thoughts turned elsewhere; Public School. I had never been out of my comfortable class of 10 friends. Soon I would be thrown into a world of people and things I had never known about. Seventh grade was probably the hardest year of my life, and a lot of bad things happened to me, most of which were my fault. I was forced into attending Holland Woods Middle School, and hated it. I still have a little resentment towards it to this day. I started my year by playing a game I loved more than most; tackle football. I had played flag football for a couple of years now, but never was loud enough to get attention. Tackle was no different. I was pretty small, and not as fast as a lot of the guys. I also didn’t try very hard because I was afraid of embarrassing myself or hurting someone else. I was shy beyond belief and barely said a word to anybody. I remember trying out for wide receiver and failing to impress anybody including myself. The whole year of football I think I started one or two games, and failed in all of them. I was the back-up center, and the only reason I ever played was because the guy in front of me had grade problems. This year set a trend for the rest of my football career, and it is a sad story. I will never know what I could have been.
School was terrible. I said about 10 words a day the first couple of weeks, and cried when I got home. I missed all of my friends and I missed my life. I missed my mommy too because she had changed (reasonably so) and I missed my dad who was home more but so full of guilt it was hard to catch him not crying. I missed a normal life of peace because we were hunting for a house. School, like I said, was just silly. I really wasn’t learning much except how to avoid people. My main friend was a guy named David Hammond, who was a little bit like me. We used to talk about little books called Redwall and then the conversation usually stopped or turned to video games for a few minutes. Looking back I realize that I could have made a lot of friends, but never talked. A lot of people would talk to me, and I would just shy away, and this trend still haunts me today. I remember my first crush of public school. Her name was Amanda, and I had never seen a girl like this. I wished I could talk to her, but I was way too shy for that. One day she even saw me in the hallway and tried talking to me but I blanked out. I was a mess! I did try to reach out once by trying out for basketball, but the coach told me I would be the sixteenth guy if he could have sixteen. I cried the whole way home (which was only a few minutes’ walk), and never tried out for a sport again.
Life moved on and we eventually got our house in the country and really far from my school. The really hard part of this process was that we had to clear the land and put our house on it. The land was mostly forest and the ground was mostly clay. I didn’t help much, but I know my father worked vigorously to get it done in time. These were hard times still, and I did go drag brush at times but it was still hard emotionally. I could tell that my mom didn’t love my dad like she used to and hadn’t forgiven him yet. I didn’t realize the depth of the pain in her heart, and the disappointment in her mind. I didn’t realize that although my dad apologized all of the time he could never make up for it to my mom. I was trying to move on, but it was hard with our future hung up in the rafters. By the time we moved I think it was sometime the later fall of 1999, and I was still at Holland woods. This meant that my mom now had to drive me to school before she went to work. This was weird and the first months were tiring because of my addiction to video games. Video games were (and still are) my escape from reality and my reality at the time was full of change and bad things.
I finished up my year at Holland Woods and was just excited to be done. I remember the last few days there were good, and we spent a lot of time outside running around. I only had about 1-2 friends, and I never went to anybody’s house or anything. I was my own best friend. The summer after that year had nothing memorable in my mind. I think I hibernated in my basement and played Dreamcast and computer games all summer. I’m sure my parents could tell you how bad it was, but I was full of self pity. I started gaining weight and didn’t really notice or care.
The next school year I had to go to yet another brand new school. This one was Central Middle School, and was even bigger than anything I had ever imagined. I felt lost on my first day there, and probably did actually get lost. I played football again, but this time had a little fun. I still wasn’t a starter, but I made a few friends with some of the guys on the team. I also knew a few people at the school form earlier in my life. I actually started to talk to people at Central but was still very shy. That year our football team won every game, and had a blast doing it. We were the best in Port Huron, and were very proud of it. One of the games that my family came to Jenni had Sampson on a leash, and somehow he got away from her and ran onto the field. That’s one of the few stories I remember from that year (although I have a lot of random memories). Of course throughout the year my parents started to get a long a little more and more, and life got better and better. I even got a basketball net at some point to play on. I was going to be the next Joe Dumars at some point in my life. We also spent more time with family and spent time up at my Grandma’s as much as possible, and those times will never be forgotten. Matt was always in trouble and making my parents pull their hair out, or being mean to me. Even when he had a girlfriend he picked on me, but she liked me. I remember she called me the caveman because I was always in my room playing video games.
The summer of that year was fairly different than before, and had an impact in my future. That summer my life was changed. My dad had started something great at Faith Lutheran Church in the form of a yearly Mexico trip. They kept it going for a couple of years after he left, then things got complicated. Anyways, I had a chance to go on this trip. I will never forget the ride down. I was a kid amongst teenagers and felt really out of place. I still didn’t say a whole lot to most people, and was more shy than usual. I knew a few people from the church, but they were all old and I was young so I didn’t fit in very well. This meant I felt pretty alone, but I was very used to being alone.
When we actually got to Mexico I was thrown into the real world. This was a world most people in America only fear or see on television in cheesy advertisements. I was cast into it for a week, and it was scary. The level of poverty upon first glance was so foreign to me all I could do was cry (I still had a big heart). I came to realize that although these people had very few possessions, they were rich beyond my wildest dreams. They had what the King had told us to have; faith like a child. They were recklessly in love with Jesus because their hope could not be in this world. I still wish I could live like this more, and I think a heart like the poor is something of a precious jewel. This week I saw God in numerous ways for the first time I can honestly remember. I finally had an almost tangible relationship with the one who kept my family together. I knew the one who had kept me safe through some tough times at school (there was a problem at Holland Woods the year before I went for those of you who remember) personally. I saw Jesus in the feet of the people who had little but loved more than anybody I had known. I have since been to Mexico 5-6 more times, and have a real heart for the people here; or do they have a real heart for me? I will never forget where I met God.
The next stage of my life posed a lot of problems for a lot of kids, especially in the spiritual realm. This next adventure was Port Huron High School, and my teenage years. I moved onto a new year of football and into the realm of swearing. My freshman year of football was short lived but was also a lot of fun. I started making a lot of friends here, and some of these friendships last to this day. It was here that I met Sean. The same Sean that I talk to as much as I can these days, and the same Sean that I plan on knowing my whole life. I did break my thumb pretty early in the season and had to sit out for 4 weeks. During those weeks I didn’t miss football honestly. Our coach was really hard and loud and loved to get in our faces. The injured people used to sit around and laugh at everything the team had to do for this guy, and when we came back it was really hard on us to get back in the swing of things. Our team was decent that year, but I enjoyed the fellowship of our team more than actually playing.
Other than football, school was intimidating, but I was slowly morphing into the real me (still haven’t finished the metamorphosis). I started to actually talk a decent amount, and even got a detention for talking. I used to be really goofy; actually I still am. I did develop a foul mouth somewhere along the line, and still have it at times. I hung out with a few people and traded football and hockey cards. My grades started to slip as I began to care less and less about homework. I think the problem actually was that homework mattered more and I couldn’t use decent writing skills to pull the wool over my teacher’s eyes as much; and I hate math. This year also marked the year my dad fell in love again. We went to the Cornerstone Church for the first time when it was in McMorran arena, and I remember being scared of people dancing and raising their hands. Most of my family didn’t like it much, but my Dad loved it! I remember my first time at youth group in the grove mall. I was wearing my football jersey and was so afraid. I think part of the problem was that I met Alexis first, who was a total extrovert, and I was very intimidated of her personality. I never could talk well to girls. My first official girlfriend was in ninth grade and her name was Ashley Bloink. She was a cool girl, but not what I thought she was, so instead of actually breaking it off, I just started to ignore her, which was bad. I have always been bad with ending relationships.
The next chapter of my life is yet to be written down, but I can promise that I will write it someday soon. On the horizon is the tenth grade, and some pretty significant changes and meetings in my life. Tenth grade was one of my favorite times in High School, and I will never forget the people I met, or the hearts I broke years later, or the heart revealed to me as life went on.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Intimate Portrait Part One: The Golden Years

I can imagine what being born was like. I think that it was like being cast out from everything comfortable into a strange and unknown place. I can imagine the shock of moving from the isolation and quiet of the womb to what seems like calamity in the hands of a man you have never known. Not only do you not know him but you don’t know what the heck he is! Well, they day was August 10th 1987, and there I was at 3 in the morning. I was my parent’s final child, and a big one at that. I weighed 8 pounds and 10 ounces, and was a bundle of love.
My mother told me I never cried much as a baby and other sources have confirmed this to me. I like to think of myself as a content baby. The only thing I needed was to be cuddled. All of my family has told me at some point how cuddly I was, and still am. The truth is that I absolutely love the comfort I feel when I am in somebody I love’s arms. I could live with that feeling everyday, and it is one of my great excitements for my marriage. When I was a child, I used to let any of my close relatives hold me as long as I wanted, without hesitation.
I grew up early on in life in Hazel Park, Michigan. I had my small family of five, and my grandmothers played a huge part in my growing up. They used to take me out and spoil me rotten with food and toys. I used to love to go over to their houses and play with them and my cousins. Dodie (my mom’s mom) and Papa used to live somewhere nearby, and every Halloween (that I remember) we’d go there and Dodie would make us cool costumes. Then Christmas always reminded me of Nana (my dad’s mom) and Poppa’s house. We would go after church to their house on Christmas Eve and enjoy many snacks full of sugar and then came the presents! This tradition continues until today.
One of my earliest memories is of Christmas time when I was 3 or 4, and I’m sure my mother could tell this story better than me, but I will anyways. I went to a public school for preschool and it was Christmas time in “Detroit”. For me this always was exciting with the good food and snacks, and of course, presents. My class got to go on a field trip to see Santa Claus! I did believe in him, and was probably pretty excited to go see him. When we got there I got the shock of my life. It seemed as though Santa had underwent a transformation! What was wrong with this Santa? This particular Santa possible ruined the idea of Santa throughout the rest of my childhood (or my brother did that). He was black! I was so confused that my only response was to run away and cry! Keep in mind that I grew up in a pretty diverse area. Yet I still thought this was odd. Needless to say, I did get my present (a Goofy puzzle), but I am not sure if I ever sat on his lap.
In the winter of 1991 my dad got a new job. I’ll stop here to discuss how important my dad was to me. We always used to play. We did everything from Legos to wrestling to sports. All three of us kids used to take on our monster dad in wrestling, and we all looked up to him. Like I said, in 1991 my dad took a job in Port Huron (which is an hour or so away). I didn’t really know what was going on, and I didn’t care that we were leaving (in my memory) because I didn’t have many quality friends. We moved into our new house in Port Huron in January of that year, and I was as sick as a dog. I don’t remember a whole lot about the move or adapting to the new place, except that I loved the house.
I was very much attached to my mother, and this may come from the security of the cuddling, because my Mom has always been one to hold me as much as possible. One memory I have is going to either kindergarten or to preschool when I was a wee tyke. I was dropped off and when my mom left I stared balling! I couldn’t handle the separation, I had never been alone like that before, and I didn’t really know what to do. So I just cried and cried on my first day of school, until eventually the teacher gave me a Detroit Lions (our football team) stuffed animal. The teacher (Mrs. Rathje) still remembers that incident and tells me of it every time I see her. I also met my future best friend (Cody Tuttle) on my first day of school.
School to me was a blur of activity. I attended a Lutheran school called Trinity Lutheran. My class size was always tiny, and all of us were friends most of the time I was there. First grade was a challenge for me, but also a blessing. It was in first grade that Tim and I became good friends, and this friendship is still running strong. We used to run around his streets with Andy Smith and just play. I also was good friends with Cody Tuttle (who I met in kindergarten) and I would spend a ton of time at his house. We would run around the woods going on crazy adventures, or just wrestle in his house. I still remember the smell of his house, but I can’t describe it. I sometimes look back and miss the unhindered joy of childhood. I miss the lack of worry and fear in my life.
Although I had a lot of friends, I was always a little withdrawn. I was never the loud kid in school (that was Tim), but was always friendly. I remember my first “girlfriend” was in second grade. Her name was Ashley Lamping, and she said I was cute one day, so we used to run around and act like we were dating. This lasted for 2 or 3 years of an off and on “relationship”. I have since lost contact with Ashley, but will never forget her.
My brother was never interested in sports or anything like it, but I have always been in love with most of them. I started sports in first grade with tee ball. I played with Cody Tuttle and his sister, Danielle. I don’t recall much of this season, but I do remember that one game was ridiculously hot (close to 100°) and when the game was done we went swimming in the pond near by. After that I got involved in soccer in second grade until I discovered football in fifth grade (More to come on that later). I also played roller hockey off and on for a couple of years, but missed a lot of games from vacationing. My dad played a big part in my love for sports, and also in teaching me how to play.
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, my family loved our vacations. It seemed like every summer we would go on a new vacation. The first one I remember was in either 1991 or 1992 and it was to the world famous Disneyland in Florida. As was the case for most of our vacations my mom’s sister (Aunt Diana or Nan) and her family (Uncle Bruce, Kyle, and Jess) would be our vacationing partners. Some of my memories are from the enormous amounts of video that my Uncle took, but some are genuine. It was a great time, and of course I enjoyed it. We went on all the rides, and saw everything there was to see. The funniest part of the trip was the “E.T.” ride. You told them your name when you got on the ride, and half way through E.T. would say your name. My sister nearly jumped out of the car when she heard it because the voice was so creepy and unexpected. I also got to see my favorite turtles (The Ninja Turtles) perform there, and even got a picture with Raphael.
Disney was a rare year for vacationing as we didn’t usually travel that far. Most summers were spent in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the Porcupine Mountains or on the Sand Dunes of western Michigan. We would go and have camp fires, swim, rollerblade, and do a ton of other fun things. These are some of my favorite times as a child. On my 8th birthday we were in the UP and I had just received a new pair of Rollerblades. I was skating, but wasn’t very good at it, and when I came to a hill I dared to venture down it: That was a bad idea. I fell about halfway down and got all scrapped up. I remember crying, and then my parents bought me ice cream from the Outpost which made it all better. I will always relish these times spent with my family.
I grew up as a pastor’s kid, and this meant added benefits with the church. I could use the gym whenever he was in his office, and even go on-line! This was a new thing to me, and I loved it. My dad ran a great youth group at Faith Lutheran Church, and I wish I was old enough to attend it. I was old enough to attend his VBS sessions at the same church which was very memorable. Every summer it seemed like I was just waiting to go to VBS. He did amazing programs, and a typical one was a sort of Old Testament lifestyle. We would have groups that lived in tents and got play money. In the morning we would always have bread and jams, then go play games and learn of Old Testament heroes such as Sampson and David. There was also one year when he did an Old western style VBS. This one was even more fun, and even thought I don’t remember why he did this theme, I can tell you that the amount of work that went into it was astounding. He made little building fronts out of wood that looked to a young boy very real. He even dressed up as the villain Black Bart to come haunt us.
Fall was always my least favorite time of year, as it meant another year of school. By the third grade, I had made a ton of friends (all that ere in my class) and had a lot of people to hang out with. I also started to break out of my shell a little bit and became sort of loud. My fourth grade teacher was the pastor’s wife; Mrs. Mann. She was one of the most loving teachers I have had, and would always hug all of us when we were sad. To this day I still get hugs whenever I see her. I would still hang out with Tim and Cody, and now I would even go to other peoples houses. I would also enjoy video games for myself, and I remember when we bought our Sega Genesis. It had a couple of games (Sonic 2 and Twin Cobras) and I spent countless hours trying to beat Sonic, but never could.
One distinct memory I have from boyhood was my sister’s boyfriends. She was a popular cheerleader in school, very pretty, and a little spoiled. This translated into many new boys coming home with her. I remember we called every two weeks “D-Day”, which meant dump day, because she would always break up with a new guy. One boyfriend I remember vividly is Nate. Looking back now on Nate just the thought of him dating my sister makes me cringe. He was a user and a complete jerk, but to a boy like me he was awesome. He would always play video games with me and play basketball and things like that. Once I beat him in a game of basketball and he went home because he was so angry. I remember that when they broke up I cried a lot, maybe more than Jenni, but I don’t remember the situation.
In 1994 or 1995 my dad started to lead Missions trips to Juarez, Mexico. He still leads these to this day, and I have enjoyed many of these trips. When I was young, my mother used to go on these trips as well, leaving me with my grandparents. I would spend a week at each set of Grandparents house, and these times were always a blessing to me. The first few years Matt went with me too, and that was a mess. We never really got a long until both of us had grown up. So back then we would always fight, and of course he would win, and I would cry. I remember one time we were at Nana and Papa’s cottage in Onaway, Michigan, and Matt was being particularly crazy that week. First he took me in the barn and had me start the riding lawnmower then we both ran, leaving it running. Needless to say, Papa was pretty ticked off, and we got a nice little spanking. After that, Matt and I got worse for some reason. We stood outside and kept using the tennis rackets to smash apples toward each other, and we got yelled at. This, of course, was followed with a little more mischief. Matt stood outside ringing the dinner bell mercilessly and then we ran. We tried to hide from Papa, but failed mightily. We got quite the spanking, and from that moment for a few years I was very much afraid of my grandfather.
At my other grandparents house I would spend a lot of time watching cartoons. I have always been a big fan of them, and still occasionally watch them. I also loved to be outside in the forest and on the lake. I would always go have adventures in the woods all by myself. My imagination was ridiculous, and still is. I would go on epic tales without moving a mile. I could even (and still can) get so wrapped up in my mind that I lost sense of time and reality. I loved to spend time with my Dodie, and she loved my very much. I never thought that Poppa loved me as much as her, but now that I understand people I see just how much he really loved me. He used to take me fishing on Lake Huron at least once every time I was up there. I liked to fish, but the problem was that we woke up at 5 in the morning to go out. This was crazy for a boy like me! I always wanted to sleep as long as possible. I’ll never forget my grandpa, who passed away a little while ago, but I will get to that in a later post.
As I grew older our vacations continued, but grew a little less frequent. One of the best times I have ever had was on our last big vacation when I was 8 or 9. The same two families piled into a couple of vehicles (ours was a station wagon pulling a Pop up camper, theirs was a RV) and driving all the way out to the Grand Canyon. This was only one stop in a three week adventure. We drove everywhere a boy like me could want to, and saw a ton of sights. We saw Mount Rushmore, went white water rafting, Climbed hills, saw REAL mountains (the Rockies), went into sand dunes that looked like something an artist though up, went to Yellowstone National Park and saw all sorts of wildlife (including Bison), and went to countless museums. It was a dream come true! As is normal for long road trips, some problems arose, and I remember a certain place my siblings and I nicknamed “Divorce Camp Ground”.
As a child I was deathly afraid of my parents separating. I think this was because I loved them both so much and couldn’t choose which one I would go with, or just because I knew the repercussions it could have on my life. Every time my parents would fight I would worry they would divorce. This never happened, but me and my whole family thought it would one night on this vacation. We were in Arizona or Utah or somewhere around there and we were either lost or running late. I don’t remember the drive much, probably because I was playing with my cousin Jess (we were great friends) or sleeping. I do remember our arrival to the camp ground. It was chaotic. We could barely find our camp site from the lack of lights, and to make matters worse, when we did find it we couldn’t find the electricity hook up for our pop up. There were also scorpions on the way to the bathroom, and dinner was burnt Macaroni and Cheese. My mom was furious, and my dad was exhausted. When we finally crawled in to our beds at night, I felt like I was caught in the middle of the invasion of Normandy. My parents shouted back and forth, and all three of us children cried and held each other. That was one of the worst nights of my life, and made me all the more afraid of divorce.
That was probably the best vacation I have ever had, and will never forget it. It is still a common theme every time we meet with my extended family. All of the fun and stupid things that happened will be held in my heart forever, you can’t pay for memories like that (even though it was a pretty hefty fee for the vacation). But as always I had to go back to school. The fifth and sixth grades were a highlight of my life, and where I really changed into who I am. I was involved in a lot of things during these years (cub scouts, soccer, flag football, roller hockey, etc.) and loved every minute of the sports and activities I was in. We would go to tournaments for soccer that lasted all day and even if I didn’t play much I loved it for the fun with friends and my coach (also known as my dad). I even branched out and met a couple public school kids in flag football, which was a blast even though I was too shy to try very hard. I also won a geography bee in fifth grade and still keep the medal in my room for some stupid reason. Also, in fifth grade I made a new friend. His name was Sampson, and he was the cutest thing I had ever seen. Little did I know that this dog would become one of my favorite pals! He used to chase me down and tackle me and nibble my ears!
At our old church we used to have outside services when it was nice on Monday, and I always liked these more because the music was from an acoustic guitar, and not an organ. At one of these services, all of my family went, and we left the dog in the yard. We lived in a parsonage on church property, and even though Sammy was young he was very wild and strong. He managed to climb up our log pile after breaking his chain only to run into the middle of the church service. My dad was so embarrassed, but all the rest of us kids thought it was hilarious.
The forging of my personality was under way, and I was loving life. I had amazing friends that I hung out with all the time, I was very successful in school, I was a starter on basketball and soccer teams, and my family was as tight as ever. Life was at a high for me when I was in sixth grade. Then my whole perspective was changed, and my world was turned upside down. I never expected these feelings that were to come in the dawning months, and they still affect me to this day.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Watcher

I haven’t been here long, but I already walk with a sense of belonging in my step. This place would make most people feel like they belong. The only problem I have really encountered is the division of acceptance. Some people here are cool with dancing and playing, while some aren’t. This wouldn’t be a big deal, but it is pretty frustrating on some of us. One would think that if two parties with the same goal but different standards would be able to meet somewhere in the middle, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. It seems that the older people with the traditional background get what they want, and the younger crowd with more energy and excitement get brushed aside. I do understand that this is a Christian ship, therefore we have to display Christ in our actions in this community and wherever we may venture, but sometimes we need to have fun!
The basic problem is that there was a “party” for a couple of girls’ birthday Monday night, and all we did was play music, dance (innocently), and talk. I thought it was an awesome bonding experience for all of us there. A lot of people were comfortable enough to dance including me, which says a lot if you know me. I felt like the whole night was innocent except a few songs. That (the songs) could change easily enough with a change of laptop or CD. Other than that we didn’t do much wrong that I saw, yet I heard that we can’t have these anymore. We were pretty far from any cabins, so that shouldn’t have been a problem. I heard that some people said we weren’t good examples to the community. How is that? Can us Christians ever be loud and have fun? What about some dancing ministries; are those wrong too? I have always struggled with conservative people who know they are right. I have always been one to try and meet in the middle, why can’t we strive for that?
Maybe I am being rash, maybe this whole thing is a rumor, but still. Apart from this problem, I love it here! I really am starting to settle in, and people know me. I’m kind of a big deal here. Not really, but the people here do love, some are just really uptight. I should have expected that. I am really comfortable here now. Work is starting next week for real! No more training! YES! Actually this past week doesn’t feel a whole lot like training. Most of the people in my department are pretty cool. Both of my bosses are great guys, who I have a lot in common with. I know I’m where I need to be. I can’t say how relieving that is, again. One can never receive enough confirmation. Thank you all so much for your prayers, without them I would not be here.
One thing I am scared about is America. I have heard about the deep financial problems that have come and even could come to pass, and I worry. I worry if the America I come back to won’t be the same. I worry that there won’t exist even, or if it will be divided. I worry about who will lead the country. Most of all I worry about the people. I worry that the population runs from god to chase idols. I feel like America may become like Sodom. The delusion of morality in my country frightens me. How can we exist with no purpose other than selfish gain? Many have tried this and failed in the long run. Please pray to put America back in God’s hands; I know I am.
I have finished reading the New Testament a week ago or something, and started back from the begging. Genesis is so hard to read because it sounds so odd. People marry cousins, have sex without marriage, and kill for God. It’s hard to imagine the times and how the Godly people acted. Like when men’s wives’ give the maidservant so they can have a kid, how is that Godly? People are strongly warned against sexual immorality, so why the heck do these guys get to sleep with all these girls, and are blessed beyond reason? Also, why is wealth so stressed in this book? I have been reading pretty often and am on the 32nd chapter. I get a little confused, but then I try to remember that I have no clue about the culture of the time, and that we are not under that covenant. We are under a new much better covenant. Praise God for that!