Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lesson for Today

If you took all the quotes in the world and arranged them as they relate to one another you would have an ongoing conversation that has lasted over centuries.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Paranormal State

I take back what I said about Paranormal State being boring. Our of boredom I started watching the show and it's a lot greater than I initially intended.

It's not as scary/intense/dramatic as Ghost Adventures, but that's one of the reasons I've grown to have greater respect for it.

Paranormal State is hosted by Ryan Buell (a Cancer turned Pisces). As a Pisces he tends to be more monotone, calm, and simple in his hosting approach -especially when compared to the eccentricities of the Aries hosting Ghost Adventures.

Ryans approach is also more effective, though he usually has less tangible evidence in the end (highly due to the fact that his equipment is not as effective as those used in Ghost Adventures).

Ryan goes in and start gathering facts about the case. Using his team of fellow investigators, they do historical background of the area/building/home they are investigating. Ryan then calls in one of 3 highly respected psychics to tell him exactly what or who is in the house and why. 2 of the most well known psychics are Chip Coffey and Lorraine Warren.

After assessing who/what is haunting the area, Ryan devises a plan to help the spirits cross over so they are no longer stuck there. If it is a demon, then he usually calls in a well known priest to help get rid of it.

Unlike Ghost Adventures which just goes in to gather evidence and then leaves with no solution to the problems people face, Ryan and his team do there best to ensure whatever spiritual entities are there cross over.

Lastly it should be said that Ryan is Catholic and usually participates in the purification ceremonies himself. He seems very sincere and doesn't tend to over-react to things. Kudos to this show for not trying to go out of their way to prove ghosts exist, but more importantly try to help those who are being negatively impacted by the entities that reside in that space.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Update on My Friend

I can now count 4 women in my life who have been raped.

My aunt had to get a restraining order against a man she had dated who hunted her down and attacked her. I found out from my grandma.

My other friend was raped when she was 19 after a guy she liked and was hanging with at a party took her to his hotel room when she was drunk and forced himself on her.

There was my recent friend -who is doing better  after opening up to some more people about what happened, though she still has a long way to go.

And today I found out my step-aunt, an energetic Aries, was raped when she was 4 years old. And then when she was older was continually abused sexually for over 15  years.

I never would have expected any of these women to have suffered what they all have been through. What is wrong with this world???

Only one of these 4 women has overcome her challenges -my step-aunt -and now serves as a grief counselor for women who have been raped and abused. The only thing I can really reason for her overcoming the issue is the perseverance inherent to all Aries and the connection to God she has - and also being deeply involved with the church.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Brief Moment

For a brief moment I felt care free and happy -very relaxed and uninhibited. Then I thought, "I better stop, somebody might see me and tell me to get back to work." Even though I wasn't dancing around or anything, I suddenly felt self-conscious about feeling uninhibited. Then I thought, "But I felt good being uninhibited and just simply happy in that moment -Why should I give that up for anyone?" Feelings like that are worth holding onto, even if you feel others may judge you for them.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dream Last Night

Normally my dreams are random but last nights was actually pretty impactful and complex.

It began in Egypt during what I later found to be the 1930s. Technically my dream wasn't exactly historically accurate. Or based on reality.

There was an Egyptian woman who was married to the Pharaoh. She was his favorite wife (he had 4 total). The Pharaoh was a cruel man and the wife sought to have a better life so she took her 10 year old son and fled. They ended up being taken in by a husband and wife who lived in a small house. The guards found her and brought her and her son back. As punishment for leaving the Pharaoh sentenced her to death and she was lashed until she died.

In a moment of anger and frustration at his favorite wife's betrayal and death the Pharaoh grabbed his scathe and cut off the left hand fingers of his 2nd wife who was standing next to him. She flinched but knew not to scream. She then walked off slowly as if nothing had happened.

The next day her 10 year old son was in the market and she came up to him and told him to go to the temple and pray. The son was confused since his mother hadn't really been religious before, but the mom told him that she'd heard if you pray to the gods they sometimes intercede and help people. So the two went into the temple together and the son started praying.

After a couple minutes the mother stepped outside the temple. A guard who had saw them go in stood outside -knowing it was the Pharaoh's son and that he should be looked over. He glanced at the woman and then started to walk away to attend to some other business. He took about 3 steps forward and then froze -remembering that the woman had been killed the day before. He turned around and she was gone.

A couple days later the Pharaoh was spending time with his son -who was also his favorite. he was asking the boy about the couple he had stayed with when his mother took his outside the city. The boy was sharing his experiences and the Pharaoh started getting jealous that the son had connected to the husband of that family and saw  him as a father-figure. The Pharaoh asked him, "So what did you think of that man?" The boy said, "He was a nice guy." The Pharaoh then felt reassured that the son didn't think of the other man as a father.

The Pharaoh then asked the son if the couple had brought him and harm or troubled him in any way. The son told him that at one point the couple had asked him to pitch in and clean the bathroom since they were sharing the small house together. The son described his experience scrubbing the toilet. The Pharaoh lost it. He ordered the couple be brought to him and when they were he laid them flat on the ground and beheaded them himself with his scathe.

Seeing this, the mother then went to the 10 year old son and told him they needed to flee the kingdom. The son was busy decorating the new, big room the Pharaoh had just given him in the palace. But he was loyal to his mother and went when she told him to leave.

The ended up coming to America -California to be specific. The Egyptian woman had heard of a place where many women lived so she went there. It was a 3 story house made entirely out of dark wood. It was similar to a plantation in size and architecture, but the yard in the back was not a typical orchard. Their was a small field of orange flowers and then a series of winding paths around hills with black trees looming.

The man who owned the house was Indian and called himself Gande -which he named himself because he admired the fame of Gandhi. He took the woman for a ride in his horse and buggy in the back yard and they started off on one of the trails. Then the man went wild and charged the horses forward. They stopped at a small mill/shop/factory at the edge of his property. He showed her the mill -where many men were working on the creation of replicas of ancient artifacts. They were counterfeiting priceless items from around the world.

Gande then led her back tot he house and showed her a hidden room in the basement of his home where he openly discussed murdering women. He acted like it was a bad habit of his -like nail biting. He made it clear to the Egyptian woman that she was here to stay and could not leave. She said as long as no harm came to her son she would do whatever he asked of her. She then went off to join the other women of his "harem".

The women spent most of their day cooking and cleaning. She talked with them to find out more about the serial killer she was now working for. She asked if he would come to rape her soon as her husband had since she was his "property". The women told her that Gande never raped women. He would try to seduce them or ask them to sleep with him and often they would freely. The Egyptian woman felt a little bit better after finding this out. But she mostly decided to avoid the man whenever she could and do her daily business as expected.

At some point the police became aware of what was going on in the house and a team of 10 men was sent to arrest Gande. Gande's men who worked for him and felt loyalty to him charged the police as they walked through the door and shot at them until none were left standing. A war then  began between the police and Gande's men. They would go into the house in small groups, but never made it out with Gande. The war which started off with great frequency began to die down as Wolrd War I and II kicked into high effect. There were fewer men around to do anything so the local politicians and police decided to put their efforts of arresting Gande on hold until after the war. They would attempt to take a stand periodically, but never to any avail.

As time went on the Egyptian woman began to get closer to Gande. Gande was fascinated by Egyptian culture -one of the reasons he had made so many artificial artifacts of their items -and would often talk to her about it. Gande began having feelings for her -none of the other women really meant anything to him. But the Egyptian woman remained paranoid that at any moment he could change his mind and kill her.

As time went on, Gande started confiding in the Egyptian woman and decided to make her "head of the harem". She was then allowed to leave the house and go into town with a few of the other woman and get supplies for the house.

On her first trip to town she and another woman went down a back street and saw 3 things happening simultaneously that radically changed her views of the world.

The first things she saw was a younger 19 year old girl begin beaten up and kicked and cursed at by her drunken boyfriend. The second thing she saw was another young girl who had a physical impairment on her leg and was limping. A man walked up to her and started making fun of her and tried knocking her off balance so she would fall. The third things she saw was a beautiful young woman walking with a man who was telling her what her options were for her future.

At one point the woman with the limp shoved back the guy who was picking on her and started yelling and cursing at him. She said she wasn't going to take that crap from anyone anymore. Then she walked over to the girl whose boyfriend had just kicked her and said, "You don't have to take that kind of crap from him anymore." The 19 year old looked up at her with bruises on her face and said with wide, innocent eyes, "I don't?" It's as if it had never occurred to her before that it was even an option to stand up for herself.

The woman with the limp then walked over to the man talking to the beautiful woman and told him to leave her alone because she had a brain, it was her life, and she could decide her own future for herself.

After that the Egyptian woman became certain of 2 things.

1. The outside world was filled with cruel men who ruled over women -just like every other place she had known before.

2. There was a shift happening among women where they gained the confidence and self-assertion to stand up for themselves and proclaim their autonomy.

The Egyptian woman decided that while she was living in the house she shouldn't continue living in fear like a turtle in its shell -she should own her position and claim her life as her own.

As time went on and the years passed her son was adopted into Gande's company and he began counting the gold that they amassed from killing foreign visitors who would come in search of the treasures they claimed to sell. They also made a great deal of money off of the artifacts they did sell of through foreign trade.

Gande also put the Egyptian woman in charge of a new project: creating a facade outside his house like the temples of Egypt with symbols and molding that depicted Gande as the Pharaoh of the house.

Although she had no experience building anything, she did not question him and went along with creating a new look for his house. At one point one of the other women asked her, "Will you ever travel anywhere else or move on someday?" The Egyptian woman shared her dream of one day leaving and possibly moving to Texas -the only other state within the U.S. she had heard about.The woman told her Texas was the worst state she could have chosen. She said, "You're Egyptian. They'll just assume your black and then you'll be put into those neighborhoods to live in the ghettos. You won't find any work there and there's so much gun violence in those areas..."

After the facade was completed the Egyptian woman took a walk around the front of the house. The lower base of the facade was uneven and crooked, but it served its purpose. Now it just needed to be painted. When she reached the far end of the house there was a door leading directly into Gande's office. But the woman feared that if she walked in and he was upset he might kill her, so she went all the way around to the front of the house. She went down 3 flights of winding stairs to where his office and bedroom were. The door to his bedroom was open and she stood in front of the doorway.

She looked into his room and saw Gande in bed with another woman on top of him. Embarrassed, the Egyptian woman quickly walked away and started heading back up the stairs. Gande quickly shoved the woman off of him and fell to the floor and crawled out into the hallway. He called to her and they began to talk across the stairs -not facing each other. She then told him of her plan to paint the outside red crimson and gold -the colors she associated with him. He approved.

More years passed. At this point the Egyptian woman was starting to age and wrinkles began to emerge on her forehead. Gande and she began to get restless -with time marching slowly and nothing ever really changing. The Egyptian woman had dated 3 men over this time -all of which died. The first man was shot and killed walking down a street at night. The second fell into a snow drift up in the mountains during winter. The last went off to war and was killed. She hadn't really loved any of them and at some point she had to ask herself, "Is it better to be with good men you don't love or try to find love with a dark man you fear?"

Gande on the other hand had grown tired of his longings for her and had finally decided to consummate his feelings. He cried out for her one night as he was walking around the house in search of her. She knew what he wanted, but didn't want to sleep with him so she hid. She then ran into 3 men from Europe who were visiting from Ireland. They were talking about the environment in Ireland and how different it was from the nature in California. They talked about mist and fog and things the Egyptian woman had never heard of.

She then began to think that maybe there was somewhere else out there she could go. Her son was old enough now to take care of himself and she began thinking of a place where she could go to at last be free.

Then I woke up.

The whole dream kind of reminded me of Django in some ways. There were 3 main things I got out of the whole thing.

1. Women do have a reason to stand up for themselves and the fight that they made all those years ago was justified. Not having a voice and having your free will decided upon by someone else just because you were born a woman and deemed incapable of pursuing your own dreams was something that needed to be overcome.

2. It's a lot clearer what Africans and African Americans have and are fighting for in this country. What I felt from the Egyptian woman was a sense of constant enslavement. Enslaved in marriage, enslaved in servitude and manipulation, and enslaved by fear. Everywhere she went she was enslaved by the gender role she was assigned to and by her race. There was never any freedom to escape to.

3. I learned what life would be like if ghosts got their way. She died physically, but when she moved to America it's like her life just continued where she left off. Initially she was just staying to look after her son, but as time went on she began to live for her self. She tried creating a life of her own and found that physical reality was still limiting her and defining her life for her and subjecting her to whatever hand it dealt. She continued to long for a place where she could be free and find peace but was forced to remain because she didn't know where that place was.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Moral Christian Movie Called "The Moulin Rouge"

I've had friends who say, "You can't see that movie because it does not support or promote good, Christian values and is therefore immoral to view." Technically they didn't say it that analytically, but the message was received just the same.

I would argue that even if a movie was at its core "immoral" and promoted "immorality" is could still be deemed a good, Christian movie.

As a Christian -a follower or believer in Christ and God- I try to see through eyes of compassion and truth. Like a dog in search of a source to a scent followed on an invisible trail I seek to find God in all things. The problem is some people believe God's truth can only be found in what they deem to be morally "good". I would argue that God could just as easily be found in what is morally "bad". Or rather the lack of God in a given situation to be "bad".

I therefore feel like illustrating this point by assessing the popular 2001 movie The Moulin Rouge starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. This romantic comedy/musical was so popular in fact that it was nominated for 8 Oscars.

The film takes place in Paris at the turn of the 20th century (the 1900s). It begins with Ewan McGregor typing at his writer a story he deems from the beginning to be a tragedy. Disheveled and broken he starts by explaining how it was he first came to Paris.

His tale begins with his first stroll down the streets of Paris. He had been warned not to go there by his father who was what I would call a "severely religious" man lacking compassion, patience, grace, and spirituality. A dangerous combination. Men with authority, power, and knowledge often find themselves unfortunate dictators and rulers over the lives of others when they lack compassion. 

Because his son was more spiritual, the two severed and completely disagreed with regard to their philosophies on life. The father argued that everything was a sin. The son argued that love, beauty, and harmony were what made life worth living -obviously a Libra.

The father told his son if he went to Paris he would end up falling in love with a can-can dancer and ruining his life forever. But his young, bright-eyed son, consequently named Christian, was driven to Paris out of a sense of longing for the values he so affectionately sought after but could not find at home. You can therefore argue it was a man of fierce, religious sternness with eyes of deep scrutiny and judgement that drove a young man away from God and towards a path of his own.

Having reached Paris the first person Christian runs into is Toulouse-Lautrec. Toulouse was a famous painter around that era who often depicted the nightlife of Paris around dance halls like the Moulin Rouge. The paintings he often depicted were sometimes lively and full of frivolity and other times were more bleak and slightly disturbing. Faces illuminated with dark lights and strange hues of colors like green and blue -alien and distorted.

It is ironic that the movie chose that character for Christian to run into.The life of Toulouse mirrored one of the points the movie depicted -that like a circus. Those who came to the Moulin Rouge once for a momentary chance to enjoy the extravaganza were greatly entertained and amused; but those who came to know those places regularly and saw the lives of the "entertainers" behind the curtains and knew of the deeper misfortunes surrounding their lives.

When Christian runs into Toulouse he joins his marry band of fellow Bohemians and they decide to start a play together based on their unyielding values of Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Love.

From there Christian is given absinthe and taken to the Moulin Rouge where he first lays eyes on the second main character "Satine" played by Nicole Kidman. After her performance/fainting spell it is made clear the Satine suffers from tuberculosis and it is assumed from then on she will probably end up dying soon.

Due to a "mix-up" Christian then finds himself mistaken for a duke Satine is supposed to be "entertaining" in her private room. Satine proceeds to seduce and "satisfy" the needs of Christian, who she assumes to be her client the duke. Christian on the other hand just wants to ask her to star in his play and resists her advances by breaking into a song. Satine then falls in love with him. The  real duke then interrupts. To distract the duke so Christian can escape unnoticed, Satine sings then sings the same song to the duke -and he falls in love with her. 

The duke himself was a man of great means -wealthy and socially naive in some ways. He expected to get his moneys worth that night by paying for the star performer and most sought after prostitute in the Moulin Rouge to sleep with him. Not exactly a man of great moral standing.

From there Christian convinces Satine to stay romantically involved with him. She at first declines by saying that she has a job as a prostitute to sleep with men form money and therefore cannot allow herself to fall in love with anyone. Christian then argues that without Love, life itself is not worth living. Triumphed by his words and her Love for him, Satine then begins her long-standing relationship with Christian -which she keeps secret from the duke and her boss.

I'd say that is the key mistake made that ultimately leads to the tragedy that befalls the couple. A Lie made by Satine allowing the duke to continue believing she loved him when in fact she had no interest in him. The duke himself, concerned only for his own contentment, is then frustrated by his own dissatisfaction at a lie left unfulfilled. 

You can argue this movie is immoral because of the immoral actions that occur, but at some point you have to ask yourself: Why did their lives become corrupted? Satine was a prostitute from the beginning. Sought for her beauty from a young age, she no doubt was led to that life by others and knew of no other path. As she states in the movie, the only time she ever felt she was worth anything to anyone was when men would pay her to have sex with them because they thought she was beautiful. But when she met Christian she learned that she could in fact be loved for more than just her body -a truth God would want all men and women to know.

You can then argue that unconditional love was something she was led to experience and to have that kind of love she had to set aside money, her desire for fame, the people she had come to know, and the life she had been living for so many years. Unconditional love was the only thing that made her question the legitimacy of the life style she had been living. Monogamy and Love -very Christian values- were the only things that ever made her feel like she needed to leave her old life behind for a better one.

The movie ends with the duke leaving dissatisfied and Satine dying in the arms of Christian after she finally succumbs to her disease. The movie is left on a sour note -with no one left satisfied. Where does Satine go when she dies? Having never mentioned or cared much for God it's hard to say she would end up in Heaven. Limbo or Purgatory are a better guess. And Christian is left alone with his typewriter telling the tale, looking for some sense of peace, but only finding himself clinging to the memories of when he was happy.

Here another moral lesson is taught. Human lives are messy and temporary. If you hinge the whole of your happiness and peace on the life of another person you will likely end up disappointed. People change, they fray, and their bodies give way. If you want consistent peace that doesn't end you have to found it in a source that does not end. An Eternal Source. God is Eternal. God gives grace, love, and acceptance. The very things Christian sought out on his journey to begin with. He was looking for a place where he "belonged". A place where he felt loved, understood, and accepted. He could have found that place within himself and within God. Instead he sought it from the people around him and the circumstances he found himself in.

God in the end is a much safer bet.

And with that I conclude that a movie that was intended to get some laughs and some tears while updating a vast array of music from the 70s and 80s can be seen as fulfilling Christian values and illustrating lessons God has taught man throughout the centuries and continues to teach. It is also a testament to Devoted Romantic Love as well as a warning to Lies and Deception.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Life Turned Round

This morning I felt a little conflicted. My friend Chelsie just gave me a new necklace for my birthday that she assembled herself. It's a black linked chain with a gold pendant at the end. The gold pendant has a Roman Numeral clock with a fairy in the center that looks like Tinkerbell. It's a Peter Pan themed pendant.

Normally I wear my blue cross, but I really liked the way the pendant went with my outfit, so I wore that instead -kind of wondering if anything bad would happen today with my choice of one over the other.

Toastmasters went well but it was all downhill from there.

My Marketing Manager recently found a new job and today I started receiving the emails that used to go to her. 50% were junk -which was hard for me to discern. What is junk mail to some maybe treasure mail to others.

Then I started getting lots of emails about new roles I was going to have to fill since she is no longer a part of our company. Basically more responsibilities with the same amount of pay.

I was starting to feel kind of stressed/depressed after an hour of email sifting and more and more work piling up. Then I checked my personal email... Surprise! Despite the fact that I had purposely assigned roles for the next month of Toastmasters the TM for this week decided to change everything and start assigning roles on her own independent of the schedule. Since I have to send out the week's list of roles this threw me off and stressed me out more.

I was starting to feel really depressed -which I mostly acquainted with the fact that I hadn't taken my medication in a day or two (I forget every once in a while).

Then it was time for lunch.

Out of nowhere my friend who I'd been hoping would go to see the therapist asked me what her number was. I was instantly happy.

I got in the car and Goo Goo Dolls was playing -which I barely noticed. I was still feeling pretty low about everything. Then I looked up in the sky and saw a cloud that looked strangely similar to a silhouette of a fairy -which I thought was weird. Then a bus pulled up alongside the car and my eyes immediately shot to the symbol of the snake intertwined around the staff -a Biblical reference.

I got this weird feeling like God was trying to connect to me. I connected the fairy in the sky to the one I was wearing and the symbol of the staff -which Christ associated with His own cross. And I think what God was trying to tell me was a symbol is just a symbol -it's what it means to you. You can wear any symbol you choose to represent for Me. As long as it represents Me I'll understand. You carry God within you not around your neck. Symbols have evolved lots of times to represents dozens of different thinks -like the swastika/Tibetan sign for prosperity. It's what it means to you and what you use it for.

After that everything felt alright. My day may not be going well but God letting me know He's there makes my day -even a crappy one -worth having.

Sisters... and Darwin

Well I found out today why my sister has an uncanny tendency to befriend atheists:

This is her new Facebook profile pic. We actually had a discussion when she got this a couple years back. Neither of us see it as an offense to Christianity. It's incorporating the Jesus Fish AND Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

For me I'm mostly just annoyed at it at this point. Contrary to popular belief Darwin's Theory has come up against a great amount of scrutiny lately among the scientific community. Actually they really started finding the holes in it in the 1960s but since most people are out of the scientific community loop -they aren't as up-to-date on where the theory stands now.

Darwin was born February 12th, 1809 -making him a born Aquarius. Possibly a Libra. Science has made just a slight change in progress since 1882 -the year Darwin died. Slight changes of importance include: the discovery and further assessment of GENES. And GENETICS. And Cellular Development. Since Darwin was studying Evolution -which has a lot to do with cellular processes and things Darwin didn't have the technology to verify -his theory missed some things.

Darwin theorized that since everything was comprised of the same stuff -atoms and molecules and cells -that given enough time and the right conditions a mouse can evolve into an elephant. And given the close appearance of monkey and man -Man clearly evolved from Ape.

As it turns out -certain animals have GENES that only those animals can have -preventing them from evolving into another existing creature. And what evolution tends to show us is 2 very key points:

1. In areas where there is more natural environment -like the jungle -animals tend to be bigger and more varied.

For instance Spiders in the Amazon are HUGE and eat birds. Spiders in the city are small and we only have about 3 main kinds. Animals in the jungle are many many kinds and species. Animals in the city are dogs, cats, coyotes, maybe deer, pigeons, rats, and cockroaches. And squirrels.

2. Animals and plants tend to shrink in size as time goes on. Trees in prehistoric times = Skyscraper Size. Now = Oak Tree. Dinosaurs = Huge, Alligators = small in comparison. Lobsters in the open ocean = big, Crayfish that evolved from Lobsters that now live in small streams and rivers = small.

So based on those principles, why would anyone come to the conclusion that Man evolved from Ape? Chimpanzees are far smaller than man. How many small animals do you see giving birth to larger and larger animals down the line? Resources and land space continue to shrink -as do the living inhabitants. If anything, monkey evolved from man. Some sort of offshoot of man that devolved, shrank, and remained primal.

Now that you've been updated, have a glorious day...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Basic Path to God

So here is my outline for reaching God as I've come to understand it. If you can say it's a 12 step program then I would say I'm on step 3 or 4, but I have seen how the rest of the steps go. I just haven't gotten that far yet. As it turns out steps 1-12 can take years if not decades each. So step 1 should be -sit back and relax, it's going to be a long long long journey.

Step 1: At some point you have to acknowledge that things aren't working out. This usually happens when you hit rock bottom. For me it was when I was 21 and wanted to die. I knew suicide wasn't an option but I also felt like my life may as well end because it wasn't worth anything. A tragic limbo of a state to be in where you're living physically but not spiritually. You're dead inside and life is empty and you want it to end but you fear death. You have no place to go. You are down.

At this point you don't necessarily need to have "felt" God was in your life before. I had when I was younger. I was very close to God in Elementary school which was weird because neither of my parents spoke about Him or went to church. But I would talk to Him and think about Him often. I was a weird kid. Very spiritual and "out-there".

But to end Step 1 you need to acknowledge you're life is sh*t and you need some kind of spiritual intervention to get over it. You can't do it on your own. Life is too empty and you are too weak.

Step 2: Let God In. Having established life without God sucks, you start to think: Can life really be that much worse if God was in it? I had heard a rumor that if you give your life over to God, He will take it and make it His own. On the down side that might mean becoming a nun. On the upside your life ends up accomplishing more than you would have otherwise. Give it over. Step 2 concludes when you hand your life over to God and let him "take the wheel" as Carrie Underwood so eloquently put it.

Step 3: Follow Being Led. When God steps in it is in subtle ways that will start to become clearer as time goes on. "Small" coincidences and major life shifts are ahead. You start to get "steered" into the right direction -which can be a painful transition when you don't see that's what it is. For me 3 major life events occurred that helped guide me to finding myself over the course of a 2 year span of time. And throughout those subsequent 2 years there were also little moments that God let me know He was there.

Step 4: Recognizing when God is There. As Step 3 reaches it's close it will become easy for you to see how God has woven Himself throughout your life. At this point, seeing all the good He has brought you it is time to fully commit yourself to His path -which is clearly superior to wandering off alone. Commit. Swear yourself over to Him. If it's baptism -do it. If it's a public declaration -do it. If it's wearing the cross -do it. Outwardly express your inward connection to God. Own it. Be it. He is a part of who you are now. Don't hide Him.

Step 5: Listening to God. At this point, having signed-on officially, God will see fit to inconvenience you. "Testing you" is one way of putting it. Coaxing you outside your comfort zone is another. You'll feel "called" to do things. It won't be as obvious as a cell phone conversation though. You'll get a subtle sense of the direction or action God wants you to take. It will be annoying and you may try to ignore it our shrug it off, but it will keep coming up and you will continue to suspect it's where God wants you to go. At some point you'll have to bite the bullet and follow through. Usually at this point God's calling is for you to begin connecting with other people.

Step 6: Opening up to Strangers. The hardest thing for a person to do is share their heart, their beliefs, their soul, and everything else they hold to be precious and sacred within themselves. You feel judged and vulnerable. Talking about "deep" things and feelings and faith is hard when you don't know people that well. It's easy one-on-one with the right friend, but in a group -it's a challenge you WILL be pushed to overcome. Until you do it will be a silent torture inside. A ripping between your soul and your voice -one wanting the to speak and be heard while the other remains silent.

Step 7: Seeking Help. At this point, having opened up to other people, God will test you some more. Only this time it will be others who need help and YOU that is looked to for answers. You will be thrown in an impossible situation you cannot resolve on your own. You will have to seek help -either for your sake or another's. The help may come from a person who is closer to God and has overcome far more experiences with Him than you. But what God wants is for you to realize HE is the person you should look to first. Pray to Him, open up to Him, seek Him. Let him be the refuge for your troubles and He will bring about the solution. Trust in God.

Step 8: Having proven yourself a responsible follower - answering when called, knowing where to turn, following in faith, setting yourself and your own personal agenda aside for God's will -things will take a turn. God will actively start to call upon you to do things. This time the calls will come in much clearer. They will be distinct calls of action without the doubt and the haze. You'll usually be called on to help people in distinct situations -learning and growing in new "gifts" as you do. You will begin to realize how great an impact you can have on the lives of complete strangers when God works through you. You will perfect the art of being an instrument played by the greatest musician of all.

Step 9: Abide in Silence. Then  after a while of doing, doing, doing and being called upon, God will fall silent. He won't call on you for a while -maybe even years. You will go crazy. Doubts will set in. You will think God has left you or you have done something wrong to fall out of touch with Him. You will feel alone and you won't know what God wants or what you should be doing. God is testing you. He wants you to remember that He loves you. He doesn't need you to do everything. Sometimes it's just enough to know you're breathing. Existing with God in your soul is enough. It's not always about proving yourself to God. Sometimes He is perfectly content to have you just BE.

Step 10: Having "staid the course" in patients waiting for God's new line of calls, He may then see fit to raise you up and use you to a far greater extent. Each step along the path is a challenge needing to be mastered. When you master each He throws you into a new set of unfamiliar circumstances because He knows you can master those as well. Each step will also serve to sever and subvert your sense of "Self Above All Else". He will see how well you follow His lead above and over your instincts to serve your own desires. By Step 10 your "self" should be pretty well undertow.

He will be looking to you as more of a leader now -a person for others to turn to for guidance having come so far on your own journey through life with God. He will ask you to reach out to others you don't know. Life will be far more fluid and easy letting God step in.

Step 11: Tend Your Flock. Look after those God has given to you to guide and look after. Teach them what you know -and let them grow with God in their own way on their own individual path. Pass what wisdom you have learned to others. Give. Give it all. Give as much of God as you can.

Step 12: Go Home. When you have reached the end of your time -whenever it may come -go home. Go where you know you belong. Rest in the peace you were able to find in this life with God in your soul. Go home. You have given all that you needed to. You did good. You served well. Now rest. Go home.

The "Experiencing God" Series

I have a friend from Toastmasters named Doug. I found out that he's been to the church I go to and he invited me over to he and his wife's house for Bible reading on Mondays with a small group of friends. I was like, "Score!!!" Finally I find a group I can chat chit with about God.

So I show up. The first new person I met was a young Indian man who works at Apple. He seems quiet and polite. Probably an older soul.

Then a 60 year old man showed up. He announced that his birthday was last week - a Pisces- which may explain why it was so awkward between us. I didn't like him. He imposed himself into too many conversations and when he spoke it was like everyone needed to stop and listen to his words because they were more important. Their was a subtle hint of superiority there -which took me a while to flesh out because before that I couldn't quite figure out what it was I didn't like about him.

Then there was a corky 50 year old guy who spoke every once in a while. There was an older soul/ Indian man and his wife -who I think was a younger soul- and their 2 little girls who were playing in the other room.

Then there was an Asian man who was in his late 40s who talked about being a Mentor/ Pastor and had met Jeremy Lin before he was famous. He was sort of suggesting that Jeremy Lin was a nobody until God intervened. I'm not sure.

We didn't actually end up reading the Bible. Instead Doug introduced us to a book by Henry + Richard Blackaby called Experiencing God. The book/ videos go over how to live out God's will and develop a close relationship with Him. My first instinct said: Find out the legitimacy of the writers. What are their zodiac signs/ level of experience/ insights of wisdom.

Thanks to the internet I know: Henry -the main writer -was born April 15th. He's an Aries!!! And his son is Richard (of 5 total children). Henry found Blackaby Ministries -a string of churches running throughout Canada mostly. So pretty legit.

I then looked at the book. It's sort of a step-by-step on the main guiding principles on how to connect with God. It's practical and thorough, and also emphasizes the fact that no two people's paths will be identical. These are guidelines to follow but cannot be entirely specific since God works through people in His own way. It is a very God-centered way of looking at things, which is good because most of the time people focus too much on themselves when trying to reach God and not enough on His end and how He works.

But I decided that before I read Henry's book and figure out what he has to say about everything I should get my own findings out first to see how close I was. Kind of like walking down a path blind-folded (having read little from the Bible and mostly following spiritual pathways) and seeing how far off the beaten path you've been going forward.

So in the next post I'm going to state for the record what I've seen as to how to get closer to God and what that's like and looks like.

Update on Friend

I sent an email to a therapist named Victoria I saw a couple years ago. My friend who was raped has seen her as well, but still doesn't currently want any therapy. Since I'm still "in the dark" about everything and I'm not supposed to know what I know I asked Victoria for advice on how to handle the situation.

Victoria said -tell the friend who told you about the situation to talk with your friend that needs help. Have her say, "I'm concerned about you and I'm afraid if you don't seek help then you may end up doing something awful -like committing suicide. I would then blame myself for not stepping in. You need to at least call and talk to a therapist to get some advice on how to handle this. You can't just take this all on on your own. If you don't talk to someone about this, I'm going to have to tell someone about it from my end. You need to get help. Please talk to a therapist -you don't have to go to one, just talk with one over the phone.

Victoria then told me to fill her in on what my friend's response is to this instruction and what she thinks of this plan. I think it's greatmazing advice and it may be the thing that finally gets my friend the help she needs.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Birthday at Mom's

My friend Katie (an Aries in its virtue) whom I've always admired and looked up to when I was younger recently moved back. We met at an ice cream shop and ended up talking for 2 hours. She's one of the only people I know I can spend years apart from and meet up again and feel totally at home with as if a day hadn't passed since our last conversation.

We talked about everything -family, college, work, friends, relationships, God... we pretty much covered everything. But unlike any other conversation I would normally have with a person what we really ended up discussing is what we've come to learn. It's like seeing a movie and running into a friend who's seen the same thing and instead of just going over scene by scene we discuss the meaning behind each moment. Despite the fact that she's lived in Washington and I've continued living in California and we haven't talked for a couple years now we've somehow come to find the same conclusions about life.

Then I spent time with my family. Had a couple weird experiences spending the night at that house. I was nervous about having experiences since I'd been having some at my apartment. For some reason I seem to experience stuff around my birthday. Anyways, I did get the sense that at several points during the night there was someone there. But as I'm used to doing I just tried to brush it off and ignore it so I could go back to sleep. I still refuse to sleep upstairs and I'm still a little hesitant about going up there alone. It's just different up there.

I also got to see my "adopted sister" Chelsie. She's adorkable. It's interesting how with some friends you can have deep, long conversation and it's more about talking and with other friends you don't end up saying much but you feel a great deal of love for them just for being around.

One of the most memorable parts of my visit was when I received the strangest birthday present I have ever gotten -a stick of mace. My mom's a little on the overly protective side and she made my sister and I test the mace before we left so we know how it works. First let me say :Wind Conditions are Everything.Do Not Spray into the Wind. I tried spraying away but even at that the sent of the pepper still made me cough and sneeze. That mace is not messing around.

Part of me got a little paranoid about it. Life happens for a reason and I've found more often than not that these small "coincidences" or odd occurrences that seem random end up being significantly defining later on down the line. So now I'm paranoid that I was "meant" to get the mace because at some point in the future I will need it...

The last thing that I noticed before heading out of town was a final conversation I had with my sister. when I talked with Katie I did mention how my sister seemed to keep finding guys to date who had similar traits -and one of the more prominent traits was the fact that they were mostly atheistic. They either hated God or wanted to completely ignore even the possibility of him. So when I was on my way to my car I thought it was weird that my sister brought up one of her newer friends in this way. She asked what he was based on his birth sign -he was born a Taurus. But she said he was more scientific and he had believed in God at one point but now didn't really think He existed. I told her he sounded like a Virgo. She was excited -80% of her friends are Taurus so I guess he wanted a little more variety for some reason.

It's just weird how people tend to attract the same kind of dysfunction found in others. Like attracting people, befriending people, and hanging around people who tend to be controlling and possessive -even though you don't necessarily say you like that quality. For me it's kind of the opposite. 90% of all my friends are spiritual/religious. I tend to attract people who seek to improve themselves and want to grow as a soul. It's weird. It's not like I have a list of prerequisites a person has to fill to be my friend, I just generally tend to connect with people who for one reason or another seem to have these traits. I know I'm more soul-focused so I guess it makes sense that the way I connect best with others is on a spiritual sort of level that then needs the other person to be spiritual as well on some level.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Hulu, Ghosts, and Being Psychic

Recent shows I’ve found on Hulu worth watching –for one reason or another:

School Spirits 
Haunted Highway - hilarious
Paranormal Witness
Great British Ghosts
Technically Ghost Adventures is on there but I’ve already seen every season except the new one.
Paranormal State –which is kind of boring 

I don’t know why I’ve always sought ghost shows, books, and movies out. It’s like a subconscious urge that I get compelled by. Kind of like when I saw the movie Jaws I went out of my way to study sharks and read the book itself. 

I think when you’ve experienced something profound or frightening you seek information and understanding so you can accept it and move on. You never fear what you understand. It’s the unknown that makes it frightening. Hence the reason so many people fear death and the future.
I also like hearing the struggles other people have gone through regarding the supernatural because it makes me feel like I don’t have it so bad. 

I’d say the most significantly impactful episode I saw was two days ago from the School Spirits show. 2 girls started attending the same school. One had been psychic since she was young. She was kind of a loner, not religious –more spiritual, and she wasn’t frightened by the ghosts she saw because none had ever harmed her and she was used to seeing them. 

The other girl was more of a socialite who considered herself to be “normal”. When she started seeing ghosts around campus she thought she was going mentally insane. She told her parents and started seeing a psychiatrist. He could not find anything definitively wrong with her. She felt hopeless and confused. She started drawing the people and things she was seeing on paper so she could get them out of her head to make herself feel better. 

Then one night her roommate saw a dark figured man in their room –the same one the girl had been seeing- and that’s when she put the pieces together and realized she wasn’t going insane. Someone else could see the same things she was seeing. 

Afraid and not sure what to do, she found the psychic girls and asked her to get rid of the ghost in her room. The psychic girl saw the ghost and told her it wasn’t malicious. She told her to deal with the problem on her own. The girl felt even more hopeless and ending up moving out of that dorm room and into another. The new dorm she moved into was the only one available and when she walked in she was surprised to see the psychic girl. 

Since the 2 were living together they started experiencing the same things. The psychic girl helped the newbie girl handle her “gift” and not be afraid. Then the psychic girl had a bad run-in with a demon. Not knowing what to do and being terrified, the psychic girl turned to the newbie girl. Newbie girl was raised in a very religious household. She always wore a cross and new that demons couldn’t harm anyone if that person was close to God. 

It seemed to me like fate had brought the two of them together for a reason. One needed to learn that, contrary to popular belief, ghosts do exist and it’s something to be accepted- not feared. The other needed to learn that being purely spiritual wasn’t good enough, because you can run up against things that require a spiritual strength greater than your own. 

I felt like I was kind of meant to see this. I was in a mental debate with myself over the whole “psychic” thing this past week. I’m good at reading people’s energies/souls and figuring out why they tend to do things. I’ve also experienced supernatural things. But I don’t want to be psychic and open that door. 

I had come to the conclusion that ignorance was bliss and not being psychic and just ignoring that spiritual plane of existence was better than seeing everything. Then I saw the video. Now I realize –like most things in life –it’s about reaching a balance between the two. Acknowledging spiritual encounters when they happen, but also not letting the dead distract you from your own life. 

I think that’s where most psychics go wrong. Their entire life, job, and focus become dedicated to ghosts and spiritual things and they relate less to the living and accomplishing goals in their own lives.