Wednesday, March 24, 2010

settling foundations

Like any new house, I expect the one I am in to go through its settling process, to creak and moan and shift. I have watched the subtle changes take place with curiosity and noted them in some deep recess of my brain, in case something more comes of them. Ultimately I am not too concerned, as I know how much rock this house is sitting on.

You see, out here where I live, all houses are sitting on a bed of rock that requires a contractor to spend the better part of a day or two hammering into, prior to leveling the property and then setting forms for a foundation. Our home is not unlike any out here in that regards and the rock crusher spent no less than 10 hours to get the land to a place where a foundation could be poured. While there have been subtle cracks in the drywall, mostly this house has remained quite constant and the settling process that all homes go through has been minimal at best.

Not all homes are the same however and much can be said about the prep work that takes place prior to pouring a foundation. I have seen dramatic changes to houses that have poorly poured foundations or poorly prepared building lots. Proper preparation is obviously the key and it is important to recognize that everything we do requires some level of prep work prior to our intended action. For example, think of the steps you take prior to actually getting into bed, or the steps you take prior to actually driving down the street, or going on a picnic, or making dinner and so on.

Having foresight is also key. We must also recognize the foreseeable consequences and negative outcomes of not properly preparing for events and actions we take. If in our preparation we fail to see outcomes, I truly believe that the failure is our responsibility and we alone deserve the consequences. I do believe there are exceptions but as a rule, poor prep work leads to poor outcomes. This should seem rather obvious but it is clearly an issue as some people do not accept responsibility for their actions.

What are we teaching the next generation in regards to fiscal, emotional, physical and even spiritual responsibility when we lay waste to poorly poured foundations in our lives and then disavow ourselves from the messes we make? We make fun of and blast politicians and celebrities for their indiscretions but how much better are we? We blame local, state and federal programs for wasting money and over taxing citizens but we spend money we don't have because we somehow feel entitled to it? At what point are we going to wake up and recognize that the responsibility rests firmly on our shoulders and not someone else's?

Many of you know that I am a Christian. For those of you that did not know that, welcome to the party. As I travel this road I am on through life I continue to see reasons why my faith is so vital but I know that not everyone feels the same way. I view my faith as a foundation and that all things I encounter in life are simply another part of the house I am building on that foundation. From time to time, parts of the house break off or need to be fixed but the foundation is intact and seemingly impervious to anything this life throws at it. I am thankful for that foundation and know that if everything else fades away, I will still have that solid foundation to stand on and that gives me immeasurable hope.

For those of you that do not have that kind of faith, or you believe in something all together different, I pray that the foundation you stand on is rock solid and prepared for settling. I also pray that you recognize your responsibility to coming generations and accept the consequences for the decisions you make as you build your house. Lastly, I pray that as I am out here building my house, I can help you build yours and vice versa.

My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

day by day

So here I sit, two months into being officially unemployed from full time work. For the record, I have enjoyed these last two months as I have had a little more time each day with my kids, especially on Fridays where I now volunteer at a church that they go to for their choice Friday program. For those of you unaware of "Choice Friday", it is something that local businesses and organizations have done for kids because our district went down to 4 day school weeks because of cutbacks.

A short run down on what the last two months have been like, looks like this; started collecting unemployment benefits for the first time in my life, continued my part time job for parks & rec, found a few other part time opportunities that have been rewarding (like crawling around under a 40 year old house with 6 inches to spare) and of course chasing nearly any and every job that moves. I continue my job search and have a few good prospects that I consider hopeful.

All in all, the past two months have been decent, but my thinking cap has been on the entire time and I find myself diving deeper into given subjects like never before. Such voracity for learning has always been a trait but this seems different. I find that once I discover a given topic of interest, it is not enough to read just one page and call it good, I have to pour over a 100 pages to feel quenched.

Take for instance my fascination lately with the Middle East. I am trying to narrow down my interest to Israel for a few reasons, but primarily given the constant state of unrest that takes place over there and seems to be acceptable to most of the world. I fear that the unrest in that region has been going on for so long that most people take it for granted and are completely desensitized to any of the ongoing conflicts there.

One such issue is over the ownership of a region known as Golan Heights. This is a section of land whose sovereignty is hotly contested. Currently the land is controlled by Israel but Syria wants control as soon as possible. Syria is in a world of hurt regarding lack of water in certain parts of that country and the leaders there see Golan Heights as a gateway to access the Sea of Galilee for water to their hardest hit regions in the east. Needless to say, I like to read about these things and with that comes some sense of learning about a different culture than mine, a different part of the world filled with people that I will probably never meet.

Another item of interest recently was a report I read detailing how a study was done regarding young Egyptian men. The study included some 15,000 men and women, all between the ages of 18 and 29, who were asked if young men had a right to beat their wives if the wife was caught talking to another man. 80% of men and 67% of women thought it was OK to beat the wife for talking to another man, while another 8% thought it was OK to beat the wife if she burned food. I find these articles interesting and once I find something like this I have to get to its very source and read more. For the sake of understanding, how can we come to terms with anyone group of people if we have no understanding of their values?

Here in America, I find that most people lack a basic understanding of what any one person goes through in another country. We here of the major stories by way of the TV news and the Internet, but what do we truly know of any one person in any other country, specifically as it relates to culture and a broader understanding of person hood?

I have written about peace (and to some degree, war) for the better part of the past 10 years and my grasp has always been on the atrocities I deem that stem from greed and the desire for absolute power. I have always said that we need to reach out to others in any place they may be and seek relationship with them, for our lives are meant to serve no greater purpose than to be in fellowship with others. My faith has been at the forefront of this belief for almost as long but more than anything else I see a need for diplomacy on a level that no one wants to talk about, and that is the one on one experience.

Being without a job for the past two months has allowed me to think a little more clearly, but something more profound is coming out of this and that is the understanding that I wish I were more connected than I think I am now. Connectivity is essential in this day and age but the question of who we are connected to is more apt. As I read more about places like the Middle East and its inhabitants I am compelled to somehow meet them. I have researched web sites that would allow me to converse with individuals over there on a regular basis but something changes in a relationship when it is not face to face.

Each one of us has something unique to share with the world. I can only hope and pray that I can share something of worth before my time is up. But there is a choice of whether or not to share. We all have choices regarding our involvement and whether or not we will seek relationships that are outside of typical comfort zones. As open as I am to talk about anything I am also susceptible to closing down relationships based on certain content. It has been difficult to walk away from a few relationships over this past year but if there is one thing I will not be a part of, it is hatred. Our lives were never intended to shelter so much vehement hate towards another human being and yet we allow ourselves to fall victim too often.

I will continue to dig deeply into subjects and places that fascinate me but more importantly I hope to somehow connect with some of the people that I read about, the ordinary citizens like you and me, and seek a relation that goes beyond stereotypes and misgivings. There are real men and women out there across the globe that go through the same things as you and I but there are also so many more that never raise a voice. And some voices are silenced.

Please do not be silent as you move forward, but also understand that people just want to talk, to be heard and to share their life. As I go day by day into the future I pray for encounters that will grant me the chance to share and allow others to share, to connect and to grow.

My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him.

Peace to you all.