the capitol christmas tree

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“Come to earth to taste our sadness, he whose glories knew no end; by his life he brings us gladness, our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.”


It’s official. Christmas is less than a week away. I look forward to this season every year. Colorful decorations stream my freshly cut pine with gifts underneath on display.  But despite the holiday cheer dressing my home, I do not seem to be in the “Christmas spirit.” And I am not sure why. Maybe it is because we haven’t had our usual snowfall that blankets the sub tundra terrain. Or maybe I have been so caught up in work and responsibilities that I haven’t had a single moment to reflect on this holiday. Whatever the case may be, the usual warm feeling that fills my soul has gone amiss thus far.

I miss the feeling. But as I sit here, I realize that Christmas is not about a feeling. Christmas is about hope. Hope in the Child. A Child who has “come to earth to taste our sadness, …whose glories knew no end; by his life he brings us gladness, our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.” And it was Jesus, the Prince of Peace, our Cloud Rider, who humbled Himself and left the glories, signifying His desire to restore our fallen state out of an act of selfless love. By lowering Himself to our condition as the dust of the Earth, “God became man to turn creatures into sons; not to produce a better man of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man,” (C.S. Lewis).

the way things were and are not now but will be to come?

Then Hwin, though shaking all over, gave a strange little neigh, and trotted across to the Lion.
“Please,” she said, “you’re so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I’d sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else.”
“Dearest daughter,” said Aslan, planting a lion’s kiss on her twitching, velvet nose, “I knew you would not be long in coming to me. Joy shall be yours.”
“Now, Bree,” he said, “you poor, proud frightened Horse, draw near. Nearer still, my son. Do not dare not to dare. Touch me. Smell me. Here are my paws, here is my tail, these are my whiskers. I am a true Beast.”
“Aslan,” said Bree in a shaken voice, “I’m afraid I must be rather a fool.”
“Happy the Horse who knows that while he is still young. Or the Human either…”

The Horse and His Boy – Chapter 14

I have always thought the Chronicles of Narnia to be a fascinating series. From the dawn of Narnia’s creation, sung into existence by Aslan, we are given a glimpse of biblical Truth through the symbolic tales. Narnia is a world filled with intelligent animals that have the ability to speak. And from a young age, through the reading of these stories, I have always had a curiosity as to what our world would be like if animals could speak.

We know biblically, that before the fall of humanity, before the world was tainted by sin, that the relationship between humans and animals was different than our experience now. What once was a mutually respectful friendship has become a severed relationship. Stephen Webb, describing our original dominion over the animal kingdom, has said, “The fullness of humanity includes the exercise of a proper authority over animals,” (Good Eating, Page 79). And the authority we maintain over the animal population has become polluted by our fallen nature. Do not misunderstand me, I am not building a case for animal rights. I merely imply that the way things are now are not the way they were. However, once the world is fully redeemed, the relationship will be restored.

I wonder, besides our damaged relationship with animals, how else the fall of humanity has affected the animals of the ancient world? Could it have been possible for animals to have had a more intelligent ability to communicate with us? And as crazy as I may sound, could animals have even had the ability to speak? I ask these questions out of biblical inquisitiveness. And there are two illustrations of which have intrigued by curiosity.

Firstly, in the Garden we know that Eve was tempted by the serpent. That serpent, though inhabited by Satan, spoke to Eve. If in the Garden, no animal had the ability to speak, wouldn’t Eve had been surprised or thought it suspicious that an animal be given a voice to communicate through spoken word?

Secondly, when “…the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times'” (Numbers 22:28, ESV), did the donkey initially understand the abuse she was receiving before being given the ability to speak or was she able to comprehend and formulate thought only after God gave her the ability to express herself?

Theologically, I have no evidence to definitively support the notion that animals once had the ability to speak, but I have always found it curiouser and curiouser as to whether they once could. And though I intend to continue my study of this fascination, I maintain my love for these creatures.

“We are meant to keep the company of animals, who are a gift from God to ease our loneliness by drawing out of the human circle and into an experience of otherness that is so surprising it could be utterly sublime,” (Stephen Webb, Good Eating).

oh darling, let’s be adventurous.

 

Do you have friends in your life that you can be yourself with? They take you for you..despite your quarks, your flaws, and your imperfections. There is a sense of comfort when you are with them. You are more yourself with them than when you are separated. They breath life into you. From their contagious spirit to their love for Jesus, they empower you to be a better you.

I am blessed to have many friends in my life. They fill me with so much joy. Two special friends of mine are in this wedding film: my cousin Anthony and his wife Stacey. They are full of character, integrity, and life. And I love every moment I get to spend with them.

Enjoy this vintage indie trailer of their wedding day. I was honored to be a part of it.

Oswald Productions
Grand Rapids’ Premier Wedding Videographer
http://www.oswaldproductions.com/

here I am, where ive been, ive walked a hundred miles in tobacco skin, and my clothes are worn & gritty.

Freshwater oceans. The four seasons. And a diverse community of lovely people. This is Michigan. My home. I have called this place home for nearly 24 years. But despite calling it home, deep within my soul I have always had a bizarre feeling of homesickness, as if this home that I love is not where I truly belong.

In search, I have become a wandering traveler, seeking adventure in life’s journey. Amidst the quest, I have been immersed in the depth of culture spanning five continents. “The core of a mans’ spirit comes from new experiences, ” said Christopher McCandless. And I believe there is some fugacious truth to this statement. We seek something more. Something to fill a lonely void. Emptiness. Not hopelessness. Because I have hope. I know the Cloud Rider. And I wait for Him.

But I am homeless.

Despite my best efforts, I do not feel that I have ever discovered the place I could call home the rest of my life. Maybe that’s good. Maybe I am not supposed to. “…The most probably explanation is that [I] was made for another world” (C.S. Lewis).

Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among the mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the glass there may have been a looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different — deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked like it meant more. I can’t describe it any better than that: if you ever get there you will know what I mean.

It was the unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried: “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia so much is because it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!”

“The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.” And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all stories, and we can most truly say they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

-The Last Battle

are you really calling my christmas sweater ugly?

Christmas is but two short weeks away and one thing I enjoy is the multitude of parties to accompany the season. My heart seems to gambol with all the holiday festivities and the time spent with family as well as friends. I would venture to say I have an average of two Christmas parties a week, filling my extracurricular calendar quickly. My favorite party of the year thus far has been an ugly sweater Christmas party coupled with a photo scavenger hunt.

I stumbled upon the perfect Christmas sweater at a local Salvation Army while thrifting with my cousin Alyssa. We spent a couple hours looking for a few good finds. And we ended up purchasing a few records (Polka party anyone?), a couple Disney VHS movies (Rescuers and the Rescuers Down Under…oh yeah!), a book or two, and a pretty deck mirrored disco ball.

But to immerse you in the events of our scavenger hunt, as well as show off my fabulous Christmas sweater, check out these photos!

The front of my Christmas sweater

The back of my Christmas sweater

This is where the photo scavenger hunt began!

We found a couple random guys to sing us Christmas carols!

Lys and Brit posing with a stellar snowman…

I found a white Christmas tree with blue lights 🙂

This picture helped us win the photo scavenger hunt! It had to be taken quickly and covertly. It is my cousin Anthony with his wife Stacey, kissing under the mistletoe as my cousin Alyssa jumped in the photograph (bottom left) so that we could prove this picture to be current and legitimate! Oh yeah!

Two people I admire a lot! Andy and his girlfriend Amanda found holiday candles!

Boxman (our fearless leader) and Brit found a sweet soul to ring Christmas bells to let the world know of Jesus’ birth!

And these lovely ladies made me a handwritten Christmas card!

bust a moby this christmas

This Christmas season, I seem to have an ineffable weariness towards holiday songs of past. Not necessarily toward the lyrical quality, but rather the repetitive nature of the same old. To counter deluge of seasonal commonality, I have created panoply of mellifluous hipster Christmas tunage. So let your inner indie out and bust a moby this Christmas.

1. THE CHRISTMAS SONG – The Raveonettes

2. SLEIGH RIDE – Relient K

3. CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE – Gatsby’s American Dream

4. DONDE ESTA SANTA CLAUSE – Guster

5. CHRISTMAS DON’T BE LATE – Linn & Marcus

6. IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME – Yo La Tengo

7. JINGLEBELL ROCK – Arcade Fire

8. PUT THE LIGHTS ON THE TREE – Sufjan Stevens

9. FIRST NOEL – My American Heart

10. CAROL OF THE BELLS – The Bird and the Bee

11. BLUE CHRISTMAS – Bright Eyes

12. GET BEHIND ME, SANTA – Sufjan Stevens

13. PEPPERMINT WINTER – Owl City

14. I WISH IT WAS CHRISTMAS TODAY – Julian Casablancas

15. DON’T SHOOT ME SANTA – The Killers

16. BLIZZARD OF ’89 – The Ready Set (Featuring NeverShoutNever)

17. HAPPY CHRISTMAS (WAR IS OVER) – Polyphonic Spree

18. 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS – Relient K

19. GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN – Bright Eyes

20. THE FRIENDLY BEASTS – Sufjan Stevens

21. CHRISTMASTIME – Smashing Pumpkins

22. 30 DAYS – NEVERSHOUTNEVER

23. FATHER CHRISTMAS – The Kinks

24. ALL THAT I WANT – The Weepies

25. THE CHRISTMAS SONG – Chase Coy