Wednesday, June 8, 2016

An Open Letter to My Former Best Friend

I dreamt of you again yesterday.

Typically these dreams comprise of a "final conversation," wherein you're either calmly explaining that it truly is the end, or you're calling me all the names we know I deserve. This one was different.

This was probably the first dream that, while about you, you weren't actually in. Not more than a name and an idea, at least. I was in your neighborhood by chance, passing by your place, and your folks waved me over. Your step-dad told me to make things right, handed me two Red Vines, and said they should help.

I don't even know if you like Red Vines.

I woke up and immediately tears were rolling. I wished it could be that simple. Wished things had never gone the way they did.

I wished I had never treated you the way I did.

Part of me actually hoped that the dream was a sign from God. So shortly after noon, I actually drove over to your place and knocked on the door. Twice, even. No answer. But in the perhaps 90 seconds I stood on your porch, waiting, hoping, my heart was pounding. I was petrified. I wondered if you'd open the door only to slam it in my face, or what I'd say if we actually talked like I wanted to.

I couldn't even look at the door as I waited, so ashamed of what I'd done.

It's been eleven months since our falling out. Ten since you blocked me. Yet the pain I still sometimes feel, in the quiet moments when I have the time to let myself feel, is still almost as bad as the first moment I realized you didn't find me worthy of a second chance.

No measure is adequate to show how much that stings every time, after five years spent as close as we were. At the same time, though, I can't blame you, because every fiber of my being knows I deserved it. I don't deserve grace or mercy, only exactly what I got. My behavior was detestable.

I hope you're well, Beth. Your happiness and health are still two of my most frequent prayers. And if this ever finds its way onto your computer screen...

Just know that I hold nothing against you at all for how things turned out, and that I am truly sorry.

- David

Friday, December 25, 2015

2015: A Memorial

They say not to speak ill of the dead. With this year on its deathbed, I think I will adopt that policy.

There was a lot that happened this year for me. A lot to be thankful for. My parents were gracious enough to allow me to move back in with them after my previous living arrangement developed a fault. They've been genuinely wonderful to me, and I hope they know how much I appreciate it.

I started the year off with finally going to college. Took a total of six classes, two per standard quarter (just skipped summer), and learned quite a bit. In all, it was an alright experience.

After the chaos that ended 2014, I started working harder than ever at my job. Earned four raises this year in addition to the minimum wage increase back in January, and I also became a supervisor. Sure, it's only a fast food job, and someday I'll leave it, but for now, I'm enjoying working with a good team, with bosses who appreciate the work I do and give me hours to show it, and even all of the regular customers we get.

Partway into the summer, I... had some troubles (which will remain undisclosed). An old friend, someone I hadn't spoken to in years or seen in close to a decade, noticed those troubles. Reconnecting with her has been one of the best things to happen to me this year. She helped me see some things, come to some realizations, that I really needed to see and realize. I'd do a name drop, but I don't currently have a way to reach her before this will go live, and I don't want to do it without permission. Anyway, she helped me a ton, and I'm very privileged to be able to consider her one of my closer friends.

Later in the summer I decided it was finally time to get my license and a car. I renewed my permit, bought a car, and got my license in a span of three weeks. Since then, I've been enjoying having my own transportation 24/7. It's easier to buy groceries, easier to get places, allows me to give coworkers lifts home when they need one... in short, it's fantastic. I'm glad that I dedicated myself to getting it done.

Of everything that happened in 2015, these were the best parts of the year. But it's time for 2016 to shine.

This next year, I'm discontinuing my college journey. Or rather postponing it. Because my parents' income factors into my financial aid allotment, I am going to wait until I am 25 to continue going to school. In place of that, I'm going to put a lot of time and energy into being ready to move out on my own. Into some hobbies that I want to spend more time on, archery in particular. I'm going to focus some time and energy inward as well, thinking about what I really want out of life. For all the good that 2015 brought, there was a lot that I didn't mention. Many monkey wrenches were thrown into my plans, and I need to sort through the wreckage. Refine. Define.

I've been feeling chaotic for too long, I think. The time has come for order.

2016, I'm ready. I'm going to make this year a good one,


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Got back in!

For a while there, I was unable to access my blog, due to Google's overtaking of practically the whole internet. Seems they finally worked out some of the kinks, though, so hopefully I'll be posting a *little* bit more regularly.

But it's got to wait until after this week. Insanely busy with college work through Friday.

On Saturday, however, I'm probably going to make some sort of "end of the year" post about how 2015 went for me. I'll be vague on many things, some of which I've already been too open about over the course of the year, but I plan to keep it interesting nonetheless.

I'll make a small post here and now, since I can.

Subtitle: Missing Buttons

The name of this blog started as just a joke. I got a blog because it was the hip thing to do, and as I struggled for a name, I realized that the button for my shorts had flown the coop. Little did I know that I would come to see this title as a metaphor for my life.

I've grown up a lot since starting this blog, way back in... goodness, middle school? 
-Leaves briefly to check date of first post-
October 4, 2009. So the beginning of my sophomore year of high school.
Funny, in a way. That year was the start of many things which will be covered later in my end of the year blog.
(source: http://45.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lmorphkQ3o1qgvo7ho1_500.gif)
Anyway.
I've become a man over the course of these past six years. My knowledge has increased, and I'd like to think that my wisdom has as well. I'm still fallible. Very much so, in fact; I mean, I'm only 22. There are things in my life which I've taken for granted and suddenly I realized I'd lost them along the way.
My life has many missing buttons. I can replace those buttons with new ones of different colors, sizes, or designs, but the fact remains that things which were once part of me have taken off and separated to their own, different paths. Each time I struggle to keep up, like a pair of shorts that now only relies upon a zipper, but I manage.

I'm going to stop here. Don't want to get too deep into this before my big post at the end of the year.

Take care, all.
- David "Middleman93" Stripes

Friday, May 17, 2013

Alleged Racism

For those of you who are on Facebook and have any friends who tend to share political photos, you probably know that a picture has been circulating recently of Queen Elizabeth and President Obama, both out in the rain and under umbrellas. The difference between the two sides of the picture is Queen Elizabeth holding her own umbrella, and a Marine holding Obama's, and there is text on the image saying something along the lines of "Even the Queen can hold her own umbrella."

The Liberals are jumping on this and crying "Racism!" because apparently President George Bush had the same favor done for him by a Marine. I have only one response to this allegation:

I don't give a rat's ass about skin color. President Bush also should have been enough of a man to hold his own umbrella. That is not the duty of a US Marine.

But it goes beyond this incident. There are those who have been accusing racism of any who opposed Obama from the first day he announced candidacy. It wasn't racism then, and it isn't racism now.

- Sidenote: I'm not saying there isn't *anyone* who is racist, as I think it's common knowledge that there are racist individuals still in our country.

It really bothers me that people who know me, people who are my family, call people who are like me "racist" merely because we disagree with the President. If you'd like to continue reading, I will share a few reasons why I did not vote for the man who won the election.


Abortion

I refuse, with every fiber of my being, to support abortion. Many on the left view anti-abortion views as anti-women (another example of being accused of something which we are not), and that is not true in the least bit. In my opinion, abortion is taking the life of a child, and should not be done except under the most extreme circumstances. It's not the woman's body in question, it is the body of her child, and it is being destroyed. We are not misogynistic for opposing that, and President Obama supports it, thus a valid reason for not voting for him.

Gun Control

Why do you believe the Second Amendment was added to our constitution? To protect hunting rights?
If that's a yes, you are wrong. Some will also say that the Second Amendment only applies to the militia. Again, you are wrong. The text says "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." It does not say "the right of the people in the militia." However, even if it *did* say that, the court case U.S. vs. Miller (1939) stated in its ruling "[t]he significance attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. 'A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.' And further that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.

In short, the Second Amendment is in place to protect the right of the individual to keep and bear arms, even those which are fully automatic (inferred from "of the kind in common use"). President Obama supports gun control laws, and as such I did not vote for him.


Obamacare

While I am not aware of everything in the President's massive healthcare bill, I am aware of two very important things:

1. People who cannot afford healthcare are being taxed harshly, and may be in fact unable to afford that tax. I'm not sure how much the tax is, but I've heard in the past that it's somewhere around $5,000 per year of being uninsured. You want to be mad at someone for making the poor poorer? Be mad at our President.

2. A company which employs someone for more than 30 hours per week must pay for health insurance for that individual. As a result of this, I saw many of my working friends' hours cut down to 28 per week maximum, and I am certain that it did not only affect my friends. It probably affected people who desperately needed all hours they could get at their job. You want to be mad at someone for enabling corporations to pay their employees less? Be mad at President Obama.



There are many more reasons for which I did not vote for the man and do not support him, but not a single one of them is that he's black. If you call me, or those like me, racist, then from now on I will respond only with the following:



Also, as this blog post was not to start any political debates but to address allegations of racism, if you start a political debate from this I will only respond with:



If you agree with what I have said in this post, then I encourage you to share it with everyone you know.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Minecraft and Me

If you haven't yet heard the buzz about Minecraft, you're about to! Minecraft is a sandbox game where you build your world in a land made up of 1 meter cubes, with everything from realistic materials like sand, glass, stone bricks, and clay, to fictional blocks like netherrack, glowstone, end stone, and soul sand. There are creatures to fight, different types of land to explore, and massive underground cave systems that can lead you to great loot or to nowhere at all. The game even has its own style of electricity. You are limited only by your creativity (and the 256 meter map height). From dirt huts to highly-detailed castles, Minecraft lets you build it all.

How did you learn about Minecraft?

The first time I heard about Minecraft was via Twitter in January of 2011 (or so). My friend Cameron tweeted something about logging into Minecraft for the first time in months and the first thing he noticed was different types of trees. Then I started hearing about it everywhere. Just the name dropped here and there, but in any imaginable place. As a gamer, I became curious and decided to investigate.

I started by lurking on the GameFAQs Minecraft forums. I read what people were saying about it, and noticed people looking for help with things. It was still in Beta, as such, many things had issues and people wanted certain things added. Most of what I learned about the theory of playing the game I learned from here.

From there, I went on to Youtube videos. Survival Island by the Yogscast caught my attention, and I. Was. Hooked. I learned all I could about the crafting by making something in a 3x3 grid that kind of looks like what you're trying to make, and finally I tried out the free classic creative mode on minecraft.net. While it was disappointing to learn that no crafting was implemented, it was still kind of fun to just explore and build.

What happened next?

After a while, I got bored of classic. So what did I do? I did what most teenagers have done at some point: I downloaded a cracked version that didn't require an active login name yet still allowed me the full freedom of the game. My test was this: if I got bored with it as quickly as I did the classic mode, then I didn't waste my money on it. If I liked it consistently, I could go and buy it officially.

By this time, it was nearing April. Beta 1.4 had just been released, which meant wolves and beds. That day, I learned something.

Videos do not do the creepers justice.

I had a lovely little cube made of wood planks, and it was night time. As I was heading in, I hear a SSSsssss...

Boom!

My door, the front side of my house, and my life were all taken in an instant. The invulnerability (or lack of monsters) in classic had softened me, and now I was bad guy food.

Before even halfway through April, I acquired a premium account and was enjoying the legal fun of this cubic world. I built minecart rollercoasters, homes in mountains, homes on plains, and large mines which yielded little to no diamonds. I downloaded Survival Island and played through it, a little surprised when no airship was waiting for me like it was for the Yogscast. This game was wonderful, and it unleashed my creative side in a way that had not been seen since my 5th grade art teacher used a picture that I was drawing as an example of "exactly what not to do."

What about multiplayer?

You get lonely, being the only human in a potentially infinite world. Thus, multiplayer began to catch my interest. It started off on my friend's personal server, where I first struck a decent amount of ores and diamonds. People were playing the game with me, we could talk and trade and interact. The game wasn't so empty anymore, it suddenly felt much more alive. My buildings were still only just more than hollow blocks, but then we all worked together to build a large waterslide. That waterslide was the first time I had actually built something that wasn't just a cube, unless you count hollowing out large rooms inside a mountain.

Then I moved on to another friend's server. It was peaceful mode, but you still had to mine and dig to get materials. My friend had this huge thing built, I think he called it Iron Forge, and it was incredible. I decided to build my house in the nether. Made mostly of obsidian, iron, and lapis lazuli, with a little bit of gold and diamond, it could withstand a ghast attack if we ever left peaceful.

That server was nice for a while, but then Minecraft updated and the server didn't.

Time to move elsewhere once again.

This time, I learned the true meaning of "dedicated server." I found a little place, once known as CrypticCraft, called BlanketCraft. It was only around for a couple months, but I developed a few good friendships and had many good times. The server was owned by a guy who operated under the username Drip_N_Blood. He was pretty chill, but this wasn't always a good thing, as he was too lenient with punishments. We had a local troll. Sadly, he was fed, and got worse and worse. This went on until he crashed the server via Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. From there, everything just went downhill, and BlanketCraft bit the dust.

Oh, I almost forgot, I had become a staff member there. I spent a good couple months as a moderator, then was promoted to administrator just a day or two before it all went to hell.

That's not the end of that story, though. More on it later.

What can you do if you get bored of the game?

Other than stop playing, you mean? Because that's the obvious answer. The not-so-obvious answer, though, comes from the greater Minecraft community in the form of client modifications (hereafter simply called mods).

People have done amazing things with this game, and not just building. There exists a part of the community that develops additional things to go into the game. This is where I looked next, as I had a hard time finding a new server but singleplayer was kind of dull.

Amazing things were discovered.

I found so many mods that it made my head spin. There was one that shrunk blocks down to just an eighth of the normal size so that you could make intricate decor, another one that added clay soldiers who would fight each other...

And then I found the Yogbox.

The Yogbox is a compilation of mods, compiled by (of course) the Yogscast. It added new ores, new monsters, new pets, new things to explore and build... It's an excellent piece of work, except it isn't. It's many excellent pieces of work merely combined into one downloadable package. The new monsters made things difficult again. Elemental creepers are pure evil, and the giants make even a house not-so-safe. Oh, you're hiding? Allow me to SMASH YOUR HOUSE TO PIECES.

In short, the modding community does a lot for the game, and some things that were once mods now have a place in vanilla Minecraft. Pistons, villagers, and cats are the first three things which come to mind, but I know there's more (oh, and shears!).

Did you ever go back to multiplayer?

In fact, I did. Not too long after BlanketCraft was shut down, my sister told me of a server that she enjoyed. I figured "What the heck, I'll give it a go." and was soon happily in a community once again. I will not name the server due to moral issues that will be explained later, but I am still in contact with several of the people that I met through this server.

Before long, MineCraft was not played much by me anymore...

The Floozie

My relationship with MineCraft was interrupted. On the server that I joined, someone asked a lot of people if they had ever played Terraria, a similar and yet so different game, because he was starting a server for it. I had heard about it from a friend at school previously, and thought I'd give it a try.

Terraria is a two-dimensional game, also taking place in a world made of blocks. The worlds are not nearly infinite in size, but they have a much greater depth and height limit. There are several bosses, colored torches,    wires, lights, candles, and so many weapons.

And factional warfare.

I was the leader of The Empire, a benevolent king who built his own castle by hand. The guy who started the server, xNightCrest (though just NightCrest in Terraria), was the leader of the Rebels. They had a "secret" entrance to their hideout from MY pub!

The thing with two dimensions is nothing can really be a secret for long.

There were also the Jungle and the Corrupt factions. The Jungle faction was peaceful unless trifled with, and the Corrupt faction was vile. So vile that there were plans for the Rebels and the Empire to join forces to take out a common enemy. Then we decided to break away from factions (oh, I was a staff member by this point).

Ponies

While working to run the Terraria server with Night, I discovered that he watched My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. An 18 year old male watched a show that many, many people understand to be for little girls.

The argument that I could not insult the show without having seen at least one episode was presented to me. I deemed it a valid point. That night, I watched the first episode.

But it was a two-part episode, so I watched part two as well. Couldn't judge it until I saw the end, right?

What was going through my head as I watched?

"What is this? I thought guys weren't supposed to like this show... WHY ARE THE CHARACTERS SO ADORABLE AND LOVABLE?!?!"

I struggled throughout the episode with the fact that I was enjoying it. But then I admitted defeat to Night, and watched three additional episodes before going to sleep.

The Return of Drip

The Terraria server was paired with the Minecraft server that I met Night on, and one day I got on the Minecraft server to see how things were going. You'll never (haha, you probably will) guess who was on.

Drip_N_Blood.

But something was wrong. He was making demands to staff members. And he was an unregistered user. And his demands were being met.

Shortly after, the owner's wife got on and banned him.

I learned that he was DDoSing the server. Had been for a week or so by then. Things got confusing for me very fast.

Any of you remember when I changed my phone number? Yeah. This is why.

Drip had done this to a few other servers as well, and had (has?) an open FBI case against him, as this sort of thing is actually very illegal. It completely shuts down the internet of the target.

Since I didn't want to be associated with a guy who was wanted, and he had my phone number, I changed it.

People change. It sucks.

So what happened between you and Minecraft?

Well, Terraria development ended while there was still a lot of bugs with multiplayer. And then our server software also stopped development.

Basically, Terraria died.

Along with our new admin, XenonX, Night and I started plans for our own Minecraft server. Night had some issues with the owner of the community, and we decided to close down the Terraria server and break away from the community entirely. Start our own Minecraft server.

It took a couple weeks of preparation to get the server plugins working properly, but we started and were soon running a server without a hitch. We wound up keeping a few other staff from the Terraria server as well.

Suddenly, a wild monkey appears!

A monkey wrench can be thrown into your plan at any time, and without warning. The owner of the old server, who will remain unnamed (like his server), found out about our server. Due to us having some of the same plugins, using the same (default) color scheme for our website, and using a popular method of registration that he also uses, he threatened to take legal action.

He was going to sue Night for taking his intellectual property. His intellectual property that a LOT of other people created.

Logic? None.

Since then, I have learned that this particular person uses donations to his server to pay off his bills. You know what Night does with donations to his server?

Upgrades the server.

Hell, he upgrades the server with money out of his own pocket, too. He's still something like $150 in the hole  because of our server.

What do you do in Minecraft currently?

Anyway, once the whole lawsuit threat blew over, things went pretty much back to normal. Currently I am playing on (and helping run) EverfreeCraft (server ip: mc-everfreecraft.info) and having a blast. I've gotten my girlfriend to start playing Minecraft with me, and she enjoys it more than I thought she would. Probably more than she thought she would, too.

She and I will be building a castle soon, though with what I've learned about some current plans for the server, we might have to delay it a bit more.

I'm also playing Tekkit with a few friends on a dedicated private-ish server. Tekkit is a mod pack, it comes with the same launcher as the Yogbox, that allows you to completely industrialize Minecraft. You can get a nuclear reactor running, you can have computers that mine for you, etc. It's some pretty incredible stuff.

Well, if you read this whole thing, congratulations! I'll try not to put so much time between my posts from now on, seeing as my last one was August 2011.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A bit belated, but... Camp 2011!

Good thing this is my own blog, and I can make it as long as I need it! Enjoy the novel, if you choose!

Monday

I woke up and packed, because I didn't really do it ahead of time. I sort of only did my laundry Sunday night, and I left everything I'd need in a jumbled mess outside of my room. I also made a posting on Facebook, and successfully Rick Roll'd Braden before leaving for camp.
We had to travel to the camp in a Durham bus this year. Our own charter bus was used to ferry the Seattle group to the camp, and it actually broke down in Ritzville... Many thanks to Durham for letting us use their bus for free the entire week (well, we paid for gas)!
Got to camp, and was a little disappointed to find out that I was not going to be in a room with my friends (though I wound up making new friends, so I won't complain anymore). Lunch was... I don't remember. It was good. All the food that week was good. End of story about the food haha. Until Thursday.
Saw Sabrina and Rachael for the first time in a year! It was great to see them again, and I hung out with them a lot of camp.
Team games today were just coming up with our names and a cheer. I was on Team 1, who came up with the name Sumo Cupids, and our cheer was Godzilla or something. I don't remember. I had to pee so bad throughout the entire thing that I literally just ran out as soon as our cheer was done. Totally did not realize that there were now bathrooms in the gym (where we were) so I ran to the main dorms like mad, almost mowing someone over in the process. Wound up missing most of the team cheers, and the ones I was there for I mostly didn't understand.
After that was dinner, and then free time until chapel. Can't remember for the life of me what I did during that time. Probably talked with my friends Cameron, Braden and Trevor (and a few others... I think that's right...).
Chapel was amazing. If you've ever been to church camp, you know that the last night usually has the most intense worship. Well, not to brag or anything, but our first night was similar to what most people would expect on the last night of camp, and it only got better each night. The sermon, I can't recall what passage was used (I really only remember the worship, and for the sermons throughout this week I'm going to rely on whatever notes I may have scribbled down), but it boiled down to what love truly is. God is love. It's not that we love Him, it's that God love(d/s) us enough to send His Son to die for us.
At some point during all the worship, I prayed for healing for my best friend and older sister. Probably at multiple points. I also kept record of another prayer, asking God to help me become the man He wants me to be.
Night games were improv and planning for our infomercial. I didn't go up for improv, I would have entirely screwed it up for my team.
Sleep was difficult. Freshmen and sophomores aren't the best roommates when you want to sleep.

Holy cow that was long, and that was just Monday!

Tuesday

Woke up, ate breakfast. It took a bit longer than usual, haha, mostly due to the number of students practically doubling from previous years.
Morning chapel. I only wrote down one sentence from that morning, so it must have been good. I write less if I'm too captivated by the sermon to remember to take notes. "We must show love to all, whether close friends and family, or those who have mistreated us."
In room devotions, our room counselor asked us to share when someone has demonstrated their love for us. I shared about when Bethany spent an entire night until maybe three in the morning talking to me and helping me get through a very difficult time. Even now, what she did back then means so much to me.
Paintball!! I only went out once, and it was for team games, and I was shot right in the eye (had a mask, don't worry) before I had a chance to hit anyone else. Brendan, one of my team counselors, couldn't see where I was hit, even though it was obvious. :p Sorry Brendan, I'll never let you live that down.
Then we discussed more for our infomercial, though it wasn't filmed (mostly) until that evening after dinner. Sort of changed the plan, I now played the role of a Morman with three wives! You had to see it, it was pretty funny. I think that will be the only time a girl actually *lets* me shove an egg into her forehead. Possibly the only time I'll ever do it, but who knows. But now this is out of order, as that was filmed right before dinner...
I just hung out at the camp after lunch, waited until 4, which is when my team agreed to meet to film. Jordan (the cameraman, who deserves much respect) was busy though, so we helped fill water balloons for Water Wednesday. We only got to filming at about 15 minutes before dinner.
Evening chapel was intense. Everyone was asked to lay down their fears, anxiety, depression, doubts, etc. and just surrender entirely to God. The sermon was about two things, if I'm following my notes correctly. A: Love is a decision. I have to wake up each morning and choose to love God, to live for Him. 2: The camp speaker talked about how Jacob wrestled with God all night, and wouldn't give up until God blessed him. We were asked to pick a friend who we know (i/wa)sn't saved and to pray for their salvation in earnest.
There were no night games on Tuesday. Thank the Lord for that one. I was dead tired.

Wednesday

I'm just gonna skip straight to team games, because all I wrote down during morning chapel was the chorus from the song "Dear X (You Don't Own Me)" by Disciple. Great song. I love it. Until further notice, it's my favorite song.
Water games. This includes everyone's favorite, TUBE MADNESS. Plus a water balloon version of Capture the Flag, a waterslide relay, and an interesting mix of Dodgeball, Capture the Flag, and a pool that we call Poolboy. My team won half and lost half. It was tons of fun, though!
Oh, and by this time, the mosquitoes were killing me. I finally stopped using bug repellent, and they didn't bite me nearly as much, but I had several bites swell up larger than 50-cent coins. Apparently my body chemistry decides to attract bugs when I'm wearing repellent, and to repel them when I'm not. =/
Went swimming (both sessions, though the first I was hardly swimming) after lunch. The first session I hung out with Cameron, and after he left to go do something I played my ocarina by the lakeside and drank my huckleberry milkshake. Second session, Rachael was there and we hung out, got into the lake, had a ton of fun. There was a lot of discussion about some sort of dinosaur group, and digesting (figuratively literally) my resume to get into it. In the end I got kicked out permanently. :p Gotta love friends with an imagination haha. That was a blast.
After dinner Rachael and I talked a bit. We didn't really get to know each other much last year, so we talked and got to know each other, and just had a real great time (well, I did at least. I hope she did lol).
Wednesday night chapel was a tough time for me. The sermon was about the man who asked Christ (as they both hung on crosses) to remember him when He entered His kingdom. I am really curious as to where our camp speaker found the story of that man, I will have to ask him soon. Anyway... After that sermon, after learning about this man's life, all I could ask God was "Why will you save a murderer/thief, and yet you won't heal your own daughter?" I wasn't wondering why God would save the man, that's entirely understandable. But why won't he heal Bethany? I'm still looking for that answer. Worship continued on after the sermon, but all I did was pray and cry. I was so confused. I didn't, and still don't, understand. Eventually it got to the point where I felt freezing. And in a room full of more than 100 teenagers passionately worshiping God, that's quite something. Especially when you consider that I thrive in temperatures that most people would deem chilly. I walked out of the Chapel, confused and thirsty. I wasn't walking right. It was a struggle to get from the chapel to the restroom's water fountain, and that isn't a far walk. I don't even know how to describe how I was walking, apart from it wasn't right. There was this weird twitchy thing going on with my arms, and once or twice I grabbed my head, bent over and growled/grunted/something along those lines. Weirdest thing ever.
I saw someone from my church who I look up to, a fellow named Matt, and I asked to talk to him. Though it sounded very choppy, and it was hard to speak. Before we started talking, he told me that he had been expecting me. And while I didn't realize it that night, I know now the answer to my question (sort of...), because Matt gave an answer and he had been expecting me. That can only mean God intended for me to talk to him.
I asked Matt why. Through the sobs, and the gravelly voice, and my odd head-grabbing and bending over deal, I asked him why God wouldn't heal my older sister. He said he didn't know. He also told me, though, of Daniel, who once prayed for something for three weeks before he realized that God had answered him on the first night of his prayer, and the angel who spoke to him after three weeks took so long because he had to fend off the prince of Persia (I can only assume that name refers to a demon of some sort, one of great strength).
I was aching all over, and I was still freezing. Matt had me stand up, and he popped my back (it popped in at least 10 different places), and I didn't walk oddly anymore. But still I ached, and was freezing. I went back into the chapel, and prayed for a friend who was crying as much or more than I had been. It seemed to calm my friend down (and I will not name the person. I am fairly certain that this is not my story to share, so what was wrong (which I would find out Thursday) and who it was will remain a mystery to all of you).
Oh, I neglected to mention that at this point, my room had been vandalized. Someone went in and grabbed someone's duct tape, a bunch of people's stuff, and duct taped it all around the room. Walls, ceiling, etc. They even taped the toilet (and then someone used said toilet... I'm just glad I never saw the result of that). My stuff somehow escaped notice, and was just fine.
Anyway, after chapel I went back to the room and just laid down. I was sweating up a storm, and it was at about this time that I realized I had a fever. That explained the aches and the chills. But our room was flooded with staff who were trying to figure out who did it, and the lights didn't go off until 2 or 3 in the morning. Not good for someone who is sick. I slept a grand total of 4 hours.

Thursday

What a day. I spent most of the day in bed, sweating, sick. Breakfast, I ate a little bit of cantaloupe. I tried sticking out morning chapel, but by the time worship was done I just had to go back to bed. Pastor Joel excused me from games. I missed lunch. I almost went home. But with just 10 minutes to spare, I felt better. No more fever. Pastor Joel gave me the okay to stay the remainder of the camp. Second session of swimming was over at this point, and I had to practice for the gong show with my team. Dinner has never tasted so good. It was teriyaki chicken, and it was the only real meal I had that day.
I took no notes during the Thursday night sermon, and I can't remember it at all. Worship was crazy. I talked to my friend whom I had prayed for the previous night and discovered what was ailing them, though I was unable to help at all that night. That friend wept so hard and so long.... Once again I was confused as to why God didn't help this person, and later that night it finally occurred to me that Matt had given the answer I believe I need. Though I was never able to share with my friend. I only pray that it is the answer.
The Gong Show was crazy, and I don't remember too much, except for Rachael's team doing a dance to a Frank Sinatra song. That song was stuck in my head for days. FOR DAYS.
The skits that my group did aren't worth mentioning. One was gonged, the other received low scores from all except the camp speaker (IIRC).

Friday

Ate breakfast, watched the camp DVD. Props to Cameron and whoever else put it together. They only got one hour of sleep on Thursday night/Friday morning. Rachael and I decided that she's my little sister and I'm her older brother! That was the highlight of my morning.
I then proceeded to pack, and cleaning assignments were given to most of the people in my room. A few others and I were told to just sit tight. We then had our bags searched, because over the course of the week, 3 iPods, an MP3 Player, and about $65 were stolen from my room. Nobody else had that issue. It was assumed someone from our room did it. Nobody had the goods. So I said my final goodbyes to my Yakima friends, Rachael, Sabrina, and Aust(i? e?)n, and we left. It was great to finally get home.

If you actually read this entire thing, you were either at camp, or you just love me. Or you think "religious experiences" are a joke and you wanted to laugh (you know who you are). Or you were bored and had nothing better to do than to read my novella of a blog. Or you were tagged in my Facebook post (which probably means that one or both parts of the first sentence in this paragraph applies to you). Whichever applies to you, I love you all! Thanks for reading! =)

Friday, January 7, 2011

"Silenced in the name of tolerance"

A man was fired from Home Depot. Why am I starting my blog with this? You will see when I get there.
The first amendment of our constitution gives us the right to freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. The fourteenth amendment says that individual groups of people can not be treated unequally.
Canada is not so lucky. They have banned discrimination against people based on sexual orientation. This means that Christians no longer have the right to believe the Bible in the many places where it says that homosexuality is a sin, in Canada, and speak out about it.
You're understanding this, right? It is ILLEGAL to be open about being a Bible-believing Christian in Canada, because that discriminates against homosexuals.
In 2008, an American author named Ted Dekker published a book called Sinner. This book is about Christianity being outlawed in America because it discriminates against other belief systems, as it says it is the ONLY right religion. The "Tolerance Act" outlined in the book repeals certain aspects of the first amendment, namely freedom of speech. The amendment, as it is in reality, says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The so-called "Tolerance Act" changed it to say: "... or abridging the freedom of any speech that does not publicly defame, slander, or libel another person's race, national origins, or religion; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble..."
Do you see what I'm getting at? It is only a fictional story, but today we are closer than ever to that becoming reality.
A worker at Home Depot was fired because he refused to take off a button on his work apron which said "One nation under God, indivisible." But homosexuality can freely be advocated on Home Depot work aprons. ( http://www.afa.net/Detail.aspx?id=2147497324 )
Anybody who has heard this story already may also note that the incident of this man being fired and the allowance of homosexual advocation are not the same incident. However, the fact remains that someone working at Home Depot can not wear a button which says "God" on it but people can openly wear an entire apron devoted to a LGBT film festival.
It may also be noted that they offered to let him wear a different button, which said "United We Stand." Still patriotic, right? But what about this man's personal beliefs in God? Why can others' personal beliefs be all over their aprons, but he can't have a single button for his?
( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33505354/ns/business-local_business/ )
Equal rights do not happen by reversal. We Christians are now the ones who are persecuted in this country, because of our beliefs. And that fire is fed by people like the Westboro Baptists, who claim to be Christians, but they preach a message of hate rather than what the Bible is *really* about, which is love.
I was told recently on a status of mine on Facebook, by a friend of mine, that people didn't really care what I thought seeing as I'm just an ordinary person. That can no longer be said. People will care that I believe homosexuality is wrong, even though I also believe that as a Christian it is my duty to love all others, not just those who agree with me, and not just those who don't sin (but who is sinless other than Christ, anyway?). People will care that I believe in a God who claims to be the only God, and the only way to Heaven. And I run the risk, in the future, of being fired from a job for being a Christian.
Home Depot will not have my business. Not now, not in the future, unless they should decide to reinstate Trevor and allow his button to be displayed, or until the equality goes the other way and other personal view things such as advertisements for the LGBT film festival are also against company policy. Until things are made equal, I refuse to give them my business.
"Sinner tells the story of a free land where people who worship as they please and say what they believe are suddenly silenced in the name of tolerance" (taken from the synopsis on the back of the book). And America is working on making that story a reality.
I will stand for my beliefs. This is the land of the FREE. I am free to believe what I wish. And if the day comes that I am no longer legally allowed to stand up for Christianity, for Jesus Christ and the message he had, and for the Bible, I will become a criminal, because I absolutely refuse to change my beliefs.