Religion.

This wasn’t the post I had planned for this morning.  I was actually going to write something very different.

But before settling down to write, I stumbled upon a video by SoulPancake.  Those of you that have been with me for awhile know I really like this organization, and I often look to their book for prompt ideas.  This particular video is titled “Do we need religion?”, and well, it made me happy.

As a Christian, I believe it is important to hear other people’s perspective on religion.  I think it is important to understand why they believe what they believe.

Do we need religion?

You know, I think human beings, in their very essence, desire something to put their faith into.  People put faith in science, in reason, in other people, even in the human race, and in god-like deities.  And its from that faith that religion is born.  I understand religion to be the act living out that faith, and doing life with other people with the same faith.

I am not a Christian because my parents are, or because my grandparents are.  I’m not a Christian because I’ve been going to a church my whole life.  I am a Christian because I, myself, have faith that Jesus Christ is who He says He is.  I am a Christian because I, myself, have faith that the Bible is the living, breathing Word of God.  And I am a Christian because I, myself, believe in God.

Like many of the people in the video, I believe that religion helps people make sense of their world, and it adds meaning to their life.  And I believe that religions helps anchor people.  My life has felt rather messy and out-of-control at times, and other people can be really quite mean about religion (particular Christianity).  And when I question and doubt, sometimes seriously, there is always some indescribable thing that calms my mind and heart, and guides me back.  My faith in God and living out my Christian religion always seems to re-balance and re-settle me.

And I am sure that is the same for every other religion.

The conversation of religion always opens the door for “right” and “wrong” labeling.  I know some Christians who are content to adamantly claim other religions (or lack thereof) are wrong, and are more than willing to say so.  This is not meant to be a theological discussion, or a lesson on evangelism.  But no one wants to be told what they believe is wrong; they stop listening to what you have to say.

Yes, as a Christian, I believe my faith is “right”, and I believe that there is ample enough proof, outside of the Bible.  But Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, even Agnostics and Atheists believe their faith (or ideologies) are “right”.  If they didn’t believe that, they wouldn’t have faith in it, right?

I believe in God, and at my former job, I have a friend who believes there is no God.  We know each other’s beliefs, but we are still friends.  I think this is so important, because at the end of the day, we are just trying to understand our world, all the horrible, tragic, and good.

In Christian teachings, we are supposed to bring unbelievers to God, but we are supposed to do it through love.  We believe our faith has eternal consequences, and if we ask you to come to church with us, it isn’t (mainly) because we think what you believe is wrong.  We ask you because we love you and care about you, and we want to spend eternity with you.  We pray for you, because we love you.  We do life with you, because we care about you.  And we share our faith with you because we want you to experience Heaven with us.

Do we need religion?

I think so.  I think religion gives us hope.  It gives us something to look to when life gets hard and bad things seem to press in from every side.  It gives us something to put our trust in when people do bad things.

I think we need religion because we need faith.

What do you think?

Ciao for now,

Julia

(P.S. I apologized this felt rather unstructured.  These are my unfiltered thoughts.  Plus, the more I wrote, the more I realized I could probably split this topic into a few other posts.  We’ll see what happens.)

 

 

Comfy shows for rest and relaxation ….

Hey guys, I feel like its been so long.  I’ve had a veeery loooong week.  I started my new job this week, finished up my shifts at my old job, and had a few finals.  I worked a little over 40 hours this week, and got maybe 10 hours of sleep total Wednesday and Thursday night.  My new job is a lot of running and standing and fast working, which is not an environment I am used to.  Plus, I did some intensive weeding in my family’s garden last night.

My body hurts and my energy levels are practically non-existent.

All I desperately want to do is curl up with a fuzzy blanket and binge watch Netflix shows, for hours on end.  My mom and I have recently stumbled upon “comfy” murder mysteries.  We are currently watching Father Brown, with Mark Williams (from Harry Potter and Doctor Who).  It is fun, light-hearted, touching, and not nearly as intense your typical crime show.  The stories are based off of the characters created by G. K. Chesterton, and are set in 1940’s English countryside. 

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But our most favorite is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.  We discovered it purely by chance, and pretty much watched all three seasons in about five days.  It’s simply wonderful.  It’s set in late 1920’s Australia.  Phryne Fisher is an incredible rebellious modern woman; detective, driver, flirtatious single woman.  She causes ruckus, gets into trouble, but has an incredible heart.  Plus, her relationship with lead detective, Jack Robinson, is a heck of a lot of fun to watch. 

This show only has three seasons, and it seems it could be awhile until anything new is added.  However.  There is rumored to be a movie in the works, and Mom and I are so excited.

These are the shows I fall to when I’m so tired, and want something fun to curl up to. 

What do you do when you’ve had a long week, and really want to relax?

Ciao for now,

Julia

(P.S. I promise, my regular material will resume on Monday.)

 

Summer Music

 

I love good music, the kind of music that reaches deep into your soul, and makes you feel alive.  The kind of music that is created by true musicians and presented with tangible passion.  (Have I mentioned yet that I can’t stand modern pop music? And for multiple reasons …..)

When summer rolls around, I find myself longing for and searching for, good music.   I should be studying for a major final right now, but oh well.  When I woke up this morning, I laid in my bed for a good long while, discovering new and amazing artists. 

I’ve recently discovered NPR Tiny Desk Sessions on YouTube, and let me tell you what, I have a tendency to fall down that rabbit hole really quick. 

Here are some of the artists I’m currently jammin’ to, and will be listening to quite a lot over the summer.

Joseph

 

Tank and the Bangs  (My favorite song starts at 13:55)

 

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

 

Avery*Sunshine

 

I’m also getting into Mariachi Flor de Toloache, Phox, and Lianne LeHavas.  My brothers have been sharing The Dead South with the family, and we all really like Nathaniel Ratliff and the Night Sweats.

It’s probably time for me to go study, but I’d love to know, what kind of music are you listening to this summer?

Ciao for now,

Julia

 

An end and a beginning.

Yesterday, I handed in my two weeks’ notice at my job.  Tomorrow I start orientation for my new job.  Next week, I have finals.  And in four months, I transfer to my next college to finish my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.  A chapter is ending.  A new adventure is beginning.

I’ve spent the past two years going to the local community college, and working at a local grocery store.  In a way, it feels fitting that as I finish my time at this college, I move on to another job.

Resigning from my job is not a new idea.  For several months, I have been toying with the idea of leaving.  The things I could tolerate when I first started this job, I no longer can.  I even sent out a few applications last September.

Compared to my very first job, this second job at the grocery store was a million times better.  But now, as my list of frustrations grow, this new job stands miles above my current.

As I was venting frustration after a day of work recently, my brother happened to comment that what I was saying were similar things, if not the same, from when I resigned from my first.  Through my frustration, I could see he was right.  But I began to realize, that like everything, my job was good for a season.

I am beginning to realize that everything happens for a season, and for a reason.   I was in a relationship recently, that was very brief.  But though it was brief, I believe it was very important.  It revealed a lot of important things.  And I see my soon-to-be former job in the same light.  I have learned a lot from my coworkers, my managers, and even my customers, and thus am trying not to only view the job, and the past two years, through the lens of current frustrations and angers.

I’ve learned what true compassion and love looks like.  I’ve learned how to understand people, and then how to appreciate them.  I’ve learned to swallow my pride, and to understand that I am just as important (or in some cases, just as unimportant) as my fellow employees.  I’ve learned how to face challenges, and what it truly means to think on my feet.  I’ve learned the importance of expectations, and the importance of standards.  I’ve learned the true importance of following through, and fighting for things I want.

Through on-going issues in management, I am learning the importance of clarity and communication between leadership.  I am learning the sour taste that comes from managerial favoritism.  I am learning the awkwardness and helplessness that comes double standards and hypocrisy in management.

From all of the issues combined, I am learning that if a situation is frustrating, it is on me to fix it.  I am learning that if I ask and ask for more responsibilities or different positions, it is on me to initiate the conversation, and to follow through.  But most importantly, I am learning, that if after I have done that and nothing has changed (or has even gotten worse), it is my responsibility to leave.

I began learning this is in the fall-out of my relationship, and I am learning it even more now: If a situation is directly affecting my sanity, attitude, and future, it is my responsibility to change that.  My well-being should be my main focus.

Something I say to myself, when I am really struggling with a situation, is this: What is more important to you; your sanity and future, or …………. (fill in the blanks)?. When I was in the relationship, it was: What is more important to you; your sanity and future, or not hurting someone’s feelings?  And while struggling with the frustrations of my job: What is more important to you; your sanity and future, or the friends you’ve made and the “comfort” of a job you’ve had for several years?

There should be no shame in leaving a job.  There should be no shame in admitting, “This just isn’t going to work anymore.”.  There should be no shame and no guilt, in searching for a job that better suits your needs and wants, one that will work better with your sanity and future.  There should be no shame or guilt in leaving a relationship that isn’t working.  There should be shame in leaving a situation that is having a negative impact on your well being.

In this moment, typing this on my back porch, in the spring twilight, the importance of this idea is being driven into my heart.  It’s true, though, isn’t it?

I think, sometimes, we put too much stock in how we affect other people.

I had originally planned to resign in August, when I move in to my new campus.  However, the situation at work was becoming so unbearable, that I decided now was the time.  I picked up applications a week and a half ago.  I returned them the middle of last week.  That day, I had the initial interview, and the next, I had the second.  By the time I left that second interview, I had orientation already scheduled.  It all moved rather fast, but as I have been praying for peace and guidance in this situation, I feel peace that this is the right decision.

I am so thankful for this new job that understands my time restraint for over the summer, and then my minimal availability for the new school year.  I am so thankful that this new job is able to provide me with the hours I have been asking for, for months.  I am so thankful that this job allows me to work, as I want to, in order to further build up funds for college.  I am so thankful that this new job provides me with responsibilities and challenges, which is something I have been desiring for a long time.

After my second interview, I told my mom that this new job feeds more mature.  After talking with the managers during the interviews, this new job seems to be exactly what I’ve been wanting for so long.

My time at my current job is coming to an end. When I work these final times, my shifts will be chock full of good-byes and “last times”.  It’s bittersweet and my heart is grieving.  I will miss the friends I have made, and the experiences I’ve had (potential robberies, scandals, even my first social study).  It was at this job that I brain-stormed (rather important) plot progressions for my story and I formed post ideas (some even published, others in the works).  This job has been crucial to my growth as a young adult, a worker, a thinker, a writer, and even as a Christian.  I am forever grateful.  However, I am looking forward to this new job, and even my new school, with anticipation and excitement.  I am excited for the new opportunities and experiences.

A chapter in my life is coming to a close.  A new adventure, bold and brilliant, is beginning before me.

The future is bright, and I am ready.

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Collection of Beautiful Things (V)

Spring is breaking into my corner of the world in a beautiful display.  The sun is warm, the sky is blue, the grass is soft, the trees are green, and the flowers are bursting forth in glorious fireworks of color.  The air is fragrant with the smells of spring; exposed soil, rain, warmth, flowers.  With spring comes this (almost) overwhelming desire to sit outside with a book all day, and ignore all responsibilities.

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year.   I like the feeling of rebirth and renewal, the anticipation summer freedom, and the excitement of campfires and spending evenings outside.  Spring is when my bedroom windows are open (almost) all day, everyday.  Spring is when I wake up to birdsong and fall asleep to the smell of twilight.

Spring is when everything is beautiful and wonderful, rosy and romantic.

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What are some of your favorite, beautiful things during Springtime?

Ciao for now,

Julia

Passengers, I condemn you.

Before I say what I believe needs to be said, I want you to know that this is coming from a place of truthful compassion and understanding, with self-reflective sadness, and not a place of aggression or judgment.

But.

Passengers of the United Airlines Flight that were witnesses to the horrific removal of Dr. Dao from his seat: I condemn you.  I condemn you just as much as the airline itself is being condemned.  I condemn you, because instead of standing up for, and fighting for Dr. Dao, you simply stayed in your seats, recorded the scene, and made comments.  I condemn you because you could have done so much more.  I condemn you because you were bystanders who had the power to save, and you chose not to.

In all the articles I have read about this situation, from Dr. Dao’s troubled past, to the incident, and even the aftermath, no where are any names of any saviors mentioned.  There are names of those who uploaded the videos.  There are names of those who made comments.  There are the three names of the other passengers forced to relinquish their seats.  But no where are there written names, or provided evidence, of any person on that flight, trying to save Dr. Dao.  And if there is no evidence, then I believe it is not a far stretch to assume there was no saving.  And if that is the case, then truly, passengers, you are to be condemned.

In school, we are taught that there are bullies, victims, and bystanders.  And we are taught that the bystanders are just as bad as the bully if they do not try to stop the abuse.  In this situation, it seems the bystanders, the passengers, were just as bad as the bullies.  In fact, I would even wager that they are worse than the bully, because they recorded it.  They pulled out their phones, and recorded this man’s suffering, without trying to save him.  And if, passengers, your excuse is that you were told to remain in your seats by the airline staff, than I would say this situation is a textbook example of Stanley Milgram’s shock experiment.

Please understand me, I believe you when you say you are good people.  I believe you.  Many of you may go to church, are parents, help the community, etc.  But this “good” should be evident in all situations, not just in “good” ones.  If you are truly good, staying in your seat must have upset your conscious.  Of course, if I was in that situation, staying in my seat would have really upset me.  But, I would have found it very hard to stand up as well.  Passengers, true soul-deep “goodness” would inspire a person to leap out of their seat, and fight with a flaming sword to protect a man being abused.

I condemn United Airlines for overbooking the flight.  (I know firsthand the effects of that.). I condemn them for giving priority to employees of a partner line.  I condemn them for picking people at random, and forcing them to give up their seats.  I condemn them for then forcibly removing Dr. Dao from his seat.  And I condemn you, passengers of this United Airlines flight, because you did nothing,

What happened to respect?  What happened to caring for every life?  What happened to the responsibility of taking care of other people, especially in a situation where they can’t take care of themselves?  What happened to standing up for other people, and addressing abuse in a horrible situation?  What happened to the responsibility of a bystander to stand up for the victim?  Has this responsibility truly changed to spectatorship, when the accepted behavior is to record a situation, instead of trying to fix it?  And would Dr. Dao be in the hospital if someone had stood up for him?  What would have happened if the entire plane stood up for him?  This situation feels eerily similar to Kitty Genovese.

It seems this responsibility of bystanders has become completely ignored.  People who were witness to a horrible interaction between people, are asked for any videos, instead of being asked if they did anything to stop it.  As a psychology major, a young woman, and a gentle heart, this change terrifies, upsets, and disgusts me.

If I was in a similar situation, yes, I would find it very hard to stand between a bully and their victim.  I would feel as if I was standing before a giant with only a small stone in my hand.  I would wrestle hard inside myself to find the courage and strength to get out of my seat, and stand between the United Airlines men and Dr. Dao.  But, I would be utterly disgusted with myself if I choose to record the situation instead.  I would know that no amount of recording could save a man’s life.

Passengers, I condemn you.  I am pointing an accusatory finger at you.  You could have done so much, but instead, did so little.  However, while pointing at you, four fingers are pointing back at me.  Your lack of action has made me self-reflect, which I thank you for.  Let’s see that as the silver lining; this horrible situation is causing self-reflection.

Passengers, I condemn you just as much as Untied Airlines.  Every life deserves a savior, and you, you who watched and recorded and complained, you did nothing.

Shepherd by Crowder (ASL)

I have mentioned many times that I am working on a couple of big projects.  And finally, one is finished!! I’ve very excited to share this with you guys, and I hope it touches you, or inspires you in someway.

I have been learning (American) sign language for a little less than a year, and I have fallen in love with it.  One of my favorite ways to practice, is to sign along to my favorite worship songs.  I hope to make this an on-going series, as I really think it helps me both improve my skills, and better understand the Deaf community.

One of my most favorite bands of all times is Crowder (formerly David Crowder), and this song is one of my favorites of the newest album, American Prodigal.  I hope you enjoy! 🙂

Ciao for now,

Julia

Happy Easter!! He is Risen, hallelujah!!