So, my last blog told a story that never happened to me. For balance, here's a story that did:
When I was 16, the first semester of my Junior year of high school, I was hospitalized. For three days and four nights, I got my own room and a bed. It wasn't quite the vacation that that last sentence makes it sound. I was on a liquid diet, which is one of the worst things in the world. My disgusting breakfast consisted of lemon jello and vegetable stock. My tasteless lunch was cherry jello and beef stock. Dinner was the most enjoyable "meal," which consisted of orange jello and chicken stock. To this day, I can't eat jello.
I was there for an ulcer, which basically means my stomach was bleeding. They use to think that it was only caused by stress, but they found a virus that causes it, which is what I had, and which explains why such a young person had an ulcer (as difficult as Junior year of hih school was, it's not quite ulcer-inducing).
It was a very weird day when I was rushed to the hospital. I was helping my mom's friend move, but I wasn't much help because my stomach was hurting terribly the whole time. When we got home, I remember pouring myself some water one minute and then waking up one the ground the next minute, the back of my head and elbows in pain apparently from hitting the floor. I went downstairs to get ready to go to the hospital. In the parking lot, I threw up. Blood.
On the way to the hospital, I was praying, as I'm sure most Christians would in my situation. My prayer wasn't really that I would get there safely or for healing. I and my possibly overdramatic 16-year-old mind were pretty sure that I was going to die. And I was alright with that. I was praying more for my mom, who would have been completely dismayed if I did die.
I was completely fine with the thought of dying, even at such a young age. God had given me an amazing peace. I knew that if He wanted to take me out of this life, He would take me to be with Him. I probably had every right to be freaking out at that moment, but God gave me peace. Now, more than 7 years later, I'm filled with worry and anxiety all around me instead of trusting in God's provision and accepting His peace. I pray that I--and you--would find peace in God in the midst of life's trials.
"do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:6-7
Thursday, January 28, 2010
So, my last blog told a story that never happened to me. For balance, here's a story that did:
Monday, January 25, 2010
Did I ever tell you about my dream job working at a gourmet restaurant? Oh, I didn't, eh? Well, let me tell you...
My story starts out quite some time ago. I had gotten hired to prepare desserts at the Nicaraguan Barbecue Cafe after the previous guy went to another restaurant (I think it was called the Cajun Bird Station). I was the dessert chef for quite some time. I always had my eye on the main course, though. I knew people didn't go to the restaurant for the dessert, as good as it was. I almost started considering going to other restaurants, until...
I was offered the job as head cook! I was uber excited. I had dreamed of it since I was a kid, always admiring the craft. It would be quite some time before I would take up the position, but I was promised that it would be mine. I waited for what must have been five years. I was so excited when I got the position! You have no idea. I was a little upset because the restaurant decided to hire the old head cook to prepare the appetizers, a move that many were skeptical about and would still have my creations following the previous chef's, but whatever. I had the job I wanted. So, there was a new line up. The old guy on first with the appetizers, I'd swoop in afterward with the main course, and then we hired this guy who once worked for the Siberian Noodle Lounge to take my place on desserts.
Well, this immediately didn't go too well. The appetizers turned out to be a very bad idea, and many people were so dissatisfied with it that they didn't stick around for the main course or desserts. The restaurant knew that it wasn't working with the old guy doing appetizers. Everybody suggested that he just put up his hat, that he'd worked there long enough and had his day. He had enough money to live off of, so he didn't need the work. The restaurant was fine all those years without appetizers anyway. I thought that this would be the logical plan of action.
However, the Nicaraguan Barbecue Cafe had different plans. They wanted to give the old guy his position back. I was flabbergasted! He was the one who drove off the clientele with his appetizers, and they were gonna kick me back to dessert?! Where's the logic in that? Many voiced their opinions that this was an even worse idea than the appetizers debacle. People from the Cajun Bird Station, as well as from another rival restaurant, the Asian Bowl Company, spoke out in my defense, and the people loved me. But the company had made their decision. After only 7 short months, the job was his again. I didn't think it'd be fair to bump the new guy without giving him a chance. So I decided I'd be the bigger man and just quit. As much as it hurt me, I knew it was the right thing to do for the restaurant. Who knows? Maybe you'll eventually see me at the French-Oriental Xanadu (I'm not sure why they named it that, but I suppose that's not too important).
So, that's my completely true and non-allegorical story of my tenure at a restaurant. It was my dream job and it was taken away from me by the guy who had already lived the dream but didn't want to give it up. But it's OK, they gave me a good severance package, and I'm a classy guy, so I took it like a champ and don't wish any ill will towards Jay--er, I mean the old guy.
And now, I leave you with a song that I feel is appropriate as a memorial to the short 7 months that I had at this job.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
So I joined this thing called the "One Word at a Time Blog Carnival." Basically, every other week, they give you a single word to blog about. I figured that this was a good thing for me since I vowed to blog twice a week (which was broken on Monday by work and preparing for school to start; sorry) and sometimes don't know what to write about. So I look on this list and the word for this 2 week period is "lust." I honestly thought about not joining the Blog Carnival for another week. Nobody wants to write about lust. There are more comfortable sins to write about, some where a person can point the finger and say, "Look at those people. Look at how they dishonor God." In some ways, it is easy to do that with this. I can say, "Look at Potiphar's wife, how she couldn't resist Joseph and gave in to her lusts," or "Look at David, and how he saw Bathsheba on the roof and had to have her."
It's easy to see these examples of lust and cross my arms and shake my head in disapproval. These people are long dead, but their deeds are immortalized in the words of Scripture. However, it doesn't take much digging in my life to bring to the surface times in which I've let my eyes wander. I may not have ripped off someone's robe or called a bathing woman to my bedchambers, but according to Jesus, I have committed adultery in my heart with more women that I care to count.
Keep reading in that passage, and it's clear that Jesus takes lust seriously. People don't usually advise that you mutilate your body for your own good, so it seems He's trying to get your attention.
Why is the lust of the eyes such a big deal to God? I have never claimed to know the mind of God, but something tells me that it's because He is a jealous God. He doesn't want us to take our eyes off of the Cross and put it on some man or woman. He doesn't want us to take our eyes off the Creator and put them on the things He's created. He wants all the glory.
We Christians can't ignore lust because we know what God says about it, but I think we have a flawed way of dealing with it. Instead of taking our eyes off of the people that He's created and putting them on Him, we try to put them on other solutions. There are internet filters. There are books. One such book, Every Young Man's Battle, suggests that if a young man catches himself looking at a young woman, he should "bounce," his eyes. Eyes diverted, crisis avoided. What this seems like to me is an attempt to be holy, minus Jesus. We think that by avoiding this sin, we're bringing ourselves closer to God through our actions. Isaiah 64:6 makes it clear that whatever good we try to do is insufficient.
Brothers and sisters, I pray that in whatever temptations that we will inevitably encounter, that we not forget the sacrifice that Christ gave so that we don't have to work to earn His grace, but that we are continually "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Here in the great United States of America, we are blessed with the right to free speech. Criminals are also given the right to remain silent. I think we too often practice the former and ignore the latter.
I'm sure everybody's heard about the devastating 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti on Tuesday. I'm sure a lot of people have also heard about televangelist Pat Robertson's comments on the earthquake. If you haven't, click here.
How Pat Robertson is still allowed on TV, I have no idea. How people listen to him is simply beyond me. This guy claims to be a man of God, yet some of the things he says make me question whether or not he has ever read the Bible or just makes one up as he goes. He gets on television and proclaims that God is getting back at the people of Haiti for something that they themselves had nothing to do with by sending an earthquake to kill thousands and hurt millions of others.
What a horrible misrepresentation of Christ of His Church! And one thing that pisses me off is when people look at Robertson and say things like, "Christianity at it's finest." When people think about Christians, this should not be the first thing that pops into their head. I and the Christians I know would not stare in the face of someone who just lost their family in an earthquake and tell them that it's their fault and the fault of their people. I and the Christians I know would not watch the Twin Towers fall down and say, "Well, you can blame the ACLU, the homosexuals, the abortionists, and the feminists for this one." I and the Christians I know are not represented by the likes of Pat Robertson.
It angers and saddens me that Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Fred Phelps have somehow become the faces of Christianity. The Church is supposed to be ambassadors for Christ. These yahoos do not stand for what Christ stands for. These are the very kinds of people Christ opposed. These people are quick to cast the first stone. I do not serve their god because they have created a god in their own image.
I pray that Christians around the world will be able to show the people of Haiti what the Church is really about. I pray that they don't see fingers pointed at them, but hands helping them up. I pray that God will show them how much He loves His creation by using us, His people, to care for those who need it.
Monday, January 11, 2010
I've made a point to pray on my way to and from work instead of listening to music. It's been a very good time of talking to my Father. I usually start by thanking Him for providing me with my job again, even though I often complain about it. This is the second time that He's used Harkins to answer my prayer request of a job, and for answering it, I am very thankful.
I, however, have never thanked Him for the customers I have to deal with on a regular basis. I suppose I can thank Him for sending these people to test my patience. What's that? You don't know what kind of people I deal with? If only there were a list of the types of customers that come into Harkins.... Oh, look I found:
The List of Annoying Harkins Customers
The Smoker: This guy comes up to me in box office. There's only a small opening so they can give me money and I can give them the ticket. But good gravy does this man's stench fly through that little space! I want to gag and tell him to step away and yell what movie he wants to see. And the stink lingers, too. Once, I went to clean the bathroom. I step in and I smell the pungent odor of cigarette, greatly overpowering the ungodly smells that a bathroom is supposed to have. This guy smelled so bad, he brought his stench from outside, walked through the lobby and into the bathroom, and left some odor for the poor defenseless usher to try to mask. I'm glad I don't have to sit next to this guy in the theater.
The Procrastinator: She likes to show up on busy days. There will be a long line of people waiting to get there concessions and go to their movie. While she's waiting in said line, do her eyes look up at the menu? Oh, no, there's too much socialization to be doing to spend time on that. There's really no need to look until they make it to the cashier. Not only does said cashier have to stand their as she says, "Um, let's see, what do I want?" He also has to deal with her vague requests for "some popcorn" or "a coke." "What size?" the cashier asks through clenched teeth. And if she asks for layered butter....
The Pre-Snacker: Oh, your family just came from Coldstone, huh? That's nice. I see your little one got something colorful and pretty. I hope you guys enjoy it. Outside. Oh, no, you actually can't bring in any outside food or drink. Stop arguing with me, please. This isn't going to change the rules. I don't care if they used to let you in with that. I don't deal with used to. I deal with now. And now says that you either need to throw away your dessert or finish it before you come in. I'll say I'm sorry, but that's really just a courtesy. I'm not sorry. (I honestly don't care if you bring in food from the outside. Just hide it. And throw it away when you're done, don't leave it in the theater. I mean, seriously, who leaves a McDonald's bag in the theater?)
The Price-Complainer: This is the guy who comes up to your register in concessions and buys his snacks, but lets you know that he's not happy about it. "$5.75 for a bag of popcorn? Are you kidding me? That's highway robbery!" I would like to respond with either, "Then don't buy it," or "It's actually not highway robbery, it's price-gouging. There's a difference," but I instead ask if he want's to make it bigger for 75 cents and if he wanted to throw in some M&M's for four bucks. The worst part: he does.
The Late-Comer: This person annoys me on different levels depending on where and when I'm working. If I'm in box office, ready to close, but you come in 15 minutes after the last movie starts showing, you're wasting my and your time, buddy.
If I'm at door (ticket-taker), and you come in at 7:15 for a free screening that started at 7, you're not getting in. No, I can't allow you into another movie for free since you can't read that the ticket says, "Come early; seating is limited and it is first come, first served." Yes, you did drive all the way out here for nothing. You got what you paid for. Sucks to be you.
If I'm in concessions, please don't come to my register and say, "C'mon, Jason, you're making me late for my movie," while I'm still helping the customer in front of you (this actually happened one time, and I have to admit, as much as I didn't want this guy around, I wanted to make that transaction last as long as possible; I'm a horrible human being).
The Selectively Deaf: Oh, look. There's a line of people waiting to get into this rated R movie that's just been released. And I've been selected to check tickets to make sure we don't have movie-hoppers. Oh joy! I will stand by this sign that says, "Have your tickets ready and make sure you have it if you leave the theater, cuz you gone get checked again." Now, I will wait until my manager finishes saying, "Make sure you always have your ticket on you, because it will be checked every time you try to enter the theater. Seriously, folks. Don't leave it in there." Oh, goody, now the lines going in. This isn't so bad. Ah, people are leaving to get snacks and use the restroom. That's nice. Oh, look, they're returning. You left your ticket inside? I checked it already? I should remember you? I'm sorry, I was looking at your ticket instead of memorizing your face out of 400 others. That was my bad, I guess. It's not like you had warning that you should have your ticket on you or anything....
The Cell Phone-Talker: I actually kind of enjoy when they come to my register, because I talk to these people as if their attention weren't split between their order and this obviously life or death call. "Hi, welcome to Harkins, how can I help you?"
"Hold on," they tell the person on the other line. "Um, give me a large popcorn and a refill of Diet Coke." They continue with their other conversation.
"Are you sure you didn't want our tub? It's only 75 cents more"
"No, the large is fine," they say, covering the mouthpiece.
"Would you like butter on that?"
"Yes, please," they answer, looking annoyed.
"Do you only want it on top or do you want me to layer it and get all your popcorn nice and buttery?"
"Hold on a second," they say into their phone, obviously pissed. "On top is good." The conversation continues.
"And did you want any Red Vines or Skittles with that today?"
"No thanks!" They shove their credit card in my hand.
"Can I see your ID please?" They angrily look through their wallet or purse for their driver's license. At this point, I'm almost giddy. When all is said and done, I give them a nice, sincere, "Thank you, enjoy your movie!" (Like I said, I'm a horrible person. But so are they, so it evens out.)
This is by no means an exhaustive list. I didn't mention the people that ask what all of the movies are about, the men with terrible aim, or the just plain stupid people (I honestly had someone ask if she could use her fake ID to see a rated R movie. I wanted to throw my cash register at her head). I figured the list is long enough. Does anybody else have examples of people proving wrong the old adage, "The customer is always right"?
Thursday, January 7, 2010
It's the first week of January, which means that gyms are fuller than usual, Starbucks is seeing more "non-fat" drinks, and grocery stores are probably seeing an increase in nicotine patch sales and a decrease in cigarette sales. For a while.
I know a lot of people like to make New Years resolutions, myself included. Some have the (probably correct) mentality that if there is an area of your life that needs improvement, there's no need to wait until January 1 to take care of it. Some foresee the future failure and don't even try. They don't see the point in making an empty promise to themselves that will only disappear as the year progresses. I can respect these reasons. Really, I only make New Years resolutions for tradition's sake.
So far, I'm making good on all my resolutions. I've read the Bible everyday of 2010 so far, I've worked on Scripture memory, and I've been watching what I eat (how much, how healthy/unhealthy is it). I'm still recovering from an upper respiratory infection, but when that's cleared up, I'd love to... um, I'd like... part of me wants to start running.
There's a very simple reason these resolutions tend to be completely off the radar come March and don't resurface until January 1 the following year: resolving to change takes sacrifice. After a while of hitting the gym, it gets harder and harder to go there and give up that comfortable spot on the couch with a bag of chips and the remote. I've heard somebody say that the hardest part of going to the gym is going to the gym.
Sacrifice is by definition not easy, but we as Christians are called to sacrifice. Jesus says in Luke 9:23, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." He tells us to sacrifice ourselves--our dreams, our desires, our wants, our lives--to follow Him. And you know the best part? It's totally worth it. He asks for all of us, and in return we get Him, which is infinitely better than what earthly possessions we may have had. It's not easy. It'll hurt. But it's worth it.
I'll try to remember this, not only in my daily walk with God, but in every aspect of my life. It was a sacrifice to go to Dunkin Donuts and get a muffin instead of a delicious doughnut. It was a sacrifice to grab the banana from QT rather than that delectable maple long john (in case you couldn't tell, I really like doughnuts). It was a sacrifice to hop on the treadmill yesterday rather than keep the recliner warm. But these small sacrifices won't matter when the scale I step on stops breathing a sigh of relief when I step off.
Here's to less me (in more ways than one) and more Him in 2010!
Monday, January 4, 2010
Yesterday marked the 24th anniversary of my birth. 24 years ago, I was crying from colic and my mom was crying from 12 hours of labor and pushing my oversized head out of her.
Sometimes I look back and I have to ask, "Where has the time gone?" I mean, I feel like it wasn't that long ago that 20 seemed really old, but now I'm in my mid-20s. When did that happen and can I make it stop? I can definitely see what those Nationwide commercials are getting at when they say that "Life comes at you fast." I feel like I was a freshman math major just last week, but I've been a history graduate for 7 months.
Now, I know 24 isn't really that old. But sometimes I'm in situations that make me feel older than I am. Like going back to my old church and seeing kids that are much bigger and older than I remember them when I first started. Or being called "Sir" or "Mr. Jason."
Or going to work. Both jobs make me feel old. Whenever I go to campus, I'm reminded that I'm probably older than most people on the campus. It freaks me out slightly to think that there are kids in college who weren't alive in the 80's. What?! Seriously?! You guys are toddlers, at best.
Even worse than working on campus is working at the movie theater. I'm an adult, grown and with a completed college degree. I'm working with kids in high school. What's worse is that sometimes I'm working under kids in high school. In fact, I'm older than most team leaders and I'm pretty sure than most managers. I described it like this one time: I get off work, buy a beer, go home, drink the beer, and cry over the fact that I take orders from people who can't even buy beer (this has never happened, btw).
As weird as growing older feels, I can see 2 good things come out of it: eventually, I'll get gray hair, which Proverbs 16:31 says is a crown of glory gained in a righteous life; and I'll eventually get a senior discount. Bring on the reduced-price bacon!
And now, on this the 10th day after Christmas, I hope you enjoy this song that my choir sang many, many, many years ago when I was in 3rd or so grade: