Sunday, April 22, 2012

Song Lyrics and Meanings: "You Are Here"

April 3, 2011

There's a song I've been hearing over the intercom radio at work frequently that has intrigued me. . . . What intrigued me about the song was the notion of peoples' existence and presence in the world ("I am here/You are here/We are here/They are here/Everyone is everywhere/No one is nowhere/We are all somewhere/There is no out there/You are here"). Looking at and reading the lyrics, it's very poetic in how it describes what various people are doing at a given moment, such as a flight attendant, a little girl, a female DJ, and so forth. It also echoes elements from Paul Thomas Anderson's 1999 movie "Magnolia" and Bob Dylan's classic song "We're All Going to Serve Somebody."

Remember this song.

August 10, 2011

I have heard many interesting, intriguing songs this summer. One of them that caught my attention, for artistic and poignant reasons, is titled “You Are Here." Written by Sam Bisbee, it is a soft-rock melody that assures listeners of their existence, and implies that there is a meaning behind every such existence. It works as a situation/in-the-moment piece, from talking about a little girl looking out into the night sky, to a stewardess on an airplane above. These transitions and simultaneous actions recall what director Paul Thomas Anderson did in his 1999 film, Magnolia. 

I am here
You are here
We are here
They are here
Everyone is everywhere
No one is nowhere
We’re all somewhere
There is no out there
You are here
You are here

[We are here, at a specific moment, for a specific reason. There is a reason for our existence.]

Somewhere a man sits alone in his cat
Propped up on concrete blocks in the back of his yard
It doesn’t drive but it’s got a fresh battery
And the radio works, it’s on one-oh-two-three (102.3).
The female DJ is introducing a track,
She’s saying this goes out to the long commute back
And then the song starts, she turns off the microphone
And she says to herself, Is anybody listening.

[Could anybody be listening to the music I’m playing? Does anybody care, she thinks. At the same time, the man in his car happens to. So, the answer to her question (unknowingly) is yes.]

(Chorus 1X)

[I wonder what the writer means when he says, “There is no out there.” Does he mean, there is no world beyond our own, or other than this world? Or, does he mean that where we are is the only place we’ll be?]

Across the street there’s a little girl
Face pressed against the window staring out at the world
She sees an airplane way up in the air
She thinks that’s so small, could get caught in her hair.
Just then the stewardess on the plane
Says everybody feel free to lower your trays
And the captain starts to move about the cabin

(Chorus 1X)

I like to count the people across the street
In their environment, just watching MTV
Some tired excuse, oh it’s sad to say
We’re all
Staring at the same thing, ten feet away
Break it down

You are here
You are here


Friday, February 10, 2012

"Single" Thoughts on Relationships and Romance

I've been single most of my life (still am), so I'm no expert when it comes to the subject of relationships and romance. But what I do know about it (from studying and learning through other people, especially) is that it's almost like a college education. Part of it comes down to asking yourself, is this person who I should pursue, or is there someone else for me? It involves getting to know and understand that person more, understanding their likes and dislikes, their background, their family and friends, and so forth. I'm not merely saying that relationships should be about seeing or courting so many people at one time. I honestly believe that is not how it should or is suppose to work. It involves getting to know one person for a period of time (short or long, depending), and asking and testing yourself (and praying), Is this the person I should be pursuing? This perspective is hard for many people to take in (and understandably, considering how so many relationships end up). But it requires a lot of patience, a lot of willingness, and a whole lot of letting go of control. ~B.E.

Friday, February 3, 2012

New Orleans Missions' Trip: Day Three (January 24, 2012)

Last night (and this morning), the weather ended up being a little too cool for me. My right arm got sore, mostly (I figured) from holding it up last night while talking on my cell phone with my mom and family, as well as from the booster tetanus I got last Thursday. In addition to that, I started having really strange dreams with bizarre images and such. Half of these dreams involved my conflicting emotions, including me beating myself up emotionally over certain mistakes I've made.

Why I dream about such things as the former, I don't know. What I do know now (rather, am starting to believe) is that dreams can be used as hinderances, as things that weigh on us and try to make us feel worthless and miserable. But I remembered Galatians 5:1-14, from yesterday's devotional. What cuts in on a good race (v. 7), I asked myself. Verse 8 says, "That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you."

Many of us (if not all of us) should know what it means to be burdened by a form of slavery--I speak not so much in a general or physical sense, but more an emotional and spiritual kind. I prayed that these things that hindered me last night would not control me today or get in the way of why I decided to go on this trip, and why I am here. I journaled a prayer, "Sustain in me why you brought me here with everybody else, the work you have called us to, and the people you have called us to make an impact to (therefore, your impact on them)."

I also had to ask myself (based on today's devotional), what cuts in on me in my own life, when it comes to living for God and serving others. For me, it's a continuing notion of what I'm interested in and what I'm passionate about. There is also an issue of time spent on certain things (e.g., reading, watching movies). Granted, I do believe God has certainly given me gifts and abilities. But when we (not just myself) choose to focus instead on our own direction, by our wants and our needs, it makes our souls look ugly. One of the things that helps me, however, is having a humble attitude. That is, not saying anything, especially when it comes to the idea of "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." (Thanks, Thumper.)

I was reminded that though we may be burdened in our physical lives, in Christ, we are set free from that. It does not have control on us. If there is an advantage to feeling low, it's that through this, we can get back up. (You ever heard that one TobyMac song?) At the same time, I had to remind myself (as Galatians 5:13-15 says) not to use said freedom for my own benefit. Part of this week, the way I saw it, was about giving our time selflessly and willingly for others. We all know the saying and command, "Love your neighbor as yourself." I sometimes forget if I really care about other people, depending on how my attitude is. I prayed for help in loving others, regardless of where they come from, and also not to be judgmental or cruel, yet discerning and wise. Staying in the area we stayed in, serving in the building we helped build, and serving the community helped me understand the aforementioned command and saying better.

Interesting stories from today:
- Before we left this morning, a group picture was taken of all of us on the front porch of the Yellow House.

- Several people and I played some basketball this afternoon, for fun. Nobody kept score, we just passed and shot. I think Russ and I were on the same page, considering we haven't shot hoops in a long time. I think Emily felt the same way. It was all cool, nonetheless.

- There was a lot of dust in the building, on account of so much sanding and sawing. Masks are generally required for these conditions; the kind like so many doctors where. (They hurt my nose after a while.)
Mindy took this one. That LIFT was cool, by the way.

- The Youth Group at Castle Rock meets on Tuesday nights at the current church at 6pm. (A High School Youth Group meets around the same time on Thursdays.) For the first hour, kids from the neighborhood were playing basketball, video games (I played some Wii sports, including boxing, with a guy named James), and having conversations. Youth Pastor Tyrone Christoph gave a short message at the end about the character of Jesus, as well as definitions of sin, consequences, and forgiveness. (He used verses from the book of Romans, and one from Matthew, as resources.) I was making notes as he spoke, and I was very impressed with how simple he got the message across, along with the way that he spoke to the kids. When teaching and talking to children, I learned through this that it's important not to trample on them with words and actions. True, discipline is required in some cases, but it's discipline of wisdom and patience that makes a difference. (Those were some of my prayers this week.)

Here are a few things that Tyrone spoke about tonight:

"We all agree that we've done something wrong. That makes God's standard true."

"Just because we're messed up doesn't mean we shouldn't try [to be better people]."

Lessons learned today:
- Try to sleep (hopefully) better tonight. I considered laying on one side (e.g., my back), with my head turned left or right. In all honesty, I do get back sores and sores on my legs from tossing and turning, but in the case of this morning, it was mostly my right arm. I did ask some of my friends if they'd lend me warm blankets, and they said sure. There were spare blankets around the house as well, so it wouldn't be a problem.

- Drink (more than) plenty of water! I got a headache this afternoon, so that told me to do so (along with input from friends).

Monday, January 30, 2012

New Orleans Missions' Trip: Day Two (January 23, 2012)

Morning at the Yellow House

This morning, I read Luke 8:1-15, where Jesus talks about different kinds of soil and different heart conditions. I noticed that there are three different kinds of soil and seed in this passage (with soil referring to our heart conditions, and seed referring to God's Word). First, there's the kind of seed that can be given. Say you're on a path or road and it's right there for you to receive. Yet, it has the potential to be snatched away just as easily as it can be received. Then, there's the kind that's thrown on rocks. The rocks get the seeds, but it doesn't get rooted in them. Rather, the seeds just bounce off them. Another way to look at this is the rocks see the seeds as joyous and appealing. At least, for a while. It is simply temporary for them. And there's a third kind, consisting of thorns. The seeds fall in these areas, but get wrapped up and choked. The thorns illustrate worries and fears, and even distractions, of life that give many of us no sense of maturity or growth. It can be an autopilot phase for such.

As far as my relationship with God goes, I fit this latter kind of soil. To be honest, one of the things I struggle with sometimes is how much to do in a given situation. Should there be more or less in this situation, I ask myself. There is also difficulty in finding a balance between being overwhelmed and doing so little.

When I work, most of the time I focus on what I'm doing. But sometimes, I don't take an interest in what other people are doing, for some reason or another. What I mean is that I'm too focused on my own thing that it's hard for me to care about what other members of the group or team of employees or such are doing. Likewise, I ask myself (as I did today), Am I doing this the way I want to, or the way I was asked/told to do it? On the other hand, as workers or volunteers (or both), we are told to work in a specific area, and are told what we need to do in that area to get the job done. After all, everybody does a different thing. This makes the collaborative efforts and process so unique and worthwhile.

A glimpse of the new facility

Inside the new facility (and its status)

Team members checking things out

Some of the walls I got to work on - er, paste and tape.
(Others called it "mudding" or something.)

I was assigned to work on the walls in the church we helped built. The sub-team (if you will) that I got to work with consisted of about four or five people (including myself), with a couple more people helping out as the week went on. I prayed later that night for wisdom and strength to be less careless and to take an interest in what my fellow workers were doing in their assigned/volunteered groups. I also told myself not to stress about this, and that I still can talk to and listen to people as we socialize, eat, and enjoy the free time given to us.

I was told a couple weeks prior that the first day would be difficult, but would get better after that. During this evening, one of my friends pointed out that "ministry wasn't meant to be comfortable." Hence, the effects of stepping out of one's comfort zone. Yet, we're not alone in this.

View of New Orleans from second floor of Yellow House

We were given an opportunity this week to be strong and courageous in what we were doing. The same applied (and applies) to the people we were given the opportunity to get to know and understand.

It's refreshing to know that none of us are alone in where we're at.

Some of the work me and my colleagues finished today.

Here are a few quotes from John Gerhardt, who spoke at the current church that night.

"Do you believe in [God] enough? Do you love your friends enough? It's time to trash the joint." (Read Mark 2, and hopefully you'll get the reference/implication.)

"Jesus didn't die for us to be comfortable. He died for us to be courageous."

New Orleans Missions' Trip: Day One (January 21-22, 2012)

I had an incredible opportunity to go to New Orleans with the mission's team from my church this past week. During said time, we helped with Urban Impact Ministries and Castle Rock Community Church build their new facility, as well as build relationships within our team and with a few people in the neighborhood we stayed in. The Sunday prior to when we left, I got to stand up on stage at my church with most of the team members and/or volunteers that would be going, and it made me less stressed and worried than I was at the time.

I first became interested in this trip a while after I heard John Gerhardt (who's the executive director of Urban Impact and head pastor of Castle Rock) speak at my church last October. His sermon challenged and encouraged me to consider doing something selflessly and willingly for others. (By the way, his sermon had three points:

1. "Sometimes you gotta go when you don't have the dough."
2. "Sometimes you gotta go when you don't know."
3. "Sometimes you gotta go 'til God says no.")

When I heard about this trip, I sensed if this was an open door for the aforementioned reasons. I spoke with some people who were getting things together for it, and about what needed to be filled out and paid for and so forth. I also spoke to some friends, colleagues and family members about it and prayed about it. I questioned at times why I should go and why I decided to go in the first place. But after seeing team members a week before leaving, I felt better.

I got to know just about everybody I drove down with when we left on Saturday, January 22 (during which time we drove all afternoon and evening). We didn't get to a hotel until about one in the morning. We woke up between 6:30 and 7:30 and left around 8:30. We had about 5.5 hours to drive.

Russ, Jeff, and me

Emily and Mindy

Jake, Jamie, and Jeff at on of our first pit stops on the way

John (left), and everyone else checking out slushy machines.
(Russ was disappointed they didn't have Mountain Dew slushies.)

Scott (our esteemed driver!), ordering at Sonic
the afternoon before we got to N.O.

Entering New Orleans

The Yellow House, where we stayed

A glimpse of the bunks

We got to the house we would be staying at between 3 and 3:30. We spent some time getting our stuff situated and meeting some members of the other team that came down to help (from Madison, WI). At 5pm, we went down the street to where the current church (Castle Rock Community Church) was. We had an orientation session for about an hour, with an overview of what the week would consist of and expectations on our parts.

Castle Rock Community Church

I will be honest, I was fearful. One, because this was a new experience for me (never had I been on a missions' trip, nor have I been to New Orleans), and two, because I believed that I might (and probably would) be put in situations outside my comfort zone. Even the Day 1 devotional in the packets we were each given sounded scary. (It referenced Philippians 2:1-11 and talked about the role of Jesus and how "God would become a man and die for us.") I don't know about you, but that would indeed be a scary thought, to think that one would live just so he can die.

But then (at the orientation), I remembered faithfulness.

Terry Sistrunk (Director of Operations, and speaker at the orientation, and a great guy!) put it this way. "You have a great opportunity this week to move forward if you give God a chance."

The Bible says that there is no death in Christ. There is only death to ourselves--er, to our earthly flesh. However, there is a "new creation," a new form, a new perspective, a new way of living. (2 Cor. 5:17.) I've been a Christian for many years, which does not mean that my life's been perfect (by any means). I struggle, go through emotions, and get confused like everybody else. Yet I do believe God has given me people to work with, talk with, and pray with throughout the week. I also believe that He was challenging me to consider what hinders me, and to take a step of faith outside my comfort zone.

I had told myself many times this past fall that I'm sick of laziness and doing things only for myself. I may have exaggerated a few of those times, though. However, this week provided what would be the next challenge and phase of not only my life, but the lives of those I worked with.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Random Thoughts from Last Thursday and Friday of 2011

Thursday at 11:38am
This morning, I slipped my bike off an icy curb (which I was not aware of) and landed on right hip on the pavement. Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! Even though I was fine after that, that fall was a pain!

This morning at work was good, until I spilt a bunch of little package boxes. Things like this instantly make me throw a fit and get me frustrated. (I can even have a tendancy to slip one or two s-words, I'll sadly admit.) "I HAD to do that," I quetly yell at myself.

I regret acting this way. I realize I need help and support in controlling my anger. Other people (and things, for that matter) deserve so much more than my behavior is toward them.

Friday at 12:56pm
Last night, my right hip and the left side of my neck started getting sore.

I'm feeling depressed again, as if I hadn't really accomplished anything lately. I haven't found work, moreover looked for any, hardly.

There is so much I can do, but I can't focus.

Again, I need help controlling my anger and my frustration.

I remember the "Hancock" quote that gives me assurance:

Life here can be difficult for me. After all, I'm the only one of my kind. You deserve better from me, I can be better. I will be better.

I also need to remember how I am toward those around me, including my friends and family. How I influence others is very important.

I am so thankful to be reminded of the importance and joy of starting again, of getting the chance to set things right again.

In regards to my behavior this morning, I am sorry. (I have offended no one but God. Yet, he holds account for those I have offended.)

What amazing reminders of love, friends and family. This is how I am put up with.