Thursday, June 22, 2006

[Escape]

I need to get out of Kirksville. I'm ready to be on to the next stage in life... I think I have a four-year-sanity in one place or something. Everything seems to be annoying to me right now (so believe me, it's not you, it's not even the situation. I'm just an idiot). I'm having a hard time being gracious in gentle confrontation and criticism. It's like I know I'm no longer living at home so I don't want to deal with parenting from others. It's stupid and childish, I know, but it is what I'm honestly feeling right now.

Ugh, I feel like a brat. Anyway, I got some of it off my chest.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

[That's It.]

No more shall I consume caffeine (as in soda and coffee levels) after lunchtime. No more. Just two weeks of not drinking it at all and all I had today was two cans of soda. I've been too wound up (moreso than normal) to sleep all night. It's almost 3am. Gosh darn it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

[It's Not Easy Being Green]

(or, Why Niki Loves to Read Relevant Magazine)

The following article is an excerpt from a recent feature in the RELEVANT Leader magazine, the exclusive magazine of the RELEVANT Network.

Almost subconsciously, I dove into the kitchen trashcan to rescue the discarded soda can. I said nothing while reaching down to remove the aluminum can, but when I looked up, my wife's friend stared at me, mouth agape.

"You recycle?" she said, obviously so distracted by my action that she had momentarily stopped talking to my wife in order to discuss this late-breaking development. "Since when did you start recycling?" she said again.

What led to such bewilderment? Did my car dispense toxic fumes every time I hit the accelerator? Did I pour out old motor oil in my back yard? Did I chop down every tree in my yard? The answer is a resounding "no," yet in an instant, I understood why she had reacted that way: I am a Christian.

Paradigm Shift

While finishing up a writing project with Tri Robinson, the pastor at Boise Vineyard Fellowship in Boise, Idaho, a year and a half ago, he told me, "I've been really convicted about the way I care about the environment—and I feel like the Lord is calling me to do something about it in my personal life and with our church." I was bewildered. In my mind, environmentalists were liberal hippies who ran around worshipping the trees. Tri certainly was not one of these people. I was intrigued.

Could it be possible that caring for the environment is not only a godly value but a priority? If this is a priority, what should I actually be doing about it?

For many Christians, the resistance toward passionately caring for the environment has to do with political affiliations. When it comes to political platforms, the Democratic Party has put a stake in the ground, claiming the environment as their issue, while the Republican Party has skirted the issue, often opting for economic good over environmental good. As evidenced by exit polls from the last presidential elections, nearly 60 percent of Protestant Christians in America chose the Republican Party's platform. But what is it that almost compels us to resist taking up issues from the other party?

Peter Illyn, the director of the Christian environmental group Restoring Eden (www.restoringeden.org), speaks at churches and college campuses across the nation and explains this dilemma.

"Politics create a disconnect for people in the United States, whether they are Christians or unbelievers," he says. "We are presented with false choices all the time, meaning we have to choose between two things that we shouldn't have to choose between.

"Politicians create these false choices all the time, but so does the Church, sometimes making it 'us versus them.' Some evangelical leaders try to make it sound like if you're loving and serving the earth, then somehow you're not loving and serving God. We just need bigger hearts. For me, my faith is made stronger by my care for the earth. And in return, my care for the earth is giving me life because of my love for God, the Creator."

Creation: An Undeniable Witness

Consider Paul's words: "From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God" (Romans 1:20, NLT).

Paul is essentially saying that the earth is an evangelical tool, and who are we to destroy something that's bringing others to the Lord?

"I find it interesting that when anybody—no matter what they believe—enters into an untrampled place of creation, a sense of awe and wonder is almost always elicited," says Calvin B. DeWitt, one of the leading Christian ecologists in the United States and author of Caring for Creation: Responsible Stewardship of God's Handiwork (Baker). "Part of our witness to Jesus Christ, God as our Creator and what honors the work of the Holy Spirit in us, is we must be willing, able and eager to put ourselves in the marvelous places across all of God's earth that instill in us the praise, the joy, and the wonder that we have as human beings made in the image God—but also made as creatures to be in tune with God and with God's creation."

Changing Culture

Tri isn't just another pastor talking about the environment. Rather, his words signify the beginning of something amazing that is resulting in sweeping change for his city, church and state. On Sunday mornings, churchgoers can "tithe their trash," bringing all recycled goods to church for proper dispersal. Last fall, the church raised more than $4,000 to help fund relief aid efforts to the Gulf Coast region through collecting recycled cell phones in their community. And last summer, church members participated in numerous outdoor conservation projects that cleaned up the foothills and mountains of Idaho.

As this issue rises to a greater level of consciousness among Christians in the United States, it can no longer be ignored. Why would we ignore it anyway? Creation is the assurance of God's existence. Wouldn't every follower of Jesus want to be a good steward of this beautiful land God has given us? If we don't lead the way on this issue, we may miss the best opportunity to share the Gospel with the world around us.

Jason Chatraw is a freelance writer and co-author of Saving God's Green Earth: Rediscovering the Church's Responsibility to Environmental Stewardship (Ampelon). He loves nature and has become so proficient at sorting recycled goods, he is hoping it will become an Olympic sport by 2012.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

[Bonjour, Amis]

Tomorrow's plans: pestering potential employers for a job, then working out at the Rec. I think I'm starting to lose weight, finally! I wore a shirt today that I've not been able to comfortably wear for months. Granted, I never left the house and I likely would have felt different being seen in public (curious effect, isn't it?), but I can tell I'm making some progress. I predict by summer's end, if I don't slack off, I'll be at the weight I want (and need to be at). Yay!

I love this weather! Oh my gosh, it's so gorgeous to have the windows open and feel a COOL breeze!

I ran into Ally, my housemate from this year, at the Rec on Saturday. She is no longer Ally Shaffer... she's friggin' married. The youngest got married first. I've missed her. We did a couple laps of walking to cool down after biking and eliptical-ing, and had a lovely conversation, ranging from lack of employment to ministry hopes.

I read two books this weekend, too: That Hideous Strength and Jane Eyre. Gah, I so love reading for my own enjoyment. What's more, both these novels kind of lost me in high school, but with increased life experience and more literary exposure, I really enjoyed reading them both this time. I clearly understood the books this time and didn't feel overly challenged. Maybe all that tedious school reading has benefits after all!

Finalement, I watched Pride and Prejudice with French subtitles. It kind of piqued my motivation to better learn the language, and I think, actually, this may be a good way to get a better grasp on conversational French (and Spanish when I do the same). As tired as I am of school, I do enjoy learning on my own... it's the nerd in me. Knowledge for knowledge's sake, not for grades and such crap. I do honestly learn more that way, at least after I've got a basic grasp on the subject.

Well, I'm hoping to fall asleep before 2 hours prior to sunrise for once, so I'm going to enjoy a hot bath and hope to sleep fairly soon afterward. Bon soir, mes cheres!

Friday, June 09, 2006

[Want Ad]

Seeking a job in Kirksville. Getting somewhat desperate. Help, please.

Monday, June 05, 2006

[Quick Rundown of the Past Week]

  • Still no job... argh.
  • My roomies and I went to the Aquatic Center on Saturday afternoon. We swam and sunbathed. Lovely.
  • My nail just broke. Grrr.
  • I need to replace the tires on my bike or figure out how to fix it myself. Fun.
  • Roomies and I went to the Rec Center for a couple hours this afternoon. I lifted weights, did crunches, and even biked with a HR of 160+ for 15+ minutes. I don't think I've done a genuine cardiovascular workout since 8th grade before my jaw surgery. I'm astounded I actually did it.
  • My hair is starting to grow out. I think it'll be long enough to get a new cut-style by the end of the month. Yesss. I don't necessarily want it long again, but I do want some actual length. (And the peasants rejoiced.)
  • Summer + Iced Tea with Splenda = Me finally getting my recommended daily intake of fluids that are non-carbonated and sugar-free. Yay for being healthier!
  • Finally, I've been experimenting with making healthier versions of my favorite meals. For example, tonight, I made stroganoff using turkey burger (instead of beef), soy milk (instead of milk-milk (I'm semi-lactose-intolerant)), fat-free sour cream, and whole wheat pasta (instead of egg noodles). And it was just as good. I may lose this weight after all!

Well, that's about all I've got to say. Over and out.