Sunday, January 18, 2009

Time

This quote, from C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, has been one of my favorites for a long time:
I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.... If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them.
I love the idea that we should sacrifice our means to help others, but I sometimes struggle to know how to apply it. I have a lot more money than I need, and it seems imprudent to give away so much money that it impinges on what I can do, since that would preclude saving. Where's the happy medium?

Today in church a guy named Dave shared a thought that made me think about this idea in a new light. He mentioned the story of the widow's mite, recorded in Mark 12:41-44:
41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
Dave then made the point that most of us don't want for money, but we do want for time. Our poverty isn't financial, but temporal. The obvious parallel is that sacrificing our time to serve God and others, especially when we're short on it, is of great value.

Maybe this is the modern version of C.S. Lewis's sentiment:
I am afraid the only safe rule is to spend more time serving than we can spare.... If our service does not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say it is too little. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our service to others excludes them.
Food for thought.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dreams

I listened to The Alchemist audiobook on my drive out to California on Saturday. I chose it because someone had told me that it was good, but I didn't know much about it. It turned out to be the perfect book for the occasion.

My life has changed a lot recently. I graduated from college, moved a couple of states away, and transitioned from 8 years (on and off) of being a college student to an indefinite period of being a working professional. I've done a lot of thinking about life recently, especially about my goals and dreams.

The Alchemist is about a Spanish shepherd boy who follows his dreams. It's an interesting story, but it's told to teach. Its message is to follow your dreams, and to do what's noble, rather than what's easy.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book.

On motivation:
It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.
On gratitude:
...when each day is the same as the next, it's because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives everyday as the sun rises.
On following your dreams:
"My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity."

"Every second of the search is an encounter with God," the boy told his heart.

"When I have been truly searching for my treasure, every day has been luminous, because I've known that every hour was a part of the dream that I would find it. When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I've discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible for a shepherd to achieve."
I love that last quote. I've really made an effort over the past year or so to follow my dreams, even when it's hard. It's been a rough ride, and I've been bruised a time or two, but I've grown a lot more than if I would have led a safer, more mundane life.

At the beginning of October, I ate one of those little chocolates that has a fortune cookie-type quote on the inside of the wrapper. It said simply, "Be fearless.". It's been in my wallet ever since. Whenever I'm tempted to take the easy way out, it provides a little reminder that the easy way isn't always the best way. It's better to dream.

Christmas break

Christmas break this year was unexpectedly great. I mean, I expected it to be good, but it was a lot better than I ever could have expected. I got to hang out with great people, eat great food, and do great things. Here are a few highlights, although most of the highlights are more journal material than blog material.

It snowed a lot, so lots of our activities were snow-related. We went sledding down our street:


...and Kristy and I built a snow woman. Brian and I got a little action:

She (the snow woman) wasn't quite as good at standing up as she was at kissing, though:


Not too long after that picture, she splatted over. Poor thing.

I decorated the driveway:


We took a little break from the snow to stay inside for Christmas. Dave and I were looking pretty fine on Christmas morning:


Here are all of the kids (plus Evan, who's one of the kids too, these days):

After our outdoor hiatus, we ventured back out for some more activity. We built pop bottle rockets and launched them with the launcher we made last year:


We headed up to Mt. Hood before New Year's to go snowshoeing. It turned out that the trailhead we planned to go to was buried by plowed snow, so we had to go to a different place, where it turned out that we didn't even really need snowshoes at. It was fun, though:


Of course, we had to do the obligatory (yes, that was redundant) jumping pictures.