My Wordspace

A dumpster full of various musings over life, God, scripture, and any random thought that may fly by meanwhile. Comments welcome.

Archive for June, 2004

Out of My Comfort Zone

Posted by Iszi on June 30, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

Tonight, of course, was Tuesday night. That means one thing for sure, for me: The Living Room (TLR for short, from hereon.). Another thing it means, on occasion (when my wife is in a good mood) is some hangout time with my church buds at some local eating place. So, TLR was great as usual. Had a local band, Ezekiel’s Eye come and play a couple of their songs, and a great message delivered by Pastor Rob, whom we haven’t seen in awhile. (Aside from leading worship and speaking every week in TLR, he also leads worship every Sunday, but has been gone on other ministry-related business this past week and, albeit his stand-ins all did great in their respective jobs, was missed greatly. We’re all glad to see him back again, rockin’ on!) To wrap it up tonight, we had about a half hour of “tehila”. Tehila, derived from the Hebrew word “Tephellah”, is roughly translated as praise and worship. More specifically, un-scripted praise and worship. That is, to worship without a specific song or words in mind, or specific path laid out to follow. Just pure worship from the Spirit inside you, to God.

Rob had our drummer get up and just start beating out whatever came to him, then handed out various small percussive instruments (tambarines, bongos, rattles, etc.) to other church members who started playing, some along with the drummer, some to their own beat. The rest of those gathered just started worshipping and praising in their own Spirit. Some sang, some danced, some prayed. A mike was left open for anyone who wished to use it. Some people were led to scripture by the Spirit, and went to the mike to tell what they were shown. It really was an awesome thing to behold, and to be immersed in.

However, I myself felt out of place. In a sense, that was the intent of the exercise to begin with, so it was only natural, but I felt even more so out of place because this is something I’ve been struggling with for awhile. When it comes to practicing and exercising my faith, anything that is not really “led” by someone else seems to be a difficult area for me. Yeah, tehila is an unfamiliar concept for most people to start, but it’s really the more standard, simpler things that I also have problems getting myself into that really make this bother me, like quiet time, prayer, and Bible study on my own. Now, I could praise and worship God all day and all night, with songs that are familiar to me, but if you take away the script, I’m just lost. I could pray, with all my spirit, the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), or any prayer that I learned to say at the table as a child in school, but take away the recital and tell me to do it on my own, and I hit a wall. I’ll gladly join any Bible study group to learn more about the Word and its meaning, but for me to sit down, just open my Bible and start reading without guidance, I don’t know where to start.

Doing this blog has helped me some, but I still feel like there’s much more that I should either be doing, or be able to grasp at this point, and it deeply bothers me that I don’t. These are some of the most basic and simple, and most prominently recognized concepts and practices in Christianity, and yet I as a born-and-raised Christian just can’t seem to get it! Is there something wrong with me, here? Something I’m doing wrong, or not doing right? I feel like I should call to someone for help, yet I worry that because of the nature of the issue itself, should I receive help, I will only be able to progress as long as I have that help, and when I get “pushed off the nest” on to my own again, I might fall flat back onto my face and be back where I started. Yet also I worry that if I don’t get any help at all, I may never overcome whatever obstacle this is that is blocking me from leading myself in these exercises which are so vitally important to growing in my relationship with God.

So, now what to do?

– Iszi

Song of the moment: Delirious – Rain Down

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Finally Posting

Posted by Iszi on June 29, 2004

Good evening, Readers.

Yeah, I know the calendar says Tuesday, but this is really Monday’s blog. This is partially due to my natural proclivity towards nocturnalism (Okay, so I woke up probably about 1600-ish), and the fact that I think this world just does not want me to blog for some reason today. First time I went to hit the “New Post” button was probably about 1800, if not a bit earlier. The minute my mouse hit it, the power in our house blinked. (Gotta love Central Florida, lightning capital of the world.) By the time my machine came back up, I was distracted to something else outside, or just jumped into something else online, I forget which.

So, not much later I had to leave for cell group, which lasted about 3 hours instead of the usual 1.5, but I won’t complain since it’s not like I had anything to really rush back to anyway, and the fellowship with my brothers is always enjoyable. Got home around 2200, hopped online and got myself up to date on all my Massive Assault Network games, as well as the few webcomics I keep up with. (I’ll get links for everything in the left side of this page as soon as I figure out how.) Then went and surfed around some other blogs I had noticed on my Dashboard this past week, and bookmarked. (Here’s one entry I found interesting today.) Once I’d had my fill of that, not too long ago, I hopped over to my Blogger Dashboard, and hit “New Post” again, and… nothing. At the same time, I noticed all my Trillian connections going dead. Tried a ping to Google, and sure enough came up with nothing.

After a quick call to our ISP, we found that (oops!) the bill had gone 2 days past due, so we’d been cut. Got that took care of, everything back up and going, and no sooner do I start typing my first sentence, than do I hear my daughter start to cry in her crib next to me. Fortunately, it was just one little short whine and she just rolled over and went back to sleep. Close call, though.

So, I’m here now and actually have something to write about, although I’m not sure how much or little it will be just yet. This past week, as part of our cell group’s bible study, we were supposed to read 1 Peter, Chapter 4, and we were planning on going over it tonight in our meeting. I didn’t quite take the opportunity to read it myself until just before leaving, I looked it up on Bible Gateway. (I’d use a real Bible, but I lost mine somewhere about a month ago, and my wife’s is just a bit too “girly”. – She’s got a Mother’s Devotional Bible.) I kinda just blinked through it enough to get the general idea of the passage, so I could be at least somewhat prepared to have comment on it when it came up. At the actual cell group meeting however, various distractions came up and we never quite made it around to the Bible study part of the meeting, although we did discuss other church-related issues. So, I decided to take the opportunity to dive into it on my own tonight and just post anything that comes to mind here. In order to attempt to fully grasp the meaning behind these words, I read it three times through. First time, I read the NIV translation, second time in NLT, and thirdly KJV. So, I may reference any of these three, if I include quotes below.

In the NIV and NLT versions, the Chapter is divided under two headers. The first, Verses 1-11, is headed with the title “Living for God”. The second, Verses 12-19, is entitled “Suffering for Being a Christian”. The entire Chapter (as with the rest of 1 Peter so far) is essentially speaking about persistence in keeping faith in God, and doing what He has for us to do, despite ridicule or suffering, and in each section I hear two distinctly familiar voices speaking to me.

As I read the first section, I heard the familiar words of my mother, as she would advise me on issues of peer pressure and/or dealing with bullies as I was growing up. An excerpt from Verses 1-4 in the New Living Translation follows:

“… For if you are willing to suffer for Christ, you have decided to stop sinning. And you won’t spend the rest of your life chasing after evil desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy … Of course, your former friends are very surprised when you no longer join them in the wicked things they do, and they say evil things about you.”

These verses remind us that now that we’ve found our faith in God, and we want to do His work instead of sin and wickedness, our friends who are not believers will be confused, because they do not understand the will of God as we do. They will think there’s something wrong with us, since we no longer participate in things with them that we used to enjoy, because it is sin. And, since they think there is something wrong with us, some will find this to be reason to insult us for it, and use those insults to either bring us down, or talk us into joining with them for fear of being further insulted by them. Even people whom we do not consider “former friends” will do this, as we continue to grow in Christ and therefore stand further out in “the crowd”. This especially applies to adolescents who are still in school and dealing with the immaturity that many other young adults carry with them. That’s one thing I’ve come to notice, in retrospect. Christian adolescents, in general, seem to have a slightly better air of maturity about them than other people in the same age group who are non-believers and/or were not raised in a Christian home. Why? Because they were either raised on, and/or are currently learning from the Bible, a great deal of which teaches maturity.

This leads us on to Verse 5 (NLT):

“But just remember that they will have to face God, who will judge everyone, both the living and the dead.”

Put Verse 5 together with the preceeding Verses, and it essentially tells us the same thing our parents have told us time and time again through our “growing up” years. (I’m sure you all remember those “If everyone else jumped off a bridge” lectures. – Now you know where they got it from, eh?) This reminds us that, while we may be ridiculed for not “joining the crowd”, we should remain strong in our position because if we were to just follow the peer pressure, then not only would we be joining in the “fun”, but we would also be joining them in receiving their judgement in the final days of this world, when we all must face God. Later in the Chapter, Peter draws from Proverbs to remind us further of the judgement that awaits.

1 Peter 4:18, NIV:
“And, ‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?'”

At the same time we are being commanded to persist in resisting peer pressure, Peter still commands us not to leave our friends hanging out to dry, despite their continuance in their own sin for this time.

Verses 8-10, NLT:
“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.”

There we are told that it is of utmost importance for us to love one another. This is also made clear in 1 John 4:7, probably a more familiar verse to most of us in the King James Version:

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”

So, although our friends may continue in their sin for this time, and we should avoid joining them in doing so, we should still at the same time continue to show God’s love, generosity, and grace to them so that at some point they may come to know the salvation that awaits them in Jesus Christ. Also, love itself will keep you from a number of sins on its own. Just going down the list of the Ten Commandments, we can see this.

Your love for God should make the first 4 simple enough.

1.) I am the Lord your God… You shall have no other gods before me.
2.) You shall not worship false idols, for I am a jealous God.
3.) You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
4.) Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy.

Love for your mother and father will keep you to the 5th.

5.) Honor your father and your mother.

Love (and its partner, respect) for your “neighbor” will help you keep 6 through 10, and love for your spouse should reinforce your adherance to 7 and 10

6.) You shall not murder.
7.) You shall not commit adultery.
8.) You shall not steal.
9.) You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
10.) You shall not covet … your neighbor’s wife … or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

(The Ten Commandments, as stated above, are roughly quoted from Exodus Chapter 20, NIV.)

Moving along to the second part (I’ll try to be brief with this, as I’ve taken longer than originally intended as it is), the next voice I hear is that of my pastors, who are always reminding us in various sermons that if life is getting rough on us while we’re keeping our faith in God, “it’s not because we’re doing something wrong, it’s because we’re doing something right!”. The last 8 verses are well-summed up in Verse 19 (KJV):

“So if you are suffering according to God’s will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you.”

When you’re doing God’s work, the Devil isn’t going to like you very much, obviously. So, of course he is going to do anything he can to stop you or dissuade you from doing God’s work. One of the tools he uses is pressure from your peers through their insults. Other tools include all kinds of general torments in life to distract you or discourage you, such as job loss, car accidents, or death of family or friends. But, if you keep your faith in God through all this, and keep doing the work He has for you to do, then He will not fail you in supporting you through these troubled times, and He will reward you when your time has come, with rewards that far outweigh any suffering you have endured.

Song of the moment: Matthew West – More

Good night, and God bless.

– Iszi

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Long Night Cut Short-ish.

Posted by Iszi on June 26, 2004

Good morning, Readers.

I hate Friday nights. Not only are they one of the busiest nights of the week, but they’re also the night I have an order to do that I just can never seem to have the time for. Compared to some, the order isn’t really that big, it’s just a matter of getting the time to do it between handling the constant flow of customers and getting the rest of the night’s work done. Tonight, however, that got cut short when I just about cut my finger short. While trying to cut the “flaps” off an open box, my box-cutter (fortunately with a *fresh* blade) slipped and sliced open, rather nicely, the middle finger on the hand that was holding the flap. (Fortunately my left hand, as I’m right-handed.) The cut wasn’t nearly as deep as it could have been, but still was deep enough that I didn’t want to chance damaging it more while I worked on it over the rest of the night, should I have tried to just get by with a simple band-aid. Not to mention it also bled like a stuck pig for a good 10 minutes. So, I called in my manager (although I honestly hated having to do so, as she’s been working 7-day weeks, 12+ hours a day for the past few weeks with no let-up) and got my wife out to run me to the hospital.

After about an hour or so, the doctor came in and cleaned me up, then put some “Derma-bond” on the wound to hold it shut and keep it covered. Essentially super-glue for the skin, apparently Derma-bond is being used more often than stitches on some lighter cuts and lacerations these days. Gotta love modern technology.

By the time I got back, my manager had gotten in and re-opened the store. She said for me to just take the rest of the shift off, and come back in the morning so she can (hopefully) go home early. So now, it’s nappy-time for me, until I go back to work. Maybe when I get back, I’ll get on long enough for another post before I go to sleep again, since “tomorrow” is Saturday and I’ll be needing the rest for Saturday night/Sunday morning.

So, until then, good night and God bless.

– Iszi

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Now I Remember…

Posted by Iszi on June 25, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

Now I remember why I hated truck nights, although that’s not the reason I haven’t worked one in awhile. Sometimes, getting the usual work done in time seems difficult enough, and then to be expected to get an extra delivery put up in the same amount of time (also the largest delivery that we as employees have to put up ourselves – accounting for about 50% of the products carried in the store, and all store-use products.) just seems impossible. Last night was no different. The upside of the Thursday night truck is that it is the smaller of the two deliveries we get from this truck per week. Downside is it usually comes much later. Often around the time when we’re having to switch from cleaning up for the night to gearing up for the morning, meaning that the only time we have to put it up is in the time when we have the most to do at once to start with. So, last night was kinda rough, but I’m alive.

Now I also remember why I never kept a journal. In 3rd grade, I remember that we were actually required to keep a journal as part of our grade. Every day it seemed that I either had nothing of interest I felt I could write, or whatever I did have in my head, I could not seem to organize into words clearly enough or quickly enough. The latter is the case for me today. There’s a few things I’ve thought of over the night that I would like to write about, but right now I can’t seem to organize my thoughts, as my energy level is sapped while the clock ticks its way closer to bedtime. Maybe I just need to start writing earlier in my after-work day, so I can have more time to organize thoughts and such. If anyone else has any ideas to help, I’d much like to hear them.

Meanwhile, some more words of encouragement from the Good Book. Many of you will probably recognize Isaiah 40:30-31.



Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

See you tomorrow-ish.

– Iszi

(And now for a few Post-Scriptums)

I don’t expect to be writing much tomorrow. Just got a phone call from another store today that says they might need help in the morning shift, so I’ll probably be coming home late and tired.

Song of the moment: FFH – Breathe in Me.

Also thought now would be a good time to mention that, unless noted otherwise, all Bible references are from the New International Version. It is the translation I personally prefer, and probably one of the most widely recognized and accepted. My alternative translation is usually the King James Version. Many at my church, particularly in the Pastoral Staff, prefer the New Living Translation, which I may also reference from time to time. In any case, you can easily view whichever translation you prefer of any quoted scripture by clicking on the link, and choosing your translation on the page. The website I reference for scripture, BibleGateway.com, hosts 18 translations of the Bible for quick searching and cross-reference.

Last, but not least, I found an interesting blog entry the other day (just browsing through the various “recent blogs” that Blogger lists on the “Dashboard”) that I could relate to a bit, and posted my own commentary. Thought you may be interested in seeing it. “Tree-hugger, Pedal-pusher, Optimist” is the blog, authored by a person who calls himself barkeater. Here’s the direct link to the post that I commented on.

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Not much this time.

Posted by Iszi on June 24, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

Just pretty much stopping in to say hi today. Going to get to bed early this afternoon to rest up for a good, hard night’s work. On top of being the first truck night I’ve worked in awhile, there’s also a major inspection expected in the morning, so I want to be ready to get in and get things done when I get up.

In other quick news, Pastor Jayme’s wife is home and feeling a little better. The doctors have given her some medicine to help with her nausea, so she shouldn’t be getting sick as much, and therefore not as much dehydrated. Also, aside from the typical soreness that comes from a hard night’s work, my back has pretty much been pain-free all night. Hopefully this is sign of improvement from whatever condition may have been firing up Tuesday night.

Thank you all again for your prayers, and good night. See you tomorrow.

– Iszi

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Prayer Requests

Posted by Iszi on June 23, 2004

Good morning, Readers.

I’m here today, yet I know not what to write again. Is this a common problem? Someone starting to write a journal, then not having anything they want to write about a couple days later? About the only real new thing I can think to mention is a prayer need that has arisen in my life.

Last night, while I was at The Living Room (website’s not up yet, but feel free to bookmark for when it is), I started feeling a pain in the middle of my back, a little to the right. It came on rather suddenly, just as I was sitting there, and felt horridly familiar. Without going into too much detail, I will say that the last time I felt this pain, it was on my left side and turned out to be an issue with my kidney. The needed surgery put me out of commission for about a month and a half. The doctor told me the cause was congenital, and therefore the issue may later arise with my right kidney as well. Fortunately, at the time, I didn’t have a job to worry about, and was still being taken care of by my parents’ medical insurance, so funding and time off wasn’t an issue for me. Now, I am the sole income provider for my family, and have no medical insurance, nor can I afford it or the time off.

So, prayer on this issue is the only thing I can think of that will help. Last time I had this problem, it actually held for several months before absolutely needing to be fixed (which was just as well, as it was mis-diagnosed in the first few visits), so there is some time to work with, if things run the same this time around. If this is something that God has for me to go through again, then I can only pray that in the time that I have beforehand, a better job can be found where I can afford to get medical insurance and the time off for whatever may be necessary. If that shouldn’t be the case, or this isn’t the same problem again, I would pray that God helps me to a speedy recovery from whatever this may be, and that if that recovery should involve time off for medical procedures, that He should continue to provide for my family during that time, as He has in our other times and areas of need.

As long as I’m on the topic of prayer requests, let me add my Pastor and Cell Group Leader, Jayme, and his wife Susan. She is in the early months of pregnancy with their third child, and the morning sickness is taking a heavy toll on her right now. The last report I heard was that she’d been admitted to the hospital, after having been at home on IV fluids for a couple days. That was Monday, and I have yet to establish contact with them since. I pray that all will work out well for Susan and her unborn child, and that Jayme will keep God’s peace in his soul as he deals with taking on his wife’s role at home, while she is in the hospital.

Today’s scripture reference is some words of encouragement from the Book of Romans, Chapter 8, Verses 37-39: “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, … nor any powers, … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Thank you all for your prayers.

– Iszi

P.S.:

Song of the Moment: SonicFlood – Lord of the Dance

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So, what to write now? – Yee-haw!

Posted by Iszi on June 22, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

Since the starting of this blog, only a few days ago, I’ve pretty much either had a topic in mind (the basic “first post” kinda stuff), or been too busy to write. Now, I have a good amount of time to write, but nothing in mind to write about since all the introductory stuff has been pretty much covered at this point.

I guess the best thing to do is turn to scripture, as I had originally said I am intending to do with this. For me, the quickest thing that comes to mind is my “Yee-haw” sermon. I’m not a preacher or pastor at this time, but through the past couple months since coming to ChurhcInTheSon, and consequently coming closer to God, I’ve had several things come into my thoughts and dreams, and some small reinforcements to those thoughts in my life that are starting to make me wonder if I’m not actually being called to pastoral service. I’ll go into more detail on those some other time, but now for my little preach here.

Like most “good Christians”, I go to church every Sunday as feasable (which, there is rarely any reason it shouldn’t be). I see many people there: friends, family, church staff, ushers, prayer team members, and plenty of people I don’t know as well. I come for several purposes: worship, prayer, learning, and fellowship. To me, the most valued of these is worship, which also constitutes the first portion, and almost half of the service. During this time, though, a group of people are revealed that not only stick out when they’re nearby, but also worry me. It’s those that don’t join in praise and worship to our Lord. Now, for those that are new to the church, I can understand. They may feel out of place and don’t quite know what’s going on. But when I start recognizing these people on a regular basis, and know that they are believers who know what church is for, it bothers me to repeatedly see them come and not worship, or they do so without gusto or joy.

When I consider this, I wonder what reason a person who loves God could have for not wanting to join in praise and worship at a Sunday service, especially for those whose only praise or worship time during the week may be on Sunday. A few things come to mind: Maybe they don’t have that great a singing voice, the kind that only sounds good in the shower. Maybe they’re disabled and don’t feel they can worship since they can’t stand with the crowd. Maybe they’ve had a tough morning getting the kids dressed and out to church, and the stress they’re holding onto keeps them from feeling energetic enough to join.

However, in Psalms 98:4 (King James Version)the Bible commands us to “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.”. It doesn’t say our voice has to sound great, it just says to “Make a joyful noise…”. It doesn’t say we need to stand, or even be upright. We could be sitting, kneeling, on our backs, or laying prostrate, as long as we “Make a joyful noise…”. It doesn’t even have to consist of words, or anything that makes any literate sense, it just has to be a “…joyful noise…”.

So, what’s a joyful noise?

Many Christians would immediately respond “Hallelujah!” but what else?

The Marines say “Hoorah!”

Santa Claus says “Ho, ho, ho!”

Many southerners in the United States prefer “Yee-haw!”

The Englishmen have the expression “Cherrio!”

Many a footbal fan would simply shout “Yeah!” after their team has scored a touchdown.

Baseball fans shout “Charge!”

Here’s some examples from several television personalities:

Jetsons – “Ooba doobah!”

Flintstones – “Yabba-dabba-doo!”

Ren & Stimpy – “Happy, happy, joy, joy!”

Earthworm Jim – “Whoah, nilly!”

Homer Simpson – “Woo-hoo!”

Tim Taylor – “He, he, ho, ho!”

So, we don’t always necessarily have to sing a great and beautiful song, with a voice that should be sold on CDs in a store. Although that is a great, and the most common way to praise and express our love to God, He is just as greatly pleased when we shout “Woo-hoo!”, or “Yabba-dabba-doo!” or “Hoorah!” for Him, as long as we’re making a noise, and doing it joyfully for Him. And when we make these noises, how can we not be joyful? I personally find it pretty hard to say “Yee-haw!” and not do it loudly, or not feel good about it. If I did, I’d feel pretty stupid-looking, and feel like there was no point in saying the word. The same goes for any worship to the Lord. If it’s not done with joy, or gusto, with a happy spirit behind it, the words are wasted.

In Phillipians 4:4, the Bible commands us to “Rejoice in the Lord always…”! It does not say “Rejoice in the Lord when you’re having a good day.”. It says “Rejoice in the lord always…”. Especially on Sunday, the Sabbath day (as recognized by most Christian faiths), which we have been commanded to keep holy (Defined by Merriam-Webster as “devoted entirely to the deity…”) in Exodus 20:8.

So, if you ever find yourself in Church, and having a hard time getting in a joyful spirit, just try making any “joyful noise” from your spirit. If you honestly try to make yourself do it, you’ll find you will have a hard time doing it without also starting to feel joyous in doing so.

Today’s “song of the moment” is Todd Agnew’s “This Fragile Breath”, one of my favorite praise/worship songs to sing while working in the Vault (big refrigerator where all the cold drinks are sold from at work).

See y’allz later.

– Iszi

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No-Post Days

Posted by Iszi on June 21, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

First of all, happy belated Father’s Day to all those fathers and soon-to-be-fathers out there reading this. Hope it was a good one for you and your families.

Also slightly belated was a little realization I had yesterday: Sundays are probably going to be no-blog days, more often than not. As you may have already read in my previous post, my Sunday schedule goes straight from work, to church, to sleep, to work, with very little room for a buffer zone in between, whether I want it or not. So, I’ll not likely be putting in much if any blogging time on Sundays. The most I would expect to do could maybe be just a little “Hi, I’m still here, good night now.” note…

…Which is just about all I’m able to do today too, for that matter. Due to some individuals who had to miss work at my store today, one of which did not care to notify us of this coming, my 8-hour night turned into a 19-hour stretch of work. Monday nights are also the nights my Cell Group meets, so I’m actually posting from the house of one of the leaders in the group, as the meeting starts here in about an hour. Immediately after this, I’m headed home to crash for a garunteed 12 hours or more. Anyone wishing to wake me earlier will likely find themselves thoroughly maimed. 😉

So, with that I bid thee all adieu until tomorrow.

– Iszi

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My Bio

Posted by Iszi on June 17, 2004

Greetings, Readers.

I’m betting you’d probably like to know a little about this person whose Blog you are reading, eh? If not, then just move up to the next post, if there is one yet. As my profile will tell (the little that it does) my name is Jacob, I’m male, 22 years old (today, woohoo!), and live in Florida.

I’ve lived in Florida all my life, barely changing location any further than 60 miles from where I was raised. I am the firstborn of three, second of which is my brother, third my sister. My school life started in a private pre-school affiliated with a local Baptist church. I went there from K-4 through 2nd grade, after which my parents could no longer afford for us to stay there. My grades were mostly solid-A’s at the time, and the only extracurricular activity I can remember is a children’s ministry called AWANAS. Life was pretty good, for the life of a 7-year old I guess.

After the private school, we were transferred to a local public school. Things quickly went downhill from there, scholastically. The last time I can clearly remember having straight-A’s was the first quarter of my 3rd grade year, and I was the only one in my class. From there I went downhill and was averaging C’s and D’s by 5th grade. In retrospect, my parents and I had determined (sometime during my late-elementary/early middle-school years) that the cause was boredom. Turns out that the public schools teach at a much slower pace than the private school I was used to, and while the class was still reviewing the topics of the previous year (or from before the most recent vacation), my mind was ready to move on to the next. That not happening, I got bored and stopped being productive.

During my time in Elementary school, I was active in the school chorus and WEBELOS scouts, although my social status made a slight drop from the “generally accepted” to the “generally picked-on” category. I still had a good group of friends and neighbors that went to the same school, but there was always some jerk bully looking to have fun with me too. Never anything physically painful, more or less just a load of jeering and insults, which may as well have been the same. Aside from the bullies, things were still pretty okay. Then again, that’s how things in your past, your “carefree” years, when you’re more “grown up” and “responsible”.

After 5th grade came Middle School. (Grades 6-8 where I live.) The particular school I was sent to for my 6th grade year wasn’t quite the greatest to be in. In fact, some of the teachers I had actually remembered my father. So, the place was rather dilapidated from its age and, although the staff was decent, many of the students I ran into weren’t. I still had a good handful of friends, but the bullies were worse in this new place. I found myself making quick friends with my Guidance Counselor, as I was often coming to her with reports of the most recent incident with a guy named Josh who, at the time, was becoming the bane of my existence. He never did anything to leave a bruise, but the harrassment, again, was more than enough to make up for it. This, I believe is when I officially got my social status marked as “nerd”, and found myself becoming a bit of a recluse from it.

If I recall correctly, this was also the year my parents divorced. If not, then it was the next. I’d like to believe I took it well, as I don’t usually make a big deal of most things, although I do remember missing my father deeply for awhile after he moved out, although he was only a few blocks away. My chorus and scout activities were traded in for Chess Club and Band. (I played the bassoon.) Aside from any classes that could actually hold my interest, my grades began to settle to D’s on average. I was just keeping them high enough to pass through the classes, although I could still ace any given test at the drop of a hat.

The next year, a new school closer to my house opened up, and I was transferred there, where I stayed for my 7th and 8th grade years. Still kept up with the Band and Chess Club activities, but never made much improvement in my grades. Josh still lived in my neighborhood, but he’d moved on to High School, and any other bullies I happened to meet generally didn’t quite seem so bad. At the worst, I’d gradually learned to either just ignore them, or actually trade a few insults back, which made theirs not seem so bad. Still saw the Guidance Counselors enough to recognize them, but it was mostly just for scheduling issues rather than bully issues. Still had a group of people I considered friends, although I only saw them at school.

Aside from Chess Club or Band, any after-school activities generally consisted of whatever the rest of the family was doing, or whatever fit my interests. This was also the time where those interests gradually started to shift into the computer world. My dad’s always had a computer, even if it was just a VIC 20, and when the schools started teaching typing and internet searching skills, it just helped things along.

I think I was in my 8th grade year when my mother re-married. My step-dad seemed like a good guy to start, but as I moved further into my teenage years, the relationship became rough. It didn’t help that he was constantly having to butt heads with my insubordinate little brother. My little sister was always a brat in the way only little sisters can be, but she never seemed to have any big issues with him.

Next came High School. (9th-12th grades out here.) I think these are the years evreyone wishes they could go back to, if not to just live out again, then to do over again and fix. I’m no different. My grades started slipping to the occasional F, and I failed and had to re-do a few classes in these years. In my 9th grade year I was in the Marching Band and NJROTC programs (played bassoon in Concert Band, but had to stay in the “Pit” for Marching Band since bassoons can’t march), but was removed in 10th grade because of my grades. Still stayed in the Chess Club, and used the time that would otherwise have been occupied by Band and NJROTC to take computer-related classes. Still knew my Guidance Counselor well, although now it was exclusively for scheduling issues, which somehow seemed to be constant and unrelenting, probably due in part to the fact that the school had just shifted to a new scheduling format. At this point, I still carried the “nerd” label, although the jeers and insults were fewer and farther between, and I can’t recall actually having any bullies that actually persisted for an extended period of time. So, I became slightly less reclusive, and kept a good several friends through these years, although I was still antisocial enough that my after-school activities (aside from anything with extra-curricular organizations) rarely involved them.

In 10th grade, I noticed that my World History teacher always seemed to have some form of a meeting with a group of studients in his classroom on Wednesdays before school started. Naturally curious human that I am, I soon found the group was known as the FCA, or Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Now, I had been raised in a Christian home all my life, usually going to one church or another on a semi-regular basis, as my mother’s schedule (or occasionally, my energy level – as there was a church within biking distance) would permit. However, at this point, I believe I felt as if it was just something I kinda had been going along with. I really only knew just enough to tell you that going to church was a good thing, God was a good person, Jesus died on a cross and rose again, and we should follow His rules. So, knowing this little bit that I did, I was intrigued enough to go ahead and get involved in this FCA thing. At the time, I didn’t seem to have much better to do before the bell, aside from an occasional chess match in the media center, but that was irregular enough to be disregarded.

Through FCA and, later on, another organization called Student Venture, I started to learn a bit more about why Christ died and His plan for the salvation of mankind. I believe that I’ve always had Christ in my heart, so I won’t say that I accepted Him at this point, just maybe that I got to know Him a bit better. Kinda like if you rent a room out in your house to someone, but don’t get to know them well due to separate work schedules or something, then you both actually take a little time off to find out more about each other.

This, coupled with my still-growing interest and savvy in the world of computers and the Internet, is partly what I believe led to my meeting the woman who was destined to be my wife. I’d gotten pretty attached to this program called ICQ, which was IMHO the best Instant Messenger client at the time. I also loved to have some fun with its “Random Chat” feature. Clicking through the various options, I chose to look for someone in the US (so they’d be online close enough to the same time zone for me to interact with regularly), speaking English (I speak nothing else), in my approximate age group, interested in (among other things) Christianity, and Female (I had a hard time getting along with guys at the time). After bouncing through a few profiles that didn’t quite fit someone I’d be interested in talking to, I found a nice one and made contact. A month or so later, we decided we were interested in each other, and started considering ourselves an online couple. However, it ended up that we weren’t quite that serious about it at the time, and in November of 1998, after the school day started taking its heavy toll on the amount of time we were able to interact with each other, we broke it off.

Life rolls on, school life seems to get better, although I still showed no improval in my grades, despite my parents’ attempts to encourage me otherwise. (Groundings were their favorite treat, which seemed to go equally for my brother and sister when they had problems – so there was usually some form of a “I won’t tell if you don’t tell” deal to work around when parents weren’t home.) In 1999 I got my first job in a local Fast Food restaurant, which I held for 8 months before walking out along with a couple other employees. (A mistake I plan on not making again.) Fortunately I had another job in the works anyway, which I got hired at four days later, a direct competitor of my former employer. I stayed at that job for a year and a half. Meanwhile, as the school year moved along, it became quite apparent that I wasn’t going to be graduating with my class. It also appeared that, at the rate I was going, a regular fifth year wouldn’t quite do it for me, either. So, my Guidance Counselor recommended a program the High School had in cooperation with a local Technical School, called “GED Exit Option”. Sounded easy enough, so I went and took the preliminary tests and got myself in for the next year.

Meanwhile, in ‘net life, my former flame and I had been keeping contact off and on this entire time, although more off than on. Summer of 2000 came along, and our online schedules started coinciding more often than not again. Then, we decided to actually swap phone numbers, and start communicating more that way. Fortunately, I still had my job, and didn’t have any bills to worry about (never got a car or full driver’s license), so I generally had enough of “my own” money to devote to paying Mom off for the phone bill, and/or buying mass quantities of el-cheapo phone cards. (You’d be surprised how many minutes you can actually get off those 1.9 cent cards when you spend them on only 3 or 4 connections.) Later on, I came across a company on the web called SpeakZero, with a $30/mo. unlimited long distance (to U.S. and Canada) plan that helped cut costs a LOT. So, in June of 2000 the inevitable happened. We decided to give this long-distance relationship thing another shot. Only this time we were going to be more serious about it.

School kicked back in, and now I was actually somewhat interested, although that still did little to fix my set-in habit of all-tests and no-classwork/homework. Fortunately, this time, it was all about the tests anyway. Instead of going to my High School, although I was still enrolled as a student there, I went full-time to the local Technical School. For the first half of my day, I was put in an academic course that was geared towards teaching me everything I needed to know to pass the required tests for High School graduation (HSCT/FCAT) and the GED test. Fortunately, I didn’t need to know much if any more than I already did, so this was generally extra time to catch up on sleep lost in phone conversations from the night before. Second half of the day was a technical course of my choice, which was (what else?) Computer Electronics Technology. After the first half of the first semester, we were given the opportunities to take the aforementioned tests, and pass our way out of the academic class, and get full-time into our technical course. Always the one ready to ace a given test, that’s what I did. Unfortunately, old habits kept me back in the technical course, and I finished the year just passing well enough to still get my High School diploma. (They call it GED Exit Option, but it’s still a full diploma, pretty cool eh?)

Meanwhile, on the work front, in Fall/Winter of 2000, coming around to my one-year anniversary with my second job, the new manager at the store decided to cut back my hours. So I was working 3 days instead of 5. Still not too bad, considering my limited expenses, but at this time I had decided to move in with my Dad, who had started charging me rent (I was 18, so he could do that.) in order to teach a little responsibility. It was only $100/month, and I had to cover my own food (otherwise, he was living in the house on his own and rarely ate at home, therefore little was kept there.) and phone charges, and I didn’t mind at all. Like I’d mentioned previously, relations with my stepdad did have their rough points during this time of my life, and this had been the point when I decided I’d had enough and had to get out. So, now having to keep up with rent, food, and phone bills, along with emergency supplies for my bike pack, and batteries for the headlight (which it ate about as much as I did in food), I found myself needing that extra two days on my schedule just for a little comfort zone in the paycheck.

Fortunately, there was another fast food spot nearby, where I’d gotten to know the manager from my regular dinner stops, after the food at my own job got too monotonous. Turned out that around this same time, he was looking for some weekend help on closing shifts. Closing shifts for this place, however, ran until about 3 in the morning on the weekends. Fortunately, between the two jobs, I was still able to keep a regular Sunday/Monday-off schedule, so that didn’t interfere much more than usual with my school-necessary sleep. However, it did do a bit to reinforce a tendancy that my body already had developed towards nocturnalism.

Graduation in 2001 came along, and my girlfriend flew down to see the ceremony. She’d had a previous visit for Christmas/New Year’s 2000/2001, so this wasn’t the first time, and it was at this point we decided we definitely wanted to be married in the future. So, I got her an engagement ring/wedding ring set, and she had a promise ring for me, which would later become my wedding ring. Mom was still trying to figure out how we could be so young and be so serious about this internet thing, and Dad just kinda seemed to go along with it, although he was always there to remind me what kind of responsibility I was inviting upon myself, when I needed it.

Later on in the summer, I had planned to take some time off work to fly up to meet her family and get to know the bunch of people up there. However, school now being out, and me working solely on closing shifts at both my jobs, my sleep schedule gradually became purely nocturnal. This became an issue when the manager at my primary job, out of nowhere, and knowing full well my schedule at the other job (where closing ran to 3 in the morning) threw me a week solid of opening shifts. Never being a great morning person, even when I was a day-dweller, the short-notice sleep schedule change didn’t work out at all. Tardies built up quickly and led to my termination halfway into the week.

Since I was out of school, I figured now was going to be a good time to start looking for full-time work. I found an opening at a local 24-hour dine-in on the late-night shift that looked good, and jumped on it. I gave my manager at the other job two weeks’ notice, and he told me to just take it off so I could jump into this new job. Unfortunately, the new job bombed in that two weeks. The same night I came to the definite conclusion that I wasn’t fit for it, so did the manager, and I was released. Shortly after if not during this little stint of a job (can’t remember for sure), my dad felt the need to “boot me out of the nest” in hopes to move me along in life. Part of this came also from the fact that my brother had come to a point where he could no longer tolerate my step-father, and wanted to come over to Dad’s house. Him still being a minor, I guess that gave him a little precedence. Fortunately, that also left a room open at Mom’s house again, and we just pretty much switched spots. The time separate had made things better for my relations with my step-dad anyway, as did my services as in-house tech support for his somehow-constantly ailing computer.

This time period was close enough to my planned vacation up north and I’d had enough saved up that I gave little concern to finding a job immediately. Besides, who would want to hire an employee just to have them leave for a couple weeks immediately after training? I actually gave my “mother in-law” (quotes, because we still weren’t legally married yet) a call one night, with barely 24-hours’ notice, to see about coming up early to surprise my fiancee. It cleared with her, and I went up and spent nearly a month getting to know everyone there, and to better know my fiancee. Then came 9/11/2001. I was still up there, on a buddy pass from one of her relatives, so I was informed I had to fly home within a week or risk losing my return ticket. This wasn’t too far off the original schedule, so it wasn’t a huge put-out. What was, however, was the job market after returning home. Christmas came around and there still didn’t seem to be much out there that I could qualify for or get to easily, although my former manager from my 3rd job (The one that I left from on good terms.) said that, if I would have had a car, he would have hired/trained me for a shift manager at his new store. Uplifting as that was, it still was nothing tangible.

Around Christmastime, my fiancee came down again for what would be the final time. We’d decided we couldn’t stay apart any longer. She got a transfer from her job up north to a place more local to my area, and my aunt had a room in her house that she typically rented out, which was vacant at the time, so we moved in and started paying rent to her. My fiancee’s job holding us up for the most part, I eventually found a job at a pet store that lasted about 3 months before the owner and I mutually agreed that that wasn’t the long-term place for me, and I should move on. Unfortunately, moving on meant back to fast-food, due to lack of experience and qualification elsewhere. A few months after that new job started, I was terminated over a schedule misunderstanding.

So, I went back to work for one of my old employers, the one I was at for 1 and a half years. A few months into that job, we discovered my fiancee (who was still in her full-time job) was pregnant, due late-August 2003. A couple months later, the morning sickness had been taking such a toll on her, that she was constantly having to call in to her job from the ER because of dehydration. Her company eventually terminated her for these attendance problems, although they only did so two weeks after it had cleared up. About a month later, my manager and I got into a disagreement over whether or not I was going to participate in various serious violations of health code in foodservice, and (having made the mistake of allowing the discussion to take place in front of customers) I was terminated over that, also.

At this point, the job market in our area appeared slimmer than ever. Especially with someone having my work history, or her health condition. (Who’s going to hire someone who’s been fired repeatedly for attendance issues, or someone else who’s going to have to go on maternity leave shortly after training?) Fortunately, a week before our daughter was born, I got a positive response from a convenience store that I’d applied for 3rd shift work at, saying I’d start two days after my fiancee was scheduled to be induced into labor. (On the day we’d scheduled her to be induced, our daughter would have already been a week late and my fiancee’s mother and grandmother were going to be coming down a week later to see her, so she had to be out.) This was also perfectly timed, since both of our unemployment checks were on their tail ends. So, our daughter was born, a week later my “mother-in-law” came down and covered the bill for a small wedding ceremony at my mom’s house, led by our auto mechanic who happened to be Notary Public, and therefore legally able to marry us.

So, now our daughter is a little over nine months old, weighing in at 22 pounds and change, and stretching out to 29 inches. I’m still with the same company, although the location has bounced around a bit since, and actually ended up landing a little closer to home. We’ve passed our 9 month wedding anniversary, and also just passed our 4 year anniversary as a couple. Life is kinda tight right now, since I’m insistent on doing my best to keep her home with the baby while I make the money, but we’re getting along. Government help is kinda nice too, although I’d rather get off that as soon as I can help it.

Also of interest, my father recently married a woman he’s been dating/living with for the past few years. My relations with her have been somewhat distant, although personally I would like to work on that. I just forsee that being a long and gradual process, but definitely doable. My brother has joined the USMC and is currently in school, and although his ties with certain parts of the family have been all but completely severed, I still manage to connect with him now and then online. Hopefully we can work to repair those bonds at some point, but I forsee that task being longer and more difficult than the previously mentioned target. My sister is having a rather successful High School career, and although she’ll be graduating next year, I’m not sure if she quite knows where she’ll be headed yet, afterwards. These days, I’m guessing she’s looking for God to guide her in the right direction, as she grows in her own relationship with Him.

That brings us also to the topic of my spiritual life. Since being out of High School, and therefore out of contact with the organizations that had once helped to light the fire in my soul, I started to settle back into an idle mode. Part of this came from not really having a home church that I really felt connected to. Yeah, there was the Baptist one where I’d went to school, but that was more of my “school’s church”. I never really had grown up with that church, or felt connected with it. Then there was a “Foursquare” church, that was actually the one I was originally raised and baptized in, but to be rather blunt and honest (as much as I loved the people I’d grown up with) it was pretty much an “old people’s” church. Youth ministry was limited to the little upstairs room where the younger children had their little Sunday school during the adult services, and after a certain age (somewhere mid-elementary school) you just jumped right into the main congregation. There was little to no support for the younger generation outside of that, and for the rest of the people, it was pretty much limited to Sunday service anyway. The other two considerable options were extremely large churches and, while they were both good in their own respects, it was too easy to feel lost in the crowd and there was never any real “connection” felt with the church.

So, church became once again, a thing that we knew was a good thing, but no one really had the time or energy for, especially since the more favorable options were a good distance away to begin with. Then, around late last year, my step-brother found another church in the area, called ChurchInTheSon. He started talking to my wife and I about going. At the time, I had a standing request for Sunday/Mondays off at my job, but I always came home from work Saturday night/Sunday morning feeling too tired to go to church, and I wanted us to experience this new place as a couple, so we could both come to a decision about this church together, and not split our family over religion. At the time, I was also kinda favoring one of those aforementioned larger churches, not really quite realizing how lost in the crowd I had been feeling whenever I did go, albeit that itself was on rare occasion. Eventually, my step-brother talked me into letting my wife go ahead of me, opening my eyes to see that I actually could be inhibiting her opportunity for spiritual growth in favor of my own (somewhat) selfish desire to be there, in control.

After a week or two, she started to like the place, although from what I’d heard I was somewhat skeptical. Not wanting to split the family over religion, I finally gave the place a shot and, after two weeks I found myself more deeply involved and connected to this church than I ever have been to any organization in my life. Also through this church, I feel I have come closer to knowing God, and more on fire for Him than ever. As previously mentioned, church used to be a “when I have time” or “when I have energy” thing. Now, time or energy seems of little matter. I work Saturday nights, jump straight from work to home to get ready for church, from church to home often after 3 PM, to get barely enough sleep to have myself functional for a 10 PM shift Sunday night. I now have my days off shifted to Monday/Tuesday so I can stay connected to a cell group, and go to our 20-somethings service, known as “The Living Room”. So, any night that’s not covered by work is now covered by church, and I find myself still wanting more.

And that brings us up to speed, and up to my current project. Now, my new journal begins, as does my new way of spending “quiet time” with God, which I’ve never really been good about before, yet recently become strongly aware of my need for it. While many of my posts will be directed to you, the Readers, I expect there will be an occasional post directed to God, which you are also free to read. There may even be one or two directed to myself. Lord only knows how this may pan out. I apologize that I haven’t really “written” for a couple days, but I actually have. The date/time on this post is the time of my first saved draft. The time is now approximately 15:00 on 6/19/2004. I’ve been gradually working on this Bio post for the last 3 days now, and now that it’s over with, my posts should be much shorter. If you’ve stayed with this post this long, thank you for your patience in reading my story and getting to know me. As previously stated, I expect the journey from here on out to be an interesting, if not exciting one for both of us. I know I’m looking forward to it.

See you tomorrow.

– Iszi

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Introduction

Posted by Iszi on June 17, 2004

Greetings Readers, and welcome to My Thoughtspace. I am rather new to the concept of the Blog, so forgive me if this space appears a bit disorganized or erratic for awhile. I’ll straighten things out at one point or another, just stick around and see.

The general purpose of this Blog is just what the title says. This is just going to be a space for me to spill my ongoing thoughts in life, and general views on current events in my life. Okay, so it’s going to be a journal. Just don’t call it that. Blog is a much cooler word.

This Blog’s purpose is actually somewhat twofold. Firstly, as stated, it will be a form of a journal for me, which I’ve never done before, and I’ve heard it’s good for personal development, which I could always use more of. Secondly, I am going to attempt to use this as a tool to help develop some “quiet time” with the Lord, which I’ve never really been good about.

I expect my regular entries will include some bit of scripture I’m studying at the moment (another thing I’ve never kept up on much, which I’m hoping to use this to help with); my take on the meaning of that scripture, if I have formed one; some typical journal-ish stuff like thoughts and events of the day; occasionally a link to something semi-relevant, or maybe not relevant at all, you never know; and possibly a “song of the moment” (whatever happens to be playing on my computer/stereo at the moment I decide to type it.).

I expect this to be a rather interesting, and hopefully exciting undertaking for me, and hopefully just as much interesting and exiting reading for you. Feel free to e-mail me with any comments/suggestions/personal notes you wish to express.

With that said, here I go…

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