Made of Different Stuff Than When I Began.


Forty Days of Water [March 1 – April 9]

Filed under: Life — by thisside1984 @ 9.57 pm


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25 random things.

Filed under: Life — by thisside1984 @ 1.56 pm

I’m joining in all the hype.

1/ I’m a Lost, Arrested Development, The Office, and Will & Grace junkie. But other than these shows, I never watch tv.

2/ I can play: guitar, piano, bass, trumpet, baritone, french horn, trombone, saxaphone, clarinet, ukulele, and kazoo. I like to pretend that I can play: violin, cello, and harmonica.

3/ I was born (sorta) and raised in Pittsburgh, PA.

4/ I absolutely love to cook. Especially if I get to cook for lots of people! (Sunday-buffalo chicken dip-hoorah!..haha)

5/ I listen to music almost nonstop throughout the day. I really cannot make it through a day without listening to Coldplay or Lifehouse.

6/ I love quotes. My favorites are, “The great use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it.” James Trunslow Adams and “To love is to be vulnerable.” C.S. Lewis

7/ I have ALWAYS wanted to ride in a hot air balloon for as long as I can remember. I still haven’t had the chance to do so.

8/ This is way harder than I thought!

9/ I did my undergrad at Messiah College in Grantham, PA and my degree is in Christian ministries with a concentration in global missions.

10/ When I was a kid, until about the end of high school, I used to have wicked crazy dreams and would wake up disoriented and think I was in that dream. So one year at camp I dreamt the bunk bed was falling on me and I woke up, sat up straight, and knocked my head on the wooden ladder.

11/ I only like balogna if it is in the shape of a duck.

12/ I have the very best friend in the whole entire world who loves me no matter what! And for that I am grateful. I don’t know what I’d do without her!

13/ I think kids are hysterical. I particularly enjoy the company of a rambunctious 2-6 year old. But beware, I tend to teach them bad things. Well, bad things or lots of Beatles songs Or bad things AND lots of Beatles songs. I think every 4 year old should know that the Beatles are the greatest rock band and be able to sing the chorus of some of their most famous songs. I’m just sayin’.

14/ I love to laugh really hard and I love to make other people laugh really hard. And by hard I mean, crying and having trouble breathing. What a joy!

15/ I’ve traveled outside of the country only twice; once to Port-au-Prince, Haiti and once to Baoding/Beijing, China. I am hankering to travel alot more after I’m done with school.

16/ Contrary to popular belief, I don’t actually know anything about anything. 98.5% of the time I google it. In fact, I say, “I’ll just google it,” probably at least 10 times a day.

17/ I have a small collection of wooden statues from various places – Haiti, Mexico, Hawaii, Ecuador, Iceland. It keeps growing and I love it! So next time you are out of the country, hook me up!

18/ I’m deathly afraid of snakes. I will either (a) pass out or (b) run away screaming at the top of my lungs. I haaaaaate them!

19/ See #10. I had one as a kid where I dreamt there was a large gray snake wrapped around a tree in my yard and the people at the church were trying to figure out what to do with it. I still think about that alot and it still makes me shudder (see #18).

20/ I love all my fellow Mars-Hillians. They are an amazing bunch of people and we all have a ton of fun together!

21/ I miss my cat who is at home….she thinks she is a puppy and follows me around everywhere. And she sleeps next to my head every night.

22/ I’ve been in 26 states. Someday, hopefully make it to all of them.

23/ I won a real live bunny at school when I was in 2nd grade. I named it Fufu. No comments! haha

24/ I am actually rather introverted. I like being around people, but I also need alone time to wind down at night.

25/ I want to live, breathe, work, play, eat, love, sing, all in the name of Christ.


There are still good people in this world.

Filed under: Life — by thisside1984 @ 2.36 pm

Read, THIS.


“Sorry, I’m Too Busy….”

Filed under: Life — by thisside1984 @ 12.57 pm

I absolutely hate when people say this. What they really mean to say is, “I have other things in higher priority than you.”

Unfortunately this semester I’m probably going to have to employ this phrase more often than not. I’ve got a full load, and a more academically challenging semester. I’m ready, but it’s going to be tough! Here I go…

My reading for the semester:



The Kingdom.

Filed under: Life — by thisside1984 @ 2.36 pm



So Are You To Me

Filed under: Life — by thisside1984 @ 12.05 pm

Shakespeare // Sonnet 75

I need You the way living things need food or the grass needs rain, and to attain the peace that only You can give me, I fight with myself the way a miser struggles with his wealth. One moment he enjoys his wealth proudly, and the next he’s worried that someone from these thieving times will steal his treasure. One moment I think it’s best to be alone with You, but then I think it would be better if the rest of the world could see my pleasure. At times I feel over-satisfied from looking at You excessively, but a little later I’m starving to get a look at You. I can’t experience or pursue any enjoyment except what You can give me or I can take from You. That’s why I suffer and feel hungry day after day, because I either get too much of You or none at all.


First day of class…

Filed under: Life — by thisside1984 @ 2.32 pm

Yesterday was my first official day back to school. It was really good, but veerrrryyyy long. Here’s my schedule for this semester:

BTI 502 Reading Practices: Engaging the Biblical Text (2 credits)

BTI 504 New Testament Genre (3 credits)

CSL 517 Marriage & Family (2 credits)

CSL 552 Practicum I Part II (1 credit)

SFD 526 Celtic Spirituality (1 credit)

TCE 502 Mission in a Global Context (2 credits)

I have one more class/credit than I did last semester. Yes, that means MORE reading and MORE papers. Hoorah…. But I think it is manageable. I think my favorites are going to be the two Bible courses.


another year gone by :: 2008 in review

Filed under: Life — by thisside1984 @ 10.00 pm


[Above picture: One of my first attempts at watercolor and ink]

To see last year’s post, visit this link.

I have been really slack these last couple of months with this blog. The end of the semester was just so busy, I got side tracked. And then of course, have had little motivation to write much more on here. But at any rate, I shall reopen the blog posting this year with a series of lists. Because, well, I love lists of all sorts. Top 10 are the best. Anywho, here they be:

Best Memories of ’08 ::

* Working at two mighty fine churches: Homestead Park UMC (worship leader) and Bridgeville First UMC (secretary)

* Spending two weeks in Baoding and Beijing, China.

* Greeting a third little Rager baby into the world, Mason Chase!

* Road trip across the country with my dad en route to Seattle for graduate school.

* One semester down, done well, well done, 8 more to go!

* Turning 24 years old.

* Getting to know my best friend in the whole world!

* Becoming addicted to Arrested Development.

* Overusing phrases like, “Hey hermano!”, “Because…I know that!”, and “I like you! Very nice!”

Things I’d like to do in ’09 ::

* Ride in a hot air balloon (this is still at the top of my list, but I have yet to complete it….)

* Lose some weight……..or to be specific, a lot of weight.

* Get back into the habit of journaling

* Travel to . . . anywhere.

* Get some more good grades and enjoy some more MHGS classes.

* Figure out watercolor painting and paint some cool things.

* Find a cheaper addiction to replace coffee.

* Read some books that are not school related.

* Get a new camera and take some amazing pictures.

* Begin figuring out what the heck I’m going to do with the rest of my life.

* Actually write on this blog more than once every 2 months.

Best albums of ’08 ::

* Tyler Burkham – Darling, Maybe Someday

* Ray LaMontagne – Gossip in the Grain

* Coldplay – Prospekt’s March

* The New Frontiers – Mending

* Kyle Andrews – Real Blasty



Filed under: Life — by thisside1984 @ 4.54 pm

It seems as though it has been a bazillion years since I’ve updated this thing. Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration. It has, in reality, only been two weeks. BUT, contrary to the rest of the semester, these last few weeks have felt like a lifetime!

So here is a mini update, for those of you who sporadically visit this little site whose only hits are from people searching for Leona Lewis or Jon Foreman album covers.

At any rate, I just, literally 5 minutes ago, finished my final paper for the semester. In the last week I have written (1) 10 page research paper on NT Wright & the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, (1) too-many-paged journal entry on theology, (1) 4 page paper on my personal hermeneutic, and (1) 7 page paper on interpersonal foundations. I have to polish the last two papers before I turn them in, but for the most part I am DONE writing for the semester! Hoorah!!

One final feat for the semester: study for a final that is on EVERYTHING. All books, notes, and lectures for the class. Easy, right? Probably not. But manageable. Here I go!!!!!!!!!!!


My favorite Christmas song.

Filed under: Life — by thisside1984 @ 4.12 pm


Desire for Reconciliation

Filed under: Life — by thisside1984 @ 2.51 pm

Genesis 3 (The Message)

1 The serpent was clever, more clever than any wild animal God had made. He spoke to the Woman: “Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?”

2-3 The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.'”

4-5 The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.”

6 When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it-she’d know everything!-she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.

7 Immediately the two of them did “see what’s really going on”-saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves.

8 When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God.

9 God called to the Man: “Where are you?”

10 He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.”


What I love most about this passage is the pursuit of Adam & Eve by God. God says, “Where are you?” Does God know at this point what has happened? Certainly. But, God’s first words here are not ones of punishment, shame, or otherwise. He simply asks, “Where are you?” We have been lost and God pursues us so that we might be found again. Yes, there are consequences. But it seems as though the ultimate concern is for reconciliation; for a return to the image in which we have been created.


No Man is an Island.

Filed under: Life — by thisside1984 @ 3.44 pm

I read a few excerpts of Thomas Merton’s No Man is an Island online this morning … and I am very much compelled to run over to Barnes & Noble and buy a copy. I have neither the time or money to do so at the moment. At any rate, this picture is from the cover of that book. And it has captivated me so much, I found myself just sitting here staring at it. I can’t get enough.



Justice goes hand-in-hand with mercy.

Filed under: Life — by thisside1984 @ 12.29 am



Working. Progressively.

Filed under: Life — by thisside1984 @ 2.48 pm

For my practicum this trimester, we had to spend some time reflecting/praying on what is most beautiful/glorious about our souls, most sinful/depraved in our souls, and how that will affect our ministry and ability to relate to people. This is my paper:

My time at Mars Hill has been a time of discovery. It has not been discovery in the sense of coming upon something new or unknown. Rather, it has been a time of becoming more conscious of things I already knew, but perhaps could not recognize clearly or formulate properly. This has been my experience in preparing for this paper.

As I went through my prayer time, I found it considerably easier to focus my time and attention on the sinful and depraved parts of my soul than to pinpoint that which is beautiful and glorious within me. I am finding that there is a vast disconnect between how I see myself and how others experience me.

I believe God has given me the ability to listen well and extend grace to people in all walks of life. It is a desire of mine to consistently meet people where they are, to love and accept them no matter their circumstances. I have a genuine interest in people’s lives, and I hope that is apparent as I engage them in meaningful ways.

This desire to be loving and accepting is so indelibly written in my heart, I think, because I yearn for these things for myself. My constant pursuit of love and acceptance, in some respects, has become my greatest downfall. It has generated within me a tremendous amount of insecurity in intimate relationships. The ways in which I am able to give grace are greatly limited by how hard it is for me to receive grace.

As I determine the ways in which these aspects of my soul affect my ministry, I am drawn back to the word “vulnerability.” If I cannot hold the tension of security and vulnerability in relationship, how can I expect others to do the same for me?


Not Helpful.

Filed under: Church,God,Life,Politics,Religion — by thisside1984 @ 10.50 pm

[Disclaimer: If you are here and decide you feel like you need to argue with or disparage me, then stop right here. I have no interest in your argument. If, however, you want to express your disagreement or concern with what I’ve written in respectful dialogue, I’m all ears.]

I really don’t think that self-professed Christians (Republican, Democrat, or otherwise) who slander presidential candidates with categories and labels such as “fraud” or “terrorist” or “warmonger” or whatever other entirely flippant appellation they want to give voice to are being very helpful to the world seeing the church as anything but divisive and abrasive.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe there are very serious short-comings on BOTH sides of this ballot. But we need to remember these are people, children of God regardless of their stance on abortion or war or whatever else. They are still people deserving respect. Have we entirely lost our capacities for mercy and grace?

It’s easy for us to see them as monsters or terrorists or frauds or liberals or fundamentalists when we don’t have to meet them face-to-face and look into their eyes and see that they are no more or less human than ourselves. We’re all capable of the same evils. Let’s remember:

Mt 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from the other person’s eye.

In the end, it’s God’s prerogative to condemn the guilty, not ours.

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