Monday, December 12, 2011

When the sky clears

It's been rainy and cold lately here. I've been very thankful so far for our new apartment, which is MUCH much warmer than my last house.

Tonight, on my way home from the doctor, I was able to catch the sunset. On clear days you can even see Mt. Fuji. I hurried home to grab my camera, and went to a pedestrian bridge near my house to try get a few shots. Unfortunately, the bridge is right over a major road, so it's not such a spectacular view, but I thought I'd put up some pictures anyway. I've been slacking off in the picture area lately, so here are a few shots of my new neighborhood. :-D

From the bridge looking towards Mt. Fuji, it's small, but you can see it.

The stairs leading up the bridge. Notice the flat area in the middle for bicycles.

In the middle of the buildings to the upper right is where I go for my foot rehabilitation.

A few closer shots of Mt. Fuji.

The dusk sky in the other direction.

There is a park in between the one-way roads. Many people take their dogs there for walks. I've played my guitar there once late at night. :-D

It stretches for quite a ways.

And the last picture is of the skyline opposite from Mt. Fuji. Even north of Tokyo, we have our fair share of skyscrapers.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Celebrating together

It's been a while since I've written a personal update. So here's what's been going on.

A few weeks ago, I was able to take off my walking boot on my broken foot and stop using crutches. This has helped reduce my stress a lot. It's amazing how having an able body changes your ability to deal with things. My legs are getting stronger again, and this week I wasn't as tired as before.

I'm still going to rehabilitation weekly, and I wear a wrap around my foot to keep the ankle stabilized, but it's good to more mobile again.

We are getting used to life minus one roommate. So far, we seem to be making due. My other roommate is getting enough work to meet ends on her side of things, and with a little change in my schedules, I'm managing to manage my finances as well.

I've started cooking to take my lunches for work. This is actually a bit of a production, since I'm at work for about 10 hours a day 4 days a week. (plus about 3 hrs commuting time) So I eat lunch and dinner at work. So I have to make two meals to take with me. This has translated into me coming home from work, making an evening meal for the next day, and then waking up early to make rice balls or sandwiches for lunch. My roommate is happy because I make enough for her too, and this cuts down on the amount of cooking she has to do. I managed one week of it, so we'll see how long I can keep it up.

My headaches have been increasing a bit in intensity, so I finally got my butt in gear and scheduled an appointment with a doctor to get more medication. With the broken foot, it had been difficult for me to make it to the head doctor, so it's been several months with no medication. I'll go tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to have medication again.

Yesterday we celebrated with the band. There were two birthday's, one member had his first daughter born, another member was able to come for the first time in several months, and we saw some old faces we hadn't seen in a while. It was a good evening, with home-made cakes, laughter, and fellowship together. To top it off, we watched the lunar eclipse together.

Many happy memories were made, at least by me.

Today I'm thankful for life progressing on. (and warm fleece!)

Friday, December 09, 2011

Father Abraham

In the Bible classes I'm teaching, we read Genesis 15 this week. (Take a second and read it)

Well that's a simple enough story right? Easy to understand...

riiiiiggght (insert rolling eyes here)

(Ok, enough eye rolling)

(serious face)

I've noticed many times when I read the Bible, I just don't get the point. Why was that even written? What is this trying to teach me? Is this supposed to make me love or understand God better? So confused. (insert confused face here)

I've read this passage before, I've taught about this passage before. But I've never really thought about it before.

I'm like that. I quickly read something, but then don't think about it too deeply. I like things to be spelled out for me. Too much thinking takes too much effort.

OK, I'm just lazy I guess. (I spent more time being frustrated by being made to interpret or find the hidden meaning in English Lit classes than actually thinking about things.)

But if I repeat things enough, sometimes I get it. In this case, I've experienced enough that I finally get it. Let me re-tell the story for you: (some 13 and 14 thrown in for background info...)

Abram is God's friend. God likes Abram a lot. God sent him to a new country, made him rich and powerful, he's got a beautiful wife, powerful friends, a bit of a stupid nephew and stuff like that. Well, his stupid nephew went to live near a rich, but not so "nice" city (Imagine Las Vegas on speed, minus the flashing lights). The king of this city and his four friends went and rebelled against a different king. This causes all kinds of problems and the big king gathers up his three friends and decides to teach them a lesson. A whole lot of people get captured and taken away, including Abram's nephew. One guy escapes and tells Abram, who has no choice but to talk to his two friends, gather up his 318 men (plus friends' men) and go get his nephew back. Abram, who is being backed by God, of course wins with no problems and rescues all the people. Only now the stupid king wants to bribe Abram and get him under his thumb. Abram wisely refuses, and goes back home.

Now Abram is understandably stressed out. So God, concerned about His friend, comes to comfort him. "Don't sweat the small stuff Abram! I've got your back! You know I'm always gonna be there for you!" But Abram's feeling a bit down, and he's kinda feeling the years. And he thinks back, and realizes he's been in this Caanan for a while now, and all these big promises God gave him 5 or 6 years ago still haven't happened the way he thought they would. So he lets a bit of his frustration show. "What are you talking about God? You promised me that I would be come a "great nation" and all that. But I'm still here living in tents with no land of my own, and no children to populate this great nation. I'm getting old and I don't even have an heir. Heck my servant is going to be the one to inherit everything when I die! I mean he's a nice guy and everything, but he's just not the same thing as a son you know... So what do you want me to make of all this stuff?"

God smiles and says "Don't worry. You won't have to give your servant all your stuff. You will have a child from your own body. I'm gonna give you all this land. Check out the stars. Try to count them. This is what your future descendants look like. Nice huh?"

And Abram believed. God's happy that Abram believes, but notices that Abram is still feeling a little uncertain. Abram see's the present, and can't imagine how it will become such a future. God's got a hidden plan, but Abram can't see all that. All Abram can see is the fact that he's a foreigner in a land full of all these violent tribes, and he has no children to boot. (and he's been pretty patient too...) So, God, in His compassion, decides to show Abram how much He loves him.

"Hey, tell you what. I'll show you how serious I am. Let's do that ceremony, you know the one the leaders do when they promise something big. You go get the animals and get them ready."

So God performs this traditional ceremony (which basically means, "If I break my promise, then may I end up just like these animals, cut up and torn apart") which is kinda like a conditional curse (the big scary ancestor of "cross my heart, hope to die, poke a needle in my eye") and then even tells Abram parts of His secret plan, 400 years in the future. (Your descendants will become slaves in a foreign land, but don't worry, I'll punish the nation, and bring them back rich. Then I'll give them this land here, while punishing the people who live here at the same time. It's a great plan don't you think? All these crazy, violent people here, have 400 years to get their act together, before I punish them. And then I'll give you this land I've been promising you. Just be more patient. Oh but don't worry, you'll die an old man peacefully here.)

Wow. That's pretty awesome. God did all of that for Abram. Abram must have felt very humbled, very loved after that big production. Wow.

And that gave Abram the strength to wait the next 15 years until he could see God's promise, Isaac for the first time.

20 years of waiting. But God was with Abram the whole time. God kept supporting and loving Abram the whole time (even when Abram messed up!)

This has become one of the most awesome stories ever! (super excited happy face here)

I always get excited when I come across revelations like this one. I can look back on my life, and then I can see where God was with me, and all the things He has done for me. When I get frustrated because life doesn't seem to be going the way I thought it would... When I mess up, or loose my confidence.... When I wonder if God even likes me.... It's easy to loose sight of God's love. But if I stop, and really remember.... Yes, there was that time when I felt completely loved by God. And there was the other time when God encouraged me in this way.... There are so many!

And I can calm down, stop thinking only about the way things look now, and remember that God is always with me, and always loves me, even if things don't always happen at my pace.

Although I'm kinda glad God doesn't show me His love by splitting apart animals anymore!