Life in Central PA
So, I have a new project going on…
I am trying to make a video for our presbytery’s 225th year celebration and I gotta get this done by Nov. 7th. I got one month to put this together and one big task I need to do is get pictures of all the churches that are in our presbytery’s care, at the same time get some little videos here are there.
I am getting a lot of help from people that I can interview from and people doing music. I have a ton of resources and people, but not too sure how much of it will be used. That’s the part that’s tough. Not too sure how much I can jam in for a 15-minute video. But I am praying a lot… like… A LOT!
So far, I have been in Big Valley and also Clearfield County. I missed a couple of churches, which I’ll come around and get to them soon. Driving is grueling though… seriously white knuckling through a lot, luckily no speeding tickets! But also, the drive has been quite rewarding. Found a couple of good fishing spots, for creek trout and smallmouth bass! I would literally stop at the side of the road and fish for like 10 minutes, catch a fish and back to white knuckle driving. Why, am I spending little time fishing here and there and speeding down the road? Well I am not training for a Cannonball Run (seriously, look that up… effing nuts…), but because time is limited, and the work is huge. I have about three days in a week that I can make these drives, because those are the days that the kids are in school and I only have about 3-4 hours’ time slot because I have to be there when the kids get off of school.
But like I said, these drives are rewarding though. Not just because of the potential fishing spots I have found, but the drive has taught me how special and amazing Central PA really is. It is absolutely amazing, inspiring, and just a beautiful place; especially now that the leaves are just changing color. I get to drive through, vast plains, over and around mountains, through fog, and blue skies, creeks, and rivers. And passing through Amish buggies, farmhouses, homesteads, fields and forests, small towns, big towns, and small cities.
Before I even arrived here in 2016? Or 2017? I never had a good chance traveling in and around Central PA, didn’t know what was around. Now I see it, and it is amazing. I feel like it’s a vacation. Like living in a big city, we come to the woods for vacation, and now I am living the vacation. Seriously, when the heck did, I arrive here? 2017? Dang, who knows, I don’t think it matters… you know, when you are living in Central PA, time can just fade away. Just enjoy the beauty that God gave us… that surrounds us, day in and day out. Just look up at night, and see the stars that litter the skies, see Gemini, Orion’s belt, the big dipper, little dipper, even sometimes spot planets.
You know what else is awesome about living here? NO MOSQUITOES! Seriously… where the heck are they? I mean… I seriously have not gotten bit by a mosquito since I have lived here… what’s up with that? Is that normal? Anyways… that is pretty awesome, to enjoy the outdoors without scratching your arms or legs. Guess what… tomorrow… is another day of driving through God’s Country, I’ll try to slow down a bit.
I think whenever we here the phrase, “We plan, God laughs,” we think that God is laughing at our plans, at the same time shaking his head and muttering, “you silly people, you know nothing!” Which can be true, but what if we think that whenever we plan, God is enjoying our plan and laughing in excitement? Instead of thinking that there is some overbearing God who is altering the lives of His lowly subjects, we have a God who is with us, in our plans, making miracles possible.
It has been about a bit over two months since our church doors re-opened for regular worship. It was the first time since March, the beginning of the pandemic, that we opened. What was our decision to open? It took careful thought and careful planning, and a whole lot of prayers, and gathering of resources. This wasn’t a sudden decision, but a well timed plan in order to assure that our sanctuary will always be safe and secure. We would not open if we felt that it couldn’t be done or that there were too many intangibles that we couldn’t control. But when have had a lot of planning and a lot of meetings, trying to figure everything out and it was important that we were all on the same page.
We made a lot of extra precautions in order to have worship. It’s different, but at least we are able to come together in God’s house! So, yes, we plan, and God laughs! Not laughing to make fun of us, but laughing with us, enjoying the right, precision kind of planning we have set forth. God is laughing with us and sharing in our joy to be free to worship. Laughter, yes oh laughter, how much we need it right? And what better place to find laughter is in the church. Well to see one another, and share a good story, make people smile, make people laugh. Sometimes doing worship is not just about what we do during worship, but before; the fellowship of shared laughs. And who knows, even in worship, we can enjoy laughter, because laughter might be the closest thing we have to find God present in our lives.
I learned tonight at the presbytery meeting, thanks to Rev. Scott Andrews (McVeytown Presbyterian Church) the correlations between hilarity and holiness, and better yet, how laughter and faith can be intertwined. Laughter is power, because it shows that we can roll with the punches that life gives us. Instead of being all pouty and frustrated, laugh, shake it off, and get going. Scott, remarkably quoted theologians who stressed on the importance of laughter when is comes to the Christian faith. My favorite one was, “Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God.” Or one by Martin Luther, “If I am not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don’t want to go there.”
I truly think that Martin Luther is right. If heaven is without laughter, there is no joy, and possibly the absence of grace. Barth, says, that laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God. First we have to understand what grace is. Grace is a gift of God that offers assistance for us to be sanctified, made sacred, to be purified, set free from sin. I would also simply say, grace is the love of God given to us. Grace is liberating, and what great way to show our liberation is through happiness and laughter.
If you want, share some quotes with us that is about laughter in the comments. Or better yet, share laughter with someone you care about.
Dang… this could have been a good sermon…
A Tale of Two Kids
Norah loves school… Ben umm threw up in daycare… three times…
Let me break this down for you…
Norah loves school. She is making new friends, and the teacher is awesome. I even embarrassed her in front of her new friends yesterday morning when we dropped her off, it was awesome! She’s digging everything about her classes, loves picking her outfit before school, even waking up fairly easy (she is not a morning person… at… all). This is all really awesome news. She started about a week earlier than Ben would start at his daycare. Every time Norah is dropped off at school, Ben starts to cry and feel all sad. I thought he was crying because he really wants to go to school… nope… he just really wants to be with his cooler, older sister.
So now it’s Ben’s turn. We drop Norah off, and then we go to Ben’s new daycare! Yay… I thought… Ben knew something was up… something didn’t feel right, it’s different, it’s a change. So let me give you a little background of Ben’s morning routine. As I said, earlier, Norah is not at all a morning person, but because she is excited about school, she really is a lot easier to wake up. Ben, never needs a wake up. 6:00am, every day, all the time, he is up and ready to go. However, unlike Norah who is excited to pick out her clothes for school, Ben doesn’t even want to wear pants. Normally, during the week, I just give up, and Sunday.. well you gotta wear pants to church right? Sunday church, is like the only time this kid will keep his pants on. Even during the week, when I take him to the church for work, he starts off with pants, and then suddenly, he is out of his pants.
So, that background on Ben and Norah’s routine in the morning. Now comes Ben’s turn to get ready for school. Something’s different, and he knows it. Because… he is wearing pants… hmmm…. Doesn’t seem like a Sunday… And eh starts feeling upset in the car. Then we arrive at his school, and he’s just building up… he’s at about a low 2 on the crying meter… mostly just whimpers, and that quivering lip. Then we get to his new, awesome, room for daycare. He went from a low 2… to a 100 on a scale to 1-10. Screaming, crying, and throwing himself on the ground, then throwing up, three times, every time they changed his clothes, more throw up. He couldn’t even wear his shoes, because they had vomit on them. So Ben’s first day of school… had pants on (great!) and no shoes the entire day (sad). Also, he didn’t have a lunch because I didn’t know we needed to prepare lunch for him because of this dang COVID-19! That is one heck of a first day for Ben! Shoeless, puking, hungry.
I am so stressed thinking about what he will do on Thursday. I’ll probably need to pack more extra clothes, another pair of emergency shoes, and a lunch (I wonder if I can just get a subway sandwich for him).
Here’s the thing, change is difficult, Ben knows that now, and for the most part, we at times, have felt like Ben before. Suddenly, we find our lives changing, and our routine seems broken, it causes stress, and even sometimes makes us feel nauseated. But we just try to find ways to be comfortable with change. It is at first uncomfortable and stressful, but it’s going to happen time and time again. The problem is as adults, we know how we can cope with change. How can a 2 year old find a way to cope with change and find peace in a new place and a new routine?
I Ate the Wrong Bagel
So, I have been going to the bathroom every hour since I ate a so called “dirty” bagel. So here is how it goes…
I took a bagel from my wife so she could securely hold Ben after church. Judy Pursley told me that Ben said that Bagel was “dirty.” Now I am holding this bagel, that looks delicious. It’s after church, and I am beyond hungry. At that moment that I am chatting with Judy and Ken Goodfellow, I think that this bagel is probably not dirty. The reason I think so is because I think that Ben may have mistaken this good bagel with a different bagel that was dropped outside, which I threw away. So, thinking that my son made a mistake, and briefly inspecting the bagel, no dust, no dirt, no pebbles, looks good right? So I ate it. I figured, even if it was the dirty bagel, I’m sure it can’t be too bad, I mean I’ve done that before… I know that’s gross.
So, I ate lunch, and apparently right after lunch, my insides now feel like that want to be outside. I knew it wasn’t the subway, I knew it was the bagel. So what did I learn? My son, knows what he’s talking about. I hate to say it, but most of the time, I usually think that when it comes to decision making, my son is usually wrong or has no idea what he is talking about. But I have to realize that maybe he knows more than I give him credit for.
And the other is regardless of how hungry you are, don’t eat food that fell on the ground. I mean there are so many more healthy options out there. Even at home, I have more bagels... like.. cleaner bagels, undropped bagels. Also, that 5 seconds rule... that's a bunch of crap! You will get germs instantly in your mouth... and your stomach will hate you for it.
Yeah, nothing theological, just all about needing to do better at being healthy.
Now, I have to go to the bathroom…. Peace out everyone!
This is a picture of Ben waiting for his mac and cheese to be ready to eat. Apparently, this was the best place to wait. I told him that it would take about 12 minutes, so he can go to the living room and play while the food is being cooked. But he was content in waiting with an empty bowl for the food. I tried to tell him, that it’s not instant food, you just must wait. I can’t boil water faster!
And this is a picture of Ben waiting for the milk man to deliver milk on Weds. Mornings. Every weds. Morning, he wakes up and goes right to the window or is too eager to go outside and wait at the front porch waiting for the milk man to come. Sometimes that kid will wait hours for the guy to get there.
Sometimes, I am really impressed at how patient Ben can really be. While he waits, he doesn’t pout or cry, just waiting, staring at the object or place until it finally is finished or arrived.
I hate to admit, but I think Ben may have more patient than me at times. I am horrible at being patient. I pray to God to give me patient, but He gave me kids. Might as well work on being patient by giving me a reason to have to be patient right?
Patience is painstakingly boring and can cause me a ton of anxiety. But, most of life is about being patient. And a life of faith is 100% all about being patient. Even if we ask God to give us more faith, having a stronger faith just doesn’t happen immediately. Building of faith is about years and years of going through the ups and downs of life. And there is no instruction about having a strong faith. The bible gives us guidelines, but those guidelines are always up to us, and if you can, takes time to get used to a build, because it is all a change of behavior and lifestyle, and those do not come easy. So we wait… and be patient of ourselves, and take each day one step at a time, so that the task, the changes, the choices become easier and that each day of building will decrease your anxiety of waiting, and by the time you ever realize it…. mission complete.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).