Thursday, February 28, 2008

The studying

I can't remember the last time I found it so difficult to get into studying. I really DON'T want to do this. I feel as though I am quite literally dragging myself across the finish line, bruises and all. This isn't a victorious crossing, face to the sky, arms in the air; this involves a medic. I just cried myself to sleep last night from the weight of it.

I listened to a fine sermon this morning on the glory of God, and it helped me take my mind off myself. That's really what needs to happen if I'm going to get anywhere here.

Of course, then I have to read this.

Pity party is over, folks. Move on.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

to be continued

and when I get back from the test, I'm taking a vacation with my code books, and without the phone, so I can get some reading DONE for once!

*looks up cabin rates in Broken Bow, OK*

update: 2 nights at the microtel for 111.47 USD... hmmmm...

Connie is right. Lake Murray it is. The cost of a cabin is less than the cost of the hotel!!

Booked my weekend; I'm going!!! Hopefully I'll get some reading done between the horseback riding, canoeing, hiking and biking...

There's even indoor fishing. I don't know how anyone can possibly get bored out there.

Now, what do deer eat.........

Monday, February 25, 2008

Final ARE exam the 3rd of March, next Monday. Could this really be the end? Could it? I pray that it is.

Friday, February 22, 2008

How God Works

Honestly, had I know what architecture entailed, had I known the ins and outs, I never would have chosen the profession. But God knew what He was doing when He put me on this path. I would do well to remember that most days.

This is definitely where I am right now.

Like the Kelvin-Helmholtz wave

It's an obsession, really. Looking for the gospel in the Old Testament.

I came across this during my morning reading:

Isaiah 30:15
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I wish...

I wish I got paid to do what my client pays the contracted accessibility specialist to do...

Since I have to correct their work, anyway.

Thoughts on Chasing

The most important thing is that if I go this year, I'm bringing the coffee maker and a pound of the "good stuff".

Monday, February 18, 2008

A few thoughts

As you can see, I've been enjoying a new lense (on loan). This is at the airport.

I'm considering actually chasing again in the spring.

And I'm not entirely sure, I probably need to consult a good commentary, but it would appear to me that Jacob had few redeeming qualities to him, aside from the fact that God used him to fulfill His promise to Abraham.

(quick edit: that last thought actually gives me a lot of hope)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Feeling a bit callous

Lately, I've been feeling a bit cynical, jaded, and have responded by being downright sarcastic. On a personal note, this has much to do with a few situations going on at work. I look at the plight of man, and have determined that the prognosis is not good.

I had a meeting on site today with a contractor trying to clean up someone else's mess. But that someone else won't pay said contractor until the mess is cleaned up. And when you throw a few other parties in there (one with authority and no scruples, one without authority and ready to throw the book at them -- literally) and a dash of greed, one really cannot discuss the situation without being incredibly terse about the whole thing. Because I see it for what it is: sin. It's hard to have compassion on a group of lost, squabbling men, even though I am bound to.

To add to the cynicism, I was looking at a favourite site of mine, Weather Underground. It sounds edgy; it's really not. It just has much more information than I could ever use, and I appreciate that. Their members post pictures, a few of which are astrophotography. Under the photo of the M81 and M82 galaxies, we find this statement: "A reddish glow is visible on either side of the galaxy. This is a feature of the violent nature of M82. About 40 million years ago, M81 passed by M82, and the gravitational shock wave from this near-collision caused gas clouds within M82 to collapse triggering incredible amounts of star formation. As the most massive new stars began to die off, large numbers of supernovae explosions wracked the galaxy adding to the chaos."

Yes. Looking at that picture, I can see how that would be true. Because none of us were there to witness it. Or were we? They seem awfully confident in their assurance that it did indeed happen.

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. -- Romans 1:18-23

So, what caused this story about collisions and chaos to be the new truth? In grad school, I took a few classes from a lady who had an affinity to Thomas Kuhn's book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In this book, Kuhn lays out a framework for the way science is shaped by discoveries, and the path from theory to knowledge. It is actually a very interesting book, and if you have a moment, I think you should read it.

Kuhn notes that all science has aberrations in it, and those aberrations are noted as such. Until those aberrations begin to line up, and a theory is developed. Eventually, that theory can completely replace the earlier theory, but this is no small thing. Hence, he refers to the overthrow of an earlier idea as a "revolution". Consider the geocentric vs. heliocentric view of the solar system. I'm a little rusty on my history, but weren't people dying because of that?

But to be honest, those experiments are being performed by humans. Data is culled by humans. We are fallible. We can ignore good data. And we can take aberrations and try to fit them into a current paradigm.

Really, the book does a better job of explaining this than I do. The bottom line is that when you have a paradigm, a framework without a Holy God, without sin, without the need for a Saviour, you are starting off with the wrong approach to a lot of things. Your paradigm is wrong, and I'm referring to this solar system statement above, and I'm going to try to get my point across for once. If you have a bunch of unregenerate men trying to understand the universe without the above paradigm of the existence of the world, you will get data put in the wrong categories, including good data thrown out as aberrant because it does not fit within the current paradigm. You will end up with something like the chaos theory and global warming.

If you want a reason to not trust scientists (because, really, I cannot trust myself, and neither should you), read this book.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Giving L'Enfant a run for his money

TND is all the rage. Traditional Neighborhood Development. It has other names. Smart Growth. New Urbanism. Transit-Oriented Development. It's the idea that the vehicle has led to undesirable sprawl, which has obliterated the face of anything pleasant on the planet, and has taken a beautiful country landscape and has paved it into oblivion.

In come the planners who want to change all that. They want "Main Street, USA" everywhere. Walkable. Livable. Sustainable. blah blah blah.

But on the less militant side, it pays the bills. At least it will in the next few weeks. I've been asked to design a small "Southlake Town Center" for the town of Mansfield, Tx.

And there are always those with self-conferred planning degrees who will have something to say about the design. I'm just glad I didn't sell back all my planning books; I will be in dire need of their counsel shortly.

Did you know that anxiety and worry are grievous sins? I think they rank up there with the sin of unbelief, personally. Anxiety isn't a condition needing medication. It's a gross affront to the sovereignty and character of God.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Quick thought

Simply put, I cannot love my doctrine more than I love my Lord.

Meditations on Psalm 62

1My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation.
2He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.
3How long will you assail a man,
That you may murder him, all of you,
Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?
4They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position;
They delight in falsehood;
They bless with their mouth,
But inwardly they curse. Selah.
5My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
6He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
7On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
8Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.
9Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie;
In the balances they go up;
They are together lighter than breath.
10Do not trust in oppression
And do not vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.
11Once God has spoken;
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God;
12And lovingkindness is Yours, O Lord,
For You recompense a man according to his work.

Our church just finished a conference on Christ Alone (Solus Christus). Before the conference, I was asked to take photos, which I obliged, but it was kind of difficult to pay attention. I learned during the last two chase trips that when one is behind the camera for someone else, it no longer becomes a hobby, and one is bound by good faith to shoot not for one's own self, but for others, which demands a certain level of excellence that may not necessarily be all that important when shooting for fun. So there was a lot of concentration... inhale, hold core muscles, wait for it, wait for it, press shutter, wait for it, press shutter, exhale. It's physically taxing, taking pictures. To be honest, there wasn't much concentration when I sat back down.

But I caught some interesting points that were brought back in my reading of this Psalm. Mostly, the supremacy and pre-eminence of Christ.

Look at how the Psalmist is emphatic with his use of the word "only", and on his insistence that God alone is his source of strength, his salvation. When reading this Psalm, I couldn't help but reflexively ask myself if this was true in my own life.

The answer was, sadly, no.

Going back to my previous post on the books on the shelf, I considered last night that unless the center of my life was Christ, those books WOULD be meaningless. Every
word in those books is meaningless without the framework of Christ upon which they rest. Those books cannot be read as an equation in which Christ is a variable. One of many. An accessory to the fact. No, those books must be read with a deep love for Christ on the part of the reader. They sort of "adorn" an already staunch and irrevocable Truth. I cannot hold anything up to what Calvin says or what Luther says and see if it is true. I must START with Christ, and everything I do must be an outgrowth from that center. Everything I read, any observation I make about the state of the world and (more importantly) the church MUST be made with Christ as the foundation, and with an undying devotion to Him. He must be the Rock, with men great and small as but a breath's weight in the balance of things. Unequivocally, all mercy and justice belong to Him, after all.

But I confess, that has simply not been the case of late. I have made my OWN observations the center of my world, and tried to fit Christ around them, but God will not be mocked. Praise Him for His discipline, though. And that as a loving Father, He disciplines those He loves. He gently corrects us with just enough pain to get our attention. He who holds all pain within His grasp metes out enough for our good, and no more than that. What love.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Just the facts, ma'am.

I was looking at the shelf full of books this morning. I thought about the possibility of reading most (if not all) of them when the testing was through. And I'm so glad I bought the solid wood furniture; there are some heavyweights on there.

Owen. Luther. Calvin. Spurgeon. Packer.

My biggest struggle by far is the temptation to just read them for the sake of reading them. Not for the sake of getting anything out of them. Absorb first, assimilate later. Certainly, it's a holdover from grad school where all I had to do was securely lodge the material somewhere in my grey matter, make sure nothing fell out during the work day, and then pull it back out for discussion in the night classes. Very systematic, nothing applicable to my daily life.

Oh, but this is so different. These are words that ought to be chewed and mulled over. This is not something that I will be required (by design) to forget once the need for it is gone. The diploma received, the registration procured. I'm not learning in order to pass a scheduled exam.

But perhaps that will prove refreshing. It is wearying to carry a weight perfectly only to not be expected to carry it any longer. To perform only to have the performance judged. There is no long-term value in where my mind is being heavily applied right now. Ask me in a year, and I won't be able to tell you what NCARB wanted to know.

But there is value in those books. My mind longs for something WORTHY of holding on to, instead of acting like a detention pond, serving a sole purpose of retaining information that will be needless and gone in a few weeks.

And this is obedience. One day I will not be a fact-machine. One day I can read and meditate on it, instead of lining the information up perfectly.

But today, it's just the facts, ma'am, just the facts.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The goodness of God

I was killing some time on a knitting magazine website. Looking at a few odds and ends to knit "one day". Reading an article or two. I found one about a lady who took a trip to Turkey by herself (I can relate) to just knit and enjoy being shuttled around to the various tourist stops. One photo showed her sitting on a bench facing a beautiful mountain with almost ice-blue (not even azure) water in front of it. And it came back to me.

You know, God didn't have to make the views from our perspective pretty. He could have made the views from above - only- beautiful, and He STILL would be glorified through that, because He does not need US to appreciate something in order for it to be qualified as beautiful.

But God still made the view from our perspective, perched atop two legs, approximately six feet from the ground, He made that beautiful. What care and goodness does that show? What love? To give such good things to those who do not care to know Him. To those born in opposition to Him. To those who continue to indulge the flesh, despite their knowledge and power to do otherwise.

I remember looking at a photo of the Rocky Mountains thinking "God, do You see this? Can you see this? Do you see it this way every day?" He could have made the earth level, all vegetation extending no more than 6 inches above the ground, and while that itself has beauty, there is still something beautiful in the vistas and views created by height, depth, and distance relative to the observer.

God could have made the world enjoyable ONLY from a viewpoint above the earth looking down. But He didn't.

I remember thinking in college that Landscape Architects had it all wrong. They created these beautiful and intricate patterns on the ground appreciated only from the plan-reader's perspective. Curving walks and circles and trees planted in a row. But they just didn't look all that interesting from the ground. The best landscapes on the ground look absolutely convoluted from overhead. But they still took their T-squares and drafting triangles and made shapes and curves until it looked like some kind of modern art painting of grass, shrubs, trees and concrete. But once installed, unless you jump in a plane, you have no idea what the architect was thinking when it was designed.

I remember shooting in Downtown Dallas a LOT when I first got my camera gear. I walked past and through Pegasus Plaza many times. But one evening I was in my friend's 14th floor loft in a building across the street from the Plaza, and happened to look down. It all came together. It wasn't a mishmash of concrete and water. There was a definite design to it that could ONLY be appreciated from above, one that looked BETTER from above. (Granted, probably the reason it was done so, being something to look at from the window of a skyscraper.)

How good of God to give us the beautiful views from the ground, from our perspective.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pardon me,

Update: this is what just happened in Arlington.

There's a gorgeous wall of CU to the east, dry as a bone here in Arlington, squall running through Dallas. Over-heard in the office:

"You need your own DOW, Marcia."
"Don't tempt me, Hieu."

Storm season is on its way....

but you just have to enjoy these kinds of things...

Now if only the pink center would drift to the southwest...

Come on little guy, come on, over here.... *whistles*

Monday, February 04, 2008

Quiet introspection

Have you ever gone aaaalllll the way back to page 1 of your blog?

I did.

For the first few months, I cannot say that I was a truly regenerated creature. I read the entries and I remember the struggle. I see the breadcrumbs God put in my path to lead me to the cross. But these are those monuments to God. Likely, my apartment is not sturdy enough to handle large stones in the living room (not to mention their being a tripping hazard). But I can look at these monuments. These reminders of where I was, and the love and faithfulness of a God who chooses His own and brings them to Himself. I spent a few moments perusing the bits of information left by a pretty clueless individual and find myself quite assured that I could not have gotten where I am now on my own. There was definite leading, and definite slow and deliberate revelation.

What's comforting in that is that there is nothing I can do that would change the Father's love for me. He does not change His mind about the people He chooses or the gifts He gives them (Romans 11:29). I am sealed for the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30). There is comfort at looking back at who I was, and seeing how God still called me out. I will be a work of His hands, for His glory, and none of my own. I cannot come to Him and say "look what I did for You, and how much better I am because of it!" No, there is nothing good within my flesh (Romans 7:18). Anything good coming from me results from Him.

As the Lord was bringing me to Him, I had this verse tucked into the frame on the bathroom mirror:

and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor. - Isaiah 61:3


Saturday, February 02, 2008

One to grow on

Well, Chester is back.

The adoption agency decided that I was the best fit for Chester and that they'd hold him until after my exam. So, he's back, with a shaved leg, and a pack of antibiotics to get over the last hump of the healing process. He didn't have cancer, which was good news.

Crystal and Chester were back to their usual antics today. Crystal charging and swatting; Chester squinting and giving her a wide berth. But with their reluctance to shake paws and be pals yet, it appears they both have one thing in common.

A mutual hatred for the vacuum cleaner.