Monday, March 28, 2005

Making love

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Things I love

Earlier today a fellow blogger named Julie Bogart listed some of the things she hated on her blog. I responded by mentioning some things I hated on her blog and thought I would now list some things I love, after all, love and hate go together. Can't have one without the other. Here are some things I love.

I love my two sons, my mom, and my girlfriend.

I love the wind on my face.

I love being accepted for who I am.

I love 6o degree temperatures.

I love making love with someone I love and feel they love me in return.

I love listening to Bruce Cockburn, U-2, The Cambridge Singers, and Michael Jones.

I love riding my mountain bike.

I love nestling up to a good book and reflecting on what I read for hours at a time.

I love the mountains, the beach, the Redwoods, the desert, and all of God's unspoiled creation.

I love my job....most of the time.....

I love watching a good movie with family and friends.

I love feeling comfortable enough to share my intimate feelings and thoughts with others.

I love the many pleasures our bodies provide.

I love being alive.

I love blogging and interacting with others on the internet.

I love the various holidays seasons, particularly Christmas and Halloween.

I love learning about myself and what makes me tick.

I love being able to feel my emotions, even when it is painful at times.

I love rising above my fears.

I love being human.

I love being creative and having others appreciate my creativity.

I love taking pictures.

I love learning new things.

I love Nature's Valley Sweet and Salty Nut Peanut Granola bars.

I love having friends I have known for twenty years.

I love to travel.

I love going to used bookstores and finding a gem.

I love my books.....I could mention alot more but the pixey dust is settling in fast and I am about to fall asleep....Nighty, night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite......

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Resurrection

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Easter and the Resurrection

As I ponder and reflect about Easter I find myself thinking about the resurrection. After all, isn't that what Easter is all about?...For most of my adult life the interpretation and meaning of Easter was pretty straight forward. Jesus rose from the dead, which proves he was the Messiah, the Son of God, a member of the Trinity...and.....if we accept Christ as Savior and Lord than we too can look forward to a bodily resurrection of our own in the future either in this life, if Jesus comes back, or in the next life after we die....While I don't want to discount the power and hope found in this particular interpretation and meaning of the Resurrection story I also can't help wondering about other possible meanings and interpretations to the Easter story and I can't help myself from pondering because from my vantage point there seems alot that needs to be resurrected other than just our bodies. In fact, I question whether bodily resurrection would even make God's top ten list of things that need to be resurrected. Personally I can think of a whole lot of things that need to be resurrected. For starters, there is ongoing worldwide problem of war and violence, poverty, and disease. Than there is the various list of local problems which vary from country to country. In our country there is the problem of rampant materialism, addictions, dysfunctional family problems, workaholism, etc. etc.....and last but not least....there are the various individual problems that effect us all which include everything from selfishness, anger, bitterness, greed, fear of rejection, loss of community etc.

For most of my adult I thought "only" about the implication of a future bodily resurrection and I spent alot of time and energy defending the literal interpretation of the resurrection of Jesus....but now.....I wonder if I should spend my time, with the help of God and others in trying to resurrect my soul, my community, and the global village in which I belong, because, if a bodily resurrection is the only thing we have to look forward to than how are we to make sense of the reality of God in this world?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Ponderings from Death Valley

Just got back from Death Valley last night. Had a wonderful time with my girlfriend Lynn. Flowers everywhere and the weather was spectacular. Not a day over 80 which is a miracle for this time of the year and even got a little rain and snow in the mountains surrounding Death Valley. Not really much to say. I think the pictures speak for themselves. Am in a bit of culture shock at the moment. Really hit me big time when we spent the night in Vegas. Going to Vegas is like going to another planet. Spent the evening walking around the strip and than crashed. Left the next quickly as possible. Am really getting to hate that place. Can't stand more than a couple of hours there....back to Death Valley.....It's really hard to put into words what Death Valley is like. Very different than the vast majority of scenic wonderlands. Veryfew signs of civilization or life for that matter anywhere. Not even telephone lines. Just alot of rock, dirt, mountains, and very few plants, except for the abundance of flowers this year. Rocks and dirt may not sound too appealing but there is a beauty in the way it is all arranged here. It’s very peaceful and quiet here.....and surreal.....But wonder to myself?.....Perhaps it feels surreal because I am constantly surrounded by noise, people in a hurry, and things to do....Life in Death Valley represents a "black hole" on this planet.... There doesn't appear to be any rhyme of reason to this place.....It just is.....It’s amazing how anything survives out there and yet life appears is everywhere for those who take the time to look for it. life is simple here. The sun rises, the ground heats up, and up, and up, and anything alive that can walk heads for shade. I feel sorry for the plants...Don't know how they survive. Gives new perspective on how God takes care of us all…Shadows move across the landscape and a few clouds appear out of now where. Makes me wonder what God had in mind when he created this place. Mystery abounds here like no other place I can think of.... Death Valley is a paradox....How can a place of such great beauty and peace be called Death Valley?...Wonder if future generations will change the name of the place after the settlers who tried to cross this valley back in the 1800's and died are long forgotten....This is one of the few places where you can actually hear your heartbeat and carry on a conversation with yourself uninterrupted for the most part.....and....if you are real still....and might just hear your own soul and the voice of your maker speaking to you..... I guess in the end visiting a place like Death Valley reminds us of things we have probably forgotten or lost touch with regarding ourselves, our world, and God. We all need to be reminded from time to time who we are and our place within this tiny planet we call home which makes visiting a place like Death Valley worth it.

Desert Wonder

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Flowers everywhere

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Death Valley in Bloom

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Lynn Opening Scotty's Door

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Scotty's Castle

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California Gold

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Purple Majesty

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Salt Lake

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Hills covered in California Gold

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Death Valley in Bloom

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Lowest Point in U.S.

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Mount Whitney: Highest Point in Continental U.S.

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Monday, March 21, 2005

Leaving the Shire for a few days

Heading out the door to Death Valley this morning and will not be back until late Thursday night. Wish everyone a peaceful "Holy week" and when I get back I am sure I will have alot of new pictures to share and a few interesting stories.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

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How I am going to celebrate Easter

As Easter is fast approaching I confess I am more excited about going to Death Valley next week to see the wildflower extraganza and "moon" like landscape than I am about attending any Easter service next week-end...As I ponder why next weeks Easter celebrations are not something I particularly look forward to here are a few of my thoughts that I will throw out for everyone's consideration. Mind you...These are "my" thoughts and "my" feelings and my comments are not intended to imply this how anyone else ought to feel or think about Easter although I suspect I may also be speaking for others who may feel the same way....When I first became a Christian in 1975 I was presented with a very simple Gospel message.....If you ask Jesus to forgive your sins and simply accept Jesus into your heart than God will forgive you and come into your heart and you will go to heaven and live with God forever. For a young teenager who didn't know up from down and didn't have a clue regarding the psychological baggage I was carrying this was certainly "Good News" that I couldn't resist....after going to church and gradually learning more about Christianity, doctrine, tradition, and the like, it was implied that the "simple gospel message" was not so simple after all. In fact, if I took what others were saying seriously, and I did, the gospel was actually quite complex on numerous fronts. For example, on the psychological front if one were to ask Jesus for forgiveness than doesn't one have to understand what sin is and understand the relationship between my sin and the fact that I was apparently seperated from God and just didn't know it?....and than there is the whole legal aspect which I picked up from my Reformed Brethren. Jesus had to die because God's sense of justice cannot allow sin to go unpunished because God would not be God somehow.....back to the psychological front....early in my Christian experience someone once asked me if I had truly repented of my sins and if I had since made Jesus the Lord of my life because if I hadn't than I would still be lost in my sins. That one raised a whole series of questions I hadn't even considered and I struggled with an acute degree of uncertainity over that one for quite a while....than there is the whole sin nature aspect, which can be rather confusing if you take the matter seriously. Apparently we are born in sin and although we are born with a "sin nature" something we had no control over somehow we were still reponsible for our sin and that is why we needed forgiveness and Jesus.....and to complicate matters even more.....there is the whole area of doctrine......along the way it was implied to me that doctrine was critically important and if one did not have the right doctrine than one's faith might be in serious jeopardy. Pondered that one for a long time also. Sound simple?....Would be if doctrine weren's such a huge area which imcompasses such potentially controversial topics such as the nature of Christ, the historicitiy of the Bible, ethics, and a whole host of other forward to the present......Over the past few years I have pondered alot about this and that regarding my life and why things happen have turned out the way they have in my life and it seems from my vantage point that fear, guilt, shame, and rejection have all played a critical role in the past and the present. While the simple gospel I was introduced to is a "potential solution and antidote" to anyone who struggles with such demons of the past I also wonder at what price does one have to pay in order to become a part of a particular Christian community. I ask myself this question because it seems from my vantage point that in order to become a member of the visible local community one also has to either accept or at least "pretend" to accept a certain amount of baggage along the way in order to avoid a significant amount of potential cognitive dissonance that is certain to follow....back to Easter.....Easter is a time of celebration for millions of Christians worldwide and while I can appreciate the beauty and pagentry of this time of the year I also can't help feeling a bit of sadness because it seems that the pure essence of the Christian message has somehow been distorted or been lost along the way. This is not meant to be an indictment towards the church at large or any particular Christian tradition but I suspect I am not alone in feeling that the mention of sin, guilt, being potentially separated from God forever, need for repentance, and feeling certain about one's beliefs may trigger a whole host of "ghosts from the past" which at this time in my life I would prefer not to entertain....How I am going to celebrate Easter....Next week I am going to Death Valley for four days and take in the sights, sounds, and wonders of one of God's most unique creations on this planet and in my own quiet way I am going to give thanks to God for creating such beauty and giving me yet another opportunity to see and experience the wonderful world God has created. Later when I get home I am going to invite some friends over to watch a couple of Easter classics with my sons and I. Right now I am leaning towards watching Ben Hur and Samuel Bronston's production Kings of Kings staring Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus......I doubt at any time if I will think much about my own sin, need for forgiveness, the crucifiction of Christ and it's relationship to restoring my own relationship with God, or the potential of being seperated from God forever if I don't accept a particular Christian tradition regarding the nature of myself, the future, or history past, but I do intend to spend some time reflecting and reading from my red leather celtic design journal. I'll leave everyone with a few of my favorite verses I have recorded in my journal for your own edification during this Easter season....."Who shall separate us from the love of God? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness,or peril or the sword?....For I am convinced that neither life, nor death, nor things present, nor height, nor depth, nor demons,nor any created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God"....:But thus says the Lord, your creator...he who formed you...Do not fear, for I have redeemed you...I have called you by are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you...and through rivers, they will not overflow you, when you walk through fire, you will not be scorched".....The Lord is my Shepherd....Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for though are with me. Thy rod and staff comfort me. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life.".......Amen.....

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

I'm Jazzed

The article from the Bakersfield Californian on Death Valley National Park reads, "The wettest year on record here has transformed this forbidding wilderness of scruffy mountains and buckled earth into a vividly unfamiliar world of wildflowers and reflecting pools, triggering ecological cycles not seen before on so large a scale. Against a backdrop of snowcapped peaks, the regions contoured badlands and splintery rock towers are festooned with bright yellow, pink, white and deep purple blossoms spreading out in all directions....In some places even the rocks are blooming...It's our best bloom in history, and the flowers are getting better by the day" ....As I read these opening lines I felt a shiver go up my spine and I quickly got online to find hotel accomodations to spend a couple of days in the premier desert wonderland of North America. It took some doing but I finally was able to find a hotel an hour an a half from the entrance to the park.... I'm jazzed.... Haven't been to Death Valley in a long time but this looks like perhaps the best opportunity that has come along in the past century and I don't want to miss the show. Will be heading out on Monday morning with my girlfriend Lynn for three glorious days in God's country. On the way back we will spend one night in Sin City/Vegas to check out the sites and take a few pictures. Have only been to Vegas twice and usually can't handle more than 24 hours there but it is a architechtural marvel that demands a certain amount of respect I suppose. Be back in time for Good Friday and intend to spend some quality time with my two sons who will get back from their mission trip to Mexico. Looks like a great Easter week on tap and am really looking forward to spending quality time with family and loved one's and enjoying the beauty of the world God has created......

Death Valley

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The Interview Game

One of my fellow bloggers Julie recently posted a blog on a game called The Interview Game. It looked like a lot of fun so I signed up to play. Here are my responses to the questions Julie asked me.

1. What is your favorite (sacred) natural (as in mountains, oceans, meadows) spot in California and when did you first discover it?

Bilbo: This is a really tough one Julie because over the years I have really learned to love all natural settings and since California has everything from the biggest trees in the world to deserts to snow covered peaks this one is really hard....but....I will have to say my favorite place over the past 15 years has to be Redwood National Park which is located in the Northwest corner of the state just south of the Oregon border between Eureka and Cresent City. I like this place the best because it is so peaceful walking through the ancient forests. You also don't have the hoards of people in Redwood National Park that you do have in most other National Parks....and.... the coastline in the area is rugged, pristine, and has the feel of real wilderness, particularly the Lost Coast area which is located south of Redwood National Park.

Question 2: What is the silliest moment you can recall in your classroom this year?

Bilbo: Hmmmmm?....Probably the day I brought in my collection of action figures and encouraged my students to sing along to the Spongbob Squarepants theme song which is played when I push the button on my Spongbob action figure.....

3. Which Bruce Cochburn lyric speaks to your life right now?


"Today" it would have to be

Somebody Touched Me

Somebody touched me
Making everything new
Somebody touched me
I didn't know what to do
Burned through my life
Like a bolt from the blue
Somebody touched me
I know it was you

Somebody touched me
Deep in my bones
Turned a key in the hole
There was somebody home
Some would say that I'm dreaming
But I swear that it's true
Somebody touched me
I know it was you

Somebody touched me
Like the rain on the wind
Left me alone
Feeling like I'd been skinned
But I know you're with me
Whatever I go through
Somebody touched me
I know it was you

Question 4: Do you cook? What do you love to cook and why? (If you don't love to cook, where do you eat out and what do you love to order?)

Bilbo: My two sons claim I don't know how to cook but I love to barbecue and my various barbecue meals is about the only thing they don't complain about.

Question 5: What word of advice would you give your kids, if they asked you to direct their futures?

Bilbo: This is actually the easiest question of all. I would tell them to pursue what they love and enjoy doing. I feel so fortunate to be doing something for a living that I really enjoy. Most people don't have this priveledge or luxury in life and it is a blessing and just hope my two sons pursue their passions and end up doing what they love to do rather than get caught up in pursuing money or prestige.....

If you are interested in playing the game and want to be interviewed just follow the rules below and I will try to respond in a timely fashion.....Bilbo

The Official Rules of the Interview-Game
1. If you want to participate, leave a comment below saying "interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions - each person's will be different.
3. You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions
6. I will answer reasonable follow up questions if you leave a comment.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

A Day in the Desert

Just got back from spending the day in the California Desert at a place called the Devil's Punchbowl which is located north of the San Bernardino Mountains which seperate L.A. basin from the desert. I try to make it out to the desert once or twice a year usually when the damp cold fog starts getting to me here in the Central Valley. The desert has a unique beauty of it's own but yesterday it was as beautiful as I have ever seen it. Southern California has received an abundance of rain this year, in fact, L.A. apparently has received more rainful than Seattle which is mind boggling. The deserts this year probably have received about ten times the amount of rain which they usually receive which accounts for the green carpet of grass which currently covers the desert floor. Kind of wierd seeing green grass in the desert. May not ever see it as green as yesterday so I figured I better take some pictures before the hot sun scorces the desert floor and burns the grass to a crisp.

Devil's Punchbowl

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Joshua Tree

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"Green" California Desert

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California Desert in Bloom

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The City of Zion

Things have been pretty intense on the personal homefront over the past three weeks and I confess I feel like I have been participating in a "psychological boot camp". Not complaining mind you because even boot camps have a potential up side. I've written some 100 pages worth of journal notes over the past ten days and would like to share some of what I have written during this time for consideration, contemplation, and hopefully edification. I don't want to get into the context or specifics of these ponderings because the actual situations involve other individuals who I don't think would appreciate being associated with a hobbit of my reputation in such a public manner any further goes...... A wise person once said that, "If you push past your fears, bad things may happen"....This one kind of threw me for a loop, after all, popular sentiment at least implies that as one conquers or at least learns to control their fears than good things will surely follow. While this would hopefully be true in the long haul it may not be true, at all, in the short term or in certain situations. Why? As one pushes past one's fears than it generally follows that one becomes more authentic, assertive, and honest in regards to expressing oneself in terms of one's needs, opinions, desires, hopes, and dreams. One would hope that others would value the fruits of pushing past one's fears but that may not be the case because many people might feel threatened by anyone who is honest and assertive in regards to their opinions, needs, etc. And, if that person is currently gripped by their own fears than people who push past their own fears may remind them of their own weakness' and bondage to the fears that haunt their souls and rather than rejoice with their fellow pilgrim they may react instead with envy, jealously, or a host of other unsavory character flaws which may result in bad things happening to good people, through no fault of their own. We all would like to believe that the world is fair and just and good things always happen to good people and the like, but that's not the world we have inherited and the sooner we realize that bad things happen despite all our good intentions and hard work than the sooner we can escape the Matrix and enter into the city of Zion......

Monday, March 07, 2005

Bilbo's latest adventure

Just got back from a teacher conference in San Francisco. The conference was O.K. but the two day trip home was a blast. Spent Sunday in Point Reyes National Seashore hiking, biking, and taking pictures and came down the famous highway 1 coastline today. The weather was spectacular today. No fog, no clouds, just pure sunshine. Took some 180 plus pictures during the trip on my new digital camera. Took me eleven hours to get home today as I made a stop to take a picture about every three or four minutes. We usually don't get such clear weather along the coastline so I thought I would take advantage of the great weather since this situation may not ever happen again. Saw some beautiful scenery over the past two days. Rocky coastline, poppies in bloom, emerald green ocean, bright green countryside, Redwood forests, waterfalls. and alot more. It was really too much. I'm on sensory overload right now. May have trouble adjusting to work tomorrow. Anyway. Enjoyed myself over the past five days but now it time to get back to the day to day grind like everyone else........

Big Sur

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Beautiful California Coastline

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Bay Area Bear

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Tourist's Beware

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Fisherman's Wharf

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Beautiful Downtown San Francisco

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Bilbo in San Francisco

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