Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Apricotpie
Well, it appears that AP had a crash... I'm waiting to find out what happened, hopefully they won't be down too long. It's been a very long day here... much studying to do yet before the week's over. I have to keep sight of the big picture... God truly is so very good to me. I can't but praise Him.
To bed...

~Ben

The reasons why...

All truth is but rooted in wisdom, the light of the eye can't but see, though shrouded in myriad puzzle, the knowledge of God is to be. Ancients to age calls to answer, the brightness of that which is made, yet their eyes being blind, their feet go in kind, till the days of their liveliness fade.
Were evidence suddenly found lacking, were all of the truth proof denied, Were all of the thinkers left doubting, and everyone else mystified. If all signs were thoroughly silenced, the light of the years put to naught, still I would believe, for in faith now I see, is the basis for that which births thought.

I was thinking about philosophy again today... really, I don't have too much time on my hands... seriously, some days I feel like I meet myself coming and going. But anyhow, I've been reading a book by a man named William Lane Craig, its called "Reasonable Faith... Christian Truth and Apologetics". I've enjoyed the little I've read of it thus far, it's a bit heavy for bedtime reading- but I'm working my way along. Dr. Craig discusses some of the philosophy of Augustine and Aquinas, one thing particularly stood out that I had heard before. fides quarens intellectum or "faith seeking understanding". At first glance a great deal of truth may be overlooked here.
...I must admit, through my darkest moments of agnosticism- one of the major redeeming truths that my Lord revealed to me was this one fact... that Christianity is rational. When I was questioning, I was liberated through the realization that I could test the claims of Christianity, it was not some untouchable, improvable, untenable idea to be relegated to the confines of some sacred temple in the land of irrelevance... Christianity was and is real. You may be wondering right now why I'm bringing this seemingly obvious point, but it is nevertheless necessary to the next... there comes a point where the skeptic must be silenced and fall on his knees and repent. To me this is why so many skeptics remain thus... people inherently understand that to embrace the claims of Christianity is to accept it's profound implications on the way they live their lives. Thus, it is definitely true that some people can never be presented with "enough" evidence to facilitate their conversion. Truly we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, but faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God... the point is, when sharing my faith with a skeptic, I must be congnisent of the fact that although I may have a perfectly flawless apologetic, although I may be absolutely ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within me, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to save souls, my words are but one of His tools. I required some of my doubts to be silenced before I could believe, but there did come a time when I had to simply believe... it almost seems to me like a fly wheel on an old style tractor, it took a couple spins for the engine to start running, but the manual spinning could only go on for so long... eventually it had to run on a power source other than the hand running the crank. In the same way, I may have needed more factual evidence for the claims of Christianity than many people, but at the same time- we are saved by faith, not by evidence. I praise God for His attention to detail... any unbiased observer of the evidence cannot help but render a response to the, as one of my favorite writers says, demand for a verdict. I've said this before, and I'll say it again- I serve a God that challenges believers to think and thinkers to believe... truly faith should be seeking understanding, not for maintenance of that faith, but for maturation of our witness.
To God be the Glory, great things He has done.
Grace and peace,
Ben

Saturday, March 27, 2004

It's raining it's pouring... But this old man is far from snoring... it's storming today, raining to beat the band. We're even under flood watch. I attended a mini-seminar on swine production system ventilation, it was interesting- I do think I learned a lot. The fellow who did the presentation was definitely knowledgeable about the subject, he's with the Ag Engineering department I guess. Unfortunately they served pizza for lunch... I had a couple pieces... now I feel terrible... I think when I'm used to eating well consuming stuff like that affects me more than usual- super processed and refined food just doesn't agree with me very well :^).
I got all my pictures from my trip uploaded to my computer and edited (some were rather dark), now I've just got to put some of them together into a webpage and I'll post it on the main website... patience... it will come soon :^).
I was excited today... I've embarked on my classical guitar journey... as many of you know I already play the guitar, but not very much in the classical and fingerstyle field, hopefully this will now change, I've purchased several books and plan to work on it in my spare (har har har) time.

I guess thats about all for now... time to study immunology.

Grace and peace,
Ben

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Good food, warm nights, long days, exams... the saga continues.
I seem to be getting into a groove... these long days are beginning to wear on me. I guess they just feel the need to sock it to us for these last weeks of the semester.
I stayed very busy at school today, I had a break from classes for about 3 hours this morning and spent the time with my buddy Zac working up equine lameness cases with the senior students and clinicians- lots of fun! I need to see many more cases before I feel competent at diagnosing lameness, it's amazing how such a little tiny variance in a horse's gait can indicate so many greater problems. I guess thats what I'm here to learn about. Today, being Thursday, was professional dress day, so Zac and I were of course in compliance... as fate would have it, this was also the day that we were asked to help load a horse with an essentially nonfunctional left front limb. This horse did not want to move, so essentially one person pulled on the front while... you guessed it... Zac and I linked hands behind the horse and brought up the rear (quite literally). About 15 minutes later, we were both nearly covered in horse hair and sweat, and smelled quite like it. Ah what a life. I spent most of the afternoon, after pathology and morphology, in dissection in anatomy lab- I really am starting to feel ready to be done with this class; in many ways I still enjoy it, but on the other hand I feel ready to progress to different things. I guess there's only about 5 weeks left anyway (yaaaaay!). It's kind of strange... like many of my colleagues I talk with, vet school and I have almost a love-hate relationship- there are parts that I very intensely dislike, at the same time I can think of no place where I'd rather be than right here right now. Obviously I don't want to spend my life here, but for the time being I know that I'm exactly where the Lord wants me. Thats a good feeling.
I spent a while this evening looking into consolidating my college loans, it seems that I'll be able to lock in an interest rate of about 2.81% (as opposed to the 5 or 6% it's currently at) if I do this before the end of this school year. It sounded like a good idea, at least it will save me significant amounts of money. I have to say that were it not for the fact that I'll be able to command a very decent wage directly out of school, I'd never even think of going this far into debt. I was thinking of this very thing recently, is there such a thing as "good debt" vs. "bad debt"? I tend to think there is. It almost seems like a person's debt (like his expenditures) reflects on his character... for instance, to me, taking out a loan for college is enormously different than taking out a loan for a brand new boat, motorcycle, or snowmobile. I guess it would technically be possible to buy the latter things with a loan and still have the right attitude, but I doubt it. If I'm discontent, and greedy for material wealth, very likely my debt load will reflect that. On the other hand, I think its entirely possible to be a good steward with loans and actually use them as powerful tools towards the accomplishment of goals important to the accomplishment of the Lord's will. I think the key is the attitude. Of course all debt is slavery, but not necessarily bond slavery... only when it gets out of hand is there a problem (again, usually linked to greed). I seem to be rambling about this, but I guess there is a point to it all- it's definitely good to stay out of debt, but when/if we have to enter therein, we need to be good stewards (which of course we should be regardless of our financial status).
Well, I'm kind of excited about something new thats come up- I am officially going to take riding lessons. (I can hear everyone gasping in the background). Yes, I worked out a deal with my aforementioned friend, Zac, that I will teach him everything I know about the guitar in exchange for him teaching me to ride/handle horses. I do really enjoy the animals, and working on them is a great pleasure for me, but I've never really had any formal training as to actually handling or riding. I'm looking very much forward to the opportunity... I think we're going to head up to Zac's farm next weekend (they've invited me up even before our "deal" was forged- lol).
I happened upon an interesting article on a discussion forum I frequently visit... I thought you all might enjoy it (or at least comment about it ;^) ).
click here.
Basically this article is arguing for earlier marriages... interesting concept. I don't see any problem with getting married in the early 20's, I don't know that I'd be strongly in favor of getting hitched before that... though I suppose it would depend largely on the people involved, as the author concurs. What do you think?
Enough for tonight.
Grace and peace,
Ben

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Just another day in the life of Ben.

Whew what a day. Wednesdays are always fun- was up reaaaaaly late last night for various reasons. Then I had class at 9 and I was busy with school related activities until about 5:30 or so. Yes. Besides all this, I find myself remarkably rested and quite peaceful... I'm relaxing in my clean house, eating my supper of fresh seasoned hamburgers, listening to the sounds of evening outside through my open windows. It's still 65 degrees here... simply lovely. I do have to go participate in a study group soon, but thats ok. I'm listening to Nickel Creek at the moment, the soft strains of Chris's mandolin plinking out the melody of "reasons why". The Lord has really blessed me with a spirit of contentment lately, something for which I'd been praying for a long time. Its so easy for me to keep my eyes on the future, the problem with this is that I often miss the present at the same time. Yes I still can hardly wait for the day, if He wills, that the Lord sees fit to bring the one He's prepared to me, I still wait with great anticipation for the day when I hear the precious sounds of happy children playing and laughing to welcome me home. I still have the strong desire within me to get on with life... but I seem to have hit a "cruise" phase, where I'm content to wait and trust on the Lord to work on me as I continue to prepare for the next step in my life, whenever the Lord may present it to me. This actually brings up an interesting point I was thinking about in my devotions the other day. Proverbs 14:12-13 says;
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness."
The world would have us think that the ultimate goal of life is to be happy... but the pursuit of happiness is a fleeting one, true happiness and fulfillment is to be found only in the pursuit of God's will. Indeed, the journey should be half the fun if not more. To me this is the point of life... to learn to seek God's will not only in the long term, but in the short term- in my daily life, in my conversations, thoughts, and deeds. Thus, while, as I said, I can hardly wait for what God has next, I am content at the moment to learn what He has for me where He has me. I await His guidance with gratitude and expectation.

I still am working on the pictures from my trip as well as my post to go with them... patience, patience :^)

It's off to study for a while.
Have a lovely evening.
Grace and peace,
Ben

Sunday, March 21, 2004

The van can finally rest...
Yes, I'm back... rather tired, so I'll not post much tonight- don't worry though; I will give a full report in the near future with pictures :^). I had a lovely spring break, thanks to the Lord's guiding hand the trip was uneventful so far as accidents and mishaps are concerned. I learned a lot, met many interesting people as well as enjoying visits with family and friends, I sampled cheese at a neat little family run cheese farm in Southern Tennessee, saw parts of North and South Carolina (places of jail sentences for speeders and continuous road work), toured the Kentucky Horse park in Lexington, as well as many other adventures, of which I will tell you more the next time I write. One interesting note... that isn't necessarily meant for all you readers... Remi, I finally figured out who you are, we could just say a little bird told me I suppose- lol.
I enjoyed getting to see the rest of your family again this past weekend... while at home with them, I was enlightened as to the identity of this mysterious person who both signed my guestbook and visited my blog. I am happy you chose to grace my webspace with your presence, and would love to hear from you via email or instant messenger should you ever find time to drop a line or two (smile). I hope all is well "across the pond" (wink).
I hope everyone is enjoying the warmer weather, I know I am... 60 degrees is in the forecast for the near future here... Albeit accompanied by thunder storms, I'll not complain though- thats the way the grass gets green. I enjoyed listening to MPR's pipe dreams program this evening for the latter half of my trip back from North Dakota, it was the celebration program for J.S. Bach's birthday, which is tomorrow. A number of his "greatest hits" were featured, including my favorite toccata and Fugue in D minor, as well as the less famous, but arguably equally fantastic Fugue in C minor. There were many more... I loved it. Pipe organ music has always fascinated me, and to have it coupled with my favorite composer was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours.
Enough for tonight... sleep calleth rather efficaciously. (grin).
Grace and peace,
Ben

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

And we're done. Yes, I have successfully found the end of my journey through this pseudo-finals week (pseudo because it's not actually finals week, but boy it sure has felt like it!).
I had another lesson in patience today... I would have a packed van with fresh oil in the engine right now... but alas and alack, it is sitting in a body shop waiting for the morning when the technician will complete the repair on my door. Which brings up the other lesson... when it is reeeealy windy outside, it's a good idea to hang onto your van's door when opening it into the wind. Yes. $320 some dollars later, the bent hinges, popped spot welds, and twisted latch will be theoretically fixed... at least thats what the estimate says. In the mean time I'm driving a "loaner car"... a rather non-descript generic car... greenish... I think it looks like a catfish kind of car. I guess it is nice of them to provide me with transportation whilst my van is indisposed.
You may have noticed... there's a comment!!! See now, Remi didn't find it that painful... I'd love to hear what the rest of you think- lol.
In other news, this will be my last post for a little while... a few days at least, I'm embarking tomorrow evening on a little road trip with my friend and colleage, Zac. We're going first to Knoxville, to participate in the conference and symposium of the student chapeter of the american veterinary medical association. Then we're going to journey further south, me to Alabama, he to North Carolina... then we'll meet back up, and drive home together, after which I will be heading home to ND for the rest of spring break. I know it sounds tiring... but I think it will be fun- hey, I have to do a few crazy stunts while in college ;^).
At any rate... I believe it is time for bed- I didn't get to bed until 3:30 this morning last night (lol), and I'm feeeeeeling the effects.
May you be ever blessed with our Lord's endless love.
~Ben

Sunday, March 07, 2004

This is the way we pass the test, pass the test, pass the test...
Another long day studying past... it seems like I've done nothing but study for the last week- I had an anatomy exam on Thursday, then it was time to study for case study quiz on Friday and start preparing in earnest for neurology and histophysiology; on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. What a life. Neuro and histophys were the subjects today, I studied for the morning with some friends, we took a break for a couple of hours and then studied for another stint until we decided to go to the movie, Hidalgo. Visit the site if you'd like information about it- I enjoyed it, was fun to get out of the books for a couple of hours. I was talking with one of my friends on the way home, he was talking about how he liked the film, but thought the guy should have "gotten the girl" at the end... I have to say I'd agree- we both decided we're quite hopeless romantics. I'll admit it... I love a good warm fuzzy now and then- lol. I refuse to watch "serious" movies; drama, horror, science fiction, etc... I seldom watch movies, but when I do, I want to either be left laughing or siiiiiiiighing (in a sappy, this is so beautiful, I'm so happy they're going to live happily ever after kind of way). Now, that said, I don't mind movies with action in them, but a good love story underneath the surface never hurts ;^). I have noticed that I think differently than a lot of men... I like cats, I don't particularly enjoy extreme sports, cars and "toys" are not my passion, I enjoy cooking, and I don't mind having beautiful things around... maybe this is just my opinion, but I think that the stereotype of males being rough tough boors with no interest in the finer things of life is a terrible tragedy. That said, before I shock any of you too terribly, I do believe 100% in true Biblical masculinity and gender roles (due to God given differences, not a relative importance of the given gender) , but I don't think that precludes men from being able to appreciate things besides war games, football, big trucks, and power tools (not saying that any of those things are wrong in their own right of course ;^) ). Cultured, thoughtful, American men... what a concept- lol. Enough for tonight. May you all be blessed with much grace and peace in our Lord,
~Ben

Monday, March 01, 2004

What do you know... I've been accepted for inclusion as a monthly writer at ApricotPie.com. You'll have to take a look and see what you think.
This post and the one below are a sneak preview for you regulars... keep checking back or head on over to AP to see the new writings, which will also be posted here.

~Ben



An easy kind of gray. Here I am… sitting to write again. I just returned from a walk with Charlie, as is our habit, we journeyed around the little road that curves through the neighborhood where I live. We followed the road around to the little ageing office building on Mulberry Street, with its faded brown wooden shingled false front, bearing witness to the temporary wonders of the pre- Vietnam era. There are large full wall windows with crazy swirling cleaning streaks glinting in the morning light, reminiscent of multiple repairs of the transient marring of the translucence by wet canine noses and children’s fingers, happy and tired from their play at the adjacent playground. The windows are covered with various and sundry advertisements hailing the benefits of various pieces of real estate, the wonderful prices of certain handymen and their services. There is a Laundromat in the building, a small one at that- with old wheeled laundry baskets and clothes racks bearing the old Permanent Pressed emblem, bearing witness to the age of the implements. An enormous garbage can is in the corner, bearing the potential for myriads of low interest, pre approved credit cards, temporary 100% free subscriptions to playboy and reader’s digest, coupons for supermarkets, the bin overflowing with the seemingly hundreds of unwanted and unopened bulk mailings advertisers are sure we must be dying to see. There are rows of mailboxes along two walls… I am represented by a little oblong aluminum box in the lower left corner… seems strange to be living such an existence. I had a check I had to mail. I accomplished the task I set out to do and followed Charlie back out into the gray Iowa day. I thought as I walked about how the day started; there was a gorgeous blue sky, almost like the fantastic blue expanses of home, a wonderful little crisp breeze was breathing thoughts of green grass, budding leaves and flowers, growth and life, reminding me that spring was on it’s way as I walked to class this morning. But the glorious morning has faded to a gentle gray, reminding me with the gathering clouds and increasing wind that a storm was forecast for today. As I walked in time to the clickety click of Charlie’s nails on the pavement, little spotlets of water began to fall upon my favorite old flannel jacket and the increasingly wet pavement splattered up on Charlie’s underside as he bowed his head to the growing wind as we both instinctively increased our pace, neither of us overly anxious to be caught by the steadily increasing rain. We had just ran up the little sidewalk, pitted and worn with the memory of decades of changing seasons and owners, jumped up the stairs of the deck, and my key inserted into the walk as the storm hit… I threw open the door and we both leapt inside simultaneously; safe from the gale that now raged, dripping on the cheap green doormat, a relic from some bygone Wal-Mart sale. I told Charlie to sit while I went to the bathroom to retrieve a towel to dry my dripping dog. As I rubbed the little fellow down I marveled again at how much beauty is to be found in the daily practice of life, I thought about how easily the continuity of hope and the quality of grace is obscured by my taking for granted the easy sort of habit, the “gray days” inherent to my daily living. I am again aware, and I am thankful.

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