Monday, February 22, 2016

Infinity Dreams Award

I was tagged by my friend and fellow blogger Mary Kate aka M.K. to do this; now, I want you to do the same after you finish reading mine!

Now, for my post:

Tell Us Eleven Facts About Yourself:

1. I never seem to grow out of any kind of entertainment.
I was shocked when my friends would tell me that they'd grown out of Star Wars or anything else; I still like the same kind of entertainment I always have...and plenty more!

2. I used to be a game show addict.
Though I hardly watch any such television programs except for the occasional episode of Jeopardy!, I used to adore various ones, ranging from the infamous Wheel of Fortune, which actually taught me my letters, to little-known ones such as Trivial Pursuit: America Plays or Wheel 2000.

3. I have been a Mac user since I was seven years old.
Though most of America owns some sort of Apple device these days, I had one before it was cool.  To be honest, my first two Macs weren't all that great, but, once OS X started, it revolutionized both their computers and the company in general.

4. I grew up on comic strips.
I have been a Garfield fan my whole life, but I like others as well.  Even some of the controversial strips had G-rated humorous moments that made me laugh out loud.

5. I recently started watching the old school Wonder Woman show, and really like it!
Then again, I love superheroes and classic television, so, why wouldn't I?

6. I have a memory for dates and times like nobody else.
People, including my mom, are often surprised at how I can recall what year, what season, and sometimes even what day something happened years after the fact.  I usually only remember the exact date when it was a special occasion--i.e., Christmas, someone's birthday, etc.--but that's more than other people seem to remember.

7. I can't stand people who act like they're in middle school.
Middle school was tough for me; it was a time when the world seemed very dark, and I came very close to failing seventh grade.  Now that I'm in the adult world, I would hope that the people I associate with would act their age...but, that isn't always the case.

8. I work at a library...and love it.
When I was younger, I thought my future was in the computer field...but, even though I studied Web Design in college, after volunteering at my local library, I felt the stacks calling to me.  Though I'm not technically a librarian--because not everyone who works at a library is one!--I hope to be one someday.

9. My favorite season is spring...for more than one reason.
Firstly, it's because that's when it gets warm, which means I don't have to wear big coats in order to go outside.  Second off, it's because everything gets green outside, which is my favorite color.  However, the most important reason--to me, at least--is because of garage sales popping up throughout my area.

10. Star Wars and Lizzie McGuire changed my life.
No, seriously; they did! They woke me up to a whole world of entertainment I'd be missing out on otherwise.

11. I have a massive book collection...and almost all of my books have been bought used!
Whether from garage sales, thrift stores, library sales, used bookstores, or anywhere else, I can't bear to pay full price for books; at my income, it would break the bank, so to speak!

Answer The Eleven Questions:
1. If you could be anyone in the history of the world, other than yourself, who would it be?
The Apostle Paul.  No one in history did more for the sake of the Christian faith, other than Jesus Christ himself.

2. What is a weird/random obsession you have, that many people don’t know about?
Calendars.  At the end of every year, I buy more than one to hang on my wall, and I even sometimes buy them well into January because they become super cheap!

3. Who (if you have one) is your role model, and why?
Jesus; He died for me, so, I live for Him!

4. What’s the weirdest event that has happened to you in the last two weeks?
Not sure.

5. What is your favorite song, and why?
I have several; one is "Stockholm Syndrome" by Muse, because it's an awesome rock track.

6. What’s your wish, right this moment? (In all honesty!)
That I had remembered to put my coat in the washer, and that I had remembered to take all of trash cans out before I started doing this.

7. What is your favorite time of day?

8. What’s your favorite hobby of all time?
I have more than one: reading, watching movies and television shows, listening to music, and bargain hunting.

9. What’s something you wish you could change about yourself, and what is something you would never change about yourself?
I wish I could let things go; I hope I never change my stance on morally decent entertainment.

10. What is a quote that sums up your life?
"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." 1 Timothy 3:15 (NIV)

11. What is your challenge you wish to achieve in life?
To become a librarian...a true librarian!

* Use the Infinity Dreams Award picture.
* Thank the blogger who tagged you.
* Tell us 11 facts about yourself.
* Answer the 11 questions.
* Tag 11 bloggers.

Anyone reading this!

Now here are your eleven questions:
  1. Who was your favorite teacher in school?
  2. What TV show is currently your favorite?
  3. Who is your favorite famous person?
  4. How often do you talk to a friend who lives far away?
  5. What is the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?
  6. What is your favorite Christmas song?
  7. What was the first computer you owned?
  8. What is your favorite game?
  9. Who is your favorite superhero?
  10. How old were you when you first got Internet access at home?
  11. What is your favorite Disney film?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

If You REALLY Knew Me...

One of my biggest problems in life is people not understanding me.  They just can't see how a guy can hate sports, or how anyone could prefer a morning of garage saling to a trip to Busch Gardens.  You may think that's just a problem that I've had with people who didn't know me all that well, but there have been times where folks knew very well what I liked and what I didn't...but failed to apply that knowledge.  James 1:22-24 says, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." The same could be said of any information, whether you read it in a book, see it on television, or hear it from a friend: Knowing what was said doesn't do any good if you don't apply it.

If you've known me for a while, you probably know that, back in the day, when I would go places with my sister and brother-in-law, people would assume they were my parents.  Once, I was talking about that with a longtime church friend, and she said, "Sometimes people just don't think." She proceeded to talk about how, when her son, who is about my age, was a baby, she would take him on walks, and people would ask if she was his grandmother instead of his mother.  What she said is true, and not just about familial assumptions; oftentimes, people who know me very well would say things that couldn't have been thought through very well.  If such people had stopped to think about what they were saying, and whom they were saying it to, they probably wouldn't have uttered it.

While I can't expect to be understood by everybody on the planet--because nobody is--I do hope that those whom I consider my friends do understand me.  Some of you may think I'm talking about my "condition," but it's more than just that, and for two reasons: First off, I think I've pretty much recovered from it; I'm not the same person I was back when I was younger, and the residuals that I'm still dealing with--talking to myself, poor handwriting, having to take a psychiatric medication--are present in plenty of people without any sort of autistic disorder or disability of any sort, not that my "condition" is truly a disability anyway.  Second off, even if I do have a "condition," that alone doesn't define me.  I am plenty of things besides mildly autistic: a Christian, a library employee, a Mac user, an entertainment lover, a Disney Channel fan, a blogger, a son, a brother, a brother-in-law, an uncle to three great kids, an avid reader...and it doesn't stop there! When I've met other people with who also had Asperger Syndrome, it seemed that our condition was the only thing we had in common; they just weren't into what I was, and vice versa.  Part of that is a product of my unique upbringing; whatever the reasons, I need someone who understands what makes me who I am.

Unfortunately, just like the case with my aforementioned friend, too many people want to make incorrect assumptions, which end up causing them to have a less than favorable opinion of me.  When talking about Disney Channel, they assume I like anything labeled Disney, which isn't true; I've never been a big fan of the old-school animated films from the House of Mouse, despite their continued popularity.  Even back when I was a kid, my favorite Disney theatrical films were ones like Rocketman, George of the Jungle, or Flubber; live-action ones, not cartoons.  I also never did care for Kim Possible; seriously, a show about a cheerleader who saves the world? Give me a break! They also assume that I'm an overgrown kid, aka somebody who refuses to grow up, not realizing that those shows are truly mature entertainment, not raunchy sex comedies or grisly, violent films that appeal to a middle school mentality.  It's the same with anything else I do, and even what I don't do; when they hear that I don't like anything to do with large bodies of water, they assume I'm a wimp or just an idiot.  People, especially Christians, shouldn't be judging anyone like that...but they are, and they especially do it to me.  Just look at all the unfriendings and friend request denials I've had on Facebook!

I would hope that my true friends know why I do what I do, and why I don't do what I don't do.  (If you don't, but would like to, feel free to ask.) However, it doesn't seem like that's always the case.  If you consider yourself to be my friend, don't just assume that I do or don't do whatever because of my "condition," because I'm just plain weird, or some other pat reason like that.  You'll likely find that the reason is more complicated than that...but only if you ask! Honestly, I'm tired of being misunderstood; I need people in my life who truly understand me.  Will you be one of them?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The REAL Reason I'm a Lifelong Single Is...

If you do not consider yourself to be a Christian, please do not read any further.  Thank you.

Today is Valentine's Day, a holiday focused on romantic love.  I've heard many a friend say they hate the lovey-dovey holiday in recent years, but, it still remains a annual calendar fixture.  For people like me, there's not much to celebrate; while most of you reading this are probably spending time with your significant other, I would say: What significant other? It's always been that way; I've never even been on a date...but, honestly, I say that's a good thing.  A female Christian friend once had a quotation on her Facebook page that said, "Guys' rejection is God's protection," and that's still true when you reverse the genders.  Honestly, in retrospect, I'm thankful I didn't end up with any of the female friends I asked out years ago, most of which I'm still in contact with thanks to Facebook.  While they're still my friends--well, except for one, anyway--each of them have proven over the years that they weren't the one for me, sometimes even before I asked them out...though I didn't realize it at first.

Even though I haven't asked a girl out since 2008, I have made many new female friends since then, at church and elsewhere.  Some of them have been married the whole time I've known them; others were single, but eventually ended up saying, "I do," to someone; still others have dated but never even gotten engaged, if they've even been romantically involved with anyone during our friendship.  However, I can't think of a single woman I know who I would be willing to date; in fact, though I often hang out with the ladies at church, most of whom are married, I wouldn't go out with them even if they were completely single.

Why is that? Well, I've set a standard that nobody seems to be able to measure up to, especially people around my age.  Let me explain: When you were single--or even if you are now--you probably encountered people of the opposite gender whom you refused to date because of something about them that was a major turn-off.  I remember a single Christian lady who was on a Christian dating site, and came across a guy who said in his profile that he didn't believe in allowing animals--including pets--into the house; as a longtime animal lover, she refused to contact him because of that alone.  If you're ardently enthused about your pets, you probably agree with her feelings; if you're not, you probably have something else in your life that is very important to you, such as sports.  Well, as most of you know, my big thing has always been entertainment.  If you look at a list of my prior obsessions--which I won't put on here--you'll see that most of them fall into that category: video games, computer games, comic strips, musical acts, and especially television shows.  You just don't get between me and my entertainment; those who have reprimanded or attacked me because of what I watch on television or what game console I owned quickly became my enemies.

So, then, what's the turn-off? Well, the reason I watch, listen to, read, play, etc., what I do is not just because I'm a kid at heart, though I kind of am.  It's because I believe that's what God wants; from my reading of the Bible, especially the New Testament, the Word makes it clear that Christians are to have nothing to do with moral filth.  There are many verses I could list, but, here are just a few:
  • But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:3-5, NIV)
  • Brothers and sisters, do not think like children. In evil things be like babies, but in your thinking you should be like adults. (1 Corinthians 14:20, NCV)
  • Avoid every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22, NIV) 
 My mom, who was raised in a Christian home and was the sole parental figure in my life until I became an adult, instilled the value of media discernment in me; even she has been bothered by the salacious content in television and movies throughout my lifetime, including when I wasn't even exposed to it.  Unfortunately, many Christians--including those around my age--never had that value instilled in them, or decided to do away with it when they moved out on their own.  A Christian Facebook friend and fellow blogger had this to say about her experience within the church:
I've been told my faith and walk were weak for all kinds of reasons, both by folks at my own church and folks at other churches. These reasons have included not wanting children, liking Rob Bell's writing, not voting Republican, listening to Eminem songs, not interpreting specific Bible passages literally, not going to church every week. And even when it's not spoken out loud, I know that sometimes it's being thought -- and I'm not just being paranoid, I know it's being thought because I was, in a sense, taught to think and feel that way when I was part of the "in" crowd, growing up in the church. 
 That speaks of my experience to a degree; in my case, it's the lack of a wife that kind of makes me an outcast among the "young adults" at church.  However, for quite a while, it's actually been my conservative beliefs that have driven a wedge between me and my fellow church members.  I'm not talking about voting Republican; I'm talking about beliefs about media discernment, modest dress, profanity, extramarital affairs, and other such matters that have been debated countless times, especially in recent years.  My beliefs on such things are taken right from the Bible and the morals on which I was raised, but too many people, even ones who were raised in the church, use a secular measuring stick to define their lifestyle, not realizing that God calls us to an even higher standard.

A common complaint against Christianity or religion in general is that it doesn't allow people to have any fun; a college classmate said that she was raised going to church, but left as a adult because she didn't like being told that everything she liked to do was wrong.  Sure, sin may be fun while you're involved in it...but it has terrible consequences.  Let me use an analogy: Let's say that, as a kid, you really want to attend a movie showing with your best friend...but your mom really needs your help cleaning up the house, because she isn't feeling well.  You insist on doing what you want, and keep pressing her, so, she makes you a deal: If you go to the movies with your friend like you've been asking, for the next year, you won't be able to do any of your favorite things: hang out with friends, watch television or movies, play video games, chat online, read books, whatever; all you'll do is eat, do hard work, and sleep for the next twelve months.  Would you still want to go to that movie showing? Of course not! Two hours worth of fun isn't worth a year of punishment! Well, that's how it is with sin: You may think it's fun at the moment, but, one day, you'll be held accountable for it, and may even pay the price.  I know that I've messed up quite often in my Christian life, so, I want to make sure that I refrain from testing the bounds of God's grace any more than I already have; I echo the statement that Paul made in 1 Timothy 1:15: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." (NIV)

That right there is why I take sin very seriously; if it affects my eternal salvation, it's no joke! Unfortunately, our "anything goes" culture has turned sinful behaviors into a joke and a pastime, which is why many people, including Christians, engage in such activities without another thought.  I know from experience that turning bad behavior into a joke is one of the worst things you can do.  My mom once had a friend whose older son, who was disabled, had to be taken to the hospital because her younger son had grabbed a chair, hit his brother in the head with it, and ended up cracking his skull.  When my mom heard about that incident, she told her friend, "When he does things like this, and you think it's cute, you're just encouraging him to keep doing it." I don't know what happened with that family afterwards, but, I do know that the culture does exactly what my mom warned her friend about: making sinful behavior seem cute or innocent.

That mentality has even spread into the church, including my church; seriously, most of the Christians I know lack any rules about what they watch, listen to, read, or play.  Maybe they don't bother with pornography, but, that's about it.  I, for one, am beyond sick and tired of the garbage in the media; in most cases, it seems like, if it isn't made for kids (Disney Channel, Power Rangers, etc.) or old-school (I Love Lucy), it ends up being trashy.  There are some exceptions; for example, the makers of Supergirl have kept things remarkably clean for a show on the major networks, where profanity, sex, and violence seem to be the name of the game.  Nowadays, you get movies and shows that you can tell are obviously morally offensive just from the title, such as I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.  It's a blatant sign how far gone our culture and our planet is.

While I can be friends with people who don't agree with my entertainment rules, because few people outside of my household do, I wouldn't want to be in a close relationship--i.e., dating, marriage, etc.--with someone who didn't share the same convictions I do, because that would mean sitting through utter garbage.  That may sound admirable, but, there's one problem: Nobody seems to agree with my rules on that topic, not even my best friends at church.  They may understand why I do what I do, but they don't do it themselves.  Frankly, if I had to choose between being married to a worldly Christian lady and being single, I'd choose the latter; I'm better off that way, because the last thing I need is someone corrupting my mind with sinful media, which could happen in a relationship despite my significant other's intentions.  If you know me, you know that my entertainment is very important to me; so, why wouldn't it affect my love life or lack thereof as well?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Why I Don't See Myself As A Leader...And Likely Never Will

When I've talked about a potential future relationship, I've often said that I would need a wife who would guide me and look out for me.  My friends have disagreed with me, citing the Biblical standard that husbands/fathers are supposed to be heads of their households.  However, I have never seen myself as much of a leader.  It's not that I'm exactly a follower either; I just sort of do my own thing, which is entirely my own decision.  I don't let other people's opinions sway me, but, nor do I have anybody doing all of the same things I do; I've been essentially endorsing garage sales, the Disney Channel, and libraries for years, but everyone I know either still doesn't bother with them or was already a fan of them before they even met me.  Despite my gender, I just don't see myself as leader material; in fact, I'm more inclined to let the women in my life--well, okay, only the right women!--lead me.

Why would I do that? For more than one reason.  First off: In my family, the women have pretty much always led.  You probably know that my biological parents divorced when I was very young, leaving my mom as head of the household.  What you may not know is that my maternal grandfather died when I was barely in kindergarten; my grandmother on the same side of the family, however, outlived him by nearly a decade and a half.  Due to her age and related health problems, she often needed help...but, it was often my mom and my aunts--that is, my mom's siblings--that came to my grandmother's aid.  My sister--the one still living, that is--has always been a "Miss Independent" type from a young age; I would say it's part of the time in which she was raised.  She has never been afraid to take charge of a situation, and people have often been very thankful for that.  No offense to any people with "Y" chromosomes who may be reading this, my family, most--though not all!--of the guys just couldn't be depended upon, at least in my lifetime; it was the women who called the shots.

Second off: I've grown up with countless stories that showcase strong female characters, sometimes even making their male counterparts look like idiots.  Over the past two or three years, I have watched countless episodes of Power Rangers; I started off with the very first Mighty Morphin season, but have also watched newer iterations ranging from Operation Overdrive to Megaforce.  Every season has at least one female Ranger, but, one thing I read on IMDb about the very first incarnation of the franchise surprised me: While the American version had two female Rangers, in the Japanese show it was based one had a male Yellow Ranger; the Pink Ranger was the sole lady among the group.  That's not all that surprising, though, given the time in which it was made; in the 1990's, feminism continued to grow, and I'm sure Saban felt they needed a good hook for female viewers.  When you look at other series of the time, you see many other strong women as well.  In Home Improvement, Jill had to tell Tim what to do all the time, because he often acted like one of the kids.  Even in Lois & Clark, Teri Hatcher's portrayal of Lois Lane was no mere damsel in distress; in fact, one episode featured a gadgetry mishap that led to her getting Superman's powers! It's true in many stories I've read, watched, listened to, played, etc.; the vast majority of the entertainment I've consumed over the years subscribes to the "Girls rule; boys drool" mentality.  After hours upon hours of could I not expect a woman to lead me?

Third off: I have never been a part of something where there wasn't a female in some sort of higher position.  When you think of a teacher, you probably picture a woman; though men have been holding teaching positions for quite a while, it's still a female-dominated field.  I remember one of my teachers in high school nominating a male instructor for Teacher of the Year, and mentioning that he was one of only two or three guys in his entire department.  That was probably the case in most if not all of my high school, though; in fact, the Latin teacher there was the only guy in the whole foreign language department.  While that may be expected in school, that was also the case when I was involved in other things as well...including Boy Scouting.  Two of my friends in Scouting had mothers who served as leaders, despite their gender; while one of them lacked a father, the other one's dad was also a leader in the troop! The mothers of the Scouts played a big part in Cub Scouting, as well.  Even at my church, while we don't believe in female elders, deacons, or preachers--and, that is NOT a debate I want to get into!--it would not be where it is today without the contributions of its female members, including the wives of the elders and deacons.  The story of Jesus turning the water into wine shows that even the Savior of the world needed a woman--in that case, his mother--to tell him what to do, so, I don't think the rest of us guys have much hope without one.

Fourth off: I have never been in a leadership position.  We all know that I've never been in a relationship, but, that's true in other cases as well: I'm by far the youngest of my siblings and even the baby among my first cousins.  At every job I've had, I've been the low man on the totem pole.  I was never a leader in any capacity of any organization I was in, including church, Scouting, and anything online.  That's probably the reason I like technology as much as I do: I can tell it what to do, and it does it...but people just won't.  Then again, that may be the way God wants it; leadership just isn't in my personality.  I know many would say that it should be because of my gender, but, as everyone who knows me already knows: I'm not the typical guy, and for multiple reasons.

Now, for my conclusion: When talking about romantic relations, I have always expected the women in my life to be the ones to take charge; that is, to ask me out, to propose to me, etc.  I know that's traditionally the guys' role, and many women would cringe at the thought of doing such a thing, but, after the experiences I've had in my life, I would ask the same question Hilary Duff once asked: Why not? If I was romantically involved with a woman who took charge of the relationship, it wouldn't bother me, because that's what women have always done in my experience, both in life and in art.  Honestly, I'm inclined to let them do it, because they seem to know what they're doing; I wouldn't be where I am in my life today if not for the women in my life. Then again, maybe I'm just biased; your thoughts?