We Got an Upgrade!

Ever since we moved into this house almost eight years ago (has it been that long?), we knew that at some point we would have to replace the water heater.  I remember within the first few years of living here, at least two of our neighbors had their water heaters burst and flood their homes.  It was one of the many reasons we continued to renew our home warranty each year, but we were not looking forward to dealing with the inevitable flood.

I am thoroughly happy to report that not all water heater replacements require that flood.

So, about the middle of last week, Michael noticed some brown water coming out of the bathroom faucet as he was getting ready for work in the morning.  I had been taking baths the previous few nights as per my self-care regimen, so we figured that I had actually managed to empty the water heater, revealing the sediment at the bottom of the tank.  Michael was worried that it might also be rust, so we called our warranty and they sent out a plumber.

When the plumbers arrived, they checked the water coming out of the bathtub first, and while that was running, one of them went downstairs to check on the water heater, itself.  He came back in with this picture (well, one like it.  I asked him to take a picture on my phone so I could send it to Michael).

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Do you see all of the corrosion and leakage?  We had actually caught the leak early enough to avoid a massive deluge in our home!  Of course, we’ve not always been this lucky (especially with our A/C), but I was ecstatic that it would be replaced without much problem.

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It had to be brought up to code (including installing a drain pipe that would allow the water to run down the garage and driveway in case of a leak instead of the house), but the warranty covered the installation and the unit itself.  So even though we were out of pocket a bit of money, it wasn’t nearly the amount it could have been, and it wasn’t nearly the disaster it could have been!

So happy and thankful for such smooth replacement!

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Summer Study: Philippians 3

Before I share my thoughts about this chapter, I wanted to say that my heart is with those in Charlottesville, Virginia. And I pray that God’s love and mercy extinguish the flames of hate and fear throughout our country. I denounce the words and actions of white supremacy and racism that were on display this weekend. We are a broken people of a brokenhearted God.

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Paul continues his letter to the Gentiles about circumcision. This is a topic that permeates through most of his letters. There were groups of Jewish Christians who insisted that Gentiles must get circumcised in order to be truly saved (which was no small task), and Paul, again and again, refutes this.

What stood out to me the most in this chapter was how Paul makes the case that on paper, he’s pretty much perfect. He was a Pharisee. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. Circumcised. Legalistically Righteous (following the letter of the law).

And yet, he would throw it all away, consider it rubbish, to chase after Jesus. Because the words on his resume are finite. Jesus is eternal.

The same could be said about us. We strive and pursue and pull up by our bootstraps and achieve. There is so much importance on the outer perceptions of our world, just like back then. But Christ is so much more interested in the inward – the putting to death of our old self to be renewed in him.

It’s easy to put to death my brokenness and my sin, but would I put to death my competence? Not just use my gifts for God, but consider those gifts temporary and finite. Those gifts, my abilities are not going to save me. Only Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his victory over death save me in the end.

This year, I’ve been working on my people pleasing attitude. It is almost an addiction to receive attention, respect, admiration, and acceptance from others. And I have freely given my time and energy and abilities in the hope that I will receive these things from others that I so desperately desire. Would I consider these things I’ve been addicted to for so long rubbish in comparison the Jesus Christ?

Paul makes it clear that those who are focused on these earthly things are on a path to destruction. But we are destined for so much more in Christ. We will be transformed into his likeness. We can leave the past behind (even the accolades and good stuff) and strain towards the future with God. And through that vision of what is to come, we can see the reality of what is today. This world is not our home.

Paul even admitted, for all the knowledge he had obtained in his lifetime, he still didn’t have it all figured out. He was continually growing and maturing upon the foundation that Christ had built. And he encouraged the church in Philippi to do the same. Never give up. Keep the faith and keep going.

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Friday Ramble: Connection

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Several weeks ago, in another post, I can’t remember which one, I removed two paragraphs because I realized it didn’t fit with the rest of what I was writing.  I held onto those two paragraphs until I had another day to dig deeper into it.  And when I opened up the Word document to jog my memory on this topic, this is what I read:

It’s really, really easy to barrier yourself in this life.  All of our houses have garages that close, doors that lock, fences that border.  Our phones come with a do not disturb function on it and caller id, but before that, we were using voicemail to screen our calls (or was that just me?).  We have been moving towards isolation with furious speed for decades.  We blame the tools of this world – smart phones, social media, the internet – for all of it, but we, mankind, created those tools.

This is not a declaration against social media or cell phones or even the internet.  God is in every connection.  We can’t encrypt against his omnipresence.  We can’t go incognito from his omniscience.  And I believe he works as much in the virtual world as he does in the physical one.  You can’t block God.

This month has been particularly hard for me.  The end of this month will bring the one year anniversary of losing our second daughter.  And just like with our first, the weeks leading up to it have been hard.  Like I said earlier this week, I feel drained by any social interaction, so I’ve chosen to take some time to myself.

Then, I read these two paragraphs and realize how appropriate they are as a reminder. Even when I’m feeling the need to distance myself to work through grief, it is such good news that God remains connected.  And he has made himself known to me – through nature, my dogs, even conversations online with friends and strangers.  It’s so amazing to have people check in at random, but perfectly timed, moments.

So, thank you, friends.  Thank you to those of you who have commented on my blog recently.  You have made my heart smile.  Thank you to those who have sent private messages or small reminders to let us know that you are praying for us this month.  It has meant so much more than you will ever know.  In the midst of pain and grief, I can look to my Heavenly Father who provides for me, and I know that I am blessed.

Summer Study: Philippians 2

If you didn’t read last week’s start to this particular study, you can find that here.

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I am reminded, as I read these chapters just how much I love Philippians and how much it challenges me.  If I were to put a theme to chapter 2, it would be “It’s not about you.”

Paul starts by challenging the Philippians to unify in love, spirit, and purpose.  To put each other first.  To leave behind selfish ambition and vain conceit.  To be like Christ.

Because Christ was equal to God, but he didn’t come to the earth to teach us how to be equal to God.  Instead, he came to teach us humility and obedience.  To take on a servant’s role.  And it was through subservience that God exalted him in heaven.  Because you know God loves to turn societal definitions and expectations on their head.

And here’s my motto for the week:

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It makes me want to sing that “Shine Bright Like a Diamond” song.  But as I was humming the tune, I realized how different God’s shine might be from the world.

Jesus, of course, attracted people to him.  His words, his actions, the miracles, the kindness, and forgiveness.  He definitely shined.  Even experienced a bit of a celeb status at times, but it wasn’t something he was chasing after.  He wasn’t trying to shine for the world to see him.  He was shining on the world to let them know that God saw them.  That God saw their pain and their hurt, and Jesus was sent to give them rest, to extend to them forgiveness and healing, to die so that they may be saved.

And here, Paul is saying the same thing.  Don’t do things out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Don’t seek the attention, the acceptance, the praise of men.  Seek to submit to the will of God.  God will see you shine, even if men remain blind.  Complaining comes with a sense of entitlement, but we see reality.  We are chosen by God, true, and we are precious in His sight.  But we have done nothing to deserve that status.  We are not actually entitled to any of it.  But it’s given to us anyway.

So whatever it is that God wants me to do to further his Kingdom, I will try to submit and obey and remember the example of Jesus.  To not complain but encourage.  To not argue but submit.  To do nothing in selfishness or vanity, but instead, seek out the overlooked and ignored and isolated, and share the love of God with them.

May we all shine this week.

Friday Ramble: Adult Guide to YouTube

I’m on the older side of the millennial generation, so I have friends who are avid subscribers to YouTube channels.  I also have friends who may watch a popular video from time to time or use YouTube to find a specific scene from television or movies, or they will look for a piece of music or a how-to video as needed.  But they never actually feel the need to subscribe to a channel.

And I’m here to state my case as to why they should start subscribing.

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To be fair, there is this feeling that a lot of YouTube channels seem to target the younger generations – preteens to young adults.  And there are always young people starting their own channels and connecting with people their own age with similar life situations.  However, a lot of the older content creators, folks that have been on the platform for 10+ years, are in adulthood.  Some of them are married and have kids.  So, even though sometimes they do try to present information that would be relevant to the younger crowd, more and more of their content can also broach subjects of more adult-type situations.

While there are a lot of channels that are brand-based, that are there simply for consumable content, there are channels that still strive to build community.  And these are the communities that the younger generations want to be a part of.  I think it’s important to understand what these channels are saying because of the large impact and influence they have over young generations.

But where to start?  Admittingly, when you look on the Trending Videos on YouTube, it doesn’t really give much direction.  There are a lot of brand-focused videos that tend to monopolize these spots because of people who don’t subscribe, merely just watch random videos on YouTube.  If you want more community-driven channels, I can give you a few suggestions.

One of the more important communities to me is the academic/news information type communities, and I have two suggestions in this category.

Philip Defranco

Defranco presents a news show Monday through Thursday that I find pretty balanced.  And he strives to report the news in the most balanced way possible.  He dedicates researchers to the stories so that it will be accurate.  But he also wants community engagement.  He encourages people to share their opinion, and he shares his own as well, but he makes it clear when he is sharing facts versus opinions.  Then, on Fridays, he engages with the community through the comments they make on his videos from Monday through Thursday.  And this is just the beginning.  He is hiring and planning and building an entire news company dedicated to fair and balanced reporting.

Also, I would say this is not safe for young kids.  He does use profanity and his subject material is sometimes of an adult nature.  I do not agree with all of his opinions, but I feel like I don’t have to, to be a part of this community and to get a balanced news source.  Some of his videos have been used in classrooms, especially during the election or during some of the current event segments.  And all of the topics are not completely heavy.  He breaks up the news with a “Today in Awesome” segment in the middle that covers fun videos on YouTube as well as video game and movie trailers that have come out recently.

Vlogbrothers

I know that for a lot of my friends, Defranco may not be their cup of tea, so I give you the Vlogbrothers.  This channel is a must to understand what is going on in the YouTube community.  Hank and John Green are two brothers who make short videos to one another on Tuesdays and Fridays.  John Green might sound familiar because he wrote The Fault in Our Stars and Papertowns, both have become movies.  But John and Hank have done so much more.  John went to Africa with the Gates Foundation to report on the needs and progress of those areas.  He interviewed a teen at a Syrian Refugee Camp.

Hank is big on education.  He runs two other channels on YouTube that are education based and sometimes even incorporated into classrooms across the nation.  They are called Scishow and CrashCourse.  CrashCourse, I’m more familiar with, covers a lot of academic topics and is quite fascinating.  Sometimes the Vlogbrother videos are a little adult in nature (Hank recently did a video about condoms as an example for medical statistics and how we get them wrong), but they are informative and can keep you up to date on their projects.

They have two major projects that I can think of off the top of my head.  Vidcon (in June) is a conference for YouTubers similar to ComicCon (but smaller).  There are panels covering a myriad of topics and meet and greets.  Also, at the end of the year, they do a huge fundraiser for a nonprofit that is voted on by the community.  It’s a great way to engage with people all around.

Other Communities

I realized as I was thinking about this that there are so many other people I would recommend, but this blog is getting way too long and rambly.  But I would like to say that there are so many communities I think adults could really benefit from.  Like BookTube, an entire community where people talk about the books they read or want to read.  Or the ASMR community, which has a lot more to do with dealing with anxiety than it does in feeling all tingly.  I would suggest just putting an interest in the search bar and following the rabbit hole that it leads you to.  You really won’t regret it.

Just make sure that whatever channel you do fine actually still posts on a semi-consistent basis.  And don’t worry if you miss a few or several of their videos.  Usually, if they reference an earlier video, they will link it in the description below.  Happy hunting!

Do you have a favorite channel or community?  Do you want any particular recommendations for where to start in a particular community?