Christmas 2002

It’s Christmas.  What can I say.  It’s almost 1oclock in the morning here in NJ.  It’s snowing outside and looks like I’m gonna have a white Christmas.  The last time I had a white Christmas had to be about… 9 years ago?  Man.  Has that much time past us Lord?  I can’t believe that the last time I had a white Christmas was in NJ, before I went to Japan… I’ve gone thru all my middle school years, all my HS years, and 2 years of college.  Has that many years past Lord?  Man, that’s so many.  *sigh*  Have I been productive Lord?  Have the things that I’ve done in the last 9 years been good in Your eyes?  Hah…  When I think about it that way…  *ugh.  Sad.  I don’t think so.  But, it has been Your plan Lord.  This is the way that You wanted it to be.  I can’t change anything.  I’ve come so far Lord.  I still have so far to go.  Help me to stay focused Lord.  I can do it.  So, it has been 9 years.  9 Christmas’s.  9 Birthdays of Your Son.  What fun.  This Christmas has been so unlike those in the past for me.  This is the first time in my entire life that I won’t be home for Christmas.  I won’t even get to see Jacksonville this Christmas.  I won’t even step foot in Florida.  This is the first time that our family didn’t buy a Christmas tree and decorate it.  This is the first time that we’ve traveled around during Christmas, and me not knowing where I’d be for Christmas or New Years.  I’d never have guessed that I’d be spending Christmas morning in a hotel.  I gave all my gifts out to my family members about 3 or 4 days ago!  No tree.  No gifts under a tree.  No gifts to be given out, cause, I’ve already given all of them.  I’m not really gonna get anything for Christmas either, cause, I haven’t asked for anything and it would be pointless to carry them in that big van anyways.  Well, I did get a rice cooker.  I wanted that.  Yippee!  I hope it works well.  When I get back, I’m gonna cook my self some.  :)  Rice.  My ode to rice.  Gud stuff.  :)  …  Uh, nevermind.  Right now, I’m sitting here on my hotel bed, with just some basketball shorts on, my lappy on my lap, my head rested against the backboard, my contacts off, my ipod on the bed along side my bible, the nike earphones in my ears, and brandi’s beanie on my head.  I think I look kinda funny.  But, oh well.  Today, or, shall I say yesterday, was very interesting and full.  We got up very early, and had a good breakfast.  I got to really talk about relationships with Jessica and Debbie and about guarding one’s heart.  I dunno if any of it sunk it, and to make matters more difficult, petakun was being annoying and very unfocused.  All I ask Lord is that he is focused, but, he’s very distracting sometimes.  He told me that I was preaching.  Lord, help me not to preach, but to say things that matter with love.  Love Lord.  I want all my conversations to be out of love and nothing else.  I care for those two.  I know how men treat women and abuse them physically and emotionally and spiritually.  Damn, I’ve done it myself.  What a better way to help them stay pure than to speak from experience?  But, it was kind of a rough intro to a big conversation with them, so, I’m not sure how much got thru.  I just hope they didn’t consider it me just preaching stuff to them.  I am concerned and want to support them and love them and have them come closer to You Lord.  Why is that so hard sometimes…?  *ugh.  Well, after that, we went to go see a huge train layout.  It was so big.  Took an entire warehouse, and this guys life to build practically.  The guide said the average family takes 2-3 hours.  We took like an hour.  Father, of course, took a little longer…  We went with the Townsends and Johnny.  It was fairly interesting.  I think I saw enough trains to last me a life-time…  Well, I’ll probably take my kids.  How funny, how I can make fun of it now, but I see myself doing the same to my kids in a couple years down the road.  Oh well.  Life has a funny way of coming back at you from the past.  I took some really cool pics of the layout from groundlevel so it looks like I live there or something.  It would be a very cool fantasy world to live in.  Would be fun to explore and whatnot.  Alas, it is not so.  We went out to get something to eat, then headed over to Aunt Beth’s house, where we sat around for awhile.  That house, like all the houses I’m visiting, are getting mad small…?!  Yeah.  I guess I’m just getting older and bigger… Or, if that makes sense…  But, the comon trait is that the residences of all these people are getting so much smaller.  Which, is fine, I suppose.  It was a while since I’ve been in Beth’s house.  It was good to see the house again.  I remember staying there a couple times and what not.  I didn’t get to see the basement though… Hmm… Maybe we’ll head back in the next couple days.  We then headed out to Carmel Church.  We got there, and there was the magic bullet hole in the door that I’ve remembered so well.  I can remember when the bullet hole was so high, that I had to reach up to touch it.  But, now, it’s like at my stomach level.  I’ve grow so much… Man… We saw Uncle Peter and Jodie and Cindy, Stephanie, and Jackie.  They have all grown, but, Stephanie especially.  I think she’s taller than me.  Wow, and she’s only in 8th grade!  Cindy is a Junior in HS I believe, and Jackie, is a 5th grader.  Wow.  Time flies, doesn’t it.  We had a good Christmas Eve service.  I sat there in the beginning just praying to You Lord to keep me focused.  I dunno, my mind was really wandering around about different stuff.  It was a pain in the rear.  I couldn’t focus.  Here I was in Your house Lord, and I wasn’t centered on You at all.  I wasn’t thinking about anything specific.  Just, not You, and that was a problem.  I got thru it.  I got thru the service enough to come back to reality somewhat.  They did the entire Jesus story.  It’s very interesting, even though I’ve heard it about 100 times before.  I can easily see how people can really blow this off and not really focus on the magnificence of it all.  And the significance.  I could easily see myself just being a nominal Christian.  I looked around and saw so many people.  I had to wonder how many people were just there for this service and were like the comon “C” and “E’s”… Christmas and Easter people.  I had to laugh, cause, I would make fun of those people, and yet, I was a nominal Christian at that time as well, and I thought I was just so much better than them.  Well, I was pretty ignorant and babo.  I am no better than anyone on this earth.  Lord, help me realize this, every single day.  That keeps me humble.  I am no better than anyone.  I play on the same playing field as everyone else.  I am in the same game.  I may be more focused than some, and I know for a fact that there are people that are way more focused than I, but, we are all equal in Your eyes Lord.  Jesus came to take away all our sins.  He did this for everyone.  He did this for me, and for my family and for my friends, and their families, and all nations, even those that may not believe truly in Him.  I am no different.  I am a sinner as well.  Lord knows that I’ve sinned.  Lord, but, I know that You have forgiven me, and thru that, I am so thankful and just wanna give it all back to You Lord.  Just wannt give it all back, cause, I love You that much.  I want You to control and own my life.  Without You, I can do nothing.  Without You, this body I have is useless.  Without You, this mind and intelligence will rot and have no productivity.  Without You, nothing is possible.  But, with You, everything is possible.  So awesome.  Anyway, Lord, help me keep all these things in perspective.  That will keep me humble.  ANd a humble servant is far greater than that of a vain one and prideful one.  I’m sorry to say that sometimes I find myself in the latter category.  Lord, give me strength to be weak.  Give me knowledge so that I may learn more.  Give me words so that I may speak with action.  Lord, give me everything and nothing.  Give me nothing so that I may inherit everything.  Lord, just break me Lord.  I am no where close to being a perfect servant.  Make me rely on You solely for everything, and I will just have no choice but to goto You.  That is all  I ask.  Man, I am so tired…  Anyways… I finished the service we sang classic hymns.  It was all so familiar… Yet, not so much at the same time.  It was good.  Cynthia and Bob were there with Dave and Bill.  It was good to see them as well.  We headed over to Father’s parents house.  Man, that was small as well.  Grandma Saddington looked so small and frail.  Granddad was looking older as well.  Sheesh.  Time is disappearing.  One day, they will be gone.  *sigh.  John and MaryJane were there as well.  MaryJane’s mother had died last sunday, so, she was still getting over that.  I met Neal for the first time.  What a quiet and small boy.  I hope He grows up into a Godly man. A wild man, a wild at heart man.  He looks shy and sheltered right now.  We’ll see.  We’ll see.  He’s only 5.  I called Miso, said, hi, dropped a line to tAnUkI again. She was over at her cousin’s again.  How kyoot.  She will be an awesome mother some day.  What a lucky man her husband will be.  She’ll do great.  We then went over to Grandmom Lefferts house.  Stayed there for awhile and sat around thinking about all the memories I’ve had there.  Jumping off the wall, being in the game closet, sitting next to the heater… Man, so many different memories… When was the last time I was in that house…?  I can’t even remember.  That’s sad.  Time is flying.  Can You slow it down Lord…?  *sigh.  I just have to leave it all up to You Lord.  All up to You Lord.  The timing is all You.  Not me.  I can’t do anything about it, but try to make the most of the time I’ve given and give it all back to You.  All praise to You Lord.  The Almighty.  Man, Lord, I am so tired.  I’m going to get some sleep.  Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow………………………………….  Happy B-day Jesus.  The One and Only…

It’s about 11:30, Christmas Day, still.  Haha.  It’s been like 22 hours since my last journal entry.  But, still, the same day.  Kinda neat.  Today was good. We took our time getting up, grabbed some breakfast, and headed back to our rooms.  We all packed into mammy’s room, and there we exchanged gifts and such.  Santa brought me a couple shirts, a bonsai tree seed, (that will take forever…), a really cool plaque that says “Be still, and know that I Am.”  That was really neat.  Some computer software that is like a huge bible reference and such.  It should come in handy.  I’m excited.  I got some more juggling balls…  And, I think that was about it.  Nothing large.  Nothing expensive.  Everyone got some neat stuff, but, nothing too big, cause, it was all brought up in the van and what not.  Jessica was feeling down, cause, she didn’t get the ipod she wanted.  Hey, they were all sold out.  But, I told her that she could have mine.  Yeah.  It wasn’t that spontaneous, cause, I had thought about it before, but, I think it would be a good thing.  I’m just gonna give it to her, my 5 gig Ipod, and have her use it.  It has so many downloaded songs on it.  I just need to get rid of that part of my life.  Get rid of all the songs that I haven’t paid for.  It’s sort of exciting Lord.  That I can just do this, and take steps to become more righteous.  These small things Lord, that, sometimes are so hard to obey, and that can really bring us down.  Sometimes, we are so shaky on the small things, that when the big temptations and tests come upon us, we really fail.  We must start at the beginning.  Why tackle the larger things when you can’t even handle the small things?  This was kinda of interesting thinking, cause, Lord, I have overcome some large things in my life.  Pornography, a lot of lustful thinking, masturbation, and all these things with respect to females.  The way I treat them, the way I look at them, talk about them, think about them.  The way I go about establishing contact and relationships.  That has all changed, and those were big things in my life.  Things that my life rotated around at one point.  It seemed like the only thing on my mind was a girl, and a relationship, and all my life was centered around it.  I guess it wouldn’t have been as bad, but, the way I went about doing it and thinking about it and what not, well, I was totally off.  But, even though, I’ve changed, and yet, it took me even longer to come up with this thing about the music.  Man, I’m gonna miss so many songs.  I’m just going thru them right now, listening to them for possibly one of the last times.  When I leave for Tech, I’m going to give Jessica my Ipod.  And, bye bye music.  Man, if these songs were really that important, then, I guess, I’m just gonna have to buy the CD’s.  God… Man, why is this so hard.  I feel like taking back my promise, my deal, but… God, I have to do this.  I wanna do this.  This is the only thing that I can’t seem to do anything about, but, it’s right there in my face.  *argh…  I can do it.  Anyway, I’m going to give her the music player, and mammy at least is gonna reimburse me for a little of the cost.  *sigh…*  Well, we had a good Christmas morning I suppose.  We then went to see the second Lord of the Rings movie.  Definitely not as good as the first, unfortunately, but, that was my view on it.  I think the story of the 2nd one wasn’t as fulfilling or in depth.  Oh well.  Too much fighting.  And, besides, the movie strayed so far from the book, and didn’t even finish where the book ended…  Oh well.  We then headed over to Beth and Roger’s place to have Christmas dinner.  It was good.  We were there with their friends Larry and his wife, and the Townsends as well.  Played some ping-pong, sat around doing nothing, and ate lots of food.  What else can I say.  I called brandi a couple times, wasn’t there, talked to Miso for a little while.  It was snowing, so, that was kinda neat.  And, now, here I am sitting on my bed, just like last night.  I’ve read over 1st Samuel 1:1-20.  This is really great.  It talks about prayer and God hearing them.  Hannah wanted a son, but, was very unlucky.  She prayed to the Lord and He heard her and He answered her.  Now, this is a very run down synopsis of what went on here.  But, truly, what transpired here is awesome.  Verse 12: 

“As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth.  Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.  Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, ‘How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.”

Hannah was praying in her heart.  It just made me think.  How often do I truly pray in my heart.  How often do I truly pour out all these prayers in full confidence and with no strings attached? How many times are my prayers focused and do I truly come to the Lord broken and asking with nothing but truth and desire in my heart?  I can’t even imagine how many times, just before a test or something, I just ask God to help me.  Um, I really believe that, well, that’s fine and all, but, I’m sure that God would have loved to hear from us way earlier.  And, besides, if I was really focused and if I was really concerned about it in the first place, then, I would have been prepared and praying way before hand.  I guess the key is just focus.  If I do everything to just glorify You, Lord, then, preparation and last minute praying for stuff really will not be a problem.  Anyway, the point is, that I guess I rarely do come to the Lord with prayers that are from my heart and not just from my lips and mind.  I can think about all these things and say them, but, is it truly on my heart to believe in it and know that God will answer them?  The ending of the first chapter is great.  God remembers her and grants her a child.  God remembers her.  If, our prayers are truly focused and from our heart, God will hear them and grant them.  This hit me.  The more I truly spend time talking with You Lord and being completely earnest about my prayers and just come before You broken and willing, the better chance that I will have those answered.  It’s not like I’m going to pray my heart out for ridiculous things like a car or something.  I doubt I’d be truly focused on the Lord anyway for that.  It would be for myself, so, the Lord would easily sift thru that prayer and just do something else for me.  Possibly realize how easy I have it not having a car.  Man, God, You do some strange and wonderful things.  We truly never know what You are going to do, or how You are going to go about answering our prayers.  Most likely not in the way that we would like them to come about, but, it always come out for the better.  Lord, You know what we want and what we need.  You always give us what we need, and rarely what we want.  But, it is of the essential.  You give us what we need.  What we need.  Sometimes, nothing more, and then, sometimes, You bless us.  God, You are truly great.  Just the fact that You hear our genuine prayers and will remember us and grant them to us, God, that is true power Lord.  So, all in all, this passage was really good for me.  I really haven’t spent that much time since the retreat really coming before You Lord and praying with deep intent.  It’s been more of the mouth and mind kind of praying.  Lord, may I just come before You broken everytime I pray and that the words of my mouth be true, as well as the thoughts and meditations of my heart.  Lord, may I genuinely come before You seeking answers, not just for trivial things and things that I want, but Lord, that I come before You with things that avail to the greater good and that are focused on You and You alone Lord.  God, I just got out of the shower.  I know You heard my prayer in there.  Lord, I truly desire to just be able to speak with truth Lord.  To my brother and my other siblings… and with everyone I meet and interact with.  I just got in a small arguement with petakun.  I had read this passage and wanted to share it with him, but, petakun, of course, knows everything.  He read over it in about 10 seconds and then handed it back to me.  I asked him if he understood the importance of it and the message.  He was like: “Yeah, don’t drink wine and such when you pray.”  Man, that was so off.  I could only help but wonder how many people read passages from Your word and take only the skin deep message that is there.  Or, in this case, totally miss the point all together.  I tried to explain it to him, but, he of course, ‘knew that.’  Lord, help me.  Sometimes, he can be so stubborn.  Help me not judge, but, do everything on the wings of love.  Let me do things out of love, not because of pride, and the fact that I caught onto the deeper meaning of the passage.  I mean, I almost missed it as well.  But, I truly came with the intent on finding deeper meaning and something special in the passage, and, so, God, You helped me see it.  Help others see that.  Help my brother get out of his prideful and selfish ways.  Help me as well, for I too struggle with the same difficulties.  Help me focus on doing things out of love and not for some personal reasons.  God, I truly desire to have petakun come closer to You.  Lord, You have put me in a position to help him.  God, I so miss my fellow brothers from KCPC and my sisters there as well.  At least, I can talk to them about these things and get feedback and they help me see things in another light or from a different perspective.  Here, i feel like I’m constantly the leader.  That I’m constantly the one giving the remarks and trying to lead others to You.  Lord, I am in need of direction as well.  I feel like I’m sharpening them, but, I am not getting sharpened in return.  …  Man, I dunno if I’m even getting to them Lord at all…!  Lord, do they truly hear me?  Do the words I say go thru them like wind thru leaves?  Lord, do I speak the truth?  Lord…?  Am I doing anything worth-while?  God.  I am frustrated.  I want to be taught as well.  I want to be helped and guided.  Lord, I know that this is my journey, but, I can’t do it alone.  And, all around me, especially in my family, I do not feel like I’m getting feedback or criticism at least.  Well, that’s not completely true, petakun says I preach too much sometimes.  Do I?  Lord, I try not to.  I try to stay focused on You.  Lord, its so hard right now, cause… God… I’m being lulled into spritual complacency.  And, God, I know, I need to be independent and not feel the need to be spoon-fed, but, Lord, I don’t think I’m like that.  I just need feedback.  Constructive.  I need to be broken Lord.  Break me Lord.  I need to come back to the heart of the matter.  I am straying Lord.  Help me stay on task.  Help me stay on the right road.  God, I’m trying.  Am I trying too hard…?  I cannot push others to believe or come to You.  I have to leave that to You.  God, I’m so selfish sometimes.  I can’t expect to have others come to my level of understanding, I just need to help them with their journeys and as a complete body, grow together.  Focus John.  Focus.  It’s all for You Lord.  All for You.  *sigh*  Petakun is snoring so loudly.  I’ve never heard him snore this loudly.  I wanna smack him with a pillow or something.  *aish…*  Lord, help me stay focused.  Give me the courage to be weak.  This is all just preparing me, I know.  To be a leader for the prayer meetings at Georgia Tech.  If I can’t even be a leader in my own family, how can I possibly handle all these different people that I’m not as comfortable with?  Lord, prepare me, with whatever You have planned for me.  Whatever tests You have for me, let me take them.  Let me fail or triumph, for as long as I focus, I can never lose, for You are with me.  Your glory and light shall continue to shine regardless of my own human failure.  As long as it is for the sole purpose to glorify You.  Lord, help me.  Test me.  Break me Lord.  That is all I desire.  Break me Lord.  I am preparing myself for this new step in my developement as a one of Your disciples.  That, I am sure of.  Let me pass and win Lord.  Let me triumph.  Give me the power and strength to overcome my odds and my boundaries and the things that hold me back from doing Your will.  I know that You can break them down for me and break me down as well.  You have the strength and power to do all things.  All things.  Even to break me down to nothing.  And, Lord, I know that You have.  I pray that You continue to test me and work thru me.  Help me not fall to my own pride and the sins that are in my mind sometimes.  Help me overcome them Lord.  Help me sort thru all the darkness and find Your light shining.  I lift all this up for myself and those of my family and friends and those all around the world.  may they seek You Lord with their hearts.  May their prayers be focused and true.  And Lord, may You hear them and answer them.  I know You will.  Thanks be to You, My God.  You can do everything.  Everything.  Lord, thank You for these trials that test my patience and tolerance and my pride.  Lord, they are making me stronger and even though I may fail, help me keep and open heart so that I may learn from them and not be stubborn about change.  Lord, may my walk with You never die, never end.  Lord, I am Yours.  Please, do with me as You will, not as I would like to do.  Lord.  Take me.  Oh Father, please, never leave my side.  I know You won’t.  I know You will be there for me on the darkest days and the brightest.  It is all from You Lord.  The blessings and the trials.  They are all in Your magnificent plan for me.  That, I know.  Lord, help me realize they plan for me as You have seen it, not as I’d like it to be.  Even though it may break my heart, You will repair it and make it new and better.  Lord, help me overcome my sins.  The things that hold me back from being more righteous in Your eyes.  Lord, I am continuing to improve.  Help me not do it on my own accord or strength, but by Yours, and Yours alone.  Lord, I am weak.  You are strong.  You are everthing I will ever need.  Lord.  Help me realize this and accept this and truly understand it.  God, thank You for today.  The birth of Your son, Jesus, who would take the sins of mine and everyone in this entire world for us.  Lord.  Thank You.  We never deserved such a thing.  But, You did not give up on us.  You loved us too much.  And, how do we repay You Lord?  We spit at You, despise You, hate You, turn our backs on You, put up false idols, and worship other things, and forget You.  Lord.  Why would we ever deserve Your son’s birth and eventual death and sacrifice?  Lord.  You loved us that much.  I cannot believe it sometimes.  Lord.  Thank You for that.  Lord.  You never gave up on us.  Help me understand this, for, I will hope to never, never give up on You and Your plan.  If You loved us unconditionally, why should I not return it as wholely and magnificent as Yours?  Lord.  God.  Father.  I love You.  And, You Love me and all the rest of us more than we could possibly ever understand.  Lord, thank You.  Thank You.  May You continue to shine Your light on us Lord.  Continue to bless us and keep us safe.  Thank You for tonight, and the time that I spent with family and friends.  Lord, if it was Your will to have me never see them again after tonight, then, so be it.  May I spend all my time as if it were my last and give it all back to You because of that.  Lord.  Your plan is so unknown.  I will never understand it completely.  Thus, God, thank You for that most blessed time.  Thank You so much.  Oh, God.  Thank You…

It’s about 1:30 now, the day after.  I’m gonna get some rest.  Thanks Lord for all You do and all You will do.  Your plan is truly awesome, and Your love is infinite and neverending.  You are everything I will ever need.