Monday, August 27, 2007

Soaking Wet in my Clothes, and Happy About it!

This is one of the biggest Jackpots in my life.

I got Baptized on Sunday! My church does a beautiful outdoor baptism service at a pond. So many wonderful people attend this church, and are such blessings. I think I was hugged by about 100 people that day. :) The best part was getting baptized by Pastor Scott, who has kind of ushered me through the faith. I went to meet with him a few times before I became a Christian -- in fact, the first time I met with him, I had absolutely ZERO interest in having a personal faith, I was just interested in having a discussion about doctrine and theology and that kind of thing, get some generic questions answered. But Pastor Scott was so warm and welcoming, made me feel so comfortable, and I came back again the next week, armed with more questions, this time some more personal questions. And the next week i went to meet with him again, and to my utter shock, I believed.

I think that, as I gained an understanding of the theology, of Christianity (not any particular denomination, with their own rules and quirks, but the general concept of what they believe) I slowly started to understand intellectually. And then, as I talked with Pastor Scott, I saw that I couldn't deny what I found to be TRUTH. I mean, I'm the kind of person who, once I'm convinced of something, I go at it full force. I don't take truth lightly. If I find any truth in this broken world, I cling to it and take action. So, if I understood and believed this new truth, i had no choice but to take action on that. And the next logical action is to profess my belief in this truth, and learn more and more. So, I did. That day, the third time i met with Pastor Scott, I asked him to lead me in prayer and give me the words to profess my faith. And that was . . . magical.

So, when Pastor Scott was waiting waist-deep in the pond as I walked out to him, with my dear friend Heather's prayers of sweet loving words drifting over the water to me, I was overcome. Pastor Scott held me, like a father cradles his daughter, and lowered me into the cool, fresh waters, and pulled me back up into the crisp morning air. Amazing. What an experience.

Both of my parents came to the service, and when I came out of the water and they walked over and hugged me, I was breathless. My parents stood by me for the years of hell and anguish that I put them through, and they never gave up. They never washed their hands of me, never said, "that's it, that's the last straw," even though there were countless times when they could have. My mom and dad embraced me, soaking wet, and all I could say was, thank you. Thank you for never giving up, for praying for me and believing in god's grace all those years.

So, this is a Jackpot above all other jackpots.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Even Better Jackpot From Nature! (And various stonemasons and gardeners etc.)

So, I went to Harkness Park (like, a few months ago, with this silly German student who did jiu jitsu with us) and took some pics. I just scanned them (yay for technology!) and so, without further ado, here are some pictures of my favorite park in the Northeast. Click on a pic for a bigger view.

The above pic was taken from the inside of the sunken garden, where they sometimes have poetry readings etc.

This here Lion, guarding the back porch of the mansion.

View (taken standing precariously on an unconvincing stone wall) of the ocean -- the beach is right there, about a ten minute walk down this hill.

Part of the various strange little decorative things lining the walls of the mansion.

Stone steps, leading to one of the many entrances to the OTHER gorgeous garden, which has fountains and flowers and rocks, etc.

Giant humungo tree trunks (the German guy I was here with decided he was more monkey-like than most of us, and he climbed about forty feet up in this tree, which scared the crap out of me.)

There's a neat little garden area off to the side with this cool tree canopy thing. This picture is from inside the little cave these trees made, looking out and up through the leaves.

Pretty-looking urn-thing.

Taken standing outside the walls of the bigger garden, looking in through the stone wall things.