Where Am I?

I feel like I haven’t written here in ages. Don’t worry, I’m still alive. Lots of things have been going on recently, some of which I hope to write about in the near future.

However, that brings me to something I’ve been pondering for a while (like, months). What is the purpose of this blog? Why do I write here? Over the last ten years or so, this little space I’ve carved out has morphed significantly. It was first a place to share things I loved in a very static form: LEGO’s, Star Trek, James Bond, etc. I made some pages, and I tweaked them as I saw fit. It wasn’t very dynamic.

Around 2002, I started keeping a log of the changes I made to the site. And although it was mostly technical and administrative in nature, it could be considered the start of my web log. During my senior year of high school, I started to do what many people would consider blogging.

I think a lot of why I started blogging at that point was in preparation for going to college. At that point, I knew I would be going to school out of state (I hadn’t applied to any schools in Washington) and I wanted to remain connected to people back home in Seattle, primary family and friends. Still, it was mostly talking about school.

Blogging for me formally started when I switched to WordPress, I think this was in the fall of my Freshman year of college. I blogged about everything. One of my New Year resolutions in 2005 was to blog every day…and I did it.

At some point however, this has become less of a blog and more of a journal — a journal for me1 but which I share with the world. I don’t do this out of vanity, but because I believe in truth and honesty2.

Of course, journals come with all sorts of rawness. Life isn’t a perfect venture all the time, and journals usually reflect that. It helped that most of what I was focusing on in school was relatively low risk, and hence this blog was pretty easy to write; I just had to get through classes, which while hard, was something that was feasible.

Life after school is something entirely new, it’s a beast. And in many ways, something I wasn’t quite prepared for. I’ve written more private journal entries this year than I have in any other year, even though I’ve been posting less overall.

At points I’ve thought about taking this journal and making it entirely private, or completely passphrase protected. I even thought about shuttering site completely, for real.

But dating someone and then breaking up have made me realize some very important: This is not a me question. This is not a problem I’m facing because of something I did (or didn’t do). The feelings I have, the issues I’m dealing with, the questions I’m asking are things that I believe many people my age are asking — maybe not out loud, but they’re asking.

I believe that many people are wondering who they are, what they’re doing, and where they should go. I believe that many people are wondering why they haven’t found that one person, or that one vocation, or whatever they need in order to feel complete in life. This is not a problem unique to me because I am an engineer or because I am a Christian, although that certainly plays into it.

I also believe that one of the best ways to work on these issues is to talk about them. And for me, that conversation starts here, with my journal. It’s a conversation I have with myself, that I share — or not (not everything is fit for sharing with everyone…which is another thing I’m learning).

Consider this your fair warning: Blogs can be about many things, this one is going to be my journal of sorts3.

And that’s where I am.


  1. It’s an important tool for me to reflect on later 

  2. Even if it doesn’t look good 

  3. This is not to say that there won’t be other things discussed here, just that most of what I write will be journal-ish 

Mission Trip Haiti: Epilogue, Part 3

I’ve spent a substantial amount of time trying to figure out what to make of everything that happened; or perhaps more precisely, in light of what happened, what am I going to do now? Sure, I returned home to Seattle, went back to work, and have even told my story (hence you reading this). In a bigger sense, I ask myself what am I being called to do. Is it different than what I’m doing now? This, of course, has various theological implications about what a calling is and how one discerns God’s will.

Photo by Brenna Hesch

The problem with mission trips, and really anything else that thrusts a person into atypical situations is that it exposes you to what looks like the greener side of the fence without showing you all the weeds. The typical reaction to this feeling, I think, is to change everything in ones life all at once; there’s a huge push to become a better person, but at what expense? My approach has been one of timid toe-dipping: make small course corrections now, nothing that will list the ship. It doesn’t seem like much now, but in one year (or five, or ten) the trajectory change will be substantially noticeable.

I still have more growing to do.

Photo by Jon Mullins

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how I was going to process everything. I would have just liked to have sit in quiet meditation for a couple of days, but I’ve never been one to sit still for very long and my responsibilities in the real world were calling me.

Photo by Brenna Hesch

I spent several hours (over twelve) editing the photos and probably another five or six hours writing (and linking photos). I really wanted to avoid a telling a serialized string of events, so I stuck to recalling events that stood out in my mind, even if that meant skipping over some things. My goal is that I could use the picture to compliment and supplement what I wrote1, and in that regard, I hope I was successful in telling, more or less, the entire story.

Photo by Jon Mullins

I also wanted to avoid having this be all about the earthquake. This has probably been the most difficult issue to deal with. Initially, I felt like a survivor without a disaster. But as the shock of the entire situation has warn off, I find myself wonder what our status really was. Were we evacuees of a natural disaster? What sort of danger were we really in? I’ve tried to push myself to tell a fair story, but it’s a tricky balance.

Photo by Brock Fehler

If you were to ask me to sum up my experience in one sentence, it would be this: Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city2.


  1. they say a picture is worth a thousand words 

  2. to quote Chris Tomlin 

Discernment

I had a post a couple weeks ago regarding callings…the holy kind. I think Jeff Staples’ comment was the most helpful:

One of my favorite professors here says that discernment is about the intersection of three things. Discover what brings you joy. Discover what you’re good at. Discover what the world needs. The intersection of those three things at any given moment is your calling. If (as I think you might be) you’re choosing between two good options, listen to where your desires are strongest and deepest. I think God wants us to be most fully ourselves, so I think that for some people emotion may play a significant role in the decision-making process, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

At the end of the day, knowing what you’re called to do means knowing who you are. It’s not a one-time deal, based on an isolated decision that impacts the rest of your life. It’s about living in a way that is in touch with your real identity, and the more you understand about that the more all of your actions and decisions are just an extension of yourself.

Kind of a ramble, let me know what you think or if it was helpful (or not).

The paraphrase originated from Father Michael Himes, a professor of theology at Boston College (where Jeff goes to school if you didn’t make that connection). Jeff was able to give me some more information about Father Himes thoughts: Three Keys to Intersection and a book Doing the Truth in Love: Conversations About God, Relationships, and Service.

I read the web page and I requested the book be sent over from Regis (they were the only library which had the book which makes it rather fitting I think).

I really like the concept of Three Keys to Intersection. I’ve know what I wanted to do for a long time now. It what brings me joy, which Himes differentiates from happiness because “[joy]comes from within and has to do with a deep and abiding sense of the rightness, the goodness, the fruitfulness of what you do with your life” whereas happiness “often depends on external things, your physical well being, the weather, whether you had a good night’s sleep or a good meal.” I think the joy/happiness differentiation also helps explain my love/hate paradox of Mines. In any event, the current thing that brings me joy is working on space exploration and that’s what I am doing and that’s what I’m going to continue to do for now.

I suppose it helps that I’m good at what I do, at least in theory. Himes also notes that knowing what I’m good at may not be a cut-and-dried answer and that there are people in my life who might be able to use to act as a mirror.

The final key to the puzzle is need. Not what I need, but what others need. To me, this seems like a “no duh” point, but I see people making this same mistake all the time and I pretty sure I’m not immune to it either. You could probably fill entire encyclopedias with stories of young and hot programmers who couldn’t just wait to code something, only to find out that it was something that nobody wanted.

That brings me to the Venn diagram I made up and included above. It has all three aspects: Joy, Ability, and Need. The intersection of those three circles is my target — my calling.

There’s a fourth point worth noting as well. What brings me joy, the abilities I have, and what the world need are all constantly changing. “We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers. We explore our lives, day by day.” 1

There’s a reflection part of the Three Keys to Intersection. One of the questions asks:

Perhaps you now find yourself entertaining several life choices. That would not be surprising at all. Vocational discernment is an evolving process, a journey. Your goals may change several times as you try out some choices and learn more about the match between your passions and the world’s needs. But do you feel that you are growing in possession of the kind of knowledge that will enable you eventually to narrow down these choices in the future or to figure out how to combine them?

1 See https://andrewferguson.net/2008/01/22/constantly-searching/