Wednesday, February 14, 2018

words from an amateur and tools from smart people

Today is Ash Wednesday. The start of the Lenten Season. It is a season of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. I know for me I dont want to let Lent pass me by as quickly as it came. These days are so valuable in building a persons character. Really we should keep a spirit of mortification throughout the year. However Lent is a particularly beneficial time for self mortification. Out of the tiny allotment of knowledge I have, I would like to mention a bit about each "pillar" of Lent. To go along with each one, I will give you totally awesome and free resources from people much smarter than I am.

To Start off we have Fasting: In the spirit of piety, fasting is a beautiful way to strengthen our soul. Fasting helps us to deny the flesh and the love of worldly pleasures. Which can be difficult some times. There are lots of ways we can fast and learn to have mind over body. I like to think of a simple thing like taking cold showers. I hate cold showers. I feel like most everyone could agree that cold showers are really... really... torturous. Okay maybe im going a little extreme. But my body does not like cold showers. Now I think it would take a great deal of will power to get myself to take a cold shower and I dont think I could just take one without a purpose. Here is the catch we can unite our sufferings with the redemptive suffering of Christ on the cross. If we take our day to day suffering, our fasting, our self denial no matter how big or small it is and say here you go Jesus. Now if I was to take a cold shower suddenly the tables turn. My mind and soul becomes in charge I am no longer a slave to my body. Even better yet God can use my suffering. My tiny annoyance of a silly cold shower He can use for his greater glory and redemption of all sinners. Well I guess I just convinced myself to get on with those cold showers.

Here is a link to a podcast from Mathew Leonard. Give it a listen. Its a stunning 30 min to help you learn how to have a meaningful lent and not let it pass you by but transform you.

Next  up is Prayer: Prayer is vital in having a relationship with God. When you are in love with a person, you want to talk to them all the time. You spend an abundant amount of time with that person. You cant stop thinking about them wanting to know more about this person you are in love with. Basically your life revolves around this person. Same should be our relationship with God. We should fall in love with him. But first as my mom would say "communication is key" in order to have any good relationship. This is why prayer is so important in our relationship with God. We have to talk with God. We can fall in love with God and have a deeply intimate relationship with God through constant communion with him. And boy its harder than just talking about it. At first it seems particularly hard because it takes a lot of perseverance and dedication. (so here is where mortification and prayer meet dun dun duuuun). At my sweet fiancees request I am reading a book called "into the deep" By Dan Burke. I am cant help but sit in awe as I read " The God of the universe created you for the sole purpose of fulfilling this longing-- to be with you, to commune with you, to die for your sins so that you could be eternally reconciled to him and draw into a relationship of love that is more important than any relationship you will ever have in this life."

Isn't that just beautiful.

Lastly alms giving: Alms giving is something I overlook a lot of times. I'll put it aside saying I'll give when I make more money. Maybe when I am older and am more financially secure. But gee wiz I have too many excuses. I only just learned the necessity of why it is direly important to give and be generous. In another podcast from Mathew Leonard, he explains how so many times Jesus uses a parallel between debaters to sinners, God to creditors. In a the most simplistic way I can think to say it, God forgives us of our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us. Right? Just as in the prayer he taught, the Our Father. Just as so God has given us great abundant blessings, life itself is a blessing and we often time fall short we sin. So not only is it good to give back to God through alms giving it is a dire need to give back to God. Because we have fallen short! It's a life or death matter. In the Bible, in the book of Mark 10 17-27, a rich man approaches Jesus and says, " good teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life" to which Jesus Replies and says " Go sell what you have, give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me" at that the man went away sad. Jesus then turns and says to his disciples, " how hard it is for those that have riches. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter into heaven."  My oh my does Jesus have some bold things to say about giving and living. Now here is a different tone, the other day I was shown a post on Instagram with a caption that blew me away. It was on a Instagram post by neekmason. She writes "At the end of the day it is not about money, what you can't afford, what you would've done if you had this or that, if you had "that job", but rather how you spent your time, what you paid attention too, and how much you loved. Whenever I start getting stressed about money or things, I start giving them away. I pay for someone else's meal when I feel like I can't even afford mine. I never like the feeling that something so silly could measure my worth or someone else's. It's the times I've had the least that I've given the most, and it's the times that I remembered to notice the little things that I look back on and never want to forget." Hearing her caption had me going woah. Yet thinking to myself that what she said was a desirable lifestyle. Giving even though you feel like you already have nothing.  I realized how close this caption on Instagram really embodies how generosity should be looked at. Yeah it's a struggle but once again it's a form of denying ourselves what we want to make a sacrifice for others. That is how God wants us to live. With a generous heart and not enslaved to our riches.

Here is Mathew Leonard's podcasts on almsgiving
Part 1
Part 2

Neekmason Instagram:

If you are interester in learning how to pray and going deeper into a relationship with God, here is the book my fiancĂ©e requested I read.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What is Love? by N.T. Jordan

Happy belated St. Valentine's Day everyone. This past week we celebrated a day for love, I think it is a good idea to think about what love actually is? Love isn't a feeling, sure feelings come with love but we can love people without feelings. Love is making a sacrifice for someone. Love is putting someone else before yourself. This video by Nehemiah is super awesome proposing the question, what is love? Watch and Enjoy.

I had a wonderful February 14. My best friend and I met up in a rustic town. We rode around on a tandem bike, visiting local coffee shops, and dancing in scattered parks along the city's edge. We found an amazing swing that was hung from a rope way up in a tree. The swing itself was a circular shape with tight netting for the sitting area. It is big enough to lay back and then when you get pushed super high it feels like soaring. We topped off our time together with a picnic under an oak tree. Sandwiches, healthy homemade cheese danishes, and orange chocolate. Such a great day.

You can find ways to stay updated with The Explorer Camp to the right side of this post. Thank you for reading.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Living With 11 People

             I am the second eldest of nine children... Yes, wow, I know. My favorite part of telling people that is the shock on their faces. I enjoy the reaction. Normally preceding this statement I receive a  series of questions about how things work in my family; how big is your house? is it super loud? how old is the youngest? how do you survive?
             Well here are some answers;  My youngest brother is one and my youngest sister is three. Our house is normal sized; three bedrooms two bathrooms. I doubt anyone would think it was different from the normal house, with exception to a few extra bunk beds in each room. There are points where my family sounds as loud as a train, but I would have to say I think the majority of the time it is calm and peaceful here. Actually right now the only sound I can hear is the hum of our washing machine, it is always constantly going. My family is wonderful and so inspiring. Having them all be with me throughout my life has taught me how to accept others differences and care for others with real love.
             I would like to group my siblings into three sections, the little ones, the middle ones, and the older ones. The little ones are my brother James and Joshua, 1 and 6, and my littlest sister Marianne, 4. They are all super precious and hilarious. You know that phrase, "kids say the darnedest things" these three are the epiphany of that saying. One of James' favorite words is, "why." But the way he says it, sets it off. He takes in a huge breath and lets out a accentuated "wHHHY" and for a baby he has a deeper voice so it is the funniest thing to hear. You can tell him anything and he will ask why. "James you're so sweet" "wHHHY." "James can you hold my hand?" "wHHHY." 
             The middle ones I would include, my sisters Molly and Megan, 8 and 12, and my brother Justin, 10. They have such strong personalities. Their personalities are so strongly characterisable. My sister Molly is extremely sassy. She is adorable, loving, kind and sweet but she is also sassy. My sister Megan is the gentle mama's helper, type of kid. Justin is the jokester of the family always joking around saying funny things even if they are jokes that shouldn't be said. He is the kid who likes to pull pranks on everyone although there are lots of moments where the loving side of him shows. A few weeks ago we were walking around downtown Jacksonville and as we were going to cross the road he grabbed my hand and held my hand when we crossed. 
             As for us the older ones there is my brother Jeremy, my older sister Jessie and then there is me, 15, 19, and 17. We all have crazy stories from when we were little, the trio we called ourselves. My brother Jeremy, he is super rad. Jeremy is probably the easiest person to get along with and he is a really funny guy. My youngest brother James and him are best friends. Jeremy plays with him and watches him everyday when the kids do their school. Jeremy has a great personality and I admire him for his friendliness towards every person he meets. He also is very musically talented. He can play practically any instrument you hand him, and he is exceptionally good at the guitar, piano, and mandolin. My sister Jessie is a very successful human. I always will take the opportunity to brag about her. She recently graduated from her physical therapy program, with her AS degree. She is going to start her career soon. She is engaged and getting married next May, and she is a Cancer survivor... and she is only 19!
            My family is swell. All of my siblings are great and we get along just fine. As for the answer to the last question people always ask me; yes I like having a big family. I think it is great and I wouldn't want it any other way. In fact I hope I can have more brothers and sisters because I think that would just be super cool.
            I hope you have enjoyed this intro to my family, and be sure to keep an eye out for future post here at The Explorer Camp. Feel free to subscribe by email or follow my blog to see all upcoming stories of adventure, creativity, and more.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Spending five minutes in front of God

          Read. Dont think about the past. Read very slowly. Dont worry about the future it will come. Pay attention. Focus on right now. Read one sentence at a time. Relax. Notice your breathing. In...Out...In...Out... Breathe Slowly. In... follow it down your windpipe let it fill your lungs. Feel them expand. Out... this is what keeps you alive. your air, your breath. In... Although sometimes you don't even notice it is there. Just like God. Out... Sometimes we forget don't notice he is there but he always is. In... breathe. Breathe slowly. Picture you are in a church, and it is dark. Not a cold dark, but a warm, comfortable dark. you feel very safe. You are sitting in a church. Now in your mind look up. You look up and you see the tabernacle. And out of the tabernacle comes Jesus. In your mind look at him. What does he look like? what do his clothes look like? What does his hair look like? What color is it? What does his skin look like? What color is it? Is it rough or soft looking? Does he have facial hair or is he clean shaven? Jesus is walking towards you and he sits down right in front of you. He looks into your eyes. What color are his eyes? Do you see your reflection in his eyes? Jesus is sitting in front of you. Now think of that sin, that one you cant stand yourself for. That bad thing you did. The one you always think of when you are feeling guilty about yourself. That sin that you're always asking yourself why did I do that, how could I do that. place your hands together in front of you, as if cupping them together to hold water, and put that sin in your hands. Now take all your sins from your whole life and put those in there too. Think of a time when you were most happy. Think of what makes you happy. Think of a time when you were sad, when a loved one passed away. and put those in your hands. Take all your past put that in there and take all your future, all future anxieties, worries, and plans and put that in your hands. Now take this moment. The moment you are in right now and put that in your hands... and give it all to Jesus. Say here lord, here Jesus, take all that I am, all the Joy, all the sad, all the sin, all my past, all my future, my life is yours. And Jesus looks at you, and smiles, he smiles at you with so much joy and love. He loves you so much more than you can ever love yourself. Jesus pulls you close and holds you to his heart. Now dont say anything, listen to his heart beat... With every beat he says I love you, he holds you and he says I love you, I love you, I love you. Jesus has cleansed you by his blood and died so that you might be able to attain eternal life and be happy with him forever in heaven. He died for you because he cannot even imagine ever being without you.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Younger Inspiration

I have a sister named Megan. She has long brown hair, blue eyes, and a contagious laugh. Megan is twelve years old and she has a passion for dance that truly inspires me. She pays for some of her classes, her costumes, her show fees. Every day she is finding some way to earn money and work so she can dance. Whether it is doing chores around the house, babysitting, doing people's laundry, or selling knitted scarves at craft fairs, she is determined to earn enough to be able to dance. Today she is getting pointe shoes and I am so proud and I can honestly say I want to be like her. I want to be as dedicated as she is to what I need and want to do. I remember when she was 6 and just starting dance lessons, I said to her, "maybe someday you will go on pointe, you will have to not give up and work really hard to be a good dancer" and she said that is what she wanted to do. Now 6 years later Megan is a ballerina performing all over the state, I can only congratulate her with much admiration.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Short Story Written by Morgan Erickson

           Man was driving to work one day when he stopped to introduce himself to a stranger. The stranger called himself Death and Death offered to take him on a journey. Man agreed to go with Death and was told to go secure his home for while he was gone traveling. So Man set off. He decided he didn't want to travel alone with Death, and he thought it would be more of an adventure if he could travel with some of his friends as well. So Man went to Companions. Man asked Companions to go traveling with him saying, "My friend Companions shall you go with me on a great adventure?" Companions replied, "why of course! My dream is to go with you everywhere!" Then Man told Companions, "I have met someone who's name is Death, he too we shall travel with." At this Companions disappeared... So Man went to Family and said to him, "Come with me you have known me since I first came to be" and Family replied only too willing, "we will follow you and be with you forever." Then Man told Family, "good early in the morning I will show you Death, who we will travel with." At this Family was gone... The man feeling forlorn turned to his close friends Pleasure and Treasure. Great were their size and Man asked longingly for them to go with him on his journey with Death, to only see them turn to dust. Man walked through the park trying to remember anyone who might go with him, but nobody would come to mind. While walking and thinking and lost in thought man bumped into Knowledge. Man had not seen Knowledge in a while and he was pleased to see his elderly appearance once again. Man desperately pleaded with Knowledge to come with him on his journey, and Knowledge said, he would... but only if Man could convince his most important friend to go also. Man intimidated by the proposal went with Knowledge to where this friend lived. Knowledge called to his friend when they arrived, "hello Charity!" Man looked at the young boy sitting on the curb with his friend as they shared their lunch and then Man looked at the woman cradling her new child, her husband holding her close and combing her hair. Man glanced over to see a son holding his sick mothers hand and Man watched as two kneeled to be one and he saw... Man took a deep breath and walked straight up to Love, and Man asked Love if she would come with him and death... and Love said yes. Man looking around finally happy picked up Love's small friends; Humility, Compassion, Gentleness, Temperance, who cried out to Man with their willingness to go. Man carried Knowledge on his back and he set forth, holding tight onto Love's Hand, Man walked side by side with Faith and Hope to Death.
By Morgan Erickson

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Terms to Know

Allegory- A representational work to present an abstract thought, idea, or concept to the viewer.

Momento Mori- A reminder that we all will die. A Concept of life, from birth to Death, and a reminder to be thankful.

Faith-Firm Belief in The truths that God has revealed.

Hope-The desire for eternal happiness and confidence that in Gods mercy he will give us the means to attain it.

Charity-The action of doing all things with love. To love God above all things and to love all humans for the love of God.

I have been working on a project that will be posted soon. It is something that I had written over a year ago and am now going to share it with you in hopes that it will inspire you in one way or another. For now here are some terms that will come in handy to know in regards to reading posts to come.

Written with love for Our Lord,

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Friends Around the World

Day 2
          I have friends from a lot of different places. A great friend of mine lives all the way in Argentina and I miss her a lot, even though I have never met her in person. This is a very new concept in our generation, being able to make friends through emails, and Skype calls. I also have friends that are living in Germany, New Zealand, India, Indonesia, Egypt, NY, TN, AR, IN. Each one of them an amazing person. My friend in New York I haven't seen him in so long, and I only wish I could be more part of his life, but I am so happy each time I get a phone call every few months from him. Some of them I have met in person, some I haven't yet. Whether we got to know each other because of someone else, or because we happened to be apart of the same website, or maybe just taking an online class together. Each one of my far away friends have my love with them from where ever they are in the world, and I miss you guys a lot.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Pause and eat Gelato

          It was an busy week for both of us. He was getting so wrapped up in his work he was forgetting to take meals, just working away on various projects. With each creative glimmer motivating his spirit to try something new, and work hard at what was a struggle, but what he loves to do. I myself had taken up classes again for summer B. As I was walking to class on my first day back, it seemed like it was same as always, as if I was going to spend just another day on campus, enjoying the sunshine in the pavilion, and the free printer in the library. I even chose the same professor I had in the spring. The familiarity felt nice, maybe not very special as I thought going back to school would be, but nice. As energetic work and studying goes, it is easy to get physically and mentally tired, especially if anything goes a bit wrong. But I would say one thing, Gelato and Wes Anderson films sure does help brighten tough weeks.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Urbexing in Green Cove: To the Coffee Shop

           Next stop of the day, Joe and I decided to have some lunch. I told him I know of a small coffee shop we could go to, here in Green Cove. We left the boat marina and small water tower and drove a little ways. We went to Spring Park Cafe, a busy little place within the rest of the silent town. As soon as we walked into the building, the aroma of fresh brewed coffee was all around us. There are chalkboards on every wall with beautifully drawn menus, stories, and pictures. All drawn in the same precise font which Joe and I were impressed by. The cash register is made out of wood, as well as all the coffee pressing equipment. We both ordered a cup of coffee and we watched them press and make it with the wooden tools and levers. Yes, we decided, it certainly is a hipster cafe. Soon the next customer came and we had to move aside for them. Joe and I went and sat down at a table adorned with a vase of flowers, and he took out two sandwiches that he had made for the both of us. We ate our lunch and drank our coffee while enjoying the surroundings and each others company. Then Joe and I discussed plans for the next place we would go urbexing.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Art of Note Pad Doodles

       This week is finals week here at St. Johns River College. Lots of exams, studying, trying to be organized, forgetting your healthy eating habits; these seem to be prominent in my week. As I was going through my school notes, I found lots of little sketches I happened to make through out the semester. Just careless doodles from when I had gotten a few questions ahead in my algebra class, or before my music class started. What I really like about these little sketches is they are not brilliant drawings, or master pieces, they are just note pad doodles.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Urbexing in Green Cove 0.2

       Within no time at all, Joe and I were off urban exploring in another area of Green Cove. Not even a mile away was the next place of interest. We hopped back into the car after checking out the rad hovercraft. We drove down the road and across the street into an old boat marina. Taking some turns on the dirt road we went onto a connecting side road, along the boat yard. Around us some boat men were working with their boats and other construction was going on. Then with our cameras in hand Joe and I popped out of the car and went to check out the the old ships.
      There were boats of all sorts, super old boats, and newer boats, lots of rusty boats too. Some were just laying in the grass, others teetered in the water. There were bits of old things that were quite indistinguishable as to what their purpose even could be. All around were a bunch of cruisers, ships and sailboats, as well as larger sized cargo boats. There was a spot with tons of old construction cranes too. It was a pretty neat area. Extending away from the waters edge were concrete and floating docks that stretched out into the river, with other ships, anchored next to them.
      We walked around looking at some of the really old dry ships. Joe climbed up on top of a huge metal structure that may have been a big light or something of the sort. We checked out some of the huge propellers of one of the old ships. All the while taking pictures of the intriguing area. Then we ventured out onto the concrete peer, Joe went quite far out. Then it seemed like some people might be getting interested in us being there so, weaving back through the boats we got in the car and drove a little farther down the dirt road and away from the center of the marina.
      We then spotted a small deserted water tower. So of course we had to check it out. It was up a little hill just to the side of the marina. It was pretty neat for a small little structure. The door once barred was tossed open, leading into a three roomed building attached to the water tower. Some of the walls had holes punched into them and there were plants and Ivy growing through the cracked windows. We explored the place and Joe climbed up onto the ledge of the building attaching to the roof. We took some pictures, filmed some shots for some video projects Joe is working on then headed on our way to another cool place within Green Cove. There is definitely more to be explored at this marina, so we will be back urbexing with these boats soon.

all pictures of me were taken by Joseph Hardin

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Happy Birthday Joe

another round trip around the sun and off on another one! We just keep going round that big fiery ball one road trip after another. Each one so different going deeper and deeper into this experience of life. Joseph is a super talented kid, especially as a film maker. His birthday was a few days ago and he made a very beautiful little film to commemorate the day. Enjoy the film.

Video By aflyingspacerocket

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Urbexing in Green Cove 0.1

              It was 6:20 am when my alarm started beeping. Time to get up! It was a Thursday, got to love a good Thursday. April 14th it was, in the year 2016. A great day ahead, full of adventures and explorations for sure! I headed down the road in my car to pick up Joe. Then after swinging back home for breakfast we were on our way, to the town of Green Cove. Green Cove is not an ordinary town, nor is it very popular. It is old and falling apart. The whole town seems to be themed in, 'closed down' and 'abandoned.' It is quite lovely. On every street there are buildings that have been left to nobody, abandoned from their previous use. But these abandoned structures are exactly what urban explorers look for. There were a good bunch of these that had sparked our interests.
            Joe and I pulled into a large area. Filled with buildings, cars, parking lots and fields. There were lots of buildings around and there were people working around them. The place is a U.S navy base or at least it used to be. But we were looking for something quite particular. We pulled our car into a parking space, when Joe exclaimed,"There it is! There's the hovercraft!" "Its huge!" I said when I saw the part of the hovercraft that was in view from behind a building. Yes there it was the Abandoned Hovercraft. Time to get to the urban exploring.
           Now the exploration began, Step one: find a way in. If there is a security guard be polite and "leave" aka step two: find a different way. If there happens to be an open path with no gate leading from your car, right to a huge abandoned hovercraft.... well yeah step two completed.
          We proceeded across the open inviting path to the Hovercraft. My confidence is never as high as Joe's in the success of exploring abandoned structures. But with Joe's guts we made it to the hovercraft, with hardly any difficulty.
          And man was it spectacular.
          The hovercraft was huge and amazing and awesome! We walked around the outside of it noting information about the object. It was made out of fiberglass, and the only way in was from the front, back, and right side. Since two of them where in view of the security guard we chose the unseen back side. Joe grasped his hands together, and as I shoved my foot into them as he boosted me up. Then grabbing his hand I helped pull him up. There we were in the hovercraft!
          It was stunning! It was like a colossal, master piece of a space ship! The bottom floor consisted mainly of a large open area and a sectioned off front and back end. The deteriorating walls and ceilings dripped with water causing algae to grow on them. There were openings on the floor with ladders leading down to water filled empty spaces underneath the craft. There was also a small flight of stairs leading to the upper region of the hovercraft. We went up these stairs to find another wide and empty space, surrounded by tall open windows. These windows made the place look even more like an extraordinary space vessel. It was fantastic! We took pictures and explored for a good while. Then with a high five of success, exchanged between Joe and I, we headed out to explore the next abandoned artifact.
left column (1st, 3rd, and last pictures) taken by Joseph Hardin

Comment below what you think of this adventure!! and follow my blog to hear the next!!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Good Morning Inspiration

This is a video by Chase Vs Everything that has inspired a change in the timing I go to bed and wake up.  I would like to try and go to bed at 10pm and instead of  1am  I want to try and wake up at 7am instead of 9. Overall now I am less tired than I have been in awhile.

Video By ChaseVsEverything