The Meaning of Compost

I have always enjoyed a good compost pile.

I will venture to guess that most people in the world don’t get as excited about decomposing plant matter as I do.  Recent interest in “going green” and buying local has likely turned more onto the pleasures of backyard farming life, or at least the idea of it, but how many can say, “I love compost!”?  The idea of worms and small organisms feasting on rotting vegetables makes me happy.  Throwing away used coffee grounds and egg shells, and then turning the soil over them causes a thrill.  And how wonderful it is to grab a handful of black gold, the rich end product of all good compost, in the spring.  I’ve always loved it, but why?

I’ll start with the most obvious reason for my compost obsession: it’s practical.  Every year we throw away tons of food waste.  Some of it doesn’t belong in the compost, like meat, fat, salt, and anything heavily processed.  Many other items can go in the pile without a second thought: fruits, vegetables, egg shells, coffee grounds, and pretty much anything that rots.  Think of how much waste you can reduce by starting a compost pile.  And the best part is that it is being put to good use!  That once useless garbage can now turn into fertile soil for your future plants and flowers.  Isn’t that cool!? And I don’t even drive a Prius.

The role of my father in shaping my interest in gardening and composting cannot be overestimated.

If you can see past the shorts and snow boots you’ll see a substantial compost pile in the background.  Growing right next to it is a pumpkin plant.  This is a serious garden.  My father, in his younger days, went all out.  I remember huge piles of corn at the end of the season, and 30+ tomato plants.  I grew up with this kind of garden, and from that very young age I wanted to be there.  Compost is part of who I am.

Now, and finally, I want to take you down a more philosophical path.  What is compost but a collection of dead things?  These dead things have seemingly lost all use.  They are to be thrown out, cast aside and forgotten.  But compost reveals something deeper about life and death, that death isn’t the end.  In the same way that a seed must be buried in the ground  before it can sprout, organic matter must be broken down to unleash its life-giving energy.  Compost gives second life, and speaks to a great truth about this world.  It’s not just dirt.

I love compost, and I will continue to love it for the reasons I’ve spelled out, and also for reasons yet known to me.     So I encourage you to start a pile of your own, and play a role in this great symphony of life.


My 175th Post: Reflecting on the Blog

175 isn’t exactly a special number.  The thing is I didn’t feel like waiting until the 200th to make a big deal about it.  Also, my first blog post occurred almost two years ago on March 25, 2010.  And if anyone’s keeping track, I reached the 100th post on November 29, 2010.  I’ve got some catching up to do.

Part of the reason I’m thinking about this blog now is that I recently came across an older version.  This older version was from and I called it “A Country Bear Jamberoo.”  Truthfully, I haven’t thought of it in ages.  Only after a recent moment of nostalgia did I search online for the ancient text.  It’s strange to look back at what I wrote when I was 17, in the year 2004.  Back then I was a Junior in high school and filled with angst.  The 141 entries span from 2004 to 2008, but the vast majority are from the first two years.  I am surprised to see how differently I wrote and thought as a teenager.  If you feel like taking a look just click here.                175 + 141= 316   I guess I’m out there for the world to examine.

Some interesting facts about my blog that I want to share with you are:

About 50 people are directed to my blog every day because of google images that I have posted.  The majority of those are from my post on Pokemon from about a year ago.  Maybe I should post some Twilight and Justin Bieber pictures if I want more traffic.

The impetus for my first blog post was a desire to say more than was allowed in a Facebook status update.

I started on Blogspot and then switched to WordPress after Tim Teal suggested that WordPress had more features.  I am much more pleased with WordPress.

There have been about 40 “almost posts”.  I write a good chunk of something and then for any number of reasons I don’t publish.  Some examples include my feelings on zero tolerance policies, the significance of the thief on the cross next to Jesus, an analysis of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, and a personal story about an incident in 5th grade that involved me defending the honor of my crush.   Maybe someday.

By far the number one commentator for this blog is India Pearl.  I thank you, India, for your longtime devotion to this blog.  I really do appreciate how much you have responded.  Most of the time I am looking for a response from the people who read this, and to have someone respond so regularly and thoughtfully is wonderful.  Thank you again!  And here is a link to her blog, Tactless Truths of My Crazy Life.

If you want to get an email when I write something new all you have to do is subscribe by typing in your email address in the box on the right.  It’s quick and painless.

Well, that about does it.  Looking back on what I’ve written in the past, I am glad to say that most of it is still readable.  Whether I’m discussing a movie, book, political issue, or Christianity, I try to make things entertaining and meaningful.  If it’s worth taking the time to write, I hope it is worth taking the time to read.  I hope so.

Thank you to those who read on a regular basis.

It’s my pleasure to keep on writing.

The Stages of My Life Finely Organized

Maybe it’s just how my mind works, but when I think back on my life I can’t help but organize it into various stages.  Let me show you.

The Pre-Memory (Pre-History) Years (Birth-Age 3)

Just like the earth has a pre-history, I have a pre-memory.  These were the years without a personal record.  All that I know of this time I pick up from first-hand accounts, pictures, and videos.  My mother claims I was delightful.

The Origin (Ancient History) Years (Age 3- 4)

This spans from my first memory, of choking on a penny, to my first day of pre-school.  Memories of this time are spotty and especially prone to the influence of stories told by family members.  I do certainly recall watching David the Gnome and eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  Also, I recall my cousins and neighbors playing at my house as well as the presence of Nintendo.

The Preschool Years (Age 4- 5)

This was the first time I left my home for any significant length of time.  These were happy years.  Friends were easily made and there were no social divisions.  I have many memories of this time, and am glad that my first step out into the world was so satisfactory.   A number of people I knew then became my friends throughout the remainder of my public school career.  Also, I got married to twins.  Or, one girl who happened to be a twin.  It wasn’t official.

The Kindergarten Years (Age 5-6)

Another positive experience outside of my home, Kindergarten was an even larger world than preschool.  This was another happy time, and it seemed like smooth sailing for me.

The Dark Age of First Grade (Age 7)

This was the worst year of my life.  I wrote a post about it a while back, so I will post a link here.  Basically, it was my first real exposure to the dark side of existence.  My teacher did not like me (a new concept) and I was a hypochondriac.  If I have any psychological abnormalities you could probably trace it back here. Time flowed slowly.

The Lost Years of Grade School ( Years 3-0 Before the Common Era)  (Age 8-10)

Second through fourth grade were largely uneventful.  Perhaps the major event of this time was my brother going to college.  We shared a room together, and his absence was felt.  This was the first time I would feel the absence of one who had been a constant presence.  Also, I liked a girl named Heather.

The Golden Age of Fifth Grade (Year 1 of the Common Era)  (Age 11)

This was my favorite year of schooling.  I made friends with John Benton, who is still a close friend.  Also, this was the first time I discovered that I liked to write.  This was when I discovered the joy of the written word.  My memories of this time are still strong and significant.   For these reasons, I call this year one of the common era.

The Middle School Years (Middle Ages)  (Age 12-14)

Stuff happened at this time.  I made more friends and movies like The Matrix and The Phantom Menace came out.  I went to dances and I started to think about life in a more philosophical way.  Also, when I was thirteen I became a monster.  That was not my best year.

The High School Years (The Renaissance) (Age 15-18)

I call it the Renaissance because it was a time of self-discovery.  Well, sort of.  I got my license and I became close with many of the friends that I am close with today.  This also was the time of my first girlfriend, which probably deserves its own title and age.  This was also a time in which I developed myself as a writer.  I wrote my first story, Team Justice, which was about Bob Costas and various fictional characters fighting Santa in Willy Wonka’s factory.  And a bunch of other significant things happened.

The Breaking Year (Freshman Year) (Age 19)

My freshman year in college began with a bitter breakup.  It was also a time in which I felt entirely uncomfortable and started to question everything I ever believed.  I call it the breaking year because it was a time of, well, breaking.  Used to a life of consistency and stability, I was finally away from home and faced with the terror of having to really define myself.  It was at this time that I ran into the Navigators.  For the first time, I participated in a bible study.  This was when Dan Kim asked me to meet and pray with him, which was the first time I ever prayed with anyone.  After the breaking, I started to actually follow Jesus.  So really, this was the first year of my walk with Christ.

The Building Year (Sophomore Year) (Age 20)

I call this the building year because it is when I started to build real college friendships and develop spiritually as a Christian.  Jon Vickers and myself played a lot of ping-pong.  Also, I became a better writer.

The Logos Years (Age 21-22)

Developing and working on the Logos magazine is an experience that I cannot confine to this little paragraph.  To sum up, it was both a time of radical maturation in my walk with Christ and a time of great challenges and rewards.  This endeavor was the most significant work of my life thus far, as it combined all of my passions into one tangible entity.  Also, I went to classes and became a better essay writer.  And, my close friendships developed into what they are today.

The Post- Grad Years (The Present)  (Age 23- 24)

This is the time in which I tried to find a direction in life.  I continued to work at the R.V. dealership while searching for some career path.  In the meantime, I wrote on a blog, which I called Thoughts of a Post-Grad English Major.  Then I met a guy named Jared, who asked me to go to his bible study.  This was closely followed by a meeting with Tim Teal.  They were my first new friends of this Post-Grad era.  Tim suggested I switch over to WordPress, which led me to start this blog, Thoughts of a Post-Grad TwentySomething.

Then I cleaned my room.

Soon after, I left facebook for a month and joined e-harmony.

Then I met Nicole Thurling, and Nicole Thurling met me.

Here we are.

What will the next stage be?

Walking With Christ: My Story

I’m about to give you what Christians like to call a testimony.  What it really is is a story about how one comes to know Jesus Christ.  Some stories are really incredible.  I know a man who was dying in the hospital with kidney failure, and though he didn’t know Christ he turned to him in a final moment of desperation.  Immediately he got out of his bed and peed two large kidney stones without any pain.  He was healed, and later went on to become my parent’s pastor.  Now he is a missionary in Guatemala.  My mother was plagued with nightmares about a man in black coming into her room throughout her life.  Soon after accepting Christ she experienced another vivid nightmare and commanded the dark presence to leave in the name of Jesus.  On that occasion she felt led to a specific verse in the Bible (she didn’t know the Bible at all at the time) and it read, The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20) She never had another nightmare.  Wild stuff, and there’s plenty more.

My story is a little different.  It doesn’t have miraculous healing or men in black.  But it is still pretty incredible.  Hopefully I can do it justice in this little post.

It begins with my mother praying for a son before I was conceived.  She asked God for a son, and also that he would serve the Lord (God) throughout his life.  Not long after that, I was born.  I really believe that any true account of my life has to begin with this prayer.  Did my whole life begin with a prayer?  That might be cooler than the kidney stones.

My youth was not particularly a good reflection of the Christian life.  I mostly hated to go to church and I killed animals for fun.  I also swore like a sailor.  But even with all of that going on, I should point out that I always had a sensitive spirit.  If I steered clear of church or anything related to God I would become drained and irritated and an overall worse person.  When I read the Bible or listened to a sermon I felt something stir inside.  At a very young age I claimed to accept Jesus Christ as my savior, and perhaps I really did, but I wasn’t walking with him.  I wasn’t living for him.  I was largely a nominal Christian (in name only).  This was true through high school and into my freshman year in college.    You see, up to this point the story isn’t that interesting.

My freshman year sucked.  I experienced a painful break-up and I hated my dorm.  I went home almost every weekend to get away from it.  My roommate, Eric, was cool, and I did have a few friends from home, but overall I felt like garbage.  My world was shaken up, and I felt lost and angry.  At this time I filled out a random survey in the dining hall.  It turns out that the survey was put out by a Christian group called the Navigators as a means to recruit anyone seeking God.  If I had known that at the time I probably wouldn’t have filled it out.

I remember Jeff Campbell and Steve Yeakley coming to my dorm room asking if I wanted to go with them to one of their “meetings.”  I absolutely did not want to go.  Why would I want to hang around with a bunch of Christians singing sappy songs?  Reluctantly, I would go.  But oftentimes I would make up an excuse and dodge them.  I really wanted no part.  In my mind I had all of the answers, and I didn’t want to talk about my personal life with a bunch of strangers who were probably hypocrites anyway.  I recall sitting in a car with one of the senior Navigators and telling him that I didn’t belong.  I could never feel comfortable with a group of Christians.

A critical moment came when an acquaintance from high school ran into me on the way to one of the meetings.  He asked where I was headed, and when I told him he replied, ” Really?  I thought you were an atheist.”     What!!??!  That was shocking to me.  How could someone think that I was not only not a Christian, but a full blown atheist?

Perhaps the most important event at this time was when a friend named Dan Kim asked me if I wanted to read the Bible and pray with him in the morning before school.  This terrified me, but for some reason I agreed.  All we did was read a passage and pray together.  I had never done that, but it affected me in a big way.  Suddenly everything I always said I believed was made real.  Jesus said, “Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20).  Christ was there that day, and I would identify this as the true beginning of our walk together.

After that I read the Bible like a child discovering the world for the first time.  Suddenly all of it mattered to my life because I knew in my heart that it was the word of God.  I got a great deal from Bible studies, and remember a stretch where I felt incredible excitement and energy for God.  I experienced tremendous personal growth as I began to see the areas of my life that needed help.  And I also started to find great joy in being with other Christians.  I no longer kept them at a distance.  A group of people who love Jesus and live accordingly is called a Christian community.  I was part of a Christian community and I liked it a lot.

So if freshman year was the breaking, and sophomore year was the building, junior and senior year were the working.  I was given the opportunity to start a Christian magazine alongside other Christians at UMass.  This project demanded a great deal of time, prayer, faith, and plain old work.  We were on the front lines of spreading the good news about Jesus Christ to a very secular campus.  There was much pain involved, and I was broken and humbled by physical pain and emotional strain from the first day it all began until graduation.  I believe in the spiritual realm, though many American Christians do not, and I really believed in it when we started to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ in a land of spiritual darkness.  If you encroach on foreign soil, there will be consequences.  Nevertheless, God enabled us to do this work.  It was the single most important endeavor of my life up to this point.

So now what?  College was an incredible time of personal and spiritual growth.  I was walking hand in hand with Jesus Christ!  But now I am looking for my path.  Now I seem to be waiting for God to grab my hand again and take me somewhere incredible.  Interesting things are happening.

I am blessed to have a girlfriend who shares my love for Christ.  Nicole is an inspiration and encourages me to seek after God.

I have also been fortunate to make friends who also love the Lord and have invited me to join Bible study and just hang out.  Through my friend Tim I have also started going to a church in Auburn called Faith Baptist.  I’m really liking it.

Before I end this, I really need to let you all know something.  My walk with Christ isn’t just this big stuff that I’ve mentioned.  Actually, it’s mostly not any of that.  Really, it’s the day to day living.  It’s the small choices and the quiet prayers.  It’s praising God for anything and everything.  It’s the peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ and walking beside him through life.  I love Jesus, and there are many reasons to if you read the Bible, and if you experience his love for you from those who already love him.  You’ll notice I say love quite a bit when speaking about my God.  You’ll notice that.

I hope you’ll continue on this journey with me as I dig deeper into some of the issues preventing people from experiencing the love of God.



When Hope Becomes Reality

When we hope in or for something, I hope we are hoping for something better than hope.  To put it another way, when we hope for something, that thing should be better than hope itself.  To put it even another way, hope should be based on the belief that what is hoped for, when obtained and made a reality, will be more fulfilling than the idealized longing that preceded it.

For quite some time, I have been motivated by hope.  But now it appears as if some of this hope is becoming a reality.


I’m at an incredible moment in my life.  It’s incredible for what has happened, and it’s incredible for what could potentially happen. 

About a month ago, I met a girl.  Her name is Nicole.  I knew almost immediately that Nicole was something special.  As I get to know her more, I am taken aback by her beautiful heart and awesome personality.  Here is a good woman.  Here is an intelligent, sweet, honest, hilarious woman who not only exists, but also acknowledges that I exist.  I’d say that’s a good place to start.  Is she for real?  Incredibly, yes.

Recently, I have also been pursuing a job at a publishing company.  Last week I had a phone interview, and this Wednesday I have a legit face to face interview.  I have never been this close to obtaining a job in the field I want to get into.  Naturally, this has taken up a good deal of my time and attention.


Since graduating from UMass, much of my motivation has come from hope.  I have hoped and believed that God had a good future for me.  And even though my life had been largely uneventful, post-graduation, I felt in my heart that those things that I was hoping for would someday become a reality.  At this moment in my life, I am beginning to experience the transition from hope to reality. And so far, hope has been put to shame.



I want you to know that I am still very much devoted to this blogThough the events in my life as of late have shifted my attention, I am still passionate about writing in this capacity.  I have a number of good ideas for posts that I have been tossing around, and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Guilt Free Day 2011


A long long time ago, in the sophomore year of my college career,  I helped to create a holiday.  Samm Zachs, Jon Vickers, and myself developed something called Guilt Free Day.  Here’s the deal.

I was tired of hearing how guilty people felt after eating something fattening and delicious.  You’ve probably witnessed this, or perhaps been one of those people yourself.  My reaction was, if you’re going to eat something delicious why not simply enjoy it without all of the negative attitude?  No one is forcing you to eat the ice cream or McDonald’s, so stop complaining.  Either eat it and love it or don’t eat it at all.  Guilt Free Day came out of a response to this attitude.

On Guilt Free Day one has the freedom to eat whatever they wish without having to justify anything.  If you want to put butter on your Milk Duds, go right ahead.  If you want to eat Chinese food and pizza in the same meal, you got it.  It is the one day a year in which you can eat terrible delicious food without feeling a heavy conscience.  Sure, if you overdo it you will feel like death, but that’s the name of the game.  Even if your body protests, you can still put your mind at ease.  It’s Guilt Free Day.

Now, initially there was some confusion regarding the scope of this freedom.  People began to ask if they could skip classes or not study on Guilt Free Day.  Let me set the record straight that the day is intended only for food.  It came as a response to people bellyaching about calories, so let’s keep it simple.  You can’t hurt people on Guilt Free Day.  You can just eat unhealthy food without feeling guilty.

Every year, a date must be set for this special day.  In 2011, I have chosen Wednesday, February 2 as the official Guilt Free Day of 2011.  This is also Groundhog Day.  I figure, this is at the peak of the winter doldrums, and if the groundhog sees his shadow we will all need a little morale booster.

So let it be known throughout the land!  Guilt Free Day is nearly upon us.

Let each man and woman celebrate as they see fit.



Disclaimer:  The creators of Guilt Free Day are aware of the ever-growing obesity epidemic in this country. That being said, Guilt Free Day exists as a matter of principle, and not as a means to alter the regular diets of average Americans.  Every individual is responsible for his or her radical food intake on said dayand every other day.

Eat responsibly- ish

Cutting the Facebook Cord (At Least For Now)

Many of you are now aware, or are just about to be made aware of my decision to deactivate my Facebook account.  In my first blog post since cutting the social networking cord, I figured I would explain my motivation.

A few months ago I almost left Facebook, but my friend Nate convinced me that it was important as an advertisement for this blog.  That was a convincing argument, so I let it be.  I knew that many people reached the blog via Facebook.  It just didn’t make sense to sacrifice that for the sake of preserving some of my sanity.

Yesterday, my friend Becca gave me an “Evils of Facebook” speech which I sort of agreed with, and sort of laughed off.  I didn’t think much of it, but apparently a seed had been planted.  Later in the day, I read a book by Philip Yancey called Finding God in Unexpected Places.  I read a section about our modern culture, and how it relates to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.  We are driven by a need for pleasure and sensory stimulation.  This is undoubtedly true, and Facebook serves as a great provider.  Here is my analysis:

The soil had already been cultivated in me after years of feeling dirty due to overusing Facebook.  It occupied way too much of my time and attention.  I often found myself thinking in terms of status updates.  That’s insane.  All it took was Becca to plant that seed of conviction and Yancey to water it with the water of revelation for the plant of truth to spring forth.  The truth is, I am addicted to Facebook.

Accepting that I have an unhealthy relationship with the social networking site, I decided to cut the cord.  I am tired of reading about how busy people are, or how angry people are.  I am tired of checking the news feed twenty times a day.  I am tired of living vicariously through a computer screen.  Not to say that you should be too, but for me, I needed a break.

I don’t intend to live sans Facebook forever.  Perhaps in a few weeks or months I’ll decide that it is time to return with a healthier mindset.  But, for now, I am deactivated.  And honestly, it feels good.


(If you read this blog regularly, and you used to find it through Facebook, I recommend subscribing.  All you have to do is click on the button to the right that says “Sign me up!” and it will send an email to you every time I update.  Otherwise, you can just add it to your bookmarks and check up once in a while.  I will be writing at the same pace as before, so check often.  I have some good ideas for Christmas related posts.)