Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Christmas ___________________________: A Formula for EveryHallmarkChristmas Movie Ever

‘Tis the season of warm sweaters, sledding down snowy slopes, mistletoe, sitting by a warm fire with hot cocoa, Christmas lights, and Saturday night Hallmark Christmas Specials.  That’s right!  The time has come for The Hallmark Channel to spread Christmas cheer and cheesy love stories with their weekend marathons of Christmas movies, both new and old alike.  While some people are really into these two hour doses of cliché cheer, I personally can’t stand them.  Call me a scrooge if you will, but I learned a number of years ago that, if you have seen one of these movies, you have seen them all.  I mean that seriously!  At this point, the only thrill is sipping on eggnog and counting the number of mall Santa’s that appear throughout the course of the movie.  Don’t believe me?  Well, allow me to give you the outline for every Hallmark Christmas movie every filmed.

Before we get into the plot of the movie, we have to establish a title.  Now there is a simple formula you can follow in order to come up with a Hallmark Christmas Movie title.  Are you paying attention?  I don’t want you to miss this because it can get a little complicated.  The formula is as follows:  A/The Christmas ___________________________.   Insert any word you want into that blank and pick the most fitting article to use at the beginning and you have your title.  Boom.  Just as easy as 1,2,3.  I’m serious!  Pick any word to put in that blank and it works.  Miracle, Wish, Shoes, Gift, Letter, Card, Cabin, Cookies, Sleigh, Heart, Headache, etc.  Any one of these options works.

Now that we have our award-winning title, it’s time to introduce our cast of characters.  Let’s address the leads first.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Illuminating Skeletons

I struggle with pornography and masturbation.

There...I got it out there. That was the hard part. “Why on earth are you telling me this?” you may ask.  Well, to be honest, it’s not because I want to, but rather because, as I prayed this morning, I strongly felt the Lord telling me that it was time to be completely candid about my struggle. 

You see, it’s something that I’ve struggled with off and on since around 8th grade, and I’m sick of it.  It’s not because I haven’t tried to beat it.  Believe me, I have.  I’ve downloaded accountability programs on my computer and on my phone.  I have an accountability partner, etc.  And while those things are great and have really helped, when it comes down to it, despite my guards, sin has always found a way, but today I'm done giving it one.

They say the first step to getting over a problem is to admit that you have it.  I think that the reason for this is because you can no longer hide it by putting up a facade.  John 3:19 says. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (NIV).  Darkness is the reason most crimes take place at night. If they were committed in broad daylight, there would be no cover, nowhere to hide.  So, I, Caleb Julin, hereby remove the darkness from my life and flood it with the light of God that illuminates all faults.  I am not perfect and certainly don’t have everything together.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Image of Imagination: Why God Didn't Create Glowing Trees

There are some pretty phenomenal things in this world.  If you’ve ever done any traveling or browsed through National Geographic’s photographs, you don’t need me to tell you.  The Northern Lights, spiders that can use charged particles in the air to fly using nothing more than simple strands of web, underwater canyons so deep that you could stick Mt. Everest in and still have 7,044 feet of water before you reached the bottom, etc.  The list goes on and on!  Our sense of wonder certainly has room to flourish in this universe.  But with all of the extraordinary things in this universe, have you ever found yourself saying, “I wonder why didn’t God make that?”

I found myself asking that same question tonight as I watched a scene from the new Disney movie, Tomorrowland.  In a brief scene, George Clooney and actress Britt Robertson sat together in what appeared to be an orchard of beautiful, glowing trees.  As I stared at this, I was struck with the thought, “With all of the things God created in this world, why didn’t He create trees that could glow in the dark?  That would’ve been so cool!”  Scarce had the thought left my mind when an answer was fired back at me, “Because I gave you that ability.”

Thursday, May 7, 2015

My Least Favorite Word

Goodbye.  Since I've been in college it’s become one of my least favorite words.  Goodbye doesn't care if you are ready or not.  It doesn't wait for a convenient time and it doesn't take its sweet time.  Thousands of clichés have been made about it; “be thankful you have someone it is hard to say goodbye to”, “goodbye until we meet again”, “I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello”, etc. etc. etc.  But the most truthful cliché is that, in the moment, “there is no good in goodbye” because goodbye hurts.  And I hate it.  And I’m not ready to say it again on Saturday.
As a freshman, I was blessed to be one of the lucky few squirts to make upperclassmen friends.  I’m honestly not quite sure how it happened, but while it was incredibly nice and I wouldn't trade it, it has meant that every year of college, I've lost good friends to graduation.  The nice thing is that it has only been around five friends with each graduation...until this year.  This year I’m losing over half of my friend group, a couple of the best friends I've ever had, and a professor who has been like a second father to me.

The last week has been a combination of mixed emotions as I balanced work with friends, spending quality time with people who will soon be graduating.  Joy took Sorrow’s hand and they have walked together.  Those who are leaving, during this week, I have coveted your time like a thirsty man craves water.

To my friends who are leaving (you know who you are), I thank you for all of the time you have shared with me.  I do not deserve friends as excellent as you.  Proverbs 13:20 says “He who walks with wise men will be wise” (MEV).  I promise you that I have walked with them and it is my hope that they have rubbed off on me, even just a smidgen. 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because there is a good reward for their labor together.   For if they fall, then one will help up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has no one to help him up” (MEV).  When I have fallen, you have picked me up.  Through late night conversations and fast food runs, hiking and camping trips, hall events, plays, rehearsals, choral concerts, school trips, classes, impromptu adventures and so much more, you have walked with me through the laughter and the tears, the good times and the bad.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for that.  Because of you, I am a better person.

But as you all move on to a new chapter of your life, you have my word that you will be in my prayers.  May God bless your endeavors and may you cling to him.  Know that if you ever need a friend, someone to talk to, or have a favor to ask, assuming I don’t have rehearsal (just kidding...but really though...), come hell or high water, I will do everything in my power to be there for you.  So as I say goodbye to you on Saturday for however long, know that I love each and every one of you.  May our paths cross again and until then, as Paul said in Philippians 1:3, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (NIV).

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Finding Yourself in a Beautiful Place

Have you ever just found yourself in a beautiful place?  Tonight I drove until the road dead-ended into the Tennessee River.  Tonight, I found myself in a beautiful place. 

If you notice at the top of this blog post I attached a panorama shot taken from where I sat tonight.  To the east of me (on the left side of the photo),  a rainbow sprouted out of a storm cloud, and to the west, the golden sun slowly sank below the horizon.  Relaxing there in the cool evening air, I found myself surrounded by beauty everywhere I looked.

As I sat there taking pictures and soaking in the beauty of the moment, it occurred to me.  Where I sat was very symbolic of my life at this point in time.  Let me explain.  The past year and a half were a very hard time in my life.  The plans I had for my life were overturned and I suddenly found myself very unsure of anything.  What was God’s will for my life?  Why was this happening to me? Why did everything I loved have to go away?  It seemed that all I could see was the rain and the wind.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Broken Instruments in God's Symphony of Symphonies

It is with much anticipation that I began my first spring tour with the Bryan College Chorale and Chamber Singers last Friday.  During Spring Break of 2014, I had spent the entire break, watching and keeping track of the choir’s spring tour via social media, and desperately wishing I could be there with them.  Not only were all of my friends (with a couple exceptions) sitting on that tour bus having fun together without me, but they were having the opportunity to sing God’s praises all over the states they were touring through.  It was on that break that I decided that, whatever it took, I was going to be in Spring Chorale the next time they went on tour.

Now, just a year later, I sit on the tour bus with 39 of my best friends in the world, en route to our next concert.  I’m so thankful to the Lord for allowing me to be here this time, and I’m thankful to the chorale for accepting me as one of their own, almost as if I had always been one of them.  But with all of the fun that I've had so far, I never expected to get the flu on day two of tour.  Nor did I expect that over the course of the next week, so would nearly every other person on the bus. 

They tell me this is a unique tour with the number of complications that we've had so far.  We have yet to have a single concert with every single member of the chorale onstage.  Even many of the people onstage, have had to mouth the words because they either can’t hit the notes, or will break into a coughing fit if they try.  Between the sickness and intense performance schedule (yesterday we had three concerts in a single day), there isn't much of a chance for voices to recover before they are needed again.  In between each song , we all use the audience’s applause to mask our cacophony of coughing and sniffles.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Knights Without Shining Armor: A Letter to Women

Cold, hard stone presses against your face as you desperately try to capture a few moments of rest, but between the randomized pitter-patter of water dripping in the distant darkness of the dungeon, and the occasional clickity-clack of rodent feet scurrying between shadows, sleep proves to be far more tricksy than you anticipated.  Then, out of nowhere, you hear it.  It starts out softly, but as it slowly grows louder, you recognize the distinct sound of horse’s hooves galloping across the cobblestones.  Surely it’s not... you think to yourself.  But maybe, just maybe the time has finally come.  Scrambling to the dungeon window, you search the outskirts of the castle wall for some sign...anything that could tell you that he has arrived.  It is hope that has kept you going; hope for this moment.  A dream of one day seeing that golden armor glint against the sunset as your knight rides in to sweep you off of your feet.  So now, encouraged by the sound of hooves against the pavement, you resume your search...
Dear women waiting to meet your future spouses, what if I were to tell you that your knight in shining armor doesn’t exist?  That perfect, or perhaps nearly perfect (if you happen to be among the more reasonable group of women), knight in shining, golden armor will likely never come riding in on that pure, white horse you have always imagined...because he doesn’t exist.  Such things are a thing of legend, a myth, and you will never find him.