Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Cats on Couches

May 19, 2017

Another addition to the #CatsonCouches seriesDSC_0740DSC_0740

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Cats on Couches

April 5, 2017

A continuation of the series, #CatsonCouches

Daphne

Cats on Couches

April 2, 2017

I’ve been playing around with my camera. Decided I’d make a photo series – you know, for fun. I introduce to you: #CatsonCouches

Here’s the first picture:DSC_0605

Wait for It

March 1, 2017

Ordination services are a special time. They are something people wait for for a long time. Ordination services are a point to which people struggle to make it. Ordination services often hold years of strain, burden, joy, and anticipation. In the end, much like a wedding, they are a giant release for those involved. I have only been to a few ordination services. Some for people I do not know very well. Some for those whom I dearly love. But all of them have held these elements in one sense or another.

This past weekend, I attended – and took part in – the ordination service for one of my best friends I have ever had – Rachel. It was a complete joy to be there, from beginning to end. Throughout the whole weekend, we congregated, broke bread, and celebrated – in both the liturgical and communal sense. And boy did we cry, too.

There is something about these instances that bring such a release of emotion. First, we had a core group of friends coming together. Many of us had not seen each other in months – some for years. Secondly, we did not sleep much at all. From traveling into town to staying up late every night, we arrived and left Jacksonville exhausted. Finally, we were coming together with the specific purpose of ordaining Rachel into her first call – something which she’s been waiting for for 3 years.

I remember sitting at her parents’ house, talking with another dear friend of mine, trying to explain the emotions of the weekend. The best I could come up with was the example of the Grinch’s heart.

grinch-heart

Now it is not like any of us former seminary students had a small heart to begin with, but our hearts exploded that day. We wait so long for these moments. From the beginning of our education together to this moment of our friend being ordained, we waited almost 7 years. Every step in the journey, every moment where something happened, combined to this moment of incredible anticipation. Our hearts collectively grew three sizes this past Sunday afternoon. In our entire group, there was not a dry eye when Rachel was declared a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

We wait so long for these moments. There are ups and downs, twists and turns. Some of the people we knew from seminary have died. Some of them left after just a few months of school. Some of them have left the church. And all of these things build into this massive ball of emotion – whether we realize it or not – that sits in our chest, waiting for a release. And ordination services provide that release. Our emotions come pouring forward and we are provided with a (very often) long overdue flood of emotions.

We wait for it. We wait for it in desperation. We wait for it in anticipation. We wait for it as if the day will never come. We wait for it, hoping the day will never end when it comes. We wait for each other and with each other, praying the entire time. We wait for it to be our turn. We wait for our friends’ turns. We wait for God to call us. We wait for calls/jobs to say, “Yes. You.” We wait for it.

An Open Letter…

February 24, 2016

… to the person who reported me to the General Presbyter.

TL;DR version: I apologize for offending you. Let’s talk.

Recently, someone reported to the General Presbyter of the presbytery in which I am currently located how I had posted something offensive on social media. Tons of emotions swirled in my head as I had the meeting with the GP. Anger, frustration, sorrow, and confusion were rampant in my brain and heart. I am not being censured and I am not in trouble in any form or fashion, but I am still very upset about this instance.

And after almost a day of thinking, I am upset with myself most of all. You see, I have spent significant time cultivating my online communities. I have spent lots of time on Twitter and Facebook developing friendships and camaraderie spanning multiple communities and parts of my life. I have developed relationships intended to help the people I interact with and myself grow. Both of my major online communities (Facebook and Twitter) have been developed in a very intentional way.

And I know sometimes I post things people are not going to like. I know I am going to post things with which many will not agree. But, in a way, this is part of my effort. I want to have discussions regarding various topics. I want my communities to interact with me in ways which will cause growth. I do not want to alienate people or separate myself from my intentional, developed communities.

This report came to the GP about my post(s). I do not know which post(s) it was about. From the conversation, I gather it might have been political. But it might not have been. I might not ever know. I certainly do not know who reported the post(s).

But whoever that person is, I want to say something to you: I am sorry. I am sorry you did not feel comfortable approaching me. I feel as though this is my fault. I feel as if I did not fully include you in my intentional community. I feel as though I posted something making you feel as if you could not talk to me about it. If that is the case, please know I had no intention of doing such a thing. You are part of my community and I want you to be comfortable in this place. I want you to know I am open to conversation about any topic or subject I post. And you do not have to confront me in public. You may always send me a Personal/Direct Message on whatever platform I posted the material. I would be happy to talk on the phone or via e-mail. We could Skype or Facetime. I am open to any form of communication about anything I post, as long as it follows Matthew 18.

Social media can be tough to navigate. I understand. It is a platform that seems indirect and distant. But please know a lot of people use these platforms to develop and foster very real relationships. If you are a part of one of my communities, I very much care about you. Even if I do not “like”every status or “favorite” every tweet, I still see you in spaces that I have intentionally created. I want to grow. I want you to grow with me. Let us make these places ones of real community and fellowship.

Again, I am sorry I let you down. I hold all of this on my own shoulders. Let’s talk about what I did to make you uncomfortable.

By the Seat of my Pants

June 14, 2015

I wonder if I have ever told you the full story of how I proposed to Heather. Maybe you know I proposed to her at a Lucero concert at the Rev Room in Little Rock on December 21, 2011. If you have not seen those videos, they are on YouTube, here and here. It was definitely one of the most important nights of my life, and it was exhilarating, but it came close to not happening.

I had e-mailed the manager of Lucero a few months beforehand, explaining my plan. I told him I knew Heather would say yes (we had discussed marriage at length beforehand and both knew we wanted it). He said he would pass along the message to the band and see what they thought. Those months went by and I heard nothing. As the concert approached, I started to get nervous about whether or not I could pull this proposal off. I had invited my best friends (Chad and Craig were the cameramen of the videos), Heather’s best friend, and my sisters to witness it all go down. It was somewhat obvious that I was planning something. Not all of that crowd is the rock-show crowd.

The day of the show, I had not heard from the manager. It was game time and I did not have a game plan.

As soon as we got to the club, I made an excuse about going to the bathroom. I shot back to Rumba Revolution (the bar/restaurant behind the club) to look for the band. I had been to enough Lucero shows to know they hung out back there and were willing to chat with fans. I saw their table on the way to the restroom and made a plan to hit it up when I was done with that other business. As it would turn out, Ben Nichols was in the bathroom at that time. I caught him by the sink (because anywhere else would have been awkward) and asked him if his manager had talked to him. Ben affirmed that it had been mentioned, but they never made a decision about whether or not they would allow me to make the proposal. I proposed the proposal again, and Ben told me we could do it.

Excitedly, I thanked him and rushed off to my friends. After finding Heather and the rest of the crowd down in the pit area, I realized I had no idea when in the concert this would be happening. A few minutes later, I saw Ben walking back to the back again and rushed after him. We discussed the plan. He told me to come up during his solo set, when he sent the other members of the band off. I asked him which side of the stage I should be at and he told me to go to the one closest to the door.

I finally had a plan. I knew that it would be happening. I could stop actually worrying about everything and just let it happen.

The engagement almost did not happen. It was a moment that rested completely on a hope. A hope that I could pull off the the next-to-impossible. I went into that concert not knowing what, if anything was going to happen. Thankfully, Ben was flexible and totally cool with the whole idea. If it were not for the chance encounter in Rumba restroom, Heather and my engagement might have looked very differently.

A Letter to Governor Hutchinson

March 27, 2015

Here is the letter that I sent to Governor Asa Hutchinson today regarding HB 1228:

Mr. Governor,

I am writing you in regards to HB 1228, which was voted on and passed by the Arkansas Senate today. As a native, and still voting, Arkansan, I urge you to veto this bill. Further, as a chaplain and candidate for ordination in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., I believe this bill is a moral outrage.

If we take a good, honest look at the bill, it is nothing more than a guise for people who want to discriminate against others. The authors and proponents of this bill are taking a stance against something that scares them. And, they are using the idea of religion to push their views onto others. What the authors and proponents failed to take into consideration is the United States Constitution and how federal judges have interpreted the First Amendment. Religious freedoms of all are already protected by federal law. There is no extra need to extend said rights.

Instead, what this bill actually is, is the oppression of people. It is no secret that the authors and proponents of the bill are targeting people of the LGBT community. The Human Rights Campaign knows it. Yelp knows it. Everyone knows it.

As a Christian, I cannot stand idly by and let this bill become law without letting my opinion be known. Jesus tells us that there are two commandments greater than all the others. They are, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40, NRSV).

If we dictate that people cannot be a certain way, that they cannot exist the only way they know how, then we are not loving them as we love ourself. I cannot tell someone they are not allowed to love who they love, be who they were born as, or dictate how they live their life, all while loving them as I love myself. In my view, that is the opposite of the commandment that Jesus gives. If Christ commands us to love our neighbors, that is what we should do. Unconditionally.

If we were to look to the business side of things, we can see this bill is a bad idea. Yelp has already taken notice of the bill, as noted above. Wal-Mart and Apple have also spoken out against HB 1228. Salesforce is about to leave Indiana. You should see this bill, Mr. Governor, as anti-business if you do not see it as discriminatory. Even if it is repealed in five years, those will be five years that Arkansas will economically suffer. Might I remind you that you will be the governor associated with that time.

Mr. Governor, I hope and pray that you will make the right decision. I want to see Arkansas succeed, because it is the place I do, and always will call home. If this bill is passed into law, the state will fail. We have heard the call from civil rights groups. We have heard the stance of the multi-billion dollar industries that you want to bring into our state. We have heard it from our own corporations that happen to be multi-billion dollar industry giants.

I fear for the future of Arkansas if this bill becomes law. Not only will businesses leave, but people will leave. This bill, if it becomes law, will make certain Arkansans feel that they cannot call The Natural State home anymore. This is a dangerous precedent to set, and I hope you choose to veto this bill.

Godspeed, and good luck with your decision,

Cameron Highsmith
Chaplain