Saturday, November 12, 2016

My Person

Happy Veterans Day!

In honor of Veterans Day, here's a picture of my favorite veteran. I might be biased because he's also my husband.

I like to brag about him sometimes and today just gives me an excuse. It's easy to list off some of the best things about him (how good, sweet, and gentle he is...), but here are ten of the little things that I like the most:

1. The way he curls his toes when he's really and truly happy.

2. That peculiarly happy gait he has when he walks.

3. I love watching him completely geek over something he's just learned.

4. The way he wraps me up in his arms and it feels like the safest place in the world.

5. I love the way he dances with me to cheer me up.

6. The way his voice sounds when he reads to me or tells me about his day.

7. That "in public" voice he uses that sounds like Phil from Modern Family.

8. I love commiserating with him when the existential dread sets in a little too heavy for the day.

9. The way he loves my family and how comfortable they are together.

10. I love the way he looks at me with those big brown eyes that tell me he loves me back the same way as I love him.

Monday, November 7, 2016

It's Going to Be Okay, I Promise

It's November 7th. Tomorrow, America elects its next president.

And my goodness, people are losing their minds.

Don't worry, this isn't a post in which I'm going to put in my two cents about who to vote for, who to vote against, and any reasons I may have. I'm not going to throw around any tired rhetoric or add to the deluge of political ideology that is currently taking over the internet.

What I will do is respond to an attitude I have seen amongst my fellow Christians.

I saw a post recently which talked about our duty as Christians to stand for what's right and vote to promote goodness and liberty. I agree with that. One of the wonderful things about being an American is the right to vote for our own candidates for president, senator, representative, governor, mayor, etc. Since we have this ability, yes, we have an obligation to vote in the way the we see to be morally correct.

My problem with the post came when it asserted that we shouldn't just be "trusting God" and "relaxing". It compared our duty to our country to that of a mother and her child. If the child was in danger, surely the mother would be desperately making every effort to save her child, not sitting back relaxing and trusting God.

My problem is that this approach seems to me to be in conflict with what God says:

Philippians 4:6 (ESV) says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

Surely God is more capable by far of rescuing the child. The mother is just a human being. Not all-powerful, not all-knowing, and not purely good, loving, and righteous. God is. 

If there is anyone out there who truly has gained such a level of trust in God that there is no shadow of anxiety in their heart over this election, then I say that they are the ones who've really got it right. I certainly have a lot to learn about trusting God completely. 

Do your part in the election. Be a good citizen. But please... please stop trying to take on the burden of running the world. That's God's job, and He knows exactly what He is doing. 

The Bible also says in Daniel 2: 20-21, "Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;""

This seems pretty clear to me. God uses people to accomplish His will, but He does NOT need them. The Lord, who made heaven and earth and is totally sovereign over it all, is perfectly, rightfully, and completely in control. 

So, in the midst of all of the anxiety, despair, and rampant depression I can say this: It's going to be okay. Whoever wins, whatever happens, in peace, war, abundance or poverty, it will be okay. Because our hope is not in politicians, our country, or ourselves. Our hope is in God and He never fails.

It will all be okay.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Still Waiting for My Hogwarts Letter

As an idealist living in the unforgivingly solid real world, I sometimes wonder about how other people think about life. Of course, when I say "sometimes" I mean that I have a constant, nagging curiosity regarding the inner workings of other people's minds. 

Exactly how much of what I see and understand is the same as what other people see and understand? 

Precious little, it would seem.  

A person's ideas are in some ways a product of many thousands of tiny experiences, thoughts, feelings and memories. Of which most of these the average person seems almost entirely unaware. 

This individual doesn't like dogs because once, as a child, a dog's barking scared her. She does like cats because she associates them with a good book and a warm cup of tea. Cozy things. 

Another person likes dogs because once, as a child, a dog's barking scared away his nightmares. He doesn't like cats because he associates them with sharp claws, dead fish, and snooty women.

A few months ago, I was at work. A coworker came in and told me what seemed to be a deep and unsettling revelation she had just had:

"You know, I just realized we just do the same thing every day. Like we just come here every day, work on these same projects... like... every day."

She spoke as if this thought had never occurred to her before. I was stunned. That thought has been a constant of my existence, at times merely an idea stirring quietly in my mind--at other times a catalyst for a more positive course of action or a darker period of depression.

My husband is the same way. We speculate that maybe he and I have just read a few too many books, so we're waiting for the big adventure. We're waiting for some critical moment that changes the course of our lives forever. A wizard knocking at our door in search of a fellow adventurer. A letter from Hogwarts. A secret world inside of a wardrobe. 

We've spent our fair share of time wondering "what if"? What if that big adventure only exists in stories? What if we've missed it? 

The reason books always have exciting storylines is because those stories were dreamed up by a writer. They were carefully constructed to be interesting, unique, with sudden twists that the protagonist would never have imagined. 

Maybe my problem is being too focused on the story while forgetting the Author. 

The Author of my story is an expert. He writes with purpose, imagination, beauty. And maybe instead of wondering where my exciting plot twist is, I should look at the ones I've already been given. 

I should be focusing on the people in my life, the everyday joys and sorrows, and the process of working to become a better person. I have so many blessings, I can't count them all. And I have so many opportunities I have dismissed as being trivial or ordinary. 

The "ordinary" things are what I have been given. Time spent with my sisters, Saturday mornings curled up with my husband, class periods with my students, and, yes, time working retail. 

All of these little day to day things add up over the years. The time with my sisters will turn into a lifelong relationship with them, the time with my husband will be a precious, loving marriage. My time teaching will be a part of a lifetime of work, and my time doing retail... well, I can't quite see the adventure in that. 

Yes, I still want to travel. I still want to grow and change and learn and do meaningful, exciting things. And I do believe the Author of my story isn't finished, and that He's got some wonderful ideas hiding around the corner waiting for the proper time. 

In the meantime, maybe I'll learn to enjoy the present--to work hard and love deeply. 

And maybe someday my Hogwarts letter will arrive.