In the news lately…the founder of Focus on the Family, James Dobson, is leaving so that he be even more right-wing at a new organization. It didn’t realize it was possible to be more right-wing. Then again nobody expected the Tea Party…or the Spanish Inquisition for that matter.
Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page
So it’s about 8am in the morning and I am sitting here anticipating my first class of the semester this afternoon. My last semester. Immediately my thoughts go to all the things I need to do, such as finish my resumé and apply for jobs but that is for another day and another post. For now I am thinking of all the great times I have had over Christmas break. There is not time to recap it all but I will share some of the great aspects of the past week.
- I started my new internship on Wednesday and I am absolutely loving it so far. I will be working at a cancer resource group with people who have cancer and their family members. I will also be making rounds with the palliative care unit at the hospital. I get to hug people and I don’t have to worry about “fixing” them. I will see my first official client this week. She is sixteen years old and her father is dying. The parallels are incredibly similar. I’m excited for all God is going to teach me through all this and we’ll see how well I handle it all emotionally. What can I say cancer sucks and I’ve already cried twice.
- Being that I’m working with people with compromised immune systems me being sick doesn’t go over well. Well, I was sickly last week and after my first day my boss told me to take the rest of the week (Thursday and Friday) off to rest. Well if you insist, and she did. The best part- Phil’s workplace lost electricity on Thursday so he got the entire day off as well. It was a wonderful, gifted date day. We cleaned our home thoroughly that morning and well it really needed it. We took a great nap and woke up nice and warm because the sun comes in strong around noon. For lunch we decided to live it up and headed downtown to one of our favorite restaurants- Cafe Gutenberg. There is not much better than Gutenberg’s Banh Mih sandwich with a decaf coffee on the side. We sat for a few hours talking and reading our respective books.
- Speaking of books- I read “Three Cups of Tea” finally. Sometimes when everyone is talking about a book I avoid reading it. Not sure why I do this, but boy was this book good. The book not only tells a beautiful story but also makes a strong argument for why we will not win this “war on terror” with guns. Greg Mortenson has done more to defeat radical ideology by building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan than all our bombs. At the heart of these regions is not militant religion but instead extreme poverty and illiteracy. People have no opportunity and no education, which makes them very vulnerable to extremist groups that will not only give them the only education they will ever receive (even though it is a crappy one) but also pay them more money than they would otherwise be able to earn. Greg points out time and time again the way our Western mindset makes us think we know what the answers are to the worlds problems. We do not. We only have a piece of the puzzle. It is only through real, mutual, and equal relationships with the rest of the world that we can solve issues like illiteracy, oppression of women, poverty, and war. If you haven’t read it yet stop being like me and pick it up.
- I’m trying to train for the 10K but I’ve been stuck around 2 miles. I know I can run 2 miles and I have not wanted to push myself further. Well on Saturday I did. Phil and I ran 3 miles. Phil always tells me he runs far by simply not letting himself stop. I always wondered how he could do that but I realized on Saturday that my mind is stronger than my body. I did not let myself stop. We’re almost half way to that 6.2 miles. My goal is to run it without stopping. Having said it in public now I have to stick to it.
- On Saturday night Phil and I made our way to a Young and Married party. The Young and Marrieds are a small group at our church that we never attend because we are teaching Sunday school at the same time. It was a big step for us out of our comfort zone and it was great. We got to know some couples that we didn’t know before and got to know couples better. Phil and I are realizing more and more that we are getting older. Our conversations with our friends revolve more and more around the topics of children and jobs, and I’m okay with this.
- Yesterday my closest friends at school and I gathered to have a back to school lunch together. We caught up on each others lives over break, talked about our fast approaching thrust into the job market, and tried to laugh off our waitress who seemed to regret our existence. One of my friends brought her daughter to lunch and I was of course the one to say something wildly inappropriate in front of her. huh. The story of my life.
In the midst of my life this past week, which has been pretty great, I have felt a persistant sense of unease. The events in Haiti have hung over everything I have done. Beyond the pain and heartache I have for the people there I am left with questions. Why them? Why not us? Clearly I am incredibly blessed so what is my responsibility in this moment? How are Phil and I supposed to live in the midst of our privileged existence as white, Americans? I know I do have a responsibility due to my privilege but I need God to show me more of what it is. Events like what is going on in Haiti stir me and makes me feel like there must be more than what Phil and I are already doing to try and live out Micah 6:8.
Lord show all of us the way. We need your direction badly.
The world of social media has recently revealed to me many of my friends hopes and resolutions for the coming year. I love reading them. I love that I will be around to see how they happen. Phil and I have also done some goal setting. Last weekend we took ourselves to our favorite haunt, Ipanama, and holed ourselves us up in a corner booth for a few hours with our dream journal. Our dream journal is a journal Phil gave me a few years ago where he had written his dreams for our future life together. We are still writing our dreams in it. It is a good way to both look back and see where God has led us and be reminded of where we still need to go. So yes we filled about two pages with our dreams and goals for the coming year.
One of our goals is always to read. I love to read but sometimes I am honestly bad at it. It is easier to get on Facebook or watch the Office online after a long days work. Still though I know that my calling is that of a reader, and when I begin to read my heart finds a satisfaction that is never found in other forms of entertainment. When a book gets me I will devour it. Well since the New Year I have thoroughly devoured two books. The first is a book called Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide and it was wonderful, heartbreaking, very informative, and inspiring. The second book brought me back to one of my favorite authors. I came across Donald Miller a few years ago during one of the most transformative chapters of my life. He has been a great friend to me and he doesn’t even know it. I’ll tell him in heaven though so no worries about that. Donald is at it again and has written a book called A Million Miles In A Thousand Years. Phil finished it two nights ago and gave it to me to read. I started yesterday while my kids at the preschool were napping and after work I didn’t put it down until I finished it.
Donald’s book has made me reframe my entire New Year’s dream and goal setting. He has helped me purify it in a way. His book follows him rewriting his life into a screenplay with a couple of other guys. His message centers around the idea of story. He talks about how we are all telling a story with our lives and how God’s desire is for us to have beautiful stories. Not easy stories mind you; beautiful stories. At the same time there is a force in our world that is trying to ruin our stories. For much of the world this force is creating devastating stories of war, hunger, and poverty. I think that for us in America and much of the Western world this force is creating boring stories. We work all the time. We buy as many electronics as possible. We blog about ourselves. We talk online more than we go for walks in the woods or for bike rides in God’s magnificent creation. We raise children and allow them to obsess over obnoxious Disney characters. We spend money on tons of things and throw much of it away before the year ends only to set new resolutions for things to get the following year. Yes, many of us (myself included) are more often leading boring lives. The thing is that these boring lives are just as toxic as the devastating stories of others in our world…they just kill us another way.
If my life is a story than I want it to be a good one. I want the beautiful story that God intends for me. So I am now thinking of this next year in terms of my story. What will I make happen in my story? Will I be obedient to the story God has created for me or will I try to write my own? It is so easy to want to write my story because deep down I want to be the star of the story. I think though that God’s goal for all our stories is for us to realize as Donald puts it that “we are each a tree in a story about a forest”.
Donald writes about a man named Victor Frankl. Victor lost his parents in the Jewish Ghetto during WWII. He lost his wife while they were both in concentration camps. Victor could have given up and lived the story that was easiest for him. He had a perspective though that must have been God-given. In his story he spent his days trying to keep other prisoners from committing suicide. His prevention work was against the law in these camps but it did not stop him. Time and again he would whisper words of hope into the ears of desperate men. Victor wrote the following quote and I think it about sums up all the ideas that are flowing through my heart about the coming year, the coming life.
We had to learn ourselves, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life-daily and hourly. Our answer must exist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answers to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets before each individual.
If that doesn’t change our stories I don’t know what else will. With God’s grace let’s make beautiful stories this year friends.
2009 is now gone, but it has certainly left its mark.
The New Year began last year with dear friends in Nashville, TN. We sat in a circle and prayed for each other, the world, and dedicated the next year to God. This past week we rang in the New Year with more dear friends in Chester. We danced and we toasted. In the midst of both these two experiences was a year filled with many, varied experiences. I am thankful that we celebrate the New Year because it practically begs reflection of the past, which is always good for the soul, while inviting us to celebrate the future.
As I have thought about all that has transpired over the past year all I can say is that I am incredibly thankful. I am thankful for all of it- the good and the bad. Through everything God has been there; faithfully experiencing both my joys and pains. The joys have been wonderful…so many good times with friends, children, jobs found, health restored, no needs unmet, a wonderful church family to grow with, trips around the world to learn, a marriage that has become better with time already. And well the pains; I feel that they have increased my humanity. Whether my own pain or the pain of people in my life I have found that it is a privilege to share such times with others. Beyond increasing our humanity, I think pain makes me and everyone else who experiences it more like Christ if we allow it to. There have certainly been many moments of pain in my personal and professional life this past year that have helped me understand God’s heart more. When I have been at my lowest I have not only felt God but also how broken God’s heart was for each circumstance.
So here is to 2009. God was the hero and thankfully I can anticipate the same for this coming year. If that is not worth dancing crazily to Montel Jordan than I do not know what is.
Be blessed friends and Happy Late New Year.