confusion central
if you’re here, you are SO lost.

Nov
22

“There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.” -Josh Billings

I think he’s right….

Nov
20

Today our dog died.  We hadn’t been quick enough to get her to the vet’s, and she was, indeed, very ill.  She was also very old, so anything a vet could have done would only have postponed the very imminent inevitable.

It’s still really, really sad.  Yes, I didn’t appreciate the fact that she ate my clothing.  That bothered me.  But it is NEVER fun when something dies, especially when you aren’t expecting it to happen.

I should amend that.  I guess I expected it, but I never really considered what it would be like to have NO DOG.  And we probably won’t get a replacement for a long time (Like any dog could replace the bundle of idiosyncratic humor that was our dog…. 😦  ), even though I’ve been seeing ads for puppies everywhere.  Now those ads are going to make me sad whenever I see them.

This brings up an interesting point, though, that I’m going to share here in the hopes that it doesn’t seem insensitive to the people who have lost really special things.  If you find yourself indignant, please comment.  This is kind of a deep topic and a rather unusual approach…

I am contending – as I have been for the past three or four months – that the things we love and grow attached to are habits.  Humanly speaking, the pet we love, the person we befriend, the plant we grow…it can be just about anything on earth.  If we grow attached to it, we find that we love it.  And in loving it, we naturally want to spend more time with and on it…we want it to prosper and be around for awhile.  In trying to help it prosper, it becomes a habit. We build patterns around it, and if it ever has to go, we grieve because we realize that there is now a hole in our time – a hole where we used to spend time with this thing or person we loved. I found that one out firsthand.  It is not helpful to be trying desperately to avoid thinking about what happened (whatever it was) only to look at the clock and realize that at this very moment, I would be spending time doing something I loved if only….

These patterns open us wide for lots and lots and lots of “if only”s. (I’m pretty sure there’s no grammatically correct way to write that, so I’ll leave it as is. 🙂  ) It’s frustrating.  It’s hard.  And unfortunately, it can seem like if we ever fill those empty holes with other things, we’re deserting what we had and lost.  It’s problematic.  It’s circuitous.  And it really, really hurts.

So perhaps this is all to say that perhaps the most direct way to begin the process of growing over a lost…something…is to find things that fill our patterns…that break our habits, and push us away from death and loss and into life and growth.  Learning to forget is, for most, an ill-remembered skill when it comes to recovering from a crippling blow. Maybe it’s really the first step in that “cycle of grief” I keep hearing about.

…and I’m now moving my feet very cautiously under the desk, only to realize that there’s no dog down there to move crankily when I almost-kick her every time I move.  Habits….

Nov
16

The following are not my own words. I retrieved them from the November 5, 2008 Wall Street Journal (which my family is subscribed to). So don’t quote me on this as if I said it: whatever you think, feel free to comment here, just place the credit where it belongs. 😉

All the following emphases are mine: Mr. Shapiro didn’t italicize or underline anything. Etc, etc. 🙂 Enjoy reading, and let me know what you think!

The treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace

By Jeffrey Scott Shapiro

Earlier this year, 12,000 people in San Francisco signed a petition in support of a proposition on a local ballot to rename an Oceanside sewage plant after George W. Bush. The proposition is only one example of the classless disrespect many Americans have shown the president.

According to recent Gallup polls, the president’s average approval rating is below 30% – down from his 90% in the wake of 9/11. Mr. Bush has endured relentless attacks from the left while facing abandonment from the right.

This is the price Mr. Bush is paying for trying to work with both Democrats and Republicans. During this 2004 victory speech, the president reached out to voters who supported his opponent, John Kerry, and said, “Today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust.”

Those bipartisan efforts have been met with crushing resistance from both political parties.

The president’s original Supreme Court choice of Harriet Miers alarmed Republicans, while his final nomination of Samuel Alito angered Democrats. His solutions to reform the immigration system alienated traditional conservatives, while his refusal to retreat in Iraq has enraged liberals who have unrealistic expectations about the challenges we face there.

It seems that no matter what Mr. Bush does, he is blamed for everything. He remains despised by the left while continuously disappointing the right.

Yet it should seem obvious that many of our country’s current problems either existed long before Mr. Bush ever came to office, or are beyond his control. Perhaps if Americans stopped being so divisive, and congressional leaders came together to work with the president on some of these problems, he would actually have had a chance of solving them.

Like the president said in his 204 victory speech, “We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America.”

To be sure, Mr. Bush is not completely alone. His low approval ratings put him in the company of former democratic President Harry S. Truman, whose own approval rating sank to 22% shortly before he left office. Despite Mr. Truman’s low numbers, a 2005 Wall Street Journal poll found that he was ranked the seventh most popular president in history.

Just as Americans have gained perspective on how challenging Truman’s presidency was in the wake of World War II, our country will recognize the hardship President Bush faced these past eight years – and how extraordinary it was that he accomplished what he did in the wake of the September 11th attacks.

The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time.

Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty – a shameful weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.

Mr. Shapiro is an investigative reporter and lawyer who previously interned with John F. Kennedy’s legal team during the presidential election in 2004.

Nov
13

Don’t resent me
And when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory
Leave out all the rest…

…nothing’s worth losing
Especially the chance to make it right…
I know that we’re gonna be fine
And the tattooed mistakes are gonna fade over time
As long as we live time passes by
And we won’t get it back when we die…

Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day
at Massah in the desert….

Be very careful, then, how you live—
not as unwise but as wise, making
the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish,
but understand what the Lord’s will is.

What do Linkin Park, Bowling for Soup, Psalm 95:7b-8 and Ephesians 5:15-17 have in common?  Ok…I give up. 🙂 Look close, though, because it isn’t difficult to see if you’re looking with an open mind.  Essentially, these two songs and two verses illustrate four key points that are very similar.

1. Do not resent
2. Do not waste time
3. Do not harden your heart
4. Do not pass up opportunities

Let’s set up a fictional situation to illustrate this.

You and a friend are hanging out in your back yard.  Your grouchy neighbor leans across the fence and yells at you for smashing his best roses…even though you didn’t.  Your parents don’t believe you, though.  Resultantly, both you and your friend are punished because your driving, texting, emailing and hanging-out privileges are suspended for three months. During the time you are grounded, your friend unexpectedly moves away, and you don’t have a chance to say goodbye to him.  (Yes, it’s extremely far-fetched.  But work with me here. 🙂  )

It isn’t fair, right?  So you resent.  You could forgive your neighbor and move on, but you blame him.  You spend a lot of time thinking how terrible your punishment is and how you wish you could get back at your neighbor.  Even though you hear repeatedly from many different sources that you should probably just get on with life, you choose to ignore that advice.  You run into your neighbor every now and then, but you walk in huge circles in order to avoid going near his lawn and refuse to speak to him, even when he greets you.  You pretend not to hear him.  Besides, everywhere you turn, it seems like other kids are talking about how mean and annoying he is.  And you miss your friend.  It’s just…hard.  It’s easier to leave it alone.  It also, for some reason, makes you feel better to be angry about it still.  I mean, it isn’t like you can go back in time and bring your friend back!

…aside from proving that I can’t write fiction, this is probably way too complicated… 😦

Think of it this way…. When something’s dead, you don’t want to leave it alone.  You can’t!  You have to get rid of it before it rots and stinks up everything in the vicinity (I have a story about this, but it can definitely wait… 😀  ). If you slice your finger, you don’t just ignore it and go out to play in the mud.  You dump disinfectant on it, clench your teeth and brave the necessary pain.  The result of that temporary pain, though, is the healing of that cut – and the avoidance of some very bad, very permanent things, such as an infection and possible amputation.

Again, extreme.  But if our fingers need to be cared for by disinfecting and bandaging, and dead things need to be thrown out, how can we justify letting things that bother us get under our skin (metaphorically) and stay there?  These two examples of decay are completely insignificant compared to what can go on in our hearts.  In the first example, it just stinks, and flies are typically present.  In the other, you could lose your finger, your hand, or your whole arm if the infection is bad enough.  But even losing a limb pales in comparison to losing our balance and just hating with everything we have.  The state of your physical being is not the most important part of you.  You aren’t a body with a soul as an afterthought: Your body is only a house for your spirit.

So why do we choose to hold these things?  Take it from me, there are many reasons that see perfectly justifiable. First, especially if we’re in a situation where we can’t change things, being angry helps us feel like we’re doing something.  Unfortunately, the only thing we’re doing is hurting ourselves.  That, most people will agree, is not progress.

Second, we don’t have to forgive.  And if we don’t have to, we don’t want to because to tell the truth, it makes us happy to be angry with a person or situation.  As in the first reason, it helps us feel like we’re going somewhere.  They’ve done us wrong!  We have a sense of honor – we won’t let that be violated.  And no, they can’t have our forgiveness, because that would be tantamount to admitting “defeat.”

There are more reasons, but reasons need not be…reasonable…to appeal when you’re hurting. Learning to let go is part of life.  That’s my new mantra: I tell it to just about everyone I meet.  Those who wish to live in the past may.  However, it’s more conducive to growth and fun to step out of the way you used to see things, to let it go, to release that grudge or two or three and try to exercise perspective.

Forgiving isn’t plea-bargaining.  It’s also not optional.  God requires it…..if we were forgiven to the extent that we forgive, we would be “dedder then ded lizerds*.”  Jesus told his disciples to pray for forgiveness as they forgave.  Is there a message there?  Like…will God forgive us to the extent that we are not like the servant who was forgiven his debt and immediately rushed to extract payment for a debt due him from another? (Sorry, that was kind of a run-on sentence…)

Jesus also instructed to forgive “seventy times seven times” – or as many times as someone wrongs us. All lofty theology aside, Jesus was completely man and was tempted as we are.  How many times do you think he was tempted to hold a grudge?  To choose a hard heart, resentment, wasted time? He never did, though, because God, thank Him, does not hold grudges.  He does not resent.  He does not waste opportunities or time. Thank goodness. How, then, can we?

*Sorry…

Nov
13

Ok!  So I recently shuffled through old stuff from the last two years…you know, stuff I wrote, drew, cut out of magazines….

 

::sighs::

 

It’s odd:  I see things that are prophetic, things that are stupid, things that are insightful (there are a ::few::…), and some things that are actually wise.  I find the things that are actually wise come when I’m being ::unbiased.::  I have a hard time with that.  I could offer a list of excuses for why I don’t often practice an unbiased viewpoint, but I won’t.  Suffice it to say that I live here now, and being perpetually unbiased is impossible.  So I’ll attempt to practice a little less bias….

 

Bias, however, is not completely escapable.  All my readers have probably heard and know firsthand that it’s impossible to set bias aside for pretty much any amount of time.  Here’s my challenge for you all, though.  Take a political subject.  Then try to be completely unbiased about it.  I am clairvoyant!  I predict that you won’t be able to pull it off.  That’s because biases are ingrained into us almost from the moment we’re born. First we have hormones that we receive before birth.  Those hormones dictate some (small, :::some::: would argue 😉  ) percentage of the way we see things.  Haha, but that’s ::before:: you hit adolescence.  Then life really gets fun….  The teens years are where you get a crash course in figuring everything out for yourself.  It’s an enormous puzzle you get to assemble: You have pieces of your experiences, your past, your beliefs, your parents, your own observations based on others’ experiences, etc, etc, etc.  The list goes on and on and on.  You have to assemble all that in a meaningful way that makes you a balanced person, forgetting self-pity, pride, etc, etc.  In other words, in order to get the perfect bias, you have to do it perfectly.  😀  Right…good luck.  

 

Instead of trying to find the perfect balance, why don’t we figure out how to develop biases that honor other people and ourselves?  Why don’t we work on building biases that show us that other peoples’ opinions have value, too, even if we don’t agree with all of them?  I hear people say all the time that they’re trying really hard to be “middle of the road.”  My advice?  Scrap that.  I don’t advise becoming liberal ::or:: conservative radicals (and believe me, there are radicals on either side), but I do advise abandoning the mindset that a “middle of the road” approach is possible. I don’t believe it is. Our biases are built from day one, and naturally we’re going to lean to one side or another.  Once we’re mature enough to wish we could be perfectly balanced, it is far too late. 

….If you don’t agree, please enlighten me. 😀   This is just something I’m kicking around for now, and I love feedback on everything I have to say, so….

Nov
09

Drove stick shift today. 

 

Still in therapy. 

 

Will write more later. 

 

😀

 

Just kidding.  It wasn’t really that bad.  I learned really quickly…though I know I can use more practice.  Oh well…at least it’s a start. And since I have contacts now, I can finish my hours for my permit and get my license and be good for something. 😉  More on driving later…

Nov
06

Yet another thing I’ve never thought about? The voting process.

 

I’ve never considered how much psychology went into voting! Voters can vote strategically, based on who they think will win even if that candidate is not their first choice…or they can vote sincerely based on their values, facing the facts that their candidate probably won’t win and their vote may actually contribute to the victory of their least favorite candidate.

 

Things like the Condorcet method, the Borda count, and instant run-off elections are essential for informed voters to know about.

Where would you expect to hear an “impossibility theorem” or an “uncertainty principle?” You definitely wouldn’t expect these things to have anything to do with the voting process….

 

This is worth half an hour!

 

http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/VotingFreeLecture.aspx?ai=32018&WT.mc_id=FLSNI20081103&ev=s

Nov
05

There are many things you’ll never think about. For examples, please follow these thought processes…

It will be so great to see clearly! (the thing you never think about: Learning to deal with contacts or glasses)

It would be so great to have an African-American as president! (the thing the majority of us never think about: Socialism has never once helped a nation during times of economic stress…or any other time for that matter…)

I’m going to draw parallels between these two examples, because I witnessed both of them yesterday. I’ll start personal….

I went to the eye doctor’s yesterday for my eye appointment (shockingly enough). We ran through everything, I read the wall, things were ok. But then, he pulled out contacts for me and went to put them in, and I just about flipped out. I had never had anything put into my eyes before, and apparently, the muscles surrounding my eyes are unusually strong. Anyway, he put one in, and I was sure I was going to die, or have a very serious panic attack. Yeah, it was that freaky…my eyes have always told me how much room I had to move and breathe, and their being invaded felt like the world was imploding forcibly. Even now I have an extremely difficult time forcing my eyes open (and holding them so!!!) in order to situate the lenses over my irises. Ugh…I really hope practice will make this whole thing more fun….

The kicker is that I never even considered before I got my contacts how hard it would be to get them in and out. It just never crossed my mind. Yes, I wanted (and now have! Yay!) 20/20 vision in both eyes, not just one, but I probably should have thought that out beforehand. Getting them in and out takes FOREVER and if I’d been thinking, I would have practiced in advance. I would have prepared for what I’d been asking for. As it is, it’s going to take a long time to make this work comfortably. 😦

However, that wasn’t the only instance of lack of foresight I saw yesterday.

Yesterday, I saw the much-hailed election of the first black president our country has ever seen. The bitter vitriol that accompanied his actual election was frankly surprising…some journalists claimed that the “Civil War ended” when Obama was elected. One related a ::deeply:: touching story of his grandfather – a Socialist, who had spent much of his life fighting American values and traditions – who claimed that now he might have reason to rethink his opinion of America. Oh. My. Goodness. We are in such trouble if the only way we can reach out (triumph over) Socialism is by becoming one with them. Does no one understand that socialism hurts countries? Never, ever once has a better system for prosperity and solidarity emerged than capitalism. Socialism is not the answer. Barack Obama is not the answer. Vague “change” is not the answer. He’s told us that he’ll “fix” the economy, as if it were the government that needed to “fix” the economy. As if the economy weren’t composed of individuals who have attained prosperity, a prosperity that he has already told us he plans to “assist” around.

I can’t express how anguished I am about Obama’s election. I think the era of the US is coming to a rapid close. Too bad that my generation (the majority of them being hopeless visionaries) should have to see it. Perhaps this will convince them that cynicism is a better choice when you’re dealing with politics. I get the impression that, despite Obama’s setting records by being the first black president in office, by the end of these four upcoming years, our country will deeply, deeply regret ever hearing his name. Time will tell, though.

Believe me when I say that I don’t want to have to say “I told you so!” especially during this time of turmoil and instability…but I fear that may be what I and other Christians, Republicans and independents may be saying as time goes on. 😥

Nov
04

::sighs::

I am sick, yet again.  I am far too miserable to watch the election, and my throat feels like something’s eating it. But I MUST KNOW!!!!  Who will our next president be?   I think I may already know, and if it’s who I think it is, I may be packing to move as early as tomorrow. 😉  I’m just kidding.  But I am actually quite worried about this.  It isn’t shaping up well.  It would take a miracle to get the right guy in office – a miracle I’m not sure the U.S. deserves.

In other news, I got contacts today. AMAZINGNESS!!! Lol. 😉  I will be looking at the world very closely from now on…

Oct
14

I should write more like my sister. 😉 …Or should I?  I mean, who knows who might read what I have to say?  Alas, further evidence that I know as well as anyone that old habits ::cough::paranoia::cough:: die hard…..

…on my original topic…I was thinking about the topic of secret-keeping earlier, especially in conjunction with a quote my younger brothers have been tossing around recently.  It’s one of Benjamin Franklin’s, and I’m not sure I agree with it.  It runs something like, “Three can keep a secret if two are dead.” I don’t think it’s true.  There’s a part of me no human will ever know unless I choose to share it with them.  For me, that’s a big unless.  Most people I know could care less.  Those who care haven’t shown me that they’re trustworthy (thus I haven’t shared – not because I hate them or fear their actual disapproval of what I think or feel, but because I’ve learned from experience that they will either lecture/attempt to indoctrinate me or share exactly what I say with someone else.

But I know there are people out there who would rather die than share others’ secrets.  Franklin’s words don’t ring true all the time.  People out there can be trusted.  Perhaps time will demonstrate otherwise in my case.  If the past is any indication, it’s almost certain to – but for now, I cling to my naivete. Let’s leave it like this…trying to hide everything – regardless of whether or not it actually needs security – until you (hope you) can get your act together isn’t a good plan:  Ask me how I know.  Yet for the accusations flung against me, I must admit that I, frail, flawed and woefully misled as I can be, do not feel God telling me that I sinned intentionally against him or anyone else.  Why not? some would ask.  Surely my unique situation indicates some form of punishment for an action or thought process.  Is my conscience dead?  Have I not yielded fully to those in authority over me?  Have I not been open enough with those I ought to be?  I’m not getting any clue from outside sources, so I’m going to have to trust God with those personal questions.  And in all truth, I’m certain that he will be able to give better answers than my “outside sources” will ever be able to.  So I look forward to being able to discuss this with him someday, free of the chains of suspicion, guilt, fear, and frustration.  That gives me an idea….let’s all discuss our secrets with God.  Like he needs to know…but hey, since he knows all these things better than we do, what do we gain by spilling our guts (quite messily, I might add!) to frail humans who can and most likely will be tempted to use what they know of us for their own purposes?  What do we get out of being “intimate” with anyone? Perhaps this isn’t what the authority over me intended me to take away from this discipline, but it’s what I’m getting.  What do you say?

On an off note, I do like this that my sister wrote…

“Truly, man is but dust. He is nothing. What can man do to me? Kill me? Like that would be really bad or something… Torture me? Again, it would distract…”

Interesting. Torture as a distraction?  Indeed.  I can even find chemistry a sanctuary when it gets my mind off the baggage I’m accumulating for posterity.  Beth Moore speaks frankly about her & her husband’s families when she says that they had enough baggage to hand down from generation to generation until the Lord returned…no matter how long he tarried. I fear that is what I’m building up at this very moment…and here I thought I would be one of those exceptional people who wouldn’t have any when I died.  Thus far I have the most of anyone I know…

Feedback of any kind (whether related to this disjointed post or not) is greatly appreciated!  Let me know you’re out there. 🙂

Sep
23

Breaking news: The past is a jerk.

It’s true. We did things then we regret now.  We didn’t do things then that we regret not doing now.  Overall, things were hard then, much as they are now…but we didn’t have the experience and understanding that we do now.  It’s relatively easy to think back over past mistakes and shortcomings and long for the chance to redo them…or, worse yet, to lapse into self-pity and wish that things were now as they were then.  It is difficult not to look back and say that things were better or more desirable just because at the moment, it would seem that we are no longer at that point in time. It’s impossible to remember all the actual details about various dynamics of the situation.  Two expressions are common today.  The first is the admonishment to not use “rose-tinted glasses” when viewing the past or the future, but equally popular is the saying that hindsight is 20/20, or perfect. Which is true?  At the juncture, there are two possible choices.  First, the individual may choose to long for the past, living in memories and lamenting the present situation.  This is a serious form of self-deceit, and not to be taken lightly. But the other is just as bad – the individual can also constantly berate themself for not taking advantage of different opportunities long past and long forgotten by others. A serious look at both extremes is necessary…and an appropriate balance is in order.

Regarding the first…

Ecclesiastes has always struck me as a book of deep gravity and near hopelessness…not the kind of message you would imagine in the Bible.  It seems emotional, dark, almost despairing.  The teacher admits that some things, like hard work and a reward for earnest labor, are gifts from God…but only after he thoroughly dresses down almost everything else as meaningless and empty.  Wisdom, he concludes, is important to find…but very, very difficult to obtain, and if you do find it, who cares?! You die anyway, probably only a matter of years after you discover true wisdom, and everything you’ve worked for all your life goes to someone who may or may not deserve it or really care about it.

There are, however, rays of sunshine in this book.  That’s one of the reasons it is striking: It’s cynical, because life is hard.  It’s realistic – almost too realistic – in the way it describes life, death and the pointless goings-on between cradle and grave.  But it’s so practical and down-to-earth, it’s difficult not to come away with a sense of understanding about the ultimate destination of everyone, wise or foolish.  This knowledge is undoubtedly good to have…although the necessary solemn truths can put a damper on bright idealism.

Depressing as it may seem, there are verses like 7:14.  Here the teacher reminds his readers to remember God’s hand in every time of life.

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.

Here is a solid truth that optimists and pessimists alike can cling to!  It is almost never difficult to thank and praise God when things are going well.  However, believers are admonished in Thessalonians 5 to thank God all the time, and from the surprising source of the glum book of Ecclesiastes, Christians are given due reason to do so; God has created good and bad times alike and understands his own reasons for doing so, even when those trusting in him do not.  That means that even when it all caves in, those who place their faith in God can continue to grow that faith by not fixating on memories of better times. Returning to the past for comfort and solace in times of difficulty should not be the follower’s approach to handling hard times.  It doesn’t work: Rosy memories tend to lose their sparkle before long, essentially “drying out” and leaving their rememberers grasping for something more – something they have perhaps not properly developed.

A little earlier in the chapter, the teacher strictly instructs his readers not to reminisce with too much passion…

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions. (7:10)

Young people seem to hear often the remembrances of their parents.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, provided that those parents are balanced in their remembering.  But believers are reminded that longing for the past is never a good plan – it is, in fact, unwise, when wisdom should be the chief goal of the saints…begun, as it is, by the fear of God.

Secondly, and just as problematically, people are inclined to regret.  Inherently this is not problematic – no one, I hope, will deny that God can and does use regret powerfully in the lives of the saints.  But – and this is a tremendous exception – human nature is such that regret will become just as much a self-centered indulgence as recalling rosy memories when it comes to the individual past of the believer.  There is much I, personally, regret never having done, and I’m not even yet a legal adult.  This becomes problematic, considering that I (hopefully) have many years left to live.  I am strongly in favor of young people learning to confront their regrets about their near past as they grow, instead of growing up without even thinking about the mistakes they made, only to realize that they now have a multitude of regrets they have never had to deal with before.  This might help – at least a little bit – assuage the growing problem of people who go to great lengths to cover their regret or even just forget their past by developing different addictions.

It is simple enough to throw up one’s hands and admit that wrong was done on one or more parts.  It is not so simple to determine, first and foremost, what could have been done differently and how, exactly, change can be made in the future.  However, if this is done, it becomes simpler to walk away from an unsatisfactory or sad situation not heartbroken, but looking forward to the things that can be learned from each situation…good or bad.

I’ll close with this, because I sense I’m becoming longwinded: It’s comforting to remember in any situation the words of Psalm 9:9 –

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Going back to the way I was is one of my biggest fears…but even if I do, I don’t doubt that God will continue to protect me and be my stronghold. And that is very encouraging…

Sep
11

Hi everyone –

Again, it has been much, much too long between this and my last updates!!!  So much has happened.  It’s been confusing at times and more than a little sad…. Basically, it boils down to this: This year, I’m officially home schooling again, though originally, I was going to attend a charter school like I had last year.  Things…changed…and I’m back at home.  The good part is that by working hard this year, I’ll get exactly what I need to GRADUATE!  I am so excited about that!  I can’t wait…. Hopefully by being good, I’ll get my parents’ blessing and graduate happily in ’09.  Otherwise…I can always get my GED…but I plan on being a model student. 😉

In other news, today, as I’m sure you all know, is Patriot’s Day.  It’s clear and sunshiney, like it was 7 years ago today.  And like 7 years ago today, people are still oblivious to the real trouble our nation has gotten itself into.  ::sighs::  This morning, we prayed that God would change the direction of our country, and honestly, I couldn’t have meant anything more…there’s no way that any one person could completely change the course of a country…not even a president, due to his restricted power, has that ability.  So we trust God and try to work where we see him moving…and it’s sometimes discouraging and hard.  But we know it’s worth it.

God bless you guys!!!

Aug
29

hey everyone – I really have to apologize for not posting in so long.  I think that since school has started, I will necessarily be putting more effort into school and chores and life in general outside of the computer.  So if you’d like an occasional update, feel free to email me if you have my email or post a comment here.  I’ll still check here occassionally to see what’s what with WordPress, but I probably won’t be posting.

 

So…I look forward to hearing from you all as life progresses. 🙂 

~Lydia

Jul
04

So…I needed to tell everyone to have a happy 4th of July…and to ask everyone to please remember how it is the U.S. really came to be such a great nation (hint: it isn’t because we have such great ideas all the time…).

Jun
20

So I’ve been thinking about this for awhile.

 

Since I started attending a charter school (last year), I’ve been hearing a lot of things I hadn’t been familiar with.  I don’t mean words like “sick,” either, that are just a case of ::coolness::. No, I mean cursing. 

 

Some words are clearly cursing.  Considering that there is a commandment against using God’s name in disrespectful or dishonoring ways, I’m going to just rule that one out here and now.  It’s unacceptable to misuse God’s name – and, I would hazard, any use of God’s name that does not show proper respect or honor is misusing it.  (Feedback?  I want to hear it. 😉  )

 

But when I stumbled across this article (warning: language…duh), it brought up this issue all over again.  The author takes a close look at all the ::fake:: cursing people claim isn’t really harmful. 
While I don’t agree with him on all his conclusions, I’m going to reach one of my own. 

 

I would hazard that any word that inappropriately construes something sacred is cursing.  That means allusions to God and Jesus are completely out.  From a Christian perspective, this is common sense.  But this is where Christians sometimes get confused…and understandably so.  Now that it’s clear that there ::are:: words we really shouldn’t be using when we feel like blowing steam off, where do we draw the line?  Can we use anything except God’s name, including extremely derogatory terms for people or actions? 

 

Christian teens sometimes seem to think that this is the case.  If you aren’t using God’s name in vain, you can say whatever you like.  Right?  Yet one possibility to consider is that anything ::God:: has created deserves to be treated respectfully.  Even people you don’t like.  Even people who don’t act right.  It doesn’t matter. If God created it, we have a really good reason to respect it.  This means that derogatory terms with personal connotations are out. 

 

So God’s name and insults that mock different types of people are out.  Obviously.  This much ought to be second nature to most Christians.  The use of words to denigrate people is never a good plan, and it is ::not:: a good witness.

 

But what about the ever-present descriptive words?  You know…words that were originally developed in a barnyard somewhere, and somehow, over the course of time, came to be applied to anything junky or trashy, or to a particularly bad day, or to anything unsatisfactory (isn’t language a great thing?? 😉  ) 

 

Here ought to be applied a very simple rule.  It’s just a really short bible verse most Christians are familiar with.  You know…Phillippians 4:8. 

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

I would contend that anything that does not fall within the boundaries of these guidelines ought to be ruled out when it comes to speech.  Naturally, there are bad things in life that need to be considered.  But the things we voluntarily put into our minds will come out in the words we speak.  So why don’t we focus on keeping our words clean…as our hearts should be?  There’s no reason to be just like everyone else. 

 

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Hi, yes, I know, I’m not commenting on everyone else’s blogs right now. 😦  I will be shortly…right now, I’m not even really spending any time on this blog…I’m just using posts I had prepared ahead of time.  So bear with me, and once I’m not quite so busy I will definitely be giving feedback on lots of other peoples’ posts!  ~L

Jun
17

I’ve always found a great deal of comfort in formalities. Phrases like, “Thank you so much!” “If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know!” and “You are so welcome,” have become my bywords. I live by them. Nothing makes me happier than to include a little happiness in my emails and sentences.

Yet formalities only go so far. I, especially, am painfully aware of their utter insufficiency when it comes to expressing greater truths. For example, one phrase we all employ at some point – and usually many times – comes to mind. “How are you?” The words are simple enough. But they give the false illusion that the asker actually cares what the response is. One thing that becomes very clear very quickly is that the asker actually typically cares nothing for the response. Most people ask it never listening or even considering the response.

So I suppose the question would be…what do we have to lose in spending three more minutes than we regularly would really coming to grips with how someone is actually doing? C.S. Lewis instructs us to keep in mind that if we behave as we wish to actually feel, the feeling will follow. This is a perfect example. Even if you don’t want to listen for that long, it’s worth the time. You build relationships…and people really will remember you. It’s astonishing how little it usually takes to show someone that you actually do care about them and that their situation matters to you.

Jun
06

On Sunday, we sang a song I think many people are familiar with.  The basic idea is simply to remind worshipers that they are “friends of God” – that He calls us friends.  

Really simple.  Yet this phrase has always disturbed me.  The point was brought home to me when our worship leader said, at the conclusion of that song, “Isn’t that encouraging?”  My initial reaction was that of course it was not.  It was the single most disheartening thing I’d ever heard.   

Let’s look a little closer. Princeton WordNet 2007 defines a friend as “a person you know well and regard with affection and trust…” an “ally: an associate who provides assistance…” an “acquaintance: a person with whom you are acquainted…” and a “supporter: a person who backs a politician or a team etc.”This means that God calls me friend, child, ally, supporter.  Am I, truly, any of those things all the time, or even most of the time?  I’d settle for 95% of the time – but I’m still far from that.

I’m a teen.  I value my friends very highly, and I wouldn’t dream of betraying them, putting them down, shrugging them off, or pretending I didn’t know them. 

Yet what is it that I feel when I’m asked why I think the way I do about God and the world?  What is it that, at best, makes me indifferent to what God tells me and, at worst, makes me want to feign total  ignorance of Him?

Ignoring a letter from a friend would create massive feelings of guilt.  Shrugging off the kind hand of a comforter would make me feel like…well…I don’t use those words.  And pretending I didn’t know any one of my amazing friends would make me want to crawl under a rock.  So why don’t I feel the same way about God?  Shouldn’t it bother me that he’s called me friend, and all I want him to do is stay in church, where I don’t have to remember him all the time?

If I’m a friend of God, I’m surely not a good one.  I can gloss it over, saying that I have a lot to learn, but I don’t think that will make this particular impression go away.  Honestly, I don’t think the feeling of insufficiency will ever completely disappear.  It will always be there – every time I say something a little too sarcastic or pointed, every time I’m discontented with what I have, every time I sit in stark, telling silence by someone who I know has never heard the Gospel. 

 

So no.  Being a “friend” of God doesn’t encourage me.  It should!  I know I could never even think about possibly being his friend unless he had fully closed the gap between us, and I know I will never find a better friend.  But this friendship business makes me wish I were a better one.

 

Jun
05

I have 75 pounds of venison I need to figure out how to use!!!

Any and all advice would be :::readily::: accepted at this point…

May
29

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

Perhaps Lewis could be interpreted to be restating Revelation 21:8a here – “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.”
Fascinating, isn’t it? Cowardice is listed above unbelief, general badness, murder, sexual immorality, the occult, idolaters and liars.
What is it about frightened reticence that God finds so despicable? Perhaps it’s some reflection of what we see in our own hearts and minds. We disdain to befriend those who will not stand up for us when we’re not around. We despise the man who runs from a fight. And we have not the slightest use for any kind of pet that stays comfortably curled under its rock, unwilling to emerge because “it might be frightening.”

Lewis speaks powerfully on the fear of love. And he’s absolutely right. In loving anything or anyone, you put a significant portion of your heart on the line. But, Lewis emphasizes, it is always worth it, as the alternative is to lock your heart up, bury it with your selfish pride, and wait for it to change into an unbreakable horror, surely one of the most frightening monsters in the world.

Agree?  Disagree?  Is love always worth it?  Or are there cases where it is just better not to love at all rather than to risk serious injury?

May
28

…is 4 months old, and weighed in yesterday at a whopping 25 pounds.

Oh.  My.  Goodness.

(in case you don’t know, that is very heavy for a 4-month-old.)