Saturday, August 23, 2008

For the Love of Lists and Comfort

Lists give me the illusion of control. If I can see everything I have to do in one place, I feel like it's manageable.

So, to continue my illusion of control and for your reading pleasure, a few lists...

books that I own and need to read:
the audacity of hope (one chapter to go)
united states of europe (1/3 finished)
something rising
a reason for God
putin's russia
surprised by hope (1/3 finished)
the Jesus i never knew
faithful women & their extraordinary God
discipline, the glad surrender
walk on: U2's journey of faith
the papa prayer (1/3 finished)
Jesus among other gods
a christian manifesto
oliver twist
i know why the caged bird sings
silas marner
the mill on the floss

favorite things about fall:
football season!!!!
it's almost basketball season
less humidity/beautiful weather
school supplies (unfortunately I can't enjoy this again until grad school or until my first child goes to kindergarten which may be a few years)
camping or kayaking or biking trips
end of wedding season

things i feel i need to control but that in reality i have no control over:
finances & employment
life plan: husband, kids
health & safety (i work out and wear my seatbelt-- i do my part but really that promises me nothing)

things i do have control over:
how often i pray relationally
my contentment with my circumstances
my attachment to this world
how i treat my family and friends
how i spend my time and money
how i see my God

Do I see God as a divine vending machine or a person to fall in love with? How do you fall in love with somebody? You get to know them. You don't ask them for things, see how much they give you, and then, based on that, decide how you will love them.

When Jason died, (I've said this before) I realized that I always thought God was good because my life was good. Since then, in the pain and heartbreak, I've gotten to know Him better. He is good whether or not my life is good. I know He's good because of what He's done in the past. He never changes, but my life will change. My comfortable years may be over; maybe before I turn 24, I'll have such tragedy and pain that I will have experienced all the 'good' I'm to see on this earth.

But that's all right, because there comes a brighter day, a day when He will finish making all things new. A new earth, a new king, a new life for all of us who believe Him and are trying to see Him as He is.

The hardest thing that I foresee about the future is responsibility for others. Right now, if I don't have control, it's not that bad because it'd only be I that suffers. But the greatest fear of marriage, for me, is loss. I've already lost one that I loved and I could lose another. The risk of loss makes loving a dangerous choice. And then, my greatest fear of being a mother is losing my child. Every day is a day I could lose my child. I have no control on their survival in utero, or while at home, or at school, or when they are grown. I don't ever want to go through what the Rays experienced.

I thank God for Jesus Christ, whose life and death and resurrection promise to me that this life is passing away, and a new and brighter dawn is on the horizon. He is the bright and morning star, in whose light everything else fades away.

"turn your eyes upon Jesus/look full in His wonderful face
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim/in the light of his glory and grace"

Perhaps the first step in surrendering control is realizing who really is in control, and that all my feeble and pathetic efforts to direct my situation is simply "chasing after the wind."

But I still like lists.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Is this Cheating?

I wrote the following as a guest blogger for a friend back in early April. I'm feeling lazy (and may be getting sick) so I'm just going to copy and paste it.


I'm an A-type, firstborn female, and sometimes I overreact. I've always had a tend to dress up my bad situations with a little dramatic flair. Throughout my few years of life, I have started to realize I shouldn't react quite so violently... things could always get worse.

When I was four years old, I was in acrobatics class. The only thing I remember from this portion of my pre-elementary days is standing in line to do a somersault. I pushed the other little kids as we stood in line at acrobatics class; my mom told me if I continued to push them, even when provoked (which I was, sorely!), I couldn't go to acrobatics anymore. Needless to say, they shoved me and I pushed them back.

My mother kept her word and delivered the punishment for breaking the ultimatum: my days as a four-year old prodigy acrobatic star were done. Irrevocably. I responded in turn: "This is the worst day of my life!"

This was a very true statement. I had lived less than 1,500 days. In those 1,500 days, the only similarly negative event had been the birth of Shaun, the younger rival for my parents' attention. And being expelled from acrobatics was MUCH worse than getting a new playmate slash competition in the form of a brother.

In the following years, there have been successive "worst days." High school breakups, Carolina's 8-20 basketball season, a horribly painful college breakup, 2 friends' deaths... all rank way above seeing the last day of my acrobatics career, and each in turn were the "worst day of my life."

Today I got back from San Antonio after seeing my beloved Tar Heels collapse under the pressure of the Final Four and just hand the win to Kansas. It felt like a "worst day." But after Jason's death only a year ago and Eve's death just a month ago, I'm able to see a little bit more clearly why this wasn't the worst day of my life (so far).

The Heels will take the court again. They'll lose again. I will feel dead inside for a short period; Roy will tear up again; the team may embarrass themselves again. But we'll cut down other nets; Adam Lucas will write an article that pretty much sums up the whole Tar Heel Nation's ecstasy; Carolina will be #1 again. And to think-- I got to go to the Final Four! I stayed in the team hotel, met Alex Stepheson's father, ate lunch across from Mr Hansbrough, and rode the elevator with Coach Williams's wife.

The ending of "Spamalot" features the whole company singing, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." During the first rendition of the song, Patsy and King Arthur are lost in a dark and very expensive forest. After my few years of experience and watching my basketball team lose miserably and inexplicably, I agree with their summation of things: "Life's a piece of shit, when you look at it/Life's a laugh and death's a joke it's true/You'll see it's all a show-- keep 'em laughing as you go/Just remember that the last laugh is on you."

So... that is my charge to you. It may sound negative, but try to remember-- it could always be worse! (... And beginning to pay more attention to those around you and less attention to yourself is a great way to help put things in perspective. And for better or worse, nothing helps you forget your own pain than busying yourself helping somebody else...)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

That Most Elusive of Simple Pleasures

No, I'm not going to talk about sex (don't know much about that anyway) or a new episode of The Office or the best piece of chocolate, or even seeing a really good live show in intimate venue where you know all the songs and then you get to chat with the band and buy a new t-shirt. I'm referring to sleep.

It seems like the times you need it most, you can't get it. When I get a good sleep, I may still be tired the next day. Other times, I barely sleep 6 hrs and I'm fine. WHY?!?

Last night I went to bed at about 11 and didn't set my alarm. I figured I'd wake up around 6:30am like on a usual work day. But my body clock is so well tuned that it knows when I have a weekend. So I didn't even wake up until the sound of bass thumping below me at 10:30am filtered through my earplugs. Wonderful! But now I'm awake after midnight for the first time in like three weeks. Kinda ridiculous how "grown-up" I am now. I go to bed early and get up early. Absurd.

This is so boring and pointless; I'm sorry for writing this and clogging the Internet. A few months ago, I read that the Internet will be completely stuffed full by 2012. Maybe it was earlier, like 2010. Idk. Needless to say, our governments need to invest in some infrastructure to keep this baby ticking. Or get rid of all the porn that's taking up like 80% of the space, not to mention destroying our families and the idea of the sacredness of sex. What a waste.

If you're not planning on voting for Barack Obama in the fall, please read "The Audacity of Hope." I only have two chapters left. I wish people would listen to his own words in their context rather than listening to the media (those who hate him and those who worship him) or the ridiculously untrue emails and rumors circulated about him ( I have not been given one convincing reason not to vote for him, and in my reading of the news, his speeches, and his writings, I haven't found anything compelling that would justify me backing John McCain for president.

This is bad. Obviously, I need to go to sleep if I'm starting to write about politics. But I'm really not that tired. I will be when my alarm goes off at 7:00 am though.

Tuesday morning, my family is going to Alaska on a 10day cruise and then to northern California to see my cousin Brendan get married. Yay, I can't wait! But work will be absolutely insane when I get back. That's okay, I guess. I like being busy.