Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dream a little dream

Yesterday I talked to a woman who is speaking at a local women's conference, and she's going to be talking about dreams.

Not sleeping dreams but dreams that you hold in your heart.

It was an interesting conversation that got me thinking about what I dream about.

When I was a little girl, my dreams consisted of finding the right man, getting married and having a family. Check, check and waiting a little while to check off the third one. I also thought I would love to have a job writing encouraging items to women in a magazine or online.

When talking to this speaker, she said that she loves her writing and speaking career because she gets to interact with women. She loves the give and take and the stories she hears. That scared me a little, because I realized maybe that isn't what I dream of. I like to be more secluded, and although I LOVE hearing people's stories I don't know if I would have the passion to constantly be around people, because I am so very introverted.

I love to bake, and I've thought maybe that would be a fun second career. I could do it after I have children from home, but then I am not sure I would want to bake what other people wanted. I usually have a mood and want to bake cookies but not cake, bread but not brownies. I don't know if I would enjoy catering to someone else's moods, and I don't super enjoy the decorating portion of baking.

I love teaching dance, and I do want to continue that, but I wouldn't ever want to do it on a full-time basis because that would feel draining instead of fun.

Basically, everything I love I love a little bit. I don't know what I would want to do that wouldn't feel like work. Maybe that's not the answer though. Maybe I shouldn't be looking for something that doesn't feel like work, because everything will inevitably feel like that.

When I think about dreams, I think about finding something that makes me feel invigorated, revitalized, energized and happy. However, I don't know exactly what that is.

I'm so thankful for my job, and there are days that I absolutely love what I do. And there's days that I just need a vacation, but again, everyone feels like that.

When the woman asked me yesterday what my dream was, I told her I thought it was what she did, writing encouragement to women. Maybe that is it. I don't know if that will ever be my job.

I guess right now, I'm not sure what my dream is. I just pray that whatever dream God put in my heart he will reveal in the right time. Maybe it's something I haven't even considered yet.

Monday, December 30, 2013

A relaxing time

Well, I took a week off for the holidays, and I must say it was a beautiful time.

Looking back at my childhood, Christmas was always full of activity. I would spend the night in my brother's room and we would wake up early to open presents - but not before 6 a.m. because that was the rule my parents set.

We would then gather everything up and head over to an aunt's house for a celebration with my dad's side of the family. Food, more presents, lots of talking and loud laughter. However, by the end of the day, when we would get home it didn't feel like a vacation. We felt exhausted, and I just wanted some more time to recuperate from the day.

This Christmas was entirely different. Since it was on a Wednesday, I only got Christmas Day off from work. Nate also had to work on Christmas night, so my parents decided to come up for a little vacation.

They arrived on Christmas Eve, and we first went to a special church service. I'm so glad that our church has a Christmas Eve service, because I have to admit I usually forget about that part of the holiday. There are nativity scenes around and Christmas carols talk about the reason for the season, but the menu planning and gift buying somehow seems to be the most pressing part of the holidays instead.

At the service there was a little girl who acted as the angel above the nativity, and we laughed through the whole singing time as she periodically flapped her wings - after getting a cue from her uncle in the audience. It was adorable, and it made me smile that my husband got such a kick out of a cute little girl.

Christmas Day we slept in, I made fresh bread and started the chicken and dumplings, we opened a few gifts and then we took our dog on a walk through the fresh snow around the lake.

Even the next few days, I worked and then we made dinner and relaxed at night.

It's been a holiday season, when I look back and say "That was refreshing." People at church were talking about going here and there and this party and spending time with those relatives. It seems exhausting, like I used to think Christmas was. But my Christmas was wonderful, peaceful.

Now it's time for a new year, and I hope that the peaceful feeling from last week with reign in my life for the annum. Peace has always been a difficult thing for me to accomplish and was one of the reasons that I memorized the verse "do not worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Even if peace didn't reign in your life during the holiday season, take a step back as we enter 2014 and realize that life doesn't have to be as fast-paced as our culture encourages. Life can be simple and sweet and perfectly peaceful.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Take a pause...

Yesterday, trying to take advantage of the hype, I wrote a blog about the Duck Dynasty controversy and how I support Phil Robertson. Then realizing I may have written it too quickly and people might not understand what I was trying to say, I deleted it.

As I started thinking through the whole thing, it gave me a chance to clarify, even to myself, how I felt about everything. And that’s when I realized that’s a huge problem in our society.

When A&E suspended Phil Robertson for his comments on homosexuality, it spurred people to quickly choose sides. It sparked heated arguments. It made national news. People quickly started to fling hate speech when something comes up and they don’t take the time to think through what’s happened.

I honestly think that’s a big part of the problem with the gay rights movement. It’s become so reactionary and emotional. Christians say they think homosexuality is a sin, and then that community thinks Christians are homophobic and bigots. Christians sin all the time. Just because they say something is a sin doesn’t mean they hate those people. Saying the Lord's name in vain is a sin, but I'm not going to hate, not talk to or even bring up the fact when a friend says "OMG." If asked I'll tell them I think it's wrong though. Like I said a couple days ago, we’re to love people while still hating sin. I have lots of people that love me but hate the mistakes I’ve made --- just ask my mom!

On the other side of the coin, Christians should also watch the way they phrase stuff. What Phil Robertson said might have incited less furor if he hadn’t been quite as crass, talking about bestiality when asked about homosexuality. I get what he was trying to say, but I think the way he said it freaked people out so they wouldn’t listen to all he had to say.

I’m one of those people that likes to process before I speak. I found that out yesterday after I deleted my blog. I might feel one way originally and then when I think through my feelings I realize they are a little different that my emotions first spouted.

I think we could all benefit if we stopped to think before we speak or act. We should first show love and then get into a respectful debate. No matter our beliefs it’s important to listen to others, but we can only have respectful debate if we’re not reactionary.

I think Phil Robertson summed it up best in a quote that has gotten left out of some of the debate, “We’d all be better off if we just loved God and loved each other.”

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pope Francis person of the year

The Advocate, a gay rights magazine, made Pope Francis its person of the year this year, and his comment that he wouldn't judge someone who was gay was the main reason.

After so much separation between the LGBT community and the Christian church, I think it's great that someone is bringing them together. I think it often gives Christians a bad name when they speak out against homosexuality in hateful tones, and it gives few non-Christians a reason to want to become a Christian.

However, I'm not sure that everyone is understanding Pope Francis' comments the way that he meant them to. He wasn't saying that homosexuality is not a sin. He was saying that in the Bible were are told "judge not lest you to be judged." It's not up to us to condemn people for their sins, because we also sin.

Because the topic of homosexuality and homosexual marriage are such hot topics today, Christians speak out on those issues. They might think that taking a stand even means not letting those people into the church or not talking to them at all. However, we are OK talking to people who go to church and still struggle with having sex before marriage or who look at pornography. Those are just as serious of sins as homosexuality.

I think Pope Francis just wants people to take a step back and see that there's a difference between saying homosexuality is a sin and judging people for it. We can judge a sin without judging the person who is committing the sin. It's not up to us to judge, it's up to God. And as they say, love the sinner, hate the sin.

So, I'm glad that a gay rights magazine has found a Christian that it can believe in. However, I'm a little scared that people will see the pope in a gay rights magazine and will think that he is supporting homosexuality. I'm a little scared that now all Christians who do believe in what the Bible says, that homosexuality is a sin, will now be seen as even harsher and even more hateful.

It's a thin line, to stand up for what's right and to not alienate others. I hope the pope knows how to approach it, since he does have so much influence. I hope it's used to further God's kingdom.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

An interesting morning

I texted my friend to tell her that we were running a few minutes that to meet her for coffee on Saturday.

When we got there, she was talking to an old man with a cane, and I introduced myself to him.

Steven started talking to me, and I barely had a chance to say "hi" to my friend. It was obvious that he was lonely. My friend was telling Steven about the new church that she and her husband are trying to start in town, and I thought "What a good pastor's wife."

We ordered some drinks as Steven continued to hang nearby. He even asked me for a ride to Walgreens so he could pick up some of his medication. I checked with Nate, because I sure wasn't going to give a strange man a ride without a male with me, and he agreed.

Then a waitress came up to try to shoo Steven away from us, telling him to let us enjoy our drinks.

"I'm not bothering them," he said. "They're my friends."

However, she took my friend aside and explained that we didn't have to talk to him. Steven got the hint from the waitress and sat down at his table, not talking to us any more.

After a few minutes of us catching up, Steven looked over and said, "I'm ready to go to Walgreens whenever you are."

I told him he could come join us as we chatted, and he used his cane to hobble over.

We didn't say much as he told us about growing up in Los Angeles, playing guitar, being a part of a gang, his problems with alcohol, how he reads the Bible now. He said he thought we were good people, because a lot of people push him aside.

"I don't like to be pushed aside," he said.

I found myself nodding along with him and putting on a fake smile. I knew that we were doing the right thing talking to him, but I had to say my heart wasn't in it. I realized that instead of just patronizing him, I should truly care about this man.

Time passed, and then we bundled up and took Steven to Walgreens after saying "good-bye" to my friend.

When Nate and I were driving away, I told him thank you for being nice to that old man. He said that Steven was making up stories — that white people didn't have gangs when Steven was young, and he couldn't play the guitar as well as he said because his hands weren't calloused like they should be — but he wasn't going to call him out on it.

Steven just needed someone to care, someone to not push him aside. And I'm glad that for even a few minutes we could be those people to make him feel like a human again.

That morning made me fall even more in love with my husband, and I thought about how I knew he was a good man but he's an even better man than I realized.

That's why I hate the phrase that he's the "man of my dreams." When women say that, they're so proud their men are everything they thought they would be. My man is so much different and more than I thought my husband would be. He's not the husband I dreamed about. He's so much better.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Grandma's hands

She puts one hand in the other, massaging the bent and painful fingers as she looks at the twisted appendages in disgust. Both of her hands are wrinkled and swollen, constantly aching from the arthritis that has taken hold. She can’t even peel potatoes anymore, to her an embarrassment. Why can’t time just turn back so she can have the soft, white, agile hands of youth once more?

Then she could get up in the morning, before the sun even starts to rise, and put on a work dress. The buttons would be easy to push through the buttonholes. She could brush her hair and pull it back out of her face. She could go downstairs and put on a pot of coffee before heading out to the barn to help with chores.

If only she was young again, then she could use her hands to work the udders of the cows in the barn. She could bring forth milk, grab the handle of the pail and pour it into the separator with ease. Her thin, straight fingers could reach up and easily tuck a disparaging strand of hair behind her hair.

She could go inside and crack the eggs she had just gathered into a hot pan. She could peel potatoes and chop them up to go with the scrambled eggs for breakfast. She could set the table with plates, cups and silverware without thinking how much it hurt to hold the heavy items before setting them down.

She could knead fresh bread dough then punch it down before putting it in the pan to rise before letting it bake in the oven. She could hold a broom with ease and sweep the ever-dirty floors while smelling that fresh bread cook.

While the bread cooled she could dig her hands in the dirt outside, pulling weeds from the garden that helped feed her family. Or she could hold the steering wheel of the tractor steady while assisting her husband in the field.

If youth were back, her hands wouldn’t ache while holding her babies. They wouldn’t be painful while serving up dinner. They wouldn’t smell of pain relief gel when she crawled into bed, exhausted from a long day serving her family.

But inevitably, her hands would eventually be rough, wrinkled and painful. Because she wouldn’t ever give up serving her family just to have those perfect hands she dreams of.

She looks at her hands. Bent, wrinkled, arthritic, clumsy — those hands are proof of her life, spent working hard for her family. Those hands aren’t embarrassing. Those hands should be looked at with pride.

(This work is copyrighted)