Saturday, May 31, 2014

89: you won't believe it

Since I last wrote, I did something daring and adventurous and out of the ordinary. And no, I didn't go on a hike. I actually went on a date with a guy I met online.


It was all safe and unscary--we had mutual friends, met in a public place, I checked him out on Facebook first, etc.

I only had a couple days to mentally prepare. To psych myself up. Or rather, keep myself calm. To give myself good advice before I acted on instinct instead of wisdom.

And this is what I told myself, or rather, what I typed in my phone as a note to remember:

"Do not critique [his work]--get to know his heart. Don't try to make him work within parameters or worry when he doesn't--get to know him and how he specifically works."

I'm so glad God put these thoughts in my head before I went. Because he wasn't at all what I was expecting...but then, I went in to it not expecting anything. And it was enjoyable! Calmly enjoyable. Two hours of conversation over burgers and chicken strips.

I don't usually do things right when it comes to the male species. Only days before I had walked into a situation where I specifically wanted to make a good impression, and instead, I opened my mouth and inserted my foot. What is up with that? At times like that I'm like, I just want to stay single, forever, because I make such a fool of myself when I try.

So I'm thankful that this time I listened to God's wisdom and just listened and enjoyed the person. I might have got other things wrong (sometimes my face contorts randomly as a memory of something I said or did comes to mind), but I left my witty criticisms and analytical categorizing and cataloguing at home.

So. Online dating. In general, I don't think it's for me. But in July I'm going to another wedding of people who met online!

Monday, May 26, 2014

88: and if thou bidst me decide for myself in any affair...

I'm still working on writing my "book." I'm not at all sure it is meant to ever be published or if it's just for my own verbal processing. Recently I divided it up into 4 Word documents. I love having small chunks so that as I come up with ideas for one section I can open that document instead of scrolling through thousands of words to find the right area to insert my new scene. This last scene, just scribbled down, was inserted in Part 4. The names have been changed/deleted so that if it ever does get published, I won't have given away key character details! :-P Although the situation is fictional, the prayer included is one of my favorites and has played a role in my life when thinking about relationships.

He had asked me out to coffee. This sounded so familiar. First at the wedding. Then when Tom wanted to court me. Now again with him.

My guard was up.

Sure, I had liked him for awhile. I had been aching for this to happen.

But it was a little too good to be true.

A thousand questions flickered in my mind. We wouldn’t like each other once we spent time together. I wouldn’t fall in love with him. God wouldn’t give me a green light. I wouldn’t be able to get used to spending time with a real life burping, farting guy. I’d fall too fast, too hard, and I would come off possessive and drive him away.

Oh yes, my imagination was sinking the ship before the ship even left the dock.

I shut my bedroom door and crawled into my oversized rocking chair and began rocking.

“Lord God, this is what I’ve wanted, but I don’t know if it’s going to work. I want to let myself relax and let things happen naturally. But I’m afraid. Of lots of things.” I mentally went down my list of fears. “Lord, what if all this is of me and not of You?”

A memory--"God the All” in the Puritan prayer book Valley of Vision. It had devastated me when I was with Tom—God’s will had been contrary to my own. And now?

I had fresh faith in God. Battered faith. But one that I couldn’t afford to let go of now that I had experienced the bitterness and lostness that occurs when a person walks away.

“O God Whose will conquers all,” I prayed again to the One who had brought me through Tom and I’s breakup and the breakup of //those other people whom I won't mention here//.

There is no comfort in anything apart from enjoying thee
And being engaged in thy service;
Thou art All in all, and all enjoyments are what to me thou makes them, and no more.
I am well pleased with thy will, whatever it is,
Or should be in all respects,
And if thou bidst me decide for myself in any affair,
I would choose to refer all to thee,
For thou art infinitely wise and cannot do amiss,
As I am in danger of doing.
I rejoice to think that all things are at thy disposal,
And it delights me to leave them there.

This was my God, and a peace settled over me. This was truth. And I recommitted my love life or lack thereof into God’s hands.

He could work wonders, either now, or in His own sovereign timing.

I choose to trust Him.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Moms' Night Out review

Sunday night, when I should have been sleeping, I was lying in bed reading reviews on the movie my mom and I had just seen: Moms' Night Out.

I was a bit riled by the reviews I was reading. But first, a little about the movie.

Directed by the same brother duo that put out October Baby, Moms' Night Out is the story of a harried mother of youngsters who is on the verge of an emotional breakdown. Strike that. She does have an emotional breakdown. Her husband comes home to find the house in an absolute mess and his wife hiding away in the closet, holding an empty bag of chocolates. "I ate this whole thing." (I thought that part was hilarious.)

With her husband's encouragement, she decides to take a night off--a mom's night out with two church friends. But, as is typical with moms (especially when they leave their kids at home with their husbands), it isn't easy for them to unplug. And when they do, chaos ensues.

Basically, Mom's Night Out puts real mom life on the screen, throws in some action packed craziness, and ends with an encouraging message to mothers that you are not a failure and your job is important.

I also thought it clever that it leaned heavily on the current mommy blogger movement.

The secular critics though are obviously not stay-at-home Christian moms needing affirmation.

 USA Today criticized the main character for being a "weepy, complaining clean freak."

Is she a weepy, complaining clean freak? I suppose so. But she is human and real.

"Alyson ultimately realizes . . . that God loves her. Somehow she didn't know this before," reads the review. "Lovely sentiments, but Jesus might prefer that Allyson work on being less of a pouty whiner" (USA Today).

This movie was intended to affirm and encourage moms, and in order to do this, it showed the inner real thoughts of moms--the "oh my word, my kids are eating raw egg and sticking their heads in toilets and coloring on walls and I can't do this!" thoughts. I cannot speak for Jesus (especially when it comes to rating movies!). But, at base level, I think God is glorified when moms are encouraged to keep up the good work.

Another review calls Moms' Night Out "depressingly regressive and borderline dangerous" because it "peddles archaic notions of gender roles in the name of wacky laughs" (Roger Ebert).

I'm sorry, but can I laugh at that?

Or maybe it's too depressing a reflection on our culture to laugh at.

It goes right along with the review that said the movie "is really all about moms staying home, where, according to this movie, they apparently belong. . . . Allyson learns strict lessons about a mother's place in the world" (NY Daily News).

That is not the message the movie conveys, by the way. Rather, stay-at-home moms are the audience, and so that is already assumed, not preached.

And amidst all the other reviews, there was the man that criticized the movie because it didn't clearly present the Gospel.

Sigh. You can't win when making a faith-based movie, can you?

Like all Christian movies, everyone--believers and nonbelievers alike--will have their own opinion on the movie-making quality, acting, spiritual overtones, movie premise.

But this girl gives it a thumbs up.

By the way, I just read an article that quotes extensively from one of the directors/writers. If you want to read what I just wrote, but better written and straight from the criticism recipient's mouth, go here: The Blaze.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

87: of mothers and children

Yesterday I called my dear friend, who will give birth to her first child in the fall, to ask if I'm less spiritual if I only have two kids. But before I could get to the point of why I called (and before she could laugh at my question and give a definite "no"), we talked about a few other things, and she randomly said that I will be a good mother. The exact same thing happened today. Out of the blue, another friend told me the same thing, that I will make a good mother.

I was flattered, but incredulous.

This year, if there is one thing I have learned, and learned hard, is that raising kids is hard. I mean, like, really hard.

I always thought raising kids would be fun, fulfilling, satisfying, my life work, spiritual, and to some extent easy. You have your philosophy of child-raising, and you walk it out. (And look down on all those parents who yell at their kids or whose kids are out of control.)

But now, after almost 9 months of teaching six kids...

Mother's Day craft at school
I finally understand a little why the Christmas Song says "and mom and dad can hardly wait til school will start again." I always thought that attitude was very unbiblical. And I suppose I still do. But I understand it better now.

I understand why moms get gray hairs--because I've grown a whole patch this year.

I marvel at my mom's patience when I was growing up. Marvel.

Moms must be some of the most spiritual people out there because their selflessness has been tested and tried so often.

I now see that homeschooling moms probably often feel like they're failing. Oh man, just thinking of how moms are responsible for shaping character, training their children up in the Lord, teaching manners, teaching academics (!!!), providing opportunities for fun, and building relationships with their kids--it's overwhelming! How do they do it? And do it so successfully?

My mom made it look easy.

I know I won't fully appreciate my mom until I have kids of my own, but this year has been an eye-opener. Thank you, Mom, for doing a rather amazing job at being the best mom! I hope one day I can do as good a job as you.

Friday, May 9, 2014

86: let it go and do right

Purely by God's grace, I think I've stopped holding onto the "This is what is fair and this is how life should happen" obsession.

I love listening to audiobooks and audiodramas during my short commute to work. Recently I listened to Into My Hands, the true story of a young Polish girl who helped Jews during the Holocaust. Horrid things happened to her. Things that were not fair.

What would her life have been like if she never "let it go"? I know what would have happened. She would have been an embittered, angry woman in her old age (definitely not who I want to become). Instead, she said on the audiotape (because at the beginning and end they included her actual voice!) that she did not know why God let her save lives.

Not why God let her be raped. Not why she was forced to choose between becoming an old officer's mistress and still being able to protect her Jewish friends or refusing him and having to force them out of their hiding place. She didn't ask why God did not allow her to see her family until 30 years later, after her parents had already died.

When I focus on what is fair, I begin valuing my comfort. When I value my comfort, I forsake the concept of "do right until the stars fall." I cannot hold on to fair and my comfort and still do right no matter the cost, because then I don't want the cost, I don't believe in the cost, the cost is unfair.

And pretty soon, not only have I resisted the sovereignty of God, but my basis of morality becomes shaky as well.

Thank God, He saved me.

As my kids belt out "do right til the stars fall!" with gusto during chapel, my soul is stirred.

Do right. Even if what I have been dealt is too hard. Do right. Even if other people are sinners deserving of God's wrath. Do right. Even if it's just not fair.

So, I'm once again asking God to forgive the sins of the school day, even though I'd rather not think about how I've failed. Because how can He change me unless I admit that I need Him?

So I'm asking God to fight for me and those I love who are being hurt. Because no, it's not fair, and it's not right, but I really can't change people's words and actions. But God is mighty and just and can mete out any consequences He chooses.

And, as always, I'm resigning myself (again) to the thought that my plans, and the plans of the girls around me, to marry (young) and have (large) families, may not be how life happens for us. And that when I'm 86 years old, I will still be singing that He is good.