Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What I Believe

I enjoy Facebook. In fact, I probably enjoy it too much. I spend far too much time reading status updates and trying to come up with clever ones of my own. I think it's an interesting form of expression. Some people use it to express their political beliefs (my friends range from extreme socialists to extreme capitalists, from strong liberals to strong conservatives, and everything in between), some their religious beliefs (evangelical Christians, Muslims, atheists, Jews). Some people just use it to catch up with old friends or to see pictures of their grandkids. It's a pretty interesting tool of self expression in the 21st century.

But my issue is this: If one of my friends posts something I don't agree with, be it a religious (or anti-religious) statement or a socialist statement or anything else, and I comment about why they're wrong, then I am labelled a judgmental, conservative, Christian who doesn't think for herself. But if I post something that I believe in, it's okay to tell me why I am wrong. It's okay to pass judgment on the conservative, evangelical Christian. It's okay to clutter up my page with reasons why I am wrong and I shouldn't express my beliefs. I find this interesting and a little frustrating.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I want the right to run around telling people that they're wrong. That's not my style. I suppose I could, there's nothing stopping me from doing it, other than my own sense of what is decent. Facebook is self-expression and if my friends want to express their beliefs and ideas, then that's okay. It's the forum to do it in. Express away. Post all you want. If I agree, great! I'll give you a 'like', if I don't then that's okay, too...I'll just keep scrolling. I respect my friends enough to do that. I don't feel the need to insert my two cents whenever I see something I don't agree with. So what I'm saying is, if you don't agree with me, then don't agree with me, but don't tell me why I'm wrong. Don't try to correct beliefs that I've spent a lifetime forming. Not on Facebook, that's not the place.

So here's my thing.I figure I'm going to get it all out there in one big burst. This is who I am and what I believe.

I am a conservative, evangelical Christian who mostly votes Republican except for when I think the Democrat is the better candidate. I don't believe in 'half-way' Christianity where we want to take God's love and protection but throw out His standards and expectations. I think God loves us enough to change us from the hot messes we are into something beautiful, something more like Him and less like the world around us. I believe that the Bible is God-breathed and inerrant. I believe in Creationism, the Flood, the  Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, and that the end-times will come as the Bible foretells it. I believe that we are all fallen, we're all broken, we're all screwed up, and that the ONLY answer is giving our lives over to Jesus Christ. I believe that while I have choices and free will that it is God's plan that ultimately comes to fruition and that my life is exponentially better when I am seeking to align my will with His. I believe that it is necessary to be controversial sometimes but to temper that always with love and compassion. I believe that's why the world hates people like Tim Tebow who doesn't get hot-headed and judgmental as the world expects Christians to be--He is like Jesus, certain of his beliefs but expressing them with a level-head and an open heart. I believe that the world was better when we were allowed to talk about God in the schools. I believe that the world was better before TV and the internet came along to numb our minds and turn off critical thinking skills. I believe that I am different than most of my peers. I believe that this post will offend some people and they will want to comment about how I am close-minded or wrong. Or how I believe in a mythological God but that's not supposed to offend me. I'm supposed to just be okay with it when people call the One I put all my trust in, the One who lived and died and rose again for me, the One who moved Heaven and Earth for me, the One who loved me when I was unlovable, the One who cleaned me up when I was a filthy mess, the One who saved me from myself...when people call Him a myth, or just a nice guy, or an impossibility, I'm supposed to be okay with that. I believe that I can't be okay with that and be a real Christian.

I believe that I've probably said enough or maybe too much. We, Christians, were promised this frustration and this double standard. Jesus was called the Prince of Demons, how could we expect to be embraced? No, we were promised controversy and rejection. But we were given a blessing...

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Blessed are those who mourn, 
   for they will be comforted. 
Blessed are the meek, 
   for they will inherit the earth. 
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
   for they will be filled. 
Blessed are the merciful, 
   for they will be shown mercy. 
Blessed are the pure in heart, 
   for they will see God. 
Blessed are the peacemakers, 
   for they will be called children of God. 
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

   “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
--The Beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-12

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Keep On Kicking

I'm tired. I should be in bed. In fact, I should've been in bed long enough that I should be getting up to go to the bathroom about now. But I'm not. I'm here. I'm writing.

I'm writing to you, my son. I have a friend--a kindred spirit, actually, someone I've never met because she lives in England but we both love books and we met through email...this is friendship in the 21st century sometimes...anyway--I have a friend who writes letters to her daughter and she shares them with the rest of us. I liked that idea. I don't think I'll be as disciplined as she is in writing to you every month but I'm going to write to you now. Because I'm thinking about it.

And these days that's when I have to do things--when I think about it. I used to be good at keeping a mental list of things to do, things to write, things to say. But lately I can't keep two thoughts in my brain. "They" say this is pregnancy brain. I find it frustrating. In fact, I find many things frustrating these days--the ache in my back that makes it hard to walk sometimes, my inability to find a comfortable position in bed, how tired I feel and knowing that's only going to get worse. But despite the inconveniences and aches and pains, I don't really mind. Oh, sure, I'll whine. I'm a good whiner...but the truth is, I don't mind. Not if it gives me you.

The reason I wanted to write is because I was thinking about your kicks. Lately, you've been kicking me a lot...and hard. Every now and then you hit something just right in there and it HURTS! But all I can think about it is how much I'm going to miss feeling that. I suppose that's a little silly because that means I'll be holding you, finally seeing your face and touching those beautiful toes we first saw back in October. But you won't be safe and secure and protected inside of me. You'll be out here in this crazy, mixed up, beautiful world, and I won't feel you kicking anymore.

There's so much I'm just itching to share with you. I'm afraid I'm going to be one of those ridiculous people that takes babies to things that they are far too young to appreciate...like taking you to the zoo when you're about two months old. But I'm just so excited for you to see this world, to hear the music, to read you books, to tell you stories. I'm so excited to tell you the story of your name. I hope it inspires you. I think it will.

But I'm going to miss those kicks. I'm going to miss wondering what you're up to in there. I'm going to miss the security we both feel of having you inside of me. But it'll be wonderful...to have you. You have no idea how much and for how long I've wanted you...and you daddy, too. We both are just crazy about you already. Our son.

So, keep on kicking...and ignore me when I whine. Because it's all worth it to have you.
All my love...me

Thursday, February 9, 2012


I wrote a couple weeks ago about my addiction to control and how I'm learning to let go of my compulsive need for plans. It's a painstaking process. I realized this morning, while processing with the Almighty, that what He's really up to is dealing with the real problem and not just the symptoms. It's not about getting me to stop planning all together or, conversely, to only give up one plan at a time. I think it has to do with acknowledging that my plans need to be in line with His plans. It's about slowing down to consider what He's done and what He is doing in my life. It's about seeking after Him more than seeking the next thing I want.

To be quite honest, I struggle with articulating the real lesson I'm getting in all of this. Partially because I don't fully understand it yet. I get it cognitively although I've yet to embrace it emotionally. I can't help but look at life sometimes and wonder if He's lost His mind. And I spout off a lot about what it is I'm fed up with and what I want changed and that I wanted it changed like yesterday. This isn't really appropriate behavior on my part. The Lamb of God already spilled His blood and defeated death for me. Do I really have the right to ask for more? Maybe not the right...but I do have the freedom, the permission, to ask. I'm even encouraged to ask because God wants to give me good things. But I'm not sure this temper tantrum asking is really what He's looking for. I'm pretty sure that's not right.

And that's just it. In the midst of my tantrums, I'm confronted with the fact that as a Christian I am meant to have a peace that passes understanding and a noticeable inexplicable joy. If Paul and Silas could sing in prison, can't I manage at least a smile in my far less dire circumstances? I catch myself focusing on what I don't have that I believe I need instead of dwelling on all that I already have. I'm carrying a miracle. All babies are miracles but my son is one of those should've-never-happened babies, the opposite of an 'oops baby'. I was broken...my body wasn't doing what it was designed to do. And yet here I am, my belly getting more huge every day (just ask my achin' back!). I have so much to be grateful for. I get thunderstruck just thinking about it sometimes.

And that's just it...this baby, this timing, this wasn't my plan. My plan was to get pregnant 3 years ago. My plan was to have a big enough house and car for a kid (or two) and $5,000 in savings before having a kid. My plan included Shiloh but not Bode. My plan didn't foresee Curtis getting laid off or my having to work full-time. And my plan most definitely didn't include whatever it is that lies ahead for us...because I have no idea what that is. My plan was a good plan. A methodical plan. A responsible plan. But it relied completely on me. And a little on Curtis. And just a smidge on God.

So when things changed...when I didn't get pregnant for two and a half years...when Curtis did get laid off...when we adopted Bode (and even I thought we were nuts and it was my idea)...when Shiloh died...my plan didn't account for those things. I guess that's why the 'it's all up to me' mentality doesn't really work for me. I might behave that way but the bottom line is...I don't really believe in it. I can't. Maybe it's because I don't want the responsibility when it all falls apart. But what I've really come to think is that if it's up to me, then I have no hope. I don't have any answers right now. And there is absolutely nothing I can do to change the things that worry me and keep me up at night. I am powerless. And this isn't about me being self-deprecating or buying into some outdated dogma. It's a fact. There is nothing I can do to force the situations in our lives to change. We've thrown every dart at the board and nothing has stuck.

But I can rest knowing that God has a plan, it's a good plan, and it's always been His plan. Because His plan took into account a struggle with infertility, the frustrations of job loss, and even Bode and Shiloh coming in and out of our lives. I might not be able to follow the story arc but that doesn't mean that there isn't one. And just because my plans haven't worked out doesn't mean that His plans aren't being worked out. He has power when I have none. He has wisdom when I'm all out of brain power. He has patience when I'm at my wits end. He doesn't get jumpy and abandon ship for the next good idea. He stays the course and brings me along with Him, even if I'm whining the whole time. (Believe me, I would've made a great Israelite...). And at the end of the day...sometimes literally...that's my best hope. There's still a plan.

Hmm. I've been looking at my life as being plan-less simply because I'm unable to work one out. And then I sit here and yap about God having a plan. There's a disconnect, don't you think? Okay, so it's not that my life is plan-less. It's just that it's void of my agenda at the moment. This may not be profound to anyone else but I just had a huge moment. And maybe that's why I bother writing any of this down...to sort out all my convoluted and contradictory thoughts. And I share it because maybe one of you is just like me...and if you are, I feel your pain!
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