Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Day 30!!!!!!!: True Love is Like a...what?!?

I found this pic on Facebook and could not resist discussing it. But first, I would like to congratulate myself on successfully writing 30 blog posts, though, it did not turn into a consecutive, blog-a-day experience like I had hoped. I still felt it was good to get myself back into blogging semi-regularly (I must confess this venture took possibly over 2 mos...teehee...).

So this picture...what are your first thoughts? Caption reads, "True Love is like a walk in the clouds." My thoughts: "Mmmm...that's sweet...oooh Disney romances are lovely...clouds and sky are lovely too...so sunny...so optimistic...and Disney love is so neat and tidy...and wait...that's not realistic...PAUSE!" True love is like a walk in the clouds???!! I surely hope not. Now, infatuation, and the rush of new mutual interest can feel like a drug-induced high with side-effects of faster heart rates, sweaty palms, shivers up/down your spine, warm fuzzy feelings and such. But true love is more like a walk on the ground, with the earth beneath your feet. You need solid grounding/foundation for it to be real and lasting. There will be flowers and beauty and joy. There will also be thorns, rain, rocks, and potholes. And the irony is, that if you expect love to be a walk in the clouds, you will find it to be anything but. You'll find yourself disillusioned with your significant other when life sets in, and ultimately disillusioned with yourself.

True love is commitment. I've been told this over and over by my parents and others wiser than me. But they're right. The marriages that last aren't free of care or a waltz in the skies, with pleasant puffy clouds. Ask any elderly couple. They'll tell you their heartaches and struggles, the battles they fought TOGETHER, the times they wanted to throw in the towel and DIDN'T, the times when getting out seemed easier than fighting for love. Whoever talks of that? Fighting to keep love alive? "Oh, how utterly unromantic...I will naturally have only feelings of deep affection and adoration for my significant other..." If you believe that, you're setting yourself up for multiple breakups and possibly divorce in your future.

True love is death. Yes. You read that right. Christ is true love, and his death was the ultimate proof of his affection. True love is death to self. This is true in our relationship with Christ and our relationship with our spouse/significant other, and guess what, it doesn't come naturally! But we are called to show this more difficult, yet more real, true love. Paul laid down this standard for love in marriage: "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord...Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her...each one of you also must love his wife and he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband" (Ephesians 5). We're not talking about cloud-walking here. We're talking about tough love, the kind of love that says, "I will always love you, even if I don't like you right now, even if you hurt me, even if you fail to love me the way I receive love..." This is love.

Enjoy your Disney movies, your chick-flicks, your cotton-candy-love books and movies and pop songs, but remember, true love is not a walk in the clouds. It's a journey of sacrifice, full of roses and thorns.

Learning to Love as Christ,

Friday, January 25, 2013

Day 29, part II: Ask some questions! Answer some questions!

This was inspired by a blog post by my friend, and since I want to make this blog more interactive, I thought I'd give it a shot. So here's some questions, with my own answers.

1) Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter?

Well, I don't like being cold, so the other three and especially Summer when it's not too hot. I love flip flops and painted toes and stargazing, and the over-all laid back feel.

2) Least favorite movie genre:

Horror/Scary/Gore...ickkkkk...my imagination doesn't need any more ideas to creep me out, thanks!

3) Favorite music genre:

Umm, most anything but country and secular rap. But I like electronic/dance/trance music a lot :)

4) Favorite fruit:

Mmmmm, maybe bananas because they're cheap and low maintenance...peel and eat!

5) Mac or PC?

PC :)

What are your answers? Any questions for me?

Feeling quizzical,

Day 29! (almost to 30!): Selfish=Self Ish. Prone to Self. I know I am.

When I was a kid, I remember musing over the word "selfish" and thinking how it sounded like "shellfish," but had nothing to do with aquatic life. Apparently my mind has always loved words :). But to the point, being selfish or selfishness is a real issue in our country, society, social circles and most importantly us, the individual (myself most definitely included).

A couple of my friends have married within the year, and the one thing they repeatedly say is "I didn't realize how selfish I was until I got married." (Oh no, I think...am I ever in for it! God bless my future husband...) I know I'm selfish. And I'm not going to deny it. Not having siblings growing up didn't help that, though it's no excuse. To be honest, I can be friendly, kind, giving, and caring occasionally if it's not required of me, but choosing to be self-less (less of self) regularly and not looking to please me first is NOT easy. And I'm learning that through my close relationships. I find that perhaps the main reason relationships are messy and often painful is that they show you yourself and all your inward ugliness, like a mirror. They require you to stretch, grow, rebuild, and rethink. They won't allow stagnation or apathy in order to stay alive.

Too often, with those I love, I forget to look to their needs and how I can serve them, or I convince them to choose something that makes me happy and forget the importance of letting them pick their favorite ______ (fill in the blank). In a close relationship, if you win the battle, no one wins. If you choose to give, and think less of "take," both parties win, and grow.

The key to curing selfishness lies with the cross. As John said about Jesus, "He must become greater. I must become less" (John 3:30). When we learn to give ourselves to Christ, our dreams, our all, we can rest assured and not feel the need to grasp for attention, affection, or "our way." We can understand and share love, not the mushy kind. The kind that is sacrificial, that says "your needs must be put above mine." Paul writes to the Philippians, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3). But do we, do I, give in hopes of it coming around? Do I give in expectation or receiving? Yes, as the saying goes, "what goes around, comes around." As Proverbs puts it, "he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed" (11:25). But that is only a pleasant side-effect, not a motivation.

I think a major break through is reached when you find joy is self-sacrifice and bringing pleasure to others not to get anything in return. And I think I'm on a personal journey of embracing that by first embracing the love and sacrifice of the cross, every day.

Learning slowly,

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Day 28!: List of Questions I Ponder (And would like to know the answer to)

I'm always brimming with questions and mulling thoughts around. I was constantly that kid with questions in class that wanted to make sure I understood the assignment or wanted to know more in general. I also loved (and continue to love) asking my dad questions; he's like a walking wiki site. :) So, here, for day 28, I give you a list of questions I wonder about:

1. How do candles work? How is the wax the fuel?
2. Why can't you find the big dipper in the wintertime? Where is it in the night sky?
3. Why do people think they can drive in the rain/fog without their lights on? (ok, that's rhetorical)
4. How long did it take Adam to name all the animals?
5. Did the animals have a different sort of communion or even communication with man before the Fall?
6. What makes a fruit a "superfruit"? (example: acai, mangosteen, dragonfruit)
7. Why don't we ride cows? Are they not trainable for this sort of thing?
8. If we are so far from stars in our galaxy and those outside our galaxy that it would take a very long time, maybe years, before we saw their light go out, how long would the sun be gone/extinguished before we realized it?
9. If "no one can hear you scream in space," then why are we listening for extra-terrestrial evidence?
10. Why do we carry umbrellas in rainstorms, particularly lightning storms? Aren't they made out of metal, which attracts electricity?

These are the sorts of things I ponder. What kind of questions do you ponder?

Lost in thought,

Day 27!: Honoring our Soldiers- Do you? Do I?

This blog is the direct result of a scene I witnessed at work. There was an older man, with white hair and the often seen veteran black baseball-style caps with the stars or troop/war in which they were involved. Usually when I come across people like this, I'm kind of thrown off and not sure how to respond. I feel like their experience and my lack of experience creates a wall between us, and that, in a way, they are "saintly" and beyond me. I therefore treat them with the same courtesy as anyone else, usually accompanied with probably not-so-clandestine-starings at their hats.

So a man like this came into my work place and was checking out at the other register. Two younger men, probably late twenties or so, were checking out at my register. I finished their transaction and thanked them like I do all customers, but then I watched them. One of the young men went up to the man at the register, courteously approached him, and said "Thank you for your service." I was in awe. (Why don't you ever do that, Jane? a voice inside me asked...followed by, Why don't more people do that in general?)

If I had known my grandfathers, hearing their stories of service in WWII and Vietnam would have been priceless to me. Alas, I never heard it told from their own mouths, and I've never really heard a veteran talk much about his experience. Perhaps that's another reason why the "wall" as I termed it forms. Some veterans I feel don't want to talk about it, or, if they did, I'm not sure how I would receive their information. But how selfish is it of me, to not thank a man who gave years of his life so that the world in which I live could be as it is today? Did he not leave behind a sweetheart, a wife, children, his youth, his innocence? War changes a soul. A soul willing to die for his country is also willing to die for the collection of its citizens, the individuals, like you and me.

I'm reminded of an occurrence that happened four or so years ago in the Colorado Springs Airport: My parents and I were waiting to board our flight back home, and were bored-ly sitting and glancing around to glimpse anything noteworthy (that was me, probably not my parents). All of a sudden people started standing up, and a round of clapping growing into an applause rose from the crowd. A plane had just landed and a troop of soldiers had just arrived at the airport, finally home from service. One by one we saw them exit the door connected to the plane ramp as they entered the airport. Men, women, older, younger, with camo and duffel bags...there were so many. And they kept coming. I believe we stood at least five minutes, and not just my family, everyone. Everyone continued to stand and applaud the soldiers until the final one had disembarked the plane. My mom had tears in her eyes, and everyone was so earnestly respectful. It was one of those moments that felt very real, and tangible, and full of meaning. And the man at the store, reminded me of this moment. I hope he had an honorable welcoming home, too.

In light of all this, I've been encouraged to be much more assertive in expressing my gratitude to any members of the armed service, whether present day or soldiers who served before. And it doesn't matter the government, and if I agree with them, because the armed forces, like our country, is made up of individuals. And these individuals have made many sacrifices physically, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, socially, etc. to make our lives a little safer and our country a little better. The least we can say, is Thank You.

Pondering and reflecting,

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day 26!: Books- I'm addicted, and I don't want help!

So, I haven't blogged in quite a few days, and my roomie reminded me to get on that (nicely). ;) Therefore, I'm blogging about a state I find myself in: surrounded by books. I often rationalize book buying...or rather...I hardly ever say no to buying a book, especially at a good price. I primarily shop used books, so a book at $1-4 dollars is like a no-brainer to me.

Subsequently, my shelves are heavy laden with books upon books. Lots of them are classics; I'll see a classic and grab it for future reading, because the English major in me values classic books and knows that "eventually" and "someday" I will read them...all...idealistically.

Also, unlike splurging on food or clothes, books are longer lasting and life-changing. They provide new insight and greater wisdom, while taking you to far away lands to meet new people. For mere dollars! Um, yes, I'll take that.

So, I'm admitting I have an issue (not a problem), and that it probably won't be resolved, because I'm content with my addiction!

Any other book addicts out there?

Sincerely, Jane

Friday, January 4, 2013

Day 25!: I'm Brand-name, and One of a Kind

I'm a BIG thrift shopper. I love Goodwill, and other consignment stores, but I particularly like Goodwill because of their outstanding prices and the sense of personal satisfaction when after digging through dozens of people's old closets you find a steal. I'm very excited too when it's a good brand I know, or, a "trendy"/"in" brand. So as I deftly flit through the racks, my fingers are constantly locating the tags. Sonoma...No Boundaries...Old Navy...(a brand only my great grandmother might know)...oh wait...Ralph Lauren?? Gap?? LOFT?!! And look...is this FREE PEOPLE?!?! (If you don't know who Free People is, no worries. I didn't until a few months ago. They're just really expensive and often really cute styles. It's all in the name...sigh)

I was browsing through the purses today..."mmmmm, granny style...my mom might wear that...oooh! Old Navy...that has potential..." when a thought struck me: We put a lot of stock in brand names and visual identity, and that's not just in clothes. We flit through people as if they were a rack of "potentials," writing off this one, labeling that one: "Nope, she's a prep and a bad-girl. Nope, he's a jock, so he has no brains. Nope, she's a nerd; she's not in touch with reality. Nope, he's poor and dresses weird. Nope, she makes me look bad."

Is this true? Or is it not?? I think we do it more than we realize. Sometimes it goes like this: "She has lots of money; she must be a snob. I'm going to avoid her"...or..."She's so annoyingly spiritual and goodie-two-shoes..." In reality, that wealthy lady may just be blessed financially, not a snob, and very giving and hospitable. And, that super spiritual girl, if you really got her to speak truthfully, has probably got some battle scars and a more "human" demeanor under the surface. Don't write people off. And that's a reminder to me too.

In short, we're quickly skimming the tags on people's backs and asking "who made you?" just the way you would in skimming clothing merchandise. "Oh, you're off-brand...generic..." But wait!!! God says that every hair on your head is numbered, and that his thoughts for you are more than the grains of sand by the sea. And that goes for EVERYONE!!! Therefore, EVERYONE is brand-name, God's brand. Every tag says "hand-made," "one-of-a-kind," "delicate." We are all individually crafted, knit together in our mother's womb as Kind David said it. And each person is fragile and in need of assurance, love, and respect. God loves every article of clothing in His closet, and who are we to call God-brand off-brand and cheap?

Reflecting on how much God values every human being,

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Day 24!: Where are the Family Men?

Ok, so technically I'm writing 2 posts in one day, but I don't count it because last night's was at 1 am, and then I went to bed, and now I'm awake. Hence, I call this a new day.

I felt compelled to write this post after observing a heartwarming scenario currently going on right outside my window, as I type. There is a super sweet family that lives next door with four kids, and they really have a solid family. You can tell they love each other, and love their kids. Right now, the dad is giving his son pointers on football. Just one on one time with the kids :) Perfect. Beautiful.

When did society start telling men that being a family man was restrictive and not worthy of respect? When did the men start believing that lie? I respect every man I see out shopping with his kids, holding a small child, sharing smiles with his daughter. In a way, I value that more than a mother with her kids. A mother naturally will bond with her children, but a man who takes that time to connect and love on his offspring, is a wonderful rarity.

I pray that the men of this world will embrace godly fatherhood and take leadership in their families, loving their wives and loving their children. What a shame to miss out on one of life's greatest blessings, raising and nurturing one of God's special gifts, your child.

Kudos to all you family men out there!


Day 23!: Thanks, 2012. It's been grand.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my faithful blog readers! I hope this finds you all well and eager for a new year at the threshold! I always come up with deep, theological, thought provoking blog topics, but I also always sit down too late at night to blog and don't feel like putting much thought or research into it. Therefore, I shall be cliche and blog about the new year. :)

With every new year, I'm always certain it will be the last. "2000??? (you remember Y2K) We shall all surely die!" Well, that didn't happen. 2012...that year seemed so distant and far away as it lay printed on my college completion plan, marked with May 2012-Graduation. And well, that happened. The world didn't end. God has not come back for His people yet. And look, it's another year! I suppose I should stop being shocked and assume the world will keep spinning and leave God to the details ;) He's really good with those. And I'm really bad at them. Correction: I'm REALLY good at details, so good, that I get lost in them and forget to be at peace about the forest (not the trees, or leaves, or holes in the leaves, or...it goes on and on).

So I've established that God is good with details. And God has been good to me and blessed me, as He promised He will in His Word, throughout the year 2012. List of 2012 blessings/accomplishments:

1)Graduated from college!
2)Went to Disney World for the first time
3)Maintained a great GPA
4)Moved out and now beginning to live on my own (sans the major bills my parents still pay, thanks you two!)
5)Learned through heartache the type of woman I was, and the type of man I would have and the things that I wouldn't settle on.
6)Solidified some of my close friendships
7)Began babysitting for the first time!
8)Was pursued and wooed and convinced (yes, it did take some convincing) to begin dating this amazing man of God whom I now love very much :)
9)Was blessed and had my horizons expanded by teaching and building relationships with international students at school
10)Enjoyed God's creations, specifically the night sky this summer. Saw my first shooting stars!

2012 wasn't all roses, hence my blog title, roses and thorns. But without the thorns you can't have the rose. Without the darkness, the light is not as brilliant. And I know that God is my light, the ultimate Gardener, and the One who can turn sadness and brokenness into Beauty. My Redeemer, who not only redeemed my soul, constantly redeems my situations and experiences, shedding a heavenly perspective on them and showing me His hand and guiding love. In short, I'm not afraid. Yes, I'm nervous, timid, concerned, but in my heart of hearts, I'm not afraid. I'm right where I want to be, in His hands. 2013 will be a good year, because I have a good God.

Resting in His provision and love,