Monday, August 31, 2009

Contemplations of a Young Wife, First Part

My, but I have a difficult time accepting my husband’s help and advice! I was sitting on the sofa a moment ago, stressing about school, how to attack this particular blog post and the fact that the wireless is down. I punched the refresh button to test my luck, eyebrows drawn savagely to a point above my nose. I attacked the button, again and again. Once more, with feeling! After about the tenth time, Chris laughingly informed me that repeating the action was clearly not making the internet work any faster. He reached over and rubbed my knee, saying, “Babe, don’t let it get to you. It is what it is.”

I promptly unplugged my laptop and moved to the bedroom, stewing.

My point in telling you this is not to elicit sympathy; au contraire. I’m poking fun at myself. I stress over uncontrollable things, as if I had the ability to alter them by raising or lowering my angst level. And when Chris steps in to comfort me, BAM! The doors to my civility bang shut, and I become a woman I certainly don’t want to be. I’m pretty sure Solomon had the right idea when he compared a quarrelsome wife to a “continual dripping on a rainy day” (Proverbs 27:15). Frustrating and unrelenting and quite indefatigable.

Something I have to consistently and consciously focus on is reveling in the fact that being married means I'm not alone anymore! Chris is there for me, if I’ll let him be. I’ve come to see that quality men will bend over backward for the woman they love. Wow!

No man can reach a comforting hand through stone doors, though!

Let’s argue this out.

(1) I must remember that if Chris tries to serve me, he wants to serve me. I do him a disservice by shutting him down in an effort not to importune him. As good friend Chase Russell noted to me yesterday, we often bless others by letting others bless us.

(2) I like, and need, my alone time. However, I don’t actually want to be alone in the complete, desolate sense of the word. My husband is a gift, like all gifts, easily taken for granted. It is the dearest honor I know that he both loves and takes care of me (like a Warder for an Aes Sedai…um, excuse me, reader… Robert Jordan fans, holler!).

I intend to never justify nursing my hurt and pushing Chris away by saying, “That’s just what women do. We’re fickle.”
This is what a woman—“an excellent wife”—does:
“She does [her husband] good, and not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12).

It’ll take some work if I know myself at all, but I long to glorify God and respect my husband. I don’t have it in me, but God is the one who equips. Wives, let’s commit our marriages to Him!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I don't like the Greek letter delta

I must admit that I've been a bit depressed throughout the past week. I'm not sure I'm sure why. I often cast about wildly for explanations to my varied and strong emotions and, as a result, end up mislabeling the cause for them. Sometimes, though, I see causes returning in a goodly pattern that helps me arrive at sound conclusions.

Well, good reader, I've cast, and I've perhaps caught. It's CHANGE that's the culprit.

If you read my blog for long, you'll discover change often is. Even when life alters for better, I see the alteration as a chapter closing, never to be reopened, and I mourn it. Mourn is a strong word, but the best I can find; I experience something akin to the grieving process. I walk about disoriented. Then, I find myself sniping or snapping at my husband and other loved ones. Finally, I let myself cry. Sweet catharsis, then I'm done.

God is teaching me how to trust Him in the midst of change, to know Him as my stability and to find Him completely faithful and trustworthy. He's been teaching that to all of us, I think, from the moment we were born. I count myself blessed to have the opportunity to put His teaching into practice; now let me act on that thought and rejoice! I want to be a woman of Psalm 50:23, who offers thanksgiving as her sacrifice to glorify God!

Chris and I both feel that our lives will be characterized by change. Thank you, God, for gently teaching me to deal now rather than in the future.

P.S. For anti-math readers: The title is a mathematical reference that I'm sure I shamefully misused.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Exciting update!

Comments are working now. Thank you, Chris.

Review - Jon Foreman's Fall

It’s been awhile since I was moved by an album as much as Jonathan Foreman’s work, Fall, the first of his Limbs and Branches series released in October 2008. The lead singer of the popular Christian rock band Switchfoot, Foreman certainly holds his own as he extends his songwriting endeavors into this brooding and personal collection. Most of my inspired musical experience has been linked to daydreaming; Fall hits on reality with the force of—borrowing one of the man’s song titles—a south-bound train.

Jon Foreman’s musical style is the first thing that grabbed me, even before the brilliant, lucid lyrics and incisively universal themes. Fall has all the elements of 70’s Simon-and-Garfunkel-style folk: Socially aware, sensitive (nearly to the point of being touchy), a music that a person could listen to over and over and still discover and appreciate new things about it. To make the album generationally relevant, this older mode merges with an edgy, alternative attitude, delivering a punch with its singular melancholy.

Foreman’s lyrics border on poetry; the CD insert notes that Foreman developed most of his songs in the wee hours of the morning, a time quite conducive to deep writing. It is very refreshing to hear a raw account of those feelings, having experienced many of them myself. Indeed, the theme of Fall is, appropriately, the fading of things loved, and the writer doesn’t mince words in describing the darkness that accompanies it:
How miserable I am/I feel like a fruitpicker who arrived here after the harvest/There’s nothing here at all/Nothing at all here that could placate my hunger (“Equally Skilled,” track 3).

Most notable about Fall are the themes, the aforementioned being the main one. Foreman’s CD bears no guise. When Foreman is sad, he says so. When he regrets, he says so. And while the listeners don’t have to grapple with metaphors thick enough to cut with a knife, the songwriter doesn’t just feed them all the intricacies of his mind with a pedantic sort of straight-shooting. The feelings are clear enough to where anyone can understand them, but, like good literature as well as good music, there are enough underlying beauties to be found that a person does have to do some thinking and searching to find them, making discovery of them all the more meaningful.

I really only had one beef with this CD: The first time I listened through it, I found it inordinately depressing. The listener must pay close attention to the whole of Foreman’s lyrics, as well as the arc of his songs throughout the complementary Winter, Spring, and Summer albums, to truly catch the spirit behind the sorrow. Foreman’s songs alternate, just like King David’s Biblical psalms, between lamenting the injustice of the world to praising God for the hope ultimately found in Him. Overall, the hope in Fall trumps the lamentation, though the latter is strong enough to leave a bad taste in non-discriminatory listeners’ mouths (or, a bad ringing in their ears?).

Having listened to the entire Limbs and Branches series, I can confidently say that Fall is my favorite album. It is a satisfying listening experience musically, a provocative one lyrically and a solid one thematically. Jon Foreman is a true virtuoso in his musical realm and will have my support as long as the seasons change.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Giving it a rest

Sometimes we get so caught up in planning things to do that we have no time to consider if we even want to do the things we plan.

Last semester, I enslaved myself through planning. Isn't that sick? I'm a checklister--to a fault, sometimes--and I made the ultimate weekly list. I recalled to my husband last night that every lunch and dinner was taken by a particular,scheduled person on campus. I enjoyed spending time with each of those people immensely, but when someone cancelled, and I discovered I had a free hour?! ...NO WAY! It was too exciting. I made sure to use it to isolate myself in a booth and eat a quiet,cozy lunch with my companion, a book. A non-textbook, on special occasions.

It's not that I was face of every student organization or something, though I was involved in various organized activities. The issue was, on top of external concerns, I was undergoing changes in mindset and lifestyle that affected my use of time and amount of energy (Don't let anyone tell you that the material/physical and emotional/spiritual worlds are disconnected from one another).

I'm a social artsy introvert, but I'm still an artsy introvert! My means of rest, reading, writing, dreaming and the like, were nonexistent. It was draining!

I reflect on this, because this summer was--I can tell this semester is going to be--vastly different. Over the summer, I was able to pick up habitual leisure reading again; I hadn't done so in nearly 2 years. I had forgotten how much I love it. Over the past month, I have picked up habitual leisure writing again. I love that even more! Now for the clincher, which should be painfully obvious, but isn't, at least to me: The things we are passionate about doing are important to do. Maybe, honing and sharpening our passions is as important as schoolwork (gasp!) or socializing (oh my!). Of course, honing passions, schoolwork and socializing aren't mutually exclusive; I'm not trying to say we should choose one over the other. But my life is evidence that putting your passions on the back-burner will negatively affect you.

There is something very spiritual about the small, deep joys of life, the ones we find in simple things like good music and sunrises. Our delight in God's gifts brings Him delight! We are each wired to enjoy some gifts more than others, and to be gifted in some ways more than others. We should embrace this!

So if you're like me and often need a little push, here it is: Sit back and enjoy your life sometimes! I'm living proof that it won't kill you (no pun intended)!

Meanwhile, I'll keep trying to do the same!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I find his lack of jokes--disturbing

Observation for the day:

Most teachers try to be amusing; some try too hard. I can count on half my hand the professors I've had who didn't attempt to be funny several times per class. It doesn't bother me, since I genuinely laugh at most everything except crass jokes. Okay, okay. Sometimes I laugh because I feel subconsciously obliged to, and do so without thinking (akin to my applause habits, but that's for another post).

My relevant scary experience is that I have a profoundly non-comical professor this semester. Not non-humorous--his smooth speech is replete with wit--but non-comical. I don't think there is a shred of goofiness in this man. In his suit and tie, towering next to the whiteboard where he illustrates a blinding piece of human insight, he peers at me from behind spectacles with dark, beady eyes. He enthuses, but his eyes don't change. He lectures, but his eyes don't change. He even delivers witty comments, yet his eyes don't change. They are very serious indeed.

I think I am differentiating "humor" from "funniness" in this way: "Humor" is more about preferred form of delivery while "funniness" is about what the individual considers laugh-out-loud amusing. A shake-and-bake distinction; I'll have to think on it more, later.

Examining people's form of "funniness", I think, is an excellent way of getting to know their inner selves; particularly, their dispositions. Since I've not yet seen "funniness" in my professor, I can't decide his personality. That bothers me!

Eh, I have a need to be under the delusion of having "figured a person out." Unhealthy, perhaps.

Anyhow. That's all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Impossible Command

I'm currently reading C.S. Lewis's "The Screwtape Letters," a very salient glimpse into (and mockery of) the world of darkness, juxtaposed with the world of light.

I've been pondering love lately, and found a thought-provoking passage in the book which I thought I'd share with you. In letter 19, Screwtape, the self-sufficient undersecretary of the devil, writes to his nephew Wormwood about the impossible existence of Love:

The truth is I slipped by mere carelessness into saying that the Enemy [God] really loves the humans. That, of course, is a impossibility. He is one being, they are distinct from Him. Their good cannot be His. All His talk about Love must be a disguise for something else...Members of His faction have frequently admitted that if ever we came to understand what He means by love, the war would be over and we should re-enter Heaven. An there lies the great task. We know that He cannot really love: nobody can: it doesn't make sense. If we could only find out what He is really up to (Lewis, 100-101)!

Matthew 22:34-40 clearly commands us to love--first God, then others (as love for others will flow out of love for God; see 1 John 4:19-21). Screwtape is right insofar as love is impossible to fully understand as humans. 1 Corinthians 13:12 compares our knowledge of love to seeing "a poor reflection as in a mirror;" when we see God face to face, we shall know the extent of love. What a marvelous thought!

Until then, how do we follow a commandment to love when love is completely beyond us?

Seek God more. Know God more. God is love (see 1 John again!), and He is the only means of knowing what that lofty concept looks like!

Monday, August 17, 2009

We must de-glamorize stubbornness.

Since I was in middle school, I liked--no, loved--my reputation of being stubborn. There was a certain romance to it: I could stand up to boys with it (especially when I lacked for wit), I could plow forward when no one else wanted to, I could be a heroine in my own little world. Now I know that the trait I loved was just a sin I loved.

Can't stubbornness be good, you ask?

No. Having a strong will is good; having a stubborn attitude/heart is not. My husband is fond of pointing this out ("Semantics are important!" he says, quite rightly). A strong will, among other things, helps people stand on their convictions. Stubbornness, on the other hand...well, see for yourself.

First, I found the following web definitions for stubbornness on
- the trait of being difficult to handle or overcome
- resolute adherence to your own ideas or desires

The first definition sounds pretty negative, if you ask me. The second hits on my main point, which is stubbornness is self-glorification. That's bad.

I've been reading through Jeremiah--WOW did he have a tough job!--as the prophet speaks the judging words of God to miscreant Israel: "...I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not." (Jeremiah 11.7-8)

I think it's clear. God does not want us to be stubborn!