Friday, March 30, 2012

Is He Lord, or Isn't He?

So, I issued a challenge to my believing friends -- and myself -- last week. I only had two people respond, but I realize many of you may have taken it up and simply didn't say anything to me about it, which is fine. However, I fear that your thoughts may have been more along the lines of one friend who wrote me.

"This is a huge challenge," she said, "one that will probably send many running for cover behind walls of denial." True. And this is why I present it to you -- and to me. Because the very fact that we find this so difficult and avoid it so deftly should set off screeching alarms in our spirits. Please consider prayerfully with me some of the scripture God has brought to my attention (more like plastered in my face) lately:

1 John 1:6: If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and the truth is not in us.

1 John 2:3-6: We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands . . . This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to be in him must walk as Jesus did."

1 John 3:6: No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has seen him or known him.

1 John 3:10: This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God, nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

1 John 4:8: Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Romans 8:9: You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

John 15:13-14: Greater love has no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

John 14:23-24: Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching . . . Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

Those last two are written by Jesus himself, folks. Scripture gives us very obvious and clear indications for the person who is born again, a child of God: they live in the light (nothing is hidden in their lives), they obey Jesus' teaching (they do not continue sinning) and they love their brothers (see the Good Samaritan story regarding who is our neighbor and brother).

Friends, Jesus' first words to the world when he started preaching were, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." Repent. That's a command regarding our sin -- confess it, reject it, walk away. And yet, we have trouble choosing one sin in our lives to walk away from? We who claim to have Christ as our Lord? We who claim to have new life, who claim to love God? We refuse to give up our sin? Yes, folks, this should trouble us greatly.

Examining our lives for transgressions . . . asking God to search our hearts and point out any wicked way in us . . . confessing those sins to God, ourselves, and our fellow believers . . . walking away from those sins victoriously . . . these behaviors should be second nature to us! These are the behaviors that should DEFINE and MARK a child of God. If they do not define and mark our lives, if we are so reluctant to attempt it even once -- well, frankly, that should make us wonder if we really are who we claim we are. Is Jesus our Lord, or isn't he?

Someone I read recently mentioned all the Barna surveys and so forth which show how little difference there is between how self-proclaimed born-again Christians live and how the rest of the world lives. I loved his remark: the message here is not that being born again doesn't change our lives; the message is that there are a lot of people who believe they are born again who are NOT.

As I said, I'm preaching to myself also, people. And so I'll start the confession ball rolling. An anonymous commenter (I'd love to know who you are!) on my last post recommended a link regarding scriptural teaching on money. I immediately found myself reluctant to read it, and realized that was because I don't want to be proven wrong. That's pride -- that's refusing to acknowledge and live by truth when it is revealed to me -- that's SIN, my friends. And I hereby confess it. I will now be checking out that website and examining its claims and examining my heart. I'm ready for God to strike down my precious beliefs if they are not correct.

Only by the grace of God.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

More on Wealth

An FB friend commented on my last post: "How do you reconcile this with Matt 19:24?" This is the passage that says it easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. An excellent question.

Let's first put that scripture into context. A rich young man has come to Jesus and asked, "What good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?" He insists that he has kept the law faithfully. "What do I still lack?" Jesus tells him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me." And we're told the young man went away sad because he had great wealth.

Ah . . . so much to discuss here! And I may have to write another post sometime about all the theological implications, because they are many and they are significant. But to deal with the spirit of my friend's question . . . the issue with this young man is that his money is too important to him. He is not willing to give it up and follow Christ. As Jesus says earlier in Matthew 6, "You cannot serve both God and money." The rich young man has to choose his master -- Christ, or his own goals and desires, including his wealth. Any master but Christ leads you away from the kingdom of heaven (which only makes sense -- the kingdom of heaven would be the place where God is king, yes?).

The reason it is so difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven is because he is so likely to be attached to and over-reliant on his own riches. The Bible is littered with warnings to the rich about not letting their wealth lead them astray. "The love of money is the root of all evil" comes from 1 Timothy (and note that so many people leave out the first three words there -- money itself is not the root of all evil, just the LOVE of it).

But it does not follow that we must eschew wealth outright. We're also told in scripture that "knowledge puffs up" (makes a person proud and haughty), but we are still instructed to pursue knowledge and understanding. As I wrote earlier, wealth and knowledge and all of these things these are tools God gives us to accomplish the work he has for us -- when we pursue them for our own ends, love them for themselves and for what they can do for us . . . that's when they become roots that grow into a tree of evil.

Would we criticize a man for pursuing an education beyond what he needs to make a living? God forbid we discourage people from seeking "excess knowledge". Excess is not inherently evil -- excess allows us to bless others. And thus my point in my last post. God gives us what we need (in material and immaterial possessions). But sometimes he gives us more than we need or gives us skill and opportunity to acquire more than we need. We need not feel guilty about that excess, and we need not shy away from the opportunity to acquire it -- as long as it is acquired justly and used rightly.

I often remind my drama team at church that it is a privilege to be used by God as His voice to speak to his people. Our gifts are his tools. When we appropriate them for our own comfort and glory is when it all gets ugly.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Why You Want To Be Wealthy

My pastor finished a really good sermon series yesterday on money. Priorities with your money, getting out of debt, getting spending under control, having an emergency fund, how the way you handle your money is a spiritual issue -- "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" -- and he ended the whole thing yesterday with the idea of investing, money making money. The final step of his process he described, after getting out of debt and all that, was to start to create wealth.

And I cringed at that. The term "wealth" has such pejorative connotations anymore, it was uncomfortable to hear my pastor encouraging us to pursue it. I agreed with everything he was saying, but I wanted to hear him explain WHY we want to pursue wealth.

In America today, we immediately associate the term "wealth" with comfort, luxury, and all to often, selfishness. Ease. Security. Separateness. Yes, that's it -- separateness. The wealthy are separated from the rest of us, physically and psychologically. They are other. They are not one of us. They don't live like us, they don't suffer like us, and they therefore can't relate to us and don't care about us.

That's the connotation. But the denotation (having flashbacks to high school English class?) is much less emotionally-laden. Wealth is "anything that has utility and is capable of being appropriated and exchanged", and especially, a great quantity of such things -- an abundance, a profusion, a plentiful amount. To be wealthy means your immediate needs are met, your future needs are likely going to be covered, and you have an excess of resources.

The question is what to do with that excess, and thus my concern with why we should pursue such excess. Isn't that selfish and greedy to want more than we need? I contend, no -- with two caveats.

First -- if your excess is not depriving another of what will meet their needs. This is the great misunderstanding in our country today: wealth is not a pie to be divided up among everyone, where your getting more inherently requires someone else to do with less. Wealth is constantly created. It really is possible for everyone in a country to get more wealthy at the same time -- witness the difference between the poor in America and the poor in Uganda. It is also possible for someone to get wealthy by cheating others and keeping them down, but the mere presence of great wealth in the hands of one man does not indicate that someone else is not getting "their fair share". If you acquired your excess fairly and justly, it is not a sign of greed. It is a sign of blessing.

Second -- if that excess is used for "Kingdom Work", as my pastor put it. We are blessed to be a blessing, the saying goes. We are blessed because we have been deemed worthy of great responsibility. When God blesses us with excess resources, it is not so that we can make ourselves comfortable or live luxurious lives. Not that there's anything wrong with comfort or luxury per se, but that's not God's purpose for wealth. We should pursue wealth because of the good work that can be done with it. When we rightly come to view all the stuff as God's stuff, we also rightly come to view ourselves as mere managers and stewards of the stuff, and the responsibility to be good stewards comes to the forefront.

We pursue wealth just like we pursue skill and knowledge and wisdom -- because they are tools which God has given us to accomplish his purposes on earth.

I realize this was beyond the scope of Pastor Jeff's series, but this is the logical next step to his teaching. And it was where I needed to go. The godly wealthy man is not separate -- he is intimately connected with the world around him, because he is managing that store of excess resources that has been put in his hands for the sake of God's Kingdom.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lessons from the Holocaust

My eldest is reading Night by Elie Wiesel in her English class. Because of her history of anxiety, particularly with medical and health related issues, she was nervous about reading it. So, I had a discussion with the teacher about letting her off the intense stuff (teacher was VERY understanding), and I got a copy of the book to read myself so I could help her with it.

Surprisingly short book. Not surprisingly intense book. Horrific, actually. Inconceivable that people can be that cruel to fellow human beings. That evil.

But a friend reminded me yesterday of the electric shock experiments I heard about before. Subjects were asked to push a button thinking they were delivering electric shocks to another person they couldn't see behind a screen (the hidden people were not actually being shocked). Despite hearing the screams of their "victims", the subjects accepted the reassurance of the scientists in charge of the experiment that everything was fine and continued to give the shocks -- even increasing the dose to levels that could kill someone.

Lesson to be learned: while we need to obey the authorities we are under on earth, submission to authorities is never an excuse for turning off our own brain or disconnecting with our own conscience.

Another lesson to be learned: the first chapter or two of Night describes how the people in the narrator's little town kept hearing rumors of bad stuff happening to the Jews and refused to believe them. Even when a man who escaped from one of the massive group-graves came back and told them they were being exterminated, they blew him off. We don't need to leave, they said. The Russians will be here soon. The Germans don't seem as cruel as we have heard. They're just taking us to another town. The war will be over soon and we'll be going back home. Not until they actually stood on the ground at Auschwitz and saw the smoke from the furnaces did reality hit.

I also remember stories about the German townspeople living around the camps, how they completely turned a blind eye to what was going on. How they were able to convince themselves, despite the evidence that was there to be witnessed, that everything was fine, their government was on the up and up, and Germany was a great nation who would soon have victory over her enemies. Again, too trusting of the authorities . . . but even more so, too trusting of the lies they told themselves because they didn't want to believe the truth.

So, a couple of personal lessons to be taken from the Holocaust story -- we are capable of far more evil than we realize, and we are capable of far greater self-deception than we realize. And the personal application of these lessons? Well, for me, it reinforces my rejection of the "listen to your heart" mantra. The heart is deceptive above all things. We must have a source of truth outside of ourselves, and that source of truth must not be another fallible human being. I chose God and his word as my source of truth. There's no better choice.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Sin Challenge

I'm feeling led to try something scary and different here -- something interactive. You all know I've been meditating a lot on sin and our slavery/freedom from it. I truly believe that we have become much too complacent about the presence of sin in our lives, about how it disrupts our relationship with God and others, how it hurts our ministries, and how it keeps us from the abundant life Christ came to give us. Would my believing friends be willing to try an "experiment" with me? Not to test God, but to test ourselves.

Step one: pick a sin in your life. Just one. Don't say you can't think of one (1 John 1:8). Ask God to show you the one he's ready to get rid of in your life (Psalm 139:23). Again, just focus on one.

Step two: confess it to yourself and to God. Out loud. Some of my strongest sinful entanglements were only overcome when I vocally articulated exactly what it was I was doing in no uncertain terms -- only then did I realize the shame of it and feel appropriately sorrowful. And I think you do have to feel the sorrow for your sin to move on. (Take a moment here, by the way, to thank God for forgiving you -- 1 John 1:9 -- and for loving you and dying for you long before you ever got this cleaned up -- Romans 5:8. God is more merciful to us than we are to ourselves, often.)

Step three: find a compassionate Christian friend and confess the sin to them (James 5:16). Yep, you'll hate this step. But again, I've found in my own life that I don't get serious about eradicating sin if it's still hidden away in the closet, so to speak (1 John 1:6-7). Ask them to serve as an accountability partner to you for step four.

Step four: Repent. Meaning, turn completely away from that thing and walk in a different direction (Romans 6:1-2). Shut the door, throw out the supplies, fill the hole with something of God (Romans 6:19). Make a decision in your life that you are done with that sin, and that is simply that. And then trust that God is going to empower you to do it (Romans 6:6-7).

Will you try this with me? And will you do two more things? Hit the "share" button at the top of this blog and share this post with other believing friends -- not because I want the exposure, but because I want to give this "experiment" wider scope. And then, will you tell me what God does in your life, and your friends' lives, as a result? You don't have to give your name. I just want to hear the stories -- and I want to be able to share them. I think the Church is hungry for stories of real people walking in the light and living a victorious Christian life. I know I am.

Monday, March 19, 2012

My God Dances

When I think of you, I see you dancing -- you're dancing
When I think of you, I hear you singing for me . . .

So sings the African Children's Choir with Michael W. Smith on a CD in my car. The first time I heard the song, I thought it odd to think of someone dancing and singing for me. Maybe they do that in Africa, I considered. Around these parts, people don't dance and sing to show their emotions.

Then the chorus came and I realized these lyrics are not directed to another person, they're directed to Yahweh -- God. How about that! Now, honestly -- how many of you, when you think of God, imagine him singing and dancing? How many of you have ever, even once, pictured God singing and dancing? Seriously, take a moment: what does his singing voice sound like? Tenor, baritone or bass? Operatic, lyrical, or gruff rocker style? Does he dance with stiff form or shake his body with wild abandon?

Back when we lived in Springfield, Missouri, I went to a drama ministry conference in Branson, and part of the package was attending a show there . . . the name of which escapes me, but it was an elaborate and fabulous production of the life of Jesus. The guy who played Jesus had previously performed in the same production in Texas for several years, so he had done this show about a thousand times. He was one of those men who, if you saw him walking down the street, would make you do a double-take -- he just LOOKS like Jesus, at least how we picture him today.

It was a great show and he was a great actor, but the thing that affected me the most about his performance was the personality of the Jesus he portrayed. When he saw his disciples again after the resurrection, he ran to them, and grabbed them in a big hug -- none of this feathery, ethereal, see-through angel-like apparition we see in the movies. He was a real man, with real passion and a real love for these, his best friends on earth.

And during one scene (I believe it was the water to wine wedding scene), he joined the crowd in a traditional dance. It was amazing, seeing the Lord of Creation holding hands with random people, swinging around in a circle, smiling and laughing heartily, and dancing. Why don't we ever imagine God dancing?

How shallow and patchy is our acquaintance with God. And how pitiful that we are satisfied with that when our main purpose for being here is to know him, glorify him, and enjoy him forever.

Friday, March 16, 2012


I may very well have bitten off more than I can chew with adding music to the spring play for the homeschoolers.

I have three kids who play trumpet, trombone and saxophone, respectively, so I thought I'd put them together for a little Dixieland-style interlude in one song. Fun, yes? So, I gave the trumpet the melody, wrote a bass line for the trombone, and was kind of hoping my sax-man could improvise. We got together yesterday to try to piece something together.

I quickly realized something was wrong -- they didn't even sound like they were playing in the same key. So I asked them to each play a G . . . and they all played different notes. What the heck . . . ? So I grabbed another kid's guitar and plunked around with each kid playing his own G alone. Turns out a G on the trombone is an F on the trumpet and a B-flat on the saxophone. What the heck . . . ?!?

At home, I queried my trumpet-playing husband about this phenomenon. "Oh, yeah," he said, "The trumpet is a B-flat instrument." As in, "Duh".

No! This is not a "Duh". This is a "What kind of idiot came up with this?" A G is a different sound on different instruments? Why?? It's just a name given to a specific tone -- why would you give the same tone different names? That's like giving a banana each to three different kids, and telling one, "That's yellow," telling the second, "That's red," and telling the third, "That's blue." What good could this accomplish in the world? How does this promote communication and mutual understanding?

I assume there's a reason for this bizarre business, but I can't begin to imagine what it is. A G should be a G should be a G. A G should be a universal constant. But apparently it is not. Apparently, it is only a G relative to its producer. And my world is now that much more complicated.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cookies . . .

I dreamt of cookies this morning. Chocolate chip cookies . . . oatmeal cookies . . . M&M cookies . . . peanut butter cookies . . . there were piles and piles of cookies around that needed to be bagged up and put away . . . and each pile had a couple broken ones that I ate as I bagged. And then it was breakfast and I was wandering around my dream-world kitchen struggling to think of something healthy to eat, but all I could think of was cookies . . . cookies . . cookies . . .

I'm having issues with carbs these days. After my weight loss in the last year or so (17-18 pounds), I've gained a few back. Only a few -- it's really not a huge deal, but I'm well aware that the way the weight came on in the first place was a few pounds at a time. Gotta nip it in the bud. Actually, the weight re-gain started with the addition of a new medication recommended by my sleep doctor last November -- a medication that did nothing and which I am now weaning myself off of -- so I'm hoping to find it to be the culprit. Wouldn't that make life easy?

But I doubt it will be that easy. I've simply succumbed too often to my life-long love for sugar and breads, and now it's catching up to me. I have a friend whose family has had to go on a strict gluten-free diet, and she described the physiological effect that gluten has on her children as being like a morphine addiction.

A morphine addiction! Wow. No wonder I can't shake this thing. It is a little like a high, I guess, the feeling I have after a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats. And one bowl is never enough. By the time I've swallowed the last spoonful, the craving for more is already rising.

I so wish I could have this kind of craving for vegetables or fruit. My Albanian friend has no use for carbs -- fruit is her addiction. What a blessing is that! If I force myself to eat an apple for an afternoon snack, I always feel like it needs to be topped off with a leftover roll. And that roll needs to be topped off with a cookie. Cookieeee . . .

And I'm back to my dream. They say dreams are reflection of what's going on in our psychological world. The carb thing must be conquered and brought into submission. It is time.

Monday, March 12, 2012

It's Just Your Ordinary, Run-of-the-Mill Sinfulness, Folks

I expect to arouse some ire with this one.

I have friends who are quite passionate about women's rights and misogyny and such. I simply cannot relate to their passion. Some days, I wonder if I should be worried about myself.

It's not that I don't realize that women have rights that are sometimes violated and that there are misogynistic men in the world. I know about human trafficking -- it's horrific. I know in some places women are literally considered property and objects -- that's appalling. These evils need to be conquered.

But, for instance, the Rush Limbaugh comment. Yeah, the man's a loudmouth jerk sometimes, and he definitely overstepped the line there. But I have a very hard time taking his remark personally as a woman. I don't think he said that because he hates women -- he said it because he's a loudmouth jerk. To everyone.

I honestly can't recall any time in my life when I have felt mistreated, demeaned, or held back in any way because I was a female. Well, beyond little boys believing that little girls have cooties . . . that kind of thing. There have often been things that I wanted to do and couldn't do, but my gender had nothing to do with it. I have felt disregarded or belittled by others, but my gender had nothing to do with it. I have been treated unjustly, but my gender had nothing to do with it. Hearing my friends' rants often brings to mind a conversation overheard in the hallways of the high school I taught in:

"You just hate me because I'm hispanic!"
"No, I hate you because you're a JERK."

Injustice happens in our world . . . and often gender, and race, and sexual orientation, and social class have absolutely nothing to do with it. People behave like jerks not because of who you are but because of who they are.

Again, I don't want to sound insensitive or imply that I don't think bigotry and hatred exist and should be dealt with. But I do want to imply -- no, to state very plainly -- that I think many people are overly sensitive to such things and see a particular brand of focused hatred where plain sinfulness exists. Most men who treat women like crap also treat other men like crap -- they don't respect women because they don't respect anyone, including themselves. They push everyone down in an effort to pull themselves up. They have a much bigger problem than misogyny, and making it all about their hatred of women is making it all about YOU. It's bringing the spotlight on you, the poor oppressed one. It's your own version of pushing them down to pull yourself up.

I'm not a big Oprah fan, but there's a quote of hers that I love: "Excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism." Excellence . . . and the kingdom of God. Let's concern ourselves with those two things, and the rest will fall into place.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Intentional Dependency

I read a while back of a booklet someone received about home health care. It was written for the use of missionaries going into a mission field where medical care would be unavailable, and it gave instructions for diagnosing and dealing with common medical issues -- how to set a broken bone, how to stitch a wound, "home" remedies for various illnesses, how to recognize an illness that truly requires professional attention. The owner of this wonderful book said it was one of the most valuable she'd ever read, and its information had saved them thousands of dollars in medical costs over the years.

I want that book. Why doesn't everyone have that book? Another question: would people trust and use that information if they had it, or would they still go to the doctor -- the expert -- to have it all confirmed for them? How many times do we go to the doctor "just in case", and have our gut feelings about a matter just affirmed?

I'm thinking we have all become much too helpless and much too dependent on "experts" in our society. We can't sew our own clothes. We can't fix our own cars (in Jersey they can't even fill their own gas tanks). We can't educate our own kids (or we think we can't). We also think we can't invest our own money, decorate our own houses, repair our own dishwashers, fertlize our own lawns . . . really, what are we good for?

I'm as guilty of this as any. I'm usually the one urging my husband to NOT try to do that on his own -- hire someone who knows what they're doing, who has the equipment already on hand, who's already done the trial and error of figuring it out and can get it done efficiently.

Efficiency -- that's the key. In our society, we've decided to delegate certain information and skills to certain people because there's so much information out there to know for daily survival, it's more efficient to specialize. However, with this increased efficiency comes increased dependence. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? We are designed to be a social people, to need each other, but I don't think we are designed to be a helpless people, a people who can be taken advantage of because of our lack of knowledge and skill.

Hmmm. There's an application to be drawn from this line of thought. I just think I'm too lazy to go there.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Living Not So Big

I recently read a book (which was recommended in another book that I may discuss sometime): The Not So Big House, by Sarah Susanka. The author is a British architect who was amazed when she came to America at the size of houses we live in, particularly at all the wasted space in the rooms we never use . . . the formal dining room, the formal living room, etc.

The book is about designing your house to fit the way you actually live and to reflect the person you actually are. She talks about how we build houses based on who we think we want to be. Liiiike, having the "chef-ready" kitchen with double ovens and a huge pantry because we WANT to be a fabulous cook who prepares a gourmet dinner for our family every night . . . but reality is, we usually bring home fast food or heat up a frozen entree.

Ooorrrr, having the grand step-up jacuzzi tub in the bathroom with the candles and incense around it because we WANT to be that woman who lets Calgon take her away every evening after the kids are down and then comes to her husband at bedtime refreshed and smelling like lavendar and ready for romance . . . when the reality is, we're lucky to have time and energy for a quick shower, much less hot tubs and leisurely romance.

Yeah, we think if we have that jacuzzi tub handy, we'll use it. We don't. Changing our outside environment doesn't necessarily change the way we live. Changing our inside environment does. (That's what Susanka's book The Not So Big Life is about -- but that's for another day.)

I have considered these things before, in my daydreams. If I were to design my ideal house, what would it look like? One thing I would love to have: a library. A room set aside for me to read, write, study, think . . . lots of bookshelves with all my books . . . windows for sunlight to stream in, with a view of green nature . . . big, soft, cushiony seats with good back support, a place for my legs to go up, a nearby plug in for my laptop charger, and a flat surface to place a drink on . . . oh, yeah. I want that.

And I would use it, too. I've started making a point of making time to read and write and think, because I realize I'm much more relaxed and content with life when I'm feeding that side of me. Some people need gardening, some people need social time, some people need to run . . . I need to think alone.

This potential move brings up the opportunity to evaluate our living quarters, our outside environment, and find a place that reflects our inside environments. Someplace not so big. Problem is, we're not likely to find such a place -- we'll have to make it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Attention, Please!

I was explaining to my youngest last week that one of my drama students has a reading disability, so I was sending her scenes to her by email so she could be familiar with them before our read-through on Thursday. "I wish I had a learning disability," she said. Why in the world, I asked? "So I can get the extra attention."

Laugh Out Loud!! Anyone who knows her will join me in that laughter. Yes, she's an attention junkie. At least she knows it. One of my unarticulated goals for my daughters in life has been "Know thyself and own thyself" -- faults and all. I'm glad she recognizes this trait in herself and admits to it.

Now, what to do about it, if there is anything to do about it. I mean, is it really wrong for her to want to be the center of attention? Is it a fault? Is it a sin? It's certainly a quality that society scorns . . . or is it? Celebrities get all sorts of public reinforcement for their antics to get attention. It seems we like to think we have disdain for those who crave the spotlight, but in reality, we enjoy them -- as long as they entertain us.

And as long as they don't drag others down in their wake, directly or indirectly. Someone like a Lindsay Lohan who seems to only be destroying herself with her antics . . . she's actually hurting a lot of little girls who look up to her as well. This we scorn. But can longing for the world's eye have a positive spin?

It has occurred to me before that my youngest, with her particular personality bent, might be especially well-suited for one noble profession: teaching. Consider a teacher -- she NEEDS to be the center of attention in her classroom. She NEEDS to be able to pull the spotlight on her. And it's not for her own glory -- it's for the sake of her students who need to absorb what she has to offer them. A teacher is many things, but one thing an engaging teacher usually is, to some degree, is a performer.

It's always a struggle, as a parent, to determine what qualities in your child are to be discouraged and what are to be nurtured, pruned, and shaped. We tend to fall into default mode on that front and do as has been done to us. But this is one area, perhaps, where discernment is required. My daughter has craved the spotlight since birth . . . God must have a good purpose in that.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Trying to Embrace Change and Buffalo

Hubby's latest job prospects include two positions in Buffalo, New York. Scratch that -- three different positions in two different companies in Buffalo, New York. Suddenly Buffalo is the place to be.

Buffalo. Honestly, it just doesn't sound the least bit inviting.

It sounds cold. This is probably a bad time of year to consider moving someplace cold -- I'm already cold. And it sounds far north, like Sioux City, where the winter nights are lo-o-ong. And it sounds northeast. We've already done northeast: ten years in New Jersey. I enjoyed our time there, still have friends I miss there, but you know . . . if we have to move again, I want to do something different.

Which brings me to hubby's latest idea. During his last interview there, he stayed in a hotel downtown, and on returning he proposed to me, "What do you think of living downtown for a change?" Something other than the suburban mcmansion life. Hmmmm!!!

Much to be considered there. First of all, I want to be sure we're somewhere safe. And I want to be sure the girls' educational options are safe and high quality. We could homeschool, but the girls would still need social connections, and how difficult would it be to make good friends living downtown? I don't know.

And urban life has never sounded attractive to me before -- concrete, cars, buses, big buildings, noise, trash . . . I fear I would start craving green grass and twittering birds. But I suppose not all downtowns are like that. And not all parts of any downtown are like that.

For some elusive reason, this proposal was inviting to me. I think the main appeal here is, again, something different. A different culture. A different way of life. I'm imagining living within walking distance of places we frequent. Grocery shopping at little markets instead of massive megastores, and maybe shopping in smaller spurts rather than one huge trip a week. Worshipping at a smaller church, with different "clientele", as it were, different ministry opportunities. And another opportunity to "unstuff".

It might be nice to shake things up and try something new, at least for a little while. If we hate it, I guess we can always move back to the suburbs. But change is coming in our lives . . . and we may as well make it a significant change, yes? A meaningful change, yes? A change that opens our perspective on the world and on ourselves . . . yes?