Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Static Rule of a Lack of Rhythm

Recently I was reminded of how much I love art. I was looking through a friend's facebook pictures and recognized a glass sculpture by Chihuly, which brought back a flood of memories that seem so far removed from my current life. I used to sit for hours painting and go to museums for fun on the weekends. I loved watching slide after slide of great works of art in Art History that all had a story behind them. They all had some type of form, some type of rhythm. I miss that season of life. It seems so far removed, especially as I look around my half-hearted attempt at decorating my house. It's like I've lost the creative rhythm.

There's many rhythms within our family that need cultivation.

We've probably lost some valuable rhythms in our house because of my fear of routine. I hate the word. Always have, always will. It's just not a part of my make-up. I get bored easily, like spontaneity, and refuse to make lists. While Matt values structure a whole lot more than I do, he's pretty laid back in this area as well, so when it came time to have children, this was an area that we were on the same page about. We would keep a schedule with our kids when possible, but we wouldn't be bound by it. While this has generally worked for our family, I can't help but think we're failing to establish really important rhythms in our lives and the lives of our children.

Part of this could be due to poor word association.

Routine = stale, lifeless

I see it in the denomination that I grew up with, and in my own life as a follower of Jesus. I didn't grow up in a liturgical church that followed the traditional church calendar or recited creeds in worship. In my own life, I was so repelled by empty acts and words that I refused to do certain things just to do them. That's poor logic though. I think about my relationship with Matt, and how every night we say "I love you" before going to bed and usually when we hang up the phone with each other. It may not be a heart swelling statement each time but that doesn't make it meaningless. In fact, it's probably in the regularity of it that the meaning is found. I notice when we don't say it. It's a natural part of our rhythm as a couple. A steady beat.

Rhythm = dynamic, progressive

We've been working through what this means for our family, and what areas we need to work on cultivating rhythm in our lives and the lives of our children. I know it will probably be a struggle for me as it feels so contrary to my nature, but as awkward as it may feel, we need to press into what we're learning. God has orchestrated His world with a rhythm of which our family is a

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Third World Symphony

Several weeks ago, I saw this video and haven't been the same since. As I was watching it, I was screaming at the computer, "THAT'S ME! THAT'S ME!! THAT'S WHAT I WANT TO DO! AAAAHHHHHHH!"

To which my husband replied, "So do it."

Seriously? Just like that? 
Just. Do. It.

What does that even mean? I had to go through a process of figuring out what it was about that video that resonated so much with me. It's funny, I always get a kick out of people that talk about the clarity that their thirties brought. A good friend of mine often talks this way, and I always laugh at her about it. I think I'm starting to understand though. My twenties were about this crazy search of figuring out God's purpose for my life. What do you want me to do, God? If you just tell me, I'll do it. 

Recently, I realized that I've been asking the wrong question.

I've been learning so much about the importance of framework. Without a good framework, you might come to some valuable conclusions, but you will probably miss the big, beautiful picture.

I'd been framing the question all wrong, which brought me through this years long wilderness of searching after who knows what. The question I needed an answer to was not, "What is God's purpose for my life?" The better framed question was, "What is God doing in the world, and how can I be a part of it?" 

If I had gotten an answer to my twentysomething year old self's question, I would have missed out on the toil of the search. Through searching, I've seen the heart of Christ and his kingdom purpose. I've been exposed to the things that break His heart. I've seen the things in me that break his heart. I've come to really believe that Jesus is Lord over the whole earth in a now but not quite yet way; he uses us to reconcile a world to him and there is a time coming where he will be all in all. I've discovered that He is working in our world and invites us to partner with him in his work.

His ambassadors.

If that doesn't give a follower of Jesus a sense of purpose I don't know what does. 

The part I can play is starting to make sense. I see how He's developing, affirming, and fueling my passions. I see kingdom living in day to day, real ways. I see that He has given me a voice, albeit a small one, but it's one I need to use, even when it terrifies me to open my mouth. I want to be a part of the work that God is doing beyond my own comfort zone because there's no way I can know about things that happen in our world and sit idly back.

I want to see the Third World. I want to touch the faces of poverty. I want to have a symbiotic relationship with those that may not have material blessings but experience blessings that I can hardly comprehend. I want them to show me my own poverty in the masses of stuff that I own. I want to be a part of telling their stories, to give them a voice. I want our stories to collide through Jesus in a way that brings His story together in a rich, beautiful symphony. 

I know, it sounds completely naive and idealistic. But I believe that God is truly working in our world and wants us to be a part of it.

So, I'm going to just do it.

In the beginning of the new year, I'm going to take a trip somewhere in the third world to feed hungry children, tutor those living in extreme poverty, or love kids that live on the streets.

Because it's real.
Because I know about it.
Because I believe that hope and change are more than abstract concepts.
I believe they're found through a Person, who was resurrected from the dead to bring new life.

For right now.
For the life to come.

I know this is just a small thing. It'll be a week of my life, and then I will be able to come back to the comforts of my own home. But it's a small piece that I think will be part of a larger picture. We'll see where it leads. 

Anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Not All Communal Living Involves Pot

I'm thirty years old and I miss college life. This very well could make me a a washed up loser who needs to move on with life, but I don't think so. I just have such a longing for the relational aspect of college life that you don't get again until you're eighty years old and living in a nursing home.

And I have a lot of time before I get to that point.

I loved being able to walk down to a friend's room in the middle of the day and chat. Sometimes those conversations were about nothing while other times we'd work through major life issues without even planning to. Meals could be hours long as groups of people would congregate to be silly together or other times devise plans to change the world. There were days when you could only stay for a minute, but at least you had that moment to make a connection with others, to know that you were not truly alone, even if you had to spend the next eight hours huddled in a cubicle studying.

At curfew during my senior year, I could be sure to find a bunch of girls gathered in the hallway, eating pretzels and nutella, recapping their days. Matt's experience was similar, except it involved a lot more boyish stuff like slugging each other with ping pong balls and pooping on each other. Evidently stuff like this bonds boys together like eating pretzels and nutella does for girls. No matter. The point is, we had people to count on and share life with.

Then we grew up and bought a house. Come to find out the house had Chinese drywall in it, and we lived with Matt's parents for eight months but that's a different story. Kind of. Because while sharing space with your in-laws doesn't sound like the ideal situation, I know that I now have a much greater appreciation for them that I don't think I would have had, had I not lived with them. My brother and sister-in-law lived with my parents for a time as well, and I think the same could be said of their relationship. They lived with them while I was in college and I would come home every summer and break to share a house with them and my oldest niece and nephew. I know that I have a special bond with those kids that I'm sure was developed by living together.

I think I would trade in my house for an apartment. Seriously, I would. Or maybe a condo because I'm pretty sure Matt would never go for throwin' money away for rent. He's all about a good investment, which is precisely why I want to live in an apartment. In a complex with several other families. It's just so hard to truly invest in people when you're scattered all over town. It's so hard to cultivate relationships when half of your time is spent in the car. When I'm sucking as a mom, I want to be able to walk down the hallway to a friend and say, "I'm sucking as a mom. Help bring me back."

Like everyone else we know, we're busy people. When we have an evening without anything going on, we usually just hang out at home. It takes a lot of time and energy to bring people into our space. And let's be honest, unless you do it regularly, it's not always comfortable. It's hard to let your hair down with people you see sporadically. But if we were actually nearby people, then it wouldn't be so difficult. You could just do it.

Matt and I both have all these ideas floating around in our heads that need other minds to cultivate, but how does an idea ever come to fruition when it's being watered irregularly? If I'm not being encouraged with something constantly, I have a tendency to just push it to the back of my mind. I want my family to flourish within an active community of people that are constantly encouraging each other and taking time to work through the difficult parts of life together. Wouldn't that be so much easier if we were actually within close proximity to each other?

Am I just crazy?