Monday, May 31, 2010
And so today I begin my last year in my thirties. It feels weird to say I’m 39 now. Not bad, just weird.
For my birthday my family gave me a Hershey’s cookbook (they do know me well, don’t they?) and a Wii Fit Plus (they also know my weight loss struggle well). Do you think the one will counteract the other? Seriously, I’m kind of excited about the exercise games. I’ve already set my goals. It was a nice surprise from my husband, and I think my son was more excited than I was about opening the presents. He knew what was in there. I’m looking forward to the actual exercise part, but it is also fun playing the games with the kids - especially the one where you get to fly in the chicken suit. Funny. We even got to put a Mii for the dog in the Wii Fit plaza and that’s just too cute. Even little Boo gets a Mii - she likes the chicken flying game, too.
I suppose I should take time to be reflective on this my 39th birthday, but I don’t so much feel very reflective this morning. Considering I spend a lot of time over thinking, that’s probably not a bad thing today. Contentment is something I’m beginning to understand better as I get older, and I’m so thankful for this. I do pray this year will be one of faithfulness. I think that is the one thing I want to see most in my life is a steady and growing faithful, deep commitment to my Savior. I want to walk with Him each day and take His word to heart and apply it as I read it and learn more of Him. What an awesome God we serve. How overwhelming his mercy and grace and love. And I thank Him for my 39 years of life. How I pray I will not waste the time I still have here.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I’d like to get back to blogging more often. I just finished backing up my blog. Every so often I copy everything into my journal file on my computer just in case something happens to Blogger (oops, typed Blooger again). I know most of my posts are rambling, but I work hard on them and they are meaningful to me even if no one else cares and I’d like to not lose them. Anyway, I’d gotten behind by about 5 months and that was a chore, let me tell you. But it did make me remember why I blog and want to get back to it on a more regular basis. Facebook seems to have put a crimp in my real blogging.
The boys’ last day of school was today! Summer vacation is officially here. We celebrated by meeting Drew at Sonic and having some ice cream. Now that they’re home, I may have to be creative about finding time to blog, but I still want to get back to it.
The boys wanted to go swimming this afternoon, but something is wrong with me I think. I am so tired so much of the time these days and I just didn’t want to swim today. Cup of coffee this afternoon is helping some. During the pregnancy and miscarriage in February they did find something off with my thyroid numbers, so I’m going to be getting that looked at now that my hormones are back to normal. As normal as they ever are with me anyway. I’m waiting until the move, though. No time to get anything going here now. TMI, I know....
I think I’m just now coming up from a bit of a low time, too. Things are looking sunnier all of a sudden. I think the miscarriage hit me in ways I haven’t even begun to recognize, and that’s just how it is. I have tried not to talk about it and the lows too often because I don’t want to drive people away, but I know some of the tiredness stems from all the residual stuff of such things. God is good all the time, and I am so thankful for the hope, real and living hope I have to cling to everyday. Life is good. It’s not always easy, but it’s good. But that may be one reason it's I haven't had much blogging going on lately.
Some of the lows are also related to the coming move, I think. I feel myself pulling back and feeling more emotionally distant as the date looms closer. I don’t like to be that way, but sometimes I can’t help it. One of the hardest things about moving is the unsettled feelings immediately before and after. Again, God is in control and it will all be good. I’m excited about the move, but not excited about having to say farewell. You all know how I am about goodbyes, right? I’ll have to post some pictures of the new house soon. That’s exciting.
I’ve decided I tend to over think things. A lot. I don’t think I’m going to change. Just pointing it out is all.
I’m reading an interesting book these days. Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World by John MacArthur. Interesting and timely for us as we will be starting that journey to find a new church soon. Praying we look at the right things.
I’m looking forward to some fun things to do with the kids this summer. For my Mythbusters loving boys I’m going to pull out some books of science experiments that we have and plan to do one (or more) each week. Also plan to take them swimming and not be the bummer I was this afternoon. :-) I need to plan well, however. I know from experience I often have good ideas but am not so good at follow-through. I also want to continue reading the book series we’ve been reading for what seems like forever with them and move on to something new.
And that’s about it for now. Didn’t really mean this post to be a downer. I don’t feel all that down. Feeling better, even, now that the caffeine is kicking in. I probably ought to kick the caffeine habit, but I probably won’t. :-)
Now it’s time to get ready for the spaghetti supper at church and Awana end of the year thing.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Dear clothing manufacturers: I really miss pants that fit at my natural waist, not below it, and were made of looser fitting cotton, not this weird stretch stuff that plasters itself to my more-generous-than-I-would-like thighs and belly, which after having three children and coming up on my 39th birthday in just days now will never, and I mean never be flat again and I’m really okay with that except that your stupid stretch fabric and below the normal waist pants end up making me look and feel even fatter even than I really am, which makes me discouraged and frustrated and I hate it. I don’t feel that way in the older pants I have that I keep wearing because I won’t wear these crazy things you make now. Even when I was 20 I didn’t really want to share every curve, and certainly not my underwear, with the world, and I sure don’t now, I'd much rather leave it to the imagination. Trust me, you'd rather I did, too. Honestly, I’m also tired of seeing....let’s just say much more of other people than I should ever see of a stranger’s rear view. I just accidentally ruined my last remaining sane pair of black pants when there was bleach on the counter I didn’t realize was there, and I must say I cried harder than that would normally warrant because I know that I won’t be able to find any that fit like that in any stores that I have found yet these days, which I was reminded when I was foolish enough to get excited today when I found a pair that looked exactly like my favorite black pants and was made by the same company, but, sadly, when I tried them on were not like my old pair and fit below the natural waist and clung to me in all the wrong places, meaning they went back to the rack and I went home without new pants. Again. So, seriously, please please please please get a clue and a heart and make clothes that normal people who give a fleeting thought about modesty will feel comfortable wearing. Thank you.
In which I write an impossibly long post that probably no one will read.
I feel kind of dumb writing about a TV show. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just a TV show, after all. Who really cares? But I did have a few things to say, some directly about LOST, some more indirect but that the season finale left me thinking regarding how I process things like TV shows and books and stories and pop culture.
I enjoyed the series LOST. I did not love the ending, but after thinking about it and reading some blog friends, I don’t hate it like I did right after watching it. It is not the direction I would have taken the show, but I know from some reading that it is where the creators always intended it to go, and they are the ones who wrote it, so they get to decide.
Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer pretty much summed up how I felt about the ending in her post here. For a show that was incredibly plot driven and character driven, it was a let down at the end to find that the plot twists that were developed in agonizingly slow and meticulous detail during parts of the series weren’t really all that important at all. In fact, so unimportant that I kind of wonder what some seasons were about anyway. Some questions were left hanging to the point where I don’t really see why they were there at all. For example, who were the Others really and why were they so antagonistic toward the Losties when so many of the Losties were Jacob’s candidates? My only answer for that one is that the point seems to have been that the Losties’ main objective was to survive on the island, and the Others gave them a lot to survive against. What about the BIG deal that was made about Walt and the raft and the Others during that season? Turned out to go nowhere, really, except that it did cement the friendship between Jin and Sawyer. And don’t come swooping in here telling me it’s because the actor who played Walt grew up too fast. They really dropped the ball on that whole story line - in fact on the whole ‘Others’ story line in my opinion. The biggest unanswered question for me is, “Why did the people of the Dharma Initiative have to be murdered? Who ordered it?” It just doesn’t fit to me for it to be Jacob, yet Richard was there and a part of it, and we thought the Others were following Jacob. I’m not so sure about that, because I think maybe Ben thought he was following Jacob but it was really Smokey/Man in Black all along. Telling us it wasn’t about weird stuff happening on the island but really just about the characters just doesn’t cut it for me.
Anyway, now that we’ve seen the finale, it is clear that none of that mattered. It wasn’t about the island minutiae as much as it was the main characters, and especially Jack. I always thought it might be largely about Jack and his ‘redemption’ and it turns out that seems to be just what it was about - I don’t really like to use that term because ‘redemption’ in LOST terms is NOT Christian redemption by any means, but for the purposes of discussing this strangest of shows, I’ll use it here. The other characters were important, too, but the show was really about Jack, it seems. I did enjoy reading Leslie’s take on the ending and the discussion following her post. Helped me not to hate the ending but to more dislike it.
I get that the show was very character driven, and that people matter and that we should care about their stories. What was disappointing in the ending, however, was to find that it was really ONLY about them. Because, I don’t know about you, but the build up with the plot devices really led us down a roller coaster to get to the point where we find that they were ONLY a device to get these characters together to interact and learn to ‘live together or die alone.’ Great lesson, great emotional moments, but, really? The plot really was that unimportant in the end? I didn’t expect them to answer everything, but the whole purgatoryish ending was just sappy to me. The way I felt after the finale was like craving good chocolate but all you get is that nasty cheap Easter bunny chocolate instead. It's chocolate alright, but not nearly as satisfying as, say, a Ghirardelli chocolate. I almost would have liked a more sci-fi ending where they got to live an alternate reality or something and have some other meaning to the island mysteries than just that it wasn’t really about the island at all. I get the point that people are really what matters, I’m not dense, but still....
I did like some of the emotional moments at the end as the characters remembered who they were, especially Sawyer and Juliet - to me that was the best part of the whole finale. That was done very well. Looking at the show as a whole, taking a long view of it and blurring out the details, the writers did a great job of showing how the characters grew and learned to give to and for others and by bringing their story arcs to a resolution. Well done. Now that I know it was really about that, I can appreciate the ending in that way. It's just that during the journey they really led us to think the story details were more important than they ended up being. One thing I didn’t like was I wish Charlie had not been such a reprobate in the in-between time. Even though they didn’t remember their lives, shouldn’t it have reflected some of the growth they’d worked so hard for on the island? Jack’s character did. And Charlie, especially, had changed so radically on the island, it was disappointing to me to have him be such a mess in the in-between time.
I didn’t like the implication that was made quite overtly, quite obviously, quite heavy-handedly and so totally in your face that faith doesn’t really matter at all but that it’s about self-redemption and knowing yourself and learning to live together so you don’t die alone that ended up being THE message of the entire show. I told you I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like the faith implications once the ending came, and I was right to think so. Before you jump on me and tell me that I shouldn’t expect a show from Hollywood to match my worldview, hear my point, please. I didn’t expect a Christian resolution. I wasn’t watching for one or hoping for one and it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a show if they don’t hold my worldview. I can still appreciate the show for what it was. And, for the most part, I did enjoy it.
BUT, if you think that the writers weren’t trying to send a message with that ending, think again. There have been hints all along that ‘faith’ isn’t always a good thing, and that’s exactly where I was sure the show was heading, and it did. One thing I disliked about the show all along was the subtle subversion of religious faith, and some of it was very subtle. Another thing I didn't like was the blurring between good and evil that was never resolved, even in the end. That scene in the ‘church’ where all the religious symbols were there? I would have liked the ending better if they’d been a little less obvious and left out the symbols and just ended it and let viewers draw their own conclusion. The fact that they very obviously placed those symbols prominently in what was clearly a gateway to ‘moving on’ in the afterlife was clearly making a statement, and not a subtle one. In a show where the people behind it were not shy about saying all along the way that they were exploring and discussing ‘deeper’ questions, it is not wrong for me to point out the dangers of the conclusion they are clearly drawing, that religious faith is pointless, what really matters is community and learning to love and live together and sacrifice for each other and redeem yourself through that - faith in yourself and your purpose and your relationships and not worrying so much about who is ‘right’. The writers are free to push that view, but I’m also free to point out how empty it is ultimately. Precisely because they showed us in the end that the plot itself wasn’t that important but it was always about the characters shows me that this was the message they intend to send - humanism in a postmodern mindset.
I know it’s just a TV show. I get it. I know that they don’t have to hold my worldview. Fine, they’re free to advocate any agenda they want. But I watch everything filtered through a biblical worldview, and what I couldn’t help being bothered by is that, though it’s just a TV show, it did deal with deeper life issues and thoughts. And people are discussing those things, which is a good thing. So, as part of the discussion, I’m adding here that self-redemption won’t cut it. As good as community and working together and love and marriage and all those things are, they are empty in and of themselves. There is a hereafater, and there is a God who will call all men to account. Apart from Christ there is no hope of peace in life or death. And what bothers me is that the view presented at the end of LOST really is what a lot of people hold if you get right down to it - that it will all be okay as long as you’re true to your ‘purpose’ and you sacrifice for others and learn to love others, that’s what matters, and even if you’re not, there will be a way to make it right. Seems to me the message here was let’s just all get along and not worry about religious truth claims because they are irrelevant in the long run. Getting along is what matters. In the LOST view, it didn’t even matter if they were ‘good’ people before ‘moving on’. Like I was saying about Charlie, shouldn’t his in-between existence have shown some residual of the growth on the island?
The only reason I even bother to think any of this through is because everything influences our worldview. Everything we read or watch or talk about influences how we think, and we need to know how to discern even our entertainment. I’m not saying only watch and read things that agree with a Christian worldview. I’m not saying LOST wasn’t a good show. I enjoyed it and enjoyed the discussion and thought it provoked. That’s good. I am saying be aware that once you strip away the trappings of the island this show really reflects how a lot of people in our culture think about issues like faith and religion and the ‘deeper’ issues the show explored. I am saying be aware how very subtly things like TV shows and books and pop culture can influence the deeper way we think about things and don’t be afraid to digest even entertainment through a rigorous look at the worldviews behind it. That’s not a bad thing to do. And in all of that be grounded in the word of God so you can adequately discern what is good and what is not in everything.
And now you can go ahead and tell me to lighten up, Beck. It’s just a TV show. Yeah, okay. In spite of all I just said, I did enjoy the series. I’m glad it’s over, but I’m not sorry I watched all six years of it. I’ve enjoyed the discussions along the way, and even the openings it’s given me to talk about matters of faith and the gospel.
***Update***A friend on Facebook passed this blog post along. I don't know how legit it is, but after reading it I can concede that we, the viewers were actually given more answers than some of us gave them credit for, but I was just looking for something so different I didn't see them for what they were. I didn't realize just how much of their weird 'spiritual' speculations and worldview mishmash they were actually pushing throughout, and just how committed to it they actually were. I was looking more for just an interesting story, not an extended speculation on 'faith' and the 'afterlife' from people who don't look to the Bible as our sole authority for such discussions. I think their weird spiritual syncretism is so far off the grid for me I just wanted to see it a different way. Looking back over the last season, I can buy all that about the Others being people Jacob brought who were corrupted by MIB and the show being an exploration of free will and faith vs. science, etc. In fact, I don't know why I didn't see it more clearly. We were actually told that, if you think about it, in one of the early conversations we see between those characters before we really knew who/what they were when MIB asks Jacob why he keeps bringing them when things always go badly.... Anyway, I think what I dislike most about the whole thing is the weird spirituality, but you knew that would be my concern anyhow, right? The blog author says the show ultimately comes down on the side of faith, and that's the issue, isn't it? Faith in faith or faith in your own made up system or worldview really isn't very helpful and is ultimately damning, if you want to be honest. The only faith that really has saving power is the faith that clings to Jesus Christ alone. But that is not what our world wants to hear. And in a postmodern society, absolute truth claims like that are taboo, but it's just fine to push a mishmash and feel good 'faith' where you're given lifetimes to connect and progress. But the thing is, there is true truth. And that, my friends, is probably why I had the strong reaction to Lost that I did, and why I really wasn't that surprised after all the hints we'd been given along the way. And now I'm really, really done with Lost. :-)
Thursday, May 20, 2010
In the eyes of the “real world” I’ve always been something of a nerd, geek, whatever the going word is these days. This bothers me much less than it used to. The older I get, the more I see just what it takes to be ‘cool’ in the eyes of the world, the more I’m just as glad to be a nerd, thank you very much. The cost of ‘cool’ is just too high, in my opinion. There are things that matter much more to me than being hip, popular, cool, etc. It’s interesting, too, how I used to care about pop culture and celebrity gossip, but I just find a lot of what’s on those grocery store magazines anymore to be less interesting and more profoundly sad. I have seen some headlines while waiting in the grocery aisle and come home and cried and prayed for the broken lives those headlines represent. I don’t know why anyone would want the limelight. It is not kind, nor is it friendly to a happy, wholesome, holy life. I am happy and content to live a normal, some might even say boring, everyday life, in relative anonymity.
But if the smile on my daughter’s face this morning as we drove to Target, one of our very favorite places, is any indication, then in her eyes I am one cool momma. “Play it loud, Mommy!” she said as I pulled out my iPod and dialed up the ‘Kids’ Music” playlist. We proceeded to go rockin’ down the road with Go Fish booming through the car. Who says you can’t be cool in a minivan? So what if when I shuffle music on my iPod you’re more likely to hear kid music these days than music I would probably rather listen to on any given day? And most people would probably look at us in our minivan singing along with our Go Fish booming away and me in my mom jeans and sneakers and find me uncool in the extreme.
I used to think there was something wrong with me that I don’t have a driving ambition for a career in the ‘real world’. I don’t think that anymore. Really, I think I’m doing what I’m called to do. I don’t have to buy into the lie that I’m not contributing to society by staying home. I also don’t have to buy the lies that what the world offers up as cool and fun and desirable really are. I just have different priorities at this stage in my life. I have learned that there are things that are more important and much more fulfilling than what the gossip magazines and grocery store women’s fashion magazines and Oprah and talk shows say I should I want to be. I’d much rather seek after holiness. I’d much rather take care of my home and to be content to be where I am at this stage of my life. For me, this is where I am called to be. And I am thankful God has provided in such a way and my husband is so supportive that I get the privilege to stay at home. I know that is a blessing, and I do not take it for granted. And this is where I want to be content to be.
And looking in the rearview mirror at my little girl waving her hands in the air and singing along with Go Fish, and knowing my boys feel secure and loved here at home, that makes it worth it to be a little uncool. My boys are getting to the age where Mom doesn’t really seem all that cool, and even seems a little weird sometimes, but they’ve been around enough kids with really ‘cool’ parents to have expressed to us that they are thankful for what we have at home. That matters a lot more than being cool in the long run, I believe. My preschooler, however, still thought we were mighty cool today as she waved her hands in the air and sang along without a care.
And ‘cool’ really is all in the eye of the beholder.