Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The birth and crucifixion of Christ

Often in the past few years I have heard pastors and teachers talk about the relationship of the manger and the cross and try to explain better to their congregations the importance of understanding why we celebrate Christmas, really. We know the answer - we’ve been singing it since we were children.
Joy to the World, the Lord has come!

God rest you merry, gentlemen, 
Let nothing you dismay. 
Remember Christ our Savior 
Was born on Christmas Day; 
The very word, “Christ” is the equivalent of the word mashiach (מָשִׁ֫יחַ, messiah) in Hebrew. He is the anointed One of God – he was set apart for this special task: our salvation. But that word also has a greater connotation. The Kings of Israel were anointed and “the Lord’s anointed” or “anointed one” was most often used to refer to a king. So this word isn’t simply the word for our Savior, but our King. What a word. Christ Jesus. Anointed King Jesus, our Savior.

The words of a new(er) worship song from River Valley Church in Minnesota caught my heart yesterday. It is a song that would perhaps be more commonly used on Easter Sunday than Christmastime. I couldn’t help but notice the connection.
I see my Savior 
With love in His eyes
His body broken 
With no sin to hide 

I see my Jesus 
Eyes blind with blood 
His face is crimson 
His cry is love 

No wonder we call You Savior 
No wonder we sing Your praise 
Jesus our hope forever 
You made a way
That is the reason he came to earth as a baby. To die, in pain, blind with blood, filled with love, sinless; to give me hope. To save me. I’m getting choked up as I write this. Do you understand how unfathomable a love like that is? It is so far beyond anything I can really comprehend. There are people I care about so much I would do anything for them. I think I would even die for them - but having never been presented with such a situation, I don’t actually know. And I’m not a spouse or a parent, so I can only imagine how much more they feel that way for their spouse and/or children. If you are one (or both) of those, you likely have an even better idea what it means to love someone more than you imagined was possible, and the idea that you would do anything for them. But I wonder if you can even fathom, even begin to wrap your mind around how much God loved us that he came down, as a tiny little human – a helpless baby – with the express purpose of teaching us what it looks like to live perfectly, and then dying an excruciating, horrible death so that we might be saved from eternity away from him? What a concept.

There’s a bridge near the end of the song that says this:
See the light tearing through the darkness 
Hear the roar of the rugged cross
Jesus Christ You alone have saved us
We worship You now
See the light… When I heard these words, I thought of the Star of David, the one the wise men were tracking, seeking the infant king. The images we’ve seen depicted (wrongly, but so strikingly) of the light of that star shining so distinctly down on the manger scene (and occasionally on a little house with a toddler instead). See the light… Hear the roar of the rugged cross. The roar. What a thought. That as the light of Jesus came down to earth, as the brightness of his glory, his kingship, our salvation – our way out of darkness – shone ever clearer, the roar became ever louder. All the way through each moment of his 33 years on the face of the earth, that roar was a steady beat growing louder in his ears, toward his crucifixion. If you knew that was what you were facing, would you have come? I honestly don’t think I would.

Which is why it is so truly amazing that he did. He came. He walked the earth he created and lived among us. He died for us, blameless yet taking all the blame. All of it; for those who had died, for those who were living, for those (like me) who had not yet been born. I have a way out of darkness, and he is it. He is the Way.

No wonder we call You Savior. No wonder we sing Your praise.

During this season, while it is a time to celebrate – and it truly is – and a time for family and friends and maybe even some rest; might we not forget, even for a moment – not even one – the real reason we rejoice. He is King, and he came for me.

full lyrics and performance video here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On Love

Well. Clearly I don't have enough time on my hands. I can hardly believe it's been almost 6 months since I wrote something here. Oops. Ah, well. Here we are again.

When I look back at my last post, its a little weird to realize that I am wrestling with much of the same. Since then I have moved to a new (and thankfully cheaper) apartment and I love it. The space is laid out in a way I like much better, and I have far more storage. Plus, it's not too much further from work (only about 10 minutes more), so that's nice too.

Things at my current job continue much as they have, though the promise of change (wahoo) has been presented (multiple times) and yet still with very little clarity on what it will actually look like or what effects it will have on specific departments and/or people.

I promise this has to do with love. Stay with me.

Because of those things mulling around and making me wonder if I'm doing what I ought to be doing, the following conversation shocked me a bit. Partly because I've been wondering lately (read: in the last year or so) if it is what I should be doing somehow, and partly because I cannot shake the desire I have to care for little people.

I had a conversation with my youngest brother about a month ago, in which we ended up somehow on the "what would you do if you had a million dollars" question. My go-to response is always: pay off my debts, pay off debts of my family (parents, brothers, etc.), help make my family stable, then see what I can do next (likely help someone somehow). Maybe buy a house. His response to me was something along the lines of "Oh. Yeah, I get that. But I think if you had a million dollars you'd start an orphanage."

It floored me. I have no idea how much I've said to him that I'd want to work with/care for orphans. (To be fair, I have an El Ed degree and have always loved kids but something as specific as an orphanage, well, I'm not sure how much we've talked about that... if ever.)  But he knew it to the point that it was what he expected me to do first with an overabundance. I said, "Well, yeah, that makes sense. I sort of have always wanted to do something like that. I love kids, and those kids need it most." He told me that that's exactly what he was thinking: my love of kids and my experience through a teaching degree, coupled with my administrative skill set and experience, running an orphanage seemed like the perfect thing.

Now, don't get me wrong. There is MUCH I don't know about running any type of business or anything in general much less an orphanage where you have to keep people alive and well and not neglected or starving (though plenty of places do just the opposite and are somehow still in business). But it struck a chord.

Today I saw an article posted by a friend's mom that talked about how many kids are literally dying - yes, you read that right: DYING - in orphanages today. Some because of disabilities so that the kids aren't seen as valuable enough to spend time caring for, some because of being grossly understaffed, some just because the convenience of a liquid diet and a cage are easier and keep your numbers of "cared for" up - sometimes because there seems to be no better way, and sometimes because they don't care. Why they work there/run the place boggles my mind. If you don't love children/orphans, WHY are you working in an orphanage??

The article was written by someone who had helped/visited/worked somewhere overseas and seen these terrible situations and couldn't get the kids who are dying out of her mind. She and her husband adopted a little boy from one of these places, and in just 6 months, of really loving and caring for him, he is SO MUCH BETTER. He has a disability (or maybe disabilities) that he will always live with that were present from birth, but he is not skin-and-bones - he is smiling; he is not banging his head against the bars of his crib (at 4 years old) - he is loved. She asks people to think seriously about adoption and what they can do - if not adopt themselves, donate to a family who is trying to bring their child home.

I don't know what to do with this, except to get it out, and to keep praying. I can donate, of course, and there are many places and ways to do so. Child sponsorship is another avenue.

So. If you have at least a million dollars to give away, and a heart for hurting kids, and want to donate to my cause... you know how to get a hold of me, right?

Seriously, though, be praying - not for me (or, not just for me), but for those kids. They need every prayer they can get. Love them through prayer if you can't do anything else. It matters, and it's powerful. Then, do what else you can.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Thinking Deeply: Purpose

In the last couple days I’ve come to the recognition/decision that I don’t spend enough time thinking anymore. Which is weird because I think a lot. I overthink, I plan, and I process things to death. I had a meeting with some of my colleagues on Tuesday, which has been followed by some interactions with articles shared by people from that meeting on a web based (for lack of a better term) chat we are doing together.

Typically, when I blog, I feel much better because I’ve taken the time to put into coherent words things that have been rolling around in my head for a while – several days at least. This time, it’s been only a day and a half since this thought process began. It’s been busy at work (as always) and to be honest I feel a bit guilty about spending time reading and thinking when I have tasks to do. But these thought times are what makes my mind work better, my decisions be faster and more accurate for situations, and begin me on the road to innovating better solutions so I can be more productive in my job and in my life. So it’s not actually a waste of time, even if I feel that way. (note to self…)

I have also been wrestling for about the last month with a large (and daunting) question: Am I really supposed to have a career as an admin? That’s where I’m headed, and I have many skills that make it seem like the right choice, but it is also very stressful to me, even in the best of times. So when you through curves (which of course happens everywhere, and always more frequently than I’d like) the stress just doubles and triples with hardly a backward glance. I honestly don't know if it is the right life-goal for me or not. It may be, but if it is, I have many things I need to learn (either really learn, or learn to cope with).

Part of the “problem” is that I’m too emotional. Word it how you like, but I don’t have the time right now to rethink that bit. I invest much of my emotional energy into everything (ok, 99% of what) I do. Due to this fact, I am almost always drained after work. Even if it was the best day ever, I am not energized, I am exhausted. That isn’t bad, but most people I interact with seem to be the opposite. When they accomplish something they could follow it up by running a marathon. I feel the exhilaration, but it takes it out of me. Yes, hello, my name is Kara, and I am indeed an introvert.

I have learned fairly well in my 33 years ways to counteract this, and how to cope (mostly, and so far at least, I’m quite sure there is much more to be learned). I go through phases of wishing I was more like “everybody” else (knowing that’s not actually accurate), and being super glad I am the way I am – after all, it’s how God made me.

That being said, I have started to try to analyze myself and whether or not I should have an administrative position. What is it that stresses me out? I can manage many tasks and prioritize them, and accomplish them in an appropriate amount of time. Everyone I’ve worked with or for up to this point (8 years so far in this field) has given me high praise for being high capacity and detail-oriented, which is very true. I tell people often in conversations regarding such things that I am not good at vision – coming up with the big picture. But if I am given the end goal, the picture you want to see, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, I can see most (if not all) of the pillars and detours and threats that hold up, detract from, or completely derail the train to get there. That is a really good thing, but it also frequently annoys the visionaries because it also points out inconsistencies or incomplete information in their dream. I love dreams. I have many. But mine get derailed faster because I see the issues and simply don’t start. Not good. Some I pursue, but I get overwhelmed and they get stalled.

Ok. So, when I take time to pick something apart, it can be really good or really unhelpful. However, being wired and being raised in a family who thinks deeply, widely, and frequently, I always feel most alive when I’m processing something that makes a difference – for my work/company, for people I care about, or for myself. Of course, that means I have to come up with a plan of action too, because thinking about stuff and never acting is exactly the definition of a stagnant life.

One article that was shared out of my colleague group this week began with a couple questions – right in the introduction:
"Will you join us on this journey of taking ownership of our lives rather than being victims to it? Will you become one of the people who do beautiful, amazing things with your life?"
What a punch. Right from the off.

Do I think of my life as just something that happens to me? I don’t think I’d say that, but I also clearly hate change while still understanding it is necessary and good. I choose change too! I chose to move to another state. I chose to start a new job. I chose to be an admin, at least for now. Often, smaller changes, like starting projects at home, or dying my hair feel much less heavy. My hair will grow, so if I don’t like it, time will give me another go. It’s just hair. My project at home may take longer, or may end up being abandoned, but it’s worth a try. But bigger changes feel more permanent. Why is that?

The article includes 5 principles, all written in sections. I believe they were blog posts to begin with so they were posted at least days apart if not a week or so. The first section/principle is literally this: “You were designed to change.” It’s about 2½ pages about the good of change, and why we feel we can’t do it, as well as some explanation that God created us that way. But.
“...nobody changes at all if they don’t believe they’re supposed to.
So here’s the question: Do you believe you were designed to change? And if so, what’s stopping you? I mean that literally. What’s stopping you from changing?”
I don’t have an answer to that yet. I am still ruminating. I keep finding more articles, on seemingly different topics, that are relating exactly to my mind and heart right now. I have more processing to do before I share more, (if I remember to do that), but I’m finding encouragement in those things right now. You can too.

For now, I will dedicate time each week, working up to each day, to spend time thinking. Some days I will also process by writing. Others, I won’t. My hope is that it helps me to keep learning and growing and to not lose sight of who I am and who I want to be by being weighed down in my day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. My calling is higher than getting through the work week. I’m thankful today for that realization.

Here are the articles currently rolling around together in my brain:

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Kara Views: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I’m trying something new today. Why? Because these movies are super long and it was the first time I’d seen it and I really didn’t want to write out what was happening along with my reactions/thoughts and bunches of pictures. So you get a few, and lots of thoughts. In order.(Obviously, spoilers abound.)

148 thoughts I had watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
  1. Didn’t expect the On Your Left jokes to start IMMEDIATELY. This means they won’t happen again for the whole flick and I thought it was a running gag… heh heh running gag…
  2. Sam Wilson: The Internet, so helpful. Hahahaha.
  3. Steve’s list is adorable.
  4. “I’m here to pick up a fossil” is the best line.
  5. Doesn’t ask the girl out cuz he knows she’ll say yes. Steve’s a good guy.
  6. No parachute. Steve’s also wicked cool.
  7. Ok… so he’s gonna take out everyone on the ship himself? I mean I guess he can’t get hurt very easily, so…
  8. Apparently Natasha is taking it on herself to get him a girl.
  9. She is also wicked cool.
  10. Who’s this guy? And how did Steve take out everyone else with like or 2 hits and now it takes an entire fight?
  11. And…. Steve looks like a puppy without his helmet.
  12. Epic music, as always. I love this stuff.
  13. “Agent Romanoff is comfortable with everything.” Awkward, Nick Fury. Awkward.
  14. What is all that stuff?? (SPoILErs for HUNGER GAMES) I feel like I did watching Hunger Games when Katniss discovers the weapons in 13.
  15. Name checking Stark. That’s nice.
  16. This time we’re way ahead of the curve.
  17. By holding a gun to everyone on earth and calling it protection.
  18. Cap definitely still wishes it was the 50s.
  19. Smithsonian, nice. Moment with the kid, nice.
  20. Aw, Bucky feels.
  21. AND Peggy feels?? NOT NICE, Marvel/Disney/filmmakers.
  22. PEGGY?!?! Ok, so does he go see her all the time? How did he find her? How long has this been going on? Aw, Peggy. OOOH she helped found SHEILD. Ok, nice to know. mmmm. MEAN she’s slipping…. SADNESS. Do Not Like.
  23. I’m so confused. Nick locked some file and he doesn’t know it? And he can’t get into it?? What?
  24. Hahahah ultimate fighting as an alternative for Cap is the best suggestion ever. Hilarious. Hhhahahhahahahahahahaha
  25. Nick’s car sounds weirdly like Jarvis. Ooh!
  26. WOAH why what the crap?? Nick being attacked is NOT THE BEST

  27. Must be nice to have a car that can drive itself to save you.
  28. “Well what’s not damaged?” Air conditioning fully operational. (Gee, thanks.)
  29. Ok well let’s just say now I understand how Fury got to be a director. He’s fantastic, fairly fearless, and very good at what he does.
  31. That’s “The Winter Soldier” right? It has to be. Yep. Dang. (Also, yes, I know it’s Bucky, who else could it be? Bucky feels followed super soon by face-obscured guy on the side of evil? Has to be Bucky. Stupid. I hate it.)
  32. Cap. Aw. Cute girl. Nat’s neighbor suggestion…
  33. He definitely didn’t leave his stereo on….
  34. Oh, phew, ok it’s Fury.
  35. Shield’s been compromised? Of course. Because this movie needs more stress.
  36. Ok I did not see that explosion coming. Fury doesn’t die, right? I can’t remember. I’ve seen the next 2 movies (Guardians and Avengers: Ultron, but can’t remember Fury in them?!? So I can’t recall if he’s alive?)
  37. SHE’s AN AGENT??? And we’re supposed to trust ANYONE but sure let’s leave dying Fury with this “Agent” chick you JUST found out about to chase the shooter (Winter Solider/Bucky) in STREET CLOTHES? Good idea, Steve. Oh wait, NO.
  38. Where’d his shield come from??
  39. Natasha has feelings. Woah.
  40. This shooter is fast and strong. Had a metal arm. Hmmm, I bet I know who that is…

  41. Agent Hill! Aw, sorry for the circumstances, but it’s nice to see you, Robin! (She’ll always be Robin to me.)
  42. Ok he died. BOO. So, like Coulson, then?
  43. And what in the wORLD is on that jump drive??
  44. Yes, he is, Natasha. Steve cannot tell a lie. That’s why we love him.
  45. Ok he put the thing in the vending machine….somehow I don’t think that’s safe?
  46. Nick bugged Steve’s apartment. Of course. I feel like I should see this stuff coming. Nick is now suspected (or not?) of piracy? Of selling secrets?
  47. OK is THIS GUY the sneak? The Council guy? (Pierce, yes, that’s his name.) Ok well he seems to be serious about finding out who murdered his friend (Nick) so…. But I don’t trust him…
  48. This agent/soldier guy in the elevator. I don’t like him, I don’t trust him. The one who brought him back to headquarters. No trust here. Ew. RIGHLY SO. He’s grabbing his gun…. I’m getting nervous. We stop at every floor and more get on. SO MANY PEOPLE. NOOOO I DON’T LIKE IT. They’re gonna hurt him.
  50. I KNEW IT.
  51. Good thing Steve is so fantastic.
  52. This guy (glasses man) watching on the screen. Is he bad? Soldier man says it’s not personal. Not personal? How is that even possible?
  53. “It kinda feels personal.” (Good answer Cap.)
  54. And now everyone’s attacking Cap? WhAT??
  55. RUN CAP RUN.
  56. Is literally ALL of SHEILD is corrupt? Except maybe Coulson’s group and the Avengers?? What in the world. No. Stop.
  57. Neighbor girl is there. That guy with the glasses who’s telling everyone to hunt Steve was saved on the pirate ship. Grr.
  58. I KNEW IT! He’s a bad guy! The Councilman Pierce is a bad guy! I HATE THIS MOVIE.
  59. Steve is at the hospital. How does he look good even with a hoodie pulled over his head?
  60. Natasha has the jump drive. It’s “safe” oh good. She knows about the Winter Soldier because he shot her. Great. 50 years… does she suspect someone Steve knows?
  61. Ok Natasha and Steve is becoming my favorite pair ever.
  62. “If I run in these shoes they’ll fall off” hahahaha
  63. “The person who developed this is slightly smarter than me. Slightly.” Yeah ok we get it Natasha. Calm down.

  64. The Apple Guy is my favorite. “If you guys need anything, I’ve been Aaron.”
  65. In a mall. Haha… the kiss is adorable even if it was just saving them from being seen.
  66. Steve: “I’m 95. I’m not dead.” (Hahaha)
  67. Natasha: “The file came from these coordinates.”
    Cap: “So did I.” (Like I wasn’t nervous enough before…)
  68. Oh my word it’s the beginning of Shield. It looks like an empty Agent Carter set.
  69. Nat: “Who’s the girl?” (It’s Peggy, Nat. Don’t ask stupid questions. How does she not know about her?)
  70. “If you’re already working in a secret office… why do you need to hide the elevator?” GOOD Question STEVE.
  71. So I don’t want to watch this anymore. It’s too stressful….
  72. OLD tech….But everything started up when she put the drive into the one piece of hardware that looks newer….?
  73. “Shall we play a game?” Nat smirks. Steve looks as nervous as I feel. (Also, should I get that reference?? Apparently I’m as old as Cap.)
  74. Ooh Toby Jones!
  75. Ooh, he’s terrifying. Forgot about that.
  76. Great. Hydra INSIDE SHIELD.
  77. Hydra killed Stark (Howard)? And obviously Fury too. Now Pierce and Project Insight and Hydra are taking over. Great.
  78. Was Nat screaming?
  79. Oh good job with the shield Cap. Thank you for not being dead and for saving (?) Nat. She better not be dead.
  80. Holy crap. Hide!
  81. Is that agent/soldier guy the head of like ALL Hydra missions now?
  82. “Call in the Asset.” Gee, I wonder who that could be.

  83. Now that I’ve been watching this move for like FOUR THOUSAND HOURS Bucky is finally gonna actually show up…. For more than four seconds in profile and quick shots.
  84. Who’s in Pierces’ house? PLEASE TELL ME IT’S Fury and he’s gonna kill … nope, can’t be Nick, Pierce is being friendly.
  85. AH. Bucky. Of course. He doesn't talk?
  86. Poor Renata. :( I hate Pierce.
  87. Steve: “We need a place to lay low.”
    Nat: “otherwise known as everyone we know is trying to kill us.”
  88. Poor Nat. Trading the KGB for Hydra, yeah that’s not really a good thing.
  89. Cap trusts Natasha. Yay. He’s always honest. I definitely like him more and more even if this movie is too stressful.
  90. He died? When? The ice thing? I mean, yes, sleeping for 70 years isn’t really living, but was he actually dead? Cuz of the superhuman thing? Or in hypersleep like the Star Trek baddie?
  91. Sam: “I made breakfast. If you guys eat that sorta thing.” (hhahaa)
  92. Who’s Jasper Sitwell?
  93. Sam, he’s…someone. He’s um… FALcoN YeS That’s IT! Maybe he can help now.
  94. Oh, Jasper Sitwell’s the glasses guy from the Pirate ship, the one who launched the man hunt for Steve, is Hydra, and reports to Pierce.
  95. And Nat’s still setting Steve up with every eligible girl.
  96. Name Check: STEVEN STRANGE!?!?!? (Did I hear that right? Nice and early, guys.)
  97. Who’s ZOLA?? (oh right, Toby Jones, computer man.)
  98. Finally: BUCKY. I mean…. Finally: THE WINTER SOLDIER.
  99. Such a saunter. What swagger you have, Bucky.
  100. Cap is a beast. And fearless. And impressive.

  102. Bucky could be if he wasn’t evil. Poor Bucky. Poor CAP…
  103. YEAH NAT. Something wrong with your arm Bucky? Oh no! Nat! NO!!
  105. Hand to hand with cap and Bucky. Bucky is definitely a machine. In more ways than one apparently.
  106. The mask is gone; Steve sees Bucky’s face. “Bucky?” MY HEART.
  107. “Who the hell is Bucky?” is the worst sentence ever uttered.
  108. Hydra is all here. Great.
  109. Steve’s face. So much emotion.
  110. Steve: “Even when I had nothing I had Bucky.” (*SOB*)
  111. “This thing was squeezing my brain.” Oh Robin Agent Hill, you’re so funny.
  112. YEAH FURY
  113. About stinkin’ time. Nice way to say hello.
  114. Bucky’s memory… poor Bucky. And he’s kept in a cage. You guys are great.
  115. Yeah hit the guy who can squeeze you to death right now. Smart. He’s brainwashed. And lied to. Lovely. I understand now why there’s a Bucky fandom.
  116. Haha, nice try liars. Freedom is exactly what Hydra doesn’t want.
  117. Wipe him and start over? Not cool. And he just goes with it. Oh man. How do they all live with themselves? How do they sleep at night?
  118. Falcon: “Don’t look at me. I do what he [Steve] does, just slower.” (Haha.)
  119. Pierce is gonna kill all the council people. I have a feeling. That’s the attempt at least.
  121. Pierce is gonna kill the council people. I TOLD YOU.
  122. Strike and Insight crew are hydra. Don’t know who else.

  123. YEAH councilwoman who can fight. Fantastic. OOhh, its Nat! NICE.
  124. “Detour” is a nice way to say you’re being chased by bombs and planes shooting at you. Oh, Falcon.
  125. I was wondering when Bucky would show up again. For a movie named after him, he hasn’t been in it much.
  126. That’s one heck of a return, Fury. Nicely done.
  127. From that jump, I think it’s safe to say Cap trusts Sam.
  129. Hydra head soldier: “There are no prisoners through Hydra only order. And order only comes through pain. You ready for yours?”
    Falcon: “Man, shut up.”
    (YES. Thank you.)
  131. He’s so brave, so selfless.
    Cap: “Do it. Do it now!”
    Hill: “But Steve…”
    Cap: “Do it!”
  132. Back to Pierce. UGH.
  133. Good job Nat. Please don’t be dead. Ok thanks.
  134. All those Hydra people are legit CRAZY.
  135. And Steve, who was shot so he’s gonna die BY BUCKY is trying to save Bucky. Of course. Cuz he’s that good.
  136. Nice catch-on Sam. Now go get Steve.
  138. James Buchanan Barnes :(((((
  139. Drop your shield. Good idea NOT REALLY
  140. “I’m with ya to the end of the line.” Yeah. You know him. (*MORE SOB*)
  141. THEY HAD BETTER CATCH CAP. NO, of course, back to the water. Just like the first time he died.
  142. Somebody save him. And save Bucky dang it.
  143. Not liking this movie right now even though yes, I know Cap’s ok in the end.
  144. Oh Bucky saved him by dragging him out of the water. And then leaving.
  145. Where ya going Buck?
  146. Steve wakes up in the hospital. I think Sam’s his new bestie.
  147. Sam: “On your left.” Nice.
  148. Bucky’s file. Aw, I love that Sam’s going with Steve. Good. Glad he won’t be alone as he “goes after” Bucky.

Bonus: 3 thoughts I had watching the Credits scene:
  1. LOKI’s Staff….. ???
  2. I thought Loki got that back?
  3. Those poor twins. They’re gonna be brainwashed like Bucky. Well not exactly like, but you know. Not good.

Extra bonus: 3 thoughts I had watching the After credits scene:
  1. Jerks.
  2. So many Bucky feels….now with Bucky! (*SOB*)
  3. Nice beard. Looks good on ya.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Relationships and Change are Hard

This has been an interesting few days. I've been mulling some thoughts around since Thursday or Friday night last week, but today, during a staff prayer time, it was broadened a bit, but not in the usual way. More like, um, broadened in my mind. Much of the same, but more. That doesn't make much sense, but there you have it.

So. Over the weekend I had conversations with several friends unexpectedly about deeper things. Things that we feel "weird" about, things we are struggling with, things that are making day-to-day life harder than we think it should be. It was a wide range of topics and ranged from our professional to personal lives, as well as our external to our internal lives. The outcome of each was that we would be committed to praying each other through this week. (Thank the good Lord for Christian friends.)

On to today: I don't go to the prayer time every week (though I often wish I could find the time), but some weeks I can tell I need extra time in prayer - not for myself, but for others, and for the fellowship of other believers. And since I'm still fairly new (less than a year, yet) at this job and in this city, these are people I see around (some more than others) but don't necessarily interact with much, and especially not outside of work projects. Today, we talked about navigating times of grief and knowing and trusting that God is still good. Because he is. He really is. It's too easy to lose track of that when you're hurting. Duh. (Yes, I'm typing that.)

Sometimes grief is due to loss of life (in one way or another) - death of a loved one, or even disaster in a city or country. There are SO MANY stories in the news these days about explosions, murders, sex trafficking, lack of clean water, starvation, orphaned children, and the list just keeps going on. But today what struck me was that sometimes the grief we experience is due to smaller things. Things like finances, or relationships, or loneliness, or an overly full task list.

When we see these things in light of the catastrophes around the world, we often push our "little" things away as they aren't really that big of a deal. I'm alive, I have clean water and plenty of food, I have not been sold to slavery of any kind, I have people to lean on, and I am not afraid for my life every moment of the day. But even when we try to put these things into perspective (which is important), we still come out hurting. And sometimes, we push it down well enough that later it erupts and is (or feels) even worse than before.

I don't have a solution, except this: to pray. Pray for one another. Pray honestly, pray often. If you don't know details, that's ok. Pray for the person. Pray for peace, for dependence on God. You can pray that for anyone - a Christian to remember to do so; an unbeliever to turn to him, maybe for the first time. If you do know more details, pray specifically! Boldly ask God for things. Don't forget to pray for yourself as well. It is easy to get hung up there, so always remember to pray for others, but it is important to lift yourself up as well. It builds relationship with him, which is how we really are able to get through. It also helps your relationships with those around you. When you pray for someone it changes your perspective about them. It doesn't fix issues magically, and it may not mean you're besties-for-life now. In fact, you may never talk to them again (see: forgiveness doesn't mean you have to reconcile the relationship to what it was previously). But it does make things better for both of you, even if one of you doesn't know it (yet?).

And... pray for those you don't agree with, for those you don't respect, for those you don't like. If they are in your sphere of influence or interaction, even a little bit, pray for them. Rather than just getting irritated or confused or frustrated, pray! It will take more than that, of course, and you may still have frustration or confusion; conversations will need to happen and solutions found - even if they aren't what everyone wants. But without prayer it becomes 'my way' vs. 'their way' and we pit ourselves against each other when, in the end, we're trying to reach the same goal. (This is often true even if we aren't all Christians - if we're working together, there's a reason, and it usually has some common purpose even if we understand that purpose differently.) So keep on praying!

One more thought and then I'll stop... each time I encounter grief of any kind, a change has occurred. Or many changes have. Even if it is good, and it isn't always, something has been lost. I have found that even when it was something I may have wanted to lose, the loss of it is still jarring to my internal system/thinking and an adjustment has to be made - I grieve what I knew. That idea of grief is fairly new in my working consciousness, and I struggle to not just dismiss it. "I wanted this, what's wrong with me," is often what I hear myself or others saying when good change has happened and they aren't doing well with it. Of course, this is true in unexpected change or changes you weren't entirely sure about as well.

Don't underestimate your struggle. Don't overestimate it either. It's tempting to go one way or the other. Don't diminish, but do keep perspective. Most importantly: do keep praying.

This post is much (MUCH) longer than I anticipated. The following verse is my current email signature on my personal emails. Every time I send an email I'm reminded. I have it posted by my desk at work as well. Romans 12:12NLT says, "Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying." It's the best advice there is. Our confident hope is in Jesus Christ. He has won, so we can rely on him, talk to him, and have patience and yes, even joy.