Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lagniappe February 28, 2015

  • Even though I spent January in South Florida, I'm still getting tired of this cold weather. Something is not right when you start to thing that double digits is "pretty warm"!!
  • Wild Man's kitten, Rory, gets declawed and spayed tomorrow. I'm pretty glad about the declawing part. Rory has not been destroying furniture, but she has been using her claws to terrorize Sophie (Rosie Girl's cat).
  • I'm missing homeschooling (more on that another time). I'm not missing the schooling as much as the "home" part. Wild Man is gone all day for school, then practice and/or work after school. Patrick, Wild Man and I went out for dinner Thursday night just because we had an evening together.
  • It's getting to be that time again. Yep, Botox! The countdown has begun. We're at 8 days right now, and my head is feeling it.
  • I just finished reading The Rosie Effect. The main character is a very organized, obsessive-type university professor. The story takes place in Australia, so all the characters have Australian accents in my head except for the main character. He sounds like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.
  • I started making beer-cheese soup on Tuesday, but it separated on me. Ick! I'll probably try again tomorrow or Monday.
  • Monday is Parent-Teacher day at the high school. PWM will be working all day, of course, but Wild Man likes me to come in and talk to his teachers. Last time, I had a migraine and only was able to talk to a few teachers. Here's praying for a better time this week. (And, isn't it cool that Wild Man likes me to come in to talk to his teachers??)
  • I've been meditating on worry and Matthew 6:25-34. More on that in another post.
So, what's up with you?

Monday, February 23, 2015

On Being Good (Enough)

I'm prompted to write today because of something that was written on Facebook that I think was intended to encourage fellow Christians to live lives of obedience to Christ. Sadly, it didn't come across to me that way. Maybe it's because of my years in Evangelicalism. Maybe it's my own tendencies to try to "earn" my way in life. This post is part of my trying to work that out in my own head.

I grew up in the heart of Evangelicalism - Southern Baptist churches. "Salvation by faith alone" was pounded into our heads from the time we could sit up in our Sunday School classes. We all memorized John 3:16 as soon as we could talk. Oh, and Bible Drills. These weren't just to to learn to look up verses. We also memorized verses - ripped right out of context (one of my pet peeves) - and learned to look them up quickly. "For by grace you have been saved", "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God", "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  By the time I was a teenager, I had heard so many sermons and Bible studies on Romans that I had a pretty good handle on that fact that our eternal salvation (to heaven) and our abundant life on earth are due to Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection and not due to anything I have done or could do.

But . . . but . . . but . . . At the same time, we were also taught something that Michael Spencer called "wretched urgency": the need to DO things for God now! As a teenager, it was generally phrased as "being sold-out for God" or something along those lines. We were encouraged to make sure that everyone at school knew about our faith and then be prepared for persecution. (All my friends knew about my faith and none of them persecuted me. I must have done something wrong.) We were told that we could be the difference between our friends' eternal destination being heaven or hell. A number of my friends initially planned careers in the ministry because of this "wretched urgency". They didn't all stay there. Another example: Only Christian music is good; all other music is terrible. Listening to anything but Christian music will ruin your witness for Jesus.

This continued into adulthood and continues even now. We have books like Radical by David Platt. And the number of books for Christian women that tell us how to be The Proverbs 31 Woman would fill a library. And they are all books telling Christians to be more committed. More holy. Work harder.

We are told that we are saved by faith, but somehow, we still have to work hard to make God happy. In this worldview, we got saved, but God needs us to do more. And if we want the world to know that we are good Christians, by golly, we need to show them by how good we are!

And there's plenty of scripture to support good works. After all, God does want us to be holy. Jesus' teaching is filled with examples of teaching us how to act. Paul's letters contain many instructions to the churches on how the members can behave in a more godly fashion. The book of James teaches us that faith without works is dead. In fact, it is said that Martin Luther questioned whether the book of James should be in the canon because of it's emphasis on works. Indeed, James and Romans seem to be saying almost opposite things at times.

So, there I was in my mid-30s, overwhelmed with life, and overwhelmed with being a good Christian. Then I came across a verse that I had read a million times, but suddenly stood out to me. 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 This verse comes right after Jesus reveals himself to be God, which is significant because he's making it clear that it is God himself who is offering to take our burdens. So, Jesus is saying that he will give us rest. This Christian life that was so hard to live. is supposed to be easier. In Ephesians 3:10, Paul says, "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Jesus doesn't want us to be struggling under this guilt of "doing more" for God. God already knows what he wants us to do; we can relax and just live our lives and pray for guidance. And Jesus takes our burdens. How cool is that? It's hard to learn, but it's real. Somewhere along the way, I had missed this. I heard the work harder part, but missed the "rest for your soul" part. And my soul needed rest.

One of the other things that I'm learning is John 15:1-17: abiding in Christ. I don't completely understand it and I certainly haven't learned to practice it well, but I think it's the key to getting away from the "wretched urgency" mindset and finding peace. When I can really abide in Christ, then I can be confident that the "works" that I'm doing are enough. There's no guilt about whether I should participate in this or that ministry or activity. Jesus gives me the grace I need for each day. And when I'm at the judgement, all I can ask is that he says, "Well done, good and faithful servant."


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lagniappe Feb 21, 2015

Here's just some random stuff from this week

  • We watched "The Theory of Everything" tonight. Overall, it was a good movie.  I'm always sad to see a marriage fail, so that wasn't good. It's amazing, though, that he has lived with some variant of ALS for about 50 years. Granted, he's down to one cheek muscle for communication. Without modern technology, he wouldn't be alive, much the less communicating. I'd recommend that you take the time to see the movie.
  • I'm reading The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. The main character is very much like Sheldon on "The Big Bang Theory", so that's whose voice I hear as I read (the book is written in first person). However, the book is set in Australia, so the  characters should all have Australian accents. In my head everyone has Australian accents except the main character who has a mild Texas accent. Yes, it's strange.
  • A couple that I know just adopted an adorable little girl this week!! They signed papers today and put pictures on Facebook. I'm so excited every time another couple I know starts this exciting journey of parenthood!
  • Did you see the SNL 40th anniversary show? It was pretty funny. What was really bad, though, was that PWM and I told Wild Man that it was Jimmy Fallon and Dana Carvey that did Wayne's World. We had to admit we were wrong later this week and tell him that it was Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. Oops. Bad parent moment.
So, how was your week. Find me on Goodreads and see what I've been reading. Friend me so I can get some new book ideas. I can't knit all the time!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mardi Gras and my Appendix (or the lack thereof)

I love Mardi Gras! Not that we actually do much celebrating of Mardi Gras up here in The Great White North. But, I spent 5 years at LSU in Baton Rouge and 4 years at Tulane Med School in New Orleans, so I got to experience true South Louisiana Mardi Gras 9 times. And I still miss it, even after 20+ years!

One of those 9 years I don't miss, though. In 1993, my junior year of medical school, PWM and I were going to have a party on Lundi Gras, the day before Mardi Gras. We lived in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans, just a block from Veterans Avenue, so we planned to have people come over for dinner and then we would go see a parade. On Saturday, I went grocery shopping then came home. Soon after that, the trouble started.

I started having a stomach ache and nausea like I'd never had before, so I had PWM take me to the hospital. Since I was a Tulane student, you'd think I would have gone to Tulane Hospital. No. Not only was Tulane Hospital downtown where there was more traffic and the downtown parades, but there were Tulane residents. (The students were off rotation until after Mardi Gras.) I had a bad feeling about what was going on and I didn't want to be in the hospital where Tulane residents (and maybe students) would be on my care team. So, we went to Oschner Hospital.

After a short wait in the waiting room, too many visits by various levels of residents, and too long a wait for an attending surgeon, they finally all agreed that I had appendicitis. By this time, I was pretty sure I had appendicitis, too, and I was ready for a bed, some pain meds, and for everyone to quit mashing on my belly!!

The next morning, instead of going to church and then more parades, I had my appendix out. I was fortunate enough to get sent home that night, but I missed out on all the fun parades. Our apartment was close enough to Veterans that we could hear all kinds of partying going on that Monday and Tuesday. As it was, I was just hanging out and recovering.

I made it back to  school on Wednesday because medical students work unless they are dead. My attending threatened to ask for a pathology report, although I don't know why since I showed up and didn't ask for the day off. My resident, though, felt sorry for me and let me go early that day.

Despite this one bad Mardi Gras experience, I miss being around South Louisiana for Mardi Gras weekend. 

What's your favorite part of Mardi Gras? 

Monday, February 16, 2015

2015 Word of the Year

So, blogs are going out of fashion, I guess. Which means that I'll start writing on mine again.

It's the middle of February, so I've decided my word for the year. It's FOCUS. I have been really scattered the last few years and devoted energy to all kinds of unrelated things and haven't been very productive at any of theme. This year, I want to be more focused.

1. Focus on the spiritual - Love. How can I love the people I come in contact with in very practical ways? Reading scripture and walking with Jesus.

2. Focus on taking care of myself - I can't get so scattered that I don't do my meditation, yoga, and other self-care. Chronic migraine is a nasty disease and it already takes away too much of my life. I have to take care of myself to take care of other people.

3. Focus on my family - We're not homeschooling and Patrick is teaching, so our family dynamics are very different. I'm trying to focus on keeping a simple and clean home without lots of extraneous projects.

4. Focus on The Knitting Nest - We have an employee who keeps the doors to the shop open, but I need to focus my knitting time on building our business.

This doesn't mean that I'm going to try to work harder or do more things. In fact, I want to do fewer things. I want to do the right things. So, I'll always think about whether an activity is part of my focus and whether it's a good use of time.

How are you approaching 2015? What has worked so far for you this year?