Friday, December 28, 2012

What Duck Dynasty Taught Me About Men.

I've fallen in love.....with Duck Dynasty. Why have I not watched this before?? Ok, well, that would be because I live on the West Coast and don't have cable, but thankfully my good friend Jess and her lovely parents took me in and introduced me to this gem. I was in love within the first five minutes. First of all, their beards are ridiculously awesome. I'm not a fan of facial hair but I must say that anyone would be impressed with those beauties. Second of all, though they are totally crazy, there is something seriously attractive about a country man. The camo, the gun shooting, the mud and four There is a confidence in those men as they take charge, shoot beavers, and come together to pray over a family meal. Call me crazy, but I will just go ahead and say it, something about those guys is genuinely attractive, past the kind-of-gross-but-impressive beards.

Therefore, being such a sophisticated and intelligent show, it led me and my delightful friend to contemplate men (a worthy and interesting contemplation). There are a lot of good things I could say about men, but what she and I lamented were the lack of strong men in our generation. I know the days of Beaver Cleaver are gone, and I am all for women being strong and independent (just look at my life), but I think that some men have forgotten what it means to be a real man. In my generation there aren't many boundaries. Trust me I would know, seeing as I basically asked out my first boyfriend. I think that in the midst of Facebook, texting, and skyping in your pajamas, my generation has forgotten what it means to step up to the plate, not just in dating, but in professional situations too. We have forgotten how to be respectful, how to have manners, and I think a lot of guys have forgotten how to pursue a woman with honor and integrity. We are slowly losing the ability to be professional, to carry ourselves with poise and grace, and to be strong leaders. And it is resulting in strong women and no men to match them.

People ask why I haven't dated much in my life, and the answer is that I am looking for a man who can lead me both spiritually and in everyday life. I am looking for a man willing to pursue me, a man who has plans for his life and who is willing to take the steps to get there. To be honest, I have met very few of those kinds of men. Of course I won't bitterly generalize that my whole generation is full of men that need to step up. I have known and still know some fabulous and amazing men who are great examples of what a godly man should be. But being the brutally honest person that I am, I feel it necessary to call it as I see it. My generation needs more men, willing to provide for a family, willing to step up and ask a girl out on a date, or pay for her lunch even if it isn't a date. The world needs more gentlemen who know how to respect a woman while not putting her down as weaker or incapable. Some may say I am a contradiction, wanting to be seen as strong and capable yet expecting men to open up the door, but I see it is as the perfect middle. I believe that men can respect and honor a woman by acts of service while also respecting her intelligence, her ability, and her character.

And all of this comes from watching 3 episodes of a show about a family who created a duck call. The things you learn in the South.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Home for the Holidays

Mmm the sweet joys of being at home. Annoying my brother on purpose, pretending someone else will clean up my dirty dishes, having someone else cook the food... joy, sweet joy. It makes me want to stay forever...although I know in a week I might be singing a different tune. Isn't that the bittersweet joy of short times with people we love. We leave right before they start to annoy us and so we enjoy (most of) the minutes that we have with them. And I love how Christmas brings everyone home! All my little chickies from over the years at church, and all of my amazing college friends from around Atlanta. It is a great time for relationships, which makes sense because Jesus was all about relationships.

So I would say this Christmas season is a grand success. Sure, there are things I wish were different, or people I wish were here, but as always the joy and goodness of my life outweighs the little inconveniences. I can never say that I haven't been blessed, that is for sure.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Another post about Christmas, tis the season!

I've been thinking about Christmas a lot lately, which makes sense because we only have a week before Christmas. It sounds cliche, but this is definitely my favorite time of year. I love the traditions and being with family, all of it is so cozy. But this year, I've been thinking about Christmas a little differently. This year Christmas isn't just a happy bubble of cozy for me. I can't stop thinking about the Newtown tragedy and all the other tragedies that happen everyday, all over the world. And I have been thinking constantly about my close friend Kyle who is spending this Christmas in Afghanistan, in the midst of war and death, far from those he loves. I think about the homeless and the woman I met at church who lives in the shelter. I think about the kids in the world who will go to bed hungry, or who will die from preventable illnesses. I don't mean to be a downer, but I don't think that I can just pretend all of this isn't happening as I celebrate one of the most important days of the year. But don't stop reading now, this post has a happy ending...

I know why we celebrate Christmas but sometimes I think we all need to be reminded. We need to be given a chance to see beyond the lights and trees, and steamy cocoa cups. So here it is.

I have come to realize this week that all the crap in this world, all the negative things, are actually the reason why we celebrate Christmas. As I go to bed praying for Newtown, praying for Kyle, and all those suffering this Christmas, I realize that Christmas is the answer to all of these prayers. (Ok, the answer is Jesus but that has to do with Christmas). It is the birth of Jesus Christ that answers all of the crap. Jesus Christ, God himself, came to this earth to redeem a fallen and broken world. And when he was born, hope was renewed. New life was born, not just in the life of a baby, but in the life of the world. Because of Jesus we have hope that this is not the end, that this is not all there is. We have hope that one day Christ will return and He will make all things right.

Partly I am asking you (and reminding myself!) not to forget about others this Christmas. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day let's pray for our soldiers and Marines that are overseas. Let's pray for the families who have lost dear children, and for the many people in the US and abroad that will not have families or resources to celebrate with. But also, let's be reminded that in the midst of war, death, and tragedy we should celebrate Christmas even more fervently then before. We should have more joy than ever before because next week we celebrate the one thing that changes everything. Next week we celebrate the only thing that will get us through.

I guess Christmas has a whole lot of meaning for me this year, outside of the cliches. And tonight, as I fly home on a red eye flight, I will praise God for all of the people who have helped me to make sense of this world and who have led me toward the truth of the holidays. I have much to be grateful for, and I know that this year in particular I will not take any of it for granted. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Finding Hope in Midst of a Tragedy

Tonight I am so very sad. I sit here feeling as if my heart has been ripped out. I am angry, frustrated, and above all completely full of sorrow. I didn’t even hear about all of this until a few hours ago. I don’t have internet in my apartment and I was at work today, so when I went to a Christmas party for some people at church I hadn’t heard about the tragedy. And I don’t know the families involved in today’s shooting, but now that I know what happened my heart just feels so heavy. To kill anyone is atrocious. To kill children is a terrible terrible sin. I just keep thinking of the moms who sent their little ones to school and who are now going to bed in the midst of the worst tragedy they could imagine. It makes me just want to scream. I want to scream, “God why didn’t you stop this!?” “God, why won’t you just return and end this, end this sin and this terrible world!?” 

And as I cry for the families I do not know, I see a picture of God in my mind, the kind He gives me in moments when I don’t understand. He looks right at me and I see His face, a face full of tears. I can see God weeping for these children, holding them close to His chest and crying for what happened today. I know, in the depths of my heavy heart, that He too is angry and heartbroken for the destruction, because He never intended for this to happen. He never wanted people to feel the pain they feel tonight. He knows the pain of losing a child, because on the cross, for that moment, He lost His. He knows the atrocity and power of evil and He hates it more than any of us. There is evil in this world and because God has graciously given us free will, because He loves us enough to let us choose, evil sometimes wins. Evil sometimes get its way. And as angry as I am, I know that God is angrier. I know that one day He will return and bring justice and vengeance. He will heal the broken hearts and He will restore the broken lives. I know, in the midst of this terror and tragedy, that it did not happen for a reason. It happened in contradiction to God’s will. It happened because the evil one prowls like a lion, waiting to devour us. And the work of Satan, when he goes so far as to lead someone to kill children, makes me sick. I can do nothing but praise God that this crap is not all there is. I can do nothing but pray that He will help these families to not lose hope. I can do nothing but cry for this broken world, and find rest in the hope that one day God will restore it all, that one day His will will be done.

You know, I almost like being unaware. In the silence, in the lack of information, I can believe that the world is good and that the season is happy. To tell you the truth, when the people at the party explained to me what happened, I almost wished I could return to ignorance. Because the reality is that the world is not good, and for more than twenty families out there it will be a very long time before this season will be happy again. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Feeling of Christmas (and how I pretend my life to be)

Tonight as I left work and walked into the dark a cold drop of water fell on my nose. The air itself was chilly (for California at least) and though I was only wearing a light jacket (and no socks), I let myself believe that it was snow. It made sense for it to be snow, even though I knew that was impossible, because I was looking at Christmas lights and I was scrunched up against a chilly wind. Believing that there were tiny flakes falling all around made me feel like the holidays were real and the feeling of Christmas was in the air. 

Christmas break for me means that school is over (for now), I’m officially moved into my third apartment in less than two years, and most of my to-do list is crossed off. I will admit that the new apartment is adorable and feels like my own tiny home, but it also makes me want to be like a tv commercial. Feeling independent I want to go home to Georgia with my arms full of perfectly wrapped and thoughtful presents, wearing an adorably sophisticated scarf and winter hat combo. In this dream world I would look perfectly presentable and grown-up and have that “I’m home from my wonderfully-put-together-adult life from afar” glow of Christmas homecomings. Perhaps there would be a group hug and my brother suggesting we go caroling in there somewhere too. 

Though this is nowhere near what will really happen, I think the feeling will still be similar to that of the dream world. I will be going home in sweatpants with a small suitcase in tow, but I will be going home for Christmas. Though the presents will be small there will be the joy of being together, shopping for the perfect gifts, and doing all of our Christmas traditions. In my heart it will have the sophisticated look of that tv commercial, even if it isn’t reality, because this is my favorite time of year. Going home for Christmas will be like the snow rain I felt leaving work tonight. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t perfect snow, the rain was just as delightful because when I closed my eyes I could count my blessings. With my eyes closed it was just as beautiful as any picturesque Christmas postcard because it was the atmosphere that mattered, not the details. It was the feeling of Christmas that made me excited, and if the feeling of Christmas means I get to be with those I love most in just a few short days then I am one happy traveler, even without the adorable hat-scarf combo. 

Simply being home with family and friends is all I really need. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dear finals week, I truly dislike you.

Well, my finals are finished. Its been a crazy week of unwashed clothes, strange meals, and people on campus looking seriously haggard, but all I have left is one quick revision and a trip to slip my (hopefully well-written) paper under my professor's office door. It has definitely been the most stressful, crazy finals week of my life and I don't say that lightly. Never have I worked so hard and so long on anything, in fact I don't even want to count the hours I spent on this paper! It has to be in the hundreds! Honestly the reason I worked so hard was because I want my professor to be proud of me and proud of my work. My professor is one of the most gracious and kind grandpa-sort of men and his class was such a joy.  (This was the class where I was the only girl, asserting my awesomeness and knowledge in a class of boys, half of whom are getting their doctorates in church history.) In truth, I am really going to miss this seminar. Ok, I am not going to miss the insane workload or the works of Jurgen Moltmann, but I will miss getting to dive into seriously intellectual conversations for three hours each week. It was such fun...well, mostly.

So, you ask, whats next for me? Well, on Monday I plan on spending the entire day in my pajamas, watching movies, and eating macaroni and cheese. Then its a week of work, babysitting, Christmas performances with the orchestra at church, and perhaps some cookie baking. Then, surprise! I am coming home again. Hopefully on this trip I will get to count all my blessings and spend time with many beautiful and amazing people that I get to call friends. 

And for right now? Well, I am going to sleep, feeling much more calm and confident. 

Good-bye finals week, I won't miss you. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Finals, soaked in stress and self-pity.

I'm stuck in the middle of a stressed-out, overly tired, pity party this week. The amount of quality research and pages I have to churn out in the next few days combined with moving apartments next friday, the life changes of all my friends, and a general desire to just pity myself in sweatpants instead of acting like a grown-up have all combined to make me a mess of a human being.

So prayers are appreciated, that I will survive the next five days without a breakdown and that I will remember to eat meals while spending endless hours in the life-sucking quiet of the library.

And maybe, at the other end of this ridiculous week, I will present you with some positive insightful reflections. But not now. Now there is no time for that. Duty calls and I must put on my academic thinking cap and search for the light at the end of this disastrous finals week tunnel.