Describe Yourself in 3 Fictional Characters

So there is this thing going around Facebook.  It was harder than I thought it would be, because I figured out that the characters I thought of first were actually characters I wish I were like, rather than characters that are really true to me.  So I did some extra thinking and came up with these 3.

3-fictional-characters

#1. Mandy from Julie Edwards’book by the same name.  It’s a wonderful story about an orphan girl who makes a secret garden out of loneliness.  Later she gets adopted.  But I can so relate to running away to create beauty somewhere in a secret place.

#2. Miss Honey from Matilda.  My husband originally said I should be Matilda, but I am waaaaaay more similar to Miss Honey!  I am quiet.  I don’t give my opinion readily, and if I do, it’s sometimes apologetically.  But I really love people and try to believe the best of them first.

#3. This is Elinor from Sense and Sensibility.  I love this movie.  Elinor holds her feelings so closely to her.  But in the end when she finally gets her dream, she is completely overcome with emotions, and I think she even STILL even tries to hide them.  That is me all over.

3-fictional-characters-i-wish-i-was

Now on to the girls I thought of that I wish I were more like!

#1. Sara Crewe from A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  She was actually the first person I thought of when thinking of characters I love.  I wish, wish, wish I could dream beauty into everything the way she does.

#2. Danielle from Ever After.  I wish I were as well-spoken and as confident as she is!

#2. Anastasia.  I actually like her for the same reason I like Danielle.  Strength, grace, dignity, and confidence just come naturally to her, even when she’s only Anya the Orphan.

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Don’t Push That Button

Sometimes in parenting there are times when you want to laugh and cry at exactly the same time.
Today I put my Pandora DC Talk station on our TV because it was just too quiet and I needed some feel-good music to listen to. I went across the kitchen to the laundry room to put in a load while Micah played in the living room. I can hear “Into Jesus” playing quietly, when suddenly…
I mean DEAFENING. Shake-the-walls loud. Call-the-cops loud.
I go flying across the kitchen, scared out of my skin and prepared to give Micah a fiery reprimand after I turn off the speakers, when I recognize the shrill scream of my son in the middle of the deafening music, and he comes bolting straight toward ME, crying and flailing and just a picture of abject terror.
He had turned the volume knob on the amplifier ALL the way up and then hit the power button.
I just gather him up in my arms and hit the power button. Then we sit in the leather chair and my heart can’t make up its mind whether to laugh or cry, but mostly I laugh. And hold my poor traumatized son as he clings to me for dear life. He cried like that for a long time.  When he finally started to calm down, I said to him very calmly and quietly, to reinforce what I’ve said to him many, many times: “Don’t push that button.”
Lesson learned, I guess?

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On Instagram

In 20 years, is the next generation going to look back at the beginning of the 21st century and wish the pictures were without a filter, clearer in color and sharpness?  I like my memories clear-cut like diamonds.  Crystallized in memory.  So much that I can see the feelings glinting off.

Instagram filters reflect the tone of our day.  People have romanticized all of life–the past, the present, and the future–and their Instagrams show it.  We are living in the best time of our lives right now, they say.  And things are only going to get better from here.

What is this generation going to be thinking about themselves in their youth when they are old and gray?

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Filed under Nonfiction, Reflective Writing

A Strange Ache

Another friend aching for children, motherhood, being a wife.

Whenever I read about a friend of mine aching with desire to be a wife, to be a mom, it throws my heart into such conflict.  On the one hand, I care very much about my friends and I am sad when they are sad, and I want to help them feel better by saying something encouraging.  But on the other hand, I have ZERO ground for relating to the desire to be a wife, a homemaker.  I have no idea what to say.

And inside, there’s a deeper ache of my own.

What would it have been like to grow up in a home where motherhood and homemaking were valued so highly? What would it be like to grow up with someone who didn’t approach life as if it were all a fight?  What would it be like to grow up with someone who saw her children as blessings instead of accidents, deviations from her life’s plan?  What would it be like to grow up with someone who rested in any and all of God’s blessings, and trusted in His sovereignty, no matter what the circumstances?  What would it be like to grow up where home was a place of peace, and not a place of strife and striving?

We all have our own aches.

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Rewriting that Testimony – RD3

Most testimonies are conversion stories.  Having grown up in church, I don’t really have a conversion story.  I do, however, have stories of how my faith has changed over my life.  The most dramatic change happened in college.

Growing up, even though I attended church, I didn’t know what faith or grace were.  I only knew that there were things you did, and things you didn’t do, and they put you in one of two camps: saved or not saved.  It wasn’t until I was 17 that I got my first inkling that there was more to Christianity than rules.

I was always hungry to know more about faith, and went to a Christian college partly to dig into it.  I expected going to a Christian college to help me define my faith more.  But instead, it blurred everything.  Instead, I was sent on a downward spiral that I can trace through classes and professors.  My professors had told me, in so many words, that Christianity was really just one of many ways humans design to get closer to God.  This shook and shattered me, because if there was one thing I absolutely knew about Christianity, it was that it was exclusive and that it was real, not just a construct. But I trusted my professors’ word as I did any authority figure or mentor.  What they said had to be true. Everything I had ever been told or believed was a lie.

It was in this place that I met my future husband.

In a place where I wasn’t even sure if God existed or if Christianity was real, I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that God had brought me S and that I was going to marry him.

Our dating was lightning fast, our engagement swung madly between blissful and dreadful.  So many of our conversations were fights, because an angry young woman trying to burn bridges with the world was deeply aching for a lasting relationship.  Because a young woman who wanted to throw Christ in God’s face was desperately looking for reasons to hold on to Him.

Toward the end of our engagement, we had a particularly brutal, at least for me, session of premarital counseling. Our counselor was a pastor from a church S used to attend. He was a stranger to me and I had no desire whatsoever to open up to him about my spiritual state.  I threw up as many hedges and walls and deflections about it as I could muster.  The pastor obliterated them.  He shoved them all aside and demanded to know point-blank if I believed in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for my sins.  It had been years since I’d cried about my spiritual bankruptcy.  Sobbing, I said, “Yes.”

It was all I had.

But I had thought I had nothing.

And somehow I still had Christ; or rather, He had me.

He had me.

College had destroyed what faith I had.  But in the way things happened with S, God showed me that He was still at work.  Because of that, deciding to marry Stephen wasn’t so much a self-determined proclamation that S and I would “make it work” no matter what, as it was a quiet statement that, yes, I did believe God was still at work, even in the middle of the darkest spiritual night I’d ever seen.  I did still believe He was real, somewhere on a level I didn’t even know existed before He brought me there.  It reminds me of Psalm 139.

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”

Psalm 139:7-12

Our marriage for the first 3-4 years basically consisted of me rebuilding my faith from the ground up.  I did it very slowly, deliberately, and analytically, weighing every brick separately many, many times, before finally deciding to plaster on the cement and press the brick in.

By 2012, I had planted enough bricks for a foundation.  And this was the foundation: Christ was sacrificed in my place as an atonement for my sins, so that I can stand before and dwell within the presence of a holy God.  Nothing intrinsic to myself led God to do this for me.  It was purely His grace and mercy.  “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Exodus 33:19

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Rewriting That Testimony – RD2

I grew up in church, but I didn’t know what faith or grace were.  I only knew that there were things you did, and things you didn’t do, and they put you in one of two camps: saved or not saved.  It wasn’t until I was 17 that I got my first inkling that there was more to Christianity than rules.

I was always hungry to know more about faith, and went to a Christian college to dig into it.  I expected it to help me define my faith more.  But instead, it blurred everything.  Instead, I was sent on a downward spiral that I can trace through classes and professors.  My professors had told me, in so many words, that Christianity was really just one of many ways humans design to get closer to God.  This shook and shattered me, because if there was one thing I absolutely knew about Christianity, it was that it was exclusive and that it was real, not just a construct. But I trusted my professors’ word as I did any authority figure or mentor.  What they said had to be true. Everything I had ever been told or believed was a lie.

It was in this place that I met my future husband.

[Pause for dramatic effect.  Actually, I just always get stuck there because what comes next is so weird to write in a testimony.]

In a place where I wasn’t even sure if God existed or if Christianity was real, I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that God had brought me S and that I was going to marry him.

[Another pause here, because remembering this always serves as a huge blow to my pride.  Everything leading up to this point, I always seem to be find myself feeling, Look at the trials I suffered through at the hands of {my college}.  Shame on them! How dare they! Make war on Christian liars! And then I get to this part, admitting the undeniable and that entire feeling evaporates into shame and humility.]

Of all the ways to bring me back, God chose the one thing I had always craved. A loving, stable relationship.

Our dating was lightning fast, our engagement swung madly between blissful and dreadful.  So many of our conversations were fights, because an angry young woman trying to burn bridges with the world was deeply aching for a lasting relationship.  Because a young woman who wanted to throw Christ in God’s face was desperately looking for reasons to hold on to Him.

Toward the end of our engagement, we had a particularly brutal, at least for me, session of premarital counseling. Our counselor was a pastor from a church S used to attend.  He was a stranger to me and I had no desire whatsoever to open up to him about my spiritual state.  I threw up as many hedges and walls and deflections about it as I could muster.  The pastor obliterated them.  He shoved them all aside and demanded to know point-blank if I believed in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for my sins.  It had been years since I’d cried about my spiritual bankruptcy.  Sobbing, I said, “Yes.”

It was all I had.

But I had thought I had nothing.

And somehow I still had Christ; or rather, He had me.

He had me.

College had destroyed what faith I had.  But in the way things happened with Stephen, God showed me that He was still at work.  Because of that, deciding to marry Stephen wasn’t so much a self-determined proclamation that S and I would “make it work” no matter what, as it was a quiet statement that, yes, I did believe God was still at work, even in the middle of the darkest spiritual night I’d ever seen.  I did still believe He was real, somewhere on a level I didn’t even know existed before He brought me there.  It reminds me of Psalm 139.

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”

Psalm 139:7-12

Our marriage for the first 3-4 years basically consisted of me rebuilding my faith from the ground up.  I did it very slowly, deliberately, and analytically, weighing every brick separately many, many times, before finally deciding to plaster on the cement and press the brick in.

By 2012, I had planted enough bricks for a foundation.  And this was the foundation: Christ was sacrificed in my place as an atonement for my sins, so that I can stand before and dwell within the presence of a holy God.  Nothing intrinsic to myself led God to do this for me.  It was purely His grace and mercy.  “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Exodus 33:19

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Sometimes Your Son Hits His Head

Sometimes your son smacks his head on a kitchen drawer and it’s your fault and you’ve had such a hard couple of days that when he cries all you can do is sob with him.

Sometimes you’re astonished and thankful to remember a pitcher of cucumber-infused water sitting in the fridge this week, because that’s just what you need to control the swelling bump.

Sometimes you hold a washcloth to his head, still sobbing while he sobs.

Sometimes you realize you have to pull yourself together because your crying is making him panic, and you know from experience that crying hard creates heat, which makes you feel worse when you’re hurt.

Sometimes all you can think of is that you were watching a Daniel Tiger episode on asking for help when you’re frustrated, and it burns because that is supposed to apply to grown-ups, too.

Sometimes you let him have a binky when it’s not night-night time.

Sometimes you breathe, “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.” to calm both of you down.

Sometime you sit with a tear-streaked face, rocking your son gently, thanking God that your son isn’t panicking anymore and that you’re holding much steadier than you should be able to.

Sometimes you marvel that your son wants to be in your arms even though your impatience is what got him hurt.

Sometimes you remember why you’ll never ever give up on God, even in the middle of a dark week, because you feel Him there in the worst of it.

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Filed under Creative Writing, journaling, Nonfiction