Monthly Archives: August 2013

To Everything There is a Season

… to everything there is a moment…

I am the worst person to say this, but maybe that makes me the best person? I want to grab every conversation and make it last forever. I want to grab every good experience and hold onto it. When I’m used of God, He puts me down in the tool rack and I’m begging to be picked back up. My heart cries out for MORE. MORE. Give me more.

But He pours Himself into us that we may be emptied and be refilled. No moment is the same as the last. No opportunity is the opportunity that was. The clock goes in only one direction. We cannot force it to stay in one moment, one year, one season of life.

We must never forget that we are but grass – and grass grows, and it dies. We shall have our moment, our moment……. and then we will let go.

Nothing in this life is to be grasped, all is to be held in the palms of our hands, marveled over, delighted in, and … then so is the next thing. Beauty surrounds us, goodness is God’s gift to His children. Enjoy! Revel! And let the sun set so that another day may begin.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

It Ain’t Over Until It’s Over

A second thing that annoys the heck out of me in this day and age is the assumption that you are done with your entire life by the time you turn 30. (And I’m being generous).

You’re done learning.
You’re done growing as a person.
You’re done with positive change.
You’re irrevocably set on a path from which your feet may never stray.

Gracious. If I thought *that* about adulthood, I’d jump off the pier and have done. Personally, does the Lord tarry, I’m expecting another five decades of life. If you told me that I was never going to learn anything else in the next fifty years, … well, I’d laugh at you.

I had a great… you know what? I didn’t, actually. I had a nice, normal, uneventful, teenage life. My twenties were full of random drama, but mostly remarkable by achieving what now seems well-nigh impossible. (A ring, a mortgage, a baby – in that order). My thirties were full of being a mom to young kids. Busy, mostly. I’ve been a SAHM since the first baby. He’s 13 as of a couple weeks ago.

Now I’m forty, and the world is opening before me like an oyster. I’m teaching my kids – and learning along with them. Fun! I’m interning at church – and learning, and growing. I’m making new friends and developing new skills. I’m working my tail off! And I love it. LOVE IT.

And they came ’round with the black crepe* last birthday… why? That’s just stupid. Yes. I’m no longer a fresh young thing looking to pick a husband. K. I have a husband. He’s awesome. We’ve just about worn the worst of the rough spots off. Marriage is better than it ever has been. I should want to date? You people are on something.

We *should* enjoy the stages we’re in. When you’re a fresh young thing – enjoy it. Enjoy being a young married, a young mom. Work through having $10 to get you to payday and nothing in the fridge. Builds teamwork. The crazy stuff your friends did? Story fodder. Toddlers? Character, like crazy. It’s all good!

Well, it’s all good if you let it be given over to God. Let Him use it as it’s meant to be used – strictly raw material. Just situation after situation, polishing you up and making you what He wants you to be.

I know He’s not done with me. This ride is a whole lot of fun. I love being His to mold, even when it hurts a bit. I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner. I’m filled with excitement and joy. Don’t ask me to look back and mourn what has past. I won’t. Instead, take my hand and let’s look forward to what comes next!

*No, they didn’t really. My friends know exactly how that’d play out. I don’t hang out with fools.

Adornments of the Heart

1Peter 3:3-6 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

A very interesting conversation came about because of my post over at TBL in regards to aging. (http://hearth-tobelovely.blogspot.com/2013/08/we-all-get-old.html) Renata had some great stuff to offer (https://hearthtobelovely.wordpress.com/unrelated-comments-for-other-blogreaders/#comment-89) One of the most telling things she said was, “I know that what is important is what you give, what you do, who you are (fruits of the Spirit radiating outward), but what you look like is given unholy power”. Unholy is exactly what it is.

Luk 12:20-25 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?

We try, oh how we try. Add stature, add curves. Subtract. Fool the eye. And what to what lengths will we go? We commonly inject ourselves with poisons, rub acid on our faces, slice and inflate and vacuum…. not to be more functional vessels, but to desperately hold onto what we call treasure, even while we watch it disintegrate before our eyes.

I like physical adornments. They’re fun. They’re sparkly. For play? For enjoying in the moment, just as we enjoy so much of this life – transitory, like a butterfly over a garden. But looks aren’t to be gripped, not held down. Nothing that I have belongs to *me* anyhow – my body is not my own.

We forget that we did not make our faces. We did not make our figures. Yes, our self-care can affect both – but entropy will have its day, no matter what. We wrap ourselves desperately around what was given to us to hold but for a day and we never open our eyes to the rest of life. Where, after all, are our treasures supposed to be?

Matthew 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

And yet, we spend our money, our time, our tears… on that which we know will rot. Dust to dust. I don’t say ignore self-care, because we are stewards of our bodies. Should we not take care of what He has created, that which we are stewards over? But – this is not our treasure. Our bodies are tools, vessels, very temporary dwelling places. Useful, to be used well – but mere containers.

2Co 4:6-7 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Have you never had the privilege of knowing an elder whose vessel has been hollowed out by the trials of life and filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit, whose countenance glowed, near whom the room seemed a bit brighter?

And that’s treasure… to be made more and more like God.

Patience

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

I was doing the intern reading tonight and missed my mark (new Bible, hasn’t been broken in yet) and started reading cheerily along in Romans instead of 1 Corinthians, where I was supposed to be reading.

I’ve been considering a post on patience, and this has pushed it out a bit. I’d never seen this until tonight… I do love my NASB, after being a strict KJV gal… (Thank you Lord, for t’was You who picked my reading).

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

One usually thinks of hope as a prerequisite of perseverance, but here you see it as the result. When we practice patience and perseverance through obedience to God, in faith that His Word and promises are true, we are eventually rewarded with hope. This hits my heart in its deepest places… because although I am not emotionally patient, I have learned to wait and persevere. In so doing, I have been greatly rewarded. And ’tis true, the more I persevere, the greater my faith and my hope. It’s like carving channels in rock through which water can pour – the water both carves the passages and utilizes them. The more I submit myself to God’s carving, the more room He makes in my heart, the more He pours through me.

And I feel wonder. And I hope for greater and greater things from His good hand. I dare to ask larger things, things closer to my heart, and trust. Trust that even though I don’t see the changes now, the changes will come in His good time.

I am *not* emotionally patient, and I don’t feel calm about things on the surface of my heart most of the time. But in the deep places, the places carved deeper each day… in those places, there is peace.

First, persevere. Then, you can hope.

This is *profound*. I will be shaking my head in amazement for a few days on this, but I wanted to share it.

Wow.

Creativity, or One More Reason I’m Glad I’m Not an Atheist

Weaving

I had a good wander through the Dover catalogue today. My reaction to nearly every page was, “Oh pretty! I could do something with that!” This life, however is finite. I can’t really do something with everything I see, because I don’t have the time. However inspired I might be by Chinese embroidery, it’s unlikely that I’m going to learn to paint with a needle. I love blackwork, but I’ve other things to do.

Blackwork

I would love to raise a sheep, milk it and make cheese from the milk, shear it and spin the wool, weave the cloth and sew it up. Spend days on the moors with a trusty sheepdog hiking and letting the cold wind turn my cheeks pink. I would love to plant an orchard and watch it grow, harvest the fruit and put it up. Take the fallen wood and carve a mantle covered with briarroses. I’d love to learn to dance, to sing, to play the harp. I would love to learn Latin, Greek, Russian, German, Celtic… and every other language I’ve ever heard of. I want to swim the depths of the sea and dance with whales. My eyes caress the mountainsides, wanting to walk every step.

Mountaintop

My eyes want to see every beauty, my ears want to hear every song, my hands want to create and participate in goodness. So much beauty there is in this world. Even this flawed, damaged world… there is so much beauty. How many paths have I not tread? How many sights have I not seen?

I understand why atheists make bucket lists, I just don’t understand why bucket lists don’t fill them with abject despair.

I believe that we were made to create. If made in the image of our Creator, and His likeness… well, how then are we not creators in our blood and bone? I believe that we were made to delight in beauty. Beauty *is* one of our Lord’s hallmarks, one of the ways that we can see where He has been. Why should I not hunger to see all of what He has made? To delight in His creation, which shows forth His glory, reminding me ever of Him?

I have all of eternity to create. I know that part of the time as another dimension means that I cannot now conceive of what “eternity” really means, because it may seem more like one moment than an infinity of time stretching forward. But should I be transformed into something that can step in and out of time… would that not give me more time to play with?

I say “no” to nothing that is not sin. I merely sometimes must say, “not now”. A precious consolation as I stand my ground, do the tasks that have been given into my hands for this instant. Just because I’m not supposed to chase my own dreams doesn’t mean that all that is good in them will not be fulfilled. My God is faithful – and He created the hungers in my soul.

Someday………….. someday I will dance.

Alignment of Self

Staring at the sky, longing… staring at the water, longing. I see a movie about whales interacting with (and being petted by) humans in the wild. I weep for what is lost. Heart breaking, knowing that once upon a time, this was how it was. This was our reality. This was part of what we were created to enjoy. Ruined. Gone. Destroyed.

Rays.

Beauty is something with multiple facets, but certainly one of them is wholeness. Finding beauty is finding creation in something approaching its original state, rediscovering original specifications. Why must I weed out my grass to have beauty? The curse. Why does time take the shine from my skin and my hair? The curse. Why must I dust and mend and spend so much of my life pushing back on entropy? Because we have been cursed.

There is, to my mind, no harm in mourning the cursed state that we now “enjoy”. The Word says that even creation groans, waiting for the Lord to come so that it can be remade. Cleaned. New. Free. If rocks are waiting … if the *rocks* want our Lord to come back and reign, how much more so shall I? There is nothing wrong with admitting that I want what was lost. If t’were worth nothing… then the loss would be nothing.

Am I an ambassador, am I someone from another land? I am… whatever I am here. But eternally – which means now, as well as after my corporeal death – I am God’s precious daughter, clean and sinless, aligned with the will of the Lord in all things. Pushing the old nature to the ground, where it deserves to be… ridding myself of its filth, its endless tiresome whining, doing what I can, for all is really His to do, only mine to will, to ask, to pray, to offer up.

James 3:11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

To thine own self be true. I want to be true to myself. But I don’t want to be true to my basest instincts and random desires, I want to be true to the best of me. The “me” that I think of, when I think of myself. The bright center created by the Lord. I want to be good. I enjoy walking in the Light. I align with goodness. I am this, because I have been made this, washed with the Blood of the Lamb. But I *have been made new* and there is no wrongness in saying that I just don’t want to have dirt on my heart. It itches, it burns, it hurts, it makes me ashamed.

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

I want to cast aside every weight and run this race. I want to run Home and be transformed. I want life before the curse.

(I found the image via Pinterest on the “Science/Nature” board, it has the following link: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lu7k1dj1L61qb777ko1_500.jpg)

MMORPGs and the Illusion of Achievement

Why do MMORPGs (henceforth to be referred to as MMOs) have such a powerful ability to give the player the illusion of achievement? What is it about a silly computer game that can suck in otherwise responsible adults – much less teenagers?

I speak with some experience. First off, before I dropped into playing MMOs, my husband is a major gamer. He has played table-top RPGs since I’ve known him, and started playing Everquest in beta back when we were first married. I joined him in Everquest for a couple of years, although it was never my best game. I’ve played EQ2 briefly, SWG briefly, the first Guild Wars through level 20 (when you had to play with other people), the second Guild Wars through level 30ish (I forget), and I have a level 85 Paladin and Druid in World of Warcraft (WoW). I also spent a couple of years, pretty nearly every evening, hanging out in Second Life. (Don’t ask). Have I gamed? I have gamed.

So why are they so addictive?

First: They level the playing field.(1) No matter your age or education, no matter your real-life strength or skills – in game we’re all the same. You make *choices* that determine your looks, what you’re good at, and what you will learn. And if you don’t like those choices? Fold it up and start over.

Second: Starting over. It’s easy. Especially before you invest much time in a particular character. And death is momentary.

Third: You have to spend just enough time to feel like you’re really doing something. If you work all day at anything, and you are rewarded, you’re going to feel good about whatever it is you did. In an MMO, you occasionally have to do really tedious quests/tasks in order to move up in level or to get a piece of gear. But then – reward! You get it, and you move on to the next task.

Fourth: Always new places to see, new things to do. Even when you hit end-game (maximum level), MMO game designers don’t want you to stop playing – so they find something else for you to do. There will be a new dungeon to hit, a new raid, a new and obscure piece of gear to craft. There is *always* a carrot. (They don’t have a stick, so they’re really great at carrots).

Fifth: New places to see. From the comfort of your couch, your computer chair or even your bed, you can see great plains full of antelope-like critters, swamps with giant mushrooms, dark dungeons inhabited by the undead… etc. You don’t have to leave home. You don’t have to interact with anyone real that you don’t want to interact with (and you can choose to interact if you want to – MMO have other players, they aren’t freestanding games).

Sixth: You can do all this stuff, from bed. Nearly everyone who plays MMOs started because they were bored or sick or lonely or … just not up to dealing with the real world. I leveled 30 levels in WoW while I had a broken foot! Couldn’t do much else… and then once you’ve started, well, you’re addicted and it’s hard to stop.

Seventh: You’ve made friends! You get to know people while playing the game. Even the most antisocial person sometimes has to pair up or group up to get the goal. The game designers make sure that this happens, because the friend group is a draw to return to the game. Some people play with real-life friends, some people meet friends in game, some people combine the two. And you take the same friends from game to game to game…

You can see how this works. Your life sucked for some reason – and you gave WoW a try. It was really easy to hit level 10, and you had so much fun killing all those orcs. Plus, it’s only a couple more levels until you get your pet. Or can turn into a seal. You know, you just want to experience all this game can give you. It’s not a big deal. And then you make some friends, and … suddenly you have other people to brag about having leveled (and to compete with). Oh, you’re “the” tailor in the guild? People need you! Well, you know this Saturday is raid day. And so is next Tuesday, until midnight. Don’t you understand commitment?

The games are immersive. They have good storylines and there is always something else to work for. They’re pretty and they’re fun. And you find people for whom “I just killed the Lich King!” is a big deal. And while you have to work for your rewards in an MMO, you don’t have to work nearly as hard as you do IRL.(2) And when you fail, it’s not a big deal. You make community, you test your abilities, you learn skills, you discover new areas (some games give you credit for running around and looking at things, and they’re nearly always pretty enough to bother). No one cares what your RL self looks like, no one cares how much money you have IRL, no one has to know anything about you.

After a little while, you think you’re achieving something… but you’re not. Just passing time.

It’s not like I hate gaming and MMOs, I just don’t play anymore. I tailored enough clothing in SW Galaxies, WoW, and Rift. I decided I’d make some IRL. I worked hard on making my fantasy house fabulous in Second Life… now I make my real house clean. I have numerous friends made in those games, especially ISL.

Right this minute? My husband and kids are all playing Minecraft together. I could go play … just another MMO… with my family.. but no. BTDT. And I have, not just the t-shirt, but the over priced figurine.

Paladin

(1) At least at first. Of course after a few people get to the top ranks, you’ll have twinks who get all the best weapons from day one, and of course better players find that their play experience carries over. DH is a top-rank ranger/hunter no matter the game, he knows how to play the long-range DPS class. When everyone can twink, the game loses a great deal of its appeal, IMO – and all the great games have succumbed to the temptation to get people to end-game more quickly.

(2) In Real Life. As opposed to ISL, in Second Life. Or … well, you get it.