Archive for October, 2010
How many of you have a pen-pal? No, not an online buddy you IM or chat with instantaneously. I’m talking about a good old-fashioned, hand-written letter-writing pen-friend. (That was a lot of hyphenation!)
I have had many pen-pals over the years. For me it started in elementary school with Sara from Leander, TX. That was back in 5th grade, and I was instantly hooked to learning about people from other places.
Then there was
Sanna from Finland
Natasha from S. Africa
Dima from the Ukraine
Sylvia from Poland
Inga from Latvia
Ligia from Romania
Amy from Alberta, CAN
Sana from Virginia
Krzysztof from Poland
Magdalena from Poland…
And finally, my dear friend Natalia from Poland whom I’ve have written to for the last 8 years or so. We started writing in college when I found her name through a Polish-American heritage organization. She was studying International Studies, English and Spanish. I was studying International Studies, Polish and Spanish. It seemed like a perfect fit. Almost a decade later we still write and share our lives with each other through snail mail. It is such a joy to find a letter postmarked from Poland arrive in my mail box every couple of months or so!
Letter writing has its virtues, at least in my humble opinion, and I’d like to share them with you. (It seems as though my posts of late are focusing on simplicity and I feel as though God has been trying to impress this lesson on me!)
First, letter writing provides practice in penmanship! Go ahead – laugh! But it does. The art of fine penmanship is waning in our digital world. And even though I consider myself one of those people “born digital” I have a deep appreciation for what was. Think of all the men who were scribes and recorded the words of our Lord. Penmanship is still a virtue in my book!
The next virtue is metalinguistic awareness. You’re probably thinking, “WHAT?!” Metalinguistic awareness is the knowledge and understanding of your own use of language. Writing to another person – especially someone whose first language is not English focuses you to think about your language. I consider myself to be a thoughtful person when it comes to my words. I choose them carefully, and I try to use language accurately and precisely. It is a virtue that comes in handy as we are called to speak and share the Gospel!
Cultural awareness and empathy grow out of writing to others who live and experience life in very different ways from our own. I think it makes us more sensitive to the needs of others, and we become more effective witnesses when we have an understanding of this. Americans are spoiled and we often take our wealth for granted. It is a real eye-opener to correspond with people from around the world. Furthermore, I believe that letter-writing is a personal and intimate way of getting to know someone. Think of all the letters the Apostle Paul wrote. He was a master at this form of communication and it helped him to forge and foster relationships…
Lastly, and maybe most important in my mind is the virtue of patience. Old-fashioned letter writing develops in us a sense of patience. Too many people today crave instant gratification. Sending a letter via snail mail will not provide you with immediate feed back. You must have patience and consideration. It takes time, but time and absence make the heart grow fonder. I have spent years and years waiting for letters to arrive – and the joy that I experience when a letter arrives… well, that’s the kind of excitement I imagine we’ll have as we finally see the Lord after patiently waiting for his return.
So, consider who you might write to, and send an old-fashioned letter. Wait for a response and relish in the experience of that letter finally arriving!
But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Rom 8:25
I have come to the realization that I have a very difficult time with extraneous noise. I don’t know what it is, but I have a low tolerance for unnaturally high-pitched, repetitive noise. Tonight I was hyper-aware of the buzzing of those curly-cue fluorescent light bulbs in the dining room. That, coupled with the overbearing tick-tock of the clock was about to drive me mad. And I am quite literal when I say this. I felt as if I were on the verge of insanity. (This is not a good reaction…and quite frankly it disturbs me.)
Sitting here in bed, writing, I am thinking of the smell of my husband’s attempt at cooking this evening. That too distracted me from my work. I was almost to the point of collecting all of my things and leaving the house at 7pm in order to get something accomplished. Again, this is not something I am ok with.
Am I overreacting? Quite possibly – but I am at the point where I cannot tolerate the extra sensory stimulation. I need silence. I need a pitch-black room for sleeping. I need stillness. I need a smell-free environment. At times I even find it unbearable to be touched (this is nothing new – growing up as a child I had a bubble of personal space that could not be entered into by others…). I won’t wear itchy sweaters. I’ll cut that tag off if it rubs me the wrong way. And forget about damp clothing…
Are other women like this? Do any of you experience this aversion to too much sensory provocation? I wonder why I am like this? Is it a lack of discipline in dealing with my surroundings? Is there something wrong with me? Or am I simply allowing Satan to use my weaknesses to attack me? Is it a combination?
After contemplating this for a while, I’ve come to a few conclusions – lessons to be learned and shared with you all if you care to listen.
1. I’m too busy. My mind is overworked and underfed spiritually. It’s weak and susceptible to attack with simple things that I can choose to filter and ignore (but can’t) because I’m not spending enough time in prayer and communion with my Lord.
2. I need to have more self-control and discipline. This again stems from time spent with the Lord in prayer and the Word.
3. God did not design us to function with the fast-paced, over-stimulated lives we live today. We have to be diligent and purposeful when it comes to taking care of our bodies and minds.
4. Satan can and will use any means he can to draw us away from God.
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, for trouble comes. Job 3:26
He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. Psa 107:29
I wasn’t always the black and white pragmatist you sometimes see. Growing up, having a few more life experiences, really shook my romantic notions about the world and how things work. Namely, the passage of time and what is really in a life.
Bear with me. I may be about to go out on a limb here.
As a child, my mind was full of wonder. Touches of that wonder remain with me, but as I grow older I find myself less in awe and more just…working. This isn’t something I’m proud of. It just…is. I must constantly submit myself to God, the work he is doing in me, and stay in his Word so that my soul might be pierced by its truth. Left to my own devices I fall into a pit of questions and confusion.
What is really in a life?
I’m a fan of period dramas, epic novels that cover centuries of history, and mini-series that show the culmination of a life in a few nights of television. It struck me recently just how accurate fictional depictions such as these can be.
In Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth or any number of works by Edward Rutherfurd, you’ll find generations of characters in the pages of one book. You may be attached to a character one minute and the next find him dead under a pile of rubble. On paper, this gets annoying to me. I cannot get attached to a character because I know that he or she will die within the next one hundred pages. And while it may annoy me to read it, the fact is — it’s true. In tracing my family back to their origins, seeing how few generations it takes to get from, literally, The Beginning to where I am right this second, I see how quickly the years slip by. My life seems to take a long time, but every generation can be counted back on a single page.
Our lives are flickering candles
There is no way to know what length of time we have here. In honoring our fathers and mothers we are promised a long life (Exodus 20:12), but how long?
Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone–as though we had never been here. – Psalm 103:15-16 (NLT)
Fading flowers, a flickering candle that burns for a time and then snuffs itself out, windows on a train as they flash by — our time here is unbelievably short.
What will you make of your time?
And so my question is, what will you do with it? Will you sit back and watch it pass? Or will you be an active participant, an investor in the future of the souls of your progeny and those around you? While Psalm 103:15-16 reminds us how short our time here is, verses 17 and 18 remind us what our time here is for:
But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments!
Obedience to our Lord. That is what it’s all about. Everyday, taking the time to remember and obey His precepts and live out His plan for our lives.
How will you live today?
Last month was Homecoming at my Alma Mater, Roberts Wesleyan College. Reunions coincide with homecoming, and this was the year of my 5-year reunion. I didn’t see anyone I recognized from my days at Roberts. I did, however, see one special lady I knew from my high school days – a woman I featured HERE in my list of True Woman who have helped me grow in my faith over the years!
It was so good to see Mrs. Radel. She saw me an instantly recognized me, and I can’t remember such a powerful embrace in quite a long time. I was so happy to see her, and she said something to me that stuck with me… “Sometime soon we’re going to connect again.” It’s not that cataclysmic of a statement, but it got me thinking about how wonderful it was to have a real woman of faith as a role model in my life. I was touched by her words, and I hope that they are true; that we will reconnect again now that I am an adult… In a way, seeing her was a great homecoming, because it really focused me back on home and the things that were important to me growing up in high school and college.
I suppose that is what homecomings are all about – bringing you back into focus, and reconnecting with the things and people you once held dear. Sometimes as life goes on and we get caught up in the busyness of life. We forget where we started and the people that shaped us into who we are today. In my case, my high school and college years were very formative in my Christian faith. It was in high school where I first gave my life to Christ, and it was going to Roberts Wesleyan – a faith-based college that helped me grow my new faith.
I would like to take a minute and publicly thank Roberts Wesleyan College, a Christian liberal arts college founded in the Free Methodist tradition. It is nestled in quaint North Chili, NY and for all my years driving past the campus as a child, I would have never imagined the impact the people of this place would have had on my life. I am truly grateful for the classes started with prayer, the insight and dedication of Christian professors and professionals, a focus on developing our character. CHAPEL (3 times a week to refuel spiritually – what a wonderful opportunity). There is so much to be thankful for.
I know that there are often many differing opinions on attending Christian colleges – and just as anywhere else you will find students with varying degrees of appreciation for and dedication to the principles esteemed by the college itself. I know that for me, as a new Christian, my 2.5 years at Roberts were hugely important, and I would highly recommend it to others if that type of school was what they were looking for.
Podcast: Play in new window
Have you seen those “I’m a Mormon” commercials? We weigh in with some thoughts and opinions.
I have an interesting group of friends from grad school that I like to get together with on a regular basis. We are all teachers, and we put our heads together and brainstorm about teaching. We also go off on random topics… and this came up recently. I thought I would share some of my revelations…
We were talking about one woman’s son’s English assignment and about how she was very displeased with his teacher for allowing him to use moderate profanity in an assignment. It was a combination of letters and symbols, but my friend was appalled. She felt it totally inappropriate, and I agreed. Our conversation turned to limited vocabularies, and limited ability to think… and ultimately to the frequency with which people in our culture think about and talk about sex.
I made a comment about how I always feel awkward when intimate scenes are shown on tv-shows and movies. I am a little embarrassed, and feel the need to leave the room (especially if there is someone other than my husband watching). One of my friends felt it was also inappropriate, and another said it didn’t bother her as much…
After dinner, I got to thinking. I’m glad I react this way. Not that I believe sex is an embarrassing thing… but it has its place between a married couple, and it’s not something that should be on display. It’s intimate! The very definition of the word intimate means that it is something personal and private.
I am proud that my moral compass is on and alert. I’m glad that I feel awkward, and want to leave the room because I feel like I still hold intimacy in its rightful place. When we start to lose this sense that sex is something special to be celebrated between a married man and woman, we move away from what God has ordained. I don’t want to lose that. I don’t want to treat sex like it is some paltry act.
I probably wont be turning off my tv completely, but I am going to continue to use my judgment about what I do watch. And I won’t be afraid to turn something off that I deem inappropriate. There seems far greater risk in leaving the tv on than I care to imagine.