24 March 2011

Pushing the Limits

Last week was a hard, hard week both physically and emotionally and I never got around to being thankful, which if I had, maybe last week wouldn't have been quite so hard. This week is just about gone and I've yet to post my Monday thankful post, so before another week passes by here it is.

I am thankful for...
36) friends who are willing to shepherd and encourage me in making new habits. Taking time out of their week to do so.

37) professors who still take an interest in my life even though I haven't been in their classroom for nearly 10 years. And for a professor who is willing to still advise and help me with a quandary.

38) last week, when I was having such a rough time, I had not one but TWO hour long massages. I didn't intentionally plan it that way, and if I had realized both were scheduled in the same week I would have rescheduled one. But the unexpected luxury of 2 - count them one - two massages was fabulous!

39) hearing one of my favorite students from last years Perspective class teach lesson 10 in this years class. Pastor Matt is such a gem!

40) a mother-daughter outing to the Blazer game! We may have missed the entire 3rd quarter trying to steal good seats, but we got to see the more important 4th quarter win (from better seats)!

41) finding the perfect fabric, exactly what I had in mind, to recover my favorite hand-me-down-inherited chair. So often I envision what I want but am unable to find it. The washed out turquoise velvet is going to be stunning!

42) work that allows me to be flexible with my schedule and work from home on occasion so that even though I don't feel great, I don't have to use my precious vacation days that are allotted to Micah.

43) when my heart is aching with longing to be with my Micah boys, a couple of them initiate IMing just to say "Hi!"

44) Miguelito & Axelito who celebrated one year with the Micah Project this week. They have grown so much! Axelito has gained a foot in height! Miguelito has come through deep valleys this year, but he is growing through them.

45) my new shoes! I am a girl who loves her shoes... because it is really hard to find shoes that fit! Last summer I had my eyes on a pair of sandals from Title 9 but they weren't worth the cost, so I waited for them to go on sale. Once on sale, I still couldn't justify the price, so I watched and waited for the price to drop. Once they finally reached a price point I thought was fair my size was sold out. Today I went to a Title 9 "Blow-out" sale held in a concrete room with merchandise piled on folding tables and shoes wildly strewn against two walls. Walking to the end of the shoes to where a sign said "11" I took a cursory glance at the mayhem of shoes tossed about. The offerings weren't much, and they were mostly of two varieties, neither of which interested me. But then I saw them, one lone pair - my sandals!!  And they fit perfectly! And I paid $11 less than my price point. And I can hardly wait for warm weather so I can wear them. I think it was the serendipitous nature of God.

11 March 2011

Justice Conference - Part 3 : : Mike & Danae Yankoski : : Justice in Daily Life

I'll admit, I had some serious feelings of insignificance and inadequacy as I listened to this young couple and all that they have accomplished. They had good things to say and really got me thinking about my choices and how they effect the whole chain.

-Love is to transcend justice. There can't be love if justice is being violated. Can't have love without justice. Love is the fulfilling, completing, of justice.
-The process can be as important as the destination, the means as important as the end.
-Open you eyes! How do we respond? What is the Lord calling you to do?
-Loving our neighbor as our self means desiring/seeking their shalom.
-Characterize the journey with the flavor of the destination. {Jenn's example: If my end goal is to work with street children in Tegucigalpa who are addicted to yellow shoe glue, then my path should not include wearing shoes that use that glue, made in regions where this is a problem.}
-What are you supporting in your daily choices?
-In response to an irate demand, can we respond in love?
-When we have made a mistake, do we defend ourselves or apologize and ask forgiveness?
-How do I love my neighbor, both near and far, in my daily choices?
-What are the consequences of thinking of morality only in an individualistic way?
-We are created in the image of God to participate in the kingdom of God, not carry the weight of the world.
-As believers we are both invited and commanded to participate in the kingdom of God. The invitation is costly and will cost us everything. It is through this participation that we can find the hope of the Gospel, of life in Jesus Christ.

Mike & Danae Yankoski :: Justice in Daily Life from The Justice Conference on Vimeo.

Justice Conference - Part 2 : : Nicholas Wolterstorff : : What Is Justice?

I ♡ Nicholas Wolterstorff!
From his wild white disheveled hair, to his sweater vests, to the hankie he pulled out to wipe his nose, his demeanor screamed "professor." The introduction built him up, I was hopeful that he would be good - but could I stay awake? It had been an awfully long day already and he was just starting his talk at 8:30pm. I didn't think anyone could be that good. I was wrong. I couldn't get enough, riveted, I scrambled to take notes that I hoped would make sense later.
You are welcome to read my notes, but you'll probably be better off just scrolling down and watching the man say it for himself.

Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff - What Is Justice?
-Ulpian defines Justice as the rendering to each person what is his/her rights or dues.
-Justice reigns when people are able to enjoy their rights.
-A right is respect to someone. They are protective autonomy actions.
-Sociality belongs to the right to be treated a certain way - normative social relationships.
-Rights = worth, value, dignity of human beings; primarily we are loved by God and redeemingly loved by God. If you are deprived of your rights, you are being wronged.
-Rights talk, love talk, moral/duty talk - they all can be abused.

What if we tossed out the question of justice? Moral order has two dimensions - actor/receiver, giver/recipient, doer/done to. Talking in terms of right and wrong enables the person to talk about how they have been wronged - their moral conviction - enables the victim. If we only use obligation/duty language a wife could only say to her abusive husband "You are not living up to your moral duty." But with receiver language, the wife can also say, "I have been wrong."

The trumping force of rights is that I must, ought, treat you this way. Rights are a brake on paternalistic benevolence. 

And this is just what I was able to scribble down. Every word he said, every phrase, had weight. There was no fluff.  

Nicholas Wolterstorff :: What is Justice? from The Justice Conference on Vimeo.

There is a reason I don't have bumper stickers

Leaving work late I hurried across the river and hopped onto I-84, looping over to I-205. Class started at 7pm, could I get there on time? As my exit neared I had to make a choice - do I get behind the Ford Explorer that is only going maybe 50, or do I speed up and hope that I could dive in front of the slow poke? What to do with 1 mile to the exit? Of course the answer was speed up, tail-gate the vehicle in front of me and then quickly cross a couple lanes of traffic to get to the exit. As my car struggled to take the sharp turn of the exit at the speed I was going I chastised myself. Was that really necessary? What did I gain by that risky behavior? I felt like God was nudging me, "Why did you drive that way? What's behind it?" My answer doesn't make me look very good - I don't like to go slow, I don't like being behind people, and I really don't like having to submit to someone else. Oh... that last part is really not good. If I were respecting those around me I would have gotten behind the putt-putt, submitted my driving preference to theirs, creating a safer road for all of us. It is so hard to give up our independence, to humble ourselves and submit to someone else. If only people knew how to drive!

08 March 2011

Tuesdays can be Thankful Days Too

I wasn't able to carve out the time to add to my thankful list yesterday, the multitude on Mondays. But you can be thankful on a Tuesday just as well as on Monday, right?

I am thankful...
30) That God's mercy and grace is new every morning, every moment.
31) For a warm welcome back at River West. Whether I was just visiting or staying is yet to be seen.
32) For an encouraging coach and roommate as I make life changes for good health.
33) For the people that make me laugh, because I love to laugh. And work would be dreadful without the characters who keep me entertained.
34) For second chances. Really thankful.
35) I was able to stop and watch a glorious numinous sunset from my desk this evening.

06 March 2011

Lament for the lack of civility among single men

I need to read myself to sleep at night. Sometimes all I can manage is a few lines, but a few days ago I had not one but two sodas; I could handle more reading that night. I picked up the latest copy of Christianity Today and picked an article based solely on the title - "Sex Economics 101." Kind of catchy, isn't it? It got my attention; admit it, it would have grabbed yours too. The subtitle is "Mark Regnerus, the early-marriage sociologist, shares his latest research on young adults' sexual attitudes and behavior." I started to read it with a general curiosity given that I have worked and still do on occasion with teens and young adults. What intrigued me is that, while the researcher is focused on "emerging" adults, what he describes fits with my generation as well - the mid 30's-40's. And it helped interpret how I have been struggling with the results of online dating. Quite frankly, the article depressed me. After reading it I felt like it will be a phenomenal miracle of epic proportions if I ever get married.
Some key quotes:
"Historically, sex was a key motivator for men to marry. Try to reduce that tension, that function, and all hell breaks loose—which is what we are witnessing."

"Because whoever is the minority gender, so to speak, has more power, and especially in this sense, because women want marriage more than men do. So when there are more women in the pool, it lends itself to women competing for men rather than the other way around."

"This is not to suggest that men can't commit. They can, but they have to do so today in an environment of such rich choices. It makes it difficult for them."

The end of January I started corresponding with a fella, let's call him Doug. He seemed nice enough and decent, we exchanged a few emails, then I sent one that never got a response. He had mentioned that he was going on vacation so I waited. About a week and a half later, guessing he was back in town, I decided to drop him a short note just to get my name at the top of his inbox. Silence. But a couple days later he did send a message to my roomie. Yeah, scratch his name off the list. 

Then a couple weeks ago another guy contacted me, oddly enough with the same name - "Doug." Unlike Doug v.1, I was really intrigued by Doug v.2, I wanted to get to know him. As we exchanged emails my interest swelled. Finally! A decent normal guy that had real potential, not some foreigner scamming or gross 65 year old obviously using a form letter. No, Doug v.2 was intelligent, strong faith, thoughtful, considerate, kind, creative, with similar interests. Each email he sent left me saying "wowza!" He impressed me, knocked my socks off really. But he fell off the grid as well. I sent an email that has gone unanswered. [UPDATE 3/8/2011: Apparently my theory below about a demon in my email was correct. Doug v.2 had found my blog, read this post, and sent me an email explaining that he hadn't received my last email and thought I had just abruptly stopped writing. Isn't life funny. Yay! I get a second chance to get to know this guy.]

I'd like to explain it by saying there is a demon possessing my email and either preventing it from being delivered or warping the words in-between my drafting and the recipient reading it so that I sound like a crazy person. This is highly unlikely. A girl could get sensitive about her writing, especially since it's of a personal nature. But the more likely explanation is that in a gender imbalanced pool, where men, even mediocre men, have multitudes of women competing for them, I was dropped for the newer match, the next woman who might be prettier, funnier, sexier, smarter, more better in some way. Combine the 'women rich dating pool' with online dating where people aren't "real" yet and our throw-away consumerism society and it's a dangerous combination. With both Dougs they had been considerate and respectful, so why is it okay to be rude and just stop writing? No, we haven't met in person, but those weren't just some made up stories you were reading, they are the stories of a real person, a person who was being open and vulnerable. You've changed your mind, fine. I'm worth a final email saying 'thanks for your time and sharing, wish you all the best.' It is the decent thing to do, an act of civility, the behavior of a gentleman. But the more virtual and impersonal our world becomes, the faster common decency and civility, what used to be the norms of behavior, have eroded. To be fair, it isn't just single guys who are suffering this lack of decency. My mother recently had a party for which she sent an Evite, emails, and postcards - most of the women never even RSVP'ed. 
So here is today's lesson for the guys: be men, be gentlemen, be men of character and integrity - and that means ending things, even simple email exchanges, with respect and honor.

Last night my roomie and I watched the movie (500) Days of Summer. We laughed through most of it, although we couldn't quite believe the role reversal. Neither one of us could think of any girl who says she only wants to be friends and it is the guy pushing for a relationship. In our circle, it is the opposite - or the guy who wants the instant relationship, but that's another story (a good one too). There are two scenes that stand out. The first is after Tom and Summer have broken up, but they saw each other at a wedding of a mutual friend, she invites him to a party at her place. We see the party scene in split screen on the left is the party through Tom's "expectations" and on the right, "reality." It was hilarious! So clever! And so true. Our expectations are usually dramatically different than reality and the scene exploited that to great comic effect. The second scene I liked has Tom's friend Paul talking about his girlfriend who he has been dating since junior high. He says that his perfect dream girl would have a bigger rack, blond hair, be more into sports, etc., but then he pauses and says 'but Rachel (?) is better. She's real.' And that realization seems to be something that the guys I've been meeting need to have. I am tired of competing with a fantasy, or the allure of 'the next one will be perfect.' Guess it is a good thing that overall, I don't mind being single and sometimes even enjoy it.