1500th Post

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It’s hard to believe, but this is my 1500th blog post. By my rough math, that’s probably 4 average-lengthed books. To think some of you (hi, Mom!) have read all that!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about speaking meaningfully. As such, the fact that I’ve blogged so much (and much meaningless!) makes me cringe a little. I’ve been pondering:

“Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.” – Ecclesiastes 5:2, NASU

“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.” – Proverbs 10:19, NASU

I absolutely don’t think we’re to take these verses and make it say that me must only speak of serious things. I think the “frivolous” things often help bring us closer together and be reminded of the little blessings God has given us.

But still, I want to make the bulk of what I say “count.” If that means I say less, than all the better…I’m sure some in my life would appreciate that.

So that’s what I want to seek to do here on this blog for the next 1500 posts.

Single after 30

When I was a more regular blogger, I would blog semi-frequently about being single. Makes sense: a person’s relationship status is one of the most basic facts about them.

But a comment I would sometimes get from older never-been-married women is “just wait until you’re 30.” At the time, I doubted it would be much different at 30 than it was at 27.

And that has proven to be mostly true.

So what has changed since I wrote posts like this at 27?

Well, I’m much more settled. So much so, that I actually don’t mind being single. Sure, I’d love the intimacy of a relationship above all other early ones, but the desire is less acute than it used to be.

With the settling, I spend less time looking out for a husband, so I have more energy to spend getting to know those that God has placed in my life, regardless of who they are.

Another thing that has changed is that I’m actively planning for a future alone. Until last month, I had never purposefully chosen to save for retirement (a previous job had done so on my behalf, but that’s it).

In my 20s, I assumed that some day I would marry, and my husband would take care of retirement. While that’s still a possibility (and a welcomed one), I recognize that waiting for an earthly knight is not a viable retirement plan.

While I am building a financial plan based on being “just me,” plans change, and I’m okay with that. If I do get married next year (or 10 years from now), I hope my husband will be blessed with my financial shrewdness (and not burdened by my debt).

A final thing that has seemed to change since turning 30 is how others seem to perceive me as a single woman. Whatever they may have been actually thinking, when I was in my 20s it always felt like others were playing matchmaker in their head. They were acting on the same assumption I was: that marriage was just around the corner for me.

Now, others seem to see my marital state as more than a passing phase, and that seems to allow them to see past it and notice me as something more than a bride-to-be.

Yes, being single at 30 is different than it was at 27. But the basics haven’t changed: I still have a loving Father who cares for the husbandless, one who calls all of us (regardless of relationship status) to forsake all else and follow Him.

And that’s where I want my focus to be.

Why I Observe Yom Kippur

For a few years now, I have sought to set aside the day of Yom Kippur (or the day before, as that has fit my schedule better a couple of times) for Sabbath rest, reflection, and communion with God.

This year, I took off today to observe the holiday. When asked by a coworker how I would be spending my day off, I answered “Celebrating Yom Kippur.” That brought up the obvious follow up question, “Are you Jewish?”

No, I’m not Jewish. I observe Yom Kippur because as I read the Bible, I was always fascinated by the Day of Atonement ceremony. This day was the one day each year that anyone was ever allowed into the Holy of Holies, where God resided. And the passage into the Holy of Holies was only allowed by the spilling of a lot of blood.

The Day of Atonement, like all biblical ceremonies, pointed to the coming Messiah. This coming Messiah would shed his blood so that all–not just the High Priest–could enter the Holy of Holies, where God dwelt.

Jesus was this Messiah, which was evidenced by this occurence when he died: “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51, NIV). No longer was there a heavy curtain protecting us from God…we were invited in. No more blood of bulls was needed: the blood of Jesus was enough.

So with that great sacrifice in mind, I soberly spend this day considering what our Messiah has done, setting myself at His feet by reading His Word and praying that He mold my heart. What a great God we serve!

Need to Ponder

I’ve missed blogging. Mostly, I’ve missed the opportunity blogging gives me to think through an issue.

While I haven’t blogged much, I’ve still been tweeting. That’s fine, but you don’t have to put a lot of thought into something that you’re going to say in 140 characters. It’s easier to stay on the surface with issues when you have the excuse that you can’t write more than a line or two.

That said, I hope to spend some time thinking and hopefully blogging on a few topics. The ones that are rolling through my mind include:

1. Millennials and the Syria question

2. Women in the workplace

3. Being a hypocrite

4. Betrayal

5. Why Christians can’t keep their opinions to themselves

6. Citizenship questions

7. Singleness at 30

Among other things. I’m making no promises or excuses. What has been on your mind lately?

Mastering Time

Example: prisoner-made purses made out of cigarette wrappers, which sell for 100s of dollars

Last week’s vacation in Wisconsin was very relaxing. While we were outside of cell coverage and without Internet, we did take advantage of the cabin’s satellite TV to catch up on “bad guy” reality television like Cops and Lockup.

This prompted a discussion of how some prisoners are incredibly creative; too bad they didn’t use that creativity to good use. Songs, art, decorations, tattoos…many of the featured prisoners find a craft and stick at it until they can make something with it.

But are prisoners necessarily a more creative lot? Perhaps. A case could perhaps be made that creative people struggle more with structure and rules.

I have a different idea. I think it’s more likely that they become so good at their chosen craft because they focus on it. Compared to us on the outside, they have fewer distractions. No cell phone constantly buzzing with texts, emails, and updates. In most cases, there are no computer games or mindless Internet surfing for hours.

Though I’m sure they can be distracted by many of the same worries, their world is designed to be smaller than ours. So, to cope, some become intensely focused. There are examples of those who are intensely focused outside prison as well. Professional athletes and top politicians come to mind.

But I think this type of driven focus isn’t as common among the free. With our freedom comes the opportunity to flit between many different fancies. I want to be a more focused individual. I’m not willing to go to prison to do it, so I’m going to have to find ways to remove distractions for myself.

What priorities are most important to me? Do my moment-by-moment decisions reflect those priorities?

I’m still working out the practical side of this desire. After I go check out Facebook, anyway.

Photo by cliff1066

June Goal Update

In June, I completed 2 goals.

14. Reread (or listen to the audio of) 20 books. 11/20

45. Journal 500 times. 98/500

47. Blog 303 times. 47/303

48. Read the Bible through in 5 different versions. 1412/5945 chapters

Completely finished with the first version, the NIV.

55. Write 101 letters or encouraging emails. 63/101

58. Donate $1001 (above what I give to the church). 590/1001

61. See my niece 6 times. 2/6

6 months was a long time without seeing her. I won’t have to wait so long next time…and I get to meet my nephew then as well!

63. Volunteer 101 hours. 95.5/101

Power Camp helped me get a jump on this one…almost there!

67. Visit a state I’ve never been to. – Completed 6/30/2013

Went to Wisconsin on vacation. I completed a few other goals there too, but that was in July.

72. Have  $X in savings. 42.68%

After a setback, I’m moving in a positive direction again.

74. Pay down student loan to below $X. 21.05%

78. Wear a skirt or dress to work 50 times. - Completed 6/27/2013

82. Read 250 books. 54/250

83. Read 5 scholarly works. 3/5

May Goal Update

May just ended, right?

Better late than never…I want to get this posted before I leave for vacation this weekend. I’ll be in Wisconsin with my family, where I’ll have the opportunity to complete several of my goals.

For May, I completed 1 goal and worked on several others:

7. Watch 10 movies I’ve wanted to see. Completed 5/26/2013

Watched Star Trek Into Darkness in the theaters. Also watched The Avengers, Iron Man, United 93, Atlas Shrugged 2, and Into the Wild. I was a movie-watching overachiever.

14. Reread (or listen to the audio of) 20 books. 9/20

45. Journal 500 times. 91/500

47. Blog 303 times. 46/303

48. Read the Bible through in 5 different versions. 1167/5945 chapters

55. Write 101 letters or encouraging emails. 62/101

58. Donate $1001 (above what I give to the church). 510/1001

60. Throw out/recycle/donate 50 other things. 10/50

63. Volunteer 101 hours. 75/101

78. Wear a skirt or dress to work 50 times. 48/50

82. Read 250 books. 49/250

Sadness, Loss, and Hope

I’m emotionally raw. Staying up too late last night watching coverage of the rescue and recovery efforts in Moore hasn’t helped that.

I know I don’t talk about it much these days, but Oklahoma is near and dear to my heart. I spent 4 years of growth there, making lots of memories, getting to know lifelong friends, and (occasionally) studying.

In 1999, I was still living in Kansas, where we experienced our own May 3rd tornado. When I moved to Norman (one suburb over from Moore) in 2001, I remember watching the community grow and rebuild after that tornado with the highest recorded winds in history. Then in 2003, during final’s week, a tornado hits Moore again as we huddled up in our dorm fifteen minutes away.

When I heard yesterday’s storm was headed to Moore again, I couldn’t believe it. How does a community as small as Moore handle yet another storm? To see tragedy strike anywhere isn’t easy, but it’s not hard to think of it as just a news story.

After being away from the area for 8 years, I don’t have too many friends there anymore. Still, I know these people, these neighborhoods, these landmarks. For me, this was not one of the things you think, “Oh, that’s sad” and immediately turn your attention elsewhere.

Hearing about the school struck with a direct hit of this massive tornado made me instantly think of Newtown. It wasn’t long before the news coverage went there as well. To the news  anchors, it was the heroic acts of the teachers in the face of imminent death that was the connecting link. There’s definitely a story there.

But more than that, I pondered the link between the two as consequences for sin. Please read this carefully, because sometimes statements like this can be misunderstood and/or stripped of their context. I know others still have made statements like this and have meant that natural disasters are a direct judgment on specific people for specific sins. That’s not what I’m saying here.

Both cases like Newtown and natural disasters are caused by sin. In the case of the former, it’s the individual(s) perpetrating the crime who are sinning, following our first father and the sin nature that is in each one of us. But natural disasters, too, are caused by sin.

Because of the original sin (and each and every one thereafter), we live in a fallen world where such things as super-tornadoes can and do happen. Not primarily as “acts of God” (though they are within the sovereignty of God) but as indirect “acts of man.”

Were those affected by this storm more guilty than you or me? No. We all bear the guilt.

At the same time, through the death of the perfect Son of God on our behalf, we have the right to draw near to the One who comforts and heals. I pray that during this time of loss and tragedy more people will be drawn towards the only One who can provide eternal relief to our sad plight.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

I shameless borrowed that illustration from Facebook. If you made it, let me know and I’d be happy to credit you or take it down. Thank you.