Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Weirdly Bored

I have not been bored for a long time, but today I definitely am. Usually I'm home and have lots to do. I'm currently visiting my family, and my brother's doing homework, so he's no fun. My dad and sister went to the big city to get some shopping done, but I said no because I was not about to spend more hours in the car after all the hours to get here. My mom's running errands, and I'm bored. As you can see, it is somewhat my own fault for not getting back in a car, so you are under no obligation to feel bad for me. Also problematic is the fact that I don't want to sit AT ALL, so reading and watching movies are possibilities, but no, thank you. Technically, you could do both of those things without sitting (and I have, or I sat on the floor, or I stretched while the move was on), but I'm just not feeling it right now. I did walk for 1.5 hours earlier, so it helped some, but I have really not moved enough in the last couple of days. It's amazing how much visiting involves sitting and not moving! I am standing now as I type this, though it's still killing me a little to be this still. (Yes, I'm fidgeting. No, it's not enough.) I was hoping to help my parents with stuff on their acreage, but the weather is NOT having that. So, here I am.

Anyway, the fun part was that I got to see a bunch of friends and their kids. One of the 5 year olds watching me at meal time exclaimed, "You eat a lot!" She had no idea why we laughed. I told another 5 year old that he couldn't lick his own elbow. His eyes got huge and he set out to prove me wrong, but he could not. The best was my friend's 2 year old who asked if I could stay at her house for "happy Thanksgiving." I would have been so happy to say yes!

Okay, my mom's home, so we'll start cooking now, I'm sure. Hope you're all having a good Thanksgiving week!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

God's Plan

I've written things about God's plan before. I'm not going to link those posts here (because I don't remember exactly when I wrote them, and I'm too lazy to go look). Anyway, the gist of it all is that I think that sometimes we take the idea of God's plan too far, as in, we start to see everything as an act of God; thus reducing God to some divine puppet master and as puppets, it reduces our free will as well. I stand by that, because I can't see God causing someone to choose drunk driving, leading to someone else's death. I can't accept that God sends a tornado through a town and kills people with it. And so forth. It's not exactly what people mean when they chirp, "It's all a part of God's plan", but sometimes I think the meaning can devolve to that on some level.

However, I am feeling led to rest in the tension of the "both...and" right now. People of God are often called to become comfortable in the tension of paradox. On the one hand, God is not a puppet master pulling the strings. He is not directing natural disasters, nor causing sins and mistakes that cause pain and suffering. On the other hand, He does have a plan, in and through all of it. It is all a part of His will. Even if we make a distinction between what He actively plans for our lives and what He allows to happen in a fallen world that can lead us forward, it is all His will.

I am thinking of a friend of mine who lost her 2 month old a year ago. I cannot possibly think that God would actively cause a baby to die like that. However, if my friend's suffering is not in some mysterious way a part of His plan, then that would make it meaningless. It cannot be meaningless. Her child's life, his death, her suffering and that of her family, and his life now in heaven are full of meaning, purpose, and redemption. In some mysterious way that I cannot begin to understand, it is a part of His will, and a part of his plan.

Likewise, when something extremely good comes out of the midst of sin, it's hard to understand. How can a good God's plan include sin? Again, it comes to the "both/and". It is never His will for someone to sin, but His grace can still abound in the midst of that. His saving plan is not threatened by that sin. It can still be His will that things happened the way that they do.

I don't fully understand it all. I just know that if I am going to be able to trust God fully, I have to see His will in all of it. Every messy piece of it. Not as a puppet master, but as a loving Savior, who is redeeming it all.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

What's Going On Here

That's not a question, that's a statement. The obvious answer is not much. That's only true, though if you are talking about what is going on in my house this weekend.

One thing did happen in my house. I was cleaning, and I didn't want to move my rocking chair to sweep and then move it back. I decided it was in the way and put it in my back room (where all of the extra crap is). I love it this way. I haven't sat in it for months anyway, but I would set things on it and use the footstool for a desk of sorts when I was sitting on the floor. I didn't think I was ready to get rid of it until I got a table for the living room. However, it is gone now (or around the corner, anyway), and I LOVE it.  See, I have been sitting on my couch too much (because I always sit in the same position, and not only is it the same position all the time, but it's a terrible posture). I couldn't figure out why I was too lazy to sit on the floor, but let me tell you something. Now that the chair is gone and I have the extra space, I have spent the day sitting on the floor. And stretching and rolling out and trying different movements. I didn't realize that the chair was acting as a physical and mental barrier until it was gone.

Speaking of different movements, I was hiking down some icy spots this weekend on the trail. One of the ways to do this is to step sideways. I did that with my right side facing down the mountain at first. Then I decided that I'd better make sure to even myself out, so I started down the next icy patch with my left side on the downhill side. Holy moly! My upper body- almost of its own volition- kept trying to twist back the other way. I could hardly do it! I found that if it wasn't too stiff or if there was no ice, it was easy to side step to the left first. It's only when it was more challenging that I had to fight my own body. I'm not exactly sure why this is, but I have a theory. The eyes have a lot to do with a lot of our movement, and a lot of us tend to neglect the left side to some degree (I'm just barely beginning to get into some of this, so I can't tell you much more than that as to why, though I think... neural pathways??) Anyway, I have clearly not used my left side as much and I think that's why when there were all the challenges, my body wanted to use the more practiced side. That's not how I roll, though. Left side needs to do some work!

Wow. I didn't mean to get side tracked into all of that. The really exciting thing this weekend is that my brother and SIL had their twins this weekend. They had to deliver a few weeks earlier, but everyone is doing REALLY well!! I have also found out that I live 1,069 miles away from my brother. I honestly never cared before this weekend, but now I care a great deal. I am also extremely, extremely thankful that there is digital media and my brother can send whatever photos whenever. Awesome! Like the one of my little niece who apparently currently has a preference for sleeping with one leg in the air. Whatever, sweet little weirdo. In this family, that is likely just the first of many quirks! (I wonder if my SIL really knew what she was getting into...?)

This has been extra special on so many levels. It is the first niece and nephew on my side of the family, it's twins, they, like so many people, have struggled with sub fertility and miscarriages. They haven't shared a lot of their struggles with me personally, but thanks to so many of you being open about your feelings, I have some idea. I think my absolute favorite photo (okay, one of) is the one of my SIL holding both of the twins. The joy on her face is so priceless.

I will say, in the grand tradition of blogging TMI, that this has all been made even more interesting due to some timing of PMS. Thankfully, this did not pull away at all from the wonderfulness of all that is happening, but it did highlight all that is not happening in my world. Things were extra stark there for a couple days especially leading up to their birth. Thankfully now that they're here and I'm distracted by their sweet selves as well as the hormones being less stupid, I am now able to get excited about movement and such again, but there were a couple of days there...

Now, I'm going to finish this rambling post with a little observation. As I've been getting rid of crap, I had some DVD's that I got rid of without a second thought, but others that I have saved to re-watch so I could decide if I wanted them or not. Today "Sleepless in Seattle" came up. Can someone please tell me why that one's a classic? I used to like it, but in watching it today, all I could think was, "She's bat crap crazy, and he's an idiot not to get a restraining order!" It is leaving the building.

How's your weekend? Are you adjusting to the time change?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Science vs. God: The First Creation Account

In the first post, I talked a little about the second account of creation and how that does not seem inconsistent with science (at least to me). In the second post, let's talk a bit about the first creation account- those infamous 7 days.

Okay, I've already told you that while I believe that there is truth in the creation account in that God created the world and that He did so in an orderly manner, I am in no way tied to the idea that the those so-called "7 days" were actually 24 hour periods, nor that there were literally 7 of them. It is teaching a certain point, not that it has to be literally true. For example, we need to understand that for the Hebrews, 7 was a sacred number of completion or perfection (please feel free to double check my understanding of that, I'm working from memory on that one, and may be a little off). In other words, there was an order to creation and it was done well or even perfectly done.

We're not going to start with the Bible today, we're going to start with wikipedia. I know, it's not very scientific of me, but I wanted to review the history of the earth and I don't have all year. (In other words, I'm not going for exact science here, but general ideas, so even though I'm trying to be correct, this is not meticulous.) The theory is that after the Big Bang, there was a formation of the solar system and the sun, followed by the formation of the earth 4.5 billion years ago. Initially the earth was basically hot magma, but as it began to cool and crust, it allowed for the condensation of water over the surface of that. There is a hypothesis that as the crust began to form, there was an impact with this photo-earth with another proto-planet that caused ejection of part of the earth's mantle that formed the moon. (Fascinating, no? I guess I never thought about exactly how the moon came to be.)

Anyway, to the best of my understanding, as the crust began to cool somewhat, it allowed for condensation and the oceans to form. Continents, though different than ours now, would have formed and eventually the change in the atmosphere would have allowed for the growth of bacteria, which led to greater oxygen in the atmosphere, and allowed for the formation of more life as we know it. Interestingly, the article referred to 3 atmospheres, the first being elements of helium and hydrogen from the solar nebula, the second caused by (as best as I can understand it) from a combination of the earth letting off gases and from anything coming into the earth's atmosphere at the time being vaporized. This led to an atmosphere of water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and smaller amounts of other gases. The article is not very clear on the 3rd atmosphere. (What? Wikipedia is an imperfect source?!) Anyway, I'm assuming that it can only be our current atmosphere. By the way, the article mentions that the oceans and atmosphere would have started to form as the earth formed. It also mentions that as the planet cooled, it allowed for the formation of clouds and rains created the oceans.  So, for an imperfect, but much more in depth history, here's where I was reading.

I also found a bit of a timeline for the formation of life:

Origin of earth
First life (unicellular)
Multicellular life
Land plants
Flowering plants

Now, lets talk about the Bible. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep."

Did you know that immediately after the Big Bang, apparently no light could get through? I think that it's funny that the Bible says that "the earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep" and the modern website says, "The early soup [the vast array of fundamental particles from the big bang] would have been impossible to look at because no light would have carried inside it." According to the website, about 380,000 years after the Big Bang, light would have been able to shine through.

Back to the Bible. Then God said, "Let there be light." As I understand the current theory of the universe, there would have been some formless light before the stars etc began to take more shape, but if we narrow it down to our own solar system, the sun came before the earth. It is interesting to me that at the very beginning of the earth is when the moon formed and we had the sun and the moon from early on. Sure, if you wanted the first creation account and science to line up perfectly, I suppose you would have to say that the moon formed before the earth, but that's not what current scientific thinking supports. The point of this exercise is not to force all the pieces to fit exactly perfectly, but to show that both science and religion support the idea of things having a certain order and that they are not wholly inconsistent with one another (even if they are not an exact match, which would be weird, actually, if you think of the way that knowledge develops).

I like that the next thing is that the firmament of the heavens and the waters began to form, both above and below. As discussed, the oceans and atmosphere would have started to form at the same time as the earth began to take greater shape. Then the land began to form. Again, this is not inconsistent with what science tells us.

The Bible then goes on to talk about the plants forming on dry land, then the arrangement of the stars and the seasons. Then there is the life in the oceans and the creatures of the earth that are formed.

Now, if these (scientific theory and the Bible) were to match up strictly, the creation of the lights of the heavens would be before the creation of life. Life in the oceans before the creation of land vegetation, etc. The authors of the Bible did not have access to current scientific theory. Nor were they trying to explain the science of what happened. To artificially try to make them fit exactly would do violence to both science and religion. My point is that there are periods of formation according to science that give us a deeper understanding of how it all came to be. Science gives us an opportunity to study each of those "days" that the Bible speaks of. Theories of science should be developed by scientific thought and experimentation. Deeper understanding of religion should come from religious studies. However, everything in life is interdependent. So while our religion should not determine our understanding of scientific information, it is just as artificial to separate the two unnecessarily.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Science vs. God; Wait, I Don't Understand the Question

When I was in college a friend and fellow biology major said something to me along these lines: "I used to believe in God, but now I've studied too much science."

My eloquent response: "..."

That statement doesn't make sense. Sure, in a cultural context, I get where she was going with that, but my brain is sometimes too literal and filters away some of the context. What in the heck does the one have to do with the other? Why would science preclude God or God, science? I was a biology major as well, and for me science has always heightened my awareness of God. Don't get me wrong, science should not be studied for religious answers any more than religion should give us scientific answers. The two are not the same, but in my opinion, they also are not opposing.

Let's talk about the stupid creation/evolution discussion. That one annoys the snot out of me. This is often presented as an either/or proposition. EITHER you believe that God created the earth in a week, OR you believe that there is only science and evolution is how everything came into existence.

I believe that God created the earth through evolution. I know, sounds like a silly Pollyanna compromise, doesn't it? I promise that I have more to base this on than the desire to have it all. First off, I do believe that the Bible is God's word. I believe that the Bible speaks truth, but I also know that it was written by humans and that we have to be careful to understand the context in which those humans were writing. My understanding is that the humans from those earliest records would have been passing down verbal history in the form of stories before anything was written down. These stories would contain truth, but not necessarily be literal history as we understand it. Therefore, in the creation accounts, the important part to me in the first account is that God created the universe. It has always been explained to me that while the seven days of creation could have been literal 24 hour days, it could also simply mean that the narrator was trying to convey that there was a certain order and process to creation. The Bible itself does not require us to hang our belief system on either thing. They can't both be true, but whichever is true does not threaten the greater truth of the Bible, which is that God is the Creator and there was a certain order or design to His creation.

In college, when I was studying science, I could simply study science. What I mean is, I didn't have to try to bend science to fit some sort of religious philosophy, which does a disservice to the science and to the religion. Science, if nothing else, shows that there is an order to the universe. If there wasn't, it would be pointless to study science. If there was no order, there could be no equations, no expectations that conclusions could be drawn as a result of experiments and so forth. To me, it does not prove or disprove God, but there is a logical consistency that makes sense to me.

I think I've probably told you, that evolution didn't make as much sense to me at first, and that I may have fallen a little on the creationist side of things at one time. However, evolution within species was too obvious to ignore, and from there it's not a hard thing to grasp. Decisions about things like that should be based on science, and not the Bible. I was thinking about it one day and how if we evolved all the way back from apes, reptiles and on down the line to that original single celled organism in the dust... Then it hit me, where have I heard this before?

Genesis 2:7 "[T]hen the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."

Just because we anthropomorphize God and imagine Him forming a clay figurine and then actually breathing into it and transforming it to a live creature, doesn't mean that's the way it happened! What I love is that science can help show us how much more amazing God is than our limited and childish imaginations could ever come up with! Perhaps, out of the dust of the ground, God formed life; that single celled life that gradually formed through evolution into human life. Both evolutionists and creationists have us coming from the dust of the ground; maybe if we could drop our beloved "isms" for a while, we could get to a place where God and science are not at war with one another, but properly understood can give us a greater understanding of reality as a whole.

I have more to say, but this post is long enough. There'll be another in a day or two.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


I read a post the other day that included these exact words:

I have to admit that I find much of Colorado rather meh.  It’s a dessert after all, lots of dry grass and sandy brown dirt. 

C'mon, now. You can't expect me to take a statement like that without comment! Actually, I can't fault the second sentence. The high plains in the east are arid and desert-y. I happen to like it, but can understand why it's not everyone's cup of tea. Plus, even though I like it okay (and am completely biased by the fact that I love this state), I don't spend much time in the east, I head for the west. Colorado, meh? I'm outraged, I tell you! Outraged! Here is what I have to say to that:

Never mind, I am not outraged. I feel pity. Anyone who could say those words either does not appreciate the amazingness of creation when it is before them (definitely NOT Donna's problem, I assure you!) or they have never in their lives truly experienced Colorado. Never seen the mountains being awoken by the sunrise, first dusky pink, then blending to gold before the full light of day settles in. Has never sat next to the music of one of the many waterfalls cascading down the side of the mountain or pouring out of the rock itself, never experienced the peace of a mountain lake with peaks rising high above, surrounding and guarding it. These are the words of a person who has never stumbled into a carpet of wildflowers, either in a mountain meadow or high above treeline, surviving and thriving in a climate that should not allow anything to survive, let alone these tiny, delicate flowers. Has never gotten to meet the animals where they are and be reminded that we were certainly not the first here. Hasn't seen the aspen leaves shimmer, first with the new green of the spring and last with the gold of the fall. Has never gotten to experience the peaks go through the stages of a dusting of snow, to fully covered, to summer with the flowers blooming between the leftover snowfields. They have certainly never gotten to experience the range of history, including native history, mining, and dinosaurs. They have never been on a peak where they felt like they should be able to touch the clouds, or gotten the experience of standing on a peak above the clouds. Even in the desert areas, how can you not fall in love after seeing a cactus in bloom, or a wildflower poking up in the midst of rock and sandy soil?

Note: I don't actually feel either outrage or pity, I just like to give Donna a hard time. Although it is true that the one line did get me rather fired up (hence this post), but if you actually read her entire post it is about her getting to experience some of the wonders that are here, and more yet, the God Who made them. Donna, next time you're out here, let me know! I'll show you Colorado!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Quest to Minimize

I think I mentioned this Spring that the basement flooded. (Yes, because you remember and care about that from so long ago, right?) Anyway, it did. There was some stuff down there that I wanted to keep, but that I didn't know what to do with, so into the basement it went. Most of it was just stuff, but there were a few photos and keepsakes that I had forgotten were down there. I didn't put really important stuff down there, as it is an unfinished basement, but there were some things that I probably wouldn't have left there if I had remembered that they were there.

All that to say that when the flooding happened, it was much worse than I thought it could get, and it drowned my stuff. I had to wade to get it out, and pretty much it all had to be trashed. There were keepsakes that I'd had since 2nd grade. There were some photo collages (even though most of the photos were digitally backed up). As I was dragging all the crap up the stairs, dripping and starting to mold, there was a pang at having to put it all in the trash. The surprising thing for a sentimental person like myself was that once it was there, I felt... lighter. More free.

I am now motivated. Get rid of all the stuff!  I am realizing that there is a lot of stuff that I am holding on to because I might want it someday, but in the meantime it is simply weighing me down. The vast majority of it, I will never remember was there (like most of the stuff in the basement). The stuff that I do think of someday that I may wish I had is all stuff that I can still live without quite easily. You know, like the things that sound convenient, but they're not because they're buried in all your other stuff and you can't find it? Yeah. That stuff. Good riddance.

I have gotten rid of a bunch of books- trite, banal stuff, not the classics. And not the trite stuff that I actually like. Stuff that was sort of okay when I got it, but that I outgrew years ago. DVD's that I never have time to watch anyway. Kitchen stuff that I never use, like the grilled sandwich maker that my mom got me one year... When you don't eat gluten and dairy, it's kind of a waste!  I enjoyed it back in the day before I knew how much that stuff affected me, but it's over now. I've been getting rid of some college and grad school books and notes that seemed important, but after a decade of not looking at most of them, I am coming to realize that they are probably not that important. Etc.

I love it. It's getting addictive! Some of my closets and drawers are so much fun to open now because they contain things that I actually use, and not things that get in my way when I'm looking for the things that I actually use. I got rid of an entire small bookshelf today, which was awesome, because there wasn't room for it in my house, anyway. And I got rid of enough stuff that I no longer needed it! My mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas, but I kind of don't want anything, because I have what I need, and I really don't want anything more right now. I want less. There is a long ways to go and a lot of stuff to sort through, but a little at a time it is happening.

So far, what I am learning is that a lot of us have a touch of hoarder in us. We keep stuff because we spent money on it, or someone else spent money on it and gave it to us, or because we might need or want it someday, or any number of other reasons. It often leads to needing other things, like containers and organizers for all of the stuff, sometimes even bigger houses to fit all the stuff. (Have you ever noticed how all real estate shows have the prospective home owners talking about the need for "plenty of storage"?) Also, there is the time and energy involved with keeping the stuff  clean and somewhat organized.

I question, in my case at least, if some of the necessity in holding onto the stuff is a bit of holding on to some sort of illusion of control in my life.  I am prepared for various circumstances because I have the stuff that I need, that sort of thing. I can see how a vow of poverty leads to more trust in God's control and provision, rather than our own. I can also see how, as this progresses, you could be more and more detached to the "things" in your life and more and more attuned to the people and experiences in your life. I know, it sounds a little overblown, but this is seriously what I've been experiencing so far!

Obviously, what is minimal to one person is excessive to another. What one person needs, another can't imagine needing. Storage space can be a very good and necessary thing. The needs of an entire family are a lot different than the needs of one and so forth. Still, I can tell you that I took a trunk load to a donation site today, and immediately came home and starting putting together the next load!