Saturday Summary

So, here’s what’s been happening this week.

I wrote on Sunday my reflections about Father’s Day, and what it means after pregnancy loss.

Monday, I talked about celebrating my birthday by going to a fancy steakhouse!

Then, on Tuesday, I shared my summer wardrobe.

Wednesday was the longest day of the year, and I celebrated by bringing awareness to Alzheimer’s disease on Instagram.

On Thursday, I shared some recent pictures of my adorable dogs.

And on Friday, I rambled on about the dangers of pursuing an authentic life.

How was your week?

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Friday Ramble: Authenticity

This is probably going to be a true ramble because these thoughts haven’t completely solidified in my head, but there is an edge to them that I can’t get rid of.

So why not just share it with you anyway.

Authenticity

I’ve talked about authenticity and living honestly on this blog.  I don’t think I’m changing my mind about what I’ve said before, but I’ve seen a danger in using this terminology without balance.

Here’s what I’m talking about.

I caught myself the other day talking about “living my truth.”  And for some reason, when the words came out of my mouth that time (because they have come out of my mouth before), they felt wrong, disturbing, like something was off.

And I realized that there is a danger in pursuing an authentic life.  The danger is that I can be focused so much on living my truth that I forget I’m supposed to be living THE truth, that is in Jesus Christ.  I can center my life so much inward that I never look upward and lose all my energy to live outward.

 

But no matter how inward I will go, I will never understand myself or know myself the way God knows me.  He knew me ever since I was knitted together in my mother’s womb.  He knows what will make me smile, what will make me belly laugh, what will make me cry, and what makes me scared.  He wraps his arms around me the second before the heartbreak.  And he doesn’t let go until the panic washes through me.

And God is proud of his creation.  He roots for us.  He’s the father in the stands demanding the coach put his kid in because he believes in us.  We can do it, not because of some secret we have figured out on our own, but because His strength is pulsing through our spirit.  We got this, even if we have no control over whatever this is, because ultimately, He’s got this.

I can’t continually try to get to know myself, to perfect myself, before going out in the world.  It doesn’t work that way.  I thought I had to live perfectly, to know perfectly, to speak perfectly, to engage perfectly before going out and making a difference in the name of Jesus.  I thought it would make it easier.  But I’ve learned that life is way more complicated and messy, and self-perfection isn’t sustainable, engageable, or even effective.  It’s going to take a mess of a person to reach into the nooks and crannies of the world to reflect a light of Jesus in the darkest corners.

And every time I obsessively try to find out who I am, my truth, my way, my light, I forget that there is only One Truth, One Way, and One Light that is Jesus.  I can’t forget that.  He knows the way through this life.  He said it was gonna be hard.  He said we would suffer.  But the only way I will feel complete and whole is through Him.

Again, there is nothing wrong with living an authentic life, a good life, a life lived in truth and honesty and transparency.  I’m all for that.  And I even think that Jesus wants us to live authentically, honestly, truthfully, transparently.  But I also think He calls us to live holy and righteous lives, led by the Spirit (not our own), with our feet firmly planted in His Truth.

What do you think?

This Father’s Day

I’m taking a little break from Ephesians, which I will pick back up next week.

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Michael came home one day this week, I forget which one, and talked to me about staying home this Sunday, like we did on Mother’s Day.  He was saying it more for me than for him because I’ve just been extra sensitive lately, what with Mother’s Day just last month and my birthday this week, and he thought it might not be good for me to be exposed to the public on this particular day.

And I wasn’t sure I totally agreed with him until I went shopping for a Father’s Day card for him.  He got me the most amazing heartfelt card for Mother’s Day, and I wanted to do the same for him.  But it was hard.  Picking up card after card that talked about how good that dad was with the kids, knowing that Michael hasn’t had that chance yet.  I finally found a card that centered more around family than fatherhood, as well as a card from the dogs (thank you for whoever decided to start making those).

I was at dinner with Michael last night for my birthday (since my birthday falls in the week and not the weekend), and I took the opportunity to thank him.  He has been so supportive and open to understanding what I am going through.  I know that the loss of our daughters affected him differently than it affected me, but he has sat with me every time I cried.  He walks with me through the uncomfortable moments.  And it means the most to me when he just gets it, not because he understands personally, but that he strives to learn by listening.

And that just frustrates me more that his daughters aren’t here to celebrate him tomorrow.  He is an amazing father and will be an amazing father to any other kids that enter into our lives.

Father’s Day has always been special to me.  I was born on a Father’s Day.  I have an incredible dad.  I have a great father-in-law (who is loving and kind even though he has dementia).  I have had several mentors in my life who have been father-like to me.  I’m thankful for all of them.  And of course, I’m thankful for my Heavenly Father who is with me daily.

I look forward to the day when my husband can be celebrated by his children as well. But until then, we will continue leaning on each other and leaning on our Heavenly Father who walks with us.

Saturday Summary

So, here’s what’s been happening this week.

The second installment of my Summer Study on Ephesians.

Monday, I talked about two different charity events that Michael and I attended.  One of them we even organized!

Then, on Tuesday, I did a review of the new Wonder Woman movie

Wednesday, I showed off my husband’s incredible talent of maintaining saltwater aquariums (as well as debuting the upgrade!)

On Thursday, I wrote an update on our foster dog.

And on Friday, I talked about what it means to me to grow another year older.

How was your week?

A Ramble for my Birthday

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Next week, I will turn another year older.

When I entered my 30s, I was excited.  I felt like I was leaving so much of the pressure to perform, to meet the expectations of society as a 20-something.  And I did.  But now that I’m well into my 30s, I realize that I merely swapped those expectations for new ones.  However, I’m definitely more sure of myself than I was in my 20s.  And I know what I like and I don’t like, and I’m not afraid to try something new without having that need to do it perfectly the first time.  I’m learning how to switch off the people pleasing filter in my brain when making decisions.  It doesn’t work every time, but I am learning and I am okay that I’m learning.

A couple of weeks ago, it dawned on me that next week, I will be ten years older than my mom when she had me.  Now, to be fair, when I was ten years younger than I am now, I was engaged to be married, and I would only be married for six months, and I’m really glad that I didn’t get pregnant that first year of marriage because I had way too much growing up to do.

But the idea is not lost on me that time is slowly ticking away.  I will soon reach the “every pregnancy is a high-risk pregnancy” age.  Though to be fair, considering my history, every pregnancy already is a high-risk one, but there are just so many statistics out there that get scary.  On the other hand, I haven’t really been living up to the regular statistics anyway, so who is to say I’m going to start doing that anytime soon?

And even though I feel more in tune with myself, I have acquired more of a hesitation and filter on the things I want to say.  Partially, because in the moment, my brain is usually just jumbled with an incoherent word knot that only unravels as I leave a situation.  Partially, because I realize that motivations and intentions of others are always more complicated than I thought they were.  Things have become grayer to me.  I am slower to judge a situation or a person because I know I will never have all of the facts.

And even though these first years of my 30s have been wrought with pain and loss, there is so much I’m grateful for.  I am grateful for the friendships that have developed here in Dallas, and here in the blogosphere.  I am grateful that I have a husband who has become the breadwinner so that I can heal and hopefully someday get pregnant again.  I am thankful for the tasks God has given me – with the Alzheimer Walk, the SPCA, Hope Mommies.  I am thankful that he turned my sorrow and grief into a ministry, a place I can shine His love and joy into the dark nooks and crannies of infertility and pregnancy loss.

And it’s not perfect, and never will be this side of eternity.  I’m learning to lean on God when I feel isolated and alone.  I am learning that I don’t have to be the best or have all the attention or be first to have value.  I am learning that I don’t have to have a lot of feedback in order to make a difference in someone’s life.   I’m learning to embrace my limitations and live within boundaries, and that neither one of these things makes me less than anyone else.  And even if someone wants to think of me as lower than them, I am learning not to feed that comparative attitude within myself.

I have no idea what this next year will bring me.  I’ll be honest, I’m not as excited as I was when I turned thirty.  But I know that God is here, present in my life.  So whatever this year brings – heartache or overwhelming joy, or both…

Bring it on.

Michael’s New Aquarium

Several years ago, one of Michael’s friends asked him to hold onto a 5-gallon tank (among other things) at our house while they were in the process of moving.  When they came back for their things, his friend told him that he could keep the tank.  Michael had a coral tank when he was younger, and I was excited for him to get back into something that he loves.

Then, it went from 5-gallons to 40-gallons.

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And today, that 40-gallon tank has evolved into this.

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The blue hue is coming from the LED lights above the tank.  When the lights are at the right intensity, some of the coral even glow.

Our library has evolved over the years when it came to aquariums.  At one point, he had 40-gallon tank and a frag tank where he grew coral to sell.  We have been snorkeling in the Caymans, and we try to go to aquariums or coral stores whenever we travel.  We have been to coral conferences, which was the reason we took a trip to Washington DC two years ago.  We were going to go to the one this year, but that was around the time our daughter died, so we choose to forego it.  We haven’t quite decided what we will do this year.

I’m so proud of how talented my husband is with this hobby.  The coral he has placed in this tank will grow and overwhelm the rocks, making a beautiful waterscape.  That will take several months, but when it’s all grown out, I will be sure to update you!

 

Wonder Woman

The reason I waited so long to see this movie was that I wanted to see it closer to my birthday (which is coming up in less than a week).  But, when Michael found out that the movie wasn’t going to be playing next weekend, we decided to celebrate part of my birthday early and see this movie last Saturday.  It was a surprise for me and a very good one.

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Side note: It’s interesting now that picking the movie theater is just as important as the movie itself.  One of our favorites is Moviehouse & Eatery because the food is made from scratch and there is always something on the menu I will enjoy.  This past Saturday I had a lobster roll, a seasonal special.  I didn’t take a picture because we got our food well into the movie, but it was delicious.

On to the movie.  The movie was every bit as fabulous as I have heard from friends and the unintentional glance on the internet.  It was empowering without being overly sexualized.  The actions scenes were well done.  I liked the slow-motion aspects of the fight scenes in order to highlight the graceful, yet strong, fighting styles of the Amazons, but the only critique I had was that it was done in every fight scene.  But it was still quite beautiful to watch.

The rest of this post will contain spoilers.  So, if you have not seen the movie, go see it and don’t read below.

Thank you.

As in everything I watch, I always look for the “God aspects” threaded through the narrative, and this story did not disappoint.  Of course, the story is based on the Amazons and the Greek myths, so there were gods included in the plot, but not THE God.

Diana grows up in paradise, being told the story of how mankind came to be.  Zeus created them to be good, passionate beings.  But Ares, Zeus’s son, got jealous and introduced war and power to mankind, making them forget how to be good.  So, Zeus sent the Amazons to reintroduce virtue and love to mankind.  But it didn’t last long, and eventually, Zeus, with the last of his power, manages to wound Ares, but not enough to kill him.  So, Ares would some day return and enslave mankind once again in a great war that would destroy them.

So, when Steve Trevor, a spy for Britain manages to show up on the island, talking about the Great War (WWI), Diana is convinced that Ares has shown up and enslaved mankind.  She is determined to kill him, and by doing so, releasing mankind back to the good that they were created to be.

But she learns along the way that mankind is not all good or all evil, but that each choice gives them an opportunity to go in one direction or another.  And later, she finds out that Ares hasn’t enslaved them, merely given them the knowledge or inspiration to destroy themselves, but that man chose to use that knowledge to destroy and gain power.

It reminded me of the Devil in Job 1 after God talks about his faithful servant, Job.  The Devil responds that Job is only faithful because of all of the good things he has, and if those were taken from him, he would no longer be faithful.  The Devil has no faith in mankind, only sees mankind as a thing unworthy of God.  Just like Ares saw mankind in the movie, as a thing that didn’t deserve Zeus’s love.

Of course, it’s not completely the same, but to see Ares walking among the bad guys, giving them ideas to perpetuate their baddie goals, it felt like the temptations we all face. We have a choice.  Choose love or choose destruction.

Wonder Woman has to decide whether or not mankind deserved redemption, knowing now that they aren’t forced to make these bad decisions.  And in the end, she chooses to love, and with that love, a chance for salvation for mankind from their own destructive choices.  Again, it’s easy to see those correlations within our own Christian narrative.  Not completely the same, of course.  Wonder Woman is not Jesus, but still love seeing these themes repeated throughout the story.

It is, indeed, a beautiful story and a beautiful film.  I highly recommend seeing it on the big screen. But if you don’t get the chance to see it in the theaters, then I would also recommend seeing it when it comes out on DVD.  This is definitely a movie I will want to own digitally!