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?

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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.

A Foster Update

I haven’t really updated on Shayla, but she is still in our home.

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Shayla enjoys the quiet of our house.  She has a nice little corner in the office that she spends most of her day, quite contently.  But that’s because she isn’t really interested in human interaction, or dogs for that matter.  Her anxiety levels were so high before I got her that she can’t seem to cross that line far enough to really enjoy interacting with others.

So, last week, after some talks with the vet, we have some new, nifty things to try with her, including a little anxiety medication to help her along with a spray that will also help her feel calm.  And she is actually starting to trust me.  In the morning, she stays close to me outside of the crate, which is a huge indication!

And last night, she spent the evening following me around as I made dinner.  And she even snuggled on the couch!  Granted, she still gets very jumpy and when she is scared or startled, it takes a good hot minute for her to calm herself down, but progress is being made!

I’m so thankful for the SPCA.  They have equipped me with training, one-on-one time with the behaviorist and the vet, and all of these tools to provide the best care for Shayla. They truly love the animals that walk through their doors, and they always try to do everything they can to help give them their best chance.

I think she still has a long way to go, but she is making wonderful strides with the new tools we are using to help her.  And some day she will be in her own home, with her loving family, and all of this anxiety will be a distant memory.

 

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!

Recent Happenings

Michael and I have been going and going lately, so I thought I would touch on a few things we’ve been doing.

First, on Thursday night, one of the partners at Michael’s firm invited to go bowling for charity at the Bowlounge in the Design District in Dallas.

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I had fun, but I was absolutely awful at bowling.  I don’t think I’ve bowled in at least a year, that I can remember.  And about mid-way through our first game, my wrist was like nope.  Still, it was so much fun bowling with the partner and his wife.  We were laughing the entire time and cheering each other on.  Plus there was a very cool guy there with an awesome bowling shirt.  The Dallas All Sports Association provides scholarships for underprivileged youth who have been accepted to a college or university.

And then, on Friday night, Michael and I organized a charity game night sponsored by our church.  We raised money for two organizations here in Dallas – CitySquare and Refugee Services of Texas.  It was so much fun, and it went late into the night.

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We also celebrated our friend Dave that evening.  He was trying to fund a Kickstarter for his new party game, the Greater Debate, and Friday, he met his goal!  We were so happy for him and celebrated with cake.

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We are so happy to be a part of such a giving and supportive community.  We are so grateful to have so many opportunities to be a part of things that are bigger than ourselves.

Summer Study: Ephesians 2

In truth, I picked Ephesians because it had six chapters, and Philippians had four.  I wanted a good solid 10 weeks of study in the Bible this summer.  Philippians is my favorite, but I hadn’t really delved into Ephesians.  I only picked it for a number of its chapters to match Philippians.

But this chapter couldn’t have come at a better time.

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The chapter begins with Paul telling the Ephesians more about how God’s rich grace has saved them from their sin, like in the first chapter.  How they all “gratified the cravings of their sinful nature, following its desires and thoughts, and were by nature objects of wrath.” (v. 3)  We are saved through Christ, through the grace through faith, not by our hands or by our works.

This leads up to the second part of the chapter, about the Gentiles and the Jews.  The Jews had been the chosen people for so long, their culture permeated with signs of this promise – from the annual festivals, to what they didn’t eat, even to circumcision.  This was still so prevalent, that in Ephesians 2:11, Paul mentions that the Jews were referring to the Gentiles as the “uncircumcised” and that they were “the circumcision.”  There was this cultural wall between these two peoples.

And here is where it gets good.

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Right now, this resonates with me.  In our world, we have so many cultures that are divided and hostile to each other – racially, ethnically.  Immigrant versus those who have generations born here.  Rich versus middle class versus poor.  Law enforcement versus minorities.  Over and over again, groups pitted against each other in hostility

He, himself, is our peace…by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.

We may not hold Jewish law over others around us, but we do hold our own bias cultural standards and expectations.  We expect people to behave in a certain way, to uphold customs they didn’t grow up with, and if they don’t, they haven’t earned a seat at our table, a place in the conversation.

But here is the rub!  The rest of verse 15 and verse 16:

His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

In Christ, there is no us vs them.  When Christ died to deliver us from our transgressions, he held us to the standard of the Spirit, not any cultural standard.  We are justified by his grace, not by our own wisdom or strength or expectations.  And it is by being unified in the Spirit that we are saved through the Spirit.  Because when we walk in the Spirit, we will not be gratified by the desires of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:16) or be objects of wrath.  Instead, we pursue peace.  We pursue peace instead of comfort, success, or expectation.

When it comes to those people in my life that I find hard to trust in relationship.  I don’t want to be hurt, and I’ve been hurt so many times, let down so many times by people I thought knew better.  Especially when it comes to this journey of pregnancy loss.  The majority of my friends and family and all of you in my wonderful community have been nothing but gracious, understanding, and sincere.  I’m quite spoiled, actually because I know that there are women who go through pregnancy loss without the support of a community like you.

But there are people who have said and done things, knowing what I have been through, that have hurt me.  I expected them to respond to me in one way, because obviously that is the way to handle the situation, and they don’t or are unable to, and I get hurt.  I get let down.  And I have to forgive, but that’s hard.

Because forgiveness is giving up that right to be hurt, giving up the right to set the expectations. To give God the control of that relationship, trust that He will heal that hurt, and respond in the ways of the Spirit, not the flesh.

It also means living by the Spirit’s expectations and not other people’s expectations.   And that means listening to the Spirit, praying and surrendering to God. After reading this chapter, it’s what I have been convicted to pursue, not on my own strength, but with the strength and guidance of Christ in my life.