12 November 2012

Elections, Cholesterol, and Remembrances

This morning I will try to sum up many of the things that I have been wanting to blog about the past several weeks, but haven't had time to. Last week was back to back to back work, teaching, make-up assignments for my students, and appointments. This week, I am thankful to be back into a normal schedule and to see the light at the end of the tunnel for this semester. Before I jump into what I've been mulling over recently, I want to share a verse of Scripture that I have memorized and have been repeating in my mind.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but He who lives in me. And the life that I now live, I live in faith in the Son of God; who loves me and who gave His life for me.                                                              Galatians 2:20
This verse has served as a constant reminder of the fact that, as Christians, we are not called to our lives or our plans, but to His. C.S. Lewis' metaphor of Christians being Little Christs is perhaps a bit strange when you first read it, but in the end, probably one of the best ways to illustrate what it means. I am thankful that God has given me much and that I have a very specific set of abilities, but we must never forget that we did not earn them, they were simply given out of a love the likes of which we will never see replicated outside of the Trinity - at least not on this side of life. And so today, I want to confess my selfishness and ask for His Spirit to truly enter into me; that I might be a bit more like the Little Christ I was meant to be. I think when one ponders the greatness and love of God, there are two ways we can react: 1) discouragement in the awareness that we can never quite reach the same level of grace no matter how much we try, and 2) encouragement in the truth that He just wants us to ask Him to help us try! Obviously, the latter is what He so desperately desires us to feel, and the former causes many people (including myself, much of the time) a great deal of dark moments. Quite frankly, I am starting to think that those dark moments from being discouraged instead of encouraged by the immensity of God actually pull us away from Him. How awful! So, take heart, and allow yourself to be encouraged by the vastness of the One we call Father, Lord, Alpha & Omega. For He is good, and He has given us all that we have and that we are.

Last week, we re-elected a man in whom I had a great deal of faith 4 years ago. It would seem that many still do, and I would really like to say that I am one of them. However, I was greatly troubled by this election. My husband, who had no doubts coming up to Election Week as to who he would vote for, will tell you that I agonized for weeks. Literally. I won't say more about who I did or didn't vote for, but I will say that somehow I was relieved when I heard "A Chicago ils font la fête!" last Wednesday. (I listen to a French podcast weekday mornings, in hopes to hear somewhat unbiased news of major events in the States.) When I then went to Facebook, I knew I had made a mistake, and that it would have been best to leave well enough alone. Am I not the only one exhausted by our generation's lack of ability to actually discuss and weigh options? All I feel like I have seen is full on trash talking and disrespectful comments worthy of a disgruntled hockey fan. (And mind you, I am very upset by the NHL lockout.) But sports and politics were never meant to be on the same playing field - forgive the pun. In our country, the talk shows about each of them certainly seem to be using the same vocabulary and making the same types of blanket statements. I understand that we are a nation where the freedom of speech is truly a gift. However, I believe it is positively embarassing that so many in this country think it is okay to openly disrespect our President and any candidate running for that office. While I know many felt there was simply not a "safe" choice this election, once you vote, it is out of your hands. It is then our job, I think, to support whoever is elected with the goal of uniting as one people under God and the stars and stripes. What good does it do to be bitter and angry about the outcome of this election? Of course it will impact us all, but in the meantime will we be best served by playing the role of Eeyore, or worse? My hope for the next 4 years is not that they will pass quickly so that we can "move on" or whatever those who dislike Obama have said, but rather, I hope that they will bear the fruit that this man who once impressed and inspired so many of us has been speaking of. If you have faith in God, then you must believe that everything, everything in this world happens for a reason. Sometimes, when it comes to horrible events such as the Holocaust or apartheid in South Africa, it is extremely hard to understand why God allows such things to pass. This is certainly not a subject I will attempt to tackle here. However, would you compare Obama's re-election to the Holocaust in "evil" or in "unalignment" with God's character? I just am baffled by the comments being made publicly on Twitter and Facebook, and by the relationships that are being torn apart because we cannot agree to disagree. Democrats and Republicans are not sports teams. They are people who have professed a certain set of general stance and belief on certain issues.

I am rambling and have probably offended anyone reading this. Much of it I just had to share and get off my chest, because I have been thinking it for the past several weeks. Hopefully you will understand that it comes out of a place of frustration with a generation glued to their iPhones and iPads, and who can hardly have the time to actually learn about a candidate's position. We are losing the ability to truly debate, to discuss something without storming out of a room. I confess that I am guilty of sometimes letting myself get overly emotional when discussing a big issue. But I truly believe that the key to our nation's "come back" is not who we elect, but rather that we learn to work together again. I truly, truly, pray for the President, that he would be able to do what he has set out to and start rebuilding trust and true communication between the two parties. He has quite the opportunity to do so, given that the House is largely Republican. I don't know if he will, but I have faith in him because I am an American and I choose to stand behind the men and women who lead this country. We have much to be proud of, and I think that our President should always be a part of that.

Moving on! Last week, I returned to the doctor to have a follow up appointment for my cholesterol, which back in August I learned was extremely high. It is hereditary, so I really wasn't sure that any changes would have much effect, and also was a bit skeptical given the fact that I already rarely ate fried or fatty foods and worked out regularly. However, I chose to make some changes such as cutting out butter nearly completely and trying to eat some of the foods that are celebrated for their benefits. I have started eating steel cut oats, sweet potatoes, avocados, and more fish. Luckily all of these are delicious and it just takes a bit more planning to eat more of them. It would seem that all of that paid off, because the results are in and my bad cholesterol is back into the normal zone and my good is way up! I was so relieved.

The last thing that I wanted to mention today is Veteran's Day. Last night, we watched part of a special featuring "Lieutenant Dan" and many gifted actors and musicians, along with an entire crowd full of military and their families. It is hard for me to listen to such accounts, because it seems to always bring me to a place emotionally that I really would rather not go back to - the constant wondering whether your loved one is okay, or if they will come home. I always had faith that God knew what He was doing, as He always does, but I just didn't know if I was strong enough to deal with Michael not making it back. Obviously, he has done, and I am thankful for that every day. So as we sit and listen to the accounts of those whose loved ones did not make it back, I am always deeply moved. The strength which is required to endure such trials is absolutely unimaginable to me. I am so thankful for each person that has stood up for his or her country overseas, and who wears the uniform of a soldier. My godbrother, Ryan, and his wife have been through deployments on land and sea and both returned safe and sound. My mom's aunt served as a nurse for many years and lived until she was into her 70's. Michael's grandfather was a chaplain in the Army, and many of his forefathers before him also served. I am surrounded by honorable men and women at home and out in my comings and goings, and I am so very grateful for their sacrifices. I pray that as time goes on, we would need to send less and less of our sons and daughters to protect our freedoms, and that the world would war less and unite more. But whatever happens, we are all fortunate to live in this country, and should be proud to do so. Thank you, Veterans!

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