Saturday, August 31, 2013
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
I'm still reeling over this recent explosion. I really feel like a part of my identity has been shaken - challenged. It wouldn't surprise me if this had been in the works for over a decade - as evidenced by things noticed by other alumni. Marwick-Boyd, the music and arts building, was never finished or remodeled, even as new buildings were erected on campus. In spite of numerous awards and honors collected by the faculty and students, I now have the vague and unsettling feeling that accolades from the highers-up were mere pats on the head, rather than triumphant victory laps.
This all leaves me questioning my faith in higher education in general. Coupled with the government's ridiculous policies regarding student loans (my husband works in financial aid; trust me, I've heard every excuse imaginable and every lame policy explained through a poorly-written script), I'm thinking that I may have been better off skipping college altogether and heading to New York or California, if I really wanted to be onstage. Yes, I would have missed out on a lot of friendships and experience, but I also wouldn't be enduring the pit-of-my-stomach, bone-chilling heart-rending disappointment I'm trying to swallow right now. I wouldn't be feeling like a loyal friend has turned on me. I wouldn't be feeling like the college to which I pledged honor and a whole lot of money, that I talked up to incoming freshmen, that I even two weeks ago was still lauding, would be taking my hard-earned degree and treating it with indifference.
Do you see, indifference is often worse than hatred? Apathy can be far more damaging than disrespect. Hatred and disrespect, while painful, still move us to react. Indifference and apathy teach us that our talents, beliefs, and identities are invalid and that our voices are powerless.
Saturday, August 10, 2013
It's actually about oily skin and how I happened upon a freakish but wholly natural solution.
|Image courtesy of healthbeautyspot.com|
Granted, this is a pretty narrow-minded view, and I'm aware of that (I'm sure that similarly narrow-minded images appear in others' minds when I say "I am a Christian"). I have friends who are "crunchy" and "semi-crunchy", and I actually have a blog in the works about what I am learning from certain aspects of "going green", but that's for another time. This blog is about how my complexion has literally been transformed by an organic "recipe", and how I am deeply grateful for it.
I came across the blog of self-styled "Crunchy Betty" when my husband and I were looking for a solution to our clogged drain. We found one (baking soda and white vinegar), but instead of closing the browser window, I started to poke around a little more. Betty had lots of interesting views about organic living, some clever recipes for making your own earth-friendly cosmetics, that sort of thing. She also suggested using homemade kitty litter, but I think I'll leave that to her. Say it with me: "Ain't nobody got time fo' dat."
What really intrigued me was the segment on the site about the oil-cleansing method. At first, I assumed it was some sort of insane fad diet that involved consuming pure, organic, coconut oil with every meal in order to blow any toxins out of your body, but it turns out, it's actually a skincare method.
And it works. Oh, boy, does it work.
You can click on the above link and read the details yourself, but I'll offer my shocked and awed testimony here. Having had acne since I was, oh, about eleven, I've tried almost everything you can think of to clear up my skin. Big-name commercial products, store brands, exclusive mail-order brands and yes, prescription medication from a dermatologist. Nothing really worked. I mean, not on a grand scale. Everything worked for a little while, maybe clearing up a few individual blemishes, but nothing kept my skin clear - especially when my hormones raged during my cycle changes and my skin broke out with a vengeance. Plus, the prescription medication was dangerous for pregnant women, and, to my knowledge, using it before I knew I was expecting may have even contributed to my first miscarriage. I will never know, but you can bet I will never use it again.
31 and still dotting Clearasil in my pimples, I figured that trying this new method couldn't really make things worse. The science behind using oil to clean your face is similar to the idea of "like driving out like" or "fighting fire with fire". I don't really understand how it works, but it's opening the door for me to be at least a little more open to the idea of "naturally" curing some of the ills we humans face daily. I'm not throwing my ibuprofen out the door, but I'm definitely interested in reading more about how hibiscus tea might help my high blood pressure, or how dark chocolate is full of wrinkle-fighting antioxidants (yes, please - more articles like that).
Apparently, different types of oil should be used, depending on the type of skin you have. As a person with oily/acne-prone skin, it's suggested that I use a combination of a carrier oil (castor oil) and jojoba and grapeseed oils. Organic, of course, and a little expensive (actually, the castor oil I used was NOT organic and I still enjoy great results). I also use the suggested astringent of witch hazel mixed with dried thyme. I initially balked at both the idea of cleaning my oily skin with oil, and also paying $7 or more for a small bottle of oil.
|Image courtesy of |
So - I save money and I have clearer, happier skin. The extra bonus - which, for others, might be the primary reason for this technique - is that it's earth-friendly. I admit, it's kind of nice to know that the stuff that it helping me regain confidence and healthy skin is not full of chemicals and fake fragrances and stuff. That's pretty cool.
Anyway, no - I'm not turning "crunchy". Not really. But I didn't think it fair to keep this to myself because it's been so successful. I should also note that I am receiving absolutely no endorsement of any kind for this blog. I'm not into that stuff. I promote what I believe in, whether it's my faith or the talents of my friends, or a recipe, website, or idea I admire. Rest assured that my posts always come from my own experience and I am not into being paid for promoting someone else's agenda. Maybe this is why I'm not a professional writer yet? That's a post for later, too. At any rate, if you've been struggling with troubled skin, it's something to consider. Cool thing is, it's not a "girly" product in a neon pink tube or anything like that, and I would guess it would work equally well for men.
Plus, the grapeseed oil smells like nature at its warm, toasty, nutty manliest. Ooh.
Saturday, August 3, 2013
When Ross and I were visiting recently for a summer picnic, I noticed a simple sign above their back door. On it was Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Initially, I thought, "Ooh, that's pretty intense. Don't most people just have a nice, happy, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" print on the wall instead? My Uncle Brent explained that he and Marianne were married on June 23 (6/23) and wanted to honor that day and God alike by making the verse part of their home. I loved the idea - and, frankly, although it's not the most cheerful verse in the Bible (it's got that nasty word "death" in it), it's a very, very true one - one that is central to the theme of Christianity itself.
Naturally, I got home that night and began pawing through my Bible for a verse for Ross and myself (our wedding was on January 9, 2010). I am in no way into numerology, but I know that the Word is full of symbolism - including that of numbers. I found 2 Samuel 1:9, "Then he said to me, 'Stand here and kill me! I'm in the throes of death, but I'm still alive.'" Yikes. (That story was about the violent demise of King Saul, by the way, who was severely injured by a woman.) I also found Ecclesiastes 1:9, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." (True, yes, but vaguely depressing. Thanks, Solomon.) There was also Leviticus 1:9, "You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord." (A recipe for sacred barbecue. I was getting nowhere here!) I moved into the New Testament, which, as a reflection of Christ's first coming, was naturally more filled with encouraging and forgiving verses. I read John 1:9, "The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world." (Yay, Jesus! But still not exactly the verse I wanted.) After that is Hebrews 1:9, "You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." (Wow! Beautiful and powerful...but still not quite right.) Back to the Old Testament for some really poetic stuff, I thought. Song of Solomon 1:9 reads, "I liken you, my darling, to a mare among Pharaoh's chariot horses."
I was thinking that maybe I should just, you know, use the whole Bible as my marriage verse when I found it - the granddaddy of them all.
|Image courtesy of voiceofthepersecuted.wordpess.com.|
This verse, so tiny, is so powerful because it contains three significant parts. It starts with a reminder, includes a command, and ends with a promise. Before we dissect it, let's return this verse to its historical and scriptural context: the book of Joshua. The situation is tense: Moses, the humble man of God who led the Israelites out of Egypt, has died before they entered the Promised Land. The people are restless and - we know from reading the books of Moses - very, very fickle and prone to violence. There are a few more challenges ahead before the Hebrews are able to enter their new home. God has chosen Joshua as their new leader. Can you imagine the burden that was placed on this man's shoulders? To step into the shoes (er, sandals) of the greatest leader within living memory? To rally and restrain a vast sea of people whose track record for obedience is practically non-existent? To hear and obey God when thousands of voices - of both men and of spirits - might be telling you to do otherwise? Joshua's new role - given to him because he had previously been faithful to the Lord where others had not - was a very difficult one. God himself assigned him the role, but with it came a list of instructions.
In his first chat with Joshua, the Lord tells him to "be courageous". That word means "valiant, tenacious, plucky, brave, resolute, heroic, and undaunted". It doesn't necessarily mean "unafraid". The implied meaning is that you're going to follow through with a task, no matter how scary or challenging it might be. We can be courageous in sharing the Gospel when we think we'll be rejected. We can be courageous when trying something new, either spiritual or secular. (For example, I know several people, both women and men, who have made courageous efforts in losing weight and getting healthy. They've been brave to face their situations, and undaunted in their efforts to change - even when they have made mistakes, they have wiped the slate clean and started again right away.) We can be courageous even in something as simple as sticking to our daily reading plans. Courage is something that is so important to God that he reminded Joshua of it three times. (The verse above included his third reminder.) The Lord "ENcouraged" his chosen leader. The prefix "en" means "to enclose or encircle, to include". God's words alone infused Joshua with the very bravery he would need to complete the goals ahead of him!
The second portion of the verse addresses the specific challenges that were facing Joshua. as I mentioned earlier, Joshua's posse was full of doubters, nay-sayers, the discontent, and whiners. It would be very easy to be afraid of their reactions - especially if they didn't like the fact that Joshua was now their leader. God specifically tells Joshua to keep his spirits up and not let anxiety overtake him.
The third part of the verse is the sweetest promise God has ever given mankind. "The Lord your God is with you wherever you go." That promise alone makes the previous commands easier to follow. If you know you're never alone, you can be brave, valiant, and courageous. If you realize that God is on your side, you can take on giants. You can lead a murmuring, complaining people to victory.
And you can overcome the sorrow of miscarriage.
Had I rediscovered this verse earlier in my marriage, I don't think it would resonate with me the way it does now. Freshly wed, my husband and I were starry-eyed and eager for our future. Most newlyweds are. We made the promise before God and man to take care of each other no matter what storms blew our way. Now that we've waded through floods, languished in the desert, and have been nearly drowned in disappointment and sorrow, Joshua 1:9 applies to us like it never could have before.
It's a loving but firm reminder from the Lord. "I've told you before to be strong," he is saying, "Don't let fear rule you; let me. I promised I'd have your back forever. Let me prove it."
This verse is already the background on my phone. I'm excited to put it up on my walls - for it to be the first and sweetest encouragement of my morning, and the final promise before I close my eyes.