staying faithful : imaginary problems

[This is a fake post scheduled pre-trip. Right now I'm probably doing anything and everything in my power to soak up as much warmth as possible over the course of 48 hours. There is likely sweet tea involved. There is definitely Chick-fil-A involved. Full updates next week!]

The kids that I nanny for are a brother and sister, 2 and 4, respectively. They play really well together. But as siblings, it’s in the contract that they get into arguments at least once per hour. It’s relational law.

More often than not, these spats revolve around whatever imaginary game they happen to be playing at the moment. My favorite is when they FREAK OUT over the injustices that have just befallen them at the hands of each other’s imaginary actions. Last week we were playing with their kitchen set. Brother is pretending to make a tray of imaginary cookies, big ones and small ones, as per his description. Sister proceeds to gobble up said invisible baked goods. Brother turns to me and, with a look of horror, wails, “SHE ATE ALL OF THE BIG ONES!!!”

Troubleshooting these situations is always an adventure because you can’t just whip out a tub of imaginary big cookie dough to make another batch, as per my initial attempt. Oh, no! That’s just unacceptable. What needs to happen is an official time reversal in which, as it turns out, Sister did not eat all of the big ones, and there are still some left over for him and me there in the corner of the tray. We just couldn’t see them originally because they were hiding underneath the flower decals on the baking pan.

Duh.

The imaginary crises bring me no end of joy because it’s so funny to see what they come up with and what solution they’ll agree to. But on the other hand, I really love those kids like you would not believe, so I want to fix all of their problems, imaginary or not. And last week while I was desperately seeking a solution that would result in a healing of the Big Cookie Wound, I thought about how much easier it would be to solve an actual, tangible problem – one that was not controlled by the highly subjective entity that is 2 year old logic.

And then…because I can’t turn off the wheels that create odd connections in my brain…I thought about how much easier my life would be if it were not controlled by the highly subjective entity that is my human logic.

Because, really, about 99% of the time I do the same thing the kids do. I work myself into a panic about imaginary problems that only exist in my overactive mind. Problems about what may or may not happen to my parents, my friends, myself. Questions about where I may or may not live or what kind of career I may or may not have. Crises that involve wondering whether or not I’ll ever see a Packers game at Lambeau Field or live within walking distance to Trader Joe’s or Jamba Juice or Chick-fil-A.

These are the things that keep me up at night.

But they are imaginary things of my own creation. There is nothing real about them. It’s just as foolish to get my feathers ruffled over potential future employment opportunities as it is to be outraged at the violation of imaginary personal property. It’s literally no different.

It makes me think of this:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

[Isaiah 55:8-11]

…and this:

What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

[Matthew 6:33-34]

It would be so helpful to remember those verses more often.

And as for the imaginary problems I just can’t quit no matter how hard I try? God wants to take care of those too, even though they’re fake! I wanted to comfort my little baker in his grief over stolen cookies – whether they were real or not didn’t matter. I wasn’t judging him or discounting him on account of the fact that we were trying to solve a problem about air…it felt real to him so it mattered to me. If that’s how I feel about a child I just get to play with on weekdays, imagine how much greater the love of God for his children and their problems – real or imaginary.

So, friends, may all of your big cookies be real ones. Eaten only by you, and not your sister. And may the fake ones either disappear or be given to the Lord, who is ready and willing to take good care of them – and you, too.

the dailies : 10.4.11

daily word: “The kind of fasting I want is this: Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives.

Then my favor will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond.

If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon. And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry. Your people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored the ruined houses.”

- Isaiah 58:6-12

daily sweat: cardio kick and step class/mile run/new to yoga class

daily dish: assorted/miscellaneous/healthy/sort of

daily mile:

Day 29: varying degrees of disappointment

beka stays faithful : thoughts on decisions

Tomorrow I’ll be training someone to take my former job at Anthropologie, so I’ll be working what was a normal day for most of the summer: opening at Anthropologie, closing at Breathe. 7am to 10pm for a total of 15 hours, or 14.5 if you count the half hour it takes to drive from one place of employment to the other. After doing that for the majority of the week I’d also work a wedding on Saturday for my photography job. And then I’d wonder why I couldn’t motivate myself to be the model of productivity on Sundays.

Now, there must have been a point at which I thought working three different jobs (four, if you count the weddings I shot on my own this summer) was a good idea. In fact, I recall being fairly certain that it was a good idea, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it. I thought that the challenge would be a positive one, the opportunities would be to my benefit, and the entire experience would result in the kind of personal growth that bestsellers are made of.

But I don’t think it was actually a good idea, because I only have fuzzy memories from the past 2 months of my life, and that’s never good. They consist of pre-sunrise mornings and post-sunset evenings. Lots of driving. Trying my best to talk myself out of being tired. Losing touch with the nouns that make my life happily unique – things like baking and blogging and exercising and football-following and friend-visiting.

Looking back, it seems like the decision to put so many hours on my timecard was not one of my best. It was far from horribly awful or life-changing,  just not one of the decisions I would point to when listing the Top Ten Best Calls I’ve Ever Made. But it wasn’t a choice I made on a whim. It was something that I prayed about, talked to family and friends about, and spent a lot of time considering before moving forward.

Consequently, it’s given me a chance to reflect on how I make decisions. How to tell what my head is saying and what my heart is saying and which to give the microphone to on a given issue. How I pray about decisions and ask for wisdom. How I listen after I ask. Or sometimes forget to listen. And how to adhere to good old fashioned common sense. If something seems like a bad idea, it probably is.

I’m pretty sure that most decisions are not cut and dry (which is probably why I hate them…I need something concrete!). I’m also pretty sure that there are reasons for my brief employment situation that I don’t know about or can’t see from where I’m currently standing. And I’m also pretty sure that wading through the outcomes of all sorts of decisions is an important element in personal and spiritual growth.

ALL of that being said (this was supposed to be a short post! I need to go to bed!), I’d still like to make sure that I’m staying faithful when it comes to decision making: centered in Christ, allowing him to guide me rather than trying to figure out the best plan of attack on my own. And remembering that God is sovereign. He’s not thrown into a tizzy when I chose Plan B instead of Plan A.

In closing, this, from Isaiah 55:

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
            declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
   come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
   without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
   so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
   It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

and this, from James 1:

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

And since I’m still up…I might as well finish watching the Jets/Cowboys game. I mean, it is one of the things that makes my life happily unique. (I’ll let you know if it ends up being a regrettable decision when my alarm goes off at 5:30am tomorrow morning.)