Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The ones in my ears

Random fact of the day: Tortillas should come with an instruction manual. #1 should be, "Not safe for toaster ovens." I may or may not have started a small fire last night because I failed to consider this fact.

Hearing aids: A couple of posts ago, Kerrie asked about my hearing aids. Kerrie, I'm not sure if you were asking about my literal hearing aids - the ones I wear in my ears - or if you were using "hearing aids" the way I tend to on this blog, to discuss hearing loss. But I figured I never really mention the ones in my ears so I'll go with that for now! ;)

I wear two Behind-The-Ear hearing aids (BTEs). I wore analog aids for maybe 20ish years, and really, all they did was make things loud. A few years ago, I switched to digital hearing aids (yaaaaay technology) that do a better job of filtering out background noise and helping me zero in on specific sounds. This is what my hearing aids look like:

except mine are more beige. This one is kind of cool because it comes in a variety of colors and designs. I wasn't brave enough to get something that flashy!

These aids have four different programs and with the click of a small button on one hearing aid, I go from automatic to silent (this one is my favorite LOL! I call it my mute button) to quiet to more quiet to music and back again. I don't really know if they're called quiet and more quiet, that's just how I differentiate between them, ha! Anyway, I don't know all the technical differences between the two, but basically, they help in situations where maybe I'm in a crowded room and I'm just trying to listen to the person next to me. Those settings help filter out the background noise and focus on the sounds in my immediate proximity. Other situations could include a noisy office (like computers humming, printers whirring, AC/heating coming on and turning off, and so on), traffic, etc.

The hearing aid photo is incomplete - I don't just wear that thing behind my ear and let the sound leak in. I wear earmolds in my ear that are attached to the hearing aid by a soft plastic tube. You might have to look closely, but I think this photo does a good job of showing the different kinds of hearing aids:

The kind I wear is the second to last (if you are looking at it from left to right). You can't see the mold very well, but oh well. Some people opt to get colored molds - especially popular with kids! But I've seen adults with zebra-colored molds, blue and white swirls, etc. I've always gotten clear ones, but maybe it's time to think about having fun with them... hm. Anyway, I have to get new earmolds every few months. They eventually wear down and will start causing feedback in the hearing aids. I can tell I need new earmolds when they start feeling hard and when the tips are yellow. I can probably go nine months or so before needing new ones and it probably costs about $150 for two.

Kerrie's original question is how do my hearing aids differ from those of her grandpa's. Well, Kerrie, I don't know your grandpa that well, but I see a lot of older people wearing in the ear hearing aids. which you can see in the first four panels of the photo above. I'm not really up to speed on how those work. How do they change the batteries? How do they go in and out of the ear? How do they not get lost/stuck in the ear canal?!

Kerrie's other question was basically, do screeching kids irritate your hearing aids? The short answer is no. Outside of worn down earmolds or tiny, undetectable tears in the tubing (this happens a lot in the summer. All that humidity) that cause leaked sound and therefore feedback, there's not a lot that will cause the aids to go haywire. This was different with my analog aids - if you got too close to me, like to give me a hug or something, you'd probably hear feedback from my aids. These digital ones are a hardier species. ;) But that's not to say that noises don't bother me. Even though the aids are better at filtering noises out, they're not a cure. They're like eyeglasses in a way. Glasses help you see better but they don't cure your eyesight or make you have 20/20 vision. So even with the filtering, I still hear background noise and overlapping chatter and all that. Just like you, I sometimes find that irritating but unlike you, I can't always identify it. It all just blends into a cacophony of noise, and that can be irritating. For example, I was having one of those days at work today where every noise felt like nails on a chalkboard. The noise wasn't any different than any other day at the office, but today, it was just grating on me. So I hit my mute button and lived in blissful ignorance for most of the afternoon. It. Was. Grand!! :)

In other news: During my last (full) year of college, I lived in these apartment-style dorms on campus. One of my apartment-mates and I got into the habit of calling each other Deer-y. Yes, deer as in doe. I've long forgotten how that inside joke got started - some combination of a play on the word "dear" and that wacky college humor, y'know. Anyway, for purposes of this story, I'm going to refer to said apartment-mate as H. Deer. Just go with it. No worries.

Anyyyyway. H. Deer was a very intense Olympics fan, and the year we lived together was a Winter Olympics year. She talked about it for weeks. She was so excited about watching all the events. I listened with a mixture of amusement and confusion. Her excitement was adorable but I honestly could not understand anyone getting so excited over sports. I mean, really... sports and Lucy just do not compute. I had not yet acquired the level of appreciation for the Olympics that I do now. Pretty much anything involving moving or snow was worthless to me.

So this one night, I had been laying on the couch pretty much most of the evening, surfing from one random show to the next. Around 9:45, H. Deer, who had been gone all evening, if not all day, bounced back to the apartment and begged to watch the Olympic events. I don't remember why it was important - she hadn't watched it all day or it was getting close to the end or it was a really really important competition. But whatever, she was just dying to watch just a few minutes of it.

Now me, being the Sheriff of the Universe and all :p, instead of being gracious and relinquishing the remote to her, got all huffy and pointed out that I was here first and there's only about 10 minutes left of my show, so I just want to finish it first. Taken aback, she politely pointed out that I had already been watching TV all night, the Winter Olympics are only on every four years and this was really important to her. Not to be outdone - justice had to be served, after all - I yelled that I didn't understand why this was so important to her and therefore didn't see why she had to watch it right that second.

"Well," H. Deer informed me calmly, "you don't have to understand it. You just have to know it's important to me."

And since I was sooooo mature back then, I threw the remote at her and stormed off to my bedroom and proceeded to tell my roommate just how mad I was at our apartment-mate. "Oh," she said, and went back to her homework.

But from H. Deer, I learned a very valuable lesson. I don't need to know everything all the time. I don't need to know why something is important to someone - I just need to know that it is and seek to serve them accordingly.

I've had a couple of different.... discussions, shall we say, with a couple of different people in the last few weeks. I wish I kept this lesson front and center more often. I think a lot of arguments could be avoided if we all just remember that we don't always need to know that answer to why?. We just need to be.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Is Happy Hour still happy if you don't drink?

Random fact of the day: When I was a kid, my chores were to empty the dishwasher and to take out the trash. To this day, I would rather clean my apartment from top to bottom than do either of those things. In fact, my clean dishes have been sitting in the dishwasher since Monday. Just go with it.

Hearing aids: I get asked a lot of I know sign language. I do, I just choose not to use it much. I'm happy to let my hands do the talking if I'm conversing with a deaf or hard of hearing person or with an interpreter but beyond that, I'm milking my voice for all it's worth. I don't like to sign because I tend to avoid things that separate me from other people, that make me different. I know, I know, we're all unique (gag) and should celebrate our differences (double gag) but I don't like standing out. I like to blend in.

In other news: I have a sneaking suspicion there's some kind of drinking subculture at... church. I know, right? One girl I met in my small group asked me if I did Happy Hour. I stammered out something like, "No, maybe, sure, what?" She said she'd invite me the next time she and her friends go. Then at church on Wednesday, this guy introduced himself to me and said that "a bunch of us are going to (Bar Name) if you want to join us." And all I could think is, "At 8:30?! On a school night?! Alcohol?! I have to work tomorrow!" I basically said thank you, but not this time. I told him I was still getting over a cold. Which was technically true but not true enough to be a valid reason for not going. The truth was twofold - a) I'm just not that into drinking and b) the idea of trying to get to know people in a dimly lit establishment after struggling all night to keep up with the topic did not really appeal to me. I didn't think it was the right time to dump all of that on him, though!

I'm really not against drinking. If you have a glass of wine with your meal or a beer during a game, what do I care? If you have several and start getting mean and lose your inhibitions or worse, get behind the wheel, then I have a problem. Drinking = ok. Getting drunk = no bueno.

I'm just not that interesting in drinking myself. I will have something mild, like a cooler, ooooonce in a while (I mean, I am talking like once or twice a year here) but that's it. Going out for Happy Hour or to the bar every week doesn't float my boat and here is why:

1) I'm not that crazy about the taste. If it's really fruity, I could probably go for it, but beyond that, ick.

2) CALORIES, friends. Avoid them like the plague.

3) Drinks are expensive! The day after I turned the guy's invitation down, I looked up the bar in question, wondering if maybe I was confused and it wasn't a bar, just a restaurant or something. Nope, definitely a bar. And the drinks were like $9, $11, $7. The cheapest I could find was $5 for a spritzer. (Which I made note of should I ever decide to join them) I would just rather put my money towards something else - Redbox, electric bill, groceries, savings account, shoes, a restaurant I actually like, etc. Alcohol is just not something I want to pay for regularly.

4) Alcoholism runs in my grandma's family. I don't really know where I stand on the whole "Is alcoholism genetic" debate, but why take the risk of becoming addicted?

5) I have an obsessive personality. For instance, if I'm going through some drama with someone - an argument, a disagreement, a personality difference, whatever - I tend to sink my teeth in it and never let go. I recycle old arguments in person and in my head and just can't seem to let things go.(And all my friends and family just looked at me in feigned shock. Go away.) I struggle with my weight because I struggle with food. I eat mindlessly and get cranky when I don't have something delicious stuffed in my mouth. I mean, seriously, have you seen me with a piece of chocolate? It is not pretty. So really, where's the wisdom in putting alcohol in the hands of someone who tends to cling to things and not let go?

This is not to say that I will never, ever, ever, ever drink or anything. I don't mind it once in a while. I just don't want to make a habit of it. Which leaves me wondering now - am I going to be able to make friends at church without Happy Hour-ing?

Meh. I'll just have to entice them with home-cooked meals and good, old-fashioned movie nights. ;)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On Adulthood and Independence

Random fact of the day: I don't like tea. I've tried. My most recent endeavor was this weekend. Determined to find something warm to drink (because I've been battling a cold) that wasn't high in sugar (apple juice/cider) or dairy (milk = mucus = gross), I convinced myself I would just have to learn to love tea. So I bought a small box of assorted herbal teas. Three flavors later, I'm still not a convert. Gag. Me.

Hearing aids: I recently met a girl who's in my small group at church and who happens to live in the same apartment complex. She's also a speech therapist and as a product of years (or what feels like years, anyway) of speech therapy myself, we had a lot of common ground and I like to think we bonded. Anyway, all that to say - speech therapy. I'd be the first to say I hated it at the time and also the first to say how thankful I am I did it. I don't know how long I did it, but it was a pretty regular experience in elementary school. I would visit the school speech therapist for I don't really know how often a week but we would go over vocabulary and speech sounds. I had problems with the "sss" sound. We practiced over and over and over and over and over again. My speech therapist, Karen, had to tell me constantly that I had to put my front teeth behind my bottom teeth in order to "sss" appropriately. WHATEVER. But to this day, I'm very intentional about my teeth placement!

In other news: I've been thinking about adulthood/independence and what got me fired up was Boundless. I used to read it pretty regularly in high school/college but over the last couple of years, I've tapered off. It's Focus on the Family's answer to young adults (18-40), I guess. Anywhozzle, I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with Boundless. On one hand, I appreciate the community of young adults coming together - single, married, whatever - and since they regularly refer to people I respect, like Josh Harris, CJ Mahaney and John Piper, I figure they can't be too bad.

But at the same time, sometimes I feel like there's something missing. Like what they say is well thought out and logical and good, but seems to be missing the point, namely Christ. I feel like calling them legalistic would be too strong - their articles encourage readers to be wise and have a Scripture-centered view of things, which is well and good, but seem to put a lot of emphasis on US and OUR decision making, and less on the person of Christ and who He is and what He's done.

Anyway, they had several articles about whether to live alone or with people. This one girl in particular wrote an article that I'm having a hard time with. She's 25, the oldest of 12 and has chosen to keep living at home. Then there's me, who at almost 27, has chosen to live alone. I haven't made that decision lightly and frankly, this article and others on Boundless made me rethink for a while whether it was wise to live alone.

Here's a basic summary of some of her points:

Living at home is good training for the "real world," interacting with others daily and being flexible with your time. Living alone promotes independence, which is really self-centeredness, and an increasing inability to be flexible.

Living at home affords protection. As a single woman, she doesn't have to worry about being afraid walking from her car to her house because most likely, her dad is still awake and in the dining room. When it comes to dating, her dad and brothers offer a protection - where she may not see past a guy's charm, her dad and brothers can.

Living at home increases financial responsibility. She was able to start a career as a freelance writer without fretting over rent and saved up enough money to buy her own laptop. Now she pays her parents the same amount she would in rent and hopes to have enough saved to buy her own van - cash.

Living at home affords more opportunities to engage as part of a community and more opportunities to serve.

MMMMMMMMMMK. I agree with several of these on paper, especially the part about independence, being part of a community and having opportunities to serve. But let's break it down, shall we?

Yes, living alone has made it easier for me to focus on myself and not in a good way. I have to work harder to be part of a community and seek out ways to serve. Yet I'm not convinced this is an entirely terrible thing for an introvert such as myself. It means I see more quickly and clearly the drawbacks of not being in a community or serving and I have to work harder to take part of those things. I've lived with roommates before and honestly, that just discouraged me from doing much outside of my house because I expected my roommates to fill those needs (which was wrong of me but the point is that living with people doesn't necessarily ensure community) - which they didn't because they couldn't - unlike me, they worked to have lives outside of our dorm room/house, whereas I, the Homebody, was content to have my community happen within the four walls of my abode.

Yes, living at home or with roommates does offer a certain protection. I know I feel safer when I live with people, but I also lose an opportunity to trust God and only God (not my dad or my roommates or the police) for my protection. Living alone has actually exposed my idol of safety and led me to my knees to ask forgiveness and learn how to lean on God alone. It's harder to do that when I live with people. As for the protection in dating aspect - I don't really have a response to that. I've never even dated, so what do I know? But I would think/hope that a) I'm mature enough to think for myself and seek the Lord's wisdom and guidance before and during a dating relationship and b) just because I don't live at home doesn't mean I wouldn't ask for my parents' and brothers' perspective.

As for financial responsibility, I admire the author for being so disciplined with her money, for being able to buy a car - cash, no less! - and buy her own laptop. I guess I can't really argue with that, but for me, I'm not sure I would have learned to be financially independent if I hadn't left home. Being held accountable to banks (which can penalize you) and landlords is a much harsher kick in the butt than being accountable to my parents. But I think the financial responsibility argument would vary from person to person.

Honestly, I read that article yesterday with a little bit of contempt. Isn't that awful?! I just kept thinking that maybe I was a little bit better than her because I don't live with my parents anymore and I know how to do things that she doesn't so there. :p Along that same vein, I was working on my taxes the other night and as much as I hate math and numbers and decimals and calculators, I was a little proud. Not proud of myself, but puffed up. I know several young women who have someone else do their taxes (their dads or husbands) and I sometimes feel like I'm just a little more grown up for doing them myself. Yes, awful! (But the truth is, I'm envious of those of you who have someone to do their taxes! ;))

And I do pride myself on being independent. I have a full time job. I pay my rent on time. I usually forget to pay my insurance on time (oops) BUT I've built a good rapport with my insurance agent and it always works out. I buy my own groceries and plan my own meals. I decorate my apartment my way and I have my own vacuum cleaner (I felt that was important to note for some reason). When I get back home from the store, I bring all the bags in by myself and if I'm sick, I take care of myself. Clearly, I don't need a man. I may or may not be a closet feminist. Hm.

But then I think - where exactly is this pride coming from? Why is it so important to be independent and on my own? Why do I look down on people who don't do their own taxes or who still live with their parents? Why does it matter? There's nothing in Scripture that says that independence is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Christ doesn't commend us for being on our own. On the contrary, the Word is all about dependence on Christ and living in community and that we weren't made to be alone.

I can think of a bunch of excuses - from wanting to be my own person to proving I'm capable - but they all fly away in the face of Christ. None of that really matters before the Lord. But the thing is, I do feel okay in Christ to live alone. I don't feel like I'm in sin for not having a roommate or for not moving back home. I don't think I'm wrong for wanting to think for myself and to be my own person apart from my family. And really, because we live in a fallen world, there's never going to be a perfect situation. There are good things and bad things about living at home when you're 25. There are good and bad things about living on your own at (almost) 27. There's no one scenario that pleases God more than the other - what matters is the motivation behind it.

And my motivation for living alone? There are several, but the bottom line is that I'm exhausted. I spend all day long - ALL DAY - working, working, working. I'm not talking about my job where I get a paycheck. I work all day to listen with my eyes, to try and figure out who said what and what they're talking about and who is talking now and what was that noise and carrying on conversations that I may or may not have understood. It's exhausting. And to come home to MORE of that at the end of the day would fry my brain. So for now, it's a refuge for me to come home to silence. To just lay on the couch and watch TV (yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, captions!) and not have to work so dang hard.

And in a lot of ways, I feel more free to be myself. I love to have people over and cook for them. That's hard to do when you live with others. I don't feel as free to ask a friend over when I have to share the kitchen with three other people. I can't practice hospitality as well if I have to worry about whether my very long conversation with my guest in the living room is inconveniencing my roommates. Living alone frees me to better practice hospitality. I'm less distracted by roommates which frees me to blog more or delve into Scripture deeper. I don't feel so self-conscious about trying (and burning) new recipes. Without roommates around, I have more incentive to get out and meet new people (still working on this one!). In short, I'm more free to be an adult when I live alone than when I live with people.

Yes, marriage could be the exception. I have nothing of worth to contribute to that scenario as I'm not married nor do I have any prospects. This is just my (almost) 27-year-old perspective on adulthood. Subject to change at any time. ;)

If you made it this far, I salute you!

Monday, March 22, 2010

This, that and the other

Random fact of the day: I love my crock pot but I hate washing it. Can I get an amen?!

Hearing aids: I'm drawing a blank on this one. What would you like to know?

In other news: I have had a boatload of random thoughts these last few days. Let's get down to business:

1) Finished (?) my federal taxes! Currently seeking math whiz to check my work, though.

2) I had been doing better about not getting worked up in traffic. Usually on the way home, I am grumbling that this person isn't going fast enough or there's too many people for me to change lanes and why oh why must we brake every two inches? Like I am the only person in the whole world who just wants to get where they're going. But the more I've been reflecting on the person of Christ, the less things like traffic annoy me. If I get home at 4:55 or 5:05, does it really matter? Is God any less God? Am I any less forgiven? No. So it's been freeing, lately, not being bound to the idol of Time.

But today, I found myself getting frustrated all over again. The guy ahead of me wasn't going the speed limit, there was no one in front of him but traffic was too tight on both sides for me to pass him. I just wanted to get home because I had things to do. Why doesn't he move faster? Faster, faster faster?! Then I think, why does this matter? Why do I really care if it doesn't matter in the scope of eternity?

And I think sometimes that's just it. Driving and traffic don't matter, so living in the middle of it just seems frustrating. If it doesn't matter, what's the point of dealing with it? What is the point of going through the motions of things like laundry and dishes and returning movies and going to the grocery store and buying stamps and keeping things clean? When an eternity with Jesus is in store for us, when I know that in so many ways, I'm just one breath away from finally - oh Lord, FINALLY - being with my Best Friend, my Savior forever... everything else just feels like dead weight.

Oh I know, I know... it's how we handle those tedious tasks that shape our character. I can learn grace in the midst of traffic. Humility when I get cut off. Perseverance in grocery shopping (what? I hate doing it!). Stewardship in doing laundry and dishes. And whatever I do, do it for the glory of God. And so on. But they seem so trivial some days, like I'm made for something more and I'm just biding my time here.

I like how Michael Card says it in Joy in the Journey:

To all who've been born of the Spirit
And who share Incarnation with Him
Who belong in eternity, stranded in time
And weary of struggling with sin

Yes, that's it. Weary of struggling with sin, stranded in time.

Forget not the Hope that's before you
And never stop counting the cost
Remember the hopelessness
When you were lost

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey

I always wondered why that song was a more mellow one. Aren't most songs about joy peppy and upbeat and dance-y? This one, though, I wonder if it's written to fellow weary travelers who love Jesus but are growing weary of this life. We long for something more but it seems it pleases the Lord to keep us here a little longer. There is joy - it just may not always be the peppy, upbeat, dance-y kind.

3) I watched six movies this weekend. Yes, six. It's the cure for the common cold, dontcha know? ;)

The Princess and the Frog was okay. Not up to par with other Disney movies, but maybe that's just me. But then I think that I prefer Disney movies that have no grounding in reality. I'd rather watch stories about glass slippers and dancing dishes and singing mice and fairy godmothers and mermaids and groooovy turtles and Mike Wazowski and a Genie. Of. The. Lamp! (right here, direct from the lamp). Maybe I didn't like The Princess and the Frog because New Orleans is too... real (no the story isn't real, I know, but the setting). Racial division is real. I'm not wild about 101 Dalmatians, either, probably because I am sure that someone, somewhere is all about puppy mills. Tear.

2012 would have been more fun on the big screen, but the graphics were impressive anyway. I'll take The Day After Tomorrow or Deep Impact over 2012, though.

The Time Traveler's Wife was better than the book and I cried. May have to buy that one.

Coco Before Chanel was okay but it was more about Coco Chanel's affairs than about how she came to be a fashion designer.

I liked Public Enemies because I like period pieces, but I would have loved to see more cat and mouse between Christian Bale and Johnny Depp.

Finally, Up in the Air totally deserved its Oscar nomination. Good acting, great writing, awesome message (life's better with someone than alone). Newcomer Anna Kendrick can totally hold her own against George Clooney - girl's got skillz! I may have to write more about this later, it was that good. I could have done without all the F-bombs, though. I mean, really, who talks like that? In normal, everyday conversation? Really? Could we please pretend to be smart and use other vocabulary to express our feelings? So for that one thing, there were times I had a hard time taking some of the dialogue seriously, but overall, definitely a keeper!

I'm write-ed out. I don't know how professional/regular bloggers do it. I have so many thoughts jumbled in my head, they all end up coming out in one big mess. I'm guessing discipline and organization are the name of the game, but really, where's the fun in that? ;)

Welp, I'm off to enjoy The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon, oh Sheldon. I like to think we'd be friends in real life, but honestly, I'd probably just keep him around to check my taxes.

Until next time, friends!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Battling the stupid blues

Random fact of the day: Uhhhh... I got nothing random today. Except for silly things like how I know when it's time to trim my nails, how often I check my mailbox at home and what I'm thinking about for dinner. Basically, I am a Grown-Up now and it is dull sometimes.

Hearing aids: I struggle with feeling stupid (at worst) and inadequate (at best). If I could be perfectly honest with you, and I mean this in the most not-vain way possible - I think I'm a lot smarter than people give me credit for. But because I often don't take opportunities to speak up or people don't give me such opportunities, whichever, I feel like I come across as something less than I am.

When I'm constantly having to ask for repetition, I feel like I look ignorant. If I answer a question that I heard but not one that someone asked, I look like I don't know what I'm talking about. If I stay silent during lunchtime chatter or serious discussions, I appear dim. At least that's what it feels like. But people, I'm so freaking aware. If only you knew how much I use my eyes to make up for my ears. I wonder how many discussions of "Where did ____ go?" or "Did we pass that store?" could have been resolved if someone had asked me - while you were talking to each other, I was taking in all the sights and noting all the details.

It's important to me to know. To be aware of what's going on around me, so I am always looking around, always trying to figure things out. And then, because I spend so much time in my own little world, I think things through a lot. Sometimes this is dangerous and I end up over-thinking things and make mountains out of molehills. Sometimes this is good, as I end up exploring every possible angle to something. My point is just that I know things. I'm not dumb. Just because I don't speak up doesn't mean I have nothing to offer. I have so much to share if I just knew the question, knew what someone needed. I may be a little blonde, but I'm not that blonde. ;)

In other news: Census? Check. Taxes? In progress. Adulthood? Boring.

(Before I jump into this very random thought, please note that I am reflecting on our sin nature, not reflecting on who we are when we're new in Christ. I'm reflecting on the type of people we are when no one is looking)

Do you ever get mad on someone's behalf? Like if someone wrongs your friend, you get mad at whoever did the wrong-ing? Or maybe you get mad at God when your loved one suffers? Are you madder than if it was you in the same position? Do you get more upset when something bad happens to someone you love than if that same something bad had happened to you?

Sometimes I do. I wonder why we get upset on someone's behalf. I suppose the sweet and romantic answer is that we love the person in question so much that we hate to see them suffer. But I have a hard time believing that. I mean, I'm sure it's true sometimes but let's be honest here. We're sinners, you and I. It's in our nature to fend only for ourselves and even those of us who are in Christ battle this nature constantly. There's nothing in our sin nature that should cause us to care more if someone we love is hurt than if we ourselves are. Our nature dictates that we should be angrier when we are wounded than if someone else is.

No, I think when we get upset at someone's misfortune, we're really upset that life is suddenly not about us. We have to consider someone else other than our selves and that is contrary to our nature. So we try to "fix" it quickly - by throwing out platitudes and well meanings and warm wishes and therapists and hot showers and retail therapy and drugs and doctors. We want to fix it because the sooner their pain is over, the sooner we can get back to more important matters, namely ourselves. (That's not to say that there's absolutely no part of us that cares about other people. We are made in God's image, after all, and so even when we don't know Jesus, I think that there is something in each of us that does recognize that our self is so little and Someone else is so big and better. But at our sinful cores, we really only want ourselves.)

But really, all we can do is recognize our hurting friends/family are broken just like us and pray for the grace to not enter their pain or frustration without the name of Jesus on our lips and in our prayers.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Welcome to the 60s, oh-oh-oh-oh-ohhhh

Random fact of the day: Favorite movie - Hairspray. Movie I used to watch over and over again - That Thing You Do. Movie that once combined my two interests in space and history - Apollo 13. My current obsession - Mad Men. Friends, I was clearly born in the wrong decade.

Hearing aids: I've been thinking about the differences between people who lose their hearing later in life and those who are either born with hearing loss or lose it at a really young age and grow up with it. I've noticed that people who have lost their hearing later in life seem more eager to educate others about hearing loss while those of us who have lived with it our whole lives are more likely to shrug it off. Like if we're in a checkout line and we didn't hear the cashier say something, later deafened people will be quicker to explain their hearing loss and ask for a repetition while those who have lived with hearing loss forever just ask the cashier to repeat themselves without explaining why they didn't hear them.

I wonder if it's maybe because the people who are late deafened have had experience at some point in their lives being a hearing person. They know how hearing people think and they know how unaware they themselves once were about hearing loss. They know that a little education can go a long way. On the other hand, those of us who grew up with hearing loss have spent a lifetime navigating those kinds of situations and bluffing our way through. It's just not worth our time to explain something to someone we probably won't see again. Just thought that was an interesting difference. Not a matter of right or wrong or anything - just another reminder that hearing loss affects everyone so differently. The spectrum of human experience never ceases to amaze me!

In other news: I sat down to make my grocery list yesterday. I whipped out those fliers we all get in the mail and pored over the sale items. I realized I had three - THREE - grocery stores to choose from! Four if you count Aldi's. (I don't go there very often - I really should take advantage of their prices more. I just can never get everything there I need and I hate going grocery shopping at more than one place a week.) But basically, yeah, FOUR places to choose from for my home cooking needs. Add to that the overwhelming number of varieties - like bread. Wonder Bread, Mrs. Baird's, Orowheat, Sara Lee? White, wheat, seven grain, honey? INSANITY. Throw in about 100 dining out choices and HOLY COW. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by our abundance. And a little guilty. Gotta clean my plate because there are children starving in Africa, y'know. All I do know is that I can never, never, never complain about not having enough. Ever. We're freaking rich here, even in the middle of a recession.

Don't forget to set your clocks forward! Not excited about losing an hour of sleep, but definitely looking forward to longer days - it means spring is coming! I'm aquiver with anticipation!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dining, drive-thrus and drives

Random fact of the day: I love driving nowhere in particular. My perfect vacation would probably be a road trip across the U.S.

Hearing aids: I love Sonic. Or rather, I love their Cherry Cokes. I don't go very often, though. Partly because I'm trying to wean myself of a sugary-drink addiction but mostly because I don't do drive-thrus (okay, technically Sonic is a drive-in but whatever. Work with me here). I can't understand what they say at the intercom and I'm terrified I'll end up ordering too many onion rings.

Oh, I know of deaf or hard of hearing people who will just bypass the intercom and go straight to the drive up window and place an order there. Or what I've done in the past with Sonic has been to push the button and ask for someone to come out and take my order. I quit doing that when they kept coming out with paper and pen for me to write down what I wanted. :p

But when I have my youngest brother in the car with me, we can whip through the drive thrus. He does the listening and I do the talking. It's not a perfect system, but it works. Sometimes I wonder if I could bluff my way through ordering. I know they'll say something like, "Hello, How can I help you today?" and I can place my order. But it gets tricky after that. Will they ask if I want fries with that or will they just tell me how much it is and to go ahead and pull up to the window? I can't think of a neutral phrase that would satisfy both possible scenarios.

In other news: It's spring again. For now, anyway. It doesn't say so on the calendar, but right now, at 8:07 pm, my Weatherbug reads 59 degrees. It's spring, friends. I love new beginnings. I love that God is a God of new beginnings. Of starting fresh. Of forgetting what is behind and pressing on towards the goal. Of second (and third and seventh and 37th) chances.

I have been gripped by fear lately. I had been facing the question of, "If God is good, why do bad things happen?" much more intensely than before. Oh, when it comes to suffering and God's sovereignty, I often fool myself into thinking I have a handle on it. Hearing loss is suffering. I've made my peace (erm, mostly) with God's sovereignty over it. (This doesn't mean I never whine, or wonder, or wish for something else. Just that most of the time, I'm able to say, "God's in control of my hearing loss.") And really, I know I could have it so much worse. Whatever I suffer in my hearing loss is so much less than what other people suffer every day in their minds.

So it's been keeping me awake at night - how can God stand by and watch all this evil happen? How can He sit there while people are tortured, raped, sold, attacked? Shouldn't I be terrified of a god who would do that?

But then He reminded me that, as always, I had it oh so wrong and was, as usual, asking the wrong questions. God doesn't sit by while these things happen, He sits *with* us when they do. He never promises that we will be without trouble, but He does promise we will never be alone when we face it. And He always, always delivers a new beginning from it. Definitely in the life to come, maybe sometimes on this side of Heaven, too.

"... Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster." - Joel 2:13

God is not eager to send disaster. He doesn't gleefully rub His hands and twirl His mustache like He's plotting something devious. He doesn't cheerfully whip out God's Giant Bag 'O Pain and dump it out on an unsuspecting world. He relents over disaster.

I don't know why we sometimes see God like that. Probably because He threatens our illusions of security, of ourselves. When pain comes, we wonder why it happened, as if we are special and entitled to sorrow-free lives. So when bad things happen (and they will), in our heart of hearts, we are wondering, "How dare God allow that to happen. I don't deserve this." No, we don't deserve this. We deserve far worse and we fail to see how God is merciful in our pain.

We've been reading Mark 13 at church - Jesus is talking to His disciples about the day of judgement. One thing that keeps catching my eye (and heart) is Mark 13:20. Here's the context:

“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days." Mark 13:14-20

This reminds me of when Abraham was pleading with God not to destroy Sodom. "If there are 50 righteous people here, will you hold back? Will you not destroy the city?" Abraham asks of God. God agrees. "For the sake of 50, I won't destroy." Abraham persists and ask the same question. "How about 45? 40? 20? 10?" Each time, God says, "For the sake of 45, 40, 20 and 10, I will not destroy the city." (Genesis 18:27-33) It may not seem like it, but God is holding evil at bay for our sakes. If we're attacked, or mutilated, or raped, or hurt, or robbed, or ignored, or left out - God is holding evil back. He is showing grace and mercy even in the middle of hurt.

Horrible things are going to happen. Jesus isn't shy about sharing that. He tells us in John 16 that we will have tribulation. Life is going to be hard. And I daresay the Christian life is incomplete and lacking without suffering. There's no such thing as a prosperity gospel, which says that if we just believe enough, we'll be healthy, wealthy and wise. I know sometimes we think, "If I just love God enough, He'll keep me safe." or maybe, "If I ask Jesus into my heart 12 times, nothing bad will ever happen to me." Not so, friends, no matter how much we want to make it so. God promises suffering.

But even in suffering, in pain, in hardships, when the day is long and the night is pitch black and you don't know which way is up or right or backwards, He will be gracious. In ways we can't see or maybe even know here, He is holding evil back. Whatever pain comes our way - it will never be as bad as it could as if He had no reign over it. The very worst thing I can ever imagine in this life is complete abandonment from God. And that is the very thing I can be absolutely sure I will never have to suffer - because Jesus already did. He already bore the wrath of God and God literally turned His back on His Son so that He would never have to turn His back on us.

Sometimes knowing that He is sovereign over evil makes me a little nervous - what more suffering does He have in store for me? Sometimes I don't think I can take any more. But I can stand in confidence that whatever suffering is waiting - I won't do it alone. I won't be abandoned and I will find grace and mercy in the midst of evil.

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:37-39