Why do I believe

One question I often come across as a person of faith with a degree in anthropology is how I can reconcile the Biblical story of creation with an understanding of cosmology, geology, and evolution. That’s one of the easiest questions for me to answer, but my answer comes in the form of a question. First though, have you, if you are a scientifically minded person, ever actually read for yourself the creation story in Genesis chapter 1 and noticed how close it is to getting the evolutionary order right? Or, on the flip side of that, if you are committed to the purely Biblical perspective, do you know what science actually says about how the universe came to be? The similarities are pretty incredible. And regardless of your perspective, you must take into account that the Genesis story was almost certainly preserved through oral traditions passed down over probably thousands of years before ever being committed to writing. And that story was written down thousands of years before Lemaître came up with the Big Bang theory.

So my answer in the form of a question is, isn’t it possible?

Isn’t it possible that God spoke this world into existence (what went “bang” and what caused it to go “bang”) in the manner of an evolutionary masterpiece, unfolding and flourishing over eons, and then decided it was beautiful, but lonely without someone else there to name everything, to write it all down, to go on creating, to appreciate it as only a human created in the image of a creator could… and so he created us? To be co-creators. To be the storytellers.

Art is a form of communication and before humans there was no one to whom to communicate all of the beauty, drama, passion and splendor of the sunrise, the stars and planets, the clouds, the color and smell of the changing leaves and the blooming spring, the sounds, the textures, the uniqueness of each perfect snowflake, the magnificence of a thunderstorm… and eventually those things too far away, or too small to see without special instruments, created by creative beings created in the image of their creator as if he gently nudged them to say, but wait… There’s more.

This world is far too extraordinary to the senses not to have creatures with minds that can perceive the magic of it all, whose perception of all this majesty goes beyond fight, flee, and procreate, and asks the questions why… how… where did it all come from.

That’s why I believe.

Beginnings and middles

Jon Acuff says: Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.

We do that a lot, don’t we? Compare ourselves, where we are now, to other people’s outcomes? To our own past or future self. Even to inanimate objects. How many women are actually the shape of an hourglass? Not me, that’s for sure. Who uses an hourglass anymore anyway? I saw a commercial for a whitening toothpaste or a tooth whitening system in which a young woman used “the tissue test” to answer the question of whether her teeth were yellow. No, sweetie, they might be a shade or two off white, but most people’s are and yours, Miss Commercial Actress, are certainly not yellow. And the tissue had to be bleached to get to that shade of white, too, for the record.

I was on my way home from a friend’s house one day, feeling a lovely ache in my thighs from the six mile bike ride I took with my son that morning, wondering whether they still make the Thighmaster. That got me thinking about how many creams and pieces of equipment were marketed when I was young to take care of “ugly cellulite.” Thigh gaps. Whiter teeth. Man, what advertising dupes us into thinking about ourselves.

And it will change in a couple years; it always does. The ideal of beauty used to be voluptuous, then hourglass, then twiggy, then curvy, then heroin chic, now more athletic. Bleach your skin, tan your skin, get highlights, lowlights, cover your gray, gray is the new hot look. It’s always changing, and half the pinnacles of beauty don’t actually look like that in real life, without all the makeup and airbrushing, or even feel beautiful in their own skin.

Here’s the thing. You are beautiful. You may not be perfect, whatever that means for the next five minutes, but you are beautiful. You have something to share with the world that is uniquely yours. You have a soul that can light up the darkest places in some person’s life, just by sharing your journey. Laugh, cry, smile, use your voice, open your mouth or hands and use your gifts in some way to let that light out.

Be you. Start now. If you don’t know who YOU are on the inside, begin now to find out. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or end.

Keep seeking Him

Dear Son,

The other night in the car you said that, while you don’t necessarily deny the existence of God, in order to believe to the point of commitment, you’re going to need some kind of undeniable sign. That you couldn’t take secondhand testimony. You need proof. I get it—I do. We all wish we had a burning bush.

I shared with you that I finally came to the conclusion a few years ago that I was grateful God never had to get my attention in some profound way. That I could be okay with other people’s testimony, if for no other reason than others’ testimony often involves seeing God in action through pain or tragedy as the wakeup call.

Darling son, I pray you get what you need, in whatever way you need it, so you may develop a relationship with the amazing God who created us. I pray it doesn’t hurt you or require a sacrifice you’ll wish you hadn’t had to make. I pray that I may show you His love and His grace and His interest in you through my own life and service and example. I pray your father will join me in that.

In the meantime, keep seeking Him, my love. Keep looking for that evidence. I promise you if you seek it you will find it. In fact, He has promised that to us all.

“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Deuteronomy 4:29

“…for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you…”
1 Chronicles 28:9b

“’The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.’ … They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side”
2 Chronicles 15:2, 15

“The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.”
Psalm 14:2

“’You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord…”
Jeremiah 29:13-14

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-10

 

Big rocks and living water

Once upon a time, in the Thursday morning Bible study at my home church, we did a study called Living Your Life as a Beautiful Offering by Angela Thomas (now Angela Thomas Pharr). One of the lessons in that study was about filling up your cup so that it can run over, because, of course, it’s pretty hard for a cup to run over if it isn’t full to begin with. The bucket or love tank analogy works equally well, and for purposes of the illustration, I want you to imagine a metal bucket.

Like this.

The crux of the lesson was that no one else can fill your cup (or bucket) for you, you have to do it by staying connected to the source, i.e. God. (Or, if you prefer, Love.) That is to say, a full bucket doesn’t come from other people (and certainly not from just one other person – how exhausting would that job be!), it comes from God. It comes from study, prayer, and meditation; from making time on a regular basis to tap into the source.

I was explaining this to a friend once and told this person that other people can sure as heck dent up your bucket and some can even poke holes in it. Fortunately, others can help you hammer out the dents or patch the holes, but no one person can fill it for you; only Love can fill your love tank.

Now I want to switch gears for just a sec. Hopefully you’re familiar with the ‘big rocks’ analogy about time management and prioritization. Stephen Covey references it in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. (If you don’t know it, you can check out a succinct rendition of it here, or a lengthy demonstration here before you go any further.) In the illustration, a jar represents your life, or the time in your day. You have to fill this jar with big rocks, pebbles, and sand. The big rocks symbolize the important things – relationships, career, community involvement, church, etc. The pebbles are the less important stuff like car, house, meetings, appointments, and the sand represents trivial things that take up time but aren’t important – video games, TV, social media, housekeeping… Okay, maybe not that last one. Point being, if you fill up the jar with little, unimportant stuff, there’s not enough room for the big rocks. But if you put the big rocks in first, all the other stuff will sift down into the cracks and spaces between them.

There are variations on this. Depending on who is doing the demonstration, and in what context, God is one of the big rocks, maybe even a bigger rock than the other big rocks. Sometimes people will take it a step further and, after all the big rocks and pebbles and sand are in the jar, they will pour in water to show that there is still room in the jar. Here’s the kicker. I don’t think that God/Love is one of the rocks at all; I think it’s the water. As in, living water. And here’s where it all comes together.

Filling your cup or bucket or love tank with God or Love or living water changes EVERYTHING about the illustration: If you put the water in first — which is to say, if your love tank is full — then every rock you add – family, friends, home, job, school – the things that are MOST important in your life, whatever they are for you – each one you add not only gets wet itself, but also makes some of that water overflow onto everything around it. Then adding the pebbles makes more of that water splash out. Then adding the sand makes more of that water splash out. The key is staying tapped into the source. But do you see what happens then? Everything starts from a place of Love and you always have enough love to share, because you’re always tapped into the Source of love and every single thing you do starts with a full tank that splashes Love onto everything else around you!

And here’s the other cool part: even if this hasn’t been the way you’ve operated thus far, you can add the water any time. The water still soaks into everything and fills up all the empty space as soon as you pour it in, so really, you can fill your love tank any time and still get the same effect! So, first things first: Do you know how to tap into the source, whatever you call it? Do you stay tapped in – meaning do you know to pay attention to your love tank and take time out to fill up when you start to feel depleted? Do you know what your big rocks are and how everything else measures up?

Fill ‘er up! *splishy splashy*

Sell it all?

I’m seriously considering selling everything we own.

You see, we’ve found our land. At least I think it is. If it isn’t, it’s an awfully good imitation. It’s 31 acres with a dilapidated house and several outbuildings, and the price certainly seems to be right. But is the time?

The funny thing is, I’m ready to do it. Sell everything, that is. All signs point to minimalism. I keep finding fantastic posts and pins about it. Mis-shelved books practically jump off the shelves at me. Bible verses about possessions and attachments leap off the page when I’m doing studies that have nothing to do with those topics. A dear friend is an expert at it and another dear friend hired me to help her with it. I think it’s time. The big question is…

How?

There are lots of other questions, of course, and I’m trying very hard not to focus on them, but still things like, “Kara, you’re raising money for a mission trip; is this okay to do with that going on?” “Should I just get a job? What will that do to the kids?” “Is this really the one? If it’s not, how long do I have to wait and how many more disappointments will I have to face?”

So, I pray. If you feel so inclined to do the same, I would appreciate it. Eventually this blog will be all about our homestead. I’m so excited to get there. I promise to take you along for the ride.

Daylight Saving Time… Bah.

I hate daylight saving time.

There is a very small handful of things I’m willing to use the H-word about; in fact, it’s a bad word in my house, but I really hate daylight saving time. I’m kind of a spoiled brat about it, and I’m grumpy because I have to change my clocks this weekend.

See, I’m not one of those people who are dependent on an alarm clock. I wake up at approximately the same time every day, or at least within a half hour. I usually wake up around 7:00 a.m. Sometimes it’s closer to six thirty, sometimes I sleep in and it’s almost 7:30 before I get out of my warm cozy bed. Sometimes, for no reason at all, my eyes open up around six and I lay there hoping to get another hour… 45 minutes… half hour… Please? And on the VERY rare occasion, I wake up and it’s bright outside, so I look at my watch on my nightstand and it’s around 8:00 – weird. But generally my eyes pop open around the seven o’clock hour. My body has adjusted to that time.

I’ve tried figuring this out. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with when I went to bed, because that fluctuates a lot more, depending on my day. Sometimes I’m up ‘til 11:00 watching a movie, sometimes I fall asleep reading to my six-year old around nine. It might have something to do with the level of light coming into the room, but that changes gradually and constantly throughout the year, and my internal clock isn’t that smooth.

Regardless, daylight saving time wreaks havoc on all that. I’m from Indiana. This didn’t used to happen! Once upon a time we believed in “Hoosier common sense” and we didn’t have to change our clocks to keep up with the Jonses. Or the New Yorkers, as the case may be. We were perfectly content to be on Eastern Time for most of the year and Central in the summer. We were cool and carefree, like Arizona. Now we’re just following the crowd. They said it would be better for business. Maybe it is, I don’t know. I still think it’s stupid.

 

Now I know what people say, “Oh, it’s time to spring forward! We get an extra hour of daylight!” Or in the fall, “Yay! It’s time to fall back! We get to sleep in an hour!”

Nope.

I will still wake up at the same time I’ve been waking up, because it’s not, in fact, dependent on what the clock says. So on Sunday, when my eyes pop open, my clock will say sometime around 8:00. Not my old comfortable 7:00. Oh, I’ll adjust, though as homeschooling mom, I don’t necessarily have to. Once I start working again, or when time sensitive kid activities like day camp roll around, I’ll set an alarm to correct the problem. And then in the fall I’ll be grumpy again, because while everyone else is sleeping an extra hour, I’ll be waking up at 6:00, wishing I too could sleep in.

Daylight savings. Bah.

A word for the year

This year, for the first time, I’ve chosen a word of the year. I first heard about this idea from Claire Diaz Ortiz during the Work By Design Summit in 2016 and was reminded of it when she posted about her word for 2017, Essential.

I wanted to know more about this concept and so I went looking around for more information. In a nutshell, a word of the year is a single word, rather than a New Year’s resolution, to help with focus, goal setting, and even daily activities and decision making. Cool, right?

It got me thinking… what would my word be? Essential is a good word. In fact, with all the messages I’m getting lately about simplifying and minimalism, essential seems like a pretty great word to focus on. But it wasn’t MY word, and I like to do things my own way. So I started brainstorming.

I had just started again working through the first chapter of Ruth Soukup’s How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul, where she talks about finding your awesome. I made a list of the things I love talking about, reading about, learning about, what gets me excited, and right after stuff about my spiritual journey, came this list: Home decor, design, redecorating; homebirthing, homeschooling, homesteading; the concept of “home” from a cultural standpoint… seeing a pattern?

As you may have guessed, my word is HOME. My one word, the word that will provide me with focus, clarity, direction in my daily activities, and motivation in setting and achieving my and my family’s goals for the coming year and beyond, not to mention a platform on which to base a full year’s worth of blog posts… that word is HOME.

Do you have a word for the year? You can learn more about it here and here and even find your word tribe. Have fun and keep being.

-Kara