"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

08 January 2010

Need We Be Provocative to Raise Awareness?

Starting late last night, women all over America began posting the colors of their bras on Facebook in their "status" box, all because someone had the brilliant idea that this was a good way to "raise awareness" for breast cancer.

I find this troubling on several counts.

First of all, ladies, what happened to the days where lady-like discretion was valued? Since when has it been acceptable to declare to the public (which, despite the fact that you may be sitting by yourself in front of the computer, most of us have hundreds of people on our friends lists, most of whom we are not terribly close to) what you are wearing underneath your clothes? Like a friend of mine said, you wouldn't email your friends (especially your male friends) or call them up and tell them what color bra you're wearing. That would be called sexual harassment. At least in that case, there would be a level of privacy. These seemingly "harmless" games add up to the stumbling blocks that Jesus tells us comes from Satan.

Secondly, I'm all for having fun while working towards educating the world (I mean, I AM a teacher at heart), but really, what educational purpose does posting the color of your lingerie on Facebook serve? So your friends might ask you what it's for. Most people's answers would probably be limited to, "Oh, it's to raise awareness for breast cancer."  And? What about breast cancer? What are the latest numbers? What can we do to be more proactive? Most people wouldn't go into all that, and thus, how is this raising awareness? We all know breast cancer is out there. Now I also know what color bra you're wearing today. Let's educate, ladies, not entice.

Thirdly, there's something bothersome about men knowing what their friends' wives are wearing as lingerie. I have to admit, when I first heard about this, I thought, "Oh, cute." But then I started thinking about the men I might run into during my day today. Men who are friends of mine of Facebook. Men who I don't want envisioning me in my underwear! And really, I've seen some distasteful "comments" from men following the bra color postings of our sisters such as, "Make sure it stays in the car! Wouldn't want it hanging out!" Why are we giving men a venue to respond in this way?

I'm not a mom yet, but I am a youth leader. I also volunteer as a peer counselor at a crisis pregnancy center.  I care deeply about the young women in my life, and the young men (and older men) in their lives. Sometimes, as youth leaders, we wonder why we feel like we're talking to brick walls when we discuss the sacredness of femininity, of modesty, mystery, and beauty with our girls. All these subtle messages we send out to our girls that modesty is "old-fashioned," that being lady-like is "prudish," and that beauty means "flaunting what God gave ya" is harmful to the development of our girls' identities. We need to be helping our young people grow up gracefully, not with the mindset of "do what it takes to get what you want" and "a little bit of fun won't hurt ya."

In the end, that's all this "awareness effort" was. It was sexy and provocative without really crossing the line. But that line was crossed for me when somebody decided it would be "fun" to encourage women all over the country to share a part of themselves that really doesn't need to be in a very public arena. Let's have fun, ladies, but let's also be smart about it. I mean, there were some people posting colors without even knowing what it was for! Can we use the brains the good Lord gave us?!

Scriptures say that everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.  I think this is a clear-cut case of such a circumstance.

And, as my friend Annie said, "How much money did sharing a color raise for breast cancer research?"

I think I was born in the wrong century.


Living so far away from "home" and my family breaks my heart sometimes. It's especially hard these days as we yearn for family and friends who sing the same heart song we do. I first heard MercyMe's "Homesick" while in college. I would cry and cry at my study carrel on the second floor of the library, knowing that "home" would never be the same for me. Even going back to Cameroon wouldn't ever be "home" anymore, because things change, places change, people change. I grieved that when I graduated from my rain forest high school and flew away from my tropical home, I didn't realize that I would never be coming back as ... well, that version of me.

As I learn more about God and hear His guiding in my heart, that MercyMe song has taken on a different note. Being married has emphasized that even more. We are so thankful for one another and for God's very obvious hand in our journey together so far, and yet, we understand more clearly than ever before what it is to hold blessings in an open hand. We understand a little bit more the peace behind "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away."  I still miss home terribly, and there are days, like today, where it actually makes me cry. But Nich and I have both been repeatedly reminded that this is not where we are meant to be forever. No matter where we are on this earth or who we're blessed to share it with, it will be temporary.

It makes the loneliness a bit easier to bear on most days. It also makes it all the more clear that my daily desire should be God's glory and fulfilling His purposes for my life - more than my desire to share laughter, to travel, to teach, to write, to learn and know (savoir and connaitre), to explore God's love ... even with my husband. I came across the thoughts of one of the bravest soul's I've ever known last year. I haven't met her. I think I would like to. She's the sister-in-law of one of my childhood friends, and she's dying. And she's doing it so intentionally, with such grace and strength, and I can't help but think of another MercyMe song when I think of her.

Angelic rejoicing will abound when we all finally make it to  Abba, who will welcome us with that firm embrace that will let us know we're really, truly home at last.

05 January 2010

Catching up on our Christmas season

Our Christmas Day was fairly quiet. We had several parties leading up to it, but on Christmas Eve, we went to the early evening service and had a friend over for dinner. We intended on going to the midnight service but ended up falling asleep beforehand. We were disappointed to miss the late service, because it's always wonderful, but we were just too tired. In retrospect, we probably would have skipped a party we went to the night before. Lesson learned. We just can't pull off those kind of hours anymore.

Christmas Day was really nice. I woke up early(ish) and made breakfast and hot cocoa. I tried to patiently wait for Nich to wake up, but eventually, I had to nudge him awake. We opened stockings together while eating. We had intended on reading through the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke, but our pastor actually included it as part of the service on Christmas Eve, so we read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" instead. It might have to become tradition. :~) We then opened gifts and headed over to Chris and Keri's for Christmas dinner. It was just five of us (Chris, Keri, Chris' brother Will, Nich and me), so it was quiet. We both miss our families a lot this time of year, but it was nice to be with friends. Nich and Chris have known each other since they were eleven or twelve, Nich lived with Chris' family for a while, they were in each others' weddings, etc. so they're pretty much family. :~)

For New Year's Eve, we both had to work, but afterward, we headed south to Peekskill to celebrate with our friends from Virginia, Dan and Nancy, and their adorable baby girl, Rebekah, who just turned one. Dan has family that lives in New York, so they come north once a year or so. It was a fun, loud, uproarious, rollicking good time. Karaoke brought out adventurous sides of both Nich and Dan that I had not expected. Nich sang the entirety of "Bohemian Rhapsody" BY HIMSELF. I would post pictures, but my laptop died, and Nich's doesn't have a port for the memory card.

I've applied to the substitute teacher registry again, so I'm waiting to hear back from them. I'm praying for sooner than later. I've also applied for a long-term substitute position for middle school French at Hudson Falls, but as I'm not certified in that area (I do have my undergrad degree in French lit. though), I'm not sure if they'll consider me. In the meantime, I've been working at Bath and Body Works in the mall, which has been fun, but definitely not enough hours or pay. I've also been keeping busy working on projects for all the babies! I do believe we are easing out of the season of life where everyone we know is getting married, and starting last year or so, everyone's having babies! :~) This keeps my hands busy, but my heart joyful.

Nich's still working at State Farm and hoping to possibly take a night class come summer at the local community college. It has been a slow journey for him, one that requires much patience and grace on both our parts toward the school. They dropped him from an entire semester's worth of courses by mistake without telling him or the professors, and he didn't find out until after the fact. So on record, it looks like he never took those courses, so he's missing 15 credit hours of courses. They're being very unhelpful in figuring it out, so a year and a half later, we're still trying to get someone to help us. This would be something we would appreciate prayer on.

We are thankful for good health throughout this busy season and for a safe home to live in and have shelter from all this snow we've been getting. We are also thankful for the ministries (teens and young adults) with which Abba has entrusted us, and we anticipate this new year to bring us much joy and growth through those. Nich continues to serve in men's group and as part of a focus group for our church, and I will be continuing in Tuesday night Bible study with a group of women. 

I guess that's all for now. :~) If you have favorite memories from this past Christmas, please share! We still have our tree up (although our other decorations have been taken down), and Nich's still playing the Transiberian Orchestra in his car. We like to eeeeease out of the Christmas season.