Sunday, November 25, 2012

Roses remind me of you

Roses are considered romantic in a lot of situations. I think they're really quite amazing. Sure, they're beautiful and they smell lovely, and everybody wants some because they're super special. But there's so much more to a rose than that. That's why they remind me of you.

You see, I'm pretty much the opposite of a gardener. If there were an award for "most plants killed" I just might win it. I overwater, or underwater, or forget to take them in.

However, for the second time in my life I have found myself with a rather beautiful set of rose plants in my care. For some reason, roses don't *actually* take much maintenance. Pull the weeds sometimes, cut off the flowers so they'll grow more, and that's about it.

I'm sure some master gardener out there will disagree with me. But the fact is: I have yet to kill a rose plant. And that's really saying something!

Roses are sturdy. Yes, they're beautiful. They're a pleasure to look at - like you. But there's more to them. Rose tea is actually quite tasty and (I hear) good for the digestion. Roses can survive any kind of weather - from the scorching heat of two summers ago to the freezing ice storm last year brought us, with little sunlight or with lots of it. And even when they're a little messed up, when they're discolored or a little ripped or chewed, they always draw the eye. People want to hang out, if even for just a minute, around roses. Just, I might add, like you.

You may not realize it right now, but you are very much like the beautiful roses that have flourished in my care. You've gone through a period of neglect, where people may have stopped to admire your beauty but nobody really took care of you - something these roses have gone through for many years before I moved in. You may be going through some painful things right now, a process where parts of your life are being cut away - pruned, if you will. And I know that sometimes it can feel like life is beating you down like that ice storm beat these poor roses last winter. But the roses survived the neglect, and the pruning and the storm both did very good things for these roses and it will for you too.

The pruning took the old growth away so that new growth could come in. The old growth was beautiful! It was a gorgeous set of a few almost perfect-looking roses. But if I hadn't cut those flowers off, if I hadn't taken those beautiful petals off of the plant, they would have been the only roses that plant could produce all year. Instead, I pruned away the growth again and again until a plant that only had three roses had one final yield for the year of almost twenty!

You're in a time right now where some things are being pruned away. It hurts, because the things you're losing are things you were very attached to, beautiful and wonderful things you don't want to let go of. But God, the Master Gardener of our hearts, knows what he's doing better than I even know what to do with these roses. This time of pruning will eventually be something you'll be able to look back on as a reason you're flourishing so well.

The ice storm made these roses stronger. They wove themselves together, each branch of the plant leaning toward the other where they used to be growing apart and away from each other. Now, many of the parts of this plant are intertwined. Storms do that to people, too. The storms of life make us lean in toward each other and toward God, wrapping ourselves around the people who love and support us because we come to a realization that we can't do it on our own anymore.

Yes, you are very much like these roses: Beautiful, strong, but with so much more growing to do and so much more potential to realize. I'm looking forward to watching it happen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The pondering inspired by a made-up bed.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words...

I probably haven't made my bed more than ten times - if that many - in the five years since I left my mother's house. I would say that averages about twice per year, but that's a lie. In the two and a half years I've been living with my husband, I think I've made the bed twice. Just twice. The other three times happened in the nine months I was with a control freak. The guy before that didn't care any more than I did.

In fact, I can't remember more than a dozen times in the 16 years I *WAS* living with my mom that I actually made my bed. From what I remember, it was about (but a little bit less than) once a year. The bed got made twice a year. Once, maybe, when my mom bribed or threatened me to do it ("If you don't make that bed, we'll leave you home when we go to dinner tonight!"). A second time when she opened my door to give me laundry.

"Laurana! When was the last time you cleaned this room? I can't even *see* the floor! That's it, I'm tired of it, you have thirty minutes, and then I'm coming in here with a garbage bag!"

Which was usually followed by about 30 seconds of cleaning and then 29 minutes of playing with whatever toy I'd found when I picked the first shirt up off the floor. Or, if I couldn't find a toy, several five-minute spurts of kind of cleaning broken up by five minute spurts of "I have to pee...I need a drink....I'm hungry..." I think you moms know this story.

Which meant mom came in with the garbage bag, and the bed got made that night.

But I didn't make it.

Nope, I think in the sixteen years of living with my mom, it's a very real possibility that I made my own bed less than once a year.

Who made the bed all those other times?

Well, with the exception of the times I bribed, tricked, or otherwise coerced one of my siblings to do it (that's what they're there for, right?) - probably mom. I'm sure she'll be sainted one day for raising me. I was certainly a pill.

That fact makes this show pretty impressive. Not only did I make my bed today, but I *cleaned the room*...without prompting. Well, almost. There were a few verbal nudges from my husband. He's also going to be sainted, just for having to live here. (haha)

But is that what people see when they look at this? Just looking at the picture, and trying to be detached about it, I think it kindof looks like nobody lives here. The bed's made up, but the walls are bare. There's no real signs of life - much less married life - in this room

Not that I'm encouraging you to post evidence of your married life as pertaining to the bedroom. Keep it where it belongs.

But I look at these pictures, which I took so I could share with you the story about how I never make my bed, and I wonder what other people will think when they look at them. People, maybe, who don't know me.

Which makes me wonder, what would people think if someone just took snapshots of my life on the days when my room isn't clean, and my bed isn't made? What would people think of my life if snapshots of the day to day were posted on the internet?

I'm on a mission to make sure whatever it is they think of me when they see those snapshots of my life is positive. I'm on a mission to make "No regrets" my testimony. To make sure that when my kids find my profile on an old site, that I'm not going to turn red explaining something to them, or having to say "oh, I was a kid, and I was dumb..."

I don't have kids yet, but - and forgive me if this sounds bad - the older my parents get, the more I realize that I need to plan now for when I do have kids. I need to start developing the habits that I want them to have, and getting rid of the ones that I don't want them to have. And that includes a lot of thinking, even about what I post on the internet.

You never know, when you post something, what other people are going to think about it. But you can sometimes guess.

If you post pictures of you with alcohol, people are going to think you're a drunk. If you post pictures of you scantily clad, they'll think you're a slut. If you post pictures of you helping a charity, they'll either think you're a nice gal - or that you're showing off.

You can't please everyone, and I'm not saying that you can or that you should try. But what will your kids think when they see that picture? Will they be embarrassed to be your kid, embarrassed to see what you just posted, ashamed and disappointed by your choices? Or will they be proud of you?

And probably more important: When your kids copy the way you live, will you be proud to say "I taught them that!" Or will you be ashamed of them?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Pledge Allegiance

Today is voting day, and it has me thinking about patriotism. Why? Because I'm not voting.

Yeah, I know, 'NOT voting?'

So let me start with that. I'm not voting because I don't have all the information. I can't begin to understand the full ramifications of what Obama has already done in his time in office. I have my reasons for disliking both candidates, and I don't have enough information to feel that I can properly choose. And so, I would rather my vote be withheld then potentially contribute to standing in the way of what God may want to happen.

That's why I'm not voting. And I'm proud to live in a country where - even though people fought hard to secure my right to vote - I have a right to make the decision not to do so. No one is forcing me to do anything. I don't have to worry that as soon as I post this, some military group is going to be sent to my home to break down the door and force me to my local polling place. We live in an increasingly regulated America, but for now it's still free. And I'm proud of that.

Moving right along.

Some people have asked why I say the pledge the way I do. I say it proudly, back straight, voice firm. I believe in what I'm saying. Some people wonder about that. I'm not in the military or any political groups, I don't only buy American made products, so how can I say that I believe in what I'm saying when I say the pledge? Furthermore, how can a Christian confidently pledge allegiance to a country that is quickly moving away from its Christian moral base?

I'd like to say the answer is simple, but it's not.

I don't know about wars. I have no concept, no real comprehension, of what goes on in a war. Sure, I've read news articles and history books. But that's like reading about a million dollars - if you've never seen and experienced it yourself, you just don't fully understand what it is, and what it means. I don't know about congress or the senate or the judicial system - if I'm completely truthful, I'm like a lot of Americans in that I know practically nothing about America. I'm not proud of that, but I just don't know where to start, and I don't feel I have the time to dive in to learning yet. It is on my list though.

Not knowing as much as I do, I still know something with absolute certainty: This country was founded by Christians, with divine help. That's all I need to know right now. I say the pledge with respect and conviction because I am fully devoted to a country that *is* one nation, under God indivisible.

You see, there's a key there that people don't get because of the way those words were spaced out when we learned them. That's why people think it's OK to take God out of the pledge. They don't understand that this was written by a Christian, by a powerful person of God who knew that only under God's power could the United States truly stay indivisible, and only under God's guidance could they truly provide liberty and justice for all.

I pledge my allegiance to that country. To a country that stands firm on biblical principles, that asks God for help, to a country that prays. And though I may not be in the military, I fully believe that if I were called on, if I were needed, to stand in defense of a country under God, I would do so. Not because we are currently under God. But because I believe that God's promise to Abraham ("For the sake of ten righteous men I will not destroy this city") was a promise to all of us. Our country may not be a country under God right now, but there are more than ten righteous people in it, and that means there's hope. So if I were called on to defend our country, to defend our rights and freedoms as laid out in the constitution, to defend the ability of the righteous men I know to live in a country where the most persecution they will face is a nasty message on Facebook - then I will do so. That's why I say the pledge so resolutely.

I think, unlike many, that our country still has hope. I joked with everyone else at the last election: "If so and so wins, I'm moving to Canada."  But the truth of the matter is that I wouldn't. I really do love this country, even if we're a little screwed up right now. It's like loving your crazy grandma. I believe that we need some strong people to take charge in our government - and I do know enough to know that one president isn't going to be able to change anything. It's going to take time to repair what we've broken in the decades since the last world war. But I believe that we can, and I believe that I'm doing my part.

"But," you may say, "you're not a politician, or a lobbyist, or even an activist. YOU don't even vote! What are you doing?"

The only hope for our country is that generations X and Y get their heads on straight so we can teach generation Z and the generations thereafter how to fix what's been broken. Someone in my generation will almost definitely be elected to senate one day, quite a few of them in fact. And it's up to our generation and that of our parents to teach the people who will be in power how to do so. We can do that by teaching them to be faithful, honest, kind, and God-fearing.

So what am I doing? I'm involved with a group called Worldwide Dream Builders. They are the most patriotic people I have ever come into contact with. They are also the most Godly. They are teaching me, now, while I'm still five to ten years from having children, how to raise a family. They are teaching me how to be a better Christian, a better citizen, and a better patriot. They are teaching me how to secure my family's financial future so that I can spend time teaching my children the things they will need in order to positively influence their world. They are teaching me to be strong, and faithful, and honest, and kind, and God-fearing, and so much more - so that I can pass these things on to my children and grandchildren.

I say the pledge because I believe, through the influence of groups like Worldwide, that the generations my generation will raise are going to be able to fix this country and bring it back to where it's supposed to be - One nation, under God indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.