Tag Archives: possibility

The challenge of following

Remember how I said I love a good challenge?

Well, operation-complete-a-revision-of-the-first-draft-of-the-dissertation-before-the-baby-comes is in full swing!

On Friday, armed with decaf coffee and hot cocoa, I tackled the first chapter and am happy to report that while it’s not perfect, it’s light years from where it was.  I have a lot of motivation, of course, with a baby on the way.  Plus, I’m signed up for a dissertation bootcamp through the writing program next week, and I really believe I can do this.

Still, there’s nothing like a baby to put your plans in perspective–to help you realize that your plans are yours and well, God’s are God’s.  I sometimes imagine God chuckling, “Just try to control the timing of this baby, just try.”  

I’m sure God very much wants me to finish this draft of my dissertation, of course, but I’m also certain that following God has to happen on God’s time and with my full commitment. Babies and due dates remind me that following God involves submitting all my plans to God’s wisdom and supervision, learning how to be content in all circumstances, and trusting God to provide possibilities beyond my wildest imagination.

Fading sunset on the River Seine, Paris, France.  Photo by Evan Schneider.
Fading sunset on the River Seine, Paris, France. Photo by Evan Schneider.

And that’s actually a pretty good deal, if you ask me.

I’ve remarked before how the true liberation of the spiritual life is to live a life free from our control and instead, fully committed to the adventures God has in store for us.  When we relinquish our expectations and allow God to dream, the results are life-changing.

With a baby on the way, I certainly expect no less!

 

 

Advertisements

On gratitude and sacrifice

I finally listened to the speech Michelle Obama’s gave at the DNC this morning.  

My husband and I have been largely hiding behind a rock this election season, avoiding politics talk, genuinely overwhelmed by the spars, the divisions, and the pettiness when just a month ago we were living in a nation with five times as many people as this one, and where poverty, human rights, and children’s lives hang in the balance.

But, perhaps predictably, (and don’t worry, I’m not about to really get political here), the First Lady’s speech did strike a chord with me today.  Ironically, the narrative of sacrifice and commitment that she and President Obama expressed in regards to their parents reminded me of some of the culture of filial piety, once so vibrant and pervasive, that is beginning to erode in China today.

But her words about gratitude and sacrifice and humility, about learning from their parents that “so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us, to the janitors who kept our school clean” also reminded me of my own family.

My Grandfather and I this past November.

The story she told about her father struggling to walk with MS and shifting uncomfortably out of bed each morning reminded me of my grandfather who prayed everyday on his knees despite the paralysis in his own legs.  My mother has MS, so she not only knew what it was like to watch her father struggle with his paralysis, but I know what it is like to know and be inspired by someone who does not let her physical disabilities hold her back from serving others.

The sacrifice Mrs. Obama mentioned that her parents made to send her to college reminds me of my own father’s years of getting up before the sun came up and coming home after it went down, all so my sisters and I didn’t have to struggle to pay for school.  It, this gift of education, was my parents’ ultimate gift to their children and only later in life do I relish what a sacrifice it meant and what devotion it took.

My parents on Thanksgiving, 2011.

Mrs. Obama’s stories remind me of the way my dad’s parents’ scraped together during the Great Depression, their determination to live and make do with what they had, and the money my maternal grandparents left to me as they passed on, despite the fact that they always lived with so little themselves.

As Mrs. Obama spoke I realized why these stories are so powerful: they bind us to one another.  They express the gratitude to those who came before us for the lives we live today.  They recognize that the strength of humanity, not just Americans, but of all people, is this willingness to submit that perhaps their dreams won’t come true in their lifetime, but they can come true in the lives of others.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, Gramma and Grandpa, Grandma and Grandad, for loving me so unconditionally, for giving me a life full of possibility and joy, despite what your own lives may have lacked.  Your love inspires me everyday, and I hope when people compliment me on my successes, I remember the people, you, who made them possible.

Who inspires you today?  Who do you thank for your successes?  Who taught you about gratitude, and humility, and sacrifice?