Monthly Archives: August 2013

“When you wage your wars against the one who adores you…”

wage wars

If you read my intro page then you may recall that I told you that if you have never watched the BBC series “Sherlock” then you should stop what you are doing, go on Netflix and watch it right now because it’s the greatest show ever—well that advice still stands, but now I’m adding the Oh Hello’s to the list of things you have to experience.

The Oh Hello’s are a fantastic band and their newest CD is incredible.  The album is called “Through the Deep, Dark Valley.” When you listen to it, you should listen from start to finish in one sitting, because, as a whole, the album portrays a powerful story—the story of the fall of mankind, and also of redemption—it’s beautiful.

“When you wage your wars against the one who adores you, then you’ll never know the treasure that your worth.”

This quote, from their song “In Memoriam”, gives us beautiful advice which, unfortunately, has become foreign to many people—the advice that if we fight God, we will not be able to see our true selves.

It is a hard reality to face.  We are all trying so hard to be the best we can be but we fail to see that we are reaching for the wrong prize.  We keep competing for beauty, wealth, fame, love, etc., all with the end idea that those will show our true treasure. Lies.

I know this really goes off of my last post (and probably some of the one’s before), and it probably sounds like I am just reiterating the whole thing, but hang with me please!

Anyway, I felt the urge to write again about the dreadful path our society is taking after watching that horrific display Mylie Cyrus put on at the VMA’s—I mean, I knew Hollywood was bad, but seriously, that was one of the worst performances I have ever seen.

I have been trying to figure out how Mylie went from innocent Hannah Montana inspiring little girls to be themselves, to crazy Mylie who is basically violating teddy bears on TV—it doesn’t make sense…how can someone change so quickly? I know she wants attention…we all do, it’s human nature—but her performance shows that she has forgotten the treasure she is worth.  And it’s not just her—Robin Thicke, the back-up dancers, both the rappers who I couldn’t understand at all –all those performers have lost the knowledge, or maybe no one has ever told them, that they are worth so much more than what they seek to gain.  (These examples are not the only performers I have seen do this—they just made it very hard to ignore).

If you continue to listen to the rest of the song, the next couple lines say:

“but I’ve never been a wealthy one before,

I’ve got holes in my pockets burned by liars’ gold,

and I think I’m far too poor for you to want me”

This is what happens…we forget the treasure we are worth and then we fall victim to the liars’ gold, and they burn us over and over again, until we believe the worst lie: “I’m not good enough for God to ever take me back” –we think we are too poor and God could never love someone with so much sin.

What a sad state to be in—to think you are not loved or forgiven by your Father; to think that when He looks at you all he sees is failure and disappointment.  This is right where the Devil wants us to be.

We all need to realize that no matter what we do, God our Father will never abandon us.  He is not human—He is so far above humanity that we cannot fathom how He is able to love us after all we do against Him, but we just have to have faith that he really does forgive us—FOR EVERYTHING—we just have to turn back to Him and seek reconciliation with him.   (Oh and just to be sure we are on the same page, I’m not saying this will be easy—confession is the hardest thing for me to do…ever…it takes all my strength to actually go—but that’s what makes it all the more rewarding in the end.)

I am extremely lucky to have a great example of a loving father on earth to help show me how a father can actually love unconditionally.  However, not all people are as fortunate as me.  It breaks my heart when I see people unable to love our Father in Heaven due to the actions of an earthly father—and the worst part is that it happens all the time.

This is why I am not surprised many people have forgotten their worth—many have never had a good example of how much a father can love.  When all they see in a father is abandonment, they will assume that our Father in Heaven will do the same thing—and so we fight Him and push Him away to protect our wounded hearts. Again, human nature.

This is where the end of the song comes in handy.

The very last line of the song is: “and yet you’re far too beautiful to leave me.”

God the Father sent his Son to us to die on the cross for our sins to prove to us that we will NEVER be too poor for him, He will never stop loving us and longing for us—He is too wonderful, too beautiful, too good, to leave us—because remember, He is not human—it is not in His nature to be anything but good.

But we can never return to Him unless we realize that we are worth more than the liars’ gold and we are a beautiful treasure in God’s eyes.

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One Road Leads Home

One road leads home

Yay! C.S. Lewis!

I love him.  I think he is extraordinary.  Sometimes, I have dreams that I’m sitting by a fireplace with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien, drinking Scotch and making up fantastic worlds.  Those are very happy dreams.

I love him for the same reason I love A.A. Milne—he writes stories for children that have meanings and lessons for people of all ages.  And he’s wicked smart.

Lewis even said “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

In doing this, Lewis takes a simple concept and turns it into a guideline to live your life by.
Take The Chronicles of Narnia for example, it’s not just a story about a group of kids living in a different world—it is a story about our own lives on Earth and the conflicts we must face every day.

“One road leads home, and a thousand roads lead into the wilderness.”

This quote appears simple, but when you think about it, it’s actually quite terrifying.

Lewis tells us there is only one road to heaven, and the rest lead, well…somewhere else…and …it’s not a good place.

So basically, if we are not, right now, traveling on the path that leads us to heaven, then we are traveling away from heaven.

Well then, how are we supposed to know which path is the right one?

In this relativistic world, everyone is telling us that the right path is the one that fits with our own life plan—this can make it very difficult for us to stay on track. Society says to do whatever makes you happy—sounds good, right? Ehhhhh, well actually…not so much.

Everything seems to be based off of feeling these days.  Now, usually, I’m OK with this…my decisions are based mostly on feelings and I tend not to always use logic—but there has to be a line…a big, bold line  that separates the black from the white—we have to learn self-control, or we, as a whole, will lose.

Take eating ice cream for example.  Ice cream is delicious, especially coffee ice cream, and ice cream makes most people happy.  However, we can’t just eat ice cream whenever we want, because that is bad for us and if we can’t control how often or how much we eat, it will ultimately make us unhappy.

That’s the same with traveling away from the path to heaven. We do something that makes us happy at the moment, but it takes us off the path to heaven.  After the first time we do this thing, whatever it may be, we know it was wrong, even though we enjoyed it.  So, we go to confession and ask God to forgive us for choosing temporary happiness over him and we promise never to do it again—all is good.

Well, here is the problem with being humans…we tend to go back on our promises…especially the ones we make with God.  I do this all the time, and I really don’t understand why.  I mean, I’m afraid to go back on a promise I make to my eight-year-old brother, but sometimes it doesn’t even phase me when I go back on a promise on God.  It’s like I think he won’t remember that I made the promise, or that he will understand why I couldn’t keep my word. I’m so dumb sometimes—why would I think that people (who tend to forget things easily) would remember something I said longer than the Creator of the Universe would?? I mean, seriously, c’mon Maddie!

So we break these promises again and again and slowly we forget to apologize for them.  We make more excuses for why it was o.k. to break them and we try to justify our actions and eventually we begin to believe our own lies and our sin no longer appears sinful to us.  When we do this we are no longer taking small steps, but rather sprinting away from the path God intended for us.

This is the problem with the attitude that is taking over our society, the attitude that we can do whatever we want without any regret or any consequences. Eventually those actions will come back and kick us in the butt and by the time we realize what we did, it could be too late.  Maximus says it best in The Gladiator when he tells his men, “What we do in this life, echoes in eternity.”

So if what we do today influences us forever, we better make sure we are doing the right thing, not always the thing that makes us happy at the moment.  The problem is figuring out what the right thing is and what the right path to take it.

In Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire cat (personally my favorite character in the book) tells Alice, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there” –meaning without a goal, you don’t know where you will go.  We have to have a goal.  Without a goal in sight or mind, there is no telling where we will end up because we will not base our actions on anything substantial—everything will be based off of our immediate and present emotions—and there is not one single earthly object that will make us ultimately as happy as the path to heaven will.

I’m glad we had times together just to laugh and sing a song.

I'm glad we had these times

Dr. Seuss sure knew how to hit the nail on the head.

This one pulls me on two different heart strings.  Both are rather emotional for me, so bare with me (some of you know I get a little emotionally attached to things).

The first one is the great BC class of 2013.

Although I did not graduate with the class, I always considered myself one of them, and I hope they felt the same way.  We were like a giant, awesome family and it was just fantastic.

If we can be credited to nothing else, we can surely be known as the class that laughed.  We just liked to have fun, plain and simple—and we enjoyed each other’s company.

I don’t remember a single time when all of us were together and there was not any laughter.  Collectively, we all had so much joy in life and we longed for everyone to share in that joy.  It was really a beautiful thing.

College is a time where you are meant to learn the ways of the world and discover who you are and who you are meant to be.  It’s supposed to be a bridge between childhood and the real world.  The problem is, nobody tells you how hard it is to either step off that bridge and leave the four years behind your, or to watch those you love step off and leave you behind.

“Seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone.”

When you think of all the times we shared, you can’t help but wonder what could have happened had we two more years together.  I mean, we probably would’ve solved all the world’s problems if we had more time.

That’s the crazy thing.  We had just enough time to come together as a group and become a family.  We had just enough time to help each other form into the men and women we are meant to be.  Sure, we would all love to have the opportunity to continue to live next to each other for the rest of our lives, and maybe that will eventually happen, but for now, that must not be the best route for us.

God gave us to each other for a purpose.  We helped each other grow–to see what we wanted from the world and to understand what we had to give to the world.  And then, when we were strong enough to be apart from each other, God separated us—allowed us to spread our wings and fly.  Maybe someday we will all return to each other, but for now we are able to keep the parts of us that have been formed by our friends and use them to influence the world in the same way we have been influenced.

It’s hard, but that’s just the way the world works.

Another heart string this quote pulls at is the one that connects to the deep love I have for my Daddio.

Now, this probably isn’t fair because I can honestly find a way to connect my dad to every single moment of my life, but this one really makes me see his wonderful face.

For those of you who knew him, you will probably first remember his smile and his voice.

I have never seen a smile light up a face the way my Dad’s did.  It was infectious. Sometimes I thought his face was going to burst from smiling so big.

And his voice!! It was commanding and soft all at the same time. And he loved to sing.  He would belt out any song at any time and it was just wonderful.  He was one of those people who would sing a song that matched whatever word or phrase you had just said (this is a trait I have seemed to pick up on).

I wouldn’t trade any of those memories for anything and I would give so much to experience them again.

When someone leaves you before you are ready to let them go, it is tough.  All you want to do is erase time until you get back to the days when everything is perfect—to the day when you are riding up to Minnesota with your Dad ready to go to your first ever Gopher hockey game (they beat North Dakota in that game, if you were wondering), or even to the time when you hug him for the first time after hearing he had cancer.

You never think there is going to be a day when he is not with you.  He’s your Dad, after all.  He’s supposed to be there at your college graduation, he’s supposed to help you find your first apartment, he’s supposed to calm you down when you don’t know what you are going to do with your life, and he’s supposed to walk you down the aisle.  That’s what Dads do.

We often take for granted all the time we have with the ones we love.  We never know when that time is going to end, and usually it will end when we least expect it –right when things are beginning to start.

There is one little part of the quote from Dr. Seuss I wish I could change, and that is when he states “the times we had together were gone.”  I don’t really agree with that.

Yes, we will never experience those times again, and we will never have the opportunity to make new times with those we have lost, however those times are not gone.

Gone, to me, means they are forgotten, never to be remembered or cherished.  Gone means a total loss.

These times are not gone.  They are carried with us forever in our memories and in our hearts.  They are relived every time we see a picture, hear a song or watch a video that reminds us of the ones we have lost.

Nothing we do in our lives is ever gone.  We carry everything with us because what has influenced us in the past has become a part of us, and so those who we have cherished live on though us.

Trust me, it’s real.  I see my Dad every time I look at my siblings, hear an Eagles song, watch a football game, play hearts, drink a beer—literally in almost everything I do.  He is not gone to me, he is still alive, but he has moved on to a place where I can’t follow.

I think Dr. Seuss is trying to tell us to take it all in.  Live life.  Be who you are.  Love who you are with, because before you know it, people may have to move on without you and you don’t want there to be any doubt, in your mind or theirs, that you lived all you could with them.

Patiently trying to be patient

patience

If I’m being completely honest, I would have to say the only time I do not struggle with patience is  when I’m asleep—and even then I can’t be sure.

“Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”   The last part is the kicker—keeping a good attitude when all you want to do is complain and scream about something that is driving you absolutely crazy.  In some situations, it literally takes all of my will power to appear calm, when on the inside I am not.

If you know me well, you are probably aware that I am an avoider.  Anything I don’t want to deal with, I just avoid.  This tactic has worked relatively well most of my life, but since it’s only a short term fix; it’s bound to come kick me in the butt eventually.

The reason I told you about my avoidance problem is because it fits right into my patience problem.

There’s this lovely Irish proverb that says “for what cannot be cured by patience is best.”  Well, if I ever doubted my Irish heritage, I don’t anymore because that must be where I get my strong distaste for patience. This explains why when I see situations that involve a lot of patience, I usually run in the opposite direction, and don’t look back.

However, there are actually, believe it or not, times when running away is not an option and you actually have to deal with unpleasant situations—crazy, I know.

This is where I’ve set myself up for failure.  I don’t know how to deal with these situations and they turn out being ten times worse than they needed to be (oh, I’m also really bad at confrontation, if you didn’t know).

So now I need to start over at square one.  I think at this point God is just laughing at me saying, “Well Maddie, I gave you a chance, many chances actually, to get good at this, but you didn’t take those opportunities, so now take luck, you are going to need it.”

Ok, so here’s the big question…how do I become patient?  Does it mean I just have to keep all my emotions to myself and calmly go along with whatever is bothering me? Is patience really just passively giving up what you want for the sake of what someone else wants?

Honestly, that’s always how I’ve seen it.  I’ve always thought patience was just giving up my own opinion if it interferes with someone else’s.  I’ve thought that if I just wait it out, and not stir up trouble, I’ll eventually get what I want.  But I don’t think that’s it—I think we are meant to be active–we just have to be patiently active…right.

I think the first step to becoming the actively patient person God wants me to be is to be understanding. I can’t keep thinking that everyone thinks the same, or should think the same, as me.  It’s just not going to happen.  Sometimes I forget that every single person on this planet has lived a different life than me which causes them to react to situations in a different manner then I would—it doesn’t mean they are wrong, it just means that we are different.

When we begin to understand where someone is coming from, it becomes easier to accept why they act the way they do.   Now I’m not saying we have to be ok with everything everyone does, because we still can’t allow sin to take over the world, I’m just saying that when we understand why someone is doing something, we can address it better and patiently figure out the proper way to respond to it.

I understand that was probably a big mumbo-jumbo mess of words, but what I am trying to say is that not everyone is the same and we can’t expect to get along perfectly with everyone (I mean, even Frodo and Sam fought every once in a while).  But if we learn to understand where people are coming from, it will help us receive the Grace to use patience to overcome our trials, and if we want to use that patience well, we have to have a good attitude.