Valetine’s and Ash.

Insert obligatory Valentine’s Day Post:

Actually it’s also ash Wednesday and I used to go to a Lutheran Church, and Lutherans and Catholics both celebrate Ash Wednesday, so yeah.

Seriously, we joke about observing the holiday’s, but what are holidays for if not to turn our minds to the same good old ideas at least once a year. That is why we have annual celebrations.

So on this holiday devoted to love, but especially Eros, it’s only right to honor that by posting something about it.

As you can imagine, an day devoted to love of any sort is a win for me. I love love. I never get tired of discussing it.

But what does an always single person like me get out of Valentines’s Day?

For us singles, this day either becomes a day for friends and family (including the friend zone people you secretly hope will do something romantic after all on Valentine’s Day) or a day for moping about our loneliness.

I’ve never seen the point of the latter. Truthfully, since I’ve never not been single, it’s just not a bigger deal to me to day then an other day.

But because of that this day also isn’t a huge deal for me at all. My family makes home made Valentine’s, we give each other candy, sometimes my parents go out or get each other candy or a special card. But that’s about it.

Since I’m not on social media, I don’t have to suffer from all the FOMO of seeing my friends’ perfect days and dates.

Sure, I could be envious, but actually all the friends I have are single or not dating their crush or already married, so I don’t have all that much to envy.

Like many Christians, I take this day as one to think of God’s love on, and to think of how I should love other people better. One of the best ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day is to just be nicer to people, or do something for someone in your life that you wouldn’t normally do.

St. Valentine (who’s full title is actually the official name of today, we all cut out the Saint now) was a man committed to preserving godly marriage in a day and age when it had been outlawed. At least that’s the account I’ve heard.

So that’ partly why romantic love is the focus of the day, but also godly love. For St. Valentine was a christian (duh), and it takes guts and faith to keep marrying people when it could get you killed.

Sadly I have to wonder how many Christians today would even put up a real fight if that happened. I mean, the definition of marriage has already changed. What next?

But that’s a sad thought, and this is supposed to be happy. However since today is also Ash Wednesday, which among other things, reminds us that we are dust and we will return to dust, the mingling of love and death seems appropriate.

Ash Wednesday is also the beginning of Lent. The 40 days of fasting before Easter that some churches observe. It’s not a bad idea, fasting is a sobering thing, but healthy in the right amounts.

Some folks think it’s obsessive, but it’s not scientifically dangerous to fast 40 days if you are in good health and drink lots of water and even juice. OF course you should know your body before you undertake food fasting.

Lent reminds us to be humble, and to remember Christ’s sufferings and fasting for us before the cross and resurrection of Easter.

Love and Death, as Rick Riordan observed in his books “The Son of Neptune” and “The House of Hades” are oddly often similar.

But I don’t go so far as to say they are the same thing. Death can be a part of love, but it doesn’t follow that love is a part of death.

Today represents all the “dizzy dancing way (we) feel, when every fairy-tale is real” as Both Sides Now puts it, and it also represents the suffering, shadow, and death that the Christian life, and any life really, entails.

I enjoy the fairy-tale part, the giddy feels, the romantic movies, the candy; the dreaming about one day actually having a date on this day…but do I discount the not so pleasant parts?

You might know that one song from Disney’s Robin Hood, that Maid Marian sings (or thinks, one or the other) “Love goes on.”

Love, it seems like only yesterday, you were just a child at play. Now you’re all grown up inside of me, oh how fast those moments flee.

Once we watched a lazy world go by, now the days seem to fly, life is brief, but when it’s gone, love goes on and on.

Love will live, love will last, love goes on and on.

I think that sums it up, love goes on even to death, and today of all days we should remember that.

So if your’e celebrating with someone you know, then just do something a little more selfless. Be willing to suffer. Yes guys, even to watch chick flicks, and girls even to do something that you might not find all that romantic, but he wants to do.

And singles, hey, make the most of today with what you can.

“…and provide for those who grieve… to bestow on them a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isiah 61:3.

-Natasha.

 

 

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Happy New Year’s resolution.

Another year, another chance to fufill my goals.

But I’m not into making New Year’s REsolutions. I think, like most people, that they are an optimistic waste of time.

The real problem with NEw Year’s resolutions isn’t what every one says, that being that we just can’t hold ourselves to them.

That is a problem. But the truth is, if you really try, you can keep a resolution.

I have. As I’ve shared before, I’ve gone cold turkey ont hings, and I haven’t gone back to them.

I’ve sucessfully taken a break from doing certaint hings and eating or drinking certain stuff.

It can be done.

Yay!

I think it’s a lame exuse to say Resolutions just can’t be kept. Improving yourself isn’t a bad idea.

But the problem I do see with this New Year’s thing is that it makes resolution a joke. OR at the very least a fun thing. Or, if not that, then a popular fad.

Which kills all power in the resolution.

Resolutions are never fun, they aren’t funny, they usually aren’t popular.

For example, I could resolve to go see every new superhero movie the day of its release. That’s not going to be that hard on a personal level, though financially it would be.

It’s not like that culturally unacceptable. No one’s going to call me a prude or anything if I do it.

But if I were to resolve never to watch television fora w hole year, I’m sure some people would call that overboard.

(Try it and see, it’d be an interesting experience.)

But making a resolution just because everyone else is doing it and it’s a tradition defeats the point.

One has to be  serious about what they resolve. There has to be a real desire to change, and a real will to stick it out. Trust me, when there’s not , yo won’t last the week.

And any Christian would tell you, the grace of God is what makes it possible.

One can resolve and stick to it on mere will power, but that’s not the best way. It’s better to resolve something out of passion. Hiving the correct motivation to.

Those changes just aren’t made a whole lot. They’re the changes we all secretly wish the people around us would make, and wish also that we ourselves could make.

Humanity longs for change. None of us are always satisfied with who we are. Nor should we be.

I am no talking about hating yourself. I mean hating the thing that you do that are less than good. Or just mediocre.

Sometimes you have to hate the dumb things you do before you realize just how dumb they are.

I want to meet goals, but i don’t expect to change my habits all in one day or one week. So I make a dream list every new year.

I should review my old one and see if I did any of those things.

Until next time–Natasha.

Christmas and Carols.

I’m not the only one who’s been doing their Christmas shopping this week. Ideally, I would do it at the beginning of the month, but I tend to forget about it till Christmas is one week away.

Anyway, just thought I’d mention that.

I wonder if people really think about the true meaning of Christmas anymore. I’m supposed to read “The Man who Invented Christmas” for my book group, it’s about how Dickens wrote a Christmas Carol.

I don’t think I really think about the Christmas story. I’ve heard it so many time, it goes over my head.

It takes the Charlie Brown special, or a ghostly little book to remind me that the Christmas story has power.

Also those old carols.

If you have ever learned more than the first two verses of old hymns, you know the standards versions are totally ripping us off. Jesus Loves Me has two more awesome verses. And all the Carols are way cooler if you get further in.

I love O come Emmanuel, O Holy Night, and We Three Kings.

And I love the extra verses.

“O come thou wisdom from on high, and order all things far and nigh; to us the path of knowledge show, and cause us in her ways to go.

O come desire of nations bind, in one the hearts of all mankind; bid thou our sad divisions cease, and be thyself our king of peace.”

Isn’t that great?

One other song that improves upon more verse is Little Town of Bethlehem.

That song used to bore me, but when I learned it had three more verses that were very cool, I started to love it.

For example:

How silently, how silently, this wondrous gift is given, as God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven; no ear may hear His coming, but in this World of Sin, where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.”

What I like about that last line is how it being the song to us, in our modern day. Even though the Christmas story id definitely more celebrated than the Crucifixion, Christians tend to turn to the Cross more for symbolism than for…any other story.

I mean, if you turn on Christian Radio, you’ll hear the cross and death mentioned in jsut aobut every single song.

That’s not wrong of course. But I think the Christmas story had importance as more than just nostalgia.

I wish I kept this in mind more, but it’s like the songs says.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend on us, we pray, cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today; we hear the Christmas Angels the great glad tidings tell, o come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.”

If you are not a Christian, or even if you are one and are sick to death of hearing these songs, then maybe it’s sounds like mumbo jumbo.

And for the record, some of it is poetic license. I don’t actually think that we now hear Christmas Angels (unless you’ve had a more face to face experience than I have.)

I doubt there are angels specifically for Christmas, because Christmas, as Dickens pointed out, is not a day, it’s a way of life.

Christmas just means Christ Mass, or Christ Day.

As the song says, “Be born in us today.”

The true meaning of that refers to how Jesus told us that to enter the kingdom of heaven we must be born again.

Jesus Himself was born again, in a way, since he already lived before becoming a baby.

It may sound whacked out, I won’t argue. I don’t think God always intends to sound sane to mere mortals. I don’t think God much cares if we understand how He does things. We don’t understand ourselves.

That it sounds crazy is actually the point. Most people don’t have a problem believing a Man in the brutal times of Roman Occupation in Israel could have been crucified as a heretic. It happened frequently.

But people do have a hard time swallowing that A virgin could supernaturally conceive and give birth to the son of God, made flesh.

Though, when I consider that I’m questioning how the Person who made DNA could make up for the other 23 chromosomes….I feel stupid.

Believing that Jesus was born in a miraculous way is the first step to believing you ca be reborn.

When I was little the idea of Jesus living inside of me wasn’t weird to me at all, now I realize it could sound crazy to some…a lot… of people.

Of course, I don’t actually mean that a man is moving inside of m body. That’s not what it means at all.

But that God puts His own Spirit in us, and it becomes one with our spirit.

Which is actually how it was meant to be in original creation. The reason we say sin is spiritual death is because it severs us from God’s spirit, which is life.

God cannot dwell with unholiness, which is why Christ’s work clear us of our guilt and makes us holy.

Which all started with him being born, not into sin, but blameless.

The miracle of Christmas is that rebirth is even possible. That we all have a chance at being made new.

That’s worth living out every day.

Until Next Time–Natasha (Christ’s Birthday)

Happy Day.

Hey, I won’t wish you a happy Halloween, but a happy day in general I hope you have.

I think I posted about this last year, but honestly I don’t remember what I said. I doubt anyone else does either. (Let’s be real, blog posts aren’t things that get revisited again and again like YouTube videos.)

I’m not a huge anti-Halloween person, but it’s the only holiday besides Dia de los Muertos that I wish didn’t exist.

Still, I’m seeing some other Christian bloggers saying Halloween is an opportunity. Since there’s pros and cons to this, it might be fun to explore both.

Let’s start with the cons:

Many elder adult Christians, and some younger ones, don’t like Halloween because, obviously, people over-hype it. And there is not getting around that many people do celebrate the wrong things.

Fifty years ago, celebrating your inner monster, or witch, or whatever, would have been appalling. And for a good reason. Those things are Evil.

Witches are not cool. I don’t care what movies say.

Monsters are not good. They are called monsters for that very reasons. They always murder, destroy, and pillage. (Sometimes there’s a bizarre sexual part of it too.)

Hey, I don’t care if I tick any monster lovers off by saying so. Facts are facts.

But Christians hate Halloween even more because so many of the things are directly or indirectly satanic. Demons, devils, black magic, superstition. Heck, whether you buy it or not, the concept of these things is at least bad. (Again, sorry.)

I’m explaining the position, I’m not taking it, yet.

My father also hates that a lot of the church now does things on Halloween because he sees it as compromising with the world. Trying to be cooler, more relatable, and not party poopers.

Frankly, I doubt the world at large cares whether we boycott Halloween or not, but our friends might. I’ve never lost a friend over that, but I do get some strange glances and I find people just don’t get why I could be so uptight.

So, in defense of what is definitely the more awkward position, let me say to everyone who is okay with Halloween, go easy on you Christian friends or family who don’t like it.

We have a lot of reasons to, and we don’t explain all of them because we know it sounds weird. When we do explain, usually no one gets it.

Which would be okay, except in my case it can make your own relatives roll their eyes at you, and that stings.

Even if you are Christian and celebrate Halloween for your own reasons, don’t call the people who don’t legalistic. (That’s biblical, by the way.)

there’s a lot of negative things about Halloween that even non-christian parents are concerned about, and there’s plenty of creeps out there on Halloween to justify being cautious about it.

There are real live people who are involved int he occult and who celebrate Halloween for that reason. It’s not pretty, and I don’t even know how common it is, but the fact is, Christians are’t the only ones who can be weird about the day.

That said, most of us don’t know the people on the other end of the spectrum, but we do know Christians. So I’m talking about that.

Christians may just feel Halloween has too many bad connotations, and can’t in good conscience condone it. They may also know people who, while they aren’t in the occult, do take the death and spooks side of Halloween way way too far, and that’s pretty weird in of itself. Christians don’t want their kids to think that’s acceptable.

This is totally reasonable.

So that’s one side of the issue.

The other side is that Halloween, whether we like it or not, exists. And we can either put about it and freak out that the devil gets a whole day to be celebrated (ahhh!!) or we can suck it up and make the most of what opportunities we have to connect with people in healthy ways through the day.

I mean, handing out treats isn’t inherently evil. Netither is wearing costumes. Neither is having a party, and having wired lightning and crazy decorations.

I’ve done some Church hosted trunk or treats (like trick or treating, but with cars instead of houses) and I had fun and got a lot of candy. (Not always candy I liked, but I’m a picky candy eater.)

My Christian Halloween experience was mostly different just in that most people didn’t dress up as witches, ghouls, or whatever. One guy did wear a viking-like dress. But I’m pretty sure it was a joke. (Some guys do have that sense of humor right?) We dressed up as angels, princesses, historical characters (me,) presents, and even a banana.

Also I believe the decor was more harvest oriented than spooky.

I honestly don’t think that’s wrong. Taking out the negative elements of Halloween and leaving the positive is perfectly within Biblical precedents. And it’s not a discountable ministry tool. Plenty of parents don’t like the idea of their kids going to strangers homes. a family friendly event at a church makes  a lot of parents feel safer about their kids doing the costume and candy gig.

However, I personally don’t celebrate the holiday in any form.

I don’t think it’s a sin to take the more proactive route, but personally I feel no need.

The fact is, even if you redeem the day, you still have to face the fact that it originated as something bad and pretty messed up even; if you study the history of it.

It’s god to redeem a bad thing into a good thing, but the Bible makes no secret of the fact that it is far better never to have had the evil in the first place.

Broken bones can heal stronger than they were before, that doesn’t mean you should try to break them.

So, basically the good in Halloween is all a patch up job. Not wrong, but not as good as the day being totally pure to begin with would be. And that’s why I treat Halloween like any other day, because in the wider scope of things, every day is from God. And eh’s not hindered by what men do on it from blessing the day to His purposes. (Why be God if you can’t ignore what the enemy is doing in one place in order to do something better in a different place?)

I’m well aware that if more than five people read this, I’m definitely going to get both sides of the debate here.

And hey, you could think I’m still being too lenient, or that I’m being too harsh; but, much as I like being in the right, I have to admit that the Bible itself would tell me that this day is open to being redefined.

So, in whatever way you wish to do that, here’s to all of us trying to do good today.

Until next time–Natasha.

National Women’s Day.

A while ago, the women here in America celebrated this “holiday” by boycotting work and going on marches.

And I didn’t even know there was a national holiday dedicated to women.

Of course, I didn’t celebrate, but I got to thinking, maybe a day to celebrate being a woman isn’t such a bad idea. Or a day to celebrate being a man.

But I’d do it a bit differently.

I think celebrating womanhood should look less like one big hate letter to the male population and more like one big love letter to the people around us.

On that day, a woman would make it a point to either dress up or dress down, depending on what makes her feel more comfortable with herself. (Personally, dressing up does that for me.) She’d either do her make up or not do it, whichever makes her feel confident and pretty.

A woman would spend the day, not protesting that she was a victim, but taking control of her time and spending it doing things that she feels really matter. Which could be hanging out with her kids, cleaning up a park, volunteering for a charitable organization, or visiting her family, or going out with her other female friends for a girls day.

Then she should do something fun, like go on a date, or if she’s single, do one of her favorite things.

The perfect day would include the kinds of talks that women love to have, and the kind of peace that they love feeling when they feel loved and cherished.

A strong woman does not need a man’s permission to be feminine; she would celebrate whether anyone else did or not.

I’d put hearing my favorite songs; eating assorted chocolates; watching a good movie or reading a god book; and hanging out with people I care about in a relaxing place; all on my list of things that make up a perfect day. Not to mention feeling close to God.

How men would treat women on this day would just be to say the things they should say all the time. To admit that they need women in their lives. And to be equally proud to be men.

Because when both men and women are glad to be what they are, it’s an irresistable combination. People like to see it.

Which is not to say all the problems between men and women would be fixed in one day, or even that everyone would celebrate. But the point is, if you will celebrate, really celebrate.

I just don’t see the joy in ranting and raving about injustice on the one day you get to be celebrated on. Which goes for any holiday. Who celebrates Christmas by protesting all the people who don’t get of give gifts? Or don’t go to church, or don’t celebrate at all, no one does that. (If they do I feel sorry for them.) What people do instead is they give to someone who has nothing, or they invite someone to go with them, and take someone in.

Celebration is about joy, and sharing that joy with other people. There will always be those who’d rather be miserable and gloomy, or who will focus on the wrong thing. but no one should pay them any mind except to help them.

That’s what I’d call celebrating my womanhood.

If nothing else, just taking a minute to be glad for what you have is celebration. We have so much in America, and if you’re reading this blog, you’ve got a lot more in your hands than many people will ever get to see in their lifetime.

Let’s not complain so much.

Until next post–Natasha.

A day in the life

I spent yesterday at Disneyland.

Wahoo! Right?

Well, not so much. I didn’t exactly have a bad time, but I didn’t have a great time either. The reason I’m bringing it up is that I’m adding it to my list. I have an imaginary list of things I’ve done this year that were new and also scary or just hard. here’s a few:

  1. I went to another country.
  2.  I taught in Sunday School more than as just a one-time thing.
  3. I wrote a challenging saga about something I like, but found difficult to get onto paper.
  4.  I went to Disneyland with an almost total stranger.

Here’s how it went down. My aunt has a foreign exchange student living with her, and she wanted him to get the chance to see Disneyland. She thought I might like to go. And after some hesitation I agreed. It wasn’t a smooth ride, because then she wasn’t sure we’d actually do it, finally it was settled that we would. And yesterday she dropped us off there. Where I live it’s been almost unusually cold this month and it was freezing at Disneyland. (Were any of my readers there I wonder?) the place was packed. I’ve been four times before I think, and I don’t remember it ever being so packed, but I never went on a holiday. The line to get in and get tickets was over an hour’s wait of standing around. Then we finally got in, and started walking around. But we went on one ride total, and the lines were so long on the others that we both didn’t feel up to it. We were exhausted by then. We ended up leaving at around 5:00pm, though we were supposed to stay later than that. On top of this, I lost one of the two things I bought. And it was the thing I got for myself.

So, a total bust right?

But that’s not to say I totally regret it. I maybe did not have a good day, but that wasn’t the only point for me. I wanted to challenge myself.

I’m the type of girl who’s terrified of being around a guy, alone, for any length of time–let alone all day. Of course there were crowds, but that only makes you feel a little safer. But I did not spend the day feeling afraid. I felt bored, tired, sad, but not afraid. If you’ve read some of my previous posts about my life, you’ll know that’s a big thing for me.

I used to ruin every fun event I went to by being  a nervous wreck the entire time. I am by nature an introvert, but I used to have it on steroids. Until I was at home and safe, I wouldn’t relax. I literally felt ill every time I was in an unfamiliar situation. People knew I was shy, but they probably never guessed exactly how much agony I was in. Talk about painful.

But that’s a thing of the past. I almost can’t remember it anymore.  As bad as yesterday was, compared to how my life used to be, it was great. I went from hiding from new things to embracing them. As much as I could.

I still get nervous, but it doesn’t rule me anymore. That’s a day in my life, doing things I once was afraid to do, and doing them because I want to or need to. I don’t always look at it that way of course, but sometimes I just have to stop and look back to where I was and be glad I’m not there anymore.

You must have those moments too, I’d love to hear about them, until next time–Natasha

Happy Thanksgiving

Naturally, I won’t be posting tomorrow, so I’ll say it now.

I have a lot coming up. I’m turning 18 soon. Something I’ve been waiting for since I was old enough to like taking care of kids, which was 6 or 7 for me.(I don’t mean I babysat at that age, of course.) My birthday will also mean I’m finally old enough to drive, which I held off on till this long because I heard it was better, and we didn’t have a good car anyway. (It was an amazing car, but not for a beginner.) I also self inflicted a no-dating principle till I turned 18. And now I know why that was wise advice I was given, because looking back, I wasn’t ready to date any sooner than this.

This is my year of change, that is  certain. Nothing has been constant since this Summer, but thing started changing last Summer. I believe this is sometimes called a Year of Grace.

But I’ve become a much more confident person, and I’ve had some dreams to fulfill come to me, and I have places to get to in life. And how many people can say that at the brink of 18?

Circumstantially, I have less to be thankful for than I did a year ago. But I won’t focus on that. Those who have next to nothing and are thankful for that are more thankful than people who have plenty, 9 times out of 10.

So, as it is the point of the holiday, I encourage everyone to take a minute to look over the past year and see what they’ve grown into, and what experiences they had that taught them, or changed their lives. I’d love to hear about this if anyone wants to comment. Thank you for reading, see you after Thursday.–Natasha.