Tetris Head

My mind can’t recall for you how many times I have thought about resurrecting this blog. I have thought many times throughout the last five years about how I would do it or what my first new post would be like. Well, much like most other things in my life, this post that I am writing now was not planned and I didn’t really think about it ahead of time. I have decided, however, what I want this blog to be.

Back in the heyday of blogging, in the days of Xanga and Live Journal, I blogged similarly to how most teens did. I ranted, complained, lamented and posted about what was going on in my life. It was probably shortly before I wrote my last post that I ventured into more philosophical, artistic content; These new postings will be that, and poems, maybe prose or essays, maybe some songs, but mostly the thoughts of a woman in her 30’s with a lot on her mind…constantly. And so, because this content will probably end up being so varied, I decided that there is no delicate way to reintroduce myself to blogging. The best way, I reasoned, was just to start, so I’ll do that by telling you about my evening.

This evening is much like any other. I’m sitting here in front of the computer typing, trying to get my thoughts in order before they overcrowd my mental space and give way to anxiety. I picture them like a game of Tetris, where I must deal with the oddly-shaped thoughts one at a time and stack them neatly on top of one another so that they disappear into the darkness before they can touch the top of the screen. The way I do that is to write, or draw, or play my ukulele, or do anything that helps me organize them away. Tonight, my remedy is writing because there is ever so many thoughts to stack into neatly arranged blocks.

One shape at a time

I recently went to Texas where my sister and her husband live. I have a darling little spitfire of a niece who is an awful lot like me, oddly enough, and a sweet nephew that I met for the first time who was born just months ago. My parents were also there and I had a great time with everyone. The trip was excellent. I mention it to say that ever since I returned I’ve been in a “funk” of some kind. You know what I mean. Now, I’ve been in “funks” before – this is not new, but whenever I’m in one it feels so all-consuming that I can barely think of anything else. I’m absent-minded, my thoughts have been elsewhere. Life feels dull for no particular reason and my thoughts are many since, as always, I am trying to analyze and remedy the problem. I have thought that perhaps I’m somehow still jet lagged from the trip, or that I’m struggling to adjust to having my nights free since I had a second job at night from 2017 until the 1st of this month, but no longer. I have also stopped using Facebook and Youtube on weeknights, this was about a month ago I started doing this (I did log it, so that might be a later post), and so I have been adjusting to having time that isn’t full of distractions, which I figured had forced me to face my thoughts, instead of distracting myself from them. I have also considered that I have been feeling lost in life and career for years now, or that in some small way I’m still feeling the effect of grief from losing my cat, Stella, in April. Or perhaps I’m still reeling from turning 32 this year…

When I really think about everything that’s happened since my last post, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed at how many oddly-shaped thoughts there are! And how many of them don’t fit anywhere or I’m not fast enough to make them fit. But there are always so many now that when they drop into view they must my turned around and made to fit with the others. Even if it’s just one at a time.

The Designer

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I am plain. There is nothing extraordinary I see when I look at myself in the mirror. Brown, mousy hair, dark brown eyes, bad, pale skin, nothing special. But I am tiny; so much so that it’s almost ridiculous – a grown woman standing just 4’10” inches tall and proportionately small and thin all around. Because of my smallness being my one and only distinctive feature – I am invisible. Living this way, I have come to find that if people to not see “small,” they do not see me. It is only when I am standing and they can notice it that they notice me, without it, I am invisible, as if “small” is who I am…

I recently learned of a quote ascribed to John Piper. It reads,

It is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man. God made man small and the universe big to say something about Himself.- John Piper

I love this quote because it causes my heart to tremble and my brain to bloom and run wild with praise for my Creator – my Designer. Today however, I read this quote with a different focus. What of the appearance of that plain, ordinary woman in the mirror? What if she too, says something about the character of her Creator?

As I think of this and see my reflection and I know that I am designed to be simple, on purpose. That my eyes, hair, skin, all was forged with the utmost care, deep in the darkness before even a day of my life had passed. And that He even set the limit to which my small form would grow, on purpose.

What does this design say about the Designer? Perhaps that He is concerned with, and sees beauty in the ordinary. That He delights too, in the ridiculously small. That even the invisible does not escape His sight. That plainness is also beautiful to Him.

The Glory in Doubt

Everyday I go to work. Everyday, I sit down at a desk among people who don’t think the way I do, or see things the way I do. I sit in the midst of people who are special to someone and have have those who are special to them. People who have traveled different roads and have endured different trials. They all believe one thing or another, of that I am certain…although some, I’m sure, maybe most, believe in nothing at all. But I sit there everyday, as a Christian, albeit silently.

There is a certain uneasiness that comes with this job because of that. It’s undeniable and it breathes down my neck every second I am here. Their words make me think. They post over the group chat things that cause me to wonder and wander away, even just a little, from what I know in my heart. “I need to check this out.”, I think.

I like to learn. I like to know things. I have an aching need to analyze everything around me: “There’s another post. I have new information that I have to run through the machine to verify or nullify. Here it goes.” As weird as it may sound, that’s how I operate. I’m always and forever trying to prove my Christianity wrong.

At the age of 19 I was attending my second year of college before deciding to change career paths. That was the first time I remember thinking for myself. I had met a new friend named Sarah and after talking with her, exchanging theories on the spirit world and people that claim to see the future, I told her that I believed in God. She was indifferent, as most people are, and she told me her thoughts. I couldn’t respond. Suffice it to say she had me in corner. Things had happened in her life that I could not explain…I had no answers and then I started thinking. To this day, I believe that she had a very important purpose in my life: to make me doubt.

I believe that doubt itself is one of the worst feelings one can feel. My co-workers and I were experiencing doubt at the loss of a job and the uncertainty of losing a steady pay check. Doubt can literally make you sick, especially when you doubt something you lean your life on, I should know. I admit to doubting my beliefs on a regular basis, which is agonizing. I roll my thoughts over and over in my mind. I read. I research. I do whatever I can when I have the slightest doubt to make absolutely sure that I’m wrong and prove with out a doubt that He’s not real – and that they’re right. But then something beautiful happens. I can’t.

There are many reasons for my believing what I do. The most compelling of which, surprisingly the things that I can’t research – the things science can’t touch. Never mind the creation vs. evolution debate or the flood, or even the speed at which the universe expanded from a single point. And no, my “warm fuzzy feeling” is not my proof either. My proof lies in the glory that comes when I try to prove my faith wrong and can’t. The fact that there IS doubt about being no God is beautiful in itself, because there’s always the possibility, if nothing else, that there’s something in existence that’s greater than us.

After I complicate my reasoning as much as I can, I find that I always come back to simple things that ground my beliefs and make me sure, once again, that I know them to be true. They are the things that can’t be proven or seen or explained. Things that, if they weren’t written down in the Bible, we may not even have a simple understanding of them.

I took me awhile to figure out that God does an awful lot of talking in the Bible. Growing up, nobody really showed me the Old Testament, they just sort of skimmed it; of course, I knew it was there, but I didn’t know what it contained. When I found out what was written on those pages, I saw another side to a God I thought I knew. In those words, I saw Him tenderly calling out to perpetually wandering nation to love Him, the heartbreak that must have come from having to judge that nation, and the cycle beginning again. The pattern, I realized, was simple: A loving, yet holy God, loving without restraint – pouring love on a people that said they loved Him, but turned from Him again and again. Yes, I saw judgement, which is the thing that on one likes about God, but I also saw love and pursuit for nation, and later a world that wanting nothing to do with Him.

Love. After that evening standing out under the slowly appearing stars on the college campus, I had a thought: Do I believe this for me?

I have to reaffirm the answer to that question over and over. I never stop searching for a light in the darkness – even if, one day, it means that the light is not something I want to see. But I don’t think that will be the case.

I’ve been inexplicably protected from plenty of car accidents, and other incidents that might have been.
I’ve been held back from doing things or going places, only to find out something terrible would have happened.
I’ve been through struggles that I later learned were for my good.
I’ve had very specific prayers answered; I believe that my husband is the result of one such prayer.

Those among many others are just a few reasons that I’ve been unable disprove my beliefs – because I cannot begin to explain any of the above. All I can imagine from that is that someone (or something) is watching me, listens to me, and loves me.

As for me, I know whom I believe. I doubt. I do. And I have bouts of trying to ignore it and live me life my own way. But I don’t think He minds. The same persistent, glorious love I read about throughout the Bible is the same that I am greeted by every time I recover from the darkness of doubt. He welcomes me back with an outstretched hand as if to say, “Are you ready to stop wandering and thinking and just be still and know?” To which I sheepishly reply, “Yes.”

A Letter to my Mother

To be honest, on every Mother’s Day since I’ve been married I’ve made an effort to avoid human interaction for obvious reasons (i.e. people wishing me a happy Mother’s Day and asking me about having children). It’s been awkward since I got married and is even more so now that I’ve been married 5+ years, so I just tend to stay in and forget about it. Of course, like any good daughter I’ll call my mom and my grandmother today, but I’ll still stay inside.

Today though, I’m choosing to “celebrate” it a different way; not with spite or annoyance, not this time. No. I’m blogging about it, which I wouldn’t normally do, but his Mother’s Day is different because today I’m in awe of my mother so I’m writing a short, informal letter to her.

Mop,

You might think this is sappy and weird but I’m writing my thoughts down for you today because I wanted to give you something, if only my thanks. This year I realized something: when you were my age, you were pregnant with me. That fact hit me like a brick…in the face. You are so much braver than I am. I could NEVER do what you did. My life is so different from yours in the late 80s and it’s crazy to think about what it was like to be in your shoes 27 years ago. Today I realize that I’m so, so thankful for you sticking it out and being a mom to me and Christie, taking care of us, raising us, laughing and crying with us…

Thank you changing me, feeding me, bathing me, dressing me, carrying me around, etc.
Thank you for packing my lunches, defending my honor, teaching me, giving me rides, and entertaining everybody else’s kids.
Thank you for tolerating my teenage years and worrying about me.
Thank you for holding me when I felt destroyed.
Thank you for celebrating with me when I got engaged and again when I got married.
Thank you for giving me space when I moved away.
Thank you for trusting me when I say I’m okay, despite how my life may look sometimes.
Thank you for STILL being my mom from a distance.

Remember 2006? That was the worst. I was just thanking the Lord the other day that he didn’t take you home back then, because honestly, I still need you.

Thank you for everything…I MEAN EVERY LITTLE THING, Ma. Everything you taught me is with me everyday. I love you. I’d hug you today if I could…and probably cry.

Your eldest daughter,

Jackie

Threefold

“And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 AMP

I thought I’d share something that I find very beautiful that the Lord has revealed to me just a moment ago.

I love Ecclesiastes, it’s one of my favorite books in the Bible. I’ve heard people say it’s dark, and it is! But I like it because I feel that it’s overflowing with wisdom for how to effectively live life in our fallen world.

This afternoon, however, I was commenting on a post about marriage and singleness and I referenced Ecclesiastes 4:12 explaining that a good marriage is attainable, not without trials and hardships, but it is possible for a marriage to be victorious in the midst of those things. I believe, I stated in my comment, that a good, strong marriage of enjoyment and teamwork [like Tristan and I share] is one that maintains the pattern that God designed: GOD FIRST, then husband, then wife. I have found, that when you keep with this “blueprint”, your troubles make you both stronger, your hardships make you both wiser and when you fall, every time you fall – you see a side to your spouse that you never knew and you fall with them, and in love with them all over again; you both, when in your proper, God-ordained places, always have an eye on the divinity of His strength and realize just how weak you both are – which only lends itself to His power.

(And I have learned this only through trail and error.)

As I was writing this, a revelation struck me: Have you ever wondered why the preceding sentence is:

“And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him.” and then Solomon writes:

“A threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
?

That’s not a typo. I’m not sure what Solomon meant when he wrote that, but somehow I think the Lord was referring [at least in part] to marriage.

The Biblical definition of marriage is two people with God at the center; the husband is to love and care for the wife, being ready to die for her (Ephesians 5:22-31). The wife is his “helper”, meaning that she is his second in command, his comrade, who is to submit to his [higher] authority (i.e. consider his orders for the family, and follow through) and fight along side him; God binds them together – Just as He did Adam and Eve.

I believe the threefold cord is a deeper look into the union of two people, where God is the core and the center of the two whose lives are wrapped around Him.