The Designer

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

Update: Move on

It’s 2am as I write this. I’ve just come home from work and, as usual, I’m more hungry than tired.

I’m losing my job. I have been working the night shift for about 5 months now. But what I came on here to say is that last Monday I found out that my last day in the office is officially May 23rd.

My co-workers might call me crazy, but to me the news was bittersweet as business owner, seeing as I can’t seem to “hold down” “two jobs.” The news came unexpectedly enough, there was shock and tears; I wasn’t crying. I didn’t feel much of anything because I didn’t want to – the reasons I’m losing this job aren’t good enough for my tears besides, it is only a job, and if you know me at all you know that there are much more important things to me than money. I had my reservations about this job (this post explains) but I took it anyway and began working in January. Over the last 4 months, company changes, lay-offs, and a couple CEO visits have come and gone, but I did what I felt was best and most logical (of course): work day to day and take things as they come. Now I know there is no such thing as job security, I’ve known that for years, but it still came as a surprise when my whole department was ushered into the conference room and handed an intimidating navy folder containing a severance date and agreement. Apparently, the company is losing money something fierce. “Well, that was fun”, I whispered to myself.

I tried to console my co-workers but I’m finding that it’s hard to comfort those whom you feel like you no longer relate to. There was a time I was afraid too. I was afraid of losing income, jobs, houses, cars, things. But then I lost them and as unpleasant as it felt, it made me strong and I learned to move on. I’m not insensitive, I thought, I’ve just been here before and it’s no big deal.

I’m moving…maybe? Our apartment has presented its own set of frustrations that have sent me down into the depths of disappointment and “I don’t understand this.” Truth be told I was excited when we moved in here. Oh sure, I spent many hours cleaning, sanitizing, and doing my best to pull smells out of the carpet. I thought by last June I had had everything set – I was contented, but not for long. In almost exactly one year there has been a termite infestation, 4 dead mice and a rat somewhere undiscovered, a leaky roof, a twice-broken water heater, a washer replacement, noisy neighbors who do nothing but fight and party until daybreak, and the coldest, most brutal winter I’ve ever endured and with hardly any heat, as it would all seep out of the empty walls. Tristan and I then vowed to never spend the winter like that again; we had to be out before the cold set in in the fall. Disheartened but finally thawed enough to function, we started looking for a new home, but our search has yielded nothing thus far.

Lately, we’ve been thinking that perhaps we’re in the wrong place. I like Philly, but I’m not attached to it. I don’t think I ever was as attached to this city as much as I wanted to be at first – I really wanted to put down roots here, for this to be the place for me, my home. But with the desire to move and the search for a new home producing no results, and now the loss of yet another job, I’ve decided that all I’ve ever done here is survive, but not live; I’m resting here for a moment, but I’m still searching for the perfect place to settle and take root. It is unclear yet where we’ll go to finally be at peace, but at this point I will go anywhere if it means I can finally stop searching. I do not want a life, I have decided, where all I do is try to survive until my next meal, next sleep, next job or whatever. I have decided that I want to LIVE and thrive and be, without the cares of having to pack up or get rid of everything, change my mind about who I want to be, and move again.

I still live day to day. I still try to have more good days than bad, regardless of my location. The city does what it does. The CEO of my soon-to-be former job does what he does. And I do what I do, move on.

I don’t even know yet if I want to keep pursuing the same path in web design, or anything I had done previously. The job has helped me rediscover my love of writing, perhaps there’s something there…

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.