Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Good Movie

Last night I watched a movie that my Grandma Cox recommended called "Ladies in Lavender". It was really good; I'm going to watch it again with William soon. It felt like Babbett's Feast; taking place in a small English coastal village, with two aged sisters, played by Maggie Smith and Judy Dench, sharing a house. I found myself tremendously enjoying the beauty of the film, and wanting the slow, quiet lifestyle they lived. I definately recommend it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My Little Zoo Tycoon

I just had the funniest conversation with Madeline. And it got me thinking....

Madeline likes to play Zoo Tycoon 2. It is a computer game where you create a zoo. You build the fences, put the animals in, keep them fed etc. They have babies, and life goes on. Another aspect of the game are the visitors to the zoo, and the employees. You have to tell the employees what to do, or they sit on benches all the time. And you have to keep the visitors happy.

Keeping the visitors happy is work. They need food, entertainment, trashcans, bathrooms, paths that reach the animals and people to teach them things. The visitors can get angry. They throw trash on the ground. They get mad if they can't find a donation box. They don't like standing in long lines. Madeline was pretty overwhelmed with the demands of the visitors at first. She got harried when they were upset. She got mad that they were so demanding. So, she began to solve the problems in a number of ways.

First, she tried to meet all their needs. She gave them everything they needed, and spent less time on the animals. But they still had their problems. Next, she decided to keep all the visitors out by never opening the zoo. That way they weren't there to be a problem, and she could do what she wanted with the animals. That was fun for a while. But today, she told me about the ultimate solution.

She made a cage with really tall fences, and no door. She can pick the people up, and move them to the cage. So, when they get angry, she just moves them. In the cage, she puts everything they need, including the Kangaroo Bouncy Rides that they love so much. And when they are happy again, she moves them out. Which takes a long time. They are able to leave the zoo on their own, so some of them just vanish. Good riddence.

I laughed and laughed at this newest solution. And then I got to thinking about how sometimes we are more happy when we are in bondage, than free. It is scary to hold the power of free will. Why can't God just give me a safe place to live where I can eat and drink and ride on Kangaroo Bouncy Rides? How about some leeks and garlic? The safety of the fences that I create for myself can seem more appealing than the uncertian fresh air and potential danger that the Lord lets me live in. But, in the great unknown, I get to experience God. He speaks to me, and lets me dream. And as I choose, I begin to know Him better. I have found out that He is not a punishing God. Yes, He allows consequences for my choices. But He is there to walk with me through them, and teach me new things as I do it.

I have also found that the Lord lets us live within our tall cage as long as we want. But slowly, over time, the cage becomes less and less appealing. We begin to suffer pain from our lies and safety measures, and eventually the part in all of us that wants freedom begins to cry out. God will not force us to leave our cages, but he waits until we want it bad enough to be humble, and then He can take us by the hand and lead us out of our bondage. It is hard to watch from the other side of the fence when others have a really high pain tolerance, and they suffer. But each person has to get sick of their cage walls before they can humble themselves and take the Lord's hand and walk out.

I have come through my process with a lot of hope for myself and others. It has been amazing for me to see how the Lord does the work of freedom in such a gentle and speedy way, once I surrender my own ways of protecting myself. And of course, it is an ongoing process. He shows me cages in myself that I didn't know about when it's time to leave them. My guess is that I'll learn the extent of my own bondage once I get to heaven. But for now, I'll go with what He shows me.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Into the New Year

We are on the road to recovery from the Holiday season. This week we got a cold, so the kids and I stayed home together. It was nice to have a week of down time. And, the house got totally out of control. So today we worked all day doing the much needed cleaning job to get things back to normal.

Reflecting on this Holiday season, we are realizing that we do too much at Christmas and New Year's. We went to six family gatherings, and spent two nights with family friends in San Diego over New Year's. I'd say that overall it was fun, but the hecticness of showing up everywhere at Christmas began to take away the specialness of the Season. We are going to rethink our methods and priorities for next year.

My two favorite gifts this year were from William. He gave me a food processer, and a Leatherman Tool. I've had fun using both lately.

Yesterday I mailed off my Wheaton application. We'll see what happens with that in early April.

Happy New Year to all of you!