The Glass Darkly

Monday, July 24, 2006

Moving Again -- the life of TCK's

Bye to the Maher family! What a great picture - the beauty of open air travel in Thailand.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Painful Puzzle Pieces

It's amazing to me to remember that God can redeem the pain in our lives for His work and glory! All the parts of life that can seem so unholy, so unforgiveable, so hard to understand . . . all the pieces of the puzzle of life that one would rather hide or ignore . . . it truly is amazing to see God use them to help us through the rest of our journey, to help us make sense of what we see around us. How humbling!

And how many times, when I am willing to admit the presence of those puzzle pieces in my own life, have I found that they may be the very same or similar piece(s) someone else is struggling to fit into their own puzzle. It is so often hard to reconcile why God would allow pain and hard experiences when He also promises to help us through life. But every once in a while, God has affirmed that my choosing to own those experiences and admitting their presence in my life is what has brought healing and my ability to share with others the redemption that is possible. What a gift I need to be more thankful for and more honest with myself about! It is such an important part of the Good News I live out everyday and yet am sometimes unwilling to share.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Funny American Things

I can tell - we are more American this year. I feel more comfortable and think more clearly. I've been noticing a number of changes in the last year.

This past winter we were able to keep our house temp between 65 and 68 degrees F instead of the 75 to 80 we needed last year.

We use airconditioning occassionally.

We acquired a used freezer and I am using it more.

We went on vacation this year to the beach and camping again this summer.

I am becoming more comfortable wearing shorts and pants again.

I use more boxed and canned foods than before.

We went swimming several times this summer and I enjoyed it immensely -- not as self-conscious about myself and everyone else!

As homeowners now, we are exploring more areas for home improvement.

We spend a lot more time thinking about education, transportation, saving money, children's savings, insurances, charge cards (we qualify now!), health care costs, etc.

I think it is funny to say, but these are American things I didn't realize I was struggling with until now I look back and see how I have changed. It seems really wierd to me, but I guess the reverse happened when I adjusted to living in Asia. I assume this change is happening faster since this is my "mother culture."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The American Dream

Talk about culture shock! I sat down to play a game of LIFE this afternoon. I think maybe I had played it before many years ago, but had forgotten the main gist and rules. Today I had a great time with great company, but couldn't stop marveling internally over the cultural biases of the game: salaries that range from $30,000 to $100,000 and the emphases on insurances; the idea that everyone has a car, a house and pays taxes; the emphasis on college offering choices that a personal career choice can't offer . . . the list goes on. I was also intrigued with the bias that everyone gets married and eventually or will likely have children . . . AND along with children comes the responsibility to pay for them to attend college. Of course at the end of the game everyone retires (you can choose the place for millionaires or another country estate) and then you cash in all your life insurance you accumulated throughout your life. You add up your worth in dollar amounts to see who wins. All of this picture seemed somewhat "normal" to the players. I couldn't help but consider the fact that the biases I mentioned are actually expectations of most people living in middle-class America.

I started out my "life" on the board this afternoon making the least salary and having to go into debt to pay for my $200,000 Victorian house. My innate discomfort with debt ensured that I paid off that loan as soon as I could. But to my surprise, I ended up having to spend more than everyone (close to $400,000) on extra expenses and luxuries such as a second home (can't remember if it was a beach house or cabin), college for my two kids, thousands on family photos and police fines and a couple other items which cost me hundreds of thousands in one shot. Though everyone kept exclaiming how unlucky I was in how much I had to keep dishing out, I couldn't help thinking that I had heard REAL life stories that were not too much different than my "game" scenario.

America displays the American dream on every TV show, in every magazine and even on game boards. It truly is amazing to think what Americans are capable of in a world where over half the global population, nearly 3 billion people, live on less than $2 a day. We, as Americans, have learned to manipulate both debt and income to equal wealth. We have developed both the means and mentality for wealth -- we know exactly what we want and and how to get it. We have been programmed from little on up on what the definition of "living comfortably" is and we call that "normal" living. Are there those who struggle in America to live up to the standards in the game of LIFE? Sure are! But I find it fascinating to think how even in our games, we indoctrinate ourselves with the middle-class definition of LIFE. That's the American dream and you're apparently missing out if you can't grasp it.

I wonder how much I've been sucked into it.