September 25, 2011

saturday snapshot...

(I know, it's Sunday now, but I didn't want to steal all the thunder from the weird blue bunny...)
Caught this guy hovering around my car.

September 24, 2011

mystery of the everyday...

So this week, I was making lunch when I looked outside in the yard and saw something I didn't recognize...a blue lump. Upon closer inspection, I found this:

I'm not sure how he got into the yard, but a blue, four-tentacled bunny is creepy no matter how he gets into your yard!

September 21, 2011

dream shifting...

So there's a commercial on TV that really bugs me--it's put out by the National Realtors Association, and it's about home ownership. Seen it? If not, it's a young boy and his grandpa, and the boy says someday he'll own a house, and the grandfather, in a sad and very resigned voice says, "I hope so." The narrator goes on to say that the American Dream of home ownership is is peril.

I have a few issues with this. First off, it's highly negative and resigned. Like there's nothing to be done. It offers no solutions to the perceived problem. It's leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.

But the bigger issue I have with it is this: who says home ownership IS the American Dream (yes, that should be capitalized, go with me on this)? America has long been the "Land of Opportunity." It's a place where all other people flock in order to make something. And I suppose that owning a home is something. But as far as a national dream, I'm not sure owning homes cuts it anymore.

Personally, home ownership is not something that I'm overly attached to. I do appreciate a roof over my head, but I don't have to own it. Owning stuff ties us down, it demands our time and attention. And to be honest, I'd rather spend my resources doing other stuff. I want the freedom to go if I need to.

Freedom. That's what I think of when I think of the American Dream. The chance to do what I want, the chance to make something of myself. The opportunity to live to the best of my ability. To do what I was created for.

Has the American Dream shifted? Are more of us saying "no thanks" to the old dream of owning stuff, of staking a claim? If you look at my generation and those following us, I would tend to say yes. I don't think it's wrong to want to own a home, I just think that it's not for everyone.

What do you think? What is your American Dream (or Canadian, or whatever your nationality might be!)?

September 17, 2011

generosity quagmire

(Note: I’m not pointing fingers at anyone here except myself. I’m just trying to wrestle with my own humanity.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about generosity. Seems simple enough. It’s about sharing and giving, about open hands and hearts. But as with most subjects, start to dig and you find out there’s nothing simple. God is pretty clear that He wants us to be generous with our love, our resources, our very lives. So I think it’s worth pondering.

I have a friend who thinks she is very generous. She has a good job she’s able to give a lot away. And she does. But recently, when she was giving to me, I noticed that her giving always has strings attached. She expects something in return—sometimes that’s attention, sometimes praise, and sometimes a bowing to her will.

And that got me thinking—does generosity have strings attached? Can we be generous if we expect something in return? Is generosity about filling a need or about giving abundantly? What if we DO get something in return, does that negate the generosity?

Let’s go back a few years to a time that I was without a car and without a job. One friend had a car that she wasn’t using (she was traveling). Other friends (a married couple) had two cars, both of which they used regularly. The first friend said I could use her car, but only if I needed to go to a job interview. The other friends handed me the keys to one of their cars and said, “take it for the week, it’s yours.” Loaning me the car was no inconvenience to the first, and quite an inconvenience to the second (it meant more carpooling and getting rides in order for them to accomplish everything they needed to do as a family). Both were meeting a need, but was only one being truly generous?

I like to give stuff—and yet I find myself sometimes feeling jipped when my gifts are not acknowledged. Earlier this year I took a meal to a family who had been through some rough times. I was happy to help out because they had a need. Yes, I spent more in making them a meal than I usually spend on food for myself for a week (because I’m one and they are four). I dropped it off at the house with a note.

And I never heard anything from them. They never mentioned the meal, never said “thank you.” Nothing. I waited three months, and still, no word.

Which made me feel like my gift had been scorned and unappreciated. I gave because I wanted to bless them. There’s no rule that says you have to say thanks, but it is polite. But because they didn’t, my desire to share another meal in the future is dimmed, squashed, even snuffed out.

When it comes to giving to people I don’t know, I’m even worse—I want to make sure they use the money or resources wisely. Yet I have no control over what they do, so I don’t give. And that’s me being ungenerous. And that bothers me.

So all of that to say that I’m struggling with how to be more generous. How to give with an open hand, to not put requirements or expectations (even “thank you”) on my giving. It’s hard. I haven’t figured it out. I’m glad I have some friends who do this well—I keep watching and try to learn more from them.

What do you think? How do you see generosity? Can we be generous with expectations? Should we give until it hurts? Talk to me!

September 16, 2011

revving up...

Once upon a time I used to blog. I used to share my thoughts and feelings. Used to rant and rave. Then came Facebook and blogging fell by the wayside. But recently I’ve been feeling the urge to blog—really dig deeper into subjects, like you can’t do on the book of faces. So I’m going to dive right in.

First things first. I am a feedback junkie. I’m more likely to blog on a regular basis if I know people are reading. I know that by readers leaving comments. So please do!

That said, I’m off to write a post. It should go up in a day or so, once I’ve got the kinks worked out. So come back soon to see what I’m going to toss out into the void!

September 11, 2011

august reading review

A once-a-month review of the books I read. I'll share quotes when I remember to copy them down.

The rating is the same as Goodreads--5 stars means "it was amazing," 4 is "really liked it," 3 is "liked it," 2 is "it was okay," and 1 is "didn't like it."

The Chosen by Chaim Potok (4 stars)

The story of two young Jewish boys on the verge of manhood. Despite a rocky start, these two become friends and set themselves on the paths that will define them as they become men. I like Potok's story-telling, even if it's a bit hard to get sucked in at first. A hauntingly beautiful story. Recommended for 16 and older.

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher (4 stars)

The most recent in my favorite series, The Dresden Files. This one got four stars instead of five mostly because Butcher made me wait a whole year to find out what happened to my very favorite wizard, and then he drug it out for a whole novel. As usual, there's some heart-wrenching character development, some laughs, and the sort of adventure that only Harry Dresden can have.

The Lost Hours by Karen White (4 stars)

A story about a woman who lost her dreams when she suffered a near-fatal accident while riding a horse. This is about her finding her dreams, her history, and a little bit of love just when she thought there was nothing left in life. As she learns where she came from she also learns about the life of her grandmother and the importance of making sure someone knows your story. This one has some adult themes, so 18 and up for recommendations.

On the Banks of the River of Heaven by Richard Parks (3 stars)

A collection of myth-esque short stories, Parks explores the themes of love and life. I enjoyed most of them (had to quit reading one because it just wasn't interesting and I couldn't care about it) but I'm not likely to pick this one up again. I'd recommend it to those who love exploring myths that are outside the Greek and Roman schools, and 18 and up.

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery (3 stars)

The lesser-known series by the author of Anne of Green Gables. I had a much harder time getting into this one, but I've decided that it's partly due to age and the distance between my time and the author's. It was a charming story, and I'd love to have any daughter of mine read it when she was about ten. Emily is in ways a more normal character than Anne, and her adventures are engaging. Any fans of Anne should give this one a read.

Powers by Ursla K LeGuin (3 stars)

The third in a series of YA fantasy, this one focuses on a young slave boy. This series is far more disjointed than I tend to like them, but it worked because she finally brought them back together in the end. The writing is clean and the story compelling. A good read for any 14 and up.

So far I've read 70 books this year, and that was without even trying!