Monday, November 26, 2012

Physicist and Dreamer

What do you do when you're totally level-headed, feet planted firmly on the ground,
     but your heart wants to fly?

I've always been a realist. You know the type--always saying things like, "That would be great, but it's just not plausible." I'm in grad school for physics--good grief, how much more realistic can you get?

When I get my degree in a few years and go back out to the real world, I'll have lots of doors opening for me. There will be good pay, regular hours, and everything that goes with those.
My kids will be well provided for,
my husband will finally be able to pursue his dreams,
I'll be doing something that I know helps people,
and I'll finally be able to pay back, in some small way, all those who have given so much to get me to this place.

My brain sees all those things as good (well, duh--why wouldn't it?). The journey is all mapped out, and all the steps lead across solid ground. Sure there is the possibility for things to go wrong along the way (it seems that is always a major possibility in my life), but for the most part it is a safe, comfortable path.

So what's the problem?

Though I've always been a realist, someone who has to analyze everything and come to the most logical conclusion, deep inside lives a very different person:
a dreamer,
a romantic,
a girl who looks at the world around her and sees the magic that is lurking just under the surface.

A writer.
Wow, that's a hard title for me to claim...

That girl inside wants to throw caution to the wind and ask, "Why not take a leap? Why follow a path when you can take to the air and soar above it?"

I can feel her inside, desperately trying to spread her wings. When I'm working on physics problems, my mind full of numbers, I feel her stirring my heart, trying to get my attention. She makes my fingers itch for a pen, uses words to paint pictures on my soul.

She laughs when my brain starts in with, "But it just doesn't make sense..." She throws her head back and breaks free, her wings stretching wide as she takes flight. She twirls through the air, leaving airy phrases spinning in her wake. She pays no attention to the rest of the world, content in her play.

She doesn't notice the rope around her ankle until it is pulled taut. Then, as it always does, the logical, realistic part of me reins her in--it wouldn't make sense to just let her go free, after all. She's held in check for a while, the rope wrapped around her.
Little by little, though, she works free of the coils holding her wings still. She is anxious to fly again, to dance and laugh and skip across dreams.

For now, these two sides of me will just have to continue to coexist, the analytical side working on physics while the creative side etches out a little bit of writing time now and again.

Maybe one day, though, that rope will slip off the ankle of the dreamer, and she'll be free to soar.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

smiles that make me happy :0)

So, school is crazy right now and I have so much physics I should be doing. I have a Modern Physics test  at 8:30 in the morning tomorrow, Quantum Mechanics and Classical Mechanics homework due Friday, a Classical Mechanics test I'll start Friday, Modern homework due next Tuesday...

In true Mandy-style, then, I'm procrastinating.

I realized it has been quite a while since I posted pictures of the most beautiful kids in the world, so I figured it must be time for picture overload!

 A while back we took a trip up to Cabela's to show the kids where Nathan works. As you can see from the picture above, Raiden was her usual girly self and Conan was super excited to be going... oh wait, half of that statement may have been a bit sarcastic...
 Once there, they were both pretty excited to see the giant grizzlies fighting over the antlers.

So above we have the "before" Halloween picture. I was escorting Snow White and Batman this year. Below is the after--I think the candy may last us a while (assuming I can stop taking a piece every time I walk by...)!

This is how Raiden spends most of her time anymore. She loves anything that has to do with art and is asking for art classes...
This is where Conan spends most of his big sister's elbow, trying to be right in the middle of whatever she's doing.

Raiden's latest creation, her playdough mermaid. If you look closely you'll see that Raiden's front two bottom teeth are both missing. She lost the first one at school and the other at church.

Last but not least, my baby boy looking very much not like a baby anymore!

Friday, November 9, 2012


"God works in mysterious ways."
"It must have just been God's will."

How many times have you heard those statements? I know I have; too many times to count. Most of the time they're said in response to a tragedy or when something else terrible happens.

It seems like so many times as Christians we are told that we aren't supposed to ask questions. We are supposed to take everything at face value without ever trying to dig any deeper.

In Matthew 18:3, Jesus tells us that we should have child-like faith. Most of the time this is equated with simplistic faith (which is partly why so many of my peers in the science world have such a hard time with Christianity). People point to children's faith in their parents as an example. Though there are obvious exceptions, most of the time children don't have to wonder if their parents love them. Children trust their parents to take care of them, and they have no doubt that their parents will live up to those expectations.

With that in mind, though, think about spending any amount of time with a child. They are constantly asking questions:
"Why can't I wear my plastic high heel princess shoes to school?"
"What is gravity?"
"Can I have candy for breakfast?"

"Why do people do bad things?"
"Why is the sky blue?"
"How can they put the electric lines up without getting shocked?"

Their questions cover everything from the mundane to the extremely complex (and yes, Raiden and Conan have asked me all those questions. The high heels one was this morning). Sometimes, in those moments after something has happened that they don't like, the tone of their questions changes:
"Why are you being mean?"
"Why did you let me get hurt?"
"Can't I ever do anything I want?"

"Why do you always get to be the boss?"
"Why was she mean to me?"
"Don't you love me anymore?"

When kids ask questions, does it make their parents love them any less?
Of course not!

Sometimes Raiden asks questions I can't answer in a way she will understand. As a scientist I love it when she asks me about things like electricity and gravity, but the textbook answer wouldn't mean anything to her right now. Sometimes, it's even good for her to ask me the heart-wrenching ones, too, because they give me the chance to wrap her in my arms and tell her just how much I love her.

Sometimes, though, the answer has to just be, "Because."
Didn't you hate getting that answer as a kid? "Because I said so!"

Matthew 7:11 says, "As bad as you are [...], you're at least decent to your own children. So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?" (The Message). Though that verse applies to asking God for what we need, I think it can apply here, too.

We are imperfect people, but we still love our children. Them asking questions, even the tough questions, doesn't make us love our kids any less. Why is it, then, that we think we can't ask God the tough questions? Is it going to make Him love us any less? If we in our imperfection won't be swayed in our love, what makes us think God in His perfection will be?

Sure, sometimes the answer is going to be like the one Job got. Sometimes our questions come out of an attitude of thinking we know more than God, and then we are put in our place.

When we ask genuine questions out of a God-given curiosity or out of heart-wrenching pain, though, I think God uses them as a chance to take us in His arms and show us how much He loves us. Sometimes we get exactly the answer we are looking for. Sometimes it is simplified because we just wouldn't quite understand the full answer. Other times we get the "Because I said so!" answer.

No matter the answer, though, and no matter my question, I don't think God loves me any less for asking.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

believing in the silence

Sometimes it's easy to feel like our prayers don't go any higher than the ceiling.

We don't feel like God is hearing us, and we definitely aren't hearing anything from Him.

Have you ever felt like that? If you're honest, I imagine you'll say you have. I know I have.

You know what? You aren't alone.
Mother Teresa, a woman know the world over for her faith, told those close to her that her heart was broken because she felt like she was living silence for somewhere around five decades.

Seriously. 50 years feeling like she wasn't hearing anything from God.

Numbers vary, but Noah and his family were cooped up on the ark for somewhere around a year. I can't say for sure, but I imagine it is safe to say that they felt like God was being pretty silent there for a while.

I don't know about you, but when I feel like that I just want to quit.
I get this thought in my head that apparently God doesn't care about what I'm doing because He's not giving me any input. Like David, I cry out, 
"How long, O LORD
Will You forget me forever? 
How long will You hide Your face from me? 
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? 
How long will my enemy triumph over me? 
Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. 
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; 
my enemy will say, 'I have overcome [her],' 
and my foes will rejoice when I fall." (Psalm 13:1-4)

Those 50 years of silence in Mother Teresa's life? They were filled with the work she was doing for God's children who had been discarded or shunned.

While Noah was on the ark, maybe wondering from time to time if God had forgotten about him, he was taking care of the smelly, loud, frustrating animals.

Sometimes we feel like we are living in silence. We can't hear God and we don't feel like He hears us. Genesis 8:1, though, says (in part), "God remembered Noah," and I have faith He will always remember each of us, too.

In the meantime, we should continue with the work and make the rest of that chapter from David be the cry of our heart:
"But I trust in Your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in Your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
for He has been good to me."
(Psalm 13:5-6)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

my belief statement

So, I told you that once I finished my homework I would post it here for you to see. Well, here you go!
I believe that God is the Almighty Creator, the One who spoke this complex yet somehow incredibly simple universe into existence out of nothing (Hebrews 11:3), through the power of His Word who is Christ Jesus (John 1:1-3).

I believe that God made us in His image (Genesis 1:26&27), but through our sins we have fallen way below the bar of perfection that He set for us, and in ourselves we are incapable of pleasing Him (Romans 5:12, 8:8). Despite all our failings, though, He still loves us. In fact, He loves us so much that He gave us His Word; both through the Scriptures which were spoken by God (II Timothy 3:16&17) and have the ability to cut us to the quick to reveal the true thoughts of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12); and through the Son, Jesus, who left His seat next to the Father and took on the fragile, weak, humble body of a man who would be slain as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (Isaiah 53:5). What's more, He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), when there was nothing good in us.

I believe that in ourselves we can do nothing, and therefore we must accept the gift of salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:8&9). That faith is in Jesus, our only way to the Father (John 14:6). All who believe in Jesus Christ are given the gift of eternal life (John 3:16). Through Him all our sins are forgiven, removed from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), and forgotten.

I beleive that God keeps His promises and expects us to do the same by loving Him and loving others (Matthew 22:37-40), remaining faithful to His commands (Deuteronomy 7:9), and living a life that is worthy of our new role as His children (Ephesians 4:1).

I believe that all power and wisdom belong to God (Psalm 147:4&5), yet He is still a "father to the fatherless [and] a defender of widows" (Psalm 68:5) who hears those who cry out to Him (Psalm 55:16&17). Though God is the Creator and Ruler of all--from the stars to life and death to wild animals to lightning to the behemoth and the leviathan (Job 38-42)--He still takes the time to quiet us and sing over us (Zephaniah 3:17).

I believe that God has given us everything we need to be able to live according to His purpose. He has laid out the requirements in the Bible (Micah 6:8), given us teachers to explain the Scriptures to us (II Timothy 3:14&15), and sent us the Holy Spirit, who convicts us of our sins and leads us to the truth (John 16:5-13). Though it is impossible for any of us to please Him on our own, in Him we can do all things (Philippians 4:13), for His power is made perfect in our weakness (II Corinthians 12:9).

I believe we are called to become like Christ. We are to learn from God by imitating Him (Ephesians 5:1), in the same way that children learn by imitating their parents. We are to become like Him in both life and death, dying to our sinful self and to our sins so that we can become like Him in a new life (Philippians 3:10&11). We are to look at things from God's point of view, focusing on what is eternal instead of the unimportant, temporal things of this world (II Corinthians 4:18). At the same time, we are called to go. We are told to spread the good news of the gift of salvation to all people, teaching them as we have been taught (Matthew 28:19&20).

I believe that as followers of Christ we are His witnesses here on earth (Acts 1:8). As such, we must act in a way that supports the message we profess (Philippians 1:27). God promises to be with us always, even through the worst we may face (Romans 8:35-39).

I believe that God loves all those He has created and wants everyone to come to Him. If we don't tell others, how will they know about Him (Romans 10:13-15)? Like Isaiah did, when God asks for someone to go we should say, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8)

...what about you? What do you believe?

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