Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Accidental Environmentalist

I'm sitting in my green chair with a green shirt on. Guess I'm making the most of this Earth Day thing. Actually, it is just a coincidence. The green shirt was at the top of the laundry pile, and the chair - well forest green is a frequent theme in our decor. But coincidence seems to be the norm for me when it comes to environmentalism. I am an "accidental" environmentalist.

I came to this conclusion when watching Oprah a few months ago. My sister-in-law and I stumbled across the "going green" show and thought we would check out the tips they offered. We spent most of the hour laughing. What was presented as "changes to live more green" seemed like normal common sense to us. Hmmm... only run the dishwasher/clothes washer when they're full, clean the lint screen on the dryer, avoid single use water bottles, recycle, turn your AC up to 75 degrees (we keep it at 80 anyway), donate old clothes instead of throwing them in the trash... Ummm... don't most people do this stuff anyway? The scary thing is I have come to understand that many people don't.

I have never considered myself an environmentalist. I actually find the hypocr- errr... irony of the environmental movement irritating. While on one channel a famous face is recommending we limit our toilet paper use, on another channel the same person is the spokesman for Clairol hair color. I imagine that box of hair dye, cardboard w/ paper instructions, plastic bottles etc... uses more resources and causes more pollution than my extra square or two of t.p. Then there are the "heinous" plastic grocery bags. I actually heard a guy on the Today Show lamenting that they were still legal! But the "go green" picture of a filled cloth grocery bag I say the other day, had a 4 pack of individual plastic pudding cups sitting on the top. Seems to me those are a lot more wasteful than my thin reusable, easy to recycle plastic grocery bag. Guess they should be illegal too? The list could go on and on, the rock star standing on the stage with big spotlights telling me I shouldn't have my incandescent bulb in my desk lamp, the politician with the huge multimillion dollar home complaining because our pick-up truck isn't energy efficient enough.

I guess I understand these people a little better though, now that I've seen how devoid of common sense so many Americans are.

But, it all comes down to stewardship. I have never been motivated by the panicked cries of "We're killing the planet!" I believe God is in control. I know that our sinned marred earth will definitely be destroyed one day, and has been slowly dying since the fall of man. However God has given us the things of this earth. And we are to be good stewards of the resources He has provided. Stewardship means using the resources the best way for the most important priority, people. Balancing this stewardship is tricky, and requires discernment. In our vast imperfectness we make a lot of wrong decisions. Pesticides for example can pollute our air and water, potentially making people sick. However pesticides also expand the food supply and control insects, potentially saving millions from starvation and deadly diseases like malaria. Unfortunately on the bandwagon of global warming hysteria and "green" marketing campaigns, wise stewardship decisions aren't the norm.

Like all modern problems the answer to the environmental issues of today is following the Bible. People are the only eternal thing on this earth so they are the most important. When God created our world He said it was good, and He expects us to use the resources for His purposes. He knows each sparrow that falls. Proverbs teaches us to not be lazy and wasteful. Jesus teaches us in the gospels about using what God has given us for His glory. The Psalms praise the wonders of God's creation. Genesis gives us a picture of God's perfect purposes for our planet.

So, on Earth Day, let us remember that it is really God's Day not the earth's. We shouldn't worship our planet but should look around us and figure out how to better use the earth's resources to serve God. I can see ways I can do better. But, I guess it is not really an accident that I have made some good environmental choices. Because, it is not an outcome of being an environmentalist, it is an intentional attempt to be a good steward for God.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Its my Birthday...and I'll smile if I want to!

I remember seeing a few thirtysomething reruns as a teenager. They seemed older than I am... But I have definitely learned from my patients, whose average age is eightysomething, that age is what you make of it. So thirtysomething is just fine, and I hope I enjoy eightysomething someday too.

April 14th has historical significance in the U.S., the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Of course depending on your opinion that may or may not be outdone by the international significance, as the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Yes those "on this day in history" birthday cards are a bit depressing for us four-fourteeners. But my philosophy is that my birth certainly improved the date a lot.

My birthday is also bad timing in our household. There isn't any time for hoopla or fancy meals around here the day before tax season ends. In fact there is barely time to say hello, and how was your day just isn't a very good opener until after tomorrow. So babygirl and I went to dinner at my parents house. I figure they are responsible for the existence and scheduling of my birthday anyway. And further celebration will be postponed until later in the week when we can celebrate both of our birthdays together. But, I never get the free dessert anymore.

I have always loved opening presents and having birthday cake. Have I mentioned my favorite food is frosting? For the past several years my birthday has just come and gone, with modest recognition. I don't worry much about people actually forgetting it. I always talk about my coming birthday several days ahead. I figure if people forget your birthday, anniversary etc... it is your own fault. But wrapped surprises are few and far between, I guess when your a grown-up it is easier to just give you money. And I rarely get to blow out candles on the actual day. Although, usually a birthday cake for one or both of us shows up sometime during the week. But with tax season, and a shared birthday week, it just isn't "my special day" that much anymore.

But the timing is good for reflection. After tomorrow life changes. We have brief slowdown of the pace of life. A brief window between tax season and planting season to breathe. The world around us is even marking it. The grass is greening. The trees are budding. The sky was such a beautiful blue today. I have time to count blessings and make a plan to enjoy them. This is the first year I got to spend the morning of my birthday, with my child giggling in my arms. I can't imagine a greater blessing.

So even though there was no party, no presents, no cake, there is smiling. God has given me another year. A most blessed and wonderful year has passed. One filled with brightness and blessings is ahead.

A special happy birthday goes out to Jack, Julie, and Laura, others who have made an excellent contribution to improving this day in history. And happy birthday a few days late to Stephen, and a few days early to my beloved taxman. Hope your days are blessed beyond your imagination!

And don't worry, somehow this week I will get a hold of a cake w/ butter cream frosting ;)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Blessings of Low Expectations

OK I really love to read. Anything and everything. I even read the entire cracker box. So when I stopped by the library the other day and found a pile of parenting magazines free for the taking I was delighted. I love to read magazines. I love books. But they suck me in and I have a hard time putting them down. I only like to read good books because they take my time and energy. Magazines on the other hand are quick, easy to drop and pick back up. Also I can tolerate a page or two of someone's different viewpoint even if I disagree, its a learning experience.

Anyway, back to the parenting magazines. Is it just me, or are we just a little bit too caught up in our own problems these days? Are we much to expectant of a life of comfort, ease, and perfection? It just seemed like article after article, magazine after magazine was devoted to the trials and travail of motherhood. Of course interspersed was the latest toys, gear, and gadgets, marketed to make your life easier or your child the next prodigy. And yes there were a few articles with helpful information about feeding and babycare, but even those often had references to diffusing mommy guilt or the general frustration of life as a mom.

I just want to say ENOUGH ALREADY!!! When did hardwork and difficulty become an anomaly in life?!! When did we come up with the idea that doing something so important should be easy?!!!

The church group I met with in college had a fascinating old fashioned hymnbook. At first I was surprised by the tone of the songs. I was used to praise choruses about God's goodness and our delight. These songs however often spoke of our sin, our brokenness, the total impossibility of happiness and success without the great and generous mercy of God. At first they seemed odd and sad. But then I began to discover that they were truth. They spoke too of the troubles of this world, they are everpresent and unavoidable. Only when we leave this world will we find perfection, only in God's presence.

I realize I was reading secular magazines. And sadly they don't even acknowledge God's existence. But I see Christians sucked in to the same mindset. If we just can figure out the right combination to make everything easy. The right psychology, the right invention, the right words, the right food, it goes on and on. The more we chase making things perfect the farther we seem to get away from it. Or maybe the more we despair about not achieving it.

Being a mom is a lot of work. So is not being a mom, I've been there too. Being alive in this world means facing difficulty, hardwork, fatigue, frustration, and confusion. That is what we should expect out of life on earth. Instead of fighting it, instead of striving for perfection here, why not embrace the imperfect. There are great blessing we receive even in this world. They are made all the more amazing and sweet when we have to work for them and yet realize we still don't deserve them. Of course we will fail in moments of pain and panic. But can we remember in the between times that pain, panic, and failure are to be expected this side of heaven.

Guess that was why I kept getting s0 frustrated with those magazines. Month after month trying to solve the same problems. Seeking success and happiness with the right combination of ideas and methods. OK, Maybe I shouldn't have read fifteen of them in one week. But then maybe I wouldn't have noticed the pattern I so easily get sucked into.

When I started writing I was thinking of how beneficial it was to have low expectations of this world. But I realized it is really having high expectations, high expectations of the next world. I'm reminded of this quote from C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world"