Blowing Off the Dust

What a crazy time it's been. Such is our life, I suppose. We've spent the past week with family, and it has been wonderful, but let's admit it, everyone likes to get back into the routine of everyday normal life. Am I the only one who needs a vacation from vacation when we return home? Anyway, my parents left a few hours ago, and life is back to normal here in Iuka. Micah's napping, and I'm poking around on the internet for a little while. I should take a shower. Or figure out what's for supper. Or take more pictures of my notecards to post on my etsy site. But I'm not. Maybe later.

Last night I was flipping through a copy of Southern Living. I'm not sure what month. Maybe it's January's issue? Anyway, the magazine had a "Best of the South" section, and in it, it listed Rowan Oak, home of William Faulkner, as the best literary stop in Mississippi. I haven't read Faulkner since my freshman year in college, and I admittedly didn't have much of an appreciation for his style. Maybe it'd be different now. Perhaps I'll revisit some of his stories. But I digress. I was intrigued by Faulkner's hesitancy to leave home. Only at home was he able to write. In fact, the article said that when President Kennedy invited him to dinner at the White House, Faulkner actually turned down the invitation because he thought DC was an awfully long way to go just to eat supper. Crazy. But I understand. As a writer (who writes less often than she should these days), not only can I not write unless I'm in my own space, but I also cannot write unless my space is ordered. Right now there are magazines, notebooks, an empty ramekin, and a package of batteries on my desk. There are bills in the inbox. Baby food coupons tucked in front of an insurance statement. No writing will get done until those things are taken care of. Not that I have any assignments at the moment. But that's beside the point.

I feel like I'm finally getting to a place in this new life of mine where I can return to being me. In an article I wrote for myMISSIONfulfilled about the first weeks of motherhood, I said that I never wanted to lose my identity after having children. So many women I know forget who they are. They leave behind their entire life to become known as their child's mother. I was so afraid that I would become "Micah's Mommy" and quit being myself. Don't kid yourself. The danger is real. I never wanted to quit being me just because I had also become a mother. The past four and a half months have been a struggle because it's a fight to maintain my sense of self when I spend all day every day taking care of my infant. It would be so easy for my life to be all about her. But it's not. Being Micah's Mommy is just one part of my life. It's just one facet of who I am. And it's just one task that God has called me to complete. He has also called me to write. And to speak. And to teach. And I'm finally in a place where I am able to do those things again. Thank goodness.

Another famous Mississippi writer, Eudora Welty, said that living, not reading, made her want to write. I have been living for the past several months. Now it's time to write again. I'm itching to stretch my literary muscles. It's time to blow the dust off my portfolio and start sending it out. Don't choke on the cloud of dust!

Philosophy 101

Nearly eight years ago, I took Intro. to Philosophy at Mississippi State with Dr. Michael Clifford.  He scared me.  I had heard that he could be rough on Christians, and when I saw the first assignment on our syllabus, I knew I was in trouble.  In one paragraph, answer the question "What is the meaning of life?".  I swallowed hard and dreaded the assignment, but that night, I sat down at my computer (the same one I'm typing on now, if you can believe it) and wrote the following words.

To understand the meaning of my life, you have to understand my God.  I serve a holy and mighty God, and the sole purpose of my life is to glorify my Lord and Master; I live for nothing else. My life revolves around developing a deep and personal relationship with the One that I call Savior.  Life on this earth is just the beginning of our existence; I will spend eternity in heaven with my Father. Maybe this sounds strange to you.  Maybe it sounds familiar.  Can I prove this to you?  Well, no, I can’t, but I also can’t believe anything else is true... It would be a sad world if we had no reason for living.  If everything ends at death, then what is the point of life at all?  I have found truth in the teachings of the Holy Bible, and it is the standard I follow.  I live my life by faith, trusting that a God higher than anything we can ever imagine has my life in his hands, and he knows what’s best for me.  So, if you ask me the meaning of life, I can only give you one answer, and that is to serve my God.

I thought I could turn in my paper and escape without him knowing who I was, but to my horror, when I arrived in class, Dr. Clifford asked for volunteers to read their papers aloud.  When crickets chirped in the background and no one stepped up, Dr. Clifford looked straight at me and told me to stand up as I read my paper aloud.  My hands shook and my voice trembled, but somehow I managed to choke out the words of my paragraph and sit down as quickly as possible.

Silence followed, and then Dr. Clifford said, "Well, I guess we are in the middle of the Bible Belt," before calling on someone else.

I think I would be better equipped to handle the situation now, but when I was a 19-year-old sophomore in college, my professor intimidated me.  I was relieved that he didn't rake me over the coals right then and there, and attending his class twice a week for the rest of the semester was the last thing I wanted to do.  But I kept going to class and completing assignments that included debating the existence of God, learning about Plato's ideal forms, and reading Rene Descartes.  In that class, I heard Karl Marx's famous quote about religion being the opiate of the masses.  I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and learned the intelligent design theory, and by the time the semester ended, I emerged with faith intact and an A on my report card.

But at the beginning of the semester, standing in front of Dr. Clifford and proclaiming my faith was one of the most difficult things I had ever been asked to do.  As I look back at the words I wrote for that class, I'm reminded that they are still true for me today.  The meaning of my life hasn't changed over the past eight years.  I still live to bring glory and honor to the God proclaimed in the Bible, and although I've got a seminary education under my belt and I've spent a lot more time thinking about the issues we talked about in that philosophy class I would still answer the question in the same way.

What about you?  What do you think is the meaning of life?

Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis

My identity does not lie in what’s written on the nametags I wear but in what’s inscribed on my heart. God’s word tells me that I am his precious child, an heir alongside Christ Jesus and a recipient of his promises. He has written his words on my heart so that I may know not only who I am but, more importantly, whose I am.