Posted in Different Learning, Different Thoughts

shortages

As we were living in Hungary, one thing we could not miss when watching international news coverage, was the fascination and humor most of the world watched with as the United States somehow panicked for the last remaining rolls of toilet paper. It was mind-boggling to us, as we’d never seen such a scramble for the white rolls of bathroom tissue. Surely it was just being over-dramatized, we thought. Perhaps this is just happening in the large cities. But as we talked with friends, and checked online, we saw that the strange phenomenon was happening widespread, even as most people confessed to being mystified by it themselves. Even as it was happening, memes popped up and late night talk show hosts made fun of…well….Americans who seemed to find comfort when facing the unknows of a pandemic with the dependable reality of knowing we could at least “take care of business” through it all.

Since returning to the US, it does seem like “Shortages” continue to pop up in the news. It doesn’t even take someone with a conspiratorial eye, to begin to wonder if many of these are simply well-placed advertising campaign strategies. But some legitimate shortages (most recently, Maple Syrup in Canada or Cream Cheese in the US) are still causing people and companies to think strategically, or to alter plans for consumption altogether.

Some might say that the reason Western Culture seems to notice “shortages” in ways that seem newsworthy, is that many of us have grown up or become accustomed to knowing that pretty much every “commonly-used” product we could imagine was readily available somewhere within a drive or an online order. It hasn’t taken long for this to impact our kids as they grow – with Christmas lists that often show no known limitations or boundaries. There are aspects of this we can be proud of – whimsical notions of “anything is possible” that we believe is healthy for our children as they grow. But it can also create a false sense of reality that most of the world still does not experience. Most places in the world continue to live with limitations, (and we do, if we’re honest enough to confess it), and that does not always mean a negative thing.

Now toilet paper is in a very unique category of “things I really hope we don’t have to learn how to do without.” But there is a sense in which limitations, and shortages, should be embraced a bit more readily as a positive path to spiritual growth as they come.

We live in a giant world with changing seasons, shifting climates, varying cultural backgrounds, many geographic features, and challenges as we tend to sowing and harvesting products in ways that justly care and provide for all of those involved. With so many variables, we should have limitations. We should have some foods that are only available in certain seasons. We should be thankful for what we can attain easily, and have a bit of wonder about what they have in other areas.

One of the beautiful aspects of Advent, is that we not only imagine what it was like to anticipate Jesus arriving for the first time, we imagine what it will be like when Jesus arrives fully. When Christ is revealed finally to be Lord over all things, and the Love of God swallows up all the cosmos, bringing together Heaven and Earth like never before – all things are made New. In those days (yet to come), there will be a growing shortage of shortages – as the full provision of God and His Good creation are revealed as enough (and also our hungers and consumption are brought into full alignment with His good and pleasurable ways).

In response to remembering this, we can celebrate in many ways. I would highlight two today:

  1. When possible, we can order/purchase something simple that doesn’t seem like it should be available to us because of season or location. Enjoy it on purpose, and share it with a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or child – imagining with them the coming age when all necessary things will be available and provided by Lord Jesus right on time.
  2. Purposefully choose to limit yourself of something. Sure, it may be at the store – but it’s not technically in season, or you’re not sure of the just working conditions/pay for those who labored. Choose something that you purposefully will “go without” this year. If it impacts the lives of others, don’t get all preachy – but if it involves kids – explain to them why you’re choosing to go without. Talk about being purposeful in our anticipation of the day when all that we need will always be provided – and not only us, but those brothers and sisters all over the globe.

No matter how we respond to Advent in particular, may we Christ-followers be leaders of the Way when it comes to responding to product shortages with peaceful confessions of our limited resources. We should not be surprised, and should be among those who generously seek community-beneficial adaptations when such shortages impact those around us.

May the peace of God who has already begun providing everything we truly need, fill and dwell in our hearts – and arrive through us as we share life together in community…both this Advent, and into the new year…

“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33

Posted in Adoption Journey, Different Thoughts

Hello Again.

Ps. Posting this early here, so you don’t get bored of my writing and miss it.  My wife got me an incredible new newyearsmicrophone (Blue – Snowball) for Christmas, and I couldn’t wait to try it.  So I whipped up a quick spoken word yesterday and put it online so others could hear it.  Check it out if you’re brave, and share it with others if you like it!

I suppose it’s about time for an update.  We continue to wait, and pray desperately for a miracle to help bring our daughter home from the DRC. No incredibly miraculous updates there, other than the blessing of knowing she has just celebrated Christmas in a home with a family for the first time in her life.  The pictures of her beautiful smile, and stories of her visiting sick children in the hospital to help them smile warm this fathers heart.

It’s also worth noting, I’ve completed my first year of Seminary!!! Whoo hooo!!  I’m 1/3 of the way toward my MDIV degree at Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University.  What is an MDIV? (I get asked this often.)  My response is usually, “I want to be a better pastor.  To improve how I serve God, my family, my community, and my church.  The classes for this MDIV are basically examining the various facets involved in pursuit of such a goal.   So far I’ve also realized I’m not a horrible student anymore.  Somewhere along the way, my nerd genes were activated, and like a mutant whose powers have only just begun to show – I’m more than a little excited.  Not because it helps me get A’s, (though those are each worth free tokens at Chuck E. Cheese), but because it’s legitimately improving the wealth of wisdom, understanding, and academia I draw from in the moment to moment serving who I serve where I serve.  I’m loving it.

Looking forward to the year ahead.  Throughout my spiritual formation course lately, I’m reminded of my extroversion, and desire to craft words together in a way that connects with others.  So be watching out for plenty more posts, and spoken words in the months to come.  Thanks for reading!

What is something you’re looking forward to/hoping for 2016?