Friday, January 23, 2009

Convicting

There is a phrase in Latin that summarizes the idea that the way our minds and souls are oriented is the way our lives are oriented. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi is an axiom of ancient Christianity, meaning, the rule of worship is the rule of belief is the rule of life. That is, the way we are oriented in worship (whatever it might be that we focus on most devotedly) orients the way we believe and the way we live. In a cultural ecosystem where we seem to worship choices and possibilities, where the virtue of good multi-tasking has replaced the virtue of singleness of heart, it is understandable that we are both truly and metaphorically “all over the place”--mentally, spiritually, even bodily, in a state of perpetual possibility-seeking.

[...]

As we worship, so we will live.

Jill Carattini, A Slice of Infinity, 23 January 2009

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Story

Yes, it is true. The Becky is engaged. Here are some more proper pictures!



So, the story. It was after a classic evening involving tasty pizza and an excellent Colorado microbrew and we were chilling at my place after dinner, as I had no mental energy to be working on my thesis. Given the rare-for-this-season-of-life evening off, Adam decided to seize the day and pop the question, producing a very shiny ring from his wallet, which had been in residence there for approximately two weeks. I was surprised, as I expected the question would probably come before Christmas, but not before my thesis was completed. But regardless, I gave my hearty answer of yes! (This is the part for *awwww*ing...)

That's about it! So, I now plunge into the next 3 weeks, all the more eager for the thesis to be done and behind me! I'll be one super happy girl on November 11, though really, I'm a super happy girl right now. I just can't believe how the Lord has provided for me. I am so blessed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Explanations


Back in the beginning... Zippy, what have you done?? :)


So now the world knows part of why I haven't been blogging for the last year. :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Eye of the Beholder?

Prologue: I started this post back in JANUARY. Yes, more than 9 months ago. Not one to deviate from typical becky trends, I then got so busy that I haven't revisited it until now. So, I'm finishing it up now (as much as one can say that it is finished). Hopefully it will be reasonably worthwhile for those who choose to read it!

[ time warp back to January ]

Ahhh. Hear that? It's the sound of a quiet evening. I'm home from work and class, plopped quite contently on my couch, with no sound in the air say the clicking of my keyboard as I type and the bubbling of the fish tank.

The most wonderful thing about having some time off around Christmas time was that I do a much better job of guarding quiet time to hear myself think, and most importantly, to hear the Lord speak. It was so refreshing. But those times in life go only one way, ultimately: quickly. Just like that, and I'm three weeks into another semester. Nuts, I tell you!

As I mentioned some time ago, I have been thinking off-and-on over the last 6 months or so about the concept and issue of defining beauty in our culture. It's interesting, really, and often downright ridiculous. Here are some of my pseudo-random observations. Some of them run the risk of being gross stereotypes, so bear with me... hopefully my words will come to a clear convergence by the end of this post!

First, a look at the facts. Back in 2003, The Economist ran a story that gave the following figures:
  • The global beauty industry—consisting of skin care worth $24 billion; make-up, $18 billion; $38 billion of hair-care products; and $15 billion of perfumes—is growing at up to 7% a year, more than twice the rate of the developed world's GDP.
  • Beauty firms spend just 2-3% of their sales on research & development, while 20-25% goes to advertising and promotion.
  • The number of cosmetic procedures (plastic surgeries) have increased in America by over 220% from 1997. The number of teenage breast implants and liposuctions rose by 562% between 1994 and 2001.
Beyond the beauty industry, other statistics related to media and advertising confirm the absurdity. For instance: the average American woman is 5’4" tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5’11" tall and weighs 117 pounds. Tell me again why we should be shocked over the rampancy of eating disorders?

Interesting, eh? Honestly, I wish those figures surprised me. Instead, I tend to read them with a "no-duh" kind of attitude-- I mean, seriously, it's obvious that our culture is completely obsessed with physical appearance and attractiveness. And it's not just our culture. It's always been this way. Why? Women (in particular... I can't speak first-hand for the guys) will always be prone to obsess over their appearance. It's simply a fact of life. Societal pressures set aside, the way women are wired puts us in a place where we are all too mindful of perceived flaws in ourselves--a frame of mind that is always processing, comparing, and contrasting everyone and every image we see with our own appearance. Combined with cultural pressures, expectations, marketing, Hollywood, digital editing, and now even CG models designed to be "perfect" (whatever that means...), you have a fool-proof recipe for obsession at its finest.

The point of this post is not necessarily to establish that beauty is completely misidentified and misunderstood in secular human culture. I think that more or less goes without saying. Why else would companies like Dove be running entire campaigns that emphasize the ridiculousness of it all? What I've really found intriguing lately is an examination of how the Christian subculture attempts to address this obvious problem. In some ways, it's on the right track. In other ways, it has managed to undermine its message by mixing verbal opposition to the secular view of beauty with actions that indicate that we actually think no differently. One need not look further than the Christian Music Industry to realize that keeping up with trends and appearances is pretty thoroughly integrated into the Christian subculture. Last year, Nichole Nordeman wrote an article that gave honest thought and reflection on the tension between image and authenticity in the music industry. It's definitely worth a read-- it's a clear illustration of the conflict that I think we see spread throughout the Christian subculture. I really believe that the tension stems from the fact that, as believers, we know that there is a lot more to beauty and value and worth-fullness than meets the eye. And we're even pretty comfortable defining the "lot more" part. However, our understanding fails when it comes to knowing what we ought to do to handle the question of image and physical beauty. So, we tend to react either by downplaying beauty until it is completely devalued, or we leave the issue largely untouched, drifting along with the rest of culture, buying into its definitions and fads and obsessions... simply because we haven't bothered to redefine it.

[ time warp to the present... ]

So how is one to define an appropriate appreciation/response to physical beauty? It's a tough question-- one for which I can't pretend to have a thorough answer. Scripture doesn't really speak to this specific issue directly, other than clearly stating that physical beauty is not the end all-- in fact, it is an utter waste if it is not accompanied by a godly heart. That said, most of what I'm offering below falls in the category of Becky speculation/ponderings. So take it with a salt lick!

In my (hardly) extensive days wandering about on the surface of the planet, I have noticed one primary thing with regards to beauty. The most beautiful women that I know are women who are simply comfortable with who they are. A lot of things contribute to this comfort and confidence in their lives-- loving friends/families and a thriving relationship with Christ are generally consistent factors. This confidence surfaces in the way they carry themselves, the way they dress, the way they interact with people, and the way they handle adversity. An obvious observation maybe? Maybe. But I think what has surprised me most about this observation is exactly what it does NOT entail. It is not that these women do not care about their physical appearance-- in fact, many of them take care to present themselves at their personal best. But, while they care about their appearance, it is very clear that their appearance is not fundamental in the way they perceive themselves. And, ironically (and awesomely!), they are more beautiful because of that. I'm sure most of you have heard the cliche, "No woman is more beautiful than the woman who knows she is loved." That cliche definitely describes part of the phenomenon that I'm describing.

So, as a brief recap, we live in a secular culture who errs toward the extreme of obsession with physical beauty, and we live in a Christian culture who errs either with secular culture or in such extreme reaction to it that physical beauty becomes undervalued. I can't help but think that neither of these extremes is what the Lord had in mind when he created us (and so much of His world) to be beautiful. The fact remains that our God is beauty. And as creatures made in His image, it clearly follows that there is a human beauty that should be cherished-- appropriately. I'm still trying to find words to define exactly what that looks like. But as starters, I believe it entails learning how to celebrate God's image in each one of us in the holistic sense. I believe it involves killing gross stereotypes related to appearance (skeletal = beautiful) and in some ways, pursuing a more accurate definition of modesty (modesty != burlap sack). I believe it requires surrender and honest prayer to seek after God's perspective, to see and cherish and celebrate beauty as He does. I know... these are definitely not closed form solutions to the problem, but I've personally found them loaded with food for thought.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

No Kidding

This weekend, I was driving in the mountains with my brother. On east bound I-70, there was a snow plow in use. Yup. Snow in August. Excitement!

I have a wide-spread apology to offer to the people who read this blog who have tried to email me in the last 6 weeks. My inboxes have officially exploded. Sitting with literally hundreds of unread emails, I am reluctant to offer any idea of when I might actually get to your email. So, if you have emailed me and I have not responded, please do not take it personally. I'll either get to your email someday, or if you'd like to talk sooner than that is happening, give me a phone call. I realize that this is pretty lame... but I'm afraid that it's reality.

The summer flew by. And I haven't even climbed a 14er yet! Sadness. Assuming that I don't kill myself trying (I am majorly out of shape), that should get remedied next weekend. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Refuge

Ahhh. I want to go back...