I turned 43 today.  I’m pretty happy with reaching this milestone and, although I joke about being younger, I have no issues with admitting my age.  In fact, I have a hard time understanding those who get depressed when another birthday rolls around.  “Grump, grump, whine, mope.  I’m older.  I’m greying.  I’m wrinkling.”  Have you considered the alternative to all that is dying?  Having a birthday is a cause for celebration in any society where life is appreciated.  We’re spoiled.  We want to reach a century in perfect condition.  Worse, we want to do it without any sacrifice.

I’m pretty blessed to look younger than my age.  I also weigh (within a few pounds, depending on the day) what I did in high school.  Some of this is good genetics.  Some of it is circumstance.  A lot of it, though, is hard work, research, and a little self-sacrifice.

I like yummy food as much as the next person.  So do my hips and thighs.  I’m not terribly fond of drinking as much water as I should; I’d rather drink something else.  Taking the time to apply lotion after every single shower is, really, a pain in the backside.

I don’t do all these things so much for appearance’s sake (although I have a touch of vanity about exactly how many silver hairs I’m hiding and how visible the laugh lines around my eyes are becoming).  I do it because I still have young children and I want to be able to continue to play tag in the waves, hike all day (and carry the youngest if necessary), and wrestle with at least a prayer of winning.  In fact, I want to be able to do those things with their children.  I do it because this body is a temple and I want to be healthy enough to go and do what God wants me to do.

We’ve become a society of “give me now”.  Sacrificing for later, whether financially or sensually, is totally foreign to our collective makeup.  The word “wait” appears in the NIV version of the Bible 129 times; Noah worked on the ark for an unknown period of time, then spent over a year on the ark itself.  Moses and the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years and only Caleb and Joshua got to enter the Promised Land.  (Yeah, let that one sink in.)  Jacob worked seven years for Rachel and got Leah instead, so he turned around and worked another seven years for Rachel.

We’ve forgotten patience.  I’ve never been good at it in the first place, but my surrounding seem determined to undermine what self-control I have.  BUY NOW! USE CREDIT!  or TAKE A PILL AN INSTANTLY LOSE 30 POUNDS!  or GET SURGERY TO FIX EVERYTHING.

I want to make this my year of patience, waiting, and sacrifice.  I want to appreciate each item I own because I worked for it.  I want to go for an eight-mile hike without collapsing because I spent time in the gym working the muscles needed to get up and down those hills.  I want to hold off on a purchase because I’d rather pay cash than use readily available credit.   I want to learn to consider waiting a blessing, a time to appreciate other things, rather than something to be fidgeted over.

Maybe in the waiting I’ll learn to spend the time appreciating what I already have.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope

Psalm 130:5

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I work in the metropolis of Los Angeles (technically the San Fernando Valley, but it’s part of Los Angeles on maps). This means I deal with the fun of commutes, traffic, smog… the joys of city living. (If you haven’t picked up the sarcasm in that last sentence, let me make it very clear: I am not a city girl.)

For most of the last year or so, I’ve been commuting on the train to a station that is 3.2 miles from work, then biking the rest of the way in. I enjoy the exercise; I do not enjoy LA drivers and pedestrians. Here are a few things I’ve noticed during that time:

* Pedestrians will walk straight toward a biker (yes, I use the sidewalk unless there is a dedicated bike lane) and expect the biker to move even if the biker is on the right side of the sidewalk.  (Other bikers do this as well.)  That whole “driving on the right side of the street” translates well into sidewalk commuting, you know.

* A driver will often only see a biker (in spite of the fact that this is a heavily biked area) if the biker makes him/herself obvious.  Today I had to tap a truck’s hood just to get the driver to look right and see I was there.  (The last time I didn’t tap a hood, I ended up with scrape marks on my leg from an oblivious driver’s license plate holder.)

* Right-of-way means nothing here.  If you are big enough to win a game of chicken, you might as well make your own traffic laws.  I’ve stopped stressing as much about hitting the crosswalk button and stress far more about looking in all directions before I cross even the smallest driveway.

* A commercial truck driver is far more likely to notice me than a regular driver.  Because of that, I try far harder to make sure that I treat them with extra common courtesy.

 

I am quite certain that I shall never bike in New York City (completely aside from the fact that living in NYC would probably cause my soul to shrivel up and die a slow, painful death).  The only thing that keeps an LA commute doable is how truly sprawling this “city” is.  If I happen to be counting down to the day when I can move away from this area for good… well, the bike issue is just one of many reasons.

For now, I will continue to bike and thank God every night for the guardian angel that has to brave my commute with me.

Charles Koch, whose personal wealth is estimated around 43.4 billion dollars, apparently believes that anyone making $34,000 a year should be rolling in dough.  Not that I make that much anyway, but I’d like to take issue with his assumption anyway.

While I do believe most Americans are blessed way beyond what they realize and that many times we squander our income, $34,000 means an entirely different quality of life in different areas.

When I lived in Springfield, Illinois, $34,000 meant a nice, 5-bedroom house on a 1/4 acre lot in a quiet neighborhood, two cars, a reasonable food and clothing budget, and enough extra to occasionally travel or splurge a bit.

Here in Southern California, $34,000 means a one-bedroom apartment in a bad neighborhood (I’ve been looking, so I’m pretty sure about the rates).  Clothing and food are within budget, but I’d anticipate being limited to one (older) car and not much travel.

Don’t get me wrong.  I see $34,000 as doable.  I’d love to be making $34,000.  But cost of living should definitely be factored into the equation.

I do hope Charles Koch donates a minimum of 10% of his income to charity… as I would hope those making $34,000 do.  Again, I’m talking about what is doable, not what is easy.

Anyone can do easy.

In case you’ve been living in another country, have just arrived here via time machine from 1835, or just don’t keep up in the news, spanking is very much not socially approved.  It has been linked to all sorts of things, including mental illnesses, adult obesity, and heart disease.

Here’s my issue, at least with the article from The Gupta Report linked above;  the parameters for whether or not you were spanked don’t sound much like spanking to me:

Participants were considered to have received physical punishment as a child if they responded with ‘sometimes or greater’ to a question on how often they were pushed, grabbed, shoved, slapped, or hit by an adult in their home. The authors cautioned that some of those physical interactions may also be considered maltreatment or may have been coupled with other forms of abuse or maltreatment.

This isn’t spanking!   This is flat-out abuse.

Spanking is the planned-out, even-tempered swat on the bottom to a child in order to encourage a change in behavior.

Spanking shouldn’t be done in anger.

Spanking shouldn’t be done as punishment, per sae.

Spanking should never hurt for more than a moment and should absolutely not involve any physical damage.

Spanking should be followed up by a discussion about the behavior involved and love… and lots of hugs.

I know plenty of people don’t believe in spanking… and that is totally your right.  If you have very biddable children who behave with timeouts and the occasional reprimand, I commend you (and might be just a little bit jealous).  I most certainly do not advocate abuse in any form.

However, to do the study linked above and come to the conclusion that children who were spanked will have the issues listed is ludicrous.  The adults in this study were abused and/ or felt they were abused as children.  To make that jump to include spanking indicates only that the researcher/ reporter has no idea how to administer a spanking in a loving manner (and, yes, it can be done).  I, personally, was not good at it, so I stopped spanking my children.  Now they are entirely too old to be spanked.  But that doesn’t mean that other people can’t do it or that it should be vilified by the medical committee for later issues in life.

Another case of political correctness being more important than accuracy.

I got a friend request on Facebook the other day from a guy I didn’t know who had no picture.  Always trying to be polite (and admitting my bad talent with names), I sent him a Facebook message asking if I knew him and just didn’t recognize the name.  Chris (not changing names to protect the guilty) said no and almost immediately hit on me.  I told him I wasn’t available, he persisted.  Eventually I wished him well but stopped responding.

End of story, right?

Chris came back a bit later with questions for me.  The big one was why did I still have my ex-husband’s last name.  Apparently this bugged Chris even though he didn’t know me and, based on the way things were going, was never going to get to know me.

Just for the record, when I went through my divorce, my youngest was three at the beginning.  It’s pretty customary for moms to keep the same last name as their children anyway.  I dated someone before the divorce finalized, too, (no, I don’t recommend that), and things were serious enough that I thought my name would be changing soon anyway.  But that’s really none of Chris’ business.

Apparently he thinks it is, because he now leaves comments on this blog about the same issue.

Chris, in case you’re still reading my blog, comments are moderated on this blog.  I don’t mind legitimate questions (even ones that may run contrary to how I, personally, believe).  But what you’re doing is being a troll… and this is as much time as you get out of my life.

Time to move on.

So I thought I was going to get caught up.  Yes, I did start a new online class.  Yes, my commute was still as crazy.  But I thought I had a schedule in place that would make it work.

Then, a week ago, my mom had a stroke.

Well, since then, I have had eight hours of sleep just one night.  I had six hours two nights.  The other… er, you do the math… nights were a little shy of even six.

I don’t write well on no sleep.

I have a rant-style post to put up today, but then I’m going to give myself time to get back into the swing of things.  I will probably not be posting regularly again until April… and I may not finish the Proverbs series.

Thanks for your patience.

So I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my (lack of) continuity with this blog.  I think I’ve come up with a solution.

I’m going to do a series of shorter articles, each around a theme.  Overall, my theme for this next year is *drumroll* A Year of 21 Days.

For 21 days at a time, I will immerse myself in a subject.  I’ll try to share everything about it that might be relevant or interesting.  Then I’ll take a seven-day break before I move on to my next 21 day project.

I know that my next two projects will be 21 Days to Minimalism (February 1-21) and 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting (March 1-21).  I have ideas for the rest of the year, but I’m also open to suggestions.

So farewell for the next four days.  I’ll be back on February 1st to start my first 21 days.