Monthly Archives: March 2009

Circadian (among other) Rhythms

Most who know me remember that I fall asleep punctually at 10ish every night and that I get up at the same time every morning. I also like to eat at the same time every day (and on the weekends I kinda freak out if I don’t!) I like routine, and when the routine carries itself out through the week, I get this crazy high. It’s like my circadian rhythm gives me a high-five when I stick to it.

And in general, my life really does revolve around rhythm. Sometimes too much. I am the type that drums on all surfaces during a conversation or is always tapping my feet or even doin’ a little jig while (I think/hope) no one is lookin’.

I get lost in music and get this little euphoria when I am playing or participating in a song. Charles Drake told us in a worship why music is so powerful is because it bypasses the thalamus (the brain’s “gatekeeper” and categorize-er) and goes straight to our emotions. Music is manipulative and can almost reverse your mood instantly. (So, of course with any powerful tool, it can be used for good or evil. Here I focus on the good).

Sometimes I wonder what God was intending when He created music. I wonder what it really sounded like when the angels sang. If they played instruments at all or if they even had to. I wonder what made the rhythm in the angel choirs, if they had a heavenly drum set or something. Sometimes I wish I could hear an angelic remix of Queen’s “Somebody to Love”, Yes’s “Seen All Good People” or Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time.” I wonder if they’ll take requests when we’re in heaven?

I’m also continuing with my dance classes. It is so much fun knowing that I can make my body move in harmony with a song’s rhythm. Nothing like it in the world.

Then I wonder what life would be like without rhythm. If we would walk differently, speak differently, or not be able to have the same coordination. Everything seems to operate on some sort of rhythm. It makes me think of that Volkswagen commercial from a few years ago when the drivers are cruising down the street and everything is following the beat of the song. The basketball bounces to the baseline, the jogger is in sync, as well as the windshield wipers. And in that similar but less exaggerated way, I think my life follows a beat. I think my thoughts and my actions have an underlying meter to them. And when my inherent metronome is thrown off, I just don’t function as well. That must be where the saying came from about “moving to the beat of a different drummer.”

I think God created us with rhythm so we could be efficient beings. We need something to move by, eat by, sleep by, thrive by. Good thing He gave us plenty of examples in the Bible of rhythms and steps to live by (I like Colossians 3. Put away this while putting on that. Let it be the pace of your Walk). Therefore, embrace the bounce in your step, that favorite song of yours, the way you always step out the door with your right foot first, whatever. Do what you do and thank God for your divinely instilled rhythm.

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Personal Trainer

Accepting Jesus Christ as your Personal Trainer

Of course He’s the Saviour of the world, but lately this little analogy keeps popping up in my mind when we’re in Sabbath School, Bible study, or just a discussion. It takes it a step beyond just the fact of being rescued from eternal nonexistence. It’s truly letting Jesus into your life.

I think of the Christian Life as gym membership. You accept the free membership, and you come in regularly for training, in whatever fashion you choose. Whether you are into the holy treadmills, the evangelistic ellipticals or the sanctifying stationary bikes. You get free personal training sessions with the One and Only Jesus Christ and he pumps you up into shape for all that life throws at you outside the gym doors. Training is not exactlty always fun, but yields myriad benefits. A relationship is built, body and soul, with your Trainer.

Though, sadly, some might just tote around their gym membership card, showing it to people, wearing it around their neck as a good luck charm, or keeping it in their wallet for them to view if they need to convince themselves they aren’t completely bad people. Maybe they’ll even intend to go sometime, but they just don’t feel like it. And that’ll be as far as the membership will go. They may only stop into the health club about once or twice. Their lives won’t reap the benefits of training, and neither will they tap into the truly Saving relationship with the Trainer.

Some might periodically visit the gym, but just stick to the holy treadmills and not show up for their free training sessions. Their physique may not appear gluttonous or swollen with sinfulness, due to their relationship with the treadmill, but their spiritual muscles are hardly flexed as the relationship that really counts is the one with the Trainer, not the treadmill.

And some others might be excited about getting their gym membership and get right onto the exercise equipment, and have every intention of scheduling a session with the Trainer. However, they get caught up in a program they set up themselves, or they become so busy that they neglect to make time for the gym.

Usually I’m not into somewhat cheesy analogies, but this one has come into conversation at least three times in the last month so I thought I would write it down. The last time it popped into mind was when our Bible study group was discussing the Laodicean state. The Laos could fit into any one of those sad categories, though mostly in the first and last. I suppose Ephesus mostly occupies the middle category. Each way, these are missing the point that it is the relationship that saves.

“You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” Rev. 2: 3-4

“You say, ‘I am rich’…but you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” Rev 3:17

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Child of Rhythm: Of high tides, snare drums and puzzle pieces

A stream of consciousness from today:

On my way home from work, an advertisement on the radio had crashing waves as a sound effect for advertising a summer getaway travel package that you could book from a local travel agent. Though the commercials were soon over and there was a song playing, the sound of crashing waves kept going through my head. It had triggered a memory.

When I was a kid, my family took a few trips to Hawaii since my grandparents had a timeshare. For the latest trip, I was in high school and was concerned more about getting a good tan than I was about many of the touristy activities we were going to do. But on a Sabbath morning, when we went down to the beach for a bit,  I decided to make my towel-dwelling, ray-soaking self a bit more productive than just absorbing sunlight. I had a good 20 minute prayer (and for an attention-deficit high-schooler, that was pretty good). I remember praying for God to make my hair not frizz so much, and other silly things, but it turned into a rather profound conversation with my Creator. And the crashing waves and soft breeze just made it all the more meaningful and memorable.

I remember talking to God about how I thought it was cool that he put rhythm into everything. Right before I prayed, I counted the seconds between wave crashes. I started moving my toes to the “beat” that the waves were creating. I remember the timing between the waves slowly getting longer and longer as the shoreline moved with the tide. I started singing songs in my head along with the waves. And I remember thinking that God knew what he was doing when he put in me the desire to be a musician and a dancer, and an appreciator of nature.

Pulling from the theme of the previous blog, I really like how God finds really clever ways to remind us that we are who we are for a reason. That I can take comfort and joy in the simple fact that I am me. Even with all the silly things that I almost hate about myself, I would never give them up if it meant my identity would change. The fact that I cry at most movies, that I laugh a bit too loud, that I sometimes speak out of turn, that sometimes I like people a little too much that I overwhelm them; all those things have been annoyances to me in my life, and yet when I think about what I would be without them, I slowly begin to embrace them. And when I still get a little bit down about the things that aren’t ideal about myself, God reminds me of crashing waves, tapping toes, and warm sunlight, and the acceptance of who I am and what I am moved to do.

Predominantly, I’ve found that most of my life revolves around people and/or rhythm. I’m very shy and introverted, but I love connecting with people and each person I meet immediately becomes meaningful to me. I remember names and faces very well, and my biggest social fault lies on the end of the spectrum that makes me appear nosy. On the rhythm side, I’m always tapping on something, always finding connections in the sounds around me. I remember in 8th grade, my science teacher called me a “child of rhythm” after the end-of-the-year band concert, when I had my first solo snare drum sequence. I find that when NPR plays classical music over the lunch hour, I seem to want to drive faster during heavy snare drum and crash cymbal choruses. Sometimes I think I should have been a choir or band conductor because those movements are just so natural to me (but I’m too afraid of being in front of a lot of people). And there is no morning pick-me-up like my 5:45am jazzercise class, the only exercise routine I have been able to stick with for over a year.

Back on the relational end, I also think of myself in terms of my relationship to my husband. He is all verbal (he is an English teacher, so I guess that comes with the territory), and I am all nonverbal. The messages we receive from each other or people around us vary so much when we both tell our side of things. But once we figured out how each other worked, it’s amazingly perfect the way we complement each other.

Life is a big jigsaw puzzle and we are all shaped differently, and we all fit together differently. (even more on this topic later). I have come to like the shape of my puzzle piece, and the way it fits with others. Thank you, God, for opening the puzzle box, shaking it up, and letting each piece discover where they fit.

(Random though these thoughts are, pieces of these concepts float to my consciousness just about daily. Maybe it is God reminding me that “I am who I am” (go Popeye!) and that I better be true to myself.)

“All together now—applause for God! Sing songs to the tune of his glory, set glory to the rhythms of his praise.” (Psalm 66:1, The Message Bible)

“… May God, our very own God, continue to be with us just as he was with our ancestors—may he never give up and walk out on us. May he keep us centered and devoted to him, following the life path he has cleared, watching the signposts, walking at the pace and rhythms he laid down for our ancestors” ( Kings 8:56, The Message Bible)

“…The God who gives rain in both spring and autumn and maintains the rhythm of the seasons, Who sets aside time each year for harvest and keeps everything running smoothly for us?’…(Jeremiah 5:20, The Message Bible)

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Mine! Mine mine mine!

I had a busy week. What else is new?

It was a week filled with deadlines and meetings, oh and I turned a year older. (I shall miss ol’ 25, it was such a nice number). Nothing was going as planned, the weather was terrible, I didn’t have time to get my own home in order, and after I finished one thing on one day, it was another thing for the next day to worry about.

But, I was (and still am) ok. Every night, as we succumbed to our fatigue and got in bed, the cats would jump up and try to find a settling spot. I would think about my messy house as I was about to turn off the lamp on the nightstand, but then another overwhelming thought took over: My house may be messy, but it’s mine. My life may be busy, but it’s mine. I’m glad I have a life and a house, with a great husband and cute kitties. I don’t think I’d want another house, another life, another job or another social circle because, well, it wouldn’t be mine.

My dad told me that “true joy is simply knowing that you’re right where you’re supposed to be.” That is why you can have joy in your life, even if you aren’t currently “happy” or in a good mood. I guess I’m glad that I can claim that joy.

Ecclesiastes is becoming a theme here. I didn’t plan it that way, but it keeps coming up. Whatever the case may be,  I’m glad that most of the things that get all the attention in this world are fleeting and “a chasing after the wind.” Because if they really did matter, then I’d have to care! In the long run, though sometimes I wish for some of the things labeled as “vanity,” I’d just rather sit back with what is “mine” and be glad that God gave it to me.

My next project for myself, however, will definitely be Matthew 6.

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Comin’ Back Around Again…

And not in a good way.

I had the Bible on my desk open to Ecclesiastes 4. I decided to read the first bit while adding the ever-important brown sugar to my oatmeal.

“Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:

I saw the tears of the oppressed—

and they have no comforter;

power was on the side of their oppressors—

and they have no comforter….”

“…And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind….”

For a moment I thought Solomon had time traveled to last week and watched the 10 o clock news.

I am embarrassed at my haphazard following of the news. I listen to NPR on the way to work (so about 10 minutes worth) and occasionally read a Yahoo! News story from my homepage. I listen to random commentary from people who care. I get bits and pieces of what is really happening, so I can’t say that I have the most accurate picture of our world, our national economy, or our political situation. But you don’t have to be on top of every broadcast to gather that things are pretty terrible right now. Things aren’t fair. People’s lives are falling apart because of lost jobs or homes. People in other countries (as well as our own) are oppressed and being robbed of their freedom. Being told what to do, how to live, and risking deprivation if they choose otherwise.

I remember seeing a play during our office retreat last July in Boulder, CO: The Will Rogers Folly. It told the story of Will Rogers, and his ups and downs and career, right up until his tragic plane-crash death. Though the story of Will Rogers himself was interesting, the part that still sticks with me today was the quote of a radio broadcast he gave during the depression.

“The same amount of money exists even in this depression….the only the different is who’s pocket it’s in.” …. “There are thousands starving in the midst of full storehouses.”

He went on to explain more details, in that comical way of his, but that is the part I remember most. In fact, I think I cried right there in the theater. Simply because that is just such a sad thought. And I knew that we were right back in that same position these days.

“Oh Amy, we can’t sit and cry about every sad picture of humanity. Then we’d always be sobbing.” (The person I am quoting will remain nameless. This comment was not meant to be biting, but helpful)

The only way I can take in that piece of advice is by adding this. No, we can’t just sit and cry about how terrible things are. We have to take action. We have to find something to do about it, even if it’s something seemingly small. And we still have to feel the sorrow of things that aren’t right. (I hope the day never comes where I don’t cry for the sad state of things)

Sometimes I can’t help but weep just a bit when I am reminded about how utterly backwards and illogical most of the world has become, the obvious reasons why things are so bad, and that we haven’t even progressed from Solomon’s time of grievous observations. I guess Jesus sure was right when he said that “you will always have the poor with you” …

Thankfully I can also read something like this:

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

In the meantime, though, I better get moving. Lots of toil to be done under the sun.

For anyone interested in some good reading about Will Rogers, I like this site: http://www.compedit.com/will_rogers.htm

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I Want Insomnia for my Birthday

Well, maybe not the unhealthy side effects. I get enough migraines and fuzzy focus just from being too busy. But, if I never slept, I could get so much done! Well, maybe I’d like to need, oh, three hours of sleep each night. Just enough to feel like I’ve zoned out, woken up, and am starting a new day.

But, since that is not the case, what remedy is there for the over-zealous? What to do when you’re knee-deep in tediosity, and it’s your own fault? I welcome book recommendations and Bible verses, or someone to sacrifice oneself as a pro-bono personal assistant.

Either way, it is amazing how effective it can be to stop for just about 5 minutes, close your eyes, say a prayer, read something inspirational (I’d recommend the Bible 🙂 ) Re-centering is necessary for pressing onward.

Anyway, as much as I hate having to sleep, it is amazing the process of renewal that takes place. Though there is debate on if we were created with a need for sleep or if that was a result of corruption after The Fall, we are still very efficient, potentially powerful machines. “Fearfully and wonderfully made” is far from an overstatement. To think of the things we live through, the junk we shovel into ourselves and the amount we push ourselves to do, that we can go to bed for 1/3 of a day and feel the joy that cometh in the morning. There is nothing like a good sleep.

Alas, though I wish I needed it not…

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