Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thinking Outside the Manger... (Ramble alert)

This weekend I have been pondering... or more precisely rambling about mentally in a questioning sort of way. It is Christmas time and nativities are out in all their ceramic/plastic/electric lights glory and the "real reason for the season" is proudly referred to (but interestingly enough never outright explained) by Christian radio.

We all know the story: On a cold winter's night, Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem to be dumped in a picturesque stable with fluffy sheep and cows. The lovely Mary gives birth to a chubby Jesus while the statuesque Joseph stands watch and welcomes the wisemen three and shepherds when they arrive to where the twinkly star led them. "A Saviour was born," time for cookies and Christmas trees.

Of course the more "accurate" version of this "loosely based on a real story" tale points out that the stable was actually a dirty cave, the wisemen visited Jesus when he was closer to two and there could have been more or less than three of them, and Jesus actually was not born on December 25th. With these facts in our belts we seldom read this incredible story with any other picture in our minds.

This weekend I read the story of Christ's birth in all for gospels and made an interesting discovery: We don't know nothin. The details that we have are few, and the rest is really interpreted by our culture, traditions and popular Christian imagery. The most important event in history is documented without the nitty gritty details that make our characters take true solid shape in accurate detail. The human every day "real" of the story is lost by generations of the "Christmas Story" being told and retold with the help of skits, flannel graph and bright nativities.

This loaded story has taken on a huge fascination to me. The amount of questions that can be asked can only be answered when we are in Heaven and can ask the main characters themselves. For now, they have utterly changed the way I think about that moment. These details take the "Christmas Story" to real human life. If you care to join me on a long ramble that could take you outside the box, please read on.

First of all, who were Mary and Joseph? Mary was favored by God and carried the Saviour of the world. She was a young uneducated and unmarried woman that was pregnant outside of marriage in a culture that mandated that she be stoned if caught. "She gave birth to a baby that an Angel told her was the Son of God and raised him through his childhood. Did she get it? Did she really truly understand who Jesus was? It seems almost irreverent to think of her as anything but the most intuitive, wise, nurturing spiritual pinnacle, but the two times we see her interacting with her Son as He grew up and started His ministry, she did not get it. Passover in Jerusalem: Caravan heads out after the event and Jesus is assumed to be off somewhere with friends or family and mom and dad leave. A day later they can't find him and panic ensues sending them back on a frantic three day search. They find their 12 year old in the temple teaching, listening in general blowing the minds of all who were near Him. "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know I had to be about My Father's business?" was the only explanation given to Mary's understandable reprimand and "they did not understand His words." Next we go to Capernum and the hosts of a wedding embarrassingly run out of wine. Mary approaches her Son and essentially asks Him for a random miracle. "Dear woman why do you involve Me? My time has not yet come." She ignores this and says to the servants "do whatever He tells you." Yet when she visited her cousin Elizabeth she understood the significance of Who her Child was, but did she really truly get it? Hmm... Also: how did Mary's mom react? She would have been one of the first to discover her daughter's pregnancy. Did grandma get it? Did Mary receive any kind of support from her family? Her visit to Elizabeth most likely was not a pleasant visit but an escape from the growing shame and misunderstanding that surrounded her and her family.

Who was Joseph? He was "a righteous man." We know even less about him aside from one very important thing. He chose to throw his reputation away and give up a future as a respected man by choosing to marry his pregnant fiance. By believing the angel and saving the life of Mary and her Child, he essentially claimed a supposed guilt for something he did not do. "That Joseph... was a decent guy till he got mixed up with that fiance of his... too bad about all that really." He took the shame and married a woman he did not know who was carrying a child that would never be his. Huge. How did he view his wife? How did he interact with his Son? What was the relationship between Jesus and his earthly father like?

In that culture, Mary and Joseph most likely did not know each other at all. This was not a meet, develop a strong relationship, fall in love get married deal. Their families probably planned the whole thing, they knew each other perhaps from meeting a few times then WHAM! Life happens. Scandal, huge emotional turmoil, decisions, drama and off to Bethlehem. A man and a young woman/girl trekking off to be taxed. Can you imagine? What was their relationship like? Did this whole experience cement a relationship that rapidly grew to a deep supportive friendship and then love? Did they fight initially? Did she try to explain pre angel's visit to him and he did not believe her? How did they reunite when he came to know the truth and she returned from her 3 month trip to her cousin's? What was it like raising other children along side the Son of God?

Why do we assume it was just the two of them? Joseph would of had to go with his whole family to Bethlehem. He was not the only person in the whole town to have to go. He may have represented a group, but certainly Uncle Ben and some of the cousins would of had to come with them. "There was no room for them in the inn" makes a lot more sense with a party of 20 trying to get in. The stable could have been shelter to more than just Mary and Joseph. The shepherds could have been telling their fantastic news to a possibly very skeptical family. They could have been the reason that many of them believed. Was Joseph even there for the delivery? Who was actually there with Mary? How did Joseph's family receive her?

As this is now turning into a book, I shall end abruptly. I encourage you to pick up your Bible and read this incredible story with a blank slate and no preformed pictures and ideas in mind. It really changes it and gives new life to a story I have heard my whole life. Exciting!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Feels Like Its Time to Grab a Table Leg

When I am tired, I talk. A lot. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is a really big deal. Any sense of calm grip that I manage to maintain throughout the day on things that feel overwhelming can quickly disintegrate into freaked out, emotional overwhelmedness. The semester before I got married, I melted into this state more often than not. School was stressful, work was stressful, and life had gotten enormous all of a sudden and the future raced to meet the present. Always on the go, I managed to maintain, usually, but several times a week after a 3 hour night class, I would come home in quite a state. My method of recovery? Tell my sister and mother all about everything. That meant approaching the couch where my two introverts sat sleepily reading their books, throwing myself on the floor and rambling about anything that came into my head for an hour. I would talk myself all over the place while they looked at eachother and listened, waiting for me to vent myself out of words. I also discovered that when they were at the table, sliding under it and grabbing a table leg like an earthquake was about to hit was actually quite confortable. Sort of like grabbing a large wooden security blanket. I usually felt better afterwards, but then the inevitable guilt would decend as I had once again eaten up their whole reading time with my extroverted processing. I always wondered how I would survive when I did not have their patient ears to come home to.

The semester ended, I left all that was familiar about life behind, and got married to a man that had to of dropped down to me straight from Heaven. Life once again took a deep breath and expanded to gigantic proportions and then managed to get even bigger with the arrival of a little growing person. It was (and is) a lot to process. All of everything is wonderful, grand and blessed, but huge and unpredictable just the same. I found myself to be too busy to get too worked up about not having a complete enough plan, but there are still times when I come home ready to crawl into bed and cry just a little bit like a tired baby who has everything but just needs to cry sometimes. My stressed out self arrives home, walks through the house to our warm yellow room and there he sits. The greatest stress defuser of my life. God somehow managed to embody security and chilloutness into one darling person and give him all to me. While he has an ear for my ramblings comparable only to my two introverts, I usually just have to sit down beside him for all of my stress and emotionalness to simply evaporate.

What a blessing to be married to a person that can melt stress and provide comfort and security with just with a hug or even just simply breathing. I am so thankful for my husband.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Something keeps going Bump in the night...

I have spent this afternoon lazing on the couch clicking around on a screen and watching my tummy lurch and jump and bounce and jiggle to some tune that only its resident hears. 3 hours... and she is still going at it! Perhaps she finds the tight band that is partially squishing her walls a bit constricting. Or, perhaps she is practicing her water polo skills. Perhaps she is bored and has decided to make a clubhouse or try to dig to China. Whatever it is, she seems to be doing it as hard as she can. The unusual sensation of one's midsection trying to leap off one's self of its own volition is singularly distracting. Early in the morning when I arrive at my desk, in the middle of a conversation on the phone, while I am attempting to go to sleep at night... without warning... something goes bump!

There is something absolutely out of this world extraordinary about a baby foot kicking you wherever it ends up after a twirl. It is taking me a long while to get used to, but I know I will miss it even when I have those little toes in my hands.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Drip Drip Drop

Colors look more beautiful in the rain.

Fall does not look quite the same in sunlight and breeze. Wet and droplet distorted is a different kind of glorious. It reminds me of that first stroke of watercolor or (my favorite) gouache, that you lay down on a blank page. Dark and rich without dilution, but bright and radiant when mixed with water. It intensifies the color.

That is similar to what happens when one is diluted with Living Water.
I want less of me and more of Him.
Life is intensified and made brilliant and beautiful.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Beauty of Raw

So I am sure by now everyone is aware of the Raw Food craze. You probably even know someone who has taken the plunge into... uncookedness...

"The raw food diet is a diet based on unprocessed and uncooked plant foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, sprouts, seeds, nuts, grains, beans, nuts, dried fruit, and seaweed.

Heating food above 116 degrees F is believed to destroy enzymes in food that can assist in the digestion and absorption of food. Cooking is also thought to diminish the nutritional value and 'life force' of food."

To me and my refined, processed and fried taste, it strikes me as unpleasant and similar to being a rabbit. As humans, we possess the unique ability to cook our food and therefore, we should. Yes, the health benefits of leaving food in its natural state are proven, but I lack the necessary motivation. Lay, Zee Mei.

We live in a culture full of the bleached, refined, processed, chemical laden, flavor lacking, artery clogging and stain leaving. We don't really appreciate or understand the simple, pure and natural. Our faces and bodies reflect our inability to adhere to the beauty of the original, our minds are bursting at the seams with the ingredients of the world, polluted and diluted and broken down by the noise that clogs our ears. The smudges and stains and grease drips left by our decision to ingest our environment are erasable only by Blood. We are left weak and malnourished by the substitutions, imitations and "complicated." Leaving behind the colorful bilboards, sizzling comercials and instant dollar deals seems too complicated and threatens of too much work. It could possibly convict us to change... That is a scary thing...

What have we allowed to become our daily bread? What have we trained ourselves to crave? I think that we could all use a revamp of our "diets." We need to feast on the only One thing that is Good, Pure, Righteous and Holy. Untainted unfiltered, unprocessed, unrefined and broken down Truth. Conviniently, we have been given the ultamate recipie book to clear up all the questions we may have about living this radical way. If we really take a good look we will find that the gray areas really are not all that gray. There is only One Way One Truth and One Life. That is all we need to live on. No additives, no secret unpronouncable ingredents, just the Plain and Simple. All the rest is just junk food.

I say its time we go Raw.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A room with a View...

Tis indeed what I work in. I sit at a desk at one end of a PT gym with tall windows all the way around the walls in front of me and over on the opposite right. Although my view is obstructed in part by this screen, and by the various hulking MedX machines that line the extremities of the room and fill the interior, I still have a relatively clear view of the area surrounding my building.

What is this view? Well. Directly in from of me is a busy parking lot that never stops shuffling with cars, pedestrians, wheelchairs and crutches, an occasional ambulance and stretcher, oxygen truck or Shred-it pick up guy. Beyond that is a tall parking garage that I watched arise right out of the dirt. To its right is the Howard General Hospital that will never complete renovations and an assortment of PODS, trailers and ModSpace storage units. Out the far right side is the new "Medical Pavilion" which houses a rival PT clinic (it has tvs and everything), labs, doctors and the like, and very soon will have an exciting Cafe.

These are the surroundings that I am privileged to be able to see for some 40 hours a week. Most months out of the year the only thing that changes is the size/shape/number of cars... But then, right around late September or early to mid October, something extraordinary happens.

Brilliancy appears.

Charter Drive is escorted along by a sentry row of standard green trees that never seem to do anything but stand there looking... like trees. Our parking lot is hedged in by a low fence of short boxy, dense shrubs that are varying shades of green and brown that go almost entirely unnoticed for most of the year. But then, Fall arrives, and Charter drive and our humble little parking lot become a part of something magnificent. They become beautiful.

The standard boring trees, in mere days, explode in a magnificent representation of sunlight, as the foliage relinquishes its chlorophyll and becomes what it naturally is without it: Yellow.

The low shrubs that sit in an almost sulking row about the lot, stand up straighter and decide to make themselves known. They inhale deeply of the crisp, refreshing breeze, and blush with excitement as they feel its tingle. They ignite in exuberance and turn a brilliant shade of scarlet, no longer content to be a subdued brownish green.

Though I can only see patches of this loveliness, it never ceases to brighten my view for several weeks, and make my drive out like strolling down the red carpet. Fall makes the ordinary magnificent, the drab, the gorgeous and worthy of a long look.

To me, what happens in Fall is a picture of redemption. Something ordinary transformed in a into something extraordinary. Watching leaves change, can be like watching a character change into something beautiful, something you would overlook, now stands apart.

Yep. I love Fall. Thank You Father for the glory of the season.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

And So It Begins...

Summer has come and gone. The months that I have dreamed about and waited for have flown by in a beautiful blur and it is now the early beginning of fall. I can't get over how quickly this year has passed. So much has changed and so much has yet to change. Life is Huger in every way than it has ever been.

All that was, still is, except now:

I am the excited expectant mother of a little tiny girl, due to be born on March 13th, 2010.

Somewhere in the middle of me is the beating heart and growing fingers and toes of a little baby Abel that followed us home from Hawaii. She has bones. And fingers. And a spinal cord. And a nervous system. And a nose. And eyes. And all of her little baby insides. She is working on fingernails and fuzz, and starting to think about breathing. She can hear me talk to her and sense light moving on the outside of her cozy little bubble. She can make her presence felt and wiggle her perfect tiny fingers. And all of this in 4 amazing months.

What an incredible thing life is. Into a completely lifeless something, God can breathe life. He can create a soul where there was nothing. Give a meaning, calling and divine purpose to an exquisite set of cells and call them one of His children. He can look at that formless potential and see all the days He ordained for HER when she has not yet lived one of them. He can hear what her voice will sound like, He knows how many hairs she will manage to grow before she makes her grand appearance. He knew that His little baby was a daughter for Ryan and Ruth Abel even before our parents were around.

What an enormous gift.

He gave us a piece of His heart to learn to love and care for. He gave us a precious priceless creation that could only be bought by the blood of His Son. He gave her to us. He is even now, knitting her together as only He knows how, breathing into her all of His love and creativity and passion for life.

She is His before she is ours. She has a purpose and a specific part to play before we even knew she was there. She will have her own opinion. She will have her own tastes and thoughts and preferences and ideas. And God has given us the responsibility to form her perceptions of who He is. Of what it means to live. Of who she herself is. Of why she is here. Of what Love is. I can not even begin to process how huge that is. What a responsibility.

God has given us the opportunity to understand a little bit more how much He loves us, and not only that, but how much He loves Jesus. We have been given a glimpse into the heart of our Father.

A Brief History of The Past Few Months

Friday, 12 June 2009

"I'm gooooing to the chapel and I'm, gooona get maaaaried!"

I am sitting in my living room with piles of bags, suitcases and boxes, waiting for my fiance to come pick me up. Today we leave for Hollywood, and the day after tomorrow, WE GET MARRIED! I am such a whirl of adrenaline, excitement, hunger, littlebitahstress and WHAAAHOOO that it is giving me a headache. I will be Mrs. Ryan Abel in two days. I absolutely can not wait to be married to him. He is such a dream come true. God is continuing to make little things (and big things) fall together and bless and bless and bless. I am in awe of His faithfulness and love for me. Monday morning, we will be leaving our hotel to fly to Hawaii for THREE WEEKs. I shall return early July!

Ruth Spinolo for only
1 Day 6 Hours 30 Minutes

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Life in July of Two Thousand Nine

I highly recommend married life. There is something quite extraordinary about it that quite surpasses the ordinary everyday and turns life into something far more... satisfying. Yes, I acknowledge that I have been hitched for a mere month and a week, but I am quite enjoying my state of wedded bliss. I am determined to do more than whatever it takes to ensure that this is maintained beyond the "inexperienced, newlywed phase."

June 14th, 2009

Was a day I can not describe, not becuase It went by in a blur, quite the contrary. God answered my prayer and allowed me to fully experience the day He gave me day moment by moment. Tyring to put a day so full of beauty and and love and happines into words would be futile, so I simply will not attempt it!

Hawaii was in a word: Euphoric.

I have never experienced such a prolonged period of relaxing, peaceful freedom. We slept in, we ate out, we laughed ceaselessly, we cruised over roads a literal 2 inches wider than our convertible up blind harpin, cliffside turns , we climbed active volcanoes, we sat by waterfalls, snorkeled in one of the top reefs in the world, sauntered through cozy touristy towns late at night, listened to waves crashing on the beach, mistook sea turtles for sandy rocks, drove arround the entire coast of Maui, swam at Waikiki, and flew over Napalii coast in Kauaii in a mini plane. Three weeks of Honeymooning. It was enough to adjust to and bond with island life, and leaving was like ripping off a bandaid. Back to Reality.

But surprisingly, "real" life has been far more enjoyable then I expected. My job has become simply exhausting, no longer a dreaded stress, my condo has become Home, my life has changed to Our life: Blessed Beyond Description. I am currently trying to find the rythm of the everyday hidden underneath all of this newness, but it remains illusive. Everywhere I turn, I am given yet another blessing that continues to prolong the sense of "too good to be true." What a Father I have.

I love my husband. I love my home. Life is beyond good!
Ruth Abel

A Change?

So I believe the time has come for an upgrade. After years on the now Myspacy Xanga, I think my heart is ready to leave all the posts and comments of the past behind and start afresh on a gloriously ad free page. I am afraid that I will never do this if I require myself to go through an introductory phase; I must launch right into it and blog away as if this is was the place I always expelled my urge to write.

Sadly, I feel like I am leaving something behind by abandoning my former place of rambling. No comments are left to me anymore, and all of my fellow Xangians have abandoned me for exclusive use of Facebook and/or Myspace. Yet, that empty space feels a little more like home than this empty space. I think to help myself "move in" I will post a few of my previous thoughts, just so that I won't feel lonely and without history here...

And so it begins.