a straight line

I have two favorites during the day: waking up my daughter with today's episode of "Where's The Binkie?" (includes a very serious search of her crib, tossing in the air her bed toys and eventually fishing it out from behind her crib with her golf clubs), and late night chats with my husband on the couch as we pretend to watch whatever is on TV. Given the exhaustion of first trimester pregnancy, our chats the last several weeks have given way to examining the backs of my eyelids.

Baby Bean and I are into our 13th week and thus at the threshhold of the lovely, I feel no pain--bring it on!, second trimester. The last few nights I've actually made it to bed without falling asleep on that uber comfortable shoulder. And so I was available for last night's chat.

"You know, you think you're going along on a straight line, and then Wham! something comes in your path that causes you to turn directions. It becomes this major change, leaving us feeling as though we're headed in a completely different way than we were going; but what's really happening is God is telling us how to stay on His straight line."

[Sidebar: I love my husband. He shows me up in the wisdom category all the time, and I just spoon it up.]

A slough of circumstances brought us to Portland the fall of 2009; none of which made sense at the time. The only thing we knew is God laid out the plan and made it work, undeniably. At the time our lives felt like a go-kart race; twists, turns, and really bad steering (ours, naturally). But once we made the decision to move everything fell into place. I know that sounds as passe as grandma's fruitcake, but there's simply no other way to say it. Nothing was left to question, it all worked.

The luxury of hindsight [Something I personally wish was sold at Costco. In bulk.] has shown us that we are capable of handling the next bend in the road, and so now the prayer becomes that our eyes will be open to see it when it next comes.


a matter of character

Today my character came into question. Not because I told a massive lie, or because my super-secret mob ties finally came to light, but because of an interview. It got me thinking, what makes for a person's character? We all know that character is one of the few things in life that is slowly built over time, and can be demolished in an instant. Is character a sum of your parts? A quilt made of your life experiences? Or is one's character made up of the things no one really ever sees?

My senior year in high school I took an AP English class, in hopes of skipping ahead a few credits once I got to college. (Bad idea, by the way. It gave me a false sense of security when it came to choosing a 200 or 300 level language class my freshman year. Eek!) The final assignment was a paper comparing two subjects. I don't recall how I came up with the subject, but I compared the Catholic Church's seven deadly sins with modern-day ideas of right and wrong. I chose comic strips out of the Sunday paper to exemplify the modern view of these sins. For example, Garfield = gluttony.

Is your character defined by the most striking part of our personality? How often do we judge a person by the part of them they wear on their sleeve? Obviously Garfield was fat. And lazy. But there were moments he was nice to Odie, right? I'd like to think I'm one of those enlightened folks that can see beyond first impressions and not pre-judge. But then I find myself up-and-down-ing the woman in front of me at Starbucks. *face slap*

I wonder if perhaps a person's character should be defined by the flaws. The wrinkles. The things no one talks about unless you're in close quarters with a best friend. If I drew a timeline on a page, starting with my birth and ending with today, what would the hashmarks represent? Maybe the time in high school that a friend betrayed me and I snapped out of childhood naivete. Or perhaps the conversation I had with a sorority president about what 'kind' of girl they wanted in their pledge class, and what compromises I made as a result. Or the day I turned down a sure-thing for a huge risk that turned out to be the best career move I could ever make. I remember what I was wearing, who I was with and where I was when each of these things happened. They shaped my character, for better or for worse. And yet I struggle -- what is my character?

Some of the most fascinating people I've known were content with who they were; the kind of people that make you want to get to know them because you knew they had a great story. I had a client years ago that walked in to our first meeting with slightly worn sneakers, jeans a few inches too long, a polo shirt that hugged his belly, and a baseball hat worn confidently on the top of his balding head. I knew nothing but his name and that he was looking to buy a ranch. While we were out touring properties, I had to step out for a call. I later learned he eaves-dropped while I shuffled some last-minute details of a closing for a first-time buyer. He decided right then to hire me as his agent because of the time I took to for a $150K client while touring a would-be $1.5M client. I never would have guessed that first day he was the retired CEO of a very large, very recognizeable international clothing company. He referred me the Ambassador to China, for heaven's sake. He was one of the kindest men I've ever known, and I am a better person for having met him. I think of him often when I see people treat others based on first impressions. That is a man whose character leaves little to question, even if he did wear his hat on the top of his head.

I'm still not sure what my character is. For now I'll go with Amanda. Stay tuned.