Electing to Speak Out

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Four thoughts on the 2016 election:

1. The Silent Majority

The outcome of this presidential election was a huge shock to most of America, largely because everyone talking about the election seemed to be a Hillary supporter. Between the ever-present liberal media coverage and the most vocal of our friends and colleagues, everyone seemed to be voting blue, leading the nation to assume Trump had basically no shot at winning. The key mistake, I believe, was that we as a nation only listened to those who were talking. But so much more was going on in the undercurrents of our country’s populace.

Trump supporters made up a SILENT majority. Most people who voted for Trump did so half-heartedly. Few people think he is a moral, upstanding man worthy of our respect as a person. But many voters would rather have Trump in office than Hillary; even so, they felt shamed into silence. The first person who admitted to me that they voted for Trump did so by saying reluctantly, “I’m guilty. I’m one of the deplorables.” The general consensus among this group seems to be: “I’m disappointed Trump won, but I’m glad Hillary didn’t.”

Throughout the entire process, Trump voters remained a Silent Majority. Before the election, the American media led us all to believe Trump had no chance of victory. The night of the election, my social media feeds were full of Hillary supporters asking in shock, “Is this really happening?” And post-election, everyone around me keeps talking about how angry and upset they are that such a “racist, bullying bigot” is our President Elect. Every conversation around me seems to include the words: hurt, confused and scared. It’s still Hillary supporters doing most of the talking. Trump voters remain a Silent Majority. But the Silent Majority has spoken.

2. The Swing of the Pendulum 

All of the polls and logical rationale pointed to Hillary being named the first female president, but if we throw away all the analysis and use intuition instead, it’s actually not so surprising that Trump won.

After Bill Clinton’s escapades with Monica, the nation wanted the squeaky-clean and morally upright George W. Bush for president. After good ol’ boy “W”, the nation voted in the intellectual and well-spoken Barack Obama. We as a nation repeatedly seek out change, and the pendulum ever swings to the opposite extreme (many of us do this with significant others as well).

Trump is the antithesis of Obama and therefore – from this purely intuitive, psychological perspective – he fit the pattern and was the obvious choice of American voters as a whole.

3. Third Party Voters

I have been amazed by how many of my friends have admitted in the past 24 hours that they voted Third Party. When I’ve asked them if they believed Gary Johnson (or other third parties, for that matter) had any chance of winning, they all said “No.” When I asked if they had a preference between Trump and Clinton, most of them said “Yes.” None of them are indifferent to the outcome; they are all either outraged or relieved.

I understand from an ideological perspective why someone would vote Third Party. My inner child and idealist would have loved to vote for a Third Party rather than the two primary options afforded to us. But no one was under the illusion that a Third Party candidate had a chance at the win, so practicality insisted that a decision be made.

Every time I find out that yet another friend voted Third Party, I feel hurt, frustrated and (honestly) used. Again, I understand the decision, but it makes feel like – whether my friend’s preference was Trump over Hillary or vice versa – they opted to take the “moral high ground” and keep their own hands and consciences “clean”, all the while hoping the rest of us would dirty our hands and sell our souls to get the “win” for them. I wish they would have helped to share the burden.

4. Racism & Moving to Canada

The Canadian immigration website crashed on Tuesday night. That is amusing to me. What is not amusing are the hateful, racist comments being posted across social media in the wake of the election.

Most Americans – even Trump voters – acknowledge that Trump has made a number of horrible, racist comments. And I have heard stories that help me understand the fear and concern of minorities. But many of these same minorities have started to post horrible, racist comments themselves as a backlash against all caucasians.

One of my own Facebook friends wrote yesterday: “We see you, white people. We will always remember how we’ve been treated, and one day, you’ll pay. We are coming for you, f***ing white people. We see you.”

This is deeply disturbing to me. Do they not realize that, in making these comments, they are guilty of the very crime – racism! – of which they accuse caucasians in their broad, sweeping, embittered, racist generalizations? Not all white people voted for Trump, and not all Trump voters condone his racist comments. Hatred will only propagate more hatred. We need to stop this cycle.

On a lighter note:

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Just saying.

Authentically Aurora

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Sunshine Blogger Award

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Some of my favorite days are the cool, blustery days where the golden rays of sun shine down and warm your chilled hands and face even as you snuggle under a cozy, oversized sweatshirt. Serendipitously, I recently learned that there is a word for this phenomenon: apricity – the warmth of the sun on a cold day.

I like that word. Apricity. And it’s what I want to be to the world: the warmth of the sun on a cold day. The warmth of the Son on a proverbially cold day. That’s what Jesus came to be – light in the darkness; warmth to the cold. Neither dark nor cold actually exist; they are the absence of light and heat respectively, and Jesus came to freely give all He had to those who had none. Apricity – the warmth of the sun on a cold day. 

Little Sunshine over at Sunshine Ave recently nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award (an aptly-named award for a blog so named)!  Evidently…

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to “bloggers who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”.

…something I aim to do both on this blog and in everyday life! I am honored to have been nominated for this award and gladly accept! Thank you, Little Sunshine, for the nomination!

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Answer the questions from the person who has nominated you
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers for this award
  4. Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you have nominated
  5. Notify the bloggers you nominated

Rule #1? Check!

Rule #2? Here we go…

Little Sunshine posed the following 10 questions for me to answer:

  1. What is your biggest dream?
    • This question makes me think of Rapunzel in “Tangled”. rapunzel-dream
    • I’ve had a lot of dreams over the years, and I’ve been blessed to see most of them come true. I used to dream of somewhat superficial things – visiting all 7 continents, releasing an original album on iTunes – but now I consider those more of life goals. A dream is something precious and intimate, interwoven into your heart. And these days, my dream is more like a vision – to be a wife and mother, full of life and joy, radiating light into the world and growing more and more into the godly woman I’ve been uniquely created to be.
  2. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
    • As mentioned in #1, I’ve had a goal for a while of visiting all 7 continents. I’ve been to about 30 countries and 5 continents, all of them wonderful experiences, and a year ago, I would have definitely said that I most want to visit Australia and New Zealand. But Seth is an American through and through; a homebody of a patriot, and we are taking a trip to California later this month, which is about as foreign a trip as this cowboy wants to take. And after imagining exploring California with Seth, there’s no place I’d rather be.
  3. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?introverting-coffee-book
    • Introvert. Definitely. This surprises most people when they first hear it – mostly because I’m a pretty social, outgoing introvert – but my perfect day involves curling up in a quiet little nook with a latte and good book… or finding a secluded park where I can walk and think and listen to music on my earbuds… or staying home to clean and organize my apartment… or sitting alone in the silence to work on my latest art project. Mmm. Perfection.
  4. Is what you’re doing now what you always wanted to do growing up?
    • Yep. When I was in 2nd grade, I decided that I wanted to go to West Point and be an engineer. But what we want as sweet, innocent, idealistic 8-year-olds is not always aligned with reality, so although I am living the dream of having an engineering degree and working at a major oil company in Corporate America, I have discovered that the composite of the bureaucracy, politicking, process nazis and inauthenticity of my current workplace comprise something akin to my personal hell. Which is why I am changing careers to teaching… where I can spread my cynicism wisdom to the next generation.
  5. Do you usually follow your heart or your head?
    • My head. Sometimes going with your gut is a great option for quick decisions, but for any decision that allows for more than a few seconds to go with your first instinct, I have found that emotions are subject to the whim and fancy of the day and may not hold up longer-term. I prefer thinking through the logic of various options, examining my intentions, considering the ripple effect of whichever choice I make, and of course consulting God in prayer.
  6. What are you most thankful for? by-grace-through-faith
    • That while I was still a sinner, Christ did for me. Even though I am undeserving of being rescued from my sinfulness and total depravity, Jesus willingly took on the punishment I deserve (through his death and resurrection) so that I could be brought into a right relationship with God. Nothing compares with that – no family relationships, no dating relationships, no job or financial success… Without God’s love and mercy and grace, I would be like the walking dead.
  7. What’s on your bucket list this year?
    • Finishing my teaching certification. And maybe getting my CHL.
  8. What’s your favorite food ever?chocolate-is-a-girls-best-friend
    • Peanut butter. Or chocolate. Let’s go with chocolate covered almonds as a fair compromise. 😀
  9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
    • “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40
  10. Which of the places you’ve traveled to inspired you the most, and why?
    • My favorite trip I’ve ever taken was to Germany at Christmastime with my family, but the place I’ve visited that most inspired me would have to be South Sudan, mostly because that trip helped to right my perspective on so many things in life. We are profoundly blessed.

Alright! Hopefully you all now feel like you know a bit more about me! Here are my nominees (I liked Little Sunshine’s questions, so answer these same questions if you choose to accept)!

  1. MyLittlePieceofQuiet
  2. Salvageable
  3. InsanityBytes
  4. MrsSpike
  5. BlissfulBritt
  6. SingleStrides
  7. INFJRamblings
  8. MySweetJesusBlog
  9. BeautyBeyondBones
  10. TheRoseQuartz
  11. Captainsspeech

Authentically “Sunshiny” Aurora

One Lovely Blog Award

One Lovely Blog Award

lovely (adj.) – 1) charmingly or exquisitely beautiful; 2) having a beauty that appeals to the heart or mind as well as to the eye; 3) delightful and highly pleasing; 4) of a great moral or spiritual beauty

A big, Texas THANK YOU to Michelle from Texas over at Diary of That Crazy Girl for the nomination for the One Lovely Blog Award!

Rules

Here are the Lovely facts about my Lovely self:

  1. I am “fun sized” (5’4″) and frequently have to have my pants hemmed, unless I want to wear 3″ heels with everything (and I am much too practical for that)!
  2. I have a freckle in the iris of my left eye, and I like to see how long it takes dates to comment on it. It’s small, so only the perceptive notice it!
  3. I have a passion to be a mentor and counselor to high school and college-aged kids. Everyone should have both a Barnabas and a Timothy.
  4. I’ve been to all 50 states in the U.S.
  5. I have a goal to visit all 7 continents (including Antarctica)!
  6. I have an engineering degree and also partial degrees in both biblical counseling and graphic design.
  7. I view myself as a chocolate covered marshmallow – hard on the outside but soft and gooey on the inside. And let’s be real. Everything is better with chocolate.

And here are my nominees, all Lovely bloggers in their own unique ways:

  1. Juni Desiree
  2. Little Sunshine at 1617 Sunshine Ave
  3. Paul at The Captain’s Speech

Authentically Aurora

Redefining STEM

STEM education

I hear about STEM all the time: Science, Technology, Engineering & Math education. As someone who works for a major oil company and also volunteers in the local school system, I feel constantly bombarded by rhetoric about pushing STEM education, particularly for young girls (who society ignorantly thinks are focused entirely on frivolities).

Our elementary and junior high students are the makers of either our future economic prosperity or hardship, so I can understand why so many individuals in both government and industry want STEM education raised as a national priority. But I am a proponent of small government and, still further, I don’t think a laser focus on STEM education will result in the desired outcome. If the desired outcome is a thriving economy, I believe in providing a well-rounded education, allowing for a natural synthesis of science and liberal arts in young minds, and then equipping people to do what they are passionate about.

America was built on creativity, passion, ingenuity and independence. More than forcing children into STEM careers, we should equip them to do what they love. Pushing students into engineering, if that’s not what interests them, is not the secret to building a great economy. They will end up frustrated and burned out, leaving for a different career path or, worse still, staying for the money, becoming a liability to their employer because their driving force is not intrinsic but financial.

Although less than a fifth of high school students report as being interested in STEM careers, I believe the situation is not as dire as some imagine. I have an engineering degree, but I never use anything I learned in school. My day job does not require me to do differential equations or engineering physics calculations. Could I figure out how to solve these complex math problems? Yes. But would I enjoy it? Probably not. Am I still able to do a good job working for a major oil company? Yes.

The girls in my Sunday school class constantly amaze me. This week, we talked about the bible’s most famous set of best friends: David and Jonathan. During craft time, my 1st and 2nd graders decorated large gold stars cut out of construction paper, writing kind notes to their best friends on the stars.

Earlier in the morning, Abigail – a sweet, quiet bookworm in the group – had been telling me about a children’s book she’s writing and illustrating. It’s about a unicorn who was once a fairy. I asked Abigail about her favorite subject in school. I wasn’t surprised at her answer: English. She wrinkled her nose when I told her that I love math and am an engineer. But I’ve seen in Abigail the makings of a brilliant engineer, despite her dislike of math.

While all of the other girls dug through bins of markers and stickers to decorate their stars, Abigail folded in four arms of her star to the center, taping them in place. Then she folded the fifth arm of the star into the center, tucking it into the pocket created by the four other points of the star. On a separate piece of paper, she wrote a note to her friend, which she tucked into her “star pocket”.

When everyone was finished, we hung the golden stars on the blackboard. I smiled to myself, seeing Abigail’s imaginative little “star pocket” standing out among all of the other stars stretched out along the blackboard. I almost took a picture so that I could caption it, “Dare to be different.”

After the other girls saw Abigail’s “star pocket”, they all wanted her to teach them how to make one, too. So I watched petite little Abigail lead the other elementary school girls in making pockets, too. Abigail is a leader, but she’s not a showy leader. She marches to the beat of her own drum. She displays a quiet confidence that draws others to her. The makings of greatness are written into the core of her being, but it’s not the result of a great STEM education. The intangibles that will make Abigail great are the result of natural giftings and great parenting.

Abigail doesn’t like math. She likes English. But she is constantly shining with inventiveness and creativity. And that –more than excellent math skills – is what we need in our future scientists and engineers.

Authentically Aurora

Love Didn’t Win

SCOTUS 2On Friday morning when I woke up, I was surrounded by hashtags of #loveislove and social media postings that “Love Won: In a historic ruling, the Supreme Court has decided in favor of marriage equality.”

I was supposed to be packing for my move, with a moving company showing up at 8:00 a.m. the next morning and only half of my apartment boxed up. I was supposed to be prepping for an interview I had just hours later on Friday afternoon. I was supposed to be showering and doing laundry because, you know, interviewers prefer that you don’t show up smelling like you haven’t showered in two days. But I was distracted by a heavy heart because, in this historic ruling, love didn’t win.

Love didn’t win. And what makes it all the more painful is the number of people who genuinely believe that love won. I can understand the mindset and the worldview of wanting “equality” for everyone. I am opposed to slavery and am grateful for the steps toward equal rights for African Americans in the United States. I am opposed to sexism and am so thankful to live in an era where women are allowed to vote, go to college and compete with men for jobs in engineering and medicine. And I believe that all human beings have dignity, value and worth. But I cannot support gay marriage.

I have homosexual friends, and I genuinely want them to be happy. But at my core, I do not believe that marrying someone of the same gender is ultimately for their good; I do not believe it will result in true and lasting joy. I believe that God created this earth and, as the Creator, He knows intimately the scientific laws of the universe, the psychology of the human mind, the tendencies of the human heart. When God speaks to Job, he says:

“Who is this that questions my wisdom
    with such ignorant words?
Brace yourself like a man,
    because I have some questions for you,
    and you must answer them.

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
    Tell me, if you know so much.
Who determined its dimensions…?
What supports its foundations,
    and who laid its cornerstone…?

“Who kept the sea inside its boundaries
    as it burst from the womb,
and as I clothed it with clouds
    and wrapped it in thick darkness?
For I locked it behind barred gates,
    limiting its shores.
I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come.
    Here your proud waves must stop!’

“Have you ever commanded the morning to appear
    and caused the dawn to rise in the east?
Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth,
    to bring an end to the night’s wickedness…?

Do you know where the gates of death are located?
    Have you seen the gates of utter gloom?
Do you realize the extent of the earth?
    Tell me about it if you know!”

God knows the rules of the game because He created it! If we love ourselves and seek happiness, might it be prudent to seek wisdom from the One who knows all, sees all, and loves us unconditionally?

SCOTUSWe all have that friend who is dating someone who is wrong for them – that girlfriend of ours who is dating a guy who doesn’t treat her with respect, or that guy friend who is dating a girl who manipulates him constantly. Because we want our friends to be happy, we try to support them, but if we really loved them, perhaps we would have the courage to speak up and say, “I love you, and I want you to be happy, but I’m not sure he/she is right for you. I don’t think he/she will ultimately bring you joy.”

I tend to have Libertarian leanings. I am Pro-Life, opposed to gay marriage, and in support of keeping “under God” in the pledge. But I also acknowledge that I cannot ask people to subscribe to values that they do not believe in. If someone is not a Christian and does not believe that the Creator of the universe has declared homosexuality to be wayward behavior that will not result in lasting joy, how could I expect that person to understand my stance or, still further, to abide by it?

At the end of the day, this is what I would hope my friends, family, acquaintances and the world would hear: God loves us more than we could ever understand. And because of that love, He has given us guidelines that will lead to our joy if we receive His divine wisdom and live it out.

Some people think that God’s command not to engage in premarital sex is cruel and confining; they believe that somehow God is opposed to pleasure and happiness. But I say to you that God created sex! It was His idea! And He wants us to enjoy pleasure and experience happiness. But He knows what will lead to our ultimate joy, and that is to be patient and wait until marriage. How many married couples look back on their youth and think, “Man, I really wish I’d fooled around with more people before I got married!”?

Wives, how many of you have insecurities because your husbands made love to other women before he met you? Is he comparing me to her? Is he thinking of her when he’s with me? Premarital sex undermines the marriage, and – knowing that – God in His love and wisdom asks us to wait.

In the same way, God in His love asks us not to engage in homosexuality. And this is why, on a day when so many others are celebrating, I can only wonder at the atmosphere of heaven on this historic day – our loving God, reaching out to his wayward children, heart broken because He has given us the freedom to choose, and we did not choose Love.

But this I remember, and I have hope: God’s mercies are new every morning; great is His faithfulness. No authorities have power that God did not grant them (Rom. 13:1). God was not surprised by this ruling; He is sovereign and knew about this day before the beginning of time (Eph. 1). And although the prince of this world may have won this battle, we know that God already has the victory. The War is already won!

Authentically Aurora

Can’t Sleep

I need advice.
Read on for why
And then, perhaps, leave a reply.


Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 11.41.32 PMI’m frustrated and feeling stuck.
Conflict and angst abound.
Should I break from dating?
There are suitors all around.

My heart still longs for Bryan,
Though my head is raging No.
And two long months have passed
Without much more than a mere hello.

Sweet Jared and the nerdy Grant,
Plus S, G2 and N,
Have all served as distractions
From loneliness rushing in.

But if I’m honest with myself,
I don’t yet see a man
I could see spending forever with
So I begin again.

Then men roll in, the men roll out,
And all I have to show
Is a long trail of broken hearts
And more baggage to tow.

Who gets your vote:
Bryan or the still-elusive Flynn?
Should I give a shot to Jared
Or to Nick the Strict again?

Or has the time come for this Bloggess
To accept her lot
As the first date everybody wants;
Then the girlfriend they forgot?

Perhaps I am a “reason” girl –
Not just single for a time,
But single for a reason
Obvious to all eyes but mine.

I wish I’d found a remedy;
A way to dull the pain
Apart from dating four at once
To feel desirable again.

I know Jesus in the answer,
But He feels so far away.
And I know His timing’s perfect
But sometimes it’s hard to wait.

I think Bryan’s what I want
But maybe Jared’s what I need.
Bryan’s exciting; Jared’s kind…
But kind of boring. Would I mind?

Okay, dear readers. Share your thoughts,
But kind like Jared be.
I welcome your opinions
As I lay bare my heart for all to see.

Authentically Aurora

VOTE!!! Humorous or Heartfelt?

What-do-you-thinkSince I wasn’t cool enough (read: hadn’t been blogging for long enough) to get a 2014 stats/analytics summary from WordPress, I decided to create my own. Because I am a nerd with too much time on my hands.

What I found is that my posts that get the most Comments are not also the posts that get the most Likes.

You, dear Reader, apparently most enjoy commenting on posts where I share my heart with you. Without a doubt, I get the most comments on posts about being an introvert and the unique joys and challenges that come with that.

Avg CommentsIn many of my most commented-on posts – The Worst Version of Myself, Misunderstood, and the Fiery/Fragile Child – Part II – I am very vulnerable in sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings. You guys apparently enjoy discussing when I get all soft and mushy! 😉

Avg LikesBut the posts that get the most Likes tend to either be my Creative Expressions (my poetry and photography) or humorous rants, like my list of 5 Things NOT to say to the Sister of the Groom, as well as posts where I share about my Christian faith.

So vulnerability elicits discussion, whereas humor elicits virtual high-fives. Perhaps this is not very surprising or ground-breaking research, but I found it interesting nonetheless.

Share your opinion! What do you want to read about more, going forward?

My experiences as an Introvert?

Adventures in Dating?

Opinions on Christianity?

Sarcastic rants about life in general?

Thanks in advance for the input, and as always, thanks for reading!

Authentically Aurora