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Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Prepare Ye the Way of The Lord"

"We have to prepare our hearts so Christ will come and make them His home."

"We have to make our selves ready for the Lord to come in."

"How can God live in us if we don't first clean out the impurities in our hearts and lives?"

Do these statements sound familiar to you? I've heard them, or statements like them, my whole life.

This morning, I was asked to read a couple of paragraphs at church for the second Sunday of Advent. It was about the voice crying in the wilderness "Prepare ye the way of the Lord!" It then went on to explain how we can do this in our own lives today (yay for Christians taking verses that have nothing to do with us and trying to apply them to us). It was all about cleaning and sweeping, levelling mountains and filling valleys and making our hearts ready to receive Jesus. I hadn't previewed it before I read it, and I kept wanting to stop and say "But......". (Don't worry, I refrained. Barely. ;))

So I've saved my "but" for my blog. :)

Do we really need to "prepare our hearts" before Jesus will enter them? Is this consistent with Scripture? Do we have to have everything in order for the Lord to come and commune with us?

I don't think so.

The God I know died for us while we were still sinners. The Jesus I worship comes to me and comes through for me when I'm still a mess. The Jesus I love comes charging through the crap of my life to find and save my heart. The Jesus I know came into a world that was completely UNprepared for Him, and was born in a barn. The God I serve died on a filthy cross, asking forgiveness for a crowd of people who spit on Him, tortured Him, and laughed at His pain. I love Him because He first loved me.

"For when we were still without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. For God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Isn't it amazing how much the simple gospel of redemption and sanctification in Christ alone has been taken over by a performance gospel? Even in a non-conservative church like mine.

Oswald Chambers said this:

"If we simply preach the effects of redemption in the human life instead of the revealed, divine truth regarding Jesus Himself, the result is not new birth in those who listen. The result is a refined religious lifestyle, and the Spirit of God cannot witness to it because such preaching is in a realm other than His."

Any time you try to put the effects of redemption before the Person of redemption, you get a perfromance-based gospel. The same goes for sanctification. The result? Legalism and shame. Because no matter what you do, you will never be good enough. Thus the endless, discouraging cycle of trying harder and failing.

My friends, you cannot clean your heart enough to make it "holy enough" for God. You cannot make yourself more acceptable to Him, make Him like you more, for you are already accepted because of Him. God doesn't wait until our hearts are "right with Him" before He comes and communes with us. Else He would never come. He saves us where we're at. He continues to sanctify us, not on our own merit, but because of His grace. His kindness draws us, his grace overwhelms us, His love covers us, until we are the people He always meant for us to be. No amount of "preparing our hearts" can ever, ever do the same.

"But God's mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great, that while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience he brought us to life with Christ. It is by God's grace that you have been saved. In our union with Christ Jesus he raised us up with him to rule with him in the heavenly world. He did this to demonstrate for all time to come the extraordinary greatness of his grace in the love he showed us in Christ Jesus. For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it." ~Eph. 2:4-9 GNT

Friday, November 5, 2010

What is Abuse?

The lastest posting on Stacy McDonald's new kick-the-wounded-while-they're-down blog is written by an anonymous woman calling herself "Abigail". The entire thing is heartless and a blow to anyone who has ever experienced verbal, emotional, or spiritual abuse. "Abigail" echos the sentiment of Stacy and others that abuse is only true abuse if we can see the bruises. Any other issue is not abuse, just us being rebellious and unforgiving. So let's look at the word "abuse" for a moment.

Abuse just means "mis-use". I can abuse my expensive cultery by mis-using it to chop concrete. I can abuse my washing machine by mis-using it to wash truck parts. And I can abuse my children by mis-using them in ways God never intended. Mis-use means using something for a purpose for which it was not created or never meant to be used.

In the context of Quivering Daughters, we are speaking of abuse/mis-use of authority and it's consequences. The Bible tells us who has authority and what it's use is in those contexts. Anthing outside of that use is mis-use of that authority. Look at the verses specifically to men in the context of family. Their "authority" is not all-encompassing. Matter of fact, it's on a pretty short leash. There are only two things for which I see God giving "authority" to husbands/fathers: they are to love and sacrifice for their wives, and they are to nurture and raise their kids in the Lord, not provoking or discouraging (Eph. 5:25; 6:4; Col. 3:21). That's it, folks. Any other claims of "authority" are bogus in God's eyes. They are a mis-use of authority.

People were created for God. Isn't that the crux of the famous answer to the question "why am I here?": "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever?" We have a purpose and it has nothing to do with furthering men's ambitions. Our purpose is relationship with God, and showing others the importance of relationship with God. Children are people too. They also have a purpose. When they are aquired and used to further the visions of men, their purpose is not being used correctly. The authority of the ones who have been given the care of these precious souls is being mis-used. Because, remember, that authority is only to raise and nurture them, while not provoking or discouraging them. I would also add that verses like the Golden Rule and "be kind to one-another" apply to how we raise our little people and treat our adult children as well.

It is a mis-use of authority to require offspring to stay home and further the "visions" of their fathers instead of sending them out to become ambassadors for Jesus. This is abuse.

It is a mis-use of authority to tell offspring that they will go to hell if they refuse to follow the commandments of a man. This is abuse.

It is a mis-use of authority to preach a performance-based gospel to your children. This is abuse.

It is a mis-use of authority to break your child's wiil, or withhold love and affection until they perform according to your standards. This is abuse.

It is a mis-use of authority to kick a daughter out of your home because she wants to go to college, have a job, or otherwise doesn't agree with your plan for her life. This is abuse.

It is mis-use of authority to use threats of God's judgment, threats of never seeing their siblings again, or threats of a ruined life in order to control their behavior. This is abuse.

I could go on. But I think I've made my point. Remember, my criteriae for mis-use of parental authority come straight from the Bible. None of the above can fit under "be imitators of God" or "raise your children in the nurture and instruction of the Lord; do not provoke, but encourage them" etc., not to mention all the "one-another" verses that pertain to how we are to treat fellow children of God.

As I've said before:

"...are we making a big deal out of nothing? Have we made ourselves into victims, casting blame on well-meaning parents and spiritual leaders, not "owning up" to our mistakes or claiming responsibility for our own problems and sins? After all, there is REAL abuse out there...just look at all the shelters for battered women. But as all counselors will tell you, abuse takes many forms. It is unfortunate that the Body of Christ seems to place more importance and validity on the kind of abuse that endangers the body while neglecting the kind that endangers the soul.

Just because spiritual and emotional abuse is subtle and often unseen except by the victims, doesn't mean that it is less important than physical abuse that can be seen. Who are you to look at someone who is hurting and tell them that their pain isn't as important as another's? To look at the girl who wonders if she has any value in God's eyes and tell her "Well, buck up, take responsibility for your life, and be thankful you weren't beaten"? How are bruises on the body worse than bruises on the soul?

I refuse to play the my-problems-are-worse-than-your-problems game. Pain is pain. It hurts, it debilitates, it affects every area of our lives. Anyone who lives with chronic physical pain can tell you this. And those who struggle with spiritual pain know all too well. May I even suggest that wounded spirits have far more profound impacts on people's lives than wounded bodies? Perhaps because a heart that is whole can live a beautiful life even in a body that is broken. But it doesn't really work the other way around."

Do not further the wounds of people's hearts just because you don't think they're "bad enough". On the outside, the person with internal injuries looks a lot better than the one whose arm was sliced and bleeding. But which injury is actually worse? Does it even matter? Both are injuries that need healing, both can be fatal. One just looks worse and more obvious than the other.

For further reading on this topic: Abusing Abuse? Part 1; Abusing Abuse? Part 2.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In Defense of a Friend

This website was recently brought to my attention. While reading, I was blown away by the cruelty masked as "truth-defending". I tend to think the best about people but in this piece, I can find no "best". She has gone from discussing an idea to attacking a person. That person happens to be my friend and one whom I love. What Mrs. McDonald wrote is nothing short of below-the-belt hits and deceptive, passive-aggressive personal attacks on someone she does not even know. Her words drip the venom of someone who is cornered and threatened. But why? If she is so right, and the rest of us so wrong, as she asserts, why should she even bother?

She says that she is thankful that the issues in Hillary's book have now been brought to the table for discussion. However, these issues have been discussed for a long time now. Could it be that before Hillary bared her heart in a self-published book, those of us who spoke out against "biblical patriarchy" and spiritual abuse were merely a fly in their ointment? But now....now a book has been written with the heart and soul of a living, breathing woman, her pain easily felt on it's pages, her heart for the hearts of others so evident, that now they are feeling threatened. Now they are on the attack. Now they are resorting to personal attacks of the kind that no person calling themselves a Christ-follower should ever participate in.

Is their Cause so weak that logic and reason and scripture can no longer support it so they have to resort to attacking people? People who are fellow heirs of grace? Her venom is masked with "concern"....concern that "children" will read Hillary's words and use them as fodder for "rebellion". But what about concern for the heart of all the men and women she has labeled as "rebellious", "wicked", "emotional", false victims, deceptive, "irresponsible", seducing, baiting, among other things? The whole tone of her post portrays, not concern for anyone's heart and soul, but the concern of someone who is afraid of losing control over others' hearts and souls.

Mrs. McDonald prints a letter from Hillary's sister that not only makes Hillary out to be a liar, but also outs part of her family whom Hillary has tried so hard to protect and keep anonymous. Mrs. McDonald pitted one sister against another and for what cause? Who could possibly be edified by a personal battle of "he said, she said"? It was an under-handed blow and completely inappropriate. But it certainly was revealing. Anyone who would stoop that low is not to be trusted with any personal information. Because it just might be used against you.

There are many issues I would like to address in her post. Perhaps I will when I can get past the mean-spirited tone of the whole thing. I certainly hope others who are better at articulating thoughts than I am will speak up. But for now, I will leave it at this: people can complain, attack, divide, and throw blows all they like. They cannot stop the outpouring of healing that has begun. They cannot take away our joy in the grace and freedom of Christ. We of the first and second generation of homeschoolers are discovering who we are because of Jesus Christ and nothing in heaven or hell will ever entice us to go back. You can throw your attacks, and it might hurt, but we are standing fast in the liberty for which Christ has made us free. We have tasted true intimacy with God, our Creator and Lover, and it is intoxicating.

On second thought, I am a rebel. I rebel against the idea that life can fit into a neat formula. I rebel against the teaching that says I am only acceptable if I perform correctly. I rebel against the thought that I, as a woman, cannot have a voice except through the men in my life. I rebel against anybody and everybody who invokes the Name of my Savior to control me. I rebel against the "christianity" that is promoted by posts like the above, and propped up by people who resort to name-calling and attacking a girl who they don't even know, whose heart they cannot even understand. I stand with a growing army of rebels, whose cry is "Give us Jesus! Give us the pure gospel!" No apologies. Just grace and truth.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Not So Clearly

There's something really bugging me about theological conversations with people who think they're got it all figured out. (Besides the fact that they think they have it all figured out....). I keep hearing the phrase "The Bible clearly says...", which is used to completely stomp out the opposition. Or just make them look stupid.

I am here to tell you that the Bible doesn't "clearly say" what everyone seems to think it does. There's not much in the Bible that's really very "clear" at all. The more I read and study, the less I feel I know, and the muddier it all gets. Think about it: we're talking about a book that's comprised of hundreds of documents, stories, instructions, poems, prophecies, and history, written by dozens of different men, over a period of thousands of years, in several different languages, to cultures that were very different than our own, and translated into hundreds of languages. How is that "clear and simple"??? Answer: it's not. It makes for very complicated study and interpretation.

It just kills me when someone quotes a scripture out of an English Bible and says "see? it's really very clear and simple". And it really gets to me when people downplay looking up the scriptures in their original language and say "well, it gets rather confusing when you do that. I just read it for what it says." *face palm* Clearly they don't understand the process of how that scripture went from God's mouth to our hands. How in the world is a translation from the original language more "clear and accurate" than the original launguage?!

I believe that God has preserved His written will and heart. But I don't think that much of the church's interpretations of that written will are very accurate. Nor do I think that they have been arrived at by the best methods. I also don't believe that just reading an English Bible is the best way to discover what God really thinks. That written will itself says to "be diligent to.....accurately divide the Word of Truth". If it were really as "clear and simple" as people seem to think, why would it take diligence and hard work to "rightly divide" what God has said?

I am not afraid to admit that the Bible is one complicated book. I don't think this makes God less personal or less powerful. It certainly ups my determination to study and seek after the Truth, knowing that it is there and it is important. I'm also not afraid to question everything I've ever been taught and to discuss it with others. But I seem to be running into two kinds of Christians. The first kind is so confident in their knowledge of "what the Bible clearly says" that they cannot see any other point of view enough to even dialoge about it. They just throw scriptures at you, thinking that that should settle it. This frustrates me to no end. The other kind of Christian seems almost afraid of digging deeper and re-examining scripture. Like they're scared of being wrong or "deceived" or finding out that what they've always been taught isn't God's clear truth after all. So they resort to judging motives ("you just don't like authority, you're a feminist, etc") and stating "Well, the Bible clearly states...and if you can't see it then I can't help you." End of discussion.

Maybe it's because I've been through two major religious paradigm shifts in my life, or maybe it's just my personality, but finding out I was wrong doesn't scare or intimidate me in the least. Why should it? I want to know what God thinks and if what I've been believing isn't it then I'm more than happy to leave it behind. Just, please, don't call me names and don't judge my heart just because you're too afraid of being wrong and too confident in your own knowledge to even consider that you might be.

So far the only "clear" things I see in the Bible are this: God loves us, we blew it, Jesus lived, died, and lives again to redeem us, and the Christian life is all about loving God and loving people. Everything else is a little foggy but I'm OK with that. I'm determined to ask, seek, and knock, and never stop until I'm dead. God's not going to strike me with lightning and send me to hell because I'm wrong about womens roles, church authority, dress codes, eschatology, or kosher eating. He's not threatened by my questioning. If that's the kind of god you serve, then I'm not the one with problems.

Don't freak out on me; I'm not promoting reletivism. I do believe in absolute truth. I'm just not sure that we're meant to find it in this life. Maybe it's supposed to be a journey, a process, a walking-with-God thing. For now, I'm confident in my unconfidence of my own knowledge and if I never get to the bottom of the egalitarian v. complementarian debate, I'm totally fine with that. Meanwhile, I'm lovin' on my husband, my kids, and everyone else who comes across my path; I'm walking with God and enjoying the journey. I figure that's what really matters anyway.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


"How long, Oh Lord?
Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long will I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and hear me,
Oh Lord, my God;
Enlighten my eyes,
Lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed against [her]!"
Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

But I have trusted in your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord
Because He has dealt bountifully with me."

~Psalm 13

The dichotomy of thinking that God has forgotten me while believing that He has blessed me and shown mercy. This I cannot understand. On the one hand, I am full of doubt that God is doing anything good in my life; on the other hand I know He is. But I am obviously not the first person to have this war in my soul. The Psalms can be so comforting. It's nice to know that the human heart is the same now as it was several thousand years ago.

"How long, Oh Lord?......My heart shall rejoice."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kid Randomness

Did you know that if you mix spit with crayons you can make finger paint?

This is just one of the many interesting things I wouldn't have learned if I didn't have kids.

Kailey decided that she wants to fly helicopters. She also thinks that fairies live in the back yard and is determined to find one and put it in her bug jar. We tried keeping a caterpillar alive in her jar but it died after 2 days. Probably in self-defence. She keeps asking me to find her some pixie dust so she can fly. She thinks the local grocery store carries it. I'm not sure how to tell her the truth, but she probably wouldn't believe it anyways.

Faith apparently knows to cheer at football games. We were at a pizza place last week and a football game was on the TV. She started getting excited and making the sign for "ball". Then she threw her hands up in the air and yelled "yay!!" at the top of her lungs several times during the game, causing everyone in the restraunt to look at us. Oh, for the abandon that children have. Did I mention that we don't watch football, nor have we ever taken her to a game? Also, never give her your cell phone. She can rearrange the icons, change your wall-paper pic, and text someone in 30 seconds flat. Don't ask me how I know.

Joel found out he could stand all by himself yesterday and the look on his face was sheer wonder. I'm in trouble with that one. Whenever Elvis comes on, he starts shaking his little booty and clapping. It's pretty cute. He loves the kitty (though his love in unrequited) and chases bugs around the floor. He wrinkles his nose when he grins at you. I think he's going to be a genious because I'm intuitive like that.

Sky took Kailey with him to run some errands the other day. When they came back, she was chewing gum...a huge no-no in my book. I asked him why he gave her gum and he said "It was the only way to get her to stop talking". Well, yes, the child talks non-stop. My mom says what goes around comes around. Sky says, "Then why do I have suffer for it, too?" I keep claiming that the ADHD comes from his side of the family but he won't have it. Oh look...a squirrel! Wait, what was I saying?

Oh yeah, crayons. So did you know that crayons have more uses than are described on the box? You can chew them up and make multi-colored spit, then use that to finger-paint the table, chairs, fridge, and kitchen floor. Also, canoe paddles make great swords. And work wonderfully for leaning up against the tree, so you can climb them to reach that branch that is just too high to get to.

Give my kids a swimming pool, and they'll have it full of mud in no time. Then they'll put the slide in it and slide into the mud. Occasionally I'll fill it with bubbles for them. Mud and bubbles are a strange combination, let me tell you.

One of the girls' favorite pass-times is wrestling. Sometimes I intervene because I'm not thrilled with their game of trying to beat each other up. It hurts me just watching them. Most of the time I don't watch and if no one is screaming then they must be fine.

Whatever happened to sugar and spice and everything nice?

Kailey keeps walking up to random women and asking them if they're pregnant. She seems to think all women have babies in their tummies. She asked my friend this the other day and my friend replied with a laugh, "No, I'm just fat!" Kailey then turned around and announced to the whole room, "Mommy, she's fat!" *head in hands*

Faith wouldn't eat her dinner the other day. I caught her later, sitting on her swing, happily munching on a bowl of cat food. I'm tempted to try it myself since the kids love it so much. I feel like I'm missing out on something.

Kailey took scissors to her hair, which resulted in her waist-length hair becoming a cute, sholder-length cut. She then chopped off a bunch right in front of her face a week later. When I asked her why she did it again, she replied coolly, "It was in my face, Mom". Like, duh.

Sometimes it is all I can do to keep my kids and the cat alive and in one piece. Somedays I think I will be completely insane by the time I'm 30. If I make it that long. I haven't even told you all about the mud pies in the kitchen, insects in their beds, sliding in boxes down the basement stairs, climbing and jumping out of trees, eating sand, and numerous crises and disasters that happen every single day. And they're only -4 years old. How do mothers keep their children alive and well long enough to graduate?!

Now I know why there are mother of pre-schoolers support groups.

I wish I could say that I always love being a mother and that life is a bed of roses. But I don't and it's not. Oh, I have many moments of joy, usually mixed with moments of "that's it, I'm through! I QUIT!!!!" and there's usually more of the former than the later, thankfully. I love my kids, love their creativity and passion for life. But sometimes I wonder "what they heck were we thinking?!" Then Kailey tells me I'm so cute and Faith gives me a huge kiss and Joel falls asleep all snuggly in my arms and I just want to freeze those moments and keep them that way forever.

People keep telling me that they don't stay little forever. My answer? I certainly hope not! ;) Someday I'll miss the sand in their diapers, mud all over them, and crayon-spit "paint" all over the kitchen.

Then again....maybe not......

Monday, September 13, 2010

Moving On

"Why don't you just move on?"
"You're being selfish...complaining about your past...all I hear is 'me, me, me'"
"Paul said to forget what lies behind and press on toward the goal."
"Don't let your past define you."
"Get over the 'victim mentality' and get on with your life."
"Writing about such things breeds malcontent, bitterness, and unforgiveness."
"You must not be healed completely if you keep going back to these things."

Any of the above sound familiar? Sometimes I feel like a broken record is playing.

What I want to know is, who says that those of us who write against spiritual abuse, using our own pasts, aren't "moving on"? Do they think that writing about what happened, about our own stories, means that we're still stuck in that place? That we cannot "get past it"? Why does it have to be either/or?

I don't believe it does. These people like to quote Phil. 3:13: "But this one thing I do, forgetting those things that lie behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." They claim that we are not doing this. That by not "forgetting" we are not "pressing on". But I say that we are. Do you realize that Paul, previous to saying this, spent an entire chapter talking about where he came from? Talking about his past? He obviously didn't "forget". As in denying who he was, what he'd done, and where he came from.

Are we supposed to do this as believers? "Forget" where we were before Christ saved us? The New Testament is full of such phrases as "you once were....but now you are". The writers of the epistles constantly speak of what things were like in their past and the past of their readers, while pointing to their present. Why? Because who we are is in part defined by who we were.

Think about it.

How can you write about healing without first talking about brokenness?

How can you proclaim victory without first speaking of defeat?

How can you claim freedom without first describing bondage?

How can I "comfort those who are in trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" if I cannot speak of how God has comforted me?

How can I speak of salvation without talking about what I was saved from?

How I praise God for His forgiveness if I cannot remember for what I was forgiven?

I cannot. It just doesn't work that way.

I can speak of my past sins with sorrow, but as one who is not bound by them anymore. I can speak of past pain as one who has been and is being healed. Without the perspective of the past, we cannot understand our present or our future. This isn't bitterness, though it definitely could be there. No matter who we are we must constantly be watchful that we don't let such things as bitterness and resentment take up residence in our hearts. That doesn't mean we live in constant fear of being bitter. But there is a huge difference between remembering where I came from so as to not go there again, and dwelling on the sins of others in such a way that we let hatred of them consume us. I and others who use our own pasts to speak against a vile wrong in conservative circles are not "breeding malcontent or unforgiveness". Anyone who says differently obviously hasn't read very much of my blog or my friends' blogs.

And, yes, I will always be a "victim". As my friend, Lore, put it: "I get so tired of the way people like that use the word "victim." A victim is a person who has been wronged, a person against whom a crime has been committed. The word has nothing to do with being strong or weak, or having a good or bad attitude. If someone was hit by a car, even if it was an accident on the part of the well-intended driver, that person is a victim of an auto accident. If someone's house is robbed, even if that person took every possible security measure before, during, and after the robbery, and even if that person has a very proactive response to the situation, that person is a victim of a robbery.

Likewise, if someone was subjected to a system of spiritual abuse, especially if that person's parents imposed said system when the person was a child, that person has been wronged. To borrow from the Lord's Prayer, that person has been "trespassed against."

I am the victim of a house fire. I always will be. Because it happened. This helps to explain a little about my heart, who I am, how I react to crisises in my life, and why I hyperventilate when I see huge fires or freak out when I think I smell smoke in the middle of the night. When others find out, they have a better understanding of me. Remembering the fire doesn't mean I'm still "stuck" back there in the past. It doesn't mean that I haven't "moved on". Obviously I have. I've slowly collected new clothes, kitchen utensils, and furniture. The pain of losing all of my belongings does still cause my heart to twinge every so often, but that's because pain doesn't go away over night. Healing is a process. I will never forget that memory. But it's effect on me will change as the years go by.

We're all on a journey. None of us get there overnight. Sometimes we backtrack, have set-backs. Some days we go miles, other days mere inches. But if we ever forget where we came from, we will be just as lost as if we do not know where we are going. Without the perspective of our past paths, out future paths aren't as easily understood. We talk about our journey so that others might be encouraged on theirs. We tell them "I've been there, you're not too far now" and they get the courage to keep moving on. We say "you don't want to go down that path...I did just that and let me tell you where I ended up". And some person might be saved from that mistake. We overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. By the word of our testimony, others too might be saved.

One last thought: I am sorry for the person here who said that if their daughter were to write about them the way I write about my parents that they would feel horrible. I certainly hope you would. You should feel horrible when you have hurt someone you love. But then you should "move on". Confess your sins to them and seek forgiveness. Pray for reconciliation. Be real and open and honest about your mistakes. And let grace have its way with you. But do not be offended if they then learn from your mistakes, take them and use them to help others light their paths. Hopefully you too will be able to say "Yes, I did that, I said that, I was wrong" and let the shame roll off your back and into the gutter where it belongs.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

On Emotions

I used to say that I don't like physical touch. But after I fell in love and married, I realized that I had to believe that. Because I was so affected by a loving touch that the sheer strength of it scared me to death. Since I didn't know what to do with those feelings, I suppressed them and just didn't touch people. It took me forever to be OK with hugging.

I know why I had to suppress my emotions growing up. Why people used to tell me that I was like a rock...was never affected or "wore my heart on my sleeve". Because, when I finally let my guard down, I realized just how passionate I am. And how deeply I DO feel things. Like I had to control and suppress every emotion every feeling, because I didn't know what to do with such strong forces as my own emotions. I was afraid of them. Sometime they'd come out in spite of me and I'd get told not to "let your emotions control you". So I'd suppress them again.

That and emotions were supposed to be unreliable, deceitful, and bad. Lead you into a world of sin and hurt. You were just better off without the inconvenience.

Really? How is that a healthy way to live your life? Emotions are like the barometer of your body. They help to gage your mental, physical, and spiritual health. They aren't inherently "bad" or "evil". To ignore your emotions is like ignoring the gage on a pressure-cooker. Something's gonna blow.

And often, as a young woman, something did.

I'm learning now. Learning how to listen to my own feelings. Learning how to feel, to just let those emotions be, without trying to suppress them, without fearing them. I know that I feel everything very deeply. And it's OK now because I've learned how to direct those feelings in a healthy way.

It's such a relief to allow myself to feel. I look back on my teenage years and I hurt for the girl I was; for the pain that girl needlessly went through and the scars I bear from it now. I read my journals and delight to see the awakening of a heart that was longing for passion and warmth.

It really began when I experienced the love of a man. When a good man chose to love me, regardless of everything. Isn't that the theme of so many movies? The girl nobody noticed, or everyone thought was ugly, suddenly blossoms into a beautiful woman under the influence of a man who sees her, truly sees her, and draws her heart out. Waters and showers love on her until she is becomes who she was always meant to be. If that's not a picture of Christ and His Bride, I don't know what is.

So many times, when my heart gets burned, I am tempted to go back....back into the place where there was no feeling. It seems safer there. Less painful. No one can hurt you in that place. But there, in the dark recesses of a heart that is hiding, you cannot feel love either. I remember that, and reach for love instead.

It hurts something awful sometimes, this being alive business. Giving my heart, even when it's been trampled on; will be trampled on again and again. Choosing to stay alive, to feel, to love, to be vulnerable. It's scary. But I know well the alternative. I've lived it. And I don't want to go back. I choose to feel everything deeply; to savor every thought, feeling, touch, and to let myself cry or laugh or get angry. It is who I am, and I am not ashamed.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Here Goes

This song really struck me today. I think it is the theme song of my life. Even when I'm faltering, afraid, not wanting to make the jump or take the step, holding tightly to what I know because the unknown is....well, unknown, I still end up in the place this song describes. Because I've lived in fear, and in numbness, and with a heart that is shut down. And I never want to go there again. So here goes nothing, here goes everything.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Answering Anonymous...Again.

I received an anonymous comment on my post about the Botkins' marriage article. Although the lady put it there, it seems to refer to most of my blog posts in general. Since many of us from legalistic backgrounds hear these sentiments often, I thought I would address them for all to see.

Here is what she wrote:

"This all just goes to show that we should never follow one person's/ organization's views on everything, but take the good from each. EVERYTHING should be tested against God and His Word first.
I am a very happily married, home schooling mother of 13. I have made mistakes and hope that my children will not judge me as harshly as some of you are doing towards your own parents. I am sure most of them meant well. You will make mistakes, too, not the same ones necessarily but mistakes none the less. You will beg for God's mercy and grace as you see the results of your own personal mistakes in your children.
It would be healthier to get on with your lives and not have a victim mentality forever. It is best to forget the past and press on towards the prize..."

I addressed some of this in my guest posts on Quivering Daughters, entitled "Abusing Abuse?". But I will now address them here. Again.

I never follow anyone's or any organization's views. I judge the merit of all things by what is written or spoken. I am not a follower of anyone. When it comes to my religious beliefs, I'm pretty much a mutt. But I assume that's not what you meant. I am judging by your comment that you generally agree with the Botkins but perhaps not on this particular subject. You seem to be cautioning us "not to throw the baby out with the bathwater" because these people have many good things to say. That is your opinion and you are certainly entitled to it. But let me be very clear here. When it comes to Visionary Daughters, Vision Forum, and all their associates and affiliates, or anyone who promotes the Patriarchial system, I do not believe there is any baby in the bathwater. I stand for everything they stand against. Every scripture they interpret, every issue they expound on, their very foundations for their beliefs....I disagree with them all. Matter of fact, their ideas and beliefs disgust me. As far back as their very foundational proof-text, the creation story, we disagree. Why? Because I DO "test everything against God's Word" and I have found them in error. Now that that is cleared up, on to your next point.

You said: "I have made mistakes and hope that my children will not judge me as harshly as some of you are doing towards your own parents."

But I thought that we weren't supposed to follow everyone's views, but instead test them by God's word?

That is exactly what I, and others like me, are doing here. We are taking the teaching of our parents and weighing them....denouncing the bad and clinging to the good. I don't believe this to be "judging" as you call it. It merely digging out the good from the bad.

Allow me to quote myself:

"Yes, healing is our choice. But we first have to recognize the wound in order to apply the correct balm. Ignoring it, or telling yourself to "just get over it" won't work. If I've grown up with the belief that I am only pleasing to God if I perform correctly, then I must see the lie in that messege, and apply the correct truth. The lie: that any works of righteousness can make me acceptable to God. The Truth: "for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" and "when we were still without strength, Christ died for the ungodly" and "He has made you accepted in the Beloved".

This is not a "blame game". We do not believe in sitting around and blaming our parents, church, friends, whomever for our pain and the consequences thereof. But the fact is, there are things passed down to us from our parents that contributed, if not outright caused, certain wounds in our lives. This is true for everyone, regardless of religious beliefs. Acknowledging this, recognizing it, and discussing it is not the same thing as blaming others. I believe in family wounds and generational curses/pain. A woman who was told she was never good enough is going to pass that lie to her daughters and they to their daughters unless it is acknowledged and healed by the Healer. I can see some lies and strongholds in myself that were present in my grandfather. I am not blaming him, just recognizing where the lie started and looking at all the heartache it has caused in subsequent generations. I also know that it does not have to be this way. That lie and the wounds inflicted by it can stop with me. I do not have to pass it on to my children. I will not; I refuse. I'm sure my mother would have said the same had she but known to even look for it. Had she not been told "You're fine, get over it."

This is why we even bring this up. Not only so that we can live from a healed, whole heart, but for our children and our children's children. Broken people produce more broken people. It is an endless cycle of pain and brokeness and the Enemy of our souls loves it. Ignoring it will only perpetuate the pain. The Church today has very little understanding about matters of the heart and this has to stop. It is because of people saying "Buck up, stop blaming everyone else, get over it" that there is so much brokeness and dysfunction among Christians today. We've ignored our pain and the causes for too long and are now reaping the harvest of broken people, broken families. Christ's little ones are stumbling and falling and being told to "get over it" because their wounds aren't visible to the world. These things ought not to be."

You said: "You will make mistakes, too, not the same ones necessarily but mistakes none the less. You will beg for God's mercy and grace as you see the results of your own personal mistakes in your children. It would be healthier to get on with your lives and not have a victim mentality forever. It is best to forget the past and press on towards the prize..."

As for my own children, I know I will hurt them. I know that I have made and will make mistakes. But I have something that my own parents didn't. I have an understanding of my own pain...where it came from, how it came, and how to end it. Because I dare to go where they didn't: into the darkness of my own heart, and the pain of my own past. I don't expect to do anything in this life perfectly, certainly not when it comes to raising my kids. But I would never tell them not to judge me, to ignore the pain I caused them, and to "get over it". My oldest is 4 years old and I am already practicing how to admit I was wrong and apologize.

I don't have to beg God for grace and mercy. He freely lavishes it on me so that I might in turn lavish it on my children. I am not offended when my daughter tells me she doesn't like me. Instead, we talk about it, work through it, and I tell her I am sorry when I am wrong. We are practicing grace and communication now while it is easy so that later, when it becomes more complicated, grace and communication will be an integral part of our relationship.

You said: "I have made mistakes and hope that my children will not judge me as harshly as some of you are doing towards your own parents. I am sure most of them meant well."

I've said this elsewhere, and I'll say it again. It is not a strength to deny pain. Nor is it a strength to ignore inner wounds and say "well, my parents had good motives so I won't worry about the outcome and actions caused by those motives." I'm fairly certain the Puritans who killed hundreds of innocent women, the Jesuits who tortured natives "to convert them", the Mormons who practiced blood atonement to save people's souls, and others who have used God's name for horrible things had "good motives". What makes a teaching good or bad? The motives of those who teach it?

I will never use the excuse "I meant well". Because that's all it is: an excuse to not own up to my own sin. Sometimes I think we use that line on others because it makes us feel better about our own problems and mistakes. But I personally don't care how well I meant. If I've hurt people, my well-meaning doesn't negate their pain.

Do the motives of the people who hurt me negate the pain they caused? I think not. I can appreciate that they really wanted what was best for me. But can I be honest? There were times when I am certain that all they wanted was what was best for them. That their desires for their own lives overrided their desires for my good. And that they couldn't even tell the difference. Is it "judging" them by saying so? I don't think so. It's just sayin' how things were.

I don't resent them, though I certainly did at one time. I am not bitter toward them, though God had to do much healing in my heart in the past. We actually have a pretty good relationship now. Only God couldn've woven our lives with the healing, forgiveness, and relationship that we have now. We're not perfect and we have a long way to go. But none of this could've been possible without first going right where you say we shouldn't: into the pain, darkness, mistakes, and sin of our hearts and the hearts of our parents.

Allow me, one more time, to leave you with something I wrote not too long ago:

"Jesus said "Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest". But how can we get that rest unless we first admit we need it? How can we leave our burdens with Him unless we first admit we have a burden? Ignoring the burden or downplaying its effect on our lives will not make it go away. It will only cause us to live a half-hearted life and when we die, to pass that burden on to our children. Brothers and sisters, I beg you, do not perpetuate pain by ignoring, comparing, downplaying, and telling others to "get over it". And stop critisizing those who are recognizing wounds, denouncing lies, and inviting healing into their pain-wracked hearts. Be cautious lest you find yourselves fighting against the very God you serve. In the words of a very wise man, "And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it---lest you even be found to fight against God." Acts 5:38,39""

I encourage you, and anyone who has the same sentiments, to read a few of the other posts, such as Stories, and Abusing Abuse? (and part 2), so you can get a better idea of why I write and what my heart is.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Remember.....

I remember wondering if it would hurt to pull the trigger....and wondering if even that would silence the voices in my head that told me that God hated me and I was an awful daughter. And if anyone would even miss me.

I remember trying so hard to look like all the other girls at the Basic Seminar (ATI). Because they were so Godly, so happy...they must've been doing something right.

I remember musing aloud to my mom during a geography lesson that I would love to visit the Bad-Lands sometime because they looked so wild, beautiful, and untamed. And she then telling me I should examine my heart because it obviously had rebellion in it.

I remember standing in front of my mirror in a long denim skirt and button-up shirt that was 2 sizes too big and wishing I could dress in cute clothes. And wondering if I was going to defraud anyone that day. And feeling guilty for all of it.

I remember being told that godly girls treated their siblings with selflessness and submitted to their parents in all things. And that I wasn't doing that.

I remember thinking I would never be a Godly girl. And I desparately wanted to.

I remember my mom lamenting "Why can't you be more like _____??! I'll bet she never talks to her parents like you're talking to us!!"

I remember signing a paper when I went to teach a Children's Institute that stated: "I believe that my parents are God's ultimate authority in my life, that they are an umbrella of protection for me, and I will strive to obey them because they are directing me in the will of God." Even though I didn't believe it. And felt guilty for a whole year because I had lied on a contract.

I remember resenting my best friends because they got to look cute and girly and I had to dress like a frumpy homeschooler. And I hated my parents. Then, of course, felt guilty. Dad said I should be glad I wasn't wearing pants like them. Guys could stare at their butts instead of ours.

I remember the day I wore jeans and a cute top to college for the first time. I felt elated and fearful.

I remember the day I stopped worrying that my parents were going to send someone to my college to spy on me, who would then see that I was dressing "immodestly" and report back to them. And I didn't even feel guilty.

I remember crying because they wanted me to shut down my heart and just do what they say. And knowing I could never do that.

I remember being angry that a parent could ever ask their child to choose between their way and God's way.

I remember asking Sky why in the world he wanted to marry me when I was so selfish. "What makes you think you're selfish?" he asked. "My parents always say so". "Well, they're wrong" he said. "You're one of the most self-less people I know." And I cried.

I remember them telling me that loving Sky was dishonoring to God. That I wasn't following God's will for me. That maybe I wasn't even saved.

I remember them telling me that no man would ever want to marry me because I wasn't submissive enough. I was too independent and strong-willed. And I just knew they were right.

I remember not being able to tell them I loved them. Because I couldn't lie just to make them happy.

I remember one time Mom said "I love you" and I replied over my sholder, walking away, "Yeah right." She looked like I'd hit her with a two-by-four. And never said anything about that incident again. I felt terrible later.

I remember the first time Sky kissed me. And I was surprised that I didn't feel guilty. I felt like I was flying and that all was suddenly right with the world.

I remember the day I finially gave up trying to please anyone but God. It was a turning point in my life.

I remember the shackles falling off, one after one, day after day, until I was free and ready to be the person God was making me. I cried for a long time....for the joy and freedom in my heart, for the loss and pain, for the severing of relationships that wasn't my fault.

I remember the day that I realized that these memories don't hurt anymore. That I don't hate my parents for any of it. That I can remember these things and feel loss, but not bitterness. That God must've done this.

I write these things, mothers and fathers, so you may understand that what you say and do when your children are young will have a profound impact on the rest of their lives...for good or for evil. Your motives will not matter; your words and actions will. As a fellow parent, I urge you to daily run to the One who showers grace on you so that you may shower it on your children. What will they write about us when they are grown?? Will they say we stood for Truth and Mercy, even in our imperfection? Or that we stood for the rules and commandments of men?

I write these things, brothers and sisters, so you know you are not alone. That all manner of hurtful things are done and said in the name of God, love, and wanting what's best for you. That you're not crazy, they really did say such absurd things, and it wasn't your fault. That love cannot be earned by performance. It is a freely given gift. That there is hope for healing, forgiveness, and freedom...even if you cannot even imagine it right now. God is in the business of restoration.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--

to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.

And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs.

"For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity. In my faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed."

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations."

~Isa. 61

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Without A Dream....

I was perusing the job listings on Craigslist, looking, hoping for something that my husband could do that would let him come home every night, let us be a family again. While thankful he even has a job in these hard times, sleeping in the same bed only one night a week is getting really old, really fast. And when the weather turns, he'll be out of a job. So I'm constantly looking for something else.

I came across a job posting that went something like this: "Ranch Manager Position open. Commercial ranch looking for manager in eastern MT. Horses only operation. Along with monthly salary, provided will be: 5-bedroom, newer house, vehicle, benefits, utilities paid, and all the beef you can eat." I think I sat there, gazing at the screen, my mind wandering, for several minutes. I can't explain the feelings that came over me, overwhelming me. They were so strong, I involuntarily reached over and closed the website. Getting up from the computer in a daze, I couldn't seem to focus on anything for the next several hours. Something had been stirred in my heart that had long been silent. It was uncomfortable and disconcerting.

Later, after the kids went to bed, I opened the book I'm reading and read these words:
"It as become and informal tradition of ours around the turning of the years to do a little dreaming, allow desire to bubble up from our hearts...It's good for the heart to do some dreaming; it pulls you out of the rut, and lifts your eyes to the horizon. Hope follows, like children running to the song of the ice cream truck. Desire awakens hope, and hope is really good for the soul...Now, we don't know what the coming year holds. But we have found that if we don't dream about our lives then we are simply swept along by the torrent of demands, feeling like hostages rather than mature adults taking charge of our lives....So what is the mission of your marriage? What are the two of you called to do together? Can you name it? "We are in this together" is essential for the boy and girl in the fairy tales. Finding a shared mission as a couple is essential to a vibrant marriage....Our hearts are made to live a life that matters, a life of epic significance. Surviving the week so you can hit the food court at the mall on the weekend is not enough....In the same way that God has hidden adventures and surprises in the earth He gave us, God has also written dreams and desires deep in our hearts. Finding those dreams and desires, and sharing them as a couple, is one of the most romantic things you will ever experience."*

And I started to cry.

I realized that I, that we, had forgotten how to dream. That we'd become so hardened, so cynical, that dreaming seemed pointless. You see, we once were very young and had so many dreams and plans for our life together. We just knew that the world was open to us and God was for us and life was brimming with hope and joy and possibilities. Then life happened. We lost our home to a fire. We mortgaged our land to rebuild. The job market disappeared and we lost our home and property to foreclosure this year. Sky had to take a job trucking to pay the bills. The kids and I live all week without him while he sleeps on the side of the road in his truck. Our daughter was diagnosed with autism. Strain took root in our marriage, each of us falling into our own addictions and shame and anger. And the light and hope we once had for our lives slowly was choked out of our hearts. We put up walls to protect the gaping wounds of disappointment. No more dreams. We shoved our desires way down deep in hopes to quench the longing that reminded us that life isn't what it was supposed to be. If we allowed ourselves to think about "what if?" those thoughts only produced anger, despair, and resolve to forget about them.

But that one job posting awoke everything that had been sleeping and stirred our desires once again. It has always been a deep-rooted desire, even before we were married, to live and work on a ranch. To raise our kids with a love of the land. To use our hands and our hearts to be a part of something that was bigger than us. We were convinced that God had put those desires in our hearts for a reason. We almost realized the dream once. Then the bottom dropped out of all of our plans.

We talked about it this weekend as we drove through some of the prettiest country God ever made. How we've forgotten how to dream. How we can't seem to get past "why even bother?" How we are so afraid of wanting something because we are afraid of being disappointed. Again. It's easier to just go through the motions and live from paycheck to paycheck and forget that we ever had any dreams in the first place.

And yet....

I feel like I woke with a start and didn't even know I was sleeping. I'm tired of not dreaming. I used to be such a dreamer. So I'm letting these desires sit there. I've decided not to stuff them back into oblivion. They're uncomfortable, but they feed my starving soul. They hurt and prod at the wounded places in my heart, the lies that say "your life doesn't matter, God doesn't care, dreams are stupid, why hope for anything?". I'm not entirely sure what to do with them except let them be.

And since faith without acting on it is worthless, I replied to that job posting. And I made fliers that state "Hard-working, adventurous, loving family in search of full-time ranch work". My heart beats a little faster just looking at it sitting on my desk. But it's about to go up all over central Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. Who knows...maybe God has put us here with what we have for a reason after all. I'll tell you one thing...it's a lot easier to dream here. There's a whisper of promise in this place that has been soothing and wooing our souls since we moved here. Saying "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light". And I think we're beginning to listen. If that turns out to be the only reason we are here, then it is reason enough.

*From Love and War, by John and Stasi Eldredge.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I feel....empty. No, that's no quite right. I feel like I'm searching for something and I can't find it. Spiritually, something is lacking. I go to church, hopeful for that elusive Something. I look for it while reading articles from really spiritually-together people. While interacting with friends, online and in real life. But I can't find it. I sit and listen to the sermon at church, waiting, hoping for the piece that will fall into place and make everything make sense. But instead, I find myself cynically replying to everything the preacher says. "God will always take care of us!" (except when He ...doesn't.) "Everything happens for a reason" (even that little girl that was abducted the other day? God better have one hell of a reason for that.) "Ask Him to show You where He wants to heal your heart" (I've been asking a long time, Lord...) "Isn't God good?" (Maybe. Sometimes. Then there's those other times...) "Lord, we pray for Your hand of healing on Brother Smith" (Right. Because that works.) "Lord, thank you so much that you spared Sister Jones' house from the fire" (what about the other houses that didn't get spared? Why do we give God all of the credit and none of the blame?)

I feel so guilty for thinking such things. I pray, but with no faith. I want to, but praying with faith didn't make much of a difference. I know that Jesus is a huge part of my life. That He cares about me and about my family. That's He's healed me from so much pain and sin and He's directed my life in obvious ways. I try so hard to listen and believe but I can't help the barrage of cynical questions and thoughts that bombard my mind. I try to talk about it with others but I'm only met with tired cliches and Christianese. It just isn't enough anymore! I'm so tired of hearing them. I need answers, real ones. And I'm wondering if there's anyone out there in Christendom who can give them to me.

I'm tired of church. I go only to find community. I love the people, the friends we've made, the community we've formed. But church...even some of the songs we sing drive me crazy. It's not the church's fault. Honestly, this church we're attending is great. The people are passionate and sincere, and the preaching is full of grace and truth. I feel accepted and loved. But for some reason, it's not enough. Enough to answer the burning questions and fill the void in my heart.

Why can't we get a break and get ahead financially?
Why can't God help us find a job that would be easier for our family?
Why do little children have to suffer at the hands of adults?
Why does my daughter have to struggle with autism?
Why doesn't God heal people?
What good does following Him really do?
If God isn't inept, that seems to make Him aloof and uncaring....

And if one more person tell me to "just take your questions to Jesus" I'm going to blow. What do they think I'm doing?? I read my Bible and all I get is more questions. I used to be so optimistic and passionate and now I don't feel much of anything except cynicism. And I hate that! I am craving community, close friendships, someone who won't either freak out or offer pad-answers when I ask questions. I sat in church on Sunday and I looked around at eager people soaking up the Word of God and I wondered, What's wrong with me? I listen to my friend tell me her problems yet still saying "but I know that God will work it all out" and I think, I used to say that. Do I still believe that? I don't know. What happened? Life, I suppose.

I think we're missing something. That Christianity, with all it's ministries, programs, churches, worship, and VBS's is missing something. There's should be so much more to this thing we call "church", this label "Christian". But I walk into a church and it's like time freezes around me, and I'm the only one still moving while everyone else is frozen and I can see all the happiness and joy on people's faces but I can't be there, experience it with them. I want to reach out and connect but I can't. Am I the only one that feels like this doing church isn't enough? Everyone else seems perfectly content while I sit here, frustrated and lonely. And doubting. I just can't seem to reconcile what I read about God with what I am experiencing on a daily basis.

I crave a real relationship. With a real God. Not the God everyone has neatly in their church-defined boxes. But the God of the Bible Who came through for His people in mighty ways. I crave community. Not Sunday morning "let's stand and worship the Lord". But Monday night Bible-study-turned-comforting-and-holding-up-the-broken-ones. Friends that do life together. Fellowship that you literally cannot live without. I've seen glimpses of this amazing life. And it leaves me wishing, longing, grasping for more. And tired of missing it.

Does this resonate with anybody?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What's With the Comments?

So Blogger is being wacked out. Several people have thought I deleted their comments when I didn't. Honest! The comments seem to be coming and going at will. I would never delete someone's comment just because they disagreed with me. I welcome discussions and dissenting opinions. =) So please, know that the only reason I would delete a comment is if it were mean, crude, or vulgar. So sorry about the confusion! I hope it gets fixed soon. Peace to you.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Just Try Harder and Do Better

I read something that really ticked me off. It came from this blog. I don't like the Botkin's teachings anyway, but this...this tops my list of Worst Blog Posts Ever. I hurt to think about the poor girls that are going to read this and get the messege "There is something wrong with you, you need to try harder". At best, it's confusing and contradictory. At worst...it's driving the arrow of shame and blame deeper into the hearts of girls everywhere who want to know why they aren't married yet. It is their response to the so-called "Marriage Crisis" and it is a painful thing to read.

First they claim:

If there is a problem, we believe it’s not that so many young people are not married – it’s that so many young people are not ready to be married. The capper is that we have such low standards for ourselves that we don’t even realize it.
Let’s be honest with ourselves about the ways we’ve been compromised by our society, usually without knowing it. We are still swaying to the beat of our culture’s drum, in many of our attitudes, our affections, our expectations, and our actions. Many of us have picked up Hollywood ideas about what men should be like, and what makes a good match. We’re often double-minded, with our convictions and our affections running in two different directions, looking for a man that will somehow gratify both. Many of us claim to be preparing for godly wifehood, but actually are doing so with a narcissistic and feministic self-focus. We often have lofty demands for suitors (well, not that lofty – just that they be Jonathan Edwards in Edward Cullen’s body), but love ourselves just the way we are. So the men we want to marry often don’t really exist – and if they did… well… why would they want to marry us?

How can they be serious? They are insulting every sincere, Godly young lady I know. Oh yeah, and the feminists, of course. Seriously, I don't know any girl who wants only "Johnathan Edwards in Edward Cullen's body".

Thanks to cultural confusion, personal baggage, or pendulum swings, guys and girls are can have a hard time knowing how to have relationships with each other.

Unbelieveable. So instead of laying the blame for dysfuntional opposite-sex relationships where it belongs, which is squarely on the sholders of people who teach what they and other ultra-conservative teachers proclaim, they lay it on the feminists, the culture, and the girls themselves. What?!?! This is so absurd. The reason that homeschoolers of my generation have skewed ideas about guy-girl relationships is admitted far and wide by we and our parents who are honest enough. Because, as a result of a pendulum swing against the culture, our parents were a little too over-zealous about promoting ideas such as courtship, betrothal, and "emotional purity", to the point that girls are afraid of speaking to guys and guys are scared to death of even looking at a girl. We bought hook, line, and sinker that if we "gave away pieces of our hearts" that we would have nothing left to give The One someday. And, thanks to a certain author that wears a fedora and will remain nameless, we had nightmares of all our "crushes" standing at our marriage alter claiming us for their own. Is it any wonder that we can't have normal, healthy relationships with each other??

There are, by the way, plenty of people who have maturely avoided these mistakes, or repented of them. Among our friends, they are getting married. (If panicky singles would start looking outside of their own situations, they might notice all of the wonderful marriages taking place.)

Right. All you "panicky" single girls should forget your own fears and notice that I, Darcy, am married. Then you won't feel so bad. Yeah, that's helpful. This is like putting salt in the wound of so many girls who want to be married and aren't. I'm married, and I'm insulted.

Whether or not the young men, fathers, and leadership involved have behaved infallibly is not our place to say; we are here to point out that we girls have no business fixating on anyone’s faults but our own. This is partly a point of Christian charity and proper jurisdiction. It’s also a point of having to be honest with ourselves. After all, in any one of our individual cases, the problem just might be: Us.

While I agree that blame-shifting isn't helpful, they then go on to do just that: Blame the single girls for being undesireable marriage material. It's painful to read.

This next section completely blew me away:

For every girl we know asking why so few young men are “ready,” we know a young man asking where the ready and eligible girls are. Our brothers and their friends have told us that many of the qualities girls have cultivated to make themselves “eligible” are things that won’t come up on young men’s radar screens, and the qualities the young men are most looking for have been neglected.
There are many girls who look prepared to be good mothers and good housekeepers, but not to be capable helpmeets. Our brothers and their friends have told us that they’re not looking for mere live-in maids and nannies; they want wives who would be capable of coming alongside them in the rigors of their lives; being engaging, iron-sharpening companions; and assisting them in business, ministry, adventure, risk, conquest, and uncertainty. The young men we know are asking, “Where are those girls?”

Where are THOSE girls?? Those are the girls who these people label as feminists because they dare to believe that God has gifted and called them too, not just the men, and they are the ones living out those callings. They are the girls who aren't staying home practicing to be Daddy's helpmeet and learning for years on end how to cook and clean and tend babies. They are the girls who are living for Christ, some inside and some outside their parent's homes, who have been sent into the world to fulfill their callings as daughters of God. They are the ones who have been ignored, looked down on, and labeled rebellious feminists and "harlots" for leaving their father's "protection" and learning how to live life and walk with Jesus. This is amazing. These people preach for years what a "Godly young woman" should do and be and now the guys want something else!!! And they blame the poor girls?!?!

The rest of the article is nothing but "try harder, do more, be better" and other such shame-heaping tactics. The messeges that I see loud and clear are "You aren't measuring up; you need to try harder; there is something wrong with you and that's why you aren't married yet; here's 4 steps to ensuring you are marriagable material". Then they contradict themselves by saying that God is actually the One in control of when you marry so try not to fret. But, in the meantime, you aren't good enough, you need to do better.

Girls, if any of you are single and have read this, please, don't believe it. You aren't "the ugly step-sister". You are a beautiful princess of the Most High God. These messeges of "try harder" will only break an already hurting heart. This is a burden that is way too much for you to bear. You are "accepted in the Beloved" and no amount of trying harder is going to make you better or ensure that someone will love you. The Botkins were right about one thing: God is writing your story. I don't have answers for you. I can't tell you what to do to fulfill your heart's desire for marriage. I don't know why God gave me my husband at such a young age while others are still waiting. And I don't pretend to know the ache you have for love. But this I do know: you are so loved! You are worthy because God made you so, not because you did everything right. Dear sisters, don't listen to the lies that tell you you don't measure up. You are beautiful, you are loved, and you are blessed, wherever you are, in whatever season you're in.

I speak out against such lies as this article because I see the damage that they do and I ache for the ones whose hearts are weighted down by them. Listen to the words of the One who made you:
"Fear not, for I have redemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine...Since you have been precious in My sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you."

"Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformedl And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me when as yet there were none of them. How precious are your thoughts toward me, Oh God! How great is the sum of them!"

This is the truth and don't you ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

Oh yeah, as a parting shot, the girls that wrote the article said this:

People sometimes ask why we, at the ages of 22 and 24, are not yet married. The only answer we can give is that God has not ordained for us to be married yet, and that is, like all His other works, “very good”; we are enjoying the extra time to labor with our family, to prepare ourselves more fully, and to “occupy until ‘he’ comes.” As much as we pray for godly marriages, there is much to rejoice about in the calling of visionary daughterhood.

So, every other girl isn't married because they aren't ready or good enough, but these girls are still single because "God has ordained" it?? This should be enough to negate the rest of this ridiculous, unhelpful, and burdensome article in the minds of every thinking woman who read it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

10 Truths About The Man You Marry

I've been listening a lot lately. Reading. Paying attention to conversations among single, homeschooled girls, usually between the ages of 17 to 25. They have these huge long lists of requirements for the man they will marry. Some of those requirements sound really spiritual and righteous and good. Some of them make me laugh. Some make me shake my head. I want to say "you do realize you'll be marrying a man, right?" :P

It's fine to be idealistic. You should know what you want and what you don't. But some of the things I've been hearing from these young girls lately make me think that they don't have a clue...about marriage, expectations, and reality. Not to mention men. They moan and groan about how "there aren't any Godly men out there" or "no man is following Jesus as passionately as I am!" or "I just can't find anyone that fits my criteria". And if they do, and they manage to get married, they're shocked to eventually find out that the guy they married is *gasp!* not Mr. Perfectly Right after all!!

Well, girls, let me tell you a few things that your mother never told you and my mother never told me about the man you marry (or are married to) that might help you make the transition between starry-eyed Prince Charming and Mr. I Leave My Dirty Socks On The Floor. The "worse" part of that "for better of for worse" thing. So, here it is...my incomplete, ever-changing, slightly humorous but perfectly serious list about Men.

1. He will not always be your knight-in-shining armor.
Sometimes he'll stay on his butt when he should get up and fight. Sometimes he'll need you to put on the armor and fight for him. Sometimes he won't know he's supposed to be fighting. But that doesn't mean he loves you less or is abdicating his position as your husband. It doesn't mean he's "less spiritual" or that you somehow made a mistake and married the wrong man. It mean you married a human being with flaws....just like you. Love him anyway.

2. He won't always every second be a "strong spiritual leader".
He's going to have doubts. He might get angry at God and not want to speak to Him for a while. He might fall into sin and struggle for a time. He might even question whether God exists or not. He might refuse to go to church once in a while. This doesn't mean your family won't be blessed or your children will grow up as little heathens. It doesn't mean that it will always be this way. It means you married a human being with questions in his heart...just like you. Show him grace anyway. God will always finish what He started. You don't have to finish it for Him.

3. He may not always be able to "adequately provide" for your family.
Because shit happens. He might lose his job and not be able to find another for a long time. You might get your house foreclosed on. Or have to frequent the food bank. You might even have to go to work for a time. He may have to take a job that keeps him away from the family for weeks on end just so you can pay the rent and eat. Even if you start the marriage with a great job, there is no guarantee it'll last forever. In this day and age creativity and hard work will only take you so far. It is not his fault, so don't sit there and bemoan your fate. It's hard enough on a man to think he's failing at being a good provider without having his wife berailing him or even silently disapproving. Get up, be willing to do what it takes, be a team and help him out however you can. Show him you believe in him. Support him anyway.

4. He will not always agree with you on spiritual matters.
See, people change. It's just our nature. You could both be Calvinists when you marry and still, somewhere down the road, one of you might change your mind. Usually, as a married couple, you will change together. But that's not a guarantee. You will have to be willing to live with someone who believes differently than you. Hopefully you will both be willing to communicate and study things out together, but that doesn't mean you'll always come to the same conclusions. This is perfectly OK and normal. It doesn't mean that you aren't in unity or working as a team for the Kingdom. I assume you go to a church where there are differences in opinions yet you are all still working toward the same goal. This is the beauty of unity in diversity. Put on love, which is the glue that holds us all together (Col. 3:14) and respect him and his opinions anyway.

5. He will forget to be romantic.
Men do that, I'm afraid. They get into a rut and forget to think about roses and stuff. Or else they totally miss your efforts at romance. Like the time you sent the kids to Grandma's and made a dinner for two complete with candles and soft music. And he walked in the door, mumbled something at you, and jumped in the shower without a word about you standing there in a sexy dress in the candlelight. It happens. Doesn't mean he's not into you or doesn't appreciate your efforts. It just means he didn't notice. Period. No alternative motives there. My advice? Forget dinner and the dress and go get in the shower with him. I guarantee he'll notice that.

6. Sometimes he'll need his space.
Maybe he just needs to go fishing, or spend some time with his buddies, or veg out watching TV. Or perhaps he just needs time away to collect his thoughts, quiet his heart, and do something crazy and out of the ordinary. Without you. Don't get me wrong, couples need to adventure together. It is vital to their relationship. But as individuals, we also need our time to ourselves. Men seem to need this more than women. It doesn't mean he's tired of you or is neglecting his duties as husband and father (unless he IS, but that's another subject). Give him his space and a little grace and when he comes home recharged and roaring you'll be thankful you did and feel silly you ever took offense. He'll also be more willing to watch the kids so you can have a night out too. See? Advantageous to all.

7. He wants a playmate.
Most men want women who aren't afraid to try crazy things with them. Who enjoy some of the same activities as they do. Who will be willing to forgo the dishes and laundry and pile the kids into the car to go exploring. Who aren't afraid to get down and get their hands dirty. Even if you fail miserably, you'll make points just trying. Just being willing. (Kudos to the man who offers to help do the dishes before taking off to go camping, but that's another subject, too.) It's hard sometimes in the nitty-gritty of life with kids to remember what "fun" even means. Thankfully, my husband reminds me often. And makes sure we all get to have fun together. Before kids, being playmates wasn't that difficult. We only had eyes and time for each other. Now it's harder and we both have to pitch in to even get out the door, but it's just as rewarding.

8. There will be times when you have to fight for him.
As I said earlier, women have to be fighters too. Our marriages, our men, are worth fighting for. We cannot sit around with the "maiden mentality" thinking that he's the one who's supposed to be wielding the sword and slaying the dragons. Maybe he is. But so are we. Women can be fierce. We have to be. There's too much at stake and we have too much to lose. Men get discouraged too, ya know. They need rescuing sometimes too. They need to know we are fighting for them and with them. That we are fiercely loyal and won't give up on them. Honestly, why do we expect them to be supermen and always come through for us and yet not do the same for them? Are we not a team? Pushing for the same goal? Then, girls, get off your butt and out of your kitchen and fight! Fight like women, cunning as serpents, gentle as doves. When life gets him down and the Enemy tries to steal his heart, don't take it personally...fight for him. In prayer, in your actions, never compromising truth, your love for the Lord, and your love for your husband. Show the Enemy that he underestimated you when he started picking on your beloved. The world needs women who know how to fight like girls.

9. There will be times when you have to stand up to him.
Unless he's perfect, he is going to make at least a few bad decisions that have even worse consequences. The worst thing, the most unloving thing you could do would be to keep your mouth shut and just go along with them. Does the command to lovingly and respectfully rebuke a brother in error not apply in a marriage? You must be wise and have discernment to know when to let it go and when to speak up. You must decide which mountains to defend and which molehills aren't worth it. A good man values his wife's opinions. But that doesn't mean he always appreciates them in the heat of the moment. Don't take it personally. And don't back down from addressing damaging behavior. Some of the worst marriage advice I've heard is the idea that we should always let our husbands make bad decisions and just go along with them. Sure, you might avoid an argument, but is that a good motive for not standing up for what's right? Stand up respectfully, lovingly, and in a spirit of humility and gentleness, as you would toward anyone you love...but stand.

10. Men aren't as big and tough and they like to think they are.
Actually, that big and tough front often hides insecurities and fear. One word from you and you can unknowingly dash all his dreams to the floor. Or validate and encourage them. The very act of trusting you with his heart is super scary to a guy. Guys are vulnerable too. They get their hearts broken just like we do. We hold their hearts in our hands and it is a sobering thought. Think of your own heart and how an unkind word from him can break it. His is no different. Of course, don't ever let on that you know this.......;)

This is not meant to be a downer post. And I don't claim to have all experience and wisdom. I'm young, and I've only been married 6 years. But it sure didn't take me long to figure some of these things out. Thankfully, I had no list and not many expectations before I met my husband. I remember telling God "surprise me" because I knew He knew what I wanted more than I did (side note: don't tell God that unless you mean it).

I love my man. He can make me madder than a hornet and happier than anything in the world...all in one hour! I did have the advantage of knowing him very well for a long time before we married. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into (and so did he, by the way, though he tries to say otherwise). Most of all, I saw him...I saw his heart and I saw that it was good. I saw the man that God is shaping him into and I loved him. Even now, when things get hard and he loses his way, I can still see his heart, I know who he is, even when he forgets. Love is tenacious that way. If I had a list, he probably wouldn't have matched it (certainly didn't match the one my parents had). I just knew that I would find my man when I could look into his heart and love what I saw there.

So don't marry a man because he fits your description of Mr. Perfectly Righteous Godly Man. And don't pass someone up because he doesn't. God looks at the heart. Which is a practice we could use a little more of.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Guest Posts

Hey, y'all,

Hillary, at Quivering Daughters, graciously asked me to expound on a comment I left a few days ago. So head over to Quivering Daughters and check out my guest posts, "Abusing Abuse?"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Watch out, girls!

This smile is going to be the undoing of many feminine hearts in the years to come.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Joel's Birth Story

*I posted this a few months ago on Facebook and decided to add it to my blog.

So here it is for those of you who asked me about it. As a warning, I'm not embarrassed or hesitent in the least to talk about body parts and functions so if you've got a problem with that, don't read this. :^)

I'm just gonna say that if given the choice between a fast, intense labor or a slow, gradual one, I'll take the slow, gradual one. It made all the difference in the world to have time to breathe in between contractions. I am so glad I got to experience a "normal" labor and delivery. For those of you who don't know, my girls' births were very short and extremely intense, pretty much unbearable. I was slightly worried about going through that again and had been praying, reading, and focusing all summer on how to deal with that type of labor again. Turns out, I didn't need to worry (do we ever??).

I woke up at about 4 am Sunday morning with what I knew were labor contractions and lots of bloody show (I actually lost my mucus plug the week before). The contractions were hard and uncomfortable, but they were really irregular and mostly about 20 min. apart. I got up at 7 and told Sky I'd been having contractions but they didn't seem to be going anywhere fast and I was going to take a shower and get ready for church and just see what happened. The answer: Nothing. :P Just kept doing what it was doing. I was really uncomfortable, but we went to church anyway. I ended up standing/walking around the back of the church since sitting didn't feel very good. I'm glad I went because it was better than sitting at home being bored AND uncomfortable. I'll never forget the look on one of our elder's face when he asked me when the baby was gonna come and I said "today, probably". It was priceless. He looked at me like he was afraid I meant right then and there.

We went home, my mom and Julie came, I called my midwife to put her on stand-by, and we waited...all day. I was annoyed because I knew I was in labor but nothing was happening. I was so used to labor starting with a bang and ending with a baby 3 hours later. Lindsay (my other sister) came and started doing some reflexology moves on me (she's a massage therapist) to get the labor going, and we all went to bed. I thought she was pretty brave coming for the birth since she was going to have a baby in a few months herself.

I slept off and on, and woke when my water broke at about 3:30 am. Finally!! I walked around until the contractions got really painful then I took a shower....for 2hours (thank God for a tankless hot water heater!). The hot water really made a huge difference in pain management. To focus on staying relaxed through the contractions, I sang/hummed the song "You Grace Is Enough" in a low, throaty voice the entire time (it had been stuck in my head since the band played it at church the previous morning, lol). It was good to have something to focus on, and keeping my throat open and relaxed helped to keep my entire body relaxed. One of the midwives came in a few times with a Doppler to check the baby's heartbeat, and occasionally someone would stick their head in to ask if I was alright. At one point, my midwife said if I wanted to have the baby in the shower, Sky would have to deliver it because she wasn't going to. :^)

Sky came in to check on me just as I couldn't stand there anymore and had felt the baby move down. I went into our bedroom where my mom, sisters, and midwives were having a party and knelt on the floor. I was pretty much in a hand-and-knees position, with my head resting on the bed. Turned out to be a good choice, since Joel was so big and that's the best position for bigger babies. With Sky and Lindsay sitting on the bed holding me up, I started pushing and couldn't believe how long it took to push that baby out! It was so different than the last two times. But the nice difference between this birth and my last two was that I could breathe and rest in between the contractions. It was soooooo nice!! I was even able to make snide remarks at people and drink some water between contractions. At one point I thought for sure his head was about to crown and my mom says "I see a little patch of hair!" and I replied "That's IT?!?!" I finally got his head out and I kept waiting for the rest of him to slide out but I had to push several more times. His head came out to his chin, then one sholder at a time, then I got him out to his waist, THEN he finally decided to pop the rest of the way out. (Later, we discovered that his chest was bigger around than his head. Also, he had a very long cord, which was wrapped around his neck and under one arm.) The good part about him taking his time was that I didn't tear at all. My mom caught him. I heard her chuckle then say "So, Dad, what is it?" and Sky said "Um, that's a boy."

I reached down to pick him up and thought he felt heavy for a newborn. Turns out, he was 8 lbs, 12 oz. It was funny, really. Because everyone had been telling me for the past 3 months how small I was and how I was going to have a little baby. I kept telling them that I could feel where his butt was and where his head was, and that this baby wasn't as small as they thought. Of course, I was right. :)

It was such a peaceful birth. I never once lost control or freaked out like I did last time (which was an answer to prayer). I love having my babies at home in a comfortable, relaxed environment. It's such a blessing to me to be able to have that choice. It was my easiest birth yet, even if it was the longest. And the biggest baby! I'm glad he was a week early or he would have been over 9 lbs! At his 1-week check-up he weighed 9 lbs 4 oz, and at his 3-week check, he weighed 10 lbs 4 oz. His daddy said half of that was hair.

His sisters fell instantly in love with him. They slept through the whole thing and woke up an hour after he was born. Mom brought Kailey in to see him when she woke up. She looked at him for a second, then held her arms out and said "Give it to me!". She then had to unwrap him and examine all his toes and fingers (which he didn't appreciate) and almost didn't give him back to me. She calls him "my baby" and hovers around anyone else who holds him. Faith pats him on the head and kisses him like he's a kitty cat. They both want to help me burp him and they both go running when he starts crying in the other room. It's pretty crazy around here with 3kids 3 and under. People keep telling me it'll get easier....I hope they're right. :P