Grateful for My Resources

I have so many times where I honestly fear I am going to pull an Emily Dickinson and never leave the house again. Between bouts of depression that leave me too tired and withdrawn, and run ins with anxiety that leave me choked, I have reason for my lingering fears of extreme solitude.

Of course, I like at least a little interaction with friends and with the world. Sometimes the world inspires me. (Other times I wish it would disappear beyond my home and family.) Moreover I want to be a helpful helpmate to my husband, and that includes things like running to Target or going out to dinner. Beside that, I have a young child that needs me for doctor appointments, activities, and – starting this fall – rides to school each day. Becoming a recluse really isn’t an option, at least not now.

I feel tremendously grateful for the times I live in. I have online lectures and courses that allow me to learn from home. The internet lets me communicate with people far away. Books make me feel alive. It is humbling to think of how many people throughout history had no books to read, or the ability to read them. My home is comfortable, so on days like this where I can’t leave the house I have a spacious, relaxing place to be. There are paints at my disposal for some therapeutic color play.

I am grateful to God for all of this. There have been so many people like me who were born before these resources were available, or who live now in places where the comforts and opportunities I have don’t exist.

Today is hard. Recovering and bouncing back from the trip we just took to the coast to see family and friends has not been easy. It has been off and on. Today I had to reschedule my daughter’s tutoring because I can’t leave the house. Praying that tomorrow is a better day. Angelica has two different make up appointments in the morning. Hopefully, hunkering down today will mean better resiliency tomorrow.

Counting my blessings is vital to spiritual growth and happiness. Bipolar is hard. I had a manic episode last week, and now I am going the opposite direction. Anxiety is hard too. But my life is so good, and even shut in at home I have a wealth of good things.

Apocrypha

Just as a quick note, I am invigorating my spiritual life. I have a new devotional. Moreover, I am going to start reading and studying the apocryphal books of the Bible. Having predominantly been protestant, I was almost an adult before I knew any of these books existed. Now I want to study the books, and also see why they were removed. If they are Holy, I can learn from them. If they aren’t, I pray I can discern the difference.

A Reflection of Christ

I have been conforming to the world rather than the Word.

I obsess over society specific standards of beauty rather than the beauty of my soul. I have cares more about pleasing the world than pleasing my husband. I have focused on my looks (weight, fashion etc) more than on God.

I believe in charity, in Christ’s call to give to the poor. But lately I have not given enough. I am well past due for a donation to one of my favorite organizations – St Jude’s.

I have not been a good steward of the time that God has granted me. I fritter away my time on social media.

This past weekend I fast it again from social media like I used to, and I think it was good for me. Social media is still good for many things, and as a housewife it can be an important way for me to connect to others around me. But too much time spent on social media is a waste. It could be put to better use educating my child, cleaning my house, reading a good book, or creating poetry. There’s so much more I could do than scroll Facebook or Instagram.

I need to be open and comfortable with how I look. I need to fully adjust dressing modestly because it’s what makes God happy and what makes my husband happy. And I think it reminds me to die to the flesh a little bit. I need to give more, whether it is of my time or money. With mental issues being the way they are it can be difficult to donate time just because it’s hard to make a long-term commitment. But I need to find some way to give of myself to my community.

Lutheran Church

Today we tried a Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod. The Methodist church has been splintered by the LGBT issue. Although the church ruled not to allow the ordination of active gays and lesbians, it was the African and Asian churches who carried that vote. Most of the American and other Western churches opposed the decision. Our conference is in open rebellion against the ruling at the General Conference, and in our church newsletter there was a screed about discrimination essentially being further codified and made harsher.

The LGBT issue is a difficult one for me as a bi Christian, but fundamentally I believe that those living in homosexual relationships should not be ordained. They should be a part of the church and allowed to serve in the church. But ordination is a whole other matter. I do not think I should be ordained for a variety of reasons, and I believe that active homosexuals should not be eligible for ordination either. In the same way I would not want a divorced or adulterous person to be ordained, nor do I want the church to ordain those mired in homosexual sin unless they have chosen to be pure. Those who are ordained have to go above and beyond to make sure they are above reproach. They are to be held to a higher standard than others in the church.

Sometimes I feel like the church does not offer enough shelter and grace to LGBT people. I am happily married to a man, yet if the subject of sexuality comes up and I tell other Christians I am bi, I am sometimes the immediate recipient of the cold shoulder – at best. I’ve also been told that there are demons on me etc. I can only imagine what someone just like me who has chosen another woman instead of a man faces. There has been an uneven judgment in which the church weighs homosexuality more heavily than other kinds of sin and judges homosexuals to be the worst of sinners. This has got to stop. Your homosexual neighbor is no worse than your shoplifting teenage daughter, your lying brother, your drunken cousin. Yet to be ordained, although it is impossible to be sinless as a mere mortal, you should not be a shoplifter (or any other kind of thief), a liar, or a drunk. It is because the ordained must be a cut above. No one will listen to what you preach if you do not practice it. An ordained minister should, more than any of us, be the Word of God in action.

There are some who make the argument that the Bible does not teach against Homosexuality, but as of yet I have not seen a convincing argument for that.

We are also interested in the Lutheran church because they do not ordain women. That is one of our beliefs, particularly mine.

We want to attend the super traditional service with the classical liturgy next week. This week we attended a mixed service. It was still lovely. I took communion, which I have not been able to do in awhile. It was real wine. I was not thrilled about that, but of course the Lutherans are not the only ones to use real wine. I will be asking if juice is an option if we end up joining this church.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is difficult. This is especially true if the person you need to forgive isn’t sorry.

Everyone has someone in their lives that they need to forgive, whether it’s for something small or something really big. For me, forgiveness is a struggle for sure.

Some people don’t understand forgiveness, or misuse the very concept for their own benefit. Forgiveness doesn’t mean taking someone back into your life. Forgiveness doesn’t mean trusting them again. Forgiveness doesn’t mean making excuses for them. Forgiveness means that you have chosen to let go of any bitterness or anger, not for their benefit but for yours.

I am on a journey of forgiveness. It’s a process. I’m in therapy to try to work things out and I think that’s helping. If I want to be a disciple of Christ I have to forgive. I don’t have to tolerate abuse. I don’t have to take anyone’s crap. But I do need to find it in my heart to forgive those who have wronged me, who have mistreated me.

Study of Daniel

This evening I began an in-depth study of Daniel that I bought from Christian Book.

I am really excited.

Two companies have entire series with individual studies of each book of the Bible, as well as some topical studies. To start off, I have ordered one study on Daniel, one on Revelation, and one about angels.

Rereading the first half of Daniel this evening has been really illuminating. I have been in the New Testament for quite a while. But every chapter of this book is a constant reminder to prevail, to have strength. Of course there’s the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Everybody knows the story about the fiery furnace. But there’s so much more than that. Kings were ordering fortune-tellers and sorcerers to death right and left, and Daniel was able to speak up and interpret the King’s dream because God had given him that gift. It had to have been at least mildly nerve-wracking to offer up not only an interpretation of the King’s dream, but to actually recount it to him, especially knowing how many people had put to death for not being able to do that. But Daniel went ahead because he knew that God had granted him that vision.

As a spiritual person I am really compelled by the central role that dreams play in Daniel. The king has important dreams that show him his future, and Daniel has visions about these dreams that he is able to interpret. Essentially, God repeatedly gives people spiritual and literal information through dreams and visions. That is incredibly powerful. People often laugh about the entire subject of interpreting dreams. Freud did the subject no favors in a lot of ways. And of course sometimes dreams have nothing to do with God. However, we should never rule out the possibility that what we have seen in our sleep is a message.

God goes where he pleases and does what he wants. He is limitless. He can speak to us regardless of our state of consciousness. I need to start paying more attention to my dreams. I need to be spiritually receptive when I am awake and when I’m asleep.

Undeserved Blessings

God is good, and I am grateful.

Thinking about my life, I realize how fortunate I am. I have done nothing to merit my great marriage, sweet daughter, lovely home, or artistic life. God has blessed me beyond measure.

This is what God does. He gifts us beautiful things. He holds our hands when things get difficult, and he showers us with blessings. We wade through the rain, but one way or another we are given a rainbow.

As a sinner, I deserve condemnation. Yet God has extended His hand to me. Through His Son, He has given me the gift of eternal life.

Sometimes I need to be still and count the precious blessings I have received from the Lord.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Headcovering as an Offering to God

Headcovering can be controversial. In my family I have come across the stigma against submission, and the contemporary horror of headcovering. A woman covering anything is becoming more and more controversial in an age where women are supposed to be liberated by the ability to bare their flesh without shame. Maybe the baring of flesh makes some women feel liberated, but I feel liberated when I can cover. My husband, although he shows me every day that he thinks I’m beautiful, values me for so much more than my breasts or my legs. I have no desire to draw attention from other men.

Lately I have begun to wear simple, long, flowing maxi dresses. Craig loves maxi dresses, and I like to wear things he likes. I also like how comfortable the dresses are, and that they are modest. I am not against dressing a little sexier maybe for a special event, but for daily life I actually like being covered.

Gentleness of God

God is gentle with me. This devotional has a quote which says, “The closer we draw to God, the more we will treat others as He’s treated us.”

I think this is true. I am a sweeter person with God. But how much better could I be if I drew closer to Him? God wants us to love Him and try to be like Him. The more I feel the soft lavender of God on my face, the gentler I am.

My Husband Has Asked Me for More Modesty

My husband loves to see me wearing maxi dresses. He just likes long, flowing dresses. He’s always happy when I buy one. Maxi dresses are just his style. I haven’t bought one in a while though. Maxi dresses are hard to find sometimes.

Part of it though is modesty. When I pointed out to my husband that when I wear short addresses he can see my legs, he relied, “So can everyone else.” My husband would like me to be more modest, and as his wife I will obey. God has called me to obey my husband.

My body belongs to my husband. When we got married two became one. His body is for me, and my body is for him. If he doesn’t wish me to show off my body to other people I think that’s understandable.

To that end, I have ordered some conservative maxi dresses. I hope they fit me. It is so hard to be able to tell what size you are online. They are a long, flowy dresses in a few different colors. They have a high, modest necklines. It makes me happy to dress in something that my husband likes to see me in. And modesty can be good for the soul. In a society where so much of our worth is based on how much skin we show and how good that skin looks, keeping skin covered can actually be freeing. If someone wants to look and see if I’m beautiful, they will see my face rather than my breasts. If they want to talk to me, they will have to focus on my ideas and what I have to say. I want to be noticed for my personality.

I do not intend to dress frumpy. I will still wear jewelry and makeup – and of course I always try to make sure my headcovers are lovely. But out of respect for my husband I will try to avoid anything to form-fitting or too short. I wish to respect my husband. What matters most to me in terms of beauty is being beautiful to my husband. He loves long dresses and so it will be a pleasure for me to wear them as much as possible. He also values modesty, and I think it is good that he is helping me with my spiritual maturity by asking me to be covered and modest.