Delight

This verse poses two interesting ideas. First of all, delighting in the Lord. It is so easy, especially when you are in spiritual doldrums, to see God more as  judge and creator of rules and morality. And He is these things. But He should also be a source of joy, someone to delight in. God should be seen as a loving Father, the creator of all things beautiful and good, a light in a very dark room. And Christ should be a friend. He even refers to the disciples as His friends.

Then there is the last part of the verse, the part that says that if we do delight in Him, He will grant us the desires of our hearts. God does want us to have the desires of our hearts, but through our relationship with Him the desires of our hearts are supposed to be transformed. It is only human to have some selfish desires, but as we grow in faith the desires of our hearts are supposed to change. We are supposed to say, Lord, let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It is okay to have dreams and ambitions and want to use your gifts, but it should be with the attitude that what you really want is what will fit with God’s plan.

I am not good at this. I am more into my will being done than anything else. It is just so hard not to have dreams and desires. Sometimes it feels like what God wants is for me not to be human. Sometimes I can step back and say, thy will be done. But most of the time I very much want what I want. It is difficult to remember that God’s design for my life will be so much more beautiful than anything I could come up with myself. Then though, I think “Why would God give me a desire in my heart, if He did not want me to have it, to follow it?” Some of my desires are purely selfish, but others aren’t selfish at all. They are for me, but they harm no one. Where is the line? What is okay and what is not? How do you reach the point of such abnegation of self that you really are willing to let go of everything you wish for, everything you hold dear, and say “Thy will be done?”

A Beautiful Woman

I try to be a nice person. Really, I do. But periodically I bite. Proverbs tells us to add sweetness to our speech and to speak softly. Sometimes I don’t speak very softly. I am loud.

My husband and I almost never fight. But on the occasion we do, I am usually loud and sharp. I need to add more kindness to my words. My speech is not sweet. It is acidic. It eats away at everything, burning it. I ought to have a gentler and quieter spirit, which is beautiful to God. God does not look at a woman and find her beautiful for her clothes and her figure and her makeup. He finds women beautiful who have gentle and quiet spirits. (Not that it isn’t okay to wear nice clothes and makeup.)

He expects us to cultivate what is on the inside, not the outside. He values the gentle, the grateful, the obedient, the modest, the submissive. He wants sweet speech and soft words. How can I practice these things? How can I be a woman after God’s own heart? Here is a list I have come up with. Many of these things I already do – I just don’t do them enough. If you think of anymore, comment or email me.

  1. Never raise my voice. You can not have a gentle and quiet spirit if you are yelling.
  2. Pray regularly to tell God what I am thankful for.
  3. Listen for the Holy Spirit as I write, pray, and think. Follow the voice of the Holy Spirit. Be obedient.
  4.  Try to cover up any low cut dresses with my infinity veils when I go out.  Showing some cleavage is okay when I’m at home, and practically unavoidable at formal events, but for the day to day I should be well covered. It is hard not to buy things that show a lot of cleavage when your breasts are as big as mine, but by wearing the right kind of veil I can buy all kinds of dresses and still be modest.
  5. Obey my husband. When a woman obeys her husband, she obeys God, who has place her husband in authority over her. This doesn’t mean I can’t lobby and petition for what I want and need. I can and I do, rather vigorously at times! But I am my husband’s helpmeet and God has ordered me to submit. So ultimately, my husband has final say.
  6. Be less prideful. God hates a haughty heart. I need to search myself for pride and tear it out. Am I too prideful when I get a pretty dress? When I have a day that I feel I look extra good?  When I add to my book collection? When I learn new things as I study? There is a fine line between appreciating things and feeling good about yourself, versus being prideful. Maybe one way to combat this is to give thanks to God for whatever I am proud of, whether it is a publication credit, a day of good complexion or hair, or my awesome library. And not to focus on it. Take a picture of me or my clothes or my library, and then move on. Be humble and remember that anything good that I have or achieve is through the Grace of my sovereign God. Enjoy the beauty in my life, but remember from whom it comes.
  7. Dive into the Word. A gentler, more peaceful spirit is a natural byproduct of being immersed in the Word.

I have a lot I need to work on. The Christian walk is a never ending journey, a constant refining of gold from dross.

Inspiration For Housework

Sometimes it is easy to forget that everything we do we are supposed to do to the glory of God. We are supposed to be joyful in our work. Lately I don’t think I have been joyful enough. The Bible says that all labor is profitable. I should take more joy in my work.

God doesn’t just task us to move mountains. He tasks us with moving mountains of laundry also. When I sweep the floor I should sweep it to the glory of God. When I clear the counters I should do it happily.

Sometimes we do things so much that they become completely mundane to us, whether it is office work or housework, but housework especially seems to fall victim to this. I know it does for me (although I don’t have office work). If you are a stay at home wife or a stay at home mother, you should take special pride in housework as one of your primary responsibilities. Sometimes, though, it is so hard to feel inspired. I mean, some days I wake up in the morning eager to get started. I am not skilled in homemaking, but the basic things I can figure out and am happy to do some days. Other days, I don’t want to touch housework. It’s my job, and I don’t want to do it. It’s not my only job, or even my primary job. My first job is to raise my daughter. It is, however, a very important job.

How can I get more inspired? Today I’m actually pretty inspired already. I organized my new vanity, started organizing the bathroom, started laundry, and I have more projects planned. But other days my well runs dry. I feel depleted and housework seems dreadful.

This is not a post that will give you the perfect answer to your housework inspiration woes. But I do have a few ideas that I plan to start using myself.

  1. Blogs. There are a lot of homemaking and housework blogs with tips, and more importantly, inspiration. Sometimes that inspiration comes from seeing pictures of beautifully organized and put together homes. But more often, for me at least, since I don’t aspire to perfection, I think I would benefit just from following the blogs and reading the articles. Just reading about how important homemaking is, or possible to do lists, or to hear a diary of someone’s day homemaking can be inspiring. So I need to find some good blogs and follow them.
  2. Facebook. Now hear me out. Most of the time facebook is a time suck that distracts you from your housework. But I’ve recently discovered that there are homemaking and stay at home mom groups to help inspire you and keep you on task. There is a group called SAHM Motivational Group, for instance. I’ve joined and slowly been gathering inspiration from there. I am going to look for others as well. Facebook is like any other tool. It can be a drain or a positive in your life. Make it a positive.
  3. Books. I am only beginning to explore this as well, but there are books out there about homemaking and books to encourage homemakers. I hear Martha Stewart has a great one with checklists of what needs to be done and how often. I probably wouldn’t go all out with everything on those checklists. I’m not really striving to have a Martha Stewart type of house. But it could give me a good starting point to work with and maybe make me consider things I’d never thought of trying before. There are books out there, and it might be inspiring and instructive to read them. Some women have an inborn knack for homemaking. I do not. So I stand to learn something.
  4. Have a friend hold you accountable. I’m not sure if any of my friends would be willing to do that, but if someone is that would be great. It would make housework a little less lonely. That is the problem sometimes with housework I think. It is lonely. People who work in offices have camaraderie.

I am going to try these thing in earnest and see if they help me get more done, and equally importantly, if they help me do my housework with joy to the glory of God.

Submission Vs Tyranny

I am reading a book widely read and often recommended by other Christian women. It is called “The Excellent Wife.” And in it is some rather ridiculous BS about submission. It says wives should submit to their husbands in everything that isn’t sin. On the surface, this is true. But then the book started giving examples, even saying that your husband has the final say on home decor. While I’m not advocating spending 10,000 on a living room suite your husband hates, it is also ridiculous to suggest that a man should be the one decorating the home.

Wives are to subject themselves to their husbands in everything, but at the same time only a man who is an absolute tyrant would tell a woman how she can and cannot decorate her home. The beauty and atmosphere of a home is a womanly thing.  If your husband micromanages you to the point of telling you what decorations and colors you use, here’s a newsflash ladies. Your husband is either an overbearing tyrant, or he’s gay. So which is it? Because a straight man without serious control issues doesn’t care how his wife decorates. He just thinks it’s nice she did something with the place. Making a house a home is a woman’s thing.

Some women, and these dreadful women’s devotional writers, take it too far. It says you should submit to every decision your husband makes, no matter if it is bad for your family or cruel to you. That you should submit and submit joyfully. So it isn’t even enough to accept bad treatment – you have to smile about it.

Obviously, submission involves submitting to things you don’t like sometimes. If you are only submitting when it is a decision you like, you are not submitting at all. Within reason, you should submit even when you don’t agree with something. But those are the key words – within reason. If your husband is a selfish, stupid SOB you don’t need to follow him into stupidity, poverty, and misery. These women miss the verse that comes right after the verse that tells women to submit to their husbands; they miss that verse that says husbands must love their wives like Christ loves the church and lay down his life for her. Every husband will make some selfish decisions. Your husband is, after all, human. And for the most part, when he does you should submit in love.

But if your husband is a selfish, arrogant prick who never puts his wife or his kids first, it is time to break free. You are a person with equal value to your husband, and your own mind and common sense. Don’t let your husband run you broke, drag the family miserable places for selfish ambition, treat you like dirt, be an absentee father and husband, and totally consume your life. If your husband micromanages everything you do and say, pretty soon there won’t be a you anymore. The verse in the Bible call men to be leaders, not micromanaging tyrants. A woman who needs her husband’s permission for everything is a woman in an abusive relationship.

The book has other gems too, such as saying that if your husband ignores you, be grateful for whatever small attention he does give you and thank God. Personally, I didn’t get married to be alone. I am not going to be grateful for table scraps. If my husband ignored me I’d tell him to move out until he decided he was interested again. The book also says that if your husband comes home from work in a bad mood and takes it out on you that you just need to remember he may have had a stressful day and you should be extra kind. Are you kidding me? If your husband just comes home in a bad mood, you should be extra kind and try to make him feel better. BUT if he comes home and takes that bad mood out on you, you shouldn’t stand for that. You get stressed and have bad days too. But interestingly it doesn’t say that it is okay to take out your frustrations on your husband and he should be understanding and rub your feet. Why? (aside from the double standard) Because it isn’t ever okay to take out your bad mood on someone else, let alone to expect them to respond by kissing your ass and thanking God for whatever treatment you are willing to give them.

It rather turns my stomach sour to see Christian women advocating for this. Submission is a beautiful, spiritual, loving thing. But what these women are advocating for is not submission, but abuse and slavery – an indentured servanthood (you get out of it when he dies) and total whitewashing of personality and healthy desire. And I bet you that almost every single woman in these women’s ministries that advocate for that life for women are women who themselves have loving, responsible husbands who do what is best for the family 9 times out of 10. So it is easy for them to talk about total submission in all circumstances, because they aren’t micromanaged and controlled. If your husband only requests submission in the small things or the female things once in awhile, that is okay. But if it is all the time, that is abuse of power. And rare (and brainwashed) is the woman who actually is living through that that would write an entire book telling other women to do the same. I read this book because of my profound interest in gender studies from a Christian perspective, in marriage, and submission. But many of the women I’ve seen this book recommended to are women in bad marriages who are searching for advice. This book is full to the brim with terrible advice. There’s a couple of good chapters, such as a chapter on homemaking. But most of it is dreadful.

I write about submission a lot because it is something that has been laid on my heart by God. I have learned a lot from it, and I think my marriage is stronger for it. I like to study the subject and pray on it and learn more to draw closer to my husband and to God. But my husband leads me – he does not terrorize me. I wouldn’t tolerate that for a second. i have a good marriage to a good man, so I can trust him and submit. And when I talk about how women should submit to their husbands, I mean most women. Most women in good or decent marriages should be submitting to their husbands. It will increase the joy in their marriages, bring them in line with God’s commandments, and give them security. But I would never, ever say that every woman should submit to her husband. That is dangerous. There are a lot of men who should not be submitted to – a lot of men that shouldn’t even be husbands. Women who write books like this lead women to tolerate abuse and mistreatment and tyranny.

Faith

I have faith that Christ is my savior, that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.

In so many other things though, I do not have enough faith, or even any faith at all. I get so worried, for instance, that for whatever the reason when Craig is up for his next set of orders there will be literally nothing in Norfolk. This is mostly ridiculous. Norfolk is the biggest Naval base in the country. There is bound to be something there for him. And if it is God’s will that we go back to Norfolk, He will make a way. And I really must hope and  believe that He will make a way, because I long to live near my parents again. I miss them. I need their support. My daughter needs to grow up with grandparents actively involved in her life. God hears the longing of my heart and knows my needs, and I must believe that He will provide. And if His answer to this prayer is no, I must have enough faith to follow His path and remember that He orders all things to our good. If God’s answer is no, I must go where He sends me. But my God is a loving God and knows what I need.

For now, in this difficult season of being so far from my parents and support system, I must learn to lean on God. I still need my meds. I still need friends. And no matter how far away I am, I need my parents and call them and text them as much as I can, and visit them as often as I can. But I need to rely on God too, as my strength and refuge. How can I build my faith? My Bible studies and devotionals and other books on various aspects of the Christian life certainly help. I think the fact we are beginning to go to church again will help too. But I think I need to spend more time simply abiding in God.  Simply feeling His presence, acknowledging His hand in every area of my life.

Sometimes I worry about how well we will do when Craig gets out of the Navy. Will there be a job for him? How much will it pay? Where will it be? I try to remember that God provides (and of course, we will have that pension, which many people don’t have), but it is hard. I know the economy isn’t good and a lot of smart, educated, skilled, and experienced people are out of work or making very little. But God will provide us with what we need, and if we do go through hard times God will watch over us.

I am currently on meds that are working absolutely fantastic. I haven’t had a mood swing in weeks and I’ve been getting up early. But I am so worried that they will burn out, as every drug I’ve ever taken has. If they do burn out though, I will have to lean on God until I find something else that does work. But for now, I shouldn’t be worried about when these drugs will quit. I should be enjoying this very pleasant ride. Only God knows what the future holds, but right now I have it pretty good.

I have so little faith in so many areas. I have little faith that my daughter will find a good Christian to marry, that the world will be a safe enough place for her to make her way in. And so many other things. I need more faith. Faith can move mountains. Why is it I believe in God so fervently, but do not rely on Him?

God’s Promise.

God's Rainbow. Noah and the Flood.

 

I love the true meaning of rainbows. This is what the rainbow really means. A promise from God never to flood the Earth again and wipe us out. A covenant with us. Many times nowadays people think of gay rights when they think of the rainbow, but God created the rainbow and He gave it a meaning first. No matter how much you stick rainbows on flags that represent other things, this is what the rainbow has always meant and will always mean. I understand the gay community wanting some sort of flag or other symbol to show solidarity, but at the end of the day God had the rainbow first.

Dead Faith

Faith without works is dead. The Bible says so. But yet so many people in the Christian community say that all you have to do to be saved is accept Jesus as your savior. And while there is truth to this, it is not entirely true. The Bible does say that to be saved you must accept Jesus as the son of God and believe in him. But it also says that faith without works is dead, that some people who call Jesus Lord will be turned away at Judgement Day and Jesus will say he never knew them, and that we must follow Jesus. We must become disciples. So clearly it is not as simple as believe in Jesus and you are saved.

The simple truth is that while believing in Jesus is the fundamental component of being saved, if indeed you really believe in Jesus and you are saved you will have good works to back that up. People who say Jesus Jesus Jesus but do not have good works are not following Jesus and the Bible tells us that they are likely not saved. Because it is impossible to know the love of God and not give some of that love back. It is impossible to be a disciple of Jesus and not do good for those around you.

No one is perfect and no one is without sin. But if you can’t remember the last time you reached out to try to make friends with somebody you might be doing something wrong. If you can’t remember the last time you gave to charity or tithed with your church, you might be doing something wrong. If you can’t remember the last time you helped someone, you are probably doing something wrong.

I feel like I’m doing something wrong. I have definitely helped people out in the past and tried to do good things, but I haven’t done anything in a while. Part of it is that I don’t feel fully connected to the community here yet. But I’m working on that. At least as much as a bipolar introvert can. We tithed to a church last week. But it has been a while since I’ve been able to do something good. I’m sure someone out there needs help, but I’m not sure who. We recently donated some stuff we don’t need anymore to a charity that supports a monastery of nuns. So that was nice. But it’s been a while since I have helped somebody in need with a car payment or phone bill or anything like that. And I can’t remember the last time I volunteered.

But I don’t even know where I would volunteer and what I would do. I have no special skills. I’ve considered the SPCA because I like bunnies, but I don’t really wish to work with cats or dogs. And I really wouldn’t be good at that anyway. I’m trying to donate some stuff to a church Children’s Program, but I don’t really know where to get involved. They have a craft group that I’d like to join if we continue going to this church, but that doesn’t count as volunteerism. Maybe I should volunteer with the children’s church. I’m just not sure that I should. On one hand they usually need volunteers to help with special programs or work the children’s church during the service to take care of the kids. And I really appreciate the people who do that. At the same time though most of them really love children and have a heart for children’s ministries. I nannied and babysat so much that I have kind of burned out on kids. I enjoy being with my own child, but not with everyone else’s. Helping out a friend with their kids would be okay on occasion,  but it’s not something I want to be committed to every Sunday. And besides so many kids nowadays are behaving so badly and I do not have the patience to tolerate that crap. Even if it is church.

I have thought about fostering a child but so many foster children come with problems that I am not equipped to handle while I am in the midst of taking care of my own child. And then if I got attached to a child I couldn’t bear to give him or her back. So I don’t really think that fostering is for me.

I used to tutor middle school kids and I really enjoyed that but I would have to find another organization that is looking for tutors and I’m not sure if there is one around here. I also used to have a job in college tutoring a Korean family in ESL and I absolutely loved that. Partly because I really loved the family and partly because the work was enjoyable. Maybe there’s an immigrant community around here looking for ESL tutors. That would be something I could do. But I’m not a professional ESL teacher and many such organizations want professional ESL teachers.

But God expects results, not excuses. There is undoubtedly someone out here who needs help and I should be helping them. There may be an organization that needs volunteers. I should be volunteering. There has to be something that I would be good at and could go do whenever I happen to have the babysitter – something I could be committed to but that has flexible enough hours to work around family life and the babysitter’s schedule. There must be something I could contribute.

I thought I saw something on this Church’s program about bringing communion to people who are shut-in. That is a ministry my heart would really be with. Who knows. If we commit to and join this church may be opportunities to give it to be involved will come my way. If not I will have to do something to find them. To whom much is given much is expected. Much has been given to me. I need to give back.