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.

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.”

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.

I Met Another Headcoverer!

I was in Petsmart picking up some litter box bedding for Parsnip, when a girl stopped me and told me my veil was beautiful, and asked if I was Christian. She is too, and she wears veils to church! She’s Catholic, and in her parish headcovering is not uncommon. She said there’s even a couple of churches around here who do a Latin Mass and require women to cover. She said she’s thought about covering full time like I do, but she just isn’t sure yet. She always covers at church though.

It’s so refreshing to meet another woman who wears veils. She gave me a good recommendation for where to buy more infinity veils and mantillas, and I gave her a recommendation as well. I told her I was a Methodist and she was definitely surprised, which makes sense because headcovering is pretty uncommon among Methodists.

This may sound silly, but it warmed my heart to meet another woman who headcovers, even if she does not do it full time. I sometimes get looked at negatively for wearing veils. Some people really love my veils and I get compliments, but still many more are put off. It’s nice to see that other young women are wearing them too, and of course it is always nice to hear that someone likes my veil! My veils are beautiful to me, and it is lovely when someone else appreciates one of them.

She told me headcovering is coming back in the Catholic and Orthodox churches, and I think that is wonderful. I hope that someday more Protestants (besides just the Mennonites) will start to cover. I am in some headcovering groups online, and I know there are a few Lutherans, evangelicals, and nondemoninationals veiling now. Just not many. Headcovering is such a beautiful, reverent thing and can bring so much joy. Once upon a time everyone practiced headcovering, especially in church. Yet in so many churches, especially Protestant churches, headcovering is now eschewed. I pray this beautiful, scriptural practice is revived. But whether it is or it isn’t, I will continue to wear my veilsĀ  in obedience to the Scripture that has been laid on my heart by God. My conscience is convicted.

It just filled me with joy to meet another sister in Christ who believes in headcovering!

A Violet

Therese Lisieux was a Carmelite nun who lived in the latter half of the 19th century. Although she lived a very short life, dying at 24 from tuberculosis, the writings she left behind about flowers are compelling and influential in church thought. As Therese would meditate on flowers she would learn lessons about God. Her writings on flowers were compiled into a book called The Story of a Soul.

Sometimes she wrote about individuality and our place in God’s Kingdom. In one passage she wrote, “I realized that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wildflowers to make the meadows gay.”

What that really drives home to me is that whether you live your life in the Limelight among other people or not, you are important and God thinks you contribute to the beauty of creation. The violet is no less worthy than the rose. She goes on to say that the Saints are like lilies or roses and that we must be content to be the violets or daisies that God smiles at when He looks down. What I think this means is that while Saints’ souls have been perfected by fire, we are beautiful too. We can’t all be Saints, and we should not all be Saints. We may not stand out in a crowd of souls like they do, but if the world was filled with all the same kind of people everything would get very monotonous. Everyone’s variety and individuality is needed. It makes God smile, and anything that makes God smile is a necessary thing. God uses a macro lens when he sees us, examining our beauty in detail so that even the smallest of us flowers is gorgeous to Him.

Along those lines, Therese wrote that all of us can be perfect when we become that which God designed us to be. Popular culture seems to focus so much on perfection. And in Christianity we avoid the very concept because none of us are without sin, and to be truly perfect is to be sinless. But this is another, interesting idea of perfection that I like. God has designed each and everyone of us with a unique personality and temperament, with different skills and interests, and with different purposes. When we live out our purposes and function in the way He designed us, we are perfect. Obviously our souls are not perfect because we are sinners. Everyone needs Jesus. But our personhood can be perfect.

Then the question becomes, what are my gifts and what is my purpose? How can I fully live in accordance with my design, including my personality, temperament, and life circumstances? To what degree am I already doing this or to which I might have already fulfilled my purpose at least by and large?

I know that I was meant to be Craig’s wife. So day in and day out I fulfill that purpose. I was meant to be Angelica’s mother. God chose me to be her mother. So I try to fulfill that purpose to the best of my ability. God designed me to be very creative. So what is the purpose of that creativity? Although I enjoy making art I am by no means proficient at it. So what is the purpose? It could just be so that I can enjoy it. God wants us to be happy. He wants us to be holy first, but wherever possible we should be holy and happy. My life provides the opportunity to be happy and gives me chances to work on myself to be more holy. I should take advantage of both opportunities. What role is creating things or doing photography supposed to play in my life?

What about my writing? As a writer I sometimes feel so isolated. I always thought I would go to grad school, get an MFA and then a Ph.D, and start teaching at the college level. I thought that I would know other writers from my days in grad school and that I would be publishing books. But I was not destined to do that. God had other plans for me, better plans. But my passion for writing poetry remains, and I have very little opportunity to use that voice above a whisper, at a volume that other people can hear me. So what am I supposed to do with all my poetry? What is the ultimate purpose to me being a poet? I might get a book published but I might not. I may try to publish more chapbooks since I really enjoy chapbooks, but there is no telling if that will come through and I have not submitted in a very long time. Is God’s plan for me to have a book published? Or does He have other plans for me and my little poems? Do I need to start submitting again? Or am I supposed to take some other avenue?

Moving to Colorado with my husband has brought about tremendous change in my life. New place, new people, new schedule, new terrain, new opportunities. I am sure that this move was important. What am I supposed to be doing with it? I’m getting involved with my church and I feel like that’s the right direction to go in. I don’t know what will come of my involvement, but maybe my hands are needed. I want Angelica to really get something out of living in Colorado for 3 years, whether that is simply amazing and beautiful experiences, or a friend that she’s supposed to make, or maybe getting plugged into this church will make a big difference in her life.

Like everyone else, I have so many facets to my personality. I’m kind of a mixture of Victorian lady, 1950s housewife without the good organizational skills, and a dark, Gothic princess. God made me these things, and there must be a reason for each one of them. So how can I live out my life in such a way as to be authentically who God made me, fulfilling his design for me and reaching perfection in what He wanted me to be?

I may never be a rose, either in God’s eyes or the world’s. You never know, but probably not. But sometimes I don’t want roses when I go to the market. I want a nice bouquet of daisies, or maybe some violets. How does God want me to bloom?

Benefits of Submission

Mantilla

I recently received some new Infinity veils and mantilla from Catholic at Heart. I love them. The mantillas are longer than what I am used to but so, so soft. And this one is particularly beautiful. If you look carefully you will see that it is covered in big hearts. I feel so feminine when I wear it.

I wear a head cover to show submission to my husband and God, and because of the Angels. And it’s really interesting what a power that had covers have. When I wear one I am reminded to be less short-tempered with my husband. I wouldn’t call myself a short-tempered person, but that doesn’t mean I can never be snippy. I just get impatient or I don’t feel good or I don’t even realize that I sound aggravated until after I said something. And while I wouldn’t say that wearing a head cover reminds me to be better about that all the time, it definitely does help.

It also reminds me to follow my husband’s leadership and let him make the decisions. At least the big decisions. He consults me and cares about what I think, but ultimately it’s not my call. And that’s actually really freeing and liberating. Some people would see that as bondage, but I promise it isn’t. A while back I had to make the decision about whether or not to have a second child. As you may know from this blog I am bipolar, and pregnancy presents great difficulties for me. I have to alternate between going off medication or taking medication that is not very effective because it’s as close as I can come to finding something reasonably safe for the baby. My pregnancy with my daughter was an absolute nightmare and I dreaded going through that again, especially because after she was born I was still bad off and I never really bounced back. I had years of instability and even now when I have a mood swing it’s worse than it used to be before I ever got pregnant. The doctors told me it was my new normal. But yet I really wanted a second baby. My heart yearned for a baby. And I knew that my husband wanted one too. And I was racking my brain trying to figure out which decision to make. I felt agonizingly torn between wanting to bring a new life in the world and wanting to be able to take care of the precious life that I already had.

This decision was giving me sleepless nights and I didn’t know what to do. And finally I realized that it wasn’t decision I had to make. I am married. And I’m supposed to follow my husband’s lead. Even in a totally egalitarian marriage a decision like that is between both spouses. When you are trying to submit to your husband it’s doubly true. So I took the issue to my husband and told him that I wanted him to decide. We both really wanted a baby and if he decided that it was worth taking the health risks, then we would try for another baby. If he was worried about having to deal with too much stress from a severely mentally ill pregnant wife and take care of a small child then we would not have another child. Each part of the decision had its pros and cons. Obviously if we chose to have a baby we would have the joy of having another little person to take care of and raise. But there is also a chance that in addition to a nightmarishly hard pregnancy that the bipolar issues would severely deteriorate my brain and I might not be able to do much of the caretaking or live much of a life. If we didn’t have another baby I would be safe and Angelica would have stability, but she would never get to have a sibling, and we would never know what it is to bring home a baby from the hospital again.

My husband didn’t take 10 seconds to decide. He said that he did not want to have another baby at the expense of my mental health and that we should stop at one child. I had a period of grieving after this. I so wanted another child. But I knew my husband was right and I was relieved that the decision was made. And the fact that he made the decision told me that he was satisfied with it. If I had made the decision I would not know for sure that it was the decision my husband wanted. But I put it completely in his hands and he told me what he wanted. And it relieves such a burden from me.