Monday, May 31, 2004

How Good and Pleasant it is....

...When brethren dwell together in unity.

Yesterday's Lord's Day was a feast of reason and flow of soul as well as a literal feast of food. We had our usual society meeting followed by a fellowship dinner at one of our member's home. This was followed by a group discussion on a chosen topic that kept us on track with devoting this day to the Lord. Such times as these are a small foreshadowing of the fellowship that awaits us in Heaven.

It is an encouraging thing to see sanctification happening not only on an individual, but also on the corporate level. Fellowship with like-minded believers is one of the main resources that God has given the Church for keeping ourselves unspotted from the world. This is especially important when we live in a culture that is more and more degenerate as time progresses, and also in a time when the Church at large is sunk in apostacy, schism, and judicial blindness. Things look bleak when we survey the horizon, even when we know that God has ordained these circumstances and is working out His will to His own honor and glory. These times of fellowship are what give us weak mortals the intestinal fortitude, hope, and joy in the circumstances that helps us to stay the course.

A Successful Dry Run

The cake turned out real fine. I have to tweak things a bit, like brushing each layer with a sugar syrup. I am thinking of making it a sugar syrup with orange zest in it. This will make the cake a bit more moist and flavorful and it will also prevent the bavarian cream filling from being absorbed out of sight. The icing turned out perfectly and is easy to work with. I am going to do a bit of practicing with it and see if I can master a few simple decorating techniques.

Martha Stewart may be a liar and insider trader, but she does know how to write a book with good directions on wedding cake construction.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Dry Run

Sunday is Elodie's second birthday, but because we don't celebrate birthdays on the Lord's Day (since that day should be reserved to the Lord alone), we will be celebrating it tomorrow. I am going to make a mini version of the wedding cake that I am making for the weddings in July, complete with the same type of filling and maybe similar decorations. We will see how it turns out and whether or not I can quit sweating bullets over this.

In the next few weeks I will be renting the cake pans, making the cakes, lightly freezing them, sawing them in half, refreezing them, and then setting them aside to await the BIG DAY. I am planning on assembling them the day before the wedding. One of the things I will be experimenting with is making the icing ahead of time. I am going to refrigerate it and then take it out to soften and see if it can still be worked with. If it does what I think it will do, it will allow me to make up a few gallons of icing a day or so ahead of time and store it in my fridge and then take it out in order to work with it on assembling the cakes.

I can't help wondering why I took this on sometimes. I am so afraid the cakes will turn out to be a total flop and will look dreadful. I do so want them to both look and taste good because the wedding cake is one of the best parts of a wedding if it is done right. If it looks good, I'll post pictures. I don't mind showing off pictures of cakes as long as I am not in them. :oP

Those of you who want to see a picture of me in my hippy get up will be able to do so...

...When I lose about another 25 lbs!

Sorry, but I am incurably vain and don't like most pictures of me. You can all see me in Heaven when I am finally cured of this affliction.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Love of Money and All Kinds of Evil

"If it can be done, then why not do it?" appears to be the motto of many scientists and medical researchers. One area in which this type of thinking is moving ahead is that of doing facial transplants. Doctors at the University of Louisville in the US are planning on carrying out a facial transplant, despite the many ethical, moral, and physical impacts that such a transplant could have.

Of course, they have consulted with professional "ethicists" about all this before doing it.

As far as I can tell, the purpose of an ethicist is to move us from point A to point Z in small enough increments we are comfortable with to give us the illusion that we have actually measured our proposed actions against the Law Order of the Universe. Of course, no one asks the ethicists what their presuppositional basis is that guides their decisions on the morality of doing a proposed action.

In the end, pragmatism rules the day, just as it does in our churches and in every other arena you care to mention.

Do I sound cynical? I feel it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Woo Hoo!

I'm going to be a Grammy again! (And yes, Mom, you get to be a Great Grammy again too.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

No Sanctuary

Now men won't even safe from advertising when they use a public urinal thanks to this company.
Who Writes These Books???

A few weeks ago I picked up several pre-school workbooks to bring home for my four year old son, Garnet, to work on. These books also contained a CD Rom of pre-school games that were supposed to help the child learn what you would expect a pre-schooler to know.

Well, I must be really behind in starting these kids on school work because the books are definitely NOT pre-school stuff despite what the label on the outside said. Instead of starting with the rudimentary skills of number recognition and counting, the math games had them adding and subtracting numbers in the double digits. Why would anyone do this to a preschooler or their parents??
Funky Mama

It's that time of year again -- the time of year that makes me contemplate getting out the hemp and beaded necklace, ankle bracelets, and toe rings. That's right. Summer weather usually calls out the funky, hippy side of me. It has been creeping up on me in the past few weeks, but last night the funky mood got a huge shove with the help of a friend.

Dawn owns a modest home with a bazillion dollar view that overlooks the Nechako River. Last night I dropped by with a couple of my boys who are friends with her son, and we sat on a lawn swing in the setting sun and watched fish leap in the river below as our boys did a bit of fishing.

Dawn is one of my favorite people. She has assisted me as I brought the last four of my children into the world at home, and though she has had to become a bit more medically oriented in her practice, she still is the sort of midwife like you find between the covers of Spiritual Midwifery

Dawn was showing me her latest project, which is a book of daily affirmations that pregnant women can tear out to contemplate either during their pregnancy or as something to focus on while they are in labor. I sat there twiddling a piece of hair around a finger as I read and Dawn, who has about a half dozen strands of beaded hair on one side of her head, finally asked me if I would like one too.

I squinted at her for a moment. Crystal, pearled, emerald green, and gold beads shimmered on the side of her head. Before I finished saying contemplatively "I think so," Dawn had lept from her chair, grabbed her box of beads and pulled out some strands that she had made up already. I chose one of alternating pearl and crystal beads and now I have a single strand of them adorning my hair, just in front of one ear.

My Birkenstocks are at hand. Now all I need is some batiked Indian muslim dresses or skirts and I am all set for the summer.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

You are a classical writer, taking after the forms
of Shakespearian sonnets and Emily Dickinson's
apparent lack of meter and rhyme. Your teacher
always told you that you should have been born
in 18th century England--and perhaps you should
have been! Then you could be a literary genius
now! Stuck in the classical-romantic era,
Shakespeare is your idol and role model. Your
favorite language is old English, and you're
actually quite fluent. Someone with class,
style, and quite a bit of intelligence as well,
I'll wager. :)

What's YOUR Writing Style?
brought to you by Quizilla
Such Mercy

she sings hallelujah
when all has become nothing
and her hope in the saviour
has colored all she does
and taints the way she loves

she sings hallelujah
and falls to the ground again
with hands stretched up to the sky
waiting for the day
she'll hear the father say...

...welcome home good and faithful one

Lyrics from a song by the Newsboys

Now if that isn't an expression of love too overwhelming to contemplate for very long, I don't know what is. How can He? How can God take such rotten, foul sinners as we, impute righteousness to us, ordain and enable us to do good works which He sanctifies through His Spirit, and then reward us and call us good and faithful ones?

Cast your crowns at His feet. They are His. To Him be all glory, honor and praise! Amen.
Thoughts of Death

Ever have one of those days where you spend almost the entire time you hear the sermon weeping? This was one of those days for me. Today we had a sermon by Thomas Watson read to us by one of the men in our congregation. The text was taken from Job 14:14 and it dealt with how we need to consider our ends and make preparation for our death.

The terror of death, for me at least, is not about my actual passing. It is the terror I feel over the possibility of some of my children or other loved family members or friends dying outside of Christ. While there is life there is hope, but it is a painful thing to see a child living after the flesh and know that if they were taken right now, their conversation, or manner of living, leaves no hope of eternal salvation.

There is nothing like contemplating death to help you get things in the right perspective. I have been extremely angry and hurt in the last few days over the way a fellow Christian has misrepresented me recently to others so that my integrity and honor have been questioned and damaged. As I was preparing for church this morning, the verses about needing to get things right with a brother or sister before bringing an offering to the altar came to mind. I couldn't do anything about the situation today, but I could, by God's grace, deal with my heart attitude in anticipation of dealing with things. And so I prayed that God would remove my sinful anger and replace it with a productive frame of mind that would allow me to find a satisfactory conclusion to the situation. And then came the sermon and I was crushed to think of how petty it is of me to worry so about my reputation and honor, as stained and soiled by sin and mixed motives as it is, when I could be called to account at any moment to face my King. Do I really want to come before him that way?

Man's chief and highest end is to do everything for his own glory and to enjoy Him forever. Death helps remind us of this. When Christ was falsely accused, he didn't rail against his accusers. Neither should I rail against mine.

This life is a warfare and all Christians die as soldiers, battling til the end. Not only must we prepare for our physical death, but we must also put to death sin in the flesh daily that we might live unto Christ.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Tyranny of Women

In a recent post by Samantha, she linked to an article on Perverted Patriarchy that stimulated further thoughts in my head.

The article lays out the differences between a perverted patriarchy where a man, as head of the household, views his position as one of power to coerce circumstances and people to his service, rather than the Biblical and Christ-like model of leadership, which is to serve.

As I read through the article, nodding with approval, it occurred to me that this notion of servant-leadership is not one that is restricted to men. Women, too, need to remember this in their roles. When we think of leadership in the home, the tendency is to think of it solely in terms of male leadership, forgetting that women are authorities in the home as well, namely over their children.

Christian leadership is not about someone controlling others and asserting his will over them; it is about serving them. Serving someone is the very opposite of asserting one's will over them. A slave yields his will in order to serve his master. A Christ-like leader will yield his will in order to serve those under his authority. Jesus demonstrated this style of leadership in that He gave His life for the sake of those He came to lead.

Another way of saying this is that Christian leadership is more a matter of influence than control. God's kingdom advances in this world not by God's external control of people but by His working changes within people, making them want to obey Him. Jesus could have come and established His kingdom by the sheer exertion of power, demanding obedience and enforcing it with the sword. Instead He choose to serve those over whom He was Lord and to cause them to want to submit to Him. His leadership is not an external exercise of power; it is an internal influence, leading His followers to obey Him willingly.

The article is extremely well written. If you are a woman, read it with an eye to your position as an authority over your children and see if you have areas in which you are transgressing against them.
Wifely Submission

What follows is a comment I made on Samantha's blog I thought it bears repeating here.

Women are called to submit to their own husbands, which suggests to me that submission is something to be tailored to the specific man that you are married to, not to all men everywhere. Likewise, men are to dwell with their own wives "with understanding" meaning that his understanding is not limited to generic understanding of all women, but to his particular wife.

It goes without saying, that our ultimate submission is to God and His moral law. No husbands have the right to command a wife to sin against God. It is in the "indifferent" things where a wife's submission to her husband is to be manifested. And it is in "indifferent" things that a husband's understanding of his wife is also manifested.

People come in various flavors and shapes. We tailor the way we teach, to a certain extent, to our particular child, because what works for one doesn't work for another. One woman may be able to endure watching a movie that another wife finds too violent and nightmare causing. Some people have a weak and uninformed conscience about a particular practice, and it would be sinful to force them to participate in it until their conscience is rightly informed. IOW, there are no bright hard lines drawn for us when it comes to indifferent things.

Of course, it requires the acquisition of maturity and wisdom on our part in order to learn where and how to draw the lines for ourselves and those we are lawfully relating to in marriage and family. The unimaginative, the lazy, the immature, and the selfish will draw the lines in rigid ways and require everyone to conform to them in order to manifest *their* notions of what constitutes holy living. Mature Christian living is confined by God's Law, but fluid in its application, showing mercy, wisdom and sincere love of God and man. This is a high ideal to strive for. It would be nice if all of us could actually achieve it (self included).
First Blood

That delightful but small window that occurs between when the spring leaves form a delicate green canopy overhead and the air is fresh with the scent of growing things and not a single bug is around to mar the almost heavenly beauty has now passed. I got the first of what is likely to be many mosquito bites yesterday.

I am feeling a bit of sympathy for the ancient Egyptians who suffered under the plague of flies. All of a sudden pesky houseflies are everywhere, despite the screens on all the windows and doors. I have to drape clean dishtowels over the food when doing preparations in order to keep them from prancing in it.

I am looking forward to the joys of summer, but look forward most to the summer of Heaven, sans flies!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get More Confusing...

...Some godless idiot comes along to prove you wrong.

Monday, May 17, 2004

On the Inappropriateness of Men doing Feminine Reproductive Health Care

Nikkiana raised an issue (and what will likely become a rant) for me when she commented in my last blog post about how she prefers seeing women doctors. I understand and sympathize with her views of this. If I am seeing a doctor for something that needs doctoring, usually I don't have a problem with seeing a male physician. There are certain body parts and procedures, however, in which I and most women definitely are NOT comfortable with having a male attendant. This is "light of nature" stuff folks and should be plenty obvious what I am referring to -- anything that has to do with the female reproductive system.

Now before any of you men reading this zone out here, I want you to sit up and pay attention, because you have a part in what I have to say. And I promise not to be graphic.

The demise of midwifery care in North America is largely the fault of women. Some time ago, I did some reading on the history of obstetrical and gynecological care of women in North America and it appears that the switch to male attendants began with women in the upper crust who wanted to ease the birth pangs with drugs. Male physicians were the source of these drugs. Before long, middle class women wanted these drugs as well. As more and more male doctors became involved, the push was on to crowd out and do away with the feminine health care model of midwifery and move women into the more "sanitary" and efficient hospital model where it would be easier for doctors to oversee the birthing process of more than one woman at a time, all managed tidily by nurses who could do most of the dirty work, and where it was easier and safer to administer the drugs.

Obstetrics is a lucrative and never-ending source of income for the medical profession, so the more inefficient, less expensive, and less sanitary appearing model of homebirthing with a midwife was portrayed as something done only by backward and ignorant people. There is an economic incentive to keep female health care in the hands of the medical profession.

As women were moved out of the home, they lost the traditional support that other women (mothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, friends, neighbors) during the birthing process, as well as the comfort that this provided. Birth became a sterile and frightening experience where "active management" took over and birth became, not a natural process that it normally is, with the odd complication, but rather a diaster waiting to happen. Moreover, hospital birthing practices are designed to make an inherently female and inefficient process conform as much as possible to a more masculine approach to efficiency, with disasterous results in terms of actual outcome and the ability to provide the best environment for mother/infant bonding. I swear, sometimes, in looking over hospital protocols for labor and birth, that the committees in charge of such things asked themselves what would be the most intrusive and disrupting procedures they could institute for birthing, and then implemented them.

Over 90% of babies born in hospitals today begin life with drugs in their systems. None of these drugs have been tested for safety on the highly vulnerable livers and brains of babies. This is highly ironic given the care most mothers take during pregnancy, to avoid toxic substances (the definition of a drug).

All of these interventions -- from the IV and electronic fetal monitor, to the episiotomy, forceps, vacuum extractor and cesarean surgery have short term effects on the birthing process and immediate and often long-term effects on the physical and emotional health of mother and baby. Things done that simply inhibit the natural and spontaneous behavior of mothers and babies and pose additional risks, for example: restricting what a woman eats or drinks in labor, restricting her movement during labor or delivery, not allowing her to touch her baby as it is emerging, and separating her from the baby at any time after the birth.

The simple act of placing a laboring woman in a room dominated by the presence of a clock and asking her to take off her own clothes and put on a hospital gown can unconsciously alter her behavior and change the natural rhythm of her labor. Parents make their decisions based on false trust in the medical model for birth and from a lack of accurate information...

...The result of our approach to birth is a strange mix of isolation combined with sensory overload, lack of privacy combined with deprivation of appropriate attention, and an undervaluing of the entire experience mothers and babies have.

All of the above is by the way, and you can read more about it on the website that I linked to. It isn't my intention to spend this post on listing all the ways the modern obstetrical practices contribute to harming women and babies. What I do want to focus on is the way that having men perform medical procedures upon women does MUCH to offend and violate the natural modesty that women should have before strange men not their husbands.

Many of these procedures could be done on women by women -- namely midwives. I have been blessed in a friend who is a competent, licensed midwife, who does all my well-woman care. This, unhappily, is not the case for most women because of the way midwifery has been driven out of the mainstream and onto the fringes.

I think it is time that women started to demand well woman care for women BY women once again. And I also think that husbands ought to be demanding the same, in order to protect their women and girls. A girl's first introduction to specifically female health care should not be at the hands of a strange man!

And since I have been dealing with the topic of single women and career paths, I think becoming a doula or a midwife is an excellent occupation that will stand any woman in good stead when it comes time to having her own babies. Just be sure that you marry a man who is understanding about the strange hours you keep and the kind of passion that this type of work can inspire.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Testing my ability to post pictures of my Dainty Doodle and Kee Kee Boo. Posted by Hello
What's a Single Girl to Do?

A serious question posed by a young single lady was what I thought young women who want to marry and have children, but have no prospect for marriage and motherhood in the near future, should do?

This is something that I have given some thought to as I have a number of daughters, some of whom are older. Are single women supposed to sit at the parental home crocheting and looking domestic until some knight rides by to sweep them off their feet? Or is it possible to do something else with their lives, as they wait for Prince Charming, like get an education or a career? I think the latter is a valid direction for single women.

As a practical matter, as young women mature, they want their own space to govern and arrange. It can be difficult living in your mom's home and having to submit every creative idea to her oversight, particularly if you are entering your 20's. Women want to create their own spaces that reflect their personality and creativity. And if mom has been training her daughters into home management, they also want the space to actually manage a home too. Nor do I think unmarried daughters are to become the family drudges, spending their time serving Mom and Dad and younger siblings by doing the housekeeping and cooking. But what if no man is on the horizen, ready to take advantage of these desires? Must she languish forever in the parental home, frustrated by her training and not able to express it?

I don't believe so. Now, I do think that there are some limitations on what women ought to engage in career wise. I have a definite bias against women police officers, soldiers, firemen, and other occupations that benefit not only from greater masculine strength, but the inherent masculine authority that men have and women don't have that helps them to be successful in that career. If a woman feels she is definitely not called to celibacy and thinks she will eventually marry, I also have a bias against entering into a career path that will require long years of training followed by long years paying off the education debt, and which would be interrupted badly by marrying and having children. An example of this type of career would be that of a doctor. No woman who wants to marry should follow a path where she and others are likely to think she is "wasting" her education and training if she concentrates on the primary calling of being a full time wife and mother. Though she could lay this sort of thing aside, it would likely cause her to become more easily discontented. It can sometimes be tedious doing the daily round of hausfrau and I would think that the temptation of the "if only I had" or the "what if" scenarios are harder to withstand if you left behind an intensive career.

It is possible to find lucrative and satisfying work that doesn't require a great deal of preparation and training. My daughter was telling me today that the average wage of the top income earners at a local restaurant works out to $20 an hour when you factor in the tips. Not bad for a short term stint, and this is something you could easily leave when the time for marriage comes, and it can even be a good part time opportunity if the family ever needed a financial boost.

Ideally, if a woman wants to get educated and then have a career until she is married, one thing to keep in mind is whether or not it is something she could do from home while still fulfilling her primary role or if it is something she could pick up later when the children are grown. Technology has made it easier to do this for a variety of tasks: medical transcription, accounting, book-keeping, and network marketing spring to mind off the top of my head. (Network marketing is my personal favorite. It is an industry most people regard with loathing, mostly because we all remember the way it used to be in the "bad old days" when you had to deceive people into meeting with you, stockpile inventory in your garage, and use a great deal of hype to get anywhere. Things have changed drastically for the better though, and as an industry it is undervalued and its potential is not fully realized by many.)

In short, I see nothing wrong with working or getting an education or even following your dreams based on your talents and interests while waiting and praying for someone to come along. People who are productive and active are more likely to attract a quality mate than those who waste away at home, IMHO.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The Ethics of Organ Transplantation

Kidneys are big business these days. So much so that some doctors are literally making a killing by harvesting organs from patients that they should be trying to help live.

People who are in line waiting for an organ transplant ought to be asking themselves where these kidneys are coming from. Given the fact that much kidney damage is the result of poor lifestyle choices leading to degenerative disease, maybe we ought to be looking a lot harder at our sixth commandment duties to preserve our lives by proper nutrition, exercise, and rest!
Change -- Blech!

Change is happening today in my household. Two of my offspring are winging their way back east to spend the summer with my parents. It will be a good experience for them but I am going to miss those punks, (especially when Elodie needs a diaper change).

It is a sick parent who wants to keep their children around forever. Kids are meant to grow up and leave home. There are times though, when I wish I could free-frame the moment and keep things just the way they are. This temporary leave-taking is a foretaste of a more permanentleave-taking, and while I know that I will adjust in time, the transition stage is never pleasant.

Literary Feast

Most of the time I tend to read non-fiction on a variety of topics. I usually have as many as four different books on the go at any one time. Once in a while, however, I like to take a "brain candy" break and indulge in some good fiction. Alas, there isn't much being published these days that appeals to me, so I turn to the old tried and true stuff that I enjoyed in the past.

It used to be that once a read a book, I could remember the plot, the author who wrote it, where it was published and all kinds of other details. I could even remember where information could be found on a particular page. My memory was almost photographic. Those days are now gone, but it has an upside to it -- I can read the same thing over more than once and enjoy it just as much as I did the first time I read it.

Last night I managed to grab a few books by one of my all time favorite authors -- Georgette Heyer. Georgette Heyer was a mistress of historical novels set in the Georgian and Regency eras. These are NOT like the typical regency romance novel churned out by the likes of Harlequin Romance Inc. They bear a closer resemblance to Jane Austen's novels and have delightful storylines and subtle humor. Heyer was also an accomplished mystery novelist.

It used to be that if I went to the section that contained Heyer's novels, I could find pretty well all of them there. Those days are gone, however. Most of them have been sold off in the discard bin, where I managed to pick up a few.

I also found (oh joy!) a "new" Dorothy Sayer's murder mystery. I say "new" because it is actually an old manuscript that she started back in 1936 and then laid aside to work in another direction. The trustees of her estate gave the incomplete manuscript to novelist Jill Paton Walsh and asked her to complete it. It will be interesting to see if I can detect where one author left off and the other begins, and if Walsh was successful in maintaining the right feel.

Lastly I picked up an Elizabeth Peters murder mystery. Peters has a very quirky character in Amanda Peabody and her husband Emerson that I enjoy and her mystery novels, which are usually set at some Egyptian archeological dig, make for an entertaining read.

My spring cleaning is nearly at an end, and it is time to play!

Monday, May 10, 2004

Did I Miss It???

Now that The Passion of Christ has more or less faded from the popular scene and isn't featured in every newspaper I pick up, I am wondering... Where is the evidence that this caused revival in moribund believers or repentance in the unsaved?

So many people were horrified and moved by watching the torture and crucifixion of someone portraying Christ, that they declared it was the most affecting thing they have ever seen. So if they were so moved, why haven't I seen more evidence of greater sanctification on the part of those who watched it or an evidence of salvation on the curious non Christian?
Memorable Lord's Days

Jerry posted a funny story of what happened to him this past Lord's Day. Here's another good story. For a while our small congregation took turns meeting in one another's homes. On the weeks when Pastor Price and Elder Barrow came for a pastoral visit, we would have a fellowship meal after the service. On this particular Lord's Day the service was at my home. Tables were pushed aside and chairs were set up so that we could fit everyone in.

I was seated at the back of the crowd, next to the table where some of the food was placed in anticipation of the supper. I also had a wiggly toddler on my lap. Said child (can't remember which one) decided they couldn't wait for supper and started lunging for the food. I lunged after the child and we both crashed to the floor with a resounding thud that shook the rafters of our 3 story home.

A slight pause ensued. No one turned around, that I can remember, but I do remember beating a hasty retreat up the stairs to my bedroom to recover my composure and contemplate my red face in the mirror.
My Favorite Things

It is always gratifying to find people who share some of the same interests that you do. Sora mentioned on her blog that "I think perhaps I have been misleading myself for years when I have told myself that I do not consider shopping a recreational activity. While I would come up with just about any excuse to avoid "going to the mall," I enjoy library booksales, a good wool store... and plant sales." Substitute "fabric store" for "wool store" and you have me pegged.

The consequence is that I tend to avoid these stores because it is hard to control my impulses there. Used book stores, and library sales are way more fun than new book stores. You get way better deals on books that have been loved on and which breathe the atmosphere of that love. Some of the most enjoyable times of my life have been spent in quaint used book stores, breathing in the atmosphere that only old books exude. When I am there, I feel a sort of instant relaxation in my soul, because I am among old friends.

Not far from where I live is a large Art Knapp's Plantland. This time of the year is a dangerous time for me. All the seedlings are out for sale, and a walk amongst the luxuriant foliage is too much for my pocketbook to withstand.

Same deal with fabric stores. You walk in and there are reams and reams of fabric and tons of patterns, all waiting to be turned into something beautiful.

I think the largest part of the attraction is that all of these places represent potential to me in some form. Books have the potential of learning something new, plants have the potential of beauty when they flower, or food when they fruit, and fabric stores have the potential of expressing creativity in clothing or furnishings. All three appeal to the desire to take dominion in the sphere in which I have been placed.
The Interruptions ARE My Work

Ginny reminded me of something that I learned as a young mother when she quoted C.S. Lewis on her blog:

The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's own or real life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life - the life God is sending one day by day.
C. S. Lewis

It is easy to get caught up in my day to day tasks of housecleaning and other projects and to treat the interruptions of my children as pesky annoyances to get through as quickly as possible so that I can return to the real business of life. But the interruptions ARE my work.

How many women have abandoned the homefront to fulfill themselves or to do "real" work and thereby have missed out on the opportunity to build into their children's lives through quantity time?

How many times have we regarded the needs or wants of a spouse as bothersome when we had made plans to do other things?

The quality of our lives is determined, not by how we operate when things are going smoothly for us, but by how much of God's grace is evident in us when things don't go well.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Shameful Perversity

The news from Iraq is getting worse with each passing day. I try not to read about it because inevitably, I end up angryand this is bad for my blood pressure. One of the things that is making me the angriest is the latest scandal involving Lynndie England.

If you haven't been following the story, this female soldier was shown in photos smiling as she pointed at naked Iraqi prisoners. The following snippet is from the article I linked to above:

"England's family held a news conference in her hometown Fountain, W.Va., earlier Friday at which they insisted she was following orders when she pointed at naked Iraqis and held a leash attached to a man's neck.

"I don't believe my sister did what was in those photos," her sister Jessica Klinestiver said.

"Certain people told her what to do. I believe they were posed," Klinestiver said."

One has to wonder about why anyone would order another person to put a dog leash on a prisoner, or why anyone would take photos of such dishonorable and shameful actions. Are we also to believe that Lynddie smiled on command? Her family's excusing of her behavior are rather transparent.

The Muslims are not our friends. I fully realize that they are implacable enemies of the Gospel of Christ. Even so, our treatment of them should not be the soulless, degrading and inhumane treatment that is taking place now. They still bear the image of God, and for the sake of that image, though they may do things deserving of death, it should still be a death with dignity.

The thing that really gets me is why women are in the army in the first place. The move to egalitarian views of women has done nothing to elevate women. Rather it has lowered those who have rushed to take advantage of it to the most brutish and unnatural, not to mention indelicate behavior that even many men would be ashamed of. It is no surprise to hear that navy ships that have integrated women are basically floating brothels with the women engaging in immoral actions with the men, many of whom are married. The so called freedom bought by the women's movement has been a freedom to engage in depraved behavior, immorality, and the murder of countless unborn babies.

Pah! A pox on the feminists!
Unrealistic Standards

This was in a post that someone wrote on one of my lists. Looks like I am not the only one who has writing on my walls of this nature. This is something a lot of homeschool mothers can resonate with, especially the part about having trouble meeting this standard.

"I think most women have trouble meeting the
standards they set for themselves. (Aren't we supposed to have perfectly
clean, organized ,well decorated homes? In our beautiful kitchens we
should cook delicious, well balanced meals that everyone loves. Our meals
are always from scratch using the organic produce we grew. We must
maintain a model's figure and never age. With our never ending energy we
have interesting hobbies and do lots of volunteer work. We meet all our
children's and husband's needs and wants. The children must be perfect or
it is our fault. If we homeschool too, than we have well planned
lessons, just right for each child's learning style. We go on wonderful
field trips, our homes are filled with prizes our kids won in spelling
bees and science fairs. The kids get top scores on standardized tests
and will graduate 3 years early. Those of us with more than 4 children
must also have a talented family singing group."

Feel tired yet?

Here's something I was thinking about the other day: Families have flavors. I was thinking in particular of some homes where the parents and children are gifted musicians. The parents have a love of music, have cultivated it in themselves, and provided an atmosphere for their children to cultivate it as well. Other parents I have known are visual artists who make a variety of visual arts from illustrated books to paintings, sculpture, and other forms of two and three dimensions.

Then there are the families that have the "farm" flavor. The kids are in 4H, they raise all kinds of animals, produce their own eggs and meat, and are likely to know a lot about growing gardens. A friend and her family tend to excel in writing. Another family is raising a bunch of mechanics and computer nerds. Our family is probably known for its "health" flavor because my husband and I are interested in good health, and in helping others attain it.

The point about all these flavors is that each of these examples are families that specialize in something. They have their own unique culture which, by logical necessity means that they don't have the other cultures mentioned. Nobody can do it all, and they shouldn't feel guilty for that.

The analogy used in Scripture is that we are all parts of the Body of Christ and that not everyone is a hand or foot or other body part. God has distributed people in His Body as He has seen fit. This is true in the spiritual realm and it is mirrored in the physical realm as well. We aren't all meant to be neurosurgeons, lawyers, or high powered executives. God fearing hairdressers, automechanics, and janitors are as pleasing to God as those in more prominent callings. Our goal as parents should not be to get our children into as prestigious a calling as we can, in order to elevate our position in the world for vainglory's sake. Rather it is to help our children excel in their calling no matter how exalted or lowly it may be, for the sake of the Lord.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Phone Manners for Mother Led Marketers

My poor husband has this futile dream whereby some day when someone phones here with a business question, he will be able to answer the phone without having half a dozen children in various stages of intelligibility and language skills trying to beat him to the punch. It disconcerts people when they phone here to ask for us to have the phone answered by at least four children simultaneously, all yelling "HELLO!" at the same time. You always know when there is illness in the house, because the phone will be answered on the second ring instead of the first half of the first ring. Illness slows them down a trifle.

Has anyone else yet discovered where the "child" magnet in the phone is located? You know -- that little magnet that is activated as soon as you phone someone, or someone phones you? If I ever find it, I am going to rip it out and stomp on it. I can be working away peacefully on some project, but as soon as the phone rings, or as soon as I dial someone, the child magnet in the phone is activated and all of a sudden I am lost in a sea of children who all clamor for my attention at the same time.

Today I had two business calls in a row. I had taken the precaution of shutting and locking the office door before answering the business line. I think however, I need a soundproof room for conducting business. It sometimes sounds like a gang of tough cats are having a melee in the background around here. On this occasion I had not only my Dainty Doodle, but also my son Garnet and granddaughter Kee Kee Boo crying through the door, and over and above that was the sound of my husband telling everyone to be quiet at the top of his voice cuz Mom/Grammy was on the phone doing business. Fortunately, when you are doing Mother Led Marketing, you are usually talking to another MLM'er who has her own cat melee happening in the background too, so they understand the occasional bellow and howl.

Since we have gotten a separate line for business calls, the incidence of children taking important business messages and then promptly losing them has receded somewhat. Now if only I could convince them not to let everyone who calls know that I am on the potty and can't come to the phone right now...

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Biblical Courage

Part of my efforts to keep the Lord's Day is to engage in profitable reading on theology or church history. Tonight I was reading Wylie's History of Protestantism and read through the account of Luther before the Diet of Worms.

Luther was asked to retract his biblical doctrines that ran contrary to Rome and almost every temporal power then in existence. Centuries later, his simple declaration still rings down through the centuries as a profound example of Biblical courage in the face of great adversity:

"I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything contrary to conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. May God help me. Amen."

Last week, my beloved pastor, Greg Price, gave a sermon on Courage at the Burial of Christ
(Scroll down til you find it on the list of sermons.). True biblical courage is not a lack of fear; it is doing what is right in the face of your fear. Heroes are not those who never tremble at adversity. Heroes are those who tremble at the thought of offending God, rather than man. Luther exemplified all this.

I used to think that this type of courage was reserved for martyrs and special people like Luther. God has shown me in recent years that this type of courage is a daily necessity in the life of all Christians. It is too easy to compromise some truth in order to appease a mother or father, a child or a spouse, a co-worker or your boss a friend or some adversary. Taking a principled stand on these things, especially when it can cost you dearly, is not easy. It calls for courage.
He Understands

Lately I have been slowly chewing over and digesting Romans chapters 6 - 8. It is amazing how much you miss or misunderstand when you don't read verses in context. For instance, Romans 7 1-3 is not a definitive passage on the unlawfulness/lawfulness of divorce. It isn't even addressing divorce, but some Christians use this passage as a prooftext that remarriage after divorce is unlawful because the woman is supposedly still under the law of her husband while he is still alive. This passage isn't even dealing with marriage and divorce, per se, it is using marriage as an illustration of how we are bound to the law until we die to it and are then united and joined to Christ. Just as it is impossible for a husband to govern his wife from the grave, so it is impossible that we are any longer under the law because we died to it. Christ is our new husband and we have a whole new relationship that governs our life.

That, however, is not my main point. As I have been working my way through this passage that has been obscure and puzzling to me for many years, a lot of the pieces have begun to fall into place. I am beginning to understand what this is all about. I am not yet at the point where I could explain this coherently to anyone else, but what I can say is this: He understands!

The struggles that we deal with while mortifying the deeds of the flesh, the desire to follow after God and yet constantly doing the opposite, these struggles are so beautifully described by the Apostle Paul in these passages. God understands that this life and these struggles are hard! He describes it so fully and completely. And even as we reach the inevitable cry of despair, "Who shall deliver me from this body of death?" we sigh with relief to realize that there is NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Oh what comfort that is!

As I have meditated on these truths, and gotten glimpses of the glory that awaits, glimpses of the unfathomable love and condescension of God, it sometimes becomes more than mortal flesh can bear. I close my Bible and weep and say "No more! I cannot bear it!" No wonder we will get glorified bodies. These clay pots we inhabit would crack and disintegrate if we could see the full weight of glory that salvation by God through Christ has wrought.