Creative Thoughts: Projected Unknown Feelings of Biblical Characters-Joseph

Woman,

I sought to dismiss the courtship.  I yearned and ached.  You had betrayed me.

I knew you had conceived but it was not my own.

I dared not tread that path.

You’d swell while people scorned, society sneering.

My reputation teetered.

Not wanting to tarnish my name,

I looked for means to absolve our arrangement.

Then in slumber I, by angels’ counsel, learned truth.

Abandoning pride, I observed your trembling.

You swayed, weighed down by a glorious, but daring, act.

I promised to protect you when I requested your hand.

Oh my betrothed, forgive my self-preservation.

This day I interlock my fingers.  I will not let go.

Under my banner will I uphold you,

gaining strength through your growing girth.

You carry God and he, I know now, will carry us.

Come, let me protect you on our way to prophecy’s fruition.

 

Spousal Flaws

“Say only that which is helpful for building up others so it may benefit those who listen.” -Eph. 4:29

There is so much anger revolving right now.  I’ve often heard that wounded people wound.  We are allowed to hurt.  We are allowed to have righteous anger.  In our anger though, we must be wary not to sin.  It is a delicate balance.  Maybe it is the tone of this season; there is so much angst, frustration, and wrath cycling right now.  Perhaps I need to disconnect.  My heart aches at the way Christians are treating each other and the outside world.  We are in arms over hearsay.  Talk is talk.  Yes, out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks and we must be very careful how we speak, but we can talk good and act wrongly.  The same holds in reverse.  Faith is evidenced in our deeds.  When our brother slaps us on the cheek, turn to him the other also.  Yet, we don’t do it out of weakness but meekness.  We must stand up and fight when needed, but most of the time we are to expect suffering.  We don’t go searching for it, but we aren’t shocked when it happens.  If they hung our Christ and we follow him, we can expect to be ridiculed ourselves.

I digress.  That last paragraph wasn’t the intent of my post.  For some reason, I felt it needed to be said.  I am not saying God told me to say it.  I’m sure it could have been phrased so much better.  When the conclusion is that the words could have come out better, it isn’t a revelation from God.  I was simply summarizing Scripture verses and some personal ideas gleaned from interpretation.  Anyways, I really wrote this to keep myself in check.

My attitude towards my husband has been less than ideal as of late.  I’d like to blame the fact that I’ve been engaging in news and it is affecting my demeanor.  I don’t want to take responsibility for my actions.  I’ve been selfish and vain.  In humility, I need to treat him well.  I’m writing this more for myself than others, but hopefully it will encourage you to count the ways others around you have been helpful and loving when you are more inclined to hone in on negativity and be ungrateful.

Husband,

I love you.  Let me count the ways because as much as you need to hear it, I need to remind myself.  When sleep feigns me and I’m choosing quick, unhealthy meals, my body chemistry is off.  I get irritated at the person I love most in this world.  First, I’m sorry.  Feel free to pull out this list when I need to hear it.

1.)  You go to work, a heavy labor job.  While I sit comfortably writing this post as samples heat on a burner, you are arching your back, stretching your legs, to sand down that Spackle.  You need a massage.

2.)  You took the kids to the sitter every day this week.  This afforded me a couple more minutes of sleep.

3.) You made lunch today.  You make it most days.  You are going through the effort to prepare it and I’m criticizing its contents.  If I want to be better at my eating, I could contribute.  Thanks for making it amidst my constant critiques.  Please forgive me.

4.)  You took out the recycling and trash.

5.) You told me before Willow was born that since I’ve had the hard task of input (breastfeeding) that you would handle output.  I don’t recall changing Willow’s diapers for nearly the first year of her life (except when I was home and you were away, be it at civilian or Army work).  Since we’ve added Fiona to the mix, I do change more diapers, but that is usually when you are prepping dinner, putting Willow to bed, or comforting Willow.  For the most part, you handle the diaper changes, WITHOUT complaint.  I should cast you gold medals for this.  I don’t know fathers who are as helpful in this department as you are.

6.) You kept me informed about when you finished work yesterday and why you were going to be later than expected.  I felt incredibly respected in that regard.

7.) You sleep on the floor with Willow so that she sleeps.  You wake up at 1 am to attend to her while I sleep soundly with Fiona.

8.) You take the bags out to the car to lighten my load.

9.) Even when I’m closer to the kitchen, you will grab me a snack when I ask.

10.)  You tell me I’m pretty often.  When I walk into the room I can feel you beaming.  You don’t just say I’m pretty, you believe it and I can feel it.  You make me feel gorgeous.  (I know my body hair grosses you out, but you put up with it in the name of female liberation…or laziness.)

11.) You do the laundry 95% of the time. Yes, you are more particular about how the clothes are folded so it should naturally go to you, but it still stands that you do it about 95% of the time.

12.) You pick up diapers on your way home from work.

13.) You make spice racks, spoons, and other items that help make life at home easier.

14.)  You go out of your way to help others even if you don’t know how they are feeling.  You are great at service without being asked.  I can’t count how many times you’ve fixed desks, doors, etc. at my parent’s house, hotels, and friend’s dwellings.

15.)  You make it a point to read the Bible to our girls every night.  When I’m getting agitated that the house hasn’t been picked up or the stove scrubbed, you continue reading.  The girls get whiny and still you press on, hoping that the good news penetrates their wails and modifies behavior.  I am so sorry for nagging you in this regard.  I tell you how you could do it differently or at a different time.  God has seriously convicted me this morning.  I don’t know what helped the conviction, but it happened.  You are trying to train up our children in the way they should go.  You are a devoted man of God and are there for our daughters in the most important way.

I realize that I didn’t have to make it so public.  Maybe I’ll get criticism for doing so.  Perhaps I’m too open.  Yet, maybe people will start counting the ways they are grateful for those closest to them rather than trying to point out their flaws.  Maybe we’ll delight in the differences because we can see that disagreements can pave the way for God’s mercy to be recognized and experienced.  Maybe even just a small contribution to positivism will help ease troubled minds, I know I need it these days.

So where have you been angry, hurt, frustrated that has caused you to act out in unrighteous anger instead of focusing on the positive grace and mercy of God that we might love others (and sometimes those closest to us can be perceived as enemies even when they are not; they have our best interest at heart but disagree so we get defensive)  as ourselves?  (Good grammar is falling by the wayside lately as I’ve been writing mostly with stream of consciousness.)

 

 

The day I stereotyped.

The other day I was at the water cooler.  Eyes bleary, weary from night wakings as my toddler’s wails penetrated a silent dark.  Sleep feigns me lately.  Co-workers took note of my drooping lids.  I told an anecdotal story of a friend who had the surety of rectifying my sleep problems, or rather the problems of my non-sleeping toddler.  In the story I mentioned that my friend’s daughter is Cuban- loud and opinionated.  This was not an offensive statement; I didn’t intend it that way.

Political correctness.  I’m not allowed to ‘stereotype’ because I’m white.  It is insulting, apparently, to claim that Japanese folks like pristine spaces and dislike clutter.  Joking that my Cuban friend came here by swimming is frowned upon.  Claiming that the Germans and Irish drink a lot is generally accepted in the comedy forum.  I’ve noticed that you can insult white people without people giving it a second thought.  However, folks from these other communities are given license to make jokes, about their own communities and white communities, without reprimand.

Double standards nag at me.

1.) To say a culture is loud and opinionated isn’t offensive.  It just means that they make their stance known.

However, I was told to stop generalizing.  I was told that individuals are different.

Yes, individuals are different, but sometimes speaking about populations as a community is understandable.  In fact, these same people, of color, congratulated me on my win after the election.

I was aghast.  I didn’t vote for him.  How is it that they can laugh and stereotype me, but I’m not given the same right?

I’m experiencing the same stereotyping in my news feed from dear Christian friends.

I’m an evangelical Christian.

I believe that there are differences in belief systems.  The tenants of my Christian faith are not equal to the tenants of Hinduism.  A logical fallacy ensues when we think that the grace of Christ is the same as reincarnation.  The two can not coexist.  One has to be false.  I could very well be wrong, but I don’t pursue Christ solely because I think it is a good thing.  I follow Christ because I believe his claims of his resurrection, repentance, and forgiveness to be true. It also makes me sad because grace cost Christ so much, his life.  To say that I can get into Heaven with whatever I believe is spitting on the most awesome sacrifice.

We want to get along.  We want peace.  We want people to know and experience love.  I get that.  I want that too.  However, let us not be naive.  Iran isn’t hugging Israel.  We have to choose who we will support in this conflict.  Other cultures don’t operate the way America does.

A Jewish friend of mine is hurting.  She fears that terrorists will come in.  This friend isn’t a white evangelical refusing to let Syrian refugees in or protesting same sex marriage.  This friend wrote a status recently.  She was tired of standing by.  Too long, she says, have her people sat by.  She said that while her community remains the most targeted for hate crimes, our media seems to be focusing on the ostracizing of Muslims and the LGBT communities.

Now, I find it funny.    She doesn’t have the same views of sin and repentance as I do.  Sadly though, because her skin is white she is categorized as an evangelical.  This friend is told she is hateful when she and her fellow Jews, are in fact, the community hurting most and their pain often falls on deaf ears.  They are told that they are exaggerating their plight.  Heck, they are “white”.  We are feeling so guilty for being white that we don’t recognize that not every white person is an evangelical.  Not every “white” person isn’t free from hate crimes.  You can look white, but not actually be “white”.  If we stop emphasizing color than maybe we will start the journey towards true reconciliation.  Things aren’t always what they seem.  Anyways, I digressed a bit.

[I think we have several hurdles to conquer for sex equality, but I will say that women are treated far better in the US than in Morocco.  I spoke out against a man while I was there.  He told me to refer to my husband.  I have friends from other cultures.  They also state that it is different here.  Women are granted more rights in America than in India or China; which might I add that abortion is used to kill girl babies because they think girls inferior to boy’s.  Abortion is a whole other debate though.]

When I assert this truth, I’m thought of as a bigot, a racist, a hate-filled person.  No, I believe that I should treat others as I want to be treated.  (Matt. 7:12) However, treating others with dignity and respect does not mean I have to abandon conviction.  Grace is not a license to be comfortable with sin.

I see both ends of the spectrum.  I see legalistic churches that shame their congregants for particular sins, or stratifying sin; but I also see churches that are letting sin run rampant without calling out problems.

Funny, really.  Times haven’t changed from the Bible.

You have the Corinthians and you have the Pharisees.  Both are rebuked by Christ.

Yes, grace is free.  I’m disgusted though when I see people using it as a license to pursue basal desires, whatever that might be…not just homosexuality or abortion.  [I’ll get a lot of static for thinking those are sin too.]  Trump has a lot of problems.  We all do.  I didn’t vote for him though.  However, I do know several who did.  Right now, I’m sadly witnessing hate spilled out at them.  These Trump supporters are called hateful, but are being met with hate.

You can think someone wrong.  You can be upset with a decision.  However, haven’t we learned the adages from our childhood?  In what ways does decrying hate with hate bring reconciliation?  Aren’t violent protests against a violent man hypocritical?

Funny, the church isn’t the only one being hypocritical.  Yet, I see the hate-filled speech from my liberal Christian friends too.  In fact, one of these Christian friends wanted to unfriend all of his friends that had supported Trump.  This friend said that anyone who supported Trump had innocent blood on their hands.  In what ways does this type of language usher peace, love, unity; the very thing we are trying to achieve…or at least what my “anti-white Evangelical” friends claim they are trying to achieve?

I didn’t support Trump.  I couldn’t bring myself to vote for a man that has used lewd speech.  I thought him unqualified too.  Yet, I will defend friends who did vote for Trump when I feel like they are being labeled, judged, and hated.

We are fearing for the minority.  We should.  However, Christ didn’t just die for the poor and the orphan.  He died for all.  We need to exercise compassion with all people.  Christ wasn’t white, but he wasn’t black either.  Christ was Jewish…a people we seem to forget in America because they often look “white”.

I get it.  We don’t want Muslims to feel imprisoned.  We don’t want blacks beat up for the color of their skin.  We shouldn’t want that.

In the same regard though, we shouldn’t want soldiers spat on (because they are protecting us from invasion even if we don’t want to admit it). Most other countries have a mandatory military term for its citizens.  Unless we have a draft, we don’t.  Can’t we be grateful for that in America?  I don’t like war.  I want peace.  I’m an Army wife wanting pacifism, but I respect the work my husband feels called to do.  I will stand by and support him.  I will defend him against American citizens when I feel they are hurting him through their apathy, insults, or physical violence.

We shouldn’t want cops being blamed.  Yes, there are a few corrupt cops.  Most though are defending the voice of the oppressed, abused, forlorn.  I will speak up for cops.  My brother-in-law is a police officer.  He has to fight against riots right now.  While the over time is good, he hasn’t been home to his family in about 40 hours, two days straight, due to protests.

I get that the #Blacklivesmatter was not meaning to say that all lives didn’t matter.  I think we need to see how there are still racial injustices in our country.  I agree.  However, let us not start rioting against cops to call attention to an issue that needs attention.  I don’t want most cops to start getting beat up because of a couple of corrupt authority figures.

There are friends of mine who really, truly, wrestled with this decision.  They voted for Trump, not because they wanted to, but because they believed that Christianity would be persecuted under Hillary.  They didn’t think they would be able to exercise their faith.  Some are fearful that Muslims will be unable to practice their religion under Trump.  Yet, there are Christians who feared they wouldn’t be able to exercise Christianity if they voted for Hillary.  One isn’t better than the other, but a choice had to be made!

Also, I notice a consistent talk of Trump’s indiscretions.  However, we seem to ignore Hillary’s.  There is the Benghazi debacle.  Also, we know that she allowed classified security information to be transferred over a non-secure server.  The government’s job is to protect its people, no?  If she does this as Secretary of State, wouldn’t it be a severe breach of safety if she were to have done it as President?

I have friends who fear that Trump is going to repeal Obamacare.  Do we not know that under Obamacare we have actually wound up spending more?  Small businesses, similar to the one I work for, had to lay off people or shut down because they couldn’t afford the insurance premiums.  Also, if you were unemployed and didn’t have insurance you had to pay a penalty?

Everyone should have access to healthcare, and if you walked into an emergency room, they should have treated you.  In the same respect, if you don’t want the insurance because you don’t see the doctor a lot, you shouldn’t have to pay for it.  I understand that there are individuals who can’t afford the bills if they don’t have insurance.

Quality of care decreases when the government controls things though.  They determine who can go where and when.  I admit that the way things were needed to change.  Instead of increasing government involvement, we should let the free market do its work.  Individuals could buy insurance where they could afford it because it would be competitive.  Private corporations would have to sell at a reasonable rate to make a profit.  When private corporations do it, it is better than the government.

Government is a few individuals that decide what is best for the masses.  Without term limits, the power can envelope the representatives.  Private corporations compete against each other to earn business and profit.  The pool of individuals is larger and able to represent the masses better. I’m for decreasing government and increasing private markets.  If not, I fear we will witness more civilizations like that under Hitler, Mussolini, Castro, etc.

The government’s job is to protect its people.  I’m all for immigration.  People can come here.  We just have to go through the process.  It isn’t wrong to have channels for coming into the country.  I was flabbergasted when a friend was denied access for working in Sweden simply because they claimed she didn’t show an expressed interest in learning Swedish.  She was signed up for a Swedish course!  Europe denied her!  Our borders are so much looser than the rest of the world and Americans are being told that they are hateful and limiting.

Anyone who knows me knows that I comment on American culture too.  I’m not a fan of the God bless America camp.  I believe God loves all nations.  However, sometimes we should stop insulting America and its citizens.  We have done a lot of bad in the world, but we’ve also done a lot of good!

So, you are allowed to hurt.  You are allowed to be upset.  Stop playing the blame game though.  Stop trying to solve violence with violence.  Don’t be volatile to hate.  It won’t solve anything.

If you feel that a particular group is being ostracized, go help them.  Instead of decrying their lack of respectful treatment, volunteer at your local offices.  Start to put policies in place that will work for change.  Be the change you wish to see.  Greet hatred with love.

I know I’m jumping all over the place.  I’m angry and frustrated and operating on little sleep.

My boss voted for Trump.  He has been called a bigot, racist, and a slew of other nasty terms.  However, if people knew him, they’d find out that he is married to an immigrant, who came here legally.  He is Italian.  She is Filipino.   His life speaks to the very opposite claims people place on him based off his political standings!  (FYI, he is Catholic, not a white evangelical.)

When did we get to be so narrow?  When did we cease friendships over opposing views?

We certainly won’t be agents for change when we only surround ourselves with people whose views align with all of ours.

Also, I find it hard to believe that only white evangelicals voted for Trump given how many of my friends seem to be speaking out against him!  There were minorities who voted for him, if we are honest with ourselves.

The evangelical church isn’t the only one who causes problems in this country.  The evangelical church has done harm to its community, but it has also helped it in so many ways.

We have every right to be fearful.  In fact, I guarantee you most Christians in the evangelical church are afraid what will happen.

Yet, we do not hope in the President.  For a Christian, our hope is in Christ.  When we are repentant, he opens his arms and welcomes us.  We get to enter eternity through him and his wonderful mercy, grace, and love.

If we want to stop stereotyping minority cultures, stop stereotyping the church (I’m thankful for the friends who have called me out on this recently).  Understand the reason behind people’s decisions.  Also, give room for disagreements and conversation.

I had a friend in high school.  I miss talking with her and I’m sure things would be fine if we caught up today.  I was a conservative, heterosexual, Christian-leaning (I hadn’t decided to submit my life to Christ yet, but my morals aligned with a Judaeo-Christian worldview) person who was close friends with a bi-sexual, liberal, Wiccan.  If we can get along and be good friends, still asserting what we believed was truth and not giving up on our convictions, then surely others can too.

In a world that says, “Sure, whatever is true for you is fine” Why aren’t we operating that way?  Instead, it appears that is only holding when we agree with the other person.  True tolerance gives room for humor and disagreements.  True tolerance sees that humans are multi-faceted, not to be pigeon-hold into one political party or only one bullet point of a professed worldview.

I’ve sat idly by smiling.  I’m done.  I’m tired.

Why can’t we be friends?  Why can’t we be friends?

 

*Oh and right now I can hear my parents say, “Stop sulking about everyone sulking and get back to work.  Life doesn’t stop just because your upset.  Buck up.”  You think I’d be mad at them.  Occasionally I am when they say things like that, but I need to hear it.  I should get back to work and not have taken so long of my work day drafting this opinion piece.  Perhaps my voice didn’t need to be added to the soapbox.  Sometimes silence is okay because you are acting on the change you want to see, not just paying lip service to it.  May I actually start exercising these things.  Through all of this, I’ve learned that I am naive and need to learn more.  As such, I’m asking for book recommendations.  I’m reading.  I’m wanting to find friends who are different (and those who have similar views) and have conversations with them.  The problem isn’t with everyone else, it is with me and my continued disobedience to God, my lack of understanding and knowledge, my pride.  It is time I acknowledged and changed that.  Will you join me in this endeavor?

 

Thoughts Jotted

I think back to meandering the streets of London.  One of the authors I had to read for my literary London class comes to mind.  I can’t remember her name, but I remember her style.  [Mommy brain, yes it really is a thing.] Her writing frustrated me.  The funny thing is, it is basically how I write/blog too.

Stream of consciousness.

These are my opinions, seeking truth in an experiential biased world.  I get aggravated that I write and publish.  My idle hands can cause damage if I’m not careful.  If I type and submit my thoughts into the internet abyss then I might etch regret.  However, there is another part of me that likes this.

Here I am, unedited.  My grammar and punctuation might be a mess, but writing like that represents how life sometimes feels.  Occasionally you’ll pull out an intricate and amazing sentence.  You will wonder how it was possible.  At least I do.  Most of the time though, what is scribbled is messy, confusing, and just plain indecipherable.

I like that blogs reflect who and what humans are.

We are works in progress.  God uses people to carry out his plans.  As the days, weeks, and years go by, we are growing, changing, transforming.  We pray that we meet our potential; not that faith is by merit, but because we become who God made us to be as we bend our wills to his, that we are using fully the spiritual gifts he has granted us.  As we revisit where we were and think about how to revise a sentence, we’ll do the same with a situation.

In the meantime, this is me slugging through.  At times, we can’t work on revision because we don’t have time.  We have to trust that the mistakes we make we’ll still be used for glory;  errors we inscribe we’ll actually come out beautiful and help be a witness to God’s majesty when we surrender.

Punctuality Spent

6:00 am – The alarm sounds

Prying my crusted eyes open, I blearily gaze around the room.  Dark.  Snores of my congested infant drone on, a nighttime melody.  The monitor crinkles, my toddler stirs, slumbers again.  Heavy feet hold me to the bed a moment more before I drag my weary limbs up and out.

I’m scooping grounds, pouring water, starting.  Sip.

Continue.

Sudsy hands scrub milk caked dishes.  A faucet’s gurgle is interrupted by a needy babe.  “Mommy.”  Drying digits I attend to the request.  I lift up my drowsy dear.  “Bottle?”  “No.”  A thumb presses to the urine soaked pad.  Dirty.  Change.  Not needing the beverage, I set her down.  She stands, sobs.  Exasperated I sigh, “Use your words.  What is the issue? I need to complete this morning’s errands.”

7:00 am.  15 minutes until we have to leave in order for the card to be clocked on time.

Choking back tears, futile effort though it was, she signs.

*Sorry*  A fist rubbed against her chest.

Salted streams fill my eyes.  She simply wanted this moment of embrace.  I was rushing.  She was asking for my attention, the attention often forfeited by a working mom.  I break.  Halt.  In my sorrow, I explain that I’m the one who should be sorry, not her desire for my affection.  Oh my sweet love, you are so precious.

So what if I’m late! I’ll stand here barefoot.  I’m not promised tomorrow and these exchanges are far more valuable than a check.  Yes, there is stewardship and responsibility to uphold, but let my sleeves soak up those sniffles first. I’ll spend just a little while holding him and them before I or they are gone.

The time quickly approaches when the flames will be snuffed out.

Until then, I’ll hold you dears and value the treasures I’ve been entrusted to, with, and/or for.