Hormone’s Harshness

“Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.”-Phil. 4:5

With my history, I tend to be a little rough around the edges.  It was ingrained in me by mother.  She is a no-nonsense, career driven female.  It is from her that I became a strong-willed and opinionated woman.  Now, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with being strong willed and opinionated, but it does have to be tempered.  Sadly, I have sinned a lot lately.

I blame outbursts of anger on hormones.  While I can excuse some of it to hormones, this does not mean I can forsake self-control.  Gestating a child is not a viable reason to forsake tenants of my faith.  It is in overlooking offenses and handling difficulties with dignity that Christ’s light shines brightly within us.  Lately, his light has been quite dim in me.

I’ve thrown rants over not having a hot shower, lashed out because dinner wasn’t on the table at the time I wanted it to be, grumbled because food I wanted wasn’t in the house, and blown up in frustration at people’s innocent comments or joking.  Yesterday, I told my husband he was getting the silent treatment during an argument we had last week and repeated yesterday.  Thankfully, the Lord is merciful and in hearing my friend’s struggles with her kids’ bath time, I softened.  My husband wasn’t the asinine jerk I was portraying him to be.  We simply had the same miscommunication and if I’m entirely honest, it was mainly my fault.

I was definitely not gentle to him.  When he didn’t respond immediately to my texts, I sent him harried, wrath-filled comments.  He had simply not heard the phone as it was placed elsewhere.  Technology is a beneficial tool, but when used inappropriately, can drag us deeper into sin indulgence.  We have this asset at our disposal, but it can make us anxious, worried, or angry when we can’t control it or the people with whom we communicate to through it.  This is where the problem lies with this valuable tool.

The commentary in my Bible stated that the Greek word for gentleness used in the context at the top denotes joy in spite of offense.  I am letting American comfort and convenience challenge Christ-like character.  It is a constant struggle in our society.  Deviating somewhat from the thread above, but in my mind still on the same track, this has been evident with recent mass shootings.

Instead of trying to live peacefully with neighbors, showing kindness and compassion, and condolences in grieving, we are quarreling.  We are retaliating with vanity, pride, and self-aggrandizement.  Rather than concede that politics won’t resolve sin issues, we malign friend’s and family with varying opinion.  Healthy debate and encouragement has been replaced with character defamation simply for having a variant opinion.  Gun-control arguments have monopolized the scene when we really, truly need to bend knees in prayer, not placate the problem with simple nods of apology.

We need to be kind even in spite of cruelty.  ““You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also;  and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well…”-Matt.5:38-40  This command from Jesus is a hefty charge.  To exercise forgiveness, compassion, and charity when we feel offended or slighted contradicts American sensuality.  However, the only way we will see authentic alterations in culture is if we adhere to these biblical mandates.  Now, we can’t expect to hold non-believers to these moral standards, but we can expect ourselves [professing Christ followers] to do so.  I know I’m falling short, but by God’s grace and intense prayer, my hard exterior will soften.  I’ve seen myself grow more understanding and less hard-headed over the years (or at least I hope I am…others might disagree, but is that fear that I am failing rather than succeeding in this area simply a by-product of my rampant approval addiction that needs to die).  

[Aside: I put too many things in parentheses.  Gah, I did it again!]

It starts with us.  When we let gentleness rule in our sphere of influence, we will eventually see ripples of gratitude, generosity, and grace reach beyond our gates.  We will see God near, his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

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Culture’s Currents

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”-Rom. 12:2 NRSV

I tread cautiously, of course.  Scripture must always be used in context and never to prove our own points and serve our own devices.  I pray I will not do this here; forgive me if I tread the line.

Paul is speaking of refraining from cultural indulgences of sin.  What I am about to address isn’t necessarily sinful.  However, I do have to keep my motives in view, discerning if I’m simply trying to be counter cultural because I don’t want to be like everyone else or if I’m doing it because I see it as the best way to glorify God.

“The beginning of strife is like letting out water; so stop before the quarrel breaks out.”- Prov. 17:14

Am I just trying to be quarrelsome?  Do I just want my own opinion heard?  Do I simply think myself right that I want others to hear me while I drown their opinion with my “voice of reason”?  These are questions that have to remain on the precipice of this endeavor.  I cannot seek to stray from societal norms simply to draw attention.

Anyways, I have felt seemingly out of place recently.  In a way, I am supposed to.  I am a pilgrim in this life, just as believers before me.

 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.”- Heb. 11:13-16

Even though I am meant to be a pilgrim, I don’t know how much of this unsettled, dissatisfaction is merely discontentment that needs to be repented of or the fact that American culture elude’s me.  I have noticed it increasing over the years and perhaps it is, to an extent, a by-product of my faith profession.  Yet, I wonder how much of it is simply because I sought the dream and woke up disillusioned and doubtful of its fulfillment.  How much of it is my parenting expectations that were ingrained in me by society that I shake off because I find it isn’t ideal for my family unit?  Did this transition occur only when I chose to labor and deliver/parent differently than American cultural norms?  Could the change have shifted earlier and I wasn’t noticing the splinters?

Here are ways I am being “counter-cultural” lately:

1.) Trying to live more simply/becoming minimalist

2.) Supporting military defense because I am married to a soldier and want to encourage him, but also finding pacifism appealing

3.) Thinking tiny homes are a viable living option

4.) Thinking Technology is beneficial at times but overall, has led to severe societal corruption

5.) Choosing Midwives as my main care providers in L&D

6.) Wanting homebirths

7.) Wanting my children present during my deliveries of subsequent children and “preparing” them as such (to which I’ve had people tell me that it is traumatizing for children and how could I subject them to this; yet kids raised on farms seem relatively well adjusted and have witnessed birth)

8.) Being a major proponent of breastfeeding as natural and not sexual

9.) Baby-wearing as a better mode of child transport than strollers

10.) Bed-sharing

I’m sure the list could go on, but these are the major themes of differences I’m currently noticing.

Are there verses to support these choices?  Sure.  I’m also certain that verses could be used to support an opposing view.  As in all things, motives matter.  I need to assess my motives for selecting these choices, if I’m glorifying God in them, and if I’m truly respecting those who choose to make different decisions.  If I am brutally honest with myself, there is a hint of silent judging when people don’t do things “my way”.  After all, would we do them/believe it if we thought them/it false?

Forgive me God for being disgruntled or offended when someone questions these decisions.  I do not need to take offense.  If I think it right and carefully review the finalized decision, finding it “in-line” with Scripture/your will, help me to stop justifying my actions.  When I do, I am giving into my approval addiction.  I want to be your servant and if I continuously give into man’s approval, I am not being the light you have called me to be.  (Gal. 1:10 is an applicable verse.)

Lent is a season of reflection, repentance, and renewal.  We often forsake certain habits.  While such sacrifices are often temporal, God has called us to completely surrender ourselves.  Our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes, we need to refrain from a behavior or indulgence for the rest of our pilgrimage.  I know I probably say it every season, but I need to surrender this approval addiction permanently.  I’m caring too much what others think about my work, parenting, and practically daily decisions.

I need to stop listening to others about how to live life and more completely surrender to Christian servitude.  Man’s approval or philosophy won’t get me eternity.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  It is in surrendering to him, his will, and seeking God’s favor that I will be free to eternity.

Will you pray for me?

What is God pressing on your heart this Lenten season?

Love in the Ashes

While elusive in evidence, legends exist regarding Valentine.

A link to part of my morning devotional today:  http://commonprayer.net/

http://time.com/5143563/real-st-valentine-valentines-day-history/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/02/14/the-real-saint-valentine-was-no-patron-of-love/?utm_term=.282195ffc5c3

http://www1.cbn.com/st-valentine-real-story

Some folklore purports that he was a third century martyr beheaded for his defense of the Christian faith.  Apparently, Valentine tried converting the Emperor and as such, was killed.

Other sources state that Pope Gelasius 1st was trying to Christianize the pagan festival of Lupercalia.

Whatever truth lies in the legend, it is interesting that Valentine’s Day, at least the American “love” holiday, falls on Ash Wednesday this year.  Ash Wednesday is typically commemorated by depositing ashes on one’s forehead to symbolize a spirit of repentance on behalf of a believer.  In the Testaments, we witness several individuals mourning sin through tearing of clothing articles and distributing ashes on the body.

(Job 42:6, Lam. 2:10, Neh. 9:1, Matt. 11:21, Dan. 9:3)

When a heart is motivated to true grievance regarding sin, it will be pardoned by Christ’s immeasurable love and sacrifice witnessed through his ransom on the cross.

(Jn. 15:13-15–> We must obey Christ in order to call him friend.  There is no greater love than Christ laying down his life for his friends.

Acts 3:19, Acts 2:38, Acts 17:30, 2Chron. 7:14, 1 Jn. 1:9, Matt. 3:8, Rev. 2:5,  Lk. 5:32, Rev. 3:19, Prov. 28:13, Lk. 24:47, Lk. 3:8…and the list continues:  https://www.openbible.info/topics/repentance)

Lk. 13:3–> If we do not repent, we will perish.

 

Whether the legend of this patron saint is true or not, it is common church history acceptance that Valentine loved others.  Valentine was even t willing to be martyred for Christian proclamation!  The ultimate expression of Christian love is, clearly, to lay aside your life for Christ.  Selfishness burns and out of the ashes of this greed, God restores the human soul.  It is in denying self-love, repenting of our flesh nature, and boldly proclaiming our love for Christ, regardless of the opposition we might face, that we find the gateway to eternal life, Jesus Christ himself.

May this Lenten season be one of reflection on the miracles of God, putting aside our pride (in my case, checking Facebook repeatedly throughout the day), and resting in the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ’s cross-sacrifice and resurrection.

The 7 year itch

My back arches,

adjusting to my growing gut.

Pins and needles race over my flesh and bone.

Discomfort.

Your hands press between my shoulder blades

then inch, ever so slowly, down.

I ease into your gentle touch.

My belly bounces.

This life we’ve made hasn’t always been easy,

I’ve been stretched, broken, and fatigued,

but I’ve also burst with laughter,

smiling at my stomach’s waves

rocking to your wit.

Seven years of marriage,

a wax and wane with

the tides of turbulence and truce,

tragedy and triumphs.

Our bent knees profess surrender to our Savior,

the one who gives us strength to serve each other

and our ever growing family.

I loved you then, but so much more now.

This adventure we’ve traversed together

has weaved one of the most incredible romances,

second to our Christian love, I’ve ever known…

but maybe I’m just biased and infatuated with your handsome body.

(I really should sign off now, before pregnancy hormones best me.)

I love you now and until death do us part Francis Joseph Eisbacher.  We do not grow weary, but tarry together as we seek to glorify God and let matrimony make us holy.  Thanks for doing life with me and committing so loyally to this covenant.  I admire you and am blessed to call you husband.