Christ Alone

This poem was inspired, in part, by the old English poem “The Dream of the Rood” (My favorite second to Footprints). I’ve basically done a synopsis of the poem in my own words. It is different, but similar to this ancient work. Please enjoy and feel free to constructively critique it.

I tried to stand erect but the burden was too much to bear.

I couldn’t do anything but bow under the weight of this body

staining me cherry.

I counted and carried the cost of mankind’s depravity.  

Then the mocker’s made a mockery of me.

As years passed, I became an emblem for “refined” personage-

I was embossed in gold, having chains pierced through my heaven point, and gracing debutantes’ necks;  

during the bunny’s season, I’ve been cloaked in purple satin or white cotton sheets.

These capes can not blind me from what I was,  

cleavage’s cradle will not rock me to comfort.

I remember what I was intended for.  

I was intended for shame.  I was intended for humiliation.  I was intended as a reminder for the rebel’s cause.  

His flesh splattered my bearings.  Blood tinted spit dribbled down his face and down my sides. His tears salted the rusting spikes, tarnishing them faster.  I felt his trembled, shuttering voice plead forgiveness just before the spear pierced his lungs.

I watched as they heaved the corpse off my shoulders.  I was light, but heavy.  

Leaning towards the caves, I saw the tattered shards of bone being wrapped in linen and laid to rest.  Three days I quaked upon that hill.  I knew what I had done.  

I’d been a confirmation of death; until, of course, that stone peeled away and there stood that beaten body.

He was, however, renewed.  I could see the scars, I’d witnessed them as they wrung his life upon me.  Yet this flesh had healed wounds and in it, he had turned this horror-stricken wood to a monument of glory.

 

When I see it from this vantage point, the cross’ perspective, I see Christ’s work.  The cross is not an adornment to be flashed without any heed.  I need to remember what it was used for.  I then see that like that wood, he, through his death on the cross, has redeemed this sinner too.  

Perhaps that’s why I get so sensitive when other’s try to add to that grace—be it a strict observant of the Law or one who has added Eastern mysticism to the mix.  

For me, like the cross, Jesus is enough.  The cost of that death, Christ’s work not mine, and resurrection’s victory is enough to convince me that all you need is Christ.  We need to be bold for him. He chose what was due to us so we wouldn’t have to endure it.  We need to fall unabashedly in love with that Savior and him alone.  We need to find him as described in pages of wood turned sacred text.  Christ is enough, nothing more and nothing less.  

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Timely

The inbox is littered with debris. Occasionally though, there is a sliver of treasure. Such was the case yesterday. I happened upon an encouraging e-mail that was automatically sent. Although too “fluffy” for Frank, I cherish her style. Ann Voskamp wrote out answers to the questions I’ve been rattled with since my gristly debate with a Netzari Jew.

The Holy Spirit joins believers in a mystical way. God used that strong, devoted woman to speak his words. Whenever I get rocky in trusting his timing, God sends affirmation that he is nearby and working if I’d only just let him move in his power.

I was beginning to wonder if I followed God incorrectly. Why don’t we follow Torah? We say Christ fulfilled the Law and he didn’t abolish it. I’ve been told we don’t have to because Christ’s covenant replaced the one on Mount Sinai. Why then do we Christians say there are some rules you have to follow and not others? It seems selective. Why not follow the Laws that we can to be obedient to God? I know it won’t make God love us more or less. We can’t earn God’s favor through it. Why don’t we though? Frank and I are slightly convicted over this. We can’t be because of another person though. We have to seek God’s will, not another individual’s. So Ann Voskamp’s post was like the still small voice of the Holy Spirit telling me to press into God and not do so in the only manner another man dictated.

When you read it, you’ll understand. Here is the link to her post that was e-mailed to me yesterday: http://www.aholyexperience.com/ (read the Why You Really Need to be Done with Living Safe (I won’t criticize the fact that it should be safely…ok maybe I just did, but I adore her and enjoy reading her words so it’s alright): Being a Dangerous Disciple of the Unsafe God from July 14, 2014)

If you want to see what Netzari Judaism is start with the link I was given from that man: http://www.netzarijudaism.com/what-is-netzari-judaism.html

What do you think? What does the grace of God mean? Why don’t we obey Torah for the rules we can follow? If the Law is fulfilled and we don’t have to obey it because of grace why are there still some things we Christians emphasize as needing to be followed? The Ten Commandments are part of the that Law. Thoughts? Frank and I are praying, reading, and trying to make sense of the wonderful, complex God we find in Scripture.

Cleansing

Take a bath.

Let yourself be washed clean with the renewing of your mind through the memorization of his transforming words. Take pause and let your selfish bubbles burst. Scrub the dead skin off and become a new creation. Sit back and breathe. Anoint yourself with the balm of the Word. In doing so, let yourself become a sweet, pleasing aroma. Rest in him and you’ll find peace.

Shabbat Shalom.

I didn’t write yesterday because I’ve been busy with life. I’m tempted to rebuke myself because I haven’t been writing every day. Then I remind myself that my performance never increases God’s favor, despite how many others might tell me otherwise. This weekend had a more important focus and that’s okay.

Saturday I poured over his word and the reflection of my sin stared me in my face. I’d buried so much hostility and selfishness beneath my plastered smiles. God is chipping away the rough edges to make his potted vessel have a smooth spout for his refreshing waters. I may not like it, but I know that in the end, I’ll be a better container for pouring out his love.

Sunday I spent the day with God’s people, reflections of other projects still in process. A child’s giggle brought this heart good cheer. I was reminded to not be so stoic and remember the silly excitement in the refining process.

So don’t just adorn the outside. Do not polish the outside without scrubbing, grinding, and rinsing the inside. We are his vessels. It is when we, Christ’s vessels, enter Scripture’s bath that we will find our rest and be holy inside and out…

POP!

The defense of self, not in form of physical protection or emotional safety, that inflates and puffs up individual status rather than bringing edification to the gospel and neighbor will always be humanity’s downfall.  

The word was bound upon his forehead, but words of grace did not part from his lips.  Friends nearby cautioned my advance.  However, I did not heed the voice of God, whispered through his nearby vessels.  I bludgeoned the serpent with license and he bit me with the sting of legalism.  The bubble of pride that I had pushed air into exploded with his rage filled words.  I had antagonized rather than prayed.  

Somehow I got the notion that I needed to defend the grace of God.  As the words of God embalmed me later, he assured me he needs no defense.  I do.  I need to put on the armor of God, by engraving his promises upon my heart and memorizing his wisdom.  I need to turn the other cheek and in doing so, the mercy of God will vibrate when an offender’s hand  pulls back. 

Yesterday I posted about doubt being part of my story.  Doubt, I said, was a boardwalk to the waters of deep trust.  Yet when I read Deut. 1:29-33 “Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified, do not be afraid of them.  The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert.  There you saw how the LORD your God carried you as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.   In spite of this, you did not trust in the LORD your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.” I found that my recent doubt is shackling the power of God in my mind.  I keep feeling the need to arouse sympathy for my plights, be it of my own volition or mere circumstance.  He is leading me to a place of rest in himself, but I keep arguing about the trail.    

My pride, it seems then, is less about defending myself to some fundamentalist for the offensive remarks he threw and more so about my recent unbelief.  If I’m truly honest, I thought I needed to take up arms because I’ve belittled the power of God in my life.  I haven’t hoped in what he can do.  I fear that.  

I fear that if I allow myself an ounce of hope that I’ll be let down again.  I fear that if I tread in waves of uncertainty, allowing God to be the preserver, that I’ll drown in unmet selfish desires.  I fear him fighting for me because I want justice in the moment, not years down the road.  I fear forgiveness of others because I haven’t forgiven myself.  I’ve thought God made a mistake in this creation.  I’ve thought him less than perfect.  I’ve thought him as cruel and not good.  Following him in the storms is hard and I haven’t wanted to do it.  I know that the man from yesterday has his own heart motivations to assess, but when I look at my own, I see that I really haven’t trusted.  I’ve asked God to calm the sea because I haven’t trusted that he can weather me through it.  I have thought that this is too much for me to bear.  I took offense at a friend saying doubt meant I wasn’t trusting God because I didn’t want to admit that I haven’t been lately.  

My inflated ego is being popped.  My barbed wired walls are being smashed.  Christ is asking me to open myself to the possibilities he has in store.  He’s asking me to call him Kurios (Lord, Lord, Master), to let him be the author and perfecter, not usurp his designs.  He’s got something better in store for my journey if I’m only willing to look at him, not the faith of or acceptance from others.

Doubt: A Parable

“Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas,[a] because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'”–John 20:24-29

Rain beat the worn, pebbled drive. Puddles pooled. A motorcyclist swerved. A woman with a bright yellow umbrella and soaked stockings scurried past. Then as soon as the storm had started it stopped. The clouds peeled away and a spectrum of light burst forth. The baker man raced towards the scattered light, pointed towards the sky, and called for friends to gather.

I, curious to their excitement, wandered out. Here they stood amazed at that arch in the sky. I’ve never been one to chase or stand in awe at one of heaven’s charms. Others have always seemed struck with astonishment and glee whenever they gazed upon this promise. Not me. At least not until last night.

Finally, the realization of that promise penetrated my soul. There was flooding, but not around the earth. The torrent heeded shortly after starting. Then there was deliverance, akin to Noah’s day. It did flood my soul, drowning the suspicious spirit within. God does that. He delivers his people. He delivers them from mockers, tribulation, and sorrow. It won’t always be how you expect, but he will deliver you.

Sometimes it takes wrestling with him to understand that he will deliver you. He bore our scars to pay the cost of reconciliation. He delivered us from the flesh’s slavery. However, I can’t always see the promise of deliverance. The shower’s after-haze often leaves me dazed, confused, and questioning.

It did for Thomas too. God said that those who believed without seeing would be more blessed than Thomas. At least that’s what I’ve gathered from the text. What is that blessing though? Is it the assurance of God’s promises? I think so. There are countless stories of those who questioned God (David in the Psalms, Job, and Elisha’s servants to name a few). Each took a journey to grow closer to their Savior. Doubt was part of their story. They had to test their faith (1 Thess. 5:21) and count the cost of following God to understand that he always delivers.

I think that’s why I become frustrated when a friend says that doubt is a lack of trust. Instead, I have gathered, from interpretation and study, that doubt is a springboard to deeper waters of trust. You need your questions answered so you’ll dig further to find the treasures of his answers. The storms of doubt break way to seeing promises. I may grow weary and tired, but the doubt only leaves me, in the end, trusting him through any down pour and flooded valley. I realize he doesn’t always have to give me my desires. Now I’m not saying he can’t give me more than I could ever possibly imagine (I mean I look at my husband and think how God has given me blessings beyond my wildest dreams), but I’m saying that even if he doesn’t he’s good. I might not always see him or let him carry me across a valley’s moat, but I continue seeking him. In the end, I find he’s never left me.

Doubt is a part of my story, a part of this particular leg of the journey, that has only left me panting after him to fill me. Doubt hasn’t meant that I’m not seeking to trust. Doubt often pulls me to more intimate levels of fellowship with the great I AM, present in a still small voice calling out to me. I may not get all the blessings afforded unto me if I didn’t need to see, but I’m maturing and learning to walk with him even in darkness. Doubt is showing me that after passing through this storm, I’ll wind up trusting him with more.

Leadership 101

What makes a good leader? Who should be a leader?

If you ask most Protestant sects, a good leader (deacon, elder, etc.) is mature (usually older, but not necessarily by any means), weekly church attender, has a family, and is intelligent (knows the Bible well). This leader must also be male. Why?

Individuals in favor of sole male leadership often quote this verse to solidify their arugment: “Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.” (1 Tim 2:11-15 NRSV) We must never take a verse out of context. A good analysis of Scripture will be exegetical—considering the audience, the author, the time written, and the meaning of Greek words. Allison Young wrote an interesting analysis using the parameters I mentioned above that needed to be involved in a good critique of Scripture. The full article can be found on the CBE (Christians for Biblical Equality) website. Please read it with an open mind, pray, and read the Biblical texts yourself. Do not accept centuries of church tradition simply because it is tradition. We are told in 1Thess.5:21 to test everything. Test this article. Test the years of church doctrine you inherited. Measure it against Scripture and exegetical interpretations, then you can have a reason for why you believe something not just saying what you believe.

Now that you are open to listening, let’s examine this text. Paul was writing this letter to his fellow missionary, Timothy. What was occurring at the time Paul wrote this letter? Timothy was struggling with combating the false teaching that was erupting in his mission field-Ephesus. Also, since the time period was largely patriarchal, women were often not taught the tenants of Scripture. Women then were most likely disrupting worship and dominating the service without the faintest knowledge of what they were saying (arguing against what the fellows were preaching, but having no framework of understanding for what they were arguing against). Those who don’t know what they are speaking about should always be silent, regardless of gender.

The phrase “no woman to have authority over man” must also be analyzed with exegetical measures (as all Biblical texts must be). The word authority used in 1 Tim 2:11-15 is authentes in the original Greek. The word authentein is used once in the Bible, in this verse. Etymology is unclear about the specific meaning if taken solely from Scripture since authentein is a hapax legomenon—occurring only in the Bible. As such, other ancient texts from which the word might have been derived must be considered. When doing so, it is found that authentein is from authentes and is derived from the combination of autos (self) and hentos (thrust) [as proposed by Phrynicus] or autos (self) and theino (kill). Thus, the word would mean self-thrust or using self to kill (as in murder by one’s own hands, tyrant). When read this way, it would appear that force of oneself over others is the problem. It is not gender, but the act of dominance that is the issue. (The same proponents for male authority also agree that men should not be domineering, at least the one’s I know.) The condemnation of dominance is most likely what Paul was alluding to when he references Adam and Eve. Men and women are partners, not to deceive the opposite gender and try to rule over them (whether you are male or female). This is further verified in the meaning of the Greek for the word authority. Lexicographers often state that this word was referring to dominance or violence. In fact, Vulgate translations render the term dominari (which looks very similar to dominance). So if we look at this in context, it would seem Paul is commenting on women ruling over men through force rather than teaching them in a cordial fashion.

When Paul says a woman will be saved from childbearing, this does not mean a woman’s role is to produce children. If it did, I might question my faith entirely as I know many barren women mentioned in Scripture and having to deal with it at the moment myself. Instead, if we critique the verse through exegetical means, we would seek to understand the history under which this statement was made. Ephesus was known for its pagan rituals and worship of a fertility goddesses. Paul was most likely stating that fertility worship was unnecessary and that the true gospel was found in Christ alone. That or we could interpret it to mean that women are saved through Christ since Mary birthed him and if we continue in faith and love of Christ we will be sanctified and receive salvation. I liked this latter definition for a while since I didn’t know the history the first time I read this text. However, the critique of fertility worship seems to make sense since the rest of the passage is a rebuke of idolatry and false religion with advice on how to combat the rising distortion of gospel truth.

A friend also made comments on other areas of 1 and 2 Timothy. He pointed out that a pastor should be married because the advice for deacons is that the leader be a man of one wife. I take issue with this not because of gender but because he said pastors should be married so as not to have distractions from the females in the audience. Shouldn’t the male have enough self-control and devotion to God to not constantly be contemplating who he will date in his congregation? I found it degrading to my single male friends who are pastors, insulting to both men and women. I might have misinterpreted his intentions with him making such a remark. Please understand I might not have understood what point he was making before you gawk at him and being furious with his statement. This man is a strong devoted Christ follower. He loves his wife and treats her well. He just happens to come from a patriarchal culture (not American). (I am not referring to Frank as the reason for this post. In fact, this note is being written because of a conversation with church friends last night and later, pillow talk with hubby.)

In the same conversation, my friends stated that a man is to take the leadership role in a marriage. I have ascribed to this thinking in the past as well. The verses often used to support such an argument come from texts which state women should be submissive to their husbands (often neglecting the other portions that state “as unto the Lord and husbands love your wives as Christ loves the church”). The more I’ve prayed, read Scripture, and articles with opposing views (thank you Rachel Held Evans), I became challenged to question my position.

I’ve always been an opinionated extrovert. I’ve also been extremely conflicted with this personality. Most churches make it seem that a good wife will be docile, reserved and having the opinions of her husband. I felt like I wasn’t a good wife, especially because some church members (albeit very few) would tell me how I wasn’t being a good, submissive wife. What is submission anyways? Does it mean that I always think Frank’s opinions are good and follow his thoughts on everything? Well I don’t and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t expect me to. (Correct me if I’m wrong honey and not in a joking manner, be honest and serious in your response.) Does submission mean I let him lead- controlling our spiritual, physical, and emotional needs? I hope not. What if he’s weak at a particular moment? Wouldn’t I be weak then too? During pillow talk (review of our day, nothing vulgar about it when I say it), I asked Frank if he felt relieved since I told him that our spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being wasn’t his responsibility alone, it was mine too. He said yes. I have given my husband the freedom to struggle. He has the freedom to learn rather than just teach. He has grown in prayer (and I think it is because it is a passion of mine), but sitting in meditation has never been something he felt drew him closer to God. (Again babe, correct me if I’m wrong. I’m only saying this out of observations which could be misinterpreted.) He also told me he never knew what my interests for a Bible study were so he didn’t want to direct one unless he knew specifically. I have passions in several areas so I was never direct in what I wanted to study at a moment in time. Now I can pick topics that interest me, teach them to Frank, have him ask questions and he can do the same. It is mutual rather than weighing on the shoulders of my husband. He doesn’t have to feel pressure when he can’t think of what to study or how to teach me. I can do the thinking too. Also, we can share household responsibilities as well- wage earning, cleaning, cooking, etc.

A few nights ago the scent of perfumed sheets delighted my senses as I opened my drawers, full with folded garments. Then this morning I awoke to the crackling sound of a sizzling pan. A sweet aroma of salted meat drifted through the open bedroom door and nestled into my nostrils, arising a sleepy, tired body. The scented goodness drew me towards the kitchen where I was excited to see a lunchbox packed with my midday nourishment and a breakfast bowl with BACON (I could totally go vegetarian if not for the delicious taste of this non-kosher goodness). My sleepy eyes drifted lazily open to see my husband stitching together torn shorts. I smiled. I realized I should get ready as it was almost time for work. After dressing, I went to the kitchen, fetched my lunchbox, and found it beside a sink with soap resin and a drying rack of last night’s dishes sat. My net worth pays the hulk of our bills (his salary also helps living costs) whereas he is much more domesticated and helps the chores get completed (I will do dishes and non-fancy dinners when he’s busy at work or on Army details though). Teamwork really does make our dreams work.

For us, leadership isn’t ascribed to a particular gender. He is strong when I’m weak (for instance, I’ve been struggling much more with the whole miscarriage thing then him) and vice versa. Leadership to us then is a partnership more than a hierarchical tier.

A good leader will never seek entitlement to lead, male or female. A leader can come in all shapes and sizes (for one Frank is tall and I’m short). We can all learn from each other. A pastor and elder board should never be in charge of the ministry alone anyways. We all have to work together. A leader always delegates. Leadership is more of a fellowship than anything else. I think leadership then looks more like a community of men and women, adults and children (children of course being instructed by parents but still listened to when they say something profound), blacks and whites all striving to seek Jesus in this messy, beautiful world. At least that’s what I see when Christ teaches me in his word. It is not letting any one person have power over others, instead I’ve observed, that leadership is everyone joined together, seeking to become more Christ-like. Leadership is never done alone and that’s why I have concluded that Paul wasn’t saying women can’t be leaders. (Not that a woman couldn’t do it herself if leadership was an individual role. There have been many influential women throughout history. I just have found, through my personal experiences, that insights and accomplishments haven’t ever been achieved without support from friends and/or family.)

(Also, Junia was a woman and an apostle—research her more as church history usually couldn’t reconcile with that and have turned her name to Junias frequently (the male version). A good resource to start would be: http://www.cbeinternational.org/?q=content/junia-woman-apostle)

The grunt of the research for 1 Tim 2:11-15 came from the following sources:

http://www.wlsessays.net/files/PanningAuthentein.pdf (an essay in favor of male authority only and sadly most of the article argues against the sexual connotation of the word authentein found in a few literature sources rather than as it pertains to Scripture, or so I thought)

http://www.cbeinternational.org/?q=content/1-timothy-211-15 (Allison Young, a woman in favor of women in pastoral and deacon roles)

Comments?

Make Lobbying for Change your Hobby

I recently had a conversation with a friend. We were venting about Facebook being splattered with articles and opinions on this Hobby Lobby case. Some might ask why we were venting rather than joining in the conversation, this is an important debate. To be honest, I’m tired of Christians and non-Christians only discussing issues of homosexuality and abortion together. Even though I’ve grown weary of the constant debate, here is my opinion. First, let’s lay down the stones of insults and start working together. I think I’ve laid out plausible efforts to do just that. Please comment politely and engage in the discussion.

I had always been a strong advocate against abortion. Then roughly two years ago or so I had a conversation with a friend with completely different political views. I was crass and brutal in my position. Her friends insulted me rather than the position and I became even more defensive. She, however, remained strong in her convictions and lovingly responded to my comments even when I cursed and sulked. She might not know it, but her gracefulness forced me to critique my stance.

I’m still against the murder of a child, but my approach to the issue has transformed. It’s slightly amusing to myself that a miscarriage has actually assisted in affirming my transformed approach. You would think I’d rally that it is unfair. Why would they get to get pregnant and have the opportunity for a child and not me? To be honest, I often ask myself that, but it has also made me confront the idea that the situation is always more complex than it seems. Just as I get irritated when people tell me to stop stressing, just have sex and it’ll happen, or question when I’m finally going to have a kid, I’ve begun to understand how these women feel fear, confusion, and uncertainty at the impending arrival of a little one just as I do in the waiting.

There are a number of reasons a girl could be contemplating abortion. They could be financially strapped, unable to care for their own needs let alone a babe’s. A parent could be trying to hide the situation from a typically judgmental crowd regarding impregnated teenagers or unwed women. A woman could have had an affair and worries her husband will be less than forgiving if she were honest about a slip-up. A woman could have been raped by a family member, friend, or stranger. There could also be circumstances of impending death unless the child is terminated. I understand all these scenarios and I still think that God can use the birth of a child in any of these circumstances for good. However, I’ve never been in a predicament that has caused me to question abortion. We can still think the act is horrendous and morally wrong. However, the way we address it can either be seen as non-compassionate, hurtful, and mean or as kind, loving, and accepting.

We can refrain from picketing. (I was especially hurt watching a woman march outside of RMA in the rain saying we were killing kids. I was diagnosing why I couldn’t have kids. Some can view infertility treatments as abortions when a couple chooses not to implant the zygote. Typically the individuals doing these treatments want children so badly they’ll do costly medical treatments to get them. They also might feel that if it isn’t attached to the uterine wall that the child wouldn’t have an opportunity for life anyways. They might want to pick the most viable egg-sperm combo because they’ve endured several miscarriages and want to optimize their chances of actually birthing a child.) I say all this to emphasize that picketing is not usually the way to go. It leaves women feeling dejected, hated, and alone. It also causes the picketer to possibly be unjustifiably criticized. The picketer could have sound reasons for picketing—their mother contemplated abortion and decided to deliver their child thus giving life to them and they want the same opportunity for others. In the end, both sides are hurt by not viewing the opposing position.

Anyways, the whole case isn’t even in regards to going to clinics. It concerns early stages of abortion. The court decided that Hobby Lobby would not have to pay for birth control measures because of the moral conflict of the owners, saying that any law forcing them to pay for insurance on such substances would break their right to religious liberty. Insurance is expensive. If medical science can show that the birth control prevents ovulation, then there would be no viable reason not to disperse costs to a woman deciding to take preventive measures.

Sometimes we Christians can toss science out the window. We must not forget that if a medicine prevents ovulation and nothing else, then the sperm will not penetrate an egg. Conception can’t occur without ovulation. I don’t think this was stressed enough in sex-ed.

If a medicine is shown to allow conception to take place but prevent implantation, I could understand the moral discrepancy with wanting to provide assistance for something you are strongly opposed to. I am all for the Catholic church not being forced to administer condoms and other pregnancy prevention methods due to their convictions. Yet, from what I’ve read, Hobby Lobby is not a private institution. It is not a religious organization. It is a public company owned by a Christian. Now I understand they aren’t forbidding their employees from taking these drugs but rather refusing to pay for them. A Christian can disagree with laws, but if you are a public company rather than privately owned cooperation, you understand that there are going to be things you’ll have to provide that you might disagree with—maybe choosing to be a private company over amassing wealth might be a good decision.

If the owners don’t want to purchase it themselves, fine. If you hire individuals without a statement of faith and operate as a public cooperation, you will hire folks that don’t hold to your religious convictions. Refusing to provide a service because you alone are against it even though you aren’t a privately owned company will not bring peace and understanding to the table. If anything, it’ll create a bigger uproar.

I think sometimes we Christians can force our beliefs on others. (Other individuals besides Christians are guilty of this as well though.) I’m a scientist. I work in a lab. I might be working on a drug used in abortion clinics. I have seen tobacco samples at my former employer. I don’t agree with smoking or abortion. It doesn’t mean I can’t stop them from accepting and testing such substances. I might be able to request my desire not to personally be involved in the analysis. My opinion might be slightly different if Hobby Lobby wasn’t a public company.

As such, I’d challenge Hobby Lobby and pro-lifers as I challenged myself. What other ways can we address the issue of abortion without seeming judgmental, stuck-up, and insensitive? I have discovered that a law won’t stop someone from doing something. We have anti-murder laws and regulations against theft. It doesn’t stop someone from doing it. If anything, women will harm themselves and possibly their fetus further without proper medical attention. There will be underground clinics that will be unable to be regulated. (I think of that one clinic that was discovered recently where they were removing kids and throwing them into trash bags…I can’t recall the name right now.) Women will do it themselves or have a friend do it for them.

A law might not be our best option. I encourage supporting organizations like First Choice that provide counseling to women. I’ve personally considered opening a home for women where they feel it is a safe haven. Partner women with friends or family who desperately want a kid but for whom adoption organizations are too expensive. I’d challenge the church to provide counseling, sex education (because no matter how many times you tell someone to wait, someone will not) and self-esteem courses, and places women can go to for help. If a woman wanting abortion feels loved and cared for, she’ll be willing to listen to advice and perhaps seek other options. Also, if a woman wants to take a pill, remember it might be for more than pregnancy prevention (like I did when I was a teenager to reduce cramps…sometimes it is the only thing you’ve found that works).

For pro-choice folks—remember that there are those who consider these cells life. There are viable reasons we consider it life. For one, you can’t have life outside the womb without the sperm penetrating the egg. Life is a process and we’d do well to remember that you can’t get the end product without the first step. Yea math. Another comment, my 5 week old zygote was a baby in my eyes. I still lost a child. Telling me otherwise would be extremely insensitive on your part. Even if you don’t think it is a life, don’t tell me that. Empathize or sympathize.

I think it’s time for a discussion rather than judgmental slander on both parties parts. Start seeking to understand opposing views and why they believe what they believe. You might not agree and you don’t have to, but maybe we’ll find a resolution rather than constant fighting if you sit and listen rather than talk in the blow-horn.

Find your voice

More about the therapeutic experience of this weekend—(thought about after reading many of Rachel Held Evans thoughts on marriage, please go to her blog and check her out. She has thoroughly researched topics and has valuable insights and opinions.)

Frank is extremely task oriented. I had apparently suppressed the anxiety of feeling like a burden to him and that a kid would add to that even more. I’m an opinionated extrovert. At times this doesn’t resonate with people, especially the fundamental evangelical crowd. I sometimes feel this group wants me to sit in a docile fashion, quiet but ready to heed to my husband’s beckoning. These folks might have been abashed if they overheard our conversations while camping. They didn’t overhear, but since I’m sending it into the blogosphere they might be shocked now.

I told Frank that we had to communicate. He said he could take a vow of silence. I asked him if he was a monk. Nope. Right answer. Then I said since he chose to not be one and rather chose to be married it meant he chose the path of communication. Yes, I said something that overt to my “leader”. Frank doesn’t speak often and lets me do what I want 90% of the time. That means when he does speak I listen more keenly. I am not someone to be controlled by my husband. Fundamentalist Christians can call me a feminist. The world will say I’m not independent enough. We work out our marriage how it works for us, not by the criticisms of others unless it is truly constructive (thanks female best friend). I am his companion. I think this is why we’ve taken to the co-leadership organization of our marriage rather than the patriarchal format seen and stressed in most evangelical circles.

Frank and I have excellent communication and I’ve frequently asked him if he feels I’m a nagging wife. He assures me I’m not. I’ve been told that I don’t respect Frank’s authority. First, does “head of household” mean he gets to lord over me? I sure hope not. Frank has also told me I respect him. Yet he also tells me when he feels I’m slighting him. Forgive me if I’m hesitant to listen to individuals with different marriage experiences. I’d rather listen to strong, independent wives who’ve been committed to loving and respecting their husbands for years, who emphasized communication and let the roller coaster of life teach them about companionship and submission. (Submission being mutual not a hierarchical tier of leadership though.) Communication has never been one of our big failures. Yes we have areas we need to work on in it, but we are pretty open with each other.

Frank doesn’t speak often. I comment on this a lot. When he does speak and open up about his feelings though, we are strong in this area. He was honest that he’s pretty much done with the sorrow over the miscarriage. I was honest that I have, for the most part, accepted it too, but there are things that spark remembrance and heartache. He and I have been honest about the impact this has had on our sexual endeavors and bedroom ambiance. We also share with each other when we are tempted to lust. I don’t know many other couples who openly state such things. I think being this open means that we have nothing to hide. We are jealous for our marriage, we put it as a priority, second only to Christ. Note though that I didn’t say we were jealous of but jealous for. Yes, prepositions and definitions are important (perhaps more on that rant later). We completely trust each other. We ask when the other individual is feeling tempted by sin. We don’t sweep it under the rug or talk about it with our friends. We might get advice from friends and vent, but we always share what we’ve told a friend with each other. There isn’t something we tell another that we haven’t already said or are going to discuss at home.

I understand that my marriage isn’t perfect. This miscarriage has shown us areas to focus on. This struggle is just another way God is using marriage to make us holy. I’m glad that Frank agrees it should be done as a partnership (thanks female best friend for speaking about partnership at our wedding), not a resentful tier where he’s the only one who is able to express opinions. If that were so, we might have silence (he wouldn’t ever speak), but our hearts and minds would be a maze of frustration and hidden vices.

In fact, he said the most endearing thing the other day, probably one of the most precious statements in our marriage to date (he wanted traditional wedding vows). (He isn’t one to frequently express lovey-dovey romantic feelings.) He said, “You get me to speak. You are the only one I talk to. You are my best friend.” If we didn’t argue this weekend, me initiating it as I usually do because I need to talk things out rather than bury and forget them, we might not have received the healing that has embalmed our grieving, angry hearts. My extroverted opinions, it seems, help to draw out the thoughts of my taciturn spouse rather than cause him to want to live on the roof with impending hailstorms.

Symbiotic, not just Parasitic

Tick…tick…tick…

We measure time by precious moments. The left spiral of the clock’s hands captures memories. We often express time as something spent. Time is not currency though. It is something given, just a breath, while we exist on this plane. I didn’t waste my time this weekend, I didn’t spend it either. I reflected on the transformation—who I am becoming and how each experience is shaping me into Christ-like character, or how I need to submit to Christ’s authority still.

If I’m honest, I’ve been ravaged by doubt, confusion, and anger lately. Current events are pruning the deadened character that’s taken root. I might not have realized it before. It took the shedding of uterine lining and the hope of expectation to assess the shedding of discontentment that needs to take place.

I’ve always looked for what’s next rather than what is. I’m not promised tomorrow so why should I grow anxious waiting for it? Discontentment has been feeding as I seek to abandon New Jersey and barrenness. I haven’t asked why God has placed me here and for what purpose I’m to serve. Instead, I’ve been fighting, begging to be plucked and placed elsewhere or receive another lot. I’ve wanted different hosting ground—somehow believing that a different place, career, or circumstance would set mundane ablaze.

As I sat by the campfire, observing the crackling wood and the ember’s glow, I wondered what I’ve yet to sacrifice, surrender. The altar of burnt offering was used to sacrifice an animal, a pleasing aroma unto God, so sin was forgiven. I reflected on the envy and wrath that’s been sucking out my joyful countenance. I pondered how the discontentment stench is repugnant to my Savior’s nostrils. I thought of how I’ve spit upon the sacrifice Christ did for me and taking for granted the plans he has yet to weave. I’ve stopped trusting the beauty of his craftsmanship and being grateful for today. He died so I am free. He releases me from anxiety. With Christ I have a purpose other than just copulation and birthing. I need to embrace that and live the fullest life he’s afforded me to have.

This weekend as I itched the pest embedding teeth in my thigh (my husband isn’t a pest), I thought of how thirsty I am for renewal (well when I was screaming about getting the bugger out). I yearn to be used for God’s purposes, not just selfish ambition. God is good regardless of what I expect or get from life. His definition of family and adequacy is different than my own and the world’s. We need a relationship/fellowship based on mutual communication with him to understand his purposes, not just want a “vending machine” God. So it is into his hands I commit my will and pray I’ll keep surrendering while seeking a relationship with the triune deity whatever lies ahead or not.

In Dependence

Hello folks. My camping trip was great even in spite of the ticks. Frank and I argued and fleshed out things we have suppressed since the miscarriage but I’ll give more on the trip later. Since we went away for July 4th, here is the post Frank partially helped me to write (he came up with the title). Thank you sweetheart. I appreciate your assistance. Your advice was my muse. As such, here are some ramblings on a national holiday:

The blast of shattering bone birthed a nation free from British control. Soldiers, of ancient days past, shed velvet fertilizer on this new, independent land. Smoke rose from the fields as the musket’s fire began to cease. Here was a land of the “free” man.

In truth, we released ourselves from European control just to become slaves to other vices. There is a beast far more powerful than any government power and he’s been trying to usurp control for ages. He uses entitlement to fuel war and violence. In the end, we are left with the stains of pride, greed, and a superiority complex.

I’ve heard it said that war is a necessary evil. We fight a spiritual battle and as long as we wage against principalities I guess it must be. However, I’ll pray for world peace; knowing that unless there is communication for peace and a strive to put others above yourself, that just isn’t going to happen. Even King David had to run from Saul.

It is when we stray from God and communicating with him that we attempt to devise our own plans. Yet we unintentionally (and sometimes intentionally) give into selfish ambition when we center ourselves in the minefield of our own thoughts rather than Scripture. When we think we can go it alone, we wind up trapped to the bondage of our pleasures. It is not wrong to enjoy things in moderation. We are a people of excess though and we always shackle ourselves to prisons of abundance. We have to have more—oil, property, or “rights”. May we start to seek more of him and less of what we think we “need”. We need him.

It’s time we open our eyes, come out of slumber (choosing politics and parties over pursing him and his kingdom), and slip out of hiding from our hermit holes. It’s time for community, it’s time for fellowship, it’s time to become dependent. It is in becoming dependent in Him and on Him (God, Christ, Holy Spirit—the three in one; Triune deity) that we are set free, not in the lack of the British regime.