Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts

I keep hearing the Pink song "Try" everywhere I go. I'm sitting in YoFresh cafe (a gem of a place in this little town of Lebanon) and it's playing right now. It was playing last time I was here too. But mostly, I hear it at the gym and every time--and I mean EVERY time--I have to fight the urge to sing to it at the top of my lungs.

Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame

Where there is a flame

Someone's bound to get burned
But just because it burns

Doesn't mean you're gonna die

You've gotta get up and try try try
Gotta get up and try try try
You gotta get up and try try try

I have this vision of this song beginning to play as I begin to belt it out from my elliptical machine. Everyone pauses mid-workout, a little unsure of the situation, not sure whether to scoff or to look away or to simply stare... that is... until a few of them choose option d: to join in the music. Soon everyone is sharing in the moment, the power of the lyrics shaking us all to the core as we are leaping and dancing around the gym. Even the regular gym girls with their perfect gym clothes and abs to go with them are letting loose. Someone is definitely swinging from the ceiling fan.

All fantasies aside, this song feels like an anthem for me. There has been a sort of pummeling that has taken place over the last however many years for me. Some may call it threshing, some might call it beating. Hinds Feet on High Places has a beautiful picture of stones being cast into a fire and coming out more brilliant than ever. But we're not talking about Rihanna here... anyway... I digress.

It is a difficult thing to know in the sifting process what needs to be let go of and what needs to be allowed to grow, and it is even more difficult to actually do the letting go and the growing of that good thing. I'm certainly no expert. But we're not done yet. We're burned, but not dead (hard pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned... anyone?). Let hope, let Life, let Truth live.

Monday, December 17, 2012


I finally cried this morning over the events in Newtown on Friday.

For some reason, I woke up this morning thinking about all the kids who can't sleep at night because of shotgun nightmares and the parents who don't want to wake up to a tiny little empty bed again. Oh God...

But it wasn't until Eden was about to go to bed that I broke. We always read a book or two before naptime, and this time she picked a book called "Bedtime Prayers", a sweet little book that explains verses to kids in a language that they can understand. I think it was this line:

The Lord, He is my hero;
He rescues me from harm.

From troubles big
and worries small,
From danger and alarm.

I can't handle it.

I've been staring off into space for the past ten minutes or so, because I can't even begin to know how to process this.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Reflection on the Purity Ring Phenomenon

Ok, Vanessa, this post is for you. Just because you're really good at bugging me to write more often.

The other day I was reading a favorite blog of mine, Theocult, which had a link to another website, which had several blog posts dedicated to discussing purity rings.

For those who aren't familiar, a purity ring in the Christian subculture is a gift usually given by parents, specifically the dad, to an adolescent girl with the understanding that it represents the girl saving herself--physically, emotionally, and spiritually--for marriage. In some cases, it could mean a promise not to kiss a guy before marriage. In other cases, there might be an understanding of the father "keeping" the daughter's heart with the intention of transferring ownership to her future husband one day.

As a former "purity ring" wearer and advocate, this is one of the many things about my conservative upbringing that I have thought back on with a certain sense of wonder. Now that I'm a little bit older and have some perspective, I'd like to share my piece of story and insight with you.

It began very early on in my life. As far back as I can remember being old enough to have conversations about such things, I can only remember being heeded about "guarding your heart" (not forming attachments with guys who are not your husband), saving yourself for marriage (not having sex, not even kissing a guy until the altar), and following Jesus and allowing Him to bring your future spouse to you. I'm not saying this is all bad, or that there isn't truth in this, but I think that by the time I was in college it was at such an extreme version that it really got twisted around.

It was my sophomore year in college that I found myself holding the pieces of a broken relationship--one that I thought would end in marriage. I was so sure of the outcome, of God's hand in this, that it would cause me to question my ability to hear God's voice for years afterward. That year was a turning point in my life. I was never the same innocent, naive person after that. I remember the feelings so distinctly, of having gone through all the right steps and the right motions and ending up in such a terrible place. I felt lied to. I felt betrayed by all the courtship books I had ever read, all the speakers and the mentors and my parents and anyone who ever dared tell me that my life was going to be a Christian version of a fairy tale if I just did XY&Z.

Hadn't I guarded my heart? Hadn't I not even so much as kissed him, or held his hand? Didn't I trust God fully in this? Hadn't I prayed for hours over this decision? Hadn't I gone over and above every obligation required of me?

In the end, I found that my "purity ring" actually represented a contract that I thought I had made with God. It went something like this: If I kept myself "pure", then God would bring my handsome prince.

God DID bring my handsome prince. But I am so glad that He was not willing for me to keep my low view of Him that He allowed me to experience heartbreak, to break my existing mold of who I thought God was, and to bring the beginning of a new journey of knowing that God cannot be tamed into doing what we want by performing a certain way. His love is far too unconditional for that.

There came a day soon after that breakup that my purity ring went to rest in the bottom of my jewelry box, never to be resurfaced. I realized that, among other things, love requires risk. You cannot have love without pain, which is what all of those books and speakers and mentors were trying to save me from. I realized that I already had a savior and that it was time to step out from under the protection that I thought the purity ring offered. And so, though I kept my vow to remain pure until the altar and I don't regret that even for a second, I let go of all the other things that went along with it. I kissed "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" goodbye.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

On Chick-fil-A and the Off with 'Er 'Head Syndrome

Well folks, we have reached the boiling point. The point at which two sides can continue arguing until the cows come home and no one will ever give an inch of their ground. The point at which all reason and hope for understanding go out the window (as some might say, defenestrated). The point at which there is simply so much noise that all I see is a bunch of people (facebook posts, mostly) go running around like chickens with their heads cut off (pun intended) trying to make more noise than the other side in an effort to drown them out.

I have definitely wondered why this was the mountain to stand on. I mean, why not the boy scouts, who publicly affirmed their decision not to allow homosexual leaders into their clubs only a month ago? I'm sure there is more that is out there. Why does one guy, when asked what he thought about marriage happen to bring out the animosity on both sides when he also happens to own a popular restaurant joint?

My best guess is that members of the LGBT community are simply fed up. With being the trash, the targets, the scapegoats. With being denied rights and respect that every other American enjoys. With being protested, shunned, blamed, excluded, "fixed", and otherwise seen as being the ultimate dysfunction.

Honestly, I do not believe that this has anything to do with our second amendment rights (though trust me, there definitely should not be anyone telling a restaurant where they can and can't open a business). No, this problem began LONG before all of this chicken nonsense.

There is a sort of wound on top of wound, a scar over scar that is happening here, and it is only serving to deepen the rift between us as people.

If I believe that God loves me, it is to believe that He loves me through my wounds. I am all too familiar with my faults. Why can we not afford the same grace toward ALL people? Why are some wounds acceptable but others are not? Why is a cold and stagnant marriage better (more holy and deemed legit by the church) than a same-sex marriage?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

On Perfectionism and Bonhoeffer

Every so often I'll read a blog and I think to myself, "I could be doing that. Why don't I write anymore?" Then I'll think of something to write, but because I don't have the time to make it perfect a lot of times I just forgo even the effort to produce something mediocre. So anyway, here's my new attempt at not being perfect and trying to just express myself with some adult thoughts other than what's related to cleaning or wiping butts or the load of dishes that is in front of me.


 A very good friend of mine posted this quote on her facebook page and it has had me thinking ever since.

We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things? --Bonhoeffer, Life Together

I am a huge fan of Bonhoeffer. Actually, the word "fan" doesn't even begin to describe my admiration for this man. I have read a few books of his and, of course, seen the movie/documentary of his life, and I have always been impressed with his work and character. But this quote has got me thinking that maybe there is more to this thought than what he has written. Here's what I think. I think that these little gifts--the little beauties of life--are the seeds that can take root and grow deep inside of us and, eventually, make their way to the surface and allow for real, true, deep, growth that becomes the "great" spiritual gifts that are obvious and apparent to everyone. It's not just that we should be thankful for these little gifts, it's that these little gifts are actually BIG gifts in a very small package.

I planted some bulbs this past year and I was reading about what to do with the leaves after the flowers have died. I read that you should never cut them off because the bulb is gathering all the nutrients from them that it needs to grow flowers for the next season, and that actually, by the time they die off, the bulb will have all of the flowers intact within itself (in that grubby little nut looking thing that you are supposed to dig up in the fall) and all it has to do is be planted and watered in the spring, and pop, out comes the blooms. That is the idea that I'm thinking of... that maybe all these little things that we are blessed with are actually the seeds of greatness. All the opportunities to forgive (with no resolution), to receive God's love (when it hurts like hell), to have faith (in a hopeless situation), all the little things that come at us one way or another. These are the things that grow our roots down DEEP.

What do you think?

Ok without thinking it over or doing a read-through, I'm just going to push "publish".

Friday, June 10, 2011

I would just like to say that I find it incredibly annoying when a "meh" meal produces major dirty dishes.

That is all. Goodnight.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Freewrite #1

I'll never forget the moment when I realized that my husband needed me to push against him. He needed me to be the strong woman that he married. He needed to not do things his way all the time, needed me to offer my voice, to not give up at the least resistance.

You see, I still believe in submission and authority, but it has taken on a different form than I ever expected or ever even saw in my lifetime. I think that my idea of submission was to never offer an opposing opinion or preference but to always defer to Justin, blindly trusting that he would make the right decision, the one that was best for me too. I'm coming to realize that submission is much deeper than just a non-resistance, but a laying down of my own desires in order to choose the best for my husband. At one blow this expels any notion of ruling with an iron sceptor as well as living in a passive-aggressive relationship with some form of submission that stifles true love.

It would be so much easier for me to just will myself to agree with Justin or want to do something just so that I can go along with him. This keeps the "problem" in my realm, no need to talk to Justin about it or actually enter into what might be a very uncomfortable discussion. I just set my mind toward a certain disposition and away we go... adding one more drop into my resentment bucket along the way. No wonder so many women are so bitter and feel so oppressed.

I believe there is deep meaning in the term "helpmate" for women. I believe that it is one of God's beautiful mysteries about women to be gentle and soft and at the same time strong. Now to live in that reality.