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Sweet Essay on Handholding by a Widower . . .

12 Oct

http://www.ligonier.org/blog/husbands-hold-your-wifes-hand/

I love this!!!

Somewhere in Time . . .

24 Feb

Due to the month of run-up to the Oscars on Turner Classic Movies, I have just viewed (binge watched) 29 movies since the beginning of February.  It is not always possible to get so many Oscar-nominated movies so easily within the same month, so my husband and I have taken full advantage of that on TCM, and plan to do that every year from now on.

I just saw “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” for the first time–it reminded me of a handful of similar movies like “Ghost” and “Somewhere in Time.”  Also, “Berkeley Square,” another oldie which I saw earlier this month.  

Beautifully romantic, these movies perfectly portray the Greek philosophical teaching about the nature of the afterlife, as two disembodied spirits spend eternity together (or borrow bodies to be together again on earth, as “Ghost” portrayed).  

Beautiful and romantic but not in line with Christian teaching.  

You see, we will live again in these bodies.  The bodily resurrection was taught in Judaism all the way back to the book of Job (possibly the oldest book of the Old Testament).

So disembodied spirits will not wander the empty spaces eternally, enjoying the sharing of ideas together.  Our real, resurrected bodies will be able to touch each other again.

They will be glorified bodies, but our own bodies nonetheless.  This is consistently taught throughout Scripture.  It is only because we have listened more to the Greeks than to the Jews that we don’t get that.  

Our faith came from Judaism.  We would do well to read their Scriptures/our Old Testament.

Yes, Jesus did say there will be no marriage in the afterlife.  He gave the example of five brothers all marrying the same widow (the first one married her when she was a maiden).

In some wise way that is beyond our understanding, the marital relationships many of us need to have now will not be needed in eternity.

It is not just that God could not figure out which brother gets the widow.  That was the dilemma presented to man to make him think.  God could have figured out a way to deal with widows, had He seen that it was best for us to have marriage in the afterlife.  

So, by faith, we hear that He does not have couples as part of His plan for eternity, but He does have the marriage of Christ to His bride, the church.  

Oh, great mystery!

I am sure when it is revealed to us, it will be so wonderful and wise we won’t even be able to describe its splendor.  

We will dwell with Christ, who is already in a glorified body, in our glorified bodies.  

Forever.  

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Elsa in “Frozen” and Using our Talents for God

24 Feb

Elsa in “Frozen” and Using our Talents for God

I haven’t seen “Frozen” yet. Now I can’t wait to do so.

Yes, I am the one who watched old movies with my dad, my grandmother, and my cousins growing up.

I didn’t go to the movies much prior to the 1980’s because I was a serious student who was always studying (to become valedictorian of my high school class; to graduate college Magna cum Laude–I had to earn that stuff as it didn’t come naturally to me!).

As a junior officer in the Navy, I probably saw 50-75% of the movies that came out in the 1980’s. Light-hearted comedy fare was my favorite.

I then settled down to marriage and motherhood and mostly saw only the Best Picture nominations in the 1990’s.

I have hardly even seen the Best Picture nominations since 2000 as I regard today’s movies as largely a wasteland of form over substance.

So I get excited when I see bloggers swooning over a new movie that can lead to deep discussions, even theological discussions!

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There are a Thousand Posts Saying a Husband Has to Earn His Wife’s Respect; This One Disagrees

23 Feb

There are a Thousand Posts Saying a Husband Has to Earn His Wife’s Respect; This One Disagrees

The nature of respect and love within marriage; if it has to be earned, it is not respect, it is not love.

Some thoughts from Matt Walsh, who always has something interesting to say.

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How We Church People Undermine Marriage!

21 Feb

How We Church People Undermine Marriage!

Three very good points here about how we teach children that marriage is not very important after all . . .

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How to Set your Son up to be a Porn Addict . . .

14 Feb

How to Set your Son up to be a Porn Addict . . .

Shortened version of an earlier post, showing us by dramatic negative example how to porn-proof our homes and our families, especially our sons.

In an era when most seminaries don’t ask their students whether they have viewed porn, but rather how often they have viewed it, we must remember that this can easily become an addiction.

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Dear Diary . . .

14 Feb

Dear Diary . . .

My perfect Valentine’s Day has downsized over the years. It had to do that, because I have been married to a frugal guy for almost 25 years and . . . when we marry someone, we inevitably change each other. That seems to be one of the reasons God instituted marriage in the first place–to smooth off the rough edges.

I started my Valentine’s Day at 2:45 AM. I had intentionally set my alarm, going to bed at 10 PM so that I could get up and watch “Woman of the Year” with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy on Turner Classic Movies.

They did not disappoint me! I love that pair. Sad that their relationship never was based on the sound marriages they portrayed in their films, but their onscreen pairing certainly made a strong case for enduring marriage (and for forgiveness within marriage).

In “Woman of the Year,” Ms. Hepburn is portrayed as more the selfish, unreasonable partner who needs to change.

In “Adam’s Rib,” which I saw again earlier this week, Mr. Tracy is more the selfish partner who changes by the end of the film.

So they balance!

As do Noel and I. Two imperfect people, bonded by Christ’s love as well as romantic love.

After the movie was over, I crept back up to bed, only to find my husband already awake. He had fallen asleep in his recliner early last night while I was at Bible Study. He was slowly waking up for the day.

We lay there, talking for almost an hour before I drowsed back off to sleep and he got up.

What a precious time. I always think of the early morning quiet and darkness as velvety and intimate, not frightening like darkness can be at midnight when you are rushing a child to the emergency room or when you are lost on the road somewhere.

Such a good time to share your hearts in ways that belong just to the two of you, never to be shared on a blog.

This morning, when I finally got up, I scrambled us egg whites and served them with leftover blueberry scones I made for our meal at Bible study last night. It was a good enough treat. We don’t need heartshaped donuts!

Tomorrow night we will attend a Valentine’s party at the home of friends.

And, with that, I am content, having found a place to belong in a world that sometimes seems frighteningly random.

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Five Steps to Fight Porn by Living in God’s Design for Us!

15 Jan

Five Steps to Fight Porn by Living in God’s Design for Us!

Mainly written for men, but too good not to share. God has a design for the human race and when we think we can live outside of it, we get out of balance.

Trying to make life exciting and fulfilling via porn is like walking past a feast that God has given us to go eat mudpies. Really!

When Someone with OCD is Most Precious to You! (OCD #7)

8 Jan

If my first six posts on OCD were to be taken out of balance, it would seem as though life with our son who has autism and OCD has been very sad indeed.  And nothing would be further from the truth.  

Truly, if I had a choice to rid him of the OCD, I would do that.  Not so much the autism.  That is part of Joey’s quirky charm.  But the OCD seems to just separate him from other people, due to its nature of suggesting grudges to his mind and getting him spinning (literally) on them forever. It is like his brain just cannot stop and just cannot let go of certain things.  

Nonetheless, the choice I made to homeschool Joey for over ten years of his fifteen years of primary schooling should say a lot.  Mostly that was a pleasurable experience.  When it was not, it was still worthwhile.  I am not made of the kind of stuff that would have soldiered on indefinitely if I thought I were fighting a losing cause . . . 

Joey has made incredible progress over the years.  Many people with autism who have better abilities at math and English than he does have fallen behind him in overall progress because he keeps on plugging (and we keep on working with him and encouraging him).  

Some mysteries remain.  Even very big ones.  But we have a very big God.  

I have only to look at the pictures or the objects we still have from his childhood to remember the joy of raising this special boy.  

His baby blanket and his longtime stuffed animals still bring floods of joy when I pick them up.  

My joy is the joy of any mother anywhere.  

As I noted when the movie “Children of a Lesser God” won an Academy Award for Marlee Matlin, an actress who is deaf, there is not a separate “God of the deaf” or “God of those with autism” or “God of the mentally retarded.”  There is one God and there is one race of people He has created.  Those with disabilities don’t fall out of the mainstream of humanity.  

And all mothers cherish moments of joy from raising their babies.  Difficulties are present in all lives.  Some have more difficulties than others, but they don’t negate life.  They don’t negate joy. They don’t negate love.

Is OCD the Elephant in the Room? (OCD #2)

1 Jan

A friend jokingly messaged me that, by posting on my son’s OCD journey yesterday, I had turned and pointed out the elephant in the room of evangelical Christianity.  

Fair enough.  After all, I called my blog “Iconobaptist”.  That should call up historical thoughts of iconoclasts breaking treasured images in the churches during the middle ages.  Not everything that we hold close as sacred actually is . . .

I am going to say that we can’t help people with disabilities/mental illness/disability of the mind (or whatever else we may term it) if we can’t accurately label what they are undergoing.  

It was easy enough for me to speak out emphatically against the first counselor who recommended to me that I could probably rid my son of autism if I just spanked him more.  I took the point that our son had to be held accountable for his behavior, like anyone else, but the implication that autism could be caused by bad discipline and cured by good discipline was staggeringly ignorant and I said so at the time!

Since then, however, I have noted the tendency in certain quarters to just treat my son as invisible and to not acknowledge our struggles with autism/OCD at all, much less trivialize them. I think this comes from somebody not being able to square his theology with the existence of mental disabilities.  Or at least some folks can’t find simplistic answers in their theology to paste over my son and others who are like him.  And thank God for that.  

Even though the Bible’s theology is simple enough for a mentally retarded person to understand it and be converted, God does not boil down to a simple formula! His answer for life’s trials is not simplistic explanations of them, but rather a promise to always be with us, till the end of the earth and till the end of time.

That is my very great comfort and my only hope.  

If we give people anything less than that, we give them less than the gospel and send them into potential despair.  

If our gospel only gives hope to people who are pretty good that God can help them become a little bit better, then it is no gospel at all.

If our gospel is anything, it is everything. It is hope for the parent whose child faces OCD or autism or both, or compulsive shoplifting or habitual lying or drug addiction or sexual compulsions or . . . 

We are in a fallen world.  The only people who have the luxury of holding a simplistic theology that denies God’s power over all sin and all brokenness all of the time are people who either have not faced life-dominating struggles yet or who have faced them and decided that God could not help them with them, then buried them deep underground.  These folks, sadly, spend their lives denying their own brokenness, lest it break through and remind them of the inadequacy they perceive in God.  

No, God is not inadequate.  If you have perceived Him as such, you have not gotten deep enough into Him to see that He is infinite and never runs out of resources, even in the midst of seemingly endless troubles and sorrow.  

I don’t know many answers in regards to my son’s OCD right now.  But I do know that God does. And I know God and know I can hold on.  Even if I can’t . . . He can hold on to me.  

My son, my husband and I are eternally secure in Him.  And that is worth all the wealth of the world, right there.  

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Our Noisy Planet!

31 Dec

Our Noisy Planet!

There are over six billion of us on planet Earth right now and we are speeding toward seven billion. Two countries have more than a billion people, China and India. One of those two is growing faster than the other. Due to the forced birth control policies in China for the past generation, their population rate is growing more slowly than India’s.

That said, the planet has gotten noticeably more noisy in my lifetime. I have to be careful to not refer to some ideal Victorian past that never actually existed (at least outside of a handful of very rich families in Britain and the U.S.), but I think I can accurately say that, in my childhood, a neighborhood of houses like ours ($300,000 homes of around 2700 square feet) would not have dealt with noise complaints very often. Now our community newsletter is constantly reminding us to remember that we are not out on a farm somewhere out of everyone else’s notice . . .

Some of us have more sensitive constitutions by nature and can be easily derailed by someone else’s noise level. That doesn’t make that other person a villain, but it does make life interesting for us . . .

For example, I have long noted that I cannot handle the staccato barking of dogs in my neighborhood. And, thankfully, there have only been four times that that was an issue since we moved here 23 years ago. Three of them were at the same corner home, which probably has a built in dog house to attract dog owners as buyers!!!

There is currently a dog there that mostly howls, rather than barks, when sirens start or when he gets cold in the night (he is seemingly left outside 24/7, even in the coldest weather, and since I did ask our animal control people to investigate that and nothing changed over there, I have to assume that no animal cruelty laws are being broken). Thankfully, the howling doesn’t get under my skin the way the occasional barking does!!!

Some things about noises and noise levels are cultural.

Some are individual.

For example, I have long heard that the gentle rhythms of Baroque music are the rhythms that most mimic the human constitution. Since I love Baroque music, I am onboard with believing that. However, I realize that that is also an example of Western European thinking that may not be shared universally by all of the earth’s inhabitants.

The above musical selection is a folk rendition of a standard old hymn with words by John Bunyan.

What I like about it is the way it starts with the tradition of earlier music (including the music written during the Baroque era) and riffs a bit onward with it. The unexpected syncopation, especially that provided by the ancient instrument playing an alternate tune in the background, delights my senses. The drumline is just regular enough to not be frightening–walking along the ledge without falling over the edge. There are several times the drums thunder an alternate five or six beat rhythm, but they always resolve to the time signature of the piece, with a bit of syncopation thrown in for excitement.

To me, that is brilliant music–knowing the rules of good music composition and mostly honoring them. Breaking them here and there, but only temporarily. Keeping everyone, literally, on the same sheet of music, even as riffs occur on one instrument or another.

My taste in music may seem tame to some and wild to others, but that is where I am right now, as the unique individual God created me to be.

How does this relate to noise levels around us?

Well, for me, I can hear music composition rules in our movements, too. I never studied dance, but I am willing to believe that ballet dancers probably hear music composition rules and rhythms in almost everything.

In our home, for instance, my husband moves slowly in 4/4 time. I have been told that I used to do the same until I lost weight. Now I often don’t make noise at all as I move around. I sometimes even startle people that way.

Our son, on the other hand, is typical of many boys, especially special needs boys. He moves in 3/4 time, but with an erratic third beat. It never falls exactly where I expect to hear it. And it is often accompanied by a crash as he closes a door harder than I expected, or drops something, or opens a door too hard and hits the wall with it. We have built many doorstops into our life since he joined us in 1992, but have not been able to keep up with putting them everywhere they are needed.

And, see, that is something in which awareness goes a long way toward contentment. If I didn’t realize he moves differently because he is made differently, I would be constantly trying to change him into 4/4 time, which I expect would be impossible.

Instead, I have learned to enjoy the knowledge that he is here with us, crashes and all. If all else fails, I clip on the headset and turn on music like the video above!!!

In a world of so many people and so many noises, there is certainly a time that someone’s noise must be altered. There are noise ordinances for a reason, after all. There is a time to say something, to tell someone they must alter their noise level or face consequences.

May we be wise in discerning when those times occur and when other situations dictate that we should remain silent and try to accommodate others, even when their noise makes those of us with sensitive constitutions feel restless and nervous.

Written for a friend of mine, facing loud, constant, erratic bangs in Papua Indonesia on New Year’s Eve!

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Even Cowgirls Get the Blues . . .

26 Dec

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues . . .

I reread my post from Christmas Eve today, with the intent not to delete it, but to seriously edit it.

I left it as it was.

It was a slice of family life, of exhausted family life on Christmas Eve. It presented us, warts and all.

In the midst of talking about an attitude of gratitude, I was griping about families taking us for granted by not exhibiting an attitude of gratitude.

See what I did there? Reciprocated the feeling. If they take me for granted, I get to complain about them . . .

And, in human nature, that happens. But it is also important to remember that, in Christ, we have overcome many things. Human nature can be one of them.

By His power, His resurrection power. Not by our own puny efforts.

So . . . while we all gripe sometimes, we also are in that “already, not yet” tension that is life in Christ on a fallen planet.

We have to self-talk and remind ourselves that everything that touches us comes through the hands of a loving God. Even feeling taken for granted by our families.

That doesn’t excuse lack of action on our part. If we don’t tell them that we feel taken for granted, they will never figure it out by themselves.

But it does mean we rejoice as we realize that we are in Christ and, in Him, we have all things.

I will leave my post up, as it is. It will encourage someone else who is struggling.

And, in the end, I got where I needed to get. Back to the feet of Christ our Lord!

Performance-based Parenting

24 Dec

I serve a perfect, all-knowing Saviour, but I am a work in progress and will be one until the day I depart this earth.

One thing I am struggling with right now is the idea that an attitude of gratitude is hard to teach to one’s offspring.  

I don’t necessarily think that is an issue restricted to special needs offspring.  I have seen enough examples of the “most entitled generation ever” to say that many of us have not been able to teach the concept of “attitude of gratitude.”  Or maybe not all of my generation even tried . . .  

I know that my special needs son needs to catch this as an attitude of the heart, not as an externally imposed rule from me.  I also know his college, which is a Christian school for special needs people, is aware of the need to convey this concept in a heart-to-heart way.  So we all keep plugging away at teaching it . . .

Where I think I have failed in the past is in not realizing that if I accept dismissive behavior directed toward me by my son, I am disobeying the part of God’s Word that says children need to be taught to respect their parents, and actually to treat every human being with dignity.  

It is subtle, this whole issue.  I certainly imposed consequences for blatantly disrespectful language or actions.  

What I didn’t see coming until it was in my rearview mirror was the tendency to hand me a “to do list” for which appreciation is never shown, but with a new list of demands being issued when the old list is finished.  

I spent my childhood trying to find one minute in which I felt I had completed enough actions to be considered a good daughter.  I now find myself spending my motherhood doing the same, in relation to my child.  I am measuring my parenting by whether I can ever get to the point where I have completed the “to do list” of things my kid wants done for him.  And the answer is . . . I cannot.  

There is so much wrong there, at so many levels.  Relationships should not be defined by what others do for us.  We all know that.  Or rather, the only relationship that should be defined by what others do for us is that of employer and employee.

But what makes me saddest is that I have not conveyed the idea of an attitude of gratitude.  I don’t often hear “thank you” when we cross one thing off the “to do list.”  Actually, I usually just hear that one thing being replaced by two more requirements.  And I know they are only requirements because I allow them to be.

I know that getting mad and pushing back will not solve this.  We cannot legislate an attitude of gratitude.  Sitting down like a mule and saying I won’t do anything more for my family won’t cut it either.  Nothing that is being asked of me is abnormal for family life.  It is just all being asked in a way that takes me totally for granted.  

I did just declare a moratorium for Christmas Eve and Christmas.  I will not acknowledge any requests till the 26th.  I am exhausted, ten days after my son arrived home from college.  We have been to two malls, the Navy Exchange twice, a thrift store, three special restaurants, the doctor, a beauty parlor (for haircut), and the grocery store that has six packs of Coke.  That is not factoring in all of the requests to jump up and find things for him at home or to do things for him that he has not yet mastered for himself (that is probably the special needs part–and, in all fairness, he is working on self-help skills and is making great progress).  

So, for those of you who have never lived with a special needs person, that may be an eye-opening rant, although I know we all have our own responsibilities in life and many, many of us live in a sacrificial way within our families.  

I just realize that it is a two-way street.  If we are nothing but sacrifice, then our children become nothing but takers.  

And, if my parenting is to be performance-based at all, I should at least take God’s view of my performance, which is that I should convey righteous standards to my child, not teach him to be a taker all life long.  

I take the point and . . . I run to my Saviour once again, to be found fully sufficient in Him and in His righteousness, while I walk this earth in fear and trembling, living and learning and growing and always knowing I fall short, but that in Him I have everything.     

When is the right time to get right with God?

24 Dec

I have been thinking this week about an attitude of gratitude and how a lack thereof seems to be the basis for every sin we can commit against God.  

Nothing we can do to offend Him seems to be independent of Him and of the grace He has so freely given us.  He encloses us from all sides, and so does His grace.  Even when we act out against Him, we have to go through layers of His grace to do so.   

Everything we do to sin against Him seems to reinforce the idea that we think we don’t need Him and His stinking grace.  That we can make it on our own.  

Ironically, the American pioneer spirit that morphed into the American entrepreneurial spirit often seems to credit man for his achievements on his own, not factoring in the God who gave him his abilities and his opportunities.  

Absolutely right, President Obama.  We didn’t build that on our own.  American ingenuity did not happen in a vacuum.  But it also wasn’t empowered by government or by a community of other people.  At its base, it was empowered by God.  Everything is.

Knowing that, what do we do to be in relationship with God?  We acknowledge our neediness in relation to His abundance.  We accept His gifts, freely given to us.  Most of all, we accept the gift of His Son whom He sent at Christmastime to pay the penalty for our sins.

Sadly, many people go through life with no understanding that they owe gratitude to God.  They think God will be lucky to get them as followers.  And they put off the time when they will become His followers.  They may intend to do that after they have pursued every dream they have, independently of Him.

Problem with that is, there is never a good time to suddenly switch to a planned attitude of gratitude.  There are so many reasons to justify remaining independent of God.  And, when we do, we may find a way of becoming bitter with God when He speaks into our lives.

Case in point, how many people live their lives independently of God, then consider following Him when they grow older and suddenly face cancer or heart disease?  Problem with that is that those conditions can produce immense fear and depression, merely by inhabiting the human body.  Family members may struggle with the same emotions, trying to care for us while we are ill.  If we have not previously begun a relationship with God, there is a very good chance that we won’t see anything in these situations to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in us now.  Quite the opposite, we might get downright angry with God for allowing heart disease or cancer, even in a person 60 or 70 years old who has previously had a healthy life with many travels and adventures.  

Statistics show that it is extremely rare for a person who has lived life independently of God to suddenly turn to Him in the 60’s or 70’s. There is a very good reason God told us to remember our Creator in the days of our youth.

I plead with everyone reading this to get right with God this Christmastime.  There will probably not be a time later on when you are more likely to do so.  

And . . . if we fail to plan for eternity, we default to having the same situation in eternity as we had in this life.  An eternity independent of God.  In a place called hell. 

“Holiday Inn” (I bought it without having seen it!!!)

23 Dec

Since I am stretching myself this Christmas and trying to see some holiday movies I haven’t seen before, I watched “Holiday Inn” today.  I believe I have seen parts of it before, but never the whole movie.  

What I took from it was that Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire finally learned that manipulating a woman to win her is not cool!  They fought over the same women all movie long.  If one wanted her, the other wanted her.  Usually it was Fred Astaire, scheming to take away Bing Crosby’s newest love.  But Bing did plenty of manipulation of his own, trying to keep Fred from taking away his girlfriends!!!  

When once Bing backed off and gave a woman the freedom to walk out of his life, he wound up winning back the woman he loved.  Tellingly, he was the first to the altar of the two (we presume, from the ending of the movie . . .). 

This movie reinforces the idea that love of a human being can easily become idolatry (of self or of that other person).  Even though the movie was not meant to teach Christian theology, it was made in a simpler time when such lessons often came just by being part of the society back then.  

People are not possessions.  Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire learn that in “Holiday Inn.”  Have we?  

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