Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Posts tagged ‘Faith’

My Crop Top and our New Holiday Tradition

I’ve decided I don’t need to go to the gym any more.  I’ve discovered YouTube.  After my walks in the morning, I plug in whatever I have time to do into the YouTube search bar.  I pick workouts that are as short as 5, 10 or 15 minutes, because it’s like I’ve always said, “go hard, or go home.”

I’m excited. These workouts have cool names that help me understand why I’m doing them: “Bikini Butt” and “5 Minute Crop Top Workout” are a couple of my favorites.  I’ve never worn a bikini, or a crop top, but I have a feeling that’s about to change.

Crop tops are THE COOLEST!  (Literally, I guess.) I saw a young woman at Costco the other day wearing one of these shirts.  It was around 20 degrees outside, and she and I crossed paths in the parking lot as I was running to my car to get out of the cold.  I saw her belly button, and her rock hard abs. I thought, good for her.  She’s not gonna let the negative wind chill tell her what to do.  I know it’s only a matter of time before I too can wear crop tops to Costco, or work, or my kids athletic events. I guess it’s just something everyone can look forward to seeing.  Especially my kids.

Do you have an, “Elf on a Shelf”?  I’m so sad we missed this tradition.  My friends at work have young children, and they have the best stories about this guy.  Olivia’s gotten wind of these stories, and it’s not good.  Olivia is holding a grudge against me.  I have totally failed in the holiday tradition department as a Mom, and I’m sorry for it.

The other night, Olivia was particularly bitter about our lack of traditions.  She made quite a speech about it.  She said, “When I’m a Mom, I’m going to do Santa Clause, Elf on a Shelf, Saint Nick, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and Leprechauns!”

Leprechauns, Olivia?  Really?  Leprechauns are a tradition Moms do? I feel pretty doubtful about that.  I think Leprechaun traditions are just bad form.  I told Olivia that the only reason a Mom would do a Leprechaun tradition is if she was drunk.  Because, that’s just like the Irish.  I told Olivia she should be pretty darn thankful her Mom is sober.  How about being sober for a tradition, Olivia?  Why don’t the Leprechaun Moms try that?

I really do feel guilty about all this. The lack of traditions part.  Not the part about calling moms who do Leprechaun traditions drunks.  I stand by that.

I love the Holidays.  I never tried to make my kids NOT believe in stuff.  I just never thought of it.  Ever.

I have loads of happy holiday memories from when I was little, but they’re not centered around any one tradition, or character – well, other than the Christ Child, who we happen to think is real, and not a character.

I was trying to think about why I associate Christmas with joy and happiness as an adult, since I can’t remember any specific family traditions.  The only thing I consistently came up with was this: family, faith, food, music and laughter.  Those were our family’s traditions.  I’m not saying that’s the right way go, and, really, given a redo, I’d try harder with my kids.  But, in my family, that’s how it was done.

I don’t know what memories I’m helping build for my kids.  Hard to tell at this point, really.  It’s not like Scott offers me any help.  He’s not one to play his pan flute, while we gather around the piano for a merry holiday sing-a-long.  I’m kind of on my own with this stuff.

Here’s a picture I love.  This is after the Christmas eve service when I was young.  My older sister, Gail, and I are laughing about something.  I wish I knew what.  I’m drinking out of a fancy little mug.  I bet it was egg nog.  YES!  We did have a tradition.  Egg nog was a tradition.  Way to keep it simple, Mom:

christmas egg nog

Another tradition my family had growing up was this little elf my Mom brought out every year.  Believe it or not, I’ve blogged about this guy around Christmas last year.  That’s how special he is to me.  My sisters and I LOVED him.  Let it be known, this guy was around 40 years before anyone ever thought of “Elf on a Shelf”.  I don’t know how I was lucky enough to inherit him, but I did.

This year, we’re in the process of refinishing our basement.  That means all the Christmas decorations are buried somewhere in the garage.   I’m smart enough to take a pass on entering that house of horrors. The only decorating I’m doing this year is our little tree, and our little elf.  I did find the elf.  He gave me a really good idea.

The night Olivia was mourning the traditions that never were, I thought that I could start a new one.  My kids are too old for the real Elf on a Shelf, but how about “Teenage Elf”?  He looks like he could get into some Christmas trouble, right?
Here’s day one:

teenage elf

Oh, Olivia, I sure hope you didn’t want the rest of that sparkling cider. I was thirsty…..Your Friend, Teen age Elf.

Oh, that naughty little guy drank the last of the sparkling cider Olivia and her friends bought.  Looks like a lot of mischief to me.

I went to great lengths to get Olivia to discover Teenage Elf’s antics before school.  Scott did too.  Olivia woke up, and walked into the kitchen for breakfast.  Naughty Teenage Elf was laying on the counter by the coffee pot.  Scott told Olivia she looked like she needed a cup of coffee.  She looked at us real grouchy, and said, “What?”, and turned around to walk out of the kitchen.

I said, “Olivia, please.  Just get some coffee.”

She turned towards the coffee pot, and then she saw him.  She kind of laughed a little.

I expected more.

I said, “Oh, would you look at that Teenage Elf?  Boy, was he up to no good last night.  Tell me he didn’t drink the last of your sparkling cider?  That’s so mischievous! Who knows what kind of antics he’ll be into before Christmas?”

Nothing.

She just smiled again, and walked out of the kitchen to get ready for school.  Well, I’m not a quitter.  I’m certain this guy can bring happy memories of Christmas traditions to my teenagers,even if I have to ram the little sucker down their ungrateful throats.

When Zeke came in to the kitchen, I tried again.  “Zeke,  look who visited last night, Teenage Elf.  And, look at what he did.”  I pointed to the cider guzzling elf.

Zeke said, “What do you mean?”

I Explained, “You know, TEENAGE ELF!  He’s like Elf on a Shelf, only he’s Teenage Elf, because you guys are all teenagers, and Olivia wanted a Christmas tradition.  So, I’m starting a fun Christmas tradition with Teenage Elf?”

“What’s Elf on a Shelf?”

Holiday traditions can suck it.

Goliath and My Sister’s Blog

beauty ashes

I wonder what my sister, Gail,  would say if you asked her if she’d rather be hugging her eldest son who is now in heaven, or writing books with a prestigious editor.  I think she’d say,  “I’ll take my son back. Thanks.”

Life’s tricky like that.  Some of the things that we want more than anything to have a say on, we don’t have any say at all. The only say we have is in how we respond.

I always think about how God says He will turn ashes to beauty. I feel like the only way God can make the beautiful part is with our permission. A life can remain ashes.

Gail gives God full permission.  She’s open and trusts His greater purpose.

When I was young, I always thought Gail was like a warrior.  She welcomed going places she’s never been; places where other people are afraid to go.  So, here she is.

If you want to know a secret, I’ll tell you that having a sister with this kind of faith is always inspiring, and, occasionally, (just like twice a year or less) annoying.  Let’s just keep that here.  Okay?  I blog a lot of stuff that’s confidential.  Just seems like the right place for it.

Sometimes.  Just sometimes.  You want to be afraid.  You want to question.  You want to doubt.

Sometimes, Goliath just scares the crap out of you, and you want to yell, “Pick on someone your own size, ya big bully.”

You don’t want to hear, “Fear not.  The battle is not yours. The battle is won.”  You don’t want to hear that, because you’re the only one with the itty bitty sling shot in your hand.

Next time I’m having one of those days, I’ll read Gail’s blog.  Her blog is all handsome and professional now that she’s a real writer, wearing a real writer’s fancy pants.  Her blog is full of “Choose Faith.  Choose Joy.  Just choose it, for goodness sake!” I love it.

God allowed my sister’s beloved son to be taken from her on Earth.  Then, God lit up a new path; showing her just where to step, and how to give birth to something different; something that expresses truth and inspiration to so many others who feel like ashes just remains ashes.

I can see it all very clearly.  It certainly is beautiful.  Maybe you’ll see it too:

Gail Wahl’s Blog

Cotton Candy and the Kardashians

I get so mad when my life doesn’t know I’m a blogger.  It’s all crazy and busy, and I’m like, “Excuse me?  I’m a little bit of what you call a blogging genius over here.  Could we make some room for that?  I mean, someone has to save humanity through blogging.  It may as well be me.”

My life doesn’t listen.  It just stays all high speed and wild; never giving me a chance to think.   I crave time to think. I miss it when it’s gone.

I’ve been thinking a lot about humanity lately.  What a complicated, beautiful heap a crazy that is.  I just read one of my new favorite books that made me think about humanity even more.  Have you read, “Hiding Place”?  This book is a biography about Corrie Ten Boom.

Apparently, I am the last Christian on Earth to read this book.  The story is freaking me out.  Whenever I mention it to a Christian friend, they’re all, “Oh, I know.  I read that book 8 years ago.”  Show offs.

Corrie Ten Boom is just this wonderful, amazing, incredible embodiment of strength.  I can’t believe someone like her existed.  It seems impossible.

ten-Boom_Corrie

Corrie Ten Boom was Dutch.  She came from a loving, Christian family.  During World War II, Corrie and her family helped with the Dutch underground network.  They  assisted Jewish people with avoiding concentration camps and death, actually.

Corrie had a secret room built in her own bedroom.  When the Gestapo finally discovered Corrie and her family’s illegal activities, they stormed Corrie’s home. Corrie’s Jewish friends snuck into the secret room, and survived the raid.  Corrie and her family saved their lives.

Corrie and her family were sent to prison, and then Ravensbruck, a concentration camp.  Corrie was in her 50’s when she went to prison. Things got ugly.

This is a beautiful story.  I cannot explain how much Corrie and her family members moved me to want to be better at being human.  I cannot explain how much their faith in Christ renewed fervor in me for things unseen.  If you’re sort of anti-Christian, because Christians act all know-it-ally and holier-than-thou-ee, you’ll like Corrie Ten Boom and her family. They aren’t like that.

Have you read “To Kill a Mockingbird”?  That’s another favorite of mine.  Atticus is the only other character in my history as a reader that has moved me in the way Corrie Ten Boom has.  Too bad Atticus was fictional.  I think Atticus and Corrie Ten Boom should have gotten married.  They’d make extraordinary humans together.  How is that relevant here?  I don’t know why you want to talk about stuff that can’t even happen.  It just seems silly.

Atticus and Corrie Ten boom touched my soul because they both have a super human quality.  Humility.  They have unnatural ability to suffer humiliation with dignity.  In Corrie’s case , she claims her strength is not her own.  In fact, more than once when she’s at the end of what she can bear,  She admits it to us and to herself.  She tells God that she’s just out of strength; If he means for her to keep going, He must sustain her.

Right there.  That is the part when Corrie is revived.  Her strength is renewed. It’s almost like God wants her to get to the end of herself, to see His power to carry her is real.  Not a fairy tale.

Here’s what else I love, love, love about Corrie Ten Boom.  She does not judge.  She’s filled to overflowing with love for humanity. She works feverishly to meet the needs of those around her.  At one point she described celebrating Christmas and Hannakah with her Jewish friends. She spoke with respect of her Jewish friends.  She did not cast herself in a superior light.  It sounded beautiful.

Corrie figured her whole purpose on this Earth was to show Christ’s love.  She talked about it all the time.  But, more importantly, she showed it.  She didn’t try to convince people.  She didn’t engage in debates. I love Corrie.  Did I mention that?

I want to be like Corrie.  I want to know why I am here.  I want to remember that I have been called by Christ to love.   I want to make loving people my mission: Christian people, Jewish people, gay people, heterosexual people, Morman people, atheist people, all people.   That’s the point.

These are the kinds of thoughts I’ve been having.  They’re big thoughts. I was pondering Corrie’s dependence on Christ when I became distracted by Kim Kardashian.  It’s true. Sometimes that’s on at our house.  Olivia discovered this show on Netflix.

Do you know what happens when you are contemplating the love of Christ and saints like Corrie Ten Boom, and you’re yanked from your thoughts with angry voices arguing over a prada purse?  Or you catch sight of a 13-year-old girl showing her sister how to use a stripper pole?  It’s harsh.

It’s like being snuggled up in a warm quilt on a cold day, and having the quilt stripped away and ice water poured on you.  Or, it’s like eating a deliciously sweet apple and biting into a worm.  It’s alarming and abrupt.

I’ve been reading better books lately; books about inspiring people.  I’ve been trying to meditate on more scripture too.  I guess I’ve been doing a little too much of that, because I’m now officially unable to tolerate the Kardashians, or real housewives, or any other screaming, materialistic, self-serving reality TV personalities.

See how far I’ve carried my Corrie Ten Boom lessons?  In my world,  you love everyone expect for the people on reality TV.

I should probably tell Olivia that she isn’t allowed to watch the Kardashians.  But, I’m not going to do that. Not yet.  I think the Kardashians and folks like them are causing us to crave entertainment that is as good for the soul as Cotton Candy is for our body.  Cotton Candy is sweet on impact, but offers no nutrients to sustain us. We eat it because it tastes so good and harmless. But, a diet of cotton candy will make us sick and lethargic. And let’s face it, cotton candy is gonna slowly crowd our organs and skeleton with globs of fat.  Which is really bad, mostly because all those globs of fat will make our butts look big.  Sometimes I just get all caught up in this complicated theology.  It’s hard for the common person to even understand me.

Let me say it this way: Cotton candy offers us nothing but taste. That’s it.  That’s all you get out of it.  Oh, and a big butt.  If you want that, you should eat it.

If you like the Kardashians, I hope you don’t think I’m judging you.  Hah!  I have some ladies over in New Jersey and Orange County who I want to eat cotton candy with all the time.  I have SUCH a hard time saying no to those gals.

I’ve explained my position to Olivia.  Because, I’m Corrie Ten Boom’s protoge, remember?.  Corrie Ten Boom doesn’t judge.  She doesn’t tell other people how to live.  She just follows the path God lays before her, and loves everyone along the way.  Christ’s love through Corrie draws people towards her.  Towards Him.  He changes people through her.  It’s beyond her control. Corries friends are on their own paths. She’s not in charge of changing their direction.

I’ll keep loving Olivia, and eventually she’ll leave the Kardashians, because God is calling her there.  Yes, I’ll have loved her into it, because that’s what I learned from Corrie Ten Boom.  That, or I go bat crap crazy when I hear those Kardashian girls fighting over another dress.  Then, I’ll smash the TV in the driveway.

I’m not very good at this, Corrie.  I think I need to read the book again.

corrie ten boom quote

Reggie is NOT a Christian

I have been slower to post lately.  I am not exactly sure why.  I only know I feel badly about disappointing thousands (I’m being modest, millions) of people waiting to hear from me.  If the world is bored, that’s because of me.  I’m sorry about that, you guys.  I’ve been busy.

Do you like it when people say they’re busy?  People LOVE saying that.  Like, if I tell you that I’ve been busy this summer, instead of telling you that I’ve been spending my free time watching “The Bachelorette” and “Last Comic Standing”, you would think being busy sounds better, right?.   I’ve been busy.

I might actually just be in a rut.  I have been pretty nose to the grindstone this summer.  And, then you have my awesome family.  What a blessing to have them all home.  What a blessing, indeed.  What a blessing to see all those blessed dirty dishes they use, and the socks they toss off in a day.  Blessing. Blessing.  It is a blessing.  Do I sound like I’m trying to convince myself?

Here’s the part where you tell me to have the kids pitch in and help.  Make a chore chart, right?  Give them their own duties.   Compensate them for their work.  See, I would do all that,  it’s just that I have found complaining is easier.

All these summer messes lead to issues.  I should be better at handling these issues.  They are not new.   I should be used to these issues. I might not fight it so much any more, but that doesn’t mean the  mess and clutter don’t get in my head.  I think a messy house leaves me feeling uninspired.  So, really, if you want to be mad at someone for my lack of blog posts, be mad at my family. No.  Don’t be mad at them.  They’re really nice.

My brain isn’t firing up fresh insight to share on line.  Instead, I’m writing notes like these:

20140726_075427

The other thing that has me down is that  I just realized Reggie isn’t a Christian.  It’s true.

The other day, Reggie  was whining and jumping.  His pupils were dilated.  He was worried because my purple bag.  I take my purple bag on overnight trips.  Reggie hates that bag.  Reggie saw me with that bag, and started to hyperventilate.

Scott said, “Reggie, you know we always take care of you. Can’t you have a little faith?”

That’s the moment I knew it.  Right there.  That’s when I knew Reggie wasn’t a Christian.

We used to think Reggie’s bad behavior was the result of being high strung and untrained.  Now I know. It’s because he doesn’t know Jesus.

Don’t even try to evangelize  your dog.  You’re just wasting your breath.  I read him Bible verses, and tell him that faith in a higher power will help him not be so anxious.  I’ve told him the story of Jesus, and explained all about His death and resurrection.

Reggie’s all like, “Meatballs?”

Then, I’m like, “Reggie, what are you even talking about?  Can’t you pay attention for one minute, and stop thinking about food?”  He can’t.

During supper this week,  I walked away from the table to refill my water glass.  I came back and Reggie was sitting in my chair.  My food was gone. He ate it. Reggie was fine with that.  He just looked at me, unblinking.  From my chair. No remorse.  The Holy Spirit is not acting as Reggie’s conscience.

I told him Christians don’t do that stuff.   We’re going to have to  keep talking.

 

Christian dog 2

Reading the Bible to Reggie. I may, or may not have been holding  a piece of pepperoni to get him to sit still.

 

Why I am Not That Into Religion

I want to say I’m sorry.  I’m about to go all Christian on you again.  I apologize  if you’re sick of that.  Christian stuff isn’t the only thing I write about, but I guess I do wander there a lot.  To be fair, I warned you I might.  It’s in my blog bio.  I said I’d be talking about a few things that were important to me; one of those things was faith.

This is a blog written by a Christian lady.  If you’re interested in learning more about Judaism or New Age, I’m going to seriously disappoint you.    If you’re just in it for the silly stuff I write,  and you’re just tolerating my Christian musings, thanks for sticking it out. You’re a good friend.  .

If there is one thing I like, it’s making people happy.  I’m not an agitator.  Even if I don’t agree with you, there’s very little chance I’ll challenge you. I haven’t seen people accomplish anything I like when they argue.  They walk away with their opinions unchanged,  AND they’re angry.  Who really wins? I guess people who like making people angry do.

I like finding common ground; I like to put my focus there.   I like diplomacy, but there is one thing I like MORE than getting along: common sense.  Common sense.  I am a fan. I can’t bring myself to ignore common sense for the sake of  staying with the herd.  I’ve never been able to do that.

In my formative years I went to  a Baptist church.  Not as strict as some, but stricter than others.  While I went to that church I was taught about Jesus.   When I was young I decided I believed that Jesus was my Savior and my friend.  It was an easy thing to do, because everyone around me was doing the same thing.  Christianity was certainly part of my culture, but, for me, it was also personal.

In my Baptist church I saw adults who showed me what it looks like to be a grown up who believes in Christ.  Those grown ups were decent,  humble and kind.    They cared about people, and served others.  They took time to teach me stories from the Bible, and they showed me  with their actions how their faith impacted their lives.  Those Christians helped shape me.  It was a positive experience.

My Baptist church was not perfect.  I believe they had the important things right, but from my current view point, I believe they also had  some things wrong.  My Baptist church thought it was important to be a Christian, and Baptist.  Well, not Baptist, really.  Just not Catholic, or Lutheran or Methodist, or any other denomination that wasn’t Baptist.  Baptists believed that Baptists had figured out exactly the right way to believe.

When I was younger, most of my school friends were Catholic.  Every now and then, I would be staying over at one of their homes, and we would have to go to church.  I was honest-to-goodness scared to go to a Catholic church.   And can we just be straight with each other?  Once I got there, the incense, chanting and long robes didn’t exactly scream, “relax, make yourself at home”.  It was intimidating.

I thought that Catholics did not believe the right way.    I’m pretty sure Catholics were taught the same thing, in reverse.  I also was under the impression that other protestant denominations  were  not ideal.

Us Baptists were not alone in our snobbery.  I had a Catholic friend tell me a story about growing up in a small Catholic community in Iowa.  She said a protestant family moved into her neighborhood; that protestant family was shunned by all the Catholic families.   At what point in life do intelligent people decide the shunning technique is their go to move?

I have another friend who went to a protestant church that she once loved.  The church leaders there started getting more and more dialed in to the exact way they interpreted God’s instructions for their lives.  My dynamic Christian friend and her family were eventually found to be lacking.  They were also shunned. By their own church family.

Do you think I mean that those church people just didn’t get along with each other after that?  Oh no, you would be wrong.   That’s what I thought my friend meant when she first told me this story.  Then my friend explained that she and her family were literally shunned.  My friend taught me that shunning is a real strategy that has rules and everything.

She explained that the church members had directions from their leaders to turn their physical bodies away from my friend, walk to the other side of street if they saw her, and avoid ANY and all contact with her and her family.

If I were my friend, here’s how I would have liked to  handle that situation.  When the church leaders came to me to announce that I was going to be shunned, I would say, “Too late. I already starting shunning you.  This morning.”

Then the leaders would have to go back to their manual and look up on page 18, Chapter 4, “How to Handle a Double Shun”.  Gotcha!  The ol’ double shun. You never saw it coming.

Read:  When a second shun is put forth after a preceding shun, the shun in place is dominant, or could equalize the previous shun.  Thereby making the shunning power of a second shun not withstanding of all shunning parties.  Are you with me?  No?  I thought that made perfect sense.  Just like shunning does.

My friend blew up my brain when she told me about shunning.  I thought, “THAT happens?  That happens in this day and age,   in my backyard?”  Is it really any wonder why so many people find religion distasteful?

I can only guess that the people running this shunning operation are middle schoolers.  Because that routine sounds like it’s right out of the middle school handbook on conflict resolution.  For sure these people are taking themselves too seriously.  For sure.

I find the whole shunning operation to be illogical and immature.   I’m pointing fingers, but I shouldn’t.  I’ve been guilty of both as well.

When I was in college one of my favorite classes was on Chinese history.  My professor was from China.  One time he was telling us a story about some Christian missionaries in China.  I raised my hand and asked him what religion they were.

He answered, “Christian.”

I said, “What kind of Christian though?  Baptist?  Lutheran?  Catholic?”

He laughed at me.  He said, “I don’t know.  They were Christian.  What difference does it make?’

I was embarrassed, but I wanted to say, “It makes a big difference.  I want to know if they’re the kind of Christians who believe the right way, or the wrong way.”

I don’t know at what point in my adult life I had an epiphany.   Actually,  it wasn’t really an epiphany.  I guess my view point has evolved slowly over time.  I now can see something that I was clearly missing before.  Religion is for humans.  It isn’t for God.   The collection of beliefs each denomination has compiled and noted as ideal, were put together by humans, for humans.  Humans love affiliation.  They like to be in clubs, and to be able to name things that set them apart.

I’ve told you before I’m never going to be a theologian.  But, from what I have read, Christians are people who believe Christ is their Savior. Christians see a need for a Savior.  They acknowledge that Christ is doing the saving; they know they can’t save themselves.   They also believe the Bible is actually put together by God, and contains the answers for their life.

If you’re a Christian, it doesn’t matter if you yammer on all day about what you believe. Your faith should show.  You know, in how you act.  The decisions you make.  What you say. What you don’t say. Where you go.  Who you shun.  Sorry. I thought I was over that.  I’m still bitter.  Christians are also not apathetic.  Christ calls out apathy big time.

So, that’s a Christian.  Right?  I mean, what am I missing?

I know.  I know.  You might be thinking, “what about Baptism?”  Everybody is positive they are right about Baptism.  I have nothing intelligent to say on the subject.   The only thing I feel like I know for sure, is that I’m certain God did not give us Baptism for the purpose of arguing about it.  Why can’t we just agree to disagree?  Because I can.  I really can.

Our family financially supports a Catholic missionary.  She is a former student of Scott’s.  She used to hold Bible studies in the morning before school.  Now she’s a part of a college campus ministry.  She is one of the most joyful people we’ve ever met.  She is a Jesus freak.

Our kids go to Lutheran church camp.  It’s solid.    They go to our “Evangelical Free” church’s youth group.  It’s awesome!  Our youth pastor is one of Eddie’s best friends.  They’ve been on missions trips together, and Eddie has learned a lot from being a part of our church’s youth program.

In the summer, Eddie  goes to a Catholic youth group.  This youth group is run by a husband and wife who are the closest examples to Christ-like behavior that I have ever seen.  This couple’s home is open to people who need shelter.  They have organized, “Feed my Starving Children” in our community.  They have had Eddie at the nursing home visiting the elderly, and working in the community garden.  It is so exciting.

Eddie said that at Catholic youth group they pray and read the Bible.   He said sometimes they  also recite prayers from a book together.  That’s usually a little more Catholicky than Eddie’s in the mood for, so instead he just opts out and has his own personal conversation with God.  That’s Eddie’s preference, and his leaders are totally cool with that.  Although,  his leaders  did say that  typically prayer skipping is worthy of a  4 hour shun.  They showed him mercy (guess I won’t be letting this shunning thing drop any time soon).

I think people should go to church where they’re comfortable.  I think people who are just going through the motions, should ask themselves why.  I think people should focus on what is in their own heart, and not presume to know what’s in another’s.  I think folks should acknowledge that various Christian denominations are rich in history and tradition, but not at all significant to saving  their  souls. I think people should be honest about what religion is, and what it isn’t.

I just said a lot.  I hope I didn’t make you mad.    It’s just that when I see something that doesn’t make sense, I can’t seem to stop myself from pointing it out.  It seriously feels impossible to sit on that stuff.  It can be annoying for both of us.

If you don’t agree with me, I’m totally fine with that.  Just let me know, so that I can add you to my list of those I’ve shunned.

 

cross

 

 

Hey, Strict Christians, Stop It.

strict teacher

I think you and I both know that I don’t really know what I’m doing here. We’ve established that, right? I like to write. I like to be silly. I like to write silly stories. I especially like to write about my family. I like Jesus. Sometimes I write about that too. Sometimes people read what I write. Sometimes they even like it (love you Mom and Dad). Some people don’t. That’s all I know. So, let’s get that straight, before you go off believing I think I’ve got answers. I don’t. I mostly have questions.

When I have time, I like to read other people’s blogs. I think it might help me figure out what I’m doing. I especially like to read blogs from people who share my faith in Christ.

I read this one Christian blog about bikinis. This author had a humble tone. He was kind of funny too. I bet if I met him, I’d really like him. He thought Christian women have no business wearing bikinis.

I do agree that Americans are way over the top with their supersized food and undersized clothing. We’re just a, “go big or go home” type of culture. That attitude probably doesn’t always serve us well. Moderation is pretty cool.

The last time I went on a tropical vacation, I think my swim suit would have received a Vatican stamp of approval. In fact, it was so modest, I felt sort of outlandish in that environment. So, it’s not like I disagree with this guy based on my personal preferences. Yet, here I am, disagreeing with him.

I don’t want people to tell me what to wear. I really don’t. I have never thought about telling other people what to wear, but I wouldn’t want to do that either.

When I was a freshman in college I went to a sweet little Christian school that was not meant for me. This was a really good school down South. Many humble, Christ-like people graduated from that school. Lives were changed there. They had some rules.

One day I went to the cafeteria for lunch. I was stopped at the entrance. I was told I couldn’t enter the cafeteria because I was wearing a knee length skort. Yep. You’re reading that correctly. I was once a sinner, and wore skorts. You might think that’s just a fashion sin. At that school they thought it was a sin sin.

I was so ill prepared for rules at that age. I remember it took me a decent amount of time just to absorb the information from the dress code enforcer. I stood there at the cafeteria entrance, waiting for him to smile. I thought he might tell me he was joking. I thought he might say he just wanted to see how I would react if he acted in a way that was unreasonable. He didn’t do any of that. He was serious. He was unreasonable.

I didn’t get it. It was such a nice school. Why were they being so weird? At 18-years-old, I had no personal experience with adults trying to micro manage my choices. I was not used to it. I did not like it.

On a spectrum of typical family life, I would compare my upbringing to the Waltons or Little House on the Prairie. We lived pretty innocently. So why don’t I remember having a bunch of rules? I don’t think we had a firm curfew. Nobody told us who we could be friends with, what to eat, drink, who to vote for, or what to wear. Everything my sisters and I knew about our parents confirmed their Christian beliefs. Why weren’t they strict? Isn’t that a hallmark of a Christian household? If it is, it shouldn’t be. Being strict doesn’t work.

That’s saying a lot, isn’t it? I’m usually more diplomatic. Let me rephrase. In my experience and time on this Earth, I have not seen evidence that being strict works. Better?

I can only know the stuff I know. What I know is that I have too many adult friends who went to strict, Christian schools when they were young, or had super strict parents. Now they reject Christianity. I have so many of these friends that I’ve come to a conclusion that there’s a connection between being strict and rebellion. Those adults I know are hurt and bitter. They want nothing to do with Christianity. That makes me sad, because it is my belief that Christianity isn’t what hurt them. Weird people who are strict did.

Did feeling judged for wearing a skort help develop me spiritually? Let me think back. I remember being embarrassed and my feelings were kind of hurt. Nope. It didn’t. I asked my self what good can come from all of that. I still do.

When I was a young mother, a really nice mom gave me a book. She said it was a great read, and would really help me learn how to discipline. I respected this young mom, and I suck at discipline; two good reasons to read the book.

I have never hated a book more in my life; I am talking about real hate. Usually, I work at keeping an open mind. I’m slow to develop strong opinions. I instantly had a strong opinion on this book. My opinion was that it belonged in our trash.

The author and his wife had a lot of children. The author’s philosophy involved breaking the child’s spirit. He compared children to horses. He spanked a lot, with a switch. He described what kind of switch to use. I’m sorry. That’s hard to even write. Did I mention what an awful book it was? Like reading a nightmare.

He said his oldest children were proof that his methods worked. They never questioned him, and they were always, instantly obedient. His methods proved to me that he’d actually scared his kids to death. Congratulations. He calls his methods discipline. I call them something else.

I felt sorry for the children in that book. And there’s nothing funny about adults hitting kids in to submission. But the methods discussed became a joke in our house. I found them so absurd.

When I described what I was reading to my children, their eyes became wide. I think they started behaving better just hearing about this guy. So, I guess he helped me after all. Too bad, I think he is so, so wrong. I’ll keep my naughtier kids with unbroken spirits, thanks anyway weird, strict guy.

My parents were not weird. They were calm and respectful. They gave us room to make mistakes and disagree with them. They heard us. Kids want to be heard. They gave us plenty of work to do, and we couldn’t afford to be spoiled. They never told us what the rules were for being a Christian. Their Christianity was personal. It was a relationship between God and them, and it happened in their hearts.

I’m trying to emulate that combination now that I’m responsible for my own kids. I can’t really know if it’s working, can I? It’s too soon. And you should know that just because I think out loud, in public, doesn’t mean I’m right.

I just know that I won’t be telling my kids that there are rules for being a Christian. I will tell them that being a Christian does not happen from the outside in. It happens from the inside out. It is a condition of your heart. It’s a personal relationship between you and God. Your personal relationship with God will help you make decisions about what you should say, do, eat, drink and wear. We don’t get to decide what God is telling other people about all of those things, and other people don’t get to decide what God is telling us.

I find talk about clothing and spankings tedious, really. I’m sorry for that. I would rather talk to my kids about being kind, faithful, humble, patient, self controlled, and joyful. I’d like to model that too. I want to tell them that they are going to have to determine for themselves whether they believe Jesus has the power to affect their lives. I want to tell them that’s what I believe, and that is what I have experienced. I want to tell them that divine relationship will be a solid foundation for building healthy human relationships and weathering life’s most violent storms.

I want to talk to my kids about all that, but mostly I want to show them. After that, my job is done. Then they get to decide what they want for their hearts on their own, and my job will be to love them no matter what.

I don’t want to try to control people. I’d be terrible at it. I do want to celebrate faith. My Faith is my light house.

A sweet friend sent me this song, listening always helps me celebrate! You might like it too.

Arranged Marriages Seem Alright

Many Americans are all big on freedom. They don’t favor arranged marriages. I think that’s a little hasty. I didn’t used to think arranged marriages seemed like a good idea, but now that I’m old enough to arrange one, I have changed my mind.

Wedding

It’s Valentine’s Day, so I’m thinking about these things: love, relationships, marriage. My kids are just entering, or getting close to entering that stage in their lives where their parents should talk to them about all of these subjects. And, let me tell you, my kids HATE it when their parents try.

Our kids do not appreciate their parent’s insight into relationships. Our children are offended by Scott and me. I visualize our children talking to a therapist one day. They will say, “I don’t know. I just can’t seem to move past the bad memories. My parents were married more than twenty years, and they still liked each other…a lot. I still have nightmares of them hugging, holding hands and laughing with each other like they were young. It’s sick. You can’t wipe those images from your mind. Now I just have to find a way to heal.”

That’s how our kids act. Even our dog is in on it. No one likes it when Scott and I hug or show each other affection. They try to break it up. Just in case you’re not following me, we’re talking occasional, sweet, Disney version hugs here. I don’t know what YOU were thinking, but this isn’t that kind of blog.

I have to get over the guilt I have for liking my husband. Instead I foster a small hope in my heart that way down the road, when our kids have their own kids, they will remember that having your spouse as your number one favorite person to hang out with, is just a state of normal. I hope I live long enough to see it. Grandma will get some pay back then too. I don’t know how, but she will. You remember that.

I don’t have to tell you that a lot of crap comes flying our way in life. Great relationships make all of that doo doo not stink quite so badly. I want to tell my kids how to choose their mate well. They won’t let me, so I’m telling you instead. Thanks for that. Here’s are some questions I would like my kids to ask themselves about a prospective mate:

How do they treat the people they don’t have a crush on?

The kids are really sick of hearing this one. I’ve said it a lot. If someone likes you, and they’re nice to you, it means exactly nothing. EVERYONE is nice to the people they have a crush on, it’s a fact. Don’t trust grand gestures and flattery. Trust every day kindness.

Pay attention to how a person treats the people they have no interest in ever dating; if they treat those people nicely and with respect, that’s a good sign.

I dated someone once who would say things like, “I hate that person.”

I would say, “Wow. You hate them? They must have done something horrible. What did they do?”

He would usually reply with something like, “I don’t know. They just bug me. I hate them.”

I know. I know. That’s a nonsensical conversation that I wish I was never dumb enough to have. Now you know why I feel the need to give my kids advice.

Are they emotionally predictable?

Emotions. You need to keep those babies under control. I’m not talking about getting teary eyed when you see a commercial about the Humane Society type of emotions. I’m talking about people who accidentally turn their lives in to a Soap Opera; people who convince themselves that a flat tire, forgotten homework, or a bad hair cut is a real problem. People who cry a lot, yell a lot, get mad a lot, give people the silent treatment a lot, are grumpy a lot, or feel sorry for themselves a lot are going to be a lot of work. I’d take a pass on those people.

Choose people who are predictably calm and happy. That way, if they are sad or angry, you know it’s probably something worth being sad or angry about.

If you ask them to call in sick to hang out with you, will they say no?

I hope so. There’s nothing more attractive than someone who honors their commitments. As you get older, your commitments grow. If you’re married, and out in the world showing up and getting your job done, while your spouse is lying on the couch watching Netflix, avoiding theirs, you’re going to be grossed out. I’m just telling you now so you know where things are headed.

Are they interested in things that don’t involve you?

A partner who has a passion for things that you don’t know about is an interesting person. Sometimes it can feel like a really long life. It’s better when it’s interesting. If your partner can teach you things you didn’t know before, you will admire them even more.

Do you believe the same things?

You have GOT to figure this stuff out before you get married, not after. Here’s why: Life will punch you in the gut. I hate telling you that. I wish it wouldn’t, but it will. I wish I could prevent it. I can’t. When you do get the wind knocked out of you, and your family finds out someone you all love has died, or developed a drug addiction or cheated on someone or been abused, your kids (my grand kids) are going to want answers. You’re probably going to tell them to talk to God. You may say that God has a plan, and they can trust His plan.

If your spouse tells them there is no God. Life is random. That will be confusing. It doesn’t leave much for you and your spouse to talk about either.

Do they interrupt you?

Interrupters are the worst. Don’t be one. Don’t marry one. It seems like a small thing, but it’s actually a big thing. If you found someone who looks you in the eye, and waits for you to finish your thoughts before they share their own, there’s a good chance you have found someone who is unselfish. You’ll enjoy spending your life with someone who is unselfish. Feeling like you’ve been heard by someone who cares will save you money on therapy too.

Do they make you laugh?

You should find someone who appreciates humor, and who can laugh at themselves too. In our house (like most others), we have had some serious things to handle. I watched a documentary one time on stress management. I learned how important it is to find a way to manage stress so that it does not make you physically or mentally ill.

A lot of the strategies described are not ones our family has employed. Then they mentioned humor and laughing. That’s it. That’s what we do. That’s one of the biggest reasons we’re upright, functioning and moving forward.

Even at the very peak of our most stress filled moments, I would guess no more than 20 minutes pass before someone has cracked a joke, and someone laughs. Laughter dissolves tension. I thank God he gave me a husband who agrees there is almost always something to laugh about. I hope my kids find someone like that too.

If you could choose one person to live with you on a deserted island for the rest of your life, would you choose this person? Would you be happy there?

I hope it’s yes to both questions. Your mate should be able to say yes too. When you have met the right person, you do not have to ask yourself if you have met the right person. You just know.

wedding couple

I’m sorry to be so disgusting kids, it’s kind of my job as a parent though. If you’re not going to let me arrange your marriages, then the least you could do is just hear me out on these things.

I’ve got more to say, but let’s just marinate on the above for now. Do you like that turn of phrase? I heard a lady say we should “marinate” on her words once at a seminar. It made want to put her in a headlock and give her a face wash in the snow. I thought I’d try it here.

I made such a good call when I chose your Dad. And that’s nothing compared to how good a call he made when he chose me (Oh, remember to find someone who’s humble too. Like me.) I just want to help you to do the same.

Happy Valentines Day!!!!

love

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