Iniquity

Behind violence,
Beyond liquidity,
Is my red faced Iniquity
Doing the tango with Shame.
The music is devilish,
And I fear for my feelings.
I owe fealty to my Father in Heaven
(Hallowed be thy name)
But my feet are wicked,
My soul slack.
Strung through the notes,
A bloodstone pin.

 

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He Will Take Great Delight in You.

God delights in us. He loves us as His children. Just as we take delight in our children’s first steps, happy faces, school accomplishments, happiness, and talents, so does God with us. No matter how old you are, whether you are on spiritual milk or solid food, God loves you as His sons and daughters. We make  God happy. He likes to watch over us. Our happiness is His happiness, our triumphs His triumphs. Our pain is His pain, our hurt His hurt. He is deeply connected to us. He wants to watch us lead good lives, live out our holy purpose, follow Him, and follow our dreams.

Just my happy thought for the day!

Dreaming With God

This is an interesting biography/bible study written by a ballet dancer. It is about following your dreams while walking with God. There are some good questions at the end of each chapter. There’s only a little space to write, so if you want to journal through the book you should probably get out a separate notebook. But the book is a worthwhile read and the questions are good to ponder. It talks about a couple of things, well several really. But the two messages that stand out are 1. to be open to what God is trying to do in your life and go where He is trying to send you. 2. To realize God gives you your gifts and your dreams for a reason, and you should see where you can go with them. It is an inspiring little book and an elegant read.

Creativity is Frightening

I recently read Vinita Hampton Wright’s book, “The Soul Tells a Story.” In it she talks about how creativity is frightening and can make us uncomfortable. It can, too. Sometimes I am too afraid to write poetry. I want to write a poem, but I’m afraid to dive in. I’m frightened of that place in my soul and my mind. It’s so deep that I’m almost afraid I won’t be able to get back out again.

I ordered a bunch of books about the intersection of Christianity and creativity. A couple are old favorites, but some are new. There were a bunch more I wanted, but I’m going to have to wait to get those. I am fascinated by the intersection of Christianity and the creative life. There’s a seminary program I’m interested in that centers around that very subject. It’s worship arts. However, I can’t spend a year in Dallas, so it simply isn’t going to work out.

When we create, we are being like our Creator. There is immense power that flows through us onto the page or the canvas. People talk so much about mirroring God and they mention so many great things, like mercy, justice, and sacrifice. But they leave out a key component. If you want to be like your Creator you must create. My drive to create poetry comes from my Creator. Most of my individual poems come from Him too, even when they aren’t on religious subjects.

We are made in the image of God in so many ways, and this is definitely one primal, fundamental way we are made to be like God. Create a new recipe in the kitchen. Draw a portrait. Write a poem. Write a novel. Scrapbook. Make digital art. Dance. I believe we are stronger mentally and spiritually when we engage in some kind of creative outlet. God calls each of us to do things a different way.  Human beings are like snowflakes – no two are alike. Although it is a cliche that has embedded itself indelibly in our cultural psyche, it is true.

Lately I’ve been so creative that I think I’ve been overwhelming people. I’ve been writing poem after poem. I’ve made dozens of faith collages – collages where I take beautiful art and photography I find online, make collages out of them, edit them, and add Bible verses. I am bombarding my blog and my Instagram. I can’t hardly help myself. Sometimes I am more creative, sometimes less. But right now my cup overfloweth. I know at some point I’ll hit a wall and need to rest my head for awhile, but until I’m there I’m going to create as much as I possible can. I may start creating abstract alcohol ink paintings, which are my favorite. I actually bought a little alcohol ink painting on tile when we were on vacation and I love it. It is in my curio cabinet. I think I’ll do alcohol inks when I’m done with collages for awhile.

Right now I am so deep in creativity that I am wearing my mind out. I have allowed myself to dive all the way in, to fall into the glittering abyss of creative passion. I am expressing myself and dying to myself at the same time. My creativity runs me. It is as though I am a mere conduit for ideas that come from somewhere outside of me, and I think they are from above.

Sometimes you have to create for you or for a few friends. I know some people, even many people, don’t like my collages. Not every one likes loud colors, especially so many bright images together – and I edit images to be loud! But I love them, and I make them for me as an act of worship to God. They reflect my joy in Him, and my personality. I share them because a few other people seem to like them and if even one person enjoys the scripture or the images I will be grateful.

Create something for God. Create something for you. Create something to share with other people. The more art, literature, dancing, and theater there is in the world, the better the world will be.

 

 

Eternal Life

So many things leave us unsatisfied, disappointed, wanting more. Sometimes that is just the result of greed and avarice. But sometimes it is because things or people really have been disappointing. Sometimes friends disappoint us. Everyone has that ex-friend who is out of their lives for a very good reason. Sometimes even our own families disappoint us. Sometimes our relationships with them leave us wanting more, leave us coping with hurt or disappointment or even rage. Some of them mean to fail us. Some don’t.

God never fails. God never disappoints. His love is unfailing. God is reliable. His Word slakes a thirst that water (or an ice cold Coke!) never could. God does no wrong – to anyone. His ways are righteous. He does things for our good, not to harm us.  When you can’t count on your family or friends or coworkers or whoever to do right by you, you can count on your just God.

Friendships change. People betray us, the drift away from us, they let us down. Family cannot always be counted on.  Sometimes other people, even those we are close to, are bitter, vindictive, controlling, petty, selfish, dishonest,manipulative, and mean spirited. But the one constant in life, in my life, is God. He gives me things I can’t get anywhere else – unconditional love, grace, peace.

Delight

This verse poses two interesting ideas. First of all, delighting in the Lord. It is so easy, especially when you are in spiritual doldrums, to see God more as  judge and creator of rules and morality. And He is these things. But He should also be a source of joy, someone to delight in. God should be seen as a loving Father, the creator of all things beautiful and good, a light in a very dark room. And Christ should be a friend. He even refers to the disciples as His friends.

Then there is the last part of the verse, the part that says that if we do delight in Him, He will grant us the desires of our hearts. God does want us to have the desires of our hearts, but through our relationship with Him the desires of our hearts are supposed to be transformed. It is only human to have some selfish desires, but as we grow in faith the desires of our hearts are supposed to change. We are supposed to say, Lord, let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It is okay to have dreams and ambitions and want to use your gifts, but it should be with the attitude that what you really want is what will fit with God’s plan.

I am not good at this. I am more into my will being done than anything else. It is just so hard not to have dreams and desires. Sometimes it feels like what God wants is for me not to be human. Sometimes I can step back and say, thy will be done. But most of the time I very much want what I want. It is difficult to remember that God’s design for my life will be so much more beautiful than anything I could come up with myself. Then though, I think “Why would God give me a desire in my heart, if He did not want me to have it, to follow it?” Some of my desires are purely selfish, but others aren’t selfish at all. They are for me, but they harm no one. Where is the line? What is okay and what is not? How do you reach the point of such abnegation of self that you really are willing to let go of everything you wish for, everything you hold dear, and say “Thy will be done?”

Submission Vs Tyranny

I am reading a book widely read and often recommended by other Christian women. It is called “The Excellent Wife.” And in it is some rather ridiculous BS about submission. It says wives should submit to their husbands in everything that isn’t sin. On the surface, this is true. But then the book started giving examples, even saying that your husband has the final say on home decor. While I’m not advocating spending 10,000 on a living room suite your husband hates, it is also ridiculous to suggest that a man should be the one decorating the home.

Wives are to subject themselves to their husbands in everything, but at the same time only a man who is an absolute tyrant would tell a woman how she can and cannot decorate her home. The beauty and atmosphere of a home is a womanly thing.  If your husband micromanages you to the point of telling you what decorations and colors you use, here’s a newsflash ladies. Your husband is either an overbearing tyrant, or he’s gay. So which is it? Because a straight man without serious control issues doesn’t care how his wife decorates. He just thinks it’s nice she did something with the place. Making a house a home is a woman’s thing.

Some women, and these dreadful women’s devotional writers, take it too far. It says you should submit to every decision your husband makes, no matter if it is bad for your family or cruel to you. That you should submit and submit joyfully. So it isn’t even enough to accept bad treatment – you have to smile about it.

Obviously, submission involves submitting to things you don’t like sometimes. If you are only submitting when it is a decision you like, you are not submitting at all. Within reason, you should submit even when you don’t agree with something. But those are the key words – within reason. If your husband is a selfish, stupid SOB you don’t need to follow him into stupidity, poverty, and misery. These women miss the verse that comes right after the verse that tells women to submit to their husbands; they miss that verse that says husbands must love their wives like Christ loves the church and lay down his life for her. Every husband will make some selfish decisions. Your husband is, after all, human. And for the most part, when he does you should submit in love.

But if your husband is a selfish, arrogant prick who never puts his wife or his kids first, it is time to break free. You are a person with equal value to your husband, and your own mind and common sense. Don’t let your husband run you broke, drag the family miserable places for selfish ambition, treat you like dirt, be an absentee father and husband, and totally consume your life. If your husband micromanages everything you do and say, pretty soon there won’t be a you anymore. The verse in the Bible call men to be leaders, not micromanaging tyrants. A woman who needs her husband’s permission for everything is a woman in an abusive relationship.

The book has other gems too, such as saying that if your husband ignores you, be grateful for whatever small attention he does give you and thank God. Personally, I didn’t get married to be alone. I am not going to be grateful for table scraps. If my husband ignored me I’d tell him to move out until he decided he was interested again. The book also says that if your husband comes home from work in a bad mood and takes it out on you that you just need to remember he may have had a stressful day and you should be extra kind. Are you kidding me? If your husband just comes home in a bad mood, you should be extra kind and try to make him feel better. BUT if he comes home and takes that bad mood out on you, you shouldn’t stand for that. You get stressed and have bad days too. But interestingly it doesn’t say that it is okay to take out your frustrations on your husband and he should be understanding and rub your feet. Why? (aside from the double standard) Because it isn’t ever okay to take out your bad mood on someone else, let alone to expect them to respond by kissing your ass and thanking God for whatever treatment you are willing to give them.

It rather turns my stomach sour to see Christian women advocating for this. Submission is a beautiful, spiritual, loving thing. But what these women are advocating for is not submission, but abuse and slavery – an indentured servanthood (you get out of it when he dies) and total whitewashing of personality and healthy desire. And I bet you that almost every single woman in these women’s ministries that advocate for that life for women are women who themselves have loving, responsible husbands who do what is best for the family 9 times out of 10. So it is easy for them to talk about total submission in all circumstances, because they aren’t micromanaged and controlled. If your husband only requests submission in the small things or the female things once in awhile, that is okay. But if it is all the time, that is abuse of power. And rare (and brainwashed) is the woman who actually is living through that that would write an entire book telling other women to do the same. I read this book because of my profound interest in gender studies from a Christian perspective, in marriage, and submission. But many of the women I’ve seen this book recommended to are women in bad marriages who are searching for advice. This book is full to the brim with terrible advice. There’s a couple of good chapters, such as a chapter on homemaking. But most of it is dreadful.

I write about submission a lot because it is something that has been laid on my heart by God. I have learned a lot from it, and I think my marriage is stronger for it. I like to study the subject and pray on it and learn more to draw closer to my husband and to God. But my husband leads me – he does not terrorize me. I wouldn’t tolerate that for a second. i have a good marriage to a good man, so I can trust him and submit. And when I talk about how women should submit to their husbands, I mean most women. Most women in good or decent marriages should be submitting to their husbands. It will increase the joy in their marriages, bring them in line with God’s commandments, and give them security. But I would never, ever say that every woman should submit to her husband. That is dangerous. There are a lot of men who should not be submitted to – a lot of men that shouldn’t even be husbands. Women who write books like this lead women to tolerate abuse and mistreatment and tyranny.

Dead Faith

Faith without works is dead. The Bible says so. But yet so many people in the Christian community say that all you have to do to be saved is accept Jesus as your savior. And while there is truth to this, it is not entirely true. The Bible does say that to be saved you must accept Jesus as the son of God and believe in him. But it also says that faith without works is dead, that some people who call Jesus Lord will be turned away at Judgement Day and Jesus will say he never knew them, and that we must follow Jesus. We must become disciples. So clearly it is not as simple as believe in Jesus and you are saved.

The simple truth is that while believing in Jesus is the fundamental component of being saved, if indeed you really believe in Jesus and you are saved you will have good works to back that up. People who say Jesus Jesus Jesus but do not have good works are not following Jesus and the Bible tells us that they are likely not saved. Because it is impossible to know the love of God and not give some of that love back. It is impossible to be a disciple of Jesus and not do good for those around you.

No one is perfect and no one is without sin. But if you can’t remember the last time you reached out to try to make friends with somebody you might be doing something wrong. If you can’t remember the last time you gave to charity or tithed with your church, you might be doing something wrong. If you can’t remember the last time you helped someone, you are probably doing something wrong.

I feel like I’m doing something wrong. I have definitely helped people out in the past and tried to do good things, but I haven’t done anything in a while. Part of it is that I don’t feel fully connected to the community here yet. But I’m working on that. At least as much as a bipolar introvert can. We tithed to a church last week. But it has been a while since I’ve been able to do something good. I’m sure someone out there needs help, but I’m not sure who. We recently donated some stuff we don’t need anymore to a charity that supports a monastery of nuns. So that was nice. But it’s been a while since I have helped somebody in need with a car payment or phone bill or anything like that. And I can’t remember the last time I volunteered.

But I don’t even know where I would volunteer and what I would do. I have no special skills. I’ve considered the SPCA because I like bunnies, but I don’t really wish to work with cats or dogs. And I really wouldn’t be good at that anyway. I’m trying to donate some stuff to a church Children’s Program, but I don’t really know where to get involved. They have a craft group that I’d like to join if we continue going to this church, but that doesn’t count as volunteerism. Maybe I should volunteer with the children’s church. I’m just not sure that I should. On one hand they usually need volunteers to help with special programs or work the children’s church during the service to take care of the kids. And I really appreciate the people who do that. At the same time though most of them really love children and have a heart for children’s ministries. I nannied and babysat so much that I have kind of burned out on kids. I enjoy being with my own child, but not with everyone else’s. Helping out a friend with their kids would be okay on occasion,  but it’s not something I want to be committed to every Sunday. And besides so many kids nowadays are behaving so badly and I do not have the patience to tolerate that crap. Even if it is church.

I have thought about fostering a child but so many foster children come with problems that I am not equipped to handle while I am in the midst of taking care of my own child. And then if I got attached to a child I couldn’t bear to give him or her back. So I don’t really think that fostering is for me.

I used to tutor middle school kids and I really enjoyed that but I would have to find another organization that is looking for tutors and I’m not sure if there is one around here. I also used to have a job in college tutoring a Korean family in ESL and I absolutely loved that. Partly because I really loved the family and partly because the work was enjoyable. Maybe there’s an immigrant community around here looking for ESL tutors. That would be something I could do. But I’m not a professional ESL teacher and many such organizations want professional ESL teachers.

But God expects results, not excuses. There is undoubtedly someone out here who needs help and I should be helping them. There may be an organization that needs volunteers. I should be volunteering. There has to be something that I would be good at and could go do whenever I happen to have the babysitter – something I could be committed to but that has flexible enough hours to work around family life and the babysitter’s schedule. There must be something I could contribute.

I thought I saw something on this Church’s program about bringing communion to people who are shut-in. That is a ministry my heart would really be with. Who knows. If we commit to and join this church may be opportunities to give it to be involved will come my way. If not I will have to do something to find them. To whom much is given much is expected. Much has been given to me. I need to give back.