Signs

Last night Craig was sleeping with his head on my shoulder and I just realized I’ve been given a second chance at life. In another generation having diverticulitis and a hole in your intestines would be a death sentence. Your intestines would leak and you would get sepsis and die. But modern medical technology, as gross as this bag is, allows me to have a second chance to live my life and be with my husband. And that’s a beautiful thing because I can’t imagine being without him. And I can’t imagine leaving him alone to spend his days and nights by himself and raise our daughter alone.

Nonetheless I woke up this morning depressed by my bag. As I was sitting on the sofa feeling tired and depressed, Angelica randomly brought me one of my Bible devotionals. It was open to a page about guardian angels and I realized there’s an angel around me. I’m not alone. I have an angel watching over me. It gives me some comfort.  Maybe my guardian angel was convincing me to go to the hospital on the day my intestines opened up. I was in pain, but I couldn’t imagine that anything was seriously wrong so I was on the fence about going to the hospital. I almost didn’t go. If I hadn’t my intestines might have leaked and I would have had sepsis and died. I can’t imagine leaving Angelica motherless.

Later on I opened the devotional myself to a random page and the page landed on was about trials and tribulations. It was about God rewarding you at the end of a trial. This is a trial to me. But if I can get through this I will be rewarded with abundant life when it is over – if I draw closer to God.

It’s funny how these devotionals can really speak to you and just the way you need in times of stress and duress. It’s the workings of God.

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Why Me

A week or so before we left for the trip and this whole health fiasco happened with my stomach, my husband put on an old episode of Mother Angelica.  In it she talked about being in a situation where she was asked to do things she didn’t feel capable of doing and she kept wondering why me. So she prayed to Christ and said, “why me?” And he answered her, “why me?”

I remember thinking how profound that was, and that maybe there was a reason I needed to hear that. Then two weeks later I am in the hospital with a hole in my stomach. A week after that, my stomach has been pulled through my skin and I am excreting into a large, uncomfortable bag.

At a time like this, it is easy to ask, “why me?” I have had a hard year with two surgeries and a bone infection and being on PICC line antibiotics for weeks. And now this. And I’m only 28. Why the hard year?

But then why did Christ, who was blameless as a flower, have to suffer on the cross and die. By rights it should have been someone who did such a terrible wrong that they earned it, but He was white as snow and still had to pay with His crimson blood for our sins.

My troubles are so small compared to His suffering. And life is not fair. And our Father takes care of all of us. And why not me? Diverticulitis is going to happen to someone. Why not me?

If I’m smart, I’ll use this trial to draw closer to God. It’s hard to imagine, but it is probably what I need.

How Does God Feel

” When I met my husband, I liked him. As I spent time with him, I got to know him more and more. We talked and laughed and even cried together and I realized my like had turned into love, and I couldn’t get enough of him. When God surveys our love for Him I wonder what He sees. Does He find us being in “like” with Him only? Is He sorrowful for what He knows our relationship could be but isn’t because of the absence of time together? Is He sad when we talk and laugh and cry only with others? Does he weep when we let the fire of our love grow cold?” -Lynda Hunter Bjorklund

Reading this made a light bulb go off in my head. Isn’t it amazing that we have a God who cares? This is a reciprocal relationship. It isn’t just that we as human beings are concerned with drawing close to God and being loved by God, but God wants to draw close to us and He wants us to love Him. He loves us. The almighty creator of the universe cares about us and how we feel about Him. He wants to be in communion with us.

Do I give God enough love and attention? Do I laugh and cry with God? I do not. I pray to thank Him for my many blessings. I pray to Him to help people in need. But when is the last time I poured my heart out to God? Am I close to God?

If I want to be closer to him I need to talk to Him more, and listen to Him more.

Gluttony

Today, when I got home from taking Angelica to speech and visiting with my mother, I was in the mood for cake. And I had some cake left over. Well one frosting covered by led to another and pretty soon I had eaten all that was left of the cake.

I’ve always struggled to understand why gluttony was a sin and today I think I figured it out. Any time something comes between you and the Lord It’s a Sin. After eating all that cake I tried to study my devotionals and read my Bible, but I was in such a sugar coma and felt so lethargic that I couldn’t focus to study the Word. I had eaten too much and it was preventing me from drawing closer to God.

Being fat is not a sin. Having soda or cake or ice cream, even frequently, is not a sin. It is only when eating comes between you and God or between you and fulfilling your God given responsibilities that eating becomes a sin.

Of course gluttony isn’t limited to eating. It can include anything from shopping to crafting to drinking, to anything really. Anything you indulge in too much at the expense of your relationship with the Lord falls into the category of gluttony.

Armed with this conviction, I am determined to never over eat again. I’m not going to give a song-and-dance number about how I’m going to go to healthy eating habits, because I love sugar. I’m not doing this to lose weight so I’m not going to make any goals in number of pounds. I simply don’t want to eat until I am overfilled ever again. This control will be good for my spiritual growth.

Madonna and Child (Me to Mary)

This is not my finest hour,
Thoughts encrusted with sin
Crotch raging and wet.

Hold me, Madonna.
Remember I am a child in this vast ageless world,
Writhing in ecstatic agony.
What did you feel on your wedding night,
When you realized the black terror of earning your
Scandalized neighbors?

Prayer Room/Altar/ Sacred Space

I saw something online where a bunch of women who are pagan have altars to their various goddesses in their homes. I wondered if there was a Christian equivalent so I asked around and did some reading. There is, especially among Catholics. Many people are making special places in their houses for they have Christian artwork and Crosses and rosaries. They create these beautiful spaces as a sort of act of worship. Many use these areas to pray in, study the Bible, or worship together as a family.

I would like to have something like that in my house. I would like to have candles and beautiful candle holders and to collect some more rosaries. Rosaries are really beautiful works of art and although I do not pray the rosary I sometimes hold the rosary when I pray. I would like to learn more about the Rosary and other prayer beads. Prayer is very powerful and tradition is very beautiful.

How and where can I design such a space? A corner of the library? My craft room?  I know it may seem like a silly thing to do when I am not Catholic, but there are many things about Catholicism that I admire. Plus I don’t see why you should have to be Catholic to make a beautiful sacred space in your home, and I want to incorporate symbols of what is important to me in my house.

I am thinking I could convert part of the craft room into a sort of prayer space. Then again I really like doing my devotionals and bible study in the library where it is nice and sunny, so it would make sense to have it in the library. Better yet maybe I can use the FROG . Right now that room is unused and maybe I could put it to good purpose. I know that next year in military housing we will have to go down to having three bedrooms and I will have to find a prayer space, a craft area, and a library in the mix of that. But for now I have 4 bedrooms and an office and I may as well use them.

I am really giving this some serious thought and I’m going to start shopping around to see what I could put in the room. I won’t put in any iconography because my husband is against it. But surely there’s a wealth of beautiful religious art that isn’t iconography that I could use to make a dedicated religious space in my house. Of course the Holy Spirit will move through the whole house, but I think having a designated place would be a lovely idea.

Purity

When I was young I was not as pure as I should have been. I kept my virginity until I was 21 as opposed to waiting until I was married. I only had sex with one man other than my husband and I was manic when I did it, but that is one man too many. With other boyfriends I may not have had sex, but I was too physical with some of them too.

I want better for my daughter. I want her to be a virgin when she gets married, and I don’t want her giving away pieces of herself to men that are not Mr. Right. Mr. Right Now should not get something as precious as my daughter’s purity. I want her to value premarital chastity as something important to God, and as a gift she can give her husband.

I want her to value herself and not give herself away cheaply. Consequence free sex does not exist. Our heavenly Father knows what we do when the lights go out. It grieves Him to see unmarried people having sex. Not to mention, there are emotional and physical costs to sex. With the risk of pregnancy and the risk of STDs, and with the emotional baggage that premature sex can bring I definitely think it is necessary to teach my daughter that sex belongs within marriage and only within marriage.

If we want a culture where women are respected women first need to respect themselves. That means chastity and modesty. Don’t cast your pearls before swine.  Respect your body and keep it private for your spouse. So many girls these days walk around dressed like strippers and passing out their sexual favors like the free lollipops you get at the bank, and then wonder why they are not getting respect from men. If you want other people to respect you you have to respect yourself first. I look back on my youth and I definitely did not have enough self-respect. I also did not have enough accountability and self-control. I needed more of both. I see these girls with their butt cheeks hanging out of their shorts and I honestly feel sorry for them because I have been there. I know what it’s like to feel that desperation for male attention and male approval. I think it is so hard for any woman in our culture to feel like she is enough without showing everything, and it puts a lot of pressure on young women to dress and behave in ways that are inappropriate.

In retrospect, I wish I had not gone beyond kissing any of the men I was with before my husband. That is what I want for my daughter. I don’t want her to make the same mistakes I did, and sex outside marriage is always a mistake. For this reason I am considering getting Angelica a purity ring when she gets older, something beautiful to remind her of her commitment to God and herself. And I will definitely encourage more of a courtship style dating rather than traditional dating with no accountability for sexual behavior.

Purity rings and courtship certainly put me in the minority for our culture, but as a Christian I am called to be in this world and not of it. I cannot stress to my daughter enough that although magazines and television and even the local schools will tell her that anything goes, she needs to love God and herself enough to wait. Note that when I say courtship, I am not suggesting that I should pick who she marries. In some families that practice courtship the parents become too involved. She should still choose who she has relationships with, but they should only be people that are eligible marriage material, at an age where she’s ready to get married, and I want her to feel free to come to me for accountability with her purity during the dating or courtship process.

Of course, once she is grown and out of the house I do not have any say-so over what she does. But I hope by the time she reaches that point she will be married and/or mature enough to realize the wisdom in what her parents have taught her and follow our teachings. Sexual purity is such a gift, and the virtues that come with it (faith, self control, chastity) are more valuable than gold. Isn’t that I don’t want my daughter to have a sex life but that I want her to have the best sex life possible, and God designed sex for marriage. She will be happiest if she follows God’s design for sex and for her life in general.

When Christians Are Afraid of Color

Awhile back, I approached a Catholic veil maker and asked her to make me different colored veils for headcovering. She initially said she could custom make some veils for me, but then she turned me down because of the vivid colors I wanted. She said they were immodest and she could not make such immodest headcoverings.

Now I don’t wear headcoverings out of modesty.  I wear a headcovering in submission to God and my husband and “because of the angels.” I believe modesty is important, and it is certainly Biblical, but headcovering has nothing to do with modesty. It is about submission and reverence.

But what do some Christians have against bright color? There are no “immodest” or immoral colors. God made all the colors of the rainbow and he made them beautiful.   God created color, and I think it is no sin to use it. Look how bright wildflowers and rainbows and jewels and so many natural things are. And are we not more precious and beautiful to God than these inanimate things? If God made orange and green and hot pink, why would he not want us to use them? Is it so wrong that I want a deeply important symbol of my relationship with my Maker to look bright and beautiful?  And what is wrong with me wanting to look bright and beautiful? Why do I need to use somber, soft colors and hide myself? Why not show my joy and ecstasy through the canvas of clothing? Clothing should express something about your personality, and I love bright color. It is not immodest. It is just pure, brilliant color. I am not revealing my body or showing off. Perhaps she thought it was immodest because bright colors might be showing off, but that is definitely not a fair assumption. In our culture, wearing a headcovering makes you stand out no matter what color. I just like everything, from my walls to my clothes, to be bright. Furthermore, maybe if women wore beautiful headcoverings more often, it might encourage other women to try the true joy that is headcovering. Christian doesn’t have to mean somber, dowdy, or subdued. In fact, if you are happy to be covered, you should let it show. Picking a pretty color or a pretty lace is a good place to start. Women have a natural drive to make themselves and the things around them beautiful. God made most of us that way.

At the time the woman said no to me, it hurt me. I was so happy that I’d been convicted to headcover and I was beginning to reap so many spiritual benefits. I was so excited to have gorgeous veils in an array of colors, and she made me feel like a bad Christian for wanting that, as though my veils were mere fashion statements, and “immodest” ones at that. To take something that was quickly becoming important to me, something that I wanted to be beautiful, and to tell me what I wanted was immodest stung. But some of us are not pastel women. We are neon women, and there’s nothing wrong with that. God made me the way I am and I don’t think it is a sin to express myself through brightly colored clothes or veils. Whatever you do  you should do it to the glory of God, and whether you are adorning yourself or your church or your home, you should make it as beautiful as you can. I think bright colors are beautiful.

I have since found another veil maker, and she makes me gorgeous veils in colors across the rainbow spectrum. Her passion for making these spiritual items shows because of the love and beauty she pours into them. Wearing a veil is an act of worship, and I believe making them can be too if you put passion and creativity into it.

God’s Design

Today I read something really interesting in my devotional. It talks about God wanting us to pay attention to the way He designed us. It says we should dive into the things God has designed us to naturally focus on and that we should examine where our talents lay. Our talents are God given, and they tell us something about what He would like us to do with our lives.

How did God design you? What are your gifts and passions, and how are you using them? The answers to these questions can tell you a lot about how your Creator wants you to live.

I need to give this a lot of thought, especially now that Craig has decided we are stopping at one child. Right now Angelica fills my days, but she is growing fast and will soon be grown. I only have 14.5 years til she is 18. I will only be 42 when she goes to college. How can I make sure my life is still productive and vital after she is gone? What will I do when there isn’t a little person who needs me?

I will have to find a way to harness my gifts (what are my gifts?) and pursue my passions. I don’t intend to go back into the work force.  But maybe I’ll open an art supply store or maybe I’ll volunteer through a church or start a ministry or open an art gallery or teach classes in something. I know I’ll be writing. I will write no matter what. I know I’ll be scrapbooking. I know I’ll be blogging and taking photos. These are all things that I can do in the season of motherhood and beyond to further enrich my life and keep my identity. But what causes and passions can I pursue when Angelica is grown that maybe I can’t pursue while she is young? What does God want me to do with the second half of my life, now that I won’t be raising children into my 40s and middle age?

I’m excited to find out what life has in store for me, and to design a life that my Creator wants me to have. In my devotional it talks about God being excited to take on the journey of our lives with us, and I love to think of that. Maybe God is as excited as I am about the next twenty years, and the twenty years beyond that. May God help me to craft a creative, fulfilling, accomplished life that touches the people around me.