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.

The Excitement of Christianity

Being a Christian is exciting. I got brand new devotionals on Saturday, the first devotionals I have ever had. We went to Books a Million and I found so many I loved that I just couldn’t stop. One of them even talks about headcovering. That spoke to me immediately. But all sorts of topics are covered, and they are designed for women. One focuses on women of the Bible and verses addressed to women. Another has morning and evening reflections for each day based on scripture. Another is a Biblical meditation on finding beauty.

If you like self improvement, living creatively, creativity and art, studying, reading, and anything timeless then Christianity is a thrill. Personally, I love always having something I’m working on, and my faith always gives me new goals to accomplish. Whether it’s delving deeper into the Bible, working on my personal relationships, or practicing submission, the quest to follow my Savior always means I’m a work in progress. I like that feeling.

Worship creates so many opportunities for creative people because there are so many ways to worship God. Singing, writing, painting, crafting, graphic design, photography,carpentry, and so many other things can be used to worship God.

If you like reading, the Bible is an amazing book because no matter how many times you read it you will stumble across verses that feel brand new because you are seeing them in a new light. I recently read one page of the Bible ten times in a row and it was so thought provoking that I’m going back to that page. As I get older and have new life experiences, verses speak to me in ways they didn’t used to. One verse can apply to numerous subjects and situations. I love education and discovery, and I feel like I get an education every time I open the Bible.

Maybe one of the most exciting things about Christianity for me is that it isn’t fashionable. It’s not cool. It’s timeless and unchanging. It’s more vintage than vintage. And yet, like a dancer, my faith is flexible, pirouetting gracefully from era to era, just as full of energy and vitality today as it was at its birth.

Christ is electric ecstasy.

Iconography of a Sinner

This digital creation reminds me in feel and in color scheme of old iconography of saints, only this icon is of a sinner. The more we try to be like God the closer we will be to Him, though He is never far away.

The text is about how I connect to God. I believe in worshiping through artistic creations, loving out loud in color, and communing with God through creativity. Of course, actual communion is important too, and I’m not proud to admit how long it has been since I received communion.

The way God made me, I feel most alive when I am writing and creating. I worship through my creative endeavors, and I long to use my writing and art to bring myself and others closer to God.

Sometimes I question myself based on the verse in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, where He says, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others.” Is blogging about my faith journey and submission and headcovering practicing righteousness in front of others?  I hope not. I don’t feel more righteous than anyone else because of my headcovering, and I write about that and my faith and submission because they make me joyful, and because by writing about them I can process my feelings. I am not more righteous than the next person. I am not a good Christian, and I certainly am not trying to project a different image of myself. But I write about my faith because it is important to me, and because I would love to connect with other Christians, and especially with people who might become Christian. You never know who is reading your words and how you might affect them. Sometimes I need to remember that. I would love it if this blog was part of my ministry, if at some point it touched even one person’s life or made them closer to God. If it sends someone searching I’ll be glad. I don’t know that it ever will, but by being as open and authentic as I can and by being willing to talk about God here I think it could potentially have that effect. We aren’t supposed to do good things for the sake of public recognition, but as Christians we won’t have much of a witness if we aren’t openly Christian in public.

One thing I’ve been really struck by are the number of Muslim poetry and faith blogs. I know the Christian ones must be out there, indeed I read some of them. But so many are so commercialized and seem so impersonal. Very few are even vaguely creative or interested in creativity. Whereas one of my favorite poetry blogs I follow is Hijabii in the Rain, a blog by a Muslim girl who writes out poems, dreams, and visions. I haven’t found anything comparable on a Christian website (if you have, please, please pass it along!) and I figure sometimes you need to be the change you wish to see. So to that end I’m going to publish more poetry on here in addition to writing about my daily life and faith. I want it to be a personal and creative space.

If I ever seem self righteous, please tell me and let me know what I could have said or done differently. I just want this blog to be an extension of myself and my life, and I can’t express myself without talking about my faith at least some of the time.

Submission

The decision to have another child has weighed heavily on my mind since Angelica was born, but now I have my answer. I have taken the decision to my husband, the head of our family, and he has decided that we are not having anymore children and are making our birth control permanent.

I’ve been praying for guidance and reading Scripture, but I forgot somewhere along the way that this major life decision doesn’t fall on me alone. My husband leads and covers me, and he has the final say so. He would never force me to do something I didn’t want to do, but part of submission is wanting to follow your husband’s leadership. My husband has decided the best decision for our family is to ensure that we have no more children.

A chapter in my life has closed. I will never again bring a baby home from the hospital, or see my baby’s first steps or hear first words. I am sad that this part of my life is closed and gone forever, but I trust God. If Craig feels this is the best decision for our family, maybe the Holy Spirit has put that on his heart. At any rate, God gave me my husband to provide for me, protect me, and lead me and I trust his decision. He’s a godly man and he’s thinking of the family’s best interest and mine. He puts us first, and putting us first he concluded the best thing for the baby and for me was for me to not have more children. And if it is my husband’s choice that I not have more children, and the Scripture is pretty clear that I am to submit to my husband, then not having more children must be the right choice.

Still, it may take some time to process this. It is a major decision. But I love my husband and know he will always do what is best for the family. He takes care of us. And if he feels it is in our  best interest for me to stop having children, he must be right. And I would certainly not disrespect him or undermine his authority by insisting on having more children.

This is where the beauty of submission lies. I was so stressed out, feeling like I was facing an impossible decision alone. But I forgot not everything is my decision. Sometimes wives forget that. Our husbands are the heads of our households and if you are grappling with a major decision, well, maybe you shouldn’t be. Let your husband lead. I always try to make submission and Biblical femininity a priority, but I forgot too! This decision, which has been so hard for me, was made easy when I took the issue to my husband and listened to what he had to say. He was clear about what was best for our family and what he wanted. If I had let my husband take the lead from the beginning I never would have gone through this turmoil.