God

Red robed apparition appropriating my soul,

an orange citrus scented sequined sphere,

raising me heavenward.

I am heavy,

He does not drop me.

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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?”

A Beautiful Woman

I try to be a nice person. Really, I do. But periodically I bite. Proverbs tells us to add sweetness to our speech and to speak softly. Sometimes I don’t speak very softly. I am loud.

My husband and I almost never fight. But on the occasion we do, I am usually loud and sharp. I need to add more kindness to my words. My speech is not sweet. It is acidic. It eats away at everything, burning it. I ought to have a gentler and quieter spirit, which is beautiful to God. God does not look at a woman and find her beautiful for her clothes and her figure and her makeup. He finds women beautiful who have gentle and quiet spirits. (Not that it isn’t okay to wear nice clothes and makeup.)

He expects us to cultivate what is on the inside, not the outside. He values the gentle, the grateful, the obedient, the modest, the submissive. He wants sweet speech and soft words. How can I practice these things? How can I be a woman after God’s own heart? Here is a list I have come up with. Many of these things I already do – I just don’t do them enough. If you think of anymore, comment or email me.

  1. Never raise my voice. You can not have a gentle and quiet spirit if you are yelling.
  2. Pray regularly to tell God what I am thankful for.
  3. Listen for the Holy Spirit as I write, pray, and think. Follow the voice of the Holy Spirit. Be obedient.
  4.  Try to cover up any low cut dresses with my infinity veils when I go out.  Showing some cleavage is okay when I’m at home, and practically unavoidable at formal events, but for the day to day I should be well covered. It is hard not to buy things that show a lot of cleavage when your breasts are as big as mine, but by wearing the right kind of veil I can buy all kinds of dresses and still be modest.
  5. Obey my husband. When a woman obeys her husband, she obeys God, who has place her husband in authority over her. This doesn’t mean I can’t lobby and petition for what I want and need. I can and I do, rather vigorously at times! But I am my husband’s helpmeet and God has ordered me to submit. So ultimately, my husband has final say.
  6. Be less prideful. God hates a haughty heart. I need to search myself for pride and tear it out. Am I too prideful when I get a pretty dress? When I have a day that I feel I look extra good?  When I add to my book collection? When I learn new things as I study? There is a fine line between appreciating things and feeling good about yourself, versus being prideful. Maybe one way to combat this is to give thanks to God for whatever I am proud of, whether it is a publication credit, a day of good complexion or hair, or my awesome library. And not to focus on it. Take a picture of me or my clothes or my library, and then move on. Be humble and remember that anything good that I have or achieve is through the Grace of my sovereign God. Enjoy the beauty in my life, but remember from whom it comes.
  7. Dive into the Word. A gentler, more peaceful spirit is a natural byproduct of being immersed in the Word.

I have a lot I need to work on. The Christian walk is a never ending journey, a constant refining of gold from dross.

Inspiration For Housework

Sometimes it is easy to forget that everything we do we are supposed to do to the glory of God. We are supposed to be joyful in our work. Lately I don’t think I have been joyful enough. The Bible says that all labor is profitable. I should take more joy in my work.

God doesn’t just task us to move mountains. He tasks us with moving mountains of laundry also. When I sweep the floor I should sweep it to the glory of God. When I clear the counters I should do it happily.

Sometimes we do things so much that they become completely mundane to us, whether it is office work or housework, but housework especially seems to fall victim to this. I know it does for me (although I don’t have office work). If you are a stay at home wife or a stay at home mother, you should take special pride in housework as one of your primary responsibilities. Sometimes, though, it is so hard to feel inspired. I mean, some days I wake up in the morning eager to get started. I am not skilled in homemaking, but the basic things I can figure out and am happy to do some days. Other days, I don’t want to touch housework. It’s my job, and I don’t want to do it. It’s not my only job, or even my primary job. My first job is to raise my daughter. It is, however, a very important job.

How can I get more inspired? Today I’m actually pretty inspired already. I organized my new vanity, started organizing the bathroom, started laundry, and I have more projects planned. But other days my well runs dry. I feel depleted and housework seems dreadful.

This is not a post that will give you the perfect answer to your housework inspiration woes. But I do have a few ideas that I plan to start using myself.

  1. Blogs. There are a lot of homemaking and housework blogs with tips, and more importantly, inspiration. Sometimes that inspiration comes from seeing pictures of beautifully organized and put together homes. But more often, for me at least, since I don’t aspire to perfection, I think I would benefit just from following the blogs and reading the articles. Just reading about how important homemaking is, or possible to do lists, or to hear a diary of someone’s day homemaking can be inspiring. So I need to find some good blogs and follow them.
  2. Facebook. Now hear me out. Most of the time facebook is a time suck that distracts you from your housework. But I’ve recently discovered that there are homemaking and stay at home mom groups to help inspire you and keep you on task. There is a group called SAHM Motivational Group, for instance. I’ve joined and slowly been gathering inspiration from there. I am going to look for others as well. Facebook is like any other tool. It can be a drain or a positive in your life. Make it a positive.
  3. Books. I am only beginning to explore this as well, but there are books out there about homemaking and books to encourage homemakers. I hear Martha Stewart has a great one with checklists of what needs to be done and how often. I probably wouldn’t go all out with everything on those checklists. I’m not really striving to have a Martha Stewart type of house. But it could give me a good starting point to work with and maybe make me consider things I’d never thought of trying before. There are books out there, and it might be inspiring and instructive to read them. Some women have an inborn knack for homemaking. I do not. So I stand to learn something.
  4. Have a friend hold you accountable. I’m not sure if any of my friends would be willing to do that, but if someone is that would be great. It would make housework a little less lonely. That is the problem sometimes with housework I think. It is lonely. People who work in offices have camaraderie.

I am going to try these thing in earnest and see if they help me get more done, and equally importantly, if they help me do my housework with joy to the glory of God.

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.