Category: Scoping the Synapses


Love actually...

Two days.

Two short days til our anniversary. I don’t know which one we’re celebrating, but I know who I can ask. That’s one of the many holes the man I married helps fill… his instant number recall. He knows the birth weights/year/lengths of our respective children better than I do.

I could write an excruciatingly long post about the theological implications of marriage… (if I didn’t have 5 children waiting for bedtime… oh wait, that’s me doing the waiting…) or about whether or not the photo I posted is a completely accurate picture of a good marriage because when you marry someone you are signing a contract that says, in essence, that you ARE trapped. You are putting yourself in that person’s life for the rest of yours.

It’s definitely worth looking at it that way from the dating standpoint if only to realize that you need to look at it not as the first in a line of disposable relationship but a never-ending commitment that nothing will shake. I’d like to think that fewer foolish choices and, therefore, fewer broken homes would occur that way. But talking about that kind of kills the romantic bent of the photo, I suppose. Plus it’s probably not PC to refer to a divorced family as broken anymore.

For a brief time I spent 15-30 minutes 3 times a day about a year ago in a break room. Most of that time was spent listening to people comment on their relationships. Girls frustrated that their man of the minute’s main question about the twins she JUST found out she’s carrying was “Does this mean I have to pay MORE child support?” A woman who’d been married to the same man for years, raised a daughter with him but had no esteem or love at all for the man and spoke openly of her disdain. In fact, as soon as she had the cash ready and could sell the house, she said, she was leaving for her sister’s state of residence. He’s staying here. They’ve already discussed the divvying of pets. It was like a foreign country to me. Illustrated again when one of them asked if my ‘incentive’ had shown up properly on my recent paycheck. (Hers hadn’t.) When I explained that I hadn’t looked at my check amount. It was direct deposited and Matt takes care of the finances. Has since a few years after we were married, so I rarely notice what the amount is, but maybe I’d better take a look at that just in case. You’d have thought I had just confessed to keeping explosives stashed in the flue of a wood burning stove. Books being read at that table were put down, bites left untaken. Several alarmed glances were shot. One woman raised her eyebrows and said what everyone else was thinking: You HAVE to keep tabs on where money is going!  You should also have your own bank account that he can’t get into! I have my own and my husband isn’t touching a THING that I bring in from this job!**

Major culture shock, the realization that people married and/or lived with persons they not only couldn’t agree on finances with but also couldn’t trust with ‘their’ money!

Then there are stories of upstanding families who seem to have it all together and they look great… until the relationship seems to spontaneously fall apart. Did they spend alot of time on the paint and window dressings, but had no foundation? Or perhaps the foundation once was there but a crack appeared only to be ignored. It took a few floods and an earthquake, but it’s gone now. As is the life they built together. Baring a major overhaul to the broken parts, anyway.

Lest I sound proud of my marriage: I know that “There, but for the grace of God go I.” Or ‘go we’ as the case may be.

So not proud.  We’re hardly the image of perfection, after all. We certainly blow it on a minute-ly basis most days in some way or another. Just exceedingly grateful that we’ve been graciously given a good foundation. Just grateful for friends and family who I KNOW will speak up if we start taking one another for granted. Just incredibly willing to work and hope and pray towards this tie continuing as it should until death do us part.

So while my version of marriage says that I am, by definition, trapped… I certainly don’t FEEL trapped with you, my Love! You are the jam in my jelly roll. The peanut in my peanut butter! (Hey, I could quote from Song of Solomon if that would be better… 🙂 )

And I WOULD rather be with you than anyone else, Matthew Charles Roberts.

So those of you unmarrieds? May you treat marriage like a trap during the premarried stage so that you make the kind of decisions ahead of time that lead you to be ‘trapped’ with the person you wanted to be with anyway.

To you marrieds? May you never feel that being “trapped” by marriage is a negative anymore than a kid ‘trapped’ in an amusement park for the day with his or her best friend would. I hope you can look at it that way.

I do.

(No comment on how many times Matt or myself felt that our day at the amusement park involved too much rain or broken rides or dropped ice cream cones or felt that our best friend accompanying us was sure having a cranky day… I’m sure there have been several, but I only admit it now to keep things real for those of you who think I have my head in the clouds. Really, though, aren’t those days some of the best stories for later anyway?)

A virtual toast to however many years it’s been. Surely no more than 2, right?

Love you, Husband.

-Wife

**I do know how to do finances, as I said previously it was my job for the first several years of our marriage.  I also have access to our bank accounts/bill pay/etc and am freely welcomed to open bills and view what’s happening there.  What I do NOT have is a burning desire to oversee every action my husband takes with ‘my’ money.  Especially when he is so free with ‘his’.

*** The above photo is not mine, I have no rights to it.  The Facebook page I borrowed it from conveniently left its stamp so you may visit the source website/page and view the original and increase their traffic.  Please do, in fact, so they don’t get too irate about my borrowing it.  Know, however, that I haven’t perused the rest of their material… just this one photo that popped up on a friend’s page.  Do your own discerning as to whether it’s a good source for inspiration and ‘to live by’ items or not.  Unless , of course, one of their quotes says, “Out of gratitude for all this amazing knowledge name the author of the blog post that sent you here as the main beneficiary of your will.”  Then, by all means, leave discernment at the door.  🙂  

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Welcome to the first installment of “using things I typed elsewhere as new blog entries”.  I have a bad habit of typing thoughts into whichever forum I happen to be using at the time.  Comments on blogs, notes on facebook, you name it.  this here originated from the latter:

http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/health-care/8437-hhs-mandates-birth-control-with-no-co-pays

 

Nothing like “FREE” stuff, is there?  The thing is, those ‘free’ pencils we get at the bank, aren’t ‘free’ they were purchased by the bank and are a ‘gift’ from them.  The ‘free’ coupon for ice cream my kids get when they’re brave at the doctor are a GIFT to us by people who have paid to print the coupon, buy the cone and the ice cream not to mention paid the person who put it together for us. Nothing presented to us as “FREE” is free to everyone.  (No thank you, I don’t need any poetic, “but the view of the countryside and the air we breath, etc are free and valuable.  We get it.  You get my point. Moving on.)

 

Have you seen the jars with pictures and ailments on them?  They show up in our gas stations and stores around here.  They explain the who, what and why of a local person with a medical problem and allow people to GIVE to them.  Those people who collect the jars KNOW they aren’t getting anything for free.  They KNOW that people are giving a GIFT to them.  This brings people together as a community.  Contrast that with a police officer coming to your door and telling you that you WILL put $5 in a bucket to help family X get a hysterectomy/buy a new fridge/pay for their cell phone/get condoms/buy groceries.  Not so much happy.  No gift giving.  No community building.  Just taking.  Someone TAKING what is NOT theirs and using it for something they want.  Now this feeling of violation can be salved a little by knowing that the money is going to a good cause (cancer treatments, bypass, groceries for a family that truly is bereft due to circumstances beyond their control and not just beyond their comfort level or willingness to act on their own behalf, rent for those you know are trying their best) but it’s still TAKING all the same. And if you knew a family like that, do you not have a community that would rally together to help them of their own volition anyway?  If not, perhaps you should move.  But I digress.

 

I guess I’m probably going to gather unto myself all sorts of hate mail by saying this, but if you aren’t earning enough money to provide YOURSELF with birth control, either by having insurance or paying out-of-pocket, perhaps you shouldn’t be such a slave to your passions until you CAN save up enough.  Sex isn’t something that we HAVE to do.  It’s something done primarily for pleasure and occasionally (anymore) for the purpose of procreating.  I’m certainly not going to start donating life jackets to people who like to jet ski so they can do so more safely.  I’m not going to ask millions of people to donate money to purchase helmets for people who like to ride motorcycles or horses so that they can pursue pleasure more safely.  If they can’t afford the safety precautions AND ALSO don’t want to risk the after-effects of pursuing their ‘sport’ more safely, the answer isn’t to beg it off others.  It’s to quit your recreational activities until you can -ON YOUR OWN- reach the level of safety you are comfortable with.   I’d argue the same thing with Viagra.. only add something about putting handicapped bars on the jet ski so people can get on that used to love jet ski-ing and no longer can due to some ailment or other as a more appropriate analogy.

 

Now if you feel strongly about providing life jackets, helmets and jet ski handicap bars, that’s wonderful.  I’m very glad that someone in the world has that much passion for others, and you are more than welcome to personally head up or donate to a charity (not government-funded) organization that assists people who want to be safe riding horses or get back on that jet ski successfully. Wonderful.  Go for it.  Don’t make it a government mandate.

 

I’m against government-funded health care anyway, so you know I’m already biased, but if they would remove all these ridiculous non-essentials, I might cease banging my head against the wall every time we hear about it. Speaking of which, where’s the government funded padding on my walls for when I hit my head against them in frustration!?  Discrimination against minority afflictions, that’s what this is!

 

As a corollary, since I mentioned above that some in our nation have sex for the sake of procreating, at what point are we going to minister to the ‘rights’ of those who have trouble on THAT side of the coin.  How about starting a government program that pays all the expenses of fertility treatments and then adoption fees if those don’t work without a copay? No?  Didn’t think so.  It’s amazing how silly something seems when we put things in a different perspective, doesn’t it?

 

You are welcome to respond with dissenting views.  Be nice, though; according to Facebook, you’re my friend. (No, we’re not on facebook, but I assume if you read this far and aren’t already rapidly typing your dissenting views in my comments that you ARE something of a friendly person…)

I’d like to think I’m mature.   I am, after all, at least 30 and that’s all you’re going to get from me on that topic.

There is something about this nephew of mine, though.  I don’t get to enjoy it when all my children are home because then I have to operate in ‘responsible mom’ mode part of the time rather than abandoning that persona completely for ‘weird aunt’ mode.  That stinks.  It’s hard to switch from weird to responsible that often and that quickly.

But this week, my children -minus the youngest- are all at their grandparents and my sister decided she wanted to leave town and my nephew and I decided… well… to get together and work on projects.  Yes.  That’s what we were going to do.  First, anyway.  And we did.  A few.  More than one, anyway.

Then we wanted to watch Batman.  Sadly, since his are all on VHS and we didn’t replace ours when it broke we watched the first episode of Merlin… which he MOCKED even though he DID laugh and it WAS funny (I told him so!) before switching to House instead.

I smacked him for mocking my taste in shows at least once.  We laughed at the humor.  We argued vehemently about which shows are worth watching and ate WAAAAYYY too many cookies.

Because I was the mature one, I paused in my viewing long enough to spend 10 minutes on another short project.  Does that make me only 10 minutes more mature than my nephew?

I LOVE being an aunt for any and all of my nieces and nephews (all 20+ of them!), but I have to confess that this kid is pretty special.

This is the boy that I got to ‘baby’ around with.  He and his mom stayed with us while his dad was working out of town.  They came to visit when school was out in the summer and this tiny little guy would sit still and silent with me to stare at a lake because it was me.  He would fish for imaginary fish in our living room and go bear hunting with me outside.  He’s the one who refused to accept my excuse of “I’m holding the carpet down” when he decided it was time to visit the neighbor’s horses and he’s the one who coaxed my high school rear up off the couch to ‘dance’* with him to the Veggietales’ silly songs.

When he grew older his mom typed emails to me for him while I was away at college and he was one of the main draws that home had on weekends during a time when work and school kept most weekends too full to consider arbitrary visits.  I remember him pleading with me not to leave one weekend and promising him I’d come home the next.  I remember my friends laughing at how cute he was when he approached my room where we sat visiting with some stray playing cards in his chubby hands asking to ‘play cards’.  And I remember how offended he was that they didn’t take him as seriously as “Aunt” always did.

And now he’s an enormous, hulking football player in high school.  He’s asking me to help him cut speeches so he can make people laugh and doing heavy lifting to help me out.  He can look me in the eye without sitting on my hip or standing on my lap.  It doesn’t take him as long to come up with a good argument about why I’m wrong about whatever it is he thinks he’s right about… be it his opinion on the best Batman movie or why I should become a “Trekky”**or something more serious like why I should sell my truck to him and why he can’t put the broken door back on upside down.

And he’s growing into an honorable, noble, stubborn, ornery man… just like we hoped.

Because I’m an aunt I can tell him things like “Girls will think you like them if you’re not careful with that chivalry stuff” and hear him call me a conspiracy theorist.

It’s good to be an aunt.  It is fun to watch my own kiddos grow too, but times like this with a nephew are special if only because…

after you spend a little time being the ‘fun aunt’ you more easily remember that you don’t always have to be the ‘responsible mom’.  Sometimes you can be the ‘fun aunt’ with your own kiddos too.

Thanks, Nephew!  Thanks for reminding me how relationship building and enjoyable it is to be ‘fun’ sometimes.

*I can not now, nor have I ever been able to actually ‘dance’, I believe the term for what I did would fall under the hop, spin and jump categories… while holding hands with someone much shorter than I am… which probably takes more skill than ballet come to think of it.

**All Star Trek fans, please forgive my spelling ignorance of this very important term in your culture.

Responsibility

It’s a privilege.
It’s a blessing.

Truly.

But some nights…

Some nights it is a burden.  A weight.  It is huge and insurmountable.

Some nights it chafes and wears and grinds and tears at a spirit that is too weary and too sleepy to think rightly about it.

Some nights small responsibilities like housework,

Larger ones like child rearing,

Medium sized ones such as stewardship,

Sometimes those grow the way a strangely hung sweater in a child’s closet can swell and burst into a nightmarish monster.

And you know the size and intimidation aren’t real.  You can hold onto that truth while the lie that it is frightening pulls at you.

Some nights, it is enough to forget about winning the sweater vs monster argument in your soul, to ignore the small, medium and large-sized issues and fall into bed.

This?

This is one of those nights.

(When I first committed this to my computer’s memory, it only had the first 11 steps or so. It’s much more humorous now… thus, it’s getting posted.)

1. Decide that you need to do something about your health/weight/appearance. Not because you want to. Just because you’re supposed to. To meet some stupid standard. Grumble about how in former times, ‘large’ people were indications of prosperity.

2. Decide that if your husband is going to be a total stud, you need to not look quite so dumpy next to him. Besides, it would be very nice to NOT buy another pair of jeans this size

3. Spend several days contemplating where you may have stored your pilates dvd that you haven’t seen since you moved time before last. After all, the brain needs exercise too. It’s part of the body and your goal is to increase your body’s health/weight/appearance, right?

4. Spend several more days groaning internally about why we can’t just put by-pass switches on our stomachs for a few weeks. Spend part of your time looking up exercise videos you can stream from netflix.

5. Realize that all of the exercise videos feature people doing graceful things. Grace has never been your strong suit. Grumble about how the whole idea of health is dumb. Exercise is dumb. Eating is dumb. Cookie dough should rule the world!

6. Find a “Quick Results” Pilates DVD. Decide Pilates is what you need. You don’t notice you’re actually DOING anything until it’s over and you try to move normally. Perfect! Plus, it might give you the grace you need to quit running into those protruding door frames.

7. Decide that you aren’t going to pressure yourself. It would be ridiculous to try and make huge changes when you don’t want to make them anyway, now wouldn’t it? Commit to spending 10 minutes at least three times this week doing… um… something.. . ANYTHING towards being healthy. You can do 10 minutes. Yes, you can. STOP IT! YOU CAN TOO! Grumble some more.

8. Spend a few weeks annoyed at those 10 minutes of nothing. Realize that if you’re going to actually DO something, you should probably make it something that would actually make a difference. Try to find something that won’t annoy you. Fail.

9. Call your sister and ask her to nag you to the point where doing the actual exercise thing is LESS annoying than listening to her spiel everyday. Realize that she’s too kind to actually make you miserable. Try to pretend that she will anyway. Decide that you HAVE to do this because you are an accountability partner now and if one of you flops it will discourage the other one. For the good of the sister! For the good of the body! We can DO this!

10. Put in your time. Five days a week. On a bike. Annoyed. Sometimes barely pedaling because you are SO not into this. (Not because it’s hard, because it’s DUMB!) See number 5.

11. Decide if you’re going to be a wimp on a bike, the least you can do is substitute Carnation Instant breakfast for a meal or two. You used to do that anyway.

12. Realize that you can watch 24 while pedaling, and pedal much faster (because you have to save Jack or Chloe or ‘bald guy #3” or whoever is in mortal peril this episode.) Hey! If Tony can keep going after that kind of an injury, surely you can do some arm work while pedaling fast against high resistance. Realize that because you are so caught up in the ‘save the president/country/daughter’ hype you don’t realize that you’re pedaling beyond the 30 minute mark.

13. Your month-long commitment expires and you and your sister decide that since you are both super awesome at this whole new habit forming stuff that you’ll just add a NEW habit this next month. We’re SO disciplined and on top of it!

14. Do both habits faithfully for a few days… fall off the wagon… skull crashingly hard.

15. Realize that you’ve overestimated the amount of personal discipline you have to do tasks you disdain.

16. Stop calling your sister because you can no longer say, “I did it! I’m finished for the day!”. She stops calling you. Instead of being accountability partners, you are now avoidance experts.

17. Discuss that with her.

18. Go back to the “I’m not actually going to do this long term. Why bother. I finished 24 season 8 already and besides…. this is dumb.” (See point #5 again)

19. Settle for eating less per meal and cutting out chocolate… most days anyway.

20. Develop a craving for salsa… even though you’ve never liked tomatoes, peppers, or anything like this before in your entire known existence. Strangely enough this alien urge to devour plant products comes upon you while  watching Inception… with your husband… who LOVES salsa… and is using it as a movie snack… and who CLAIMS he’s never seen the movie and doesn’t know how to plant ideas in your mind.  Sure, honey!

21. Consider eating salsa instead of snickers or cookie dough can count as a weight loss plan.

22. Except on the days when you get sick of your big fat jeans and realize that getting out of them will be much faster if you’re actually moving part of the day. Contemplate returning to the bike scene with season 1 of 24.

23. Rationalize not doing so by saying that spring is just around the corner and when you’re out filling and hauling 5 gallon water buckets and feeders and chasing animals and kids around and riding to the ‘big hill’ with Orion and teaching Lithany how to ride without training wheels.. well, it will all be done ‘naturally’ and with a far lesser ‘hamster on a wheel’ factor which is the main annoyance anyway, so why be a hamster? You’re a woman, not a mouse’s distant cousin! And you still have the Instant Breakfast and salsa thing going for you. Besides, after all…

24. See point #5… again.

Thank you.

Okay, we’ve all seen this ‘based in Biblical truth’ bread, right?  The Ezekiel 4:9 cereals in the whole foods sections at stores and what not.   It sounds GREAT!  Check out verbatim what they say about it on their website:

We discovered when these six grains and legumes are sprouted and combined, an amazing thing happens. A complete protein is created that closely parallels the protein found in milk and eggs. In fact, the protein quality is so high, that it is 84.3% as efficient as the highest recognized source of protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids. There are 18 amino acids present in this unique bread – from all vegetable sources – naturally balanced in nature.

Ezekiel 4:9® Bread, made from freshly sprouted organically grown grains, is naturally flavorful and bursting with nutrients. Rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and natural fiber with no added fat. Try it served warm to release its exceptionally rich nutty flavor.

This Biblical Bread is Truly the Staff of Life

Well, good and godly.  That’s what it is!!  Yum.  Excellent. I can feel my cellulose factors dropping just from having looked at the packaging. 

Really, I have nothing against advertising the better qualities of your product and explaining the origination of your creation is just common sense in the marketing world, but  having just READ Ezekiel 4 I have a couple of thoughts:

1) Did they think that no-one would actually read Ezekiel 4 and the part about being instructed to bake it over… human excrement?  I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the rest of the specifications just because the cooking directions are gross, but… maybe they should have just left the verse off or found one that wasn’t neighbors with poop references.  That’s all I’m saying.

2) It is interesting to me that they chose to call a product “The Staff of Life” when it is modeled after something given to a prophet as a condemnation of a city.  I mean, check out how this recipe ends: “behold,(AI) I will break the supply[g] of bread in Jerusalem. They shall eat bread(AJ) by weight and with anxiety, and they shall drink water by measure and in dismay. 17I will do this that they may lack bread and water, and(AK) look at one another in dismay, and(AL) rot away because of their punishment.”  Yum.  I gots to get me some of that bread the prophet ate that was a sign of impending starvation to the people around him.  Then again, I suppose if you’re really into health food, you’re probably also into ‘diet management’ and sometimes that FEELS like starvation… that link could work.

I might be able to come up with a few more thoughts, but for now I’ll just say, I know people who eat this stuff up (no pun intended… that was literal) and think it’s great.  Yahoo.  Go to it.  I just had to ask if the makers of the product really thought through their whole “Let’s make sure EVERYONE knows EXACTLY where we got this recipe!!!  It will make them feel much better about what they are eating, that’s for sure!” outlook.

For whatever reason, their marketing scheme seems to work, so who am I to quibble.  I’m assuming it works best on people who’s only contact with Ezekiel 4 happens when they read the back of the box, but… that would account for quite a few people, I suppose.  Who reads the Old Testament today anyway?   We’re all busy quibbling about nuances in the NT to make sure our cereal box has paid attention to context.    I can understand that.

{Dear Ezekiel 4:9 creators: Please continue to market your product as is without shame.  The fact that I find it ironic does not invalidate your product or marketing ideas.  Thank you.}

Faith

I find myself grumbling as I ride my exercise bike.  Exercise and healthy eating present several problems for me.

1) I want to see results for my labor.  Not three years from now.  Immediately.

2) If there are not immediate results (as with child rearing) I want to at least know that my labor NOW makes my life easier LATER.  This is not necessarily the case with weight loss.  For all my work I do now, I have to continue to maintain it later.

3) I just plain don’t wanna do it.  There are a million things I could do with that 30-60 minutes of exercise and at least 1,000 things I could enjoy eating more than, say, lettuce.  Ick.

And it is at this point in my mental ranting that I realize how closely this parallels my spiritual life.

Christianity is not a “get saved, CHECK! Great!  Now, what else should I do with my life” kind of lifestyle.

Instead it’s: Love Jesus.  Do what’s right.  Follow ALL His commands.  Read his word.  Cultivate relationship.  Continue to grow in God.

Now you’d think that I would be mollified by the fact that the creator of the universe is doing most -if not all- of the work there.  How hard could it be?

For me? Hard.  I don’t want to pray for peace over and over.  I want an iphone app that gives me peace all the time whenever I push the right button.  I don’t want to struggle with temptation EVER.  I want a GPS type device that steers me around them so I don’t have to deal with it.  I don’t want to have to build relationships with other real, human people Christian or otherwise because those relationships are messy and complicated by the fact that we’re all human.  Darn it, anyway!  Why can’t one of us be an android?!  Maybe one that makes good frappes and is obsequious at worst.

Setting aside the fact that I have neither an iphone, nor apps, nor a GPS, nor an android (neither the robot nor the phone) I still find myself wishing that Christianity, dieting, child rearing and all those other long-term commitments were immediate ones.  Like cleaning off a counter.  Yes, you have to do it AGAIN later, but when you do it NOW you SEE the difference.  Immediately.  Right NOW.

Yeah, I don’t like redoing things either.  How about if I only do things that are immediate and permanent.  My to do list would be much shorter at least.

Do you know what I do like, though?

I like looking back.  Over a span of time.

I love seeing the valleys and the struggles and noticing the fruit they’ve wrought on the other side.

Like reminding your child approximately 800 times over the last year to put their outdoor toys in the garage…. only to find that they do this automatically now.

Like realizing that even though finding out your hose is frozen still sends you into a tizzy for 10 minutes at least doesn’t ruin your whole day anymore.

Like noticing that things you used to be vastly impatient with are suddenly items that provoke peace and prayer.

Like seeing God finally end a struggle that has been ongoing since you were… I dunno… 8?

So here’s to the whole health kick thing.  Here’s to knowing that doing what seems to be producing no benefit now will result in great things with much time and effort.  May I not give up because the results are not instantaneous.  May I remember that the greatest benefit will be the discipline being instilled… which will lead to good things in those other pesky long-term, much redoing areas as often as it is applied.

For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1

promising that perseverance produces character and character, hope. (Romans)

Here’s to faith…  in more areas than mere personal health.

Story of my life

Part I:

I am not a good housekeeper. I grew up in a disaster area. Trying to clean it up was a study in defeatism. Trying to organize it without ‘wasting’ things was impossible. Ugh.

When I had only my stuff at college and no one reminding me that I might someday want that old paper I wrote and no one exclaiming how much joy my children would someday get over owning some toy/trinket/handwriting sample or other, my room remained neat.

When I moved into an apartment, the clutter was kept semi-organized and lower in volume, but the actual dust factor rose.

Now I’m in a home with four children, a mother who loves stuff and my mountains of books!

I’ve read all the "how to" things. I could watch the hoarder show (which my husband would love to see me do that). I’ve heard live success stories. Seen real homes where dust and things don’t impede activities. Homes with small children in them and busier mothers than I, no less!

I have gone after some areas in my home with a passion, organizing, throwing out, putting away, achieving some very temporary success… only to turn around and find another mountain of junk and lose the will to continue.

It’s not that I don’t know the tricks of the trade or understand the idea of perseverance. I just don’t care enough to pursue it wholeheartedly.

Part II:

A few years back embracing the Biblical definition of femininity was all the rage. And I mean that both in the sense of "causing persons to rage about" and in the sense of "lots of people jumped aboard".

There I sat. Back row. Listening. Hearing several right things. Knowing several honorable things.

Not wanting to do any of them.

I could see the logic. I knew the background. I understood the theology behind it. I had a few good examples to follow.

What did that yield??

Nothing.

Not a blessed thing.

Just a person who felt even MORE frustrated with the fact that she’d gotten married in the first place when she’d known from the fourth grade that she wasn’t cut out for married life and was being shown – yet again – why she should have spared her poor husband and children from having to live with an inept female.

So I grabbed a mentor. A godly woman who was actively living out many of these good qualities of trust and faithfulness. I asked for her help. I explained that I knew what needed changed, I just didn’t care enough to actually do anything about it! How many of you can guess how much help she could give me? A person who did not even wish that I wanted to pursue this, only knew that she should?

More on this one in a moment.

Part III:
Yesterday, my sister called to tell me that she is 12 pounds lighter than last week simply because she cut Dr. Pepper from her diet. Another sister in law is working out at a gym. Another sister has lost weight because of her dedicated regimen. A friend of mine dropped the baby weight from having three kids and not fits in her wedding dress. I am very happy for these people but only because they are happy. Their stories honestly make me wonder if there is something wrong with me that I am not so inspired that I immediately start working on this type of goal myself, but I’m not. 

I know all the health reasons, all the aesthetic reasons, all the good common sense reasons and all the moral/practical and logical reasons why I should pursue this end.

I know about nutrition. I understand the way our body processes what we eat and what happens when we eat too much or do not move enough to metabolize those things.

I have a large acreage to walk on, multiple ‘active’ pursuits to go on with my children. I own a bike to ride, feet to walk and even a bike my husband purchased so that I could ride during my down time in front of computer/TV.

I have multiple persons in my life who are vitally -some obsessively- interested in health and wellness that could serve as inspiration and role models, various ‘support groups’ I could latch onto and several individuals that would be happy to encourage me. I also have a husband who would be thrilled if I’d at least be small enough not to crush his legs when I perch on his lap.

Doesn’t make a lick of difference.

Part IV:

I have lots of access to fresh produce and good meat. I have the ingredients to bake bread and the money to buy it. I have recipes and websites and good role model chefs that would all be happy to encourage me in my pursuit of better baking/cooking and generally putting together meals for my family.  I know about the food pyramid.  I understand which foods my children love adn which ones they won’t eat.  I know how much better we will do with storing items and keeping variety in our meals if we had a food schedule/meal calendar/plan thing. 

Don’t. Really. Care.

Quite frankly? Trying to figure out what to have for a given meal bores me to tears. UGH! Who cares what you eat, go scavenge something! Isn’t there an apple or some berries or sandwich makings or some cold cereal somewhere? Something you can nuke in the microwave? Sheesh! If I can survive on it, why can’t you? That’s basically my attitude towards food.

There have been some small improvements in this area… some declines… some improvements… some declines. Basically, I just can’t seem to care quite enough to keep good food coming.

Part V:

I know there are a thousand helpful and positive and worthy goals I could seek once the children are in bed. I could make great strides in any of the above mentioned pursuits! I could write, develop a skill, learn a language, educate myself on a variety of topics, or just read my Bible and enjoy God’s presence.

Embarrassingly, I’d rather watch TV shows and read fiction by that point in the day. You’d think that knowing my mom spent the time between her kids going to bed and my dad getting home at 1am cleaning, doing laundry, sewing outfits for her children and cooking him a full course meal for when he arrived would inspire me to at least ride an exercise bike while being a lazy bum, but honestly it doesn’t do anything for me but reassure me that I am totally NOT her and have no hope of ever accomplishing the same amazing feat.

Conclusion:

The question isn’t can/can’t. Not really. I mean, some of us are just really wired to do certain things that seem hard to the rest of us (my husband’s juggling abilities for example), but anyone can LEARN to do them. I am not wired to be social and charming. I could LEARN to be a good hostess anyway. I am not wired to smile and nod when people say things that I consider to be rather ignorant. Nevertheless, I have learned (at least partly) how to be somewhat diplomatic when the need arises. I am not wired to throw objects in the air in a specific pattern and make sure I catch everyone of them, but I could learn to juggle. I am not wired to smell poop on a regular basis, but I am currently a diaper changing expert. You get my drift.

There is really only one thing standing in the way of us non-wired people learning to do things we weren’t specifically built for…

We’re not imbeciles. We’re not incapable. We just don’t really want to!

If I wanted to be a good cook, I wouldn’t stop until I was able to make all my husband’s favorite dishes exactly the way he wanted them. If I wanted to get back into my wedding dress, I know how to make that happen! If I wanted to have a clean house at all costs, I would keep working at it until it was FINALLY (10 years of sorting and cajoling and discarding later) to an ‘easy to maintain’ state.

But, I don’t really want to. I am not COMMITTED to these things. The skill areas are NOT where my giftings lie, that much is true, but the real problem is.. I don’t have any interest in learning those things.

The ‘health and fitness’ thing (not so much a skill area as a discipline) would not be an easy thing to work into our lives right now, but it certainly could be done! And even if I didn’t want a full regimen there are smaller ‘tweaks’ I could make to my life that would probably make a huge difference. The truth is, I simply don’t care enough to put forth the effort.

Now the femininity thing?? That one I feel like I’ve made some good strides on. I still mess up, but we’ve come a little ways on that. I care enough about this one to actually put some effort, reading, thought and perseverance behind it.  Because though my mentor could NOT make me want to do these things, she could stand by me until I at least wished that I wanted to do the right thing and have the right attitude. Then I actually WANTED to do the right thing and have the right attitude. And once you get to the point of WANTING to do them? It may be a bumpy and sometimes backsliding ride, but it is ALL downhill from there.

So… I guess what I’m trying to say is that knowing a good end is out there and not wanting to pursue it? That wanting to head for things that I AM wired for instead of maintaining a course that sends my right through the sea of Skill-less Despondency? That right there… in a nutshell… is the story of my life.

Oh what I wouldn’t give to actually want all the right things. Or at least WISH I wanted them.

Interesting thought

"At the same time, because of sentimentalism and pietism, the
definitions of piety have become increasingly feminized. The definition
of what constitutes devout piety has drifted into feminine territory,
and ministers have labored to keep up with the shifting expectations.
The sweetest and gentlest boy in the church is the one who is told
repeatedly while growing up that he really ought to consider seminary.
The boy who garnered seventeen black eyes and three broken arms while
growing up is never told that by anybody" (Why Ministers Must Be Men,
p. 42).

Loyalty

One of these days I’ll learn how to ‘share’ or use ‘trackbacks’ or whatever the correct term is… until then my standard copy/paste will have to suffice.  The original is available at: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2010/07/23/good-reasons-for-moving-on/


Jason
Helopoulos on Good Reasons for Moving On

GUEST
POST from Jason Helopoulos

“What right do you ever have
to leave a church?” I can remember that question being asked by my
ecclesiology professor in seminary. It is a good question and one that
would benefit us all to wrestle with. As Kevin has recently pointed out
on this blog, there is biblical warrant and there are practical reasons
for entering into covenant through local church membership. Having
entered into that covenant our breaking of it should never be done
lightly. Clearly, there are reasons to leave a local church. But what
are they? I have been thinking about this for the past ten years and
this is my attempt at answering the question:

Good Reasons
for Moving On—The Four P’s

1. Providential moving—If my
job, family, or life has moved me from Dallas to Austin then I should
probably find a local church in Austin, let alone if I moved from
Michigan to North Carolina. It is right and good to belong to a local
church and covenant with brothers and sisters in my own “backyard.”

2.
Planting another church—It may be that I haven’t left my home town, but
the church I belong to has decided to send me out with others to plant
another church in the area. Notice though, that I am being sent out by
my church, not leaving with a group of people because I am disgruntled
or think it is a good idea.

3. Purity has been lost— It may take
different forms, but primarily this occurs when the Word is no longer
proclaimed. It could be that heresy is being taught, the Bible is never
read or preached, or a much more prominent manifestation these days is
that the Word is no longer seen as sufficient; it is used as a seasoning
for the message of the week rather than the diet by which the
congregation is fed and nourished upon. However, we must be careful
here; patience should always be exercised and I must always test my own
heart to see if I am “making a mountain out of a molehill.”

4.
Peace of the church is in jeopardy due to my presence— This “reason” is
hard to suggest for fear of it being abused, as it is by far the most
subjective “reason.” However, there are cases where an individual/family
can personally become a hindrance to the ministry of the local church
and it is best for that person/family to move-on. If this is the reason I
am contemplating leaving the church, then I must first test myself and
discern whether it is because of sin on my own part. If that is the case
then I must be quick to repent rather than move-on. This “reason”
should always be approached with trepidation,

Possible
Reasons for Moving On – The Three S’s

1. Spouse—An
unbelieving or non-church attending spouse is not willing to attend this
church, but will attend another with you.

2. Special Needs—Every
family has special needs, so this one needs to be handled with care. A
possible example may be that my family has a disabled child and another
faithful church in the area has a wonderful ministry to disabled people
which can help us.

3. Special Gifts—Another faithful church in the
area may have asked for you to use your special gifts in their midst
for the building up of the body (i.e. organist). Never decide this one
on your own. If it is a possible reason, then it is too easy to think
too highly of oneself and go running to the greener pastures. This is
always something that should be taken to the leadership of your current
church and wrestled through.

Reasons Often Used Which are
Insufficient

1. Children’s Ministry—The Children’s
ministry at another church is better. This cannot be a reason for
changing churches. It is rather an opportunity for you to get involved
in the children’s ministry of your church.

2. Buzz—Many people
will flow to whatever church in town has the current “buzz.” The
argument will be that the Spirit is at work there and we want to be part
of it. But buzzes come and go. And so do the people that follow them.

3.
Youth Group—The unhappiness of our teenage children in the current
Youth Group, because of activities, other youth, etc. is not a reason
for leaving the church we have covenanted with. I know this one will be
controversial. Believe me, I have empathy as a parent and a former Youth
Pastor. But our children are not the spiritual directors of our home.
They should not be choosing the church we attend based upon their social
status and network.

4. Church has changed—Churches always change.
Unless the changes are unbiblical than we don’t have a reason to move
on. We don’t move on when our wife or husband changes! We are we so
quick to do so with the church we have covenanted with.

5. New
Pastor—A new pastor is not a sufficient reason to change churches. It
doesn’t matter how stiff, impersonal, unfunny, etc. he is. The list is
endless. It doesn’t even matter if he is not the most interesting
preacher. He is the man God called to this church for this time. And
this is your church. Again, unless he is unbiblical why move on? You
haven’t covenanted with a man, but with this body.

6. I’m Not
Being Ministered to—I tell every one of our new member classes, “If we
all walked into church each week and had a list of people we were going
to try and ‘touch,’ encourage, or minister to, do you know how dynamic
this church would be? Just on Sunday mornings, let alone if we did it
during the week. If we each were concerned about the other person and
walked in each Sunday with that in the forefront of our mind instead of,
“Why didn’t he talk to me?,” “Why doesn’t anyone care about me?,” “Why
isn’t anyone ministering to me?” Start ministering to others and you
will find that you are being ministered to.

7. Music—Not a
reason—whether it is slow, fast, traditional, contemporary, Psalms,
hymns, or gospel choruses. Stop using it as an excuse!

8. There
are others…we haven’t even mentioned the service is too early, the
coffee is terrible, the pastor doesn’t know how to shuck corn (Yep…those
are all true ones I have heard).