Category Archives: faith

2014 Resolutions!

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Some people pooh-pooh resolutions. They say they’re “uneccesary” and “set you up for failure/disappointment” as well as “not focusing on the bigger picture” and being “too legalistic” (?! to that last one). Sorry, folks. I was raised to understand that goals are helpful stepping stones to get you to where you want to be, and resolutions are just that-goals. Not to mention EVERYONE could use a little discipline in their lives and resolutions can help.

As for setting you up for failure? Well, duh, if you make completely unrealistic goals then, yup, failure and disappointment are almost guaranteed to follow. I mean, seriously, if you put down “I will lose 150lbs in the New Year!” Is it possible? Yes. Healthily and while enjoying the rest of your year? Eh, probably not. Will you even be able to keep the weight off? HA! Most likely you’ll hit the gym hard in January slack off by March and then start yo-yo dieting throughout the summer. The goal “get in better shape in 2014!” is, well, more reasonable, but so vague as to be pretty much worthless. There isn’t much to really hold you to that goal, technically if you lose a pound by the end of the year you’ve “met” your goal.

So, a good goal? How about training for a race-push yourself to run more or faster than you’ve done before. Or, decide to try a certain number of “healthy dishes” throughout the year. Small goals that lead to lifestyle changes can be very beneficial and uplifting.

Here’s a few other tips:

Keep successfully met goals on your previous list for the following year. Made a goal to read ten new books and met it? Keep that goal for the next year. Having a goal on your list that you’ve met before allows you to A) make the underlying effect (ie an expanding reading base) a habit and B) gives you a goal that you know without a shadow of a doubt that you can accomplish since you did it the previous year. Eventually, those goals will hopefully just merge into your lifestyle and you’ll have to find new goals. 🙂

Limit your goals. Don’t make 50 drastic New Year’s Resolutions and then be surprised when you break or don’t met them. Give up one thing, not five. If you give up ALL sweets, soda, and fastfood in one fell swoop (especially if they were staple parts of your diet) than after a few weeks of salad and water you’re most likely going to give in. Give up just soda. Or JUST candy-but not cookies or cake. Give up McDonalds, but allow Chick-fil-a. Maybe eventually you want to be rid of all of the above, and that’s great! But take it one step (year) at a time to allow yourself time to make the adjustment.

Fail forward. Every year I put something on my list related to cooking. I have YET to successfully complete any of those goals. But this year I got really close! The point is not that I’ve “failed” those resolutions, the point is that I’m getting better at cooking. Life happens, you may not be able to fulfill all of your resolutions every year, and that’s ok as long as you don’t then completely give up. If your goal is to watch 50 new movies by 2014 and you only manage to watch 35, well, hey, that’s 35 new movies you’ve seen! If your goal is to give up soda and you forget and sip your hubby’s Mt. Dew while in the movie theater, don’t go “Well, that’s it for this year I guess…” and buy an extra large Diet Coke. Go “whoops!” and move on with your resolution. You’ll still have drunk a lot less soda by the end of the year, even if you slip up in a few places.

Share your goals. Basic accountability, people. I hate accountability. By nature I prefer to not tell anybody what I’m doing until it’s succesfully done. But that does two things that can be undermine the whole point of making goals. One, it makes it easy to give up on goals. If no one else knows you aren’t supposed to have McDonalds then noone will call you out when you chow down on your big mac meal and you can shove your guilt to the side with your fench fries. Two, because it makes it so easy to give up on goals, you fail at a lot more of them, and the frustration can easily turn inwards. You start believing you can’t really do anything, that you’re stuck where and how you are, that you’re a failure, and worthless, and fat, and slovenly, or whatever. When you tell people your goals, not only can they hold you accountable, but they can also offer support and encouragement. There is a reason self help groups can be effective.

To that end, here’s my list of goals for 2014.

2014 Resolutions

  1. Read 20 new books
  2. Watch 10 new movies
  3. Memorize 1st chapter of Ecclesiastes (I’ve been a slacker when it comes to scripture memorization. That needs to stop.)
  4. Make 5 new recipes and at least 1 has to use the crock pot. (Last year I had “make 3 and have Brian try them.” Well, I made more than 3 new ones, but Brian only tried two: a new frosting recipe and a cheesy alfredo sauce. In his defense, most of the new recipes were geared towards Cade…)
  5. Finish a scrapbook (yeek! I am getting so far behind!)
  6. No soda. (I really don’t drink much at all, this just makes it official.)
  7. No french fries, including (groan!) chick-fil-a waffle fries. Sweet potato fries are ok.
  8. Starting with 5 pushups these first two weeks, do pushups daily, increasing the amount by increments of 5 every two weeks. (I’ll be up to 130 pushups by end of December 2014)

There you have them! Not even 10 goals but plenty to keep me occupied. 🙂

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I Love Running

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loverunningThe girls over at We Shall Have Pie are participating in this contest hosted by #RunChat so after my uber whiny post yesterday, I figured I’d give it a shot, too. 🙂

I love running because of the conversations it elicits between me and my husband. Our friendship deepened into romance because of those running conversations and they’ve continued to be a way of bonding throughout our marriage. Nothing says love like discussing the potential lethalness of rabid squirrels or the inconvinience of restroom breaks in the woods.

I love how even on days my legs hurt and my breathing is ragged and everything is tired, running still gives me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

I love how running always offers a challenge, but never judges me as a failure. Any day I run I’ve done something worthwhile; no matter how slow the pace or short the distance.

I love how running allows me to explore the outdoors, it’s my grownup playtime. Maybe thats why I hate the treadmill so much?

I love the energy running gives me, and the legs. I have pretty nice legs when I run consistently, and my husband’s legs aren’t that bad either 😉

And finally, running for me is an act of worship. I don’t have to be actively praying or thinking spiritual thoughts, but I often have moments of sheer joy or wonder at what this body I’ve been given can do and the world in which I can do it. Running is a form of communion and a blessing in my life.

Ah, little Potato, I hope you find an activity/hobby/pastime that brings you as much pleasure. In the meantime, you will be accompanying both your parents to a number of races after you’re born, you’ll be too small to resist.

Thoughts on Sunday School, 1/27/2013. Exodus 4:18-26 “Bloody Bridegroom” passage.

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***This is a long blog entry, just so you are aware. I won’t be offended if my few faithful readers skip over it entirely, but I felt the need to get the thoughts in my head written down, and if anyone has different or additional insights I would appreciate them!***

It was an interesting passage, one that has caused much theological scratching of heads. The teacher went through the passage not claiming to know all the answers and brought the insights of previous commentaries to bear as we puzzled out way through, and used scripture from other passages to shed further light on this confusing little story. After further reflection there are a couple of points that come to my mind.

One of the most puzzling-and annoying-traps that I feel like it’s VERY easy to fall into when reading scripture, especially the stories in the Old Testament, is falling into what I call the “Universal Character” application. In a nutshell, the people in the Bible-from Adam to Zechariah-are all these overarching illustrations of a “person” and we all relate to them. Every action, every reaction, every comment and conversation, is blurred into this “Person” who then has certain character flaws (cowardice, anger issues, lust issues, etc) and identical concepts are extracted to apply to all of us en masse. Characters in the Bible are no longer allowed to have personalities, and the fact that as humans they must’ve had personalities does not filter in to understanding their narratives. We’re repeatedly told we have a “personal” God who focuses on relationships, and yet we read scripture and the “relationship” God has with each person is kind of lumped into one general “thing.” No wonder people get so confused over the “freedom in Christ” passage in the New Testament.

The book “Quiet” by Susan Cain talks about introverts, and she even mentions Moses and Aaron as a great example of classic introvert/extrovert teamwork. But I never hear that when people delve into scripture. I hear a lot about where they are from, or what the extenuating circumstances are (which nation is in charge, who is fighting whom, what religions are popular at the time), but nothing about who the people are as individuals. For example, the burning bush scenario with Moses. People generally make the assumption that either Moses was a chicken scared of getting killed which is why he didn’t want to go back to Egypt, or that he doubted God. I’m not saying he wasn’t scared, but if you start with the premise that Moses was rather more of an introvert than an extrovert, his whole conversation with God was more of “Um, seriously God? Do you have any idea how screwed up I am? I’ve been thinking about me for a long time and I really care about the Hebrews but last time I tried to help I snapped, murdered an Egyptian, and then panicked. Plus, people laugh at me when I talk. I don’t ever know what to say, I am a complete failure at social gatherings. Even the sheep ignore me half the time. However, if you could provide an x-box I bet I could seriously throw down on Call of Duty.” Sorry, the gamer reference might of been a little much, but that’s sort of how I feel where Moses was coming from. And I don’t think God responded to him out of anger until the very end of the conversation because He KNEW Moses. He understood the way Moses thought and processed, and He knew that maybe it wasn’t that Moses didn’t believe in God, it was Moses completely and utterly doubting his own ability and struggling with his intense dislike of being in the spotlight. So God was very patient and showed Moses how He planned on bringing the Israelites out of Egypt. And God demonstrated all the miraculous signs He’d do, and I’m pretty sure Moses wasn’t doubting God’s ability to do those things (at least not consciously) I feel like maybe Moses was going. “Ok, throw the staff, it becomes a snake. Pick it up by the tail and it’ll turn back. But what if I accidentally step on it? What if I fumble and drop it when I pick it up? And in front of Pharaoh?! Good Lord, the Israelites are doomed to slavery forever.” By the end of the conversation, Moses sounds pretty darn panicky to me, and he starts grasping at ANYTHING to try and convince God to use someone else. God agrees to let Aaron come along and do the talking, but when Moses persists on trying to get out of it God puts His foot down and reminds Moses that since He is God He really does know what He’s doing.

I don’t know about other introverts out there, but I definitely need a kick in the pants to get started on some endeavors because I get so bogged down in how perfect I expect myself to be, because I have to be that way or someone will notice, that sometimes I don’t start things at all because I’ve already convinced myself I can’t. Careful planning is a great quality. Micromanaging how events have to occur in my head in order for success to happen while grossly inflating my own deficiencies is not a great quality. I’m pretty good at convincing myself I can’t do something, and I usually use half truth excuses very similar to Moses. For example: “I can’t plan that event because I’m super forgetful.” True. But more importantly, I hate calling people on the phone to arrange details, I hate having to write things down and send out invitations and keep track of RSVPs…really, I just hate planning events. But I use the super forgetful excuse because it’s true I’m forgetful and that gives me a way out. Moses used the “I suck at public speaking” excuse and God allowed him to have Aaron. In my example God would’ve given me my older sister.

Notice when Moses tells Aaron and shows Aaron all the miraculous signs Aaron is like, “Duuuuuuude that’s awesome! No problem, man, Pharaoh won’t know what hit him.” Ok, that’s pure conjecture on my part, but I think the fact that the conversation with God and Moses takes a whole chapter and a half and there is no recorded objection on Aaron’s part says something about Aaron’s response. Obviously, it didn’t take a whole lot to get Aaron on board with the idea. Under the “Universal Character” application, that would make Aaron more godly because he believed right away, unlike Moses that sniveling little whiner with the character flaws of cowardice and doubt. But later on, Aaron’s like, “crap. I am turning into one unpopular guy, all these people are super cranky. They keep asking for a golden calf, and yeah the Big Man might not like it much but seriously, Moses is still up on that mountain and this is turning into a mess.” More godly? Or maybe just more comfortable, excited even, about the idea of riling up Pharaoh, performing miraculous signs, and leading an entire nation out of slavery? That sounds like a great adventure, woohoo! Maybe Aaron is quite simply more of a man of action…dare I say it, an extrovert. I’m not saying Aaron WASN’T godly, and he most definitely was instrumental in bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, but I am saying that their personalities influenced their actions and consequently their understanding and relationship with God.

The Sunday School teacher brought out a passage later in Exodus where God is furious with the Israelites and is like, “Moses, I’m just gonna wipe these ingrates out and make you the new Abraham.” The teacher’s point was that if HE were Moses, he would’ve been like. “Sure! Go right ahead! They’ve been annoying the snot out of me, too.” And the fact that Moses DIDN’T do that testifies to Moses’ own brush with God’s judgment in the bloody bridegroom passage and so Moses was paying it forward so to speak. I’m not saying that’s not part of it, but goodness gracious, if I were Moses and God said He was going to make me the new Abraham I would be TERRIFIED! I would do ANYTHING to get out of that situation! Make me responsible for an entire nation, a leader, a legend, a target?! I’m not saying Moses didn’t care about the people of Israel or that he didn’t mean it when he pleaded on their behalf, I’m just saying he might’ve also been pleading on his OWN behalf. Moses doesn’t strike me as the type at any point in Exodus as someone who wanted to be MORE in the spotlight. Under that lens, under trying to filter in who Moses as a person was, there is more depth to his relationship with God. There is more depth evident in GOD!

Now I’m obviously stuck on this whole introvert/extrovert kick because of my recent reading, but there is more to our personalities than just that, God really did make us unique. So why do we constantly lump Bible characters as one archetypal person with a few character flaws designed to teach us a lesson? Scripture comes alive when you allow the people in scripture to be individuals. I get Moses. I do not “get” Samson. That guy was crazy. I’m not just talking about the strength thing, but the whole” rarrr grrr I’m the biggest baddest around and I’m not afraid to show it” mentality. He was a lot of action, a lot of facing life head on, and some delayed “whoops, should’ve thought about that first” moments. God used him for a purpose just like Moses, who was prone to a lot of delayed action because he thought too much. God had a relationship with Samson and Moses, and he used both of them despite their weaknesses, and He used them in a way that did take into consideration their strengths. But although I can relate to Moses’ reluctance to be in the limelight, I can’t relate at all to Samson’s boasting and gambling at his first wedding feast (which was a disaster) and then his insistence on marrying a prostitute. His life is full of action and adventure and maybe a bit of impulsivity and it boggles my mind. No, I don’t easily get how Samson applies to my life. I do not face conflict head on, even if I want revenge on someone the likelihood of me actually following through and doing something is pretty slim because that would mean conflict and I reeeeeallly would rather avoid that. It took me a solid two years of martial arts training before I could actually hit someone while sparring and I STILL had a bad habit of apologizing every time I made contact. I don’t understand Samson…but maybe someone else does. God comes alive when you remember that He made you-personality and all-and He wants a relationship with you-quirks and all-and how He interacts with you may be different than how He communicates with someone else because He knows you.

I think everybody who studies scripture has favorite passages that speak to them more than others, favorite books, favorite people in scripture. I love Ecclesiastes for instance. It’s probably my favorite book in the Bible. That doesn’t mean we can’t all learn something from different parts of scripture, it just means certain parts I’m going to really struggle with more than someone else with a different perspective and personality. For example, spiritual disciplines. I’ve heard a lot of sermons on solitude and meditation. I’ve got no problem with either of those. In fact, I happily use those to get out of other spiritual disciplines; like, ugh, fellowship. “You know, I just really needed to spend time in reflection and prayer yesterday, that’s why I missed service…” Mhmm. That’s an “O Holier Than Thou Cop-Out” and I know it. I probably did spend time in prayer and solitude, but I was also trying to blatantly ignore the Holy Spirit tapping it’s foot at me and telling me to get my butt in a pew. I bet Moses, on the mountainside surrounded by sheep and goats, had no problem with solitude and meditation either. I bet with his speech issues he wasn’t a big fan of fellowship. I can relate to Moses. However, I somehow don’t really think Samson spent a lot of time in quiet reflection, I have a lot harder time relating to him.

I digress. Back to the Bloody Bridegroom passage.

The other point that had me thinking was all this intense focus on Moses. What about his wife Zipporah? Story in a nutshell, Moses goes home to his father-in-law and makes an evasive comment that he wants to go check up on his homies in Egypt (no mention of the fact that he’s going to rescue them from slavery, or even that GOD is sending him to Egypt). His father-in-law is like, “Sure, Peace out.” So Moses takes his family and leaves, and they stop at an Inn and-this is where it gets weird-God meets Moses and goes to kill Moses. Most commentaries believe this is due to the fact that Moses has embarked on this journey to become the leader of the Israelites and he’s in violation of the only well established rule of the covenant at this point-all males in the household need to be circumcised. Moses’ son isn’t circumcised. So God is about to kill Moses, and Zipporah slices off her son’s foreskin and touches it to Moses feet and God goes away. This is where Zipporah, according to some translations, literally calls Moses a “bloody husband”. Bizarre, right?

Here’s what I find even stranger. Everyone focuses on Moses, and it’s true, as the head of the household he should’ve had his son circumcised. But the same commentaries state that maybe the reason Zipporah said to Moses, “You really are a bloody bridegroom to me now” because of the circumcision, is that she was strongly opposed to the idea of her son being circumcised in the first place. Sooooo, ummmm, isn’t Zipporah also kindof being taught a lesson here? Should we just ignore the fact that Zipporah just flippin’ met the one true God and realizing this she instantly completes the necessary step to remain in the Covenant? Furthermore, God is about to kill Moses, it is assumed that Moses is either too startled to act, or he’s struck with paralysis, or maybe struck ill. In other words, Moses is incapacitated. God doesn’t seem too fussed about this, almost like He planned it that way or something. But that doesn’t make any sense, why wouldn’t God just zap Moses instantly if he wanted him dead? It’s not like Moses can DO ANYTHING even if he’s now aware of the seriousness of his transgression. But Zipporah can……anyone else find that strangely coincidental?

Then some of the commentaries seem to overthink in my opinion, and are actually a little bit insulting. Asking the question, “Oh! But how would Zipporah know what to DO?! There must’ve been an Angel who told her what was going on or a serpent swallowed Moses’s legs up to his penis and she made the connection…” Really?! Ok. So daughter of a Midian Priest. Actually, one of the translations say “THE priest of Midian.” The one main distinguishing difference between the Israelite’s (of which her husband, Moses, is one) religion and all the others (and her dad is a priest) at this time period is circumcision. I mean, she’s had children with this guy, even if she had been walking around deaf and blind to religion she was bound to notice Moses was missing a piece, and she probably asked someone about it. Not only that, but to be opposed to circumcision she probably would’ve had to know what it was first. And the logical question from any concerned mother when her husband attempts to snip off a piece of her child’s flesh is “WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU DOING AND WHY?!” The whole idea that Zipporah is somehow completely ignorant of the significance of circumcision to the point that she needs an Angel or a genital avoiding serpent to point out the solution to her husband’s transgression is, to me, a little bit ridiculous.

So, yeah. Maybe some of that passage was to get Moses’ head on straight and his household in order before he became the leader of Israel. Maybe part of that process was revealing the absolute power of God to Moses’ wife so she wasn’t constantly grumbling or opposed to the weird things her husband kept doing. Maybe God was both admonishing Moses for his conflict avoiding tendencies that left his son uncircumcised, and helping him out a bit by bringing Moses’ wife into the “know” so to speak. Maybe if Moses had been honest from the get go about why he was leaving to return to Egypt Zipporah would’ve believed him, realized the legitimacy of the one true God, had their son circumcised before they even left, and Moses would never have had his brush with death.

Honestly, I don’t really know. It’s a strange story in scripture and I’ve never studied it in the original Hebrew, I haven’t read every commentary on it (I seriously just Googled the passage on my phone and read three or four commentaries at random) but the more I thought about the passage the more of these thoughts kept growing and tumbling around in my head so I felt compelled to write them down.

By the way, yes, the teacher did ask for questions, comments, and insights throughout the class and no, I did not raise my hand. Yes, that is because I don’t like speaking up in a class full of people I don’t know. I was in a Sunday School for the first time in almost a decade. Fellowship baby steps.

 

****WOW, if you actually read all of that I feel like I should make a blog award or something for you. Thanks for putting up with the randomness of my blog 🙂 ******

If Santa were real…

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…people would be a lot nicer Christmas shopping.

Seriously, if you knew that Santa was tallying up how many times you tailgated/cut some one off/laid on the horn/flicked the bird/muttered angrily at your steering wheel/almost caused an accident or pushed aside another shopper/judged loudly slow walkers in the mall/snarled at a store employee/or any other typical-but-not-nice Christmas shopping behavior, you would be a lot nicer.

If people actually got lumps of coal in their stocking for bad behavior vs. FREE COOL STUFF for good behavior, we’d all work harder at being good.

At least the Grinch wasn’t a hypocrite.

With that thought, I’ve been tagged to list my 5 Christmas Wishes by AtlantaMomofThree so here are the rules. I list my 5 wishes, I tag 5 unsuspecting souls to do the same 😀

Here we go!

1. PATIENCE- for myself, and everyone else. We could all use a little extra of it. To borrow the great definition from my older sister when explaining “patience” to her daughter: “Patience is waiting for something with a good attitude.” GOOD ATTITUDES PEOPLE. Even shopping.

2. TOLERANCE- no, seriously, I wish for this, for myself and everyone. Tolerance is NOT agreeing with everyone, it means respectfully holding your own beliefs to be true and valid, but not getting angry/defensive/judgemental if someone disagrees with you. It does not mean compromising your beliefs, but it does not mean bashing other people over the head with them either. For example, I say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and I really don’t care to bash people who chose to say one or the other. Stop the judgement. If you truly believe whole heartedly that one saying is better than the other, than go you. As for me, I’m Happy and Merry and Christmas is a Holiday.

3. LAUGHTER- My family is nuts, and it’s gotten nutsier with the addition of husbands (Yup, I’m calling y’all out Nick, Brian, and John. Y’all are nuts, too). One of the biggest things I appreciate about my nutsy family, is the frequent, loud, and varied laughter. It’s great. I wish everyone has a Christmas FULL of laughter (it burns calories, too!).

4. HEALTH- I know this is not possible for everyone, but I truly wish that everyone could be healthy for Christmas. I am extremely thankful for my good health (even if I’m a bit accident prone) and I wish everyone could enjoy the same. I don’t know if this is more of a wish or a prayer request, but I’m counting it.

5. MORE WISHES! Muahaha, nothing in the rules said I couldn’t wish for more wishes. Then I could wish for love, joy, peace, (already did patience), kindness, goodness, faithfullness, gentleness and self-control! Truly, I wish for a succesful Lottie Moon offering this year and blessings on the missionaries celebrating Christmas far from home. I am glad our church is mission-minded, it makes me more aware of the importance of my testimony as a Christian, and the importance of prayer for those who don’t understand the joy of knowing Christ.

TAG! You’re it 🙂

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Life in Joyful Juxtaposition

 

 

 

Modesty

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I have struggled with modesty issues since high school. The fight that goes on in my brain follows thusly (I just wanted to use the word “thusly”): “It isn’t right to be skanky, I don’t want to be indecent or look like I’m offering up goods I’m not offering.” “It’s ok to be pretty, dang it, and if I have nice legs than why can’t I wear a short skirt? My butt isn’t hanging out or anything…” Variations on the theme include (you can sort out which side of the argument they belong to):

 “All the important parts are covered, and I’m wearing much more than most girls my age.”

“If people think I’m immodest then they have judgment issues.”

“I shouldn’t have to dress like a Puritan to be considered modest. I’m modern day modest.”

“Guys just notice me because I’m blonde, it has nothing to do with what I wear.”

“I want to impress a good Christian guy, so I should dress like a good Christian girl.”(now moot since I’m married)

“I don’t want to attract any unwanted attention because I want my body to be just for my hubby.”

“I don’t think being married should mean I have to wear ugly, baggy clothing.”

 You get the point. Here are some contributing factors that developed along the way. I was raised in a good Christian home and went to a good Christian Southern Baptist church. I mean “good” non-sarcastically, I am very grateful for my upbringing, but once I hit the “Teen Youth Group” bye-bye Bible studies and how to live right, and hello “DON’T HAVE PREMARITAL SEX OR DRESS LIKE A WHORE!” and that was it. Every youth group. Or at least that’s what it seemed like. And to make matters more confusing “Modesty” was never really explained and it seemed to break down along the following lines: If you looked pretty/attractive-you were an immodest slut tempting your poor brothers in Christ (I STILL hate that argument for modesty). If you dressed like you were 8 years old, 50 years out of date, or looked ugly- praise to the virtuous young lady!

 I hit puberty late. So, up until I was 15 I was teased and bullied for pretty much everything, including my glasses, and braces, and flat chest, and bony build, and height….you get the picture. Modesty wasn’t an issue, I was firmly in the “ugly” category. I turned 15 and I lost braces, got contacts, and finally could turn in the trainer bra for a real one. The first time a sleazy construction worker whistled at me I blushed bright red and was on an emotional high for the rest of the day. To have people think I was attractive after years of being ridiculed was, well, wonderful. BUT it quickly landed me in the “immodest” category. Some of what I wore was immodest, not horribly so, but definitely not something I would wear now, at least not in public. But mostly I was a teenage girl struggling with her identity and after being picked on for years for being ugly was not so quick to jump on the modesty bandwagon being touted by her church.

 College was a different story. I vacillated between still liking the whistles, and wanting to be more than “Fresh Meat” as the fraternities so nicely called the freshman girls. Then several incidents happened, some of which I never reported, and one where the police kindly told me there was nothing they could do. They weren’t super serious issues by today’s standards-although I’m not comfortable sharing on cyberspace-but they were enough to make me hate being attractive on some level. And for a year I threw the modesty book out the window and showed how ever much or little I wanted because I was so angry at being misused that I used my appearance as a weapon. Kind of along the lines of “If they’re going to treat me like a commodity than I’m going to make them wish they owned me.” I’m not proud of that, but it’s the truth. I came around slowly, thanks to a God who continued to show me in all sorts of ways that I was not only beautiful inside and out, but valuable-even coveted, to Him. I wish THAT is what I had been taught in Youth Group.

 Now, I’m married to a wonderful man who thinks I’m beautiful no matter what I’m wearing, but there is still part of me that wants to look pretty. For years I thought it was wrong to look pretty (attractive=immodest) and although I appreciate someone telling me I look nice who isn’t my husband or close family- I still get a little tinge of guilt along with it. I’m rediscovering the modesty line. And I’m learning that it’s ok to be attractive. I go back and forth, some days I march out of the house in heels and a skirt going “Watch out world!” and then other days I agonize over whether or not my jeans are too tight. I’m slowly learning to dress for myself, not just for how others view me. I think it is important to be modest, I don’t want to be intentionally provocative, but if someone who isn’t my husband thinks I’m attractive when I dress up that doesn’t automatically make me a skank. And if I want to wear four inch heels because they’re super cute shoes, then I’m going to wear 4 inch heels! And so what if my favorite lipstick shade is red, I’m white and I have blue eyes, red lips just make me patriotic. My skimpy little tube tops are no longer going to be worn in public, and I keep a closer eye on my hem lines-but a skirt at mid thigh just because I have long legs does not make me indecent. I don’t have to worry much about cleavage (got to have some to worry about it) but I do keep an eye on shirts that fall open when I bend forward and how tight I wear things.

 I initially thought using Brian as a guideline would work; the ol’ “Do you want other guys seeing me in this?” argument. But Brian just shrugs with this look in his eye like “If they try something they won’t last long…” and tells me he thinks I look amazing so I should wear it. So here is my conclusion-I don’t have one yet. I’m still drawing and re-drawing the modesty line everyday-with much prayer and tossing about of clothing. I don’t have any rigid rules, but I do believe that it’s ok for Christian women to dress attractively and I am not sinning by looking pretty. This also holds true for wearing makeup and liking all sorts of jewelry and if every once in awhile I want to dye my naturally blonde hair almost platinum white I do not automatically turn into a playboy bunny.Bikini’s are an issue I still go back and forth on and could probably take up another post entirely and this one is already long enough.

 Ok, I know it’s a weighty issue for blog material, especially following a post all about chairs, but I warned you when I switched over to WordPress that my blog bounces all over the place so deal with it.

Bathtime Bravery

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Remus hates bath time. Hates it. The first time I put him in the tub and started pouring water via a cup over him off he got so scared he crapped himself. Literally. I had to take my partially soaked pup out, clean the tub, and try again. Double the trauma! I was steadfast in my determination to have a clean dog, though, and took steps to make it as easy and painless as possible. I tried feeding him treats (he refused to eat treats until the fourth or fifth bath, thats how much he hated/was scared of bathtime) I got an extendable shower hose to spray him instead of using a container to pour water. I talked to him, I petted him, I tried to wash him as quick as possible…with varying levels of success.

It’s not just baths, my dog is the antithesis of a labrador. He doesn’t just dislike water, he is terrified of it. Rivers, creeks, hose water, sprinklers…the only form of water he doesn’t mind is puddles, and those only if it is already raining and the water puddles are so muddy I don’t think he recognizes it as water. That said, my scardy dog faces bathtime bravely.

I don’t have to trick him into the bathroom. I turn the water on, get the nozzle spraying, walk out to the kitchen, and walk him to the bathroom. I don’t even need to put a leash on him. He always pauses before he gets into the tub and looks back at me with the saddest expression like “Do I really have to?” but then when I pat the side he dutifully climbs in. There is no fighting, no dragging, no cajoling or tricking. He knows it’s coming, and he climbs in anyway. He gets treats during the bath, but he eats them like it is his job, like they bring him no enjoyment whatsoever. He doesn’t whimper or whine, he has only attempted to escape once (although if he thinks I’m taking too long he does start to get as close to the outside edge as possible and lean against me to give me a hint) and he even knows not to shake the water off until he’s allowed out of the tub. His tail is tucked so far under his body I have to peel it off to wash his belly. And yet he doesn’t fuss, he doesn’t wiggle, he is a miserable-but cooperative- martyr.

And then after, when I scrub his face with the towel (his absolute favorite part) he is SO HAPPY! It is like he’s thinking “THIS IS THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD! I AM OUT OF THE TUB!” And it never fails, no matter how many times I bathe him, it is right after he gets out (still soggy) that he is just hyper and bouncy and goofy and the happiest he can be. Reminds me that sometimes trials are worth it, if only because of how exciting it is to get to the other side. I just hope I can face my daily, weekly, monthly trials as bravely as Remus faces bathtime. 🙂

Faith in EMS

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Some times I get frustrated with the ridiculous amount of empathy I feel for people. I hid behind sarcasm and literal distance, preferring to deal with my own moods instead of constantly trying to navigate and appease others…and I cry in my car in my driveway at the end of shift. Empathy as a paramedic is useful, but I feel it can also be crippling. I have a hard time brushing off the patients we transport, especially those who die or we find dead. Some are worse than others and from some I have a much easier time distancing myself. Although I always feel sympathetic for the families, it is harder to feel sympathetic for the 40 yo F who strokes out due to constant cocaine use, leaving multiple children who are malnourished and barefoot to be picked up by other family members. It’s hard to feel sympathetic for patients who abuse the 911 system on a regular basis. It’s hard to feel sympathetic for the drunk who swerved out of control off the road and hit a tree-hitting a 5 year old child in the process. There are people I have picked up and I am absolutely amazed by how much they repulse me, I wonder how they could ever have let themselves get to the state they are in, and how they can continue when help-medical and mental- is offered to them free of charge and repeatedly. I get so angry at how selfish they are, what a burden to everyone else, and how they just don’t seem to care. It’s a helpless, frustrating, useless anger because there is literally nothing I can do, and I spend a lot of time in angry confused prayer trying to resolve my own pointless frustration with these people.

A few nights ago I was reading in Romans, and I came upon one of the famous Awana Verses Chapter 5, vs. 8. “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It was the verses before this one though, that really made me stop to think. Starting in vs 6, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I thought of all those crackaddicts and chronic alcoholics, abusive moms, abusive spouses-some I know by name-those people we pick up that are so extremely disgusting, and realized that to God THAT was us. I know it’s been taught and preached (praught?) a bazillion times, but for me it was an eye opener, and some how, I don’t feel quite as angry at all those miserable, selfish people I transport. My anger dissappeared, I was abashed, ashamed, and extremely grateful. Now, I still get frustrated with some patients, but these verses bring me up short. I may not understand God’s purpose, I may not be able to help those that many in this system deem “worthless”, and feeling anger at the harm they inflict on others is ok, but if God can love me when I was that absolutely foul and revolting-riddled with sin, then I have absolutely no room to hate these other humans. I may not be at the point yet where I can love them, I may not be at the point where I would die for them, but I can at least keep my temper in check because ultimately it’s between them and God, and I have no right to be self righteous.

Just some thoughts that have kept bouncing around in my head. I’ve gotta keep working on seperating the sin from the sinner…

Seven Deadly Sins

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Wrath, pride, lust, envy, sloth, greed, and gluttony. I always forget at least one when I try to list them, usually envy or greed, two sins I don’t seem to struggle with as much. Or maybe thats just pride speaking. I was working on the puzzle the other day and randomly started contemplating the sins and wondering of which one I was the worst offender. I believe people are more predisposed towards some sins over others-due to nature or nurture or really a combination of both- and although I’ve participated in all of the sins at some point or the other, I wanted to see if I could narrow it down to the one I engaged in the most.

Believe me, I’m not proud of being a sinner, but narrowing down where I was most susceptible to temptation seemed like a good idea…or is that pride speaking? I definitely struggle with pride, it makes the top three without a doubt. I’m not a very confident person, but I loathe being wrong. My motivation for doing the right thing is often a function of me detesting apologies. Definitely not always the right motive, and God looks on the heart, eek.

Wrath is also in the top three. I have a temper that is irrational and explosive. Its like I have a perpetual pot of simmering anger on the backburner, and if I’m in a bad mood anything can trigger it. I hold grudges, I have a hard time letting go even after a matter has been “resolved.” My temper has improved outwardly with much prayer, introspection, and leaving the room before I say anything stupid, but I still find myself brooding over situations that make me angry and lashing out in complete overreactions at times. Yes, anger makes the top three.

Greed and envy, like I said earlier, I’ve never really had much of a problem with. Oh yes, I’ve been greedy and envious before, but like a headcold compared to the chronic bronchitis of anger and pride.

Lust, eh, I don’t really know. I’ve had my moments I suppose, but I never could develop crushes on movie stars or play out fantasies in my head. Maybe its the medical profession but naked bodies are naked bodies, I guess it just doesnt bother me.

Gluttony? I dont think so. I mean, I like food and all, and luxuries, but they aren’t really that important. I mean yes, I have to eat, but the only foods I really gorge myself on are beef stroganoff and mac and cheese. And I can live without luxuries and be happy no problem.

That leaves sloth. Oh sloth. To me this is probably the most embarrasing sin to admit to. I mean, anger and pride-youre almost expected to admit to those, and who doesn’t get jealous on occasion or want more money? Lust, in today’s culture, is expected. And in the christian world it’s almost drilled into you the moment you start going to youth group. Gluttony? Come on, I feel left out because I can’t join weight watchers with the rest of America. But sloth? Go to the ant though sluggard! Lazyness is despised in every culture I’ve ever heard of, being a hard worker is important. Even people renowned for “chill”ness- like chronic potheads- can point out the laziest member of their group with just a touch of disdain. And this, if I’m honest with myself, is my worst deadly sin. I can laze a day, a week, a month away without a problem. I hold my bladder for hours because I dont want the hassle of going to the bathroom, I procrastinate everything, I make excuses in my head for why I shouldn’t/don’t have to do certain things-at least not right then, on my days off I usually dont even bother getting dressed. I can sleep 8-10hours without a problem, then get up and nap on the couch. I LOVE sleep. Snuggling up under the covers, burrowing into my pillows, savoring the lovely feeling of doing nothing…yes, sloth is definitely a problem. I need encouragement or admonishment to get anything accomplished. Good thing I married an organized, internally motivated man or I’d still be contemplating filling out job applications instead of going to school to be a paramedic and working as such for almost two years. If it weren’t for pride and the constant accountability of family and friends, Id be as slothful as a, well, sloth.

So, thank you family and friends, for keeping me from turning into a three toed hairy moster with algea growing on me. I work on combating my lazyness-some days are better than others- but it is a tough battle and impossible without knowing that if I sat around and did nothing it would eventually expose my utter slothfullness to the world and my pride can’t take that.

Psalms :)

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Not gonna lie, I don’t always “get” Psalms. They tend to be some of the most quoted scripture- themes for endless Bible Studies and the like. I think because sometimes I have a hard time relating to them. I mean, it’s a lot about enemies and foes and devouring of flesh and besiegement of armies and rescuing Isreal from stupidity. They just all seem to run together after awhile. Personally, I like Proverbs better and my favorite Old Testament book is actually Ecclesiastes, but last night before I went to bed I opened my Bible at random and started reading in Psalms 25 and for once in my life I felt perfectly insync with David.

Psalm 25:16-21

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart have multiplied;
Look upon my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
See how my enemies have increased
and how fiercely they hate me!
Guard my life and rescue me;
let me not be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope is in you.

Now my “enemies” are more the creeping depression and cynicism that taint my thoughts more and more frequently, but it still applies. And the line “let me not be put to shame” holds so much for me. I don’t want to be a shame to anyone with my lonliness, I don’t want to be a burden, I don’t want to be a shame to Brian with not being able to cope with his absence while he’s trying to cope with actually being overseas, and I don’t want to shame Christ with the sarcasm and cynicism that starts sliding into my conversations and edging my actions, providing a very poor witness of relying on Him to help me through missing Brian. So I cling to scripture, I read more and more, holding on to “integrity and uprightness” in a vicious moment to moment battle fought with prayer and at the end of the day I feel better for it. All with the underlying mantra that Brian is in God’s hands and so am I and He’s in control of this whole situation.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here, the Psalm really does speak for itself. 🙂