He told me I would run…

2020 was a year, wasn’t it? The Good Book says that “hope deferred maketh the heart sick” and darn if that’s not the truth.

Folks are asking what 2021 goals I have. To be honest, I’m walking wounded where goals are concerned. I have a bone bruise. It’s not that I don’t have desires. I do. But goals? I had goals last year.

I started the year with surgery on my foot. I was assured that I would be up and running in a few months’ time. Running, that hope deferred for over a decade… oh, sweet hope. I knew it would take sweat and pain, but I looked forward to relearning to use those parts of my body. The freedom of movement without pain.

The top of that foot is still largely numb, the bottom of my *other* foot is in pain, and the surgery-foot was swollen enough that I had to wear compression socks and lace up shoes all summer. Needless to say, I’m neither running nor jumping as yet. The doctor was wrong.

2020 was just LIKE that. For everyone. I’m not special.

And I’m not special in the Word I’ve gotten for this year. I asked, on my birthday (beginning of Dec) for a word for my 48th year. My word was “restoration”. I looked up the Bible definition of that word: “The biblical meaning of the word “restoration” is to receive back more than has been lost to the point where the final state is greater than the original condition. The main point is that someone or something is improved beyond measure. Unlike the regular dictionary meaning of “restoration,” which is to return something back to its original condition, the biblical definition of the word has greater connotations that go above and beyond the typical everyday usage.” (reference.com)

That’s a promise I’ve had – and been waiting on – for many a year. It’s been met, and more than met, in other areas of my life. I write about it seldom now but my marriage was restored by that definition. I know the taste of that word, its operation in my life. It is not a slight promise.

So I come to 2021 a paradox. In the flesh, I am utterly worn-out. My Christmas break was too short and much interrupted and I’m just about relaxed enough to actually have a break and get something out of it – but I go back to work (and nagging my daughter about schoolwork, which is more stressful) on Monday. The inner toddler is SCREAMING. She is not okay. “I”, whoever it is “I” am, look on the spectacle in concern. “Something must be done”.

But it is not for me to do. I learned in 2020 a lesson I had to learn in my marriage, before it was restored… there is only so much that can be done in the flesh. It is not for me to do, not for me to change. I have tilted at windmills. And now it is for me to see what God will do.

In the meantime, yes – I have desires. I look at my life and see a mosaic of bits and pieces. I picked up a bit here and a piece there, because I was missing this or that or the other thing. I move from inside one box to inside another, and that has its function – I give myself completely to whatever box I am in. But I’m TIRED of changing tiny boxes. I’d like to do a few big things and give them a lot more time and attention.

I could play the game and write down goals and lists and plans. I’m very good at all that. It is harder to be honest and say, “I am waiting upon the Lord, and in the meantime, I am walking forward as He directs”. “I am giving things up, because I want to make room”. “Hope”.

As I said, I’ve heard from others … I am no more special in the tone of this year’s promise than I am in the bruises I’m carrying from last year. Hope. Keep moving. Walk on. Fight on. Be repaired. See doors open. Those are promises given to other women. For me, it is “restoration”. And as I could not have predicted the riches and tender mercies that I was given in one restoration, I will trust that likewise this restoration will leave me breathless in awe.

But today? Today is still hard.

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Contentment: Lockdown and LookUp

Contentment is a truly counter-cultural value. It’s not one that I am much good at. It’s hard to be in America, told to Achieve or Die Trying *everysingleminute* and keep your peace.

Years back, I disciplined myself to what I’d call negative contentment. This is a discipline! I trained myself to not-expect, and that did bring me quite a bit more happiness than I’d had. You know – you are much more pleased with mother’s day hugs if you don’t paint a picture of waffles in bed. The culture will feed you to the eyeballs with expectations, and it’s important that you not internalize those if you want to be happy with what you have. If you want to *experience* what you actually have.

That’s an important discipline, and this isn’t meant to disrespect it. It locks down the nonsense.

But there’s another form of contentment, and we in the West and me in particular – we’re *terrible* at it. I mean, even worse than not accepting false ideas, what if you *didn’t enjoy what you had*? Why, that would drive contentment away forever!

To relax and enjoy, that’s a discipline of opening up. It’s a discipline of looking up, and thanking God. But to truly engage in this, you have to unlock some of the heart-truths that can sometimes get locked up when you lock-down the nonsense. “Oh! I LOVE this experience! I remember this… I wanted this… this is so cool… ” You have to remember your dreams to live in them.

I dreamt of the puppy for years……… and locked that dream away for another time. Later, later, not yet. it’s good to have her. But the experience of the first weeks with a new puppy aren’t EASY. They aren’t the chill quiet loving moments you have with an adult dog. But they’re sweet. She’s sweet.

And there are Very.Good.Things – like seeing the sunrise and spending loads more time outdoors. I love to be outdoors, and she forces me outside.

God has been telling me for MONTHS that I was supposed to rest, to chill out, to wait. And all I could think of to do is to find something else to work on. If I can’t work on what I used to work on, I can surely work on getting all my ducks in a row so that I can charge forth when the door opens. No. No. No. CHILL OUT.

I have wants. And they’ll come. But I am learning to sit and rest and *wait*. And if I needed the kind of help that comes with being exhausted from Puppy Patrol to get there? So be it. God knows that she is exactly what I have needed.

Inward Focusing – My Assistance

So, this is happening this week:

This is actually my puppy, incoming. Breeder’s son. 8wks in this photo.

And eventually this is what will have happened:

Not me, not my breeder. Demonstration of size of fully grown Leo.

But this isn’t my locked personal blog. This is the more general, theological blog. Why am I showing you dog photos?

Because I’m learning the *weirdest* lessons and being directed in the *weirdest* ways right now. Or at least they feel weird, and that weirdness is part of my lesson – to let GO already.

I’m supposed to be chilling out, resting, receiving, and becoming focused on the inner world, both of my own head, and in my literal inner world – my home. I’ve gotten myself so overwrought about being perfect, going outward, that I’m completely out of balance. Even to THINK about looking inward and allowing myself to be cared for is uncomfortable.

I’ve done the things. I’ve put up food for the coming storm. I’ve read my Bible through. I … do the things. I do ALL THE THINGS I CAN THINK OF. Except chill and rest and wait, because SURELY I FORGOT SOMETHING AND I SHOULD BE DOING SOMETHING ELSE AND……

I know I’m out of alignment and this is causing problems. I got a mentor. She’s helping me with this. She had me think through some things and return Scripture to her, and I’m mulling on that. “What is it to you?”

I feel bad about being gifted. Guilty for being loved. But I am not the Creator. He has made all of His creation for His purposes – some for nice things. Even to type that is uncomfortable for me. Terribly.

So. Last week my husband said, “we can get a dog once the fence is fixed” and I went looking for a puppy. I knew breeders (Proper Breeders) want a contract signed in blood and for this breed, waiting lists that span years. I had a bad experience with one some years ago. (Yes, Giant Puppy is very well researched). But you can buy puppies online. It’s a thing. I found one. She’s Leonberger crossed with 20% Newfoundland (which is a little irrelevant, since Leos are part Newf anyway). In CANADA.

To make a long story short, just opening the conversation turned into, ‘well, I have a shipment of puppies coming through on Monday” and I’ll have the pup here Thursday/Friday. (The end of the journey will be by car). YIKES. Big changes.

A puppy will, of necessity, help me become more childlike… I’m super stoked, but DANG. Apparently to learn to receive, I need a board upside the back of my head.

Anyway. Puppy. 😀

Pruning before a Hard Winter

No one. Absolutely No One. No one likes to be pruned.

No American wants to go into a dormant period, quieted down and put into Winter slumber. We are all supposed to be go-go-go, grow-grow-grow, nonstop. Even when we have a “quiet time” we’re supposed to make best use of every second, eyes on the prize.

But trees must be pruned. https://www.lawnstarter.com/blog/tree-care/best-time-trim-prune-trees/ Trees that are not pruned are trees that end up diseased, with weak limbs, poor fruitbearing, and prone to snapping in high winds.

John 15:2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

Note that pruning is what is done to *fruitbearing* branches, not failing branches. Those are taken away. No, pruning is a .. reward? Not really. But it is a thing done to healthy branches. To those that bear, to bear more, they are pulled back.

In nature…. errr… in horticulture, one also prunes back vines and brambles most strongly before a bad winter. Your prize rosebush is trimmed carefully, watered well, and then covered with a very large pile of mulch (perhaps even wrapped in burlap) to withstand winter’s whims.

I’m watching myself being pruned and my branches brought in and THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANT. What I want is a life of significance, where I can use the myriad gifts I have been *given* in the Lord’s service. I want a direction, work to sink my teeth and my soul into, I want to make a difference. I do *not* want to rest.

But I am tired…….. and the storm is about to break…… and it is time to be turned inward, homeward, ever-more-Christward. As I struggle, I am being turned to face inside the walls of my home, inside the walls of my garden. It is time to rest. Time to listen to the Spirit, time to sink my roots even further down than I had ever imagined.

I can daydream of the bright days of Spring ahead, and hear the Word that someday, all that has been taken will be replaced, with interest, and that those dreams will be fulfilled in ways that I can, today, not even imagine – but for now, those are just whispers for tomorrow. For now, my work is in roots and in rest.

Headed into the Storm

Pretty much everyone will tell you that things are about to get awful. There’s a storm brewing. It’s been brewing for decades. All kinds of ugly are about to start raining down – you thought the rest of this year was bad? Ha. And *everyone* will tell you the same thing. Folks that prophecy, folks that predict via charts and graphs, folks that taste the wind and shake their heads… all the same. Rain’s comin’.

Y’all know that.

It’s time to talk about how we head into this mess. I’m having trouble, folks. I know it’s a storm, but it’s a big ‘un. Yes. The waters will recede, and we will have “the other side”, but that other side might look as strange to us as the new world looked to Noah after the flood. I play at “disrupting the dominant paradigm” but DUDE. This is real. I’m a planner, a dreamer, a focuser. Kaboom, babes. All of that is buh-bye. And no, I’m not coping all that well.

I don’t know what the storm will look like, only that it’s going to rain. No one knows what it’s going to look like.

I tell myself to stop flinching at the little crashes of lightning that are starting. I mean, I already know that my governor is a lunatic. Masking between bites is his latest. What? I … what? But I spend too much time and energy reacting to the crazy. It’s got my nerves in a tizzy. Even when I only let my flinches last for a second, all of that gets me out of my true focus, which needs to be Jesus.

A year ago, pretty much every time I opened my Bible to sit and listen, I got the same passage, and as I type this, that passage comes to mind once again:

Matthew 14:30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.

Yes. There’s a storm. But we are protected, so long as our eyes are upon Jesus. That doesn’t mean we won’t be frightened. The disciples were frightened. But that’s when we look at the storm. Peter sank when he looked at the waves. But he walked on water when his eyes were on Jesus.

I know what to do. But how do I do this thing? How do I tune out the world, the news, the socials, the friends, the family…. ALL of it, and only concentrate on God? I’m not a mystic, hiding on a mountaintop… I’m a mom. A wife. An employee. Responsible to run my house and my kids and keep up with the folly of my local government so I don’t try to drive down this week’s repaving project…. I can’t close my eyes and make it all go away. Would that I could. How do I learn to live undistracted?

It’s going to be … well, no, it’s not going to be “okay”. It’s going to be something different. Raised with unicorns, the first pegasus is born.

As the storm washes through our lives and our land, how will we all be changed?

Weakness is not the path to obedience

There’s a concept that runs around the manosphere/fundie community that we need to “make” women obey their husbands/fathers by reducing their rights, reducing their access to education, etc ad nauseum.

The problem with this is severalfold:

  1. it’s pretty creepy to outsiders/makes a poor witness/looks culty
  2. this is how you enforce obedience in slaves (or children)
  3. this assumes malice on the part of women in excess of the normal burden of sin that each human carries
  4. weak/ignorant wives are not desirable partners – even in traditional marriages
  5. it ignores free will – the consequences and blessings thereof

Points one and two don’t require elaboration.

Point three – I have heard the theory that women bear a larger sin nature than men do. I think it’s a load of nonsense, theologically and practically. We tend to sin differently and yes, we’ve manipulated things so that much of what God calls sin, the world calls Tuesday – but we’re humans. Humans aren’t NICE. Anyone who thinks that humans are nice needs to read more history. Every era has its “excusable sins”, the things that God calls evil that the people of the day take for granted. Our era excuses a lot of feminine sin.

Point four – go look at rich men. The men who can take their choice of women. Page around in history. VERY few of them choose wives who are pudding heads. royalty occasionally excepted. Go look at the housewives at the richyrich malls (well, once COVID is over) and hang out where you can hear them…. they are women with good educations who are responsible to handle important parts of the couples’ life – quasi-social events, charity, children, homes, etc etc. My area of the country (SoCal) still has lots of housewives – women without outside careers – in this category. Other areas of the country (say, NE) run to women who have degrees and take jobs with charitable organizations … but who essentially do the same kind of work (or see that it is done, and managerial work is still work). Yes, looks are (and have always been) a priority status symbol for the rich. Looks when you wed, looks when you’re throwing the ball, looks when you get your picture in the society page in Vogue. But looks aren’t the end. No one wants a pudding head, they’re a liability, not an asset. You can’t trust ’em.

Point five – the most important point. Yes, I am foursquare behind the duty of every wife to respect and obey her husband. But in every sin (which a failure to obey is), one is sinning against God, not against a human. Go look at David, after taking Bathsheba and killing her husband, “Against You I have sinned”. Against God. Not against the dude whose wife he stole and had killed. My obedience is a reflection of my relationship with God, not my relationship with my husband. The stronger my will-to-obey-God is, the stronger my ability to obey my husband becomes. If I try to reverse this polarity, I move my awe from God and try to put it on a mortal. Bad plan, especially when you know each other’s secrets!

Trying to force women to be weak so that we will be small and easily controlled isn’t very well-thought-out. It looks easy, and speaks to the anger and hurt that some men experience when they see this modern world and the mess it’s in. Oh, women have had plenty to do with that – mea culpa! But pushing us down? That doesn’t accomplish anything at all.


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PSA: Buy some nonperishables

This is the thinking you need to do.  Start by reading the news, and perusing your social media feed.  If you don’t have one, borrow someone else’s.

  1.  If Trump wins, what happens?
  2.  If Trump loses, what happens?
  3.  If they delay the elections because …, what happens?
  4.  If they DON’T delay the elections despite …, what happens?
  5.  If they use mail in ballots, what happens?
  6.  If they don’t use mail in ballots, what happens?

I haven’t come up with a mental scenario yet where there isn’t a strong likelihood of humans acting like toddlers.  Dangerous toddlers.

Take appropriate action.   If you haven’t, which is unlikely for the readers I get here.  But I’ll rest a little easier tonight if I write this.   So.

Buy some darn beans and rice.  Worst case?   You eat a bit more soup this winter and the food bank gets a nice donation come March.

25 Years

Today is our silver wedding anniversary… I’m going to put up a bunch of wedding pix randomly in the story of us.  Hope you enjoy.  I’m posting this 1) because I want to and 2) for hope.  Some of y’all don’t have hope.

gartertoss

My reaction to DH tossing the garter. He *totally* tricked the best man into catching it.

………….

I don’t remember the day I met my husband.   God chose us for each other when we were kids, and He slammed us together repeatedly until we got the idea and stuck.

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Day after, showing our rings/picking up our wedding gifts. Yes, DH almost always looks suspicious in pix.

We were in elementary Sunday School together.   We didn’t know each other.   I can remember him – the big guy I thought occasionally showed up slumming from Jr. High.  He’d sit in the back.   I remember my mom doing an object lesson with sin and string and using him… and how he snapped the string and my mom was like, “Okay fine, but pretend it’s still there”.   We were in a Sunday School play together in 4th grade.   I still didn’t know him, though somewhere there’s an incriminating photo of our interaction on stage with him wearing a bunny suit.   But I didn’t know him.

20200721_080246

Rehearsal photo. With BFF and our friend D. What? Security issues? -laughs- Actually D did have to do some security at the wedding. But that’s another story… 😀

I remember the first time he spoke to me, in junior high Sunday School.   He got me to show him my blouse (that I was super uncomfortable with) and told me how pretty I was.

We went to different elementary schools.  Lived in different parts of town.  (His house was an hour’s walk from mine, and our town had about 70K people at that point).   There’s no reason we should have met.

I remember the year he brought a kid trick or treating to my door and flirted with me.   We were 13.  Why did he walk an hour to trick or treat?  How did he end up at my house?

I remember him giving me compliments in HS, walking by the library in the early morning.  20200721_080229

And all of that was before I knew his name……

We mark (okay, I mark, he’s less squishy than I am) when we started “dating” by St. Patrick’s Day in our Freshman year of HS.   We took “Contemporary Living” (aka sex ed and how to write a check) together.  I finally FINALLY figured out that he was my age, not a slumming upperclassman.   Just very tall, and how many 14yo have mustaches?

Our dating wasn’t linear.  He broke up with me a month or so in, but then we were confusing kinda friends who hugged a lot.  Then the next year we were an item but not really an item and … yeah.  Do you remember high school?  -shakes head-

Then his dad died, at the end of our soph year.   R disappeared a week before school let out.  No one knew why.  His bestie thought it had something to do with his dad.   No one answered the phone at his house.  (This is because he left town).  Era pre-cellphone, kids.  You had to live with a mystery.

20200721_075956

DH with his mom. She went to be with the Lord in 2001. 2001 sucked.

Junior year was one big soap opera.   I finally gathered that we were broken up when he wouldn’t quit throwing bits of shrubbery down my shirt… then we got back together.  And then (after quite a while) we told other people that we were back together.

We were inseparable senior year, and went on our first “date” that anyone would call a date… prom.   Likewise the next two years, while we went to junior college.   Well, in the day.  I had a job, he had adventures.   I went off to Santa Cruz for college.  I needed to do that for the parental separation stage, but it was brutal for our relationship.  But we made it through.  And when I got home, we got engaged.   Six months later, on my birthday, he let me tell people!

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Cake. Our friend H in the background, who was *not* my friend at the time, hence the skintight black dress, pentacle, and fishnets… although I really do think the 4″ heels were a bad plan to a backyard wedding! She maintains I should be glad her (male) date didn’t wear the dress… apparently he was thinking about it.

And a year after I came home from college, we got married.   July 22, 1995.

Our marriage hasn’t always been linear, and we’ve had plenty of bad times.  We’ve also had a lot of good times.   I love my husband far more today than the day I married him.  I cherish his heart.   He takes such beautiful care of me, of our two kids (nearly grown now), of our friends, of my family.   He looks after us and shepherds us and pushes us and helps us get where we need to be.   We’ve both grown up.   Together we’ve gotten closer, separately we’ve gotten stronger, and I could not imagine my life without him in it.

I am in love, and out of it I will not go.

reception

Going away dress. Yes, I’m lap-size. This is at the point in the wedding where I actually regained the ability to do more than smile and hug people. I was happy enough people thought I was drugged. I wasn’t. I was just very, very, happy.

The Practical Use of Eschatology

I used to be a super eschatology buff.   Listened to a ton of Chuck Missler back when he was still with us.   Had a bloggy group around a gal who was following all the signs that “He was coming soon”.    Good fun.  I learned a lot of Scripture.   Missler was right – if you really get seriously into your eschatology, you *have* to learn the rest of the Bible.   There is no harm in debating points of Scripture with like minded folks.  Wholesome, really.

But eventually I said, “Okay.  You’ve convinced me.  The days are short.  So.  What do I want to do with the time which remains?”

Let’s take the example of a castle.   The castle is Christendom.   Up on the top of the highest tower sits a lookout.   He starts to see dust in the distance.  The Master is coming home!   It’s an overcast, dingy kind of day, and the lookout can’t get a fix on how far the Master is from home, or how fast He’s coming.  Just – He’s coming.

Everyone in the castle serves the Master, and everyone has been given their job.   So.  You’ve heard the Master is on His way.   What are you doing?  What do you want to be FOUND doing, when He gets in the door?   What do you want the area of your responsibility to look like?   For me, the answer is simple.   I want to be found with busy hands and the arena of work He’s given me in the best shape I can get it in.

Inexplicably, a lot of folks decide to stand at the foot of the lookout tower and yell for updates and not work.   I don’t get that.  I ACCEPT that He’s on His way.   I HAVE things to be doing.  If He takes His time, that means I get more work done.   If He runs quickly, at least He won’t find me napping.

Of course I want to hear the updates as they come.   But my job is not lookout.   My job is not to gossip about the lookout’s news, as much as it interests me.   My job is in front of me.

And there is plenty of work to be done.