Obedience vs. Forging Ahead

Can anyone tell me someone from the Bible who is praised for forging ahead on their own?  Certainly, in general terms we’re told to get on with our daily work and have common sense.  But I want a specific person from the Bible who pre-planned….. I can’t think of one.

What IS praised is obedience.   When you hear the Call, you obey it.  God makes the provision for His plans – you show up.   I was going to say “instant obedience”, and that is the ideal.  But God is amazing, and He puts up with a good bit of, “is that really You, God?” “Are You really sure you want me? Because I suck” from His creations.

So, anyone – got anything?  I’m putting 2 and 2 together over here, and I’d appreciate correction if I’m off base.

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Esther and Waiting

Great teaching today at mentoring group… and God took the bit and slammed it home.

We’re so often in times of waiting.  Faith grows, maturity grows, in those times of waiting.   But as consumers of Christian literature, even as readers of the Bible, we see the stories of those who have gone before us as a whole – we don’t sit with them in the weeds.

Like Esther.  You read the story, it’s only a few chapters – less than a page between “gets taken” and “becomes queen”.  But look at it from her perspective.

You’re hanging out, doing your thing, and the knock on the door comes.  “The king has proclaimed that all pretty virgins are to report to the palace forthwith.  This means you”.  No one ever talks about what Esther was thinking that day… what kind of person she was.  She was a human, so she had dreams, plans for her future, plans for tomorrow.   And KERPOOF.  Gone.

And what a nice place she ends up in.  Not.   A bunch of strange women who are all – whether they want to be or not – in competition with one another.   You have to have lived through junior high to imagine how fun that was… -shudder-  The last thing she was told is to not let anyone know that she’s an Israelite.   Great.  No traditions, nothing.

And she sits.  And sits.  And sits.   Six months for the herbal prep and another six months getting pretty.   They probably learned court etiquette and the basic bits of how to be a pleasant concubine (dance, instrument, conversation, storytelling?) but otherwise… sitting.   The most likely result is that your one night with the king will result in being put in the second harem for the rest of your life, to be brought out maybe once in a year.   No children unless you get lucky, just life in a box.  A meaningless, boring existence.

So, how does Esther feel for that year?  Does she feel the weight of significance, as she’s about to save her people and change history?  No.  Because she didn’t know that was what she was there for.

How many times do we feel like that?  We’re waiting, and waiting, and waiting… we know we’re going to be used, because we know God doesn’t waste anything and we’re willing.  But for what?  And we’re BORED.  We live in this world, this world that tells us that we should be actualizing our potential every single second.  And we look around with our physical eyes, and we’re not.

We’re not doing anything, we’re just sitting.

It takes faith to sit and wait when it’s waiting time.   It takes a connection to the eternal.  A faith that God will return the years that the locust has stolen.

But we never talk about that, never talk about the waiting time.  We only talk about the journey of faith in the whole, from above, the part where you see the Big Moment.   Faith is about more than the Big Moment – it’s about all the other moments that got us there.

Babied

Go ahead.  Ask God for direction – and mean it.   See what you get….

I feel like the last few years of my life have been an industrial-strength bootcamp insofar as developing my faith muscles is concerned.   “I’ve got this”.  “Good, um, You wouldn’t like to give me a timeline or method?” “Nope”.  “Right.  Good.  Thank you.”  This business of radically changing my life as I move into this next season of existence* is no exception.

“What are you doing next?”  Dunno.   “Where?”  Dunno.    Except every day I’m being refined, moved from total ignorance one step closer to having a clue.   I feel like a chess piece.  Every conversation I have about work gives me a little bit more information, every task I take on situates me a little bit closer to the goal.   I do have a goal.  I want to make enough money to pay for the increased expenses of this new season in life – and I don’t want a job that sucks my soul out and returns nothing in its wake.  I’d like to do something I find interesting, and work somewhere I can be truly useful/helpful, not just a warm body.   Oh – my job should be flexible, I’m still on mom patrol to some extent.

It’s not just this, you know.  I’m getting prayers answered – and  “I’d really like to find…” supplied that never made it to a prayer.   Things I’ve been waiting years for are dropping off the trees around me.   Ministries I’m involved in are evolving… it’s like EVERYTHING around me is in a season of change.

Since I’ve been praying for this for years, it’s pretty exciting.  But you think I’d have a clue.  You’d be sooooooo wrong.   I don’t know what God is doing.  I know He is faithful.  I know He wants my best, and now is the time of change/movement.   Faith muscles?  Still working out like crazy.

I’m being walked along with a blindfold on … babied every step of the way.  I’m grateful.  But this is one trippy experience, folks.

 

*The kids get to move to greater autonomy while I move back to a more supervisory role – less sitting on their heads and doing for them, more helping them learn to do for themselves (and the family).

Weirdness

It’s come to my attention that there’s some weirdness going on with impersonation in the comboxes in our general ‘sphere.

If you think I said something that’s off, please feel free to contact me directly and check if I actually said it.   Likewise, I have ways to contact quite a few old-school peeps, and am happy to do so.  (“Did X really say that?”  “Dunno, I’ll ask”).

Really, those of you who have “known” me for years – if you EVER think I say something egregious, feel free to bring it to my attention.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend and all that.    And if you don’t know me well enough to have my email address?  Use the comment section here or in one of my other blogs.  Think you see something weird?  Link me.

I have no patience for stupid games.   I didn’t play games when I was a teenager, I’m sure as heck not going to play them as a grown woman.  And it makes me more than a little angry when I see my friends attacked.

For reference, these are the blogs upon which I comment regularly:

  • Dark Brightness (and any of Chris’ blogs)
  • Bike Bubba
  • Els’ blog(s)
  • Julian’s blog
  • Wintery Knight
  • Hawaiian Libertarian
  • Jenny’s blog
  • Maeve’s blog
  • TxB’s blog
  • Various sewing blogs

Otherwise, I cut my comboxing down to the dead minimum.  Deep Strength linked me on a post, so I commented on that recently (if you invite me over for tea, I’ll come visit), but I haven’t been a regular there for quite a while.

If I wanted to write about Christian wifeyness or homemaking, I would.  I got bored of that at least five years ago – I’ve said what I wanted to say, and if I didn’t say it, someone else did.   Why do what’s already been done?  Boring.   If you have a question about that stuff, ask and I’ll answer.  Always happy to help.

I write this blog about matters of theology, faith stuff that I’m going through, and deeper life stage stuff (like the last post).   Why?   Because I hope those thoughts might be useful to someone – and just to “talk” things out.   This isn’t a “women’s blog” – that blog is over at HRG, if you want to know what my latest sewing project is and how the garden is going and … just life.   I also have a professional blog where I write about image consulting related things.  (Clothes/makeup/beauty/style/etc).  My other blogs (and there are a few) are all covered in dust, I don’t use them – but I do monitor their comboxes.

So.  What I’m saying?  If you see something weird, check it out.    ASK.

 

 

PS I’m feeling much better, God’s directing me to where He wants me to be on the daily basis in such ways that I’m a bit surprised by how quickly He’s moving and how detail oriented He is.    And yes, my husband FREQUENTLY challenges me and my nonsense.  One of the things that I appreciate about him.   This is normal behavior in my house.  If you don’t like what my husband says to me, or how he prioritizes our lives?  Get over it, you’re not in charge – I don’t live my life by committee approval.

 

My husband says I hide too much

Do you know what people don’t like?   People don’t like it when you don’t fit in their boxes.

I like people.  I don’t like it when people don’t like me.  I am, in fact, pretty darn squishy.  It upsets me when people run away.  So, I generally hide at least some of my facets.  It makes life so much easier…

I’m also smart.   Devout.  Kind.  Creative.  Cynical.   I have a pretty face, very feminine.  I’m strong.  I’m competent.   I’m intense.  I make a mean carrotcake.  I explain things in far too much detail in person, and far too little in writing.  I’m a loving person who thinks that on the whole, humans suck.   I couldn’t sell shoes to a centipede.   I am excellent one-on-one, if you want your soul examined – and I’m absolutely terrible at polite social interaction.  I’m forever missing the “right” response.   I tend to (when I’m being myself) stare at – or through – people.  People don’t like that.  I care.  I care about the fact that people don’t like it when I misstep, and I care about people, period.    Much of my thinking is visual and pattern based rather than verbal, and sometimes it’s hard for me to shove things into words.

The husband said of a friend of his that she was a teddy bear wrapped in barbed wire… and that *I* am a teddy bear stuffed with barbed wire – soft on the outside, hard on the inside.  Accurate enough, I’ve made more than a few people unhappy when they thought they could shove me around (I’m polite and mostly I prefer concession over conflict) until they slammed into the titanium I use as a backbone.   I’ve always thought that was rude – getting mad because I had limits that wouldn’t budge.   Did they think I … or anyone, really… was meant to be endlessly manipulated?  How insulting.

So what’s this all about, then?  Going back into the job market soon.   People.  -sigh-

I’ve spent ages learning how to play my part as a nice homeschooling mommy, learned to make small talk with the cashier at the grocery store and how to be softer and more transparent in general.  That takes up a HUGE amount of capacity for me, I have to think about it.  “What is it that I’m supposed to do now?”

And like physical muscles that go south without exercise, my concentration muscles are shot.  Mommies – in case you are wondering – do not get to spend time thinking about any one thing in a straight line for any length of time.   Life is made up of a thousand spinning plates, and you have to move from plate to plate keeping them moving.   That’s my life… and that life absolutely kills the mental muscles.   Oh, how embarrassing – one of my friends will send me something that I know I could have understood 20 years ago and now I would have to study up and concentrate to get it.   I *miss* proper thinking, and I find myself shying away from it because I’ve gotten so weak.   I’ve got a nice variety of experience, but little depth.

That’s very stressful, back when I wasn’t a mommy, I was valuable for my brain.  What am I, without my brain?  Do I get it back?  It’s rather late for that, isn’t it?  I’m 45… and do I want to do the sort of work I used to do?  Data analysis is BORING.  It’s not that I’m bad at it.  It’s just dull.  Of course, I don’t care so much, I always worked to make money and then go home.   Husband person said I should do some online tutorials and analyze all our money for the past year just to get back in practice.   Situps for the brain, I suppose.  Although those are very easy situps.   I prefer to analyze PEOPLE.  People are interesting.  (I don’t have to be good at social stuff to find people fascinating.  People, by the way, do not like it when you stir their brains around with a stick to find the crunchy bits – well, except when they need someone to find the crunchy bits for them.)   They won’t let you play with people without a license though, and it takes a long time to get a license.  Too long, and far too much game-playing.

That’s another way of hiding.  It’s hiding the soft bits and showing the hard bits.  Lately I’ve been hiding the hard bits and showing the soft bits.   Is there anywhere, anywhere at all, I get to be myself and not scare people off and be valued for what I am and get to work hard and bring value and make people happy?  I like to make people happy, and I like to be useful.  If I’m going to be of only limited use, we might as well put the masks on and spend as little time as possible in each other’s company, it’s so much simpler.

I’ve been hiding… he’s right.  (He’s always right, which is useful.  Annoying. But useful.  I only say “annoying” because it’s socially expected and mildly amusing.  I rely upon my husband’s insights). But men GET to be competent and people still like them.  Husband says the ones I scare off would leave eventually anyway.  (He’s right again).  But it hurts so when I see the rejection in people’s eyes…  I’m not supposed to be smart and care, I know that.  Too bad for me.  If I get pretty again – I’m fat now – that will only be another strike.   And of course I’m out of practice so I’m generally competent – but I don’t have relevant job skills.  UGH.  Well, tutorials will fix that, he’s right there.  Always practical.

I guess what this boils down to is that I have to put myself out there, and I get to choose whether I’ll wear a mask when I walk out the door or be myself, and I’m scared.  It hasn’t gone well in the past.  The masks make everything so.much.easier.

Do I have the courage?

 

Carthago Delenda Est

This is in response to the removal of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from the children’s book award, but it extends to the way we teach history these days.

…..

I don’t care to read history, I find it depressing.  But it takes only a few hours with a book of ancient history to find out something common to humanity:  We’re not nice.  Nice cultures die.   The islanders who welcomed Columbus… you know what happened to them?  Tortured to find the rest of the gold that they generously offered to the sailors, enslaved, killed.

This is what humans do:

  • Find another tribe.
  • Evaluate their relative strength, geography, and ownership of desirable goodies
  • Trade with them if they’re equal/stronger
  • Take the stuff if they’re weaker

And when I say “take the stuff” I don’t usually mean, ‘we just came and asked for the goodies’ … although that’s been known to happen, if the tribe coming in is SO strong that the weaker tribe knows they can’t compete, mostly how this goes is:

  • Kill your adult males
  • Rape your females
  • Enslave the females and/or older children
  • Take the stuff
  • Destroy the rest

This tends to reduce the ability of the (now enemy) tribe to get revenge for how you just took their goodies.    It took Rome awhile to completely destroy Carthage – but that’s how that cycle of war ended.   Absolute destruction.

Sometimes folks just do raids.  Vikings on the Irish would be a classic example.  They just wanted goods and slaves, not land, not “winning”.  So they took them.

Oh.  Did someone mention that LAND is a goody?  So I might do that ’cause I want to expand my borders or you have a particularly nice feature.  (China and Japan are grumpy with one another right now over some islands with some nice features…. this isn’t a past-tense kind of reality).

Humans aren’t nice.   We want.  We kill.  We take.   Is that good?  No.  Is it Christian?  No.

All the surviving human cultures in this world have done this.   We’ve all killed, we’ve all enslaved, we’ve all tortured.  Don’t play pretend.  We ALL have done this.   How much of this we’ve done is a reflection of how long we’ve been around, and how strong we are.   We do this less now because we’re in trade agreements and have knives to each other’s throats.  We don’t want to look bad, it weakens our position.

So, how do you get nice people to do horrible things?   In the absence of direct threat or revenge, a great way to do it is to make the enemy sub-human.  “They are less than us”.  “They do icky stuff”.  Whatever.   This is called propaganda.    And again, every culture on earth has used propaganda to create prejudice and hatred.   Go find some WWII or WWI posters.   I have a couple of children’s books from 1980s China that are stuffed full of propaganda…

And if you don’t think there’s propaganda running rampant in 2018, you should probably take the blindfold off.    We ARE being encouraged to “other” people in our own countries.   It’s not good, people.

So.  In the LIW books, the family wanted to move to the Indian Territory… they were part of Manifest Destiny.  How do you get people to do that?  You tell them that the people who lived there weren’t really people.    They weren’t using the land “right”.  They had strange customs.  They were dangerous.  They didn’t wear the right clothes.  They were OTHER.

And the Ingalls, being people of their times, fell for it.  C’est fin.   Opportunity to make a new life, have independence, see new horizons… at a cost that was *very carefully* concealed from their consciousness.   They were told they were doing good things, and that’s what they believed.  We can **learn** from that.  Our children can learn from that.

We can **learn** from The White Man’s Burden, and how we have to “take care of” the lesser races.  (blech)  You know what that gave us?  Liberalism.  Putting my values on your head and patronizing you as a weaker person because you haven’t come ’round to my way of thinking – yet.   But you will…. and only if you have my advantages and don’t have my values do I consider you my enemy.

Othering people gave us Auschwitz’s “hospital” and the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.

Othering people is how we start wars, how atrocities happen.  “Those people aren’t my people”.

And humans have used that to get what we want since the dawn of time.  “They deserved it”.

Stop pretending any of us have hands free of blood.   Carthago delenda est.  And it didn’t get there by itself.

Unfair Advantages

All decent parents spend their resources to improve their children’s chances of thriving.  Whether that’s money, time, skill… that’s just what decent parents do.   There can never be forced equality of parenting, because we humans will always do what we can to give our kids the best.

So, I’m totally pro giving my kids a leg up.   But I never wanted to give my kids a leg up by standing still and having the other kids’ foundations stolen.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/27/about-one-third-of-u-s-children-are-living-with-an-unmarried-parent/

I’m grateful for my husband for so many things, he’s a wonderful man and a great father.   I know everyone doesn’t have as great a dad as he is.  I know everyone doesn’t have as great a dad as I still have.  Or a great dad like DH’s dad was.

But not having a dad at all?   Ouch.

Anyway.  To all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day!   You matter.