Fish Knives and Marital Bliss

” It is not, in fact, very different from the conviction she would have felt at the age of ten that the kind of fish-knives used in her father’s house were the proper or normal or “real” kind, while those of the neighbouring families were “not real fish-knives” at all.”  Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis

Home is where you get to have your mashed potatoes exactly the way you like them.   But what happens when you make a home with another human, who likes their mashed potatoes differently?  I know this sounds stupid.   If you moved in with a roommate, you’d talk over your recipes and get it all sorted out before time to put dinner on the table.  But how many people, when they get married, don’t talk over this little stuff – and then get snorky because the potatoes are “wrong”?

Let the old married lady walk you through this minefield….. because it is a minefield, and it doesn’t really ever stop, because human preferences and needs evolve through their lifetimes.  (This is, by the way, not merely about mashed potatoes).

My husband and I got married a few days after his 23rd birthday, and a few months before mine.   He’d never lived outside the home, and my “outside the home” was limited to sharing an on-campus apartment with a bunch of other girls, with whom I didn’t share food or chores.   We each came burdened with a stack of assumptions about the “way things just are” (fish knives) that reached the ceiling of our first apartment, and they caused a lot of abrasions on their way out of our lives.

There was the Fuzzy Salsa Incident – or, if the cook assumes the non-cook will automatically do the cleaning up without being asked, how long will the jar of salsa sit on the table?

There was the Butter vs. Margarine throwdown.  (Does one save money by putting margarine on the table or in the food?  One saves marital joy by not buying margarine).  (This was in 1995 – well before we knew how bad it was for us).

Lots of things show up here – from how often you change the sheets to how clean is “clean enough” and what bugs who.   It all comes down to, “but this is how it has always been done in my home, and this is my home now, so why are you doing things ‘wrong’?”  Not to mention, “why do you keep buying those vegetables I hate?”

You’ve got to talk it out.  All of the things.   Sometimes you give way, sometimes you compromise, sometimes you end up with two versions of mashed potatoes on the table.   Mashed potato preparation doesn’t matter, but conflict and hidden resentments do.

This stuff doesn’t stop.   We finally got our food system down, which ended up being different from either of our families-of-origin, and then we went Primal for a few years, which permanently changed our taste buds and ability to tolerate carbs/sugars.   And then DH had his gall bladder removed, which has substantially changed all of that – we’re still settling those feathers – the lady weightlifter who prefers to keep her carbs around 150g/day does not appreciate a low-fat diet, and the guy without bile storage can’t handle most beef, and forget pork or lamb.

We’re changing how we do chores right now, as we adjust to this new season of habits.  Aging and accident have changed how we do stuff too.   There is no “one right way” to make mashed potatoes or change the sheets – there’s Bible admonition to obey the husband and love the wife.   How you live that will look different in every house.   So, you have to be flexible, and communicate honestly.

Forty-six is different than twenty-three.   We don’t get snorky about the differences now, we work together to find a way forward that hits both of our needs and respects our preferences.   If one person REALLY cares about a thing – or needs a thing – then that’s how you do it.  Otherwise, it’s all up for modification.

What kind of fish-knives are right for your house depends on what kind of fish you eat, or if you eat fish at all.

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Optimistic Fatalist

I read the back of the book.

I don’t know how we get from here to there, but the back of the book isn’t very nice – at least until you get to the very, very end.

So.  I’m a fatalist.   We’re going to get to there, sooner rather than later, it seems to me.

But I’m also an optimist.   God doesn’t waste His children, even in trying times.    And the very end of the book is good stuff.  The best stuff.   And we get there even if this bit of the story is awful – or even if it ends, for us.  Paul will tell you, that’s not a losing proposition.

Dr. Stanley used to sum this way of being up by saying, “Obey God, and leave all the rest to Him”.

I voted.   I thought about my vote, did my research, hit the ballot box.   And… done.

Did I think it was going to change the general course of history?  No.

Do I think, even if the politics shifted for 10 years, that that would stop the course of history?   No.  I figure that would speed the pendulum’s swing, honestly.

I’m not real worried about the world.  I read the back of the book.  I know what happens.

I’m supposed to take care of my peeps.  I’m supposed to obey.  Das is das.

No sense getting worked up about it.  Our citizenship isn’t HERE.

And it will all come out right in the end.

Secret ballot

One of the ways we push back against people trying to shame us into voting the way they think we should vote, not vote in a way that reflects our consciences, is by opening our big mouths and blabbing about it.

DON’T.

You have a right to a secret ballot.  Without the “secret” part, the ballot loses much of its meaning, because peer pressure is – and has always been – a thing.

They tell me that this increased peer pressure is going to be a big tool next vote, so I made this meme today to help fight back.

Use it if it pleases you.  Make a better one if not.

voting meme

 

 

Seasons

There are seasons in life – and in individual lives.   I’m ending a season in life, starting another.   I’m ending a season in my individual life, and starting another.   Those overlap – but they’re not the same thing.

The World likes to make you have all this drama about seasons.  Like, just because Autumn is over and Winter is here, suddenly either you hated Autumn or you’re going to cry because it’s gone.   -shakes head and looks annoyed-  Um, no.

I started work last week.   Good place to be.  I could go down the list of how well provided for I am, but as always, it’s a bit embarrassing.   God hooked me UP, people.

I am allowed to say, of the past years at home, “it was good” without wanting to stay in the same space forever.  It’s been good.  Time well spent.  I am grateful for it.

Ten years ago, I went through a season in my private life of severe pruning.   Winter.  It was VERY PAINFUL.   The intervening 10 years have been years of rehabilitation, rest, and fertilizing.   I’ve healed, and more than healed.   I’ve put down roots in the Word.  I’ve been fed, watered, fertilized – again, the ways in which I’ve been provided for are embarrassing.   God is so good to me.

These ten years have been good.   Very quiet, but good.   And all the time, the awareness of how profoundly I have been blessed in my life has never left me.   Spring.   A long, slow, sweet Spring.   Some of the sprouts planted have grown, some of them died.   That’s the way of things in the Springtime.

I have my marching orders.   Summer is here.  Time to grow, time to spread branches.   And someday, Harvest will come.   And then Winter again… because that’s what seasons do.    When?  I don’t know.   The seasons of life come when they come, in God’s time.

I know what I’m called to do now.  It will take me a minute to grow into the person who can do those things, but that’s fine.  I’m a little terrified at all I’m aiming to accomplish – it’s a good thing I’m depending on God and not on me, because there’s no way I could do it.

Spring has been fine.   And Winter, however horrible it was to live through, changed me in ways for which I am incredibly grateful.   But Summer is here.   Summer is here, and it’s time to grow and bear fruit.

Let’s see what God has in store.

 

 

Distractions

The attack du jour is distraction by other good things.   In a fit of irony, in the last two weeks I’ve counseled two of my friends to watch out for being distracted away from mission by good things – if the good things aren’t part of your mission, you can’t afford to let yourself get pulled away.   Then I let the same thing happen to myself, had to give myself the same speech, and then Pastor Dan covered it as part of his sermon last night.

OY.

I put about another 3K words down this weekend, after giving myself a stern talking to, and after I get these words out of my head, I’m back to work.   I’m at about 32,500 words now… goal at 50-80K.

Et voila!  I have something to write about today.   Thank you, God.  Off to write a personal modesty assessment.

If you’re one of my buddies and want to read a bit of the book, just drop me a line and I’ll send you a section to throw things at.

 

Sports vs. Martyrs

I was listening to a Jordan Peterson interview on youtube and the guy interviewing him was some kind of ex-sports star I guess.  They were talking about how kids look up to athletes, in the way they train themselves, and this was a good way to understand life.  Because being an athlete is super admirable.

So, yeah, that was weird.   I think some athletics are pretty cool – I like watching dance, synchronized swimming, gymnastics, and I lift weights.  (No, not “girl” weights.)  But that’s not “admirable”.  It’s a cool thing you can do with your body and I’m happy you can do it.  But I don’t look up to athletes as human beings.   I don’t feel like an athlete is superior to me.   That’s never even occurred to me.   No disrespect, just no particular reverence.

The people who inspire reflexive respect in me are people who have amazing character – whose souls are pure.   I grew up reading Corrie Ten Boom, I don’t even know how many times I’ve read the Hiding Place.   It wasn’t hiding the Jews that impressed me most.  It was the bit at the end.  It’s after the war.  Ms.  Ten Boom is giving a speech about forgiveness.   And one of the guards at the shower room in the concentration camp comes up and asks to shake her hand.   And she *does*.   That … THAT is the kind of person I want to be when I grow up.

But Peterson is right about the larger application.  If you want to be that kind of person, it can’t start in the moment of trial.   You have to practice and practice your whole life long.  You have to make a million small decisions to get there, you have to know WHY you do what you do, and you have to have total commitment to that “why”.

Athletes are fine and dandy… but I don’t admire them.  Martyrs though.  People who give their lives totally over to commitment to Christ?  For them I have respect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

……….

Since my last post was about my pastor, I’ll update you.  The board of elders told him that he needed to take a month off to heal.  Right now he has water around his heart and lungs, hopefully he’ll have something done about that… in other words, the dialysis isn’t going super terrific.

Poured Out

I have so much respect for our head pastor.   This is a little bit about him and more about the walk of sanctification and the way we become more and more transparent as we grow closer to Jesus.

Once in a very long while in the church body, you meet a person with a discernible aura that displays the presence of the Holy Spirit.    Usually this person is older – the walk of sanctification, the way we walk ever closer to Jesus and are conformed to His image takes a lot of time and a lot of pain.   Not always, but usually.   That aura makes you sit up and take notice, and it begets respect.

If you think of us as lanterns on a hill, and all our “stuff” in this flesh, the old nature, as glop on the lantern, the more that gets cleared off, the more clearly the light shines.   This is one of the things I care about – getting the glop cleared off my own lantern, and helping women clean up theirs.   We need our lives to be a witness.   Our alignment with God needs to be crystal clear.   There’s a lot of stuff that can glop up a lantern.  Some of it we think is good, some of it we know is bad.  It’s glop anyway.

It’s important that we shine out.  The world is dark.  We need to be lights.  We don’t need to be about us, we need to show off Jesus.   Every one of us has a facet of Him that we’ve been particularly given to show, we need to get after it.   No.  We need to get ourselves out of the way and let Him do His work through us.  It’s not us who shine – it’s Him.

But anyway.  I ramble.  It’s … you’ve met them.  The special ones.  The ones who have been shined up.   And it is a blessing to be near them, because you’re reminded of Jesus.  Plain and simple, the presence is felt.

Pastor Mike has always had the aura of love.  You know that man loves you.  He has a strong gift of shepherding, and he cares deeply for his flock.    It’s always been this way.   He’s been through the Refiner’s Fire a few times… and this latest bout.  DUDE.

So, he’d been out for almost three months.  His kidneys gave out on him.  (The doctors are continually surprised by his insistence on breathing, this isn’t weird).   He went in and out of hospital a few times over the course of those months.  He had a pulmonary embolism at one point.   Lost 25lb.  (In the above pic, he’s 94lb).  He was hoping to do dialysis through the intestine, so he could be mobile, but he’s not big enough (and has had too many gut surgeries) to sustain the liters of liquid around his waist, so now he’s doing regular dialysis 5x/wk.

So, you know, they took out the gut tube on Thursday.  He thought they’d just yank it out – no, it was proper surgery, anesthetic and all.  That didn’t stop  him preaching tonight.  Nor will it stop him tomorrow, two services.   They put up a chair last week (when he came back initially).  This week he looked at it, informed us that it was his parachute, put there on the insistence of his wife and a few others, and that he wasn’t using it, unless he fell down, in which case we could pick him up and put him in it.

This, my friends, is what you call “being poured out to the Lord”.

You don’t see it much now.  Maybe you never did.  But these are the people that you stand for, that you curtsy to (or bow).   The emotion of respect is usually very mild.  Not in these cases.   It is almost overwhelming, the amount of respect I feel for my pastor right now.  HE COULD STAY HOME.  He probably should stay home.  No one would blame him.  Not a single person.

I don’t know what the next months will bring, but I know I’m watching God at work.  And the thing is – you always are watching Him work.  It’s a miracle that any of us draw breath.  But when you’re with someone like Pastor Mike, you KNOW it.

Not everyone who has the aura of holiness is like Pastor Mike, hanging on a miracle thread.

But when you’re with any of them, any of the ones who really SHINE for God, you can feel something more than ordinary.

Our world is full of mud and lies and garbage.    We don’t have much that’s real.   Too many of our “holy” men are about as holy as what I use to fertilize my rosebushes.   But that doesn’t mean it’s not out there.

Someday……….. maybe, that can be me.  I think that it’s okay to want to be one of the lights.  Not all of them are in as much pain as Pastor Mike.  We’re all SUPPOSED to be lights.  It’s a dark world, folks.

Get out of the way so God can shine.