My Psalm 73

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I know that God is good to good Christians.
But me? Eh. I flounder around in confusion.
I find my soul enviously angry at men
Who enjoy the pleasures of adultery without consequence.

They flirt their way into bed with luring women, but feel no pain.
They dine and laugh as her earrings dangle and brush her neck.
Their heart skips a beat when she texts, and they smirk in glee.
They sneak into private places with her and press their body against hers.
Then they scamper home to kiss the wife and pat the kids on the head.
They feel the thrill of secrecy, and say, “Who will know? God can’t see.”
These are the adulterous men, always at ease, living the life.

I have kept my heart clean and pure in vain.
I am the one left crumbled in pain.
I am told that I am unloved and unwanted.

But when I truly try to understand this paradox,
I am dizzied with the magnitude of injustice
Until I fall on my face before God.
Then I understand the impending end of adulterous men.

God, you put them on a slippery slope
And bring their lives to ruin.
They are swept away in a moment’s notice,
Engulfed by the explosion of terror.
Like one who wakes from a nightmare, hating the demons,
You despise them.

When I was bitter and cried, “No fair!”,
I was ignorant and acted like a caged dog toward you.

And yet, you’re here, beside me
Holding my hand in yours.
You guide me with your divine wisdom.
And you welcome me into your glorious kingdom.
I have no one but you, God.
And there is no one here on earth that I would rather have than you.
My heart may shatter into pieces
And my body may crave the arms of a man,
But you are the strength of my heart and the eternal answer to all my needs.

All those who are far from you will take their last breath
And those who are unfaithful to you will meet their end.
But for me… it is good for me to be near God.
I have made him my safe place
So that I can shout his works from the top of my lungs.

 

 

Photo Credit

Called to Divorce

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I’ve been tossing around the concept of being called to divorce quite a lot lately. In all my percolating, I’ve managed to pound out these somewhat disconnected thoughts. I’m not sure how much sense they make, but they speak to my heart and whisper His reassuring love in my ears.


What does it mean to be called to divorce?

I don’t mean like being called to the mission field or called to preach to the unreached people groups.

I also do not mean that God causes sin or causes suffering. I don’t believe that God calls people to the “dark side”. But I do believe that God is sovereign and that He calls us to specific responses to the sin and suffering in our world. I do believe that He is the defender of the weak, the father to the fatherless, and the provider for our very sustenance. And I absolutely believe that when we are faithful to His calling toward a response, He is faithful to not only care for us but to lift us up to higher places than we had ever dreamed.

While I do not believe that God randomly calls people to divorce their spouse, I do believe that He most definitely calls people to respond to sin that drowns out the divine in the most sacred of human relationships, and sometimes that response is divorce. Not out of hatred or revenge, but out of love for God above all else and love for the spouse as a human being and brother/sister in Christ. Love for God and love for others should be the basis for everything we do, and sometimes love is tough and stern and stands its ground. It says, “You are in sin, and I cannot be a part of that.” It says, “If this is your choice, then I must hand you completely over to God. May He bring you to the end of yourself and grant you mercy and grace.” This is what I’m talking about when I say “called to divorce”.

The church, as an organized institution, has a way of taking all the individual acts in the world and throwing them into one of two columns, “Righteous” or “Evil”, and then they stick to it… you know, like in-concrete, by-the-book rules.

Killing – evil

Bible reading – righteous

Tattoos – evil

Attending church – righteous

Divorce – evil

We do this because we believe that God sees our world in black and white, and while there is some truth to that, there is also a flip side. How many times can you think of that God did something or commanded someone else to do something that we would deem absolutely evil?

God commanded Abraham to kill his son.

God commanded the Israelites to plunder and pillage and kill their way through the land of Canaan.

God commanded Hosea to marry an adulteress.

Jesus Himself broke one of the Ten Commandments when he “worked” on the Sabbath.

God, in fact, pre-ordained the murder of the world’s most innocent man.

God doesn’t  judge a single act as either inherently righteous or evil, because He sees the back story and His supreme, sovereign purpose. He sees the needs of those involved in the act… both the doers and the receivers. He sees the depths of their hearts. He sees the thought patterns in their minds. We humans do not see this so we have set for ourselves sure, hard rules because we cannot act in divine wisdom as God can.

But God has not left us to figure it all out on our own. He gave us the Spirit and His still small voice, if we would just listen. When our eyes are locked on His divine gaze of love, we have a direct connection to His divine wisdom. He gives us a peace that truly surpasses human understanding, and we can confidently act, even if the act is conventionally in the “evil” category.

Erika Morrisson, in her book Bandersnatch, ventures that there are words in our human languages that need to be seen from the divine side or “crossed over”.

“It seems that on the other side of Jesus, so many things and thoughts are the exact opposite of definitions already established…. Crossing over is the antidote to the systems and traditions of humankind and simply means that a word or idea or a value has made the journey from being defined by and rooted in the world to being defined by and rooted in Jesus…. Christ’s flesh is the gateway to understanding how the kingdom defines what it means to be a human living on this earth while bringing divine circumstances into the here and now…. But Jesus is not in competition with the earth’s terms; it’s not necessary for the earth’s terms to be wrong in order for Jesus’ to be right or vise versa. This isn’t an either-or ideological war, but rather a space to breathe in the free air of paradoxical both-and. What the earth offers just isn’t the whole story. The earth only has one-half of the paradox and Jesus has the other, and although they seem to contradict, I believe they are designed to live in tension to one another. Each gives its counterpart the integrity and brimming value of its full definition.”

What would it look like to cross over the word divorce? What if we looked at divorce in that free space of both-and?

God was adamant when he said, “I hate divorce.” He really, truly does HATE divorce. Divorce means that His perfect, beautiful plan, of one man loving his wife in purity and respect and one woman supporting and adoring her husband in love and respect, is completely broken. It means that women and children are abandoned. It means that families are ripped apart, and this completely grieves the heart of the Creator of all things good.

When the Pharisees came to Jesus asking him about divorce, He reminded them of God’s perfect and beautiful plan of a loving and respectful relationship between one man and one woman. Not satisfied, they wanted to know why Moses commanded they use a certificate of divorce. “Because your hearts were hard,” He answered them. Men were kicking out their wives over burnt toast, so God, through Moses, protected the women by requiring the men to make it legal with a certificate of divorce.

In the beginning of the world when God had created paradise, placing Adam and Eve into the gorgeous Garden of Eden, His plan was for constant companionship with His creation and for them to have human companionship with each other. But then… sin. That companionship with God and with each other was tainted. The consequence was their removal out of the sacred Garden. I think perhaps marriage is a metaphoric garden, created to be a form of perfect companionship. When that bond is tainted by unrepentant adultery, there is but one consequence… that is to be removed from the garden of marriage.

To allow the unrepentant adulterer to remain in the garden is to communicate that they can mix sin with divine, and that is just not true. Sin and divine are like oil and water. They cannot mix. The more sin in your system, the less room for divine, and if you continue to fill your vessel with sin over and over and over again, you lose your ability to hear the divine voice of the Spirit. Before you know it, you are living the life of an unbeliever, choosing the pleasures of the world over the glories of God.

In a lot of cases, you may not have a choice in the matter of divorce. When your spouse lives in the sin of adultery and chooses to leave you and continue on with someone else, what say do you have? It is that spouse who is separating and choosing to end the marriage. Paul addresses this in I Corinthians 7, and he answers, “Let it be so. You are not enslaved.” These words give me an unexplainable peace. It’s an acceptance of reality mixed with a freedom of permission. “It is what it is. Go. Be free.”

Perhaps in times like these, God wishes to split the one flesh, so that He might deal with the individual fleshes separately. He has discipline and consequences, and hopefully restoration, in line for the adulterer, but protection and provision in mind for the abandoned. This response to sin is a complicated mix of justice and mercy, and in all the aspects of God’s divine character, it is one hundred percent righteous and holy.

And so I proudly brand my forehead with the dreaded capital D for “divorced”. It is a proclamation to the world that I have been set free from a relationship created for divine but drowned by sin and am now infinitely protected and provided for by a God who loves me beyond my wildest imaginations. I am called to that freedom. I am called to that protection. I am called to that provision.

I am called to divorce.

 

 

photo credit

Taking Care of Myself

Ginger, over at Just One of the Boys, has a series going. It’s called A Happier, Healthier You. I thought I’d jump in on Week #7.

Through this long journey I’m on, I’m realizing that taking care of myself goes hand in hand with embracing the “self” that I am. I can find who I am, but if I do nothing to nourish and care for that “self” then I lose my “self” as fast as I find it. (Yeah, that sentence confuses me too.)

Here’s what I’ve done to care for the treasure that I am.

1) I’ve learned to redefine and redirect my passions. A dream does not always need to be pursued actively. Sometimes, it’s ok to keep it a dream a little longer. Sometimes stage of life holds precedence. I’ve realized that my dream to help women become confident in themselves can be achieved now in this stage, but my dream of being a full fledged author…. it’s better left on the shelf for a little longer. Those two do not have to go hand in hand.

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2) I’ve learned to say “no” to the pressure to be famous. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but in the blogging world, I feel an intense pressure to become a household name. I could not blog for myself. I blogged with the entire goal to become famous and rich. I would beat myself up for not blogging consistently or not having the number of readers that other bloggers had.

I’ve had to say “no”. I still want to blog. I still want to write. It’s part of who I am. But making a household name of myself is not who I am. I am a much happier woman having taken that pressure off myself.

3) I went clothes shopping the other day. I took a friend along to help me. I suck at style. But I learned so much from her. I feel I could confidently shop for myself now. Yay! I also bought some cute shoes. Now to find some black or gray dress pants that are plus size in the gut/butt, but not plus size in the legs. Hmmmmm.

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4) I’ve started taking care of my hands and nails. They are, after all, the extension of my body that I use to impact others’ lives. I want them to be a reflection of who I am… a proclamation of my confidence in who God created me to be.

My hands are pretty dry in these long Indiana winters, so I’ve been using this Dead Sea lotion on my hands and Jamberry’s cuticle oil on my cuticles and the skin around the edges of my nails. My dry patches are nearly healed and no more hang nails. YAY!

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I’ve also discovered Jamberry’s nail wraps…. LOVE!!! They give me a chance to show off my personality and they last a very long time. I never liked painting my finger nails because the polish would always look awful in a couple days. I love that these wraps look great until I decide to change them.

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5) I have begun to realize that I do have something to contribute to this world, the Christian community, our church, our family, and our finances. And that, in fact, I am happier and healthier when I am contributing. I have begun to serve as nursery coordinator at our church. This gives me a responsibility and “forces” me to interact with people there.

I also began to sell the Jamberry wraps I fell in love with, in order to contribute to our family’s finances. I love that I made back my investment and began to profit in 5 weeks time. I love that the flexibility of my job allows me to contribute financially and still homeschool and spend time with my family. I love that this job will enable me to help fund remodel projects, pay off debts, and build up our “new house” fund!!! I’m so excited that I finally found a way to contribute. And best of all, my job is FUN and I get to help other women find confidence too. Two dreams in one. Nice.

 

My goals for this week:

1) Drink 46 oz. of water every day.

2) Begin a treadmill routine.

3) Read two chapters from Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine.

A Metaphoric Nancy Drew

Metaphoric Nancy Drew - Another Recovered Identity StoryThe second the download began, a sickening feeling settled in the bottom of Nessa’s stomach. Who did she think she was to play Nancy Drew in the Good Leader’s office? It was not hers to think, but hers to obey… or so the Leader, Dr. Landon reminded her quite often. But she had to know.

If her hunch was right, this man could not be trusted, and she could no longer play secretary for him, no matter how devoted her mother was to his teachings.

She looked down at her silver watch and then back up at the creeping download bar. The download speed in this office was more annoying than a congressman in a think tank. 35%, 56 %, 69%, 78%…

She heard the all too familiar footsteps in the hallway coming closer and closer. He was four minutes early this morning. He would expect her to have his hot coffee on his desk and be back at her own desk already filing papers. 87%. “Come On!” she hissed.

93%, 99%… 100. Quickly, she yanked the USB drive from the Dr. Landon’s computer and rushed into the side door connecting his office to her own. She swiftly and silently pulled it closed behind her, just as the Leader stepped into his office.

She held her breath and counted to three in her head. Forcing herself to remain calm, she opened the door once again.

“Good morning, Dr. Landon,” she smiled sweetly. “You’re in a little early this morning. I’ll have your coffee for you faster than a baboon with….” She tapered off as the Leader’s smile turned to a frown. She knew better than to use metaphors in his presence.

His droning voice echoed in her memory.  “Nessa, speak the truth… the pure truth. It’s enough. There’s no reason to dress it up and make it look pretty.”

She rushed into the hall where the common coffee table stood. Fill the cup ¾. A dash of milk. Two packets of sugar. Sometimes, she was tempted to change it up a little and “accidently” put in only one packet, just to see if he’d notice, but today such an experiment would be as dangerous as being locked in a bathroom stall with a rhino.

Metaphoric Nancy Drew Part 1

“Here you are, Sir.” She placed the cup on his desk next to his left hand. As she did, he grabbed her hand and caressed it.

“Thank you, Nessa. There’s not another woman in the world I’d rather have as my secretary.” He smiled a sort of twisted manipulative grin and gazed into her eyes.

A disgusted feeling overtook her, and suddenly she felt cold and clammy. She cast her glance down to the floor. His gaze was as piercing as an arrow shot into butter.

She managed to pull her hand away and slip out of his office and into her own. This isn’t the first time he’s made advances at her. There was the time he caressed her hair and whispered into her ear about her righteous dedication. And there was the time he played footsie with her under the dining table in the dimly lit dining hall.

She had told her mother about it, but she had dismissed the stories faster than Nessa could tell them. “You’re just misinterpreting the Leader, Nessa. You are the blessed one. There are a thousand other girls who would give anything to be in your shoes. Being Dr. Landon’s secretary is not to be taken lightly, Young Lady.”

Since then, she’s never mentioned it to anyone. She may be uncomfortable with it, but apparently that goes with the job, and accepting it was all she could do about it. At least that’s what she thought… until three days ago when she received an anonymous phone call.

 

Read more from this series:

A Metaphoric Nancy Drew, Part Two

 

*photo credits: computer, mug

Irritable Mom Syndrome

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I was reading through some old blog posts that I had over at Unsolicited Advice where I used to blog haphazardly. I came across this gem and realized I’ve come a long way the last couple years. I thought I’d revise it a bit and repost it.

“Mom!”

“Momeeeeeeee!”

“Hey, Mom?”

That’s it! I’m changing my name to Bob. If my name were Bob, and not Mom, then I could ignore every demand addressed to Mom, right?

I have a headache and a sore throat. It seems all I’ve heard all day is whining and fighting. If we had a dog, I’d literally kick him out the door. It’s probably a good thing we don’t.

The school day is only half successful. I do my best to teach Cherith while Ethan complains and whines because I won’t give him a third glass of chocolate milk, or let him carry around the entire just opened box of cereal, or let him draw on the table with a marker, or drag more toys out of the closet to add to his already huge mess, or watch a “Mommy/Daddy movie”.

I do my best to teach Cherith and deal with Ethan while Faith was climbs all over me and all over the table. She pushes everything off the table, and closes Cherith’s books while she’s using them.

Daryn stands beside me and excitedly tells me all about the new contraption he just made. I loose my patience and tell him he’ll have to wait. The poor kid is visibly crushed, all excitement flushed away.

And that’s when the guilt kicks in. I give him a hug, tell him I’m sorry for snapping at him, and ask him to tell me about his contraption. He says he forgot what he was going to say. I kiss him and repeat how sorry I am.

I pull Faith off the table for the hundredth time and tell Ethan to turn off his whiner siren or he’ll end up in his room by himself.

I turn to Cherith and tell her to read the words in her book. At this point, she is just as frustrated as I am and cannot even think straight enough to remember how to read.

I sigh and tell her it’s recess time. We only accomplished five minutes of schoolwork in the past forty-five.

As she runs off to the living room, her siblings in tow, a heavy weight settles upon me. I am the most important person in their little lives right now. Today, more than anyone else in the world, they need to know in their deepest of deepest that their mother loves them. I’m pretty sure the last 45 minutes did nothing to confirm that.

The thing is… this wasn’t just a rare, bad day. Days like these happen more frequently than I’d like. There’s always something that makes me feel irritable with the very people I live for. I guess I have a case of Irritable Mom Syndrome.

This diagnosis was met with great regret and fear over two years ago. I was caught in a never ending cycle: Feel stressed. Bark at kids. Drink Dr. Pepper. Feel Stressed. Bark at kids. Drink more Dr. Pepper. Maybe if I could just throw a wrench into the cycle, it would trip it up enough to throw me out of it, but I didn’t know how.

Hindsight provided insight. Here’s five things I learned along the way to keep the wretched Irritable Disease at bay.

5 Tips for Irritable Mom Syndrome

1. Be realistic. You can just about bet your life savings on the fact that the day your house is completely clean, your children are happy and quiet, your table is set with a home cooked meal, and you feel giddy inside as your husband walks through the door all simultaneously is a rare day in history. These days just aren’t realistic. So bring your expectations down a notch or two. Let go.

2. Put priorities before the clock. Some days you will need to keep appointments. But in the day to day, don’t let the clock rule your heart. Children rarely need us when it’s convenient. Even when their needs pull you from your projects, do not treat your kids as annoying interruptions. They will begin to get the message: “Mommy’s work is more important than me.” If there are things that need to be accomplished without their interruption, it may be time to find a babysitter once a week, or to get up before they do, or schedule in an hour after their bedtime.

3. Embrace grace. I used to hate that word… grace. But now that I’m grasping its full meaning, it washes over me in every area of life. God’s grace does not just refrain from giving punishment when deserved; it gives us way more than we could ever deserve. It doesn’t just withhold; it gives. If God pours this kind of grace out on us, how can we withhold it from our children. Don’t just keep yourself from yelling at them. Give them way more adoration and love and time than you think they deserve. Pour the grace out onto them as if you have a never ending supply. Because you do.

4. Respect and Responsibility is not just for the kids. We parents tend to forget that as we teach our children the virtues of life, we need to ensure we are practicing them. Are you begging your child to be attentive to you… to stop ignoring you… to look at you when you give him instructions? Then ask yourself… Am I attentive to him? Do I look at him and listen intently as he explains every detail of his latest drawing? Are you begging your child not to interrupt your conversations? Then ask yourself…. Do I interrupt her when she’s speaking because I think my words are more important?

5. This too shall pass. I cannot believe how quickly the baby and toddler years passed. My youngest is now 3 1/2. How did that happen? Where did the time go? I’ve graduated from the sleepless nights and endless nursing sessions. And now… I miss them. Sometimes, I want to go back and start over. Hold them a little longer. Kiss their pudgy toes once more. But I can’t. Yesterday never comes back. Today is yours only today. Tomorrow comes sooner than you think.

Relax.

Embrace this moment.

Meet the needs of right now.

Don’t let this opportunity to pour out grace slip through your fingers.

Sleep. Rest. Laugh. Love. Take a deep breath. And drink a Dr. Pepper (if you really need to).

 

*photo credit

Music Monday: Forgiven

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Sanctus RealForgiven

(listen on Spotify or Youtube)

Well, the past is playing with my head
And failure knocks me down again
I’m reminded of the wrong
That I have said and done
And that devil just won’t let me forget

In this life
I know what I’ve been
But here in your arms
I know what I am

I’m forgiven
I’m forgiven
And I don’t have to carry
The weight of who I’ve been
‘Cause I’m forgiven

My mistakes are running through my mind
And I’ll relive my days in the middle of the night
When I struggle with my pain, wrestle with my pride.
Sometimes I feel alone and I cry.

And in this life
I know what I’ve been
But here in your arms
I know what I am

Well, I’m forgiven
I’m forgiven
And I don’t have to carry
The weight of who I’ve been
‘Cause I’m forgiven

When I don’t fit in and I don’t feel like I belong anywhere
When I don’t measure up to much in this life
Oh, I’m a treasure in the arms of Christ

‘Cause I’m forgiven
Well, I’m forgiven
And I don’t have to carry
The weight of who I’ve been
‘Cause I’m forgiven. 

 

Sometimes the past holds us back not because of what’s been done to us, but because of what we’ve done. We spend our days hounded by guilt. We try to do better, be better, act better, but our own guilt turns us into a portable source of negative energy. We find ourselves stuck in a cycle of hurting those around us and adding on more guilt.

But there’s no need for this. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). There is also no condemnation to those who are in Christ, because Christ has set us free from sin (Romans 8:1). So why do we let ourselves live in guilt?

Some sins do give us consequences we have to live with, but guilt is not one of them. We can live in freedom because we are forgiven of sins as large as murder to as small as loosing our patience with our kiddos.

And when we feel like complete failures and misfits, all we have to remember is what we are in Christ – forgiven.

And in this life
I know what I’ve been
But here in your arms
I know what I am

I’m forgiven.

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In the conservative circle in which I grew up, contemporary Christian music was not allowed. After marrying, I began to listen to a CCM radio station. Much of my spiritual growth since then can be attributed to the many CCM artists and the songs they write. There is truth in those words and power in their music.

If music means as much to you as it does to me, you might want to check out Spotify. This music program allows you to search for particular songs and save them to playlists, allowing you to listen to your music whenever you wish. Best yet, it’s free. (It will require you to download their music program to your computer, but I promise it will not download any junk.) You can find all the songs highlighted in Music Mondays at the Recovered Identity Spotify playlist.

 

*photo credit