Thanksgiving hit like a raging lion seeking to devour us all. One by one we succumbed to a dreadful 24 hour awfulness. We kind of had no plans for the holiday but when an incredibly generous family offered us their gorgeous home with a spectacular lake view, well, suddenly we knew what we were doing.
We arrived in town at Caitlin and Zac’s to discover he had been struck with the awful illness and further that Christi- whose house we hoped to have our big feast was down as well. And this is so Christi- she said just plan on having it there anyway! We did a little cheerleading for Zac assuring him that in just 24 hours; he’d be good as new. At that is how it went. Thanksgiving went off at Christi and Darrell’s with Christi wisping in and out of the party. The guys all told stories of what terrible no good very bad boys they were and the girls- well, there was no story to be told so near to perfection were all the females, even in their formative years.
We had divvied up the food prep. Andrew made his most amazing stuffing. Me? Oh, I made jello. And who in the world can’t make jello? me. Unfortunately it needed to travel too and it was, well, it was soup. I tried desperately to doctor it to no avail and in the end put it in a sea worthy vessel and sloshed it to the party. You just can’t fret over bad jello.
Friday we hit the town to shop and eat and drink. And then because the Branns had purchased a theater(!), a private movie showing was on the schedule that night.
And then when someone else decides to buy a whole flippin’ forest complete with cascading waterfall, Christmas trees were at our fingertips for the chopping. No crazed lumberjack this year. I got my all time perfect Christmas tree right there- super tall and thin to fit in the room girth-wise and height-wise. We ended the day with a little hot toddy and pizza party.
Throughout all the activities some would suddenly drop out and go quietly to recover and then rejoin the group 24 hours later. In a big way it made us all thankful for the blessing of feeling normal and healthy. I think this bug is scouring the nation so you may have had it too.
My phone rang while Taite and I were at the bank cashing one of her checks. The teller wondered if she’d like to open an account and I was telling the teller that with interest rates what they are; it would probably be best to just have her stick the wad of cash under her mattress. On the other end of the phone was Andrew wondering, “would I like him to pick me up a handgun?”
“A gun! Buy me a gun?”
And then I looked up and remembered where I was.
“Can I call you right back, I’m at the bank…”
A few weeks later, we were at a very eclectic dinner party and somehow amidst the talk of how fantastic Obamacare is and stuff leaning that direction, someone mentioned guns (not me). And there was a bit of a silence that hung there like someone had farted and we all didn’t know how to address it. So I did.
“I just got a gun, and I know how to shoot it. And load it.” Silence.
And then the gentleman who is an officer of the law pipes up, “Good for you, it’s your right.”
At which point, one of the guests very painfully obviously got up to go talk with the chefs in the kitchen. When she came back to join us, we had all simmered back to ” This is a really great wine pairing.”
Anyway, don’t try to steal Taite’s wad of cash under her mattress.
We have a church tradition wherein eventually a child grows up in the church and says, “Yes! All this that I have been taught since the day I arrived here on earth, all that, I believe.” We baptize babies believing they are of the covenant- being born into a family of God’s is not by accident; but the day comes when it is time to step up to the plate and say so. Soon Taite will stand before the church and say that your God is my God.
Oh, I know, all you that’s- just-a-tradition people. I know. The Bible is sufficient.
And yet the poignancy of having lived loving your Savior since before you even had a memory of it, and then one day standing before the church and just saying that her only comfort in life and death is her Savior. She’s done it already in the hospital but soon she will declare that before the church.
A post from March 4th, 2011:
Well, well, well.
Taite is back home.
We have had a roller coaster of months. When we first began to deal with Taite’s inability to eat, what I really wanted to do was ignore it and give it a chance to go away. Hmmm, nope, that didn’t work.
So, we encouraged her to just eat, regular food just less of it. Nope, that didn’t work either.
Finally after trips and tests we realized she needed liquid-y foods and liquids. And really that didn’t work too well either.
When we took her into the ER and each hospital employee in turn said something to the effect of, “Oh, my gosh, you look really ill, do you need a wheel chair?!” And I looked and Taite and she looked at me and we thought they’d gone batty. ’Course she didn’t need a wheel chair, she looks the same as she did yesterday. Then they put her on IV fluids and sent us home with IV fluids (because her doctor uncle had come to see her from Iowa and he could give her the IV at home).
And then a few days later, Taite’s esophagus just closed up tight, the end. And that’s when we headed for Seattle to get a feeding tube until surgery.
And it was then that like a huge slap in the face, I realized that actually no, ten Cheetos a day and a swig of water would not actually keep a person alive actually. It was such a slow yet steady decline that in the end we were left to feel like total idiots. I mean, who would think a handful of Cheetos would get a person through the day!!? Truth be told, they weren’t even Cheetos, they were a knock-off generic brand, “Cheez Pleezers.” Really! Who’d give a starving child a knock-off brand!!?
The bliss of a feeding tube. Man, oh man, I was onto that; every time the hour came ’round I was there pouring that concoction of vitamins and minerals into the bag and starting the pump. Twenty four hours a day that girl was being fed. And like one of those pet sponges that you put in water and they grow big, Taite came back to life.
And then it was finally time to fix her up with surgery. And I was scared. The pump was so darn reliable and so full of calorie goodness. I packed two days worth of cans for the four hour trip… just in case.
I had reason. The mountain pass we had to travel was closed the day before her surgery for avalanche control and blizzards. We weren’t sure it would be open in time to travel to her appointment. And what if we got stuck up on that mountain for days. I had to take the feeding tube food… to last for days.
And then at long last surgery. And it is scary. Our dear pastor is here with us and kneels down and tells Taite that he and she are going to recite something together. And they do:
“What is Thy only comfort in life and death?”
“That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.”
We are thankful, hopeful, and scared.
Taite’s anesthesiologist comes in to tell her in his beautiful South African accent what he’ll be doing, and then goes down the hall and comes back with a bear for her, tells her to give her mum and dad a hug. Taite, mum and dad start crying and her anesthesiologist wonders, “Do you always cry when you hug your mum and dad?” “No,” Taite says. ”Well, anesthesiologists give good hugs in the operating room if you need one, FYI” He takes her by the arm and he and she walk down the hall, through the surgery room doors and are gone.
Four hours later she is out of surgery and we are thankful and hopeful.
The next morning Taite has her first drink of clear liquid. It goes down. And we are thankful.
She will be on a diet of pureed foods for the next six weeks.
Standing before the church will be a bit of a redo because she’s already made the profession of faith back there at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She had to. Twice. It was her only comfort in life and death as she was chaperoned down the hall to surgery.
Traditions are good.
Sometimes life sucks; is it okay for a Christian to say that? Because sometimes that’s all you can see, the awfulness. There is nothing quite like first hand experience to cement in your mind what to do when someone is hurting. And what not to do. Reconciling a loving God with hard things takes faith, wisdom and other worldly strength. Trials are hard enough without having to endure triteness- ”It’ll all work out,” or “God doesn’t give you more than you can bear,” or “God has a plan,” or “It’s a blessing in disguise.”
The absolute worst is- ”He’s in a better place,” “You’ll see her again.” We can be such losers when it comes to addressing hard things. We need to get better at it. Offering trite smooth sayings, runs roughshod over the reality of the situation. It is mean. “To speak in a detached philosophical manner to an actual sufferer is cruel.” + Actually maybe worst of all is someone who will attempt to one-up your suffering with their own when you are raw with the pain.
In a Bible study long ago, Andrew offered that when the day came that I died- because he maintains I absolutely will go before he does- he would be railing against God’s wisdom, His timing, His reason for it. A woman in the study quickly and swiftly castigated him for such unholy thinking. But he would not relent.
No flinching, squinting, or sugarcoating, we need to get a grip; sometimes life sucks. Can we admit that? Are we allowed to say it aloud, admit that sometimes things will not get better, maybe fade or dull with time but not get “better.” What we need when life kicks us are friends who can be there, listen and say, “Yah, this sucks.” Maybe their language would be cleaner but they would let you know, this is a tough deal. Period. That is loving our neighbor.
“When we can’t bring ourselves to say, ‘that sucks,’ when life really does suck, we fail to love others where they are and as they are. Instead we force those who are suffering to amend their understanding of what has happened to them as a precondition of being loved.”* That woman in the Bible study was really telling Andrew that more important than his grief was making her happy with the right “spiritual” response. If he would do that, then she might work her magic- pray with him in language meant to soothe.
“Human life is fatally fragile and subject to forces beyond our power to manage. Life is tragic.” + It is unhelpful to pretend otherwise. When we force others to be at the end of a very long road when the journey has just begun, what we are saying is that our feelings, our neatly carved concept of life all battened up in our trite ditties is what really matters. And the grief stricken need to get on board. Now.
Yes, God wins in the end. And finally that is where the sufferer needs to end up. And by God’s grace, that is where suffering will eventually lead. ”But some people insist that we always read it from the ‘God wins’ end of the story. These are people who believe the message of the Bible, but they have also had a long, deep drink of the cultural Kool-Aid.”* Maybe this is partly why people renounce their faith when tough things happen- because church people try to turn sorrow and pain into an opportunity to hawk their idol god. Attempting to make unconsolable grief, unearthly pain, unbearable loss just vanish with just a few magical words from the Bible. It is wholly unhelpful. It is destructive.
“By thinking and living in ways that are faithful to the truths at the heart of the Bible and the church’s great teachers, it is possible to craft a response to life’s hard places that draws deeply on the Christian faith, that hangs together, and that takes us to a place that is faithful to God’s purpose for our lives.”* But it begins by simply loving in the hard places, in the rough times- not by demanding conformity.
You bet, “death will not have the final word. Loss, pain, and sorrow are not the epitaph of human history. That message changes everything. It means that no loss is final. No sorrow or loss goes unaddressed;”* but a friend needs to be willing to go the distance in a journey that will, by God’s grace, strengthen their faith. It takes t-i-m-e. God is dangerous in His love. He is faithful but His faithfulness sometimes looks like abandonment. Can we be there for a friend through that?
Pain, loss and sorrow are like death and resurrection “- the recurring experience of seeing the emptiness, weeping over our inability to fill it or even understand it, and then listening to the sound of God speaking our names and telling God’s story- is a messy business.”#
When trials come we need to be the friend who points to the real God who knows our weakness and our fears,the God who knows that our fear, sorrow and anger run so deep that it feels like we are losing our faith. And He will be faithful. Even when His faithfulness does not look like we want it to.
*quote taken from The Dave Test: A raw look at real faith in hard times by Frederick W. Schmidt
# quote taken from Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful, Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber
+ quote taken from Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller
And if you have never listened to Alistair Begg, this is God’s Faithfulness in Affliction
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Has anyone read the Christopher Fowler’s A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery series? I have jumped in at the end with his 10th book, The Invisible Code, set for release December 2013. If you love the Flavia de Luce mystery series you will want to check these out.
Before even beginning, I was struck by two things.
1. I was enchanted with Fowler’s cleverly succinct dedication:
For Jennifer Siegel,
smart cookie, good egg, hot tamale
2. I applauded his bravery in bucking the advice to;
“’Make your leading character younger, and put more sex and violence if you want them to be a success…’ Blithely ignoring his advice I ploughed on, determined to create a pair of intelligent Golden Age detectives who are forced to deal with the modern world. I knew I’d have fun just watching Arthur Bryant trying to use a smartphone.”
Arthur Bryant and John May are the older detectives who are able to catch their witnesses and their suspects off guard because they seem so old school, so not with it. And that is precisely what Bryant and May want them to think while they are in fact cagily asking precise insightful questions.
Amy O’Connor is still furious with herself two years later for having lost the only man she’s ever loved. On this particular day she sits outside the church with her book when two children playing a game of Witch Hunter “and you have to ride across the countryside and find witches to kill.” When Amy goes into the church, the two children watch from the doorway and decide she is the witch. Moments later Amy falls over dead.
Soon, however, Bryant and May are taken off that case and put on a seemingly irrelevant and far less exciting case. Sabira has been married to Oskar Kasavian, the head of Home Office security, for four years. He would like to advance his career and it would seem that there are those who would like to prevent it. Eventually committed to a mental hospital, some believe Sabira is faking her madness to destroy her husband’s career, others are certain she is being framed.
Leave it to the quirky duo, Bryant and May, to figure it all out.
Things to do when you find a can of silver spray paint in the closet. I don’t know why I bought it in the first place but it was calling to me to spray things with it so I quickly grabbed this pillow for starters.
Make sure all the corners are square- not the jagged ends of ripped masking tape
I taped the cloth binding all around to preserve the print
Give it a few minutes to set before you pull off the tape and paper.
I was desperate to continue spraying things. And landed on a basket.
I decided the shabby chic could be amped up with just a little silver spray paint.
It will hold cozy blankets for fall and winter book reading and lounging around.
And then it was just hard to quit.
Picture these at each place setting for the Thanksgiving meal with a name tag hung on the stem or propped against it.
It makes it really easy to feed a FRENCH CHEF and his wife when they are the most disarming, charming, unpretentious people you could ever wish to sit at your table. That is how it went. They made the evening a delight. Which made me remember just how important it is to be a good guest, really every bit as important as being a good host.
The night before they came I told Andrew I was kinda thinking about doing a little “iron chef” thing wherein I open my refrigerator, see what’s in there, and create a dish from that.
He said, “You are not doing the iron chef thing.” (But I did) (But just for the vegetable.)
I had texted the couple the day before to bring some walking shoes for a hike. I had three terrains picked out- flat riverside, uphill mountain with a path, rugged uphill. And then we started getting the most incredible winds so that when I opened our front door the attic trap door around the corner and down the hall lifted, shifted, and dropped fiberglass insulation all around. So there was no hike.
We started the evening with:
18 Hour Bread- which is my hands down fail proof delicious crusty bread of substance- started 24 hours earlier and served with a variety of cheeses and amazing wine.
And then for the dinner:
Andrew and I had bought fresh steelhead that afternoon. He then sprinkled and rubbed his magic into it. But the wind forced us to abandon the grill and go with the oven. And then Andrew kept fielding calls from work off in the bedroom so John took over with getting the steelhead perfect. And then I staaaalled dinner a bit so Andrew could quit saving the world and join us at the table.
Risotto- I have never in my life made risotto, the constant stirring and slowly adding of broth scares me. So Wendy made it- with three different types of mushrooms, family raised bacon, and fresh baby spinach. Amazing. If you’re not chicken hearted like me, you should give it a go.
I took a conglomeration of brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrots, red pepper, and leeks doused it with olive oil and a teensy bit of Herbes de Provence and something else that I can’t remember and roasted them at 400˚ until just beginning to lightly char on the top.
And then, oh my goodness, yes, the wines. Wow. John brought those. Straight from our old hometown, Sunnyside, Washington’s Côte Bonneville, De Brul Vineyards. Simply amazing. If you’ve got a wine lover in your family, you might think about this fantastic winery’s wine for Christmas. You will not ever find it for sale in stores. They don’t need to.
And then, yes, the burnt caramel custards.
“Iron Chef” roasted vegetables
Guests of honor
Chef and sous chef
Planning ahead was critical for a wicked busy evening- eye and hair appointments for me, driver-never-ending-ed. for Matt, bagpipe night for Jarrett, man cold for Andrew. (No, I take that back, Andrew has a real cold and he’s not whining about it.) But anyway, all that coming and going meant a grab and go dinner plan.
So in the afternoon I made the start of Chicken Enchilada Soup and then in the evening whizzing in from my hair appointment, I finished the soup and had it deliciously simmering away. And Jarrett never showed up. So we ate without him. And cleaned up the kitchen. And without Jarrett that meant easily having soup enough for another meal which I happily set in the freezer. Love that.
And before the first little crystal of ice had time to form on the soup, I got a text.
“Coming home with the engineering group to work on project.”
I called him, never mind the texting, I had my ahead-of-the-game soup to consider, “Are you hungry?”
“The other guys?”
Out from the freezer came the soup. Out came the sour cream, the cheddar, the chips. Dang.
And then around 1 AM when I still heard the rustling of engineers and their papers and computers, I remembered in a fog that I am feeding about 60 people on Friday. AND I have done nothing to get ready for that. So that kept me up a bit. And that segued into thinking about feeding an amazing FRENCH CHEF the following evening. No pressure there.
Just what does a person feed a FRENCH CHEF whose taste buds are honed to a science!?
For about a week I have had in mind this amazing burnt caramel custard for dessert. I’ve done a trial run twice just so I could eat it and exclaim, “Yup, pretty much amazing.” But after awhile it is time to move on to a plan for the main part of the meal. I have 2 days.
What would you feed a FRENCH CHEF? Beef Bourguignon? Too presumptuous? What then? The Chicken Enchilada Soup’s all gone.
Take a look at this! Erin’s amazing interior design is winning awards!
Photo- Nate Brubaker
Photo- Nate Brubaker
BY JULIE GARGOTTA
For Erin Barley and her husband, Tim, collecting ideas and inspiration for renovations was simply a part of life. After all, their kitchen would be the Washington, D.C.-based couple’s fourth home renovation in just five years. But it was the influence of popular British period drama “Downton Abbey” that fueled Erin to spend long nights sitting in bed with graph paper, plotting out floor plans. She envisioned the look of an old English country house, with dark cabinets and brass accents, for their own residence. And while Erin wanted to respect the historical aspects of the Capitol Hill rowhome, she also yearned for fresh, modern appeal.
In 2012, Lancaster County design and custom cabinet company Wynwood (www.wynwoodfinecabinetry.com) took charge of the project. They worked closely with the couple to tailor the kitchen to suit their distinctive needs. Tim wanted a social space in which visitors could feel comfortable and not intrusive. Erin’s needs were different: “I wanted a really functional kitchen with plenty of storage and counter space … and room to hide everything so my counters were mostly bare,” she explains. Designer Nate Brubaker kept the couple’s needs, a social room that was also rife with storage solutions, in mind while conceptualizing their new space. Yet, he would also have to tackle another design challenge: maximizing a narrow, almost-galley kitchen by creating pieces that were “super custom.”
To achieve a more social atmosphere, Brubaker created room separation without lines, splitting the space between a small sitting area and the main workspace. The designer knew that standard 24-inch-deep base cabinets would crowd the kitchen, so he designed smaller cabinets that would still allow a comfortable fit for appliances. Brubaker’s solution to the varied brick wall depths behind the range were varied cabinet depths as well: a hinged spice cabinet to left of the range was fashioned to be 10 inches deep, while the other side was a mere 7 inches. “We were constantly re-checking the fit of the cabinets in each part of the room,” Brubaker shares. “It was like fitting puzzle pieces.”
To create additional storage for Erin as well as a boost in visual intrigue, Brubaker installed tall cabinets that stretched to the ceiling. A removable rolling ladder was added to access high-up storage space. Brubaker then constructed a large pull-out pantry strong enough to hold 450 pounds but agile enough to be pushed out of sight. Yet, the designer’s piece de resistance in the kitchen would be a “baking center” nearly the same size as the fridge. Brubaker fashioned entertainment center-style doors that slid on tracks to open and reveal a marble countertop workspace
within the cabinet. Larger appliances, from blenders to mixers, are housed inside, while deep drawers hold canisters of sugar and flour. “Once [Erin] opens the door, she’s working,” Brubaker explains. “The special functionality of the area makes it easier to clean up.”
For Brubaker, the Barley’s dream kitchen was a labor of love, from the hours spent “inside” their virtual kitchen in his design program, to his insistence on hand-painting everything himself; delicate brush strokes in the direction of wood grains are visible reminders of this. “The most important thing to me is that they are happy with the functionality,” Brubaker says. “It’s easy to determine right away if you’re happy with the look.”
Luckily, both the look and functionality of the finished renovation were a success. The combination of Erin’s distinctive vision and Brubaker’s dedication led to a winning kitchen that strikes a balance between modern luxe and functional workspace. “I am thrilled with the results,” Erin shares. “It’s our favorite room to hang out in.”
Confined to a wheelchair with cerebral palsy; Chucky’s dream was to run in a marathon.
Jarrett did a trial run a few days early to see how it would be to push a wheelchair heavy with a man. Running up the bridge, Chucky sat there unimpressed; but then cresting the slope and hitting flat land, Chucky was expecting things to pick up a bit, get fast and exciting. But Jarrett took that flat stretch to catch his breath, recover just a little, jog.
Chucky craned his head back and his look said, “That’s it!? That’s the best you can do?”
Jarrett, reading Chucky’s face replied, “I’m tired, Chuck.”
So Chucky, simply turned and gazed out at the river condescendingly enjoying the view. And then they were heading down the slope of the bridge picking up speed, and then picking up a lot of speed.
And Chucky went wild.
When Jarrett recounted this, it struck me in a way that things sometimes do- right in the gut. Chucky a completely with-it intelligent man, trapped in a a body that won’t allow him to communicate, function, run the race is a bit like all of us. And the sadness just overwhelmed me.
We are all Chucky; we live in broken temples of clay. But we compensate, often able to hide the entropy. Daily our bodies are declining and we try to make do, work around it; we buy cheater glasses when once we could thread a filament throught the small eye of a needle, hearing aids when once we could hear a pin drop, walkers and canes when we once skied, hiked and ran. We compensate, mask the truth, of where we are all heading and every now and then someone like Chucky, unable to hide the extent of being human in a fallen world, reminds us that we are all trapped in these bodies of flesh.
It will not always be so.
“‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’
Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’” Revelation 21:4
Just finished the run
Megan (on the left) did all the coordinating for Chucky’s run.
(Last 4 photos from Megan)
I had been chauffeuring grandchildren to and from school at 8:30, 12:30 and 3:00, Matthias to driver’s ed at 5:00; and between two of the slots running across the cities to visit Aoife and let the whole family see her. And then adding button holes and buttons to skirts for Anwyn, feeding the crowd, reading to Fox, overseeing homework, you know, being a young mom again. In the midst of that Erin sends me an email that says:
“Bored yet? You guys make pretty awesome parents” with a link attached.
When she called and I actually finally opened the link, we both were close to tears as we planned out how to make this all work:
Someone, anyone, Please!
I have been praying for Davion ever since Erin and I talked. Andrew and I have been two ships passing in the night this week so today, this morning, I would finally show him the link. Checking Drudge, I found out:
TEN THOUSAND have responded!
And so it was between reading the first link and the second link that I was standing in the Costco line to get one last dinner for the grandchildren before they went back home, and Andrew was dashing around the store with my sanctioned- only buy what’s on the list I’m trying to use up stock on hand -grocery list that Darla came up and gave me a hug.
We have been trying to get together for months and months; we call each other compare calendars and then decide a few weeks from then we’ll try again. So Taite took over the business of ordering pizza and hotdogs, and I went to catch 10 minutes with Darla. While I happily chatted away with Darla, I received a text from Andrew: ”I bought unauthorized things.”
Darla and her husband are some amazing people who have four children of their own and decided to adopt a child from China. And then they just kept adopting. One of the trips, Darla and her son traveled to China while her husband stayed behind and manned the fort. There was a child in China, but during the visits and the waiting- which can stretch on- Darla’s son played regularly with one particular child at the orphanage. Towards the end when it looked like they would finally be able to head back home with the new child, Darla’s son wondered, “Couldn’t they just bring this other one along too?”
And Darla said, “Call your dad and ask.” With the time difference, the call came in the middle of the night, the son pleading about this one who he was really having fun playing with. And the dad thought that maybe one at a time was a good idea. But in the end they agreed, that heck, what was one more. So on a whim this little child’s life has been wonderfully changed forever.
So, I told Darla about this young man that Erin alerted me to who needed a home; Darla had not adopted just babies; she could advise. She cautioned that it was a good thing to do, but don’t even think about thinking you will think, “isn’t this easy and aren’t we wonderful for being so compassionate; because real life will hit you. You have to go into it with eyes wide open.”
And there sat Darla’s whole huge family all smartly dressed heading off for a Friday night baptism and I just so much respect her. And she totally shrugs it off if I say so.
arrived at 8:12 A.M. this morning
She weighs 5 pounds, 12 ounces
Big brother Fox took one look at these photos and gushed, “She’s beautiful!” And then he was pretty determined that I needed to take him home so he could get his Captain America shield so he could protect her.
Two days ago in the midst of making a phone call to the appliance guy because we think our freezer is dying a slow but sure death and calling the vet to schedule our cat to get in, Matthias was taking his first college test in calculus and I got a text from him that said:
“finished the test in 15 minutes.”
And I am thinking, my gosh, does he not know, he needs to go through all the work again, make sure he did it right, that when the professor gives you an hour for a test, you do not finish in 15 minutes. I knew I should have waited until he was older than 15, until he knew better. And then I get the next text:
“I went over all my work and corrected a few mistakes.”
Good for him. And then it occurred to me that he was sitting at his desk texting me and the professor was going to come by and see him and think he was cheating and he’d get kicked out. And then I got another text:
“So I left.”
Thankfully. But still there was the brevity.
So yesterday when he gets home, he runs down the hall, pulls up his grade on the computer, and comes to me and says:
“I got 110%”
“No, grading on a curve.”
“Your classmates are so going to hate you for that.”
Then I took the cat to the vet and it was all, “What is kitty’s problem.”
“Well, she has recently decided that the best place to pee in the house is on the freshly folded laundry on top of the dryer, so that I spend a good deal of time just shoving it back into the washer for another go round.”
“And has kitty had any changes in her life?”
Okay, I needed to somehow let the receptionist know that, no, I really wasn’t interested in psychoanalyzing her what I wanted was just an antibiotic in case her awful new behavior was due to a UTI. And then when they wondered did we want to do blood work, x-rays all that stuff, I reminded them that I had not brought the cat in for anything in over 7 years, so we really just aren’t that sort of cat people. The vet shot her with an antibiotic and we were on our way.
My counsel told me that I should begin this post with
I have been happily married for 33 years. I know from whence I speak. I am not just imagining what an amazing marriage might look like, I am living it. We have grown up together in The Lord and we have learned through rip roaring fights and long quiet talks the in’s and out’s of submission and love. “What?” you say, “rip roaring fights?”
Yes, and may you be encouraged that if you are still just figuring each other out in your marriage and sometimes have problems bigger than “bumps” and louder than “kerfluffles,” that God can take your marriage and make it beautiful for the sake of Christ and His glory.
We have seven amazing children by the kindness and mercy of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Wives are to submit to their husbands. If we all agree on that, we are off to a good start…and then we diverge.
If you have read my previous post- and really it’s essential to what I will be talking about here- the interpretaion of Genesis 3:16 is where things go awry. The other blogger very obviously comes from an entirely different and to my mind, wrong interpretation. Seemingly subtle, this overarching suspicion of a wife’s motive is all the difference in the world- “Her desire will be for her husband.”
As I stated in my previous post, “women’s desire will be to/toward her husband”- means she will desire her husband. That seems straight forward enough. She’ll think he’s hot. When that gets twisted up into an interpretation where the sinful gal wants to wrest the reigns, wear the pants, lead the family, women are going to be viewed as villanous usurper wannabes- as in that is their bent. Of course as sinners, we all- men and women- fall into the pit of wanting to have it our way. But that’s not what Genesis 3:16 is about. Thinking it is will have deliterious results. The difference in interpretations is not subtle.
So for example, if by a wife stating her preference, her opinion- even unasked- the wife is viewed as being a badgering shrew; there is something wrong. When you always suspicion malintent for having an opinion, it will follow that the only good sort of wife is a silent wife. When you interpret Genesis 3:16 to mean the wife will always be wanting control, women will always be suspicioned of such derringdoo.
When you delete the poor understanding of Genesis 3:16, you can now have a perfectly peacable scene wherein the wife, of course, can freely partake of the give and take of thoughts and opinions in the marriage without thinking she has to be granted the permission of her husband.The wife isn’t being viewed as a harpy for wanting to be heard. And she’s not being treated like a child who has to seek permission. That is not submission, that’s subjection. Submission is talking, discussing, hearing each other out and then because the husband loves his wife and the wife respects her husband, then coming to a conclusion.
The poor interpretaion of scripture I’ve mentioned, effectively shuts down the women. Women are left to believe that the only good wife is a silent wife.
There is nothing wrong with being a demure silent sort of woman. But if that is the only good sort of wife, the only right sort of wife, well, throw me out of the church, and do it fast!
The Church of all people ought to be able to see the beauty of not all being stamp pressed out of one mold, one quiet, compliant sort of mold. That is detrimental. It will naturally lead to the necessity to call the elders and then the cops.
When women are given the impression that submission and “shut up” are interchangeable; life gets ugly. Mostly for the women. And since women are wired for love, we tend to put up with things we shouldn’t. We tend to let someone make us feel guilty for not being the “right” quiet kind of woman. And that is wrong. And that is harmful.
So what exactly does submission look like? Here is the beauty of God’s kingdom- it never looks exactly the same for different couples. If we teach that it does, Christianity looks like the muslim religion only a tiny bit nicer. Usually. When we look at wives as the problem/the usurper and demand subjection instead of submission, we will get some outwardly conforming but stunted women.
Let’s start with the one in the other person’s blog- the apple tree.
Here’s how it would go with Andrew and me: (if he were, on a lark,to buy an apple tree- a tree that can grow 25- 30 ft tall and want to plunk it down one Saturday) Our back door would open and he would yell into the house something like,
“Hey, T.J. where are you, I need you to come help me decide where we should plant this tree I just bought.”
And rather doubtful, but nonetheless plausible would be for Andrew to haul home the monster and for me to see him pondering away outside and then I would go out and tell him where I’d like the tree to go. And then he would probably plant it there.
And so, Leslie, knowing where you’d like to plant the apple tree and saying so, is okay. Really.
Here’s how it would go on the other blog: wherein ‘submission’ is comprised of a little lord marching around his domain with the understanding that Genesis 3:16 means, “that dang wife of his is going to ruin his day because she’s always taking charge, it’s her curse, I have to break her of it” Does your husband safely trust you? Indeed.
And I quote: ”Your husband decides to buy an apple tree, and he heads out to dig a hole. Are you there at his elbow coaching him? Are you suggesting a different way or a different spot or a different shovel or a different time or a different idea all together? But, you may argue, I know more about apple trees and shovels. Ah. I think we have gotten to the center of the trouble. But if we are God-centered and not me-centered, we will know this is foolishness. No wonder a husband might think twice before buying an apple tree. It’s just not worth it to him to undergo the badgering.”
And I am pretty sure the rest of the scenario will go like this:
1. The husband will attach ill motive to the wife’s chutzpah in having an opinion, and then to actually state her preference! Horror.
2. The husband will feel like he’s lost his grip on his little kingdom and to punish the plebe, he will divorce her in a sense- he will give her the old ‘silent treatment,’ not speaking to her until…
3. The wife being wired for love, will begin to try and find something, anything she could possibly be guilty of in this situation.
4. She will land on actually wanting a say in where the blessed tree goes and she will apologize for speaking up.
5. The husband will reluctantly but at long last take her back under his wing.
6. They will both have learned important things- she needs to shut up, he needs to act like a boob until she does.
7. And can I just say, if I were a betting woman, I would bet this is not the sort of marriage this blogger would desire for her own daughters. It is disingenuous to hoist this obeisance on other women.
8. This sort of scenario as a model for life will, in time, necessitate the need for elders or cops- if the poor woman ever dares speak up.
Example 2 (and I really don’t know what this had to do with her post on submission, but here it is)
And I quote:
“It’s tempting for older women to chase after beauty via hours at the spa or the gym, expensive cosmetics and treatments, diets and exercise, bleaches and tans. There is a whole industry or two devoted to this. And older women may have more money to spend than they did when the kids were little, and they may have more time on their hands. But this is a race we can’t win (or buy). Beauty fades. And at some point, you’ve just got to let it go gray. When you hit eighty and you still have jet black hair, you’re not fooling anyone, and it starts to look just plain weird. A woman who fears the Lord is (obviously) God-centered. She’s able to see the beauty pass without mourning its loss because she has bigger things to do and she always has had bigger things to do.”
1. For shame if you can’t go gray gracefully.
2. Bleaches and tans, just who do you think you are?
3. Spa and gym workouts, what do you think you’re doing trying to stay in shape like that?
4. Expensive cosmetics and treatments, how dare you spend money on this when it could be going to the poor.
The take from our house:
1. “Hey, did you get your hair colored, I like it.”
2. I can’t bleach or tan, I’m a red head, but I wouldn’t call you a hussy for doing it.
3. I’m going to start working out…. soon… really. I’m kinda jealous that you are so dedicated.
4. Expensive cosmetics and treatments? “T.J., you buy whatever you want, you know I already think you’re the best looking gal around, but if it makes you happy, you go ahead.”
When things that are not sin, start being called sin, where do we draw the line- only natural colored hair allowed in this church or we’ll look askance at you. What’s the right length?, should it be bunned-up or hanging loose? Is there a dress code too? Well, not potato sacks, but certainly not the way you’re dressed. And what about clothing what is the sanctioned number of shoes a woman may own? Dresses, how many is the right number?
When wives are viewed erroneously as being trouble making usurpers via the awful interpretation of Genesis 3:16, you will end up with a really skewed view of submission. Rightly viewed, submission doesn’t really come up day-to-day because there is an overarching trust between the husband and wife. The rare occasion where submission has come up for us has been the big picture things like moving across the country for a job. We didn’t disagree but if we had the buck would stop at Andrew; he would have to make the final decision about the move.
I asked Andrew his take on this submission thing and he said, “The husband being viewed as the little lord of the house is just baloney.”
My real life
Now, lest you think that all I do is blog banter, let me show you what I worked on yesterday. I will finish the fourth quadrant today:
Blood Boiling Angry
I read a couple posts this weekend that, well, they made my skin crawl and my blood boil. Submission of a wife to a husband was the subject. It is the hill I will fight and die on. With five daughters and three granddaughters, I’ve a vested interest. So this is a little review for me, but you are welcome to read it.
The dumb easy stupid thing to say about submission is that if your husband is beating you up, call the cops. Like really? No duh.
The dumb easy stupid thing to say about submission is that if your husband is asking you to do something immoral like hiring out as a prostitute, goodness me, just say, “no.”
Let’s Be Sensible
The hard thoughtful things to say about submission take, well, they take some thought and wisdom. So by way of review.
Yes, the “office” of leader/headship came before the fall.
After the fall, the snake, the man and the woman each receive one curse: the snake’s- moves on his belly, the man’s- the ground will not readily yield fruit, the woman’s- pain in childbirth.
That’s pretty clear. But then things too often, way too often derail and things are mistaken for the curse that are not the curse, most notably concerning the woman:
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
Taking that last part- Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” and turning it into part of the curse makes no sense exegetically. And it is so destructive to do that. To misconstrue the “desire” as part of the curse is hugely detrimental. It actually morphs into being another curse for the man- a woman who is always trying to wrestle his pants away from him. A misunderstanding that makes a huge awful mess of the church’s understanding of men and women.
It only makes sense if it is understood as saying that: even though the woman would be brought to the brink of death through the bearing of children, God would not sever the relationship between husband and wife by making the wife so afraid of the cursed birthing process so as not to want a relationship with her husband- Her desire would still be for/toward her husband- she would still possess a desire to be with her husband.
And the second part as well, “And he will rule over you” was not a curse given to Eve because she ate of the fruit. The submissive role had already been established for Eve before the fall. It was nothing new. When Eve ate of the fruit, she was not obligated to go and ask/tell Adam what she was up to- she already knew it was a sin to eat. Her sin was NOT in usurping Adam’s role as leader rather her sin was exalting herself above God- deciding that she could decide to eat or not eat even though God had said not to eat of the tree. Eve sought the counsel of the serpent, not God.
Rightly understood, the “desire will be for your husband” means “The alienation between man and woman and the pain of childbirth resulting from intimacy, would not be allowed to interrupt woman’s desire for man, man’s rulership over woman, or the carrying out of the command to populate the earth.” That’s all.
So, “her desire will be for her husband,” yeah, women for time and eternity have been the abused in relationships, women will return time and again to the man who physically and/or emotionally beats them up. Women are wired for l-o-v-e. Women desire a man’s love. Even to a fault. As Andrew said, “If you can’t see that women are wired to be ‘run over’ in Genesis 3:16 then you are missing the whole point.”
“He will rule over her,” Um, yes, the hierarchy was set in place before the fall- God- husband- wife- children. God maintains that it will stay that way. Men are wired for r-e-s-p-e-c-t. Men want respect. Even if it means taking it by force. Even if it means treating your wife like she’s a badgering harpy for merely having an opinion.
Now to get back to real men and real women today in marriages
Men need to remember that their wives are not to be confused with being their child. And men need to remember that they are not their wive’s holy spirit. A husband’s job is to love and serve his wife, to allow her the freedom to grow and mature as a Christian before God. It is a fool who is not able to listen to the advice, counsel and wisdom of the wife whom God has given you. If you read someone telling you that if your wife offers advice that it’s badgering- Run!
Women need to remember that their husbands are not to be confused with being their child. And women need to remember that they are not their husband’s holy spirit. A wife’s job is to respect and serve her husband, to allow him the freedom to grow and mature as a Christian before God. It is a fool who is not able to listen to the advice, counsel and wisdom of the husband whom God has given you.
If your marriage is based on one of you almost always getting his or her own way because to have it any other way would bring on the ‘cold shoulder’, the ‘silent treatment,’ the yelling, the screaming, the abuse; then you need marital help. A marriage like that is like being married to a toddler ready to throw a fit if things don’t go his or her way. That’s not a marriage; it’s a truce. Seek counsel. And make sure that counselor understands Genesis 3:16. For the health of you both.
Seriously. Seventh time ’round. I really was so not looking forward to teaching another child to drive.
Matthias’s driving instructor told him to get his permit by last Friday and it was already Tuesday. Of course that meant the joys of the DMV and their myriad and complex pyramid of documents to bring. So there was that to endure, accomplish, conquer, never even mind having to sit in the passenger seat with a brand new driver for the SEVENTH time. I made it clear that the first time Matt would be behind the wheel of a car, would be with his instructor. Anyone who can wrestle a goblin to the ground and extract its vocal cords seems like the perfect person to take a SEVENTH child on his maiden voyage.
That evening, Matthias mentioned that it would have been nice to have known at least a little bit before driving with the instructor. Then, he cleared it up, “I’m not trying to be mean or rude, I just mean it would have been nice to know something.” Poor seventh child.
Yesterday, when he got home from college, I asked if he’d like to drive. Taite immediately perked up,
“Where will he be driving, how long will you be out. I might want to come.”
Oh the delight of being a seasoned driver with a mere wet-behind-the-ears beginner. The three of us headed off. At one point I decided a little music would be nice; Matthias’s face cringed up,
“That is really distracting.”
We drove on in silence with the occasional, “Uh, could you maybe go a little faster.”
By the time we hit the road for the turn off to ours, Matt was up to speed to the extent that he careened around the corner barely missing the gravel edge to spray rocks as we turned. Calmly I turned around to Taite and said,
“Remember when you did that?”
She replied, “Yes!”
And then I recalled, “And remember how I yelled and screamed for you to cool it?”
“Yes,” she did.
Yes, well I didn’t this time because I believe in predestination. And right now, is not our time. Drive on, Matthias.
It’s not something you want to do every week, but when I cleared out everything in my living room it gave me a chance to begin again, place things purposefully.
I just read SoulSpace which was yet another book about ”creating a home that is free of clutter, full of beauty, and inspired by you.” It was maybe a tad over-the -top with the new age-y/ feng shui thing going on but still.
I spotted these two gorgeous lamps second-hand and passed them up the first time ’round. But overnight they called to me, so I went back and there they were two of them in perfect condition, waving me down.
So then I had to do a little editing of the lamps in my living room and finally last night at bedtime it occurred to me just what to do. So I started hauling furniture around and found a home for each of the bamboo lamps.
And they are so happy that I decided to adopt them.
Our new life is underway- last two kids are in college. And because I thought maybe Matthias needed just a teensy more added to his schedule; I signed him up for driver’s ed. even though he’s a barely 15. His best friend is taking the class too so it would obviously be more fun with a friend
They are taking the course through the same instructor who Taite and her friend went to , and she is a total delight in a sort of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle/ Ms. Fizzle sort of way. She bustles around in her head-to-toe entirely matched outfits- lemon yellow one day, bright pink the next- futzing with her various battery operated ghosts and witches that tend to suddenly cackle and boo while the videos about safe driving are streaming and since it’s dark in the room she continues to wrestle with the scary ghoul to locate its ‘off” button finally dragging it screaming out to the waiting area where at last she knocks it out. And then returns to the classroom to remind the young drivers to ‘always buckle up and don’t drink and drive.’
So that’s 2 hours , 3 days a week- Monday, Tuesday, Thursday; falling on Tuesday’s means no snare drum practice for Matt until driving class is over.
So you might imagine the thrill of all sitting down to a ‘real’ dinner on Wednesday night which I mentioned to Jarrett as he was leaving the house. But noooo, he has work and then classes ’til 7 and then at 7:30 he, Andrew, our son-in-law and 3 grandsons congregate at Planned Parenthood to quietly pray together alone.
The week before, our son-in-law, Eric, took just their oldest son, Canon, and when Fox realized he was being left behind, was miffed. So this week all three boys were allowed to go.
Arriving at Planned Parenthood, Fox hopped out of the car ready for action wearing his super hero cape and mask. That’s about right. And then when it was his turn, Fox prayed too, Dear Lord, Please help the babies…”
“Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have ordained strength, because of your enemies, that you may silence the enemy and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5
October 9, 1985 my three year old daughter prayed before lunch and finished with, “Dear Lord, Thank you for Jesus dying on the cross and not jumping off because he needed to die” This three year old knew more about the meekness of Christ than many of us. Too often we mistake ”meek” for “weak”- interchangeable. But they are not.
Three year old Erin had the understanding that meekly going to the cross did not mean weakly going to the cross- He could have jumped off. Christ quietly went all the while having the power, the strength, the ability to smite the whole lot of them and just jump down. But he did not.
Definitions matter. We are weak- death happens to us. Jesus is meek- he had the power to choose death. Or not.
False definitions have consequences. This false meek/weak unity ruins our perception of Christ, turning him into a milquetoast man in a bathrobe who always uses his quiet prayer voice, a little inept and sluggish at answering prayers. What right-headed person wants to serve that kind of a Savior?
“Meekness” understood as “weakness,” is perhaps why we are apt to see more women and their children sitting in church without their husbands rather than a men and their children sitting in church without their wives. Men aren’t interested in striving to be weak. Women know we are, so misinterpreting meek/weak is not so much a deterrent to the women.
Don’t get me wrong though, the misinterpretation affects women too. It comes by way of men in the church being frightened of strong women- women who are not acting ‘weakly.’ Churches like that assign women to the kitchen duties- only the kitchen duties. And those churches assume that quiet and without strength is the best kind of woman.
In his book Beautiful Attitudes, Scott Evans writes, ”Equating meekness with weakness has robbed us of the joy of celebrating strong and passionate women who God has gifted but the church has sidelined.”
Men and Women
Women in the church
And just one more.
I made these last year for our Oktoberfest party. Let me just say, hay bales in your living room should be a once in a lifetime event- but do do it once! The especially great thing is that I was able to make these pretzels ahead, freeze them and they tasted great even after freezing.
Heaping Tablespoon yeast 1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar 1 Tablespoon oil
1 1/3 Cups warm water (110˚)
¼ cup baking soda
5 cups flour 2 cups hot water
½ cup sugar ¼ cup coarse salt
In a small bowl place teaspoon sugar and pour 1 1/3 cups warm water over it. Sprinkle yeast on top and slightly mix it so the yeast gets wet.
In a large bowl mix the flour, ½ cup sugar, 1 ½ teaspoon salt and mix together.
In the center of the flour mixture add the oil and yeast mixture.
Mix together thoroughly, adding a bit more water if needed.
Knead the dough for 5 minutes. Then place in a greased bowl and cover with towel for about an hour.
When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape.
Place baking soda in a pie pan or 9 X 9 cake pan and add hot water.
Dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake in 400˚ oven for 8 minutes, until browned.