Common sense, cultural absurdity, healthy living, real living in a virtual world, spirit led living, things that make me go hmm....

Saturday Stream of Consciousness

Mountain stream

Some thoughts rolling around in the streams of my mind while my beloved works and our firstborn has commandeered our kitchen for business purposes. With some time between loads of laundry, I came here to ramble before I start reading The Children’s Homer  and putting some effort into making a skirt.

~Boring testimonies?  One of my kids shared with me this article from Christianity Today. Because I know intimately some of her struggles, all of my girls’ in fact, I was glad she ran across this piece as she was looking for something else.

I was on my way to having a similar testimony but my inner rebel reared her ugly head in a spectacular way just before I turned 21 making it easier for me to identify a need for repentace. Even still, it was years later before I understood the depth of my depravity apart from Christ and that it was so from the moment I was born into the world. I was totally gripped by ” But I’m a good person” syndrome for a good long time.

~Exercise lethargy: Missing workouts for just 10 days has made me feel like I am back at the exercise starting gate. I know I’m not, but it just feels like it. I’m getting back into the swing of it however. Making proper sleep and tending to the needs of someone else the priority over my early morning workouts was absolutely the right move, but I am glad to be getting back into some semblance of a normal routine. 

It’s kind of eerie really, how the rest of the world keeps moving when ours stops, and how they (gasp!) expect us to somehow get it together and start moving again too.

~Couple dynamics: Spending some time with my stepmom last night highlighted for me how powerful couple dynamics are. It has always been pretty obvious that my dad was the more socially active, community minded of the two of them (even though he was more than 20 years older than her). However, his presence made the dynamic less apparent while his absence has made it almost palpable. It made me think about our couple dynamic. I am much more social than my mom, but my husband is the relational guru of this duo, and it would be a struggle for me to keep our connections alive and relevant without him.

~The prosperity gospel is about more than just wealth and health: There is an unspoken but nearly ubiquitous belief among American Christians. Namely, that if you do everything *right* then you deserve good things to happen to you. Conversely, if you’ve ever been a rank sinner in your life (which supposes that there is anyone alive who never was), then you don’t deserve for good things to happen to you.

It’s another form of the prosperity gospel, which is no gospel at all. Matthew 5:45 springs to mind, but more than that, where does any one of us get off declaring evil those whom God has called among His redeemed? This is why I echo what David said: Please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” Which brings me to my final thoughts:

~Making the perfect the enemy of the good: My e-friend Scott has been thinking, which may or may not be dangerous. His is one of the few sites I bother to dialogue at anymore, even though he espouses a few ideas with which I disagree. His latest post made me think, and not just about the topic at hand, even though I agree with his thoughts there.

Specifically, I was thinking about how most people, in various areas of life, are pragmatic and appreciate that reality will do, even as we strive for the ideal. It’s not like I don’t understand why this tendency breaks down when the subject is our most intimate relationships, but I wonder how many more marriages, families, and children would be spared to later thrive in something closer to the ideal if we weren’t being conditioned to believe that we all are fabulously unique and specail creatures wh only deserve the very best all the time. Actually, that wasn’t my final thought.

~ Musings from the stats page: I sometimes  look back at an old post when I see on my insights page that someone recently read it. I’m not much one for looking back, or even remembering, the details of what I wrote 3 months ago, let alone more than 6 months ago, so it’s kind of neat to re-read some of those posts on occasion. After reading some of the things I wrote this spring and summer, I noted how closely my thoughts were dovetailing with a verse of Scripture I read this morning in 1 Thessolonians about people being busybodies, minding others’ matters.

Being really big on the idea of “live and let live”, I find anyone’s fixation with things which are really none of their concern equal parts fascinating and grating. I suspect it’s probably just part and parcel of being a denizen of an Internet “community” which is hihgly concerned with orthopraxy as well as orthodoxy, but it really does grate on my nerves when someone teaches a wife to do things that are actually her husband’s business, or mind what someone else should read, write, or comment on. Additionally, there is a lot of Romans 2 on display, which is an excellent reminder for me to stick with discussing issues, and never people. I’ll close this stream of consciousness with one of my daily prayers, which seems apt:

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my Strength, and My Redeemer.

You can find that one in Psalm 19 for anyone interested.

 

 

 

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healthy living, Humility is important, spirit led living, wife stuff

Damaging my self-esteem.

I often write about Grace, how important it is to be properly aware of it, and how it should influence the way we see ourselves. Namely, that if we believe the Bible as it describes our God-less state, and what we deserve as a result of that state, then we know that every good thing in our lives is a gracious gift. It is not something that we deserve, no matter how wonderful we appear from a temporal perspective.

As a result of my steadfast adherence to this principle when I write, it occurred to me recently that I must sound like a person devoid of all self-esteem, whatever that is supposed to be worth anyway. The truth is exactly the opposite, and it’s because of that I remind myself daily to be grateful; for my most excellent husband, for wonderful kids, good friends, and yes, a fair number of worldly admirable qualities.

It is not an unusual thing for me to hear something along the lines of, “I like the way your mind works”, or “Tell me how you do this or that”, “Your family is so great”, “But you’re so young [ROFL]!”, etc. etc. That’s not even counting the wonderful things I think about myself when I slip and indulge in that nonsense.

Nothing about me is more worthy of the amount of love in my life than many other women, some of whom suffer greatly in their relationships. Yet in my marriage, I am loved well, my opinions respected, my efforts acknowledged, and  there is appreciation for whatever bit of beauty I may possess. Expressions of gratitude, or even statements of “unworthiness” are not about my worth compared to my man. We are perfectly matched. The point is to view the thing in light of eternity.

The last thing I need is healthier self-esteem. There is plenty to sate my pride and feed the beast of vanity lurking inside every minute of every day. On the contrary, what is needed is to look into the mirror of the Word, to hold this flesh up to the light of Holiness. Heaping doses of humility is what I need, so that I don’t fall victim to believing my own press over God’s Truth.

It seems this little ditty would be best rounded out by a Scripture quote but for some reason, I keep hearing Dave Ramsey’s voice when callers query him about his well being:

“I’m doing better than I deserve”.

American identity, Beauty, cultural absurdity, healthy living, real living in a virtual world, spirit led living

Happiness is boring to postmoderns.

‘Tis a statement of fact that postmodern people -including Christians- have been effectively de-normed. We do not know how to appreciate simplicity, to be content, to be happy,  to rejoice with those who rejoice, or to mourn with those who mourn, or even define bedrock terms from a Biblical framework.

All most of us know how to do today is gawk, gossip, and gripe. It’s a sad truth, but it is a truth nonetheless. This was a hard pill for me to swallow a few years ago when I first committed a more positive thought and conversational life. That’s not to say that I fully achieved this. It was hard then, and it sometimes still is, but it’s easier now that I accept being mostly on my own looking for the joy in the dailyless of life, and being thankful for it.

Every now and again, however, I run across a fellow traveler who is quick to offer a response of heartfelt joy to someone else’s good news, good fortune, or acts of Christian kindness. Someone who offers exuberant, unsolicited praise for their husband, gratitude for their church, and just seems to be looking for the good in a world awash with bad news. It encourages me, as did this piece I stumbled upon via Rod Dreher:

Boy oh boy, is Felix Miller ever right:

Contemporary young people on the right may be described in many ways: Transgressive. Ostracized. Principled. Unpopular. Free-thinking. Reactionary. Traditional. However accurate—and perhaps damning — one thinks these are, there is one label that greatly worries me: Joyless.

He’s not talking about being funny, in a smart-alecky way. He’s talking about something rooted in love. More:

Many on the right, especially those who identify as “Alt-Right,” spend massive amounts of time rejoicing in the pain of those with whom they disagree. The fact that videos about “libtard meltdowns” and “Butt-Hurt Crying Hillary Voters Compilation” have far more views than videos about Shakespeare, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Dante’s Commedia, should tell us something. Young conservatives and reactionaries, much as they flail their hands at the death of Western civilization and the loss of wisdom, do very little in the way of actually preserving the beauty and truth underlying this great tradition. If joy is truly a result of love, man must be very careful to develop the right affections in his breast. Right now many on the right seem hellbent on cultivating affection for dank memes rather than for truth, goodness, and beauty.

Miller says that G.K. Chesterton ought to be our model. We can’t simply say what we’re against. We have to say what we’re for, and not only that, but we have to live it out. If we really believe what we say, then “we must show our countrymen that there is a better way.” Miller suggests eating, drinking, and making all kinds of traddish merry. More:

This may seem abstruse, but in fact it is one of the most practical realizations a young traditionalist can make. Simply change your habits to help bring friends and family into rituals and ways of life that affirm reality. Host a formal dinner! Go to an art museum! Have a picnic in which you read classic poetry aloud! This is how we can create a sustainable traditionalism in the West.

What I am advocating here is not aestheticism, but communally gathering around all that is true, good, and beautiful. Politics is ordered toward promotion of the common good, thus in order to engage in politics we all must first have a love for the good. We cannot base the rejuvenation of our dying civilization upon a shared animosity, for as Chesterton reminds us, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

True, this. Is it any wonder the world is in the mess that it’s in, and the church along with it? Why do so few seem to ask whose interests are served by our perpetual state of discontent, blaming, criticizing, finger pointing, and fighting?

Sadly, I think I know the answer to the questions. It’s because our natures, deep down, love darkness rather than light. Not only that, we’re mentally lazy and cognitive misers. That may be redundant, but it’s worth a double emphasis.

Joyful living and appreciation of others demand that we subdue our sinful tendency toward selfisness and criticism. Put simply, poking sticks and complaining is just more fun, if only because there’s much more company on the crowded road.

The news of the day is grim, and there is lots to criticize, murmur and complain about. Make a choice to choose life over death, blessing over cursing, joy over discontentment. Really, how much can any one of us do to stem the tide of evil perpetually reported for the express purpose of instiling fear and squelching whatever peace we have? Not much, so why volunteer to be terrified and agitated?

As for us and our house, we are making efforts, real efforts, to embrace beauty, family, community, and Ultimate Truth.

 

 

Humility is important, Living with other believers, spirit led living, wife stuff

Be appreciative rather than priggish.

Don’t you love the sound of that word; priggish? I assumes it’s where we got the word most of us are more familiar with: prick.

This is a bit of a follow up thought to a conversation my dear friend Hearthie and I have had numerous times over the past few years. This is just one instance. The issue of what she calls “survivor’s guilt” and what I have questioned as an undeserved life of an abundant amount of love.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote:

When I considered my friend’s sincere desire that I not underestimate what I bring to the table, for a split second I wondered if perhaps my near constant desire to exalt him means I am devaluing myself. Then it hit me: No.

Appreciating and relishing being loved by one who is excellent and worthy of praise humbles us, or it should.

My father was that rare combination of unabashed confidence and unquestioned humility. My man is more a combination of unabashed confidence and unrivaled compassion. Both combinations are great examples of people who appreciate that they have worked hard for what they achieved in their lives but without a smug sense of superiority over others.

These are examples I carry close to my heart and as the Scriptures says: Out of the abundnceof the heart, the mouth speaks. When yet another friend says “Don’t discount the good choices you made to have the life you enjoy”, I appreciate those words. It’s not my intent to dismiss them as one who can’t take a compliment

It is, however, much easier for me to accept a compliment on a dress, shoes or my hair than it is to allow myself to to indulge in the thought that I deserve a good life because of my wonderfulness. To take credit for it makes me uncomfortable and opens the door to judgement an a feeling of superiority. Not to mention taking glory for myself that rightfully belongs to Another.

We Americans are addicted to taking credit. I am not immune to it, and I used to like the saying attributed to Bear Bryant: “It ain’t bragging if it’s true.” The longer I live, however, the more joy I get from giving honor to others, even if partial credit for something is genuinely mine.

That isn’t to say we are to lie about what we’ve done good or right. For me, however, the acknowledgement of the contributions of others, no matter how simple, who made it possible for me to do or be a thing is important. It also makes for a higher level of peace. I can’t even express the peace that comes with the prayer: ‘Lord, help me get over me.”

It’s absolutely true that there were times when I made choices that led to a better outcome than other choice would have yielded (sometimes the more righteous choice, even), it’s safer and closer to truth to accede that my imperfect yet often charmed life is more touched by uncommon grace and love from those better than me, than made good through my feeble efforts.

If I have to err in this, I’d rather err on the side of being appreciative rather than priggish.

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
    a stranger, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:2

 

 

 

Living with other believers, spirit led living

The desires of our hearts.

Hearth posted something this mornning that has kept me in a thoughtful place most of the day. I’m going to post a bit of a teaser here, followed by the comment I left over at her place. She wrote:

The hard bit is being asked to be honest about wanting the things I still want. I learned, veryveryvery thoroughly, the lesson about giving all your desires to God, and if something was becoming an idol, dragging it up to the altar and leaving it there. I learned the lesson about submitting my will and my desires to God’s plan, no matter how I felt about it.

That was a good lesson. That was an important lesson. But I can’t get on with learning new lessons until I stop obsessing about this one. It wasn’t the LAST lesson.

Not sure if I learned that lesson as thoroughly as she, but I’m certainly working on it. Except maybe I’m not because, as I noted in the comment I left on her post:

Getting things sorted, identifying what a tendency or feeling is at its root; yeah. I struggle mightily with that one myself.

Truth? I spend so much mental energy not desiring. It seems selfish to want anything when I have so much. I couldn’t begin to tell you what my deepest deisres are. I can tell you what I desire for my husband and kids -and by that I mean things that they would also desire for themselves- but for myself? I am confused.

I hardly ever think about what I want because asking for anything seems to me to like asking for a hot fudge sundae when set before me is my very own perfectly iced cake. I don’t ask God for much for myself besides the spiritual sounding stuff that *good Christian women* should ask for.

Suddenly, this tendency smacks to me of trying to manipulate God, because surely He knows that I have desires, including those “icky” temporal desires, even if I am hiding them from myself. I’m wondering now if my desires, wherever I have them buried, might reveal themselves to my conscious mind if I would be more careful to delight myself in Him.

File this one under the paradox of faith that wrestles, I guess.