Thursday, April 13, 2017

194: ...and a sound mind

Fear. It's powerful in relationships. It's no coincidence that when 2 Timothy 1:7 says that "God has not given us a spirit of fear" that the corollary is His giving us "a sound mind." Because when I am fearful about a relationship, I do not have a sound mind. Obsessive. Overanalyzing. Worried. Stressed. Predicting the future. Jumping to conclusions. Reading into things. Seeing doom. Giving up. And all within hours of the last interaction.

There is no buoyant hope. No steadiness. No waiting to see what will happen next if I let it rest a day in God's hands.

If I squint and cock my head, I can vaguely see the writing on the wall, and even though I have no divine interpreter, I can agonizingly surmise it says, "This person has been weighed on the scales and found wanting; this relationship's days are numbered." The former butterflies in my stomach transform into a knot that drags me under. No more information needed. It's the end. I'm going to bed.

Been there, done that, Lord, please, teach me to have a sound mind.

The other day I was sitting across from a little girl who deals with possessiveness when it comes to friendships. And one of her male friends had been particularly chummy with another person lately. Not good. So as we sat there coloring, she told me resignedly, "So, I think this *her name* and *his name* thing is over." After I got over the humor of hearing a little girl refer to herself in the third person, I started talking to her about how friendships go up and down, and, yes, it's hard when we have to wait. She was like, "I know. It's been TWO days." Inwardly chuckling, I replied, "And it feels like FOREVER." But it's not. It's hard to wait. It's really hard. But things will change. (I may have even promised her chocolate if it doesn't . . . I don't always have wisdom when interacting with kids.)

I know firsthand how hard it is to wait and want a guy and try to surrender him to God and then see him get married and want any guy and get one and lose one and spend months recovering from the loss and wait some more. I literally know emotional pain very well, like the back of my hand, like an old blankie actually.

I also know that God has been there with me in every painful season of my life. He has been so close. I also know that the days upon days that sucked me under were seasons. They did not last. Two days is not forever. A painful day or two (or week) where the anxiety over a guy makes me want to keep sleeping and I'm eating two bowls full of chocolate ice cream and yet my stomach still is in knots? It will not always be like that.

But even if the disappointment is more severe, God has been with me through so much emotional turbulence already, and He's continually taking me back to the basics of who He is as my baseline. He is my baseline. THE baseline, apart from me. My life will have highs and lows. But the Rock does not change. Do you know how much having a sound mind is related to clinging to that Rock and knowing He'll get me through even this, because I've seen Him do it in the past over and over? My memorial stones were agonizingly set, but they are there, witnesses of God's faithfulness.

God has also blessed me with people who listen when I'm hovering at irrational highs and dragging through irrational lows. Sometimes they just listen; sometimes they speak steadiness and insight into my crazy, rubberbanding, emotional self.

Fear. It's powerful in relationships. But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

During a very hard season,
I played/sang this song over and over.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Book Review: Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy

Long Time Gone is the second book of The Cimarron Legacy series. I remember where I was when I read the first book. It was last summer, and I was out in the back yard on our lounge chair. When the book ended, I felt all delicious and so ready to read more about the Bodens and Sadie and Heath.

I have loved everything I have read by Mary Connealy. She always grabs your attention right away and perfectly combines suspense, action, and romance.

So I don't know if it was because I have more recently been reading Regency Era fiction (so different from Western!), or because I was struggling to recapture my first impressions of this book's main character from when he was introduced in last summer's book, or if it was because the author spent chapters upon chapters re-establishing the plot so we wouldn't be confused, but I didn't feel like this book picked up the pace until around chapter 12.

Long Time Gone is the continuation of No Way Up. The characters are trying to figure out the reason behind all the chaos in book one. Which means there is a lot more sitting around talking and trying to piece the puzzle together than Connealy's normal fare.

The romance too, while fun once it started, seemed to go way too fast, like time in each other's presence was implied, but I didn't even realize it had happened.

In the past, I have marveled at how smoothly Connealy writes--flawlessly smooth. This book wasn't like that at all. It felt more haphazard and pieced together. (Example: I didn't like that when it was Angie's time in the spotlight, the point of view was more omniscient than her POV.) The end was the best part (and it was really good!), but then it was over.

I still want to see what happens in the next book--so little happened in this one--but I have to give Long Time Gone 3 out of 5 stars unfortunately.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

193: reminder to self to not let sin become normal to me

Some more thoughts based off of the Facebook buzz these days:

The world acting like the world is not an excuse to accept it as okay for us. I often hear the phrase "all sin is equal," or a similar phrasing. While I think you could argue from Scripture that that is not accurate, even if it is, this phrase always seems to be used to 1) excuse sexual sin, or 2) point out the hypocrisy of making a bigger deal out of a behavior than an attitude.

But if we are going to argue that all sin is equal, then that should encourage us to become even more sensitive to the evil of sin, and to increase our fear of the Lord. It should not make us timid to take a personal stand against sin in fear that we are casting the first stone and ignoring the plank in our own eye. Our beliefs and convictions are not based on our perfection but God's holiness. It should make us more diligent to personally repent and recalibrate our lives as we see the contrast between God's holiness and our rebellion.

It's as if because we accept that the world is acting like the world, and that our pride is on par to other sins, that we then lay down our battle standards and accept sin as normal. Not just normal to the world. Just normal. Normal to us.

He had to DIE--God in the flesh--and yet we'll let sin entertain us? I bring up entertainment because that's what the conversation is about these days. I'm not talking about making every movie a Christian-themed movie or one where no character acts fallen. I'm talking about when the sin is part of the entertainment. When it becomes part of the turning off our minds and being fed as acceptable what Jesus had to die to deliver us from. When we become okay with that. Living in the world but not of it . . . except when we willingly breathe in the world's values from the comfort of our Christian homes as part of the pleasure of our souls.

I'm not even thinking about dictating to the world what movies should or should not be made, though as consumers we should let our voice be heard. And I'm not talking about "judging the world." I'm referring to when we as confessing believers are tempted to mindlessly submit to, and defend (!!), the world's standard. We do not need to be slaves to what passes as today's entertainment. We serve God Almighty before Whom His created beings cover their faces or fall on their faces crying, "Holy, holy, holy!" That is our standard. We compare what is acceptable to that, not to what is accepted by "good people," or mainstream Christianity, today. God help me.

I write because I am so easily influenced. I so easily take on the flavors and scents of whatever I am around, the opinions of Facebook, of spoken words swirling around me mixed with the culture of the age. I must recalibrate myself to the truth sometimes, drawing the line in the sand even as I struggle to get on the right side of that line.

If sin is sin, then let's treat it as such and not accept it as the world has.

"People are requesting prayer regarding their besetting sins and character weaknesses instead of coming in honesty and humility to God and saying, 'I am constantly tempted to commit this sin because I love this sin. I do not hate it. I need the fear of God. O God, give me a hatred for what I now love. I receive it by faith in Jesus' name.'" --Joy Dawson, Intimate Friendship with God

"knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin" --Romans 6:6

P.S. This is not my opinion on Beauty and the Beast. This is my reminder to not let my standards fall in general.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

192: what I meant and reminder to self about His goodness and my entertainment

By my previous post I was not saying we should or should not watch movies with objectionable content, or that we should or should not continue making the same movie choices we have been comfortable making in the past.

I was saying that the logic that justified former choices must carry us through now. That's the nature of logic. You can't justify one while condemning another.

And so I suggested--or attempted to suggest--that we let this opportunity cause us again to examine our logic, check our justification, hold up our choices to the light of God's holiness, the Light Who searches out the deep recesses of our hearts.

Hold up our choices to the Light...

(and here is where I squirm and want to NOT think about this)

...keep them there...

...let not only the Savior of our sins but also the One who is pure righteousness shine brightly on our lives...

...until He gives us peace to move on.

I don't need to automatically assume He's displeased with my choices. I also don't need to shrink away from the brightness of His glory in fear of what lesser things He might actually require me to give up. He is good. I've got to remember that. He's got my back. He knows what holes giving up this show or that movie would cause in my life (I sound melodramatic--ah well). Again, He is good. If I'm really following Him, then whatever I have to lose (if anything!) by letting His Light shine on my Netflix, YouTube, and movie tickets will be well made up in gaining more of Him.

So maybe we can hold up our choices to the Light once more, trusting in His goodness, surrendered to His direction.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

191: where on earth do we draw the line

With the news that the upcoming, and much anticipated, live-action Beauty and the Beast remake will be a "watershed moment" for Disney, the question niggles at me, "Where will we draw the line?"

Alisha Rouse for the "Daily Mail" writes:
In an interview with Attitude magazine, director Bill Condon said: ‘LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston.
‘He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realising that he has these feelings. It is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.’
Mr Condon said the character, played by Josh Gad, is part of a ‘watershed moment’ for Disney. He said: ‘The studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural – and this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world, even countries where it’s still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay.’
Now, I understand that sometimes the news is all hype--like when Facebook exploded with the "lesbian" scene in Finding Dory. And, granted, no one has seen Beauty and the Beast and declared it to have a homosexual element. But when the director of the film says that, through the character of LeFou, Disney is "sending out a message that this is normal and natural," I think we can say the intent is pretty clear.

Immediately I asked myself whether that would affect my plans to see the new remake. Would this slap in the face of Biblical values and Judeo-Christian conservatism produce any more than a small blip in my plans to patronize the theater later this month?

And what has led us as a Christian culture to consider letting an "exclusively gay moment" in a classic fairy tale not affect us?

One of the few TV shows I actually let the world of Facebook know I watch is Doctor Who. It is relatively clean, both in language and sensuality. But in the first several seasons--the best seasons, in my opinion--there's Captain Jack Harkness, blatantly gay both on and off screen.

One of the movies I don't openly tell people I like, but happen to like, is Leap Year. While there isn't any homosexuality, the movie does have two characters that live together--in fact, the only reason they're able to get an apartment in an exclusive community is by telling the board that they are going to marry (I mean, we were going to eventually, so why not now?).

Sherlock--which I just finished watching for the first time in the last month or so--is decidedly pro-gay and pro-fornication. It's not the main focus of the show--it's not why we become so enthralled with the characters--but it's there. Perhaps even more overtly than it will be in Beauty and the Beast.

So where do we draw the line?

Even Christy and Signed, Sealed, and Delivered, extremely innocent TV shows that they are--and that I've loved--explore themes of believers falling in love with non-believers without any insinuation that that is extremely foolhardy.

I feel a little like the frog being boiled in water--immorality as Biblically defined has become such a normal part of entertainment that I have accepted it even while keeping in the back of my mind that "that scene/character/theme is wrong."

So what's the big deal if Beauty and the Beast will be a watershed moment for Disney? For us believers, it's just another movie we'll enjoy. Maybe we'll give a caviat when recommending it, because, well, some people might not want their kids to be exposed to that, or, it's not something you would expect it in a cartoon remake. But as adults, we will watch the movie because how can we condemn this film and yet swallow hook-line-and-sinker all these other shows we enjoy that are as bad or worse?

Be holy as I am holy, He says.

So where do we draw the line?

P.S. And how far have we come? When I was a child, I tore up my VHS copy of Beauty and the Beast--even though it was a favorite--because of Biblically-condemned bestiality and witchcraft.
(If you wish to read the full article by the Daily Mail: )

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

190: marriage: object or portal, building or frontier

What is marriage? No idea. So this is my rambling.

As a single, sometimes marriage becomes an object. It is something you try to get.

Or we think of it like a portal into another world. You have no idea what the other world is like, but it must be Narnian in its magical qualities.

But we forget--unintentionally, temporarily--the relationship part of marriage.

Edward entered Narnia with his grumpy jealousies and wreaked havoc. Narnia was magical, but they still had to contend with the White Witch. We haven't tried merging our lives with another selfish being--like us.

Marriage is not an object or a portal. It is a building. It looks sturdy and safe and appealing from the perspective of a visitor. But the architect and construction crew know that you don't just say, "I want a beautiful house," and bam! it's there. It takes a lot of planning and starting and backing up and re-figuring, dealing with pipes bursting, and the city finding something wrong with the electricity, and the tile costing more than you planned, and the roofer taking twice as long as promised. On the worst days, you wonder if it was worth the headache to take this on.

Is it worth the labor? Yes. Oh yes. Because then you have a beautiful home that you built. There is pride and satisfaction and shelter.

But it's not an object to snatch up. This building is not up for auction. It's just a piece of land--maybe not even cleared of brush and rubble accumulated from the past. It's a portal into another world, sure--but that world is an untamed frontier you will have to pioneer.
Still sound romantic?

Actually, yeah, it does. :D

Monday, February 13, 2017

189: why I celebrate Valentines (not profound, not comprehensive)

I celebrate Valentines Day because I like romance and oohs and ahhs and an excuse to go over-the-top with hearts and chick flicks and red and pink d├ęcor.

I celebrate Valentines Day because I don't want to feel left out as a single person. Yes, that's the selfish, preventing-a-pity-party, barging-into-a-day-marketed-for-couples reason. Ah well.

I celebrate Valentines Day because I relish special moments. Those moments that make you smile from the inside out. That tickle your heart and make you smile even when you recall it months later. Those moments you write down in your journal to remember for always. That the two share that no one else sees--the personal joke, the unspoken expression, the unexpected look or word. Meaningless...except to you.

I celebrate Valentines Day because I believe in marriage. Because I believe God Himself made marriage. Because God Almighty endorses the relationship between man and woman. So Hallmark can be all wet, but no matter if I'm single or married or in a dating relationship that's going south, I'm still going to believe my God that that institution is a GREAT one and that He designed us to fit well in it.

So although rotic it may be (rotic = "romantic" without the man), tomorrow you will find me wearing a heart-bespeckled shirt to school, helping the kids with fractions using conversation hearts, eating holiday treats, and then spending an evening with the girl friends just because I get to enjoy the present!

"Clem caught her eye across the table. It seemed to her sometimes that the most important thing about marriage was not a home or children or a remedy against sin, but simply there being always an eye to catch." --Mrs. Miniver (1942) by Jan Struther


"Catherine coloured, and said, 'I was not thinking of anything.'
'That is artful and deep, to be sure; but I had rather be told at once that you will not tell me.'
'Well then, I will not.'
'Thank you; for now we shall soon be acquainted, as I am authorized to tease you on this subject whenever we meet, and nothing in the world advances intimacy so much.'
--conversation between Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, chapter 3