This sounds like a lovely place to be! Happy Autumn everyone!
This sounds like a lovely place to be! Happy Autumn everyone!
The most wise, righteous, and gracious God does often times leave for a season His own children to manifold temptations and the corruptions of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself; and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for other just and holy ends. So that whatsoever befalls any of His elect is by His appointment, for His glory, and their good. – 2LBCF
I wanted to explore the symbolism behind Adele’s character a little bit. I will try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but if you haven’t read my first book there will be some spoilers. For some of you, this isn’t a big deal. You haven’t read it and aren’t planning on reading it, or you’re waiting for it to be published, or you just never thought about it. No worries. I’m well aware of the fact that what I write isn’t for everyone. For those of you who have read it and loved it, I will do my level best not to give away much in book 2.
Jonah and Adele are two friends in my book The Cost of Two Hands. They’ve both been salvaged from their past life into a new one at Greenhome. Symbolically, more deeply, they are a reflection of converted children. I was saved as a very young child. I don’t know the date, or the time I was saved. All I remember was crying out to the Lord for mercy one night as I faced my own sinfulness. Nothing exciting.
Nothing like Jonah.
Jonah symbolizes the people I envied. They had moving conversion stories. They were horrible people before they were saved, then ‘bing!’ they were converted, and suddenly became saints. For years, I wished to be able to see such a strong demarcation between unsaved and saved. I went from struggling to obey my parents to . . . struggling to obey my parents.
What I didn’t grasp, in my youth and inexperience, was my own sinfulness.
I looked at the life of another saint, filled with sin, until the grace of God came, and envied it. I didn’t know yet the depth of my own sinfulness as a saint. I look back at that little girl and I want to cup her face in my hands and tell her that she will face the horror of how sinful she really is. She will come to find out she is every bit the sinner those others were and are, and she needs God’s mercy and grace every moment of every day. I want to tell her that there will be times when she will weep for forgiveness, and be sick at her own sinful heart. I want to tell her there will be times her sin will rage against her assurance. Salvation as a child doesn’t promise a life without deep dark sin.
In The Cost of Two Hands, Adele represents me, and all those like me. She represents children who grow up in a good home, and are converted early in life. They have never cussed, stolen anything, deeply rebelled, taken drugs, slept around, cheated, gone behind their parents back, or anything. They are good kids. I was a good kid.
At some point, I believe all ‘good kids’ run right smack dab into the wall of their own sinfulness. They have to learn the depth of their salvation.
Adele is tempted to do something that at first revolts her. She is tempted to put a soul in a machine. At first she resists. She see the wrongness of doing this. One night, Adele and Jonah are trapped out in the snow. A pack of feral hounds attack. Jonah fights them off, but is injured. They get lost trying to get home and almost die out in the freezing-cold night. It is then that Adele decides she will build Jonah an indestructible body. She justifies what she knows is wrong, betrays her friends, betrays them again, and doesn’t see what she is doing until two of them are dead.
Being a fantasy story, the path of destruction is exaggerated. We aren’t often faced with betraying friends and killing them in the middle of a pitch battle between warring gangs and bands of kidnappers. We do often justify what we know is wrong, and end up destroying the relationships around us. Sin destroys. Adele comes face to face with her own sinfulness. She sees that just like Jonah, she needed to be salvaged. She needed someone to show her grace and cover her.
What I find interesting about Adele, as a character, is how much readers dislike her. Obviously, on a surface level, she’s not a real likeable character. She betrays her friends for selfish reasons, and even murders two of them in an experiment. Adele isn’t like Jonah at this point of the story. She isn’t good and kind and strong and brave. There is nothing there for us to like.
And yet, she has been salvaged.
She is a child of Greenhome.
I hope and want readers to not like her. I want readers to wonder why I saved her. I want readers to think of her as a monster who deserves to die. I want readers to weep over the death of several characters and wonder why I didn’t kill Adele.
Because this is my own character arc. I am Adele. I thought I was pretty good. I wasn’t like Jonah. Many times I have seen people God has shown grace to and wondered why he saved the monsters. Why did my own sweet great-grandmother not ever show a bit of trust in the Lord, but there is evidence that Jeffrey Dahmer might have been saved. That’s not fair! He was a real monster. Why show him grace?
Heaven will be full of monsters, because God saves sinners. He saves the ones who come with need and hope, begging for grace. He didn’t come to save the good, but the evil. He came to retrieve the dangerous. It took many years, and much sin for me to realize that I was one of the dangerous. That while my outward actions might not be dramatically as monstrous as someone like Dahmer, I am no less vile. I would destroy everything and everyone around me but for the grace of God.
This is Adele.
She is a child who never did anything really really bad, was salvaged and adopted into Greenhome, and only there did she face her own depravity. I think this is the experience of many believers saved at a young age. I think it will be interesting to see if my readers accept the covering of Adele’s murders. I think it will be interesting to see which readers love her, pity her, or hate her.
One of my older nieces recently read The Cost of Two Hands. I think she’s the first person in my actually target age to read the book. She read it in about 8 hours, which was really gratifying. I’m not sure she’s ever read anything this dark. She loves Lord of the Rings, so she had no problem with the writing style. She really disliked Adele. It made me smile. She is also a young adult converted at a young age. I wonder if as she gets older, if she will see what Adele symbolizes. I don’t want her to deal with sin as I have, but the reality is, she probably will. I wonder if she’ll see herself in Adele at that point. She may realize that sometimes you feel your salvage, the depth of your salvage, more strongly as you face the depth and darkness of your own heart.
So, this is Adele. She’s a good kid who follows the path of her own selfishness only to find the great darkness she is capable of. Will she find her salvage to be deeper than her darkness?
We’ve had over two weeks of gloriously fall like weather. Yes, it’s going to warm up, but I’m so thankful for the reminder that summer will end, and cool air will come back!
Happy Birthday to my wide-eyed, fun loving, adventurous, cuddly Joshua. I love how much you love Star Wars. I love your character acting. I love it when you curl up in my lap, or ask for my help, or give me a hug. You are one of the sweetest boys I know. I hope you have a wonderful and happy birthday with lots of treats. I pray that as you grow you come to know the Lord. I love you little man!
How wonderful is this? This is why I write dark stories, and this is why I always have heroes and happy endings.
This show is right up there with Firefly and Band of Brothers as my favorite show. I love how there are little signs of them being a family, a father, son, and daughter-in-law, from the very beginning. I love the growth of Peter and Walter’s relationship. I love Walter, the broken man. I love Olivia who’s strong but needs help. I love Peter who is stronger than anyone every thought he could be: the criminal who becomes a hero. I love that over all the strange weirdness is really a story about a man who loved his son, and who then loved the women his son loved. I don’t typically like shows with tough female leads, but they fit Olivia and Peter together so well, I fell in love with it.
If you haven’t seen this show, I highly recommend it. It will make you laugh, cringe, and cry. It is wonderful in every way.
(I love this quote. It is so rare to see homemaking praised in our day and age. This quote is refreshing.)
Do you ever have a moment where something finally clicks and you get it? Lightbulb! A-ha! Eureka!
I had one of those about three weeks ago: Homemaking is my career.
Now, let me put some flesh on that thought.
I have this weird fatalistic streak that runs deep in my soul. A c’est la vie, or what will be will be, attitude. After years and years of wrestling with it, I’ve realized I twist the sovereignty of God into laziness. Deep down, I believe there are things I can’t do anything about, so I shouldn’t be required to deal with them.
I can be aggressive and self-educating if I am interested in something, but if it overwhelms me, I just shut down. I move whatever it is over into the God’s sovereignty slot. God’s in charge. He’ll have to deal with that. Now it’s not my problem.
Homemaking was one of those things.
For some reason, I believed that as a woman I was a natural homemaker. End of story. It was just something inherent in me like the way my body was shaped. Which meant, I was only as good or bad a homemaker as God had made me. Thus, it wasn’t my responsibility to improve beyond a point. I can work out. I can watch my diet to keep my body healthy. But, I can’t wish myself into being tall and willowy, or that my hair would turn red. The same with being a homemaker. I can cook and clean, but once you move beyond my natural skill, that was it. My husband just needed to learn to be content with what he got and quit pushing me.
God only hands out so many skills, just like there are only so many red heads.
So, instead of looking at Homemaking and Housekeeping as my career in this life, given to me by God, and something I need to be fully engaged and invested in, I looked at homemaking as something that naturally flowed from my fingertips as a human being with a uterus. I didn’t need to read, study, learn, grow, or develop. I just needed to keep plowing forward. As I practiced, I’d get better.
This mindset ended up developing into attitude issues.
My path as a homemaker wasn’t what I thought it would be. From childhood, my heart’s desire was to be a wife and a mother…and a cowboy. But, instead of getting married and having babies right away, we bought a business. Instead of being at home cooking, growing plants, and surrounding myself with little people, I dived head first into fashion, marketing, customer service, company culture, employees, and all that owning a small business entails. (Don’t think I did this all on my own, please. My husband was the forerunner, leader, and head researcher.) We always talked about how our boutiques were an extension of our home. That’s how I viewed them. But, I didn’t look at homemaking as my career. I still looked at it as something inherent with being female. I didn’t view myself as having a career. I was serving and helping my husband. At no point did I connect in my head the fact that I do have a career, and it’s homemaking.
Then, for lots of reasons, we sold our business, and I came home. I quickly became as busy, or busier than I had been before. I dived headfirst into life. Everything got a yes answer. Conferences, showers, writing lessons, every imaginable event with nieces and nephews, writing groups, and so much more. I had several social events a week, plus all the duties of keeping a home and feeding a family. But things weren’t going well. Instead of studying, learning, and growing as a homemaker, I continued to assume it would just happen, as I gained more experience and practice. I was a women, right?
Even at home now, I didn’t see this as my career. I didn’t want a career, unless it was as a writer. I wanted to be a stay at home wife. I never linked them. *Insert face palm here*
Every time my husband tried to push me to show more aggression, or tried to explain that something was my responsibility, I hunched down in my shell. I tried to make him happy, but I always felt like he was asking me the equivalent of suddenly becoming a redhead. I would watch other women who always seem in control of their home, and I never saw them study. They just naturally exuded comfort, beauty, a cheerful welcome, joy. Why didn’t I? Well, God just must not have given me that skill.
Two years into being a Homemaker, I got sick. My body just gave out. Years and years of running on adrenaline, and other factors just took their toll. I was out of the game. The couch became my place. I rarely looked beyond my own body. I rested and rested and rested. Life was on hold.
Two years of no energy have passed. I am able to function, not at full speed, but I don’t really want to try and do what I was doing for twelve years. I want to find a new speed. After all that, I feel like I’m a twenty-two year old just starting out. I’m a newbie. I don’t know how to keep my home, to be a homemaker.
About three weeks ago, after one of those weeks where everything you do is wrong, every sin is out there for all to see, and God is exposing all the wickedness in your heart, I decided to read some blogs about being a homemaker. I knew something wasn’t right. The smallest things overwhelmed me. I was never happy with how my home was, and I knew my husband wasn’t happy. This had nothing to do with cleanliness. I was never in control of our home. I flitted from one thing to the next. I always felt overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. After being out of pocket for two years, there was a lot that needed to be done. Plus, we have Seminary looming on the horizon, and a possibility of getting pregnant. (If you want more info on that, you can email, text, or message me.) Things needed to get in control. I needed to be in control. I needed to be able to manage my home and help my husband, with a right attitude, not a put upon attitude.
I needed to quit acting like the hired help. I’m not a maid and cook. I’m the lady of the house. I needed to act like . . . I needed to believe that was who I was. I needed to see that as my career.
One of the blogs I read mentioned studying to develop a new skill in Homemaking.
Click. Lightbulb. A-ha. Eureka.
A thousand different things slid into place and I realized I’d never ever looked at homemaking as my career. I assumed it just happened. I’d never treated it with the same focus I had owning our business, or my writing. My thinking and understanding of homemaking has been all wrong. I’ve read books about being a good wife and mother, but I’ve read few about wise housekeeping or wise homemaking, starting with perspective and working out into labor. I didn’t pick other women’s brains about how they create a culture in their home. I did when we owned our own business, but not my home. I just assumed my home was my home. I never went at it with purpose.
Oh the burdens lifted from my soul when the light of truth shone in.
Stumbling and bumbling, I have started looking at my home as my career, my life’s work, given to me by God. What have I find? A supreme challenge with wonderful benefits. I have found something that will stretch and grow me beyond any work I could set my hand too. A homemaker must be good at so many things and willing to switch between them at the drop of a hat. Here was a life-long challenge! But, here was also comfort, beauty, hospitality, serving my church. All the things I’ve ever wanted in their proper place.
Each time I’ve wanted to run and hid, duck down, wrap myself back up in my little shell of God’s-gonna-have-to-deal-with-that-if-He-wants-something-done-about-it, I have reminded myself that this is my great work. My work given to me. From that I have found courage to face things I’ve avoided for many years.
By grace, I’m taking control of my home. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel trapped in a maelstrom of ‘everything needs to be done’ and look, Abby has to do them. I know what needs to be done. I know what needs to be done first, and I can make a plan to do it.
It’s also soothed my frustrations as a wife who writes. I have struggled for years with envy towards all the women I know whose husbands embrace their writing career, invest money in getting them published, and bless them with large chunks of time to write. My husband never did this for me. We always found my writing to be a source of discord. I’m ashamed when I look at this now. Of course my writing caused discord. I wanted to focus on it while I refused to focus on my home. I spent every spare moment I could snatch from a day writing, or studying about writing. I wanted more time for it, when I wouldn’t spend one more minute on my home. My poor husband. Of course he found it frustrating. (Through all this, I’ve been amazed at how gentle and patient he has been with me for years.)
Now, I see it where my writing belongs. It is a part of me. It is something I want to develop. But, my career in this life is homemaking. Not being an author. Being an author can snuggle in there amongst all the other things, but it can’t be my career. Why? God didn’t call me to be a writer. He called me to be a homemaker. Yes, He gave me those gifts. Yes, I have a responsibility to use them and grow them. But under the heading of my career, homemaking. A person with the career of being a lawyer doesn’t just fudge his way through that, while focusing all of his being on growing rosebushes. He doesn’t let innocent men go to jail because he was thinking about the next plant he was going to buy. He keeps his love of roses in its proper place. It’s not a bad love. It’s just kept where it belongs.
Understanding, and believing, and trusting in the priorities that God has given me has helped me calmly face the situations of my own life. If all those women’s husbands are one way, and mine is another, that’s okay. I wasn’t sovereignly married to them. I was married to mine. And right now, I need to put my focus on learning my career, not trying to have a different one. Also, all those women I envy may have learned a long time ago that their first career in life is homemaking, putting all of their life in the correct order, while I had mine all out of order.
There are still many things I must learn. There are still lots and lots of old habits that need to be broken. I still battle anxiety every day. But, now I have motivation and direction. I’m already seeing the benefits of my lightbulb moment. I’ve conquered more things in the last few weeks than I have in months. I’ve been able to communicate clearly with my husband about where things are at. I’ve had a sense of peace and control. I’m not trapped in the dungeon of, “I did the best I could, and since God saw fit to only give me these skills, everyone just needs to accept that, and appreciate it.” Instead, I freely dance in the rain and sing, “Since God has blessed me with a mind and resources, since God has told me this is my job, I’m going to go research this, so I can do my best for His sake.”
I would imagine that most of you reading this have already come to this conclusion. I would imagine some of you think of me as an excellent homemaker because my home is generally clean. I’ve learned those aren’t the same thing. Having a clean home may be because someone is an excellent homemaker. But, it may be that they go through the steps never really understanding why they’re doing this beyond just that it needs to get done, and when it gets done, they can go back to their real life. This is my real life. And it’s a good one.
I think we do a disservice to women as a culture because we don’t see homemaking as a career any more. All the things out there are a career. You have to go clock in, or go to school, or drive to an office, or at the very least have your own business to have a career. Being a homemaker is just something lazy women do. I think this has led some women who are homemakers to be lazy because they don’t see what they do as a career just like being a lawyer, banker, and business owner. If you don’t see it as a career, you’re never going to give it its due. I think some men disrespect it for the same reason. They don’t see what their wife in the home as her God-given career either. The world lies to us. It tells us that we deserve more. It tells us that being a keeper of our homes is a waste of our skill. It tells us homemaking is an un-career. Sometimes, without even realizing it, we take in those lies. We lie to ourselves, and sometimes we don’t realize we’ve believed the lie. Sometimes we react against it by thinking we shouldn’t have a career at all as women. (That’s what I did.) But we do. God gave women a career: homemaking.
God is good. He is light, hope, and joy. In His providence, He gave me a lightbulb moment.
I have a career, a good one, and a challenging one. I’m a homemaker.
What lightbulb moments have turned your life around? How do you view your homemaking? Do you see it as your main career given to you by God? What resources have helped you the most in this work?
(As you will see in my upcoming post on Monday, homemaking has been on my mind a lot of late.)
“The irony is that a certain modern approaches that portend to exult God’s perfections end up domesticating his transcendence.”
“He came to know God in the darkness, so that what he discovered was God shrouded in mystery.”
– Charles J. Rennie ‘Analogy and the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility’ from Confessing the Impassible God.
I love the sharpness of truth in the first quote. The second one struck me because often people claim to find God, but never talk about the creator/ creature difference.