Quote of the Weekend

“The nights are so long at sea. The stars come and go behind invisible black snatches of cloud. So long and lonely. Waste again, waste and remorse now, flooding blackly. Why did I go to China? Did I need to quarrel with Tommy that time after the dance at Beyliss? Should I have refused to give the boy permission to enlist? I’ve been headstrong when I could have been wise, craven when I should have been bold. I haven’t understood very much. Why did I go and get Dev and drag him back? Who in God’s sweet name am I to judge anybody on this earth? Here we are in our thousands, rushing in gray shells toward the unknown. What is the end of all our fear and sacrifice?

Ah God. God, help me. Help me to be wise and full of courage and sound judgement. Harden my heart to the sights that I must see so soon again, grant me only the power to think clearly, boldly, resolutely, no matter how unnerving the peril.

Let me not fail them.”

– Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer

(A soldiers prayer before he leads his men to battle.)

Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060196963/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0060196963&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=TVDVNS5N2TMASFOE

I’ve had a hard time trying to figure out what to say about this book. It is like the pinnacle of all slice of life stories as it follows Sam Damon from boyhood through WWI, WW2, and Vietnam. When you finish reading it there is a hollow in your heart from living a whole other life for a time. The writing style of this book is superb. I could recommend it on that alone. Myrer’s battle scenes are beautiful in their terror, horror, and glory.  His descriptions, both short and long, paint the picture of events in vivid words dripping with sweat, blood,and tears. His characters are diverse, broken, and glorious. Sam is the hero of the book but much of his tale is told from the point of view of those around him providing the reader with a 3-D view of the world.
I will admit that the WW2 section is my favorite, no surprise there, but it is also the hardest part to read.
If you are a history buff especially of modern military history, I can’t recommend this massive book enough. Go read it. Then you too can walk around feeling lost for a few days. 🙂

Content Warning: This is a story about sinful people living life. It’s not clean and it’s not pretty, but I do think Myrer did a good job of not wallowing in the darker moments of the story. It is full of Adult Content (war, military life, married life, unfaithful spouses, unfaithful friends, death, drugs.) and the reading level is pretty high, so college age and up would be my recommendation. I think it’s one of those books that could be wasted on high schoolers. I know I never would have appreciated it when I was a teen.

Happy Memorial Day

 

To the Heroes who Never Came Home.

To the Heroes who Never Came Home.

Carwood Lipton, Don Malarkey, Dick Winters at the grave of Skip Muck.

Carwood Lipton, Don Malarkey, Dick Winters at the grave of Skip Muck.

Happy Memorial Day!

In honor of those who have fallen, who gave their all in defense of this country, who never came home, we set aside this day. May we never forget the cost of freedom, the cost of defending our country. May we never forget these real heroes.

These images show heroes that are close to my heart, but there are not enough minutes in the day to honor all who paid the ultimate price.

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Quote of the Weekend

“A little before daybreak you will observe it is darker than it was any time before, so God will make our condition a little darker before the mercy comes.”

“. . .that this is the way of God, to bring the greatest good out of the greatest evil.”

– The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

(God is just amazing: that he would bring the greatest good out of the greatest evil. What beauty. This is also the philosophy behind my storytelling. I always like to go to the darkest possible point in the story before I bring on the dawn.)

Age of Ultron and Fury (My Birthday Movies) (SPOILERS)

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It’s been a long standing family tradition to go see a movie of my choice around my birthday. Thankfully there is usually something out that I’m very interested in seeing about mid-May.

This year it was Age of Ultron directed by none other than Joss Whedon who is one of my all-time favorite story tellers. I tried to keep my expectations low, but who am I kidding? This is the man who created Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and so many more shows. This is the man I would pick to direct anything I’ve written because he always has the right mix of heart, snark, cheese, and greatness. And, he’s not afraid to kill of characters you love.

But we, me and my husband, aren’t comic book people. Neither of us grew up reading them and we aren’t real fans of the movies. There have been a few that were fun—looking at you Guardians of the Galaxy—but overall neither of us like the Ironman movies, or the Thor movies, or the Captain America movies all that much.

So, what did we think, my man and I? We loved it. We loved it. We loved it. I should, at this point in time, tell you that there are some major spoilers here, so be warned.

First, the movie was fun. It had an excellent balance between character building and action. It had just the right amount of down time and just the right amount of butt-kicking. I was impressed with the growth of each of the Avengers. Whedon didn’t leave them where they were at the end of the last Avengers movie. He took the time to grow each of them. He gave them depth. He wasn’t afraid to showcase how easy it would be for Stark to be a bad guy, how lost Captain America is at times, and how broken Bruce Banner is. He took all these different characters in stride and made sure everyone developed into something richer and deeper.

Second, there have been some raging online by the feminist about the women in this movie. (Lol. Classic case of biting the hand that feeds you. FYI Joss Whedon is generally applauded by feminist for his strong female characters.) After watching the movie, I know why. Joss’ gift with female characters is to make them strong without losing their femininity and staying to true to the female psyche. He never tries to make women men. He always has a good balance of men and women. He always lets them both be strong and weak in different ways which complement each other. I have always loved how he handles women.

This movie is no different. Black Widow is her normal amazing assassin self and yet we get to see such a gentle side of her when she’s helping the Hulk. This mighty warrior woman is beautiful because she is the Hulk’s perfect helper. She doesn’t just tramp around hating on men—though she has some really great lines about picking up after the boys. She is the only one able to calm the Hulk down and she doesn’t belittle that gift or see it as beneath her to be his helper in that way.

The second great female in the movie is (AND PLEASE DON’T READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE) Hawkeye’s wife. This is a woman who lives out on her own with a husband gone much of the time and in danger raising two kids and expecting a third. If she’s not a strong woman, I don’t know who is. She also gives a subconscious kudos to the amazing wives of men in the military and law enforcement. What I love about her is she doesn’t tell Hawkeye to stop fighting. I hate nothing more than women who tell their men to stop fighting when there’s a war going on. She tells him that they need him and he needs to go. She is what Hawkeye is fighting for, what they’re all fighting for. She is the safe house. Do you know how much strength it takes as a women to be a safe house? Many thanks to Whedon for not forgetting the rest of the women out there who don’t get to be Black Widow, who just get to be a wife and mother. Thank you for honoring that and showing it as amazing.

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Third, the movie brought back the idea of super heroes fighting for the everyman. Many of the most recent superhero movies seem to have forgotten the idea of rescuing the little old lady’s cat out of the tree while in the middle of fighting crime. They’ve forgotten the idea of the superheroes being good guys who fight for the little guys. In most of the movies, everyday people were expendable for the sake of bigger effects. My husband said that watching Ultron was the first time he’s seen Superheroes rescue people since the original Superman movies.

Being Joss Whedon, this was done with a wonderful mirroring technic. The end battle is all about rescuing everyone. It’s about the Avengers proving they aren’t monsters by rescuing families, women, and kids even while they’re dealing with the bigger problem of Ultron’s droids. Captain America leads the charge in being unwilling to sacrifice the life of the innocent to save the world. That’s what makes super heroes awesome. They can actually do that. They can save the world and find the lost child, and keep people from falling off bridges. That’s why we love their stories.

The mirroring occurs when we see that the Twins, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, are bad guys because their parents were killed in a war. No one watched out for the innocent families and so their parents died. This led them down a path which ultimately made them villains. When the Avengers come to save the world, they make sure there are no casualties that will create more villains. They make sure the people are safe.

The second way it’s mirrored is when the Hulk and Ironman duke it out. They destroy a city without caring one wit about the people who live there. Ironman sees this as collateral damage, but it eats Bruce Banner alive. He doesn’t want to kill innocent people because of his powers. He wants to help them. These mirroring elements are excellent character building and storytelling technics.

For the first time in a long time, I watched a movie that did what fantasy does best. It raises the stakes in everyday life to something world changing while not losing the everyman. Hawkeye was given a great role in being the person we could all connect to who had to fight without powers, but still fight. Every morning when our husbands go to work and when moms take care of their children and we live our lives, however that has played out, we can see ourselves as being these superheroes who willingly fight for their homes, families and way of life against a bigger and mightier foe.

Warriors don’t fight to just kill enemies, they kill enemies to save their friends and family. That’s what makes a warrior: the reason they fight. That’s what made this movie great.

There are some wonderful scenes in this movie. (Looking at you Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch) There is some wonderful storytelling in this movie, but ultimately it’s about people who are unbelievably powerful stooping to take care of the smallest and weakest of us. Yes, I am looking at this through Christian colored glasses, but doing so let’s me see the Christianity that pervades all of life, for what better echo could you have than someone mighty reaching out a hand to someone low.

Favorite Quotes: “You get hurt, hurt ‘em back. You get killed, walk it off.”


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Fury

After Age of Ultron, we rented Fury. It’s my second time to see this movie and I’m going to try to put into words how much I love this film.

I didn’t expect to like it. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t. The previews made it look like a bad historical fiction with tanks sneaking around behind enemy lines. It’s not that at all. It is good historical fiction. It is about a tank crew asked to hold the line at the end of the war to defend some cooks and doctors from a group of SS soldiers. The tank crew heads to the crossroads but encounters a tiger tank on the way reducing them from four tanks to one. This one tank must decide to hold the line or run away leaving their weaker brothers exposed to attack. They stand.

The movie is dark, gritty, gross, violent, crude and not for the weak of stomach. It doesn’t really pull any punches about being at the end of WW2 in a tank crew. It shows what sort of barbarianism is required in war. But, it also shows a sergeant doing his best to prepare a boy for war. It shows how hard it was for recruits to come in and replace soldiers who had died. It shows how eaten alive these men were by what they had to do.

The first act of the movie is so tense it’s hard to watch. You wonder if this movie has any redeeming value. What’s the point of watching a bunch of men bully each other and kill each other? What’s the point? The value is hinted at in the two times War Daddy (based on the real War Daddy and Audie Murphy—both Texans) steps away from his men to regain his self-control. He loves his men and will do anything, even very hard things, to keep them alive.

Again, warriors don’t fight to just kill enemies, they kill enemies to save their friends and family. That’s what makes a warrior: the reason they fight. That’s what made this movie great.

This movies turning point of grace is when the four men on War Daddy’s tank crew decide to stick with him and fight even though they know they can’t win and they will die. From this point on, the movie is nothing but a tear-jerker as the men spend their final moments bonding, fighting, and dying together.

I can’t say enough how amazing this movie is. I loved the character Bible who loved the sinners around him. I love War Daddy who taught a kid to be a man so he could save his life even when the kid hated him for it. I loved the men bonding around the boy and accepting him as one of their own. I loved the bully who proved himself a friend.

Looking at this through the lenses of Christianity, we are reminded that war, even spiritual warfare, or maybe especially spiritual warfare is dark and gritty. We should also be reminded that those over us, our elders, may seem tough/harsh but they have our wellbeing in mind and they carry their own scars. We would do well to heed them because they love us.

There is nothing about this dirty, rough, gross, beautiful and amazing film that I didn’t love. This movies is why I love war movies the best. And Fury is probably up there with Lone Survivor, Band of Brothers, and We Were Soldiers for me.

“Best job I ever had.”

 

Quote of the Weekend

“Only here, before his eyes, were there no distinctions of race or breeding. Here they slept together, not berthed separately under the neat aeration of the crosses but rolled together in one long trench–Christian and Negro and Jew, patrician and laborer: all of them were good enough to die, to sink to mortality and lie together.

Only in time of peace were they unworthy.”

– Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer

(Death, the great equalizer.)

Her Husband’s Crown by Sara Leone

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0851519466/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0851519466&linkCode=as2&tag=genandquispi-20&linkId=L5OVGFD3A2WPLODU

This was an excellent book. The chapters were short, to the point, easy to follow, encouraging and convicting. I loved her regular inclusion of hymns.

While it was a great blessing to have a book specifically aimed at a pastor’s wife, this book would bless any Christian woman. Just as the requirements for elder are the aim for every godly man, so these are for every godly women.  I highly recommend this book and plan to read it again just to be reminded of what a godly women looks like.

The specific application to having a husband who is a pastor was very helpful to me since my husband has recently become a licensed teacher in our church. Contemplating being a pastor’s wife can be very overwhelming. Sara Leone helped me take it down off it’s high shelf and realize it’s no different than being a good wife, just with a few applicational specifics. I was thankful to have the “wise older woman” come along side me and point out areas that I’m going to struggle with as she talked about being a pastor’s wife. And, even if I never get there, I’m far more equipped to pray for these dear women because now I have a better feel for their struggles.

It is my aim to be a holy woman of God, to be Christ-like in my life. This book, shortly and sweetly, served as a good reminder of what that means practically within the church body. Any woman in any walk of life would profit from this book.

Being a Childless Wife

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Before going into this, I want to make it clear that this article didn’t arise out of some Mother’s Day anxiety. God is my hope and comfort. I love my Moms, they are two of the most amazing women I know, and I love the mother’s God has put around me. They are a delight to me.

I want to try and put into words what it’s like to be a childless wife, specifically as a Reformed Baptist. I honestly can’t write outside of who and what I am, so I thought I’d just be up front about that.

Reformed Baptists tend to lean towards big families. They tend to connect well with and be saturated with large, home schooled, ridiculous children. I can say that because I’m second oldest of five, home schooled, and moderately ridiculous myself. We were an average-sized family within the early Reformed Baptist movement surrounded by families with 7, 8, or even 12 kids. Now, more and more people cling to the 1689 and Confessionalism causing the Reformed Baptists to become more . . . interesting. We are growing to represent many different walks of life including childless couples. Looking around my own church, I see how much more diverse it is now than it was when I joined it almost twenty years ago. And I am, as a childless wife, part of that diversity.

I don’t want to share this so that women with children suddenly walk on egg-shells around us few childless wives. I don’t want people to suddenly feel like they can’t ask a woman about having kids for fear of offending her. I’m not looking for pity or political correctness. This is born out of a desire to gather my own thoughts and experiences and communicate with other childless wives so that the feelings of aloneness are lessened. Being alone is a terrible place and when you realize you’re not alone it can help you carry on for another hour or day or year. I’ve found encouragement in not being alone. I hope you do too, and I hope you mothers out the will look on us with love and know we are cheering you on every step of the way.

Growing up, my main goal in life was to be a wife and a mother. That’s all I wanted in life. I believed and still believe motherhood is the most honorable profession for women. I grew up in a large family and I wanted one of my own. Not to mention, we all know the push, be it subtle and subconscious, within the Reformed Baptist/Home Schooled movement for big families. It’s there and us childless wives feel it. We feel it all the time.

So, here I am now, 35, with about two solid pregnancy scares under my belt in 13 years of marriage. My time, my window, is coming to an end. It’s not the end. I could still get pregnant, but it’s becoming less and less likely. I must seriously face the fact that it may never happen. That’s a hard thing to look in the eye and not fear.

But, look I must.


These are my struggles and my hopes. I trust that other childless wives will find themselves here. I pray you may be encouraged in your trust in our mighty God.

Contentment: Just like when I was single and struggling with contentment, so I’ve struggled with childlessness. I have wept often before the Lord seeking to bring my will captive to his. Has the Lord answered that prayer? Yes. He has blessed me with a measure of contentment. I may never have children, but my hope in this life isn’t wrapped up in having children. My eternal significance isn’t wrapped up in having children. It is all in Christ. In him only do I find my all. This isn’t easy. And sometimes it hurts so deep inside. Even after years, and with seasons of peace, the fact that I don’t have children and may never have children still rises up with intense pain. Yet, God is good. He chose this for me and I trust him in it. It isn’t what I would have chosen. Not in a million years. But, I trust him in the choosing. So, every time the empty hollow of childlessness tears open, the flow of sorrow is stopped by the tender hand of the Father who sent his only Son to die for me and the Holy Spirit who comforts me.

Time: Without children, a wife finds a certain amount of time on her hands that other women may not have. Believe me, most of us would give up all that extra time in a heartbeat for just one set of chubby cheeks to call our own. My struggle is to use the time I’ve been given wisely. It is easy, and largely encouraged by our day and age, to use your time for you. Yet, we childless wives have a unique opportunity to serve. We can serve our church and our families in a way mothers can’t. For each of us this will look different. Some of us pour that time into a career and use the extra income to serve our church. Others of us use the time to physically serve with extra meals, an extra pair of hand, and sometimes just an extra set of shoulders to cry on. Some of us use the time to pray and read and study. Every childless wife has to evaluate her use of her extra time to avoid selfish laziness and worldliness. I have found that this time can be a great blessing if it is used in the service of the Lord.

Feeling Outside: I’ve had single friends complain about women’s books and conferences focusing only on married women and mothers. As a childless wife, I know exactly how they feel. It is no fun to read book after book, or attend conference after conference, only to feel like nothing exactly applies to you. The childless wife struggles with feeling outside the group. She can understand all the parts about marriage but what is she supposed to do with the parts about children. The temptation to shut down when other women talk about raising kids is real. Instead of indulging in self-pity, we need to file the information away so we can better pray for and understand our dear sisters who are raising kids. Let’s be honest, there are a far greater number of couples raising kids than the small minority of single women, childless wives, and single mothers. While we may all feel on the outside, we should never let that be an excuse to withdraw from the body of believers. It may not affect you right now, but you never know when that will change and the more you understand, the better you can pray for others. But, the struggle of feeling on the outside looking in is very real for us childless wives. The struggle to control tears and emotions while others talk about how to raise children is real.

Childless Husbands: Husbands of childless wives can contend with feelings of failure and guilt. They can feel helpless and weak. Some of them vacillate between contentment and deep sorrow. Regardless the reasons for the state of childlessness, both spouses are affected. A couple can go through seasons of regular discussions about children and they can go through seasons where the discussions are so painful they are just easier to avoid. As a wife, you never want to be the source of a husband’s sense of failure. For us it can become easy to just bottle up all the emotions and struggles. We’ve all been over it again and again and more tears isn’t going to change anything. The struggle is between letting this trial grow you together or grow you apart. It requires prayer, honesty, and an understanding of the purpose of our lives. We aren’t here for ourselves but for the glory of Christ. If he chooses for our lives to be childless, we must trust him in that.

Questions and Pressure: There is a certain point, a certain age where people stop asking when you’re going to have kids. When you first get married, you get asked about kids almost every day. Most of the time, if not all of the time, this is just your friends and families way of expressing love and excitement about your life. It should be taken that way. But sometimes it builds into a great pressure. It makes you feel like without kids you’re behind or just failing at life. As you get older, people just assume you have kids. It can be uncomfortable to explain, yet again, that you don’t have children. I try to take questions about my childlessness in stride. Of course people are going to ask if I have kids. That’s normal. The majority of Reformed Baptists my age have children. Most of the time I have no problem with this question. But, every once in a while it takes every ounce of self -control to answer questions about kids with a smile and a gracious attitude.

Worldly Selfishness: The questions about your childlessness generally leads to the desire to explain that you want kids because you’re suddenly afraid you’re going to be lumped in with people who are choosing to not have children for selfish reasons. It’s hard to tell someone you don’t have kids but want them when you’re not getting any younger. You want to wear a t-shirt that says, “No. I don’t have kids. Yes. I would love to have kids even if they ruin my furniture, destroy my body, take up all my time, and empty my bank account. I didn’t choose to be childless to have a comfortable life.” It’s hard when you pick up from mothers that they think you have it easy. Comparatively, we probably do. But, it’s not because we choose to have it this way. Our house may be tidy most of the time. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t give up our tidy homes in a heartbeat for fingerprints, toys, and general destruction. Don’t assume we just have such an ideal life where everything is always in control. You have something we would gladly sacrifice everything to have. You have the one thing we must fight our biggest battles of contentment over. Don’t look at us and think we have the better life or that we can’t understand why your house isn’t spotless. We know why it’s not and we wish we had the same problem.

Fear for the Future/Disappointing Parents: As a childless wife, it is easy to fear for the future. You picture your husband dying and no one being around to take care of you like your parents take care of your grandparents. Like the rest of life, this comes down to trusting the Lord. He has commanded his church to take care of the widows. He has always had a tender compassion for widows. Coupled with this is a fear of disappointing your parents. As much as you want kids, your parents want grandkids. They have to struggle with contentment just like we do. It’s easier when you have several siblings and some of them have kids, but if you are the only children, I can see where this could be a huge burden. Again, trust the Lord. Be content. Look towards the heavenly treasure.


My inspiration! Photo by Elizabeth Groves

My inspiration! Photo by Elizabeth Groves

There are some real blessings in being childless, just as there are in being single. You can dedicate your life to the Lord in ways families with children can’t. You can serve where others can’t. You can adopt and foster where others can’t. But, with childlessness also comes great sadness and constant battles for contentment. I have found these to be lessened as the Lord loosens my grip on this world. The King has come. He even now rules and reigns. This world is not the end but the beginning. This is just the start of my life, most of which will be spent in heaven, not here. This is my hope. My anchor. Christ alone. He comforts the broken hearted. He will wipe away ever tear. He has loved and cherished many childless wives before me and will continue to do so after me. I’m also blessed by a plethora of nieces and nephews. They give me a chance to love those little hands and feet, see first steps, hear first words, answer questions about why this and why that, and make the house a mess. If you don’t have your own children invest in your nieces and nephews. If you don’t have any of those little treasures, find a family in your church and adopt them. There is always a need for someone who can love little people. If you don’t have a desire for this, pour yourself out somewhere else. I know childless wives who take young women under their wings. I know others who serve the church by helping with visitors and open their homes for hospitality. Don’t waste this life by sitting around waiting to have children, or get married, or for your children to grow up. Us childless wives may have children someday. We may never have children. We should all find ways to serve with or without them.

God is so good. Over all the struggles with this life, he has never once left me alone. He has never once made a struggle pointless. Each tear, each cry of my heart has been answered gently, kindly, and with promises, with hope. I may not have any biological children, but I have sisters and brothers in Christ who are young. I have nieces and nephews, and most of all, I have the hope of heaven and my Christ. I hope this has encouraged other childless wives to remember they aren’t alone, and has helped others to see how they can pray for particular parts of their church, for we are one body.

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Yes, this is probably my favorite quote. “All we have to decide is what to so with the time that is given to us.”