Aging

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Me and my Mom about 3.5 years ago.

 

I’d always knew I would get old.

I always promised myself I’d age gracefully.

Working in retail, I saw my fair share of women willingly augmenting their physical bodies in a vain effort to stay young-ish. I saw plenty of examples of plastic surgery gone wrong. I really didn’t have any interest in going that route, nor do I now, but I understand the fear that drives women to want facelifts, tummy tucks, boob jobs, and such. I do understand.

Getting old is . . . interesting.

It’s odd to realize I’m middle aged. It’s odd to realize there are lots of people younger than me, not in the nursery, but in my workplace. (Be that out in the world, or at home.) I’m no longer the new generation full of hope and promise. I’m the generation thought of as strange and boring by the new generation. It’s odd how much I still feel eighteen in my head. And it’s odd how much I deny, subconsciously, that I’m middle aged until something makes me realize it like telling a story about myself from twenty years ago, or talking about my favorite movies or music, or when my celebrities start dying off.

Fashion becomes an even bigger challenge. I see other women who work to keep up with the trends and it makes them appear as‘current’ older woman. I like that. They look awesome. Then I pick up a fashion magazine and it makes me feel tired. I just don’t want to fight to stay trendy anymore. I see something that says “such and such is right out” and I think, “but I like my such and such.” Oh. I see why there are so many people who aren’t trendy. They liked ponchos. They liked flared jeans. They just don’t feel like keeping up with what is the newest and greatest anymore.

Not to mention, as I get older and seek to age graciously, covering up becomes the better part of valor. The realization that older women like pearls and sweater sets makes sense. Sigh. Getting old is . . . interesting.

Have you ever laughed at your parents’ complaints about technology? Or maybe you complained about your grandparents not keeping up with texting? I’m here to tell you that it’s hard to keep up. You want to see what all the young people in your life are up to, but that means learning something new. Learning something new, with it’s own lingo, it’s own rules, isn’t nearly as much fun as it used to be. It’s seems much nicer to just stay where you’re comfortable and confident. I had my first experience asking a young person how to make something work on my phone the other day. See, old age is setting in. lol.

Life gets scary as I get older. My skin isn’t what it was. I’ve twice now looked in the mirror early in the morning and wondered why my Mom is over. Even my phone mistakes my mother for me.

There are health problems to face. If I’m this tired at 35, what is 65 going to be like?

I know more and have seen more and that only frightens me more. I’ve read history and can see what happens to a country on the path we’re on. Teens are just crazy. This generation’s music is bad.

Many rainbows have been polished off this life by sin and suffering. Dreams have been set aside. And on top of all of that, comes the realization that it won’t get easier only harder.

For the first time in my life, I considered coloring my hair for age reasons. I’ve thought about coloring my hair blue for fun, but the other day I thought about it due to gray hair. Passing on that idea, I felt a sudden pity for all those plastic surgery women.

I understood.

As a woman seeking Christ, it’s very intimidating to realize visually that yes, physical beauty is fleeting. If you have done nothing to build your character you have nothing to stand on. Growing old gracefully isn’t about accepting your gray hairs and wrinkles. It’s about developing a godly character that continues to grow in spiritual beauty as your body continues to sag towards death. And trust me, that’s a much more taxing challenge than keeping up with a proper beauty regiment. No wonder women would rather just get a facelift and pretend they’re young. Without character, old age is only scary and ugly.

So what do I do? As a woman who realizes she’s no longer a young lady, but is now a middle-aged, what do I do? The same thing I did as a young lady! I look to older women. I watch my Moms. I watch the older women in my church. I see how they dress, carry themselves, tend to their older relatives, love their husbands, and keep their homes. I ask questions. I get help.

This makes me thankful for Christ’s work, for prayer, and for all the wonderful women in my church that are walking this road ahead of me. What would I do without them?

Facing middle-age when I’ve been a young woman for the last 15+ years is a bit terrifying. The hard work of growing my godly character to stand strong, by God’s grace alone, as my physical body crumbles feels overwhelming. Where do I find hope? God is good and generous. He feeds us, chastises us, and guides us. He will never leave us or forsake us. And this life isn’t my goal. Staying young and fit and trendy and up-to-date isn’t the path God has set me on. He has promised to resurrect my body after death and promised that I may dwell with Him forever in heaven. That’s my goal. Not staying physically attractive.

(I feel I should put a disclaimer here: I know plenty of godly women who color their hair, keep up with trends, and maybe even get some work done on their faces and bodies. I don’t think those things are inherently sinful. I believe they fall under Christian Liberty and if you enjoy them to God’s glory and with a clear conscience, I have no problem with them. I’m more looking at it personally. I may color my hair someday, but I want it to be because I think it’ll be fun, not because I’m trying to make up for a lack of character or out of fear.)

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Anton the Brave and Grandmother

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This has been an absolutely perfect Christmas! I’ve had help from my Mom, extra Mom, and all my sisters to get everything done without wearing myself out or stressing out. I feel so much better post-Christmas this year than I did last year. Last year the 26th was the start of my downward spiral. This year I took it slow and don’t feel too bad at all. I’m ready to tackle the New Year, get back on my diet, and maybe start working on some of the projects that have been on hold for over a year now. Don’t worry. I’ll go slow and get lots of help!

God is good.

This Christmas saw the passing away of two people who are very dear to me. I think their passing, and the sadness I know it produced in their families, sweetened the holiday for me. It made everything and everyone more precious.

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Aton the Brave, as I will forever call him, passed away in early December. The witness of his family touched so many people. Their last Christmas together, our opportunity to serve their church so their pastor could be with them, the gathering of the saints both there and around the world, both physically and spiritually in prayer, trusting God all the way was a bright light shining in this dark world.

Anton the Brave’s funeral is today. With all my heart, I wish I could be there. My prayers are with his family today as they bury their son.

God is Good.

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Me, my husband, his father, and Grandmother just after she turned 101. This was taken about four weeks before she passed.

I won’t be able to attend Anton’s Funeral because on Wednesday my husband’s Grandmother went to be with the Lord. Tomorrow, we’ll be driving out to Palestine to bury her next to Grandfather. For years now she’s been talking about how all she wanted to do was go home to heaven. She’s lived for 20+ years after her husband passed away. She’s seen one of her sons die. At 101, just before Christmas, the Lord took her to be with him. She died in her sleep.

God is Good.

The world may not understand this, but I have struggled very little with sorrow over Grandmother’s passing. She slipped from this world into Heaven. She got her greatest wish. I was blessed to know her. I was blessed by her witness, her testimony, her sweetness. She welcomed everyone with an open loving smile. I only wish I’d known her better, but I have confidence that that wish will come true. I know where she is and so I’m filled with hope, a little envy, and great joy. She has gone home!

God is Good.

As I face two funerals so quickly after Christmas, I preach the truth to myself. Death is the ultimate price of sin. Death in this world, even of saints, is because of sin. God promised that sin would lead to death. It has. We can vividly see that. Death is proof that God keeps His promises. God is faithful.

How dreadful! Yes. It is dreadful and frightening. God keeps His promises and He said we would die because of sin.

But God! But God is good. That is not the only promise He has made and kept!

As I face two funerals so quickly after Christmas, I preach the truth to myself. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, but, what is the birth of Christ? The birth of Christ is proof that God keeps His promises. He promised a Seed. He promised salvation to sinners. Christmas is proof that God keeps His promises. God is faithful.

Christ came. He vanquished over death so it has no sting and I see that in the death of my Grandmother. God has used even that to bolster my faith. I see it in the death of Anton the Brave. His family’s witness is one of faith to the very end because God keeps His promises. We face death, but God has provided a sure salvation.

God is Good.

 

Christ’s Victory On Behalf Of My Grandmother

My husband’s Grandmother passed away this week at 101. I’m so blessed to have known her. She was the sweetest woman in the world and always so happy to see us all. For the last few years of her life all she’s wanted is to go home to be with the Lord. That prayer was answered this week. My husband wrote a few thoughts and I thought I’d share them with y’all:

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My Grandmother died at 101 just the other night. She died in her sleep, as my Dad hoped she would.

She was a sweet woman who loved her family. Her greatest joy  in life was her children and her husband. Anyone who spent a few minutes with her would realize this quickly. She spoke about them, she remembered them even at 101.

She was, most importantly, a precious disciple of Christ. Her faith never waivered. She was true to the end. It was evident in the way she spoke that she did not fear death, but understood the Teaching. Jesus Christ has conquered Death. This life is not our home. The Father has prepared a mansion for his children. As with every believer, this is my Grandmother’s truest legacy. My Grandmother’s confession was simple, but most profound – “I want to go home.”

The meaning behind these words is where…

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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.”

 

Thoughts on the 2015 ARBCA GA

I just wanted to share some thoughts about this monumental week. I, along with so many others, have prayed and prayed for this General Assembly for the weeks, months and the year leading up to it. I prayed for unity, yes, but more than that, I prayed for our men to stand. I prayed they would stand for the truth and for God. I prayed that they would have the boldness and courage to face their brothers and, lovingly but firmly, stand for the truth.

That prayer was answered.

There are moments when you get to see history and you get to see heroes: 9/11, Pearl Harbor, VE-Day. This week I got to see church history. Real history. History that will last for eternity long after the broken history of this world is forgotten. I got to witness the heroes of my generation stand for the truth about God and not cave to the spirit of the age: Brandon Smith, Steve Garrick, Stefan Lindblad, Ron Baines, Rich Barcellos, Jim Renihan, Mike Renihan, and Jim Butler. These men served on the Theological Committee and spent two grueling days defending the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility. They were joined by John Giarrizzo and Doug VanderMeulen as men who did not cave. These men, and many more like them, are the heroes of my day. How blessed am I to have enjoyed a front row set to watch them and pray for them.

It’s funny to me to watch this church history unfold, because many of these men are not just names on a computer screen, but men I know. Some I have had in my home, some I have treasured silly stories about, and some are more like extra dads—looking at you Steve Garrick and Ron Baines—than they are mighty heroes. And yet, I find great beauty in the everydayness of these men. I imagine the counsels and synods of the past where Christ and the Trinity were defended were also filled with everyday men just doing what they were supposed to do.

But isn’t it always that way with war and battle. Are there any real superheroes? Usually there are just men doing what men needed to do. The ordinary forced to do the extraordinary because they were there, because this happened in their time.

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I’m thankful God graced us with such men.

I’m thankful for the care and time our elders and teachers have taken to train and guide our church in the doctrines of God, simplicity, and church history. Who would have thought doctrine would be so important? 😉 I’m thankful they never gave up on the mundane teaching of their flock. I’m astounded and speechless, almost unable to describe, the joy and thankfulness in my heart for God’s gift of pastors and teachers. He has been so kind to us.

After a day and a half of deliberation, The Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America voted. It voted to stand. It voted to cling to the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility.

Thank the good Lord for answered prayer.

Thank the good Lord for men who stood.

The praying hasn’t stopped. There is much left to do, many men going home to their churches who don’t hold to Impassibility with tough days ahead, and the Devil is always at work to divide us and destroy us. We still need men in this war and we still need them to be bold, courageous, and to stand.

 

 

Just A Random Quote and Thought

While reading God Without Passions: A Reader Edited by Samuel Renihan I came across this line  from John Tillotson:

“If God be pleased to stoop to our weakness,  we must not therefore level him to our infirmities.”

We do this so readily as corrupt beings. I think I’m seeing this more and more in myself as God uses the teaching through  systematic theology at our church to shine a light on the places in my heart that are still dark. Little by little he weeds out the places where I try to make him more like me.  For if God is like me then he is less awe inspiring and I may have a share of glory. If he is all together different and must stoop down to me, I’m in a frightening position. I am a creature and he is the creator. And we are not the same.
But God!! In all humility stoops down,  bears with our infirmity and creature-ness. He forgives even when it takes years into our Christian walk for us to begin to understand him correctly. And he sent Christ,  who became a man like me,  suffered and died. The God I can’t comprehend became like me to cover my sins and make a way to God.  When we “level him to our infirmities” we no longer need Christ.  We rob Christ of his glory when we do that. But if God is I Am that I Am. Unchanging. Fully and far different from us, outside of time, then Christ, our mediator,  only grows in beauty and preciousness.
So, that’s my random musings for the day.

Health Update, Blog Schedule, and a Short bit of Prose

Dear readers!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I visited my Doctor last week and I’m still having some health issues which are causing mass exhaustion. My Doctor has me well in hand and I’m seeing small improvements. She has put me on six weeks of rest and tomorrow starts week 2. Because of this, I will only be able to post about once a week. Instead of my normal three to four times. The post I get up will be on no particular schedule or topic. They may be thoughts, short stories, or reviews.

I appreciate everyone’s prayers as I adjust the scope of my focus to go no further than beyond the walls of my house, that even in this I will trust the Lord for he is good.


I will Be Still

Though I must rely on the “in sickness”

Part of our vows

I will be still

Though I must depend on others

Because my body is weak and frail

I will be still

Though I lie on the couch

Unable to do all that I wish to do

I will be still

Though I long to be and do

Yet I cannot do and be

I will be still

Though I watch the world go on

Without including me

I will be still

Though I find myself trapped

In a body tired and ultimately dying

I will be still

Though I may know what

May be my final end, even if years and years away

I will be still

For “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness”.


Being sick is a time to be still and contemplate life. It is a time to weigh where your hope rests. I have wrestled with my heart, my sin, and providence much over the last six weeks and I must say that my heavenly Father hasn’t put me to shame. He has granted me renewed peace, hope, and trust in the work of Christ. I have nothing and am nothing, but in Christ I am adopted and beloved.

Dream Builders have to have Helpers (Part 2)

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I’m going to chalk this up to being sick since the day after Christmas. A day after I posted my article last Monday on Dream Builders have to have Helpers, I remembered a whole other point I was going to include in the article. Like I said, I’ve been sick. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

Service.

That is the point.

Think about the quote. “If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.”

Do you hear the implied concept that it would be a bad thing to be hired to help someone build their dream? This quote is saying it is evil or at least bad to help others build their dreams. How self-focused can you be? Is not helping others a worthy way to spend your time?

Service is a worthy way to live life. We should always be serving. We should pour ourselves out in service.

How much do we hear about ‘me time’? Now, I understand that a few minutes to re-focus, time to think, and doing something you enjoy, or even just taking a hot bath can make it much easier to serve. I know. I worked retail for 14 years. You wanna talk about service. We made service the hallmark of our boutiques. We demanded it of our employees and I set the example at every step. I have spent hours at other people’s beck and call. I know how taxing it can be. I know how it can eat away at your soul to do that every day. So, I’m not talking about the things servers do to rejuvenate so they can face the next day of demanding customers. I’m not talking about the mom who needs a break so she can tend to her family, or the caretaker who needs a few days away in a cabin somewhere to refresh herself.

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I’m talking about a me focused culture. A culture that is all about what my needs and wants are without any concern about other people. We have a whole generation growing up who were never taught that the world doesn’t revolve around them. They were never taught to serve.

Why? Well, there is a humility to services. There is, if you want to serve well, a forgetting of self. There is an attitude of I don’t matter, you do. There is a laying down of self.

We don’t like this. We instantly rage: What if someone takes advantage of me? What if no one ever appreciates what I do?

That may happen. Think about it. Think about Christ dying on the cross and how many people don’t appreciate that, even believers at times.

Listen to the messages of media, music, art, television, and novels. How many of them preach that you are significant? How many of them teach our children that they are the most significant thing to come along, ever? But are they? No. They are sinners just like us in need of a Savior. There is only one truly significant and important person ever born—Christ. And what did he do? He washed the apostle’s feet. He served in all humility. He came, lived, and died for us, to save us.

Instead of worrying so much about living a significant life, following our dreams, making sure everyone thinks well of us, making sure we never care what anyone thinks about us, we should lay it all aside and seek to serve one another. Yes, you may not be appreciated, but if you are serving for Christ’s sake than you can trust that he sees the work of your hand even if no one else does. Yes, someone may take advantage of you, I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it. But, Christ sees. He knows. And He is trustworthy. The joy of watching Christ work outweighs standing up for our rights any day.

Standing up for rights is short-sighted and often selfish. (I’m not talking about constitutional law, I’m talking about the constant demand for me and my rights.) Instead of waiting on the Lord, quietly and meekly, trusting Him with our souls, we loudly demand our rights, our acceptance, our significance. Dear believer, if you will wait quietly you will see the hand of Christ in your life. Trust your heart to Him. Is He not mighty enough to protect it?

Don’t worry about your dreams, whether they are being built or not. Worry about serving your church and your family and trust your dreams to the one who gave them to you. He is far more creative about how those dreams are fulfilled than you ever will be. And remember, this life is not all there is. Oh, if you can only grasp that one little concept. This life is not all there is. You don’t have to try and fit every dream and desire into this one life time. Serve Christ and his people and trust yourself to Him. Get in there and do the hard work of service and you will be blessed to watch Christ tend to you and your needs. You are His and He won’t forget you.

Okay, rant over. I promise.

Dreamers have to have Helpers

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This is a Pinterest inspired rant. Yes. One of those. I came across the above quote the other day and had a knee-jerk reaction of anger. Why? Well, to be honest, it’s because I’m the kind of person who a) hates statements like this, b) enjoys, and is satisfied with helping others. Thinking through my reaction led me down a few interesting trains of thought and through some personal history.

Personal History:

1) It brought up my old Dungeons and Dragons days. Yes. I was one of those strange geeky girls who played DnD and wore over-sized baggy plaid shirts and t-shirts. Deep down, that girl still lurks inside me. She lives alongside the farm girl me, and has been joined by the boutique girl me.

One of the great gifts of DnD—and there are many—is the insight it gives you into yourself and others. We’re all a little freer when we’re “role-playing” a character. There’s a safety when you’re just playing a character to do things and say things you might not normally do. It’s like the idea of you don’t know who you are until you’re put in an intense situation and then who you really are will come out. DnD creates fake intense situation with the covering of role-playing that lets you have some insight into the people around you that you might not otherwise get. (This is why choosing who you play with is very important.)

When I first started playing, I always played fighters and barbarians. I wanted to be the biggest and baddest in the bunch. (This also manifested itself in an odd height competition between me and my brother that resulted in us both having ridiculously tall characters.) I wanted to exert myself, prove myself. I was totally butch all the time . . . and almost never happy. See, I’d try to lead and then when it was important, I didn’t like being in charge. I tried to be big and bad, but no one liked my characters. I wasn’t a nice person to be around.

After many post-playing discussions centered on my unfeminine characters, I decided to try some of the support classes. I decided to try to help instead of lead. (Some feminist somewhere is vomiting.) I switched to playing rouges instead of butch, beefy fighters. Now, I had some great butch characters, namely TearSong and Phoenix, but I quickly found that I, myself, was much happier with my rouges. Rouges are the ones who help the party. They sneak around in the shadows making sure the party is safe.

I learned that I’m more content as a sidekick, as a helper.

2) I did the same with our business. Our boutiques were never my vision. Ever. And when the time came for me to shoulder the bigger leadership responsibilities, we sold the boutiques in less than a year. (There were other factors involved with this, but this was part of it for me.) I didn’t enjoy being the Boss Boss. I don’t mind being the Boss, but to be THE BOSS, isn’t appealing to me.

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Trains of Thought:

I like helping other people build their dreams.

This doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams. I do. They just aren’t grandiose. They’re small. This is not because I lack heart or passion, but because it’s in my nature to be a sidekick, to be the Samwise Gamgee of the story, not the Aragorn. I don’t want to be Aragorn. I can be a captain. I don’t want to be a general. I’m content helping the general.

This quote makes it seem like a bad thing to help build someone else’s dream, but really it’s an insult to everyone who has every helped you.

As someone who has spearheaded many projects both in our business, at home, and at church, I try to always appreciate those willing to help me. They are vital and necessary. I need helpers to do the things I need to do. The dreamers have to have people who help them build, and oddly enough, the helpers need the dreamer.

We live in a society that almost always focuses on either the employee or the boss. We need both. We need someone with money to start the company and we need someone to work the machines. We need the hero and the sidekick. One without the other doesn’t work. And being the helper is no small thing!  Our society likes to look down it’s nose at the idea of a man leading his family and the wife helping him, but all that does is degrade helpers. Helpers are very important. That would be like the general deciding he doesn’t need captains, or the business owner deciding he doesn’t need employees, or…the hero trying to save the world without a faithful sidekick. It won’t work.

And, it’s not an issue of forcing someone to help when they’d rather be a hero, either. There are people, like me, who are very happy being the helper. We don’t want to be the hero. We don’t want to be the top dog. We derive immense satisfaction in helping others succeed. We enjoy being on a team, working with others. We enjoy being the moms in the background, the geek behind the computer, the rouge in the shadows, the wife beside her husband.

It took me a long time to realize I am a sidekick, but I am. And once there, I’m content and happy! There’s no place I’d rather be.


Update on my Health:

I’m slowly but surely feeling better. As my doctor said, I must patiently work at getting better. This means lots and lots of rest. So this week I’m on light duty, very light duty. I hope to get the Christmas decorations down by the end of the week. I’ve had to forgo a lot of things I would normally be involved in, but it’s given me time to read, pray, examine my trust in God’s providence, and lean on my husband for a time. I’m so thankful for my church and my family who have brought meals, prayed, picked up groceries, texted me, and reminded me that I’m not forgotten or alone even while I’m trapped on the couch. I’m not back on schedule with the blog yet, so please bear with me as it’s very hit and miss right now. Writing can even wear me out. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts over the last few weeks and going forward into this new week.

1st World Problems and Prayer

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It’s funny to me how anxious I can be about 1st world problems. For instance . . . remodeling the house. I have a house. I have the time and the funds to remodel. Yet, I get stressed about it. Granted, there is a huge amount of research and decision-making to be done. (There’s a 1st world problem for you—too many options.) I have to take into consideration long-term and short-term plans, but really? Back and neck aching anxiety?

You may or may not know that I hate doing the budget, accounting, and taxes type work. I’m not a numbers person. I’m a words person. But I have money in the bank, the bills paid, systems in place and flexibility. We’ve never once lacked. Yet, I lay awake at night dreading dealing with the monthly statement.

I’ve tried telling myself not to worry. I’ve pointed out the 1st worldness of my problems. This hasn’t helped. When I lay awake at night or I wake up early and my back and neck start hurting (my high-stress indicator) only one thing really helps: prayer.

This isn’t some mystical magical sense of peace. This is a careful thinking about life in an offering to the Lord. Prayer is the process, the earthly process, by which we mentally align ourselves with the will of God. It’s where we wrestle within ourselves before and sometimes with God submitting ourselves to his commandments. God encourages us to pray about our daily needs, the wrongs we’ve suffered, and the temptations we’ve faced. By praying through them, we are reminded that God sees and cares about all our needs, that we must forgive as we have been forgiven, and we’re armed to face our temptations head on with the truth. For years, I didn’t do this consistently. I didn’t bring my everyday fears and worries before the Lord in an honest evaluation that would have helped me see I was being fearful and worried. I didn’t ask for wisdom. I didn’t face my temptation to be lazy and procrastinate when I don’t want to do something. Then by God’s kind grace, my Dad preached through the Lord’s Prayer and convicted, I started praying through my every day, humble, quiet life very specifically.

See, Jesus didn’t say only pray about really big or spiritual things. He did teach us to pray for the spreading of the gospel, but he also taught us to pray for all the little things in life, like bread, forgiving each other, and the temptations we face. I think I never really thought about praying over the budget cause it’s so mundane. But, isn’t daily bread mundane?

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I pray through my and my churches daily, earthly needs. I pray that we would humbly forgive each other’s big and little wrongs as we have been forgiven. I pray that we would have strength in big and little temptations, sufferings, and trials. There are sins we wrestle with and anxiety is one of them for me. So I started praying about all the things I’m anxious about, asking for forgiveness, repenting of my lack of trust, my unbelief, and asking for wisdom.

Being very specific and honest has helped my anxiety because it’s reminded me to cling to the truth, not my perception. It’s calmed my heart because I know all this is from the Lord. God is so kind and gentle to us. I love to see the wisdom of God. He teaches us to pray, not because He doesn’t know everything, but because we need to voice what we need. It helps us!

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my normal schedule was all un-normal and I didn’t keep my normal prayer time. Lo and behold, I woke up one morning worried, literally in pain in my neck and shoulders about nothing. Nothing. I’m fretting over storage space as we rearrange my husband’s office and guest room. Really?

What I realized was that pain was really proof of a bigger problem: the problem of not starting my day, continuing my day, and ending my day in an aligning of my heart and mind with the Lord in prayer. I wasn’t casting my care on him. I wasn’t remembering his promises, and I wasn’t trusting him. I had tunnel visions for the trials of life and needed an adjustment. Prayer is a vital part of my life. Without it, I have physical problems pointing to Spiritual problems. But God is good and has given me the preaching and teaching of his Word by faithful men so I can be reminded to pray even and most especially about my 1st world problems.

Merry Christmas!