Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
We had a hard week, y'all.
Sometimes that happens.
I have a lot of updates to share, and I'm going to move quickly, so hold onto your hats. Some good news and some bad news. Let's just go in chronological order:
Friday Dec 4, morning: Ultrasound at my OB. The baby's head had measured large on an earlier scan, so just double checking, to rule out hydrocephalus. The way my mind works, I'm all but shopping for pediatric wheelchairs at just the mention of the thing. But it was healthy for me to think through. "So what if the baby has special needs? That's not the end of the world. We will still love him or her. God is still God, and we'll see how He glorifies Himself in this adventure."
But don't call the neurosurgeon for us just yet. The head is normal. The whole baby is huge, but that's fine. And....it's a boy.
We had planned to wait and be surprised at delivery. Made it through the first big ultrasound when you usually find out the gender by hiding our eyes. But the doctor just blurts it out this time, for no apparent reason. (Not my usual doctor!) I have no idea why. He didn't seem too broken up about it either.
Whatever. It's not like the birth will be boring, even without that surprise.
So exciting! Yea. A boy. That will be fun.
A healthy baby boy.
He will (almost certainly) be named Henry Wisdom, and go by H.W.
that afternoon: My grandfather died.
My sweet 93 year old grandfather, my mom's dad, died instantly and painlessly at his beloved farm. On the farm where he was born. Exactly how he had hoped to die, and what we all wanted for him.
My mom found him. I can't imagine her sense of dread, driving out to his farm when she realized he was home late and not answering his phone. In a tremendous grace of God, he appeared peaceful and comfortable. I pray that God grants my mom a peaceful remembrance of the event as well.
When I told the kids, Jonas thought for a moment and then said, "He'll be so excited when he wakes up and he's in heaven."
Saturday Dec. 5, afternoon: Make the decision to take the kids to Oklahoma for the funeral without Justin. Justin could go Sunday and come back Monday, but I dread making the drive two days in a row and would like to stay longer. So I need to go without him. Laundry and packing.
that night: Betty develops a fever. Never mind about going to the funeral.
Sunday Dec. 6: Stay home with sick Betty.
Monday Dec. 7: Sad to be missing funeral.
Abdominal pain and contractions. Maybe a touch of Betty's virus???
I've had Braxton Hicks, but these feel a bit firmer... and there are more of them...
OK, I think I need to go to the doctor. Need someone to keep the kids, but can't ask any of my mommy friends because Betty is sick and I don't want their kids to get sick. Can't call my mom, she is at her father's funeral. Justin is in College Station; he carpooled with friends and is trying to get here ASAP but it may be awhile. Justin's mom will be here as soon as she can, but her boss just had a baby two days before so she really can't leave work very early. I call Justin's grandparents; his grandmother stays with the kids and G-Dad drives me to the doctor.
Admitted to labor & delivery for monitoring. Very dehydrated. Very uncomfortable G-Dad, whom I doubt has ever before been inside the labor & delivery unit.
After 2 liters of IV fluids, I feel better and the contractions stop. Sent home late that night.
Tuesday Dec. 8: Bedrest all day. Justin with the kids; Betty still has fever.
Huge thanks to Stephanie, Mamaw, and Mandi for bringing dinner all week.
Wednesday Dec. 9: Feeling a little better. Out of bed some. Betty's fever is gone.
Thursday Dec. 10: Wake up with red painful right eye. Feels like someone is poking me in the eye with a stick. Very sensitive to light; have to drive with sunglasses over my regular glasses (note to self: pick up some prescription sunglasses!) and a scarf around my head Jackie O. style to block out more light. Except it's Jonas' scarf that I dig out of the backseat, and it doesn't wrap around my head elegantly but rather just drapes across my face, dangling to the chin on either side.
Go to OB for follow-up, am pronounced good as new, except for the eye thing. Go to ophthalmologist who diagnoses infection from contact lens, prescribes drops. Relieved it's not pink eye and not contagious. Home to bed; worn out from driving around all day with a tree branch in my eye.
Friday Dec. 11: Wake up with a fever. Are you kidding me???
Consider it the most joyous of good news when the doctor says I don't have to come be seen in clinic. For the third time this week.
Another day in bed. Feel lousy all day. Eye feels better though.
Saturday Dec. 12: Thankfully my fever is gone. Take the kids out for donuts. In case you're counting, that's 4 days this week they've been away from me: two days I'm literally gone most of the day, two other days of bedrest. Not used to that. Starting to miss the little guys; the stress is affecting them too.
That night they stayed with Mamaw and we had a fun evening with some friends. I was glad to get out and officially pronounce the week OVER.
I know God taught me something. Probably about self-reliance and pride. Turns out, I really can't do it all. I actually do need my family, and my friends, and my church. And it doesn't kill me to ask for help. Bless my sweet husband; he took such good care of me. He completely turned his schedule upside down this week, and I know it's going to cost him.
And we're having a boy! It's starting to seem real now. 7 weeks to go...
I haven't done much of the Advent activities I had scheduled for this week. But I have been turned toward God, forced to acknowledge my dependence and frailty. I await His coming....
"...the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit..."
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
All enjoyable time, and I'm glad to do it. But, you know, a small investment.
When the time rolled around to Officially Celebrate Day One, I asked Justin to talk to them about Advent. He usually leads out in our family devotions anyway, and I had already set up the tree and calendar with the kids, so I figured it was his turn to do something Christmas-y. So he explained Advent, gave them their quarters, and talked about how the quarters meant there were 25 days until Christmas.
They were very excited, and rushed to their piggy banks.
Then sweet Jonas came out with toys that he wanted to put in the calendar. He had two, one for Justin and one for me. "I got you a present too!" He gave them to us, with both hands behind his back ("Pick a hand!") just like Daddy had done. I got a little toy car, and Justin got a spaceship or something. "Oh, I forgot Sissy!" And he ran and got a pink paper plate for her.
We told him that was very sweet and thoughtful, and we were glad he wanted to give presents.
Then Betty did likewise, and gifted Jonas with a Lego I think.
Then Jonas looked suddenly sad and hurt, and asked "Daddy and Betty gave me presents, and I gave everyone presents. Why didn't Mommy give me anything?"
....I think it's safe to say I'll be passing out the Advent gifts tonight.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I hung it on the china hutch. It would look nice above the fireplace, but the stockings are there:
General thoughts on Advent, for the other Evangelical rookies out there. I'm fairly new at this, and these help clarify the intention of the Advent season:
Our whole life is an Advent, a time of waiting for the ultimate, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth, when all people will be brothers and sisters. An old song, quoted by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes... and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The spirit of Christmas needs to superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world. Stuart Briscoe
Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.
An old abbot was fond of saying, ‘The devil is always the most active on the highest feast days.’
The supreme trick of Old Scratch is to have us so busy decorating, preparing food, practicing music and cleaning in preparation for the feast of Christmas that we actually miss the coming of Christ. Hurt feelings, anger, impatience, injured egos—the list of clouds that busyness creates to blind us to the birth can be long, but it is familiar to us all. Edward Hays
It might be easy to run away to a monastery, away from the commercialization, the hectic hustle, the demanding family responsibilities of Christmas-time. Then we would have a holy Christmas. But we would forget the lesson of the Incarnation, of the enfleshing of God—the lesson that we who are followers of Jesus do not run from the secular; rather we try to transform it. It is our mission to make holy the secular aspects of Christmas just as the early Christians baptized the Christmas tree. And we do this by being holy people—kind, patient, generous, loving, laughing people—no matter how maddening is the Christmas rush…Fr. Andrew Greeley
…Christmas celebrates the dawn of the Light of the World. The powers of darkness are overcome by his coming to share our life. The long reign of sin is ended and grace has been poured out upon the earth. The Sun of Justice has arisen, and evil is vanquished."
Perhaps the hardest thing to remember about Christmas is this. "It celebrates the incarnation, not just the nativity. The incarnation is an on-going process of salvation, while the nativity is the once-for-all-historical event of Bethlehem. We do not really celebrate Christ’s ‘birthday,’ remembering something that happened long ago. We celebrate the stupendous fact of the incarnation, God entering our world so thoroughly that nothing has been the same since. And God continues to take flesh in our midst, in the men and women and children who form his body today. And the birth we celebrate is not just the past historical event but Christ’s continuing birth in his members, accomplished by the power of the Spirit...
…What we celebrate is our redemption in Christ and the transformation of all creation by the presence of the divine in our midst. from the Catholic Sourcebook
Through all the Advents of our life that we celebrate goes the longing for the final Advent, where it says: "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5). Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I've observed Advent loosely for several years now, but this is my first time to intentionally walk the kids through it. As a fairly newbie Advent celebrant, I was at a bit of a loss for what to, um, load the calendar with. I've seen candy, tiny gifts, or devotionals. I decided on a hybrid. We are continuing with our usual family devotions through the season; it worked out nicely because we just finished reading the Old Testament (in this Bible) so we will be doing the Nativity story over the next week and the life of Christ will carry us past Christmas. It doesn't strictly follow the traditional Advent schedule, but it will work for us.
(If you are looking for a more traditional Advent devotional, check out Heather's or Kendra's. For some general ideas about Advent and Christmas, check out Advent Conspiracy.)
In our family devotions we are just reading the Bible in order, as it comes. No master schedule or anything. For Advent I mapped out what stories will fall on which days this month and planned to elaborate on them a bit. For the days of the birth of Christ next week, I planned crafts to correspond. I think I'll tuck the craft components (or just a piece of paper with a picture or description) into the calendar. We can open it after dinner most days; I can occasionally do crafts earlier in the day when our evenings are busy.
The kids always have access to crayons and paint, etc. and use them several times daily; I don't often do an Official Craft Project with them. But I thought it might help them remember the elements of the Christmas story, and they enjoy making Christmas decorations. General Christmas crafts will be on some days, and Christmas books as gifts a few days. Other days the calendar will just have candy or stickers or something.
I found this list of gift ideas which has some cute ideas; some are a bit corny. I pulled a few of them:
December 1 - A quarter! That equals 25 cents. But 25 also stands for the number of days till Christmas, when God gave us His best present. Jesus told about one woman's gift and the way she gave it. Read: Mark 12:41-44
December 2 - Grape Gum! Grapes make jelly and juice, raisins and wine. But Jesus didn't need grapes to perform His first miracle. Read: John 2:1-10
December 3 - Smiley sticker. Here's a smile! A smile usually expresses happiness. Jesus gave us many instructions to keep us happy. Read: Matthew 5:1-12.
December 4 - Gummy fish. Fish! Well, if you were surprised to find these fish, wait till you read the story today! Others were surprised to find fish, too. Read: Luke 5:4-7
December 5 - A birthday candle. As you know, we are getting ready to celebrate Jesus' birthday. However, Jesus talked about something else that is related to this candle. Light! Read: Matthew 5:14-16
December 6 - Bell. You could make some noise with this. But it would not have bothered a certain man--until he met Jesus. Read: Mark 7:31-37
December 7 - Goldfish crackers. These would not go very far if you were really hungry! But Jesus could make much out of little. Surely He knew how to multiply! Read: Matthew 14:13-21
December 8 - Cotton balls These cotton balls would be helpful in a thunder storm, wouldn't they? We could use them for ear plugs to muffle the loud noises that thunder makes. But we know someone who doesn't need cotton. Jesus can control the weather. Read: Matthew 8:23-27
December 9 - Part of a map. People needing to use the other parts of this map are in trouble! Don't you get lost today! Read: John 14:1-6
December 10 - It's soap. Do you like to wash? Behind your ears? Washing turned out to be a happy time for a man who met Jesus. Read: John 9:1-7
December 11 - Heart stickers. Wordlessly, they speak of love, don't they? Jesus spoke some commands about love. Read: Matthew 25:17-41
December 12 - Cross stickers. We use the cross as a symbol, representing Jesus. Do you know why? Read: Philippines 2:1-11
December 13 - Ordinary salt. Yes, Jesus related salt to us and our behavior. He also gave us some advice. Read: Matthew 5:14 and Colossians 4:6. (Notice that He doesn't recommend pepper!).
December 14 - Sand. Don't try to eat this! It's sand. It reminds us that Jesus knows something about architecture, about buildings--and building lives. See His instructions: Matthew 7:24-29.
December 15 - Silk flowers. Flowers are pretty, aren't they? Jesus used flowers to teach us a reassuring lesson. Read: Matthew 6:28-34.
December 16 - Raisins! Many children are given raisins instead of candy for a snack. That's because they are a health-promoting and delicious fruit. Jesus told us how we can produce good fruit. Read: John 15:1-5.
December 17 - Seed packet. Jesus told a story about seeds that man planted. Then He explained it, revealing its deep meaning. Read: Matthew 13:3-8 and Matthew 13:18-23.
December 18 - Christmas carol. Christmas is just about a week away. And here is an appropriate song. Sing it loudly! Read: Psalms 100.
December 19 - A hard stone! Can you change this stone into a piece of bread? Do you think Jesus could? Jesus was asked to do just that. Do know how He handled it? Read: Matthew 4:1-4.
December 20 - Foil ball. Try to smooth out this piece of aluminum foil and use it as a mirror. It's hard to see your reflection plainly, isn't it? Many circumstances are hard to understand, but someday everything will be clear. Read: 1 Corinthians 13:12.
December 21 - Mustard seed. The mustard seed is the smallest there is! When it sprouts, it grows into one of the largest plants! See what Jesus said. Read: Matthew 17:20.
December 22 - Dove. We've learned that the cross represents Christ, but do you know what the dove stands for? Read: Matthew 3:13-17.
December 23 - Piece of wool. The threads that compose this fabric came from the wool of a sheep. Jesus called Himself the good shepherd. Do you know who His sheep are? Read: John 10:7-18.
December 24 - A marble! Do you know what is sometimes called the "Big Blue Marble"? The world. God made the world for us. What does God continue doing to the world? And who is the world? Read: John 3:16.
December 25 - Picture of baby or baby doll. Isn't this baby cute? When he was born, he made a whole family happy. Jesus was born a baby, too. He came to make the whole world happy. Read: Luke 2:1-20. Enjoy your celebration today. Continue to learn about Jesus--and love Him forever!
Here is the schedule I've come up with for us. It's a blend of treats, crafts, and devotionals. Days that correspond to our normal devotional reading are noted; other Scriptures that tie into that day's gift are also listed. I apologize for the poor typing and formatting; I'm doing this quickly so it's just copied over from my notes. I'm sure you understand. : )
Tues Dec. 1: quarters, 25 days (as Dec. 1 above).
Wed Dec. 2: candy or toy
Thurs dec 3: paper plate angel craft, (read Angel appears to Mary)
friday dec 4: window suncatcher christmas tree craft. Fold black paper in half lengthwise. Cut along open edge to resemble one side of a Christmas tree. Leave paper tree folded in half and punch numerous holes all over tree. Unfold tree. On one side, glue assorted colors of tissue paper over holes. Turn tree over. Finish decorating with glue and glitter to make garland scallops. Add a yellow construction paper star on top.
saturday dec 5: birthday candle, matt 5 light of world (as Dec 5 above)
sunday dec : stickers
monday dec 7: read census, journey, birth; do envelope manger craft
tuesday dec 8: read shepherds & angels, do nativity craft
wed dec 9: read wise men, make star w/ pipe cleaners or sticks & wire & paint
thurs dec 10: paint a rock; matt 4 (as dec 19 above)
fri dec 11: book
sat dec 12: stickers
sunday dec 13: bubble bath, john 9 (as dec. 10 above)
mon dec 14: snow globe craft
tues dec 15: dove, read baptism
wed dec 16: book
thurs dec 17: pine cone angel (glue feathers and a halo on a pine cone)
fri dec 18: read fishers of men; goldfish crackers
sat dec 19: read wedding at cana, flowers (silk or real?)
sunday dec 20: book
monday dec 21: candy
tues dec 22: stickers
wed dec 23: candy or toy
thur dec 24: candy
We'll see if I make it through as scheduled...this is way more crafty than I usually am. If it makes me busy and crazy it will be the opposite of my goal and will have to change. Gotta go put some quarters in bag #`1!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I love you, I'm so proud of you, and so glad to be married to you.
You take such good care of us. You're a fantastic husband. A loving father. A faithful pastor. My best friend.
Have a wonderful birthday.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
We are fallen, forgiven, redeemed, undergoing sanctification, and awaiting glorification. So are our husbands. We live in a fallen world. Things happen. We sin against one another, sometimes grievously. Conflicts arise. Sometimes husbands lead badly, or make mistakes. Sometimes our husbands sin, sometimes they make foolish choices, sometimes they fail at loving us as they should. Sometimes we treat them poorly. Sometimes they make a reasonable decision but we just don't like it.
(Another side note: Does anyone else feel that modern women, maybe especially Christian women, are sometimes bad at resolving conflict? We are taught our whole lives to be "nice," as if that is the defining Christian virtue and trumps all others. So we try our hardest to avoid conflict, at almost any cost. When that's not enough, we just don't know what to do. We panic and get overly emotional, or ignore the problem and hope it goes away. Not very effective, is it? That's why this is maybe my favorite portion to teach. It's kinda fun.)
Here's where I get as practical and literal as possible. I'm going to outline eight "layers" of protection for the wife in the context of conflict and sin. Much of this is taken from Martha Peace's book The Excellent Wife.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
1 Peter 3:9-12 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
Proverbs 19:11 Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
I think one unfortunate effect of feminism is that women sometimes hold themselves to a lower standard than men. Think about it. Do you ever feel like only Stepford wives are actually nice to their husbands? Do you appreciate your husband going out of his way to be helpful to you, but feel like a secretary on Mad Men when you do the same for him? Do you feel "modern and liberated" when you sarcastically insult your husband? Do you believe he has the "right" to treat you the same way? If you read this advice, about overlooking an offense, in a blog directed to male readers, would it seem different?
Don't you wish there were something in between? So often when we're angry, we don't want to overlook the matter completely, but aren't quite sure we're justified in a full confrontation. So we stay angry but pretend otherwise, or give a subtle attack that we can deny or deflect, or disguise our criticism as a joke. "What?! I didn't say anything." Or, "I was just teasing. Can't you take a joke?" But I really feel like that is the most destructive way to handle it. I think we have to choose a path and go with it. Say something, or don't.
Matthew 7:3-5 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
Proverbs 16:21 The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
1 Peter 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
We picked up a little bit of the influenza along with our corn dogs.
When I say "we," I mean Jonas.
I'm not sure that's where he picked it up, but the "fun house" is the most suspicious candidate.
Jonas got a fever on Sunday morning; he had been totally fine and normal and then all of a sudden was crying. He felt hot to the touch and had a fever of 103. All week he felt terrible when he had a fever, but when I could bring it down he was fine. As in, running around the backyard and scarfing down dinner fine. Then the fever spikes and wham, he's back in bed. For 4 days, he was either in bed or running around playing. Nothing in between.
I took him to the doctor on Tuesday. He could not find a thing wrong on a careful and complete physical exam. His lungs, throat, ears, abdomen, all fine. We discussed flu, but neither one of us really thought that was it. Usually with flu you never feel great, even when the temperature is normal. You feel pretty cruddy the whole time. A kid with flu isn't supposed to run around at all. And besides, if you're going to treat with Tamiflu it has to be started within 48 hours of the first symptoms, which had already passed. So we didn't even test for it and agreed to just keep with the Tylenol and fluids.
No fever Wednesday.
Wednesday night, he says his legs hurt, and I notice he's limping.
At first I thought he was just being silly, doing a funny walk for some reason. And looking back he had done that a couple of times during the day. But he wasn't being silly, and he couldn't walk normally. He points to the back of his knees, both of them, as where it hurts.
At this point I freak out, y'all.
I've seen septic joints, and it isn't pretty. You do not want an infection in a bone or joint; you're looking at six weeks of IV antibiotics at best, and hopefully no surgery. And the infection can easily enter the bloodstream and make you crazy sick.
This doctor mama doesn't freak out much, but this is one of those things that scares me.
But here's the thing. I got a good look at his knees, and they really seemed normal. They were not warm or swollen, and he let me move them around all I wanted. Kids with a sick knee don't want you to even look at them like you're thinking about maybe touching that knee. And still no fever, since the day before. This does not add up to a septic knee. And both knees at once? That's not right.
Later I got another look at Jonas' legs and realized that the tenderness is in the calf muscles, not the knee joint. Where he was pointing is the insertion point, where the muscle attaches to the bone, and it only seemed like he was pointing to the knee itself. So I looked up myositis and discover it's a common post-viral syndrome with influenza. Benign acute childhood myositis. He fits the description perfectly. So I give him ibuprofen and we all go to bed.
The next day I head back to the pediatrician. He sees him walk into the room on tiptoe, I tell him his calves hurt, and he says "Oh yeah, calf myositis. Did we test him for flu?"
Sure enough, it was positive.
The rapid test is positive for "Influenza A", which means he has either regular seasonal influenza or the infamous H1N1, which is one of multiple types of influenza A. The test doesn't distinguish between them, and it really doesn't matter because the treatment (rest and fluids, maybe Tamiflu) is the same.
He's fine now. He tiptoed around a little bit Friday morning but by afternoon he was normal. No fever since Thursday.
On the plus side, now he won't have to get the vaccine.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
And we move on to the next event.
The mechanical bull.
Hey, they sign says "All Ages." So why not?
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Come see what real families are eating. Meal plans, recipes, successes and failures, takeout confessions, cookbook and equipment reviews, and whatever else we think of. All from real people cooking for real families, with schedules and budgets and priorities. Some are finicky; some are gourmet. Some are green, some like fast food, some stick with meat and potatoes. Some are Julia Child, and others are Sara Lee. This is what we eat.I'm excited to be working with such fun and intriguing people. You know how sometimes you just feel so proud of your friends and honored to know them? That's how I feel this week. I think they're just going to knock it out of the park. We all have different perspectives, priorities, and experiences, and that's what makes it interesting.
All of the authors are united by an interest in good food but we all differ in the details of what that means. Some are vegetarian, some quick & easy, some meat & potatoes. Some just learning, others more adventurous and/or experienced. Smoker specialists and cafeteria connoisseurs. Some farmers, some city girls. Some working mamas, some homeschool mamas, and one single guy (see, Pete? I've already committed you, so you have to do it). Hopefully grandmas and college students, if I can talk them into it. Different budgets, different kitchens, different family sizes. This way we can learn from each other.
So go check it out. We're having fun over there.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
It seems to me, and I could be wrong, that there is much press in Christian circles given to submission. Lots of books, blog posts like this, etc. discussing "what does submission mean, how do I do it, etc." But there is sadly less literature for men about "how can I love my wife as Christ loved the church?" which is unfortunate. I just want to be clear that although this blog is written by a woman, and these posts are primarily geared to women, that is not the full picture.
Also, I know that I'm not doing an exhaustive study of femininity. I am currently posting only the material I prepared for a short seminar, and I know I'm not covering everything. I don't mean to imply that Femininity = Submission. That is definitely not the case. I only hit on it because it needs to be properly understood. But there is a lot out there we could also be talking about. We're not talking about motherhood at all, women in church, or women in the workforce, or dating....lots of things. I know. I may be able to get to it eventually; let me know if you would like to see a particular topic. I have a request pending for some writing about women in medicine; that is "marinating" in the back of my mind, but it's coming. Anything else?
Monday, September 7, 2009
There it is, the "S" word. You knew it was coming, didn't you?
If you're anything like me, the word "submission" is loaded with strong emotion. It is easily and widely misunderstood and misapplied, and for that reason it rubs many of us the wrong way.
But... there can be another reason for our offense, that little thing we call "pride." That's why I like to review those verses about submission within the Trinity. It turns down the dial on my own pride a few notches, especially the Philippians passage. In fact I'll just put that one here, in case you don't want to click over.
Philippians 2:5-11 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:The reality is that the God we serve is not too proud to serve, to submit, to be a helper. To obey. So why in the world am I?? Keep that reality in the back of your mind as we move on to Ephesians:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Ephesians 5:21-33 "....submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."So what is submission? A disposition to yield to the husband's authority and an inclination to follow his leadership.
Some general characteristics first.
a. Submission is freely given. Notice that it is the wife's responsibility to "see" to it in verse 33. It springs from the wife's loving obedience to Christ. It is not imposed by a domineering husband. In fact the husband is nowhere commanded to "make your wife submit."
(As an aside, just review again exactly what husbands are commanded. Not much leeway for chauvinism, is there? Some husbands love to "remind" their wives of these verses, but somehow forget to apply them to themselves first.)
Likewise, we cannot demand or enforce our husbands to obey their command to love us as Christ loved the Church. Anyone ever tried that? How's that working out for ya'? ; )
b. Submission is honoring to God.
Titus 2:3-5 "Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."What is it, exactly, about a woman who is not submissive that leads to the word of God being reviled? Doesn't that seem a little harsh? What is it about my submission that somehow brings honor to God?
Our God deals in little things, or at least sometimes they seem small to us. Attitudes of the heart, issues of the individual family in the privacy of their own home. These things matter to God.
When I submit, it shows that:
1. Obedience to God is more important than having my own way. If I am willing to embrace this doctrine, it teaches me and proclaims to those watching that I would rather obey God than follow my own impulses and desires. This is a discipline.
2. True freedom is found only in Christ. Not in following every impulse I have, the moment I have it. More on this later.
3. I reverence the Lord as sovereign and powerful. I am the creature, He is Creator. I trust that He desires the best for me and is powerful to enact His plan, as we talked about in Part One. Submission would never make sense without this reality. Therefore we preach the glory of God by practicing submission. Why on earth would I submit to my husband if God cannot be trusted? I can't think of any good reason.
4. God's word directs my life. I orient my life around the Bible and acknowledge it's authority.
If I am too proud to submit, it implies that I reject these truths. That is how the word of God gets reviled.
What is submission not?
a. Submission is not a pattern for the general relationship between men and women. Men are not the heads of women; husbands are the heads of their own wives. Women do not submit to men in general; they submit to their own husband. A woman may affirm and nurture the leadership of worthy men other than her husband, but this does not give them headship over her.
I have one head. I submit to one man.
b. Submission is not based on the husband's superior intellect, morality, Bible knowledge, education, or better relationship with God, or any corresponding inferiority or weakness in the wife.
1 Corinthians 11:3 "...the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God."
The head of Christ is God. Is God the Father in any way superior to Christ? Review the verses from Part Two if you need. For example: John 10:30 "I and the Father are one." This is not a merit-based system. It's a role, an assignment, not a system of reward and punishment. Any one individual husband may or may not have any or all of the above commendations, but that matters not a hill of beans when it comes to submission. We do this because God says to, not because our husbands "deserve" it. If I submit because I'm a mindless idiot or spineless doormat, what glory does that bring to God? Very little.
c. Submission to your husband is not a replacement for your first love.
God created my heart; I can allow Him to satisfy it. No man can. Only an omnipotent God can "meet my needs." It would be unfair to expect my husband to do what only God can do. I must be careful with my expectations; husbands make lousy idols.
While I'm here, a note of clarification on the phrase "as to the Lord" in the Ephesians passage. This does not mean, as I once assumed, "treat your husband like he's God." Absolutely not! This is more along the lines of
1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.By which I mean, we do not submit to our husbands as if they were God. We do it because we are submitting to God when we do anything out of loving obedience to God. We obey God by obeying his command to submit to our husbands. We submit because we love God, trust God, believe God when He says this is the way He made marriage and this is how He wants it to function. We trust the divine plan. We do not submit because our husbands "deserve" it. We submit because God does.
Acts 5:29 "We must obey God rather than men."We do not follow our husbands into sin. If a husband asks his Christian wife to sin with or for him, she rightly refuses. For example, even if the husband forbids it, a Christian woman should: Go to church. Teach her children about God. Not lie for her husband. Refuse to participate with him in immorality. More on this in Part Four.
d. Submission is not as scary as it sounds. We trust a sovereign God as we follow a fallen man. We do not submit because our husbands do not make any mistakes. We submit because God makes none.
e. Submission is not carte blanche for the husband to do whatever he wants. Reread the Ephesians passage above for what is required of the husband. "gave himself up for her...love their wives as their own bodies...nourish and cherish..." Unfortunately it needs to be said, submission is not a license for abuse. Not only does a wife not follow her husband into sin, she does not turn a blind eye to his sin. More on this in Part Four.
f. Submission is not the defining characteristic of the Christian woman. It is one aspect of the marital relationship. Nothing more, nothing less. I'm giving lots of space to it here because it can be so readily misunderstood. Women are not always taught how to do this properly or given a theological perspective from which to approach difficult passages, so I want to provide that. But there is more to life, and there is more to marriage.
So, what does submission look like?
a. A disposition, an inclination, not a fixed set of rules and behaviors. It looks different for every woman, in every situation.
b. Expectancy. Expect God to lead your family through your husband, and look for it. Watch for God's wisdom and leadership to come through him. When Jesus was a small child and the family needed to escape to Egypt, how did God guide them?
Matthew 2:13-14 "...behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." 14And he rose and took the child and his mother by night..."Obviously Mary is perfectly capable of hearing from God, and He is gracious in His dealings with her. She is the first person on Earth to know of the coming Messiah. In Luke 1 the angel Gabriel announces to her "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But down the road a few ways, when God has news for her family, Joseph is the first to hear about it.
It is no different for our families. Part of what submission looks like is our general expectation that our husbands will be hearing from God about things that concern the whole family. Not because we can't receive guidance from God for ourselves; hopefully we do frequently. And not because our husbands are any better at listening than we are. But God has said it will often happen this way, and we believe God.
c. Diplomacy. We honor our husbands with our speech.
Proverbs 14:1 "The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down."The things men do to destroy marriages are, generally speaking, more public and obvious than the things women do. This is a broad generalization, of course. But many marriages have fallen ostensibly because of the husband's unfaithfulness, when actually the wife has been tearing her house down with her tongue for years.
We should speak honorably to our husbands. You do like the guy, right? So act like it, and speak kindly. Golden rule and all that. Sometimes I say things to my husband, cruel things, that I would never say to a friend, or even a stranger. This should not be. And we should speak honorably about him to friends, in front of the children, and on the phone with mom. Don't share his sins and weaknesses. Would you want him to do that? Women like to gab when we get together. This is not news. But how often do you hear a girl say things about her husband which would devastate her if she heard him say the same about her?
But what about my freedom?
Haven't I been liberated?
John 8:32-36 ...you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." 33 They answered him, "We are offspring of abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?"
34 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.True freedom is found in deliverance from sin through Christ.
It is not found by giving in to every impulse you have, the moment you have it. There are sensations of unbounded independence that certainly feel free. But they are not true freedom, because they deny God's truth, the ultimate reality, and will eventually lead to calamity.
Think of skydiving. Wouldn't it feel more free to fall without the "encumbrance" of a parachute? All those straps, the extra weight...it must feel confining. But obviously you will very rapidly become a slave to gravity. Or a train. Mustn't it get old, running along the same tracks everyday? Wouldn't it feel "liberating" to leave behind the tracks and make a path for oneself, out in the green pasture?
We find our greatest and truest freedom when we loose the bondage to the sinful self. If I can learn to discipline myself to not follow every desire, to not pursue every path that looks nice from my perspective, to not act on every transient emotion, or believe every cultural influence that writes a magazine article, I will ultimately experience much greater freedom. Sometimes we must endure a discipline that at first feels restrictive in order to be released from bondage we hadn't even realized we were in.
Do we trust our Creator? Does He want our ultimate freedom? Or do we know best?
Here is the flip side: True freedom is NOT found in legalism, either. Submission gets a big name in some Christian circles, and there are women who wear it like a badge of honor.
Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.Submission to God's design in faith is liberating. Submission to a man out of legalism is suffocating.