Category Archives: Religion

Saturday: The Day of Silence

Good Friday is over. Now it’s Saturday.

Saturday. As Jesus’ friends awoke, the day after they watched their dear friend violently die, I imagine it took some longer than others to remember. As the morning sun streamed in the windows, bringing the promise of a new day, their memories of the night before caught up with them. The morning sun no longer held promise. Just defeat.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to end.

How could Jesus leave them like this?

Where do we go from here?

I’ve been there. I’ve lived through a “Saturday” filled with hopelessness. My life wasn’t supposed to look like this. I was supposed to have purpose. Things weren’t supposed to look this way. It didn’t feel as if I would ever find joy again.

Friend, are you stuck on Saturday? It looks different for all of us. Depression. A soul-killing job. Illness. Divorce. But one thing is the same, we feel as if God has abandoned us. He’s stopped speaking. Or at least, we’ve stopped hearing. He’s silent. Maybe even…dead.

Saturday.

But oh, the best part of all, is that no day lasts forever. Even Saturday. As Sunday dawned, so did the hopes of the world.

The women came to the tomb. The only ones strong enough to face what had happened. Women, look in the cracks of history, and you will always find us. Doing hard things. Being present at the most glorious moments. He isn’t here, he is risen! Go, tell the others.

He is risen!

Everything I believe hangs on this historical fact. He. is. no. longer. dead.

Sunday brings life. Sunday brings hope. Sunday brings the answers to Saturday.

God will not remain silent. Death could not contain Jesus. Sunday will come. And when it does, you can look back and praise him for his faithfulness, even on Saturday.

His love is relentless.

Easter is coming.

 

In Defense of Valentine’s Day

Like it or lump it, Valentine’s Day is coming this weekend. That commercialistic, sappy holiday sponsored by Hallmark. It also happens to be my birthday, so clearly this is my favorite holiday and I think it’s worthy of celebration. It doesn’t have to be a commercial mess like a certain December holiday, and it doesn’t have to be solely about romantic love. Let’s take a look at where it all began.

The history of Valentine’s Day is murky and muddled, but it’s clear that it started in Rome as a fertility festival called Lupercalia. It was celebrated as most Romans festivals were with nakedness, drunkeness, and sex. Oh, also the women were whipped by men with the hides of newly slain animals, all in the name of fertility, of course.

Later, St. Valentine was added in to the festival. The church was not, and is not, sure which man named Valentine this saint was named after, apparently there were several that were martyred for their faith in some fashion or other.

St. Valentine was made part of the celebration in an attempt to Christianize the holiday. Pope Gelasius the First did this in order to “put the clothes back on” the festival even though it remained a drunken party. By the way, that is the funniest description of how Christians took something over, isn’t it? Can we please describe all Christian cultural things that way? GodTube is like YouTube but with clothes on. Creation Fest is like Woodstock but with clothes on. (Yeah, those are things.) Terrible Christian movies are like the ones from Hollywood but with clothes on. I could do this all day.

Anyway, by Shakespeare’s time, Valentine’s Day was becoming more about romantic love and continued to do so until Hallmark got ahold of it in 1913. And here we are today. My point in all this is not that we go back to the origins and bring back fertility beatings, but that the holiday really has no set agenda to it, outside of Hallmark’s bottom line. Which means, at least in my figuring, that you can do whatever you want with this day.

wp-1455304679672.jpegIn our house we use Valentine’s Day, and really the whole month, as an opportunity to tell our loved ones they are special to us. Our boys have been making cards for weeks, mailing them, delivering them door to door, and passing out chocolates. We tell them that sometimes we have special sweethearts on Valentine’s Day, and sometimes we don’t, but that’s not really the point. The point is that there are always people in our life who we can show love to, because God’s love never stops for us.

Every Valentine’s Day I make a card for Tim (take that, Hallmark!). It’s usually silly, I’ve usually stolen the idea from someone on the internet, but it’s fun, and it’s us. Here’s last year’s card. And honestly, I love the idea of giving something, anything, on my birthday. You should try it too.

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Full disclosure: I did NOT come up with this. I saw it online and redrew it. You should follow me on Instagram if you want to see this year’s card. It’s going to be awesome!

So I challenge you to look at this day differently. If you’re tempted to complain about it, instead do something about it. Send an encouraging note to a friend. Buy someone flowers. Make something. Bake cookies. If this is a special day to you and your significant other, great! But don’t forget that romantic love is not the only thing worth celebrating. How can the two of you work together to bring joy to someone else?

Take this day back. How will you celebrate your Valentine’s Day? Let me know. And enjoy your chocolates.

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My sweet friend blessed me this week with these beautiful flowers, and now I’m reminded of her friendship and love every time I look at them.

By the way, if you’re wondering about my sources. I used this and this for my history lesson.

 

50 Shades of What Are We Doing?

My last post made for a very interesting week for me. I wrote about why I won’t be watching 50 Shades of Grey, and appealed to all women to reconsider watching it this weekend. Since I published it, I’ve had conversations all week long both online and off with women who have either defended the position I took or defended the movie. 50ShadesofGreyCoverArt.jpg

Women, I’m saddened. When I wrote the post on Monday, I confess I was a bit angry. I was angry with the thought that our girls, our young girls, are going to grow up thinking this kind of “love” is normal. That we’re just sitting by while society tells us BDSM and abusive relationships are normal and even sexy. I was disgusted.

But now, I’m just deeply saddened.

I’m saddened that our marriages and relationships are broken.

I’m saddened that we think erotic films will fix them.

I’m saddened that pornography is so prevalent that those who don’t view it regularly are in the minority.

I’m saddened that I have already had to talk to my 5 year old about porn. Because it’s everywhere.

I’m saddened that we look at Christian Grey as an example of a real man.

I’m saddened that 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence.

I’m saddened that our feminism has brought us here. We’ve almost come full circle. We told our men they couldn’t dominate us, we are equal. And now we’re telling them it’s okay to dominate us, it’s a turn on. A group called Fight the New Drug did a study which concluded that up to 88% of the most popular porn contains violence against women. That should disturb us. This is what our kids will view by the time they’re 8.

This breaks my heart.

Ladies, let’s take sex back.

Let’s stop romanticizing violence and abuse.

Let’s stop giving money to the machine that perpetuates this garbage.

Stop reading these books. Stop watching these movies. Let’s teach our kids what real love looks like. It’s messy and hard and not always beautiful. But it’s selfless. And it gives life.

Here are a couple articles that I found interesting this week. The co-stars of 50 Shades of Grey were even disgusted by the movie they made. Read about it here.

And this great article  by Jonathan Van Maren which starts out, “It’s pretty depressing when you realize that, in 2014, many people seem to think that destruction of human dignity is a small price to pay for an orgasm.” That’s a great opening line.

And finally, Lisa Wilkinson, co-host of Channel 9’s Today Show gives her review of the movie.

I won’t be seeing the movie this weekend. I will be loving on my husband. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Why I Won’t See 50 Shades of Grey

Ladies, let’s talk. Valentine’s Day is coming and with it, the movie so many of us have been waiting for: 50 Shades of Grey. I won’t be going to see it, nor did I read the book, and I’m going to appeal to you not to see it either. I’m going to appeal to you on two counts, first as a woman, and second as a follower of Jesus for those of you who have made that choice.

Women
First of all, let’s just call this what it is, all right? It’s pornography. Look up any definition of “pornography” and 50 Shades will fit into it. It’s even been labeled as “mommy porn,” which I find offensive and disgusting. As if “mommys” are in a category all our own desperate for an outlet such as this.

50 Shades is not friendly to women. It’s just not. Porn is never women-friendly. Porn objectifies women, even when it’s written by and “for” women. Porn is never healthy. Porn destroys relationships and skews our views on sex. The porn industry is horrible to women and the idea that we, as women, would support that is disgusting. I don’t want my husband watching or reading porn, and I’m sure he doesn’t want me doing it either, so let’s stop pretending it’s not porn. Call it what it is.

I’ve read enough reviews and several excerpts of the book to know that Christian Grey is not a healthy individual and his “relationship” with Anastasia is not a healthy one. It’s abuse! I would even go as far as to say that this kind of thing is highly offensive to those who have been in abusive sexual relationships. Abuse is not normal. Not in any circumstances. Women, stop buying this garbage! We deserve better. We are worth it. Our daughters are worth it. Let’s turn away from this crap before our young women grow up thinking it’s normal to be taken advantage of as long as the man is smokin’ hot and has a sweet soul underneath.

I don’t have a daughter but I do have two boys. I want them to grow up to be nothing like Christian Grey. They will be gentlemen. They will be kind. They will be respectful of women, treating them as equals. Let’s demand more of our children and for our children.

Followers of Jesus
This following section is for those of you who claim to be followers of Jesus, who have taken in his free gift of abundant and eternal life through his death and resurrection. In doing so, we have a higher standard, a higher calling.

I’ve been surprised again and again over the last year or so by the number of Christian women who have matter-of-factly talked about this book and movie without any shame. Ladies, porn is never okay in the life of a Christian. Porn is sin. The Bible is so clear on marriage and sex and we have no question that sex does not belong anywhere except in marriage. We are told to flee from this sort of thing, and here we are reading it and discussing it with giggles. Shame on us!

We must not go along with the culture and normalize this kind of thing. As followers of Jesus we must not read about or watch sex for entertainment. As followers of Jesus we mustn’t condone abusive sexual relationships, even if “consent” is involved. Throughout the history of our faith the Church body has been different from the surrounding culture in terms of sexual immorality. We are to be holy, “set apart.” This kind of “entertainment” has never been okay and we need to be disgusted by it.

I realize we all have different standards as to what is allowable in our own lives. For example, my husband and I grew up around people would pass out at the idea of Christians drinking alcohol. Yet, I really enjoy a beer now and then. This difference is okay; I don’t force alcohol on those who don’t drink, or even drink in front of them, and they don’t force their abstinence on me.

However, the standards of sex are not like that. The Bible calls us to a higher standard concerning sex. This doesn’t come from me, so don’t argue your point with me if you disagree, it comes from Jesus. I can find no interpretation of the Word of God that allows for sex outside of marriage or condones this kind of unnatural behavior that we read in 50 Shades.

I won’t be going to see this movie, and I beg you not to either, as women, or as followers of Jesus. Let’s set a higher standard. Let’s demand better for ourselves, and from our men.

My Dependent Life

This week my baby was sick. Okay, he’s not really my baby. He’s five. Big Brother would be deeply offended if he knew I called him my baby. But when our littles are sick they all are our babies, aren’t they, no matter how old they are?

He woke up Monday with a fever and headache and by the evening he had so much chest congestion he was having a hard time breathing. As I was doing every home remedy I had on hand (read about it here), I was lamenting to a friend that I was frustrated that he was sick because I was doing everything possible to keep us healthy this winter. We’ve been taking our Juice Plus daily, using essential oils to boost our immunity and fight germs, eating lots of fruits and veggies, exercising…

“So why is he sick?” I said to her in a whiny voice.

My friend is so wise. “Sometimes it just happens,” she said.

That gave me an ah ha moment.

No matter how much I do, I can’t do everything. Sometimes I forget that I’m not in control. I’m not God over my boys and their health.

I’m not God.

I’ve been having a rough month. Ha, it’s really only February 5th isn’t it? There’s a lot of month left. It’s no secret that I struggle with depression and the first two months of the year are the hardest for me. It’s cold. It’s dark out. It’s dark in my soul. I’ve been struggling to get out of bed in the mornings and that’s a huge sign for me that I need to take extra care of my soul and mental health so I don’t go into a downward spiral.

I’m doing all the right things. When it’s sunny, we go outside. I’m taking my vitamins and my Juice Plus. I’m eating right. I’m trying to sleep well. I exercise. Okay, I at least think about exercising.

And yet, in spite of all that I am still struggling.

Sometimes it just happens.

And when it happens I get brought back to a place of dependency, where I should have been all along. I forget to worship. I forget to give thanks. I forget to be dependent on my Healer.

Jesus. My Healer. I am utterly dependent on you.

No matter how many things I add to my health routine, good though they are, they can’t take the place of the One who truly knows my soul. I am so thirsty for his love, yet I stubbornly think I don’t need help. Move aside, God, I’ve got this because I’m healthy. I can do it myself. I don’t need you.

What a deception. When I believe that, there’s only one direction for me to go, and it’s not good.

So instead of trudging through the darkness, stubbornly refusing my Father’s love, when I wake up and feel the heaviness I will fall on my knees and lift my eyes to heaven and through the tears cry out, “teach me, God!”

God, use my weakness, use our sickness, to keep me clinging to your everlasting kindness. Give me strength to choose your nearness over my independence.

This is my dependent life.

Leggings, Hate, and Human Suffering

If you’re alive, and you use the internet, you’ve probably seen something about this post (if you’re dead, and you use the internet, I’m going to assume you have different priorities). Christian blogger Veronica Partridge released a wave of hate and very nearly broke the internet last month when she wrote about her personal decision to not wear yoga pants or leggings in public.

Her thoughts are that tight leggings/yoga pants may cause men to look at her body lustfully and she doesn’t want to be responsible for causing men to stumble. She makes it very clear that this is her decision and she is in no way telling others how to live. So why all the hate? She even wrote a response to her blog post standing by her decision and calling out those who spewed hate toward her. She said she has been called all sorts of names and her husband has been solicited for sexual acts. I’ve read similar things the last couple weeks on all corners of the internet.

What has happened to us, people? We’re disgusting.

I’m not here to debate modesty, we could do that forever and never come to a conclusion, and I personally love my yoga pants. The only reason I’m not wearing them right now is because they were on the bottom of my drawer underneath my jeans and I was too lazy to dig for them. Which is why I love them, they take no effort, and clearly I’m fashion-lazy. But this isn’t really about yoga pants.

What is this really about, then? I’m still not sure. Misplaced anger? Lack of human decency on the internet?

Or maybe we just hate anyone who makes us look inward. When we read an article or blog post that causes us to self-examine our lives we get angry. How dare she tell me what to do! And yet, she hasn’t told anyone what to do. Perhaps if I’m feeling a tugging in my spirit it’s because I know deep down that I need to change something about my life. Instead of going further with that feeling it’s easier to lash out at the source in anger and hate. We don’t do that to someone’s face either. We’re nice people. We never would tell someone in person that we hope they die…

And if you got angry at the haters, you’re not innocent either! I read comments where people lashed out and told a young woman to “go read a Bible and learn about modesty!” That seems like how Jesus would have reacted. Well done (sarcasm).

Today I read this post which lists 10 things we should get angry about before yoga pants. I agree wholeheartedly with the author. Let’s get angry about real things, about injustice, about slavery, about war.

Am I responsible for how I dress? Absolutely. Am I responsible for men’s reactions to how I dress? Absolutely not. Am I responsible for my brothers and sisters who are being killed for their faith every day all over the world? I think so, yes, and this really seems like a bigger deal.

But I don’t think that this means we can’t talk about modesty, and yoga pants. I think we should. Let’s just do it off the internet, shall we? What I think about modesty matters to my community. It matters a lot. And once I can live in messy harmony in my community, serving others, being served, then we can take on the bigger issues of injustice, starting in our community.

Let’s attack injustice the same way we attacked Veronica Partridge.

Without the hate.

 

5 Reasons Why We Don’t Do Santa Claus

I’ve been writing this post in my head for weeks. Trying to figure out the best way to get my words on paper, er, computer screen. This morning I woke up with an icy cold nose which told me the temperature had dropped. It’s snowing! I said to myself as I hopped out of my warm blankets and looked out the window expectantly. And sure enough, it was. wpid-2014-12-14-09.49.08.jpg.jpeg

And you know how we love snow days. Today is the day I need to write, I thought as I prepared breakfast for my hungry crew. It’s going to look like Christmas outside, so it’s time to write about Christmas.

Now before you read this, notice the title is NOT “Why We Don’t Do Santa Claus and So Shouldn’t You,” because first of all, that’s a grammatical mess. Second, I don’t want to convince you of anything. I just want to let you know what we do and why, because I’ve found myself having this conversation in person several times over the last couple weeks, which is always an indicator to me that I should write.

So here we go, 5 reasons we don’t do Santa:

1. I really don’t like Santa. I never have. Even as a kid I loathed being forced to sit on his lap so that adults could coo and snap pictures. I knew he wasn’t real and it seriously creeped me out that I had to sit on a costumed stranger’s lap. Obviously, this isn’t the only reason my kids don’t believe in Santa, but to be honest, it is a reason. The Oatmeal has a great comic illustrating my feelings toward the jolly guy.

2. Big Brother is extremely literal. He believes exactly what you tell him. It’s really hard to sneak anything by him. So I left it up to him to figure out Santa. I never told him anything for or against the story of Santa and the reindeer. I knew he would ask eventually, because he always does. And when he did ask (this year, and last year, and the year before) I asked him what he thought. I could see the wheels turning in his head. He knows that nothing about Santa Claus lined up with what he knows is truth, “he’s not real, right?”

“Right,” I replied, “he’s just a fun game we like to pretend about at Christmas time.”

“Like Batman!?” Little Brother chimed in.

“Yep, like Batman.” Satisfied that they had gotten to the bottom of it, they ran off to play.

3. I can’t lie to my children. This really belongs with reason number 2, but it’s so important I’m giving it its own paragraph. My children learn about the world primarily through me, because they’re with me most of the time. This is a big responsibility, and I can’t take it lightly. I’m not saying here that if your children believe in Santa that you are lying to them. But if they come right out and ask you if Santa is real and you say yes…by definition…that’s a lie. Let’s just call it what it is. I never want my boys to doubt what I say. When we read a book they always ask if we’re reading truth. Sometimes we are, sometimes we aren’t, but we always let them know. The ability to discern truth in this world is a skill that is so desperately needed. Again, I’m not saying that your kids shouldn’t believe in Santa, because myth definitely has its place in life too, but I want my kids to know that I will always give them a truthful answer. And no matter how hard I try, I can’t fit Santa into this, for our family.

4. Christmas is freakin’ awesome without Santa! Seriously, guys. If you’re a follower of Jesus this is a pretty important time in the history of our faith. It’s a time of Advent, of anxiously awaiting the Savior who was born and who will come again. These are incredible truths that really put the big red guy to shame. Our Creator God wanted so badly to make a way for us to come back to himself that he sent his Son, an extension of himself, to our filthy, wicked earth as a helpless baby to dwell among us. How does this not blow our minds? If I’m going to waste energy telling my kids a story that seems too incredible to be true I’m going to pick this one, because it’s true!

5. One of the great joys in my life is loving people by giving them gifts. I love my friends and family, and I want to communicate that love by giving them a gift that I picked out just for them. When my boys open their presents at Christmas I don’t want to give the credit to a stranger who broke into our house last night. This is probably selfish of me, but oh well. I want the credit. I’m the mom!

The point of this is not to make you feel judged for what you do with your kiddos. Instead I hope this has caused you to think. Tim and I often say we want to live intentionally, or live on purpose. We want to think about the reasons we do things for ourselves and our boys. We’ve thought this through, and our actions follow. My desire is that you would stop and think about your family traditions, and if you do and still do Santa at your house, then awesome! Do it!

Furthermore, I don’t hate Christmas. At least not all the time, and my favorite Christmas movie is Elf (Home Alone is second). May you and yours have a very merry Christmas. wpid-2014-12-14-09.48.31.jpg.jpeg Do your children believe in Santa? Why or why not?