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Friday, March 22, 2013

A Three-Stranded Cord

Today I'll link you up to my post on A Biblical Marriage website.

I'm writing about the often-given advice that marriage issues should be worked out privately with no outside help.  I didn't address this specifically, but I do believe that many marriages struggle specifically because of taking this approach - this advice: 'Never share your struggles with others outside your marriage.  Work it out between you.'  This is human wisdom.  This teaching stems from pride - and generally a need to protect one's ego.  (For example, 'I need to feel honoured in my marriage.  If my wife/husband were to share the things that go on with someone else, I'd be embarrassed.  Therefore, it is better to always work things out alone.')  It may go a long way to protecting each other's (perhaps unrealistic?) reputation, but won't go very far in ensuring a healthy relationship!

God, and support from others are key in building a lasting, growing, strong, healthy relationship.

(Unless you're the type who never has relational struggles, then I suppose you can go it alone! )


Better Not Go it Alone

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Laundry [Guest Post]

Today I have a guest post by Jackie Kenney - enjoy her thoughts on life and laundry!  I sure did!

The Laundry of Life

When I was little, Mom washed, dried, folded and put away all of my clothes. Then she would get the clothes out of the dresser and put them on my squirmy little body. Later, I grew independent enough to open the dresser by myself and choose outfits from the clean clothes that magically appeared there.  Folded, mended, there they were, every day, just waiting for me. 

  As I grew Mom let me "help" sort the dirty and fold the clean. I followed her everywhere. I told her that our washing machine talked. It swished back and forth saying, "Wash the clothes, wash the clothes." The wringer was very fascinating. I soon learned the hard way to keep my fingers and hair far away from it.

            I grew up and moved away from home. I had to wash all my own laundry all by myself. It was an awful chore. It required quarters and a large commitment of time . . . about a half hour. Truly the responsibilities of adulthood had fallen heavily upon my young shoulders.

            When I married, the amount of dirty clothes went from two loads a week to three. Not too bad, I could handle it.

            But then everything changed; our baby was born. This itty-bitty, tiny being, with her doll-sized sleepers doubled my work. Now there were six washers full each week.
            One baby girl, then another, then another. More work; more time spent at the laundry-mat and many, many more quarters.

            They grew. They dressed themselves. But they didn't like any of their clothes. They would try them on and throw them on the floor. None of the outfits that magically appeared in the dresser seem to look good on their bodies (but they must have looked great on the floor), It was time to "let them help". They learned to sort and fold and to put away. They learned what would happen if they didn't do it, too.

            A little boy and a washing machine joined the family.

The laundry was everywhere; piles of clean, piles of dirty, piles to be mended and piles to be ironed. There were piles that had been grown out of and piles waiting to be grown into.
 Even though many loads were worked on each day, it was never all done. It seemed that most of life was spent just getting ready so we could live.

            Now, the kids are grown. The chaos is under control. The laundry piles are manageable. It doesn't take long at all to keep house. Here in the quiet, the preparations of life take only minutes a day. I have lots of time to live, but what am I supposed to be doing?

            At church, a frazzled-looking young woman with a baby slung on her hip lost his little blanket onto the seat beside her. An older woman stooped and picked it up, held it to her nose, inhaled the baby smell and with a smile, expertly folded it and gave it back.

I know how she feels. She too misses the life of dressing and loving her little ones. We thought we were just doing chores. Chores kept us from really living. But maybe a big part of living is about dressing little ones and teaching them how to get dressed.
Maybe it's about teaching them how to work and how to live.

            John Lennon used to sing that life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

I think maybe life is what happens while we do laundry.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Grandpa by Caleb Logan

My Grandpa enjoys teaching me.  He enjoys taking me places, and teaching me new things.  He knows his family tree and will often play with words; he will also tell us stories.  His smile is a warming fire; his laugh is like a roaring lion.  I can ask him a question and the wise old owl will answer.  He is one of my best friends!

  When he's around I'm spoiled.  He'll take me out for a snack, and my family for dinner.  He'll have me and my siblings over for the afternoon and night.  I'll bring my stuff and be a very happy guy.  He can make me a happy kid!

  When we visit him in Florida we take the best memories home.  I'll pick oranges, then use an old fashioned orange squeezer, and we'll make the best orange juice ever.  Sometimes we'll mix oranges with grapefruit; the juice probably tastes better than ambrosia - probably much healthier too!  Other memories are having lights everywhere, the scene of presents and Grandma saying: "Come, try this on, see if it fits!"  Those are only a few memories with Grandpa and Grandma at Christmas.

  My Grandpa can be nicer than Santa!  He talks to other Christians and teaches them about God.  He'll take them Bibles, and bring others to the Lord.  He is one of the kindest people I've met!  I've never met such a fatherly, nice man.

  He is a wise old owl in mind.  A jolly, joking man in spirit.  He can make me laugh outright with his jokes.  He can be a very fun Grandpa.  And a good friend to have.  I can't wait for him to come in late April.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Urgency of Parenting

Dear Sarah 10 years from now,
(So, this is a letter to me for later)

Well, has it been worth it?  Didn't people tell you the time would fly?  I'm guessing it has flown - and you are probably reading this with wide-eyed wonder thinking, how did you know I would say this?!

Did you realize that the days and weeks could pass so quickly and that you could fill them with frivolous necessities or with rich nourishment meant to cultivate soul-fruit?  When you were 11 years into the parenting journey, it suddenly dawned on you that you could fill the days, weeks, months and years with adequate food, shelter, activity, education and even a fun event or two - some entertainment and social maneuvering - and raise a body yet forfeit a soul.

I trust you haven't sought to do that in these remaining years.  That you have seen your parenting as so much more than seeing to the physical, social and emotional needs of your kids.  Didn't you one day realize that the incubation of home-life would quickly expire, and that spiritual starvation could easily set in unless you teach them to feed themselves?

A friend recently told me that there are only a set number of bedtimes you will get with your kids.  And that if you miss one you can't get it back.  Did you remember to take as many of those times as possible?  To whisper, 'I love you!' just one more time?

It is inevitable that they grow - they will grow tall, outgrow shoes, change hairstyles and friends and activities.  I can feed and clothe them physically.  I can entertain and fill their lives with good, enjoyable activity.  I can even enrich their potential - by building their skill sets and knowledge.  But I shudder to think I could harbour their lives for 18 odd years, and fill the hours so full that I never take time to just be with them.  To lay down head-to-head on their pillow at night and wonder at the silliest things, that often lead to the most important things.

How has the journey been, I wonder?  I pray when you read this 10 years from now you will have set your priorities straight.  I hope you have nurtured their spiritual hunger as much or moreso than their physical appetite.

For bread will be requested.
Treats and play-dates will be desired.
Fights will ensue that need a referee.
Laundry will need doing.
'Get your homework done!' will need to be told.
Getting out the door on time will be important.
Saying 'sorry' and hugging your sister will be a lesson to learn.
Eating proper food before candy will be enforced.

All these can be done and time can pass so quickly without your child ever hearing, feeling or knowing, 'I care about you.  I want to know when you hurt, what you long for, and how you think about God.'

Saying - and more than saying - getting your child to know you mean it - these things happens at unexpected times.

Did you take the opportunities to snatch up those moments, to pour yourself into them, to give yourself fully to the task of raising a soul?  Or were you distracted by the many things needing to be done - to the degree that you left their souls suffering neglect and starvation, for want of nourishment?

I hope you will have thought this through.  I hope you will have raised mighty spiritual warriors, rather than sophisticated but empty-hearted bodies.

Let not the guilt pile up.  Only trust God to take you onward on this course to His purposes for you!

With hope for your kids growth,

You - 10 years ago.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Content or Control Freak?

I am coming to realize that it is hard to be both content and a control freak at the same time.  People who have a high need to control everything in their lives tend to find contentment just a wee bit elusive.  Okay, more than a wee bit perhaps.

I have generally thought of myself as the laid-back, non-controlling type.  When control is mentioned in sermons I have tended to pat myself on the back and say, 'Well at least that's one area that I don't struggle in!  This is for all those controlling types out there.'  Oh, how wrong I have been!

Because even in my laid-back personality - my laissez-faire, anything goes, can't ruffle my feathers attitude - even beneath all these layers is a deep-seated need to control.  I just didn't realize it.  But sure enough, when I lose my temper, and I wonder why, I discover it is the need to control driving my loss of self-control.  When I find myself tense and annoyed, underlying this is a need to control.  When I cannot laugh or smile it is often because I am wishing I were in control and failing to recognize the One Who is always in control - whether I am aware of Him or not.

How can I - who has a soapbox regarding contentment - have such issues?  How can I, who revel in the wonderful doctrine of the sovereignty of God, still fail to acknowledge Him in the day to day mundane issues of life?  How can I?

It is so easy to forget.  It is so easy to wander into the illusion that I have control.  When I falter and find myself in that place I become agitated.  Worried.  Upset.  Angry.  Fearful.  Uncertain.  Uneasy.  Hopeless.  Discouraged.  Burdened.  Weary.

And none of these are the destinations the Lover of my soul has laid out for me.  His paths are along verdant pastures.  His ways are known only to me one step at a time.  His hand is before me, His voice calls me to follow and trust.  To lay these burdens down.  To stop...


Listen to His voice.  Follow His lead.  Walk with Him.  See His goodness in the land of the living.  Know He is there.

He tells me not to fear.  That He is certain.  That His yoke is easy, that His burden is light.
He tells me that there is rest for the weary - for those who come to Him.  He tells me to cast my burdens on Him.

All that is left for me to do is to obey and follow.

Lord, I lay my burdens down.  I come to You as one who has tried to control and forgotten to give You the rightful place.  I haven't trusted You to be for me the strength I need in the day-to-day trials.  I haven't believed Your goodness will surround me on every side!
I haven't trusted You to take me where You will.
I have sought to control what hasn't been mine to control.
I have been discontent and upset when Your peace was mine to receive.
I haven't opened my heart to submit to Your will.
Instead I have been fretful and fearful and have taken on burdens that were never mine to bear.
Forgive me, I ask.
And renew me with joy in Your presence.
Help me to walk with You - to know You, to love You, to hold no idol or illusion in Your place.  Even the illusion of control.
In the name of Jesus, Who died to grant me freedom from the burden of control, I pray these things.

Linked at Only a Breath

Friday, March 1, 2013

Man of Sorrows

Today I have a guest post from writer, Jackie Kenney, who has written some beautiful thoughts about the Man of Sorrows.


             He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Isaiah 53:3
 I know this sounds so unspiritual but each time I read this I hear the Soggy Bottom Boys from the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? singing "I-I-I  am a mama-in of constant sorrow, I've seen trouble all my day.( I've seen trouble all my day)"
I looked up that song on You Tube. I wanted to find out if it was written for the movie or if it was old and maybe had something to do with the Isaiah 53 "Man of Sorrows".
Depending on who sings it, the words roughly are:
            I am a man of constant sorrow; I've seen trouble all my day
            I bid farewell to old Kentucky, the place where I was born and raised
            For six long years I've been in trouble, no pleasures here on earth I found
            For in this world I'm bound to ramble, I have no friends to help me now
            Its fare thee well my old lover, I expect to see you no more again
            For I'm bound to ride that northern railroad, perhaps I'll die upon this train
            You can bury me in some deep valley, for many years there I may lay
            While you're dreamin' while you're slumberin', I am sleeping in my grave
            Maybe your friends think I'm just a stranger, my face you'll never see no more
            But there is one promise that is given where we can meet on that beautiful shore.

I found out that there was old blind fiddler from Kentucky named Dick Burnett who used to sing this song back in 1913. Everyone thought that he wrote it because in his version he mentioned being blind "for six long years". When interviewed as an old man he said he didn't think he wrote it but maybe he did. Some thought it came from Ireland to America in the 1880s. Wherever it came from, it has been recorded everyway that you could possible think up. Everybody seems to identify with a song about lost love, about being in trouble and rambling around with no friends.

The song "Man of Constant Sorrow" was sung mountain-folk or hillbilly style in the early 1900s. Then as blues by Delta Blind Billy in the 1930s. When folk music came became popular, everybody and his brother recorded it in the 50s and 60s; Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez and Judy Collins.

You can find out just about anything on the internet. I found out that Jerry Garcia performed "Man of Constant Sorrows" a cappella at a Jewish center in San CarlosCalifornia along with the Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers in 1962. Strange but true, everything on the internet is true, right? In the70s, Rod Stewart recorded it. Even the Rolling Stones grabbed some the lyrics verbatim in one of their songs. There was a 2003 version by an Australian group called Skeewiff and another by some Canadian hard rockers Tin Foil Phoenix. There is a punk rock version, punkers get sorrowful too.

In 2006 Osaka Popstar, with painted faces, and all dressed in Goethe-black recorded this song, too. But after listening to a strange group from Spain sing this song in English, I'd had enough. I don't think the girl in the slinky leather dress with red high heels knew what the words meant. I think she was trying to seduce everyone who was listening. It was creepy. After that one I didn't have it in me to watch the Norwegian all-girl pop band or the jazz version but I did listen to a rapper/poet sing it hip-hop style. (You Tube is addictive.)

There seem to be 2 basic versions of the song and most singers personalized the name of the place that they had "bid farewell". I heard KentuckyCalifornia,ColoradoBirmingham and New Jersey.
After listening to all these differing styles and variations of "Man of Constant Sorrow", my take is that all around the world, and for over a hundred years, people get lonely, have troubles and sing this sad song. Some versions sounded very sad, some maniacally upbeat. Joan Baez' "Girl of Constant Sorrow" is the saddest, hands down.

I don't want to belittle my God by comparing his suffering to a silly song but Jesus was called a man of sorrows and was familiar with suffering. The King James says He was "acquainted with grief". He knows what its like to suffer. When we bring our troubles to him he knows experientially that life on earth can hurt.  

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are--yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15

The rest of Isaiah 53 tells of our Lord's suffering using words like: despised, rejected, pierced, crushed, stricken, wounded, oppressed, and afflicted. He suffered so much more than I ever have. A lot of human suffering is brought on by humans.  We try to break the laws of gravity or we make some other dumb decision and suffer for it. We break laws, we sin. That's not the case with Jesus. As it says in Hebrews 4:l5; he is without sin. The suffering he went through was all about us.

Isaiah 53 says that our Savior "took up our infirmities", "carried our sorrows"," bore the sins of many", "interceded for the transgressors" and "poured out his life unto death" Isaiah 53:4-12. 

He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.

The Man of Sorrows carries my sorrows. He carries them.
Not only does he know what it feels like to have sorrow because he's lived here in a human body, but as almighty God, he is strong enough to carry them.

So to every musician and listener of punk rock, hillbilly, country, rap and folk music and every other kind of music that's out there; whether you are from California, Colorado, Kentucky, New Jersey, Australia or Spain, or anywhere else; hear this:

The Lord Jesus Christ is willing and ever so able to carry your sorrows. We don't have to do this alone.
                                                                                                           Jackie Kenney