Friday, November 26, 2010

My Own Olive

Yesterday was bitter sweet for me. I had a wonderful relaxing low key Thanksgiving with my husband, children and a good friend. We feasted and laughed and life was good. We don't have much in the way of leftovers, just some turkey and of course the vegetables. As much as we love them, if the leftovers for grazing are cold vegetables versus cold pumpkin pie, it's a no-brainer.

After dinner we watched a movie about family loyalty, Little Miss Sunshine. Take that, my fundie upbringings! There is more real love and loyalty in the final scene of that movie than I think I ever experienced in the totality of my life growing up in my (self-) righteous "Christian" fundamentalist family. It is quite a contrast.

So after the movie, my dear friend, whom I admire greatly, found the cajones to make a difficult phone call. Her life, her story so I won't elaborate here, except to say that I found it inspiring. I decided to make a difficult phone call myself.

I had been thinking about my twin sister and praying for her more than usual. (Back story here.) I always hesitate to call, because she is gravely, chronically ill and I do not want to be the person to wake her up just as she has finally fallen to sleep. It's safer to e-mail.

An email is just not the same as a human voice, though. Sometimes the payoff is worth the risk, so, following my friend's example, I picked up the phone and made the call. I didn't even get her voice mail. The phone just kept ringing so I assumed she was on another call and hung up. I resolved to try again later, and by later I meant another day. I don't think she can handle two phone calls in one day.

Well, to my surprise, she called me back later. We would up talking for almost three hours. I consider it one of my finest achievements of the year that she was actually laughing when we got off the phone. If I accomplish nothing better this year, my life counted for something good in that moment. She deserves to laugh and experience joy in this life.

Most of the two hours was not overflowing with laughter. She is truly ill, and that is a reality that hangs ominously like a dark cloud over every moment of her life. It IS her life right now, unfortunately. All of her energy is focused on getting well, getting treatment, fighting the ignorance and indifference of overworked medical staff, struggling against the insurance establishment, and then underlying it all, the abandonment, rejection and vilification from her effed up family of origin is still there.

I hate what fundamentalism did to my sister. I realize that is was just one of many tools that my NPD mother used to dominate and control us, but the weapon itself is still nasty, really destructive. My twin is one of those who went through the terror of believing the rapture had taken place and she was left behind. Damn that horrid movie A Thief in the Night. Understandably, having been abandoned at birth to the hospital preemie ward, then abandoned by mom completely when sent to live with my Grandma, and abandoned by our biological father by the age of two years old, abandonment was already her biggest fear and greatest source of pain.

For those of you not in the know, the "rapture" was made up by Americans in the 1700-1800s. It was never a traditional Christian doctrine, i.e. the apostles who walked with Jesus never taught it. It remains a great tool for terrifying people to convert to a semblance of Christianity, a la "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", and it is an especially great tool for controlling people once they "get saved". Walk that line, people, or get abandoned by Jesus right when the world starts to get the ugliest it has ever been!

(For the record, the gospel message is the opposite of Jonathan Edwards and his manipulating sermon. Jesus came to seek and save those separated from the loving heart of God. He came to reconcile us to God. Jesus tore the veil separating us from the Divine Presence of the Holy Trinity. The Father sent Jesus to us, to show us the Father and because the Father so LOVED us! God is not disgusted by you, and anyone who tells you different is a liar. (All of this is in the Bible, plain as day, but I will not thump you with references here. Email me at to_shadowspringATyahooDOTcom if anyone wants the references. Be warned that if you want to merely argue doctrine, I have no time for you.)

Rejection was my twin sister's earliest emotional experience, so of course when a preacher one day told her that God planned to burn her in hell for all eternity, but if she would walk the aisle and pray this prayer, then God would relent and not punish her forever, she fearfully, tearfully made her way down the aisle. It was no hard sell to convince her that God rejected her as she was. That preacher had it easy on that count. The gospel of grace, though, the truth that Jesus will never fail us or forsake us? The truth that Jesus will never reject anyone who comes to Him? She was never able to rest in that. My twin sister couldn't really trust that His love was steadfast, unfailing, totally secure. She was never fully assured that He wouldn't snatch back his offer of mercy at any moment.

The Baptist proclivity for Finney style hard-sell high-pressure audience response techniques did nothing to assure my sister of God's love. In fact, re-dedications were almost as rewarding to the preachers as first time salvation responses. They worked that angle all the time, your need to "get right with God". For the insecure and the wounded it just muddled up what little true gospel had gotten into their message even further. Just thinking about fundamentalist doctrine upsets me, so let's just leave that bitter taste behind and get on to the sweet, shall we?

I was able to tell my sister that I loved her and that I accepted her as a sister in Christ, even without the fundamentalist trappings. Like many of our most vulnerable and weak in society, she talks to God all the time. She relies on Him to get her through each day, and is continually asking Him for help. She has an awareness of His presence and His love (thank God!) but it does hurt her to know that our fake Christian family rejects her as a heretic because she left fundamentalism behind so long ago.

I am just really really grateful that Jesus is not defined by fundamentalist doctrine. I am really really grateful that the Holy Spirit of the Living God doesn't take orders from the American Christian politico-business machine. I am thankful for that Amazing Grace that John Newton knew, and for all the drunks sitting around campfires today still crooning out that paen to the true grace of our Loving God. Keep singing.

I am thankful that I finally get it, that doctrine over person is WRONG. Jesus said that his new command was that WE LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

He did not say that his greatest desire is that we all get doctrinally correct, and finally uncover the hidden message of the rapture.

He didn't say that all men would know we were his disciples because of our regular church attendance, or the way we snubbed "unacceptable" people.

It was sweet to be able to honestly, sincerely tell my twin sister that she is acceptable in God's sight, just as she is, holy and precious to him because that's who Jesus is: He is love. It was sweet to be able to say honestly that yes, I believe the Holy Spirit is at work in your life, leading and guiding you on a daily basis. That meant so much to her and to me. I am ashamed that I missed out on that for so many years because I let fundamentalist fear be my truth, instead of trusting in the gracious love of God.

If my sister's life could be likened to the character Olive, putting her whole heart into something my religion told me was the wrong song, then like Olive she still deserved to be loved and supported. God looks at the heart, not the outward appearance. I wish I had loved my twin sister unashamedly like the non-religious family in Little Miss Sunshine loved their Olive.

I am thankful for all the families out there in the world that are like the family in Little Miss Sunshine, standing behind one another in solidarity no matter how tough times get. In that movie, the little girl may have made some embarrassing choices, but her family saw the innocent heart behind her efforts and refused to condemn her. I want to love like that: whole-heartedly, willing to be embarrassed if love calls for it, never rejecting but caring for people in the ways that they need, in that moment, to be cared for. I want to love like Jesus.

As a cyber friend wrote recently on his blog:
Do you think that if all the other voices were silenced (as if it were possible) and all you had were the scriptures and your own children to teach you about God that you would assume God loved you despite your behavior?

Good question, Ryan. Good movie, Michael Arndt. Good conversation, sister.

May the grace of God be a very real experience to all who read here. SS

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Wow. I am a little blown away by the traffic that my last post generated. I have had more hits on my blog over that post than any other ever, by a long shot. I guess that must mean I am on to something. And here I thought I was pretty radical and on the fringe. Maybe I am, but it at least appears I have a lot of company here. *waves enthusiastically at the other radical fringe Christ followers* =D

Today is Thanksgiving, so Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I am the main cook around here, so I don't have time for a long thoughtful blog post. But short thoughtful I can do! So here's the thought:

2 Corinthians 13:11-14 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All God’s people here send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

So marks the close of the second letter Paul wrote to the believers at Corinth, that we have in our possession still today. Wow! What a giant humongous great big bundle of good will and high aspirations, no?

Rejoice: I hope all of you find joy today in everything you do: chopping veggies, caring for children, cleaning for company, setting the table, making small talk with in-laws, walking the dog...all of it. I hope that you will all rejoice to be alive, and rejoice that there is a metaphysical Super-being who loves you overwhelmingly and unconditionally. Rejoice.

Strive for full restoration: That's a tricky one. Holidays often mean that we are around people with whom we have fractured, unhealthy relationships in some way. (Not for all you perfect families out there, but the rest of us! ;-) I hope that many of you will have been praying about these relationships, and that today is a healthy step toward full restoration. I myself will have no such awkward relations around the table this year, but I have in the past. So I will say a prayer for the people dealing with that today. As much as lies in you, seek for peace, but don't accept abuse in the name of peace either. Full restoration is going to have to take everyone's feelings into account, including yours. For me and my family of origin, it will probably always be something we strive for but won't attain this side of glory. But we do what we can.

Encourage one another. Speak that kind word. Be a cheerleader to your aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, sons and daughters, spouses and parents, neighbors and friends. We all need it. Sow some good stuff out there in the universe. Always a good idea.

Be of one mind. What the heck can that possibly mean in a world where two witnesses to the same accident will see things differently? I think it means of one purpose, not doctrine or belief or point of view. So here's hoping all of you come together today to share a day of peace, and can at least be of one mind on that. Jesus did command us to love one another, so I am praying that we can all be of one mind in this: asking Jesus to live and love others through us today.

Live in peace. Overlook what you can; take a stand when you must- but do so in gentleness and respect. I realize these things are tricky, and the trickiest part is what gets first place: keeping peace or living in truth? If everyone in the home is there in good will, it shouldn't be a problem. But if like my family of origin, there is a history of emotional abuse, that can be super-tricky. Me, I decided that it was actually impossible. I have not spent a Thanksgiving with my mom since she kicked me out at seventeen. In my defense, I've never been invited. On the other hand, I deliberately live half a continent away, so that pretty much guarantees I will never be invited. So, live in peace, fellow Christ-followers. That might mean you have to avoid certain people, if after striving for restoration you have not attained it. I give you permission to do what you must to live in peace, abuse-free, restorative peace.

Greet one another with a holy kiss. That's a lot easier if you're Brazilian or Italian or Romanian, but kinda tricky if you're American. Whatever makes you and your friends comfortable. The idea is to greet each other with true welcome and affection from a place of Christian love.

And now the good part:

"And the God of love and peace will be with you." "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

Intimacy with God is what I live for: that whisper of the Holy Spirit in my heart that He loves me. The gentle nudge of grace that says I am a delight to God just be being, whether I burnt the mashed potatoes or not. The sense of being surrounded by love and the peace of heart that this sensation produces in my life. That's the stuff. That's what I wish you all on this holiday, and what the Lord Jesus came to welcome us into: fellowship with the Trinity. May it be the joy of all our lives today. Peace and good will, SS

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Anne Rice and a new exodus?

According to the ladies at the Wartburg Watch, a lot of formerly committed evangelicals are now calling themselves atheists. I have made cyber-acquaintance with a few over at No Longer Quivering. I have a cyber-friendship with one such person who has come full circle and wants to return to enjoying a walk with Jesus, albeit without returning to organized religion or at least not the organized religion of her past. Her blog is fittingly titled Chronicles of a Christian Heretic.

Anne Rice, famous author of the Vampire Chronicles, turned away from atheism and embraced Christianity, specifically Catholicism, a decade ago. Recently she felt that in order to be true to the teachings of Christ, she needed to separate from the organized religion of Christianity. Fox news had this report at the time.

More than one young woman, having been raised in a committed evangelical home, complete with daily devotions and weekly church attendance, are now questioning how what they have personally internalized from the Bible and more importantly, the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their lives, fits together with what is being taught in American churches. Men also are beginning to question what they have blindly believed and taught all these years as "the true faith".

What is going on here? Is this a Spirit led exodus out of the politicized business model that has become American Christianity? Is all of it the responsibility of the American Christian booksellers/curriculum providers/church growth/music/movie industry? For the capitalist enterprise that is the Christian market, it has been very profitable to promote a parallel Christian society that exists apart from and in opposition to "the world", i.e. all the other dear people with whom we share the planet.

I'm just wondering out loud, but maybe the death of the American church industry wouldn't be such a bad thing. My mentor, good friend and life-long Catholic believer has quit going to church because of the politicized, hierarchical money-making empire she believes her church has returned to with recent papal decisions. As for me, good Protestant I was raised to be, everything that I see is wrong with the Catholic church is wrong with the rest of the organized American religious empire.

We may not have ever sold pardons, but we have still twisted the good news of salvation to a profit-making enterprise that steals from the poor and blesses the rich. Ed Young Jr is merely one high profile preacher to get called out on the "tithe or God will getcha!" sermons I have heard in so many churches. How is that so different from selling indulgences? Both are taking money from people under the guise of "god's will".

All over my little corner of the internet, I am finding people who are fed up with abusive churches, pastors, and doctrines. Most of these people, like myself, like Anne Rice, are not leaving Christ Jesus. We haven't rejected the Bible. We reject how so-called "spiritual authorities" have misapplied the Bible to build up their own influence, power and wealth.

We are however coming out and voicing our discontent, and not letting people shame up with misapplied verses to get us to shut up. The internet has given formerly marginalized people a voice, and we are using it. The exodus I speak of is an exodus out of silence. In some cases it is also an exodus out of organized religion. It raises even more questions for me.

The apostle John wrote "we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you may also have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ...if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (I John 1:3.7) Surely he was not referring to the superficial Sunday morning gathering most American churches call "worship". It has to mean more than that, something real, heartfelt, and yes metaphysical.

Maybe it means you and I meeting over the internet and making the effort to come together in real life and pray for one another. Maybe it means having communion like Jesus first shared it- around the dinner table with friends- remembering how Jesus died for all of us and secured the new covenant in his blood for the remission of our sins! A joyful thing, not a solemn religious ceremony; a meeting of people you know and want to spend time; not a public event controlled by a grave man who does not personally know you and passed out by other dour-faced suit-wearing middle aged strangers.

Anyhoo, I have to go hang out with my daughter now. I leave you with musings and questions, and I have no plan to come back later and give you any "answers". Enjoy the mysteries. SS

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Servant Leader"?

I love the writing of the Apostle John. His gospel, his letters, even his vision on the Isle of Patmos (though admittedly not nearly as straight-forward practical as his other works) all speak to my heart so profoundly.

This week I am reading again in the gospel of John, the Passover discourse with the disciples that begins in chapter thirteen and concludes at the beginning of chapter eighteen. The first verse of the discourse:

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love (John 13:1, Thompson Chain Reference Bible, New International Version, 1983).

Wow, get ready for what happens next. Jesus is about to show the full extent of His love! This is the big reveal. The next thing Jesus does will be all about love, His love for us. This is so important because He will soon command his disciples to do the same for each other.

If you are a Christian, you know the scenario about to unfold. Jesus, the guest of honor, is about to take off his "outer garment" (take off his jacket, roll up his sleeves, so to speak), wrap a towel around his waster and start doing the house slave's job. He is going to wash everyone's feet.

Now before I go further, I must admit that I haven't studied ancient Roman household codes, so when I say that washing feet was the house slave's job, I am repeating what I have heard from the pulpit many times. I am assuming that is true, as I have heard it repeatedly. That is not always a wise practice ( 0.0 ) but I think no harm is done here. In the passage, the disciple Peter acts truly shocked that Jesus would do such a thing, and resists letting Jesus debase himself to touch Peter's filthy funky feet.

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them (John 13:15-17).

Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, has just shown in living color than no job is beneath Him. He is willing to serve in any way that is needful to the ones He loves. He conveys to his disciples that now there is no task too humble for them, because they can't possibly believe that they are above Jesus. The messenger cannot honestly consider himself of higher status than the Master who sent him out. That would be inconceivable.

I remember being fascinated as a little girl with the state of my sandal clad feet at the end of a summer day. It was amazing how white was the skin covered by leather straps in comparison to the filthy darkness of the exposed parts of my feet. The crevices and wrinkles would be near black, the rest the color of coffee stains. I also remember being amazed at the amount of dirt left in the bottom of the tub after washing my feet. Oklahoma is a dirty state, and didn't even miss the half cup or so of dirt that clung to my little girl feet on any given summer day.

Our feet these days are safely encased in socks and shoes, so while they may be a bit smelly come evening they are not filthy. They are well protected from the elements by our clothing. Our pathways are no longer dirt. If we are walking outside at all, it will be on concrete sidewalks and paved parking lots. That is the farthest many of us walk outside most days, from the building to the car or vice versa.

I am not sure of any job in our household that would be the equivalent to foot washing in an arid climate before modern transportation. In that culture, one would have walked all day on dusty roads, stepping around (hopefully) any animal droppings lying around, while wearing sandals. A country child's feet may still get that dirty, but it is the exception not the rule.

There are no slaves anymore. If we accept that the most distasteful tasks are the ones we hire out when we can afford it, then housecleaning and the care of young children are at the top of the list. I think it no coincidence that in patriarchal families that is considered woman's work. Notice I do not write "in Christian families" because patriarchal homes are hardly Christian. Patriarchy is a world-wide phenomenon and has been around since the fall of man, long before Jesus wrapped a towel around his waist that fateful evening.

What would be the social equivalent of a slave's task these days? Coming over as a guest, grabbing a pair of gloves, paper towels, toilet brush and cleanser and cleaning the bathrooms? Taking out the garbage? Changing a baby's diaper? Rinsing the soiled diapers well before placing them in the washing machine and renewing the bleach water in the diaper pail?

Whatever task you choose, it would have to be one in which the host would be tempted to jump up and say, "No! Never!" in shock, like Simon Peter said to Jesus (v. 8). We can't get what Jesus was really telling us if we don't relate to Simon Peter. There is a reason his response is highlighted in scripture. It relates to all of us.

There you have my musings from my time in the Word this morning. Whether anyone reading here gets anything from it, it is speaking volumes to me. The picture of true humility is being a servant to all. And not a servant-leader either, but a true servant. Jesus didn't serve by calling the slave to come in and wash the disciples' feet. He made sure it got done by doing it Himself. There was no display of any kind of authority or taking charge of things. He did what needed to be done.

And then he specifically commanded us, don't think you are above me. Do as I have done. No excuses (vs. 12-17). No job is beneath you. You are not in charge of anything but your own choices. Jesus is the Teacher and the Lord (vs. 13) and he is the One giving commands here and His command is humble yourself and serve.

Go and do likewise. Indeed. I think I better get busy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Eternally Secure in the Love of God

For this reason, I argue, we can be assured that God has an eternally prepared response to every possible free choice that agents might make throughout history, which is why I contend that the open view of the future offers as much providential assurance as does Molinism. Whatever comes to pass, God has been preparing for it from all eternity, as though it had to take place. ~Greg Boyd

The above quote is taken from here.

Rest easy, beloved.

Jesus is with you.

*He will never leave you nor forsake you. *He will never cast you out. *He is with you always, even to the very end of this age (eon, generation, decade, ordeal- all of it! =)*He loves you with an everlasting love. *Tell him your troubles, because He really cares for you. *He will work things together for the highest good of all who love Him in the end. Jesus is smart like that, *able to do more than we can possibly imagine.

I commend you to the loving heart of God, SS

*for those who love references, plus the above phrases into Bible Gateway. Start with NIV, and if you can't find it, try KJV. I memorized a ton of scripture in KJV as a new Christian. If that doesn't work try Amplified**. I refrain from posting references today in response to Bible thumpers everywhere. Smacking people with references doesn't make the Word of God more true, and it certainly doesn't make your personal interpretations any more valid. Less thumping, more truth. Peace out, SS

**Edited to add: NASV as well. I wasn't picking my fave translations, just the ones in which I was most likely to have memorized these verses. Let's not forget The Message and the NLT while I am adding translations. Peace, SS

Saturday, November 13, 2010

And the Answer Is....

Healing is a journey, but my husband is a trust-worthy traveler on that path.

I am just so...what word am I looking for? Happy. Satisfied. Content. Serene.

Let's go with serene, in honor of the Serenity Prayer. It's stupefying to me, the easy way I handled this last little relapse. Really, I amaze myself. It has got to be the EMDR, because that's the only thing that has really changed in my life since we began the process of recovery.

I have changed. I was not distraught, ruined, devastated by his rejection and his insults. I am not saying I was unaffected, but I was not knocked breathless. I am not saying I didn't want him to repent and work to restore the good vibes we had been previously sharing, but I was not in agony waiting for it to happen. I was not desperately pleading for him to " fix it NOW" as if the agony of being rejected by him was more than I could bear.

Part of my resolve has no doubt come from Kantor's book. Reading the description of how passive aggressives interact with their victims was like watching secret footage of my marriage over the years. The book called the psychological tortures my husband put me through abuse, which it was. It also showed me how I fell into the sado-masochistic cycle that perpetuated the abuse.

Kantor underscored the truth I already learned from various self-help books and support groups through the years. I can't change my husband. The only one I can change is myself. Pleading with him to change not only didn't help, it egged him on. Ditto attempts at calm rational discourse and yelling angrily. I tried it all, and I knew none of it worked. But that didn't end my compulsive need to get him to stop rejecting me. Even though I knew no good would come of it, I still felt driven to come to closure, to keep engaging him until he repent of being cruel and show me love and acceptance instead. I could not seem to stop myself.

This time it was easy. It has to be the EMDR. I can't think of any other explanation.

This EMDR stuff is now on my list of must-haves. Any daughter of an NPD out there still in pain? Zip your search engine over to this link and look for a competent therapist as fast as you can. I looked for the highest level of training in my local area and started there. You have nothing to lose except years of anguished relationships and some money you were going to spend anyway on something. Why not spend it on healing your heart? You deserve it. n_n

He has changed too. Joel and Kathy Davisson's Marriage Intensive got the ball rolling. Like Skills twenty-six week program kept it moving in the right direction. And EMDR is helping him keep that ball rolling in the right direction on a daily basis. I am so proud of him and how quickly he recovered himself from the pit in which he fell most recently.

I don't know how much, if any, my lack of tormented response had to do with his quick recovery this past incident. It may have only affected me, or it may have been helpful to him as well. Don't know and don't really care, LOL. It sure made me happy! =D

And in general, he is much happier than he has been in years! In addition to the EMDR, let me remind my readers that he is also taking anti-depressants. That in itself is a huge break from his family dysfunction, which says that physical need is a weakness that good (Christians? or just members of his particular family?) people don't experience. He left a broken leg untreated once for almost twenty-four hours to "see if it will get better" because of the shame he feels about receiving medical treatment. (Oh, his family system is so mean! Yet very Christian "nice" on the outside. God save us from their fate.) So humbling himself to take anti-depressants was huge.

I am really happy today, and satisfied with our relationship. So many insights, people and therapies have come together to help us have the relationship we both always wanted, but just couldn't reach. We are, as Joel and Kathy Davission like to say, "living it and loving it". I almost hate to type that out, afraid I will jinx it.

I also want to strongly emphasize to any battered women (emotionally, spiritually or otherwise) that the only reason this marriage is healing is because we ditched the whole traditional "man rule, wife submit" false teaching of the church. We embraced the "husband source of life" and "wife ezer- ally and friend" interpretation instead.

My husband took responsibility for both the state of our marriage and his own mental health. That will never, ever happen with an NPD partner by the way. If you suspect NPD, do whatever you can to get out of the relationship with as little damage as possible. I can't stress that strongly enough.

But for the PAPD, there is hope. They can learn to identify and express emotions safely, with therapy. That would include treatment for domestic violence as well as trauma therapy. Supportive aids like anti-depressants can make this process easier, as there is good reason these people have been suppressing their emotions. They are usually wounded very deeply, and very angry about that at their core,

So, to all my friends, thank you for your prayers and support through this healing time. To readers going through hell in their marriages, I hope my experience benefits you in some way. And to home school parents reading here who are being marketed to by the "man rule, wife submit" crowd, take warning. It's a simplistic and sinful twist to scriptures written in foreign languages and then translated into English a thousand years later. Go back to the source, dig deep and don't be led into bondage by the home school industry big wigs. They have plenty of money already, they don't need yours.

Peace and good will, SS

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Guess He Can't Be Trusted After All?

Well, faithful readers, here we go again. My last post about my husband behaving, ah shall we say, boorishly, was September 21, in the post titled "I Can Take Up For Myself".

Tonight is almost surreal. For weeks now my husband has been a great partner. I have credited the antidepressants and the EMDR therapy for giving me back the man I married. This afternoon when he came home for lunch we went on a walk together. It was so romantic. He stopped to brush back my hair and kiss me tenderly at one point.

So wonderful.

This evening after work he held me close on the couch and promised me that he wanted to dedicate his life to cherishing me. I was surprised, but in a good way. It sounded like those Christian wedding vows all over again.

Then, he went upstairs to watch soccer, but first he offered to share a glass of wine with me. I declined, but drank Vitamin water and snuggled up next to him talking while he drank one. Then I had to go pick up our son from Tae Kwan Do.

When I got back, my daughter was just walking in the door. Dad greeted her, and already then she noticed alcohol on his breath. I didn't really notice he was still drinking, because he was upstairs watching soccer. I was watching sitcoms downstairs.

Well, my daughter watched one of her favorite shows with me and then went back to campus. After a good while, my husband came down and sat abruptly on the couch. He was acting a bit off, but I hadn't figured it out yet. It wasn't until I scooted over next to him and he groped me that I started getting annoyed. And then, his breath hit my face.

Ugh. I hate the smell of a drunk. It is definitely something he knows. He rarely drinks, which I appreciate. But when he does start drinking regularly, he just drinks more and more every day until it gets noticeable. He has promised, on more than one occasion, not to have more than two drinks at a time, so that I can feel safe. He agreed to this in therapy. He broke his word tonight.

That's classic PAPD of course. He has to find a way to provoke me to anger so he can let off all his repressed negative emotion. The more patient and kind the people around him, the harder he has to work to provoke them. I hate this personality disorder. >:[

Of course I let my annoyance be known. I didn't yell at him, but it doesn't really matter if I raise my voice or not. Those of you familiar with misogyny know that all a woman has to do is express disapproval or displeasure with a man in that frame of mind and she's a bitch.

And so it goes. Not only am I a bitch, it's probably that time of the month too, he tells me. He "apologizes" by saying that he's sorry I'm so easily offended. Sigh. When I ask him why he is breaking his promises and undoing all that we have accomplished so far, he retorts "why are YOU undoing everything".

And so. He is sleeping in the guest bedroom. He has been such a jerk tonight, walking away from all the love he has built these past weeks, tearing down the reputation for integrity he was rebuilding.

The good news. I am not crying. I am still smiling. I am unhappy with him, of course, and unhappy that he has betrayed me again. But I am not distraught. This makes me very proud.

My son is still up, all six foot two inches of him. I am not at all afraid that my husband will even think of trying to physically intimidate me anymore. I don't hide what's going on from the kids like I used to do.

I already texted my daughter and she is willing to come home if I need her. My son has told me that he's sorry his dad is relapsing (his words not mine) and that means the world to me. I know the only person in this household responsible for this ugly turn of events is my husband. Even more cool, I know the only person in this household who would blame me for this turn of events is my husband.

I am making progress. I can't believe I used to let him make me feel like the crazy one. I can't believe I used to cover for him, keeping all the conflict behind closed doors, crying and praying in private. I can't believe I used to be so full of turmoil when he would pull a little mind-screw head game like he is tonight.

I am happy. I think I'll check on him once more, see if he's sobered up, and if not, it is off to bed alone. Sure, it sucks that he lied to me again, causing me to hope only to disappoint me in hopes of a fireworks show. But the therapy is helping. And so, we will see what tomorrow brings.

Peace and good will, SS

Home School in My House This Week

I was texting a young acquaintance last night, and she wanted to know what my son was studying. So, I sent her the following list:

World History
British Literature
SAT Test Prep
martial arts

She was impressed, but I'm not sure why. That list seems to be a pretty normal high school schedule to me. Do public school students not think the home schooled students study too? *shrugs*

Anyway, I thought I would give credit where credit is due. My son does most of the work. He is the one who makes home schooling work, not me. I assign readings, quiz him on what he's read, ask him if he's finished his vocabulary words/chapter outline/end of chapter questions, and proctor his tests. Pretty much, his education is between him and the (secular) textbook publisher.

I do actually "teach" British Literature. I do this because a) I love literature and b) my son does not love literature. Knowing that he loves people and also that reading British Literature out loud increases comprehension, I opened our study of Brit Lit to other home schooled teens. This is working out well for all concerned, as far as I can tell. My son has the added pressure of wanting to not look stupid in front of his peers, and I have the wonderful joy of truly interested students (also his peers) to keep me motivated to teach. I love it!

Also I will here confess that his World History tests are open book. However he must answer questions thoroughly and use complete sentences. In other words, he can't answer a question like, "What events led up to the War of 1812?" with a cop-out answer like, "The British were sore losers." At the very least, cite the text, come on. I don't feel bad about having open book tests, because I know he's learning. Tests are to gauge how well you as a teacher are getting through to your students, and figure out who needs extra help. I can figure out those things with an open book test just as well in this home setting.

Now, biology, since he wants to do something in the medical field, is a no-slack course. But then, he understands the importance of knowing how life works, so he has no objections to stricter testing protocols in biology.

And some days, like Mondays when he has speech club, we only get one subject done. This is the very first semester in my fourteen years of home schooling that the Prime Subject was not math. It's biology. I occasionally have little bouts of panic that we are not doing math everyday, but he is slated to take Pre-Calculus at community college next semester. Since he has already tested into that class, I let him out of taking it here at home. But I still worry about it sometimes.

Also, I gotta confess, Test Prep is freaking me out. We spent all the late elementary/early middle school years doing Wordly Wise workbooks, and completed three different SAT vocabulary cartoon books in middle school and early high school, and he apparently does still not understand a lot of the words he previously "learned". Yikes! Do I blame that on my teaching, or video games?

I vote "video games". Yeah, right.

The martial arts I do nothing to teach. I only give rides and write checks. He has added kick-boxing to the Tae Kwan Do, which I think is cool. If he passes his Spanish CLEP in April, I might buy him Rosetta Stone Korean for next year. (After four years of Spanish, he missed CLEPing out by five points!! So frustrating!)

So there you have it. I better go get him up and get started. Peace and good will to all who read here, SS

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Acceptable to God

There was a time in my Christian life when I was dead sure that I was a fundamentalist. No one ever really defined that term to me in a theological way, and so I accepted it when I was told I was a fundamentalist.

I knew God's Word to be truth. What I meant, was that God spoke to me through the Bible in highly personal, directly applicable ways that were profoundly meaningful to me. I meant that I believed as true that the Person of Jesus literally came to redeem mankind in the flesh, fully God and fully man. I accepted this (and still do!) along with the truth that He conquered death and (in today's youth parlance =) re-animated here on this planet, walking around in His own resurrected body, the same one that had been crucified earlier. This body apparently had some dimensional qualities we lack, in that he could instantly appear in a room and vanish at will. But he still ate food, as proof that this body was real flesh and blood, not merely spirit.

If someone asked me, "Do you believe in a literal Adam and Eve?" I would have said yes. If someone asked me, "Do you believe God created the world in six days?" I would have said, "I don't know. He could have if he wanted to." If you asked me, "Was Jonah really swallowed by a big fish?" I would have said, "Why not?".

But the real truth is, I did not have permission in my mind to even consider there questions. I was told repeatedly from the pulpit that fundamentalists were the only "real" Christians, and I believed it. I was told that to accept any part of the Bible as anything less than historical and scientific fact would mean I could not accept the coming of Jesus, his death and resurrection and therefore my own reconciliation with God would fail. And I accepted that assumption as an absolute truth.

It's not.

While I accepted that, that all those other Christians around the world and here in my country were not really "saved", I just shrugged off these questions. How does scientific reality fit with the explanation in Genesis? Don't even go there. Too scary. I could wind up an atheist!

Now this assumption makes me laugh, as there is no way on earth I could ever become an atheist. I KNOW the Lord Jesus Christ! He is my Good Shepherd, the friend who sticks closer than a brother, the closest and dearest Love of my life. There is no substitution for experience, friends. From my earliest days, God has been wooing my heart with His loving-kindness and I am fully, completely His.

But for others, for those who internalized this idea, that "to accept any part of the Bible as anything less than historical and scientific fact would mean I could not accept the coming of Jesus, his death and resurrection and therefore my own reconciliation with God would fail", it has proven spiritually deadly. Some who truly believed this idea have found real evidence that the words in the Bible (a book meant to lead us to a living relationship with the Living God)are not historically and scientifically accurate.

Since they were not taught that the Bible is primarily concerned with man's relationship with God, they cannot accept it as fulfilling that purpose. By their religious instruction it must be historically and scientifically accurate or all a lie. Then they discover the physical evidence of reality points to an old earth/universe. And so, they decide the whole book is a fraud, a series of obsolete stories.

Well, guess what I am discovering? Fundamentalists were wrong! The rest of the church really DOES have a living relationship with Jesus! So-called "liberals" are not on their way to hell in a hand basket! Smart, educated people who believe in evolution also love the Lord! *gasp*

This is a beautiful thing God has done, is it not? Faith in the Risen Lord is not dashed to bits by an old earth. Faith in God's great love for us demonstrated in the death and resurrection of Christ can even survive in the heart and mind of a person who believes in evolution! Wow. God is much bigger than the fundies would have me believe. 0.0

A friend recently posted this little video on the internet. Like all analogies it is meant to highlight one particular truth, not serve as a definitive explanation for all metaphysical reality. It is accurately titled in this blog the Cupboard Analogy.

Fundamentalists will hate it, of course, because at the end it seems to imply that even other cultures and religions might have a relationship with God. This insistence that what a person believes, rather than what Christ has done, is what really saves a person has always been confusing to me. Apparently I am not the only person to have these thoughts.

But aside from that issue, it is a great analogy for how the rest of the body of Christ differs from fundamentalists and yet are still very much Christians. It is also unfortunately an accurate representation of their intolerance for other Christians who integrate their faith and this world in non-fundamentalist approved ways. =(

Here is an essay by one such brother in Christ. This author does not fit the fundamentalist mold, and yet his faith in Jesus is obvious. I was told this was impossible by fundamentalist preachers. *big grin* I guess all things are possible for God after all! (I read that in the Word of God too.)

Human Evolution in Theological Context.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Power and Control Wheel

Power and Control Wheel from Paul Hegstrom's Like Skills web site.

If you are very unhappy in your marriage because of the way your Christian spouse is treating you, please check out this wheel. Many of us hesitate to call abuse what it really is because it has not yet escalated to physical violence. Abuse starts our far more subtly than that, and escalates over time. Please check out the resources at the Life Skills web site, as well as any other resource you can find, if your partner treats you like even ONE spoke of this wheel outlines.

Bad marriage relationships can be healed in some cases, but not without treatment. Start getting the help and support you need to find healing or move on. Jesus loves you more than life itself! He certainly loves you as a person more than the institution of marriage and/or the reputation of the church.

Peace, SS (

The Why of the Shed Blood of Christ

Faithful Christian brother Steve McVey weighs in on the reasons Jesus shed His blood on the cross for us.

Live loved, my fellow Christ followers!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Darcy's Declaration.


On second thought, I am a rebel. I rebel against the idea that life can fit into a neat formula. I rebel against the teaching that says I am only acceptable if I perform correctly. I rebel against the thought that I, as a woman, cannot have a voice except through the men in my life. I rebel against anybody and everybody who invokes the Name of my Savior to control me. I rebel against the "christianity" that is promoted by posts like the above, and propped up by people who resort to name-calling and attacking a girl who they don't even know, whose heart they cannot even understand. I stand with a growing army of rebels, whose cry is "Give us Jesus! Give us the pure gospel!" No apologies. Just grace and truth.


Monday, November 1, 2010

No Room at the Inn....

One of the attributes I like best about God is His good will. We never read of Jesus telling anyone to go away. Jesus never rebukes anyone for asking Him questions, not even those with spurious motives. The apostles James writes that God will generously give wisdom to all who ask. (James 1:5) He helps us out later in chapter three by pointing out that godly wisdom will produce very different emotions in our hearts versus "earthly, unspiritual, denomic" wisdom which springs from selfish ambition and envy.

Wisdom from God will produce minds that are "peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere". Who doesn't want that? Who doesn't want to hang out with people who exhibit this kind of fruit? Who doesn't want to be that kind of person?

In church yesterday, our pastor wisely admitted that he doesn't have all the answers to all the questions about the Christian faith and life. He came right out and asked for a show of hands for everyone who had ever been dissatisfied with the teaching of a church before. Everyone lifted a hand. He asked if anyone was ever dissatisfied with teaching at our church. No one raised a hand, out of love for our pastor and congregation, but he laughed out loud and told us it was okay to admit it. (A friend of mine pushed my hand up in the air at this point! ;-)

He went on to tell us that really, it was OKAY. Unity of the Spirit doesn't mean complete agreement on every issue of faith and doctrine. Unity of the Spirit comes when we love God and let him love people through us. Unity of the Spirit is NOT the same as agreeing to share the same doctrinal ideas and parroting the same party line about (insert issue here).

I really needed to be reminded that Jesus has made me accepted in the beloved, because sometimes there are other "beloved" who make it pretty plain to me that they are not very happy about me. I am so grateful to have found a place where there is truly room for as many as the Lord our God shall call. We do not have to agree on anything beyond Jesus and the gospel of grace.

Questions are not only welcomed but encouraged, both publicly (it's a small church, so people are invited to speak up during church, when our pastor sees they are bursting to talk) and privately. He might even have a few questions for you now and then. But like the Savior himself, pastor starts with a presumption of good will. People respond with the same determination to "accept one another" in spite of disagreeing with each other on things that are important to us as individuals. (Romans 14:1-5)

I love this so much about my little church, because it is so rare. I can't tell you how many times I have been pushed out and excluded for asking questions people are uncomfortable with and/or for which they don't have good answers. Lots of times I have experienced the unsettling reality that there is no room at the inn for people who think and question. Ostracization is the fall back for not being able to answer questions, usually with some name-calling and finger-pointing to get the process started.

Mostly the name-calling/finger-pointing is behind the scenes, as challenging anyone openly leaves the challenger at risk for their true intentions being exposed. I have had emergency meetings called to exclude me from home school circles. I have endured contemporary American versions of mini-inquisitions called merely to let me know I am hated by my fellow disciples. Blogs have shut down in the hopes of making sure my questions don't infect other Christians. We can't have people thinking too deeply now, can we?

Last night I saw that the same thing I have experienced so many times is happening to other Christians I love and respect. A sweet, gentle, tender-hearted and compassionate woman of God is accused of being "antinomian". This is a scurrilous charge brought up often to discredit people who rely on and emphasize the grace of God. It's true meaning is akin to hedonism or anarchy, and anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with this woman's writing knows that nothing could be farther from the truth. Her caution about crossing the line into sin, her constant checking of herself lest she also be tempted (Galatians 6:1) is admirable and evident to all. The attacks on her character and theology are just more wicked envy bearing fruit in her agressors' hearts.

Similarly, theologian Gregory A. Boyd has a blog post up today. A fellow believer he has debated many times has taken to outright lying about what Greg believes and proposes as truth, because it's the only way to discredit the man. Mr. Boyd appears to be amused by this, but I am not amused. It's an ugly reality in Christendom that breaks my heart and would turn me completely away from Christianity if it weren't for the reality of Jesus. Selfish ambition is a prime motivation of many ministries. Lying, name calling, misrepresenting others in unflattering ways- for way too many Christians this is the way to build their own little kingdoms on earth.

I have full confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit to see my fellow believers safely through this life and into the next. But I am not naive enough to think it will be easy. Hate hurts. It hurts no less when the hater signs off with "Love in Christ".

The theologian I have every confidence will weather this new attack on his ideas. He seemed amused even, that a person he had known for so long and debated so often could still misrepresent his position. I don't find it so funny, because I don't believe it is accidental or merely fuzzy-headed. I have overcome more than one knife wound to the back from a Christian brother and sister, so I find it hard to buy the innocent mistake theory.

I fear more for the author of tender heart. As a devout and sincere believer, I think she underestimates the depth of the hatred and selfish ambition in the hearts of so many so-called "ministers" of the faith. Her book directly threatens other folks market base. That is where the rubber meets the road for the people who find not only their self-worth in "ministry" but also their future worldly needs provided by "ministry". The malice and fear in their hearts can not be overestimated.

As for me? Nothing can shake me from my faith in Jesus. I have experienced His grace and love. It is an objective reality. Being excluded and reviled by other Christians has absolutely no bearing on the reality of Jesus. It does make it harder to put into practice the command of Jesus to love my fellow disciples. But believing in the incarnation of Christ in me, the hope of glory, I am trusting in Jesus to bring that perfect love to pass in me in the fullness of times.

In the meantime, I am content to hang out here in the stable with Mary and the shepherds. In the meantime, I am content to go outside the camp with Jesus (Hebrews 13:13) and chill with Him. While here, I will remember to pray for others who are being excluded that they too will enjoy the presence of the Living God and relax in His bountiful grace. Sharing in his sufferings, we also share in his glory. In the end, it's all good. =)