September 27, 2007

Capable and Committed

She greets me at the front door of the complex, baby in sling across her front, warmly surveying me through Calvin Kline geek chic glasses. Quick! Think of something witty! It's always smart to greet people like her with a witty or worldly remark so that your personality shines through the uniform. We climb the three flights to her upper flat, a two-bedroom with unfinished concrete walls and baseboards of untreated wood. Very vogue.

She directs me toward the to-do list, pausing on the "cat house" item. Leading me to the guest bedroom she points out the object in question. "My husband likes to call it the cat condo," she jokes. Everybody has a condo these days, I think. "It's not so bad, I can see the design element," I say. Now she trusts me.

I comment on her furniture and choice of color palette. "I see so many that are just beige and more beige," I compliment her. Now she really trusts me.

Despite my muted jealousy, I want to tell her how nice it is to be here in her home, to have a refuge away from Pottery Barn-decorated condo after gay condo. I want to tell this woman how refreshing it is to be cleaning the home of a straight, married couple with a child.

But I know she won't understand me, won't see how big a threat the former is to the latter's existence. "And besides," she will change the subject, "this really isn't our home so much as it is our dwelling."

Their dwelling? I keep my mouth clamped shut, for fear I will seethe. Even now I am finding it difficult to suppress my desire to mock the magazine titles that adorn this woman's cultured Indonesian coffee table: Metropolitan Home, Modernism Magazine, the New Yorker.

I decide to get started. Looking for a broom, I open the closet door to reveal the whole line of products our company uses; environmentally- and pet-friendly all around. Never mind that they don't work as well as the regular stuff, we've got to preserve the planet! We've just got to!

In the bathroom, the faux bamboo tissue, cotton ball and soap holders seem to mock me. "Even we have our place," they whisper. "You care about the wrong things." I turn again to envy while polishing the cloudy green bottles of Aveda products. I scrub the tub solemnly, making small circles of lemon-scented cleanser, washing away dirt that isn't there.

When the time comes to pay me, she hesitates. I do not expect a tip; they are young and have money, but are smarter with it than I am. Not wanting to, I admit to myself that their life is in a lot of ways better than mine. They are capable and committed to each other and their child. But I feel very certain they do not know the truth.

"You're so quiet," she observes softly. "It was as if you weren't even here. I am embarrassed to say it's a little unnerving."

She has literally asked me to break my silence.

"It is not your dwelling, it is your home. It is not just love that is important, it is the sanctified union of two people, a man and a woman. You are meant to cherish and protect these things with all your might. These are God's gifts to you and you take them for granted! God will take care of his planet. Your job is to preserve God's idea of a family!"

I show myself out. She stands in the doorway, the check shaking slightly in her hand.

September 25, 2007

Some shocking PLANS

Did you know that Planned Parenthood, an organization that performed
244,628 abortions
in the fiscal year of 2003, referred only
1,774 pregnant women
to adoption agencies�
That's nearly 138 abortions for each adoption referral!

Please join me in working to ban this disposable life mentality!
Families Against Planned Parenthood
for Fox Valley-related news and updates or
Life Decisions International
for more national coverage and opportunities to protest.

September 22, 2007

Friday Fire

How small a foothold does the devil need to convince you to settle? It could be as easy as a well-intentioned excuse like, “I don’t want to be late for church, why don't I just skip it this one time?” Or, "Even though this song is a bit too graphic, it's still ok to listen to for fun." Or, "I don't need to project my beliefs out to the world in order to know that I believe them." It's those statements that force us, little by little, into submission. We slowly become settled into the world.

We love to imagine how God is orchestrating everything, where He is in all our actions and thoughts. And even though we should never entertain his power, we do well to be cautioned about what the devil has his hands in. He doesn't need but a tiny foothold, small opening in a door, a bit of insecurity to make you into exactly what he wants you to be. And that is to be turned from your Lord.

I've heard it said that God speaks in subtleties. Well, so does the enemy. He is so subtle that we misinterpret who is whispering those excuses in our ear, mistakenly thinking it's our "subconscious" self. Don't fool yourself; it's the enemy.

This is no petty business. We’re talking about the value of our eternal soul here and the price is very, very high. This is a battle and the enemy is ready to fight.

But you know what? So is Our Lord. And so can we be, too. We can fight subtly and boldly. Put that 'Jesus is Lord' sticker on your car. (If I had a car, my sticker would simply say, "Repent!" and I would affix one inside on the dashboard as well.) Take the opportunity to respond to a pagan remark with Biblical truth. For example, no, you don't know what she means when she claims certain traits because she's a Gemini, because that's star- and false-god worship, and undermines the authority of Our Creator. Easy as pie.

On the flipside, Christians, we must be bolder. We must cleave from the world. A friend said to me on Wednesday, "There's nothing in the Bible that says Christians are supposed to be nice! We're to be Godly and holy, but nice ain't in there once!" I say this to myself even more than to you, that you must not back down from the truth you know. This may mean you lose friends, respect of coworkers, even family. Soon you may find yourself alone with the Lord. Congratulations, now you're getting somewhere.

Settle into the Word.

September 17, 2007

Leaves turning, turning

There are so many lately. Leaves that is. New ones turning over in my mind, in my city, in my heart and in my pocketbook. One year ago and some change Nic and I were New Yorkers for that famous minute, wandering the streets with our overpriced coffee, delighting in every hot sip.

Today, as in the past week, I'm lost in memories like this, thinking hard about my past and harder about my future. Praying I won't always be one foot in, one foot out of every place I live. Praying I won't be three phone calls, two blogs and endless e-mails behind in friendships. Praying I am met with new challenges wherever I go. Praying daily and nightly.

I remarked to my sister yesterday that my life before Christ was so bizarre, but nothing in comparison to my life after Christ. She laughed. Despite my pre-determination to the contrary, it turns out she knows her Father, too. Turns out we both love Our Father a lot more than our father. There's a lot to remember and a lot to forget about that particular heartache.

In between and around all of these swirling memories are long, long days of pretty hard work. You can learn a lot about yourself and other people when you scrub their toilets for a living. Do yourself a favor and just mark my words on that one. Every now and then I like to put myself low to the ground with some work. I feel like it's easier to get on my knees when I'm already down there.

Praise God I've got a place to live in Michigan a mere five blocks from my dear husband-to-be, who will be taking the maiden voyage in his new car this weekend. God bless the man who will drive three hours back to a place he hates just because the woman he loves is still stuck there. I get a little misty even writing this, that God found me and Nic and put us together. He is so good.

How do you end a train of thought? I'll try this way, with a written expression of gratitude for all the prayers and help, and a call to worship the Father who makes it all possible. The writing, the blessings, the grace.. brilliant.

September 2, 2007

News Quip

Where does a story end?

The televised news is quick to show you the beginning of someone’s story, and subsequently what happened to them one stormy/special night. But what happened to them after that? Is the only reason to pay attention to strangers when tragedy strikes? Is there no value in "following the story" to see is any pivotal changes were made as a result of the experience?

The media defines a story as "newsworthy" only if it fulfills two requirements: 1) it contains a life-altering, tragic event and 2) it can be explained in entirety in about 45 seconds. There is a third element, though not required, that accompanying the story is a horrifying visual element.

For the media one tragic event in one's life is both the means and the end to the story. For believers a person's story is never limited to one means or one end, rather it is expected to include several means to several different ends. To the unbelieving world there are means to an end. To the believer, there are means and ends until the Kingdom comes.

A Borrowed Home

It's hard to make a "home" out of a borrowed house. Rather, part of a house. I live currently on the basement floor of a three flat house in Chicago. I don't own it, I just rent it. I suppose technically I only rent half of it since I have a roommate.

Altogether it's not a bad place, but it could be better. The fact is it's a basement, so there are quite a few "co-inhabitants" we'd rather not have around; creepy bugs that appear from behind walls, underneath the fridge and- most appalling- out of the drain! We only have three windows, none of which face a sunny direction. The result is a dark, insect harboring, sometimes moldy basement apartment.

But even if it were an amazing apartment in a better part of the city, with sunny rooms and gorgeous above ground views, it wouldn't be mine. Not entirely. Even if I paid the whole sticker price and signed the deed, it still wouldn't belong to me because nothing in this world does.

Psalm 119 says that we are strangers on earth. Psalm 24 reiterates this notion, saying that "the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein." That means not only do we not own our homes, but we don't own the land they're on or the feet we stand on that land with. God owns his creation in entirety.

Perhaps that sounds unattractive to you, the idea that someone else owns us all. If you invest in the secular 'captain of your own ship' or 'master of your own destiny' concepts, it follows that you both own and direct yourself. A flattering idea, but it has a difficult outworking; who is responsible when something bad happens to you? You are, either intentionally by sending the signal for something bad to happen, or implicitly by not asking enough times for good things, or with enough intensity.

The truth is we don't want to answer to anyone for fear this means the 'good life' we have in mind for ourselves might be restricted by who we're asking to provide it.

Let's go back to Psalm 24 and the idea of God's ownership. It is through our being God's possession that He promises blessing and righteousness to us (verses 4,5). It is only those who seek Him, who aim to be pure as He desires who "ascend into the hill of the Lord" (verse 3). When we pledge unto our Lord, acknowledging and accepting His ownership of and dominion over us, He promises to bestow on us blessing. When we "lift up [our] heads" and our doors are opened to our God, the King of Glory will come in (verse 7).

Thus, if we deny being subject to Our Lord, He owes us nothing in return. Think of the richness of being surrounded by God's blessing! It would be brighter, more magnificent than any earthly dwelling could provide. Bathed in the Lord's light, that is where I want to live.

"The Father's house has many a dwelling,
And there will be a place for thee.
With perfect love His heart is welling
Who loved thee from eternity.

His precious blood the Lamb hath given
That thou might'st share the joys of heaven,
And now He calleth far and near:
'Ye weary souls, cease your repining,
Come while for you My light is shining;
Come, sweetest rest awaits you here!' "

"A Rest Remaineth for the Weary,"
by Johann S. Kunth, 1730


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