31 January 2008

Links on FAS/FASD info and some quick thoughts

I had some thoughts today about how to help parents who have children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FAS FASD). I am reading an article in the Journal of Biblical Counseling that points out the similarities in counseling and parenting. This particular volume has several articles focusing on family relationships, especially that of parent and child. The titles include : Helping the Parents of an Angry Child; Angry Teens; Counseling the Adopted Child; and Helping the Grieving Child or Teenager. (Journal of Biblical Counseling Winter 2007 Vol. 25 Number 1) I haven't completed my studies in the journal and so I cannot begin to write a proper synthesis of the various issues addressed, all of which I think may be helpful to parents of FAS or FASD children. But then, these topics aren't exclusive to FAS and FASD children.

I was blessed with raising some wonderful children in a unique set of circumstances. My sister died leaving behind 5 terrific kids. I had the honor of raising two of them. I have been thinking about what I needed to be an effective parent and what helped my kidlets thrive. One of the things that helped them is when people stopped treating them like' special needs' kids and started treating them like kids. In other words, people feeling sorry for my kidlets was not helpful. People making accommodations for their misbehavior by ignoring it was not helpful. I got the most help from folks who treated my kids like they were precious gems in puckish settings and were willing to help me shape their character.

It was difficult for me to determine how much to tell people about my kids. I didn't want them to be labeled but I did want people to know they had been through trauma. I didn't want trusted adults and friends to withhold discipline. Rather, I wanted them to be careful administers of discipline and love. It occurs to me that parents of FAS or FASD children must have a similar difficulty. People need to be aware of your child's difficulty with certain behaviors but they must not accept whatever behavior the child offers. Patience and the ability to redirect are essential qualities working with FAS/FASD children while corporal punishment seldom works as it very often escalates tension and precipitates outbursts.

Hope and resources for assistance are the primary tools stressed parents need. Hope in the God who changes hearts. Hope in the God who changes circumstance. Hope in a Savior who is not bound by what the world sets as limitations for a child. Parents of special needs children need advocates. They need understanding and informed friends who are willing to watch a difficult child for a few hours so they can regroup and recharge their souls. They need people who are willing to fight for them while they are busy parenting their children. Too little is known about FAS/FASD so teachers, officers and the general public are too often quick to pass judgment on both parent and child. Parents can feel tremendous guilt about their children's difficulties- especially adoptive parents who were sure they could love their son or daughter enough to overcome FAS/FASD.

All children are black holes of need, FAS/FASD children seem to have denser gravity than most. It's not so much that FAS/FASD children need different parenting, they need exponentially more of it over most of their lifetime. However, they tend to be oppositional and defiant to such a degree that they often do not accept the parenting they are offered no matter how lovingly it is administered. These parents need encouragement and help protecting their hearts from feeling like failures when their children reject their love and rebel against God and all boundaries.

If you're interested in helping parents of FAS/FASD children, or adopting an FAS/FASD child, you may find this site informative, heartbreaking and encouraging. The heartbreak for me is that this is preventable. The statistics in this power point presentation are mind blowing to me, though I haven't any way of researching their accuracy.

I am still searching for answers, Vicki. Don't give up on me yet!

30 January 2008

Letting some light in

Last night as I was going to bed, I walked into my bedroom, flipped on the light switch and not one but two of the three light bulbs in my bedroom light fixture blew out. My first reaction was to jump because it startled me. What came next were some unsanctified words and thoughts. I was thoroughly annoyed at what an inconvenience it will be for me to haul in a stepladder or chair, climb up and change light bulbs. I had sufficient light to postpone the ‘arduous’ task until the morning, so I continued with my bedtime routines and fell asleep.

Today I woke up with bright sunlight streaming into my room. Yesterday had been gray and raining. Today it was crisp, cold and clear. Knowing I have plenty of time to change the light bulbs, I set about doing other things including reading my bible. Something I read reminded me of my Biblical Backgrounds class. I was remembering the class fondly; the professor is a godly man who has tremendous knowledge and a love of teaching. I began comparing how I live with how Dr. Schaefer had described life for the women in the bible.

My house has windows in every room but one. Sometimes, I have to draw curtains and blinds to keep the light out of my home. I have about 1500 square feet of living space. I have laminate floors and Berber carpet. I have electricity to heat and cool my home, running water and a microwave if I want to heat some food.

My counterpart? If she lived in a house and not a tent or a cave, she planned her day around sunlight, because she didn’t have a light switch to flip lights on and off. Her home was maybe 150 square feet. She had one small window and the door to allow light to come in. If she wanted light after sundown or where it [sunlight] couldn’t reach she burned an oil lamp. Think about the light a candle would produce. That’s about as much light as they produced. The wick was flax or pieces of garments that had fallen apart. She would have to keep the oil lamp full and the wick trimmed all the time. Does this give insight into Matthew 25? (I may write a post on marriage customs next- fascinating stuff).

The entry way wasn’t tiled or carpeted. It was packed down earth. Most of the house was like that. In the back away from the door was a raised pallet or floor. That would be where everyone slept. The animals, whether a trusty guard dog or the family’s goats or sheep, slept on the earthen floor part. Imagine what a little rain would do for the smell and the muddy floor, not to mention what animals do when they eat regularly. Does this help you understand why a woman might rejoice to find a lost coin? Or give you an appreciation for what she went through to find it? (Luke 15:8-9) Perhaps you can understand why the man didn't want to answer the door when his neighbor came asking for loaves in the middle of the night. Besides being comfy in bed, who knows what he might have to wade through in the dark? Luke 11:5-9? (thanks mutato!)

She didn’t have cupboards and cabinets to store her things. Her house was made of stone and there were niches and projections to hold or set her things upon. We won’t mention things like spiders or bugs in the crevices and such. There may have been a fire going inside to keep them warm, but not necessarily. Most of the common folks kept warm by wearing their cloak to bed. Versatile wardrobe- go to town in it, sleep in it and use it for wicks when it is too tattered to repair. Water didn’t come out of a tap, she had to fetch it and store it. There were no leisurely baths, cleansing showers or washing machines. Again, imagine the smell.

The house was built with a flat roof. The roof was made of branches tied together and packed down with mud. There was a heavy weight they would use to pack the mud in after a rain. Roofs were not watertight; they sprouted greenry from whatever seeds were in the mud they used. They did provide an alternate place to sleep when the weather was good although falling through the roof was always a possibility.

As I consider these things, it is no longer such an arduous task to change a light bulb. Lord, help me create an attitude of gratitude to replace those unsanctified thoughts. Keep me mindful of your providence for me. (Romans 8:28-30)

29 January 2008

Let me be like Connie Reed when I grow up.

Tuesdays are good days. I look forward to them. I meet with a group of women for a bible study each Tuesday. This session we are doing a topical study on revival. I enjoy their perspectives, I enjoy their company, I enjoy studying the way the look and trying to imagine what they were like when they were younger. We range in age from the young and newly married to the widowed there with their adult daughters. I am new to the group and so I missed the history that came before. I missed the transitions these women have made, the trials and the celebrations. I think they all have stories that are worth noting. I think we all have lives that when you stop to look at them and ponder the intricate details.... are nothing short of amazing.

One of the women who attends the group is recovering from surgery. She had a suspicious mass and the unenviable position of being a nurse and knowing enough about what things looked like to be reasonably fearful of what the surgeons may, in fact, find. I asked her how she was and she began to tear up as she told me she was doing great and the results had come back with good news. Her tears were tears of gratitude. She told me she was a changed woman, having relied on prayer for the past weeks in a way she had never done before. Her testimony touched my heart. We talked briefly about the benefit of remembering the times that God has been faithful and merciful. Remembering is a good thing.

During a particularly tough time in my life, I was encouraged by an older woman who had a love for Jesus and missions work. She saw me struggling as a single parent and often invited me and my girls over to dinner, making certain there were other folks from the church there too. Dinners at Connie's house were a huge blessing, great fun and wonderful times of fellowship.

Connie was in her 80's. She had been widowed several years by the time I met her. She traveled the world in her twilight years, not because she was focused on entertainment, but because she was focused on saving souls. She went to the Philippines to stay with missionaries who worked and lived in the jungle. It was a 7 hour hike from the landing strip in the jungle to the village where the missionaries lived. She came back encouraging others to make the trip.

I can't remember all the missionary trips that Connie went on. I only remember that well into her 80's she was going- and none of them were easy destinations nor were the accommodations what you would expect a gray-haired saint to require. She slept on the floor in a sleeping bag when she went to Bosnia, or was that Romania? I can't be certain. I know that she went there with a group of college kids who soon loved her as much as I did.

Connie was the chair of the missions committee and she asked me to serve. What could I say but yes? My best friend had the honor of knowing Connie too. She and I have often said we wanted to be Connie when we grew up and I think I can speak for her when I say we still do. My best friend told me today that Connie is with Jesus now, having spent 100 years with us.

My thoughts now return to our women's bible study and wondering who among us is a Connie in the making? As we seek revival and remember God's faithfulness in all things, who among us will have the passion to live boldly for Him until our last breath? How do I find my passion and my purpose here like Connie found hers? From sunrise to sunset, Father, grant that I shall have the faith to make my life count- not for me but for Your kingdom. If it pleases you, Father, let me be like Connie when I grow up.


II Thessalonians 2:13-17
13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
14 And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word {of mouth} or by letter from us.
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace,
17 comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.
(NAS)

26 January 2008

Writer's Block and Analysis Paralysis


I haven't been able to write much of anything lately. I have analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis happens when I think too much about one subject and usually because I am thinking about it in the wrong way. For example, I have been thinking a lot about the weight of words and the responsibility of using them wisely. The admonishments in the bible about being mindful of what we say aren't intended to keep us silent but to keep us from using words foolishly. Because of my sinful and mercurial nature, I have thought about my responsibilities to the point of being fearful to write anything in a blog.

Isn't that just like sin? Taking a bit of God's wisdom and twisting it to incapacitate you from doing something good and making you think you're doing the right thing. I want to be mindful that I am treading on holy ground when I try to speak God's truth and use it as a balm for tired, aching souls. Yet remaining quiet is not the solution for being careful.

I am still researching Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and finding an appalling lack of biblical counsel on the subject. I can't help but wonder if there are people who have biblical tools to help parents of children with FAS who may also have analysis paralysis. So for now, here's my offering. I'll be praying for your paralysis and mine.

Proverbs10:19-21
19 When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.
20 The tongue of the righteous is {as} choice silver, the heart of the wicked is {worth} little.
21 The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of understanding.

Ecclesiastes 5:3
3 For the dream comes through much effort, and the voice of a fool through many words.

Ecclesiastes 5:7
7 For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God.

Ecclesiastes 6:11
11 For there are many words which increase futility. What {then} is the advantage to a man?


Proverbs 25:11
11 {Like} apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.

Proverbs 15:23
23 A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!

Proverbs 24:26
26 He kisses the lips who gives a right answer.


Ecclesiastes 12:11
11 The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of {these} collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.
NAS

22 January 2008

When There is No Hope in "Recovering"


I had the chance to talk with a woman from my church the other day at a community women's bible study. We have been developing a friendship and I am very appreciative of her. She is one of those sweet, soft spoken people I have always wished I could be. We were chatting about people we love and their struggle with drug addictions. I found myself saying something that I hadn't really thought about in detail. I told her I thought that people who had drug addictions have a misconception that their sins are tattooed on their foreheads and are worse than other people's sin. Like Hester Prynne in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, they are marked by their sin and struggle with always being identified by those scars. Why wouldn't they think that way, what do we do to change their perceptions?

Addictions do mark us physically. Hollow eyes, bad skin, rotten teeth-those who know the signs can read the map of scars addictions leave on bodies. The world says their souls are scarred too. They can never be free of the marks...the best they can hope for is being in recovery. Why is it we are content to classify people the way the world does? Why are we so willing to separate even our brethren into "us and them" categories- Here we have the "saved" and the "addicted-saved" who will struggle and forever be in recovery because of their addictions. Why would I allow a brother or sister in Christ to think for a moment that their sin of drug abuse insured they would be somewhat less of a new creation than the new creation I have become because I wasn't addicted to chemicals? How unloving and unkind we are to leave our brethren at the cusp of true healing and never bring them all the way in.

You may be shouting at your computer monitor right now that drug addiction is a medical problem, that alcoholism is a disease that must be managed; addiction to narcotics is a disease that must be managed. And while I will agree with you that these addictions cause real medical problems, I will not agree that the best a person can be is a recovering addict. What kind of hope is that, in forever being labeled as a 'non practicing' drug addict? Christians wake up! Repentance doesn't help us manage our sin! We are not recovering sinners! We are saved sinners, created anew for His glory and with the purpose of being fruitful; producing good works through and for Him.

The sin of finding your enjoyment, comfort, and reason for being in anything other than God (whether it is food, drugs, sex, shopping or whatever) is detrimental to your body and to our very soul. Addictions do cause physical trouble but they are not caused by physical trouble. They begin because we give way to our flesh instead of being obedient to the Word of God. We need to discipline our hearts as well as our bodies. A Christian who repents of meth abuse isn't likely to see the enamel suddenly return to their teeth, and a person who once drank to excess may have trouble with their liver for the rest of their lives even though they do not consume another drop of alcohol. The medical consequences of our sin aren't always healed. However, for a Christian, sin- confessed and repented of- is forgiven. If the sin that caused you to gratify yourself with chemicals is not repented of, then the best you can hope for is a change of behavior. That's what the world offers. God offers a clean and new heart. The world can't compete with that and we shouldn't want it to.

2 Corinthians 5:17 17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Psalm 51:10 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Ephesians 2:10 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Colossians 3:9-17 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its {evil} practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him 11 {a renewal} in which there is no {distinction between} Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. 12 And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 And beyond all these things {put on} love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms {and} hymns {and} spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, {do} all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (NAS)

17 January 2008

Appreciating Refinement


God is working me over. Usually, I resent it when He does this because it generally means He is changing something I like about myself. Take sarcasm, for example. I am really good at it. It is really annoying to be good at something that God doesn't want me to use. Now, I am not saying all sarcasm is off limits, just the kind that is biting and wickedly funny. Which of course is the type I am really good at. Comic relief at the expense of others... a chance to show off my wit and intelligence. I even like sarcasm in others, unless of course it is focused at me.


Proverbs 25:11
{Like} apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.

Colossians 4:6
6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, {as it were,} with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.
(NAS)

14 January 2008

Knowing and Worshiping the Living God


Knowing God- A Christian's Greatest Privilege.

I have been so blessed by this series. I am trying to figure out how to let others be blessed by them. So, I have resorted to guerrilla tactics. Look at that picture of my dog! How could you possibly resist reading this post? Anyway, on the right side of my blog I have posted some of the links to this series my pastor (Bill Haynes) preached a while back. I am hoping to post all of them but I am using free space to store the files and they only allow 10MB files and a few of these sermons go over 10MB. Meanwhile, please have a listen. I will try to post the individual links like this periodically.

13 January 2008

Sex, Questions and My Two Cents on the Subject



I want to start this post by divulging at the start that I feel strongly both ways. While that may sound confusing, I assure you, it is not. I will explain here shortly. The second thing I want to say is that I am not questioning anyone's intentions or salvation. This isn't a post about focusing on the right and wrong of the situation as much as it is focusing on a solution. Let me say this again. I want to focus on a solution. Now, to give you the problem.

Mark Driscoll, a pastor at Mars Hill Church, has posted a link to a series he is doing entitled "Ask Anything." If you click the link there is a portal to the discussion for the question asked "Is birth control a sin?" The portal warns you that the content of the discussion is rated MH-17. They mean it. Clicking the link is entirely up to you. Running around cyberspace you can find a mix of reviews on the aforementioned posted material. I am adding a link to a blog that I read that does endorse Mark Driscoll and one from a blog that does not. Again, click if you want to.

Now, why I feel strongly both ways. I lived and worked with college students for seven years. I have had the great honor and privilege of mentoring and sharing my life and my walk with Christ with them. I have seen the damage that is done when young men and women of God are not given the platform from which to have their questions, even their questions about topics like sex, answered openly and honestly. Young adults walking around with half truths and misconceptions turn into older adults with the same problem. Let's face it. We make bad choices even when we have the truth given to us but the odds of making better choices are slightly increased when we have accurate information. So I am an advocate of this sort of discussion being held among God's people.

I am conflicted because of the manner in which the discussion was held. I understand that the discomfort of the people involved may have been high and so levity and laughter were used as tension relievers. I might have been ok with that had there been some indication of the reverence this topic is due. All I had was the audio file to listen to and I don't recall hearing anything that resembled reverence.

Sex is not just a physical thing, it is a spiritual thing. When we as believers treat spiritual things in a worldly fashion, we do them injustice and ourselves great harm. God did not give us something wonderful and so potential detrimental to our souls as sex without giving us many exhortations and warnings on how to treat it. There is even a 'how to' manual in the Bible. Read the Song of Solomon, folks that is not just an allegory.

I am also uncomfortable with the idea of sharing this sort of material in mixed company. Again, I listened to the audio. I do not know the demographic. I cannot tell you who was there (was it couples? adults only?) nor can I speak to why it was done this way. I would have been uncomfortable listening to this in mixed company and frankly, it takes quite a bit to make me blush.

Here is what I do know. I know that part of being a Titus 2 woman and a biblical counselor means I need to be willing to teach young women the biblical truth about sex, birth control, and all related topics of their femininity. How wonderful would it be if mature believers, men and women, lived their lives with a passion for mentoring and teaching the younger brothers and sisters? Men teaching younger men to be men of God and women teaching younger women to be women of God. And all of this couched in gratitude and reverence for the gift it is? Wouldn't that be wonderful?

That's my solution. Questions answered in reverence and the safety of women being with women and men being with men or couples only. You know, I might even advocate a mature woman in Christ talking to a group of young men, not about the mechanics of sex, but about the emotional differences between men and women and vice versa. I am reminded of this. - One of the most powerful things I have ever witnessed was a professor at the college I attended and worked for addressing his classroom of young women. The college is situated in a part of California that is extremely warm. I am talking routine temperatures of 115 or more during the summer. It was not unusual for young women to wear shorts and tank tops, modest by the world's standards but still showing quite a bit of flesh. In the middle of his lecture he stopped the class and said "Ladies, you need to give me and the men on campus a break. I stand up here to lecture and I have no safe place to put my eyes." He gave them a short, fatherly exhortation about the effect their clothing choices had on men and then continued the class. That life on life moment was priceless.

12 January 2008

Twenty Years Later...... :)

Hope, Expectations and Premeditated Disappointments



I went to sleep last night still thinking about what I would offer the parents of children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I began wondering what I would anticipate if I were going to adopt a child knowing that they may have special needs and considerations. Then the thought came to me, "What child doesn't have special needs and considerations?!" Children are basically black holes of need, no matter what syndromes have been attributed to them or describe their behavior. Admittedly, some are more challenging than others, but none of them get parented properly without effort; love, sweat and prayers.

I was grateful to see a comment posted on my first blog article regarding adoption and parenting children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). My prayers were answered in that the person who left a comment is a Christian who has experience being raised with siblings and raising children with either FAS or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). I haven't read her blog thoroughly but I have glanced through enough to see some heart tugging stuff. Vicki, I hope you'll read Kari's comment and peruse her blog(s).

It occurs to me that the first bit of counsel I would give someone considering the adoption of any child is to make certain they know what they are getting into. One of the wisest and godliest men I have ever known taught me this: "Any time we expect something other than God to act according to His character we are setting ourselves up for failure-those expectations are premeditated disappointments." I wish I had known that before I took two beautiful little girls into my life and we made our family. It would not have changed my mind about raising them, but it would have changed how I raised them.

I knew that going from my single and self-indulgent lifestyle to parenting was going to be difficult. I had no idea how difficult it would be and the difficulty was going to be found with me. Sure the girls had their problems- they were kids after all, but I was the one who was supposed to have the tools as an adult, not them. God used those two precious girls to expose how selfish and self-focused I was. Trying to love children, especially on your own, is an excellent way to magnify each and every character flaw in you. For readers not familiar with me, I raised two of my sister's children after her death. I went from single to single parent in an instant. My sister actually had five children. For reasons that I won't go into here, I raised only two of them and coordinated visits with the other three children who were living in two other households. So, I got to live like a single, never been married, widowed and divorced parent all at once. Now I get to be a grandma and I hope to be much better at this job than I was as a parent. Ahhh!

Back to expectations. As believers we can expect God to fulfill each and every one of His promises to us. He will exchange grace for grace. Today's grace may not be sufficient for tomorrow's trials so He renews it daily. If you are going to adopt a special needs child, you need to rely on those promises and seek that daily grace. You need to know it is going to be hard. It is going to be frustrating. It is going to be a lifelong commitment. Your heart will break and God will mend it. Your guts will churn and God will soothe them. You will become weary and God will send you help and give you rest. You need to be all in and not be just one more trauma in life for the child to get over. You need the fellowship of believers who live their lives in Christ with purpose and with passion. You will need their encouragement, you will need their prayers you will need their help. Practical help.

Adopting a child with FAS may mean you need to be ok with the fact that you may never ever be appreciated for your efforts this side of eternity with Jesus, at least not from the child. You need to be ok with the idea that it is not about you. It is first and foremost about God and His glory and the souls he has entrusted to you. Make no mistake, these fragile vessels contain souls created in His image. They will not complete you. They will not make you whole. You are not going to be able to love them enough to fix them. As with all children, they are a mission field. God will use you as tools in His hands, but you may never get to appreciate His handiwork nor the depth of change your earnest loving and striving will make in the child's life and in the lives of those who watch you. Not here anyway. Heaven is another story- and there it won't matter to you as you'll be in presence of Almighty God, our hope and the only one deserving of glory.

Reflecting on my own life, parenting was the hardest thing I have ever done. It is also the most rewarding thing I have ever done. If you are being called to parent a child with FAS, don't be discouraged by how difficult it is going to be, just be ready- expect to be refined and blessed.

More to come

Proverbs 10:28-30
28 The hope of the righteous is gladness, but the expectation of the wicked perishes.
29 The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the upright, but ruin to the workers of iniquity.
30 The righteous will never be shaken, but the wicked will not dwell in the land.

Proverbs 23:18
18 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Lamentations 3:22-25
22 The LORD'S lovingkindnesss indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.
23 {They} are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.

Romans 12:10-15
10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
(NAS)

11 January 2008

God's Expections for those with Disabilities

As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I was thinking about my answer to Vicki and what I would tell parents who had adopted children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I think if you define a problem the solution becomes evident. So I started peeling away the layers of the information and discarded what wasn't pertinent.

Would I have different expectations for parenting an adopted child vs. a biologic child. No I wouldn't. While adopting a child does add some variables into the mix, it does not change the standard God holds parents to in raising a child. Whether they hand you a baby in the hospital that you've just delivered or whether you agree to parent a child that has been part of the state fostering program, the standard God holds you to is exactly the same. Genetic ties do not make a difference.

Somehow in our culture how we feel emotionally about circumstances and conditions has taken precedent over what is true, right and correct. I can almost hear the arguments from someone saying that it is not realistic to expect the same bond between adoptive and biologic children. Even if I concede that point, which I do not, it does not change the standard God has for parenting. We need to understand as parents and as children that God's standards do not fluctuate based on our ability to obey them. Period.

The ten commandments were not given to us with footnotes, exclusions and adaptations. They are the standard God set for us and by which we are measured (and found wanting). In his letter to the Galatians, Paul points out that the purpose of the law is to lead us to Christ. It is exactly because we are unable to keep the law that we are in need of Christ's sacrificial atonement on the cross. The standard is the same for all of us, with or without disabilities, hard lives and generous intellect.

In our backward human thinking, we would like to see that people with disabilities have more leeway, yet no where in the Word of God do we see Him lowering His standards for us. Quite the contrary, He sent Christ to keep the standard for us, knowing that we could not. What I see God requiring us in his Word, is that we extend ourselves lovingly and patiently to exhort those who have greater difficulty with self control. I see calls to repentance and perseverance, but not a chipping away at what is expected of us.

So, in thinking this through-so far I am eliminating adoption and subjective standards as variables in how I would encourage parents of adoptive children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I will think more about this and continue later.


Galatians 3:23-29
23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.
24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor {to lead us} to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.
25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
(NAS)

10 January 2008

Thoughts on being a new creation.

So yesterday was bad for me. I went to bed asking God for a 'do-over.' Not that I wanted to repeat yesterday until I got it right- why on earth do people see the whole reincarnation thing as a positive experience? No, what I wanted was a changed heart and attitude. I didn't want to repeat yesterday by carrying in the same ungrateful heart and making the same unwise comments and causing grief for people I care about. What I was asking for was a clean slate. If you squeeze a sponge and dirty water comes out, it's not the pressure that makes the water dirty...the dirt was there to begin with-one of the things I was taught as a nouthetic counselor.

After spending time with God I put yesterday behind me and fell asleep, hoping for a new day and a new start. A friend from church has had surgery today and when I asked her how I could help, she asked me to check in on her mom. I went to bed knowing I had a mission and was grateful for it. Normally I wake up about 7:00am by the latest. Today I woke up at 11:30 feeling like I had been hit by a truck. On top of that, I as running a fever and had a sore throat. My first thoughts? "Oh no... I am late for checking on Miss Helen.... OH NO... I can't go check on her while I have a fever and sore throat! " Next came the grumbling "some clean slate this is..blah blah yadda yadda blah blah." I called someone to take my place checking on Miss Helen and then, after whining a bit longer, began to be thankful that there was someone I could call.

Why is it that I never think first as a new creation? Why do I always let my flesh think first? I always seem to chase myself around in circles. God made us creatures of habit and when our habits are good that works for us. When our habits are bad, it works against us. Is it simply a habit that I have to go to the negative? Is it a pattern of sin? Is there ever going to be a time in my life that my first thoughts are of who I am in Christ and let that sweet knowledge flavor my response and reactions?

I want to say that it all boils down to disciplining myself and my thought life- but then I have worry about falling into legalism. If I think I can discipline myself, I am trying to live a works based gospel and sanctify myself. If I ignore the tendency to respond sinfully I am presuming on His grace. Being a new creation doesn't fix everything at once. It doesn't mean that I get a do-over by which all circumstances will now come to me favorably. It doesn't make my sanctification easy, it just insures it.

Life is a matter of balance. The world tries to balance on faulty foundations, foundations that crumble and leave them in peril. For the Christian, Christ and his gospel are the fulcrum upon which we must balance.

2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Psalm 51:10
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

John 3:3
3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Ephesians 2:10
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(NAS)

Colossians 3:1-10
1 If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
6 For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come,
7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.
8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, {and} abusive speech from your mouth.
9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its {evil} practices,
10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him
(NAS)



uh oh, fever's back... more later

09 January 2008

Rosemarie and the day that wouldn't go away.


Ever have a day where everything you say and do comes out wrong? Every decision seems to be a bad one? Today started at 4:00 am. I found myself suddenly and completely awake. I had to take my sister to the airport but didn't have to leave for another 4 hours. I could not get back to sleep.

I had errands to do after dropping my sister off. The store I drove 75 miles to was closed. I had to drive another 75 miles to pick up new glasses. New glasses are good but the prescription is going to take a while to get used to. The doctor told me it would be a challenge and that was ok two weeks ago when ordered the things. Today... I wanted a challenge free zone. But... I tried to do the right thing when I got them- I put them on. I was tired, my neck hurt from being rear- ended in November. The rental car provided by the other person's insurance isn't comfortable. So in my new specs with the new 'script I charged forward and soon my head was aching and my temples throbbing. And I had 3 more hours of driving and 3 more stops to make before home.

When I got home I had a message from the IRS. That's not good. That's really not good. How can it be good when they tell you to return their call at 5:30 am? Next a message from a friend whose husband has been hurt at work....no disability insurance, he's a private contractor and they have two small kids. Ugh! I wanted a diversion I went online and started a conversation that I fear ended up offending and hurting a sister.

So now I am kicking myself for being dissatisfied with what God has given me today and having a sinful attitude about it; for not being grateful to have glasses that can correct my vision; for not being grateful for a rental car while mine is being fixed; for not exercising good decision making skills and going to bed instead of going online. And I am certainly having second thoughts about prolonging the day to blog about it... except that I need to have something to hang onto and here is where I found comfort.


Ps 56:8
8 Thou hast taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Thy bottle; are {they} not in Thy book?

Ps 39:12-13
12 "Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears; for I am a stranger with Thee, a sojourner like all my fathers.
13 "Turn Thy gaze away from me, that I may smile {again} before I depart and am no more."

Rom 5:1-5
1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
(NAS)

07 January 2008

The Gospel, The Call to Follow Christ , Adoption and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Today I was reading an excellent post found here on Steve Camp's blog. It is thought provoking and meaty and talks about the biblical call to follow Christ. I was deep in thought when I got an email from one of my favorite people in the world. She is a solid believer who has seen me through more misadventures than you can imagine. Vicki is a doer. She is good hearted, has a great sense of humor and comes armed with the gift of helps. She is also a deep thinker. As we emailed back and forth I got brave enough to give her the link to my blog. One thing led to another and I found myself asking if there was a topic she would like to see me write about. She most emphatically did have a suggestion and I should have known it wouldn't be an easy topic.

Vicki and I both have friends or family whose lives have been impacted by a person with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Most, if not all of these are families who adopted children with FAS. Vicki asked me to write about what I would advise a Christian family if they were to adopt a child with FAS. She is looking for practical help, not philosophical help. She recognizes that God is the ultimate answer, what she's looking for are all the steps in between here and going home with Jesus that parents might be considering. Vicki is an advocate of adoption and thinks that Christians should be adopting children, especially children with special needs. However, we both know first hand the terrible pain and agony that comes with adopting a child with FAS- for both parent and child. This is a huge topic. It is not one that I will take lightly and frankly as I told her, I am not certain that I am up to the challenge.

Thinking about FAS children and the post at 'Camp On This' has occupied most of my day. I keep being drawn back to two answers. First, I will offer my thoughts on Steve's post. Men try to change the gospel to make it more palatable not for the seeker but for themselves. It is the fear of man that they give into and has nothing to do with the desire to see people saved at any cost. They fear rejection if they present the facts, so they start out trying to put the 'gospel pill' in something that's easy to swallow. It is a selfish act, it is a foolish act and it is destined to cause painful consequences.

Secondly, regarding FAS children and adoption. I have less fear of sharing the gospel with the harshest cynic than I have trying to address this topic. There are so many things to consider as there are a spectrum of behaviors that come with having FAS and not all adoptions of FAS children have been as dramatic as the ones we are privy to. The cases we are familiar with include children who are suicidal, violent and dangerous. These kids lie, steal and terrorize their families because they lack empathy and self-control. They end up in trouble with the law, without an education and often spend their early adult years homeless. Their parents love them and are frazzled beyond belief. If I have something to offer these families, I want it to be a balm for their souls. I don't want to slap some pithy comments down and push on to the next thing. So I am going to be thinking about this, praying about this and waiting until I have something worth saying. Meanwhile, I recommend you click that link to 'Camp on This" and read something worthwhile.

Proverbs 25:11 {Like} apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.

Prov 10:19-21
19 When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.
20 The tongue of the righteous is {as} choice silver, the heart of the wicked is {worth} little.
21 The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of understanding.

Eccl 6:11
11 For there are many words which increase futility. What {then} is the advantage to a man?
(NAS)

06 January 2008

Chimps and Champions


If you have been reading blogs for very long you know how easy it is to lose complete track of time in them. If you have a favorite blogger that mentions his or her favorite blog, you're very likely to click a link and go see for yourself what the attraction is. We adults trade links to blogs like kids trading or playing a game of cards. If someone doesn't have a blog that addresses the issue you are looking for there is always Google so you can 'go fish.'

One of my dear friends gave me a link the other night and I clicked it. I feel a bit like Cypher in The Matrix, I wish I had taken the blue pill. The world that opened when I clicked that link catapulted me out of the safety of my naive little world and plunked me into the middle of a controversy. I wasn't shocked but I was dismayed and saddened. It wasn't the topic of the conversation that bothered me, it was the tenor of it. While this medium leaves entirely too much interpretation to the reader regarding tone of voice and such, meanness and blatant attempts at hurtfulness are difficult to disguise. Much to my horror the participants were, for the most part, professing Christians.

I wish I could take a class in the social psychology of blog readers and those who post comments. It would be a fascinating observational study. I keep poking my head in and watching the participants and making mental notes. It reminds me a bit of an assignment I had as a physical anthropology student at a secular college. I was asked to go to the San Francisco zoo and spend several hours observing various primate behaviors. It meant sitting for hours and waiting for something to happen and then documenting the activity. We were told to look for particular behaviors; play, posturing, aggression, dominance and the like. The chimpanzees put on quite a show for me.

A couple of the chimps decided to play and then others joined in. Soon frolicking got rough and somebody became angry. Hoots and hollers turned to screams. Then the beatings started happening. The whole troop became involved. Suddenly those chimps who weren't game enough to join in before found themselves in a position to either join in the fight or run for cover. Displays of teeth and terror came next and almost as suddenly as it started, the two chimps at the center of the fray were done. They had been stared down by an old chimp, regained their sense of chimp propriety and sat quietly. Some of the onlookers carried on for a bit and managed to get in a couple cheap shots at the two and some others in the group they weren't too friendly with. Soon even they settled down and order was restored. It occurs to me when I compare the two incidents, is it any wonder the world thinks we evolved from apes? We tend to act just like them.

There are people I love and admire on both sides of this cyber donnybrook. Mercifully, not all comments were sinful. Sadly, some were. As heartbreaking as it is to see the hurtful things being posted, there was a incredible thing that I might have missed the full significance of if it hadn't been pointed out to me. First, one of the participants asked for forgiveness. I wish I could say that the cacophony of chaos and nasty words ceased at that moment. Alas, people still shot words like poison arrows dipped in the venom of their own opinions and pride. But there in the middle of it one brother asked for forgiveness and was heard by another brother who not only granted forgiveness but asked for it in return. These two men modeled the gospel like champions right before our eyes. A beautiful symphony of grace that will be missed by those who cannot seem to remember their responsibilities as recipients of the gospel.

Ephesians 4:1-3
1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,
3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient, love is kind, {and} is not jealous; love does not brag {and} is not arrogant,
5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong {suffered,}
6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


Philippians 1:27
27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
(NAS)

04 January 2008

For those who learn audibly

Here are a couple of links to listen to and help you get started in your immersion into the Word.

John Piper Building our Lives on the Bible

John MacArthur How to get the Most from God's Word
(This is a series you can find with multiple entries that are worth listening to.)

Meditation vs. Mediocrity


Meditation. I was surprised to hear one of my Biblical Counseling professors say that meditation was one of the most important components of a believer's life. Honestly, I hadn't thought about meditation in conjunction with my life as a believer. Transcendental Meditation was a big deal in the 60s and 70s and for that reason I had always assumed that meditation and recreational drugs were companions. It had not occurred to me that meditation and faith in Christ should be partnered.

I certainly don't want to give you the impression that I don't think. I have always been an advocate of thinking and don't believe faith in Christ means checking your brain at the door. Meditation implies more than just thinking though. It is bigger than thinking through a problem or puzzling something through. Meditation means actually setting aside time to ponder a subject below the surface. It is extended contemplation and reflection rolled together and it is intentional.

My last post was about the value of the Word of God in the Woman of God. If my professor is correct, and I believe he is, meditation on the Word is a necessary element to living the Word. If we are going to be Titus 2 women, we must be living the Word. In some ways, this is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. What's not to understand about don't do this, do this instead? Love God, don't lie, don't steal, love your neighbor... it's hard to do but easy to understand. Yet, if we are content to live a formulaic spiritual life, we are consigning ourselves at best to mediocrity. At worst we have built a dead faith upon works and are relying on our own ability to do what is right.

Meditating on God's Word helps us to connect the dots. It awakens the awe factor so that we are not living and acting in mechanical routine. It will render us speechless and cause us to fall hopeful before Him. Seeing His wisdom. Discovering His perfection. Savoring and exploring His manifold blessings and the magnitude of His love can only be accomplished by quiet contemplation. Drawing deeply and pensively from His Word sustains our souls. It lets us sink our roots down firmly where the water is, the Living Water.

Psalm 1
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.
3 And he will be like a tree {firmly} planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
(NAS)

03 January 2008

Getting Ready to Become a Titus 2 Woman


I had the good fortune of being taught a lot of life lessons by an old cowboy named Dusty Rhodes. Yes, his name really was Dusty Rhodes and he really was a cowboy. I was a young girl who loved horses and he was an aging man who had horses and lots of patience. He saw in me something more than the casual horse lover. He saw a passion for all things horse and he cultivated that passion because he could relate.

Most of what I know about working with people, I owe to Dusty. The same principles he used with horses work with people. I may expound on more of them in another post. For now I want to focus on what he taught me when we first got started.

Dusty taught me that a horse was never going to think or act like anything other than what it was; a horse. If I was going to be any type of cowgirl, I had to get ready to be one [a cowgirl]. I had to be the one to learn to think a new way. I had to think like a horse. Training me to have horse sense started with basics for my safety. I remember one time he was teaching me the safest place to be and how to avoid being kicked. Somewhat horrified by the prospect of pain and looking for some reassurance I asked, "But Apache has been trained and has good manners, he won't kick me, right?" What I expected to hear was "No, he would never kick you." Instead Dusty told me the truth. "Apache ain't never offered to kick anyone that I know of, but he is a horse and he will kick if he's given the right reasons to." He went on to give me another pearl of cowboy wisdom. "Before a horse kicks or bucks or bites, he gets ready to. If you can learn when he's fixin' to do it, you can generally change his mind before he does."

Dusty did much more than cultivate my love of horses. He made me work for the privilege of riding by showing my willingness to care for his animals responsibly and to think of their welfare first. I enjoyed brushing them, feeding them, cleaning their feet and learning from him how to think about things from a horse's perspective. Before he let me be a rider he made certain I was ready to ride. He didn't turn me loose at the rodeo grounds, which is what I really wanted more than life itself. First he made certain I knew how to fall off and get back on. I had to prove I could do that from a walk and a trot before I was ever allowed to ride at a gallop. What's more I had to do it both with and without a saddle. He didn't keep me from being bumped and bruised, but he did give me the tools I needed and when I was ready he let me ride.

The correlations here may be obvious, but they are important enough to state very clearly. Before you can be a Titus 2 woman, you have to get ready to be one. You cannot teach someone what is good before you can identify what is good for yourself. It doesn't matter in the slightest what you think good is. What matters is what does God think is good? That's what you have to be able to teach. If you do not understand your own salvation and your own sanctification process you will be ineffective when trying to help others. In order be a Titus 2 woman you have to start thinking like a Titus 2 woman (Romans 12:2).

Transformation takes time, it takes work and it takes being lost in a passion and purpose that is greater than you. It is not for your good that you prepare to be a Titus 2 woman, though it is beneficial to you. We don't seek holiness for our good even though it is good for us. We seek holiness because we are directed to by Almighty God (1Pet 1:16). In the same way, we get ready to used as Titus 2 women because we are directed to. It is not an option, it is a directive. The only way to get ready is to be immersed in the Word of God. You must know it, you must believe it, you must bend your will to it. The Word of God in the woman of God will make you ready.

Do you know the value of God's Word? Are you willing to be used as God directs? Are you willing to be willing? Here are some Scriptures to begin meditating on.

Heb 4:12
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Ps 19:7-12
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Ps 93:5
5 Thy testimonies are fully confirmed; Holiness befits Thy house, O LORD, forevermore.

Ps 119:14-16
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Thy precepts, and regard Thy ways.
16 I shall delight in Thy statutes; I shall not forget Thy word.

Rom 15:4
4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
(NAS)

02 January 2008

Thoughts on being a godly woman....

The role of women in 21st century America has shifted dramatically in just the last 50 years. I am old enough to have seen the mixing of roles from housewife to feminist as the wave of change crossed the United States, hitting some areas much harder than others. I grew up a child of the 60s living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I remember women burning bras, campaigning for what they saw as equal rights and flaunting their bodies as if being less clothed meant they would be more respected. It all seemed perfectly normal to me, it was all I ever knew.

For a good part of my life I imagine I would have been described as a feminist, though I never actively sought the title and would not have spent two minutes thinking about it. I wasn’t expected to be anything different than what I was and I was never taught what it means to be a woman, let alone a woman of God. Whatever my expectations might have been for my life, being conformed to the image of Christ and living my life by God’s standards were not among them. However, here I am and I find myself contemplating what it means to be a middle-aged Christian woman in America without the benefit of a mentor or foundation of biblical femininity. How did I get this far without someone stepping up to show me the way?

Most of my confusion I come by honestly. I was raised by a string of people, none of whom were Christian. Bounced from person to person one of the first things I learned was people were not to be trusted and I must fend for myself. I learned early that knowledge is power and being able to do things for myself was the greatest way to escape the pain of disappointment. I never realized that beauty and strength could occur as a natural part of depending on frail, fallen people. I did not ask questions and never let anyone know I had not a clue of what was expected of me. I made choices with limited information and assumed that given a bit of intelligence my choices would be correct or I would be both smart enough and able to fix them should they be wrong.

By the time I became a woman of faith, those assumptions were firmly solidified and I arrogantly believed I did not need the help and guidance of a woman to mold me. Thrust into the culture of an evangelical church without benefit of good doctrine or knowledge of theology, all I ever heard about the roles of women was centered on the "s" word: Submission. I was not a wife nor was I a child and so I stopped listening. It was easy to stop listening. I didn’t like what I was hearing. I saw the typical Christian woman as weak and helpless and it made me angry that God might expect of me.

I still don’t care for what I see passing for femininity and womanhood in the church. I see far too many women hiding behind the bland persona they have wrongly associated with submissiveness. Submitting to the headship of a husband or father or pastor doesn’t abdicate a woman from the responsibility of learning sound doctrine, exhorting others and taking an active role in the church. I am in no way egalitarian in my view of the roles of men and women. However, I am ready to say that my complimentarian view includes women being strong and formidable allies in the battle for souls. Sadly, what I see in many women is the reticence to hurt feelings or become involved and a decided willingness to look the other way. Or worse yet falling into the trap of gossip about the failings of a young mother or wife while never once offering counsel, advice or hope. How I long for women to put on the armor of God and equip their sisters for the battles we all face as mothers, wives and sisters in Christ.

I must be fair to my sisters and say that our culture has not made it easy to be Titus 2 women. We do not have the same ability to influence one another that those who came before us have had. We are victims of technology and transportation. Our families are separated into the smallest fragments and connected only by interstates and the internet. We live lives of great ease, but that ease has cost us a sense of community and continual interaction with one another for the necessities of life. We don’t go to a spot on the river to wash our clothes together. In the solitude of our homes we put the laundry in a machine, turn a knob and go on to the next chore. We do not have to have basic survival skills that the women of the bible had. We do not have to keep the oil lamp full, the embers glowing in the fire, or comb and card the wool of our goats and sheep in order to spin the yarn to make our clothes. We have stores like Wal-Mart, Target and Costco to take care of all of those needs. As long as we pay our bills we flip a switch for heat and light and those who still cook at home do so in ovens that are fueled by the local utility company.

We are all of us more dependent on our technology than we are on one another. In fact, the very technology we use to make our lives so much easier will be obsolete several times over before we see our children grown and on their own. We are not only isolated from the others in our community but our lives of ease and instant gratification have in many ways insulated us from handing down what we know to our own children. Look at what we have created without thought to how it will impact us! It all happens so quickly that our children have their own technology and teach us how to use it.

I believe that if you clearly define a problem, the solution becomes evident, but I don’t think we can or wait for someone to write another book to identify the exact cause of this problem. We already have one. We can analyze the symptoms by looking at events in our country’s history such as the entire family dynamic changing significantly after Word War II when women entered the work force out of necessity, but that wasn’t the beginning. It started much earlier than that. If we women were not in danger of doing this wrong, God would not have exhorted us in His Word to do it correctly. Sisters, that is where our solution lays; the practical application of the Word of God in lives of women individually and corporately. (More to come on this topic- Thanks Carla!)

Titus 2:3-5

3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,

4 that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,

5 {to be} sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.

(NAS)

01 January 2008

More on Self-Discipline

There is a series done by John MacArthur on self-discipline and it is well worth the listen. It's a four part series you can find here. I recommend you listen to it if you're at all interested in developing your self-discipline. It's important to realize that God made us creatures of habit and when our habits are good, that works for us. Conversely, when we have bad habits, it works against us. Come on, join me as I work toward some self-discipline.

Thought for today: Self-discipline doesn't happen without effort. You have to get up, brush yourself off and get going. Make today the day to get started in a small way and eventually the big things will take care of themselves.