Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

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We’re Going to Knock Your Wall Down

April 9, 2014

Once during my most recent pregnancy, I had a disturbing dream which perfectly described my mental state that week.

I dreamt I was struggling my daughter into her car seat, and she was misbehaving, fighting me tooth and nail.  Suddenly a woman in a neighboring car offered to take my daughter and the car seat into her vehicle instead, clearly intending to keep her.

“Why exactly do you suggest that?” I asked, in an over-my-dead-body kind of tone.

She gave me a sugary smile.  “Well, obviously you can’t manage the children you have and you have trouble using birth control.  I’ll just take one off your hands and make your life easier.”

“I find that very offensive!” I said, and spent the rest of the dream arguing with her over our points of view.

That dream was a clear manifestation of how I thought I looked that week, to everyone who didn’t know me – a hopelessly overworked mother who doesn’t know how to say “when”.  I was hugely pregnant and chasing two toddlers, and if I got one more comment from a stranger on how I had my “hands full”, I thought I’d scream.

Any mother who has had multiple children close together has experienced this kind of attitude from others.

“Wow, you’re having another one?  That’s…brave of you.”

“You’re a busy woman.”

“You’ve sure got your hands full.”

These remarks usually aren’t meant in a complimentary way – they come with pity and amusement from most mouths.  Even the self-deprecating one about how “I could never handle that many kids” seems to the tired mother to carry an undertone of scorn, something like, “You poor insane woman…boy, I’m glad I’m not you!”

Knowing that as Christians we are ambassadors of Christ wherever we go, I felt pressured to at least look like I had it all together, like it was easy pushing a heavy double stroller through Target with two unhappy children and a bulging belly that showed I would soon have another.  It isn’t easy, mothering three under three.  Some days I still feel like an inexpert faker trying really hard to be a mom.  Thankfully God provides the strength we need for each day, but I felt like it was my job to hold my head high and never let an unbeliever see how what a challenge it was, as if that would poke holes in my testimony and prove all their pity and amusement was well-founded. I couldn’t let the world think I was stupid to choose this life! I had to make it look like I was smart, like I could confidently handle the 24/7 needs of wee ones, because God was my strength, right? Any time I went in public I was anxious, wondering what passerby thought of me.

With further thought it occurred to me…

Those who are in the world live for self.  Many of them can’t fathom why someone would give up their lives for such an inconvenience as a bucketload of little children.  They’re willing to put up with one or two kids, or at least decently spaced kids, because it fits into their vision of success and value in life.  But pour out years of your young life to feed kids (day and night!), grow more kids, be a human Kleenex for kids, discipline kids, tow around kids, listen to kids whine, listen to kids screech, supervise messy kids, push strollers full of kids, stay up all night with kids, kill your back carrying kids, run in endless circles chasing kids?  To do that you must be a glutton for misery, or a simpleton!

But to us who believe God’s promises, we know that we are entrusted with these little eternal flames, who (Lord willing!) will one day sing Christ’s praises with us in eternity.  We are making war on Satan, raising new soldiers for Christ.  We are in the business of building and training an army.

Parenting is hard work. Not only are we shaping tiny souls to love and serve Jesus (a work only God can ultimately bring to fruition), but we are being shaped and molded too – burning away the dross.  We’re fighting our sin and our children’s sin, and trying to help them grow up into decent human beings who will not only live, but thrive.  It’s not supposed to be easy.

As Rachel Jankovic says*, the world reviles motherhood because it smells of sacrifice and sacrifice smells of Christ.  Every time a new child is conceived in sweet married love, born into loving, welcoming arms, and raised in a faithful Christian home, I imagine Satan must stamp his feet and gnash his teeth in rage!

This is the stuff of spiritual warfare, and we are on the winning side.

So let us look like simpletons to those who don’t see that coming victory! Let us look tired, because we are – we are at war. Let us look burdened, because we are picking up our crosses and following Him. Yes, indeed, we have our hands full!

And they are full of the most wonderful things they could be, eternal souls.  God gave my children to me, and I yearn to be like Mary, who answered God’s calling with submission – “Let it be to me according to Your word.”  He is my captain, this is my mission, and I undertake it in the power of Christ my King.

Let those on the ramparts of Jericho laugh as they see us going in endless circles, because there is a point to all this, and that wall is going to come tumbling down!

*

*If you’re a mom (or even if you’re not), please read the great article I took that quote from!
P.S.  Certainly not every blow to Satan comes from a child who was born to the loving arms of happily married parents – but as this is the way God intends it, it must make the devil peeved!  Also, Satan can’t see the twists and turns of the future the way God can, so he must do a little happy dance when a child is conceived out of wedlock or born into a broken home, because he thinks he has the upper hand.  God, however, knows all of the future and He rejoices over the new life of any of His children, no matter what their situation is at birth.  I feel the need to mention that, lest anyone be discouraged. God uses stealth tactics in His army too!
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On Being Relevant

March 29, 2014

In recent years I have discovered something about myself, as a writer and also simply as a person – I have something to say.

I have come to think of myself as a stargazer, one who looks out into the night sky of everyday life and sees beauty, directions, even constellations, tracing dot-to-dot pictures in what first seemed to be randomness.  Some people look at life as a beautiful, haphazard mess like a piece of modern art…or a horrible chaos, for the more pessimistic out there.  But I see constant connections and imagery, a symphony, a tapestry where all the different parts are brought together into a beautiful whole.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a writer and all of life is a story to me, full of symbolism and subtle plot arcs.  Maybe my deep yearning for harmony and certainty drives me to find meaning.  But regardless of why I see the world the way I do, I increasingly find I cannot see the sense and beauty in God’s universe and providence and not speak out about it.

And yet, there is always a voice, standing up to oppose me if I dare open my mouth.

You’re so young.  What makes you think you would say anything worth hearing?

How dare you try to comfort someone suffering?  You can’t possibly know what they’re going through or have anything useful to say to them.

What insight could you possibly have?  You’re not qualified to talk about that in the first place.

What could you know about romance or finding a spouse?  You had a perfect, tidy little love story.  Nobody else’s life is like that.

You’re very blessed, honey.  It’s so cute when you try to talk about real life problems, but you really have no idea.

That’s easy for YOU to say.

Keep it to yourself.

Just keep your mouth shut.

Most of the time this whisper comes from the back of my own mind, my insecurity, my fear of man.  But sometimes it comes from other people…criticisms mainly aimed at the perceived ease of my life.

The first time I heard this kind of logic from another person, it cut deep.  I had attempted sharing my thoughts on a fairly common part of Christian living, and in response was told I had an easy life, I was sheltered, and therefore I had nothing relevant to say on the issue.

Certainly, I am not an expert in anything, and there is a time to simply hold one’s tongue and listen to those who are wiser.  It was not unjust of this person to suggest that I might be talking outside my realm of experience.

But because of the way the rebuke was phrased, that judgment on my life meant so much more.

It told me: Your life is too simple and happy for your words to have any weight.  Your thoughts have no value.  Your outlook, your unique human perspective on life, is worthless.  It will never mean anything to anyone except you.

I cried out to God.  Why did He make me a writer and yet give me a life that apparently rendered me irrelevant?  What was my value in His church, in His world?  Was I worthless?  Did I even matter to Him?  Could I never bless anyone else with my talents and thoughts?

Fear gripped me.  Perhaps all these “blessings” I praised God for all my life were really curses, blinding me to real Christian life, making me ignorant, stupid, a second-class citizen of the kingdom of God.

Eventually, the Holy Spirit breathed comfort into my heart.  He reminded me that His plan for my life is perfect and every member of His church is there for a reason, given their gifts and talents for a purpose that He, in His infinite wisdom, knows best.  He meant me to be a writer for a reason!  All these fears were only the taunts of Satan.

After some time, He also showed me that Being Relevant was an idol in my heart.  I wanted to be noticed, admired, important, for what I had to say.  I badly wanted to matter.  That was pride.

More important than being relevant to others, I realized, is knowing what God is telling me, and whether I am listening to Him.

I looked at my life with that question.  “What is God telling me in all this?”

And I was undone with gratitude, because the answer was so clear.  He loves me!  He cares about me.  I am precious in His sight and He delights to bless His children.

I believe that is as true for every Christian as for me, no matter how hard or “easy” our individual lives are.  He loved each of us so much that He paid for our souls with the precious blood of His beloved Son.  Will anything He does in our lives be anything less than merciful?  It is all grace.

I could end this post here.  It was a balm to my soul to be reminded of what truly matters.  But this is a topic that keeps festering in my mind.  I have something to say.

Each Life Is Unique

“Everyone’s special, Dash.”

“Which is another way of saying no one is.”

— The Incredibles

Perhaps it’s all true – what those voices in my head and other people tell me.  Maybe I really don’t know.  Yes, I had an amazing childhood.  Yes, I got married to my true love at 19 and I’m living my lifelong ambition of being a young wife with a growing brood of children, writing stories on the side.  No, I’ve never experienced infertility.  No, I’ve never had depression.  I don’t know what it’s like to be a single mom, or have cancer, or scrape by on too little money to buy my children enough food.  I’ve never lost a close relative to death.

Yes, compared to some others’ lives, mine has been “easy” (so far).  But what is this, a competition?

I can be no one but myself.  I can only look at the world through these two eyes God gave me, and no one else’s.  The best I can do is empathize and strive to understand others’ lives and perspectives.

Isn’t this true of everyone?

Christians, are we going to let that stop us from exhorting one another?  Is truth about God and His world negated because it comes to us from someone who hasn’t walked in our shoes?  Are we going to tune everyone out except the select few we can relate to as closely as possible?

Through that trial of feeling “worthless”, God showed me I am also guilty of picking and choosing that way, many times.

“Same church denomination as me?  Check.  Same age range as me?  Check.  Same gender as me?  Check.  Same life situation as me?  Check.  Same standards as me?  Check.  Okay, I guess you’re cleared to speak to my heart.  Blow me away with your unexpected insights!”

Or conversely:

“Oh.  You don’t share my exact doctrines.  Oh, you are so much younger than I am (or so much older); you’re from a different generation entirely.  You don’t understand me.  Your life is so different from mine.  You can’t have anything to say about the troubles I face or the struggles I’m enduring in my unique life.  Oh, your standards are so different from mine, I won’t agree with anything you say so it must not be true.  You aren’t relevant to me.”

Isn’t this another facet of the postmodern lie, “What’s true for you is true for you, but it isn’t true for me”?

Truth is always relevant.

Can’t God use us, any of us?  He can open our eyes to see truth and beauty and share it with others, regardless of where He’s brought us from or where He’s taking us.  He speaks to each of us through our lives.  Each of us has a unique perspective, a unique story to tell.  We cannot afford to write one another off because our lives and outlooks are different.

Sure, we all make mistakes and sometimes say things that are untrue, so we can’t accept everything people say without evaluation, but if someone truly knows the Lord, He is revealing Himself and His perfect truth to them, bit by bit, day by day.  There is a strong Thread that binds us all together…or rather, a Vine, in which we are all branches.

I have something to say.

If you are a fellow believer in Christ, especially if you are a writer struggling to understand if you are relevant to the world, please listen to me.

Your life, no matter how hard or easy, is perfect in God’s eyes, because He has designed it.  Your story matters.  You aren’t a pawn on a board; you are a valuable part of His plan and He put you here and gave you your skills and unique perspective for a reason.  (Have you ever thought about how we are the “first fruits” of the New Heavens and the New Earth, the very first pieces of the glorious eternity He is building, dawning into this falling-apart world like new stars?)

Don’t be afraid to share truth.  Don’t be afraid to glorify God’s name for what He has done in your life and shown you through your experiences.  Stop worrying about whether you’ve “lived enough” to write fiction.  Tell us your stories!  Share your thoughts!  I, for one, want to hear them.

Perhaps my personal outlook on life is an odd or limited one.  That’s okay.  That doesn’t make my life less true, less real, or less valuable to the Lord.

I will not stop stargazing.  I will not stop gaping at the awe and beauty of God and the fantastic story He is writing through all of our lives, this tapestry He is weaving, this symphony with a glorious main theme – Christ crucified for sinners.

This statement is true, that I cannot truly live anyone else’s life, only my own (and only God has control over my life).  Beyond empathy and striving to understand, I have never truly seen the world through anyone else’s eyes.

But nobody else has seen the world through my eyes either.

And nobody will, unless I open my mouth.

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“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” – 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (ESV)

Have you ever been told or thought that you are disqualified from reaching out to others, or that your writing won’t be relevant? Why?

Photo credits: freedigitalphotos.net

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Thursday Ramblings – 2.16.2012

February 16, 2012

It has been a fortnight since I blogged!  Oh, dear.  I am going to skip the endless apologizing I always do, and go back to blogging (hopefully) as if it never happened…

Reading This Week: No fiction.  Lots of miscellaneous research.

Writing This Week: My dystopian novel, Daik 11, is on rapid boil!  Two weeks ago I mused during my ramblings that abortion had been on my mind, and I’d always wanted to write a pro-life themed story – not one that directly dealt with abortion, necessarily, but one that at least dealt with the topic of the value of human life, no matter how flawed or “useless” or unhappy that life might seem.  Then God dropped an idea in my lap.  I realized that the series I plan for Daik 11 had the potential for a book like this.  In fact, it was ripe potential.  It was right there, staring me in the face!  The other day I read this post by John Otte, which encouraged me not to feel guilty about leaving my trilogy for awhile.  So I headed over into Daik 11 territory, and have been merrily planning and writing ever since.  Hurray for progress!

Deep and Important Thoughts Pondered This Week: Obama and his contraceptive mandate, liberal media, and feminism.  Don’t even get me started!  This thing is on my mind constantly, because it annoys me to no end!

Tasty Food Eaten This Week: chocolate cheesecake for Valentine’s Day!

Quote This Week:

I am tired of hearing birth control coverage/availability referred to as a “women’s health issue”. It’s NOT. Birth control is NOT “preventative health care”. It is for preventing *pregnancy*, which is NOT a disease. Being with child is (almost always) a safe, healthy, and NORMAL state for a woman.

A baby in your womb is not a disease. Preventing one (or killing one, via abortion or abortive “contraceptives”) is NOT “health care”.

— Me, on Facebook recently

Oops.  I got started anyway.  Sorry.  I would blog about it, because I have more than enough ranting material, but I don’t want to make my writing blog also a political blog.  I am not a big politics person, normally, but when social things like this come up, I get really invested (obviously).

Oh, who am I kidding?  I probably won’t be able to resist writing the occasional political rant.  Plus, these kinds of topics involve speculation about the future of the world (very important to science-fiction writers), the meaning of life, and feminism vs. femininity (important to any writer who writes female characters).

Links That Stirred My Mental Pot This Week:

Al Mohler: “What Compromise?  This Policy Leaves Religious Freedom in Peril and Planned Parenthood Smiling”.  As I was saying.

Nathan Bransford: “Game of Thrones and the Art of Being Unsentimental About Your Characters”.  This week I really needed to hear this, although what I took away was slightly different from the eventual topic of the article.  (I need to heed the suggestions about uglifying characters too, though.)  In order for my pro-life book idea to work, some truly terrible things have to happen to one of my main characters, and I needed the validation of this article to give me the guts to let them happen.