Tuesday, February 26, 2013

When a woman swings a hammer and a man does the dishes

A young woman friend, who is exploring the dynamics of marriage, asked me if I had an egalitarian or complementarian slanted marriage.

I put down my hammer and said, “What?”  (Kidding, no hammer in hand at the time) But after a few decades of living with someone and growing in the Lord with them, the lines that once had been so carefully drawn were now smudgy and scribbled over. I had to think about it.

Having entered womanhood on the tailwind of the sixties, I had a skewed idea of what marriage should look like. I embraced liberated, unshackled, un-dominated Woman. Later I directed some of that confusion into a more grounded, back-to-the-land living. Still, my tepee dwelling days were a peculiar backdrop for marriage to a polyester-suited, God-loving, man from Queens.

I was a new Christian and didn’t know much about gender roles. I didn’t know men manned the barbecue, fixed the leaky faucets, and made the major decisions. Everything in me curled at the mention of submission
But I wanted to do things God’s way.

Actually, after having had to support and fend for myself, I was interested in seeing what being taken care of felt like. We sorted out our activities into he/she piles, but had a rocky go of it when it came to attitudes of heart.

One day I was particularly resentful of a decision my husband wanted to make. I was sure my way was the wiser choice. My body was sitting in on a women’s Bible study, but my mind was smoking and fuming. I mean, when you’re married, it isn’t like one person’s mistake is theirs alone. You both feel the ripples, or worse, waves of consequence. It didn’t seem fair I should suffer for my husband’s error (as I perceived it to be).

 I have no idea what the study was about, but I clearly remember hearing the pastor say, “Ladies, give your husbands room to make a mistake. Entrust yourselves to God.”

It was an arrow shot straight through my smog from the throne of God.

The idea I could trust God with my life, even when it meant trusting him with a decision I might not agree with, expanded in my heart.  God would take care of me even in the “we.”

 Unfortunately I didn’t  don’t always run to the Lord before opening my mouth in a disagreement, but when I do, sooner or later, either we come to a mutual agreement, or God gives me the grace and peace to lay it down and entrust my concern to him.

And as for the stuff of life—does it really matter who does the dishes or lays the tile? We give and take, step in for the weary one, and seek to live in peace rather than preference. I don’t know, does that make me a conservative complementarian egalitarian?

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who although he was in the form of God, did not count equality with god a thing to be grasped. . . and God has highly exalted him. . .--2 Philippians 3-5,9.

Blessings friends,

Friday, February 22, 2013

When What You See Is Not What You Get

Some days all I see is the raggy pile of my mistakes, shortcomings, and failures. When I mean to bless my daughter, I end up arguing with her; when I rise from a time of prayer full of “godliness,” I step into an argument with my husband.

 How can it be that my life is hid with Christ in God, I lament. How can I pull that spiritual truth into my being and bring it out tangible?

I know my consternation with myself lies in my hazy of vision of the riches I have in Christ, or more to the point—my hazy vision of Christ Himself.

Although I know Him, I long to know Him more.I don’t want to accrue my little spiritual badges, like a good girl scout.I want to RECEIVE in a full-blown dose what I know in my mind and spirit He is and has done; to receive such a revelation as some who have had a sudden, life-changing glimpse of majesty in the here and now.

I am reminded of Watchman Nee’s struggle with anger. One day in his study, he suddenly “saw” that his life was crucified with Christ. He was so excited he ran down the street.

I wish it were simple, keeping this singular-eyed vision on things unseen. I wish I could just read one enlightening book by someone who’s been there and has the one handy answer how to go, and all I have to do is do it, and voilĂ ! Arrived Christian Woman.

But I can’t make Eureka happen. 

That’s for the Holy Spirit to decide. There are some things I can do, though. It came as a shock to me the other day to realize that although I knew the verses about a certain attitude and behavior, I actually wasn’t doing them. They were only in my head.

So I am purposing  to

  •    Slow down consuming and start doing. This involves meditating on fewer verses at a time and asking the Lord to soak them into me.
  •   Memorize. I know. Every Baptist kid (I wasn’t one) this side of the Mason-Dixon Line has memorized Scriptures, but the older I have become, the less I have engaged in this. I’m actually taking Ann Voskampf’s challenge to memorize several books of Romans. Although this may seem contrary to my first point of meditation, it really is a separate discipline which is becoming more and more satisfying.
  • Relax in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit’s desire is to lead me into all truth. That God’s desire is that I should know Him. And that He will accomplish that which concerns me.

  • Finally, to remember

Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

And thankfully that unveiling will be a bit more glorious than this, but you get the point! (My grandson in his father’s ghillie suit from his SWAT days.)

Blessing of enjoyment in what God has done and is doing in you this today. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Girls in a Doorway, Women on a Threshold

Three little girl women from two different countries, I, the voyeur from a third, catch them suspended in that  moment between in and out, before and behind, the familiar and the unknown.                                                    

That threshold between the dreams of a child and the realities of a woman.

What are you thinking little one watching from your doorway?  You stand obedient at the edge of permitted passage, but I feel the weight of longing as I drive by. Do you dream of something more             each day your pink plastic slippers touch the earthen floor?

And you pig-tailed one, now safe from harm in a home not first your own. Where helping with laundry and sweeping the floor bring order to a young life once broken. Will you leave the past behind and find joy and thankfulness in simple tasks                        and fresh sheets on the line?

Oh vibrant barefoot one, child of lace and adobe, you have no idea how big the step you took out of the frame of your ancient world and onto the covers of my books. I bless your unknown name, and pray perhaps someday, our God of grace will grant us to meet,                          face to face.


I didn’t purpose to take pictures of girls in doorways, but it seems there is something about them that attracts me. I think the image stirs a longing in me for the hopes and dreams of women everywhere—the forbearing mother in desperate Sudan, the tenacious woman protecting her daughter from Taliban, the grieved woman in China who bears a daughter, even the diamond studded mother on her knees in prayer for an addicted daughter. . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Will you join me as I ask the Lord to choose from my heavy heart, some woman to grant favor to this day.                                                                                                                             

She may be on the threshold of a decision and needs to find courage, or deep in the Valley of Achor, (Trouble) seeking  the Door of Hope (Hosea 3:15), Lord, you know.

Lift her up; shine your face upon her in her need, that this day, she may know that YOU are her LORD.

And for you, friend stopping by, may you also find grace and wisdom either to step through, or retreat from whatever doorway stands open to you today.

Blessings in the joy and hope of the Lord,


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Just-For-Fun Cautionary Tale About Car Washes

We are a cautious sort.  I suspect the fear of lawsuits from stupidity is the operating factor, nevertheless we are warned not to use a hair dryer in the shower, drink the recycled water from a toilet bowl, use the power drill for dental work, drive while the cardboard sun shield is in place, or consume a large soda because it contains an equally large amount of sugar.

But when it comes to the inherent dangers in car washing—at home, abroad, and in the auto-wash, the warnings are few.  Hence, I feel it incumbent upon me to offer a few precautions from personal experience.

DIY Washes: Safest
Having grown up in Vermont where five months of salted-road driving contributed to the pock-marked death of many a fine car, I learned early on to wash my vehicles—under the chassis, behind the wheel wells, and along the door frame. I favored the DIY washes where the only things you had to be careful about were not to blast yourself in the face with the wand or slip on the ice chunks that fell off the car.

But I avoided auto washes. They worried me. I wasn’t sure what went on inside there. It wasn’t until years later and another country when I went through one, that my suspicions were confirmed.

Foreign Auto-Washes: Industry Standards Questionable
 Our Ford Explorer was choking with Guatemalan dust, so during a monthly supply run to the city we decided to wash the car. We were already on the conveyor when I saw that our side mirror looked as though it was going to get clipped. I rolled down my window to pull it in, but my husband and daughter started hollering and yelling to “get the window up, quick!”

I cranked it up just as the first burst of foam squirted through the opening.  Bob widened his eyes with one of those, “What are you doing? Car-washes-are-designed-to-do-this” looks just as the second arm rolled alongside and with a grand screech, ripped up the mirror.

 Home hosing: Sunny Day Dangers
Although I had expected the perils involved in auto-washes, I was surprised to discover that home hosing methods also harbored dangers. When we moved to the South a few years ago, we bought a house, which was equipped with outside spouts and hoses, so we often washed the cars in the yard. That is, until one day last summer, our daughter, whom 
I sure had never washed a car by herself in her life, decided to do hers.

The day was blistering. Her car was pointed westward, into the 90-something degree sun. She hosed it down and sudzed it up. A few minutes later she burst through the door, wailing. Apparently some days it’s just too hot to wash your car.

The windshield had cracked straight on down, from top to bottom.

The Auto-Wash: A Dance with a Dervish
And so, when we traded in my practical, efficient, but ugly, brown CRV for a black KIA Sorrento, and I vowed to take better care of it, I reconsidered the auto-wash.

It was the free vacuum service that wooed me in. I maneuvered the hairpin turn between the paybox and the entrance, sure that no one could possibly line up their car from that angle. The pan-face attendant kept waving me toward the right. My tires squealed with that rubbing sound only tires can make as they straddled the rail. Visions of the hundred-dollar wheel alignment I was going to need danced in my head.

Pan-face reassessed the situation. Back up, s-l-o-w-l-y, he said. We did it again.
Not wanting to look as though a woman my age had never gone through an auto-wash by herself, I glanced at the instruction board. Roll up your windows. Put it in neutral. Foot off the brake.  Everything in me wanted to slam on the brake, put it in park, and get out.

But the blue whirling, twirling dervishes had been summoned.

They sashayed, flipped, whipped, and danced right toward me. The bar sustaining them approached steadily at eye level. I tried to face it head on but the thought of decapitation in a car wash clashed with my more noble ideas of how to die.

Smack! Slap! Sudz!

I dove below the steering wheel and hoped there weren’t any cameras watching for just this sort of thing for a YouTube laugh.Finally, sensing the roller safely past, I squared myself properly upright, and drove out the exit.

A certifiable car wash conqueror.