Giving Thanks

Often, when I make gratitude lists on here, it is to cheer myself up. Today I feel very good. I still want to make a list though. Praising God is important.

  1. Thank you for blessing me with the opportunity to stay home. It helps my mental health, and is also allowing me to pursue a creative life.
  2. Thank you, God, for the random word generator someone felt inspired to build on the internet. It is beginning to fuel new projects.
  3. Thank you for giving my daughter a good start in Kindergarten. I pray that you will help her continually. She is dyslexic, and that does not make school easy for her. Thank you for blessing her with wonderful teachers.
  4. Thank you for giving me good neighbors.
  5. I am thankful there are no sunflowers around. They scare me and make my hair stand on end. I look like Don King when I see those huge sunflowers with their cruel, watchful faces.
  6. Thank you for a wonderful day.
  7. I love my psych, and I thank you Lord for leading me to her.

No Rest for the Wicked

Two things stand out to me in this post the most. The first is that God takes Mercy on us because we are the ones he created and he wants to see us do well. God’s goal is not to see us demolished. The second thing that really stood out to me is the very end where it says there are no places of respite for the wicked.

I am the wicked. I do not pray. God knows I need to, that not only do I need to offer prayers for those around me, but that I need prayer myself.

God, deliver me from my thoughts of dying. From being stranded from my own mind. From looming larger than color.

God knows best that I need rest. Sleep. Equilibrium. I am searching for my Lectio Divina book. Until then, God please help me. You know the trouble I have been in.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is difficult. This is especially true if the person you need to forgive isn’t sorry.

Everyone has someone in their lives that they need to forgive, whether it’s for something small or something really big. For me, forgiveness is a struggle for sure.

Some people don’t understand forgiveness, or misuse the very concept for their own benefit. Forgiveness doesn’t mean taking someone back into your life. Forgiveness doesn’t mean trusting them again. Forgiveness doesn’t mean making excuses for them. Forgiveness means that you have chosen to let go of any bitterness or anger, not for their benefit but for yours.

I am on a journey of forgiveness. It’s a process. I’m in therapy to try to work things out and I think that’s helping. If I want to be a disciple of Christ I have to forgive. I don’t have to tolerate abuse. I don’t have to take anyone’s crap. But I do need to find it in my heart to forgive those who have wronged me, who have mistreated me.

Undeserved Blessings

God is good, and I am grateful.

Thinking about my life, I realize how fortunate I am. I have done nothing to merit my great marriage, sweet daughter, lovely home, or artistic life. God has blessed me beyond measure.

This is what God does. He gifts us beautiful things. He holds our hands when things get difficult, and he showers us with blessings. We wade through the rain, but one way or another we are given a rainbow.

As a sinner, I deserve condemnation. Yet God has extended His hand to me. Through His Son, He has given me the gift of eternal life.

Sometimes I need to be still and count the precious blessings I have received from the Lord.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Headcovering as an Offering to God

Headcovering can be controversial. In my family I have come across the stigma against submission, and the contemporary horror of headcovering. A woman covering anything is becoming more and more controversial in an age where women are supposed to be liberated by the ability to bare their flesh without shame. Maybe the baring of flesh makes some women feel liberated, but I feel liberated when I can cover. My husband, although he shows me every day that he thinks I’m beautiful, values me for so much more than my breasts or my legs. I have no desire to draw attention from other men.

Lately I have begun to wear simple, long, flowing maxi dresses. Craig loves maxi dresses, and I like to wear things he likes. I also like how comfortable the dresses are, and that they are modest. I am not against dressing a little sexier maybe for a special event, but for daily life I actually like being covered.

Developing a Gentle and Quiet Spirit

My spirit is much gentler and much quieter than it used to be. A gentle and quiet spirit in a woman is precious to God. But although I try to be gentle, sometimes I lose my temper. I don’t even try to be quiet at home. I am not even sure I am capable of being quiet!

What does it mean to have a gentle and quiet spirit? How does this pair with being a strong person, with having a strong personality, with being opinionated? Can they go together? It is such a hard issue to understand. What is wrong with a spirit that wants to do more and be more? There is a fine line between gratitude and complacency.

So far, although I am reading about it and searching scripture, the conclusions I have come to are this: do not be contentious, control your temper, and use soft words for the people around you. Perhaps being gentle and quiet has nothing to do with whether you are weak or strong, opinionated or not, or the color of your personality.

I have made so much progress on having a gentle and quiet spirit, but I have a long way to go to be pleasing to God. I focus too much on my own needs and not enough on my husband’s. I am short tempered and rash. I am too easily stressed out, instead of taking serenity from the knowledge that God is in control. My tongue is too sharp at times.

Perfume for Jesus’s Feet

Angelica came to me yesterday and told me she made a cross. She had drawn a cross – and put my favorite scrapbooking bows all over it. 

I have been letting Angelica go into the craft room by herself and use materials she likes for several months now. I’ve been sharing craft supplies with her her whole life, but until recently I supervised 100 percent of the time and chose the materials she could use. Angelica is growing up so fast though that lately that I let her come and go in the craft room alone or with Grace, her wonderful babysitter. She can use any paper, stickers, ribbon, washi tape etc that she wants.

Yet I had a moment of dispair when I saw she had used some of my favorite little pieces all at once and on one project. I was happy to see her artwork, and thrilled by her devotion to Jesus, but I did feel a little twinge when I realized I couldn’t use those for still lifes again or for a collage or scrapbook page. 

Then I had a revelation. Angelica loves these bows too. She didn’t give one thought to giving all the best bows, at once, to Jesus. It is a given she will never have those supplies again. She knows that, and she didn’t hesitate. Angelica gave her perfume to Jesus. My job as a mother is to help her grow in her faith and continue to pour her best bottle of perfume on the feet of Jesus. And yesterday, I learned from her.

A Violet

Therese Lisieux was a Carmelite nun who lived in the latter half of the 19th century. Although she lived a very short life, dying at 24 from tuberculosis, the writings she left behind about flowers are compelling and influential in church thought. As Therese would meditate on flowers she would learn lessons about God. Her writings on flowers were compiled into a book called The Story of a Soul.

Sometimes she wrote about individuality and our place in God’s Kingdom. In one passage she wrote, “I realized that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wildflowers to make the meadows gay.”

What that really drives home to me is that whether you live your life in the Limelight among other people or not, you are important and God thinks you contribute to the beauty of creation. The violet is no less worthy than the rose. She goes on to say that the Saints are like lilies or roses and that we must be content to be the violets or daisies that God smiles at when He looks down. What I think this means is that while Saints’ souls have been perfected by fire, we are beautiful too. We can’t all be Saints, and we should not all be Saints. We may not stand out in a crowd of souls like they do, but if the world was filled with all the same kind of people everything would get very monotonous. Everyone’s variety and individuality is needed. It makes God smile, and anything that makes God smile is a necessary thing. God uses a macro lens when he sees us, examining our beauty in detail so that even the smallest of us flowers is gorgeous to Him.

Along those lines, Therese wrote that all of us can be perfect when we become that which God designed us to be. Popular culture seems to focus so much on perfection. And in Christianity we avoid the very concept because none of us are without sin, and to be truly perfect is to be sinless. But this is another, interesting idea of perfection that I like. God has designed each and everyone of us with a unique personality and temperament, with different skills and interests, and with different purposes. When we live out our purposes and function in the way He designed us, we are perfect. Obviously our souls are not perfect because we are sinners. Everyone needs Jesus. But our personhood can be perfect.

Then the question becomes, what are my gifts and what is my purpose? How can I fully live in accordance with my design, including my personality, temperament, and life circumstances? To what degree am I already doing this or to which I might have already fulfilled my purpose at least by and large?

I know that I was meant to be Craig’s wife. So day in and day out I fulfill that purpose. I was meant to be Angelica’s mother. God chose me to be her mother. So I try to fulfill that purpose to the best of my ability. God designed me to be very creative. So what is the purpose of that creativity? Although I enjoy making art I am by no means proficient at it. So what is the purpose? It could just be so that I can enjoy it. God wants us to be happy. He wants us to be holy first, but wherever possible we should be holy and happy. My life provides the opportunity to be happy and gives me chances to work on myself to be more holy. I should take advantage of both opportunities. What role is creating things or doing photography supposed to play in my life?

What about my writing? As a writer I sometimes feel so isolated. I always thought I would go to grad school, get an MFA and then a Ph.D, and start teaching at the college level. I thought that I would know other writers from my days in grad school and that I would be publishing books. But I was not destined to do that. God had other plans for me, better plans. But my passion for writing poetry remains, and I have very little opportunity to use that voice above a whisper, at a volume that other people can hear me. So what am I supposed to do with all my poetry? What is the ultimate purpose to me being a poet? I might get a book published but I might not. I may try to publish more chapbooks since I really enjoy chapbooks, but there is no telling if that will come through and I have not submitted in a very long time. Is God’s plan for me to have a book published? Or does He have other plans for me and my little poems? Do I need to start submitting again? Or am I supposed to take some other avenue?

Moving to Colorado with my husband has brought about tremendous change in my life. New place, new people, new schedule, new terrain, new opportunities. I am sure that this move was important. What am I supposed to be doing with it? I’m getting involved with my church and I feel like that’s the right direction to go in. I don’t know what will come of my involvement, but maybe my hands are needed. I want Angelica to really get something out of living in Colorado for 3 years, whether that is simply amazing and beautiful experiences, or a friend that she’s supposed to make, or maybe getting plugged into this church will make a big difference in her life.

Like everyone else, I have so many facets to my personality. I’m kind of a mixture of Victorian lady, 1950s housewife without the good organizational skills, and a dark, Gothic princess. God made me these things, and there must be a reason for each one of them. So how can I live out my life in such a way as to be authentically who God made me, fulfilling his design for me and reaching perfection in what He wanted me to be?

I may never be a rose, either in God’s eyes or the world’s. You never know, but probably not. But sometimes I don’t want roses when I go to the market. I want a nice bouquet of daisies, or maybe some violets. How does God want me to bloom?