Thursday, February 08, 2007

Lamentations of the Father

Laws Concerning Food and Drink; Household Principles;
Lamentations of the Father

OF the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room. Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room, neither may you carry such therein. Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither may you drink.

But if you are sick, and are lying down and watching something, then may you eat in the living room.
Laws When at Table

And if you are seated in your high chair, or in a chair such as a greater person might use, keep your legs and feet below you as they were. Neither raise up your knees, nor place your feet upon the table, for that is an abomination to me. Yes, even when you have an interesting bandage to show, your feet upon the table are an abomination, and worthy of rebuke. Drink your milk as it is given you, neither use on it any utensils, nor fork, nor knife, nor spoon, for that is not what they are for; if you will dip your blocks in the milk, and lick it off, you will be sent away. When you have drunk, let the empty cup then remain upon the table, and do not bite it upon its edge and by your teeth hold it to your face in order to make noises in it sounding like a duck; for you will be sent away.

When you chew your food, keep your mouth closed until you have swallowed, and do not open it to show your brother or your sister what is within; I say to you, do not so, even if your brother or your sister has done the same to you. Eat your food only; do not eat that which is not food; neither seize the table between your jaws, nor use the raiment of the table to wipe your lips. I say again to you, do not touch it, but leave it as it is. And though your stick of carrot does indeed resemble a marker, draw not with it upon the table, even in pretend, for we do not do that, that is why. And though the pieces of broccoli are very like small trees, do not stand them upright to make a forest, because we do not do that, that is why. Sit just as I have told you, and do not lean to one side or the other, nor slide down until you are nearly slid away. Heed me; for if you sit like that, your hair will go into the syrup. And now behold, even as I have said, it has come to pass.

Laws Pertaining to Dessert
For we judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean, then you shall have dessert. But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you have eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of your potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then you shall have dessert. But if you eat a lesser number of peas, and yet you eat the potatoes, still you shall not have dessert; and if you eat the peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, you shall not have dessert, no, not even a small portion thereof. And if you try to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas around with a fork, that it may appear you have eaten what you have not, you will fall into iniquity. And I will know, and you shall have no dessert.

On Screaming

Do not scream; for it is as if you scream all the time. If you are given a plate on which two foods you do not wish to touch each other are touching each other, your voice rises up even to the ceiling, while you point to the offense with the finger of your right hand; but I say to you, scream not, only remonstrate gently with the server, that the server may correct the fault. Likewise if you receive a portion of fish from which every piece of herbal seasoning has not been scraped off, and the herbal seasoning is loathsome to you, and steeped in vileness, again I say, refrain from screaming. Though the vileness overwhelm you, and cause you a faint unto death, make not that sound from within your throat, neither cover your face, nor press your fingers to your nose. For even now I have made the fish as it should be; behold, I eat of it myself, yet do not die.

Concerning Face and Hands

Cast your countenance upward to the light, and lift your eyes to the hills, that I may more easily wash you off. For the stains are upon you; even to the very back of your head, there is rice thereon. And in the breast pocket of your garment, and upon the tie of your shoe, rice and other fragments are distributed in a manner wonderful to see. Only hold yourself still; hold still, I say. Give each finger in its turn for my examination thereof, and also each thumb. Lo, how iniquitous they appear. What I do is as it must be; and you shall not go hence until I have done.

Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances

Bite not, lest you be cast into quiet time. Neither drink of your own bath water, nor of bath water of any kind; nor rub your feet on bread, even if it be in the package; nor rub yourself against cars, nor against any building; nor eat sand.
Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should so afflict it with tape? And hum not that humming in your nose as I read, nor stand between the light and the book. Indeed, you will drive me to madness. Nor forget what I said about the tape.

Complaints and Lamentations

O my children, you are disobedient. For when I tell you what you must do, you argue and dispute hotly even to the littlest detail; and when I do not accede, you cry out, and hit and kick. Yes, and even sometimes do you spit, and shout "stupid-head" and other blasphemies, and hit and kick the wall and the molding thereof when you are sent to the corner. And though the law teaches that no one shall be sent to the corner for more minutes than he has years of age, yet I would leave you there all day, so mighty am I in anger. But upon being sent to the corner you ask straightaway, "Can I come out?" and I reply, "No, you may not come out." And again you ask, and again I give the same reply. But when you ask again a third time, then you may come out.

Hear me, O my children, for the bills they kill me. I pay and pay again, even to the twelfth time in a year, and yet again they mount higher than before. For our health, that we may be covered, I give six hundred and twenty talents twelve times in a year; but even this covers not the fifteen hundred deductible for each member of the family within a calendar year. And yet for ordinary visits we still are not covered, nor for many medicines, nor for the teeth within our mouths. Guess not at what rage is in my mind, for surely you cannot know.

For I will come to you at the first of the month and at the fifteenth of the month with the bills and a great whining and moan. And when the month of taxes comes, I will decry the wrong and unfairness of it, and mourn with wine and ashtrays, and rend my receipts. And you shall remember that I am that I am: before, after, and until you are twenty-one. Hear me then, and avoid me in my wrath, O children of me.

Ian Frazier

Monday, February 05, 2007

Walk To Emmaus....After The Fact

Last Sunday night, I returned from my Walk To Emmaus. I had spent 72 hours away from my family, with no watch to record the passing of time and no cell phone to check on their progress. I had to trust things were going well. Not to mention, I was much too busy "drawing near" to God to worry if my girls were taking naps or if Brian was sticking to the menu.

In a nutshell, the core topic is God's grace poured out on us and coming to an understanding of that. Personally, in our hearts, not just in our heads.

If I were talking to someone about going, I would give my mini-testimony over the last couple of weeks. How I read a book that finally made my heart figure out what my head has known all along...that God loves me and seeks me out to be His and I don't have to worry about what anybody else is doing (something I struggle with immensely). I used to think that brown eyes were the leftovers that God gave out and you couldn't be "beautiful" unless you had blue eyes. Isn't that crazy? I never thought brown eyes were attractive. But to realize that God loves brown eyes and that he gave them specifically to me....well, it might seem stupid, but it changed my whole way of thinking. I quit thinking of myself as junk.

I could look in the mirror and think to myself, "God thinks this (stretch marks and extra pounds and everything) is hot." Who in the world was I to say that what God thought was hot, was ugly?

I sent this response to a friend who told me that when she looks in the mirror, she feels like throwing up:
It's almost as if knowing that God was wild about me, so who cares that the kids are acting up or that I've got another zit or that my hair is doing a weird thing or I don't have any makeup on. GOD THINKS I'M BEAUTIFUL. Not just loves me, but thinks I'm my sweats and no shower all day. I think when you realize won't want to throw'll be prancing in front of the mirror saying to yourself, "The Sovereign God of the Universe thinks this looks GOOD!!!"

So when I went to Emmaus, I was (finally) on the right track that God actually loved me, not just tolerated His idiot, wayward daughter.

Although I had finally realized how God felt about me, one thing hindering me was believing sincerely and truly that no one else loved me (except for Brian). I felt tolerated, at best. I didnt' think anyone cared about me or even thought about me when I wasn't around. All in all, I thought that people were generally just trying to be "nice" when they spoke to me at church or in Bible study or at MOPS. But what about when I wasn't in the room? Did anyone even care?

But praise God, while I was coming to grips with the depth of God's love for me, I received a huge object lesson regarding the love people have for me. People all over the world were praying for the Pilgrims on last weekend's Walk To Emmaus, and had been for two years. Someone who didn't even know me had been praying for me for two years. People in prison had been praying for me. IN PRISON. As if they didn't have more problems than I did that they would be praying for me. That got my attention.

One of the things I was able to do on my Walk that was so healing to me was finally being able to lay down the burden and guilt of sins that I'd been carrying around for years. I'd only asked forgiveness for it a million times, but I could not forgive myself. Since I couldn't do it, I felt for certain that God couldn't either. To finally believe that God's grace was for me, and even for my "terrible sin", was empowering. God really is who He said He is. Jesus would have died if had just been me and my sin. When I asked Him to take the guilt away (something I had never done before) He did.

I feel so renewed. I never felt comfortable putting my hands up to worship God, because of what other people might think. "Who does she think she is? She's not a good enough Christian to do that....quiet, gentle spirit? She doesn't have a quiet bone in her body." But at my Walk, I decided what other people thought didn't make a lick of difference. I know in my heart that God is riveted to me...not just glancing my way when He gets bored with everyone else. I learned that my own selfishness is what keeps me from having God's best and the best that I could have in my family and marriage. God has been really working on my heart in the submission area and I finally feel like I have a grip on that after a while of thinking I was doing it right. And the funny thing is...Brian has noticed...without me saying, "Hey, did you notice I was being submissive there for a second?"

Of course, I want Brian to be the spiritual leader of the household. So I came up with this great idea. Why doesn't he pick a book of the Bible for us to read through and study and then we'll discuss it. So he picked James. Then I told him I didn't want to read James. (Pretty submissive, huh?) But I read it anyway. Every day for a month, we read it. We never did discuss it really, but I think that's okay. The Lord was talking to me anyway. I can use a passage of James to describe my experience at Emmaus.

James 4:7-10 NLT
7: So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. (Right out of the gate, going to Emmaus is very humbling, because you don't really have any idea what's going to happen or what to have just give it up to Him. You are sharing a room with people that you may have never seen in your life, sitting at a table with even more new people. There are no watches and no cell phones. Every day there are 5 speakers that speak on different topics. The Devil doesn't want us to know about God's grace and love or any of the other subjects discussed. He wants us to think that we are too bad to be loved by God or people and our sins are the sins that can't be forgiven and the more you hear, the more you learn that's just not true. So the Devil has to go...)

8: Draw close to God and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites. (You can't help but draw near to God...and then there's the promise...He will draw near to you. We learn about purifying God purifies our hearts and our lives.)

9: Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. (We have an opportunity to lay our burdens down...and I did. I had unfinished business with God. I was carrying grief and guilt that I should have put down a long time ago. I was broken for the wrong I had done and the ugliness I had harbored in my heart and how far I'd let myself get from Him. I was upset that I had allowed Satan to let me think I was not worthy to raise my hands and praise God.)

10: When you bow down and admit your dependence on Him, He will lift you up and give you honor. (There could have been nothing more true... after I was able to lay those heavy burdens down and admit that I couldn't even trust my feelings about things, He was able to prove to me that He [and others] cared about me in a way I could finally understand. It was during the "lifting up" part of the weekend that I really felt the love of others (something I had not ever grasped)...and realized that it was okay to have that love, even though I hadn't done anything to "earn" it. I could have cried for days and days and days after that realization. You don't have to "earn" love, the way I'd grown up believing. People don't just tolerate me. People genuinely would go out of their way for me...which I have never thought in a million years.)

Recently, I was told by several people that my bluntness/honesty was my best trait. Yikes. I've decided that I don't want that to be my best trait. I can still be honest and open, but I'm going to be open about my struggles and what the Lord is doing in my life. I am done pretending that everything is okay when it isn't. The Lord has already answered a prayer of mine and is using me. Telling everyone in the world what I'm thinking every minute of the day or making sure everyone knows when I'm not happy about something doesn't seem like the embodiment of a quiet, gentle spirit. And that's what I want. I don't want to laugh out loud when I'm told that I have a quiet, gentle spirit. I'm still going to be me, just a sweeter version of me.

In all of this I've finally learned...I don't have to prove anything to anyone. Even if I was right and people really don't like me or think about me when I'm not there, it's okay. I'm the "apple of His eye" (Psalm 17:8 NLT).