"Your body is the first thing any child of man ever wanted. Therefore dispose yourself to be loved, to be wanted, to be available. Be there for them with a vengeance. Be a gracious, bending woman. Incline your ear, your heart, your hands to them.... To be a Mother is to be the sacrament - the effective symbol - of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home." from Bed and Board, Robert Farrar Capon

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Knead Well

"Knead well. It perfects the texture of the bread, and, more important, it is good for your soul. There are few actions you will ever take that have more of the stuff of history in them. A woman with her sleeves rolled up and flour on her hands is one of the most gorgeous stabilities in the world. Don't let your family miss the sight."

(Quote from pg.153 of Capon's  Supper of the Lamb-A Culinary Reflection)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Just call me Mrs. Deadman

I once heard a certain husband say, “The only good wife is a dead wife!” Oh really! I thought, as I continued my argument with him – oh wait, strike that. We all know that “christian” husbands and wives don’t argue, right? Anyway, by now you may have deduced who I'm talking about. Yep, good old yours truly. But where do we go from here? As with most truths, sometimes God needs to “wring it out of us.” We get pushed into a corner, brought to wits end, and finally get it right. I am dead to sin. What do I have to defend?

"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  ...  For he that is dead is freed from sin.  ...  Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." excerpts from Rom. 6

I am dead to sin. It is impossible to argue with a corpse!

In an interview I recently watched, Dion (the singer from Dion and the Belmonts) told a story about how before he was saved he would (subconsciously) start an argument with his wife so that he could then feel justified to storm out of the house and take drugs or drink alcohol. However his wife got to the point where she just wouldn’t argue with him. She would agree with him about her faults, then inform him that she needed to get a bottle for the baby or take care of the kids. Now whether or not this is the exact interpretation the interviewer or even Dion himself meant to put on this, I will now step into the role of "Decipherer." The wife was "dead", dead to defending her old sinful self, so instead of arguing (as I usually do) she agreed quickly with her husband and then joyfully went about her vocation of cleaning, cooking and child raising. I know that's a bit of a stretch in the interpretation line, but you get the point, right?

In case you, like me, think “O wretched woman that I am, who shall deliver me?” then I have good news for you.  “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Col 3:3

The good news is that you, like Dion’s wife, are dead. Have you ever seen a corpse rise up to defend its reputation? Instead of defending our sinful ways, we can agree and then go about our vocations. The laundry is piling up, our husband’s work shirts need ironed, and I’ll bet the children’s diapers are dirty. We have been relieved of proving to God what a good housewife we really are and now can focus on what’s right in front of us - that holiest of holy vocations of diapers, cooking and cleaning. There is such rest and peace in that.

“I will therefore give myself as Christ to my neighbor,  just as Christ offered himself to me.”  Tuomo Mannermaa Two Kinds of Love

Monday, July 8, 2013

Everything’s Going My Way

Oh what a beautiful morning,
Oh what a beautiful day,
I have a beautiful feeling,
Everything’s going my way!

Remember the opening song from Oklahoma? Rodgers and Hammerstein sure knew how to write of that golden day. I heard that song at a wedding this past weekend and it sure sounded nice. But really, when has everything gone my way? And then our Pastor stood up and interpreted that phrase in a new way. Once again the Word changed the way I thought about something 180 degrees.

 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. If all things are working together for my good then isn’t everything really going my way? Even if I don’t totally see how it’s all working together.

Naturally my ideal “beautiful morning” would be waking up to a hot cup of tea. I would walk out side to our front porch seat and enjoy the birds’ morning songs. After half an hour or so of pleasant thoughts about our perfect children, my perfect husband, and some holy thoughts about God, I might then go inside and read the Bible. Then, after I've had a long, warm shower, the children would start waking up, each one about 20 minutes apart and all in a wonderful mood… oh and with dry diapers. Well, I don’t know about you, but that “beautiful morning” has not happened yet for me.

Now a more typical morning for me would go something like this. I didn’t get my caffeine/tea because all three kids woke up early and none were in a good mood. Paul, our youngest, is teething and feverish and he just wants to be held. Lucy, who is being potty trained, doesn’t seem to care if I have to wash all 8 pairs of her training pants EVERY day. At about this point, I think I’ve had all I can take, and then Helen, our two year old, decides right now would be a good time to start throwing up.

I can’t take any more! Lord! Where are you? This is not a beautiful morning or day. Going my way? Not a chance!  These complaints are voiced, but as usual no voice from the heavens thunder down a response. Instead some of the scriptures our pastor and my husband have reminded me of come to me.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

“Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” 1 Peter 3:13

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

As Gerhard Forde writes, in On Being a Theologian of the Cross, we naturally "call evil good and good evil". I think anything that appears as an inconvenience to “my plans” is bad, and good is when things go the way I planned. Yet, thinking back, when has anything ever gone the exact way I planned? Not ever that I can remember, but in it all Christ has been working. A preacher once said, “Nothing bad can happen to me!” (1 Peter 3:13)
What else could God use to get my attention besides tribulation? With the slightest hint of success comes pride and it takes me away from God and back into my own strength, but He is still there working in me to will and do His good pleasure. This so called trouble becomes my salvation! I am brought to being in need of a Savior and there really is no better place for us to be… poor, needy and wretched. Then he enjoys showing Himself strong on our behalf. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

So, back to the wonderful children God and blessed us with. There is nothing else I’d rather be doing than raising my children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Sick or healthy, happy or whiny, large or small; these are a joy to take care of. God is pleased to use them to bring me closer to Him, and I am pleased to take care of them while He is taking care of me.

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed” Romans 5:3-5

Glory in throw up, dirty diapers, and spilled cheerios? Yes! For through these mundane things, I am learning patience, experience, hope. He takes away my sin and shame and brings me back to the most beautiful thing in the world… My neighbor.