Thursday, July 31, 2014

Womanhood: Real Men are Modest

As I was scanning through the endless updates on my newsfeed, I saw a picture of a half naked man and woman embracing each other on a bed.  Pretty common, really.  Am I right?  No big deal.  I was somewhat interested in the story attached, so I decided to read the comments other friends had said below.

There were three separate comments from three different men who talked about how the picture was quite inappropriate.

Did I mention I happen to be friends with a lot of awesome men?

Awesome men who say things like,
"The picture of the half naked woman bothers me."
"I like the ideas in the article, but I am offended by the picture.  I can't share it because of that."

Yep.  Men.  Real men.

I scrolled on by the picture like it was old hat.  Nothing new here.  Just a naked woman.
Shame on me.
Maybe it was because I see so much skin these days, sure.  In an immodest culture, we are all a little desensitized.  Maybe it was because I am not as interested in seeing a naked lady, so I scrolled by without interest.

Whatever the reason, I just ignored it.
That isn't being very modest, my dear Kelly.
But hats off to you, men, for noticing and standing up for me and for all women.

Modesty isn't just about what we wear and how we wear it, what kind of poses we make in pictures, or what kind of moves we do on the dance floor.  Modesty is indeed about all of those things, but it is also about what we allow to be shared about other women and men.  It is about how we view culture.  It is about how we view sex.  It is about watching out for our neighbors and their best interests.  It is about not liking inappropriate pictures on a woman's photo sharing sight.  It is about valuing our bodies more than valuing the responses they get in a public forum.  It is about encouraging and uplifting those who stand up against the objectification of women and of men.  It is about remembering that every man and woman's body is one for whom Christ died.

Modesty is about thanking the real men out there brave enough to say they have had enough.
So, thank you, male friends.
Thank you for reminding me that real men are modest.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Womanhood: Submitting

My husband was gone for a conference for a whole week.  I had a lot of time to think between screams from our three three-and-unders.  Most of my thoughts circled around my need for my husband.  And while I totally need my husband emotionally, what I was really reflecting on was the physical things that weren't being done around the house.

Who brings in the trash cans after they are picked up?
Who takes out the recycling?
Who cleans the litter box?
Who fixes that rattling sound from the fan?
Who moves the fan from the dining room to the bedroom each night?
Who waters those really dry plants around the house?

And so on.

Sure, they are just simple things, but somebody does them.
And that somebody is certainly not me or any of our children.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I think absence makes my dependence grow deeper.
And that is not a bad thing.

The world tells women -

"You don't need a man!"
"Being bossy is a protected right!"
"Submit to a MAN?  Sure, in the 16th century."

The truth is when God has given a husband to a woman, He has given her a symbol of Christ caring for His Church.  Not every woman is blessed with a husband, and she is still indeed complete in Christ.  Because whether you are given a man as a husband or not, you are still called to submit to one another.  Submitting is not just for wives.

Check it out - Read THIS. 

Submitting has such a negative cultural meaning in our take-charge, speak-out, kick-your-way-to-the-top, don't-mind-those-mean-authorities, and who-needs-men-anyway world.

My words on the matter -
Get over yourself.

And that is spoken to me just as much as you.

We all need a little lesson in getting over ourselves.
Putting the authority of another over the desires of ourselves.
Listening to our husbands instead of forming our next response as to why we are right.
Honoring our parents throughout our lives in place of assuming we know best because we are all grown up.
Respecting our pastors' words without questioning if his voice sounded just right from the pulpit.

And my role as the wife and my role as the daughter and my role as the parishioner does not change based on the actions of my authority.

If my husband doesn't take out the recycling, I am still told to honor and submit to him.
If my parents don't agree with me, I am still told to honor and obey them.
If my pastor doesn't have the most amazing preaching style ever, I am still told to respect and listen to him.
It is like a punch in the gut sometimes - the Law.  I don't like it.
My sinful self wants to find some "but, but, but..." in this.

There is no "but."

" thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."  Ephesians 5:20-21

OK, I was sort of wrong.  There is one "but."

It works like this -

I haven't honored and submitted to my husband the way I am commanded to do, but...
     ...but Christ fulfilled even this Law and even for me.
Even before I failed as a wife, He cleaned His entire Bride (even me!) by the washing of His blood.

I haven't honored and obeyed my parents the way I am commanded to do, but...
     ...but Christ fulfilled even this Law and even for me.
Even before I failed as a daughter, He was born of a woman, dying on a cross as the perfect Child.

I haven't respected and listened to my pastor the way I am commanded to do, but...
     ...but Christ fulfilled even this Law and even for me.
Even before I failed as a parishioner, He perfectly listened and obeyed His Father to the point of death, even death on a cross, so we, by virtue of our adoption, can call, "OUR Father..."

And because He buried me with Him in Baptism, He lives through me.
Every once-in-awhile I submit, I honor, I obey, I listen, but...
     ...but I do this only through Him.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Reality: Why children are awesome (and some other 100% truths)

Everyday I have to choose someone else over me.  Quite frankly, that stinks.  I like choosing me.

My kids take my time, they steal my showers, they wreck my prized possessions, they wake me in the middle of the night, they just need need need.  It is in my nature to just choose me, but here I can't.
They make me be just a wee bit less selfish every single day.

Children are awesome.

And with that lesson I learn to give a little more freely - not just to them but to all my neighbors.
My kids teach me to be better to my neighbors.
They make me stop judging my neighbors because I realize how hard this parenting thing is.
They encourage me to smile at my neighbor because I know they might be battling the same challenge as me.
Overall, they just make me stop thinking about me and start thinking about someone else for a change.

Children are awesome.

Everyday I see at least one of them act in the most obnoxious, sinful, annoying way.  I mean, I can't even describe it to you.
It is bad.
Then, I realize that is EXACTLY how I would act (and sometimes do) if it was socially acceptable for me to allow my inner crazy to be an outy.  And then comes the learning - more on my part than on theirs.
My children are the single greatest mirror of the law that God ever made - they help me see my own sin so clearly. So, we learn together what it is to repent.  And what it is to forgive.
It is a great lesson.  I need it everyday.

Children are awesome.

With each child we have had (whether they survived or not), I appreciate my marriage and my husband more.
What is this rubbish about children being hard on marriage?
Granted, finding time or energy to date, kiss, and make more babies is somewhat difficult.  But let me tell you, with each child, I know more and more how much my husband and I are
I can't do it without him.
If I were to lose him, or he were to lose me, of course we would parent on with the help of God, but we would not be the same.  We depend on each other completely - sometimes just for sanity.  We share the same family jokes.  We laugh at our children's individual characters.  We know these little miracles and love them like no one else ever will, and we are the only two people in the world that feel this way.  That makes me love my husband more every single day.

And somehow, most of us who keep having children keep finding the time and energy to make, there must be something to that "ONEness" thing...

Children are awesome.

The more kids we have, the less money we have.
The less things we buy.
The less stuff we own.
The less I need things I don't really need.
My kids make me care about stuff less.  Sometimes they actually make me hate stuff to the point of mass purges.  Cable - don't need it.  New furniture - sure, from a yard sale!  Clothes that haven't been worn by someone else?  I mean, they aren't even broken in!  Who needs such things?
The fact is, we probably live on less money each month than we did when we didn't have children.  I've learned to create in the kitchen instead of waiting for someone else's creation at a restaurant.  We read chapter books and listen to audio books instead of sitting in front of the TV.  There is very little entertainment inside our home, so we venture out into the woods or the library or the local park.  My children make me love the world around us.  And they make me thankful for the gifts we have been given.

Children are awesome.

There, I have given you so many reasons to know children are awesome without even mentioning the simple feelings.  But feelings are good, too -

The warmth of a newborn baby.
The pride of the first steps.
The accomplishment of their first read word.
Fill in all the warm fuzzies here...

True statement - children are awesome.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Reality: Your pastor is under attack (or at least he SHOULD be)

I am married to a pastor.
I also happen to be friends with many pastors and their wives.

And one thing is very clear to me through our conversations - 

Your pastor is under attack.
His family.
His faith.
His strength.

Satan will take whatever your pastor thinks he is good at, and he will pick at it until your pastor no longer has any part of his job that he feels capable of doing.  

First Satan will make your pastor question his abilities.  
Then he will make your pastor question his place in the community.  
Then he will make your pastor question his role in his family.  
Then he will make your pastor question his faith.

He will pick, pick, pick, pick, pick like the most annoying of little brothers.  
A little poke here...a bigger poke there.

Your pastor needs a vacation just as much as anyone else.  He takes a vacation, but without a doubt, a death or hospitalization will delay or cancel his plans.  Satan says, "Oh, you are tired?  You need a little break?  Well, let's see what I can do about that..."  There's a little poke.

Your pastor thinks he has a great sermon written, and he planned and read and studied.  Sunday comes and the delivery doesn't go the way he thought it would - something doesn't click.  Satan says, "Yeah, you thought you were pretty good at this preaching thing, didn't you?  You are so prideful.  God doesn't love pride.  God hates pride.  God hates you."  There's another poke.

Your pastor struggles to find the most gracious and loving way to explain closed communion to a visitor, and then watches that person storm out of church before even joining for a moment.  Satan says, "You can't grow this church.  Look at you.  That person just left.  You failed God."  Poke.

Your pastor has given of his time and energy repeatedly to a lost sheep, and then he receives a letter about their intent to take their names off the membership.  Satan says, "Yeah, I got another one.  Me - 1.  You - 0."  Poke.

Your pastor tries to be a "normal guy" and talk about enjoying a beer during the game, and then he finds out that a wayward member thinks he's a drunk.  Satan says, "Well, aren't you?  I mean, you did have one beer three weeks ago..."  I don't think I need to say it, but...POKE!

Satan will wear your pastor down with his shear focus.

And on what is Satan's focus set?
On making your pastor know he is not capable of being a shepherd to the people God gave him.
Because if he can get the shepherd, the sheep are just waiting to be devoured.

You see, there are no jobs comparable to that of being a pastor.  There are many reasons for this, but I think the biggest is because Satan is literally battling against faithful pastors.

He already had his chance with THE SHEPHERD, and he lost in the most humiliating of ways.  So, now he turns his focus onto the weaker undershepherds - the ones who are full of their own sin and guilt, the ones who know better than anyone what they have done wrong, the ones who are charged to preach the Law and Gospel to others while deeply needing it preached to them.  

If Satan is not battling against your pastor, you should find yourself a new pastor.  
In some careers, Satan will give a lot for a person to succeed.  He wants to give people a reason to believe they don't need a Savior.  
As a faithful pastor, Satan wants nothing but failure and despair.  

So, what can you do?  

You can pray for your pastor.
For his family.
For his faith.
For his strength.

You can speak well of your pastor.
Of his family.
Of his faith.
Of his strength.

Your faithful pastor needs you.  He needs your prayers and your presence.  

There is no doubt in my mind - 
Your pastor will fail you at some point.
He may be on vacation when you need him.
He may flop on a sermon.
He may speak unlovingly to someone.
He may lose track of a lost sheep.
He may have one too many drinks.

When he does this, remember what he told you in that sermon the other day - 
Christ takes on your sins,
Christ hangs on a cross for your guilt,
Christ is the fulfillment of every single law,
Christ sheds His blood for you,
Christ buries you with Him in Baptism,
Christ forgives you - 

     And say it right back to him.  He needs to hear it.