Feeble Knees

Friday, June 17, 2005

Friday Flowers

A look at what's come into bloom this week.

God bless,

Thursday, June 16, 2005

This is for all the lonely people

Been reading a lot from some dear folks out there who are feeling lonely and depressed out there, and my heart goes out to them.

It doesn't help that much to say, "hey, I've been there, it'll get better". My response was always: "Oh yeah, what do you know? What if it doesn't?

Well, I have been there, not that it helps anyone else's present situation very much. I got married a few years ago to a wonderful guy and we're very happy (and pregnant) but I think I can still empathize with how tough it is to be single and alone in the church. I still remember. It wasn't all that long ago that folks used to try to "encourage" me with lovely statements like:

  • Well if that's the worst problem you have, you should be thankful
  • Maybe you should lose some weight
  • But you have Jesus as your husband!
  • Seek God first and He will give you the desires of your heart (i.e.,Maybe you should pray, attend services, read Scripture more)
  • Singleness is a gift from God; maybe it's not His will for you to marry (Please, kick me while I'm down some more!)
  • Maybe you aren't ready to meet the person God has for you yet (i.e., Maybe you're not praying, attending services, reading scripture enough.)
  • One of these days I'll take you down to XYZ Bible college with me, there are lots of nice young men down there (yep, my pastor actually said that to me and a friend once)
  • Maybe God just wants you to focus on Him right now (i.e. We really would rather you devoted your every waking minute to serving the church in upmteen million ministries right now, because the married people are all busy with their kids and we need the help.)
  • Maybe you're too picky (You're right. You know I've been having a terrible time deciding between all my zero and nil number of prospects.)
  • Are you praying about it? (You must not be praying, attending services, reading scripture enough...)

It's tough enough to live in this world, but trying to make your way alone as a young adult with all sorts of expectations and societal pressures can really drag a person down. Unfortunately the Christian community, what with all its young marrieds happily pushing out kid after kid for Christ, can make you feel like quite the fifth wheel in the family of God. We expect singles to be active in the church and busy themselves with ministries that people with families don't have time for. We assume this is a good way to put the single person's energies to good use, so they won't be tempted or led astray by longings and lust.

Marrieds generally hang out almost exclusively with other marrieds, except when a particular church function or event requires them to co-mingle with singles. They seem to be happy to have escaped singledom and don't seem particularly eager to hear about the trials and tribulations of their single brothers and sisters. Many stop being able to relate to them after a period of time, though there are always those true exceptions to the rule who are able to understand and empathize. But I never found very many of them.

For people who come to the faith in their twenties after living through some wild times and having indulged in certain indiscretions, life can be even more difficult. Everyone wants you to give witness in explicit detail how Jesus saved you from a life of sex, drugs and Rock 'N Roll, but no one of the opposite sex wants to touch you with a ten foot pole. You're the one that gets called on all the time to witness at church outreaches, but you can't buy a date.

In my former church, guys in their mid and late twenties, youth leaders, married girls from their youth groups - sometimes just mere weeks after the girls graduated from high school at age 18. While it was never said out loud, the prevailing attitude was that women who walked in the doors off the street with a questionable past were certainly saveable, but you wouldn't want to be caught dead being romantically linked to them. The hope was that some guy with a similar background would get saved and the two could then pair up. Not long after my own "rededication" and baptism, I had more church people come up to me and say "I just wish my drug addict/convict/alcoholic son/brother/cousin would get saved so he could marry you."

Yeah, it happened. More than I care to relate.

Even guys who had been previously married and divorced sought out young girls raised in the church who were more likely "pure". It became a source of twisted amusement between myself and some other girls I knew who, like me, didn't have a necessarily spotless past. A street person would wander in and "get saved" one Sunday, and we'd jokingly wonder who was going to try to set which one of us up with him first.

Totem to Temple today relates his frustration about the crazy standards that some Christians have when looking for a mate, and I laughed grimly as I read them. One of the standards that jumped out was the idea that someone isn't "anointed" enough. I saw that one come into play time and time again. The quiet ones who served week in, week out with devotion and dedication got passed over for the fireball preacher types who were always having prophecies, words of knowledge, etc. The girl who faithfully taught Sunday school got passed over for the dynamite (and practically prepubescently skinny) vocalist who sang solos every morning and evening service. The girl who had grown up in the church, fallen, but had come back with a heart on fire for God was snubbed for a much younger virgin who lacked spiritual maturity, humility and compassion.

This ended up morphing into a rant about church and Christian dating practices, which I didn't originally intend, but well, there you go. I guess my memories of my own experiences still bring back some bitterness at times.

For folks out there who are struggling with being single, or anyone who is struggling with loneliness, just want to let you know you're on my heart and in my prayers lately. Sometimes the only thing that helped me was knowing that Christ himself struggled and suffered loneliness and abandonment. Knowing that He knew just how I felt always seemed to help, if even just a little bit.

Wishing you peace, comfort and joy that no person or circumstance can take away...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I must be in a mood today

But I can't let this go.

I can't decide whether it's better for everyone to just ignore Fred Phelps or confront him at every stunt he tries to pull. It was bad enough when he and his twisted tribe came to my home state a couple weeks ago to protest outside high school graduations and schools.

The latest? He's going to protest all public funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq to let the world know that the soldiers were killed by God, as a way to punish America for the bombing of Phelp's church six years ago.

Can't somebody get this sicko declared mentally unstable and put him away?? It shouldn't be too hard to get a formal diagnosis, the man is quite obviously delusional at best. Not to get all McCarthyist, but can you think of a more un-American activity than dishonoring a faithful, fallen soldier's funeral!?!?!?

HT: Michelle Malkin

He Said a Mouthful

This is why I love blogs. Every once in a while you hit upon something that goes "DING!" that sets you thinking. Today's winner is:

May I have another sir? at Totem to Temple.
The fraternity, like the church, is a social institution that has survived and survived no matter how many pledges went through the hazing process to be accepted. The pledge, like the church member, is an example of human nature where the craving to feel wanted, accepted, and loved is the driving force that people will sell out their sanity to become ‘one of them. Like the pledge who will swim a frozen river naked, we have Christians who will do various forms of spiritual hazing in the form of abuse and insanity to belong. From selling out a clear orthodox fundamental belief to endosing a Christian megatrend because it’s a cool thing to do, the parallels are the same. A fraternity pledge sold out values to become the chosen ones.

Read the whole thing. Ponder. Discuss...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Why I Hate Divorce, Part XXIV

We're smack dab back in the thick of it again, at least it feels that way, and we've had it up to here with all the "He said, She said."

Contemplating the latest communications we've had with our divorced friends (a couple who divorced a little over a year ago), Mr. F made a very good analogy.

"They're like two monkeys in a cage throwing cr*p at each other, but we're the ones that keep getting hit. And then they're going to wonder why we don't want to be around them or talk to them anymore!"

Gotta admit, that sums up and describes the present situation just perfectly.

So I am sitting here wondering if we are at the point where we need to cut ties with both of them, or at the very least tell them they're both on double probation.

We're tired of finding out that things we say are later wielded as weapons by one against the other. We're tired of being accused of partiality, or caring more about one than the other. We're tired of feeling like they're fighting for custody of us.

Of course when the breakup first started, everyone was on their best behavior. We were assured that they didn't want us to end up in the middle. They didn't want us to think badly of one or the other of them. Oh that didn't last very long, not long at all.

I want to shake them and say "what did you think was going to happen?" Did they think everyone would ride off into separate sunsets and that we'd all live happily ever after, somewhere over the rainbow?!

From the outset we knew it was going to all go bad, we saw it coming. Looking back, maybe we should have gotten the heck out of here then. What's that they say about hindsight?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Overdoing it. A little.

The good thing about being six months pregnant is that I've got a lot of my energy back. However, that can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how stupid I am on a given day.

It wasn't the mowing that did me in. I think I could have finished that, stopped there and been OK. We have a lawn tractor and it's hardly any big deal to putt-putt around on that thing. Plus I enjoy it, it's good mind-clearing time. It's me, the sun, the breeze and the smell of grass. Granted the motor is loud and some of the corners are kind of tricky (I almost laid waste to the mailbox... again) but all in all being out on the mower is good thinking time. After I left my job last May, I rather enjoyed taking on the lawn duties during the week and I realized as the good weather finally started to roll around that I missed it. So at my last obstetrician's visit I was a good girl and asked the doctor if it was ok if I use the tractor to mow the lawn. She said "sure, no problem."

So it wasn't the mowing itself. It was probably the trimming that went a little over the edge (no pun intended). You see, once I got done mowing, there were all these raggedy, untidy edges where the grass has just been growing berserk since we put down the fertilizer. It was rather hot and muggy once the sun came out, but I'd been drinking lots of water and I figured "I can do a little maybe..." So I took out the trimmer/edger and proceeded to trim and trim and trim... around the (now slightly crooked) mailbox, around the utility boxes, in front of the big rock where I can never get close enough with the mower... then around the shrubs and trees... then a little more around the roses. By now I was getting a little beat but I figured "well there's not a whole lot more left to do...just a little more..."

So that is how it came to be that I ended up on the couch with my feet up for most of the evening and again this morning, with my wrists aching and my sides feeling rather unpleasantly stretched and sore. Mr. F. was a bit dismayed when he got home and I got "the look", along with the merest bit of a scolding. I promised to take it easy today, and so I am, as mentally uncomfortable as it may be.

It's going to be an adjustment, slowing down for a little person. It seems I've been going, going, going at a good clip for so many years now, I figure I'm probably in for the shock of my life when I realize what it's going to be like to live life with a little one in tow. I've heard other moms joke about how it takes an hour to get out of the house just to do a fifteen minute errand and all that, and it makes me wonder if I'm going to have the patience and wisdom to adjust my expectations of myself and our life accordingly.

Maybe this is what scares so many in my generation and younger about having kids. It certainly was one of my considerations for a while.

I keep thinking of a friend that I've lost touch with along the way. We used to be drinking buddies of sorts, many years ago. Her boy would have been about twelve now, had she had him, had she not given in, wracked by the severe sickness that continued unabated through her third month, had she not looked around at her circumstances and despaired that she could raise a child herself. After her abortion, the only constant in her life seemed to be change - new boyfriends, new drinking buddies, new jobs, new exploits. The last time I tried to reach her, her phone had been disconnected and there was no forwarding number. In the years following I've still not managed to get her new address from friends who somehow manage to maintain sporadic contact with her. Sometimes she drops back into the area out of the blue, here today, gone tomorrow.

Of course one wonders. I find it hard lately not to speculate. Perhaps the child wouldn't have settled her, maybe she still wouldn't have put down any roots. Maybe she would have kept pushing on trying to live a life at odds with motherhood, to the detriment of her child and herself. But then maybe he would have brought her that beautiful and transformative love that had been eluding her until then. Maybe she would have found peace with him, and a reason to stop running.

I don't know. But I think of her boy often when I think of mine. The notion of what could have been is clearer now, and much more dear.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Book Notes

I've been tagged by Michelle, my South African soul sister at Seeking Serenity (hm, try saying that ten times fast!). The subject this time: books.

Total number of books owned:
Oh my head. It would take quite a while to count. Between Mr. F and I we have a bit of a library going. We have three walls in one room lined with books (at least one wall is floor-to-ceiling). There are at least seven bookcases in the house, ranging from a moderate two-self case to a giant, double-wide seven footer. Then there are books stacked up on our nightstands and on random tables and desks. Between the two of us, we've got a pretty well rounded collection of:

  • cookbooks
  • classics (Shakespeare, Austen, Dickens, etc.)
  • science, space, math, physics (Stephen Hawking, Brian Greene, Carl Sagan)
  • poetry (Pope, Dickinson, Gluck, Bradstreet, Bishop, Barrett-Browning, etc.)
  • playscripts and theatre production books(the Greeks, Ibsen, Hellman, O'Neill, Miller, etc. and so on)
  • sci-fi and fantasy (Tolkein, Stephenson, Orwell, Bradbury, etc.)
  • gardening (perennials, kitchen gardens, roses)
  • sports and sports figures (Moneyball, Patriot Reign, Seabiscuit, Win it For),
  • computers, programming languages, operating systems, etc. (many O'Reilly books, Java, C, HTML, CSS - the list goes on)
  • Bibles (KJV, NKJV, Phillips, NIV, Amplified) & apologetics (C.S Lewis, Yancey, Keller, Wilkinson, Nee, Hession, too many to mention)
  • History & nonfiction(McCullough, Ambrose, Tuchman & others)
  • Pregnancy & childbirth (name it, I've got it)
  • Children's (Chronicles of Narnia, Velveteen Rabbit, etc. )

If I had to guess, it would be in the many several hundreds (?) and we're heading off to yet another local library book sale this weekend!

Last book(s) I/we bought:
We made a special emergency trip to Borders to go buy David McCullough's latest, 1776 when it came out a couple weeks ago. Both Mr. F and I were in the middle of other books at the time (he: Fabric of the Cosmos me: Reading Lolita in Tehran) we decided to "race" each other - whoever finished their current book first would get the first crack at 1776. (I won, I won! It's riveting, I'm halfway through. LOVE IT.) We also picked up Three Nights in August (Mr. F was hedging his bets that I'd finish my book first and he'd have to wait for 1776. I'll attempt to suffer through Tony LaRussa's attitude and read Three Nights next.)

Last book I read:
Reading Lolita in Tehran. Fascinating stuff. Highly recommend. Other recent reads include The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. My reading severely dropped off during the first trimester, since I was so indescribably tired. I'm trying to catch up and do as much reading as I can now, since I surely won't be doing it in a few months...

Five books that mean a lot to me:
Just five? Egad! Hm, this is tough, and it probably changes season to season. In no particular order:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Hosea, KJV
Cyrano de Bergerac - Edmond Rostand (the Anthony Burgess translation is the best! If you've only ever read the Hooker version, do yourself a favor and pick this one up. You'll fall in love.)
Wit - Margaret Edson (ok, it's a stage play, not a book, but priceless)
Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan. I really should reread this every year. Some unique gem of truth always shines forth whenever I do.

Runners up:
John Adams - David McCullough makes history personal. You can't read his books and not be changed in some way.
MacBeth - William Shakespeare. I read and re-read this constantly all through high school in the midst of my "dark" phase.
Operating Instructions - Anne Lamott. It gives me hope that I might survive my son's first year.

Five people to pass the baton to:
(but no pressure folks!)
Messy Christian, who probably has more books than we do.
Joe Missionary, because I figure he'll do this.
Cindy at Quotidian Light, though I think she's already been tagged with this before, I'd love to know what she's been reading lately.
Mel at Actual Unretouched Photo, because she writes so well, I simply must know who she reads!
Sami at Redneck's Wife, because she too is on this crazy first-time pregnancy ride.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Now That's Showing Them the Love of God

Greetings from the "epicenter of filth" otherwise known as Massachusetts.

The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas is in town to protest at several Massachusetts schools. So far they have protested in Brookline, in Lowell (at the commencement ceremony of Lexington High School) and this morning they are in nearby Dracut. If you need to, you can read more about their reasons for coming here in this Lowell Sun article.

They're even taking over the airwaves at our local sport talk radio station, WEEI, where the morning show hosts decided it would be fun to get their spokeswoman, Shirley Phelps Roper, on the air for a bit of verbal repartee. It was sickening. 9/11 was God's judgment for homosexuality, she said, and all the people who died that day went directly to hell. She was speaking to an audience of people who are the widows, widowers, aunts, uncles, sons, daughters, friends and co-workers of people who were on Flights 11 and 93 out of Logan airport in Boston. But I bet she doesn't care too much about that.

She said the Asian tsunami was likewise the judgment of God, and that all those thousands of children were better off for having been killed, but they too are also in hell. (Come to think of it, she sounded a lot like a person I banned from commenting on this blog after the Asian tsunami. She was spewing a lot of the same filth.) Someone explain that logic to me. No, on second thought, don't. I don't want to hear such evil and perverted thinking detailed.

If there was any doubt at all in my mind (and there wasn't) that these people are evil, perverting the gospel of grace into hatred, it was when the talk radio host asked Mrs. Phelps Roper, "what should I do to be saved?"

With an audience of untold thousands of New England residents listening, this woman condemned the talk show host for asking a "mocking" question and refused to answer him. She COULD NOT and WOULD NOT answer his question: "what should I do to be saved?"

What she didn't know was that this particular radio station employs a devout Christian, Larry Johnson, who has his own sports talk show on Saturdays. (I was praying they'd get in touch with "LJ" and put him on the air to rebut her.) They did indeed put him on the air to speak with good old Shirl. He asked her earnestly: "Shirley, are you a sinner?" to which she had to admit that she had sinned before. He then went on to say that she had just flunked the real test of any Christian.

"Every Christian out there would salivate to be asked the question that [talk show host] Jerry Callahan just asked you - 'what must I do to be saved'?" Mr. Johnson pointed out that she would not share the good news of God's grace and mercy with someone who was asking a sincere question of her.

To me, that is the ultimate litmus test of every self-proclaimed Christian: when asked what is the reason for the hope within you, what do you say? When someone, anyone I don't care how skeptical or sincere they may be, asks us about salvation, our answer speaks volumes about what we really believe and whom it is we serve.

She wasn't interested in promoting the gospel of grace, just spewing hatred and condemnation. She did not want to tell anyone how to avoid the wrath that she says is imminent. Though she believes we are a God-forsaken state under judgment, she cared little whether any of us would escape fire and damnation. That, my dear friends, is the complete antithesis of the spirit of Christ. In fact, it is undeniably anti-Christian.

There, I said it.

God can turn that which was intended for evil to good. The switchboard at WEEI lit up and the email servers were loaded with responses from Christians determined to refute what Shirley had to say. Mr. Johnson got to have some say, regrettably not enough. Other Christians called to say they were sickened by her diatribes, and that she was perverting the scriptures. Emails from others glorifying the grace and mercy of God were read on the air - of a sports talk radio station, in Boston, Massachusetts. Talk about God working in mysterious ways.

When they first put that woman on the air this morning, I cringed. "Oh Lord, we don't need this - it's bad enough now, people around here are resistant enough as it is to the gospel!!" But after listening to Mr. Johnson and others respond, I'm trying to take the long view. The name of Christ has been dragged through the mud before. In the name of Christ all sorts of atrocities have been committed. He has been misrepresented and misunderstood countless times since the day Pilate handed Him over to be crucified.

If it takes a wingnut to come here and stir up the real followers of Christ to speak up and spread the true gospel of the Lord, well then, so be it, and let God be the judge of us all.

The truth will prevail, else it is not the truth. I have no doubt that Shirl and her buddies will realize their terrible, damnable error eventually; for their sake I pray it's on this side of eternity.

UPDATE: Since first posting this yesterday it's come to my attention that Larry Johnson is not actually a reverend, but a regular layperson. I've edited the above post accordingly, sorry for any confusion!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

In the Garden

A picture share of what's blooming (at long last) in the Feeble family garden. All winter long I was pining for mornings like this - blue skies and warm breezes gently lifting the wafting scent of roses heavenward...