Getting This Out of My System

This is my first and last rabbit trail post on anything concerning the 2016 election. However, given that I have three books on modesty in the queue, this latest Trump debacle has my wheels turning.This is actually a rehash of a comment I left elsewhere, with additional commentary.

The whole “Donald Trump is a misogynist!” thing is reaching a fever pitch now. Unnamed people are clamoring for the studio which produces the reality show The Apprentice to release any offensive outtake tapes they might have. I can’t figure out why this is being treated as if it is some kind of legal issue. Whatever I think about the things Trump said, no laws have been broken here. He still has a right of free speech.

As for “locker room talk”, my husband says he hasn’t engaged in a conversation of that nature in over two decades. He’s 43 years old.  Trump was in his 60’s sounding like a randy juvenile. I’m not buying that “all men” talk this way even as I completely am completely unperturbed by any of what was said. If anyone should be offended here, it’s Melania. The ink was barely dry on their marriage license and here he was going on about screwing other women. Talk about a short honeymoon phase! As for the electorate writ large, why all the pearl clutching about a crude man with a history of  womanizing saying crude things about women?

How hypocritical is it that the party of free love, female sex positivism and slut walks is now concerned about the dignity of women and girls? More than that, people are taking this nonsense seriously!

Heather MacDonald can get her grubby politics off my high heels and red lipstick thankyouverymuch, but besides that, she makes some excellent points here. Even if this sinks Trump, for those who don’t believe he’s a Clinton shill to begin with, we still end up with a disgusting old horn dog in the White House either way. That’s my take on the Trump tape scandal. A big ol’ yawn.

Side bar: We listen to local news for about an hour every morning at our house. All the campaign ads being run on air by Democrat candidates center 100% around the “facts” that GOP candidates are “anti-woman”, “Anti-choice”, and one chick is even running an ad that her GOP opponent “says marital rape should be legal”. Mind you, these ads were running before this latest confirmation of Trump crudeness surfaced.

Leaves me wondering what to make of all this. The entire Dem strategy is based around appealing to women, their sense of dignity and desire for power and acknowledgement of their “worth”. For example:

 

Now just you watch. Even after Hillary gets in there, we’ll still be hearing ad nauseum about the “oppression of women”. Hillary is to women what Obama is to blacks what George W. was to Christians. They poach them for votes but deliver zero goods.

For those of you who think women “have it made” in 2016 America, I beg to differ. No matter how many degrees we acquire, jobs we get or glass ceilings we shatter, a system which makes landing a good man to build a family with a Herculean task with low levels of success has failed its women right along with its men.

That’s my first and last post election 2016.

One Thousand Gifts

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One Thousand Gifts: A dare to live fully right where you are, by Ann VosKamp. Originally published in 2011. 240 pages.

This is an updated and edited review from 2011. I took some time to re-read this book (re-skim is more accurate) since I find so often that my ways of viewing some things evolve as I grow older and, for lack of a better word, wiser.

Ann VosKamp’s grateful heart is evident on her blog which I  used to occasionally read. Because of that I decided to read her book when I usually run screaming from “Christian” books which make it onto the New York Times’ best seller list. I don’t do well with the most popular Christian works because the poor handling of Scripture makes me cringe.

However since this was a book about being thankful, one of my many weak areas, I gave it a go. I often struggled to be thankful, but have grown exponentially in this area since I first read this book 5 years ago.

 I’m not much of a poet, preferring to cut to the chase while skipping around in politically incorrect minefields despite my best efforts to be graceful when I write. I sometimes enjoy poetic language though, and Ann Voskamp  definitely has a poetic way of expressing her thoughts.  I admire her penchant for seeing the beauty in every little detail of her days.

Still, I questioned whether I could appreciate her flowery writing style in a book. Poetic language and extensive use of literary device is tolerable, even enjoyable in her blog posts broken up by pretty photographs, but I wasn’t sure I could do 200+ pages of it! With no pictures! If that wasn’t enough, before her book reached my doorstep I stumbled onto a controversy concerning the theology within it. I am thankful that I embarked on a reduction of Internet time just as I began to read it because I don’t know that I could have fully appreciated it if I was still sifting through the critiques it sparked. We’ll get to my thoughts on all that in a bit, because I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have some.

As I began to read the book,  I related to Mrs. VosKamp a bit. I, a city girl and fledgling gardener who kills more seedlings than I harvest every spring, who’s never even seen a snowflake, found that I liked this Canadian homeschooling mother and  farmer’s wife as I read One Thousand Gifts.

Throughout my life I have come to sense people who know what it is to experience a ripping away of the veil of innocence and beauty in life at an age too tender to absorb it, all while being taught that we are being cared for by a God who is infinitely good. There are times in my life, in my Christian walk, when I’ve wondered if this would be easier had I heard the name of Jesus for the first time as an adult, from the booming voice of some random street preacher. If I were more like my husband, whose faith has always been rooted in a certainty.

Would the Good News have been better received by me had it not been News I’d heard preach as far back as I can remember? Would the goodness of God seem more real if it wasn’t competing with the questions that inevitably rest in the heart of every child whose life is marked by the stinging pain of loss?   More importantly, I used to wonder if there was any other person who “gets” it. Ann Voskamp got it:

For years of mornings, I have woken wanting to die. Life itself twists into nightmares. For years, I have pulled the covers up over my head, dreading to begin another day I’d be bound to wreck. Years, I lie listening to the taunt of names ringing off my interior walls, ones from the past that never drifted far away: Loser. Mess. Failure. They are signs nailed overhead, nailed through me, naming me.

Funny, this. Yesterday morning, the morning before, all these mornings, I wake to the discontent of life in my skin. I wake to self-hatred. To the wrestle to get t all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing. Always,  the failing. I yell at children, fester with bitterness, forget doctor appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect cleaning the toilets. I lived tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary. Years, I feel it in the veins, the pulsing of ruptured hopes. Would I ever be enough, do enough?   (Excerpted from pages 26-27 of One Thousand Gifts)

I could’ve written those words myself. Actually, I couldn’t have written those words because I don’t write that way, but they resonate. Living every day desperately grasping for the illusion of control produced in me the very symptoms Ann penned above. We type A’s don’t particularly fancy the idea that we have no control over what happens to us. Despite the flowery language which I did eventually weary of, I read on to see how Mrs. VosKamp went from that level of dysfunction onto the NYT Bestseller list for writing a book about joyfully giving God thanks every day.

That’s what the book is; at least that’s how I read it. It is a testimony, the story of one woman’s journey from a life marred by pain and loss to a life full of gratitude for all the gifts God graciously bestows upon her each day, starting with the precious gift of His Son’s precious blood as a sacrifice for our sins. It is not an exploration of doctrinal teaching, though the gospel is woven throughout it for those who dare to look.

It was not an attempt to convince any other person to see the world through the eyes of the author, although I was certainly challenged to open my eyes to the blessings I take for granted every day.  It is a testimony of Ann Voskamp’s struggle to live a life of gratitude in a world where we are constantly receiving invitations to discontent. I know I have to shrug off the whispers that invade my consciousness, tempting me to gaze at the greener grass on the other side. The other side always beckons us to neglect the abundant blessings God has given us today. This book did exactly what the subtitle says. It dared me to live fully right where I am by practicing the Scriptural command to give thanks in everything.

As for the controversy concerning a particular use of terminology near the end of One Thousand Gifts: I can appreciate the discomfort some bloggers have expressed with the phraseology.  Mrs. Voskamp appears to conflate our spiritual relationship to God into what can be interpreted as a sexual relationship with expressions such as “making love to God” , “intercourse of the soul”, and “climax of joy.”  I wouldn’t have put it that way, to be sure, seeing that my perception of God tends to revolve around my relationship to Him as a beloved daughter to a merciful Father and less from the perspective of the bride of Christ. That’s because I think of the bride of Christ as the church universal rather than a personal connection between myself and God alone.

Is the intimacy Ann Voskamp referred to Scripturally sound? I’ll let the critics continue  to hash that one out. I can only speak for myself and say that I never got the impression that Mrs. Voskamp was saying that she experienced intimacy with God in a carnal way. When I put the book down after reading the last page, the thing that stayed with me was the challenge to give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us.I wasn’t so offended by the metaphors used in that particular chapter that I couldn’t appreciate the book’s central theme.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to see a bowl of cheese or bubbles in dishwater the way Ann does.  I am either too “grounded” or too fearful of a theology that appears flaky to allow myself to view laundry as something to get giddy about. Life is sometimes hard, tears are warranted, and sometimes even anger is warranted. I still feel a burden to use my small platform to speak about hard things and yes, rock the boat.

However, I have begun occasionally to write the things I am grateful for at the start and close of the day. I recently took notice of the pink wildflowers growing in the median of a 6-lane highway. I hate 6 lane highways. I’m usually too focused on where I’m going to notice things like that. I’m amazed at how little I desire as I focus on what I have. And for that I am thankful. Thankful that God used Ann Voskamp’s journey to remind me that no matter how badly I’ve been hurt or how much I’ve lost in my life, God has given me so much more.

Grade: B-

 

 

El’s Rabbit Trails:Don’t believe the hype.

This is why we Floridians don’t heed warnings to evacuate from the hype master ratings chasers known as the news media.

Beach dwellers took a hit, which is to be expected. However given that our local news said Matthew would be “worse than Charley“, who tore off our roof, uprooted our oak tree, and tore apart our fencing, this turned out to be equivalent to an extended version of the typical Florida afternoon thunderstorm.

Our 10-year-old called this the “lamest hurricane ever”. Her parents on the other hand, are very thankful for the preservation of life, health and property. We are probably most grateful for the fact that we do not need to contact our homeowner’s insurance company.

It sucks that we have to go un-board everything, but we are more thankful than anything else.

Thanks for the prayers and well wishes.

So Matthew’s Coming to Visit…

His timing is highly inconvenient for a host of reasons I’ll not get into. Besides, who am I to argue with the Most High about interrupting my weekend plans?

Nevertheless this has been a good opportunity for a shift in science and geography. We homeschoolers will take a break in the routine wherever we can get it:

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And of course there is emergency preparedness:

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The girls have actually been working on this since well before Matthew came knocking:

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Don’t worry. We have far more supplies on hand than will fit into that little box. This is just so the kids can feel useful. Notice that their idea of canned food preparation is Jif.

Last night I figured I’d better check our radio to make sure it works. When was the last time any of you used a battery powered radio?  Lo and behold, it was dead. The smugness I felt about not being out there with the rest of the rubes dissipated when I had to go out this morning and buy a radio. The retailers are raking it in today. It’s nuts out there.

For those of you along the Southeast coast, stay safe and hopefully I’ll catch you all on the other side.

 

El’s Rabbit Trails: That Was Then…

 

This is now, and is tangentially related to two books I previously reviewed. The first is The Whole 30. The second is It Starts With Food.

As it happens, I am in the last five days of a Whole 30 cycle. The energy level boost, decrease in waistline (inch and a half) and better sleep are the things that keep me doing this plan over and over. Even when I end a 30 day cycle, I stick with the eating plan for three-fourths of the time. The summer -which we dub “birthday season in our house- was a notable exception and by September I was feeling all the ill effects of birthday cake, road eating, and lack of sleep.

Fall was a welcome opportunity to start a new cycle of Whole 30, which includes a complete prohibition on not just bread, but grains in general. Yesterday when I ran across this “epic Christian meme”, I decided it might be worth exploring how much we should take Jesus’ words to mean that Wonder Bread is a perfectly acceptable food product compared to broccoli or kale:

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Now, on the one hand, it is kind of funny (“Bread is life”?) and I can take a joke. I would have taken it as a simple joke -my kids did- except that I heard a local nutritionist say something quite similar on our local Christian radio station. So that tells me that there is a *there* there, and I want to take a minute to look at it. I’m going to keep my remarks short and sweet because I’d really rather hear from you guys on the subject.

I would think that it is generally recognized by anyone with any nutritional knowledge at all that the food we eat today is in many ways markedly different from the foods that were eaten in Jesus’ day. I’m not only referring to bread, but also meat and vegetables. After all, there were no such entities as Tyson or Monsanto in Bible days. No monopolies controlling the food supply, no round up ready seeds, no bread loaded with sugar in plastic bags on shelves. In other words, the bread we eat isn’t the same bread of Jesus’ day and those who write up such memes probably wouldn’t want to eat such bread if it were the same.

If the creator of the meme is like me, willing to bake his or her own bread to mitigate *some* of the effects of commercial farming and everything that goes along with it, then I can give them something of a pass. That doesn’t change the issues with commercially farmed wheat, but you can at least use good oils and no sugar, making the bread significantly more healthy that Wonder. Most of us aren’t in a position to provide our 100% of our families’ food from optimal sources, but we can make every attempt possible to eat food as close as possible to the way God made it, and whether you agree or disagree with the meme,  we all know that means more kale and broccoli, less rolls and burger buns.

In the end, I’m of the mind that we should just shut our traps and let people eat whatever the heck they want while we eat whatever the heck we want. I’ve cut down on my bread intake significantly, to one serving a week when I’m not abstaining completely. It doesn’t bother me that my husband likes warm bagels slathered with peanut butter. Even if it did I know full well that I’d better keep it to myself, but it really doesn’t.

My sister-in-law got back down to her ideal weight after 4 kids by going vegan. There is NO WAY short of a terminal diagnosis with veganism as the antidote, that I am giving up my burgers, but I’m happy she found what works for her.The world would be a much better place if we would be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper when it really matters and learned to stop meddling.

So…you enjoy your pancakes, I’ll enjoy my home fries with caramelized onions, and we can all just sing kumbaya unless there is something one of us really needs to confront the other about.

/end rant.