Thursday, December 29, 2011

Jesus on Lust Management

This morning I was reading through a chapter of Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem. My reading this morning was from Chapter 4, "Women in the Life and Teachings of Jesus," by James A. Borland.

Jesus’ condemnation of the sin of lust was crucial in allowing Him and His followers to enjoy social contact as male and female, something nearly foreign to the Jewish mores of His age. Jesus said that “anyone who look sat a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Why not separate men and women to avoid temptation as the rabbis practiced? Because Jesus came to seek and to save, to teach and to reach (Luke 19:10). That included women as well as men. Jesus’ disciples were to have a righteousness that “surpasses that of the Pharisees” (Matthew 5:20).
Jesus “called upon his disciples to discipline their thoughts rather than to avoid women.” Lust does not have to be fed but can be controlled. Jesus demanded such control from His disciples, allowing males and females to associate together and to work in harmony with one another. Although such social contact between the sexes would be unthinkable to first-century rabbis, Jesus’ teaching about the sinfulness of lust helps to explain the relationship men and women sustain both in His earthly ministry and in the apostolic church. In the early church, women frequently labored together with men (Acts 16:14-15; Romans 16:3, 12; Philippians 4:3).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Save Submission for Marriage

A few days ago, a Facebook friend of mine shared an article with a title that caught my attention, “Women, Stop Submitting to Men.” I clicked on the link and found myself reading a piece by Russell Moore. Once again, I was impressed by his insight and no-nonsense style.

In his article, Moore discusses what he sees as a cultural problem — women are too submissive.

Indeed, a primary problem in our culture and in our churches isn’t that women aren’t submissive enough to men, but instead that they are far too submissive….[Y]es, wives are called to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22 ; 1 Pet. 3:1-6 ). But that’s just the point. In the Bible, it is not that women, generally, are to submit to men, generally. Instead, “wives” are to submit “to your own husbands” (1 Pet. 3:1 )...

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Blessing and Change

It's been over four months since my last post.

This break from blogging wasn't desired or planned. Rather, it was unavoidable due to an onslaught of blessing and change in my life that began in August.

Just to give you a little taste, here are a few of the recent happenings.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

In October of 1963, the Beatles recorded what would become their first No. 1 hit in the United States. The song was written especially for the American market by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and it went on to become the first Beatles single to have advance orders of over one million copies. The title of the song is familiar to most of us: “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

And when I touch you I feel happy, inside
It´s such a feeling
That my love
I can’t hide…
Yeah you, got that something
I think you´ll understand
When I feel that something
I wanna hold your hand

In a culture of casual sex, perhaps there is nothing that seems as innocent as holding hands. An article I recently read, however, challenged my thinking on the topic...

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Share Your Online Dating Experience

I always said I would never do online dating.

I was a bit skeptical about the kind of guys I would meet online, and the idea of spending money on a dating site seemed to indicate a lack of faith. My main objection, though, was a bit more superficial — I didn’t want the attached stigma of desperation.

God had other plans for me.

Letting go of my pride was a process. I had finally admitted to myself that I wanted to get married but to actually take action on that admission was difficult. I had to humble myself in a new way...

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Friday, October 28, 2011

How Singles Image Christ and the Church

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV)

The relationship between a husband and wife is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church. As Paul says, this is a profound mystery. It is also a humbling reality that every married man and woman, whether they realize it or not, are portraying a romance that will last forever. It is an incredible honor for married couples.

But where does that leave single people? ...

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Introducing Family

Have you introduced him (or her) to the family? If not, you may be missing out.

Getting to know each other’s family is an invaluable aspect of a relationship. Spending time with someone’s family helps you understand him or her like few situations can. Also, family can usually offer wise and thoughtful counsel on the suitability of a potential spouse.

Spending time with each other’s families can be useful in another way as well.

Context can reveal a lot about a person. It’s important to get to know a potential spouse in more than one venue, since people often behave very differently depending on the situation. Family — in their multigenerational beauty and chaos — can provide a wealth of dynamic situations...

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Travel Light

I’ve had a box of “keepsakes” for as long as I can remember. Before I was even born, my parents began saving memorable odds-and-ends from special events in my life… cards received at my baby shower, bits of wrapping paper from my presents.

Once I was born, the box grew. Baby clothes and blankets were nestled with favorite toys and first stories written for school. I began adding to these as a girl with my own hodge-podge mix of memorabilia — programs from community theater productions, ribbons from the county fair, and trinkets that caught my attention at local craft shows.

What began as one box became an oversized stack of eight mismatched cardboard and plastic containers. Now, as my family prepares to move to a house across town, I’ve decided it’s time to downsize. It simply isn’t feasible to cart around this load for the rest of my life...

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Risking a Broken Heart

The principle of “guarding your heart” is often discussed as one of the cornerstones of Christian dating, and for good reason. Restraining emotions and focusing on compatibility is very important, especially during the early stages of a relationship.

However, as a relationship progresses, it is natural and appropriate for emotional intimacy to deepen. This process — often called falling in love — can be among the most emotionally intoxicating experiences of a person’s life. It can also be very scary...

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Writing Has It's Limits

Written communication has been around for a while — at the very least, for the past five millennia. While writing certainly has come a long way since the first person put paint-covered finger to cave wall, the written word still has its limits.

Whenever you speak with someone, you do more than just listen to their words. You observe their facial expressions and body language. You take notice of vocal tone and inflection. And you put all of this together to find the speaker’s intended message.

This process is much more difficult when you are given only words on a screen...

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Friday, September 9, 2011

How To Buy an Engagement Ring

Christian Dating Tip #26

On Wednesday we looked at the history of the engagement ring and how the diamond industry may have affected our buying decisions in today’s culture. With that background, I’d like to offer some advice to guys on how to choose the perfect ring.

Honor God — An engagement ring is a pledge of good faith, demonstrating a man’s commitment to marry a woman. It is also a public declaration that two lives are about to be joined before God. Instead of obsessing about what your girlfriend would like most, choose a ring that will bring glory to God, keeping in mind the biblical principle of modesty (1 Timothy 2:9)...

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Engagement Rings: Sacred Tradition or Advertising Ploy?

I had very little idea what I would say when I began this article. Several Marry Well members asked me about the topic, and at first I was daunted at the task. Being a woman, I’ve spent very little time thinking about the selection and purchase of engagement rings. But one thing led to another, and after reading several articles and spending a lot of time in thought, I decided to take a stab at this somewhat sensitive topic.

The practice of giving engagement rings dates back to the ancient Romans. Originally these were made of iron, bronze, or sometimes gold. From these rather humble beginnings, the engagement ring tradition has grown increasingly more elaborate. In the Middle Ages, engagement rings began to include gems. Diamonds made their first appearance on the scene in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave a diamond engagement ring to Mary of Burgundy. The seemingly traditional diamond solitaire didn’t appear until the end of the 19thcentury. Even so, diamonds didn’t take over the market until the 1940s, after a De Beer’s advertising campaign. The saying “a diamond is forever” hasn’t been around forever either. It was coined in the 1950s...

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Choose to Make Marriage a Priority

It was during the spring of my sophomore year in college that I first read Candice Watters’ Get Married. God had recently begun a work in my life, challenging me to rethink my views of marriage and singleness.

Watters’ words were in turns encouraging, challenging, and convicting. One passage in particular stood out to me then and has since often returned to my mind as I have struggled to balance my priorities.

Even women who deeply desire marriage find themselves pouring themselves into their life as a single woman with little thought or planning for their future as a married one. They’re hard at work on their careers and financial goals—their “Plan B” as many call it—just in case Plan A is delayed or never happens. It’s understandable, and in our culture, praised, to make the most of your singleness … But as a wise friend told me, “When Plan B gets all the attention, it becomes Plan A"...

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Keep Asking Questions

In the early stages of a relationship, it’s easy to ask questions. The excitement of a new connection can generate a lot of momentum as you fire questions back and forth in a flurry of discovery. Who is this guy? How did this girl become the person she is? Why did he choose this career path? When did she come to Christ?

As the newness of the relationship wears off, however, there is a natural tendency to settle into a comfortable holding pattern. It’s easy to start feeling like you know this person in a deeper way than you actually do. It’s tempting to stop exploring and just start enjoying the growing intimacy of your relationship.

There is nothing wrong with romantic feelings, as long as they are kept in the proper perspective. That’s where intentionality comes in...

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Don't Judge A Person By Their Online Profile

I have a bad habit. I judge books by their covers … literally. I walk up and down the shelves of libraries and bookstores and peruse the covers of books, waiting for one to stand out from the crowd.

Experience has backed up the old cliché. This is not the most effective way to choose good reading material.

Still, I often find myself tempted by particularly enticing cover art. Like I said, it’s a habit.

Despite all reasoning, I’ve found myself stumbling into this same mindset when reading through match profiles...

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Online Photo Do's and Don'ts

While I wouldn’t recommend the vinegar and fried chicken strategy, Rhett and Link make some good points. If you want to meet that special someone, your profile picture can be either a huge asset or nasty liability – especially on a dating site...

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Date Safely

“What qualities do you look for in a potential date or mate?”

In their book Safe People, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend discuss how a group of Christian college students answered this question.

The answers went something like this: “I want someone spiritual, godly, ambitious, fun to be with,” and so on. They replied as I had expected. And that disturbed me (Henry), for as a counselor and as a person, I know that these are not the issues that cause relationships to break apart.

It’s not that these answers are unimportant. It’s that “I want to marry someone spiritual” is too broad of a statement. We need to get more specific than blanket religious categories...

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Friday, July 29, 2011

C.S. Lewis on Hope

Blogging about C.S. Lewis seems to be a theme with me lately. I have no defense. I can only state the reality: Mere Christianity is an outstanding book.

So, in keeping with my precedent, here are a few more thoughts on the great work.

A couple days ago I read the chapter titled "Hope." It outlined the different ways that people respond to disappointment in life. All men, Lewis writes, feel a desire they find impossible to meet on earth. Some men keep on trying to fill this void, moving from one form of pleasure to another, never satisfied. Other men quickly give up on ever quenching their thirst, becoming cynics. Christians, though, take a different approach.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Women Risk Rejection, Too

I’m turning 27 in a few months.

That’s not a particularly exciting age. There is no major rite of passage attached to it. But for me, it’s somewhat significant. It will mark 10 years of undesired singleness.

I came from a rather old-fashioned family. My parents saw no point in young girls putting on lipstick and parading around with boys pretending to be grownups.

But all that changed at 17. At long last, make-up was permissible. So was Biblical dating. And as every young girl knows, no sooner are you allowed to date than a handsome prince rides in on his white horse to carry you away to the land of marital bliss.

Let’s just say it was a rather anti-climactic year...

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Are You Cooler Online?

Brad Paisley’s “Online” spent 20 weeks on the Billboard Country Songs chart in 2007 — topping out at No. 1 the week of October 13. While “Online” may not be one of Paisley’s biggest or longest running hits, the video is still among his most popular. According to, “Online” had been viewed 6,076,037 times as of July 16, ranking No. 3 for Paisley’s most viewed videos.

Considering the developing culture of electronic social networking, it’s not hard to see why the song has received so much attention...

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Garden Fresh Zucchini Bread

It was seven years ago when I first made it.

Seven years. Wow -- that's a long time.

It was the year my family planted our first garden in Missouri. We were living in Springfield at the time, and our garden plot left much to be desired. Still, we had more okra, yellow squash, and zucchini than we could eat.

We had to get creative.

Among the various vegetable recipes we tried that summer, we sampled a recipe for zucchini bread.

It was wonderful.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Showing Restraint in Relationships

In the Christian classic Passion and Purity, Elisabeth Elliot wrote about her courtship with her first husband: “Nothing was harder for a woman in love to endure and nothing was stronger proof of the character of the man Jim Elliot than his restraint of power.”

“Restraint of power” – or self-control – is a crucial aspect of Biblical dating. Elliot discusses this principle in Chapter 11, titled “Impatience”...

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Modesty According to C.S. Lewis

I opened up Lewis' Mere Christianity this afternoon to the chapter titled "Sexual Morality." I wondered how Lewis would approach the topic, considering that he published this book almost 60 years ago, in 1952.

Lewis begins with an exploration of modesty. I was surprised -- and pleased -- by his conclusions:

The Christian rule of chastity must not be confused with the social rule of 'modesty' (in one sense of that word); i.e. propriety, or decency. The social rule of propriety lays down how much of the human body should be displayed and what subjects can be referred to, and in what words, according to the customs of a given social circle. Thus, while the rule of chastity is the same for all Christians at all times, the rule of propriety changes. A girl in the Pacific islands wearing hardly any clothes and a Victorian lady completely covered in clothes might both be equally 'modest', proper, or decent, according to the standards of their own societies: and both, for all we could tell by their dress, might be equally chaste (or equally unchaste). Some of the language which chaste women used in Shakespeare's time would have been used in the nineteenth century only by a woman completely abandoned.

Lewis also points out that someone who breaks these social standards is not always being immodest:

When people break the rule of propriety current in their own time and place, if they do so in order to excite lust in themselves or others, then they are offending against chastity. But if they break it through ignorance or carelessness they are guilty only of bad manners. When, as often happens, they break it defiantly in order to shock or embarrass others, they are not necessarily being unchaste, but they are being uncharitable: for it is uncharitable to take pleasure in making other people uncomfortable.

Lewis is also very realistic about the differing standards in society. Having grown up in the conservative Christian culture, I've seen what a stumbling block the issue of modesty is for many people -- and I don't mean men who struggle with lust.

Men and women alike too often judge others based on the way they dress. Conservative women take pride in their own standard and look down on women who are "less modest." And on the other hand, women who come from more relaxed backgrounds sometimes judge their conservative counterparts as being legalistic.

Lewis' solution?

I do not think that a very strict or fussy standard of propriety is any proof of chastity or any help to it, and I therefore regard the great relaxation and simplifying of the rule which has taken place in my own lifetime as a good thing. At its present stage, however, it has this inconvenience, that people of different ages and different types do not all acknowledge the same standard, and we hardly know where we are. While this confusion lasts I think that old, old-fashioned, people should be very careful not to assume that young or 'emancipated' people are corrupt whenever they are (by the old standard) improper; and, in return, that young people should not call their elders prudes or puritans because they do not easily adopt the new standard. A real desire to believe all the good you can of others and to make others as comfortable as you can will solve most of the problems. (emphasis mine)


Thursday, July 14, 2011

You Can't Marry A Church

We’ve all seen it happen.

John and Jane meet at church. They get to know each other better in their singles group. They start dating. Then, they disappear.

How many couples fall in love only to drop out of their social circles? According to Henry Cloud and John Townsend, such couples are putting themselves in danger. Cloud and Townsend write in their Boundaries in Dating that “a single person must date within a community of people who care about him or her…Their friends, pastors, and community should provide support for their dating lives”...

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

C.S. Lewis and Intellectual Slackers

This summer, at long last, I am turning my way through the pages of C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. It is, as I expected, stimulating and delightful.

Today, I read the chapter titled "The 'Cardinal Virtues.'" The whole thing is thought provoking, and I especially loved what Lewis has to say on the virtue of Prudence.

Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it. Nowadays most people hardly think of Prudence as one of the 'virtues',  In fact, because Christ said we could only get into His world by being like children, many Christians have the idea that, provided you are 'good', it does not matter being a fool. But that is a misunderstanding. In the first place, most children show plenty of 'prudence' about doing the things they are really interested in, and think them out quite sensibly. In the second place, as St Paul points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary. He told us to be not only 'as harmless as doves', but also 'as wise as serpents'. He wants a child's heart, but a grown-up's head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim. The fact that you are giving money to charity does not mean that you need not try to find out whether that charity is a fraud or not. The fact that what you are thinking about God Himself (for example, when you are praying) does not mean that you can be content with the same babyish ideas which you had when you were a five-year-old. It is, of course, quite true that God will not love you any the less, or have less use for you, if you happen to have been born with a very second-rate brain. He has room for people with very little sense, but He wants every one to use what sense they have. The proper motto is not 'Be good, sweet maid and let who can be clever,' but 'Be good, sweet maid, and don't forget that this involves being as clever as you can.' God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. 

I never would have thought of an "intellectual slacker" as someone who was imprudent. As Lewis goes on to say of other Cardinal Virtues, their definitions have become quite narrow in our society.

I'm thankful for authors like Lewis who consistently stretch my understanding, and, in this way, help me become a more prudent person.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Oh about some cobbler?

It all started with a bowl of peaches.

Soft, juicy, you-can-just-smell-the-sweetness peaches.

It was time to eat them or let them go.

And being that it was quite possibly the most boring 4th of July evening of my life, I had nothing to do.

So my mom and I grabbed a couple knives and started slicing peaches for what is, in my opinion, the most delicious cobbler in existence.

My grandma started making this cobbler when my mom was little. The recipe came from her 1953 Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. A few years ago, she gave my mom a reproduction copy.

Isn't it cute?

Don't you love the cute little 1950s graphics?

Just seeing this recipe makes my mouth water.

I tasted the cobbler for the first time at my grandma's house one sunny California summer. The peaches were in season.

It was a cobbler unlike any I'd previously tasted. The sticky-sweet fruit was topped with a fluffy biscuit-like shortcake.

Whipping one up was just the thing for a dull holiday evening.

Here it is, for your undying pleasure and enjoyment.

Fresh Peach Cobbler

3 c. sliced fresh peaches
1 c. sugar
1/4 t. almond extract
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon peel
1 1/2 c. sifted enriched flour
1 T. baking powder
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. shortening
1/2 c. milk
1 well-beaten egg
2 T. sugar

Arrange peaches in greased 8x8x2-inch pan. Sprinkle with mixture of 1 cup sugar, almond extract, lemon juice, and lemon peel. heat in oven while preparing shortcake.

Sift together flour, baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture is like course crumbs. Add milk and egg at once; stir until flour is just moistened.

Spread dough over hot peaches. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake in hot oven (400 degrees) 35 to 40 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

I make a double batch and put it in a 13x9x2-inch pan. When it's done, it looks like this.

Want a piece? Make your own!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Just Say "No"

You check your email. No new messages. Again.

You glance at your phone, checking the “sent” box to make sure it actually went. Yes, you did send her a text. In fact, you sent her two.

You give up and dial her number. Ring. Ring. Ring.

No answer.

Are you a victim of the “slow no”? Only time will tell...

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

And I'm back...

Three and a half weeks. Nearly 100 hours in a minivan. More than 5,000 miles.

In our westward trip this spring, I saw some of the most beautiful sites in the country.

The Great Plains

The Painted Desert

The Grand Canyon

The Oregon Coast

The Pacific Ocean

The Redwoods

The Rocky Mountains

And we saw some sights that were truly one of a kind.

Random Dog in Motorcycle Trailer

But as they say, "Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."

The Missouri Ozarks -- My Home

When we rolled back into Missouri a couple weeks ago, something inside me let out a sigh. There is no place I would rather be.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Helping Shape Your Husband's Soul

I recently started reading Gary Thomas’ Sacred Influence: How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of Their Husbands. In this book, Thomas writes about how the principles discussed in his previously published work, Sacred Marriage, apply specifically to women.

As I read the opening chapters, a thought came to mind:

When thinking of preparing to be a wife, I may consider learning homemaking skills, growing in spiritual and emotional maturity or even gaining financial security. But do I ever think of preparing to be an influence? ...

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Romance Novel's: Mystery or Mirage?

The late afternoon sun streamed through the saloon windows as Mandy tried to scrub the grime off of the worn and haggard bar. She was tired – tired of dust, beer, and men who watched her with hungry eyes. She would leave this town if she could, but her meager savings wouldn’t get her more than a few miles of passage on a stage coach.

Just then, the door swung open and she felt as much as heard the determined gait coming towards her. The heavy boots halted their advance in front of the bar, but she didn’t look up until he spoke. When she did, her throat caught in a small, unconscious gasp. Her eyes took in the stranger in an instant: the tall, strong build; the curly, slightly overgrown black hair; the handsome face set in a chiseled jaw. But it was his eyes that drew her – sky-blue eyes that told her that he was different from the others. “Pardon me?” she stammered.

The voice that answered was deep in both tone and feeling. “Excuse me, ma’am. My name is Garner Wells. I’m the new minister.”

At this point in the story, half way through the first page, you already know how it’s going to end. Mandy and Garner will fall in love, be separated by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, begin to loose hope, be reunited, and then live happily ever after...

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Talk About Books

Christian Dating Tips: #12

If in dating you want to get a sense of someone’s intellectual acumen, the most obvious questions to ask are related to formal education: “What degree(s) have you pursued/earned?” But often what can tell you much more is the question, “What are you reading?”

Questions about books have a way of quickly revealing areas of common interest, or in some cases, showing a substantive lack of common interest. Often your intellectual curiosity is a better gauge of your intellectual compatibility than are your degrees...

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Working Women Still "Keepers of the Home"

When it comes to choosing a spouse, there is so much to consider – not the least of which includes role expectations within household duties.

It seems like everywhere I look lately, I’ve been getting the same message: when it comes to being a “keeper of the home,” women have still got it – whether they want it or not.

Shawn Bean deals with this topic in a recent article from Parenting magazine titled “Help Has No Fury”...

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Trip West: Day 4

My dad's old house is near Porterville, California.

We’ve been driving through California since yesterday afternoon.

For most of today, we’ve been driving through towns with names I’ve heard as long as I can remember. Modesto. Madera. Fresno. Sacramento.

Last night, we ate at a pizza parlor my dad frequented as a teen. This morning, we drove by his old home. Orchards now cover the ground that once supported his family turkey farm. Fields stretch out where barns once shaded the earth.

As I write this, we are driving north to my mom’s childhood home. My family has moved many times during my life, but my grandparents have lived in the same house since 1964. I remember the way their cement walk felt under my 5-year-old toes.

Driving into California is almost like coming home. It’s the first place I identified with. It’s the first home I located on a map. California held the first chapters of my parent’s stories, and it’s where mine began.

And yet, it’s not a home where I belong anymore. It’s like finding an old glove that, when I slip my hand inside, I realize doesn’t fit the way it used to. I’ve grown and it has aged. We are old friends, but we don’t know what to say anymore.

But for the moment, it’s fun flexing my fingers in the old leather, looking my old friend in the face, retracing my steps back their beginning.

I don’t want to go back, but I don’t want to forget. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Trip West: Day 2

Today we took a small rest from our break-neck pace to enjoy the wild beauty of Arizona. The seemingly endless vistas reminded me of a somewhat recent article from Transpositions titled "Natural Beauty, Frontiers, and God" by L. Clifton Edwards:

Despite all of humankind’s progress, we have never lost our desire to dwell in the ever elusive frontiers of beauty and knowledge. And for Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the entire sensible and knowable world is a ‘frontier,’ a ‘horizon,’ that catches us up and includes us within its own being and purpose.
Perhaps it is with good reason, then, that Augustine called creation ‘divine art.’ In theConfessions, Augustine also said that he posed his questions to the world in the form of his attention. The response that he received from the world was its beauty. If nature can speak in such a way, then Wordsworth was right to view it, as he said he did, with ‘pregnant vision.’ Does natural beauty speak to us symbolically of the divine, through images of beautiful order, repose, and boundlessness? Do our natural frontiers speak to our spiritual destinations? What if the experience of the poets, and our own experience of the world, whispers rumours of God and a human destination revealed in the naturally beautiful?

 What do you think?

The Painted Desert

The Badlands of the Painted Desert

The Tepee Mountains of the Painted Desert

An ancient tree in the Petrified Forest

The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Trip West: Day 1

Somewhere in Oklahoma

We headed west yesterday morning. After staying up until nearly 1 a.m. and not being able to sleep until at least 2 a.m., I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to pack up the ice chests and pile into the minivan with the other six members of my family.  

The day started with the radio threatening to give out, but it pulled itself together enough to fill the morning with several hours of ‘70s tunes. Once again, I have found it true that the best memories are made to the sound of James Taylor.

Yesterday’s route took us through Oklahoma, the Texas panhandle, and across New Mexico. As I watched the Ozark Hills fade into rolling plains, level into prairies and then rise into rugged desert mesas, I kept thinking of my great-grandmother. Lavola Jean Mills was raised in the Petty Jean Mountains of the Arkansas Ozarks, a couple hours south of where I live now. She left the hills as a young woman when she ran away with my great-grandfather to California where they worked in the shipyards during WWII.

Though I have lived in three different states and traveled quite a bit, the drastic change in climate and terrain repeatedly took my breath away. What must my grammy have thought? She, who had spent her whole life in one place, who would have had very little access to photographs of the west?

Thinking of my great-grandmother, I felt as if I was viewing my country through the perspective of physical as well as temporal distance. I watched the same earth roll past my window, but I was driving much faster than grammy would have been in a Model A. And the country farmsteads she surely would have seen are now falling into ruin, a silent testament to another time. The pastoral beauty of the 1940s is passing away, marred my progress and industry. Today, miles of giant windmills stand far above the once giant barns and oaks, their constant motion reminding me of time which never slows. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Meditations on Spring Cleaning

We discovered this Dust Doggy under my bed during a spring cleaning.

Over the past two weeks, I (along with several family members) have been in the process of spring cleaning our house.

It never ceases to amaze me how much dust, clutter, and general mess finds its way into forgotten corners of a house. Typically we deep clean the house every six months, and regardless of how tidy everything looks at the outset, the end result is that the house was much worse than I originally thought.

So too this spring.

As I vacuumed flocks of dust-bunnies from beneath beds, I thought to myself that dust is rather like sin. It is almost simple to keep things tidy on the surface. Repentance for obvious wrongs is like feather dusting the furniture -- things always seems quite clean. Yet, it's all too easy to get lax about what is hidden, to forget about the closet corners and back rooms of our minds and hearts.

A good spring cleaning is necessary for both a well-kept house and well-kept heart