Sunday, December 12, 2010

Big Snow!

When it snows this much, even in MN, it's worth documenting...

Notice the chair buried on the left...
The birds are loving my mother-in-law's bird feeders!

Mr. Cardinal all puffed up to keep himself warm in the -22 windchill

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Landing Place

Our Table on the 4th Night of Chanukah, Second Week of Advent

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I wrapped my hands around the cup of hot tea and closed my eyes. Just briefly. And in those few seconds with my eyes closed, I smiled. Guitars and voices filled the room with music. This has always been where I feel peaceful: surrounded by people I love and the sound of music. We had already lit the Shabbat candles, stood under the tallit to be blessed, heard the sound of the shofar, and enjoyed our meal and Torah discussion together. Now the children screamed happily in the basement, the baby passed from one family member to another, we chatted and sipped hot tea.

These are the other pilgrims on our journey. They believe Jesus, and they believe in the importance of honoring the Jewish history of Jesus. They believe in the importance of traditions, rituals, within our families and among fellow pilgrims - not in following traditions in a legalistic way, but in enjoying tradition, honoring it, and letting it point us to Jesus. 

We first met with them six weeks ago. Six weeks ago I realized that we found the place where we belong. It isn't the Western church. It isn't church in any traditional sense at all. It is church in its truest incarnation - people who are bound together by the love of Jesus and who serve God and serve each other in a way that draws others to God. No judgment regarding various traditions, just fellowship and study in the presence of other believers.

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The Messianic tradition is something that has interested me for a long time. Mango & I attended a few different Messianic congregations while we were looking for a church in our early marriage. My favorite Mama message board (Gentle Christian Mothers) has a large contingent of people who participate in Jewish/Biblical holidays and traditions (whether they are Jewish by birth or not). Then, a few years back, I met a wonderful woman who became one of my dearest friends, and her husband began a ministry organization called Hebrew For Christians. A few months ago they invited us to join them for their Shabbat meal and Torah study. I cannot begin to tell you how rightly this fits our family and our faith. When most people think of the roots of Christianity, they think of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Later, we think of Martin Luther and Charles Wesley. The Messianic movement takes church history all the way back to its roots - the Hebrew people, the promise of God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the rituals and traditions instituted by God for the benefit of the people of God, the Jewish people.

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In saying these things, I want to be careful to acknowledge that there are many, many ways to follow God. You don't have to follow a set of rituals and instructions to be a Christian person. You don't have to believe me or your neighbor or your pastor or your best friend. You just have to believe God. We've been on this journey for a very, very long time, and this is our landing place for now. 

I didn't actually think we were ever going to come to a landing place. When I began writing about church this summer (see the Highway blog), I had no idea where it would lead. In a strange way, this has been a much more public journey than I would have chosen. Had I known we were going to land here, I would have begun writing here, and then you wouldn't have heard the groaning and frustrations of my previous posts. Perhaps, I had to make the plea aloud, speak the desire to land somewhere, before we could be cleared for landing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Untitled

It's been a while since I've blogged in an ordinary sort of way, and I'm finding myself a bit paralyzed by the vast empty space before me with seemingly nothing to write about. It's not that my life hasn't been it's usually wild and crazy ride. It's just that it hasn't been all the inspirational. ...or it hasn't slowed enough for me to see the inspiration.

I'm thinking that maybe if I give ya'll the rundown of my life since this summer, I'll be able to see the inspiration in it, and, maybe, I'll find myself more grounded after writing it all out...

So, first, from about mid-July to mid-September Mane had terrible night-wakings every single night after falling asleep, sometimes several times a night. We described these as night terrors, but the waking episodes haven't really fit the description of anything. After several weeks of trying various dosages of melatonin and calcium/magnesium supplements, she slept better, but not until I'd made an appointment with a family doctor.

My gut told me something wasn't right. I sure felt silly about it, but I was having persistent thoughts that this could have something to do with Mango's brother's epilepsy. So, we visited a family doc,
who sent us to a neurologist,
who sent us in for an MRI
and a sleep-deprived EEG.

A few weeks of testing later, and we have a diagnosis of nighttime seizures (Benign Rolandic Epilepsy, to be exact)- not exactly what we expected but not entirely surprising, either, given those persistent thoughts I'd been having. If she continues to do well with the melatonin, we won't medicate, and we'll simply wait it out. These types of seizures are supposed to taper off and go away in late adolescence.

So, there's that.

And I got a part time job...going to people's houses and helping rid them of head lice. (Yes, I know, weird, huh?) There's a good story behind this one, though:

After school started this year, I began contemplating how I might be able to contribute financially to the family life here at The Midnight Cafe. The previous year had been one of huge expenses - from medical bills to car transmissions - and I was feeling guilty for staying home with Mane. I was finally feeling really good about homeschooling, but I was wondering if I wasn't being selfish keeping her home and not going out and getting a job. I wondered if this was God's way of telling me that I should put her in school. I started doubting whether I was actually doing a good job or not. ....the thoughts started snowballing and tumbling all over each other, getting bigger and bigger.

So, I was driving around in my oh-so-cool minivan on a Monday by myself, and I began to pray. I begged God for an answer. I prayed and begged and probably whined a little...and then I sat around biting my nails and waiting. On Wednesday that same week, I met up with a friend, who had just started this lice business, and she said she was looking for partners. I signed up. And you know what? I found out that I actually have the patience and focus to...um...nit-pick for several hours at a time. Who knew? I don't know if that's a gift or not, but it's getting us out of the financial pit. And I feel that I've gotten confirmation that homeschooling is still the right thing for us. It's such a relief to feel that snowball of cold doubt melt away.

Now that I've written out these two stories side by side, I'm kind of amazed. Really, I believe that the intuitive voice that was telling me that Mane could be having issues related to seizures just had to be the voice of God. I remember even wondering at the time where in the world that thought came from. It came to me out of the clear blue in the middle of the night and was so urgent that I got up in the morning and made a doctor's appointment. Then I begged God for this answer regarding homeschool and finances, and there it came. And the answer meets our needs so specifically. The job is flexible, pays well, and allows me to spend time with a good friend!

My fabulous women's Bible study began a new study in September, too. The study is by Beth Moore and is entitled, Believing God.

Friends, I have some reasons to believe God. There is some inspiration in my life after all!

Peace!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Praying this prayer for a friend today...

I ran into this poem in Madeleine L'Engle's book, A Swiftly Tilting Planet. In the book the words "At Tara" in the first line are often replaced with the words, "With ______," depending on who needs the "rune" or prayer at any given point in the story. Today, I am praying this prayer for a friend. Feel free to fill in the blank with names or places that need prayers in your life today....

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Patrick's Rune by Madeleine L’Engle

At Tara in this fateful hour
I place all Heaven with its power
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness:
All these I place
By God’s almighty help and grace
Between myself and the powers of darkness!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Friday, October 08, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Life Without Church - Part 1

I was contemplating church and faith today. So, you can go read my thoughts over at: If Life is a Highway... See you there!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Ornament

Creativity Boot Camp - Day 8

boot camp

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I once heard a story about a man and a woman, who were planning to get married, and at some point along the way the woman realized that her purpose in the relationship was ornamental. She was filling a spot. Her husband-to-be needed to be married in order to have a certain status and in order to reach certain goals. She was a trophy, someone to hang on his arm and support and admire all of his causes. And she realized that this wasn't how she wanted to live the rest of her life. She had dreams and aspirations and goals of her own. And she broke off the engagement.

It sounds simple, doesn't it? Yet, I know it wasn't. It couldn't have been. When you have your heart and your life invested enough to plan a marriage, when you have someone who makes you feel beautiful, even ornamental, it's anything but simple to walk away. She could have lived a comfortable life in a comfortable house with a comfortable discretionary income. But she didn't. She wanted to work hard, to get dirty, to be someone. She didn't want to be a fragile ornament hanging on her husband's arm. I admire that. I am not an ornament. And I'm not living this life here to be ornamental. I want to live hard and know that if I fall I won't break. I want to be a partner to my husband and not his trophy.

Thank God I have a husband who expects me to be his teammate. Together we are strong. If he was working alone, and I was his ornament, we'd both be fragile. And we'd be lonely. The life we live is a lot more beautiful this way...more like a huge patterned quilt that wraps around and keeps us warm than a lovely, lonely ornament hanging by itself.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Fly


boot camp

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I know. It's been a long time since I've visited the Boot Camp. But I'm trying hard to actually follow through with this thing. You know, you can't call it boot camp if you give up, right? So, I'm going to keep plugging away. One post at a time.


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It wasn't flying. It was swimming, but it seemed so much like flying that, for a few second, the two might be mistaken.  I was sitting on the beach, warm sand and a chilly breeze off the harbor, our two families laughing and screaming and delighting in the crash of waves larger than those we typically see in the summer at the Great Lake. My Spanish is poor to middling, and she doesn't speak English. So, we sat quietly most of the time, now and then interjecting a "wow!" or a laugh. Our children played in the waves, my daughter and her son...and our husbands...and Mane. We were the mothers sitting there shivering on the beach, smiles wide.

And I looked up to see Vespera & Niteo turn their backs to a huge wave as it crashed over their heads, saw them bob up and hold each other tight. Then Vespera ducked under the waves, and just for a second I wished I had a camera, though I knew it wouldn't do any justice to what I saw, to what was in my heart or before my eyes or in the air and the wind and the waves. A huge wave came rolling in, and just as it approached, Niteo turned his back to it and spread his arms out wide, flying free, and the wave rolled right over his head. For just an instant, I saw him through the wave, in the middle of the wave, covered and embraced...and embracing. I thought of how this has always been a freeing place for him, a place of homesickness and healing at the same time. The wind continued to blow, and the waves crashed, and Vespera and Niteo spun through the waves, ducking and diving and bobbing and laughing, as the seagulls overhead laughed and spun and dove in the wind. Flying.

I don't know how or when we are ever all free of the bits of life that entangle us, the worries of school and money and career and children and health and poverty and crime. But, I know that somehow, we are offered freedom in our hearts. We can step out of the tangle and fly. Maybe we rise above (or Rise Against?), and maybe its the wind in our faces or the waves pouring over us that set us free.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Music Monday - Swing Life Away

 Swing Life Away by Rise Against
Am I loud and clear, or am I breaking up?
Am I still your charm, or am I just bad luck?
Are we getting closer, or are we just getting more lost?

I'll show you mine if you show me yours first

Let's compare scars, I'll tell you whose is worse
Let's unwrite these pages and replace them with our own words

We live on front porches and swing life away,

We get by just fine here on minimum wage
If love is a labor I'll slave till the end,
I won't cross these streets until you hold my hand

I've been here so long, I think that it's time to move

The winter's so cold, summer's over too soon
Let's pack our bags and settle down where palm trees grow

I've got some friends, some that I hardly know

But we've had some times, I wouldn't trade for the world
We chase these days down with talks of the places that we will go


We live on front porches and swing life away,
We get by just fine here on minimum wage
If love is a labor I'll slave till the end,
I won't cross these streets until you hold my hand....until you hold my hand

I'll show you mine if you show me yours first

Let's compare scars, I'll tell you whose is worse
Let's unwrite these pages and replace them with our own words

We live on front porches and swing life away,

We get by just fine here on minimum wage
If love is a labor I'll slave till the end,
I won't cross these streets until you hold my hand


Friday, July 30, 2010

More Questions from Mane

Mane told me the other day that she has so many questions that she sees no end to them. Me too. And it only gets worse the older you get.

Yesterday she was wanting to know how it is that Jesus is God, and God is God, but there is only one God. Try explaining Trinity to an eight year old.

Then she was trying to understand how we can say BOTH that the reason the moon shines is because God made it that way AND because the moon is reflecting the light of the sun. How can one question have two answers? Oh, my child, this is only the beginning. Most questions have so many answers.

Two days ago she pointed out to me that if you look at yourself in the mirror and you have a mirror behind you also, the reflections go on forever. And she wants to know how far that is. Infinity. How far is infinity?

She wants to know if God is outside the universe or inside it, and how can God be everywhere at once, and how can God have no end? More infinity. And if there's an end to the universe, then there must eventually be a place where there is nothing. So, what is nothing?

Friday, July 02, 2010

Fluid


boot camp

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My brother in law loves to tell a story about when he and his father, Mango's father, were shopping at Home Depot some years ago. As he and his dad were walking the aisles, they saw ahead of them a man pushing a cart of long metal pieces. From the side a little boy was approaching, who was eye level with the metal but too small to be seen by the cart "driver." As the metal pieces and the boys eyes were about the collide at right angles, my father in law strode forward, reached down, and placed a gloved hand at the end of the metal pieces all in one fluid motion. The boy and the cart missed each other. Neither knew that a disaster had just been averted, but a store employee, who was some distance away and had been holding his breath, saw the whole thing. Shaking his head at the close call, he congratulated my father in law on his quick, calm, and flawless response.

Every time I hear that story I get chills, and I love to listen to my brother in law tell it. I am struck by the way our lives are like this. We can't stop time or replay ourselves in slow motion in order to see the many ways that we have been saved by the hands of another. Just as my father in law moved fluidly through this moment, stepping forward, reaching out a hand, covering the sharp endings, and then moving on without so much as a shout or a sideways glance, our own lives flow on without stopping for us to see the near misses, the "almosts" and the calm buffering of strong, experienced hands.

Yet, just as certainly as I know this story is true, I know that my own story has similar moments. Sometimes we are lucky enough to bear witness to one of the instances, as my brother in law was, and we can hold that one moment of fluid time cupped in our hands like a clear drink of water. We are revived and strengthened in bearing witness.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Grow

This post is part of Creativity Boot Camp: Day Five.

boot camp

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When I was a little girl
I would stand in the middle of the corn fields
and imagine myself rooted in the ground,
growing with the corn stalks,
sun on my face.

When I was in college,
I would stop in sunlit windows
and close my eyes facing the sun.
I'd say to anyone who cared to listen,
"I'm photosynthesizing."

When I was camping
with my husband and daughter
I stood on the beach
with my face in the wind
and opened my arms to the sky
like a tree.

Cornfields
and sunlight
and the wind in my face
have steadied me,
tied me to the earth,
as my life has grown around me,
a crazy wild garden.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Heavy Metal


boot camp

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Yes, Creativity Boot Camp is going at its own pace in my house. And I don't know when I'll finish. That's not the point. At least, that's what they tell me over there. So, bear with me. While everyone else is finished. I am on Day Four.

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When I was about five months pregnant, Mango and I went to the Whistle Stop Bed and Breakfast in New York Mills, MN. I brought along my prenatal yoga DVD and practiced every day in our very own train car while Mango tried to convince me that pregnancy looked good on me. He even took my picture while I was up to me ears in bubble bath. (Yes, the train car had a whirlpool tub.)

We came home with a heavy chunk of metal as a souvenir: a railroad spike painted gold, the signature gift of the Whistle Stop B&B. It was such a strange gift, heavy and spray-painted. We still have it, and I've contemplated from time to time what it means (being a person who contemplates the meaning of the unexpected and unusual in life - see my posts about double-yolked eggs...oh, and there were several more double yolked eggs one morning last week - we're still wondering about the meaning of this...).

The "original" golden spike was driven by Leland Stanford at the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, a commemoration of the union of the two major railroads in the U.S. at the time. I like that - a symbolic spike tying the two railroads together...railroads that go a lot of different directions but are ultimately united and work together for the same purposes and goals. And that's what Mango and I are - two people working on various separate things in life but ultimately united together in purpose, in goals, in meaning. And there we were about to have our first baby, half of my DNA bound to half of his DNA to create something completely new and different, a golden spike, if you will, tying us together, not just in purpose and spirit but in the real physical world. It isn't that we weren't bound together before, but a baby is a tangible, physical bond...not evidence of our bond, but an actual real life bond - part of me and part of him.

I just have to sit with that for a while.

Then I think of all the things that railroads mean. My grandfather worked for Burlington Northern for his entire work career. Perhaps that's why I find some fascination with railroads, though he never spoke with me about his work. Or, perhaps, it's because I grew up with the movie Stand By Me, and there was something so captivating about following a railroad track. Railroad tracks are on a mission to somewhere and they slice through so much of life along the way. Like my life. And Mango's life. And our children. Yet the whole thing is tied together by these spikes, grounded, stable, connected to the solid terra firma and to every other track.

And it was on the old railroad bridge over Lake Calhoun where Mango first told me that I was beautiful. This was before we were a couple. And I didn't know what to say. There I was on those old tracks, not even knowing which direction my life was going or what to say about it. I like the way that old railroad tracks sit in the ground and the grass and flowers grow up around them, and they seem almost (but not quite) like part of the natural world all over again. They remind me of the past, of the people who came before me and the things that make me who I am today. And I can still follow those old tracks to somewhere...and sometimes they meet up with some new tracks, like the Hiawatha Line in Minneapolis, like the way layers of my life meet up and are sort of the same but altogether different...all tied together by those heavy chunks of metal. Heavy metal. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Multilayered

This post is part of the Creativity Boot Camp, Day 3

boot camp

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I've always said that healing is a spiral upwards. You keep climbing up, but the issues do come back around again. I wasn't the first person to say that. Those are just words I clung to when I was most looking for some thoughts on healing in my own life. I don't know who said them first. I've been repeating them ever since.

You cannot expect healing to be all done after your first go-round of the spiral. The first go-round is just the first layer...typically the one where you finally admit that you have a wound than needs healing and you're ready to finally face it. After that, there are many, many more layers stacked up in the spiral...like a slinky.

Hope is when you realize that the spiral is always going up. Each time you hit the same place on the loop, you're up another layer. You can't jump over that place on the loop because then the slinky and all its layers would fall apart. But, if you push through, you'll get to the other side...and be a little more healed because of it.

I'm not sure if the layers ever end, or if the slinky goes on for eternity...or, at least, until we die and meet Jesus and have our wounds healed by the Great Healer. In the meantime, each go-round of the spiral is its own new fresh layer...and also somewhat like the last go-round, like the seasons that are different every year but also somewhat the same. Each layer stacks up on the other, colorful slides of life, both the same and different each time. If you looked down through them you'd see who you once were and who you have become, all stacked one over the other...

...layer upon layer of the healing spiral carrying you ever upward.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Picnic

This post is part of the Creativity Boot Camp, Day 2

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What is it about a picnic that inspires us so? Is it like coloring outside the lines? Breaking the rules a little bit? And why are we humans like that? Why do we work so hard to keep our lives the same, resisting change, creating stability and structure. Then we want to rebel. We want something new and exciting to happen. We want to do something that isn't so ordinary and boring. We want to be distinguished. We want, in fact, the very thing we do not want...change.

So, we have little ways of breaking up the sameness. We have picnics. Oh, the joy of eating outside on a summer day, spitting watermelon seeds in the grass, not worrying about the spilled lemonade or the crumbs all over. We feel free. 

And I've come to the conclusion that these little things feed our spirits. Our deviations from security and sameness wake us up a little. We delight in taking off on a road trip, eating under the open sky, stopping wherever we wish. It brings us freshness, like the smell of ripe tomatoes still on the vine, pungent and new. 

We return, though, always we return (or wish to return), to our place of security, the taste of freshness and freedom keeps our secure places from growing stale. The picnic blanket tucked away reminds us that we're still free, even as we continue to walk the daily-daily of life.

Ivory

I have been longing to join the Creativity Boot Camp along with some other wonderful women bloggers (whom I discovered through the Momalom gig), but the first word prompt on Day 1 threw me so badly that I had to let it rest for several days. I was planning to remain several days behind the rest of the camp anyway, as Boot Camp began in the days prior to my oldest flying out of country, and I needed to spend time with her. Anyway...the first day's prompt was the word, "Ivory," and I haven't been able to finish the piece of writing.

Here it is in its partiality...so that I can move on, and let it sit while I continue with the boot camp prompts.


Ivory makes me think of elephant tusks and piano keys and the book about the tooth fairy that I used to read to Mane when she first started losing teeth. It also makes me think of wedding dresses, of the more muted and elegant color of ivory in contrast to the stark white of...well...white. And then there's the stigma that off-white is for the non-virgin bride. And then my thoughts spiral away like elephant tusks thinking of the damage done in the name of female virginity.


I finished a novel about a week ago called Breath, Eyes, Memory about a Haitian girl who comes to live with her mother in the U.S. at the age of 12 and her experience with the practice of mothers "testing" their daughters to check the status of their virginity until they marry. This is to insure that the family name will not be dishonored by a woman turning out to not be a virgin on her wedding night. This, of course, raises myriads of questions for me. Among them: What kind of husband parades a bloody sheet through the streets after his wedding night? Should he really be proud of himself for that? 

And then I think of the opposite of the ivory wedding dress...the ivory tower: the elite untouchables, those who are too clean and pure to touch the rest of the world. Strangely, I feel that both the obsession with virginity and the cloistered elitism are part of the religiosity of conservative Christianity...or, perhaps, it isn't Christianity, but just religiosity, which seems to fall so readily into legalism. I'm not talking politics. I'm talking about graceless religion...the kind of religion that looks down its nose at people but refuses to get dirty in the trenches doing the real work. Hypocrisy. Claiming to love but refusing to love anyone who is lost, or wounded, or misled.


And I keep picturing the curve of the elephant tusk, the fine, easy graceful curve...the dangerous curve...both sides of the same coin. 


That's really all. Spiraling thoughts, eh?

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boot camp

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Questions from Mane

Today Mane asked me, "Have you ever noticed that you can't lift something up that you're sitting on? ...I mean, did someone discover that sometime?"

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Of daisies, streamers, balloon, and bouquets...


This is what was left of my Mother's Day flowers two weeks after Mother's Day. My husband and my beautiful children brought me a bouquet of roses and lilies and daisies and greens. After the roses and lilies started to droop, I took them out and kept the daisies and greens. Today, a single daisy still remains in a bud vase on my counter. ...I like to draw out the bouquet as long as I can, cutting stems, replacing water, and picking out the drooping blooms until it's time to let it all go. I think we do holidays like that, and birthdays, too, here at The Midnight Cafe. The streamers from Niteo's surprise birthday party over a week ago still grace the doorways, just as the balloons from Mane's party hung from the trees in the yard until they wrinkled up and had to be cut down. And Vespera's wedding bouquet still hangs from the hook in the kitchen ceiling. We honor the person(s), whose day it was, as we pass by the bits of their celebration day after day.

I heard once that your birthday isn't over until you receive the last card. I like that. We like to draw things out, milk them dry to the very last drop, and then we can be ready to release them...because the memory will be ours, even when the balloons have wrinkled, and the streamers have fallen, and the daisies have, at last, faded. 

I read a poem yesterday by Will Allen Dromgoole called Fragments From the Years, and the last line sticks with me. In speaking of memories, he says, 

"And sometimes, when life seems to hard, we give them greeting, 
And know that memory is a possession, too."  

I think of the way we hold onto the last vestiges of bouquets and decorations as out way rehearsing our memories before we tuck them away.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm honored!

Post Mommy surprised me today with a "Versatile Blogger" award! I've never received a blogging award before, and I'm honored! I met Post Mommy through Momalom, and it's been delightful reading her blog (hint: that = go on over and check it out!)!

It appears that I must tell my readers 7 things about myself and then pass the award on to others. So, here are my 7 things (trying hard to come up with things I haven't already said in this blog):

1. In spite of all my talk about organic foods, natural products, attachment parenting, and the like, I cannot grow a garden worth beans.

 2. I wore a bikini for the first time last summer.

3. I've been to 5 other countries outside the U.S.A.: Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, and Belize - in that order.


4. I've known my best friend since we were 7 years old. (Go see her over at Driving With the Windows Wide Open!) We used to pledge our friendship over a stream in the woods behind her house, and we played with paper dolls that I still have in an album on my bookshelf.

5. I have a daughter and son-in-law from Mexico, and I still don't speak Spanish worth beans.

6. I don't really know how much beans are worth.

7. I resisted blogging for a long time, and I still sometimes wonder why I'm typing everything on the internet for the whole world to read. 

I hereby bestow the Versatile Blogger award upon...

Driving With the Windows Wide Open because she truly is a Versatile Blogger, moving in and out of newsy items, stories, links and videos, and a timeline of Tolkien's life!(Just click on the award to make it load in a new window & copy the link to post it in your blog!)

Lauren at Something Glorious because I know she reads my blog, and I really, really want to see her post something in hers! You've got to read this woman's writing! It's fabulous!

and

Ash at Simple Gifts, also because this woman is totally Versatile!! He blog has some serious and spot-on thoughts on parenting, fabulous photos, prose that'll make you laugh and cry, and a garden enough to make you hungry!

I would nominate Char at Well Blue, Productions, but I'm afraid she's busy with newborn twins right about now. Love you, Char!!

Peace!

~ MidnightCafe

Friday, May 21, 2010

Where There is No Vision - More Marriage Thoughts

My Bible study group was discussing recently something Beth Moore once said about how churches get all caught up in legalism and things that don't really matter when they aren't actively living out a mission together, when there is no goal, no vision, no active work of God's Spirit or God's presence. When there's nothing active happening, the waters stagnate. Churches die, and the people that are left end up arguing about minutia, spinning circles with nothing to do.

Proverbs 29:18 says (in paraphrase), "Where there is no vision, the people perish." It seems to me that marriage is the same way. When we lack vision, common goals, something we're actively working on together, the marriage dies - from lack of attention, from neglect and boredom. And this happens even when life is busy and it seems like you're doing a lot together (i.e. childcare, household care, meetings, events, etc...). You can be very, very busy, and still lack vision. Vision gives your life purpose and direction.

For busy couples with young children, it can be enough to make the things they're already doing together their vision. It's about intentionality. If raising your children together really is your vision and you're intentional about it, you can be just that - intentional and present. Still, what we've found is that when we finally have time alone without children, is that we used to spend the time wondering what to do. We needed direction for ourselves as a couple apart from the daily daily of life...long term and short term intentional things we wanted to do and accomplish together. Some things currently on the list are as simple as going to see the Dead Sea Scrolls at the science museum. That's a goal sometime when we finally have a minute to spare.

Mango and I were talking about this the other day, and he offered this perspective:
Marriages need things that couples are working on together - common goals, common interests. Sometimes life gives you these and you need to work together or support each other. When it doesn't you have to create your own common goals. But every couple should anyway. What do you want your life to look like? What do you want to accomplish together? What do you want to do to enjoy life together and enjoy each other? What things do you want to do together, learn about, what skills do you want to develop, what places do you want to visit?

Couples need to plan time that they can spend together and ask each other to do the things they want. Otherwise they end up living side by side parallel lives - together but alone (that's the worst kind of aloneness to have). So time for each other needs to be a top priority. If people don't make some plans, their time will just slip away and leave them feeling disappointed that they didn't do anything valuable with it. Or they will default to doing their own thing or things that are easy but neither of them really care about (and watching TV doesn't count). It will start to feel like they should have just worked more hours or done things with someone else. But in reality, it's not that they don't enjoy time together, it's just that they haven't given themselves a chance.

Also, couples need to make space to be intimate together. Instead of just waiting for an "appropriate" time to initiate something, like when you are going to sleep, and already too exhausted, couples should talk about desires ahead of time and spend a nice evening together anticipating what they planned for later - set up expectations and give intimacy a chance, give anticipation some time to build.

It is fun to be really spontaneous, but sometimes complete spontaneity doesn't work. We keep a note book of places we have heard of that we want to visit and things we want to do together. It's not like it's a lot of work - just a place to keep the cards, advertisements or places or events that you jot down so you can actually do them. Then instead of not knowing how to spend your time when you finally have some, these things make you really look forward to having time together and being excited about it. It will start to feel like you never have enough time to experience all the things you want together. It lets you be more spontaneous because you always have things you would like to do.
So, there you have it folks...more thoughts on marriage by MidnightCafe & Mango!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Say Yes!

I received a very valuable piece of parenting advice once. The advice was to say "yes" to my children as often as possible so that when I needed to say "no" they could respect it.

I must say that 8 years into this parenting adventure, this advice rings true. I find that, for me, the word "no" comes far too quickly. When I know that things will be messy or exhausting or chaotic and they'll require a lot of set-up and clean-up and monitoring, I'm tempted to say "no." I have to ask myself if my "no" comes from a good reason or if it's just my own impulse to keep things neat and clean and simple.

Because when I say "yes" I let my child know that what they want is important, too. I let them know that I hear them, and that I want them to have a say in how their life should go. I open us both up to new experiences and possibilities just by being willing to try out a "yes" before I decide if "no" is really worth it.

Saying "yes" releases me from the power struggle of saying "no" for no good reason. It builds contentment in our relationship because we aren't constantly fighting about what they can and cannot do.

"No" still isn't always well-received, but I know that it's built on a foundation of "yes," and that means our relationship will recover. And because I know that my "no" isn't just instinct or impulse, I can provide a valid reason and respond with confidence. My confidence gives my child confidence - confidence that I know where the boundaries lie, that they will not just keep running to the edge of the world until they fall off, but that they will, indeed, meet up with a fence that keeps them safe.

And so I try to practice "yes" because I know that "no" will come anyway.

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This post is a part of Momalom's Five for Ten...


Monday, May 17, 2010

A Call to Lust

The Momalom topic of the day is...lust.

I rolled the word around in my head and off my tongue over and over yesterday. What is lust anyway?

Craving,
Desire,

Ardent Enthusiasm,

Zest,

Relish,

Hunger,

Yearn,

Intense Eagerness...


I thought of how we describe a healthy baby's cry as lusty and the brilliance of an object is its luster. But lust all by itself almost always connotes something sexual. It also almost always connotes something illicit or indecent. Lust has a place though, an invaluable place in a whole and holy marriage. In marriage we find a place where it's safe to crave, to hunger, yearn, desire...lust.

In this unexpected Momalom assignment, another piece of the vast writing that Mango & I have done on marriage has fallen into place - the piece on desire. Though we wrote quite a bit on the value and meaning of physical intimacy, desire is different. It's the relish, the final ingredient without which the whole dish loses its flavor.

It's about wanting
and being wanted
and wanting to be wanted.

It is what sets eros apart from all the other kinds of love. Unlike other loves, eros requires a mutual desiring. Equally, it is giving and being given to, loving and being loved. As such, it also requires that we say what we want...that we, perhaps, lust, for our partner. Lust is going after what you want because you're desperate for it, hungry for it. It's a craving for closeness - body, mind and soul. And this is so essential to a marriage that is alive and whole and beautiful.

You see, marriage is only partly about doing our best to love our partner, pouring out our words and actions to bring them joy and satisfaction and fulfillment. That is only half the picture. The other half is about allowing our own needs to be met, desires fulfilled, wants answered. In fact, we deprive our partner of the ability to fulfill their own calling to love us in marriage if we cannot say what we desire.

I believe that it is the desire of God for us to love and be loved. Scripture tells us that God is love. And I believe that when we refuse to be loved, we are refusing to accept our partner's God-given calling to love us. We're interfering with their life's calling, preventing them from accomplishing God's mission for them here on this earth. So, in fact, accepting love is also a calling. And this is not a passive acceptance, but an active calling. We must take responsibility to ask for what we want, to go after what we long for and desire.

And I don't believe it's always as easy as it sounds. Though lust looks lusty, it isn't always so simple to go after what we hunger for in a marriage. It's vulnerable to say what we want, especially when we're in them middle of difficult or stressful circumstances, misunderstandings, or conflicts. And it's difficult to persist when one way of asking doesn't get us what we want. We forget that spouses are like foreigners, coming to each other from different family cultures, and it takes time to learn the language of the other. Sometimes we have to ask and ask and ask again...but this is what hungry people do. Likewise, our partner isn't always in the position to give, and all of our desires must be rooted and grounded in care and love. We must bind our lust to our love for our partner. They must be inextricable so that we never ask without regard for the person whom we are asking.

Most often, I think one person gets caught up in giving, in trying to be the perfect, selfless partner, the one who takes care of everyone and everything while denying their own hungry self. This kind of thinking, though, leads to a relationship that lacks depth and growth. When a person fails to tell their partner what they want, refuses to pursue their own needs, they don't allow their partner to really know them or to be fulfilled in their own call to love. The giving becomes empty because it doesn't exist in relationship, it lacks mutuality and synergy. It fills up the other person for a while but does not build relationship. Eventually the other person feels empty, too, because they don't really know their partner and, therefore, cannot reciprocate the giving. A refusal to speak your desires is a refusal to be known.

And so, to fulfill the call of marriage, the call of eros, we must risk pursuit of those things we crave, our innermost hungers and desires. We must stop being saints and martyrs and risk being known. We must dare to yearn for those things we want...in fact, to lust for that person whom we are called to love.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Indelible Beginnings

I remember when I realized that the words I was reading meant that you loved me, that you wanted what I wanted, that we had been hoping for the exact same thing. And then I was all shy and embarrassed, like when we open Christmas presents in front of the whole family, everyone watching and anticipating a response. I remember the olive green trenchcoat you always wore and the way it smelled of the woods and your cologne and the way I leaned into you, holding your coat pockets. And there was the Ford Bronco named Elf where we sat together as lightning flashed across a blue black October sky, the whole back a pile of red roses.

It took long moments for me to really understand what you were saying, to know that it wasn't just wishful thinking, that you were really there and I was really there, and you were asking if you could kiss me. I'd never kissed anyone before, unless you counted my parents and all the little babies at church. I leaned in to you, and you leaned into me, and then I pulled back, too overcome with awkwardness mumbling something about never having kissed anyone before. And you said, "It's ok. I've never kissed anyone I loved like this before." And I knew you were nervous, too, and then it was ok.

I remember the cassette tape of songs you had recorded for this very night. (Remember cassette tapes?) And there was the notebook I had been writing since the night of the Mary Chapin Carpenter concert at the State Fair when we wished on the first star together. I had wished for this moment ever since.

You slid a little gold ring onto my finger. The ring bears the swirling pattern of a Celtic knot, something that's part of your heritage now belonging to me...

...now belonging to the family we have created together. Everything's built on this memory, the starting point, this fragile, tender, indelible beginning.

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This post is a part of...


Friday, May 14, 2010

Memory Outside of Memory

I remember her playing with Mane when we came to pick Mango up from school, and when we drove home Mane said, "I wish Vespera was my sister." Did she know? Is there a memory outside of memory for the things that haven't happened yet? Not one month later we'd be in the process of adopting her. I didn't know that day. Mango didn't know. Mane, at 4 years old, surely didn't know.

I remember back, 4 years prior, my pregnant self walking in a gently falling December snow and thinking that Mane would be born in the snow. I shook my head at myself. Mane was due 4 months from then - in late April. Even in Minnesota, that would be late for snow. She was finally born - ten days past her due date - in early May following a late spring snowstorm! How could I know? I didn't know. And yet I knew...as though I remembered already.

Memories, for me, are something mystical. Sometimes we remember before, sometimes after, sometimes differently than what someone else remembers, sometimes ALL the details, and sometimes only fragments. Sometimes we remember nothing but the feeling, or the smell, or the music. Our memories store themselves in the time of year or in a type of weather, in favorite foods, and in kinds of flowers. And, I feel that even when we can't remember, we have a certain type of memory. Our bodies know things that our mind does not, stores things in our hands and feet, in our arms and legs and the smalls of our backs. So, we remember.

Sometimes I want to make myself remember. And so I write things down and take a lot of pictures. I close my eyes and try to freeze-frame the thoughts and feelings, colors and textures of the moment. Then I discover that memory doesn't work that way, will still come and go as it pleases, with the smell of lilacs on the breeze and changing color of the leaves in the autumn. As much as I promise myself that I will remember forever, I still pick up an old piece of writing and am surprised by the things that happened to me.

Perhaps we'd be crushed if we remembered all the pieces of ourselves all at once, if we could remember everything that ever happened all at the same time. The present would be drowned by the past. Instead we call up only the memories we need to inform the present moment. And then, occasionally, we are blessed by the sweetness of an unbidden memory, the softness of a baby cheek, the smell of old perfume in a box of letters...or, perhaps, something that is yet to come in the gently falling snow.


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This post is part of Momalom's Five for Ten


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Happiness is..."

To get my blog out of its bloggy slump and to connect with some other bloggers out there in blogland (and because Heather of the EO is doing it), I've decided to join Momalom for their current Five for Ten event. (Except it's day 3, and I'm a bit behind...)

Today's topic is "Happiness is."

I'm having a lot of trouble with this one (I know, I just got started, and already I'm having trouble) because I so very seldom use the word happy. I try to focus on joy, on contentment. When I think about the things I wish for my children, I want them to be happy for sure, but even more than happiness I want them to be content with their lives, to be satisfied, to be fulfilled. In the words of Thoreau, I want them to "live deliberately...to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life." Sometimes that isn't always happy work. It's complex and confusing, often arduous and sometimes painful.

"Happy," for me, conjures up images of neatly wrapped packages all tied up with pretty bows. Sometimes we receive those packages in life. And it's beautiful when we do. It's lovely to receive one of those gifts and have the excitement of unwrapping what's inside. It's lovely to have one of those moments when everything is tied up neatly, just for that moment, shimmering and sparkling and just plain pretty. But that's exactly what they are...just moments. It's not a whole lifetime of one beautiful present after another. Often our gifts come plainly wrapped with little fanfare, and we have to work for them. We have to dig up the treasure, get some dirt under our fingernails, sweat a little. And that, I think, is where the real joy comes from, the contentment that isn't just skin-deep happiness.

What it really comes down to for me is that life is really about people. It's about loving others out of the overflow of God's love for us. And loving others, although it can be filled with happy moments, is not always happy work. The depth and strength of the love we build when we endure life's less-than-happy moments is where we find true contentment and fulfillment. It is the true lifeblood, the marrow, of our lives.


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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Do not let the sun go down...

A friend, who is in the middle of a painful and profoundly sad divorce, told Mango & I this morning that the biggest thing we could do for our marriage is to follow the Bible's advice to not let the sun go down on our anger. I thought about that in light of another conversation I had with a married friend the other day. We were talking about how sometimes you're just too tired to talk about whatever it is that's making you angry. Or, in mathematical terms, tired + angry = completely irrational and unable to reach any sane solution. Things tend to look so much better in the morning. Problems looks smaller in the light of day after a good night's sleep. Except...

By either ill fate or a stroke of luck, I am constitutionally unable to sleep while angry/upset/frustrated. So, try as I might to take a break and let sleeping dogs lie until morning, I can't do it. I won't sleep anyway. I need to solve things RIGHT NOW. Or, as Mango will confirm, three hours from now after a whole lot of crying.

My method isn't entirely sane. It certainly involves a lot of drama. Problems look so much larger than life at the end of a long and tiring day. Not to mention that I know that I'll know in the morning how small the problem actually was in proportion to my emotional response, and that could be embarrassing. I know this, and I stay up late wrestling things through anyway. Fortunately, Mango is somewhat similar and isn't interested in the restless and unsatisfying sleep of the angry. Mostly, though, I know he just loves me, and so he paces with me through the emotional drama so we can get to the end of it and sleep in peace.

Our friend this morning said that he went to bed angry many-a-night, and this led to a sort of syndrome of sweeping things under the rug. Because the issues looked so much smaller in the morning, they never really get resolved until they were much, much bigger. In his case, unsolvable.

So, maybe, the whole thing about not letting the sun go down on our anger makes it so we wrestle over the small issues before they become big issues. All the little things pop up when we're tired. Is it possible that this is the right time to deal with them - tired, stressed, overwhelmed, and emotional, though we are? Is this, perhaps, the time when we let our hearts and emotions rule over our reason? And this is the place where we, therefore, get at the "heart" of the issue, the driving force, the internal hurts, fears, motivations, and insecurities? Is this the place where we can speak to and bring healing to each other in the deeper places of our souls?

I can't say that I know the answer because I know that waiting it out DOES sometimes prevent us from saying the wrong things, from speaking hurtful words that we don't really mean. I know, not because we ever go to bed angry, but because sometimes our disagreements are interrupted by the demands of daily life. We have children, after all. And when we come back to them, the issues no longer hold such emotional fire. And sometimes we even find that we don't need to have that argument at all. It was silly and unimportant, and we find grace for each others shortcomings.

So, what's the balance? There seems to be something to letting the small stuff slide sometimes. Some things we ought to simply forgive and keep moving. But, there's also something to not letting ALL the small stuff slide. Because some of that small stuff turns into big stuff. We need to distinguish between something that's going to get bigger and something that truly isn't a big deal. And how can we know when we're too exhausted to think straight?

Thoughts?

Resurrection Eggs



We decided to dig out the mosaic circle that we use for Advent and use it to display the Passion story symbols from the Resurrection eggs. There's always been something powerful about keeping the circle of candles on the table for Advent and displaying the symbolic ornaments on our Jesse wreath. And there's something powerful about using the same mosaic plate for both Advent and Easter. It draws the whole story together. I see why cathedrals have been built with stained glass windows that tell the story of Jesus, and the Catholic Church employs the use of incense, music, icons, candles, and so many other tangible objects. We are human, and we need reminders.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Thoughts on Marriage

Thoughts on Marriage by Mango and MidnightCafe

This was primarily composed by Mango. It's a "guest post" of sorts, though I edited, and we collaborated on many thoughts as the writing happened. Mango included some references to Catholicism, as the Catholic Church is a point of reference for Vespera & Niteo. It seems a timely post, very much related to Easter and the salvation we receive through Jesus, which allows us to love and be loved by the God of the universe and to, in turn, love each other.

Love, the highest calling

The highest calling of God is love. Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind & strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. 1st John 4:7 tells us "Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." We know that God is a God who honors and values relationships because God, within the self or person of God is a trinity (3 persons): God the father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. In the middle of God is a relationship, and love between those different personalities is what defines God. The whole creation was made as an outpouring of that love. That is why people, the crowning accomplishment of God's creation, are designed and commanded to love. This is essential to what it means to be created in God's image.

God created us to be the messengers of God’s perfect love to one another. We were created to love and be loved, and only in relationship with other human beings do we experience the hands, feet, eyes, and ears of love in a tangible/touchable kind of way. This is the 2nd most important commandment, the purpose for creation, and God has placed it in our frail hands and hearts. We are the only hands that God has to love one another - frail, imperfect, sinful and broken people. We have been entrusted with this most sacred and important task.

Sometimes it is hard to get our minds around the fact that love is really the most important thing. We often only see the truth of that when extreme circumstances bring life into sharp focus, like seeing our lives flash before our eyes. Sin has come into the world to distort the meaning of our existence and our calling. The distortion of sin makes it seem like there are many other purposes for us and our lives: being successful, work, education, money. What is the purpose of these things, though, if it is not to worship God and provide for the people we love? Without love, these things are empty. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that even our good works are nothing without love. The real, genuine, and most important thing is love. We all know the old saying that "all you can take with you is that which you've given away."

In our broken, sinful, and frail selves it is easy to lose sight of this or just mess up. This is what is meant by 2nd Corinthians 4:6-7: "For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." We are those fragile jars of clay.


When Jesus died on the cross, he purified and sanctified us before God, making us holy people, acceptable in the sight of God. In accepting this sanctification, we become more able to receive God’s love and to share that love with others. When we place Jesus first in our hearts it is God’s holy and perfect love that we are able to show to others. We continually mess up and need forgiveness from God and those that we love. It is often said that the ones we love the most can hurt us the most. And we are more likely to hurt those we love because we feel most safe with them. When we call on God, we can draw from the infinite wells of God’s love to love each other. When we run out of ability in our humanness, God enables us to keep loving.

Marriage the deepest expression of love

Jesus tells us in John 15:9-12 that:

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."


Jesus gave his life for us on the cross, and this is the kind of extreme love that God calls us to when Jesus told us
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24

In just this way, the Catholic Church orders the sacraments: Baptism, Communion, and then Marriage. First follow Jesus; then love each other. Baptism and communion symbolize our commitment to God (baptism) and our commitment to fellowship with God and other believers (communion). From this place of being grounded in God, we can answer the call of marriage, of loving another person fully and completely with the agape/unconditional love we receive in unlimited supply from our Creator.

Aside from death, marriage is the final sacrament. So, in this final sacrament, we are called to live out that deepest love – to lay down our lives for another.
Jesus did this in his death. He died so that we can carry out this love in LIFE. In marriage we give our lives, not by dying, but by committing to another person forever. Through a lifetime of putting another person first, placing the love of that person before our own desires, we give our lives to each other in marriage. When two people do that for each other marriage becomes the beautiful thing that it is meant to be.

When two people love each other like this, they complete part of what it means to be created in the image of God. This is why marriage is so important and transforming in our lives. We live in relationship, in love. We work always to give, love and satisfy our partner, and they do the same in an endless loop of giving and receiving from each other. It is this beautiful synergy that makes a couple into a team. Each spouse is much more than they ever could be alone. Again, in the image of God, it is from the overflowing of this love, and this firm foundation of trust and support that a couple reaches out in love to others, children, friends and community.

However, we are broken and imperfect, so it is not on our own that we can love each other like this, it is only through placing God in our hearts. We have all been hurt and are in need of healing. In our brokenness, we turn our hurt on each other, we lash out in anger, we blame, we are selfish, we refuse to listen, and we shut each other out of the hurt places in our hearts need healing most. Because of this imperfection, our partners will hurt us, and we will hurt them.

Nonetheless, in a marriage we are called to bring healing to one another. Just as Jesus came to bring healing to us, we are to bring Gods healing and love to our spouse. Ours are the only hands God has to show Gods holy and transforming love to our spouse.

We bring healing, through struggling through our own and our partner's pain, loving each other through it, being willing to be vulnerable again even though it may mean being hurt again, and never giving up, as long as their partner is fighting to improve and to do the same.

A spouse is God's greatest gift to a person. When we understand that we are the one chosen by God to bring love, healing and joy to our spouse it is a huge and wonderful responsibility. God's plan for us and God’s deepest desire for all of us is for us to be deeply loved, and deeply happy, full of joy and peace. We were created to give and receive that love, of which there is none greater, our whole lives lived for each other. That is the reason that God has placed partners together. Our job is to love each other, fulfill each other, and be God's messenger of love to our spouses. Through healing each other and loving each other we become the beautiful union that God has designed marriage to be.

Intimacy in Marriage

The Bible continually refers to us as body, mind, and soul. So God created men and women to make love together as a way to give themselves to one another on all levels of being: body, mind, and soul. It is so personal and private that we can hold back nothing of our selves. This is why we consider people truly married when they have given themselves to each other in this deeply personal way. Though we promise ourselves to each other in a church, marriage is consummated in that intimate private moment when we first truly give ourselves to each other. To consummate means to make real or to fulfill a promise. So the real requirements for marriage are that two people make a promise together before God and make love together.

Because sin has brought a curse of imperfection on our world, that first time can be painful, awkward, and frustrating. Really experiencing the wonderful connection that making love is meant to be can take practice, patience and working together. But it is, nonetheless, the first time when we take down all our barriers of privacy to give all of our selves to one another.

When we give ourselves to each other when we make love, we give fully from all that we are (body, mind, and soul), and we give each other a love that is perfect pure and holy. God has created us to be physical beings with body, mind, and soul all joined in one person. That is the reason that God has created us as sexual beings with bodies designed to match with another, male and female, people designed to fulfill another. Part of being a fulfillment to our partner is allowing them to live out God’s calling to love us, by letting ourselves be loved in all levels of our being. This can mean being vulnerable and open about our feelings and letting go of ourselves to really desire our partner. Often it is in the vulnerable times when we choose to stay open anyway that deep healing can really happen.

We are chosen by God to show God’s love to our spouses. God perfected us through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and God affirmed human love through Jesus’ birth, by becoming one of us. If Jesus can be born, in all the humanness of birth, and he could eat and sleep and breathe like any other human, then being human is right and good and holy. Human beings were created by God for the glory of God, and this means that God created sex and pregnancy and birth. These are the means God chose for the expression of love and the creation of new human life on earth. As creations of God, these things are holy.

Making love is holy. It is both acting out and recommitting to the covenant between spouses. It is a covenant of giving. When we make our partner feel wonderful, we give to them, honor them, and adore them, in the deepest way a person can. This is true whether it is wild and playful, slow and gentle, or intense and quick, as long as it is done with love, desire, honor and adoration. This is the reason the feelings from lovemaking make partners feel peaceful, relaxed, and contented.

The Need for Continued Connection with God

When we see ourselves like this we see what a problem it is when couples are not able to give themselves completely to each other with their body, mind, and soul. When we start to hold back, marriage stops being what God intended it to be. Because we aren’t perfect, and we live in an imperfect world, we struggle sometimes to stay close. We make mistakes, and we have to forgive each other. We never stop needing God’s salvation.

Through God’s forgiveness we are made perfect and holy. Yes, we still make a mess of things sometimes. Romans 3:23 says, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” and we continue to do so. But if we continue ask God’s forgiveness and each other’s forgiveness, we are already forgiven once and for all. The debt that was paid on the cross for us is forever. Through God’s salvation, we are made holy, and through God we can love one another with God’s perfect love. This is why God shows his love to us through people. That is why to love God and to love one another is our highest calling and the most important thing we can ever do.

This makes all the ways that we show love for people really important, but the love between husband and wife is exceedingly important. This love is the foundation of our families. It is through the over flowing of that love that we are able to be more together than we could be on our own. A marriage with God’s love in the middle will always be greater together than the sum of its parts (the two of you). You already see that that is true.

And, so, whenever we struggle with something, it is good and important to pray about it. We ought to make a habit of this. One of the things that C.S. Lewis says about praying is that God already knows our situation, but that God wants us to ask for the help we need. Sometimes the answer to prayer changes our situation, but more often it changes us to give us the ability and the wisdom to change our situation.

The Bible also makes it clear that God holds a special place for people when they pray together. Praying together places two people together before God. In the words of the Bible, it places God as the third strand in the "cord of three strands that is not easily broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:12) That is what your wedding was all about, but it shouldn't end there. Praying together is something you should do all your life.

God’s design is for marriage relationships to be deep and fulfilling. We help each other, support each other, challenge each other, and, most of all, love each other. We must always live for one another more than for ourselves and recognize that, aside from salvation, and the gift of our own life, our spouses are the most precious gift we will ever receive from God.

In marriage we are finally ready to be the person to bring God’s love to another. Each of us is the person that God has chosen to love our spouse. When we ourselves have been made holy and pure, we are able to love another with a love that is from God. We are able to be God’s messenger of that love, God’s agent on this earth to fulfill that purpose.