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Go ahead and offend me

I am very fortunate that my parents are able to live independently. My dad is 81 and mom is 76. They live without any family closer than three and a half hours away. That is a concern for me at times. This morning, as I chatted with my mother, she was more concerned about me driving to school in the snow than she was about the fact that it is significantly colder where she lives, and that I have people around to help if I need it. I am thankful for God's care over my parents.

This morning, I heard about some helath issues concering both of my parents, and I felt sobered as I hung up. I checked Twitter after that to see what the traffic looks like before I head out to my class this afternoon. 

I kind of rolled my eyes at a few of the updates, because they don't really seem very earth shattering. To someone, they probably are important. But many of them will seem like nothing at some point down the line.

Among many other matters which keep getting replayed over and over again, I'm kind of sick of hearing about "toxic masculinity." Is there a way I can block tweets which refer to that? My own views on such matters are not held lightly, and when I am not more concerned with my parents' situation, I might even get on my high horse. But these personal issues outweigh such things.

In order to be indignant, one must have time and energy. And I'm not even dealing with really serious matters. The day will come, though. My parents will get older, perhaps sick, and they will die, likely leaving the other one alone. I predict that all matters twitter and blog will seem very insignificant, indeed. For now, I'm thankful that these matters are just concerns, and not realities. Yet.

So go ahead and offend me, Twitter. It's much easier to ignore you today.


I Am the War I Fight

My husband sometimes wears socks with sandals; it's usually when I'm not around to raise my eyebrows at him. He frequently leaves for work looking like a blind tailor dressed him that morning. He is hopelessly out of fashion. And he doesn't care. I admire my husband more than any person I know.

When I was in high school, a girl named Nanci came to school dressed in a green garbage bag. She cut a hole in the bottom and on the sides, put it over her head and belted it. She was short and could get away with it. People talked about it for weeks. They talked about her often; when she wore a safety pin in her ear instead of an earring, and when she dyed her hair pink. This was back in the 80's when such things were not common place. She didn't care about what people thought. I thought she was totally weird, but I did admire her daring.

I have always cared what people thought; to a fault; to the point where fear of what people think has kept me from doing many things I wanted to do. Perhaps some of us are hardwired that way. Perhaps I'm too proud; definitely a possibility. Maybe I'm an ego maniac; another possibility. Maybe it's because I was always the new kid and never seemed to fit in anywhere. At this point in my life, it should not be such an issue. One would think, anyway.

Blogging can easily lead us to care very much what other people think of us. And they are people with whom we have absolutely no personal connection. It is a very noble thing to say "I blog for myself." If that is the case, why put it out there for people to read? Why link my posts to social media?  If I want to write for myself, I don't need to put it online. Don't writers (even unprofessional ones) write to be read? I am pretty sure there are writers out there, instead of having a cache of blog posts online have boxes of notebooks somewhere in a closet. It is unfortunate that blogging puts me regularly at risk to care too much what people think.

As always, "I am the war I fight."

This semester, I must write two papers, one 10-12 pages and the other 12-15 pages. One of them is due in a little over two weeks. I care very much about what the profs think, but it's a different kind of concern. I asked them to evaluate my work, and it's their job. Thankfully, I feel a lot less preessure in this situation than I do writing a blog post. 


Holy Sonnet 15

Wilt thou love God, as he thee? Then digest,
My soul, this wholesome meditation:
How God the Spirit, by angels waited on
In heaven, doth make his Temple in thy breast.
The father having begot a Son most blest,
And still begetting -- for he ne'er begun --
Hath deigned to choose thee by adoption,
Co-heir to his glory, and Sabbath's endless rest.
And as a robbed man, which my search doth find
His stolen stuff sold, must lose or buy it again,
The Son of glory came down, and was slain,
Us whom he had made and Satan stolen, to unbind.
'Twas much, that man was made like God before,
But, that God should be made like man, much more.

-- John Donne


From cynicism to joy

I have been living with two extremes lately: cynicism and joy. In my head, I know what to do with cynicism as it regards the Church of Jesus Christ and the people who are its members: re-focus my gaze on the Saviour himself.

Attention-getting; arrogance; self-focus; faux humility. We're all guilty of such things. We take the glory from God while at the same time claiming that our goal is to bring him glory. Again, I am guilty, too.

There are days when I wonder why on earth I ever decided to engage in blogging or social media. There are days when I'm convinced it's the worst thing for the Church. There are days when I'm reminded how it can be a benefit. There are days when I see who the people are who are the biggest "influencers" to the evangelical church, and I think "Seriously?"

But then Tuesdays and Thursdays arrive. On Tuesday, I go to my Pentateuch class and I speak to live, flesh and bone Christians. People I'm getting to know and have come to know. Real people, right in front of me. On Thursday, though I don't have a class, I will go to spend an hour in the library and attend chapel, followed by seminary lunch. Again, I sit with flesh and bone Christians. People whose facial expressions, tones of voice, and warmth remind me that whatever happens online, nothing can compare to the benefits of being with people who love the Lord, love the impassioned pursuit of study, and care about the body of Christ.

My professors actually care about how I do in school. I've come to know them as men and women of God. I've seen their concern, heard their teaching, and been a part of their desire to share their knowledge. That is an encouragement. No, they may not have hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers (and some don't even use Twitter!), but they are doing the work of God right where they are, and I'm thankful for that.

Joy comes by being with the people of God, and I'm sorry, but being with the people of God isn't the same through a screen as it is when the person is sitting right next to you.


Who is teaching biblical truth to our children?

The majority of Sunday school teachers in my church are women. I suspect that we are not unique. After all, women are encouraged to teach women and children. It's one of those areas of service we're directed to. It's right up there with making sandwiches and working in the nursery.

Who is less likely to get theological training outside of the regular Sunday service? Women. I know this because I sit in a room of 35+ students every Tuesday, and there are five women in the class. I've sat in classes where I'm the only woman.

Why do we not encourage more women to get theological training? No, it does not have to be an MDiv, but there are always less involved programs for those who are seeking more knowledge. Perhaps teaching 2 and 3 year olds is nothing more than crowd control, but what about children who are getting into that dialectical stage of learning, around 11 or 12, when they begin asking hard questions? 

Teaching children is difficult. I find it easier to teach adults than younger students. On every occasion I teach in our teen class, I struggle with how not only to get their attention, but how to explain difficult things in a way they will understand. Some of our students zone out during class, and it is clear that they are not interested in spiritual matters. But then we have students who ask questions like "Where did Cain get his wife from?" When my daughter was eight years old, she asked our pastor, "Does God love Satan?" How equipped is the average Sunday school teacher to answer hard questions?

Information about women's ministries abounds, and much of it involves how to get women to connect with one another. I sat on a women's ministry committee which spent more time talking about how to have the food presented than about what kinds of discipleship materials we should use. I got off the committee. While social events and ways to connect are valuable, it seems to me that the greater part of women's ministries is to focus on how to teach and equip women. 

A good women's ministry group could provide training for other women to become better Sunday school teachers for those young minds. There is always a place for fellowship for women who really crave that. But what about the women who crave deeper teaching? Ultimately, they will (like I did) seek knowledge from sources outside women's ministry groups and likely, their local churches. 

There are so many gifted women out there; women who are theologically astute, good exegetes, and sensitive teachers. Surely, part of their task ought to be equipping other women.