Training in Righteousness
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Entries in All Random All the Time (53)


If I was a man headed to seminary...

If I was a young man headed to seminary, I would rely on the support of my family and friends. I would need their prayer support, their encouragement, and emotional support. I have read accounts of men in seminary who have shared how important that kind of support was to them.

I am not a man going to seminary, but I, and every other Christian woman, need the support of family and friends in our life long spiritual education. We need encouragement so study deeply, and with purpose. We need prayer support and encouragement to keep learning and to keep living what we learn.

The encouragement isn't needed because we have plans for professional ministry. We may never move beyond the sphere of our local church and family, but we still need the encouragement. And no, the encouragement isn't just so that we can learn the spiritual value of making our family sandwiches. That lesson is an easy one by comparison to some of the other lessons we must learn.

When I look back to where I was at the age of 30 to where I am now, I see how far I have come. When I look ahead, I see how far I have to go. I am not alone. I know so many women who want to study, who want to continue learning. And it isn't so that we can have a profession, career, or any ministry in particular. It's because the process of study draws us close to God, and reveals our humanity and need for our Saviour.

So, if you have a friend, sister, daughter, or mother who is a theology nerd, support her. Pray for her, and encourage her to press on. And maybe even ask her how the study is going. It will mean a lot to her.


Give me the truth straight up

While away at a convention this week, my husband and I sat with one of his colleagues, who related in a hilarious way his reactions to his daughter's pet hedgehog. The daughter received it as a gift while away at university, and when she returned home for the summer, she brought it with her. Its name was Lionel Pritchie, but our friend had independently re-dubbed it "Sir Stinksalot." He was angry at Beatrix Potter, he said, because he expected Lionel to arrive with a vest and a pocket watch, not stinking up the house and keeping the family awake with its nocturnal behaviour. In short: don't get a hedgehog as a pet.

This seems rather obvious to me, seeing as it's a rodent. Rodent? Bringing it in my home? Yes, seems obvious.

This gentleman clearly loves to entertain with his wit, because he kept us laughing all evening. I love situations like that; when someone else will entertain the whole table. It takes the pressure off the rest of us.

That being said, I'm always a little uncertain about someone who doesn't have an "off switch." You know what I mean: someone who can't ever be serious for a minute. I always wonder why that is. What are they hiding? Is everything a joke to them, or are they just deep down, shy?

The same goes for those who present truth in continually "in your face" way. They are the wise-cracking, exaggerating, shoot from the hip type who never seem to write one word that isn't couched in some sort of analogy designed to inspire rage, laughter, or disgust. I think it's the exaggeration that always attracts my attention the most. Rather than saying, for example, "You may find this hard to believe," they will find other means such as, "Now, this may cause your head to explode, thus spattering your grey matter all over the walls..."

Please don't misunderstand me; I don't mean verbal devices should never be used. They often add colour and power to our words, but it needs to be done in a subtle way, carefully, and in small doses.

Too many use it to the point of overkill.  At some point, I think the truth has to be presented as the truth. Sometimes, the exaggeration or shock type language has to be put aside, and the truth needs to speak for itself. The danger of the shock type of language is that it can come across as being obnoxious.

Unfortunately, if one expresses a concern about this, the response is inevitably "I'm sick of the political correctness. You just can't handle the truth," at which point we're supposed to hear this spoken in Jack Nicholson's voice. The problem becomes ours; we are not tough enough to hear their words. It may be true that we just can't stand it, but it can also be that they are actually being careless and irresponsible with their words.

Yes, that kind of writing is a stylistic thing. Guys like Carl Trueman do it all the time. The thing is, Mr. Trueman never comes across as raging; some of these other types do. Not everyone can be like Trueman, and when some try, they look pretty silly. I find that many of these users of shock type language believe that if they speak in increasingly hard or extreme terms, people will be conviced. Not necessarily. Often, it just makes people stop listening.

In the same way that I find the perpetual clown type a little alarming, I also find the one who presents truth with a constant stream of "in your face" dialogue a little bothersome. I want to ask those people, "Where is your off switch?"

It's probably just a bit of a personal thing, I understand. But seriously, truth served in a calm, dispassionate way never goes out fashion.


And what do you do?

Ah yes, the inevitable question. 

I am at a convention with my husband. There are 350 people present. Last night, we went to a convention centre and ate dinner. Tonight, we will do the same. As I sat with the table of six people, I was faced again with that question.

My husband knew the other people. He's been attending such events for a long time, and the fine folks we sat with were from our part of the world. 

I really loathe that question. I know it's just a part of the tedious act of small talk, and it's just a way for people to be polite, but I have never enjoyed that question. 

When the kids were little, I didn't often attend these events, but when we were older, I attended a few. At the time I was homeschooling, so when I answered that I was a homeschool mom, I was faced with with total disbelief, outright animosity, or a blank stare. The conversation would either end immediately, and my participation in the small talk was over, or there were interested questions.

I am not a homeschool mother any longer. My kids have all moved from home. I was dreading that question. I thought about how I would answer it.

I am not a real writer. I don't get paid for it, and I have no particular credits to my name. So, saying I am a writer would be a lie. I could have answered, "I'm a pretend writer." I just don't know how that would have been received.

I could have said, "I'm a blogger," but that's not really a job for me, and I'm not controversial, articulate, or famous enough to get paid for this blog. So, that would not have been legitimate, either.

When faced with the inevitiable, I gave my usual answer, but I prefaced it with a hopefully self-deprecating, "I'm gainfully unemployed." I did explain that I love to write and read, and I work in my local church. One of the spouses said, "Interesting," which I believe she meant, but the conversation did end there. Thankfully, the conversation moved away from employment, and one of the gentleman, who was very funny, entertained us with his great story telling wit, and I was off the hook.

I realize that I am a minority. I'm an over 45 year old stay-at-home wife and mother. Most women have work that they do for which they get paid, earn accolades, and satisfy their ambitions however big or small they are. I don't. So, the small talk often ends.

As I was watching the people mingling and making their small talk, I did feel totally out of place, and I had a flash of sympathy for my husband who must endure such things more often. The small talk is just so very tedious. This fascination with what we "do" as opposed to who we are. I think this is why God kept me home, so I could be spared the dreaded small talk. Last night's small talk was a huge contrast to the wonderful afternoon I enjoyed with Becky, picking cranberries and having her dog lick my ear, hoping to steal my cranberries. Dog kisses versus small talk? I think I know which one I'll take.

I have another meal to sit through later tonight. We will, in all likelihood, not sit with the same people. Again, I will have to face that question. I have decided I should just take a leap and answer it differently: I'm going to say "I'm a trophy wife." That will either inspire blank stares or a laugh. In either case, hopefully the small talk won't last too long.


What I'm not

I am not a "smokin' hot wife" of a famous pastor.


I have been married to the same, wonderful man for 26 years who tells me I'm beautiful when I take my bike helmet off, and have "helmet head."

I am not a super mom managing homeschooling, organic gardening, weaving my own cloth, and finding a way to teach the Westminster Catechism in the middle of my canning and preserving.


I have three healthy children who all wanted to come home for the weekend to celebrate a birthday.

I am not a seminary graduate who speaks to audiences of thousands at conferences and to whom people turn with their theological questions.


I am privileged to teach a small group of women each week, and learn more from them than they are likely learning from me.

I am not a professional writer or journalist.


I have notebooks filled with my own words that may mean something to a child or a grandchild someday.

I am not a scholar.


I am a life-long learner, and I'm fortunate to have the predicament of not enough book shelf space.

I am not well-known by the masses.


I am known by the Creator of the universe, and bought by the blood of Christ; adopted, redeemed, set apart, and on the way to glory. I have been brought into the light from the darkness.

I am a stranger and an alien.

And that should be where I find my identity.

Some boast in fame and fortune, but I will boast in the name of the Lord.


My husband is right about fashion, after all

My husband loves to say "Fashion is bunk." This usually follows his penchant for wearing red socks and sandals. Over the twenty-six years we've been married, he's repeated that to me many times when I have had moments of fashion angst.

Leaving the world of corporate finance was a relief for me. While I don't object to wearing business attire, I prefer casual clothing. Now that I am in my late forties, finding comfortable clothing is getting hard. My grandmother used to wear muumuus a lot. I thought they were rather dowdy, and I could not understand why she wore them. I understand why now. Quite simply, for a woman strugglng with hot flashes, they're very cool and comfortable. I have one. I don't wear it out in public for fear of scaring small children.

This past spring, I set out to find comfortable dresses to wear in the hot, humid months. It was not an easy search. Now, I did not look at stores like American Eagle or Hollister, which targets the young and underfed. I looked at places like Eddie Bauer, Lands' End, and L.L. Bean.

This is my complaint to the fashion designers everywhere:

First, older women have hot flashes. That means we need breathable fabrics. All of the menopause experts say to wear loose fitting, breathable clothes. Sorry, polyester is a no-no. And so is rayon. Yes, they hang well, but they feel like they're suffocating you when it's 35 Celsius with 80% humidity. Please: cotton. It's a natural fabric. And please, less knitted fabric. It doesn't hang as loosely as woven cotton or cotton/linen blends.

Second, length. I am sorry, even when I was a size 5, I did not wear dresses like this:

Yes, there was a day when I certainly could have worn this, but I didn't, and that's because when a woman sits down in a short dress like this, she has the ability to provide people with a view to her undergarments. No, thank you. Even in stores for older women, I still see many skirts and dresses as short as this and sales women will try to get me to buy them.

The problem isn't that there aren't any alternatives; the problem is that they are more like this:

Now, these dresses have the advantage of being made of cotton and other natural fabrics, and the colour is lovely, but that isn't what I want to wear. 

The trouble is to find clothes that are pleasing to the eye, comfortable, and age appropriate. 

I'm sorry, I won't wear what a twenty year old is wearing. I was twenty; I'm not now. No, I don't want to wear something where my bust is falling out, or my bra straps are used as an accessory. They are called "undergarments" for a reason.

There is also the sizing issue. Most dresses are made for women who have no curves. My husband tells me he likes my curves. To find a dress correctly proportioned is difficult. Most of them are made for skinny women with no breasts to speak of. They may look good on the emaciated model, but again, I'm over 45, and I'm not a size 0; thankfully, I never was.  Also, heat is an issue. Wearing a tight dress is not conducive to bodily comfort.

Fashion is bunk, after all. It's clearly aimed at a very minor segment of the buying population, and for women like me, over thirty, and under 65, our choices are limited, even in tried and true places like Eddie Bauer, Lands' End, and L.L. Bean. I got a Lands' End catalogue today, and the models get younger and skinnier every year. Not only is the fashion biased toward the thin, it's biased toward the younger woman. What should the rest of us do? 

I want to look pretty for my husband. I like to wear soft, flowing dresses, made from pretty, feminine fabrics. I'm beginning to think that the only place I will find them is within the bolts of fabric at my local fabric store. I may be resurrecting my sewing machine. I'm hoping this fashion bias has not carried over to the pattern companies as well.  If that's the case, I may be scouring the internet for vintage clothing.