Thursday, July 29, 2010

Purposeful Marriage

During those very long, uncomfortable years before the Lord blessed me with John as a husband, 1 Corinthians 7 gave me a sense that my singleness, as uncomfortable and undesired as it was, at least had a purpose. Although I confess to throwing way too many pity-parties about the matter (if I didn't confess to it, many people who knew me back then would submit comments making sure my true attitude was known), I resolved to make my singleness count for God's Kingdom by plunging into every ministry the church made available to me. Whether or not I always had pure motives or right doctrine in these endeavors, granted, is fodder for debate, and digresses from my point today.

This morning's guest on Focus on the Family's radio broadcast was Pastor Francis Chan, a pastor from Simi Valley, California, who made an interesting application of 1 Corinthians 7:29-35 to marriage. First, let me quote the passage:

29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30 those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31 and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.
But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. 33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. 34 There is[a] a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband.35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction. 

Pastor Chan said that, as married people, we can cultivate the same dedication to the Lord as our single counterparts presumably have.  The key is in verse 29. Living as if we were single, while not neglecting our spouses by any means, we are to regard our marriages as tools for advancing Christ's Kingdom. Our marriages, though they indeed can produce the by-product of happiness, exist primarily as an example to a watching world.

To begin with, marriage is a metaphor of Christ's relationship with His Bride, the Church. Chan didn't touch on Ephesians 5:22-33, but I think it's absolutely pivotal in how couples must model this relationship.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body,[d] of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[e] 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. 

Okay, not politically correct. Get over it. I'm more interested in being obedient to God, as Scripture reveals His will, than in living in a way that appeals to popular trends. God has well-defined marital roles. Not that men work out in the field while women stay in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, but that men love their wives sacrificially while women choose to follow their husband's leadership.

John  and I, because of our disabilities, have several people who see our marriage close up. I guess I could complain about the supposed pressures of living in a fishbowl (as celebrities often do in rationalizing their divorces), but really, I'm excited that God has entrusted us with such a beautiful responsibility! Our Personal Care Attendants see John helping them to dress me as a tender, daily expression of his love for me. They see my feeble efforts to follow John's leadership, and hear my apologies when I fail to respect him. Hopefully, despite my shortcomings, we model a Christian marriage.

If we don't set a good enough example now, we can make doing so the purpose of our marriage. As 1 Corinthians 7:29 says, time is too short for us to focus merely on enjoying our marriage. Yes, we should enjoy it, and I'm sure this blog reflects how thoroughly John and I delight in ours. But even our joy must have a greater purpose of showing people the grace and faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Today's radio broadcast challenged me to approach marriage, as I approached singleness, as a platform for showing the Lord's glory to a decaying world.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Have No Idea What This Post Is About

Blame the Sudafed, maybe. I was  in bed all day yesterday with a nasty virus, and I still have sinus and chest congestion. Hey, at least I'm in my chair, holding dry toast and chicken soup down, and I am well hydrated. In the midst of all this "excitement," I figured I really should  post..

Monday was beautiful, and we enjoyed a full day in Boston. We attended the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act, had lunch with a friend, bought produce at the Farmers Market, and enjoyed peach ice cream at Emack and Bolio's. Somewhere in there, John delighted himself by taking a video of the carousel on Rose Kennedy Greenway:

So, what's my point in blogging all this? Beat's me! But at least I'm saying something, and I guess that's good. Hey, if this post is lame, go ahead and blame the Sudafed. I'll make a sensible post next time!

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Video Glimpse Of Boston

Yesterday we finally bought a bigger memory card for our camera! I'd been asking...okay, nagging... John about getting one for months, both so we could store more photos (the card always seemed to fill up before we finished taking pictures) and so we could shoot videos. Praise God, yesterday he was ready to make the purchase, and Staples had memory cards on sale!

My main goal in going to Boston yesterday was cooling off at Ring's Fountain and the Mist Machine on Rose Kennedy Greenway. But Staples was so close to Quincy Market, and I hadn't had a cannoli in so long that...well, you know how I am! So we ate the cannoli while listening to Ivory Darnell Clark of Vocals on Wheels perform a variety of music ranging from Nat King Cole to Santana. We got a video clip of him singing "Yesterday" by Paul McCartney, and then we wheeled off to the Greenway. Enjoy this video montage that I put together this afternoon:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

From Behind My Shower Curtain

My neck was stiff this morning, which isn't too unusual, given that I type and operate my power wheelchair with my head. It was stiffer than it is most days, however, and I struggled a bit to tilt my head back under the showerhead to wet my hair for my shampoo. I prevailed, and tilted it back more easily for the rinse. The hot water helped my flexibility. I love my hot showers!

When my neck gets stiff this way, I often think of God's word's to Israel:

8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’” 9 And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! 10 Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.” ~~Exodus 32:8-10 (New King James Version)

When a person stiffens his muscles, he automatically exerts force or resistance, making it pretty much impossible for anyone to move him. Thus, the Lord's meaning here was that Israel was willful and stubborn. Despite the Lord's graciousness in delivering them from the slavery of Egypt, and His miracle of parting the Red Sea, they got impatient with Him and turned to idolatry, blatantly resisting His authority. They wouldn't yield to His direction, but "stiffened their neck" against Him.

I sometimes spiritually stiffen my neck against the Lord. I get willful, impatient with Him, and I decide to satisfy my desires on my own terms.

As the hot water from my shower relaxed my neck this morning, so the warmth of the Holy Spirit makes me pliable as He reminds me of God's Word. Always, He softens my resistance, and I'm willing to surrender my will to His. I forget about my selfish agenda in favor of His, only to find a much deeper sense of satisfaction than my own pursuits would have given me.

So I'll keep letting the Lord shower me with His Word. And if physical pain reminds me of that principle, I'll thank Him for both the stiff neck and the shower.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Excuse My Appearance

Today I imported the contents of to this URL. Why? Oh, I had nothing better to do...

That's a lie!

Actually, John and I agreed that my old URL no longer fit the title or theme of my blog, and therefore would cause confusion if we promoted it around Boston. For example, when we ate at Zuma Tex Mex Grill last week, we asked permission to write about them on my blog. But we don't have business cards with a blog name and URL. My husband wants to make said cards to give restaurant workers, tour guides, street performers, etc., but first he wanted a URL more consistent with my recently changed title.

So I contacted a woman on the PSPFamily Forum, and she linked me to instructions on creating a new blog (to establish the desired URL), and then importing my posts, photos and comments from my old blog into it. I did so successfully! Next, I managed to get my background into it--quite an accomplishment!

But now I'm constructing my sidebar. All my links must be manually at a time! It's like unpacking boxes after a move. Slow. Tedious. Time-consuming. Oh, I'll get it done, but until then this new home for my blog will look a bit empty. Bear with me while I make myself at home!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Value Of Grace

The second stanza of Amazing Grace begins: "'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear/And grace my fears relieved." I've been criticized, at various times, for lacking grace; a criticism that, actually, I believe has an element of validity, since my writing does emphasize personal responsibility. So I feel the need to clarify my approach to Christian doctrine.

  • I do NOT believe human works justify anyone before God! It's only by Christ's shed blood on the cross that anyone can be saved from eternity in hell, and any "good" works people might perform are impotent to accomplish salvation. To be precise, my conduct doesn't earn God's favor, and never will, because my nature apart from Him is completely sinful. Nothing but His shed blood can atone for that sin nature.
  • I came to Christ because He showed me my inability to attain His standards of righteousness. I knew I needed His forgiveness. When my friend explained that Jesus died in my place, accepting the punishment that I deserve, I was relieved! I no longer feared God's wrath, because of His grace in sending His Son!
  • The grace God has shown me brings a gratitude expressed by a desire to live for Him. It transforms me from someone guided by self-interest into His grateful servant.
  • God has made me His daughter, and is therefore reproducing His character in me. As I read and study His Word (the Bible), He transforms my way of looking at life. I see His values. I learn what He loves, what He hates, and how He expects me to live.
  • I follow the Lord very imperfectly. I need His Holy Spirit to enable me to obey Him. When I post about living in holiness, I'm confronting my own lack of holiness, reminding myself of how valuable His mercy and grace are! I may appear judgmental and holier-than-thou, but I'm reminding myself that grace isn't cheap. It cost Jesus everything!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Online Christianity

Today, I got one of those online messages: 

Jesus said, "If  you deny Me, I will deny you before My Father in Heaven." If you love Jesus, forward this. 97% won't do this.

My goodness! So my standing with God hinges on whether or not I play the Internet game of "pass it on?' That's kinda cool, I guess. I can ignore the Lord's claims on my personal behavior, forget about daily time in prayer and Scripture, and stop believing that I'm a  representative of Him to all the people (Christian and non-Christian) who watch my life. What could be easier?

Lots of people could forward that quick paragraph without letting the Holy Spirit confront them with sin in their lives or call them to daily, life-long obedience. Actually, I've received this same message, years ago, from someone who left the father of her children (whom she'd never married), and was living with a boyfriend (whom she didn't intend to marry), and who adamantly insisted that there was no standard of right and wrong (except for the wrong that had been done to her, of course). But hey, she forwarded the  email, so she wasn't denying Christ...right?

Except Jesus wasn't addressing His words to people who sat at their computers, poising their mouse pointers over a forward button or a Facebook "share" button. He was speaking to people whom He expected to live according to His standards, even when doing so meant ridicule, persecution or death. Monday night at Bible Study, we talked about early Christian martyrs who chose to die rather than publicly deny their faith in Jesus. In the First Century, declaring that Jesus was Lord constituted treason against Caesar, and very often resulted in cruel and barbaric executions.

In 21st Century America (so far) the stakes aren't that high, but we can still deny Him in serious ways. Do we laugh at off-color jokes, or do we stand against them? Do we go to chat rooms and fail to mention that we're married? Do we have "under the table" jobs to avoid paying taxes? And do we talk openly about the Lord when others are mocking Him and denigrating His standards? 

Don't misunderstand. I'm all for using email and social media to proclaim my faith in the Lord. Perhaps I do it less than I should, afraid of social pressure. But when I do get around to making a stand online, I want to be more authentic than cutting-and-pasting a recycled email paragraph into my status update. Rather, I want to challenge others towards repentance and faith in Him. I want to show His transforming impact on how I live my life, so that He is glorified. And that takes more than transmitting pithy little sayings across the World Wide Web. It involves giving Him control of my life so that my conduct (online and offline) reflects Him.

Passing on an email is easy and painless. Standing for Jesus, however, is costly.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Between Swans and Swan Boats

Tuesday, John and I couldn't resist the promise of fairly mild weather, so we boarded a Redline train and went to Boston with absolutely no plan of what we'd do once we got to Downtown Crossing. Of course, that open book approach is, I think, the best way to do Boston. No agendas...just a readiness for whatever we find. So we wheeled through Boston Common to the Public Garden.

Much to my enchantment, one of the swans greeted us. You need to realize, in reading this narrative, that until two months ago, I'd never seen swans in person, but now she was a mere eight feet away, stepping towards us as if to welcome us!

Pretty breathtaking! We thought she might come closer, but she decided eight feet was close enough. Anyway, John had his camera, so she evidently figured she was a model for a photo-shoot. So she posed for him, very willingly, making sure he got her best side.

From there, we meandered down the lagoon till we saw a mama duck and her ducklings. So cute!

We started thinking about lunch at that point, so we proceeded to Quincy Market. We stopped at the North Building, and saw Zuma Tex Mex Grill. I sure wanted to try it! We had amazingly swift service by a very attentive staff, and the chicken taco and chicken enchilada were excellent, surpassed only by their key-lime pie (baked on the premises). We told them our only complaint was that they hindered my attempts to lose weight!

We finished our day at Rings Fountain in the wharf district of the Rose Kennedy Greenway. This fountain, a favorite place for kids to cool off on hot summer days, has multiple spouts coming from underneath, in no particular pattern. The fun is in guessing where the water will come up next!

It was a hot day, so I decided to get some of the spray too (why should kids have all the fun?). Of course, I didn't get too far into the water, lest I short out my wheelchair.

It was a satisfying Boston Adventure, but we still jumped at the chance to return to Boston yesterday with our friend Kerry and her teenage son. After a quick lunch and Wendy's, we headed for the State House.

Our main objective was to photograph the Sacred Cod, which resides in the House Of Representatives to remind them to protect the rights of the Fishing Industry. Just before the legislators went into session, we visited the chamber and got a photo.

Once session "started" (only five representatives were there, not doing much), the Gallery opened to the public. Ah...a perfect shot of the Sacred Cod! Except photography isn't permitted when the House is in session. All five of them. Chatting about the Red Sox. And the Gallery isn't open to the public (why not?) unless the House is in session. But I guess nothing on Beacon Hill makes sense anyway...

So we went to the Public Garden where Kerry and her son rode the Swan Boat. Probably not worth the $2.75 each that they had to pay, but they saw ducklings and baby turtles!

I bought a lavender tee shirt depicting two swans facing each other to form a heart. I love it, and the proceeds go towards conserving the lagoon.

So, that's this week's Boston Adventures. I'm hoping next week won't be as oppressively hot it's predicted to be.  I'm having fun!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Who Says History Is Boring

Although John and I saw a community theater production of 1776 just last year, when my browsings through Netflix alerted me that there was a film version, I eagerly put it on our queue. It arrived Thursday, and we've been enjoying it all weekend.

The video below includes some mildly offensive language, but overall the song is so brilliantly written that I want to share it anyway. Perhaps it will help dismantle the notion that history is dry and boring. If nothing else, enjoy the song. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

37 Years Ago

Why am I thinking back to my high school days so much lately? I guess the reasons don't really matter; my thoughts have drifted back to random  memories throughout this week, focusing on various people I knew, conversations I had, classes I took, and the stirrings of moral chaos that our oh-so-hip teachers embraced as freedom from the Judeo-Christian ethic. The early 70's was a time when rock music soured, permissive education rose, and fashions dulled.

Has anybody ever made sense of that period between September 1969 and June 1973? Should I even try? I wish some things had been different. No, I don't mean I wish I'd had a prom date (well, that would have been nice, too). I wish my creative writing teacher had kept our desks in neat rows instead of painting the walls deep blue and letting us go once she'd taken attendance. I wish John Lennon hadn't met Yoko Ono. I wish Nixon had trusted the voters to re-elect him, rather than overshadowing an otherwise good presidency with the Watergate scandal.  I wish clothes and hair-styles had stayed pretty.

But during that puzzling burp in history, Jesus took charge of my life. Because of Him, I had stability. And I've progressed pretty steadily to 2010.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Art of Roses

A few weeks ago, I showed you this photo that I'd asked John to take at the Public Garden:

Yes, I liked it, but my reason for asking him to take the photo went well beyond liking it. I hadn't done any serious projects in Paint Shop Pro for quite some time, you see, and I'd been surfing the Internet for ideas. Through PSPFamily (I've placed a link to their website in the "Places I Visit" section to the right of this blog), I found a tutorial on drawing a rose that I just had to try! Click here to see the tutorial. 

Last night, my rose was completed, painted lavender instead of pink for no reason other than that the tutorial writer kept saying, "It's your rose!" Okay, then, I would indeed choose my favorite color!

The tutorial was surprisingly easy, though drawing the petals was extremely time-consuming. But even that was fairly pleasant. I learned a few tricks that I'll use in future drawings, so I'm excited. Anyway, last night I put on the finishing touches, and felt a surge of satisfaction.

Of course, my favorite part of Paint Shop Pro is playing with my creations...changing colors, settings, and positions to use one drawing in a variety of ways. So this morning I played longer than I should have. And I had a wonderful time!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Randolph's "Night Before The Fourth" Parade

Last night, Randolph Massachusetts held its annual "Night Before The Fourth" Parade. Rather than writing about it, I'll share some photos John took.

Flag as the parade entered
Crawford Square

Police Color Guard

Vintage Ford

Vintage Woody

Band from Quebec


Charlie Baker Campaign
(so good to see a Republican candidate represented)

Marching Band from Brockton

Vintage Fire Truck

Flag at sunset

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Another Boston Peculiarity

Boston's City Hall is ugly. That's not simply my opinion (though it certainly is my opinion). In 2008, according to Reuters, VirtualTourist voted it "the ugliest building in the world." What do you think?

As John and I approached it from Tremont Street this past Thursday, I had to laugh. Oh, it exhibited patriotism, in keeping with the Fourth of July and (giving them the benefit of the doubt) Boston's role in the American Revolution! One small balcony sported bunting:

Oh, it's hard not to love Boston!


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