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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

cultural assault

The more I experience life, the more I realize how tightly Satan's fingers are wrapped around our earth, specifically the culture. 

I am passionate about helping women realize the deception we face on a daily basis.  Many of the challenges in our world are the direct result of a skewed society which is like putty in the Enemy's hands.  Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the culture's obsession with feminine beauty as a means of self-worth and as the most valuable asset she can possess. 

Women want to be beautiful; were created to be beautiful.  The entrance of sin did horrendous things to us through the warping of DNA and the aging process to which we are all prone, so not all of us perfectly display the beauty to which we are heirs, but it was God's design and will, nonetheless. 

You may disagree with me, but I have come to believe that the idea of feminine beauty plays a huge role in many of the cultural and spiritual battles we face today.  Relationships have taken a huge hit in this arena.  That is Satan's ultimate goal anyway.  Relationship defines our God -- He exists in relationship (the Trinity); He comes to us in a salvation relationship (Father/child); and He plans our eternity in relationship (Christ is the Bridegroom--the church is the Bride).  In fact, the reason the human family exists in the first place is because our God desired relationship with those who could love Him back.  I firmly believe that Satan delights in destroying relationship more than anything else, for it is close to the heart of God. 

Feminine beauty affects cultural ills that are not only destroying lives but relationships as well. 

Consider this:

Because a man lusts and a woman desires to feel affirmed, they engage in intimacy outside of marriage -- their future relationship with a spouse is damaged.  A child is conceived; it is aborted--a woman faces a lifetime of guilt and all her future relationships are affected; a baby will never get to have the relationship of a mother and father.  When the parents discover the truth, the relationships of the parents and the daughter is traumatized.  And it started because a man thinks the pleasure offered in beauty is a legitmate reason to engage in intimacy and a woman is willing to trade her beauty for affirmation and love.

The insidious parasite of lust has attached itself firmly to our culture.  You cannot walk down the street, visit a mall, dine out in a restaurant or shop for groceries in Walmart without seeing its tentacles entwined in the styles, the advertising, and the manner of others.  It is draining the value of women and the sapping the moral strength of men. 

The culture will never align itself with biblical principles regarding the proper celebration of beauty, but we as Christian women must be aware of what is truth. 

The study book for women title Reflecting Beauty:  Embracing the Creator's Design is my challenge to the deception in the culture.  Writing this book was an awesome experience.  When you discover what God's Word really says about feminine beauty, it is like inhaling a fragrant breeze after escaping a stinking barnyard (sorry, farmers!)  It isn't suffocating or depressing.  It is life-giving and enlightening.

I am also trying to finish up a novel in which the characters come face to face with some current issues along this line with some suspense and romance mixed in as well.  I hope that women will read these books and be empowered to rethink and reject what the culture constantly spews in our faces.  The ideas aren't mine anyway; they are His.  God delights in beauty; but He also wants to protect beauty, and it is never a measure of a woman's worth; it is the way she reflects His majesty.  This is the message that we are to celebrate and model in our lives.  It is exciting!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

of books and mom guilt and such

As a mom, I tend to be part of the guilt brigade.  Been there?  I should have done  . . . I should be doing . . . oh, this book recommends this . . . have I ruined my children's chances in life??

So, the very few things that I feel halfway good about I tend to clasp tightly to me; they bring me comfort that maybe all is not lost.

One thing I have tried to pass on to my kids is a love for the library.  Now, let me rephrase that -- I love the library; they are hopefully learning to love the library.  Often, they protest going, but inevitably, once we get there, they get engrossed in pulling out interesting books.  I hope that the regular exposure will create in them a fever for good words. 

My father introduced me to books and the thrill of a good story.  My folks were evangelists and many weeks of the year, we lived in a camper trailer at one church or another for special services.  And, after the service, before bedtime, my father would pull out the current book he was reading to my brothers and I and fill our little space with the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Joy Spartan of Parsonage Hill, Little Pilgrim's Progress. the Bears of Blue River, the Enormous Egg, Escape from the Shawnees, River of Fire, Alexi's Secret Mission, and many others.  We would usually beg for another chapter; you know how frustrating it is to try to sleep when the hero is in a crisis moment?  Those wonderful hours developed in me a love for books which I carry with me until this day.

Then, my father took us to the library.  The smell of books is still one of my favorites. It is the smell of a new journey.  I love to dig on the shelves and find a treasure I haven't seen before.  My first library card was in Shelbyville, Tennessee at the Argie Cooper Public Library.  It was a vintage red brick building with high shelves and artwork of flowers in vases and  similar subjects.  The card was white plastic with raised letters.  The librarian would take the card and put it in a little machine; then she took the cards out of the back of the books I was getting and punched them down in the machine which would stamp my card number on them.  Then she would put cards with the return date in the pocket in the back of the books and hand the stack to me.  (remember this old process-- the digital system is better, but I spent many an hour "playing library" with my own homemade cards and everything!)

I have carried on the tradition--reading continued stories to my kids (though to be honest, it's been a while since I've done it now!)  And they seemed to enjoy it as much as I did as a kid.  I hope that means I'm doing something right there. 

And we have a weekly "library day."   It used to be Thursday, but now it's Wednesday.  Things change, depending on what our present schdule is--just now, homeschooling and my grocery shopping day have dictated a change.  And, oops, I forgot about a couple items due yesterday and now owe a fine!  Maybe some feel that a library fine is the height of irresponsibility.  To me, it's a sign that I use that place a whole lot (okay, that's justifying myself, but hey, it's my blog and my fine, right?)  And, as my friend Leah says, when you pay a fine, you're supporting the library!  Like that!

So, today, my troops and I will march into our little library and make our selections.  And mom will feel that maybe she is winning part of this parenting battle after all.  And, as a writer myself, the fact that they are getting up close and personal with words makes me feel good too.  (by the way, I'd love to hear about your mom guilt and triumphs--we all have them, you know--and your kids need what you bring to their lives--they were custom designed for you!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Oops, sorry

Sorry for the confusion, blogging friends.  I changed my blog's address and then realized I had no way of telling all of you about it.  So, it is back to the original one and I hope you find me . . . .  .!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

the signature of God

Last night, I watched my friend Kim Collingsworth play the piano and marveled again at the artistry of God. As one of the premiere pianists in the gospel music world today, Kim has a style all her own. You do not only listen to her music; you experience her music. The majestic strains of the Hallelujah Chorus roared beneath her fingers, and those of us in the audience were on our feet for more than one reason. Handel's music is magnificent, but when it is coupled with a heart passionate in worship, the effect is euphoric. It is impossible to observe Kim at the keyboard and not be drawn into her expression of praise to her Lord. I felt tears in my eyes as my soul responded to her offering to God.

Musicians who play from the heart achieve that synthesis of soul and fingers that causes the lines to blue until those listening cannot separate the instrument from the musician. They are one, bonded with inner passion that makes the hand pulsate with the heart's expression. When one is in the presence of such art, the majesty of God is deafening. It is like the mighty Niagara--all those near it are overawed by its very presence. It spills onto the spirit and brings the being of God into focus.

The princple of offerings brought unto God is seen throughout the Bible. Before the atoning death of Christ, substitute animal sacrifices were brought to purify the people. But now since He paid the total price, God asks us to offer ourselves and everything He has invested in us. It is to be "a spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1) This is the kind of offering I witnessed in Kim's music.

The great artists know that they are reflecting something deeper and greater than themselves. Is that what Michelangelo realized as he swabbed the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Is that what Bach pondered as he thundered out great fugues on his organ? Is that why the swell and tide of great music brings our palms together in a timeless expression of wonder and makes us rise to our feet in amazement? Probably. Whenever artistic expression causes in us a beatific awe, we can be sure that God is there. His signature is unmistakable.

The world is more lovely because those who have such gifts offer them up to God and let us listen in as they do. As Gloria Gaither said in a tribute to Rusty Goodman, we need these "poet troubadours" in our world. We need to feel their intensity, their dedication, and their rapture. We need them to take us with them into their world so we can better see the Creator in our own. Thank you, Kim. Thank you for being extravagant in your expression of worship through music. It brought Him into focus for us all.

Friday, September 4, 2009

how cool is that?

I just viewed a news clip about one man who lived"off the grid" for a whole year.  It seems that in that time, he ans his family did not use electicity, a car, or other conveniences as they were trying to lessen their impact on the environment.  He has written a book on their experience (published on recycled paper) and there is a documentary coming out as well.

I applaud his desire to preserve our natural resources, though I probably come at it from a different angle.  The earth is God's --He preserves it until He is finished-- man is the caretaker, the steward as opposed to the earth belongs to the human family and we need to keep it going for our children and grandchildren.  I think it's a matter of honoring a trust rather than responding to panic.  And, as those entrusted with God's world, we have an obligation to care for it in every way possible.

What I found especially interesting was one of the tips he gave for making less impact on the earth -- take a day of rest.  He went on to describe that as not turning things on or purchasing anything--understandably this would cause a family to use less electrical energy and have less "paper" products with which to encumber the earth (most purchased items have paper/plastic wrappings of some kind which add to the garbage load). 

How cool that God had the "day of rest" figured out a long time ago.  From the beginning of the planet, (yep, it did have a definite beginning, no evolutionary process needed) He instituted the work and rest cycle into everything, from vegetation growth to animal habits to human health.  (Exodus 20:11)  And even in the perfect Garden, there presumably was a day of rest, when the first couple took a break from their cartaking responsibilites.  I guess we still need one too, since we have considerably less physical resources than did they.

So, want to save the earth (hmm, well how about be a good steward of it) and give yourself a better chance at a longer life?  Do the "day of rest" thing.  It'll do you good.
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