Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thoughts on Christmas Day. . .

My little guys at the daycare are sometimes great faith illustrations in action. Tuesday was one of those days. For Christmas, my co-teacher got them all little toy airplanes. They were wooden ones, like the ones you'd get forty years ago. There were no nails keeping them together, just glue. The kids loved them. They flew them around the room with big smiles on their faces. Those little airplanes were great gifts. But, it didn't last. It wasn't long before those little airplanes were used as drums on the table. The airplane crashed to pieces. There were tears and some confusion as to why the toy was broken. There was no way for these little guys to fix them, either. I mean, sure, they could hold them together, but even that didn't work so well, and it didn't fix the problem. It merely covered it up. This great and wonderful gift given to them was gone and there was no way for them to get it back. My co-teacher, picked up the pieces and the two of us worked on putting it back together during their nap time. By the end of nap, the toys were as good as new. The gift was whole again.

This is much like Christmas. God gave Adam and Eve in the garden a wonderful gift. They loved it. They enjoyed it. But it didn't take long for them to break it. They tried to cover it up but that didn't work. The damage was done and there was nothing they could do to fix it. They could try to hold it together and act like they were being good, but that merely covered up the problem. This great and wonderful gift that God had given them was gone and there was nothing they could do to get it back. However, God in His mercy sent His Son to be born in a stable and laid in a feed trough on Christmas day. His Son was sent to die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins- our sins- so that what we broke would be made new again. Our gift, life eternal with God, is whole again in Christ Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Getting Healthy and Detoxing

I decided about two months ago that I was going to lose weight and get healthy again. I let very few people know what I was doing at first. If I fell off the wagon, I didn't need everyone knowing about my failure. I have kept it up now for almost two months. It's something worth bragging about. It is steady but slow progress. I have been doing step aerobics daily to help burn calories and some of that excess energy that I naturally have from having an anxiety disorder. So far, it has been working great! I feel like I have more energy, but the good kind. The kind that isn't so nervous that I can't stop shaking. It's the kind that helps me get the things done that I need to get done and then it shuts off, allowing me to rest, relax, and eventually sleep.

Ah, that's heavenly, too! I am beginning to fall asleep without the aid of medication. This was a scary road at first. It was full of good intentions and failed attempts. I tried many times to go without the meds and found myself tossing and turning and keeping my dh awake. For a while, I was resigned to the fact that I was going to be stuck on that stuff forever. However, with this new positive energy my workouts seem to be giving me, I am able to relax and I even start to get tired in the evening now. I also seem to be craving healthier foods. I find myself thinking of food choices in terms of protien, vitamins, fiber, and the like. I am not just eating to fill up anymore either. My choices are based on what I am doing in the day and what I could benefit from the most. For example, I tend to enjoy a heavy protein, light carbohydrate breakfast in the morning because I work out before I go to work because I know that I am going to need to support my muscles after my workout. I have also increased my water intake, which seems to have helped keep me healthy (until tonight- I lost my voice!) and allowed me to lessen up on the headache medicines I seem to need about once a week (motrin, tylenol, etc).

I have also killed the caffiene pretty much out of my diet. This has also gone a long way in helping me get rid of the sleep medication. The energy in me is the right kind. I know my dh has noticed. He comments that he gets a little worried that I am not more worried! Odd as that sounds, I think it's a good thing!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why is it so easy for me to have anxiety?

I can tell you that I really don't get it. There are days that I wake up and I can just feel it welling inside of me, waiting for the opportune moment to pop out and ruin my day. There are days I wake up and I am already anxious, laying there in bed, not wanting the day to start because I know that the medication to calm me cannot be taken when I am at work. That only makes the situation worse. I try, as hard as I can on these days, to keep my head out of that anxious spot and in my work, but honestly it doesn't usually work. By the end of the day, I have had two or three anxiety pangs that keep me in that "fight or flight" mode for a couple of hours. I hate that. I can look at the face of the sweet children that I am there to take care of and only sometimes does it distract me enough to stop the anxiety. The other times I just end up changing eight diapers in fifteen minutes.

Sometimes I wish I could just cork the monster until I am off of work, but that does me no good, either. I end up not doing anything when I get home because my fears intensify after dark. I have been trying my best to work though this, to do things despite the anxiety I feel. It is hard when your gut instinct is telling you to get into bed and stay there where it is safe, or don't go to the store because it isn't safe, or go anywhere for that matter, when you know that God protects and takes care of you and your fate is in His hands, where it should be. I wish I could have my heart know what my head already does.

It is during these moments I get reminded exactly how helpless we really are in the light of saving ourselves from our sins. Praise be to God that Christ won me on the cross because I can't save myself from my sins, let alone the little monster in my life known as anxiety.

Monday, November 10, 2008

If you weren't sure there was a stigma attatched...

While waiting in line at Wal*Mart, I found my eyes wandering to those magazines that remind you of a car wreck. You know that they are something you shouldn't waste your time with, but at the same time, you can't help but gawk at it. Afterward, you always wonder why you looked and feel a little disgusted. There were magazines about which stars are pregnant and which are suspected to be. There were headlines advising how to have the greatest love life, how to lose the most weight, how dress and look like the stars, and the latest gossip involving people's lives who have little to no impact on the average person. I think we might all get more out of the Weekly World News or whatever fake magazine might be on the racks today. However, one caught my eye (isn't there always one that does that!) This was about Britney Spears. It supposedly chronicled her "brave battle with mental illness". Honestly, I don't care about her "brave battle". What bothered me was how this was written to catch the eye. On the same magazine, the word "cancer" appeared, but the words with the biggest font and the most prominent place on the magazine were the "mental illness" words describing Ms. Spears.

The most prominent feature is usually what the magazines rely on to sell their magazines. So the average Joe walks up, looks at this, and gawks at how mental illness destroyed this star's life. Writing about the bizarre behavior, the magazine attempts to look as if it is showing the star rising from the depths of whatever her affliction is but instead it is another gossip column selling magazines at the expense of this star and quite possibly of all people suffering from some sort of mental illness. Disgusting doesn't quite cover it in my book. Regardless of how you feel about the star, her choices in life, and how she lives her life, there is no need to make the main point of the article about the horrors of mental illness, virtually scaring anyone from coming in contact with those who have a mental illness because they might all have a breakdown and act like she did. Granted, the right people got involved in her life to help her straighten it out, but she has been branded as a fragile, mentally ill person who probably will never be able to take care of herself. Although this is sometimes the case, it is by no means the prevailing prognosis.

Those of us who have a mental "illness" are no different than those who have heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and a multitude of other health issues. It all goes back to the fall of mankind in Genesis 3. Unfortunately, because people don't understand and are scared of the things that cannot be tested for by a blood or urine test combined with the fact that for centuries those with a mental illness obvious enough to need drastic help were locked up, it seems as if those who have any sort of mental disorder are looked upon with a strange combination of fear and distrust. In all likelihood, in your family you have a brother, sister, mother, father, cousin, child, spouse, aunt, uncle, or grandparent who had a mental disorder. Things like depression, anxiety, OCD, and a multitude of others are more common than you think. Think you are untouched? Think again. Most people are pretty good at hiding what is going on with them. Others chalk it up to personality. At any rate, instead of looking to sell more magazines, it might be prudent just to talk about how a star got their life back together and present the mental illness as one component, not THE component.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Odd Teaching Tip

A very wise teacher once told me, "If you are frustrated with a trouble- maker student, the first thing you need to do is change your attitude towards the student." This is a very wise saying, especially in the daycare industry. I have a child in my room who is very high maintenance. He needs so much attention and so many hugs. This in and of itself isn't a bad thing, however, it can get hard when diapers need to be changed, snacks and lunches need to be put out, general cleaning of the room needs to happen, and the other children need attention as well. It can be very frustrating when the innocent behavior turns mischievous and the priorities of what needs to happen *now* are drastically changed.

It is equally hard to take a deep breath, take a step back, and see how you can incorporate what you are doing into something that the child can do with you to fill the need of attention the child has. It's so easy to punish and assume the situation is over instead of discipline followed by a change in action for the adult as well as the child. Granted, there are some things that cannot use a "helper". It's impossible to have a child help change another child's diaper, but by the same token, I can't expect the child to sit through fifteen minutes of diaper changes, either. Changes and compromises must be made to meet the needs of everyone in the room.

As I have started to do this, both change how I feel towards the child and how I deal with the child, I have found my days to be better and happier. The child is also happier and better when it comes to learning how to act in a social setting. Improvements have been made on both sides! It's been amazing to watch.

In our society, compromise isn't a word we like to use all that much. We would rather have others work to our wants and needs, compromising what they need first. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but this should not be a the prominent attitude in our dealings with others.

So, this reflection causes me to ask myself, is there anyone else in my life I need to have a change of attitude towards?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Zoloft is MIA and the DS is Right Where It Should Be

Ewps. I missed a dose of Zoloft last night. I am sure the effect this has had on me is more mental in nature than it is physical. Upon seeing my pile of medication on the counter, still waiting to be consumed, I had a nice panic. What a way to start a Sunday morning! My pharmacy tech training told me that I should skip this dose and go back to my regular schedule this evening. My heart was pounding and my head was telling me that I would never make it through the Divine Service like this. My only completely clear thought on this was to take an Adavan. That ought to settle me down enough to make it through the morning. Granted, that stuff makes me tired and a little out of it, but it won't knock me out and it will allow me to appear "there" for anyone who didn't know about my internal turmoil.

While the medication was taking effect, I told Tim that I wasn't sure exactly how this was going to affect me in service. I wasn't sure if I would be completely with it to participate fully. I can't remember I took an Adavan and then went to church. He sounded a little concerned and asked me how I thought I would do. I joked and told him that I wouldn't be shouting "Amen" in the middle of the sermon or anything, but I was afraid of getting lost or not knowing what to do next because this stuff does slow down my thinking a bit. Thank the Lord, that was not the case! In fact, I was *there* probably more than I was through many church services. I didn't care that I was a pastor's wife and someone might be judging me for something. The words, chanting, and even hymns I knew by heart (Reformation Sunday is great for that- A Mighty Fortress is also a great comfort in times of anxiety!) I didn't fall behind, get lost, or forget something. I was there. I could also just receive. I wasn't a zombie though the service, though I was tired. I didn't just stiffly and unawares go through the motions. I did hear the words coming out of me second nature, Scripture flowing from my lips in unison with the church here on earth getting a small taste of what it must be like in heaven. The validity of the Sacrament of the Altar was not on how pious I tried to make myself before receiving, there it was: Christ's Body and Blood in with and under the bread and wine, given and shed for me, in the midst of anxiety muffled by medication. My anxiety, a sin against the First Commandment, was forgiven by my pastor in the stead of Christ. I came to church in the midst of an anxiety attack with nothing to give. I could only receive. Receive I did. It was good.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Trust and Doubt

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?" Psalm 56:3

Boy, I wish I could live up to this. I worry about everything, from the clothes that I wear to the food that I eat, to the weight I need to loose. I trust, or I try to, but I falter. I can feel myself slipping away from that trust that I should have not that long after I say, "I trust you, God. Whatever you do is fine with me." I begin to think, "Well, what if this happens, then I'll have to deal with that." Or, "What if God thinks I can handle something that I know I'll fail at!" Soon, the snowball effect makes me go from mistrust to worry, worry to anxiety, and anxiety to depression and even more severe anxiety. Then comes the guilt that I didn't trust as I should followed by the anxiety that maybe I really don't have faith because I don't trust like the Bible says I should. The saddest thing is, this is a regular problem for me. I cannot count the number of times something simple has turned into a crisis of faith. It shouldn't, but then again, I shouldn't have anxiety either, so I guess I am even more in trouble.

It is usually then that I am reminded that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Christ died for my sin of not trusting Him (a First Commandment sin). There is more than that, though, because I am clothed in Christ in my Baptism. Not only does Christ's death cover my sin of not trusting, Christ trusts for me because I cannot. I can try. I can do my best. I can work to catch up to my holiness, but this side of the grave, I will not be able to do it fully. If I did, it would be against the First Commandment and I am back where I started.

So what can I do? Nothing? Not quite. The answer to what my "job" is lies in the First Article of the Apostle's Creed.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean?

I believe that God has made me and all creatures. He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason and all my senses, and still preserves them. In addition, He has given me clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods. He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life. He protects me from all danger and guards and preserves me from all evil. he does this all out of purely divine goodness and mercy without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this I ought to thank Him, praise Him, serve Him, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

And when I fail that part, Christ covers that, too, praise be to God! Mortal man cannot take away all the gifts that God has given me, including the gift of forgiveness when I sin and not trust as I should. The Psalmist is right. There is nothing to be afraid of. Now, if I could just convince my heart what I know in my head... or perhaps leave that to the Holy Spirit. ;)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Tough Day

There are many days in my week where my job is absolutely amazing and I go home feeling happy and satisfied. Friday was not one of those days. It wasn't the kids, however, they were amazing. Unfortunately, it was my co-workers (thankfully not my co-teacher!). Don't ask me what happened, I won't go into it. Mostly, because that is not where this story lies.

The story is actually about power. The power to affect change. This is normally seen as a good thing. We are told at every graduation speech that we have the power to affect change and we should do so. This is definitely true but it has to be in the right context. Power has to be given before it can be wielded. Power does come in many forms. The kind I am referring to is the kind that affects people's opinions and the reputation of other people. The Bible has very specific words for it. We know it as the 8th Commandment.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, think and speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

The ugly monster of gossip reared it's ugly head at my workplace. It's such a damaging monster wrapped in pretty packaging. It's covered with the phrases such as, "I am just speaking the truth," or "I am only telling you what I saw." Such a cover! With these words horrid damage is done. But when is it okay to talk about another person? When does it go from gossip to correcting the errors seen?

Just because you know the truth, doesn't mean you have the right to spread it around. Is this an error that should be brought to the authorities? Then do so if it is. If it is not, think of what you would have your neighbor do if your roles were reversed. Would you like everyone to know your slights and sins? (Matthew 7:12)

Think on these words for a moment from Martin Luther about the 8th Commandment:

"When they know about a slight offense committed by another person, they carry it into every corner. They are delighted and tickled to stir up others' displeasure, just as swine delight to roll themselves in the dirt and root in it with the snout. This is nothing other than meddling with God's judgment and office and pronouncing sentence and punishment iwth the most severe verdict." (Large Catechism 267)

Perhaps after looking to Luther's Large Catechism, it is better not to say anything except to those who judge by vocation the righteness of the actions you have witnessed. Such vocations are given to the bosses, law enforcement officials, lawmakers, etc. This is not an exclusive list, but the idea comes across clear. If this vocation you have been given by God does not include the responsibility of judging and dolling out punishment, it is better to keep quiet about those sins you witness unless it becomes a Fourth Commandment responsibility.

God forgive me where I have failed to do this and help me to catch up to my holiness given to me by Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Learning to Love Jesus

The Sunday activities have come and gone for this week. I have gone to the Divine Service, Bible study, even partook of the ever needful coffee hour without feeling too uncomfortable about being in my own skin. This morning, there was a helicopter crash not to far away from our pastor's house. The family in the house was saved, but the passengers in the chopper were killed. What a tragic way to begin a Sunday, I thought to myself. I wasn't the only one. Another member asked Pastor during Bible class, "I know that there is sin in the world which is the cause of the horrible things that happen, but why does God allow it in the first place?"

When I ask Tim this, sometimes I get a long answer. One that causes me to think deeply but I usually arrive at the same place that he does in the end through his gentle guiding. Pastor wasn't so kind. His response: "So you can learn to love Jesus." Honestly, (sorry, Pastor, if you are reading this!) I had a hard time listening to the rest of the response as he explained this. My first thought was, "What type of a God do we have that makes us struggle and bleed and hurt to make us love Him? Surely Pastor couldn't have meant that!" What about my anxiety disorder? The one that causes me to doubt Him so severely it makes me tremble with panic; the one that causes me to doubt my own salvation- can that be the cross I bear that causes me to love Him more? My fears make me feel like I love Him less than others because I can't simply trust him unwavering like the Bible states!

Writing this blog has caused me to speak more boldly about my disorder in the context of church. I asked very point blankly how God could use my disorder to cause me to love him more, when the fears and doubts don't just annoy me, at times they consume me. Pastor guided me (yes, I paid more attention this time) to remember something that I had either forgotten or never learned completely. All to often, Christians forget their relationship to God. It's more like, "Let's Make a Deal". "Well, God, I know I have messed up and stuff, but if you will just save me, I promise I'll do better." Figuring that we have to give something to get something, we try to barter our way into God's good graces. The bartering also has our best interest at heart. What is the minimum we can do that will allow us to be in God's graces and still allow us to retain some dignity? After all, we don't want to come out as beggars.

That is all I am, though. A beggar. If I ever try to forget that, my anxiety disorder will bring it to the front of my mind. I can just hear the thoughts now. "Do better, you said? Yeah. That pet sin right there, if you were going to do better, it wouldn't be an issue. Look at you! In that muck again! Yeah, see if God will save you now after that. You thought you were really smart making that deal. You couldn't hold up your end of the bargain if your life depended on it. Oh, wait, it does! Game over, you're damned."

I got nothing to offer God. I can't stop sinning, no matter how much I want to. I've tried. I failed. It was not a pretty sight. Even if I did have something to offer God, it would be worthless. The moment I offered it to God, I'd be putting myself before God, which then breaks the First Commandment, and there I go again, not upholding my end of the bargain. Game over.

In the midst of a panic attack or even an anxiety attack, when I just cannot calm down, I have this cute little pill. It's maybe a millimeter across. Swallowing that will calm me down in twenty to thirty minutes. How interesting that it takes something outside of myself to calm me down. In the middle of the attack, I can do nothing. Sometimes I cannot even get my own medication! I become a beggar. Looking to my husband to give me what I need, something outside of myself has to swoop down to my rescue. I have got nothing to offer.

In the muck of my sin, there is nothing that I can do to make me holy. In the fullness of time, Christ died on the cross for me for the forgiveness of my sins. When there was nothing I could do, Christ came down and did it for me. I look to Christ for what I need and He provides it; the Body and Blood in, with, and under the bread and wine, the washing and rebirth in my Baptism back in June of 1980, the forgiveness of sins through my pastor speaking the words of Absolution. These aren't things I do! These are things that are outside of myself being given to me just like those times when I need the medication for my anxiety.

I guess Pastor was right. God gave me personally a picture of how Christ moves to save His creation in my disorder- tailor made for me while I bear the cross given to me in this veil of tears that points me back to Word and Sacrament. My disorder helps me learn to love Jesus even more.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pastors Bleed, Too

All too often parishioners see pastors as nothing less than a Superman in a chasuble. They are supposed to be able to deal with anything, handle anything, and remain calm in any situation. With almost a childlike innocence, they are to deal with the problems of their world with gentleness, dignity, and never ending patience. A crisis counselor on demand, the pastor is too often seen as the calm in the storm that walks away untouched by the encounter.

But is this really realistic? Hardly! Not even Christ our Lord could walk the road of this life untouched by what He experienced. When Lazarus died, Jesus wept. When the money changers were in the Temple, Jesus chased them out. That speaks of emotion and reaction to situations that ruin too many people's image of Jesus as the young benevolent "sugar daddy", ready to fill our every felt need. Jesus saw our sin, took on the consequences in His own body for our sake, bled, and died. That is a far cry from being untouched.

Your pastor is a far cry from being Christ. He is a sinner. He lies, puts false gods in front of the One True God, curses, covets, and is subject to every sin that is found in his parishioners. But, like you, he is forgiven because of the saving work of Christ on the cross. A slave to the Gospel, despite his failings and yours, the reason why he has the image of a Superman is that he puts the cross first in the midst of a crisis. This is a great example for us as we should be doing the same in our lives.

However, the pastor doesn't go home after staying by the deathbed of a parishioner, sip a cup of coffee, and think to himself, "I wonder if it will be a pleasant day tomorrow" with no regard for what he has just been through. Death caused Christ to weep and it causes pastors to weep, too. Life can do things to them, too. Depression, anxiety, physical ailments, even spiritual anguish are not foreign to pastors. This is why pastors need pastors! By building each other up in the faith, your pastor is ready to take on what is going on in your congregational life as well as can be expected. But, they will make mistakes. Pastors can bleed, too.

So what then? Since your pastor is not perfect can you just get rid of him? Nope! Not any more than you can get rid of your parents, spouse, or children because they are imperfect. Forgive them, love them, and help them. Mirror the love they showed you in your crisis. Mirror what Christ has done for you- forgive them and move on. Just like you, they are doing the best that they can, and they deserve your honor and respect.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Should be updating this more...

I have been on a steady diet of Word and Sacrament through the Divine Service, Bible study, and Issues, Etc. that I have theological thoughts flowing freely in my head, and seem to have nothing to say on this blog. Don't ask me why, I have learned plenty in the last month especially, but it's as if it is more internally churning and being mulled over in my brain and is not ready to be put into words, yet. Perhaps that doesn't make sense, I'm not sure it does to me, but I will tell you what I do know about it.

God is the Giver of good gifts. It's not just one or two sparsely here and there. It is abundant, perhaps even overwhelming, as God points us to Himself. God gives us all we need to support this body and life in the form of food, clothing, family, government, and the like. He gives us not just general "standard issue" gifts either, but things tailor made for us, knowing just what we need at any given time. God also gives us the gifts of salvation. There was nothing we could do to save ourselves, and seeing our deadly plight, God swoops down and plucks us from death's hand by the death of Christ on the cross. "Paid in full" is on our bill of debt for sin, written in the blood of the Lamb. Christ died and rose again for me- for you. That's a life raft in the midst of a hungry drowning sea of sin and death, piloted by the One who calms the storm, Jesus Christ.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Little Bit of Life

A new mother was recently found guilty of placing her newborn in a microwave and cooking him to death. The average person finds this appalling! A cute and sweet little baby had his life snuffed out by a horrid and awful death at the hands of his own mother. The mother could get the death penalty in her sentencing. She has been demonized as a terrible wicked woman who would put her own child to death by such a gruesome and heartless way.

However, those who cut a baby's head open and suck out its brains with a vacuum sweeper seem to be heroes of civil rights. Those who participate in these murders are paid for offering their services of death that is not much more humane than putting an infant in the microwave. The difference? One is being cared for outside of the womb, the other is being cared for inside of the womb. It is amazing that one death can be considered heinous enough for the death penalty and one considered medical care.

While looking online for religious art to complete my "What is a Lutheran" bulletin board at work, I stumbled upon a site ran by RCC monks. What I didn't know was that they were pro-life monks who saw to the burial of the murdered unborn and worked to educate the public on what the unborn look like when aborted the way medical science has accepted as reasonable. I won't post any links on here. All you have to do is google aborted fetus on images if you feel so inclined. Tiny hands and feet are evident. There is a head, eyes, nose, mouth- even facial expressions!

If a one month old infant has all this and the infant's murder means the death penalty for those responsible, why is the baby in the womb any different?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How Cool is That?!

This is my big brother, Lt. John M. Kirk of the USCG, in action! This little sister couldn't be prouder! :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Missing the Mark, or is It?

What can a woman accomplish in life? Well, the answer is anything she wants to, obviously! Does she want to be a pilot? Bring it on! How about a soldier fighting to defend freedom? Yup, sign her up! An engineer? The possibilities are endless. After all, women can do everything that a man can do, and probably better and in a more complete fashion. In fact, wouldn't it be nice if men would just stay at home where they would cause the least amount of trouble and women could run the world because then there would be peace, honesty, and a greater sense of security among us. I mean, haven't they messed up the world enough?

Say what??!?!?!?!

Replace all men with the women. Let me think about this one for a moment. Wow, that action would violate a couple of Commandments at the very least. At the most, it seeks to replace God. Yup, you heard me right, replace God. With what, you might wonder? With the glorious sophistication of the individual. Same old sin in new packaging. Good old Adam (Eve) rearing his ugly head. Not sure how I jumped to that conclusion? Follow me for a bit. . .

Men mess up all the time. It's true. I married one, I know! Of course, it's also true that I mess up all the time. That is by definition our condition. We are sinners. You can dress it up, wrap it up, and put all the makeup on it you want and you still have a decayed, dead, worthless person conceived in sin and dead in sin. However, God doesn't leave us this way. He sent His only begotten Son into our flesh to bear our sin and be our Saviour through His dying on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sin. Unlike coupons, this sacrifice will never expire. It will never be worthless. It will never cease to be relevant. God made us worthy of Him when He clothed us in Christ and attribute's Christ's sacrifice to us. This promise is as sure now as it will be at the end of our lives and the end of time. This means, that the sins, the slights and mishaps, the muck that is your sinful life is forgiven. The debt is paid through Christ.

Still with me so far? Good. Now, in the Lord's Prayer, we pray that God would forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Well, we know how God forgives us. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He did His atoning work without any merit or worthiness in us to be the receivers of this work. Well, the men that are in charge will sin and we should forgive them, not because they merited it by words or deeds, but because Christ first forgave us.

The men who are fulfilling their vocations in this life are doing this by God's plan. They were put in those positions by God without any merit on their behalf but as a gift of God. Just as God's Word sprang forth the world, so God's Word creates men to be the head of the family. By saying that men should be put out of their place and replaced with women because men have messed it up is to say that one knows better than God what is good and right for the world, thus making ones own self god and telling the true God to take a back seat.

Whether it is becoming a female pastor or demanding "equality" in a relationship instead of recognizing the head of the house and the congregation as being the sole vocation of the men as they have been gifted by God, it is important to recognize the order of creation as exactly that. It is a gift.

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Bible Translation?

I am assuming this works for daycare workers as well! :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What You Allow is What You Teach

I saw this quote on the desk of a daycare director. It's a good quote. It really speaks to what priorities are when it comes to putting beliefs into action. So, I wonder how this stacks up in our Synod.

Allowing pastors to be removed from their calls for unScriptural reasons. What this teaches: Pastors are mere employees who can be hired and fired depending on the mood of the congregation and her officers.

Allowing contemporary worship styles. What this teaches: It's not the doctrine that matters; it's all about the feelings. Faith is based on how I feel towards God and not on what God does for me.

Allowing Issues, Etc. to be cancelled. What this teaches: The LCMS is not focused on the things of God but the things of man (read: we're not interested in Christ being our focus but money!)

This list could go on, but I won't let it. I'll let you help me out and add you own instead.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Musings on Word Clouds

Are you sure that Contemporary Christian Music is "safe" to listen to? Are
you sure
it's even Christian? I'm not. After putting "God's Own Child I
Gladly Say It" into
the word cloud creator and having it come up with
telling words like "baptized" and
"Christ" in the prominent positions, I
put a popular CCM song into the same
processor. The result: the
words I, me, and you are prominent. Big difference?

I think so! One puts the focus on myself (which is a violation of the 1st
commandment) and my relationship with such a vague God that His
name is hardly
in the "big print" but more in the "fine print" of the word
cloud. The idea of
the word cloud is simple. It puts the words used
most in the biggest and most
prominent spots. My favorite hymn
puts the focus on Christ and His saving work
for me in the sacrament
of Holy Baptism. One song has the focus on Christ and

one on myself. "Safe" to listen to? Not for me! My God is Jesus
Christ, broken
for me on the cross at Calvary for the remission of
my sins. The god of myself
saves very little more than coupons.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Something Cool with my Favourite Hymn

Monday, July 14, 2008

Anxiety and Life

I don't think of my anxiety disorder on a daily basis. Well, unless it's bothering me. For me, it is a part of life in this old world. There really isn't any difference for me in working around my anxiety and working around the times I need to eat. It's very much something I have grown accustom to and it doesn't really have any conscious thought in much of my daily life. To be able to control this disorder in my life, I have come to realize that there are certain disciplines I must engage in daily to get ready for the day.

1.) Recognize that I have an anxiety disorder. This seems very silly, but it's true. I have lived with it for so many years and I should know this already. However, denial isn't limited to when the diagnosis is first given. Anxiety isn't a limitation but it can be if it is ignored.

2.) Mentally prepare myself for the day. I need to think ahead, not to worry, but to plan my day so that if I realize there might be something I must face or might face during the day, I have a "plan of action" so that I feel a little more in control of the situation. I might not follow my game plan, but if I at least have one, I'll worry much less.

3.) Look to the positives- even of my disorder. I know it can seem that there are no positives of a disorder. There are many, however. I tend to give people more benefit of the doubt in discussion and action because I don't know what might be affecting them like things are affecting me with my disorder.

There's something to be said about this type of positive thought, but I would be remiss if I said that was all there was to it. There is more to it, just like there is more to the body than the skin.

Daily devotions are so essential in this. Anxiety can never truly be in control without the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ given to us by grace through faith. Here's how it works:

1.) Recognize there is nothing I can do to attain my salvation. Nothing. God demands perfection and I have more wrong with me than just an anxiety disorder. I am blind, dead, and an enemy of God. God called me to faith in Jesus Christ, without any work on my part, in my baptism.

2.) Prepare myself for the day. This isn't just a mental exercise, it is so much more. Dr. Luther said that by daily repentance and contrition I should drown the Old Adam with all its sinful desires and sins and raise up the new man in Christ. How is this done? Daily devotions. Daily prayers for daily bread God will provide for my every need: my need for forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, my need for daily bread, and for the fulfilling of my daily vocations by the gifts God has given me. I use the daily prayers in the hymnal but your mileage may vary.

3.) Remember God's gifts given me: Baptism, Mass, Confession and Absolution, and the proper preaching of God's Word. These gifts will sustain me in even the hardest and toughest of circumstance. These gifts, because they are not of myself but of God, will always be there no matter what happens. This is a calming and peaceful truth.

In Christ, I am already healed from my disorder, my anxiety. He declared this with the words, "It is finished." Christ died and rose again to restore me back to my sinless, my anxiety free, state by His grace through faith. That's so much more solid than any positive thinking will ever be! Just as I still suffer the effects of other sins while I am still on this side of heaven, I will still suffer my anxiety disorder and all that it entails. Praise be to God, however, that it will not follow me or haunt me or even cause my anxiety in eternity with my Lord.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I Wanna Go Home

I am a big fan of country music. As Trace Adkin's put it, they are songs about me. Recently, Blake Shelton released a new single, "Home". Granted the song is about going home to a girl, but the sentiment is the same. Homesickness. I find myself in the strangest bout of homesickness I have had in a long time. It is strange, first of all, that I am having it at all. Ever since I got married, I have had a sense of calmness when it came to being away from home. No matter where I go, my husband is with me, with his love and devotion- the same I got from my parents- and that is a great source of peace to me. I still have that calmness.

What I am more homesick for is the like-mindedness of Christians firmly grounded in the Lutheran faith. I do get that at church, but I don't see those folks during the day. The daycare I work at is Lutheran, however, the employees, save two or three, are not. Those that are have a basic understanding of what it means to be Lutheran and have no interest in engaging in theological conversation. That, it seems, is reserved for pastors and professors. Right now, I come home, talk about theology with my husband, read the Wittenberg Trail, and listen to podcasts of Issues, Etc. (especially during naptime!) for my daily dose of decent theology.

Does home have that? Well, yes and no. Each and every congregation is a work in progress because we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God and the knowledge of God. However, in a world where society revolves around the individual with church being just one of the activities available during the weekend, home has a place where the community still revolves around the church. Maybe not as much as it did when the church was founded, but pride, identity, and history are all rooted in the church in that area. Is it perfect? Nope. That's a good thing. If it were, I wouldn't be able to attend because I am not perfect. I fight the devil, the world, and my own sinful flesh on a daily basis and fail miserably. However, where I am right now, I feel detached from the people at my church because they live in a different town than I do. It is hard to be encouraged by your brothers and sisters in Christ in your congregation on a daily basis when you only see them on a weekly basis. That is something that doesn't happen at home! Everyone is related to someone who belongs to the church. It's the curse and the blessing of a small town. If good friends are needed for encouragement and correction, those good friends need to be of the same faith as I am, and I find myself wanting to go where the concentration of those people is much higher.

What if I don't get to go back home? Well, God provides, as He always does. He gives the good gifts of a devout and faithful pastor in my congregation, a devout congregation, a devout husband who is usually up for a good theological discourse, parents who are just a phone call away in encouragement and admonishment, brothers and sisters in Christ who I never knew existed on the WT and the CAT41 lists, and good and decent radio programs like Issues, Etc. that teach, uplift, and sustain me in the true Christian faith. If God says that's enough for me then it is. God's word does what it says. But, truthfully, I can't lie. I want to go home.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

You Know You Are an Issues Junkie When...

*One of your coworkers sells you an IPod for really cheap so you can listen to the show anywhere. . .

Seriously, if you haven't heard, it's back on the air! Check out their website, it's available 24/7!

Inoculation Won't Help

I think I am hanging out with too many Confessional Lutherans as of late. Really, they are so absorbed in the Gospel that it's difficult to have a pity party around them. I mean, everyone is entitled to a pity party when life gets rough, right? If I have a bad day at work, a fight with my husband, or if I hit my toe and try to break it, I should be entitled to at least a minimum of half a day of moping if I so choose.

But it doesn't seem to work out that way. If you tell a Confessional pastor about your circumstance, they start telling you about how each and every thing you are complaining about represents a gift of God. A rough day at work means that you have the gift of having a job. A fight with your husband means you can demonstrate the same forgiveness given to you by Christ. A hurt toe, especially when it happens on a Friday, means that you'll have the weekend to heal. And all of this comes no where close to the gift of Christ on the cross, where He willingly shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins. Then Christ continues giving gifts to include His body and blood at the Lord's Supper and the washing and rebirth of Baptism. He gives faithful pastors to preach the Word so that faith is nourished and will grow in grace and to be reminded that God only gives good gifts. Even the things so awful that don't seem to have a "gift" angle are met by the word "gift" as the pastor reminds you that Christ overcame the world. When I fail at work, at home, in my vocations as wife, worker, and daughter, and I get tempted to get down on myself for it, I am reminded of the gift of God- that God sees me not as I am but through Christ as I am clothed in Christ and am presented sinless before God.

So I guess the pity party is cancelled. Instead, I'll let God throw the party at the Divine Service (and look ahead to that *huge* party called heaven).

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Knowledge is Power

I have a long list of phobias. Trust me. You don't want me to enumerate them. You and I would be here all day, possibly laughing at me, possibly agreeing with me, but mostly being bored. One of those phobias has always been about all things to do with medicine. Tablets and capsules, injections, IVs, surgery- honestly, anything. It is a subject that has scared me half to death since I was very little. I would bet that part of it has to do with the fear of death, something that seems to be directly linked to my anxiety disorder. But the other side of it is the unknown. So much of the medical field is unknown to most people. It doesn't help that once you are in a medical establishment, suddenly the ball isn't in your court. If you need treatment for anything, the shots are being called (so to speak) by the doctor and nurses. Orders for prescriptions, treatment plans, and care have some patient input, but generally speaking, it is the doctor who dictates what is going to happen to/for the patient.

Take, for example, my latest experience at the urgent care center. In a crazy freak accident at my house, I was pretty sure I had broken my toe. Now, I had also broken the skin and bled all over the place, too, so I wasn't so sure that I didn't need stitches as well. I wasn't willing to call in sick to go to the doctor, but I did go after work. By then, the swelling had gone up, but the incision was sealed by natural means. The doctor ordered instant X-Rays and my husband insisted on a wheel chair for me to keep off of this little pinky toe. Already, my "say" so to speak in what was going on was be yielded to those who know better and will help get me better. Oh, and they ordered a Tdap, a tetanus booster, because of the nature of the injury. That's a thriller right there. Not only is my toe going to hurt, my arm is going to ache as well. The joy! In truth, I could have refused treatment, but I knew better than to. I had pain in my foot along with my toe, which showed possible injury to the bones in my foot as well as my toe. I knew the moment I said "fix me," my ability to make choices about what was going to happen was very limited. It's usually at this point that my palms get sweaty, my heart rate goes up. If they had me hooked to a BP monitor, I would be a case for hypertension. My fight or flight kicks in and I begin to feel as helpless as the day is long. I begin to feel sick in my stomach, too, with nausea and all the fun that comes with that feeling. No matter how much I tell myself that this is for my own good, I can't seem to stop the fears.

This time, I started to go there as soon as they said "shot", but I didn't go there. I did my typical warning to the nurse when she said it was time for the injection. I told her that I have a history of puking and passing out with the introduction of needles into my environment. She told me I would never notice. Eh, I always thought that was a lie, but this time, I really didn't notice it. Why? Well, as silly as it sounds, the nerd in me came out in that moment. I had been diligently studying my pharmacy tech materials, and I had learned about the different types of injections. I once thought that a shot was a shot, but I have learned there are all different types of shots. I asked the nurse if this was an IM (inter-muscular shot) and she said it was. She counted to three, and in my mind (since my eyes were squeezed shut very tight!) I thought about the image of how the needle looked going into the muscle from my book. Then, I thought about how that serum is considered a ready made mixture, which means it wasn't compounded at the local pharmacy but it was set to be administered to the patient from its original packaging. I thought about how the serum needed to be drawn up from the vial and by the time she put the Band-aid on, I never really knew it happened. I felt the poke but it was little different from the bites I get from the quakers. (especially Maple!) No, the knowledge didn't take away the fear, but rather distracted me from being afraid as I used it as a learning experience. So, maybe the title of this blog shouldn't be "Knowledge is Power" but "The Nerd in Me Saved the Nurse from Cleaning Up My Vomit". Or, maybe not. . .

Sunday, June 29, 2008

"Worry Ends Where Faith Begins"

This, unfortunately, greeted me on a sign as I drove by a Baptist church on Friday. All I could think to myself is how much bunk that sign was, but it took me a while to be able to come up with a good reason as to why this was a load of bunk, mostly because it is an easy thing to convince oneself that enough faith will dispel worry. Now, to be fair, because of my anxiety disorder, I have a corner market on worry. I worry about things that most people don't even think about, but I do believe this sign has less to do with my anxiety disorder and more to do with bad theology.

If worry is a measure of faith, then I am going to hell. I worry all the time, and according to that sign, my faith never began because my worry never stopped. Even though I know that it is sinful to worry, especially the way that I do, I cannot help it. So, left to my own devices, the worry never completely goes away and my faith never begins as a result. In this scenario, especially with regards to those who have an anxiety disorder like myself, God has damned me from the get go. I can't have faith until I stop worrying and I have a disorder that causes me to worry, therefore I can never be saved. Game over. To make matters worse, God has the power to take away my anxiety disorder in a heartbeat so that my worry will go away and I can start that beautiful faith and life without worry, but since He hasn't, I would have to assume that He doesn't want to save me.

As innocent as that sign might seem, the reality is that it is of poor design and a dangerous witness. God doesn't work that way. The God we learn about in the Old and New Testaments sweeps down to save His people from their sins- worry included! Christ did not say, "Stop worrying, believe, and be baptized." Instead, we are given saving faith through the washing and rebirth of Holy Baptism without any action on our part. The faith given to us at Baptism and when we hear the Word is the Holy Spirit working faith in our hearts.

However, faith does not take away the sins we do and suffer from here on earth. The faith given to me by the Holy Spirit has not taken away my anxiety disorder. I worry. To be sure, it is a sin, but a sin that, like St. Paul, I do not want to do but that I do. Praise be to God that Christ has taken my sins away on the Cross! Whenever I worry, I can remember that I am a baptized child of God, an heir to the Kingdom, a princess in His court because of Christ's saving work for me.

I hate complaining about something without making a suggestion. I don't have another fancy slogan to catch people's attention quite like "Worry ends where faith begins". So, perhaps said congregation can put up their Sunday service times instead, or directions to the local Lutheran church. ;-)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

When You Look at Me, Who Do You See?

It amazes me how many different vocations I have in my life. My parents see me as their daughter and I will be their little girl until the day I die. To my brothers, I am that annoying little or big sister who just got into everything and thought she knew best with everything. To my husband, I am love, companionship, and probably much more than I am aware of. To my kids at the daycare, I am comfort, fun, a teacher, and love. To my birds, I am part of the flock, the food provider, and God's mask for their daily needs. To many others, I am the pastor's wife.

I would love to put a description on that. I would love to clarify it with who I am in regards to being a pastor's wife, but I am afraid that is without a description for two reasons. One, most people have an idea of who a pastor's wife is and isn't and they expect her to follow that ideal. Two, most pastor's wives who I know are their own persons with their own specific vocations and have no model that they follow. In the church, pastor's wives fulfill many jobs and vocations all on their own. Sometimes they choose to and sometimes it is expected of them.

However, it occurs to me that the pastor's wife is often held to the same standard as the pastor. They are expected to know the Bible as well, it seems, and to understand all matters of doctrine as well as their husband. While it is true that living with a pastor does seem to lend itself to having doctrine plugged into ever aspect of life and in almost all discussions, it doesn't mean that the pastor's wife is in any way the other half of the pastor's ministry. His ministry is given from God apart from his vocation as husband. Just as I have many "hats", so does he, but that doesn't mean that we share that pastor's "hat" or have it cut in half.

Pastor's wife or not, I am no different than any other layperson in the pew. I come to church to hear that my sins are forgiven, to receive Christ's body and blood, and to remember that where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation. I am still learning. I don't have the Book of Concord memorized, nor do I know every piece of doctrine there is to know. I am and probably will always be a student of theology, learning, expanding, and asking questions. I know I will not always be right, but I try my best and where I falter, I know that there is forgiveness at my Saviour's hands.

My request: Yes, I may be the "pastor's wife" but the one vocation I left out in my list to purposely bring attention to it is that I am a baptized, forgiven sinner. This is the part of me that I wish everyone would focus on that in light of all other vocations. I am a child of God. My pastor recently said that I am a princess of God. It wasn't something I had ever thought about before, but it's true. In all the other vocations I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there is always a remembrance that I am a sinner and in need of forgiveness, except, it seems, as a pastor's wife.

What does this mean? Well, if you read this post and don't agree with me, don't attack me! Deal with me as you would another Christian who you don't agree with. Use love, kind words, and simple explanations. I am no pastor, just a layperson who happens to be married to one. Don't attack my husband if you don't agree with me, either. Believe it or not, he is also a forgiven sinner, a prince of God, and should be treated as such as well. The old saying goes, "You get more flies with honey than with vinegar". If you want to truly correct someone, do it in the kindest way, and if you forget to, ask for forgiveness from your God, Jesus Christ, and from the person whom you have offended and life in love.

This is how all pastor's wives, all Christians regardless of vocation, should be dealt with when conflict arises.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Why I Cover. . .

After learning and understand about what submission is and isn't, I started thinking about 1 Corinthians 11. Granted, the passage does have cultural references, but if that is the only thing seen in this passage, we do not allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. Instead, it allows us to interpret Scripture and deem this passage unworthy of paying attention to, always a dangerous thing with regards to the Bible. It is neither right nor proper to ignore any passage in Scriptures, but instead, we must look at the passage through the filter of Christ Himself. To do so, we must look to other passages of Scripture and discover what is being said about head coverings.

It has already been discussed that wives are to submit to their husbands as the Church submits to Christ. This same theme is what is being discussed in the Corinthians passage. This is about submission and remembering the gift of being a woman.

God is a God of order. He ordered that men should be the pastors and the head of the household and that the women should be the receivers of the gifts from God from the men acting as God's masks on earth. Note that surrounding the passages on head coverings are passages about propriety in worship: how to faithfully celebrate the Lord's Supper and in the chapter before where it talks about how to conduct yourself with unbelievers so that they may be brought to Christ. There is a reason that head coverings are sandwiched in this way.

Looking at the surrounding passages, it becomes clear that Paul is admonishing believers to behave in such a way as to not give the wrong impression on who the Christian is. The passages on how to behave when invited to a meal with an unbeliever shows that there is freedom from Christ not to follow the ceremonial laws with regards to what one may consume. It is no longer important to follow such laws because those ceremonies helped the Jews look forward to the coming of the Christ, Who has come and fulfilled the Law. Since the reason for the laws do not matter, it is no longer expected. Instead, it is more important to act in such away that people learn about Christ.

In the same way, it looks as though some people in the Early Church were abusing the Lord's Supper and treating it in such a way that it put focus on the works of men and not on the saving work of God in Christ Jesus. Some were getting drunk and hoarding it while those who were less fortunate were getting little to none. The focus then needed to be brought back to Christ and the fact that it is His supper to His glory and not to the glory of men. This is then what Paul does in the verses following his admonishment to those who would abuse the Lord's Supper.

So, how does this relate to women covering their heads? Well, it looks like the women of the time were also abusing their new found freedom by acting as if all of the laws were abolished. They were no longer respectful to their position as woman in the order of creation or respectful in church. The women were taking roles not given to them and they needed to be reminded that the head of the Church is Christ and the head of the woman is the man. This is the order of creation. This is also an admonishment to the women to behave as they should and remember who they are- who God created them to be.

So why do I cover my head? It is a statement of faith. I believe as I have been taught. My husband is the head of my household. Christ is the head of my husband. I will conduct myself in a way that does not draw doubt onto who I am as a Christian. I will not dress in such a way that would make me an object of lust or put the glory onto myself. Wearing a head scarf has made me rethink my wardrobe. It reminds me to wear things that will make the right statement about me- that I am a redeemed child of God. In the world of fashion, it's popular to show your body parts off and display them almost as billboards of sinful indulgence. I will not do so. I will honor my husband and my God and make sure that I conduct myself in a way that is decent and chaste.

Does this mean every woman has to cover? Certainly not! This is not a thing of the law but a gift and a reminder. I tried the fashion route- I paraded my body in a way that I shouldn't have with clothes that revealed too much and I don't want to go there again. If I have to think about what looks good with my scarf, and it doesn't pass the scarf test, it doesn't get put on my body. It also is a great reminder that Christ is present wherever I go just as my scarf is present and I should conduct myself accordingly. When I fail, it is also a reminder that Christ covers my sins by His atoning sacrifice on the cross just as my scarf covers my head. If other women don't need that reminder, it is even better for them for they are better than I am. I need that reminder and I believe it is a good reminder to have.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

More on the "S" Word. . .

My last post pretty much dealt with the fact that submission is a fact of life- the life God created for us to live that is marked by being in service to others. I have always found it odd that popular Christian culture seems to put a great deal of emphasis on servitude but not on submission. However, I do believe that is a topic for another post.

I also mentioned a bit about the Order of Creation. This is a topic that my husband and I have discussed at great lengths. The topic itself fascinates me. It is so foundational to our existence and yet so easily dismissed in modern society. God created woman for man, not man for woman. Woman was created for man to be a helper and man is responsible for the woman. When sin entered the world and Adam and Eve disobeyed God, Adam was the one who was attributed with the fall of mankind. It was his duty to teach and educate Eve on the things that God commanded so that she would not err. He did not fulfill this and, as a result, sin entered into the world. Even before the Fall, God had order in His creation. It was corrupted after the Fall, but it is still the order.

Since this is the order of things, what does submission look like? Can my husband come home, demand a beer and a hot dinner be brought to him while he sits on his plush recliner and tells me to rub his very smelly feet while he watches football and complain that the house isn't clean enough, I don't look pretty enough, and holler at me to get more of the chores done around the house because I'm a woman and that's what I do? Is that the submission God expects from women?

Certainly not! That's not submission; that's abuse and not God's plan for a healthy marriage. Christ charges husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25). How did Christ love the Church? Read the rest of the passage. Christ gave his life up for the Church. Christ sacrificed everything, including His life, for the Church so that she would be holy and blameless in God's sight. He gives the Church teachers- pastors- to train her up so that she knows the way of the Lord. Christ fulfilled the Law where Adam could not and did what Adam could not do. Christ is the giver of good gifts to the Church: Word and Sacrament. The Church receives those gifts not on her own merit, but on Christ's.

I can already hear that little voice saying, "Christ is perfect and my husband is far from it! Submitting to Christ is one thing- He can't let me down. But to submit to my husband? He can let me down. He has let me down, and he'll probably do it again. He's no more perfect that I am!" To this argument, two points are important. One, it doesn't matter how sinful the representative is that God has placed over us- God has placed the husband over the wife as His representative. This is the order that God has made and we dutifully follow it. Two, this should not be a point of fear if the man's life is one of faith in Christ.

A devout Christian man will gently correct his wife when she errs and graciously accept correction from his wife when he errs. Thus, the life of husband and wife is always covered in repentance of mistakes and forgiveness being shared. In this, as mentioned in the previous post, a man and his wife are equals. They equally forgive, reprove, and love each other. However, it is the head of household's duty to be responsible for the teaching of the faith, the well-being of the family, and the care-taking of the family affairs. This doesn't mean the woman is free to do as she pleases. She shares the work and helps him in every way possible, as is her vocation. It might be to make sure there is a hot dinner waiting for him at home or to teach and rear the children in the knowledge of the faith- whatever works for each family. However, the roles the man and his wife play to make the family work best for their situation doesn't mean that their God given vocations have changed. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church and the wife should submit to her husband.

How does this relate to why I keep my head covered with a scarf? Tune in for part three. . .

Friday, June 6, 2008

Shhhh! It's the "S" Word!

Ew! Submit and subordinate are such icky words in our society today. No one wants to be in that position. Everyone wants to be the top dog and the one giving the orders. It's about power, prestige, and giving oneself a name that is recognizable by others. God made everyone equal, right?

Equal does not mean the same. If everyone was created the same, it sure would be a boring and chaotic world. Everyone would be stuck in the same profession or close to it. Everyone would have the same opinion- even if it was an incorrect one. We'd all have the same faults and strengths and variety wouldn't exactly be on the menu anywhere. It's good that we are not the same.

It's also good that men and women aren't the same. As much as my husband drives me absolutely crazy at times because I don't understand what he is trying to tell me or why he did something, the individual strengths and weaknesses we bring to our marriage make our marriage work. There is another reason why our marriage works. Call us old fashioned, but we do things the way that they were created to work. My husband is the head of the household and I submit to him.

Submit. Now there's a dirty word. People don't like that word. People don't like that word being in the Bible. "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:22) That's not the only place to find that word, either. "For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting tot heir husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening." (1 Peter 3:5-6) It's also in the Lutheran Confessions. Find Luther's Small Catechism and turn to the table of duties for wives. Those verses are exactly what you will find.

What does it mean to submit? A conversation I had recently would make it sound as if submission is a form of slavery. Submission is seen as being bound to another's wants and needs above and beyond my own. As if submission and obedience is only present in partnership with tyranny. Perhaps that is what the world would see when they hear that a wife will submit to her husband. Those of us in Christ know better. Husbands do not get to lord over their wives in a disrespectful and dishonoring way. Look to the same Table of Duties for how husbands are to treat their wives.

"Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." (1 Peter 3:7) This does not sound like a dictator ordering his subjects around. This is love. It is a reminder that the wife is a child of God and is to be treated as such, since she is a gift of God to the husband. Just as Adam was given Eve in the Garden, so each wife is given to her husband in marriage.

Why must the woman submit? Why can't it be the man? Well, that's not for me to answer. I didn't create men and women, God did. God is a God of order, and the order He created was to make man in His own image first, and then take Eve from Adam. That is the order of creation, the order that God decided to make. Just as Christ's work of redemption on the cross is not for me to question but to believe so it is with the reason that God ordered creation the way that He did.

Why is this important? Stay tuned for Part Two. . .

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Worrying and Playing God

Yesterday, my mother went in for some routine surgery. It bothered me more than I wanted to admit. First of all, it marks the fact that my mother is getting older and there is nothing I can do about it. It is a reminder to me that one day she will pass on and be with her Lord like all of the saints who have gone before her. I know I am not ready for that day yet, and so a reminder that it is approaching, fast or slow, is still very frightening to me.

But that wasn't the only reason why it bothered me. One of the things that kept playing through my mind is that I *should* be there. Despite the fact that my vocation of wife and teacher keep me from being able to pack up and go home every time there is a crisis there, I feel horribly guilty that my vocation of daughter cannot be fulfilled along side every other vocation even though there is no physical way for this to be so.

This didn't stop me from being guilty and feeling like a bad daughter. My father spent the night in the hospital by my mother's side alone and all I could think about was how I should be there to help and support him and to help take care of my mother. Then I started to think. Well, what is it that I could do if I was there? My first thought was to get Dad his coffee. Dad needs coffee like fish need water. That could be something I could do to help. But, then again, Mom's condition was not life threatening, so he probably doesn't need to spend every waking moment at her side. In fact, it probably did him some good to get his own coffee, so maybe that would be more of a hinderance than a help. I definitely wouldn't be any help to my mother in the hospital room. I am no nurse or doctor and I have only a basic understanding of pharmaceuticals. While she's in the hospital, there are people whose job it is to help her with recovery. Well, I wouldn't be much help in the way of her being at the hospital.

Maybe I could be help at home. Well, actually, not as much. My father has been blessed with two wonderful congregations who are allowing him to take as much time as he needs to help my mom recover at home. He'll be free to do the cooking, cleaning, administering of Mom's medication and the like. Besides the fact, I talked to Mom today on the phone. She had just gotten done taking a shower by herself. I think she'll recover nicely and quickly. She sounded happy and already on her way to healing.

So, if I am honest with myself, I know that there is nothing to feel guilty about. God, through His infinite wisdom and mercy, has set up people who have vocations and gifts specifically designed to help my mom through this bump in her life. All of my worries were for nothing because God indeed takes care of His children. If I were there, I am sure that God would have used me to help my mom and dad, but since I am not, He has put things into place to help where I would have. My worries are little more than a blatant sin against the First and Eighth Commandments.

The First because for some reason, I thought that I could be God and take care of my mother better than He could. I thought somehow *my* presence would make a difference when in fact it is *Christ's* presence that makes a difference.

The Eighth because I doubted God's Word that He would take care of my mom and worrying about her anyway.

Praise be to God that I am a forgiven sinner through Christ Jesus!

Monday, May 12, 2008

"Fearing God"

The First Commandment:
You shall have no other gods before Me.

What does this mean?
You should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

As a person who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I find it slightly disturbing to discover yet another thing I should be fearful of: God. Isn't it a silly phrase, anyhow? I have been taught that Jesus loves me from song and Scripture. It seems silly to fear such a good and gracious God. Isn't God just a grandfatherly figure there to make sure that I get everything out of life that I need and possibly even the things that I want?

Indeed, it is not that easy! Despite what some are led to believe, God gets angry. It's not anger without action, either. If you are not sure, look up Numbers 16:1-35. Those who did evil in God's sight were punished, along with their families and young children, by death. This was for rebelling against God's chosen leader of the Israelite people. That certainly doesn't fit the image of a nice old grandfather! That image is a frightening and fearful soldier ready to wield the sword for the offenses I have caused!

There are some who would say that this is the God of the Old Testament and not of the New. However, there is no truth in that statement as God forsook His own beloved Son on the cross, putting on Him the wrath and punishment of our sin on Him. Don't be fooled by the trick that God somehow changed His attitude toward sin in the New Testament. It is still just as deadly now as it was back in Genesis 3.

On my own, I should fear God. God literally has the power to strike me down where I stand at any moment. Without Christ's atonement for my sins on the cross, God would be well within His rights to strike me down. My only salvation is to claim Christ the crucified, and not by my own merit, either. For in my own merit, I put myself apart from Christ and try to lean on my own reason and strength. This again places me in the path of God's wrath. Instead, Christ has clothed me in His blood in the waters of Holy Baptism (which happened twenty eight years ago on June 8). When God sees me, He sees Christ, and Christ has made atonement for my sins and the sins of the world.

So why fear? Should I be afraid of God? This side of the grave all men are afraid of God. After all, God specifically states that He is angry with all those who break His commandments and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. However, through faith in Christ, that fear will never be realized as God is pleased with the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, and since He sees us through Christ, He is pleased with us as well.

Martin Luther writes in his Large Catechism in Part One: The First Commandment, [32] "Learn, therefore, from these words how angry God is with those who trust in anything but Him. And again, learn how good and gracious He is to those who trust and believe in Him alone with their whole heart. (Deuteronomy 6:5)"

As we are saint and sinner at the same time, we trust and love and fear at the same time. However, when the time comes to depart from this world and we plead Christ the Crucified before the Judge of the world, there will be no need to fear, for we were made perfect in the blood of the Lamb.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

"Can We Go See Jesus?"

My little three year olds can really surprise me from time to time- and I am not talking about the random puke eruption that causes me to move faster than the speed of light! I mean those good surprises that you can tell other people about and they go all gushy inside. I had one of those days about a week ago. The kids were rowdy and really needed to go outside and get some energy out. I think they were too excited to notice the church sanctuary that we passed by to go play with the parachute outside. But, when we came back, it was a whole different story. My co-teacher and I were having a seriously hard time getting them to go back downstairs to the daycare center. They were looking at the church, interested in what was in there. Finally, one of my little ones asked, "Ms. Tina, can we go see Jesus?" The Martha side of my brain rushed- if we did this, we might be late getting back from lunch. The Mary side of me won. We walked very respectfully to the front of the church and sat down in the first two rows. Some of the children fidgeted, but most had their eyes focused on the cross. They asked questions about why Jesus had to die. I shared with them the Gospel. "Ms. Tina, can we say 'Our Father'?" another little one chimed. They might have stumbled over the words, but we prayed the Lord's Prayer there. Another one picked up a hymnal after that. "Can we sing?" she asked. We sang Jesus loves me. I checked my watch- we did need to go eat. I told the children it was time to go. Eagerly they asked if they could come up the next day to see Jesus. I pray that as I go through life I have the same wisdom of those children.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

When the Coin in the Coffer Rings, Another Number on the Counter Dings

After reading some interesting information on the Wittenberg Trail's Confessing Resistance Group, I started thinking about the financial situation of the Synod. One of the reasons given for the cancellation of Issues, Etc. was that the program was costing more money than it was bringing in. Well, if that was the actual money situation, I guess I can understand what they are saying. Times are tight. Heck, I am paying $3.70 for plain regular gasoline. I understand the crunch. However, as most have pointed out, there seems to be no reason for the cancellation of *this* show because it had the highest listenership and the means to bring in the most money compared to all the other programs on the KFUO radio. If it wasn't the numbers, well, then what was it? It has already been said by the folks in charge of the Synod that it wasn't a political decision. Well, I believe that is a half truth. It wasn't just political. It was financial, too. The Synod is in financial trouble and Issues, Etc. was making it worse.

But it wasn't making it worse in the way that the Synod was saying. During the Reformation, Luther spoke out against indulgences. The sale of indulgences could absolve anyone from any sin. Convenient? You bet! The sinner was able to do anything s/he liked. I am sure church officials figured that people would commit these sins anyway, and they were just helping point them to Christ when they did finally commit the sin they have pondered in their heart. How pastoral and thoughtful of them to meet the sinners with the gospel in the aftermath of their sin! Oh, and let's not mention the financial gain from all of this. Forgiveness as such came with a price, and that price funded the tyranny of Rome. Luther was dangerous because he threatened the money flow. Forgiveness of sins isn't found in a piece of paper but in the Word of God, Jesus Christ.

Five hundred years later, little has changed except the scenery. The sale of indulgences isn't the sin of the LCMS but rather it is the "bringing the Gospel to all the world". Noble in it's ambitions, yet shallow in the action, numbers is the name of the game. Churches only have worth as long as their attendance can be measured against concerts, baseball games, and tv viewing audiences. However, numbers like that can only be achieved by way of scratching itching ears. People don't want to hear that they are sinners. They can do nothing for their salvation and that Christ has done it all. This is offensive, especially in a time where being self-sufficient is a measurement of success. So, instead, more "user friendly" methods are being used, where people learn to use God to find success in life. After all, this numbers game has been used by the general protestant population with great "success". With this success has come the money. Although Ablaze will state that the money given goes to missions, I highly doubt that is the case considering they are cutting programming like Issues, Etc. that teaches actual theology. This theology was about teaching people that "You're Best Life Now" and "The Purpose Driven Life" isn't worth the paper it is written on. These models are the big money makers, and Issues was tanking that quickly by teaching the common person about theology, something that is lacking in the mainstream Protestant publications. As the Synodical President's salary is worth three or four pastor's salaries combined, and conferences go extravagant to show great hospitality, a shortfall in money is hardly what the Synod needs right now.

To sum it up, the love of money has usurped the love for Christ just as it did in Reformation times.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Daddy always said he could preach louder than any child could scream. . .

Children are nothing like adults. Although sometimes adults do act like children, the mindset and the thinking of a child is nothing like the rationale adults have for their actions. It is hard for adults to create a program that actually works and accomplishes set goals because children do not understand most abstract concepts in the same way that adults do. I believe that children do understand abstract concepts. They just do not understand them the way adults do. Take the example of God. Children believe in God though they do not see Him. They know He is there and they will share the truth about Jesus just as much as they will share what Mommy and Daddy fought about that morning. For them, it is truth, and what they can see is no different than what they can't. However, the end result of the belief that children do not understand abstract concepts at all is that many children's programs designed to educate in religious and Christian matters are "dumbed" down. People believe that the divine service is too much for children, and so programs are created to take the children out of church and put them in a separate activity that is deemed easier to understand. Is that really the case? Can a child learn more separate from the very location where Christ meets His people to bestow His good gifts of Word and Sacrament? Is there a better way to memorize Scripture than singing it in the liturgy and hearing the Word of God proclaimed in the Scripture readings and the sermon? Faith comes by hearing at any age. This includes infants, young children, school-age children, teenagers, young adults, parents, the elderly, and everyone in between. Church is not a place where the family should be split up to meet "felt needs". Church is a place where the whole family of God gathers for all ages to meet the need of forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain for the sins of all.

I have seen many parents get so flustered that their children are being loud in church. They apologize to everyone around them after the service that their children were such a distraction. I'm just grateful to see the children in church. Not because they are cute, (although some are just adorable!) but because it means that they are in a place where their vows at Baptism are fulfilled and the children are brought to the place where they will be nourished and fed in the Word. Just as we don't always understand how God to put faith in an infant at Baptism, we know He does because His Word does what it says it does. We don't know how the faith is growing in that young child, but we know the Divine Service is where the family of God is to gather to strengthen the faith, and that faith is strengthened with the young child, whether we visibly see it or not.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Daydreams of the Flock

If I ever wondered what went on in my fids' minds when I went off to work, I think this is it. Mostly, because when I get home, those are the exact types of noises I hear from my cute feathered darlings. Even so, I'd never trade them for the world!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Folks Concerned About the Cancellation of Issues, Etc.- THIS IS A MUST READ

Budget information for the KFUO AM and FM radio station has been leaked, and let me tell you, this is more fishy than a seafood market! Check it out here.

If the leaders of our church body are so corrupt as to do this, why should we trust anything that comes out of Synod?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thoughts on the Direction of the Missouri Synod

Hermann Sasse once wrote, "The religious future of the United States does not lie in the gradual, peaceful, and joint rise of the Christian churches into higher unity. It lies rather in the intense struggles of the old confessions for the soul of the American people." (American Christianity and the Church, 1927)

I do wish that those responsible for cancelling Issues, Etc. would heed these wise words. I also wish that those at the Purple Palace would heed these words as well.

Enough said.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Blessed Easter!

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!

The grave, it could not keep Him,
Although dead in it he lay,
On the third day He is risen,
For your sins and mine He did pay.

On the cross, He suffered hell,
Shut in a barrowed tomb He lay,
God accepted Christ's sacrifice,
He is no longer dead the angels say.

In your baptism you died with Him,
In His life you live again.
Praise Him and glorify Him rightly,
He has conquered death and sin.

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I Walked Out of Hell Today

My husband describes hell as the place where God's gracious presence is absent. I know I came close to this in my last place of work. There was no grace in that place. No understanding that people can and do make mistakes that they can be sorry for and will work to never do again. No, I worked in a zero tolerance environment where people were plotted against, slandered, disrespected, and treated harshly. It is a place where appearences were important; so important that they candy coated the dung that was underneath to make everything appear peachy. Lies were courted while the truth was hidden. Hard workers were not appreciated. People who aligned themselves with the popular and powerful, no matter how distasteful it might be to them, were the ones who were rewarded and recognized. Keeping up appearences was more important than solving real problems. The ones who were unlucky enough to be in the "in crowd" were blamed, put down, and degraded. I don't know what hell really is like, but it sure seems this place was close to it.

Yesterday was my last day. I got to walk out of there. And I walked out triumphant and with my head held high. I did the best I could. I worked the hardest I was able to work. I loved my charges and took care of them as if they were my own. I did what was right, despite the consequences. I was persecuted for my faith and did not falter. In fact, I even was able to witness to Christ in that time. I am now on to bigger and better things in a Christian environment and I am really looking forward to it!

I walked out of hell today, triumphant and with my head held high. It wasn't anything I did, really, but Christ who worked through the circumstance for His good will, that I would witness to those He put in my life. He forgave me when I sinned and pointed me back to the cross. I am glad to say: Chapter over. I completed it. Now, I can't wait to get to the next chapter of my life.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Quiet Persecution- The Secular Side of Things

A quick search on Google for cartoon images of Christian persecution brought up all sorts of images of how Christians persecute others in our country. I guess it is easier for people to honestly believe that Christians are pushing their views on others than it is that these same people are pushing their views on Christians. It's sad, really. Christians are finding themselves in positions where verbalizing their beliefs might cause a failing grade in school, a lost job in the workforce, and ostracizing anyone who doesn't believe as they do. This doesn't leave much room for sharing the Good News, but I guess that is the point.

What's more, is that it's everywhere, even in places we don't expect. In politics, religious and moral decisions have been given into the hands of popular vote. Issues such as abortion, the sanctity of marriage, and the theory of evolution versus creation have all been politicized to where their "right" and "wrong" are determined by popular vote and then should be ratified by all. Anyone who does not agree with this voted on opinion is accused of being closed minded and not capable of the post modern thought process needed to succeed in this life. Sin is then renamed to be "a choice", "a biological imparative", or "false or misleading doctrine". The most important part of this renaming is that it falls on the individual to decide what is right and wrong, and that decision is also driven by popular vote. Thus, anyone who disagrees with popular thought and clings to Biblical truths of what sin is, is accused of infringing on freedom and rights. This leaves the Christian with a dilemma of how and where to demonstrate who they are, that is, a baptized child of God. All too often Christians are faced with the fact that their livelihood will be threatened because of their beliefs. Thus, they are faced with two choices: hide who they are or loose what they have worked for.

There is a story I have heard quite often. It is of a frog who is placed in a hot frying pan and jumps instantly out knowing the danger. Later, the same frog is put into a frying pan that is cold but is slowly turned up until the frog finally succumbs to the heat and dies. Why didn't he jump out like he did the first time? The first time, the danger was much more obvious. This, I believe, is how things got to where they are in the political realm. Chrisitans didn't catch on until it was too late.

Monday, February 25, 2008

What Causes Your Anxiety?

Ever wonder if the Apostles had anxiety disorders? It's possible, and then again, it's possible that they were average human beings with no mental illness whatsover. However, whether or not they did doesn't really matter to me. What does matter to me is that they had documented anxiety God calmed. The boat was sinking and all was lost. Panic and the all too familiar fight or flight instinct kicked in and God calmed the storm. God spoke and it was so. I can't help but feel a tiny bit jealous. Why can't God speak now and make my storm cease? I'm not talking about the snowstorm happening outside (as annoying as it is to have more snow falling on the ground) but the storm that is my life. I know my anxiety doesn't cause it, but it certainly doesn't help each time circumstances seem to get worse. Tim and I went from the calm predictability of life before we got married to something that feels like hurricane. It wasn't marriage that did that, either. It was life in this old world. Tim and I cling to each other in love, trust, and loyalty. It's the world around us that keeps battering us. Betrayed by fellow Christians and even a Lutheran pastor, I feel like the winds of despair are stripping me down to basic elements.

Maybe that's not a bad place to be. What are the basic elements I will be left with? The same basic element the disciples were left with: Jesus. When all is stripped away, there are some things that never can be removed. I am baptized. I was sprinkled with Jesus' blood at the font. My sins were forgiven there and each time I confess my sins and receive absolution and travel to the Lord's Table where I take into my body His body and His blood.

So, did the disciples really have it much different than me? Maybe it seems that way on the surface. Afterall, their circumstances got better through a miracle they witnessed, but who knows what is going on behind the scenes of my life. Regardless, I am still left with the same promises that the disciples were: forgivness of sins, life, and salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. No matter what causes your anxiety, find your peace there.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Step in the Right Direction

God has a tendency to make my family eat their words. My mom said a lot of "I never"s and ended up doing most if not all of them throughout her life. If I were learning from my past, I would have never said never to my husband because I know God was there while I was having that conversation. I told Tim that I didn't want to go back and work for a church. They treated each other almost as bad as a secular job. I have my Lutheran Teaching Certificate, but that really didn't matter to me. I didn't want to go back.

Yesterday, I ate my words. After spending a year at the daycare who listened to lies about me and wrote me up for them, who insisted on full disclosure of a medical condition that I truly believe was none of their business, and who insisted on more work than could be done in the day without giving extra time out of the room to complete such tasks, I put in my two weeks notice to go to a. . . wait for it. . . a Lutheran daycare! I was very impressed with the center. The children were allowed to be children. They played and used their imagination just as they should be allowed to do. They were even allowed to get their clothes dirty, which is good because no matter how had you try, children will get dirty at least once a day, if not more. The teachers are caring and Christian, which means I don't have to hide the fact that I am Lutheran any more. The pastor makes regular visits to work with the little children and to teach them the faith. The staff is caring and management is very understanding and sensitive to how they come across. I never thought I would go back to working in a church, but here I go. What is more amazing is. . . I can't wait to start!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

An Enjoyable Saturday

My brother and his family live in Michigan, so I don't get to see them nearly as often as I like. My brother had training to do in Chicago this weekend, so he and the family came down and Tim and I drove down there and had a marvelous time! Delenna and Gideon were a little stir crazy from spending too much time in the hotel room, so we took them to the Kohl's Children's Museum. There was so much to do! Tim and I followed Delenna while Jill kept an eye on Gideon. I had so much fun watching Delenna explore the Clifford exhibit, pretend to be a veterinarian, and watch herself on TV. There were times when I couldn't move fast enough for her as she went through all of the toys, but she was very patient with me as I caught up. Poor Tim was exhausted by the end of the day! While he rested, Delenna came over and cuddled up to him. It was just the cutest thing to see! Maybe there's hope for my husband to become a daddy afterall! It was great to see Gideon, Delenna, John, and Jill. I look forward to seeing them again this summer!