March Madness; 2008-2013 Recap; Giving Glory

2008-2013. Here’s the abbreviated re-cap. Turns out March is a banner month for me.

March 2008. A friend suggested I write for the Mountain Xpress. Turns out they were looking for a garden writer for their column The Dirt. That started my very small, but fun career in garden writing.

March 2008. My now ex-husband suggested we divorce.  And, so we did, In June of 2013. What God “has joined,” I can attest to the fact that, it is dang near impossible to  “put it asunder.”

March 2009. I discovered a very big reason my ex suggested a divorce. Her name is,  fondly, Cruella de Vil.  (Well, it rhymes with it, anyway.)

March 2011. My first big garden article appears in a glossy magazine. It makes the “middle spread,” and is so snazzy. I’m super proud.

March 2012. Officially separated after 24 years of marriage, and officially employed after 15 years of unemployment. (Time flies.)

March 2013. A salary job! Manager of the BB Barns Flower Market in Brevard, NC. And, Aggie became an offical family member.

March 2014. There will be a brand new granddaughter to love. Miss Sadie Jane will make her appearance sometime mid-Feb, leaving March wide-open for my complete adoration of the newest family member. We’ll see if March has anything else up its sleeve.

But, maybe the March Madness has subsided. There is a time for every season, and the next good time is just as real as the next bad, OR vice versa. But, whatever the future Marches bring, 2008-2013 was a good five years, despite the unexpected. I’m grateful. Here’s what made it good.

The Lord was with me.

While my friends were hoping for a revenge-of-the-middle-aged-housewife, you know, lose the weight, get the fab job, the fab clothes, the fab guy, the fab condo… I was living reality. Reality looks a bit like that. I did lose the weight, but I also lost the fab job. Sadly, the Flower Market will not reopen next year, which stinks for Aggie as well as for me (she got to go to work with me). And, honestly, there was little time for revenge-of-anything. Its survival mode. Immediate action is needed if you’re going to be employed and housed and moving on, not a lot of time for revenge, which is never very effective when we attempt it ourselves.

But, how to describe that the Lord was with me, when the Lord is omnipresent, and so with us all the time?

Well, like he was with the Israelites when they left Egypt. He gave them the gift of his glory, i.e. his fingerprint on all that they did. In other words, there was truly no way they could say, hey look what we did! We got ourselves out of slavery, we drowned the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, after we parted it so we could cross on dry land, then we ate manna dropped from heaven every day for forty years while our clothes never wore out (though I’m assuming the fashion did).  And, we conquered Cannan and took over the land for ourselves. Wow. Did we do good or what? It was a good half-century. No. They simply could take no credit for that. Everyone who watched this ragamuffin nation knew, God was with them. He was responsible for all that happened to them. He was ACTIVE in their lives. 

God is always active in our lives, but sometimes he shows up in a pow sort of way. Waters part, mountains are leveled, enemies are destroyed, addictions are conquered, manna is provided. When that happens, we seriously don’t want to miss it. Imagine saying, Nah, I’d rather not watch him part the Red Sea and drown my oppressor in it, after I’ve crossed over on dry land. Who would want to miss God’s activity when it shows up like that?

He was active in mine. God showed up in a pow way for me, and everything that happened, happened because he made it so. I could not have dreamed arriving where I am now, much less made it real. So many examples, but here’s one that got the ball rolling for what life looks like now.

I was offered a job in a town where my son would go to college, and found a house one block away from the college. and five minutes away from the job. My son was not looking at this college, they called him. I was not looking for this job, they called me. We were not looking for the house, a stranger (yes, a stranger) called me.  All this in one month.

There are some things you cannot do yourself. You cannot part water. You cannot drown an army. You cannot make manna appear. But sometimes, you need to part water, drown armies and make manna appear. I needed to do all that and then some. When your time comes, call on the Lord. He’s very good at helping those who cannot help themselves.

That’s what 2008-2013 was all about for me. God’s fingerprints are all over it.   

Let’s Talk Tattoos

First, I’ll confess, I’m not a fan of tattoos, but hang on before you click off, I will support said tattoos by the end of this blog post. And, for the bonus, I’ll explain why Leviticus 19:28 doesn’t apply.

First, why I’m not a fan.

Simple. I love the human body as is.  At 19, I really enjoyed my body. Not in an arrogant way. I was still pretty naive, and did not think of myself as sexy or beautiful. I was just me. I just enjoyed my toes, my feet, my legs, my arms. I thought my body was pretty. I thought most people’s bodies were. Even my old aunts with wiggly arms.

I was at an advantage. In the 60s and 70s, celebrities were present but not prevalent  Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (whoever their equivalent was) did not dominate my life. Yes, I swooned over actors at movies, though I can’t remember who now. But, I didn’t take them home with me. They stayed at the theaters. Magazines were fun to look at, but again, they weren’t telling me to get thinner or have my teeth capped. They were telling me how to lighten my hair with lemon juice, something I did regularly.

So, for me. The human body is a work of art. When someone tattoos it, it is like vandalizing to my mind. You just threw paint on something beautiful and frankly, I’ve never seen a tattoo I thought was prettier than the body it adorned. I’ve never seen a tattoo artist make a body prettier with their work. That body, to my thinking, is art. Perfect, beautiful art. To add to it, just messes it up.

So, there, my opinion. Do what you like with it.

But, in this ever-increasing battle of the Christian vs. the non, the subject of tattoos comes up regularly. My son has two (and no, I don’t like either one, but it is his body), and I’m often asked, “I thought he was a Christian?” by believers and non, who assume Christians cannot tattoo themselves. This belief is based on Leviticus 19:28 where it says,

28 You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.

I’m not getting into the discussion of the cuts on your body. I’m just hoping you’re not doing that. But, for the tattoo part, what do I say to my Christian son about that verse? I say God gave that law to the Israelites as they began to make their journey into the land he promised them, Canaan. He gave them their civil laws and their ceremonial laws. He also gave them the 10 commandments which sum up all laws.

These laws are found in the Books of the Law, or the first five books of Scripture. They are called the books of the law because they contain the laws and instruction given by the Lord through Moses to the people of Israel.

Many generations before, God had promised Abraham that he would build a nation through him. Several million people later, and forty years of wandering around in the wilderness, and a lot of discussion going on about what their now-to-be-country would look like, they were ready to enter and take over the land from the Canaanites (if that frustrates you, that is another topic, sorry).

So, God gave them their civil laws and their ceremonial laws. Basically, how they would worship and live. Tattoos were out. Here’s why. They were to stand out. They were to be different from the nations around them. God wanted the pagans to know, there goes an Israelite. A man or a woman who belongs to God. Israel actually started their government with no human king on the throne. God was their king. Everything about their country was different, which made each individual different, which made them stand out like a sore thumb, which made people look at and wonder about them.

They weren’t to fit in or blend. They were to STAND OUT. And, In that culture, not being tattooed or cutting yourself would make you stand out because the Canaanites were heavily tattooed. The Canaanites worshiped their god Baal by burning their babies in fires, and a lot of other not-so-great-things one would hope not to mimic.

Hence, the second reason for not having tattoos.  When one steps a foot into the fire (no pun intended), it is a slippery slope. God wanted his people to stay away from such practices (in the end they did not). And, as I have often asked my children, if someone is sitting in a chair and you’re on the floor in front of them, which is easier? To pull them down, or for them to pull you up? Downward is always easier.

God wanted his people to look upward toward him.

There is so much more to this subject than I’m writing here, but suffice it to say, that law in Leviticus was part of the civil law for the Israelites. It doesn’t apply to us as Christians, primarily because we aren’t living in Israel and even more primarily because Jesus Christ fulfilled the law–all of it–even the 10 commandments. He did not break one law in thought, word or deed. So, we are no longer under the law, though we are compelled by it. Compelled but not judged, because Jesus took our penalty for the laws we break daily.

So, if tattoos are your thing, Christian or not, then go for it. It isn’t Scriptural to say you cannot.

Still, the spirit of law touches my heart. How do I as a Christian stand out as different from the world around me? Do others look at me and say, she is a Christian? She belongs to God? Or do I blend?

At this point, I’m not interested in tattoos for myself, but there are plenty of other ways I likely blend without realizing it. And compromise my beliefs. And, deny Christ so I don’t make waves, or be rejected. Its all something to think about, I suppose.

But, I do hope at 54, I can love my wiggly arms as much as I loved my aunt’s.

Abraham’s Journey to Home (and mine)

English: Abraham Goes to the Land of Canaan (G...

English: Abraham Goes to the Land of Canaan (Gen. 12:1-6) Русский: Авраам переселяется в землю Ханаанскую (Быт. 12:1-6) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Scripture, Abraham was told by God to pack up and start moving. But God did not tell him where. Instead, God told Abraham to go to “the place I will show you.” Abraham didn’t argue, although he did camp out at one place for awhile before he really started moving along on his journey. But, eventually he started walking (let that soak in) in earnest toward the “place God would show him.”

I never envied Abraham that trip. There are plenty of people I’d like to be in Scripture. The Woman at the Well comes to mind. The servants who watched the water turn to wine before their very eyes at the wedding (Jesus’ first miracle). Priscilla is intriguing. Philip, mainly because he literally got to space/time travel. But Abraham just seems old and tired to me when he begins his trek and like, he really would have been okay hanging out near the pyramids of home and simply enjoying retirement. That is exactly how I feel. Old. Tired. Ready for Retirement.

My biggest fear right now is that I will not be able to work as hard as I do for as long as I’m probably going to need too. My livelihood depends on me working. Period. From month to month, if I am not employed we don’t eat or have a roof over our heads. It is humbling.

So, while I wonder where home for me is, I am acutely aware that it might always be someone else’s home, i.e. a place that I rent.

I spent some time with a financial planner after my divorce, and we discussed whether he thought I’d ever purchase a home or not. He was very matter-of-fact about the whole thing when I mentioned the money I’d “throw away in rent.” He said, “How is it throwing money away? You need a home, and yet you can’t purchase one because you don’t make enough money. This isn’t about money management, its about staying out of the cold and the rain.”

Sometimes, a good reminder of the most basic sort is in order. It allows you to re- frame your thinking and begin to have a paradigm shift.  Abraham lived in the City of Ur of the Chaldeans. Reportedly, the place was very developed for its time. Houses had indoor plumbing and running water. There were markets and fresh produce. He had all the comforts of home. Then God said, pack it up, we’re moving, and Abraham finished out his years in a tent in the land of Canaan. Canaan would become the Israel of the Old Testament, and Abraham’s descendants would live in the land as their own.

So, sometimes the plan is less about the immediate and more about the eternal, as in Abraham’s case. It wasn’t about providing Abraham with a home. It was about bringing forth a Savior (Jesus) through a group of people whom God would build through the lineage of Abraham.

In my own trek, I am not living in a tent, but a nice rented home. Every night I thank God for putting a roof over mine and my son’s head. For paying the electric bill. For paying the internet, because my son needs it for college. For buying the groceries. For heat. For plumbing. For air conditioning. For cleanliness. For good landlords who treat us with respect.

Oh, there is a paradigm shift happening. From a home of 20+ plus years where the comforts of home were simply taken for granted, to a very real awareness of what a good thing hot water is.This type of consciousness is necessary if I am to discover my new home. I must first start to think of home differently.

Abraham followed God to unknown places, but in reading his story again, I do not see Abraham (or Sarah for that matter) all that focused on, where’s home? They seem more intent on where is the Savior (who would come through their child)? It makes me wonder if my focus is in the right place. Is it a home I am searching for, or a Savior?