July 27, 2014

How many of us have said and sung with all our hearts ‘Anywhere with Jesus,’ but at the same time we did not realize all that it meant for us. Indeed at home, and surrounded by all that home means, we could not know. When the test comes we must not forget that ‘anywhere’ means for missionaries something different from life in England, and let us take very good care not to make a misery of anything ‘anywhere’ brings us.

To us in Algeria it must mean sometime or other, Arab food. Do we object to it? And mice, do we mind them? And mosquitoes, do we think them dreadful? In some parts it means close contact with dirt and repulsive disease. Yet if Jesus is there, what have we possibly to complain of? It means living among a stiff-necked and untrue people and struggling with a strange and difficult language. And yet let us evermore write over all our miseries, big, and for the most part very little, these transforming words ‘With Jesus.’ And then the very breath of Heaven will breathe upon our whole being and we shall be glad. 

– Lilias Trotter, as quoted in Noel Piper’s Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God, 66 (emphasis mine)

This quote has brought me great comfort as I’ve been struggling with severe pain of late.

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July 15, 2014

Yellow Chrysanthemum

‘These are for you,’ he said, thrusting [the bunch of chyrsanthemums] at me. I saw that the stems had been broken very roughly and that they were not tied together at all. 

‘Are they out of your garden?’ I asked 

‘Yes; I snatched them as I was hurrying for the train.’

Somehow they seemed a little less desirable now. He had not chosen them, had not gone into a shop for that purpose, they had just happened to be there. If he had gone into a shop and chosen them… I pulled myself up and told myself to stop these ridiculous thoughts, wondering why it is that we can never stop trying to analyse the motives of people who have no personal interest in us, in the vain hope of finding that perhaps they may have just a little after all.”

– Barbara Pym, Excellent Women, 221

June 25, 2014

God does not promise to rid your life of affliction and difficulty. He does, however, offer to give you the grace needed to suffer well, and through grace to discover the riches and beauty of the gospel. It isn’t wrong to ask God to relieve you of your pain, but it is more important that in the midst of the pain you rely on the promise of God to work such experiences for his glory and your good – to use these times as a means of perfecting your faith, strengthening your spirit, and transforming your life in such a way that you are becoming more like Jesus.

– Joe Thorn, as quoted by Matt Chandler in To Live Is Christ. To Die is Gain.

June 11, 2014

Linky Love: Dating, Sex, and the Single Christian

Gentle Reader,

Surely it comes as no surprise to you that I think sexuality, like everything else, has an awful lot to do with theology. And while I appreciate what is at the heart of the abstinence movement of my youth, many folks have struggled with this formulation of waiting – and understandably so. It turns out that treating sexuality like something you can just shove down into a tiny corner of your soul and then magically let loose when you get married is unhealthy and, frankly, absurd. To focus on abstinence is to focus on inactivity – almost hoping our sexual natures can somehow be rendered comatose until the wedding. But chastity is something different. Chastity, you see, always says “YAY MARRIED SEX!” (even when neither party is remotely good at it yet). It looks at sexual desire and says, “Aha! I know what you are for!” Chastity is both protector and celebrant of the marriage bed.

I feel like this something a lot of Christians in my generation, especially women who were raised in the Church, struggle with understanding. But the only way we can get any kind of handle on this sex stuff is if we are talking about it in its real-life contexts – marriage, dating, and pining for a spouse. In fact, I would argue that our sex drives ought to act as another motivation to pursue marriage – and we should let them!

Below are some recent articles and blog posts that I found helpful as I’ve recently again though through all this sex, dating, and the single Christian stuff. Hopefully you’ll find some wise and significant thoughts here to mull over, whether you’re single yourself or just walk faithfully with those of us who are as our friends.

“Should I Be Content with My Singleness?” – I think about this a lot – that sometimes God works through unmet desires. Childs does a fantastic job taking this sort of musing further and deeper, connecting my story as a single woman with the greater story of what God is doing in the world. I love it. (I also really appreciate Childs’ conceptualization of abstinence before/until marriage as fasting. I find it encouraging and affirming: This waiting is an active thing. There is love in my abstention.)

“What If She’s Not the Right One?” – This is an excellent article on fighting against a consumer-attitude in dating, one that I found full of helpful reminders and cajoling. Sure, it’s aimed at the gentlemen in the crowd, but I found it convicting too.

How to Respond to a Man’s Pursuit” – I have a lot of respect for Carolyn McCulley, especially because of the way she is so careful to regard men with respect and a desire to understand. This is a heartening piece, and one that serves as an excellent reminder to love our brothers well, whatever the awkwardnesses in our relationships. Key premise: “While we women exercise trust in God by waiting to be pursued, men exercise trust in God by risking rejection.”

“How to Pick a Life Partner: Part 1 (and Part 2)” – Need a little reality check in your daydreaming? (Who doesn’t?) I think this is cleverly written common sense, but as a “hopeless romantic” (so described since 3rd grade), I still need these kinds of reminders.

“Sexual Desire and the Single Woman” – Though I wish this post went further than it does, it is encouraging to read someone who is open about the strong sexual desires many single women deal with, and who sees the application of the transformational effects of the Gospel to the hearts of women in this area. Here’s the truth: If we belong to God, we have Christ. That radically impacts everything, including how we understand our sexuality and what we do with it.

“5 Lies That Make Sexual Purity More Difficult” – This article is a nice corollary to the one above, but hits home for men and women alike.

“4 Lies the Church Taught Me about Sex” – This is so outstanding and really needs to be heard and absorbed, especially #4.

“Why I Didn’t Wait” – This woman walks us through 10 lies that informed her ideas and practice of her sexuality during a long phase of her singleness.

“Walking the Aisle Without Your Virginity” – Piper has some good, Gospel words for a fellow who is struggling to know how to offer himself to the woman he will marry. Absolutely beautiful.

June 11, 2014

Paul tells the church to work out its salvation with fear and trembling (2:12), but he won’t disconnect that difficult command from its gracious empowering: ‘For it is God who works in you’ (2:13). The sin you do? Natural. The good you do for others? Supernatural. Always remember the gospel, so you won’t forget that God will not expect something of you that He won’t both empower you to obey and forgive you for not obeying.

– Matt Chandler, in To Live Is Christ. To Die Is Gain, pages 77-78. 

May 28, 2014

It appears that God has deliberately left us in a quandary about many things. Why did He not summarize all the rules in one book, and all the basic doctrines in another? He could have eliminated the loopholes, prevented all the schisms over morality and false teaching that have plagued His Church for two thousand years. Think of the squabbling and perplexity we would have been spared. And think of the crop of dwarfs He would have reared!

Elisabeth Elliot in The Liberty of Obedience

May 26, 2014

This is a great comfort:

Well, every man likes to be thought wonderful. A woman need not necessarily be stupid to admire a man.

Barbara Pym, Jane & Prudence, 103

May 22, 2014

Imagine a scenario where you are 100 percent right and they are 100 percent wrong. Have you been legitimately hurt? Yes. Is the other person wrong? Yes. Have they asked for your forgiveness? Maybe. Maybe not. Do they know they have hurt you so much? I don’t know. Which is more important to you: to be right or to be free?

 Emily P. Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life

May 13, 2014

Reading from March-April 2014

I’m now linking to books on the Kiva AmazonSmile page. ‘Cause, you know, I like them.

  1. Andersen’s Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
  2. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
  3. The Pirate’s Wish (The Assassin’s Curse Book 2) by Cassandra Rose Clarke
  4. The Life of Prayer by Edith Schaeffer – Good.
  5. Allegiant (Divergent Book 3) by Veronica Roth –
  6. When Maidens Mourn (A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery Book 7) by C.S. Harris
  7. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  8. The Fire Within (The Last Dragon Chronicles, Book 1) by Chris D’Lacey
  9. Highgate Rise (Thomas and Charlotte Pitt No. 11) by Anne Perry
  10. The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas – Do. Not. Recommend.
  11. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech – This was interesting.
  12. If God Already Knows, Why Pray? by Douglas Kelly – Fantastic.
  13. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (trans. Lowell Bair) – Lowell Bair is the best translator.
  14. My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White – This was so cheesy but I really liked it. Y’all know I love Jane Austen, but Mr. Darcys are overrated.
  15. Whisper of Jasmine (a novella) by Deanna Raybourn
  16. The Enemy (Jack Reacher Book 8) by Lee Child
  17. White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in Dallas, 1841-2001 by Michael Phillips – Read this one for a special project I’m doing. Fascinating.
  18. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Anne Burns
  19. Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield
  20. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale
  21. Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Book 2) by Ransom Riggs – A little too weird for me.
  22. The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Book 1) by James Dashner – Another one of those dystopian YA fiction series… I enjoyed this one, too.
April 21, 2014

Pause for a Moment of Architecture Philosophy

I am currently working on a special project which is requiring me to delve into the history of the city of Dallas. I found this gem and thought it rather fascinating: 

[The] High Victorian stylists reveled in their disdain for ‘classical’ beauty, for this quality was tainted by its association with the Greek Revival. Instead, these architects sought to achieve ‘truth,’ ‘reality,’ and ‘character’ – terms easy to use but difficult to define. ‘Character,’ however, was easily understood by the Victorians. It was that quality in a man which expressed strength of will, forcefulness, determination, and fierce individuality, and which had forged not only a British colonial empire, but also an American empire from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. The dictum of Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright that ‘form follows function’ stands appallingly pale in comparison. Part of the importance of Victorian Architecture is that it stands as one of the last monuments to that uniquely American ideal of what the individual can be, and ideal which is quickly disappearing in the twentieth century. It is symbolic of a time when a man at least had the opportunity to try to freely direct his own destiny with little fear of control, manipulation, and constraint by corrupt unions, government bureaucracy, or monolithic, multinational conglomerates.

 

– William L. McDonald, Dallas Rediscovered: A Photographic Chronicle of Urban Expansion, 1870-1925, 43