Selfie Susceptibility for Saints

“She opens her mouth with [GOD’s] wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
Proverbs 31:26

 

Please don’t miss that part about kindness. If you’re accustomed to only listening to that which sounds sweet to the ears, I may be about to speak some truth in love that may not, at first, seem so very kind. I winced a few times, myself, while writing it.

GOD has been pouring down His blessings on me, as of late, particularly within the spiritual realm to see and hear His Word in action. So when the LORD recently revealed that my heart would be filled with passion through the perfection of His brokenness, I excitedly looked forward to what was to come next. Little did I understand that His brokenness would flow through my heart to spark great compassion – meaning that I, too, would receive a large personal portion of that brokenness (for others).

You see, the man who now holds me near & dear to his heart and refers sweetly to me as “His Love” – and treats me with the utmost respect in every single aspect of my life – had been living his life as single for the past several years before “we” became an “us.” In that time meaningless expanse of void without me, he was also fairly indiscriminate in accepting the largest majority of all Facebook requests that came his way – without taking much apparently any time to go to each requester’s site to review that person’s character before doing so. Hey, he knew most of these folks from his past, didn’t he? Or at least they knew friends of his FB friends (who he may or may not have known). With such highly unquestionable credentials, he assumed the friends list he was accruing was made up of legitimate connections  – or he was just oblivious, as he carefreely inattentively went about playing online games with his sister and nephew while sporadically accepting and liking humorous, compelling (or attractive women’s) posts that popped up here and there. NO biggie, right?

“Above all else, guard your heart.
For everything you do flows from it.”
Proverbs 4:23

I have several male friends who view/engage in social media outlets in this same way – as in, “Don’t make such a big deal out this. It isn’t real. Why do I need to pay that much attention to something that doesn’t get that much of my attention?” I, on the other hand, scrutinize every Facebook friend request as if it’s a job application for the Secret Service. Generally, if I don’t know you in “real life” and you don’t pass my character test, or you don’t come with a stellar recommendation by my friend who is your friend, you’re not making the list. Or, if you make it and you turn out to be a character, you’ll get black-listed fast! I have some guy friends who make fun of me for such intense scrutiny; but I have no desire to test the reason for my carry permit on some unknown stalker in the middle of the night.

So without getting too deep into this Mars-Venus issue, or my carry permit…

I’ve been awakened recently to how very often my Christian brothers get barraged with sensualized (and certainly sexually visualized) messages throughout social media and other Internet outlets. Of course, I perceptibly understand that many “offers” arrive through all sorts of outlets (from spam advances in email inboxes to interest requests in Messenger). I, too, receive my share of unscrupulous messages from (real, alias, imaginary) men seeking (my or anyone else’s) company. The difference is, men don’t worry so much about “stranger danger” as the recipients; and they generally don’t indulge so much in the practice of “visual advertisements” as senders. Perhaps the greatest danger isn’t from strangers. In case you don’t get what I mean…

latest_delete

An acquaintance my fella’ knew years ago in “real life” – but never noticed these photos were on the profile page of the year’s life in which he accepted her FB friend request. Granted, Facebook won’t classify these creatively angled shots as pornography, by any means – which is one of the reasons they abound, particularly on women’s social media pages – because they appear “innocent enough.”

About the only rare non-existent times you’ll see men taking photos like this are for movie-created fundraising calendars – and they still probably had to lose a bet! Men disdain the thought of themselves displayed like that. More interesting, the men with whom I’ve spoken (whether professed Christ followers or not) view women who pose sensually in selfies with some level of disdain – and most admit they wouldn’t look favorably on their own wife, girlfriend, daughter, etc. engaging in this type of behavior. Ironically, that doesn’t necessarily keep many of them from looking at other women as long as these women are posing & posting (without regard for how wives, girlfriends, daughters, etc. might perceive their actions).

In my quest on this subject, the more I heard and saw, my primary question became: How many women are actually putting similar types of photos on their sites?!

In my most personal investigation on this matter, I honestly wasn’t prepared for the number of women who had seemingly legitimate social networking relationships with my man (e.g., work, past school or community acquaintances) – along with a plethora of other men – whose histrionic personalities had driven them to engage in (repeated) not-so-innocent selfie narcissistic behaviors (usually with as many other men as possible) such as:
-making active pursuits through seductive words & images (either publicly or privately);
-stalking through social media outlets (or even work connections, such as the Social Security office) to (sometimes illegally) locate men in “real” life (yep, it really happened) to send pictures of themselves;
and/or
-incessantly posting overly-sensualized (and sometimes more times than not photo-shopped) selfies on social media to accrue as many (often rather crude) comments on these posts as possible.

“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman without discretion.”
Proverbs 11:22

My next question became…beyond setting oneself up to be on the receiving end of unceasingly monotonous “you’re so hot” comments, could these women be after anything more?

histrionic

The selfie-made FB “model” who spent so much time photo-shopping other parts of herself that she forgot to photo-shop out the potentially drug-induced arm scratch marks (until somewhere between her 2nd & 10th posting of the same pic). Likely, most men never noticed anyway – except maybe the guy she took to the cleaners in real life.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” More concerning than what these women might want should be what the spiritual realms want – with the souls of both these men (whether accommodating or unsuspecting) and these vixen-like women.

In essence, knowingly or not, each of these women has essentially made herself the “foreigner with seductive words” of Proverbs 7. As a mother of three handsome sons, I feel the need to resound an associated warning. If I wanted to modernize Proverbs 7:24-27, I might modernize these verses to sound like this:
“Now, listen, Sons! Pay attention to what I’m saying here.
Don’t give that woman your heart, your eyes, your ears, or your attention.
If you do and follow after her, your heart will end up as blackened (dirty) and photo-shop-covered as hers.
Don’t you think she’s carrying on with other men this same way? As in, MANY other men – and trying to bring them down with her too?!
You see her Facebook page with all those sensual selfies? All those men who click that bait with their likes and their crass remarks attest insertion into her Internet portal –
you know, the one that leads a man straight to his death by drawing his wandering eyes to lustful thoughts (and eventually resultant comments and actions). Turn your eyes and your feet the other way!”

Yep. That would be my mom’s advice to her sons.
And it should be a woman’s advice to her man in a godly relationship.
And it was.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
[while] fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 1:7

After our discussion on this topic, my Facebook-exonerated fella’ and I began culling both of our pages together (after deciding the nuclear option of removing Facebook wouldn’t allow us access to our bible study page of friends or to keep tabs on our younguns’). Did I mention that my handsome man and I give each other open access to one another’s social media sites at all times? If you’re in a healthy relationship, you should have that same privilege. (Just remember that you have to be the other part of that healthy equation. It’s not always pleasant to read what others might have said to the one you adore – even before he or she adored you.) In removing these so-called “friends,” we went so far as to even remove some past likes where lack of self-control was obvious in others’ related comments, in an attempt to assure all lack of association. In some cases, we went so far as to remove some likes or comments from the past in seemingly respectable friendships – just to assure there were no prospective or even retrospective misunderstandings.

To answer what may be your next curious question…Yes. I’ve read all those past sometimes unflattering, desperate attempts by other women for my man’s attention. And for those who aren’t astute enough to understand that our current picture together on both of our Facebook profiles is meant to denote a “not otherwise interested” relational status (or who apparently don’t care), we’ve read all of those more current messages together too – in case you were wondering why you’d been defriended. To be clear – mild-mannered flirting from the past was of no threat  – those folks are still welcomed in our friend zone. Beyond those criteria, some of you simply had to (and may still have to) go because we acknowledge that:

“Bad company corrupts good character
[especially when associated with foul or suggestive language on social media].”
[Author’s paraphrase of] I Corinthians 15:33.

Primarily, it was the selfies – you know…THOSE selfies – that became the measuring stick for mass deletion. Honestly, seeing such audacious attempts being made by outwardly beautiful women who should never feel the need to work so hard at gaining attention – along with the remarks they were willing to accept by multiple men (and make in return) in what appeared to be series after series of orgy-type posts on their pages – truly did place a crack in my heart. But that’s not what shattered it.

gross

The dime-a-dozen histrionic cleavage selfie shot

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Proverbs 31:30

As I perused the pages of lovely women whose cover pages might cause others to suppose they were Christian sisters (based on things such as bible verses or Godly-sounding phrases posted there), I was taken aback. Why, these faux femme fatale books couldn’t have been known by their covers at all! I was left to question whether such a level of deceit was meant for unsuspecting victims (such as the warning given about the Proverbs 7 woman), or if Satan had bound these women’s own eyes that tightly about themselves. (I had to come to the conclusion that, had it been the latter, they likely couldn’t have spent all that time in the mirror and the camera and the photo-shop program to accomplish those thousands of self-edifying selfies).

phony

Displaying that biblical-sounding sentiment is probably meant to draw men’s eyes upward from this woman’s upwardly-drawn cleavage. Do you suppose she was really trying to say, “Hey, my sorta’-bible-verse-thingy is up HERE?!”

Sadly, in assisting my sweetheart with the purge review, I’ve been forced to see more skin than an on-call taxidermist. Much sadder still, the mom in me quickly came to a worse realization. In every case in which a daughter was depicted on each woman-in-question’s FB page, that younger generation female was already emulating the older “mother figure” adult/mentor in her Facebook affairs. And many of these young women were working just as hard to gain that same male following.

Here’s a good place to insert a word to you upcoming gentlemen: If they were left without a depraved audience of male admirers, women of all ages would lack the motivation to continue in this practice.

daughters

Whether with Mom (as on the upper left) or alone, these girls’ selfie posing tactics seek to emulate older female FB mentors’ alarming histrionic personalities.

“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

[Men, you] are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled,
sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.

[Ladies, you] likewise are to be reverent in behavior,
not slanderers or slaves to [intoxication –
including the high of selfie-derangement].
[Ladies, you are] to teach what is good, and so train the young women
to love their husbands and children [even before they have them], to be self-controlled,
pure, working at [or dedicated foremost to] home, kind, and [surrounding their own selfishness for the betterment of] their own [future or present] husbands,

that the word of God may not be reviled.”
Titus 2:1-5 [with Author’s paraphrase]

Take this lesson from its context. For instance, I’ve always been a career mom; but I understand that my primary responsibility is to my family (my home) – working for their good. I also understand that it becomes much easier for me to surrender my selfish, fleshly preferences for someone else’s needs (the meaning of “submit”) to a man who is being an Ephesians 5:25 follower of GOD: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

With this in mind, I appeal to those of you posting or those of you looking at these types of posted images to STOP. STOP immediately! STOP damaging yourselves, your families, others’ lives, your present and future potential relationships with a godly person who would desire to walk with you and the LORD.  Accountability will come. It will come without apology and possibly without additional warning to us all.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit,
and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
Galatians 5:16

Lest you mistake any of my remarks as equating to jealousy or pettiness, or even self-righteousness, let me assure you – I have taken no pleasure in looking at or sharing photos that make women of any age appear less than self-confident with a Christ-filled measure of self-control. All examples were posted images on genuine Facebook accounts from women who either were friends or tried to friend my sweetheart – all publicly shared (most over and over again) by these same Facebook page owners. (And these were, by comparison, mild examples.) This paltry blog page’s audience can’t begin to measure to the public paramour personas these ladies are seeking to create for themselves through social media. By their standards, I’ve likely helped their cause.

My primary goal is to STOP other women who may be in danger of doing themselves (and others) this same harm before they get started! That’s what a Proverbs 31 type of woman does. That’s who my heart desires for me to be – for a very special man but, most importantly, for My LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. It would be selfish if I didn’t have that same desire for each of my (present or future) spiritual sisters.

Go ahead. Test your own response to this instruction.

Not surprisingly, I’ve noticed that the Proverbs 7 type of woman tends to spit out antagonistic messages to anyone who dares offer correction for her own sake. Remember:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
[while] fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 1:7

Memes and messages abound that tell concerned people requesting the removal of these images to mind their own business. These ladies insist that their behavior is Private (even when their images are more often made Public for all to view). Not surprisingly, other memes they post most often denote sexual and/or rebellious connotations. Because these women don’t know how to search out true love, it’s no wonder they believe that any measure of correction equals hatred. Especially if it tells them they shouldn’t display the idol they worship most of all – themselves. After all, shouldn’t others be given equal opportunity to adore them?

Haters

I’m assuming this philosophical woman was referring to all of the perverse commentary she was receiving from men for her zillionth selfie post of the day. My other guess is she’s probably too exhausted from admiring herself to have a truly physical relationship with any of them.

And, lest you still believe my words have some jealousy component to them, let me show you that there are many types of booty-displaying, pride-abiding shapes on Facebook pages beyond those you’ve already had the unfortunate opportunity to now witness (in case your rear has also been exposed, like mine, because your social media head was buried so deeply in the sand).

the_mighties

Sometimes, you’d like to protect people who won’t protect themselves or those they love. (I’m referring to the wall photo of the child I covered on the left.)

Woe to the men who are gullible enough to hope for or seek out relationship with any of these women. It will be difficult for her to give herself to someone else when she’s been giving pieces of herself away daily on Facebook for the price of a few raunchy comments. I’m guessing these women would gasp at my measure of “a few.” Why, some have reached over 200 likes and 37 or more comments in a single post! Surely that is a world-changing event!

Here’s some assurance. The TRUE world-changing event is the Resurrecting Power of Jesus Christ in our lives. And will continue to be. Both men and women who have been involved in the aforementioned – or even worse – practices can still turn their eyes and their hearts away from these wrongful behaviors. The LORD wants to help you hand your thoughts over to Him. He desires to love you with His never-ending abundance of mercy and grace. And yes, the Holy Spirit wishes to convict our hearts toward repentance of our wrongful ways; but not condemn us through them. Such Love covers over a multitude of sins.

“The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.”
Psalm 34:22

To become Christ’s servant will require a heart-changing event. I don’t expect that anything I write here will change the behavior of these women, or women like them, or the lonely and longing men they both manipulate and serve. That has to be between each individual and the LORD – though I’ll continue to hope and pray so.

What I do expect to accomplish is to challenge my Christian sisters to carefully consider what you post, as well as your intent for posting it – particularly when it can lure our brothers’ eyes and thoughts (or even younger women’s behaviors) in a wrongful direction. And I challenge my Christian brothers to be more protective of all women in your thoughts and deeds, particularly in this regard. Be diligent to assure that you don’t even accidentally become engaged in this behavior.

Colossians 3:1-2  instructs us, as believers: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on [spiritual] things above, not on [fleshly] things of the earth.” 

In other words, practice GODLY thoughts (and resultant actions) – NOT fleshly ones. And help your brothers and sisters in Christ do likewise.

Colossians 3:3-5 goes on to remind us of WHY we do so – and HOW to do so through the Power of the Holy Spirit within us: “For [your fleshly self] died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your [fleshly] members [desires, thoughts, words, actions] which are of the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

If we are to put to death our fleshly self, I recognize that means we shouldn’t be flashing all that flesh around. I would encourage you to read all of Colossians 3, and by the time you get to verses 18 & 19, you should have a better understanding of how and why we reserve such things of our flesh for one – and only one – special one, through sacred acts of love. By first giving the very essence of yourself (your spirit) to GOD, you will be made more spiritual through His Spirit in you. Then, when you give yourself in the flesh to that special someone who has also spiritually given himself to the LORD – and he is the only one who looks upon you intensely with his passionate, longing, loving desire – then no one else’s eyes, thoughts, or opinions of you will ever matter again.

Do you know what drew my sweetheart to me? It surely wasn’t my [in]aptitude for selfie-taking. And it wasn’t uncovered cleavage. Nor did I send illicitly coded messages his way. My secret? He claims that it was my integrity that stood out above all else and that drew him near to me. He apparently thought the LORD had covered and adorned me well with it. Huh. Go figure. GOD’s liberal measure of Integrity was the main attraction.

“Do NOT let your adorning be external—
the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-”
I Peter 3:3

As for selfies…no one said you can’t enjoy them. Go…take lots of them with all those people who GOD has given you to genuinely love. Find a godly mate and be proud to show him or her off! Make the rest of the world jealous of seeing all those joyful selfies of the two of you together – so jealous, in fact, that they want that same grace-filled JOY for themselves. So jealous that they’ll be willing to pay the incomparable price of regarding someone else (and themselves) with our Heavenly Father’s priceless, loving, unrivaled esteem within a Christ-centered relationship to get it!!

Us

Me? Jealous? I’ll let you be the judge.

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you,
then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….
But as for me and my household,
we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua 24:15

The JOY of the LORD is my Strength!

Left Behind…by the Church

I was just hit in the gut by this excerpt from the Christian Post. It jumped out at me because of some research I tried to begin 2-3 years ago, with an attempt to poll pastors’ wives to see if any others felt disenfranchised due to itineracy practices in the church (among other issues of potentially perceived neglect surrounding ministerial spouses).


The Hurting Pastor’s Wife

As my post on pastor’s wives became a lively conversation, I was struck by one comment in particular. Indeed I was almost brought to tears as I read it. Here are her words without any changes, additions, or deletions:

I wish my husband would have included me in his life to be his cheerleader. I wish he would have respected my calling and ministry. I wish someone would have told me that he was going to neglect me and forget about our dreams as a married couple. Now he lives for the church. Birthdays and anniversaries do not exist in this home. I’m tired of eating dinners alone and having anniversary trips cancelled because he has no interest. What does he always tell me? Oh yeah, “The Kingdom of God is always first.” Now even my faith in God is at question. How could God give me a husband who is a pastor and so easily live without me? I feel stuck in this marriage. I am unfulfilled as a woman, wife, minister, and mother. Everything he promised me he has broken. I wish someone would have told me it would be this way. Then maybe I would have paid more attention to my gut feeling!

Wow. The pain is so obvious. The hurt is so deep.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/confessions-of-a-broken-pastors-wife-102705/#L93j0T7kOsBi2gwU.99


So how does my story relate? Here it is, in as much brevity as I can muster.

I was a widow with two teenagers and an adopted two-year-old (then turned 4) when I agreed to marry my second husband, an educator and youth leader (like myself) who had plans to attend seminary. Even though I had two times of great pause prior to marriage, I reasoned that because of our common interests, I should be excited at the prospect of serving GOD in ministry together. The first 3 years of our marriage were not together, as he attended seminary out of town, while I worked to support us and continued solely to raise my children. A few years of him being in full-time ministry thereafter, I began to realize that my idea of “togetherness” was probably a disillusioned one. Apparently, our life together, in general, was plagued with disappointments (including our family being less than the perfect illusion for which we both may have been hoping).

Our first major personal disagreement happened at 7 years of marriage, at which time he told me he was giving me two days to move out, because the parsonage was for the pastor, not the pastor’s family. I was dumbfounded, thinking of how I’d sold the home I’d provided for me and my children, to help support my husband’s seminary costs and ministry capabilities. My sister was kind enough to provide temporary shelter to me and my youngest son; whereafter, I purchased my own home once more. Upon attempting to reconcile with my pastoral husband, I negotiated to keep my home (which I was afraid to give up, in the event my youngest son and I were displaced again), while my husband maintained residency at the parsonage and came and went from my house as he pleased – as long as I made all the payments and didn’t disclose our living arrangements to anyone at the church. This particular compromise went on for four years, as I completed and he began a doctoral degree. I quietly came to grips with the fact that neither my marriage nor our “shared” ministry had been what I had expected. (I now classify that relational stage as the beginning of isolation.)

That’s when the big relational bomb dropped.

My ministerial husband requested to move churches. Due to growing dissatisfaction, he  informed his District Superintendent that he’d be willing to move anywhere within our Church Conference to accommodate this request (despite my own appeals that, due to my highly specialized job and the timing of my youngest son’s schooling, he should explain that his ability to move among districts was limited). Two months later, my husband informed me that he would be assigned to a church 3 hours away.

I was shocked that neither of the District Superintendents nor anyone in the (administrative) Church seemed too disturbed with the fact that his family could not accompany him. I was further shocked when my husband informed me that, had he requested a limited range of movement, he could have been assigned a 5-point charge (a seemingly unworthy assignment that likely doesn’t even exist). My husband and others in the church system also expressed to our family that it was not befitting to attend our prior church, as it could appear we were usurping the ministry of the new pastor and his wife. Overnight, we had become foreigners in our own land. I was distraught that my husband’s ministerial work position was more important than a ministering position to his family. My son and my friends were also confused, but accepted my superficial assurances. I did the best I could to convince everyone, including myself, that this decision was of GOD, and we should be compelled to support it. In truth, I began to question if GOD was punishing me for not being a more faithful spouse in holding onto a house for emotional insurance reasons, among other thoughts I had been entertaining. I decided that my best plan of recourse was to use the research skills I had acquired in graduate school and try to be a positive voice for spouses who might also feel disenfranchised by the itineracy or other church practices.

At the time of my research planning, when attempting to lay the groundwork, only one person responded to express her frustration in a social network forum meant only for the eyes of pastoral spouses. This pastor’s wife’s responsive post was immediately admonished (literally within seconds) by other wives in the group, who tried to minimize her anguish. Perhaps it was to mask their fears that I’d brought up the potential dissatisfaction that might be costly to their own spouses’ next appointments, had they taken what they perceived to be “the bait.” Or perhaps the immediate negative response by those “in charge” of the group was meant to instill a fear in others of being likewise bullied should anyone else consider responding. Or perhaps, as I reasoned then, the issue was a personal one not shared by many, if any, others. Meanwhile, I physically, emotionally and even spiritually spent myself that next year, traveling up and down the freeway to attend my husband’s church 3 hours away, never feeling fully incorporated into that body of believers. My youngest son and I were brought to the front of the church one Sunday to be added as members (informed by my husband that we were needed on the rolls to numerically increase membership for the year). By the following year, I was so discouraged and burnt out, I struggled to find places to worship locally with friends. (My isolation had transitioned to a longer-term relational stage of isolated complacency.) Never in my life have I felt like such an outsider. 

By the time I laid my research project aside, convinced I’d never hear the truth from others suffering (if others existed), I realized that my own spouse had become completely non-communicative with me, comfortably living at a distance in another part of the state for our final 3 years of marriage, without making any provision for his family. Our personal visits and prayer life had become non-existent; our phone calls had grown sparse and meaningless; and any requests for support (more often emotional than physical) were met with great reluctance or outright resistance. Furthermore, the people from our church grew content to be just as non-forthcoming about “the elephant in the room” – or the one that wasn’t present if you visited either of our very separate residences. If the church’s needs were being met through the pastoral appointment of my husband, the pastor’s family dynamics seemed to be of no great consequence. The church obviously needed an appointed pastor more than his family did. (And, in truth, they got something I never did, since my husband once bluntly stated to me that he could never be my pastor. He had effectively relationally distanced himself, far beyond miles on a freeway.)

After giving so much of myself to the church, including supporting a husband through two graduate degrees (completely financially through the first), I have become a bit disillusioned. Not in GOD. Never in the beauty of how Jesus Christ came to restore humanity to Himself. Just in the reality of how we can so miss the mark of worship in our service to others – particularly to those with whom we make covenant. That greatly saddens me in myself, always left to wonder what blame I should take in being a covenant-breaker. And in all this, I’m left to wonder for what the modern-day church intends to stand. We do a wonderful job of preaching social justice and servitude – while we offer no mercy or grace to those that should reside in our own homes.

I understand that when 1 finger is pointed outward, 3 are pointed back at the accuser. In the perilous exposure of divorce, I’ve had enough accusations thrown my way that I just want to tuck my hands in my pockets and remain quiet. But that may have been where I detrimentally contributed the most. Apparently I, too, missed the mark greatly when I held in my suffering to the breaking point, to the point when upon finally addressing my husband with tears and remorse, I was merely offered an affirmation from him that we really had nothing more to discuss on the matter. An impasse with someone who no longer shared life with me seemed only to equate to divorce. Perhaps I was wrong about that, but given many other collateral circumstances – especially the one where I heard nothing more from him for months, until 2 days before the final hearing (and then only vitriolic criticisms), I don’t think so. I’ve tried to come to peace about that. I know, however, that peace can only come from the Prince of Peace, Himself. I rely on that daily.

As for me, I will confess:
I still feel displaced in church worship –
-as displaced as when my husband told his District Superintendent over 3 years ago that he could itinerate anywhere in the Conference without worry, and persuaded me to corroborate the story, when asked;
-as displaced as when I gave my husband a ride home from Annual Conference this past year, without him speaking a word or sharing a thought with me, knowing it was the last year I would ever spend time there with my youngest son and grandchildren, as this had been our family’s only vacation time;
-as displaced as my (now prior married) name that was so easily removed from all ties with the church, again without a word from anyone there;
-as displaced as the emptiness I feel when I receive the email list of church members who have passed, people with whom I felt relationship, and have no one with whom to mourn;
-as displaced as the lack of mounds of Christmas cards to write to my church family or the exhausting bustle of church demands that this special advent season traditionally brings;
-as displaced as my distrust that now questions the idea of ever sharing anyone else’s name or dreams;
-as displaced and disenfranchised as my research plan.

As for that research, I realize I’ve been gathering my own empirical data for many years now. And, yes, the pain is so obvious. The hurt is so deep.

I pray that the Church will awaken to the detrimental practices of an outdated system that does not work for all pastoral families. And, though it might not have saved my own marriage, I pray that – one day soon – there will be pastors and pastoral spouses who will not be afraid to take a stand of social justice for those who have been disenfranchised by such antiquated ideals.

Until then…I’ll just continue to pray.

Carpe Diem #956 Stars

My submission today is in response to the Carpe Diem prompt: stars. “Enjoy this episode and let it inspire you to create a haiku, haiga or tanka, tank-art.!”

I decided to form a tiny star haiga regarding my personal response to the first time I stood on the bank of Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior on a clear summer’s night. It was then when I realized the enormity of stars I had never before seen in the sky. (May you also be-dazzled by my humor to the double entendre degree.)

Illumination

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: The Colors Blue & White

First, many thanks to Cee for featuring my post last week – Freeways, Expressways, and Highways – among many other wonderful ones. I’m very humbled, since my expertise lies in the photography of humans from the inside out – though I have just as great an amateur passion for trying to capture the beauty I find in the world around me to share with others. So thank you for allowing me a venue for that. 🙂

Now onward to Cee’s challenge for this week, highlighting the colors white and/or blue. For this one, I thought I’d share a few my own little C’s photos that she took at her uncle’s (and now new aunt’s) wedding, using my camera. Whereas I most enjoy taking wider expanse landscapes, she most enjoys closer views of flora and fauna (often mixed with eclectic angles of life from her perspective).

She had no direction, assistance or editing help with these – she just took off with ‘camera in 10-year-old hand.’ So it was great fun for me when I later downloaded the SD card and got to see segments of the day through her eyes!

I often wonder how much more wondrous this wounded world would be –
If we too but tarried and took the time through others’ eyes to see.

Here’s to time well taken,

-jody

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Freeways, Expressways, Highways

Cee threw out another of her Photo Challenges this week, the topic being: Freeways, Expressways, Highways – in another words, roads where you can travel fast on.

She left me thinking of how very many places I’ve gotten to travel this past year, and how very different those places often were. I thought I’d put a couple of high contrast images on here as examples (contrast of places and temperatures, not necessarily photo technique).

The first was taken on my iPhone-5 (yes, I still have a 5 & would have my 4 if I hadn’t fallen on it while crossing a creek – what’s your point?)… while traveling on I-70, I believe, on my way toward Idaho Springs. It was last late July; but as we went up into those mountains on the Guanella Pass, the temperature dropped quickly from 80-something degrees to 40 degrees at the top.

colorado

Contrast that with the second image from the first of March this year in the Yei, South Sudan area (in which I dug quickly for my Nikon and stuck it against a dusted plane window around the propeller). I believe this should be the Kaya Highway down below (the large dirt road in front of the mountain range). You might also imagine the contrast in temperature, which was around 105 degrees when we flew out that day (and felt like 140 degrees on the plane), with temperatures that didn’t dip below 90 degrees even in the middle of the nights. I also don’t have to point out the contrast in the types of roadways.

Kaya_Hwy_Yei

As for speed…were you to see the ruts on the Kaya Highway, you would think, “that doesn’t meet Cee’s criterion of roads you can travel fast on.” True…unless you put it into perspective compared to the roads back in the gaba (the bush)…or unless you’re a UN truck on Kaya Hwy. You should see those convoys barreling down that road while waving all pedestrians, livestock, boda-bodas, and four-wheel vehicles out of their way (as if we’re not already wanting to give right of way of our own accord). “What ruts, they say? Only you, if you don’t get out of the way!” (Besides that, I was in a plane when I took this picture – okay, a puddle-jumper, to be exact – but I figure that added some extra speed when my photo was taken!)

Happy trails (and byways) to you!

-jody