Sunday, April 29, 2007

The power of (grasping) love

My pastor is preaching through Ephesians and this morning's sermon covered the third chapter. I'd been reading it all week, preparing my heart and mind for this weekend's homily. I thought I had it down. But, oh, how wrong I was.

In his excitement, Paul keeps getting sidetracked and takes until the very end of this third chapter to finally tell the believers at Ephesus what his prayer for them is.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I made a special note in the margin of my Bible that grasping, understanding, this love of Christ takes power. Paul uses the word twice. That's from the Holy Spirit, and I've got the Holy Ghost power, amen. But as Mike preached and expounded on this perfect love that God has for us, this love that will never let us go, this love divine, all love's excelling, I realized how very little of it I understand, how far I come from truly grasping it. Indeed, my hold on this love is tenuous and tentative at best.

The truth is, I don't trust God's love. I think He's fickle sometimes. I think His love is hard and demanding, tough love. That's what I expect from God. I want His tender compassion and His mercy renewed every morning, but too often, I look around and think: This is it? So I am disappointed and decide that God must be sovereign and lofty and oh so good, but I have a lurking doubt about that love part.

Now I know why Paul's prayer for the Ephesians was so passionate and so important that it needed to become part of Scripture. I think this must be God's desire for us: to know His infinite, gracious, tender love; to trust in it, and in Him, completely; to grasp it, knowing that He is grasping us in His own tight grip and will never let us go.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dive right in

Friend of the blog, Jen Abbas, is planning a wedding. In July, she'll wed beau Niels. Jen is the author of Generation Ex, a book that I know a lot of adult children of divorce have found tremendously beneficial. As she gets ready to walk the aisle, Jen offers some thoughts on the unique challenges of wedding planning for children of divorce.

" does one plan a wedding with all the naive, optimistic hope that makes two people giddy enough to take the plunge when some of the most important guests have shown us that sometimes the water's not so great for swimming?"

Read more here.

Knowing what not to do

A few years before he died, my Grandpa C. wrote an autobiography. In his late teens, he found out what he didn't want to do with his life:

In the summer of 1943 I got a factory job working at the CB&Q Foundry in the machine shop. Bob worked there and he got me the job. The whole summer I stood at an automatic drill drilling two holes into small plugs, which fit into the small hole in the end of barrels. I thought I had drilled enough of these pieces to last forever. After standing at that drill all summer, I made up my mind that I was going to do something besides work in a factory. A summer of this was enough for a life time.

Grandpa taught us a valuable lesson. It's okay to try something and decide it's not for you.

Somehow, with two grandfathers who were skilled carpenters, I managed to inherit not a single carpentry gene. A few weeks ago, my silverware drawer broke; or, more precisely, the slide mechanism broke. Not a problem, said I. I am woman, hear me operate a Dremel. But as Scripture says, pride goes before a fall. And as I recall, the Proverbs 31 woman was nowhere praised as a whiz with a hammer and screws.

I followed all the directions for the new slide with just a few muttered curse words as I contorted my body to fit inside the cabinet. I drilled, screwed, realized I'd measured wrong, drilled and screwed again, only to find in the final analysis that the whole assembly is mounted ever so slightly too low. There is a small gap showing above the drawer front and it's all just a little atilt.

Fortunately, I have picked up one good skill through the years: knowing when to walk away before the tears spill over. I would a thousand times rather be sitting here at the computer telling you the story, in a humorous fashion, than be down in the kitchen drilling and screwing for a third time over. I am officially crossing "carpenter" off the list of jobs I might want to have someday.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wanting something

I subscribe to an online nonfiction book club and just picked up from the library one of the selections from a few weeks back that had intrigued me. It's the story of a girl looking for her adoptive parents. More precisely, it's the story of the man she contacts believing him to be her birth father.

As Michael Mewshaw tells his story in If You Could See Me Now, he tells of growing up as the son of parents who divorced during World War II. His mother harbored deep resentment toward Michael's father, telling her sons that their dad was a gambler who had left them ruined financially and scandalized morally. Mewshaw writes:

"When, many years later, I found the nerve to ask him about his first marriage and the part that gambling had played in its failure, he curtly replied, 'Whatever I did, you and Pat and your mother never wanted for anything.'

"I wish I had had the courage to inform my father that there were things I wanted and never had. I wanted to know him. I wanted his love and approval and his presence in my life. What I got instead--well, it wasn't without value. Early on I learned a basic premise of art--the paradoxical importance of silence in music, blank spaces on a page of poetry. While what happens to kids has inescapable consequences, what doesn't happen can have even greater impact."

Friday, April 20, 2007

What would Jesus say?

David Instone-Brewer had an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks back on divorce in the Bible. It's an interesting piece. I have Instone-Brewer's book at home and will post a review of it here soon.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A space in your home

The New York Times has an interesting article on how non-custodial parents make their visiting children feel at home. Here's an excerpt:

Many American children of divorce play a residential version of the schoolyard game Red Rover, shuttling between their parents’ houses. But these children are not just visiting their mothers and fathers. Their parents often remarry or live with partners who have children, and sometimes the new couple has children too. With multiple stepparents, stepsiblings, half siblings and pseudosiblings, it’s a whole new type of family, and with it comes the challenge to design a home where everyone feels welcome. Members of these blended families, as well as psychotherapists, said creating a comfortable and inclusive home is fraught with difficulty. For adults and children alike, having a place in the house has parallels to having a place in the family. Hurt feelings and lasting resentment can spring from something as seemingly mundane as wall color or closet space.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Story time

Lest anyone be tempted to doubt my literary prowess, I give you this gem, exactly as it was written twelve days after my eighth birthday:

Once upon a time in the heart of a fast jungle there livid an elevant, who in times of trouble was a coward. For instant, last saturday, the house was om fire and he ran away! The End

Friday, April 13, 2007

Everybody gets divorced

Amanda Witt has a great article in Touchstone magazine about her children's friendship with a neighborhood girl whose mother is a lesbian. Would that more Christians had this kind of witness to their unbelieving neighbors. Here's an excerpt that relates to our topic here, starting with the lesbian's daughter.

“She’s a lesbian. But I am not a lesbian. No way. But listen—don’t tell your Mom until tonight, okay?”
“Why not?”
“Because then she won’t be able to go yell at my Mom until tomorrow, so we can be friends for the rest of today.”
My kids looked at each other. Here, finally, was a topic my son completely understood.
“Um, listen,” he said to the new girl. “I don’t know much about lesbians, but I know my mother. She is not going to go yell at your mother.”
“But she won’t let us be friends.”
“Why not? The girl who used to live in your house—her parents were divorced, and divorce isn’t a good thing, either, but we were friends with her anyway. And my mother was friends with her mother.”
“It isn’t the same thing. Everybody gets divorced—I mean, like duh, my parents are divorced. It’s not a big deal. But nobody likes lesbians.”

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Follow the link

Here are ten suggestions to help make a difference for a child of divorce you might know.

New children's books

I'm trying to get review copies of both of these so I can post reviews here.

From PRWeb:
"How I Survived my Parent's Big Scary Divorce by Audrey Lavin is a warm, funny, and supportive book to help children understand and process their parents' divorce, and know that they are not to blame."
"The Summer of the Snail takes the reader on a captivating journey into the heart of a little girl. Though the book addresses the heartache of divorce in the life of a child, this is not merely a story for children of divorce. It is an unforgettable story for all families with a timeless message of resilience, perseverance and everlasting love."

Partridge parting

Actor Danny Bonaduce, the red-headed kid from The Partridge Family, announced that his wife is seeking a divorce. The Bonaduces were married 16 years and have two kids.

From the Washington Post:
"There's no fight. Nobody's mad at anybody at my house," he said.
"It's been months of `You know, I think we'd be happier apart. I'm not happy, Danny.' But thing is, she has been friendly, and helpful," Bonaduce said.

I guess she forgot the words to the most famous Patridge Family song,
Come On Get Happy.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Old update

Of course, the better Femmes song for Wendy's would have been my personal favorite, Fat.

And speaking of music, the fabulous Oak Ridge Boys were just now on Leno singing "Sanjaya," in Jay's weekly American Idol/real celebrity bit. Hilarious! The Boys were my very first concert, at the Heart of Illinois fair way back when, followed by either Jack Wagner or Rick Springfield, I honestly can't remember which, a few years later. I have a craving for a corn dog...

The day I got very, very old...

...was the day that Blister in the Sun became mainstream enough to be background music for a Wendy's commercial. Violent Femmes as muzak? Say it ain't so!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Finding security in God

Found on Jen Abbas' blog:

The only way I knew to avoid divorce was to avoid marriage. My pastor reminded me that God is my heavenly Father, and that if I let Him, He will help me to find and maintain a marriage that lasts.
Jen, who is newly engaged, has written a great post on how she got to this place in life. The story is well worth reading in its entirety. Click here.

Divorce 19th century style

I ran across this article and thought it was a little humorous.

Near the middle of one of Morgan County’s oldest cemeteries, an unassuming marker honors a man who was not unassuming.
It honors Civil War veteran James Kindred Williams, a father of 22, who arguably has one of the strangest divorce cases in the county’s history.
“He divorced his first wife because she wouldn’t sleep with him anymore,” family historian Calvin Spurlin said. “After 16 children, I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t sleep with him anymore.”