Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
This is the short story of four orphaned boys. Their lineages vary from unimportant to scandalous, but at early ages they were all adopted by loving and affluent families. The way these boys responded to their adoptions is the reason I’m telling their story. This is not a true story, mind you…or is it? I’ll let you decide for yourself.
The first boy fell in love with his parents from his very first glance of them. He was excited to meet his new brothers and sisters and to find his place in the family. He wore his new name like a crown upon his head, and he spent rainy afternoons doodling his name in a notebook. He’d never owned anything of value before, and his new name was a thing of beauty that no one could take away. More than the riches of the household, he valued his home and family. He would never be an orphan again.
He’d had the same diet and done the same chores for his eleven years in the orphanage. His family’s rules were different to him, but he dedicated himself to knowing and doing those things that would please his parents. He loved his brothers and sisters, and he was careful to be generous, loving, and grateful, but it was his parents he endeavored to please. Within a few short months he had found his place. He no longer referred to himself as “adopted,” though his history left him with a gratitude that his siblings couldn’t quite understand. He was simply his father’s son, now. His adoption had been a success.
The second boy’s reaction was different. Of course he was grateful for his adoption, and he expressed that gratitude often. He did not think himself worthy of full adoption, however. He did not accept his new name. He tip-toed around his new siblings, always afraid of what they might think. Did they think he was overstepping? Was he trying to be more than his birth would allow? He did his chores dutifully; he participated in family activities, and he tried to be very good. But until the day he died he never stopped referring to himself as his father’s adopted son.
The third boy’s reaction was similar to the second’s. He also felt unworthy of his adoption and of his new family’s name. He was inwardly jealous of his siblings because he thought they were loved more than he was. Though his parents accepted him unconditionally, he maintained an attitude of second-class. He wore a badge of poverty in the wealthiest of households, and he refused to eat at the same table or to participate in family activities that seemed to be traditions unique to his family. He thought he was acting humbly as he maintained his orphan identity. He wanted sincerely to please his parents and siblings, but he often felt far from them. He insisted on the chores and diet that he’d grown accustomed to in the orphanage. He lived his whole life as an orphan, though he was offered his father’s house.
The last boy’s reaction may shock you; it seems unlikely, though I’ve seen it happen. He entered his new home with excitement, but in that excitement he quickly usurped the place of his parents’ natural born children. He demanded the best room in the house. He gave little thought to the chores or rules that guided his siblings’ lives. He’d heard that one cannot disown an adopted child like they can a natural born; his parents had promised to love him forever, and he felt confident in their promise. That confidence did not produce a heart of service, however, but an attitude of entitlement. He felt as much right, more right, to the family name as the children who had been born in the house. He felt strongly that his adoption also afforded him special privileges. “Freedom” was the banner he carried; he was free from his family’s archaic ideas. He served his parents as he pleased, and he enjoyed the unconditional wealth of his father.
If you’ve been adopted into the family of God, you may see yourself in these boys’ stories. I see my past in the third and fourth. I grew up as an adopted orphan. I would never just be “His child”. The rules and discipline for me were different; I was adopted, not a real child. That lie alone left me outside when I so desperately wanted to be included, but I also enjoyed what I thought of as “freedom.” I was free from the rules of His house, though that freedom left me wanting.
Today, I see myself in the first boy’s reaction. I am my Father’s child. My Father’s rules apply to me because He’s given me His name. I doodle my name on paper. I wear my name like a crown. There is no difference between me and the children who were born in His house. There is no difference in our rules. There is no difference in our food. There is no difference in our traditions. I do not serve Him to earn His love; I serve Him because He loves me. I’m not His adopted child; I’m Sarah of the family of Israel. I will walk as Israel walks. Everything He has is mine, and I will inherit what Israel inherits. If your adoption has been different than this, it’s not too late to change your mind.
Ephesians 2:11-13 (KJV)
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
It’s morning. It’s raining outside and my room is still dark, but I know it’s morning because I’m awake. I never wake before seven without a reason, and often it’s much later than that. My children are still sleeping, too; so is the little dog. I see the clock blinking haughtily at me– pretending it knows the time. We both know it’s full of it. I toy with the idea of going back to sleep, but the big dog comes to get me and I realize we both have the same problem. I let her outside, and then I run to the nearest bathroom.
Run might be an understatement, though I have the ability to run. When the little dog chases a chicken, or I hear a blood curdling scream from one of my quieter children…then, I will run. If I need to move quickly, or I get upset, or I face unwanted confrontation, or I need to perform a mundane task that, heaven forbid, involves leaving the house, my body will take every ounce of energy (the energy I was saving for the next couple of days) and haphazardly dump it into my blood stream. It does this without my permission. My heart races from the uncomfortable surge of adrenaline; all at once I have the strength of ten infirmed and very elderly men.
After one of these rushes happens, I am left completely drained. The strength of the rush determines the strength of the crash. A light crash leaves me shaky and tired (but too shaky and tired to sleep). A serious crash feels like the flu, and it might last a couple of days.
This is what life is like. I don’t usually talk about it, ‘cause it’s hard to sound sick without sounding depressed. And I am not, in fact, depressed.
Still, I wake with bone pain from my toes to my neck. “Bone tired”? That’s how I wake up. I often also wake with the sneaking suspicion that I am a sleep-marathon-runner. I have the sore muscles to prove it, but I’m lacking the fabulously toned bod that one might expect of a late-night, all-night runner.
I wander into the kitchen to make the coffee I know I shouldn’t drink, and then I settle into my favorite chair to read or to study or to spend a few minutes dorking around on Facebook. When the children emerge from the hallway, I get up to make an egg cake, some gluten free carrot pancakes, or some eggs and turkey bacon. If you’ve been coming here for a while now, you know I’d rather be making bean bag-sized cinnamon rolls with gobs of sugary frosting. But that’s no more, at least not until we figure some things out.
My youngest daughter has had a few migraines. I suffered with migraines for years. While seeing doctor after doctor and receiving [negative] test after [negative] test, it turns out that what they did do (drugs) only exacerbated the problem down the line. I was finally set free from this drug addiction by a wise neurologist who (while he couldn’t diagnose the underlying pain) informed me, very bluntly, that I was slowly killing myself with drugs.
My daughter also has the same severe growing pains that I had when I was her age. Right now I cannot help but think that my issues, and hers, stem from an undiagnosed gluten allergy. In my case, celiac plus candida induced adrenal fatigue explains every one of my symptoms. And I know, gluten allergies are so trendy. Trust me, I’d rather have something obscure…something they could name after me. Still, gluten is my primary target of suspicion at the moment. Since the celiac tests are often inconclusive, we’re simply removing it from our diet and waiting and watching what happens. So far, so good. There’s no change in me, but Miss C’s leg pain has completely subsided, and she hasn’t had a headache all week. I’ve been gluten free (again) for a couple of months, now. After quite a bit of wrestling with God, I consented to adding gluten to my year-long sugar fast. This will be my third attempt at shunning the gluten. This time I promise I’m serious.
Since in Missouri, I’ve had the privilege of sitting down and talking with so many different people…hearing their stories and marveling over both our similarities and our differences. Sometimes it’s in the talking things out that we realize we already know what’s what. My pediatrician over-prescribed antibiotics, and that set me off on a road I haven’t recovered from, yet (candidiasis). That’s usually my lead-in when I’m recounting my medical history. It takes a long, long time to make up for years of antibiotics, especially if you were raised before Google and your parents were at the mercy of the “professionals” (and then you spent years as a raging bread addict). And, of course, those professionals were at the mercy of their teachers. No one could research like we can, today. With all the misinformation out there, I am still incredibly grateful for our ability to study online—to connect with people, to read their stories. I have nothing against physicians as a profession. Godly men in doctors’ coats have saved my life on two separate occasions. Medical science has been my worst enemy in more insidious ways, however. And so food, as much as is possible, will be my medicine now. He created it to be just that.
In a conversation this spring, I talked with a dear friend as she sat doubled-over my kitchen table. I’d accidentally “glutened” her with a contaminated corn chip; she knew how badly I felt, so she tried to act like she wasn’t hurting. I asked her about her life with celiac, and I asked her if she thought celiac was a “new” illness due to GMOs and such. That’s when she shocked me. “My mother died from celiac,” she said. I wanted to cry as she told me the story of her tragically misdiagnosed mother who spent years being treated for acute depression when she was simply allergic to a tiny protein found in wheat and a few other grains. Her grandfather drank; he used alcohol to numb his severe leg pain.
It wasn’t until my friend was grown (and had grown children) that she was diagnosed with the illness she’d suffered from her entire life (and the skilled doctors were able to work backward through time to diagnose both her mother and grandfather). Her adult son was also diagnosed. Every word she said felt like both hopeful confirmation and an attack on my entire identity. I’m the pizza lady! Could I actually become the gluten-free pizza lady?
Only time will tell.
For now, this is the path I’m walking. And I’ve decided to blog about it because I know I’m not the only one walking it. I’ve been fermenting and kombucha-ing, and gardening, and egg “farming”. I’m hoping to raise a little barn at our new place and get some milking goats as quickly as possible. In the living of it, I haven’t had much time or energy for the blogging of it. But I will try. I want to be the mother my children deserve–and someone who is around for the long-haul. Even if that means no more donuts.
Last week I posted this picture to Facebook. Do you follow us on Facebook?
The shot was meant to feature our new dog (and her fabulous kissy face). We call her Maxine (Max for short). I say we call her “Max” ’cause that’s not officially her name…yet. The eight year old beauty shares a name with one of my daughters, actually. And while my daughter thought that was so cool, her mother felt differently about it. So, we call her “Max”. She’s beginning to answer to it. She comes, sits, stays, protects…Max is the new love of our lives. She’s good around chickens and has a ferocious bark (which is what I was looking for).
When I saw that the picture featured something else, too, I posted to Facebook that I needed a bottle of vodka (and that the reason could be spotted in the picture). Do you see what I saw? Right behind Mr. P’s head?
The plant behind his head was actually the shortest of the stevia plants. Yep, the day I had been waiting for had come. The stevia was ready to harvest!
I realize that this wonderment produced by ample stevia may not be something you can all relate to. I am, however, two full months into a one-year, no sugar healing plan. Stevia is the only sweetener I can have, and I have to turn my nose up at all of the so-called stevia in my grocery store. So I’ve really been looking forward to this.
I picked, washed, and dried a large batch of stevia leaves, and then I headed to Wal Mart for groceries and vodka.
The check-out line is where things got interesting.
We had a cart-full, like we always do. The kids love to unload the cart, and I love to not have to unload it. Miss S grabbed the decent sized bottle of medium quality vodka and plunked it down on the belt beside a loaf of gluten free sandwich bread and a large tub of organic spinach. That’s when the wrist to neck tattoo behind the register looked straight into my eyes and said bluntly, “I cannot sell you that.”
Now, y’all know that grocery shopping with kids is not exactly a walk in the park. I had reached the finish line, and I was just eagerly begging to cross it. I searched for the little sign informing me that my line was not the line for liquor. I looked at the fully loaded belt before me and wondered just how badly I needed that stevia. The checker saw my confusion and reached his hand for the bottle. “He has a solution in mind!” I thought. I always assume the best, y’all. But when he began to explain my predicament to me, the scene went a little something like this:
“Ma’am,” he said with a glint of power in his communist eyes, “a minor put that bottle on the belt, and I have the right to refuse to sell it to you.”
In my head I thought, “AAAHHHHH!”
Out-loud I said, “A minor? Do you mean my nine year old daughter who was helping unload our groceries?”
“Yes,” he said. “She handled the bottle. I have the right to refuse to sell it to you.”
In my head I thought, “What?!” And I looked at him through squinted eyes that feigned a willingness for confrontation.
Out-loud I muttered, with just enough confidence to impress my watching children, “Well, then can you please change your mind?”
“I can call my manager and let you speak to them, but they usually agree with me, ” he said with the worst kind of self-assurance.
In my head I thought, “Oh, some stuff is gonna hit the fan.”
Out-loud I said, “Yes, would you please call your manager.”
And at the end of the day, I made this:
No fish. Again. I know there are still fish in that pond, because they keep nibbling and chomping…we hooked and began to reel in three different ones yesterday (or the same one three times), but we didn’t drag any of them to shore. We did hit a motherload of chanterelles! I like to have something “meaty” with dinner…and mushrooms work great for that.
I sat by the pond and shelled hickory nut after hickory nut, because I was determined to make a cheese-less pesto with lots of lemony wood sorrel and basil. That would have been nice with fish. But every time I turned to bait another line, my little fishing buddy stole my nuts. So, there was no pesto. Instead I made a really nice sauce (my mom’s idea) out of reduced fresh tomato with basil, tyme, and little rosemary. The sauce paired so well with the chanterelles (besides being gorgeous).
While we were hunting for mushrooms, Miss C and I bagged every plant and flower that looked remotely interesting to us. When we got home, we got out the laptops and had a fun nature lesson. We’ve only positively identified Daisy Fleabane and St. Johns Wort, but I’m really excited to make St. Johns Wort tea for the winter (St. Johns Wort isn’t great for summer because it can make you extremely photosensitive–something I already struggle with).
I may have spent half of my life in the mountains, but I was still born in the city. What’s left of the city-girl in me still assumes that every plant and berry is poisonous–highly. We’ve eaten dandelions for quite a few years now, but besides that and wild mint and mullein tea, we’ve steered clear of everything else. So, this year has been really fun. I’m definitely a foraging newbie, but thanks to Google and some very informative foraging sites, we’re getting more adventurous all the time.
These berries are from a nanking cherry bush. It was planted here on purpose, but I’m not sure our landlord was even aware of the edible berries. Thanks to some research, we began picking in time to enjoy hundreds of these tart little cherries. And when we weren’t picking, the chickens were feasting. I’ve saved back some seeds to try growing our own. Cherries without a tree? Who knew?!
I feel it’s important that I begin this post with a caveat: This is written to Believers. If you do not believe in the Bible as the final authority on…everything, reading this may make you irrationally angry. And that’s fine, but you’ve been warned. Additionally, many healthy and happy adults have made it successfully to adulthood without having a proper “sex talk” with their parents. I feel it’s necessary to say that because this type of post could implode into a cauldron of guilt. I get it. Reading articles on cloth diapering and sign language for babies often drags me to the depths of despair. Pinterest is a big problem, too.
Satan would love nothing more than to steal your tomorrow by reminding you of your yesterday! If you’re past the child-rearing stage of life, I pray you will glean from this something deeper than what’s on the surface–whether you’re happy with the way you approached this subject with your own children or not (and whether you’ve had children or not). If you have young children, or hope to someday have children, I hope you will find something valuable to carry with you–and perhaps apply within your own home.
In my talks with Christian parents, I find that most (of course not all) of them fall firmly on one of two sides of the fence. One side seeks to normalize sexual organs and biology, from a very young age, in order to maintain an open door for communication. This is the pe – – s and va – – – a camp; they’re all about the scientific names. The other side (many of whom would have just been made extremely uncomfortable if not for the editing in that last sentence) sweats in silence and prays the conversation never comes up. While I definitely don’t recommend the latter, I haven’t exactly chosen the former. My five-year-old still exists in the land of blissful ignorance where body parts have funny names. And truly, I’m perfectly contented with him staying right there until he learns to keep his aforementioned parts covered (or at the very least refrains from whooping and laughing like a banshee when he decides to streak through the house).
My four older children received “the sex talk” at ages seven and eight. The sex talk is actually a little misleading, as it’s a subject we discuss fairly often. I didn’t sit them down for the initial talk. In a way, they sat me down. I don’t believe this would have happened without carefully cultivated communication. Before premeditated prying into their hearts and minds, I thought they told me everything. I was wrong. And as it turns out, the same thoughts that ran through my mind at their age also run through theirs. These thoughts, emotions, feelings…must all be discussed without shame. Discussion must be purposely and repetitively encouraged. I wish more Christians understood this: One doesn’t cultivate a holy life by merely banning unholy things to the darkness. Holiness starts with openness and truth; only the light can do that. If we pretend things aren’t so, or even banish certain topics or feelings, we only push those things into corners. They will not disappear there; they will grow in silence to rear uglier, more destructive heads later on. But really, I’m getting ahead of myself.
One of my daughters was deeply disturbed by some billboards she had seen along the highway. Five minutes into our talk I could tell it was going to be important, so I called in the other two girls. They couldn’t understand why a woman would stand naked in front of a camera. That led us to our first topic of discussion: love, and our desire for it.
I did my best to humanize the woman who had inadvertently violated their eyes. It wasn’t her fault, I told them. No woman would choose to do that if she felt deeply valued by her Father, the King; princesses wear beautiful clothes. But it soon became obvious that I was going to have to explain something deeper. They needed to know why Satan would attempt to remove her clothing. What was it about her body that the enemy desired to use?
It was time to explain lust to children who hadn’t been given the talk.
“Hold on,“ I told them. “We need tea...and cookies. I’ll put the boys to bed.”
The talk with the girls lasted a little over an hour…with plenty of time for questions. Though abbreviated, my monologue went something like this:
Did you know that when God made Adam in the garden, He actually made Adam and Eve? They were both there…right there in one person. This was not the case with any other creation. Every other creature was created male and female individually. But the entire likeness of God was [compacted and replicated] in one single human being. God soon announced that it wasn’t good for man to be alone (insert joke about talking to oneself). The Father knew that it wasn’t good. He said it wasn’t good. So, why did He create Adam alone? Why didn’t He make man like He’d made the animals. Why did He choose to put Adam to sleep and [surgically] pull Eve from his side? This seems like the harder way!
When puzzle makers make a puzzle, they don’t make each piece on its own. They make a whole puzzle and then cut it with something like a big cookie cutter. This way every piece not only fits perfectly, it actually has an original place. It’s the same way with Adam and Eve. They were one person, and they longed to be one person again. Because He’s good (and because He was painting a bigger picture), God made them like puzzle pieces–able to fit back together.
Ephesians 5:31-32 (KJV) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
I made a hole between my thumb and forefinger to represent the wife, and I used my first finger on the other hand to represent the husband. I didn’t use the terms “man” and “woman,” only “husband” and “wife” because that is what the Creator intended. I used the technical terms for body parts, and I also used “cuter” names that represented a function (i.e. baby door, ingredients, etc.). Once they understood the basics of intercourse and procreation, we watched a few YouTube videos of eggs being fertilized in-utero (way cool!).
Now, we were ready for the lust talk.
You see, when a husband sees his wife’s body, and when a wife sees her husband’s body, they are supposed to want each other. They are meant to fit together and to once again feel one. But you know how puzzle pieces can be made to fit somewhere else in the puzzle, even though it destroys the picture? This is what Satan wants to do! Eve (as we do as women) represents the Bride of Yeshua, and Adam (as men do) represents Yeshua Himself. In the end of time, there will be one glorious and final marriage*. It won’t look anything like earthly marriage; marriage on earth is merely a symbol, the Bible calls it a mystery, so we can try to grasp the real thing that is coming. But that symbol is so important, and the enemy works [tirelessly] to destroy it.
*I highly recommend studying and walking your children through the seven Feasts of the Lord in order to better understand Israel’s betrothal to YHVH and the final wedding that is coming.
With this we were able to discuss modesty and the reasons for protecting one’s body and sexual purity. No man or woman should be tempted by the body of another, because the temptation is then to fit a puzzle piece where it doesn’t belong (thus tainting, blaspheming, and ultimately destroying that mysterious picture given by God).
Each one of them smiled at the wonder of God, and I sat on cloud nine for hours.
I hadn’t talked to “the boy” yet. I thought that would be a year (or more) away. Then, on our very next talking night…
He said, “Mom, I have something I need to talk to you about.” My heart sank. It sounded bad. My best friends will tell you that it always sounds bad to me. Never tell me you need to talk. I freak out every time. The boy (the man) has given me permission to post this. He didn’t even hesitate. His exact words were, “Sure. It could help someone else…so sure!”
“Mom, I have something I need to talk to you about.”
“Yes?” I said in a low, quiet voice.
“I have bad thoughts,” he said.
As it turned out, those damnable billboards were affecting more than my girls. He was seeing pictures of scantily clad women…flooding his mind for hours and distracting him during school-time. He didn’t even know what to do with those thoughts, he just knew that he found them disturbing, distracting…guilt-inducing. He sat in a halted terror and waited for my reaction.
I hugged him tighter than ever before, and I couldn’t stop the tears from falling.
“Oh, honey! I am so proud of you for telling me! We’re going to need tea…and cookies.”
I spent the next hour or more going through basically the same lesson I’d just walked through with the girls. If he was going to fight those thoughts, he first needed to understand their purpose–what they were meant to destroy. Having the talk with girls is fun, but having the talk with a boy is such an overwhelming privilege. I cannot even count how many times he leaped up and shouted, “Wow!” I can’t count how many times I cried.
Grasping his role as a representative of Yeshua (in the mysterious picture revealed through husband and wife) is a powerful, powerful thing. I cannot even imagine how powerful…but he got it. He got excited. He got fired up. Then, he got angry. He was ready to fight, and fight he did. We battled in prayer together, and I checked in with him every night (or he did with me) to talk about strategies of war. He made a list of things to pray for, and putting others’ needs above his own became his primary mode of attack. Within a few days he was reporting victories, and after a few weeks he told me proudly that he never even worried about the thoughts because it had been so long since he’d had one. “But if they ever come back, I know what to do,” he added with a twinkle in his eye. I don’t believe he would have gained ground on the enemy so quickly without understanding what destruction was intended. Someone saw him as powerful, and someone wanted to remove him from the picture.
It’s the traditional line among Believers, but I will never tell my children that they are to save themselves for their spouse. I believe this is a destructive message that has compromised the sexual culture within the church by distracting from the much bigger picture. Instead, I tell them of the mystery. I teach them to embrace their role on this giant stage as we act out eternity for the world around us. What part have you been given to play–Bridegroom? Bride? Protect that role with your life. Be faithful to the mysterious picture. I hope and pray that the result will be purity–a kind that starts from deep down inside them and does not waver based on culture or circumstance.
But whatever comes into their lives, whatever trials, whatever failings, I want them to know two things: They have a Heavenly Father who loves them unconditionally and who forgives a repentant heart…and they have a mother they can talk to about anything. Call ahead, and she’ll bake cookies.