A friend of mine was minding her own business when a stranger violently assaulted her, leaving her for dead, unconscious, out in the freezing cold. 9 months later, she was delivered of a beautiful baby boy, but she has suffered the effects of PTSD and seizures, as well as the need for several major operations.

Money problems have followed, and a, recently, difficult surgery with a painful recovery was performed on an almost emergency basis.

Her family, by all accounts, are good people. They love the Lord. They go to church. They do good deed, and they care about other people. 

 

Sometimes I give off the hippy, laid-back vibe pretty well, but when it comes to one aspect of my life, I am always paying 100% complete attention even if it seems like I am not. When it comes to my child, I do not care if others' feelings are hurt or if others think I am odd, because it is my job to keep her safe. 

And the truth is, I don't trust anyone around my child. 

Let me explain. 

 

Discipline has been all the rage in Christian circles for several decades now. In response to the cultural war cry of 1960s free love, Christians have buckled down on their youth, training to abstain from sex and drugs and anything else that might taint them. Sometimes, in our zeal to produce kids who won't turn from the kingdom, we've forgotten one crucial aspect to this parenting thing: being our kids' friend.

Warning: you're not going to find this in any of the leading Christian parenting books circulating today, but perhaps you should.

 

 

I have been using profanity since I was five and maybe even before that. I don't remember. By age 8, I was a pro. Compound curses, vulgarities that would make the Navy blush spewed forth from my diminutive frame, and this continued throughout my life. 

I would cut back from time to time and even abstain. Until I got older.

I pride myself on expressive speech, reading books, and thinking things through before I speak, and I would litter f-bombs and s-words where I deemed appropriate as a hipster way of communicating edginess and strong emotion. 

 

In the United States of America, a woman is beaten every 9 seconds. In the time it will take you to read that first second and this one, two women will have been assaulted by somebody they love. 

Forty percent of pastors surveyed by a Lifeway Research study never or rarely address domestic violence from the pulpit, and 22% do so about once a year. 

There's a large elephant in our churches, and it demands our attention. The reason I believe we don't address it is because we hold marriage sacred. As we should. Our fear of saying and doing the wrong thing keeps us silent, and we end up saying nothing. Sometimes, saying nothing leaves victims with no resources and stuck in dangerous situations.  

I had bought a box of gluten-free cookies that morning, knowing full well each bite was placing me farther away from my contract with God that I shall not eat over a certain amount of cookies in a single setting. Each morsel of expensive gluten-free chocolate chip goodness was creating an insatiable need to eat the next and the next and the next until there were 2 cookies left. I would exhibit some self control and stop there.

After flailing for twenty minutes in her pre-nap fury, Little One finally succumbed to the deep sleep mamas everywhere wait for. Irritated with myself and feeling like a failure, I sat down with her in my arms, not daring to face God or pray, because. All. The. Cookies. 

 

Pornographic sites receive an average of 450 million visitors a month, more than Netflix, Amazon , and Twitter combined, and 64% of Christian men and 15% of Christian women view porn once a month, with the majority of these doing so several times a week

While we bemoan our struggle with porn and the need to spend our time soul-searching to understand why we view porn, someone is being sold for sex and filmed to fill the demand created by those who view pornography. The link between sex trafficking and pornography is real and cannot be emphasized enough. 

Single women within the confines of Christianity are told to wait for their Boaz, but Ruth actually did no such thing. She walked along a path of action from the start.   

 



In God's economy, not only is different accepted, but being different is okay. Different can be used by God, and it can be used mightily. In reading the account of John the Baptist the other day, I perused several commentaries about his life and attributes, and he struck me as similar to those who have Asperger's Syndrome.

The Bible said he wore clothing of camels' hair  

I don't feel at home anywhere anymore. I've been too many places, I've seen too many things, and I am made up of the bits and pieces of stories and experiences I've collected in a thousand unlikely places. I'm too academic for this crowd, too liberal for this other group, too conservative for those ones over there, and too individualistic for those who crave the familiar and the expected. 

And in my head, I often travel to that far-away era, the land tinged with nostalgia and fairy dust that if I could only reach it, I could surely feel at home, 30 years ago in 1987. 

I hear the notes of a song from long ago, and it is as if a collage of every youthful memory is trapped therein, amid the swell of hurried notes cascading out of an electric guitar as if it were from a fountain.  

In this time of social media, we more than ever can know where we stand with others. If we have a child, and especially one with special needs, we acutely feel the pricks and the hurting over whether or not our child is included. Particularly poignant are the posts of children with autism whose parties were ignored by everyone except for close relatives. 

Depression lies to us. 

It is important to make sure that our ideas come from the Bible, and one prevailing attitude is that you should not or will not be sad if you have Jesus. 

False.

The Bible says that there is a time to every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is, 'a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;'

Sadness is a normal human emotion, and sometimes depression is a response to adverse circumstances, hormonal imbalance or faulty brain chemistry. It doesn't mean we don't love Jesus. It doesn't mean we don't have enough faith. 

It means we are human. 

 

 

 God gives us principles for dealing with money, and we will cover ten of them in this post. *

 Tithe

 'And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts'. Malachi 3:11

 This verse is preceded by the verse on tithing. The tithe was to be brought into the house of God to provide meat in His house, and God says you will be blessed more than you can recover. These blessings will often be spiritual, and we discussed this in the previous principle. The devourer, however, refers to the here and now, and it speaks to your material things.

Modest clothing is not the answer if people are trying to maintain a culture that is free from sin. 

Modest clothing is not the answer for why women are sexually assaulted. 

Modest clothing is not the answer for problems that originate the heart. 

Modest clothing is not a remedy for controlling the actions of men. 

Modest clothing is not a surefire way to make sure nothing bad ever happens. 

 

People who are overweight are carrying so much more than extra pounds. They carry shame. Guilt. Embarrassment. Hurt. There is this sense of having failed in a very real sense, and it can take an immense amount of courage to even step out into the light of day.

The reasons people become overweight may differ. I gained 25 lbs while counting calories and breastfeeding on top of the 45 lbs I had left over from my pregnancy. For another person, it may be that they lose weight while dieting, only to gain it back plus more. 

 

After months or years of waiting for courts and adoption papers to move, pregnancy sticks to turn colors, and babies to be brought forth squirming and opinionated into the world, the great, heavy door swings open and reveals the expanse privy to only those who have cared for a tiny human soul.

The responsibility of molding a life is so tremendous that it leaves the one handling it in a way they never were before.

That is what this post is about: the secret behind the door. The surprises of motherhood.

 

Mary was distraught.

Her first-born son lay in a tomb after He had been publicly humiliated, spat upon, beaten, bruised, falsely accused, and mocked. He had been crucified with sinners and was so reviled that the crowd favored releasing the criminal Barabas in His stead.

How did she get here?

What sin had she committed that everything had turned out so badly?

Would she have had an easier time if  only she had followed God more closely?

How could so much suffering be a part of God's plan? 

There are female bible teachers today who are no doubt leading the charge into error and deep sin. Their teachings are dubious, dangerous, and deficient. I am certain that some of them are causing great harm to the body of Christ, and it is troubling that there is a great lack of discernment regarding these false teachers.

That said, many writers and teachers put forth the assertion that the problem with these teachers, speakers, and writers is that they are women. They put forth the claim that these women are damning others with their heresy, because there are no men in the fray to oversee their work. A tad condescending, but this is what I have read. 

A surprising number of people are suspicious of women's ministries. They say they're prone to error, lacking the covering of male headship, and that their position in Christianity is dubious. The implication is that women in ministry should be approached with caution.

The year was between 26 and 30 C.E. Jesus was well into His ministry, and there were women who followed Him.

Traveling.

Ministering.

They paid for things pertaining to His ministry out of their own pockets. The scriptures do not record Jesus having a problem with it. Luke 8:1-3 says: 

We see the #blessed hashtag everywhere. The status updates read something like this:

New car today! #blessed

Got my promotion at work! #blessed

Ran a marathon! #blessings

But when you're driving a beat-up jalopy, are struggling with bills, and are dealing with chronic illness and you see these posts, some strange thoughts can go through your mind.

Does this mean I am not #blessed?

And if not, why is God blessing them but not me?

Even more troubling, it can make us wonder if it's a sign that God is somehow disappointed with us. Or it can make us think that perhaps God is being unfair. #iwantaswimmingpool #blessmetoogod 


I noticed the subtle put-downs and dismissive comments.

'I wouldn't want to eat that', referring to the food I made for the baby.

'Blogging isn't real writing'. I am a blogger.

'Your car is just a regular car, except for that turbo and tail fin'. For the record, my car was a Subaru Impreza WRX.

I noticed the glowing reviews of other people this same person gave, praising their career choices and habits, and I wanted that.

I felt passed over. Unfairly criticized. 

Sometimes the study of trees (aboriculture) is interesting.

My tree has been plucked as of late, and boy am I sore. Twigs have been hacked and branches sawed off. In short, relationships have been lost.

Have you been ignored?

Have you been unfriended

Were you left out of something important and your soul was crushed?

If you're getting ignored, it may just be that your tree is getting trimmed.

Pruned.

    

 

 

Everyone is a sinner.

Including me.

Including you.

All of us have broken God's commandments.

And that is a problem, because God is holy and cannot look upon sin.

 

It happens in the desert when you're in a season of dry, barren landscapes parched for just a taste of something succulent.

Or it happens in the land of plenty when you're more than satisfied but maybe a little bit bored.

Either way, it is beautiful.

It looks like the shape of a lovely lady bathing on a rooftop (not that what happened was her fault).

It can look like a moment of convenience, like when the spouse is away, and you just happen to be laying down on a bed, like Potiphar's wife did.

It can look like a handsome co-worker who says all the things that you're dying to hear. The one that sports those bulging biceps or the charming witticisms that make you think about him well past the hours when work is done.

That one who is so easy to get along with, unlike your husband.

And you fell in love.

How do I know?

 

I was depressed. I wanted to sing.

Singing cheers me up when all else is lost.

I was in the middle of a divorce, and I was on vacation in Florida. With my ex husband. I was walking down the street in the vacation town, and I saw a sign that read: karaoke. The pastel sign above the marquis was lit up in neon colors, and it made me feel hopeful.  

  

You used to trust church people. Until you got burned. And now you no longer trust people who represent religion.

I understand. I knew of the mockery of Christianity before coming into the church. I remember the money hungry, ridiculous men and women on television with their greedy hands outstretched to grab ahold of the wallets of the poor and disaffected.

 

 

 

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Rosa A. Hopkins

Radio Show Host. Writer of words. Teller of stories. Singer of songs. Dreamer of dreams. Owner of a shapeless hound. Musician. Recording Artist. Songwriter. Record Label Owner. Producer. Hater of Coffee. Lover. Friend. Mother. Not all at the same time though.

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