Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Renewing the Time

Well, it should be decidedly apparent that school and blog have not coincided recently. Sigh. I just cannot see how to write something uplifting about the Soviet Union. Perhaps later you will get a garish report on something or other from that period in history, but for now, relax.

Seriously. Relax.

You see, this post is about something I have learned outside the laptop screen classroom in the past few months: time. If there is one thing about which I do not relax, time has to be it. Have you ever met those planners who schedule their life to the minute or, dare I say, second? You know the type I am sketching. "Can you take a break and read this?" Uh, no. In two and a half minutes I have to start writing that blog post (hehe). "Hey, that school presentation was great! Do you have a sec to answer a question I have?" Hello? I need to be out the door in, no, I cannot give you a sec.

Yeah, I knew you knew the type.

Because you know me! That is me all over. For the longest time, I thought it was more virtuous to be rigidly scheduled, organizer in hand and day snugly packed into fifteen-minute segments. An airtight chart equaled more productivity, more action, more reward - more. Should we not squeeze as many strikes out of the clock as is remotely possibly for our mortal frames? Is that not the essence of redeeming the time?

If only I realized there was more to life than time. Now, before I go on, I have to disclaim myself. Again. I still use schedules. They are not evil. I still wear a wrist-watch and frequently take a peep at my clock. We still eat dinner at a regular time and wake up by a certain hour. Don't picture me smashing all time-keeping machines, burning planners, and eating bon-bons all day. K? Because there is. Did you know that when this world burns up, time as we generally recognize it will go to Neverland, too? I always knew this in my head, but the repercussions of the concept took a while to dawn on me. If I am living for seconds and minutes, I am living for something that will go down in flames. What lasts is people, the Church, the City of God. What I do for that entity is what truly lasts.

But wait. Do we not need time to dedicate ourselves to an endeavour, including the Church? Yes, we do! We must take advantage of the time allotted us and give it to His will. And, no, I am not contradicting myself. Maybe Greek will make it more clear for you, as it did for me (once more, hehe). Chronos and Kairos. These are the two Greek words for time. Chronos deals with quantity time, the time that goes tick-tock. Think sundials, Big Ben, and kitchen timers. Kairos describes quality time. Imagine a family dinner, a heart-to-heart with a friend, a conundrum on the job that will either enhance your character or tarnish it. Chronos time helps us humans make the best of Kairos time. One is not "bad" and the other "good", the first just facilitates the latter. Nonetheless, many of us are burning out in order to beat the clock rather than embracing the opportunities it happens to offer us. Alert: we cannot squeeze another second out of the tick-tock (Matthew 6:27). We have so many tick-tocks given us and nothing more, no matter how hard we try to get another tick (or tock). Ya get what I am saying?

There is something we can do about opportunities, though. We can waste the circumstances God give us or use them for His glory. In fact, remember those verses, Ephesians 5:15-16? "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil." Well, guess what word is used for time here. Ding ding ding! Kairos, quality time. We are to redeem the opportunities God furnishes us, putting them towards His service. At times, that means sacrificing our little schedule to grasp the bigger picture of what God is doing in His Bride. It means we will have to put our time-chart in God's hands -  yet another area in which to relinquish control - and dispose of time as what it is: God's clock, God's opportunities, gifted to us to further His Kingdom.

My task for Becoming a Fair Lady right now is loosening my grip on the schedule (even though I still use it), and opening it up to God's plans for my life. It echoes Proverbs 16:9, "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." Let's plan, but let's plan on that plan being broken for God's glory, and thank Him for it.

So...yeah...That's it. Not a good ending, I know. *Cheesy Grin*

*I would like to thank Dr. Jeff Myers from Summit Ministries for enlightening me on this subject!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Here is yet another happy circumstance when school and blog coincide. Does that ever happen to you?
Viola tricolor LC0041.jpg
Love-in-Idleness, or Heartsease
A few days ago, as I was reading A Midsummer Night's Dream for the I-don't-know-how-many-nth time, the scene where Oberon orders Puck to light the love potion upon the eyes of an unhappy youth struck me with a few new thoughts. I had never payed much attention to this flower juice's name, but during this last reading it jumped out at me: Love-in-Idleness. Interesting name, do you not think? Especially so when you read the results of the potion on Oberon's fairy queen, Titania. She ends up falling for a donkey and makes herself look pretty ridiculous in the process. 

We laugh at her antics, and Puck's, to be sure, but have you ever thought about how we fall for the same thing Titania did? It seems I am often guilty of those very same insanities she showed. Love-in-Idleness caused her to woo a donkey, yet, oh, the hapless things our hearts seek when our loves wander listlessly on, as idle as can be!

We have all heard the saying about the space in our soul only God can fill, the love which only He can give and the satisfaction only He can guarantee. Nevertheless, too many a time, our hearts forget their first Love and become regrettably idle. Purposeless. Doubtful. Hungry. Before we know, we find ourselves grasping after donkeys, just like poor Titania. Granted, most of the time our "donkeys" are not so ludicrous or obvious as is that of the fairy queen, but I am sure to God the idols our idle hearts chase are sorry substitutes for His majesty and love - ludicrous indeed. So, while our lovely selves may not look so silly to friends and family (not to mention us), we probably appear rather absurd to our Heavenly Father, after all He did for us. 

Have you ever paused to consider what "donkeys" are capturing your soul through an idle heart? TV, trashy books, gaudy music, and the "opposite sex" are all commonly cited examples, but Satan usually likes to be slightly more subtle. It may take some time to figure out; it certainly will take me a while!

So what is the remedy to our donkey infatuation? Well, lets wind back towards the love potion that starts all this featherbrained behaviour. Love-in-Idleness. Ahhh....that idle heart of ours. To keep our souls from courting barn animals, the stupor of our hearts must be cured. 

And that cure is Christ. There is no other.

Only when we see Christ for who He is, awesome, beautiful, radiant, glorious, the perfect example of perfect manhood, sovereign, powerful, and loving - in short, when we become infatuated with Him - will our hearts stop their wanderings. Yes, when we behold and treasure Him alone, then all our donkeys will appear as what they really were all along - donkeys. Then shan't they be left in the dust?

Better yet, our souls will not thirst and our hearts will not hunger when His vision becomes our vision. We will enjoy life at its fullest. He will guide your steps and use you for His amazing purpose. Yeah, purpose. No more disillusionment. Instead of Love-in-Idleness, let us take a dosage of Love-in-Life, Christ's life.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

TULIP, Revised for the Modern Reader

   Yesterday was a positively beautiful, rainy day. The morning passed with many words and good fun in the Raimundo household, much to everyone's delight (except I spazzed about the late hour). However, this occurrence is dangerous. Very dangerous, indeed. Just peek at what Daddy started and I finished!
   I know some of my friends will catch the humor of this little acronym, and for those who do not, never fear. I still love you dearly :) So, here is the dangerous result of a pleasantly wet Saturday morning.

          Total Divinity
          Unconditional toleration
          Limited instruction
          Irresistible play
          Passivity of the “Seekers”

True, no? Have a lovely Sunday, friends!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Giving Girls Their Hearts

It has been one long week, friends! But, thanks to my friend, Hannah, the cyber silence is once again being broken. This post is a rally, a calling, an entreaty to help two girls have hearts. Hearts that work. Hearts that throb and feel and pump like yours do and mine. Actually, let me correct that last sentence. These darling hearts do feel, they perhaps feel loved and scared and uncertain. But their hearts do not work, and this has to be mended. You may have browsed Hannah's blog, Loving Dangerously, to which I link on my sidebar. There she frequently (much more frequently than yours truly) recounts the joys and struggles of working with little ones in EA. This kind of story about life and death is not new to her, but each story is real, human, and needy. Listen to what she says below:

One of my friends, Lindsay Adams, and I are raising money for the surgeries of two little girls who live at the foster home here. Lydia and Tabitha. They each have a heart disease, and are in need of surgery. We are doing this in honor of two little girls, Liu Yi and Paige, who touched our lives and are now with Jesus.Paige was my little pixie. Her heart stopped in September. She was six months old. Paige would have turned one two days ago [March 18], and so in honor and in celebration of her life, I am determined to raise money for Lydia's surgery. Lindsay has chosen Tabitha, in honor of Liu Yi, whose fourth birthday would have been this month.So, here is my question, nay, request. Would you be willing to help us?

Hannah and Lindsay have launched a blog where they will post updates replete with pictures and stories. Equally important are the YouTube video Lindsey made telling the story of Julia and Liu Yi and the YouTube video Hannah made about Paige. Please take the time to watch them. Also, I have added a button to Becoming a Fair Lady's sidebar to remind us of this cause, as well as a link which you can click should the Lord guide you to aid financially. When it comes to the cold, hard facts, it is money that pays surgeons. Whether that happens or not, please do pray. Remember there are lives hanging in the balance every day, lives closer to us than many of us would care to think. Let us help, pray, and embrace these children as real persons with the loving arms of our Father. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

You have not been forgotten, really. Your status is not the same as my third grade journal forever lost to the world of Underbed. It is just that your writer is busy, very busy, and has not had the time to give you much attention. She apologizes and will be back soon. This week. As in on her priority list.

Until then, friend!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Yogurt from the Old Homestead (GAPS legal)

   There are many things that worried me as I prepared to start the GAPS diet, not the least of which was the fact that I had to ferment dairy. Ferment dairy? Does that sound foreign only to me? I already felt accomplished making my own kraut, crispy nuts, and dehydrating our wonderful fruit harvest. But dairy...dairy goes bad. 
   Yet, I pushed through the doubts, mustered my courage, and read a lot of blog posts. Oh, yes, there are plenty of posts about yogurt making, but I have been asked for these directions enough times to justify adding another post to the mysterious world of culturing milk. I included pictures for all you visual people, but there be warned: just because my uncle is a professional photographer, does not make me one! If you want eye-candy, go to his website, not mine!

   To start making your own yogurt and sour cream, ensure you have a big pot, the thinner metal the better; a large bowl wide enough for your pot to rest in it; a calibrated thermometer; jars with their lids; a starter, culture, etc.; and some time.

   Now, I use raw milk, which means the milk has not been pasteurized, killing all the beneficial microbes naturally found in milk and distorting its protein structure. For many years, however, we could not get our hands on this white gold, so we had to settle for store-bought milk. You can make yogurt with this, too. Never fear.

I use one gallon of milk, one quart of light cream, and one quart of heavy cream. Yum!

   The first step requires heating the milk. Yes, even though your lovely milk is raw, heat the milk. With raw milk, you warm it to a gentle 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Please note, your milk is still technically raw. Why heat it then, you ask? Good question. Raw milk is full of lively microbes, but there are many different strains of these probiotics present, and they will compete during the culturing process. The yogurt will end up tasting odd and may very well separate in to curds and whey. Unpleasantness, especially after spending this time and money on yogurt. Heating the milk to 110 degrees controls the levels of probiotics so competition is not as rampant, making the yogurt sour nicely and develop a thick, silky texture. And remember, all this and your milk is still raw!

   If you cannot use raw milk, then buy organic, full fat, low temperature pasteurized milk from the store. If you can get it unhomogenized, consider yourself blessed. Read carefully, now. Instead of heating your milk to 110 degrees, heat it to 180 degrees. Why? Well, sorry to say, since the milk was pasteurized at the factory, it lost its natural protection from invading microbes: its own probiotics. Sigh. Tragic. Why did they do this in the first place? Anyway, your milk is now contaminated with some pestulant flora, and we do not want them growing during the fermentation process. Heating it to 180 degrees kills all the beasties in the milk so none of them propogate later on. The microbes you will use to culture your milk will come from the starter you use in a later step.

White, foamy beauty waiting docilely in a pot.

      So, pour your milk in the pot, cover it with any lid you can find the correct lid, and turn the burner to medium high. Stay in the kitchen while the milk warm because we do not want to overheat or burn it. With my thin metal pot, I generally check the milk about seven minutes in to the heating process and it is almost at 110 degrees. Of course, if you are using non-raw milk, it will take longer to reach 180 degrees.
Checking the temperature. Sorry about the blur!

   While the milks warms, procure a wide, sturdy bowl and place it on a flat surface. This will later be holding your pot of milk along with some ice.

   Always keeping an eye on the milk on the stove, fetch enough jars to hold your milk and cream (a gallon of milk requires four quart jars, plus however many jars you need for your cream), and cover the bottom of each jar with your starter. What could your starter be? Well, any probiotic food or capsule, really. People have had success with using their probiotic pill, others prefer using some of their last batch of yogurt, some get fancy and order starters online, while still others, like me, buy organic yogurt from the store and use it as their culture. Do what works best for you. With raw milk yogurt, many find that using yogurt from their previous batch results in really sour yogurt due to the wider variety of probiotic strains with which you are working. I tried it once, and the taste definitely had to grow on us. My general practice is to buy organic, full fat, unhomogenized yogurt from the store or farmer's market to use as my starter. The farmer's market yogurt makes our yogurt so creamy in taste - delicious! Unfortunately, we do not get over there often, so we resort to Erivan yogurt from Whole Foods. Erivan is only found on the east coast, so do your research and see which starter is best for you!

You see how I cover the bottom with my starter yogurt? It is about 1/4 cup starter to 4 cups milk.

   Forget not thy milk warming on the stove. That would bring about no pleasant happening, now would it? Do not fret if you do happen to heat past the 110 degree mark. The yogurt is not going to be ruined, and you will still enjoy the benefits of the bacteria from your starter yogurt. In fact, the yogurt will be thicker the more you heat it because there will be less competing strains. And if you are not using raw milk and you miss the 180 degree mark, hey, your milk is dead anyway. 

   Once you hit 110 or 180 degrees, depending on your milk, immediately transfer the pot of milk to that wide bowl mentioned above. Take of the lid of the milk pot and fill the wide bowl with ice and some water, making sure to leave room in the bowl for melting. There. Now your set up should like this:

The bowl is wide enough to fit the pot and ice water. Remember to leave room for melting ice if you do not want to deal with Niagara falls all over your kitchen counters!

   Leave the milk in the bowl until the temperature goes down to 80 degrees. Once it reaches 80 degrees, you will fill the jars with your milk, but for now, just be patient until it cools all the way. In the meantime, take your cream (which you did not heat) and pour them into a few jars with starter yogurt on the bottom. Take a spoon and stir the starter into the cream. That is all you need to do for sour cream! By now, your milk should be cooled...

Checking the temperature. Still a bit more to go until 80 degrees!

   Has your milk cooled down to 80 degrees? Good! Only a few more steps to go until creamy goodness. Carefully pour the milk into your prepared jars. Get a long spoon and stir the milk into the starter, as you did with the cream above. Gather all your lids and screw them on the filled and stirred jars. You should have something looking like this:

That was not so bad, was it?

   And into the dehydrator they go! Or not. We use a dehydrator to culture our dairy, but you may not have one. (Hint: if you are on the GAPS diet, I highly recommend one as almost absolutely necessary.) If that is the case, a crockpot on low has worked, as has the warming drawer which comes with some ovens nowadays. But, did you know people have been fermenting dairy long before ovens and dehydrators were invented? That is right! Fermenting is not an exacting science. If you have a water closet or an area near heating vents, or even on top of your fridge - any place with a steady temperature around one hundred degrees - feel free to use it. In our family, we pop it in the dehydrator at 100 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours. Whatever you use to culture your milk, be sure it is at a temperature around 100 degrees and for at least 24 hours. Not hard, eh? Here are our babies in the dehydrator. See the smaller cream jars in the front?

I see eight jars!

   Whew. Feeling overwhelmed? Do not worry, it gets easier every time and, in reality, there is not that much to it. Just develop a rhythm: warm milk, cool milk, pour milk, and do not spill! Here is a review of the directions:

1. Heat milk to 110 degrees.
2. Make sure your large bowl is handy.
3. As soon as milk reaches 110 degrees, place milk pot in bowl, fill with ice water, and cool to 80 degrees.
4. While cooling, prepare jars with a quarter cup starter per quart jar.
5. Once milk reaches 80 degrees, pour into jars and stir. Seal lids.
6. Place in dehydrator at 100 degrees for 24 hours.
7. Remove from dehydrator, stir each jar and let cool down in fridge. 

   Voila! You have just made your own yogurt. Enjoy!

*For all you GAPSters, this yogurt is perfectly legal at any stage in which you can tolerate yogurt. It has been fermenting for 24 hours, so there are no milk sugars (lactose) left, only probiotic scrumptiousness.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Culture Shock

Roses and Dahlias - Difference Beautifying Unity

One thing which has followed me through life as a "missionary kid" and, according to some less happy individuals, a "mut" is culture shock. Not only am I the result of two cultures joining in marriage, but also that interesting mix of habits spun together by living abroad. Since I can remember, the reality that people are different, that there are various ways to approach a topic, that not everyone goes to bed at the same time or speaks the same language or looks the same, has been an obvious part of life. Born in frosty and free Canada, nurtured in the sunny and soulful Dominican Republic, and finally settled in the good, old U. S. of A., I can truly say I am the product of nowhere and everywhere! It is a gift, to be sure. But how does one deal with the clashes, oddities, and miscommunications so common in situations like mine? Does this only happen to people like me, and how does it all fall under Christianity? How can I be a Fair Lady when people have different notions of "Fair"?

Let me show you a bit of the dilemma. When I first stepped foot on United States-ian soil, people acted and spoke in peculiar ways. Their habits contrasted what I had seen both in the D.R. and Canada. I could not say one way was better than another, just...different. Or maybe I was different? Whatever the case, something had to change somewhere before true communication and understanding could take place.

Mine is a mild case. Some people marry into a whole new world. For example, my father's term for washing the dishes is my mother's term for bothering someone. Obviously, "Honey, I can wash the dishes tonight" did not hail the sweet smiles it would in other homes. That is, until my parents came to an understanding, a common ground. This, too, though, is just a funny illustration. Sometimes livelihoods are ruined and friendship dashed due to dissimilar cultures colliding.

I am asked which culture suited me best, or which culture I think is right. A lot of people spend mountains of time trying to figure that last one out. Or they just see the world as shifting sands where no one is right. Here is what I think.

First, praise God for differences! I love going to Canada to smell the smoky air of winter, or pick the luscious strawberries of summer. It is a comfort to know there is a schedule which will be kept and nothing much rocks the boat. And the food. Then again, I enjoy the liveliness of the Dominican culture, the surprise and openness skipping through the sea breeze. And the food. But here is home now, and I delight in home. And the food. Would not the world be boring without this variety?

But, there are jolts to be weathered, too. Stark contrasts, just plain mean circumstances, or dismal happenings which would be funny if it were in a melodrama rear their frightening heads. And a lot of times these divisions are wrong. What can be done about it? For something must be done.

Now is where we stumble upon the whole Fair Lady theme again. Remember my first post, where I introduced the idea of constantly pressing towards the goal of becoming like Christ? How everything in life happens to conform us in to His image? This comes in to play here. All of us, every single child of God, from wherever they hail, all have the one ambition to be Christ's Bride on That Day, to reflect Him in all things. Another way of saying that is we all are running towards one heart, one culture: a Christian culture. No matter whether Dominicans go to bed late and Canadians are early risers (generally) or United Sates-ians crave independence and Peruvians do not mind beholding to someone (generally), there is only one right way of doing things. That is Christianity.

What does this look like? It looks like putting aside all preconceived notions as to right and wrong and opening your life to His Word, subordinating every aspect of it - from the brushing of your hair to the words you choose to say - to Christ. It means a wife cannot tell her husband, "My way is better than your way," unless she has a Scriptural reason for what she does. A Christian cannot do things sheerly for tradition's sake, even if many traditions do conform to Christ, because our desire is for every thing we do to be rooted in His Word, following the path He laid down for us.

Sometimes, adopting a Christian culture will make you behave differently in different circumstances. If you live in Canada, the kind and Godly thing to do, many a time, may be adjusting your clock to wake up early and give people their evenings for refreshment. In the D.R., we early risers will have to learn how to keep our eyelids pasted open and sleep past the sunrise. Why? Because Christianity is about glorifying God and loving your brothers in Christ. That is the bottom line for Christian action, and whenever one's culture does not build from there, it must be abandoned.

So, you wake up in a friend's house a million miles away and you have no idea how to behave. Learn what you can of the way things are done, and when they are Godly, do them. If they do not fall under the banner of Scripture, do not follow, no matter the exhortations to "fit in." Should your habits hurt or hinder your friend or the people with whom your friend is working, change the habits. We want to expand His Kingdom, after all.

It is not too hard. Just be open. Be willing. Give up the control. Let your life reflect Christ's life. Become His Fair Lady.

And will it not One Day be beautiful to see the Dahlias and Roses make one bouquet?

*Image Source:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Anorexia: Body or Soul?

And this is beautiful?

To be honest, I have been at a loss as to what to write next. I cannot discern whether the focus should shift to more nutrition and cooking posts, or if I ought to continue on the Becoming a Fair Lady side of things. Then a friend emailed me and it sparked these thoughts on Anorexia - is it depravity or a disease? Recently, so many ills have been attributed to a complaint of the body. Just like we have naturalized history, philosophy, and ethics, we are now naturalizing morality. Before I push any more buttons, however, let me clarify what I mean by "naturalization".

It is simply this: we have removed all possibility of a spiritual realm from the mind, soul, and body. As a culture, we have denied the fact that there is more to what goes on in our life than mere chemical reactions. When scientists and philosophers claimed "there is no God," they took the Creator away from His creation, stripped the reason from the rhyme. Now all with which we are left are chemicals and reflexes, guided by nothing and going nowhere. This is what I am edging towards when I say we have naturalized morality. It can all be blamed on the neurotransmitters.

Do I deny the biology? No, of course not. We know there are chemical reactions in our bodies which trigger such and such behaviour or movement. I am not out to bash the hard labour of many scientists because I am afraid of the science. But I do not worship science, I worship God. And I embrace the beauty which God shows of Himself through science.

So, where does that leave us? Well, it clears the way for me to answer the question of this post. Is Anorexia a disease of the body or a disease of the mind? Could my outrageous behaviour have been explained solely by chemistry gone wrong? And, whatever the answer is, what are the implications for my life and yours?

Considering everything I said about anorexia before, it is probably obvious I think it is a deceit, a blinding, a sin. There, I said it. After living through it, I can honestly say it is a decision, determined one even if unconscious, to grasp for control of your body and bow down to Man's wishes for your life. Did that throw you off a bit? Well, now I will throw the other camp off a bit. I think there are real physiological issues going on in an anorexic. I can just see everybody shaking their heads. How does this work? Well, my belief is that God designed the human body to house the human soul, amazingly fashioning it to provide a way for us to serve its Creator. How then can we separate the soul from the body? To deny either is to fall into dangerous ditches on both sides of the road.

Now, to marry these two seemingly opposing thoughts, and to bring both under Christ's authority, let us dissect this a little more closely. Take Girl, bombarded with lies, lusting after the idols of her heart, and rejecting the truth of Scripture in favor of worldly demands. She decids to sin. Her heart enticed her to sin. The heart is, as someone wise said, deceitful above all things. Then what happens? She is ensnared in the path of Thin and cannot turn back. A pig likes its mire (it is a harsh analogy, but true). No matter how waif-like she becomes, she will never see herself as anything other than fat because she will never be satisfied with the amount of control she has in her grip. An idol never satisfies, right? Once she achieves some of her wicked goals, the body, not just the mind, starts to break down. Biologically speaking, Girl's homeostasis is ditched and all her feedback functions are fried. The dynamic equilibrium of the body is not so dynamic nor is it so equal. She could not fight back even if she wanted to! Her hormones withered, her sensory abilities flew to Hawaii, and her once coordinated systems are now either warring each other or too weak to put up a fight - against good or bad. God designed the body beautifully to protect itself from a whole host of things, but sin, sin infects all. Creation does groan under the weight of this horrific load. Thus Girl's body. It started with a choice.

There are those who do not admit this choice. Both the "healers" and the "doers" in the world of Anorexia do not want to admit that this is sin. To do that would bring along with the concession ramifications they feel best left alone. What sinner wants to face perfection, and what darkness does not flee light? Not too long ago, I watched a documentary called Dying to Be Thin. Droll name, no? I appreciated much of what it said. I was happy someone was talking about it at all. But it left me feeling empty. Why? Well, its only solution the anorexic problem was therapy and a new method of boosting neurotransmitters so patients once more have a realistic perception of what they look like. Hmmm. I could tell I was painfully thin when I was there, but I never admitted it because I would have to give up control and since I was never satisfied, I reasoned a few more pounds shed would not be too bad. This is not a problem of neurotransmitters, but a deceptive heart. What hope does biological therapy hold for someone caught in Anorexia's web? At best, a life of counting calories to eat the bare minimum to lead a relatively normal life with a few trips to therapy centers when you cannot cope any longer. That is not living, that is surviving. And it certainly is not being a Fair Lady for your Prince.

My point is a purely biological answer has no hope whatsoever for a brighter future.

Thank God for being God, rather than us! There is an answer, and it does not come in a pill or self image classrooms. It comes through a shock to your soul, a piercing of your heart, and an awakening of your mind. It is radical, and it is lasting. It is a divine healing to a spiritual problem. It is called salvation. And predestination, and justification, and sanctification, and, well, you get the idea. It is the life of God in the soul of man as never seen apart from Him. We need a spiritual Conqueror to fight this spiritual battle. And that conqueror is Christ, who now acts in you through His Spirit. He must wrap your heart in His hands and break it from all those horrid desires which has encircled it. He must tear the blinders from our eyes, so long accustomed to trapping us in a path to living hell. Remember Girl? There was no way she could have fought herself out of trouble. Neither could I. That is why only He is the answer to the problem of Anorexia. It is exchanging a lie for a truth, an idol for the God. Once Christ is fighting for us, who can be against? What neurotransmitters can get in the way of their Creator? In Him we can overcome the biological hurdles and leap into a new life. It is not so much an issue of mind over matter as it is Master over matter.
And that gives me hope. Real, true hope. Hope that I do not have to struggle with Anorexia forever, like all those people out there say I will. It means this evil root will be plucked from my heart, never to bother me again, unlike psychologists' assertions that I must be placed in wards and under supervision for the rest of my life for fear I may spiral back to the pit. It means that all those girls who grovel in this situation do not have to grovel anymore. You do not have to fight forever. You are not anorexic, you are a sinner who can be SAVED! One of the things Papa always told me through this was that I was not wedded to this label. I did not have to be marked anorexic like a jar is marked pickles for the rest of my life. I could and should be free. But that only comes through a spiritual transformation. It comes through smashing the jar and forming a chalice instead.

I like that a lot better. What do you want?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Becoming a Fair Lady in Deed

   This is the last post in our Becoming a Fair Lady series, but it is certainly not the last post about becoming a Fair Lady! I am trying to decide on the next series' topic. Would you like to read more about something already mentioned, or do you have an itching desire for another subject? Drop me a comment and let me know!

   Ah, "Becoming a Fair Lady in Deed". This could turn out to be a pretty dull post, do you not think? We have all sat through books and speakers full of helpful advice on acting with kindness, keeping a pleasant tongue in your head, and cleaning up the spilled milk even when your dog can do a better job as mopper. How many of us have heard about going the extra mile for our brother and being a good Samaritan? Exactly. So I shall attempt not to dwell on the acts of service themselves, but more on the heart attitude prompting the service. You may notice a theme nesting in this blog, that the "heart of the matter is the matter of the heart" as a pastor friend would say. Yes, one cannot step in any good direction if the heart is pulling one back, so here the spotlight shall fall, or at least that is my hope.

   A good introductory question, then, is, "What is a heart of service?" As with all verbose writers, I have to start by describing what it is not. There are two traps awaiting prisoners when it comes to the realm of service. One is the outlook of a sniveling servant, the other of pompous self-deprecation.

   Let's examine the first pseudo-servant. Here we meet Ella*, a girl surpassingly meek, excruciatingly mousy, and furiously busy. She rarely graces the world with a smile because a look of agitation has long since settled on her face. She never complains but neither does she contribute any positive thought to her acquaintances. "Happily useful" is how she describes herself but others would more likely call her wretched. Yet she can get things done, and done well. So she acts like a victim, but she cleaned the church floor without being asked and without leaving a speck! Well, now. What does Scripture say about someone with this kind of servility? For one, Romans 7:6 explains we serve with joy, in the Spirit:

"But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we may serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the way of the written code."

No moping around this verse! But the next one, 2 Corinthians 9:12 and, is even more direct about the correct attitude of service.

"For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God."

So we really ought to be happy when we serve, and thankful, because we serve the Lord's people in the name of our Father. It puts scrubbing dishes in a different light, do you not think? Ella's grimacing heart makes Christian service impossible because Christians serve with joy.

   Then let's saunter over to the other pseudo-servant. Enter Emma*, a pretty, engaging, comfortable young woman who flits about doing this and that to serve others. Everyone likes her, and she likes everyone else. Perfectly polished, she does not find it beneath her to dirty her prim hands in a crowd. She serves well and enjoys it to boot - that is, when there are enough eyes in the room. You guessed it, Emma is our "look at how well I washed the pot-providence dishes" servant. We all know this kind; oh, please, we have all been this kind! Emma finds it a joy to serve and share when people are watching, but look out if she feels slighted by not receiving praise! A public "thank you" is all she wants because that is what she deserves, right? Where would all these people be without her? In her head runs a frenzied list of the messy kitchens, crying babies, undecorated sanctuaries, etc., had it not been for her. The list is frenzied because she remembers every little thing she ever did for anyone else, and stores in her heart the names of those who did not give Emma her due. This is not a happy heart, either, is it? At least with Ella we knew her agony, but Emma is the volcano waiting to explode! Scripture speaks of pompous service rather harshly, while upholding humility as the gift most to be sought. Ephesians 6:5-7 and Matthew 23:12 deal the death blow to Emma's way of thinking:

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free."

"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

   And then we have that perfect example of Jesus, humbling Himself through becoming a man, leading a life of poverty, washing the feet of those who would betray Him, and finally dying the ignominious death of crucifixion. This is to what we should aspire. This is a heart of service.

   So, what is the true heart of service? It is one of joyful captivity, contented slavery, worshipful homage. Joyful captivity takes away all distaste from service, no matter how distasteful it may be. It rejoices in the position of servitude, it wants for no other. Contented slavery excludes grumbling and complaining, leaving in their place a quiet, peaceful longing to be used. Worshipful homage brings forth a servant who feels it an honor to serve. He is completely overwhelmed with awe for his King and sees it as a mercy to wipe the floor after His footsteps. Little does he seek for a word of praise. Why should he be praised when His King is here? He knows he is safe and privileged where he stands because his King is Christ, the God Almighty. This servant grasps how great his Master is, but even more amazing, beholds what that Master did for him. The King rescued the worthless wretch. How could this wretch now not serve with his whole heart, with everything he has, with surpassing joy? That is the true heart of service. When we live for our King and only our King, when we live in the light of What has been done for us, when we see just how much we can never pay back, service then becomes a blessing - a means to praise, not be praised. Then we will be able to go the extra mile and wipe away the spilled milk - because the King wiped away our tears.

And that concludes this series.

*Ella, you know, Cinderella? And then Emma is inspired by Austen's heroine. If you have no idea what I am talking about, don't worry.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Puritan Recording

I will probably post about the happenings at Librivox in due time, but I could not wait to share this first solo recording. The Life of God in the Soul of Man is a friendly letter from one Puritan to his struggling friend. This book pushed me along to becoming a Fair Lady.

The recording project is a team effort. Just because I read it does not mean no one else was involved. So, thanks, Libivox, for this wonderful opportunity! You should peruse their catalog and see what other goodies they have to offer, all free.

Note: To the right you will see I added a link to all the recordings I have done with Librivox so far. The list keeps growing every week, so be sure to check every once in a while.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Green the Whole Year Round

Christmas has passed and the New Year zipped through yesternight’s sky. Some of us have already had time to break our grandiose resolutions. There is work to be done, school to study, and life to be lived. Now comes the busy, bleak mid-winter.
Not over here, though! Our Christmas decorations still adorn our mantle and the tree continues to glow through the night. See, our New Year resolution is to have Christmas all year round. Does not Christmas celebrate the birth of our King and the sacrifice He made? Are we not simply celebrating our salvation? And that lasts all year long. 
So, we as a family are going to spread the Christmas spirit through all of 2012, and have a grand time doing it. Yes, I will still have work to do, school to study, Librivox to record, and piano to practice. But I will work, study, read, and practice with a holiday tune singing in my head, and a Christmas celebration ringing in my heart.
Care to join me?