Why the Albino Peacock?

I’m the former author of another Lutheran blog…. maybe some of you remember me?  It’s been a few months since I’ve written anything and I needed a change, thus the new place. 

While I was trying to think of a name for this blog I couldn’t come up with anything.  I was looking around at some of my photos and decided to use the one of the albino peacock ~ just because it’s beautiful.  No other reason. Nope, I don’t think of myself as a rare and beautiful bird…. I just love the photo. Why do you call yourself whatever it is you call yourself?

Just curious……

OK ~~ I admit it ~~~

I struggle with depression.  Yeah ~ me ~ I struggle with depression.  And I have my entire life.  But I didn’t realize it until I was in my mid-20’s, unchurched, had no friends, and possessed a miriad of other sin-related troubles.

About that time, an acquaintance was telling me about her own depression and all I could think was, “that’s me, that’s me,” right down the list.  But I didn’t want to admit it.  I didn’t want to even say the word ‘depression’.  It has a kind of stigma attached to it.  And a lot of depressed people don’t want anyone to know about it, not even themselves… and especially not friends and family.

Guess what?  You can’t deal with it if you won’t admit it. 

FACT:  depression is the number one ‘mental illness’ in this country.  Bet you didn’t know that… I don’t like that it’s classified as a ‘mental’ illness.  Mine happens to be brain chemistry.  But it is what it is…. (Who’s in charge of writing the DSM anyway?)  We need to have a talk!  LOL!

When I realized I was depressed, I waited 5 more years before I sought help.  I’m stubborn, so I had to crash before I could admit it to another person, even the doctor.

Meds help, but they are not the only solution.  Don’t stop going to church and Bible studies.  Don’t give in to the feeling that you can’t open the drapes.  Don’t isolate yourself from others.  And keep digging into the scriptures.  There’s an answer for everything in the scriptures. 

It’s not socially acceptable for people to be depressed, especially not if you happen to be a pastor’s wife.  And it doesn’t help if you live with a chronic pain condition like mine (OA & FMS).  Don’t worry about what other people think.  You don’t have to tell anyone if you don’t want to.  NOPE NOPE NOPE…. 

Remember this ~ you have depression ~ it does not have you.  And don’t let it have you.  Here are some things you MUST do if you struggle with depression: 

1.  Get yourself to the doctor and admit it to him/her.

2.  Start getting out of the house, you don’t need to fix your hair or paint your face, just walk around the block in your slobbing-around-the-house clothes.

3.  Keep praying and reading scripture.  Talk to God out loud like he’s sitting in the same room with you.  I do!  Keep going to church and KEEP receiving Communion ~ run to the Lord’s table every chance you get and drink deeply of the blood of Christ shed for you.

4.  It’s okay to get counseling ~ see if you can find a Christian counselor or friend or talk to your pastor.

5.  OPEN the drapes!  YEAH~ and don’t close your bedroom curtains or pull those blinds at night.  Try waking up with the sun.  It takes a little practice… but you can do it.

6.  Fight that feeling that you can’t get out of bed.  Just sit up and put your feet on the floor.  You don’t have to take a shower right away, unless you have to go to work…. Remember ~ you have enough hours in the day to do everything you need to do.  Just take it one thing at a time.

7.  Be aware of what you’re eating.  Are you eating too much or have you lost your appetite?

8.  If you can’t sleep, get yourself on a regular “bed-time” schedule and stick to it.  It’s okay to take one or two tylenol-pm type pills.  Over the counter sleep aids are not good though so avoid them if you can.  Because they make you groggy in the morning, they make it hard to get out of bed.

9.  Stop eating junk food.  Start choosing different kinds of fruits and veggies, even if it’s all you eat all day.

10.  Drink a lot of water during the day.

11.  Exercise is good, but if you’re like me, you hate structured exercise programs.  You can find other things to do to get your body moving.  Walk around Walmart for an hour – you don’t have to buy anything if you don’t want to, just look.  Go to the mall and sit on a bench and just watch people.  Think about what their lives might be like as you watch them walk by.

12.  Don’t make any big decisions on the spur of the moment.  If you have big decision looking you in the face, take days or even weeks to think about it before acting on it.

13.  Don’t give in to your ‘addiction’ whatever it might be.  Do something else instead ~ go sit in your back yard if you can’t think of anything else to do.  Or call a friend for mindless chatter.  OR you can always WRITE!  LOL!

14.  If you have a pet, enjoy the pet when you are home alone.  Pets are good listeners and they don’t talk back or try to argue with you.  

Finally ~ Remember that God loves you, no matter what.  And we have depression because we live in a fallen world.  We have depression because of sin in the world.  Don’t let depression have your life, you are a child of the Living Christ and he will see you through.

You’re a WHAT?!

Our son was Baptized when he was three weeks old. My Southern Baptist relatives were shocked. But only one of them had any real response. One of my sisters asked me, “You are having your baby Baptized? Into *what* religion?” My reply was, “Christianity, The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod”. Not long after that I began adult Catechism and I was confirmed the next year.

If you’ve spent any amount of time visiting with an Evangelical Protestant you will know what I am talking about. I was raised Southern Baptist so when I became Lutheran I surprised my parents and my sisters. They thought I was straying from what they believed to be the one true faith. They thought I was nearly Roman Catholic! I think some of them may still be somewhat horrified.

This attitude is not uncommon among Evangelical Protestants. It can be attributed to their unfamiliarity with and misunderstanding of the Lutheran theology as a whole. I speak from the perspective of a former Southern Baptist. To Evangelical Protestants, there is no difference between the Lutheran Church and Roman Catholicism. And I was no different. Not understanding the difference, I felt uneasy about the Liturgical Worship of the Lutheran Church. It seemed too Roman Catholic. And I was further horrified as I read the last paragraph of the Athanasian Creed: “This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved”. I thought the word “catholic” meant Roman Catholic. But in truth, it refers to the Universal Church, the Body of True Believers. This seems to be a common misconception widely shared by non-Lutherans. It makes me wonder if anyone really knows and understands the difference between Lutherans and Roman Catholics, except themselves.

A lot of the misunderstanding of Lutheranism can largely be contributed to how we appear: our clerical vestments, Liturgical worship, holding to and administration of the Sacraments, and other things that might be adiaphoric in nature like Crucifixes, processionals, chanting, incense, placement of the Baptismal font, choir and organ. It makes sense that any unknowing observer would think us to be the same as Roman Catholic. But the difference is theological and goes much deeper than that.

Martin Luther never wanted people to call themselves “Lutherans”. Initially, we did not choose to be called Lutherans, but that’s the name we were given and over the centuries, we have become distinguished so for our beliefs. But why do some Anabaptists insist on being called Baptists? It’s ironic. Especially so because by withholding Baptism from those who need it, particularly infants, they are in contempt of Baptism. They despise Baptism by denying God’s work in it and by re-baptizing those who have already been Baptized. This in no way, nullifies God’s work in Baptism because we know that God continues to work salvation in Baptism even if it is administered by the Anabaptist, as long as it is done in the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost.

It is interesting that although most Evangelical Protestants believe the Lutheran faith to be synonymous with Roman Catholicism, it is indeed the other way around. Evangelical Protestantism is very nearly equal to Roman Catholicism in its core theological beliefs. For both practice a works-equals-righteousness-equals-salvation-equals-heaven theology. And neither believes they wear the Robe of Christ’s righteousness without some doing of their own. We Lutherans wear the Robe of Christ’s righteousness without doing anything in return. It is a gift of God free and clear. Any good works that are a product thereof, are the works of God, not ourselves, because we are not capable of doing an good works. There is nothing we can do to be righteous before God. Isaiah 64:6 says, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” (ESV) Any righteousness we have is not our own, but it is from God. In Philippians 3:9 Paul writes, “… not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith -…”. (ESV)

Lutheran theology can be a hard concept to grasp because everywhere we go in this world and everything we do, we are required to do something in exchange for something else. We may even find ourselves hesitating to received good things from other people for fear that we will “owe” them something in return. Likewise, people want to feel like they have a responsibility in God’s plan of salvation for mankind. This is where Lutherans differ from all other Christians. Lutherans DO absolutely nothing to receive God’s salvation. We don’t have to make a “choice”, we don’t pray the “sinner’s prayer”, we don’t do penance, we don’t have to speak in tongues, we don’t have to fear purgatory or work to pray those we love out of purgatory. We don’t have to do anything in exchange for God’s gift of salvation. It is ours free and clear. We know how to receive. We receive in Baptism, we receive in Communion, we receive in Worship. And, we don’t do any of these things for God. But God does everything for us. He gives us His Holy Spirit, He gives us faith, He gives us forgiveness and we do not have to DO anything in order to receive it. Some may argue that Lutheran Baptism is a work toward righteousness. It is not. It is the pure and simple act of receiving alone. Likewise, Communion is purely and simply receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord for forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of faith alone.

Being Lutheran means living under Christ Alone, Scripture Alone, Faith Alone, Grace Alone.

Odd Woman Out

Ever feel like the Odd Woman Out? When I became a Pastor’s wife I lost my first name.  However, I continue to introduce myself by first and last name without narratives.  I never say, “hello ~ I’m —- the Pastor’s wife”.  No – No – No!  BIG NO-NO. 

But when others introduce me they always say “this is the Pastor’s wife”.  Sometimes I get lucky and they insert my name at the end of the description of who I am.  Sometimes, not.

 Pastor’s wives have no right to their own opinions, thoughts, or ideas – particularly within the congregation and it’s circles, and especially within the community in which they live.   They do, however, retain the right to be seen and not heard.  

Thus, I choose to remain anonymous and provide a safe-haven for those who do the same.  So Google me, if you must – you will find nothing (not that there is anything to find!) LOL!

Theologize-philosophize-politicize-idealize to your little heart’s content!

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full……

Ever feel like a black sheep? Anywhere, I mean. Ever think you have sacrificed a lot for your faith? Parents, brothers, sisters, friends, jobs? And now, even freedom to worship, country, and national security. I waste too much time on feeling ostracized by people who I think should naturally be important in my life and vice versa. Sometimes I find myself asking questions like, “is it my turn to be the black sheep now?” or “am I being treated invisible because of my faith ~ because I am Lutheran?”. We’re not all on the same page. Like my husband has said, “Lutherans don’t make very good Baptists….” But you know what? Baptists make *awesome* Lutherans ~ that is former Baptists, of course. I know, I am one. But I digress….

No matter how surrounded we are by our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in the One True Faith, it is so easy, and more common than some people realize, to feel so alone. It sneaks up on you. And it’s not about unity in the church. It’s more about unity in the family (of origin) or circle of [former?] friends, or acceptance in culture and politics…. It’s so easy to slip into the mindset that we are “sacrificing” so much to be Lutheran, even Christian ~ and in a free country that was founded on the Christian faith, no less. Sacrifice isn’t the right word though. Everything is a trade-off. The One True Faith is such a gift, there is no trade-off that would be worth losing or compromising it. Not family, not friends, not government, not death.

Jesus was a “black sheep” in his family. His brothers thought he was dillusional. The people in his home town thought he was crazy. The people of his own race thought he was an embarassment. The church leaders thought he was a heretic. And the people who crucified him thought he was a liar. But Mary, his mother knew… she always knew. And she was quite possibly considered a dillusional liar by people in her own community as well. But Joseph knew what Mary knew. Jesus Christ is True man and True God. He is the precious Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus Christ is life in the midst of death. Jesus Christ is love ~ pure and true, in a loveless world. He is Lord of all and he is Saviour.

In Luke 12:51-53 Jesus says, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

No matter how we are rejected by our earthly families we have comfort in knowing that we are part of a much better family that we have for eternity… Romans 8:17 says that we are children of God and fellow heirs with Christ: “and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him”. Further, Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” And this is not speaking of our own glory. This is the glory of Christ, the glory of being in the presence of Christ forever and eternity. Temporal earthly relationships, no matter how they might grieve us, are not worth exchanging for an eternity with Christ. The answer is to keep our eyes on Christ and the Cross, when we find ourselves feeling hurt over the lost love of family and friends, or grieving for the way we think things ought to be. We live in a fallen world.

I was confirmed in 1998. My confirmation verse is Revelation 2:10, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” At the time, a little part of me wondered why my pastor would give me such a confirmation verse. Being a Christian does not mean we will never have to suffer again. Physically, mentally, economically, socially or politically. Christians all over the world are trading this earthly life for eternity with Christ in his glory, not ours ~ HIS. Some of us have exchanged family and friends for faith and one day we may be required to exchange our lives on earth for the same, even in this country. Will you be ready?

Feminine or Feminist?

When I was a young girl my mother used to say, “Don’t swing your purse, it makes you look like a bar-fly!”. “What’s a bar-fly“, I thought? I was only 12 and so you can imagine the kinds of thoughts that went through my head. Truthfully, I thought a bar-fly was some kind of insect (I was very naive in those days). And a “bar“? I couldn’t tell you what that was.

I am old enough to remember televised Viet Nam protests. And changing the channel would take you directly to the “burn your bra” barrels. I didn’t really understand any of this. I didn’t even know what a bra was! Although some people might think of those days as the beginning of the liberation of women and the birth of feminism, it goes back a lot further than that.

Since the beginning of time, women have been fighting the natural order of creation ~ beginning with Eve. Now that’s not to say that Eve is soley responsible for bringing sin into the world. It was not Eve who bore the tresspass of this offense. As stated in Romans 5:12-14,

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned – for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.”

And this is because of the natural order in which God created the world. Adam took the responsibility for Eve’s disobedience. This is not to say that man was created a “higher” or more valuable being than woman. Man was created to be the head of the woman. Ephesians 5:22-24 says,

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its savior. Now as the church
submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

Submission… what exactly does that mean? It is not “ownership”, it is not “slavery”, it is not the right to abuse. Ephesians 5:25-30 says,

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife, loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the Church, because we are members of his body.”

And further down, Ephesians 5:33 says,

“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

That doesn’t sound at all like ownership, slavery, or abuse to me. For in this scripture, God places equal value and worth on the husband and wife. But the husband is to be the head of the wife, and the wife to respect her husband. What’s so bad about that? Nothing, I say. What wife doesn’t want to be loved in such a way by her own husband? It is an honor to be loved in this way. And God has established this as the natural order of creation from the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 2:18 God says,

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him’.”

So women are not “beneath” men in creation, just second in creation. Woman was made to be a suitable helper fit for man. Again, what woman would not want to be honored, loved, suitable, and fit to her husband in this way? Likewise, I Corinthians 11:3 says,

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

No matter whether or not you consider yourself to be a feminist, there is no denying that someone has to be in charge. In charge at work, in charge at home, in charge of county, city, state, country, and all government; in charge in worship, and in charge of all creation. Scripture has laid out the answer in the most plain and simple way for us.

Still, corrupt human nature, in it’s rebellion against God wants to be “in charge”. And it’s not only men. Women are equally guilty. Feminists not only want to be in charge, they want to be superior. And it is this desire to be unscripturally equal, even superior, that has damaged the family core. In the heights of selfishness, feminists are so busy taking care of their own wants and interests that they have lost all sense of balance within the family. They have sacrificed the emotional, spiritual, and mental wellbeing of their own families. Look around. Our children are evidence of this.

Feminism has become its own religion. And it didn’t happen overnight. No matter how it is presented or disguised, the rebellion of feminism is pure rebellion against God, not men. Although Feminism presents itself as independence from man, and reliance upon self, it is, in truth rebellion against God, the creator of all things, and Jesus Christ, True Man and True God. Feminism seeks to immasculate God with it’s prayers to a non-gendered “mother/father god”. Unfortunately, the feminist does not see that this is a prescription for bondage, disaster, and failure. It is also a prescription for spiritual, and yes, even mental illness. Feminism takes away a woman’s God-given place of honor and respect in the natural order of things, and replaces it with rebellious self-destruction.

The main concern of feminism is disguised as “equal rights”. Rights to financial, social, political, and economic “freedom”. Freedom from dependence upon men in any way, shape, or form (with the exception of careless sex on demand). Freedom from the balance of truly loving relationships with men in marriage. Selfish freedom from children that might result from careless sexual relationships with men, through the legal choice to destroy life within the womb. Freedom to choose other women over men as their mates. These so called “freedoms” are all contrary to the natural order in which God created the world and mankind. This is sin ~ all of it. And it doesn’t end there. Sadly, feminism is based on a deep underlying hatred for the authority of God and men.

The contented, fulfilled woman is the woman who retains the role God gave her at creation and the beginning of time. This does not mean that “a woman’s place is in the home”. Just as this also does not mean that the woman who chooses to be in the home is of lesser socioeconomic or personal worth. Consider the woman described in Proverbs 31: 10-31. She is a wife and a mother. She is loved by her husband and “she is far more precious than jewels” (Proverbs 10:31). Her husband trusts her. She is good to him and for him. She works, she is not lazy. She is a smart and successful business woman and she provides food for her family. She is beautifully dressed. She gives to the poor and is prepared for anything. Likewise, her family is well dressed. Her husband is proud of her. He holds a place of honor in the community and is well known because of her deeds. She is strong and dignified. She is kind and wise. She is more excellent than any woman. Her children call her blessed and her husband praises her. She fears the Lord.

So you see, a woman can function in the role God created for her and be successful in the home without compromising any of the “freedoms” that feminism proclaims. This woman has greater freedom than any feminist. This is the woman that feminists secretly long to be. But they will never admit it.

Is it just me?

Have you ever stood in front of the mirror pondering over grey hairs and wrinkles? I have. My mom used to tell me “beauty is only skin deep, pretty is as pretty does…”.

There is only nine years between me and my youngest sister. And being the eldest of five daughters, I heard “set an example for your younger sisters” a lot. My dad was in the Navy for 21 years prior to his ordination. And I can remember standing on the Naval dock in Hawaii waiting for his ship to come in after months at sea. It was always a special day and we made huge leis of brightly colored tissue paper at school to drape over the ship’s bow when it docked. I was a second grader in 1965. My mom got a new dress – black with a pleated skirt and rainbow colored belt. She was in her thirties then. I remember thinking how pretty she looked in it. It was just me and my three younger sisters at that time and my mom had us all dressed up in matching sailor dresses. Funny what we remember ~ they were little white dresses with blue trim. But in those days, my mom didn’t really need an excuse to dress us up. It was a nice time in my life.

The recent face transplant in France is a miracle! Or is it maybe, just uncharted waters in reconstructive surgery? For someone with disfiguring injuries it is a life changing experience. But for others, cosmetic surgery is about something else. It can even become an obsession or addiction. But why?

We all want to look our best. We care for our bodies with showers, lotions, clothing, exercise, eating, and the right amount of sleep (if you’re not a student anyway). We care for the way our bodies look with hair cuts, manicures, cremes, braces on our teeth, cosmetics, and foot baths. Granted, some of these things we do for comfort, but that is just another way of caring. Why? Because we love ourselves. We love others, and we want them to love us back. We want to live longer lives. We want to be healthy so we can get the most out of life. And we want to be happy.

So why does happiness have so much to do with the way we look? Why do some of us spend so much time in front of the mirror working on our faces, our hair, and our clothes? Is it really about how we present ourself to the world? Some of it, maybe. But a lot of it is how we feel when we look our best. And how we look says a lot about how we view ourselves and the world around us. You see it every day in one form or another. It may be a renegade teenager with multiple body piercings in gothic attire, someone wearing too much makeup, jewelry, or perfume. Another person might be too scantily clothed. Or maybe it’s something more “normal” like body waxing, permanents, and hair coloring. Whatever the reason, we all care for our bodies in a way that seems fitting to us.

I have a little mole under my nose. My mom used to tell me that it is a “beauty mark”. For many years, when I looked in the mirror it was the first thing I saw. And while most people never notice it, I never liked it. So a few years ago I had it removed. Well, bad pennies always turn up – it came back.

Beauty tends to be culturally defined. In Great Britian and England “less is more”, most women don’t wear much makeup. Some African cultures find-self inflicted scarring a thing of beauty. But how do we Americans define beauty? Unfortunately, we are a culture largely influenced by celebrity. We look to celebrity role models for direction in beauty, fashion, moral and ethical values, lifestyle, politics, and religion. And we allow our children to do the same! Think about it – sports and music celebrities, movies, and even cartoons! What are we doing? And what are we modeling as acceptable to our children? What are we condoning by doing nothing? Excessively expensive or inappropriate clothing? Eating disorders? Tatoos and body piercings? Plastic sugery? What’s next? It’s all culturally acceptable!

Indeed, the way we present ourselves is a reflection of who we are. For some, it is a reflection of who they’d like to be. Regardless, it’s easy to make an initial assessment about a person’s personality and character by their appearance. We all do it. Is anyone old enough to remember the book “Dress for Success”? It’s basically a how-to fake-it-til-you-make-it book for achieving “success” in the workplace. It implies that we can change things by the way we dress. I happen to think the book is shallow hogwash…. but that’s just me.

Maybe we need to rethink this beauty thing… I get a lot of emails from friends about what it means to be a “beautiful” woman. After reading the most recent one, I thought, “What is beauty as defined by Scripture”? I like Proverbs 31:30. It says, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Or how about Proverbs 11:22? It says, “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.” Wow ~ that kinda hit’s home, doesn’t it…. True beauty comes from within a person. It radiates through their eyes. Have you ever talked with someone without ever noticing what they were wearing? My favorite verse on beauty is 1 Peter 3:3 & 4. It says, “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” That says it all. Doesn’t it?

We are made in the image of God. Genesis 9:6 “…. for God made man in his own image”.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made! Psalms 139:14 says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well”.

We are to honor our bodies as the temple of God. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?”

We are to present our bodies a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship”. We are to be different from the world. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”.

I know, it might sound like an awful lot of Law. But really it isn’t. Grace gives us freedom from the law. But we still have fruits of the spirit…