Whose Legacy? Thoughts from OUR Garden…

We’ve had a real heat wave here in Indiana this summer. Due to retirement last fall, I’ve seen more sun and experienced the heat first hand while enjoying a lush garden and just being outdoors in general. But with the heat and lack of precipitation, watering has become a regular thing and it just takes as long as it takes. I really don’t mind that particular task, as I find it very therapeutic and it gives me an “excuse” for contemplation, prayer and praise.

It was one such morning last week that I began to think back to when I first found this little “farmette”consisting of an older farmhouse, four acres, and a beautiful hip roof barn wrapped in red metal. It had been a search of about 7 months before I found a property that met all my criteria and that I could actually afford. I was elated and thankful to the Father that everything had finally fallen into place for ME to own this little homestead. But little did I know my new adventure was pointing me towards a major spiritual paradigm shift.

I’ve had a lot of help developing this property in the last 4 years. I have two grown sons who have contributed to barn cleanout, fencing, gardening, drywall repair, etc. But the biggest contributor to the project has been my spiritual friend/brother/soulmate that I now call husband. When we first began brainstorming and envisioning projects, I must admit that I thought it was such a blessing to have someone with a similar passion willing to help me with MY goals and dreams. We had discovered that we worked very well together, and I was more than happy to defer to his experience in the areas of gardening and farming…for the most part. This is where some challenges began to crop up, bringing about that paradigm shift I mentioned earlier.

My old mind set, as an independent working woman, was to take full responsibility for “my” decisions and investment. I did give Yah thanks for answering prayers for a little place in the country that I could share with my family, but years of being single due to divorce had turned me into a “take charge” kinda gal. After all, momma had always told me, “You can do this!” But in the midst of the process, I was also learning deeper scriptural truths about headship, patriarchy, and submissiveness. In my times of introspection, study and prayer, I began to see how my attitude may have contributed to the failure of my first marriage. I also became more sensitive and knowledgeable about men in general, and began to seek change in how I related to my current husband.

I recently read an article by a blogger that, at first reading really set me back. It was titled “Does His Happiness Matter More Than Mine?” My first reaction was “of course not!” But the Spirit began to work in me, revealing the truth contained in the words of the article. If I truly believed that obedience to Messiah is manifested by my reverence and obedience to my husband, then I seriously had to re-think that response. After all, I am HIS help meet, not the other way around! Now granted, he is a wonderful man that helps me in so many ways, but that is because he takes husbandry seriously. So rather than focusing on my plans and goals, I’m asking the Father to teach me to focus on his. I am beginning to see that my legacy should not be about my personal accomplishments, but how I respected and served him in obedience to Messiah. It should be how I loved and taught my children and grandchildren, and how I served others in addition to my family. I am also beginning to understand that although my name may be on the mortgage, I need to diligently water and care for OUR garden and listen to his direction in the management of this household in general. I really believe to do so is pleasing to Yeshua and builds up the name and reputation of the Godly man that He has placed over me.

The Substitute Wife

Recently I was on a forum discussing Biblical families and patriarchy and all the different topics that can arise out of that. Members discuss theological issues, world current events, music, and even movies. There were a few recommendations for films that I had not heard of, but they were originally on Hallmark so I figured at least I’d garnish some warm fuzzies. Yeah I was right. But one film really affected me profoundly and so I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts, and then insert a link to the version on You Tube that I think plays the clearest. (There were several options, so it took a few tries before I found a good one.)

So if you’re a baby boomer like me and familiar with old television shows, you probably recall “Charlies Angels”. Farrah Fawcett was the star, and many a teenage girl copied her infamous hairstyle back in the day. But in this film, she actually plays a supporting role as an aging prostitute. But I’m jumping ahead…or maybe I was just trying to hook you in. 😉 The real “star” of this film was the pioneering wife and mother who worked tirelessly beside her man to forge a new life and future for their family. Not far into the story, she becomes gravely ill and sees a doctor who gives her the news that she may only have a few months to live. Because she cannot deny how sick she is, and that soon she will not be around to help her husband and raise her children, she comes up with a plan to find a woman to step into her shoes when she is gone. And so the adventure begins. There is a wonderful mixture of heartache and humor in this film, but I want to encourage you to watch for yourselves so I’ll try not to reveal too much. But what struck me the most was this woman’s unselfish desire to see her family thrive beyond her sudden departure from this earth, even if it meant searching for her substitute while she was still living! There is a little twist to the plot it seems, when her efforts seem to backfire, but even then she takes it in stride and adjusts “the plan” to benefit and yes, to even bless everyone involved!

So what is the moral of this story? To me, it is the RIGHTEOUSNESS of a woman who has the courage and wisdom to break out of societal (not Biblical) norms in order to see that her family flourishes! What a legacy! I watched this movie a second time, and really thought about her reasoning and fortitude while facing a seemingly hopeless situation. Could I have been that brave facing similar circumstances? I really don’t know. What about you? I encourage anyone reading this to take a little time to watch this film. I think you’ll be challenged in your thinking as well as your heart.

Watch “The Substitute Wife” here…

Let’s Talk About Jealousy…

Today is March 30, 2020. The US has ground to a halt for the most part, as has much of the world. I make note of this primarily because I plan to say a few things in the sentences ahead (a possible prediction?) that may or may not play out as presented. My initial ruminations on the topic of jealousy were pretty flat. Not that this “issue” isn’t serious, indeed it is! But it just seems so commonplace, so expected, why write an article on it? So, let’s take a look at some of the places that jealousy rears it’s ugly green-eyed head.

Just seconds into this writing, I had to take a minute to break up a little showdown between the two dogs in the living room. So what do think that was all about? Would you believe JEALOUSY?? Bella had been given a bigger bone than Flower because, well, she’s a bigger dog! Crazy isn’t it, that this competition and envy even exists in the animal kingdom? If you are a parent, or have spent any time around infants and toddlers, I’m sure you’ve noticed that it exists within these small children as well. Obviously, it is not something that is learned, but innate. I believe the story of the first humans’ fall into sin and the subsequent passing on of that state of fallenness through their progeny explains things quite well. So, to put it simply, jealousy is in us all.

I think women come to mind most often when we start discussing this topic. I get it. But I have seen jealousy surface in the male gender as well…it just seems to manifest differently. I remember a time or two that my sons were victims of peer jealousy, and one time in particular it came out as anger. As a matter of fact, my oldest son suffered a bloody nose because of it. Initially we were all scratching our heads as to exactly what happened and why it escalated so quickly. But upon further investigation, and a run-down of “he said this, and then I said that”, it was pretty clear that jealousy and resentment was at the root of the tussle. Now, girls are a WHOLE different story…

Call it “mean girl syndrome”, sabotage, manipulation or what have you, but the female gender seems to have perfected jealousy and competitiveness to a fine science. Once again, we can blame the sin nature for this. Growing up, this wasn’t one of my weaknesses…I had others, believe me. But I was often the brunt of others’ jealousy towards me. It got so ugly and compounded that I dreaded going to school most days, and it was a pivotal component of my request to graduate from high school a year earlier than scheduled. But of course, that really never solved the problem.

So how seriously does Yahweh view this sin of jealousy? If you are familiar with the Ten Words, more commonly referred to as the Ten Commandments, you know that “Thou shalt not covet” is among them. But is this one of those things that you can just suppress, and as long as there is no outward expression of the thought or emotion, you’re in the clear? I think we all know the answer to that one. A “friend” from social media shared a talk very recently given by a pretty well known orthodox rabbi in Israel. She herself is orthodox and an author. She warned that the message was not a pleasant one, especially the beginning and the end. She was correct. His words of warning were very sobering as he voiced his frustration over the many respected voices that were trying to calm and reassure their listeners that this pandemic known as Covid 19 would soon be over and the world would return to normal. He warned that in his opinion, nothing could be further from the truth, and that those spreading this “misinformation” should be ashamed and very nervous! He went on to list the possible whys of this terrible judgement, the first being lashon hara, or evil speech. This is comparable to gossip and hateful backbiting, but can also take more subtle forms. And then he listed jealousy! What?! It was his observation that jealousy could be judged by total economic collapse and that everyone’s financial status might well be leveled, making the rich poor and thus taking away the poor’s reason for being jealous! I was impressed especially when he addressed the fact that jealousy (as well as the other sins sure to bring Yah’s righteous anger and judgement) was a HEART issue, and we’d all better get serious about teshuva! Thought provoking to say the least…

So let’s get real and personal about what the Torah has to say about this thing called jealousy, in particular regarding patriarchy and Biblical marriage. Did you ever think it odd that jealousy seems to actually be permissable, depending upon who is jealous and for what reason? Throughout Scripture, YHVH describes Himself as a jealous Elohim (God). He will not tolerate His people having any other god before Him. He will not stand for half-hearted worship or partial obedience either! He has every right to expect our complete devotion and submission to His will and instructions. Numbers 5, beginning in verse 11 describes situations where a husband is jealous or suspicious of his wife’s fidelity, and how it is to be determined if she has indeed been unfaithful and what the consequences would be. But try as you may, you will not find anything addressing the jealousy of a wife! That is a hard pill to swallow if you are a woman that has bought into our modern egalitarian culture regarding the sexes. Does Yah not care about our feelings? That just doesn’t seem fair!

Once again, we have run into the wall of our presumptions. We have been conditioned for thousands of years that jealousy and possessiveness are normal, even expected, reactions when it comes to our man. My momma would say “What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.” Yah says “Not so!” Many men are naturally polygamous, or feel called to cover more than one woman. The patriarchs of our faith often had several wives and large families. Torah gives instruction on how to manage a plural household, but never condemns it. So, what are we to do when we encounter this MAJOR brain/heart cramp? Once again, the answer lies in the renewing of our minds in regard to our purpose, our station, and our role. Serious, transparent, and wholehearted prayer is a good starting point for when our thoughts and emotions seem to contradict scripture. If we are real about wanting to align our hearts and minds to our Creator, He will be faithful in assisting us with this major paradigm shift. But it will be an ongoing, perhaps life long process, as all spiritual growth is. With the help of the Set Apart Spirit we must learn to accept that men are accountable to the Messiah for their actions and motives and not to their women. OUCH!

This may seem like a really big order, but it IS do-able if we are submitted and serious about being obedient and repenting of anything that would hinder our calling and living in peace within our families. We all know there are too few out there leading the way and setting the example for highly functioning and blessed Biblical families. Modeling the dynamic that Messiah has with his bride(s) is the primary purpose for marriage, so dealing with jealousy is paramount. May Yah give His people, especially the ladies, the strength and grace to confront this stumbling block and thrive!

Thoughts on Patriarchy Across the Globe…

I took a little trip to Houston to spend a few days with my daughter this week. The sudden shift from the overcast skies and blustery chilly winds of Indiana to sun and 78 degrees was such a treat! We were quite busy running around the outskirts of the city checking off her “to do” list, meeting friends, and seeing places I had only heard her talk about. But I did get a little down time to just relax in front of You Tube and Chromecast while staying at her cute apartment. I stumbled across a few short news documentaries that I thought were worthy of my time, so I watched and pondered. Two of the stories focused on real life accounts of several Saudi women who had managed to escape their prison-like existences covered in black from head to toe, while always having a male escort by their side. These particular women were not just ordinary citizens, but all were somehow related to the royal family and ruling class. The lengths that the men would go to to bring back “their women”, usually daughters, was the stuff nightmares are made of. Another short film covered the practice of Kyrgystani men literally kidnapping girls and young women to marry against their wills. Sadly, it was not uncommon for some of the victim “brides” to commit suicide in order to escape a life that they had no say in.

I think stories like these are what most people, women in particular, envision when the subject of patriarchy comes up. And then of course, there are also certain religious sects here in the US that practice patriarchy or polygyny, but not for what most would consider Biblical reasons. This can make it very challenging to have a productive conversation regarding Biblical family structure. So how do we go about broaching this subject, or defending the Biblical model to our families and faith communities? A couple of my favorite sayings come to mind; “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” and “chew on the meat and spit out the bones”. We must be apologists! And we must shine the light of truth on these errant philosophies and religions that would support this kind of atrocious behavior.

Not too long ago, I defended patriarchy and plural marriage to a friend that tended to lump it all together with Mormonism, Islam, etc. This friend was Torah pursuant so I felt we had a common foundation. I simply stated that the ideas were very Biblical and like Torah, I felt that they were applicable to our day. I continued by pointing out that the error lay with the false doctrines and belief systems, and not with the practices of Biblical marriage. I pray we continue to bravely dive into these opportunistic discussions within our circles, and diligently separate truth from deception. And may we continue to fellowship and support those that hear the Father calling them to courageously step up and live counter to our Godless culture!

“He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not”

Several days ago, I first read Pete Rambo’s article on this site entitled “Does God Hate Women”. Like the author, it challenged me to look at the subjects of patriarchy, covering, polygyny etc. in a totally different light. It sort of reminded me of when the Spirit began to draw me to the idea of foster care and adoption, but I’ll explain that connection a little later on…

I think all of us struggle during our spiritual journey with the idea “does God really love me?” Before we really get serious about studying scripture, and I mean researching the original languages and meanings, we tend to filter everything through the culture we live in. Our everyday experiences along with the ways in which we were reared, really cloud our comprehension of the written Word. And let’s not forget that, unlike how I was taught, our English versions often have a bias or agenda as well. With that being said, it is no wonder that our “solid doctrines” can actually mislead and hinder us from fully grasping the concept of YHVH’s loving care and purpose for us!

As the sole female author here (at least at this point), I thought it important to respond to some of these “new” ideas put forth on this blog. I was like most women when I first encountered some of these paradigm shifts in God’s plan and provision for women. Initially, they seemed very archaic and oppressive…definitely not “freeing”! But this little Voice whispered to me, “Aren’t you always promoting going back to the ancient ways of following Me?” Well….where does one draw the line? I mean literally?

As previously disclosed in my first article, I have personally experienced divorce and single motherhood. Sometimes those years seem like a blur because I was so focused on the task at hand, namely to financially provide for myself and 3 children, as well as trying to fulfill the roles of both mother and father (totally impossible) that everything else seemed very peripheral. Now let me be VERY clear, Yah was so very faithful to care for us during that entire time, even though the circumstances were far from ideal. I had a wonderful support system in my parents, and a good paying job was a gift straight from the Father. But as you can imagine, it totally wore me out and my children were shortchanged.

There were very few opportunities to have any kind of social life outside of church attendance. And as for “dating”, many obstacles existed to make that a non issue for me. I had pondered and prayed, and realized that the root of all the chaos in the previous marriage was a lack of deep spirituality and understanding of headship on the part of my ex. Not that I was innocent; I see that now, but the dynamic of our relationship was deeply flawed. I was prayerfully determined not to make that mistake again. And then the few solid believing men I did encounter were, of course, married or avoided “divorced women with children” like the plague! So I resigned to raising my children the best I knew how, trusting Yah to fill in the gaping holes.

After my boys had reached adulthood and my daughter was nearly through high school, I experienced that HUGE paradigm shift commonly referred to in our circle as the Torah Awakening. I was suddenly “thirstier” than I had ever been for the Word, focusing on the Tanach and the ancient ways. Over the next several years, new (to me) ways of looking at God, Messiah, culture, etc. began to emerge and I questioned everything. Women covering their heads as I had seen in the Orthodox Jewish and Anabaptist sects of Christianity still puzzled me. Many women in the Torah movement often discussed this subject, and while I saw both sides, I couldn’t really nail down what I thought about it. A different perspective on “covering” regarding headship came onto my radar, and I went down that path seeking a clearer understanding. Yahweh began to reveal to me the beauty of his provision for His daughters…the light flipped on! A couple of others in this walk that I regarded as mentors and whose words I highly respected began to see these things as well, confirmation that I, by the grace of Yah was onto Truth.

But, while headship is often talked about in certain Christian and Torah communities, other aspects of patriarchy are more challenging. What parts do we keep? And which parts do we toss, saying “now that’s going too far”. I personally have come to the conclusion that we can’t pick and choose, that it ALL applies! Even polygyny, God forbid?! Yes, I believe that polygyny is a valid and even loving resolution to many of the predicaments of both men AND women. Is it required or a measurement of spirituality, as some errant sects teach? No, of course not. But it certainly is NOT sin, according to scripture. And it may even be a calling!

Now I promised to relate this whole personal understanding to my calling to be a foster parent. When I initially felt that the Spirit was speaking to me about foster care, there were a thousand logical reasons not to pursue it. It was a lot of work, it was way out of my comfort zone and skill level, my family was against it, I could have my heart broken, it could have a profound affect on my own children, etc. etc. And while all this was true, the bottom line was “Is this what God is calling me to? Will I follow Him and not what everyone around me is saying, though it may sound like wise counsel?” In every true thing, there will be adversity…lots of it. But courage in obedience, despite the struggles will always result in blessing beyond our imaginations. God desires to show us His love in it’s deepest, highest, and purest form! Where we are confused and unsure of His care and love for us, it most often is a result of our incomplete understanding of His culture. While we will never fully “get it”, He encourages us to continually seek Him and His ways, and His love will never disappoint!

 

Did Momma Really Know Best?

I’ll just come right out and say it…I was raised in a matriarchal family. And since my mom was a pretty smart lady and I was the oldest of 3 daughters and no sons, I thought that was pretty cool as I was growing up. We girls were encouraged to pursue our dreams, set goals, have confidence, and above all let NO ONE hold you back or tell you that you can’t do something! Of course, the driving force behind all this cheerleading was my mother and, to be quite honest, her ways were pretty typical of the all-American mom. Mom passed on just over a year ago, and I have done a lot of remembering and processing since then.

My mother was just 17 when my father and she married. He was in the navy and they met when he was “in on leave”. I don’t really recall how long their actual courtship lasted, but I do know that he proposed and pressured her to make a trip to the courthouse before he left again for foreign waters. Later, she would say that his motivation for the rush was that he was afraid she wouldn’t be there, aka available, when he returned. He would sheepishly agree that she was probably right. It was almost a total of 3 years before they would actually live together as a couple on a base in El Centro California, far from the hills of southwest Virginia and any family support. Pictures that I have from that time in their lives reveal an apartment with few furnishings, along with a grassless yard. Money was beyond tight, as was typical for military families at the time, yet dad had a difficult time imagining a better life after the navy. And so began the dynamic between my parents.

I describe my dad as loving, but extremely passive. Though he was 5 plus years older than my mom, he lacked confidence and vision. As an adult looking at the big picture of his dysfunctional upbringing, I understand why. But growing up in a family where mom was running the show because dad just really didn’t know how, sent many mixed signals and caused much confusion, especially when sermons on the family entered the mix.

We weren’t consistently churched as I was growing up. I refer to our attendance at various small Southern Baptist congregations and subsequent spiritual growth as “spurty”. In my late teens I became curious and hungry beyond what the pastors’ answers could satisfy so sought scriptural truth on my own. Throughout those years, mom and dad carried on as usual, making a living and raising a family in the best way “they” knew how. But there was growing resentment and bitterness in their relationship. Mom resented him for not stepping up and taking the lead, and he grew more sullen and quiet as time went on. As I became more and more aware of just what God’s Word had to say regarding headship and the proper roles of man and wife, I contemplated their marriage and wondered if it all could have been turned around. Where did it all go wrong for them? “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” And more importantly, who should change first? I seriously did not have the answer to that.

All of us girls eventually married, without much of a clue as to what to look for in a husband. To some degree, we each made some of the same mistakes our parents made…go figure. My husband and I divorced, and one of my sisters married and divorced twice. Looking back, the same dynamics to some extent ruled our failed relationships. I would say we were fearful of submitting due to lack of trust in our husbands to lead, due to their lack of trust in the One who would lead them. But I am learning! As my faith and understanding in this area continues to grow, I have graciously been given an opportunity to get it right…a “do-over” you might say. May He continue to lead us all in His ways, for they are always best!