Sunday, August 12, 2007

introducing ... ckjolly.blogspot.com


502 blog posts later and after many stories, travels, videos, photos, finding love on the internet ... I am proud to announce the inaugurating post at http://ckjolly.blogspot.com. All new updates will be posted at the new site.

Many in the realm of Christendom are choosing to refer to themselves as Christ-followers rather than Christians. Many theologians, evangelists, church planters, and "Christians" have adopted the term to remove the baggage and stigma the term Christian seems to bear on today's culture.

While many cringe at the word Christian, the name Jesus Christ almost universally demands respect. "Christian" in many cultures, however, conjures up images of tele-evangelists, the Ku Klux Klan, crusades, etc.

Christ-followers wish others to associate them with the Son of God and not a particular denomination or faction of society. Do they resent those who call themselves Christians? No.

What do you think of the use of terms?

The videos linked to on the new i'd rather laugh than cry are a parody of the Mac vs PC ads on television. They equate Christians with those of the traditional line of church-goers, while Christ-followers are associated with emerging types.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

married for one month, part 15

anthony asked:

  1. Did you really actually know before you met that you would get married?
  2. Were you too emotionally committed to pull out of it, even if you discovered that you came across differently in person than expected when you met, and discovered unforeseen personality incompatibilities? (I expect you to say that there were no real surprises when you met, so my next question would be...)
  3. Would you have been able to get to know each other well enough for their to be no real surprises when you met if you didn't use webcams?
  4. What do you think of the dangers of the false sense of intimacy that internet communication can bring?

Christine responds:

Mike and I did not begin communicating via webcam until September (2 months after we shared our feelings for each other). I knew I loved him even before I heard his voice (July 13, 2006 ... before that it was all msn messenger, email, and blogs). I wanted to be sure it was really him that I loved ... and not his wonderful good looks and sexy Aussie accent (that would have been enough for my dear friend Laura, I dare say ; ).

There was no pressure for Mike to propose to me when he came to America. By then I already had plans to visit during December/January. If things did not work out, the plan was for me to stay in Sydney over the holiday rather than going on to Tassie. It was Mike who took on the responsibility to purchase a ticket for me to fly from Sydney to Hobart.

Mike and I knew the dangers of internet relationships ... the ease of hiding behind a computer, etc. Thus we purposefully were very open, honest, and vulnerable about our own faults from the very beginning (msn messenger days).

married for one month, part 14

Kelli B asked:
  1. what's been the hardest thing to adjust to - going from single to married?
  2. what's your favorite way to serve Mike/Christine?
  3. what are you so excited to share with others about married life? to motivate and inspire them?

Christine responds:
  1. Answered in posts below.
  2. The other day I found myself determined to make certain sacrifices so that I do not contribute more damage to our already strained finances. I told Mike that I would buy juice from the shop. Now Mike knows that I'm fond of visiting a juice bar once or twice a week to enjoy a freshly squeezed glass of juice. But at $5 per large serving, I was better off financially just buying a $3 large bottle of juice for the whole week. But wonderful Mike was determined to bless me with, "I want you to not feel guilty and enjoy the fresh squeezed juice." Mike appears to be quite pleased that I cook for him.
  3. I love working as a team with my husband ... whether it's holding the light for him as he drills a whole in the back of his desk or listening as he practices sermons and giving him suggestions. There is no place in marriage for selfishness.

Mike's 5 cents:
  1. Hardest thing has been not working myself into the ground. When I work too hard 2 people suffer not just one.
  2. Christine is a good listener and she works hard to keep the bathroom clean. I also do most of the cleaning and cook breakfast sometimes. I'm also patient with Christine's "creative distractedness".
  3. See my answer here

Thursday, August 02, 2007

married for one month, part 13

Jonny asked:
  1. Will all the kids/babies fit in your car?
  2. If someone is over at your house for dinner, what time do they have to leave?


Christine responds:
  1. I doubt the Camry will be around long enough to be filled beyond capacity with toddlers.
  2. You have to leave at 9:30, Jonny. Don't worry. We'll stop the movie and start from where we left off the next time you come around.

married for one month, part 12

Tracy asked:

What expectations did you have of marriage that you didn't realize that you had? (usually discovered in their disappointment)


Christine responds:

Moving into a bachelor's home where a system of how things are done and where items belong is difficult. It's difficult for a bride to feel that anything is really her own. She feels she's a guest until she can make her own home as she would like.

I thought I could march in and go about things as I normally would albeit in a new surrounding. But because living in Mike's old flat (while Dave is still overseas traveling) is only temporary ... I have to be careful to put things back just as I found them and respect the general system of established order.

I was surprised by how much stress I felt, as a result.

Much of this, however, will be alleviated as we move into our new apartment. Then I can decorate, arrange, and organize (don't scoff!) as I wish (of course, taking Mike's suggestions and needs into careful consideration).

Mike's friend, Sam, gave Mike this wise advice before Mike left for Germany:
"Let your wife decorate and arrange things as she wants and your own happiness will increase!"

married for one month, part 11

Amy Imms asked:

Ok, Jason & I have a few questions...
  1. What has been the most challenging aspect to married life so far??
  2. If you guys were coming to my place for dinner, what would you be hoping I didn't cook? And if you didn't like it, would you eat it anyway?
  3. Considering the long distance nature of your dating and engagement, are you finding anything about each other particularly different than expected?
  4. Christine, could you see yourself living the rest of your life in Hobart?

Christine responds:
  1. The most challenging aspect of married life so far has been knowing our role as a couple and not individuals. Does that make sense?
  2. Nothing swimming in grease ... but yes, I'm a good missionary girl and will eat what is set before me. Oh, and please remember what I said about baby squid.
  3. Um ... nup. We talked so much and were so open with each other that nothing has really been a surprise. Perhaps it's hard to believe, but I cannot emphasize enough ... it is ALL by God's grace! Mike and I are extremely blessed to have experienced such a smooth transition into marriage.
  4. I've known from the beginning that following Mike's two year ministry apprenticeship that he plans on going to Bible College in Sydney. However, this is not set in stone. If for some reason Mike and I are led to remain in Hobart working ministry jobs or even secular jobs, I will definitely not resent him and shout, "You tricked me! I thought I'd be living in SYDNEY! You said you were going to be a PASTOR!!!" and then run to our room, slam the door, and cry into my pillow. (knock knock knock ... "If I'm meant to sleep on the couch can I at least grab my pillow and a blanket?") No, I love Hobart and if I had to finally settle in one place, why not here?
Mike's 2 cents:
  1. I reckon the way we interact together with other people as a couple. eg. at church. I always feel awkward and not sure what to do. I guess I sort of agree with Christine.
  2. Dominos Pizza. It really is sooo filthy. "pizza hangover anyone?" errgh. But I'd eat it if you put it in front of me.
  3. Nup we talked about pretty much everything before we married. Christine is messy and I'm anal, you have to be honest about these things b4 you get married. But all credit to God for how our relationship has worked out.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

married for one month, part 10

Anonymous asked:

Is there anything you wish you had been told before you got married that no one told you?


Christine responds:

Nup, I can't say that there is.

Do I know everything?

Not by a long shot!

But I feel well-prepared and ready for this journey.

However, I think it is VERY important that readers consider what my friend Nixter has to add:

I have loved some of the things you have said and it has caused me to think through how I can be more like Christ in my marriage so thank you. I also think it is great that you haven't had any major struggles in your first few months of marriage - Praise God!

But I just wanted to say that that is not the case for a lot of people, I know many people who have struggled tremendously in their first year of marriage and that that can be quite normal.

I know for us there were heaps of adjustments in the first few months before things started settled down. In the book ‘From Blushing Bride to Wedded Wife’ it talks about how you are not alone in that struggle. So I think what I am saying is - it isn't always that easy and more often than not it is initially quite hard, this is at least from the people I have spoken to on the issue and also my own experience. Living with girls for 28 years of my life, doing what I want to do etc and then sharing a house, a bed, chores etc with your spouse can be quite an adjustment.

I would hate for people to think that if it isn't as easy for them then something is wrong. But I just want people to know that it is quite normal to feel uncertain, scared, freaked out, etc

One final thing to add – Marriage is a blessing, a gift from God and over time as you learn more about your spouse certain things become easier, other issues may raise there head but you learn more about how each other ticks and how to communicate and love each other.

married for one month, part 9

Beth asked:

At what point did you know you would marry Mike? Was it a particular conversation, series of conversations, reflections on those conversation? What was your 'aha!' moment like, if you had one?


Christine responds:

I knew before I entered a romantic relationship with Mike that I would marry him. There was no way that I would have invested my emotions and time in such an absurdly long distant, unlikely union unless I knew I could also say "I do".

There was no "aha". Instead I knew that Mike was the sort of man that I would like to live my life with. He was a Christian, a leader, and passionate about kingdom of God in the same manner I was (not to mention tall and handsome!). He seemed to be a worthy partner of the race God had set before me.

married for one month, part 8

kath asked:
  1. what's the best (and worst!?) advice you were given leading up to marriage?
  2. what did prayer and bible reading disciplines look like in the first month of marriage? particularly regarding regularity and shared vs independent time.
  3. now you're a jolly, are you gonna change the name of your blog?

Christine responds:

1. Best - Sacred Influence, pg. 53
Only one perfect man ever walked this earth, and he never married. Since every wife is married to an imperfect man, every wife will have legitimate disappointments in her marriage. Are you going to define your husband by these disappointments, or will you pray that God will open your eyes to the common blessings that your husband provides and to which you often become blinded?
Worst - Hire a professional photographer. LOL! Neither Mike nor I are fussy about weddings and considered not bothering with professional photos. However, some said that we would regret not doing so because photos are all that we would have left to remember the occasion. Honestly? Friends and family took SO MANY wonderful pictures that if we didn't have professional photos we would be perfectly happy.

2. Every night before we fall asleep Mike leads us in prayer. I typically pray while I shower in the morning while Mike prays and reads the Bible. Due to the hectics weeks leading up to and during Worldview Survey as well as dealing with Immigration, Mike and I have not been able to set aside enough time to settle down and read together. However, we plan to arrange our schedules after we move into our new apartment on Thursday to purposefully set aside time to unwind together and read God's Word and other books together.

3. Following this series of posts I will switch to ckjolly.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

married for one month, part 7

fional asked:

Do you think it's worth waiting til you're married to have sex?


Christine (smells) responds:

Yes.

Sex has become a wonderful complement to our relationship. The level of intimacy we share matches our commitment to each other.

Is it the above all, end all? No.

Is it marvelous? Yes.

But our marriage is built on love for Jesus Christ and of course communication.

To have waited this long to express that aspect of our love was extremely worthwhile. We have no guilt. We can enjoy each other fully without embarrassment or shame.

Mike adds his two cents worth...
Sex is really good inside of marriage. People and many christians get sold rubbish that they are missing out if they don't have sex before marriage. Speaking from my experience this view is bollocks. I'm glad I waited and if you are waiting too good for you. Don't let people rubbish you for being a virgin. "I have sex with my wife thankyou and it's da bomb."

married for one month, part 6

Laura asked:

Do you recommend stirring up controversy as a way to catch a husband? HA!


Christine responds:

I recommend being honest AND gracious about your convictions. Do not hide your intelligence because you think it will scare men off. But beware of flaunting it.

married for one month, part 5

Anonymous asked:

What do you see as a biblical view of birth control?


Christine responds:

I am not willing to tag my personal view of birth control with the adjective biblical. Not because it is contrary to the Bible. But because I believe there are many godly men and women who have prayerfully considered their options and have come to varying conclusions.

I will say, however, that Mike and I have slightly different views. I have chosen to submit to him in this area of our marriage in order to show honor for his leadership in our life together.

Monday, July 30, 2007

married for one month, part 4

The Borg asked:

What strategies are you both going to employ to get through the difficult times when neither of you seem lovable?


Christine responds:

Mike and I both had problems with this question.

Perhaps it was with the word lovable. We tried to think through instances when we would find ourselves unable to love the other. The reason none came to mind was not because we are still in the honeymoon stage and we just think the other person is absolutely marvelous and can do no wrong. No, I think we accept each other as human and continue to love each other because ... we love each other. I may not feel like making dinner after an evening of gathering together immigration paperwork, but I do it because I know it blesses Mike.

I'm not saying that neither of us have given into annoyance or haven't hurt each other at some stage. But we are very quick to seek forgiveness because to hurt Mike is to inflict misery on myself.

If anyone could answer this differently, I'd be interested to know if you have strategies for such situations.

married for one month, part 3

Anonymous asked:

Do you think that as many people will read your blog now that you are no longer single?


Christine responds:

My purpose for writing has never been (well ... except for those couple of months in 2005) to stroke my ego and get people to read my blog. Look back through my earliest posts. No one commented (except Mike who a couple of months ago went through and read all my past writing and left sweet love notes at the end of each of them.)

That isn't to say, however, that I do not enjoy the exchanges of thought that occur in the comment sections. I often tell people that the comments are the best feature on my blog. I'm convinced that is why people return in between posts ... not to see if I've updated my blog ... but to see if anyone commented!

If no one reads my blog now that I'm married, I don't mind so much ... but I don't see why they wouldn't just because I'm a Mrs. now ... it would probably have to be a drastic change in subject matter or a complete disregard for updating my blog for people to stop checking up on me.

married for one month, part 2

Jonny asked:
  1. Would you accept living in Australia for the rest of your life if you had to?
  2. Or do you miss your friends and family in other countries too much?
  3. Could you eventually come to call yourself Australian and have an understanding and appreciation of our way of life or are you a terrorist?
  4. Do they have any good men in Kentucky? (Obviously I don't care either way).
  5. Do you miss America and wish you could be home?

Christine responds:
  1. If I had a gun pointed at my head? Sure! (I'm soooo just kidding!!!) Seriously? If I had to, yes, I could accept living in Australia for the rest of my life. I once warned Mike that in two years time I might become agitated and restless. I may not even know why at the time, but he ought to be prepared that the reason could be my "biological clock". My entire life I have picked up and moved on average once every 2 years. This has been my lifestyle and it will not be easy for me to stay in one place. Mike is aware of this and has promised to be understanding during times when I am dying to scratch the itch to move. He knew what sort of woman he was marrying.
  2. No, I do not miss my friends to the extent that I am desperate to see them again. Most of my friends share my love for travel and are keen to come to Australia to visit at some point. When I moved here, I hugged my friends and let go of them so that I could cling to what God had waiting for me here.
    Luke 9:62 - Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
    Thank God, however, for skype and email. These make the transition easier.
  3. I will never be fully Australian. Just as I was never fully German or American. Mike sometimes teases me about the manner in which I pronounce words differently, however, he doesn't want to make me into something I am not. That being said, I am certainly keen to learn all I can about my new home. While watching the news Mike will sometimes interject, "Pay attention! If they ever start a citizenship exam THAT will be on it!"
  4. There are so many wonderful men in Kentucky ... particularly at Southern Seminary and Sojourn ... that I am proud to call my friends. Because I married an Australian does not negate that fact. God was merely saving me for someone and somewhere else.
  5. No, I do not miss America. I LOVE it here. I love Mike. I love Crossroads Church. I love the island of Tasmania (my new home). I love walking to town and Uni. Mike doesn't believe me. "I'll believe it when I hear you tell it to Laura's face when you talk to her next." I do wish I could share some of these new experiences with old friends ... I wish I could be there when Cassey and Jiri welcome their new son to the world. But we all understand that God has called each of us to different places at this stage in our lives. To constantly look back feeds discontentment.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

married for one month, part 1

Anon. asked:
Just wondering... but as another self-described "independent woman," I find myself wanting to know which parts of the engaged/married experience (so far) have been the most trying for a woman who had been used to making her own decisions in every area without having to submit to another human being in each of them. I think it will be very difficult for me to adjust to that, given that I've been living on my own since 1999. Have you experienced frustration or fear or similar feelings along the way? Has it been harder or easier than you expected to live in Biblical "coupledom"? Or is it, frankly, too soon to tell?

Christine responds:
A month or so before I left the United States for Germany I was reading over my vows and was hit by this portion:
I promise, by God's grace, as He enables me to submit to you and to obey you in everything, as I do to the Lord. I recognize you as my head, even as Christ is the head of the church. In so doing I resolve to put my trust in God and not give way to fear.

The weight of this statement overwhelmed and humbled me to the point of tears. I realized then that I could not give into fear because ultimately my trust was not in Mike but in God. Mike will eventually fail me and disappoint me and I will do the same to him!

At that moment I realized that I did have fear in my life: fear that Mike would disappoint me and not live up to an unreasonably high standard. Could I place myself under him knowing this?!

But who am I? I, too, am a sinner. I, too, will disappoint. To expect more of Michael than his human limitations would be to make him god. And if I clung to him in desperation and he failed me, my world would fall apart leading to resentment and then bitterness. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." This is what drove me to tears: this vision of the monster I could become, gripped by the sins of idolatry and bitterness, wounding others because I myself had been wounded.

It was at this moment that I knew I had to reject this idolatry and cling to God and his provisions and perfect goodness.

When Mike somehow disappoints me I am now free to joyfully show him grace and forgiveness. Instead of resenting Mike, I hope in Christ and repent of my own sinful behavior.

I am thankful that this transformation of the mind took place before our wedding. As a result, it has been an incredibly smooth transition into living together in grace and love.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

God is enough

your contributing questions


On July 29, Mike and I will answer questions concerning our first month of marriage. Please contribute any questions you may have in the comment section below.

Questions specifically addressed to Mike will be answered on his blog. Those addressed to me will be handled in a post on this blog.

Sample Question:
Christine, after being married for a month have you retracted any of the radical statements you've made concerning marriage in the past?

Response: Maybe, which radical statements did you have in mind?

formal portraits


Here are the formal wedding portraits. Mike and I brilliantly decided to have them taken the Friday before the wedding, relieving us of immense amounts of stress the day of the event.

Someone on Facebook asked, "Christine, where did you get your wedding dress? It looks like one of the J. Crew gowns that I ogle whenever they send me new catalogs."

I too admired this classic, simple dress from J. Crew. In fact, I admired it so much that three years ago I BOUGHT the dress.

You do the math.

Monday, July 23, 2007

long awaited pictures


Photos have been consolidated by various guests (one of which had an OBSESSION with the girl in the green dress).

Click here if you have the patience of Job to go through over 200* pictures of the wedding.

If you are more of the school of Job's wife, just run through 18 pages of thumbprints and you'll be fine.

Enjoy!

*A big fat thanks to Dave, Joel, and Mark for taking pictures during the ceremony/celebration.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

facebook

add me on Facebook and you can see pictures of the wedding (coming soon).

UPDATE:
Meredith posted some of her pictures of the wedding here on Facebook.

Friday, July 20, 2007

wedded in Christ


(Retired Major) Robert Hnat met me at the back door as Carmen, Cassey (my lovely friend/mother-to-be of a BOY), my mother, and I emerged from the back room where we had been praying together. It was 1645 (military time for 4:45 pm). Hand in hand my mother, father, and I walked to the front of the church while others were still standing about, some finding a place to sit while others chatted with friends.

It was all beginning just as we desired: a family gathered together to celebrate what God had done. I was not the center of attention, nor was Mike, nor was the Tasmanian harpist, nor were the decorations. Christ would be the focus.

I turned behind me to see who had come. The room was speckled with the ethnic attire of brothers and sisters in Christ that now call Hannover, Germany, their home but whose families are oceans away. I couldn't see the Martin family from Frankfurt yet. I winked at little Janice, who was already taking her responsibility at the end of the ceremony very seriously. A few little girls stood next to Christina Sonnemann listening to her singing and play the harp. I glanced at Mike, Dave, and Joel on the other side of the church, only to find them taking pictures with their cameras! ROFL! (Whatever it takes to not get stressed.)

Promptly at 1700, my father stood and the whirl of ceremonial events commenced that would make me and Mike one under Christ.

(Click here to view the program.*)

Carmen, Cassey, Christine, Mike, Dave, and Joel

At 1745, my father announced Mr. and Mrs. Michael Jolly to the public and little girls along aisle stood on their seats showering us with flower petals.

Following the ceremony there was a flurry of photographs being taken by guests. During a group photo, I overheard my mother ask my father between her smiling teeth, "Who's the fellow in the beard snapping all those photos?"

I looked out at the enthusiastic amateur wedding photographers to find the bearded man.

No clue.

I thought nothing of it. There were so many people I didn't know that what did one more matter? ... but it was odd that my parents didn't know him.

Later, as I munched on a Wanton and watched the Philippinas dance to the tune of their ethnic music, a beautiful red-headed woman approached. I saw the question in my mother's eyes: "Who are you?"

I knew who she was. During the out-of-town-guests group picture, she and the bearded man joined the group standing behind me and Mike. I turned to get a closer look at the mystery couple, smiling a welcome. The woman whispered, "I'm Meredith."

My eyes widened in delight ... Meredith!

For all of you bloggers who have not yet met me and Mike and wanted desperately to come to the wedding, Meredith was there representing you. (Meredith and her husband Detlev wrote a review of the wedding here.) Carmen and Mark also represented bloggers present (perhaps they can offer their own point of view in the comment section).

My dear friend and "little sister" (who some may remember from my family's 2006 Christmas Youtube video), Sonja Schneider did a wonderful job as our wedding coordinator. Months before the wedding, Sonja would frequently pester me with questions about how plans were going. "What plans?" So to keep her sane and Mike and I relaxed, I asked my dear sweet friend if she would do us the honor of coordinating our wedding. She was professional and energetic and truly had the vision of Christ as center of the ceremony. In fact, she surprised me and Mike with singing "How Beautiful".



* vows were adapted from Adrian and Andree Warnock's wedding vows.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

a true story

by Laura Roberts

Once upon a time there was a girl named Laura. She lived in a cool southern town and was an American, verily, but did not act like a jerk-face like some Americans. She had a good friend named Christine who, in her inimitable manner, fell in love with a dude in a very peculiar way. This dude was very tall, which was good since Christine was in truth rather bizarrely tall herself, and said dude was also Australian which was also good, Australia being no longer peopled with criminals but rather with hotties. This dude's name was Mike, by the way. Christine and Mike decided to get married in Germany, the better to divvy up the whole experience to as many continents as possible, and they picked a day in high freaking summer tourist season. Laura was extremely excited to escape the Louisville heat and humidity for a little bit and share in the joy of her friends' wedding day, because they were so stinking awesome. So she went online to get a plane ticket, and lo, it was US$1400.

"Holy crap," she said. "But no worries, for I have frequent flyer miles in abundance from sundry trips to Europe and Hong Kong." So she called United and spoke to a very lovely woman on the phone, who told her how many frequent flyer miles she possessed, and lo, it was nearly 50,000.

"Victory!" said Laura. "I am a bit short, but still I shall reserve my plane ticket this very day." So she went to the United website to exchange her miles for a plane ticket, when what to her wondering eyes should appear, but a cost chart for the purchase of frequent flyer miles. Dismay and anguish flooded over her as she saw that, to purchase the additional necessary frequent flyer miles would cost her US$1100, nearly the cost of the ticket to begin with. And behold, there was much cursing of United.

"Piss and bollocks," mildly swore Laura, "That is more money than I make in a month." But, undaunted, she waited, checking prices periodically, looking at last-minute deals, and even scoping out those dodgy cut-rate consolidation companies. Even still, it became increasingly clear that adding to her already large-ish debt would not be either a wise or godly choice, nor allow for a particularly good wedding present for her friends. So she sadly resigned herself to watching the webcast of her friends' wedding, still praying for a lottery win that would allow her to fly first class to Germany, but not holding her breath.

But looking through tearful eyes toward the future, she began plotting to set aside a bit of money each month until she could afford the obnoxiously high plane ticket price to Australia to visit the above-mentioned couple, in whose joy she can share only from afar.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

making of the dress



How many languages do you hear?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

HIBC Bridal Shower

My Wedding Dress:





A group drawing of the neighborhood where Mike and I will live:
(click on the image for a closer view ... what do you think? It appears that we live in a Palm Tree in between a shark infested pond and Germantown.)




Bridal Shower Mad Lib Story

Pay attention and listen well as I tell you the love story of Mike and Christine. It was about seven years ago that Mike came across a good girl named Christine. He was on his way to Pluto when suddenly his eyes were drawn to a cool ceature, too lazy for mere words. He was overcome with excitement and was sure that he had found the woman he was destined to share his tree with.

She gazed at him with her soggy turquoise eyes and his big toe began to run beautifully. Never before had he felt such exhiliration and he invited her to join him for a fortnight at McDonalds. She agreed and Mike threw her off her feet.

Christine was smitten with Mike. She loved his exotic armpit and the way he referred to her as Pooh Bear. Mike was equally excited by Christine's slow bellybutton and stinky cottage. He didn't even mind when she called him Piglet.

The couple dated for 50 million hours. Then, one oily spring dawn, Mike bowed his nose to the ground and asked Christine's mouth in marriage.

Christine was so exhausted, she responded immediately with "Oo Lala!"

Mike took this as an affirmative response and the couple are now preparing for their wedding day.

After the wedding, they are off to Under Yam Yam Tree where they plan to spend a dusty honeymoon enjoying each other's eyebrows.

Now wouldn't you like to know what happens next?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Christine Day



This is how my family celebrated Christine Day. We had a contest in which we broke apart Oreo cookies, licked off all the cream, dunked the chocolate cookies in the milk, ate the cookies, and gulped down all the milk (or barfed it up, like I did! So fun!).

Thanks to all those humans and kitties who wished me a happy birthday below (lol ... did you even read the deep thoughtful blog entry or were you just too excited about celebrating the day ... [I don't blame you]?)!

Thanks to Mike, June 15 is now internationally recognized as Christine Day. If you haven't already gone out to purchase or cut your own Christine Tree, do so now before the day is over.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

a quest ended

Many of you long time readers know that I have had a goal over the past two years to one day write a book that would enable women to encourage the men in their lives, whether in the church or family, to lead lives that would honor God and serve the church. My purpose in doing so was because I had never come across such a resource.

Over the past two years while attending seminary, I personally sought the advice of various complementarian spokesmen (and women) concerning my endeavor.

My first semester in a systematic theology class, I raised my hand and asked the professor:

"What can women do to help reverse certain harmful trends in feminism in the church and marriage? What can we do in the church to encourage the men to lead?"

Perhaps I merely surprised this man who is so influential in speaking on complementarian matters, but his answer did not seem sufficient for me.

After a moment of silent thought, he responded, "It seems to me that the best answer is to do nothing."

"Nothing?!!"

"To the extent that it creates a power vacuum and them men are forced to fill that void."

On another occasion, I attended a special lecture by Dr. Randy Stinson from the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood titled, The Feminzation of the Church: Detecting and Correcting It (click to listen). I was delighted with the title of this lecture, certain that my questions would be answered here. I became discouraged during the Q&A when men on my right and left, before and behind were called on to submit their questions. Was I being ignored? Perhaps, Dr. Stinson thought I objected to his diagnosis of the church's present situation. No! On the contrary. But time ticked by and my hand grew tired of seeking recognition. Finally, with five minutes left Dr. Stinson turned to address my question.

"Dr. Stinson, as a woman fully concerned about the lack of male leadership, desiring to remove certain harmful trends of feminism in the church, I affirm what you see as a danger in the church. I would like to ask what do you recommend that women do to encourage their brothers to step up and lead? What can women do to reverse those harmful trends?"

Later, others came to me and remarked that they'd found my question very helpful, but were discouraged that the lecturer had supplied no concrete advice for the listeners.

Over the semesters, I asked similar questions to other students, professors, and visiting lecturers only to have similar results each time.

My own discouragement had almost turned to despair. Was there no one who had gone before me that had asked these questions? Had no one given careful thought to these matters? When I discussed my concerns with my peers, they acknowledged that my concerns were valid and pleaded with me that should I come across answers that they would like to be the first to know.

Was the burden to lie solely on my shoulders?

My quest was specific:
Marriages and churches were occupied by men and women shaped and molded by feminism: women who demand leadership and men who grow increasingly apathetic toward the spiritual condition of their family and the church. Marriages are wrecked by selfishness and false expectations. Churches are dieing as men leave leadership positions. Women step up filling that void, and men merely warm the pews one day a week moving closer and closer toward the back door.

What can a woman do to influence the men in her life to be the men God would have them be? How can she influence them to be spiritual leaders in their community and home? How can she move them toward godliness?

My burden has lifted.

In Gary Thomas' book, Sacred Influence, I see the answers to my questions.

While this book was written specifically for wives, I believe that the truths found therein are applicable for all women who seek to influence men toward godly living in their home, church, community, work, etc. They are not motivated out of personal gain so that they may manipulate men to succumb to their vision of how men ought to be. No! This book is for women who are dedicated to their men living lives glorifying God out of reverence for Christ.

Be forwarned! This is not a book that lays out a step-by-step process on how to transform your imperfect men into Jesus Christ. Instead, you will find your own imperfect life being transformed if you, like Thomas urges, let the transformation begin with you.

Are we so self-righteous as women that we are so consumed with the faults of men that we have become blind to our own? God forbid!

In the six posts below, I have presented excerpts from the first six chapters of Sacred Influence. These help to build a foundation for developing a heart and environment for change, beginning in the heart of the woman. The chapters following are listed below:

7. A Claim, a Call, and a Commitment
Focusing on Personal Responsibilities

8. Understanding the Male Mind
Learning to Make Allowances for Your Husband's Masculinity

9. Jeanne-Antoinette
The Power of a Persistent Pursuit

Part 3: Confronting the Most Common Concerns

10. Ray and Jo: Taming the Temper, Part 1
Self-Respect as a First Defense against Your Husband's Anger

11. Taming the Temper, Part 2
Learning to Navigate through Your Husband's Anger

12. Rich and Pat: The Magic Question
Helping Your Husband to Become More Involved at Home

13. The Biology of a Busy Man
How to Help Your Man Put Family First

14. Pure Passion
Cementing Your Husband's Affections and Protecting His Spiritual Integrity

15. Ken and Diana: Affair on the Internet
Winning Back the Husband Who Strays

16. John and Catherine: Finding Faith
Influencing a Nonbelieving or Spiritually Immature Husband

I will not post exerpts from these chapters because I strongly recommend that you purchase the book for yourself so that you may be convicted through the Scripture, sound doctrine, and personal insights of women who have gone before, founded in Sacred Influence's pages.

What will I do now that my quest has reached it's end? Lord willing, I may learn these spiritual principles now and put them into practice so that I may bless my future husband with a wife given over to living a life worthy of her calling as "helper". In time, I may rise to the challenge of Titus 2 and train other women to love their husbands and children.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

the puzzle, part 4




My friend Sonja and I think we figured it out last night ... and the new piece I got today pretty much seems to confirm our guess. (The mobile phone is Sonja's ... she thought it would be helpful to show the size.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

the mystery of love between a man and a woman

Meredith, who plans on attending Mike and my wedding at the end of this month, writes a thought provoking comparison of love for God and love for spouse.

Read here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sacred Influence, part 6

The following are key passages from Sacred Influence, Chapter 6

Chapter 6
The Helper
Embracing the High Call of Marriage
Genesis 2:18
Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."
God designed the wife to help her husband. (78)
Proverbs 12:4
An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.
Ephesians 5:21-22; 25
submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ, wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord... Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Paul describes an idealistic view of a simultaneous commitment to the other’s welfare. (79)

The church must not teach the submission of wives apart from the sacrificial love and servanthood required of husbands. (79)

Laura Dillow suggests, “Submission is your only hope of changing your husband. Your husband will change as you allow him to be head of hiis home and as you are submissive to him. He will not change by your nagging, belittling, suggesting, reminding, or mothering.” (80)

The catch is that submission, from a biblical perspective, is determined, not by the worthiness of the person to whom we submit, but by the worthiness of the person who calls us to submit: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21, emphasis added). (81)

Jesus’ submission to his parents even though they were not worthy:
Luke 2:51
And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
If you submit “out of reverence for Christ,” you are never obligated – ever – to do anything that would offend Christ. (81)

“Lord, how do I love my wife today like she has never been loved and never will be loved?” (81)

The spiritual weight of fulfilling my role as a leader who sacrifices and serves and looks out for the good of his family matures me as a man in Christ. It confronts my laziness, my self-centeredness, and my accursed male autonomy. Lisa’s calling as a helper keeps her from pride, self-centeredness, and frivolous living. (82)

If you have entered into God’ invention called marriage, your role is to be your husband’s helper. This does not diminish you any more than the Bible diminishes God by calling him our helper. In fact, being able to help assumes, in one sense, that you have something the person you are helping lacks. If you cease to think of yourself as your husband’s helper, the marriage will suffer, because that’s the way God designed marriage to work. (83)

You shouldn’t become a wife and then act as though you’re still single. (83)

“How can I help my husband today?” (84)

[O]ur motivation has to come from reverence for Christ more than doing one thing in order to get something else. (85)

If you really want to move your man, you must treat him the way God designed him to be treated. (85)

The issue isn’t what makes me or Lisa happy; the issue is what makes God happy. We don’t direct our lives by what makes us comfortable; we try to order our lives by what brings the maximum glory to God and by what will fulfill our call to proclaim the message of God’s reconciliation. (86)
Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

the puzzle, part 3



Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sacred Influence, part 5

The following are key passages from Sacred Influence, Chapter 5

Chapter 5
The Zarepheth Legacy
How You Can Learn to Appreciate an Imperfect Man


This presents you with a spiritual challenge. You will have to fight the natural human tendency to obsess over your husband’s weaknesses. When I urge you to affirm your husband’s strengths, I’m not minimizing his many weaknesses; I’m just encouraging you to make the daily spiritual choice of focusing on qualities for which you feel thankful. The time will come when you can address the weaknesses – after you’ve established a firm foundation of love and encouragement. (60-61)

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Obsessing over your husband’s weaknesses won’t make them go away. You many have done that for years – and if so, what has it gotten you, besides more of the same? Leslie Vernick warns, “Regularly thinking negatively about your husband increases your dissatisfaction with him and your marriage.” Affirming your husband’s strengths, however, will likely reinforce and build up those areas you cherish and motivate him to pursue excellence of character in others. (61)

Nurture Instead of Condemn

God challenges you to maintain an attitude of concern and nurture instead of one of resentment and frustration. (62)

Give Your Husband the Benefit of the Doubt

Many women accuse their husbands of being uncaring or unloving when, in fact, he may just be incompetent! He’s not trying to be stubborn, uncaring, or unfeeling; he just honestly doesn’t know what you need or what he’s supposed to do. (63)

Respect the Position Even When You Disagree with the Person

Ephesians 5:33
However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.


Your husband, because he is a husband, deserves respect. You may disagree with his judgment; you may object to the way he handles things – but according to the bible, his position alone calls you to give him proper respect. (65)

Give Him the Same Grace That God Gives You

Form Your Heart Through Prayer

Practice praying positive prayers about your husband. (66)

But over time, thankfulness makes a steady and persistent friend of affection. (67)

Drop Unrealistic Expectations

If you don’t die to unrealistic expectations and if you refuse the cross, you’ll find yourself at constant war with your husband instead of at peace. You’ll feel frustrated instead of contented, and disappointed instead of satisfied. (69)

Your Husband Isn’t a Church

My husband is a man, not a church, and it’s not fair to ask him to be all things to me. (71)

Ask God to Change You

As soon as you recall your husband’s weaknesses – the very second those poor qualities come to mind – start asking God to help you with specific weaknesses of your own. (72)

Get Fresh Eyes

When your husband feels more respected and appreciated at work than he does at home, a precarious situation erupts. Eventually, his heart may gravitate to the place he feels most cherished. (74)

In the midst of living with this kind of frustration, it can be easy to forget the things that first drew you to your man: his sense of humor, his thoughtfulness, his spiritual depth, or any number of other strengths. Though you may become blind to these qualities, that doesn’t mean everyone else will. Respect is a spiritual obligation and discipline. Give your husband his due! (75)

Sacred Influence, part 4

The following are key passages from Sacred Influence, Chapter 4

PART 2
CREATING THE CLIMATE FOR CHANGE

Chapter 4
The Widow at Zarephath
Understanding a Man's Deepest Thirst

What happened to the widow so long ago continues to happen in many marriages today. Elijah’s miraculous provision for this woman became commonplace. What once seemed like an extraordinary occurrence – flour and oil that never ran out – soon became a common blessing, so expected that it ceased to be noticed, much less appreciated. After a week or so, it was just the way things were. (49)

James 3:2
For we all stumble in many ways ...

Only one perfect man ever walked this earth, and he never married. Since every wife is married to an imperfect man, every wife will have legitimate disappointments in her marriage. Are you going to define you husband by these disappointments, or will you pray that God will open your eyes to the common blessings that your husband provides and to which you often become blinded? (53)

Don’t resent your husband for being less than perfect; he can’t be anything else. (54)

Because we so deeply value affirmation, whenever we don’t get it, it feels like living with one long, loud, psychic scream. And we tend to react like this: “If I can’t please her by trying my hardest, then why should I try at all?” I’m not saying we should react this way; I’m just saying that’s how we usually do react. (54)

Without feeling appreciated, admired, and genuinely respected, your husband probably will never change. If you notice a lot of tension in your home; if you notice a high level of frustration and anger in your husband’s life; if you sense a discouragement leading to passivity (where he underachieves); if you notice an “escapist” mentality, where he spends his free time playing computer games or watching sports, escaping the home with excessive recreation – then, more times than not, you’re looking at a man who doesn’t feel loved, appreciated, and respected. (55-56)

Your first step – the primary one – is to love, accept, and even honor your imperfect husband. (56)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Friday, June 08, 2007

the puzzle, part 1



What did Mike get me for my birthday?

Sacred Influence, part 3

The following are key passages from Sacred Influence, Chapter 3

“Be Worthy of Me”
How God Uses the Weaknesses of Others to Help Us Grow


What if your husband’s faults are God’s tools to shape you? (37)

This should be the goal of every husband and wife – a man aspiring to be “worthy” of his wife, and a wife aspiring to be “worthy” of her husband. (38)

1 Timothy 4:15, 16
Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.


You see when you grow in character, when you sink your spiritual roots deep, when you learn to hear God’s voice and build your mind with his wisdom, when you allow his Holy Spirit to transform your character and reshape you heart – then you can make your husband fall in love with you over and over again, and he’ll be all the more motivated to maintain your respect and affection. Nothing compares to being married to a godly woman – nothing. (39)

The reason it’s so important for you to concentrate on your own growth is so that you can avoid the sin of pride, which constantly tempts us to focus on changing our spouses while neglecting our own weaknesses. (39)

Luke 6:41-42
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.


When you demand that someone change for your sake, you’re literally trying to bend the world around your comfort, your needs, and your happiness. That’s pride, arrogance, and self-centeredness – and God will never bless that. (41)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sacred Influence, part 2

The following are key passages from Sacred Influence, Chapter 2

The Strength of a Godly Woman
Becoming Strong Enough to Address Your Husband’s “Functional Fixedness”

Dr. Melody Rhode – functional fixedness – men’s reluctance to change; men don’t normally change if what they’ve been doing seems to be working for them. (29)

You have to be willing to create an environment in which the status quo becomes more painful than the experience of positive change. (30)

If you can stand strong and secure in your identity and in your relationship with Christ, courageously making it clear how you will and will not be treated, you will be amazed to see how the respect you show yourself rubs off on your husband. (32)

When a woman stands up and says, “This will affect our relationship and my view of you,” most men will at least start listening. (32)

God’s provision and strength will help you face the consequences of obedience. God won’t leave you alone, regardless of what happens. God, not your marital status, defines your life. (32)

Melody – “A woman’s power needs to be surrendered to God and used for his purposes, not our own.” (33)

Fear gives birth to paralysis – and sometimes inaction is our greatest enemy. Marriages can slowly die from years of apathy. (34)

Deuteronomy 31:8
It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."

We have to make deliberate choices; we have to be active and confront the weaknesses we see in ourselves and in each other. (36)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sacred Influence, part 1

Gary Thomas' book Sacred Influence is unique among the Christian marriage books. It was written for women who seek to worship God through their lives and marriage by a man who values women as sisters-in-Christ but who also has an insider's view as to how men desire to be treated. I've read through a number of books (or potions thereof) that attempted to be a how-to on how to motivate husbands to be more loving and spiritual, etc. I was distressed that many (if not most) of the methods prescribed bordered on manipulation. Thomas avoids such tactics altogether and emphasizes that a wife must first examine her own life before she attempts to remove a speck in her husband's eye.

If her marriage is to change for the better, she must let God begin that change in her own life.

Taking the basic premise that marriage is meant to make us holy, not necessarily happy, from his book, Sacred Marriage, Thomas applies it directly to the wife. Not in a harsh, scolding, pulpit-thumping manner. On the contrary. In fact, Thomas' heart was moved for wives who find themselves one-flesh with husbands who are emotionally distant or selfish or condescending or negligent or all of the above. No woman is married to a perfect man, thus, she should never expect him to be perfect. In all of this, Thomas hopes that wives will turn to God to fulfill all of their needs.

Over the following days I will be posting highlights of each of Thomas' chapters. I strongly encourage every woman to obtain a copy of this book so that she might be humbled and empowered in her walk with God, particularly in how she interacts with the one she has chosen to love for the rest of her days.


PART 1
YOUR MARRIAGE MAKEOVER BEGINS WITH YOU

Chapter 1
The Glory of a Godly Woman
Understanding Who You Are in Christ


definition of self:
  • based on the Fall – “I’m worthy because men like me.”
  • based on your relationship with God – “I’m worthy because I’m made in the image of God, am loved by God, and am regularly empowered by God to make a difference in this world.” (22)

How the Bible views women:
  • Women mirror God’s own character and image
  • Co-regents of the world
  • Included in Christ's genealolgy
  • Praised for recognizing Jesus as Lord while Pharisees and Disciples scoffed
  • Of equal value in the eyes of God
  • Supported Jesus in his most trying moments
  • First to witness the resurrected Christ (22-25)

You need to
  1. understand the glory of being a woman made in God’s image;
  2. experience the strength you have as the recipient of his Holy Spirit;
  3. and find refuge in the worth and purpose you have as his daughter. (26)

God, not your marital status or the condition of your marriage, defines your life. (26)



When Marriage Becomes Idolatry:
In this section, Thomas asks the following questions to point wives away from depending on their husbands to be as God to them.

Who is your refuge?
Deuteronomy 33:27
The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
And he thrust out the enemy before you
and said, Destroy.


In whom does your hope lie?
1 Peter 1:21
who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Where will you find security?
Philippians 4:19
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Where will you find supreme acceptance that will never fade or falter for all the days of your life?
Isaiah 62:5
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.

If you’re trying to find your primary refuge in your husband, if you’ve centered your hope on him, if your security depends on his approval, and if you will do almost anything to gain his acceptance – then you’ve just given to a man what rightfully belongs to God alone. (27)

In addition, how will you ever find the courage to confront someone whose acceptance so determine your sense of well-being that you believe you can’t exist without him? How will you ever take the risk to say what needs to be said if you think your future depends on your husband’s favor toward you? (27)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

astounded

An excerpt from Gary Thomas' Sacred Influence:

Elyse Fitzpatrick, a counselor, once told her small group about how God had moved her from a legalistic, works-oriented faith to a "grace-filled, peaceful existence with my merciful heavenly Father."

"The pressure is off me," she told them. "Don't get me wrong; it's not that I'm not pursuing holiness. It's just that I know that my Father will get me where He wants me to be and that even my failures serve, in some way, to glorify Him. My relationship with God is growing to be all about His grace, His mercy, His power."

Then Elyse's friend "astounded" her by responding, "That must be such a blessing for your husband, Elyse. To be walking in that kind of grace must enable you to be so patient and so grace-filled with Phil. To know that God is working in him just as He's working in you must make your marriage so sweet and your husband so pleased. It must be great for hiim to know that the pressure is off for him too."

The reason this friend "astounded" Elyse is because Elyse rarely made the connection her friend made. "I scarcely ever extended to Phil the grace I enjoyed with the Lord. Instead, I was frequently more like the man in Jesus' parable, who after he was forgiven a great debt, went out and beat his fellow slave because he owed him some paltry sum."

Monday, May 28, 2007

family picture



Sundays are lovely days. Especially when they are Bring-and-Share days ... yum!

My family and I enjoy a lazy morning that ends frantically at 12:45 as we scramble around loading the car with the computer, projector, briefcases, baskets of Sunday School supplies, and food for after church in Hannover.

Once on the road, we drop Sonja off at the train station where she will catch a train to Hannover to practice with the worship team. My parents and I continue on to the small English-speaking church in Celle. We meet in the large German Baptist church in town and set up a small semi-circle of chairs for the thirteen faithful believers that come to worship their Lord in a language closer to their heart language than German. However, some German nationals join us because they feel they are fed with the Word of God.

We have to leave them at three so we can be at the Hannover church at four to set up there. Tonight everyone has brought food to share for dinner after worship. While the music team practices, I hold baby Bennett as his mom sets up for the dinner later. (Poor wee babe has the hickups.) At four I head to the back room for a ladies' Bible study.

At five, we move back into the main meeting room and I sit next to Lily as her new husband leads in worship. (She's just moved to Germany from California ... I thank God that she has the church family here to support her as she's in a completely new environment knowing no one but her husband... So ... in a way ... I'm also thanking God for Crossroads.)

My dad preached on Hebrews 4:1 (He is famous for moving very thoroughly and ... ehem ... slowly through books of the Bible.).

Sonja, my friend/wedding coordinator, made an announcement after church asking for brothers and sisters to assist with the preparations of the wedding at the end of June. Who's up for helping set up? Who would be able to house out-of-town guests? etc. She did a good job.

And then the FOOD ... no wait! ... we took the picture first! Aren't they lovely?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

what did i do?!!

The famous Bremen musicians.


Bremen cathedral and "dude"


Sonja bought us some strawberries wie aus Oma's Garten.


What did I do to her?!!
(This woman looks as if she's going to back-hand me with her purse ... but it's merely what turned out to be a humorous cropping of a photo of the Bremen market.)


Sonja learns some sweet moves from a Filippina missionary to Germany.


The beautiful site of my church family studying God's word in the garden this evening.

Monday, May 21, 2007

flirting with me


It's been almost a year since Mike and I have known each other. We had fun today going through old posts looking at how we interacted on each other's blogs ... from strangers, to friends, to flirting, to wow, I really like this guy!

Mike posted a couple of links to his flirtatious attempts on his blog here.

Below is how it all carried over onto my blog.

May 30 - i wish they all could be Califor ... Modest ... girls
Mike's respect for me begins to build.

May 31 - lack of faith?
Mike is open to finding love on the internet.

June 1 - what is it like to be tall?
When we establish that Mike was in fact taller than me. Beware, the flirting is a bit thick here. And ... he wants me to move to Hobart.

June 3 - links to me
Mike called me a "Christian Feminazi".

June 5 - summer reading
Mike's plan to get married at 30 fizzles out and he claims to watch cage fighting ... but Craig calls him out on it.

June 7 - i'm a friendly nerd
Mike wishes he were the one sitting next to me.

June 19 - men get all gushy when they fall in love
Mike shows that he has what it takes.

June 24 - i hate youth lockins
The flirtatious comments on the blog have slowed down ... but have only heated up in our private conversations ... for instance when I stayed up all night chatting with Mike and he asked me ...

June 25 - what men want
Well not really ... he asked me "What do women want in a man?" Sleep deprived I couldn't come up with anything good ... so he volunteered what he thought ... and I seemed to have some idea of what a man was looking for.

July 25 - the news is out

How it all came about.

UPDATE: Mike posts Part 2.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

not natural!


The ladies at HIBC throw the best baby showers.

Oma: (auf Deutsch) What does baby shower mean? Why do you call it this? (Germans do not throw baby showers ... don't ask me what they do for fun. Who knows ...)
Me: Hmm, good question. I suppose it is a showering of love and gifts on the new mother.

But it's the games and the gusto in which these ladies from Africa, Europe, Asia, and the US (my mum and I) take part that make these parties so memorable.

These are the same ladies that are planning my wedding (their first) ... should be a very memorable time.

baby Bennet

Friday, May 18, 2007

my lovely church family

The afternoon after I arrived I was tired but not TOO tired to miss out on eating ice cream in the garden with my brothers and sisters from church. Such a lovely day!


Sunday, May 13, 2007

going away party/wedding shower


Someone asked me today if I was also going to have a blogger going away party/wedding shower.

What do you mean?!! I'll still be in the blogosphere!

But I got to thinking about what a blogger going away party would be like.

Here's a game I devised ... play along if you like:

If Today Tonight/Current Affair (for the Aussies) or 60 Minutes (for the Americans) were to do a segment about Mike and Christine, what sort of scenes would they have (example: Mike walking along the beach looking woefully out across the ocean obviously distressed that his love is not by his side).

If they interviewed you/someone else, what would you/they say?

How do you know Mike and Christine?

What would you say about Mike or Christine before they "met"?

What would you say about Mike or Christine after they "met"?

Have you personally met either Mike or Christine?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

immaturity

Laura links to this article from Boundless.

(I'm busy packing. I leave the US in FIVE days!)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

mike preaches...

... about where our hope truly lies.

outlined here.

listen here.

Monday, May 07, 2007

he blesses me in prayer


When you listen to a sermon that exhorts hearers to extend grace to others as grace has been fully given to them, you may nod your head in agreement but your mind is puzzled about how you might actually do that.

A mavelous theory ... a great idea ... but how will I actually extend grace, what does that even mean? what does it look like practically? So you stow it away in a card file of "good ideas" in your brain, but keep on living life as usual.

In a conversation today with a friend, I challenged him to move beyond the "idea" and toward the practical living.

How will you bless and honor the reputation, family, and heart of the woman you love?

One practical way Mike honors and blesses me is through prayer.

This may sound trite. One of those things in your card file ... you know you should do it ... but honestly ... what good could it actually do?

From the beginning of our relationship, Mike would end each of our conversations over skype or the phone with prayer. Take it from a woman whose man leads her spiritually in this manner, I am blessed, encouraged, and proud that Mike leads us before God in prayer as the spritual leader in our relationship.

I began to look forward to that time of prayer together more than anything. It removed the distance between us bringing us together to stand before the throne of God in prayer. God became more than just an honorary member of our relationship but the Cause, Sustainer, Lord, and Fellow-covenanter in our love.

Mike continued this discipline when we were together for two months in Australia. Each evening when we parted ways, Mike led me before the Lord in prayer to bring before Him our hopes, our sin, our love, and our desires.

Knowing that prayer ended our time together deterred a world of sin because we were living our lives before God.

When Mike leads in prayer, I am honored and blessed and respected.

Men, how can you honor the women in your lives?

Women, how can you encourage the men in your life in their spiritual leadership?

(For a fabulous Piper sermon on extending grace, click here.)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

it was good: making art to the glory of God

Bustard, Ned, ed. It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God. Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2000.

Christian periodicals in the 1980s and 90s were peppered with reports of sacrilegious works of art that were being funded by American tax dollars. Conservative Christians by and large shunned the arts as a result, counting it off as pagan and crude. The image of the crucifix in a jar filled with urine triggered gag reflexes. Blood boiled when Christians read of Karen Finley smearing her nude body with chocolate and proudly proclaiming it “art”. In the midst of this debauchery, Christians yearned for “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8). Christian art became confined to cute depictions of Bible stories, praise songs, and Christian historical romance novels. Looking back, some Christians now observe that in the process of shunning evil, they ignored their embrace of the mediocre.

What exactly is good Christian art? What was it about God’s creation that made him pronounce it “good” at the end of the day? Editor Ned Buster and twelve other Christians in the arts take a different approach to many Christian books addressing Christians’ place in the arts to examine biblical perspectives of the actual act of creating art. It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God is a compilation of essays covering a range of important issues Christian artists must consider when demonstrating God’s creativity as men and women made in God’s image. The chapters cover the topics of good, evil, form and content, community, glory, subject and theme, Christ, identity, creativity, light, truth, symbolism, and imagination. Together, they make an inspiring resource for any Christian concerned about how they may glorify God by creating works of excellence with their minds and hands.

Bustard begins the “conversation” by addressing the issue of good. To understand the concept of good one must understand the attributes of God, for all of his attributes (his justice, mercy, etc.) may be summed up in truth that God is good. He reveals his goodness to man in creation, redemption, and his providence. The world has a limited view of goodness. They are like fish who only know the wet sand at the bottom of the sea. However, those who are redeemed and found in Christ have a broader perspective of the world just like the turtle that emerges from the sea to sun himself on the dry sand. Bustard encourages Christians to build a strong foundation concerning their understanding of good. To do so, he urges Christian artists to study God’s attributes as he is revealed in the Scriptures. God’s goodness may also be known when believers regularly engage in Christian “fellowship, prayer, and the sacraments.” An artist must know goodness before he can express it in his craft.

Christian artists have the responsibility of revealing God’s goodness to the world in a balanced manner. Too many “Christian artists” equate good with sweet and nice. Their work is sugar-coated and lacking in balance. If you are portraying God’s mercy, is his justice also apparent? Bustard puts forth Michaelangelo’s Last Judgment as a worthy example. On one side of the painting Christ is condemning sinners to their punishment in hell. However, on the other side Jesus beckons to the elects to find their rest forever with him in eternity. The work, centered on Christ, offers a balanced view of a good God who necessarily hates evil.

“It is out of the life-giving understanding that humanity is far worse off than we think and God’s grace extends far beyond that which we can imagine, that we can produce good fruit that is rich in the fullness of our humanity” (p. 26). As sinners redeemed by the grace of God, Christian artists ought to be consumed with reflecting God through their lives and work. Understanding God’s goodness and man’s lack thereof, enables them to creatively find ways to reveal God’s nature and truth to a world in darkness. Bustard ends his chapter with the charge given by Paul to the Galatians, “let us not grow weary of doing good.”

The following chapters by various men and women dedicated to glorifying God in all aspects of their lives offer both theoretical and practical advice for those who wish to do the same in the arts.
  • William Edgar counters Bustard’s chapter with an artists perspective on how to portray the reality of evil in the world.
  • Painter Makato Fujimura challenges artists to allow content to drive their form; just as their identity is found in Christ, their art (like their lives) must represent the message of God.
  • The need for fellowship among the body of Christ is the topic of David Giardiniere’s chapter in which he rebukes those who isolate themselves, neither giving to nor receiving from the communion of the saints.
  • Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Philadelphia, Tim Keller explains to readers why it is the church needs the aid of artists to help them understand truth and assist in their worship.
  • Edward Knipper uses several artists’ examples of how to communicate the truth of the gospel plain in art through subject matter and theme.
  • Charlie Peacock-Ashworth instructs artists in the art of glorifying God not only in the making of their art but also in the living of their lives.
  • Theodore Prescott cautions artists to find their identity in Christ rather than conforming to the world’s (or the church’s) perception of what they ought to be.
  • James Romaine examines Michelangelo’s Trinity-inspired work of creativity on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
  • Photographer Krystyna Sanderson writes not only about the practical use of light in her work, but also of the symbolic quality of light pointing to the Light of the World.
  • Steve Scott emphasizes the commitment of Christian artists to Truth in a culture that rejects it.
  • Gaylen Stewart tackles the task of using symbolism to communicate and connect with the audience.
Each of these chapters cover different topics by different authors who use different mediums to communicate to the world their worship of the Creator.

Gregory Wolfe, founder and editor of Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, concludes the book with his chapter on the imagination. “It is my conviction that the Christian community, despite its many laudable efforts to preserve traditional morality and the social fabric, has abdicated its stewardship of culture and, more importantly, has frequently chosen ideology rather than imagination when approaching the challenges of the present” (p. 260). Wolfe claims that it is the imagination that truly communicates and develops understanding, and those Christians holding on to tradition rather than engaging the present culture’s imagination have broken down the communication barrier. The West has been reduced to politics and ideology, everyone shouting and fighting from power … no one actually communicating. “The imagination calls us to leave our personalities behind and to temporarily inhabit another’s experience, looking at the world with new eyes” (266). Wolfe concludes that the art of Christians will only be effective if it achieves “an new synthesis between the condition of the world around us and the unique ways in which grace can speak to that condition” (267).

One might find the cover of the It Was Good a bit daunting with its long list of contributing authors, however, this book is invaluable as a unique resource that is filled with practical of examples of men and women who are actually engaging the culture for the glory of God. The personal stories, descriptions of works of art whether their own or another’s, black and white as well as color reproductions all serve to encourage the minister, artist, and layman that Christians are, in fact, making a difference by producing visual, audible, and verbal works that point people to Christ.

Novelist, Ron Hansen is presented as one such contemporary example of an artist who is a “steward of the culture”. He engages the imaginations of both believers and nonbelievers in his novel Mariette in Ecstacy (published in 1992) by delving into the little known world of convents and the bizarre phenomenon of the stigmata. Hansen effectively ties all the topics covered in the chapter together in order to challenge one’s view of spirituality. Hansen does not play the role of the removed narrator who shares the story as actual propaganda for his agenda. Instead the reader, due to the masterful writing of the author, finds himself to be an observer of the events free of authorial commentary on how the reader ought to perceive the events. One is permitted to side with the conclusions of various characters throughout the story, whether it’s awe of the young woman’s devout (almost erotic) love for her Savior, fear of the unknown, or disdain. Either way, the audience is engaged in a realm where good, evil, form and content, glory, subject and theme, Christ, creativity, light, truth, and symbolism all connect with the imagination pointing readers to God and his glory.

The only apparent fault of this book is the lack of detailed citation. Original authors are always given their credit, but at times without mentioning which text the quote was taken from and never a page number. Someone who might find a particular quote inspiring might have to wade through the murky waters of an entire book in order to find the context in which that quote was made (if, that is, the reader even knows what book the quote may be found in). This proves unhelpful for those who wish to deepen their understanding of a topic.

The church has a lot of ground to retrieve as a result of their retreat from the culture. Church leaders must encourage their people in developing their talent and skill to use for the church and to transform and redeem the culture around them. Reading It Was Good helps one to think about one’s life as a Christian. Are you an artist and separately a Christian? Or does your faith permeate every area of your life. Is your worldview so transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit in your life that you wish to see the culture around you redeemed, transformed through freedom from sin in Christ? The theoretical and practical advice given by the contributing authors inspires believers to be creative for the glory of God. The personal experiences shared encourage those who desire to engage the culture and uplift the church. Whether you read one essay or the entire book, your heart will be ministered to and your faith will be challenged to grow and reveal itself creatively to manifest God’s magnificence.

In conclusion, the church must heed the warning of Gregory Wolfe in the final statement of the book: “Unless we contribute to the renewal of culture by participating in the life of art in our own time, we will find that the barbarians have entered by gates that we ourselves have torn down.”