Rise Up, My Love (151): His Needs, Her Needs, Sacrificial Love

Sunset 12.2.08 copySong of Solomon 5:3 “I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?” The word for coat is kutonet, and refers to a tunic or a garment worn next to the skin. She is not saying that she has taken off her overcoat and is now resting at home; she is saying that she has totally undressed and gone to bed, and she’s using this as an excuse: It would be inconvenient to have to redress in order to meet his needs.

“I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?” In ancient times, there were often public baths for cleansing, but even walking home along the dusty roads would make the bather’s feet dirty again, and so, after returning home, people would wash their feet again. Opening the door would not have truly required rewashing her feet; it was just another excuse.

Besides, even if it had been necessary, would that have been too great a price to pay in order to receive her husband? On the very night of his death, our Lord was more concerned about washing his disciples’ feet than caring for his own needs (John 13:5). Could we ever be as heavy-hearted and weary as Christ was on the eve of his death? Can we feel the tender appeals of the husband and the vain excuses of the wife! Are we guilty of such carelessness with our Lord or our mate?

The modern version of this heartless response might go something like this: “Look, I got ready for bed a long time ago. Now you come and expect me to wake up and be available to you? I’m beat! Do you really think you can stay out late working and then expect me to jump up and take care of you? What do you take me for…your servant? I’m sleepy. Go away.”

Now, that’s harsher than what the bride really said, but I’ve heard women express similar sentiments. Does it ring any bells? I’m sure many wives feel frustration over how much their husbands work—and how much they need physically—at some point in marriage, but if you find your heart resonating with the attitudes expressed in the preceding paragraph, then it might be time to do some serious introspection and problem solving so that you can go to bed close enough to the same time and with close enough to the same energy so that you have something left for each other.

Also, the contrast in thinking between the husband and his bride over what constitutes defilement is striking. The wife was thinking about the outside of her body being clean, but the husband was thinking about her heart. Look back at verse three; the husband appeals to her on the basis of her being his “undefiled,” his true-hearted, faithful lover. He had been out in the night working, doubtless looking forward with joy to being able to come home and being invited into her bosom and bed. His heart was true and eager… “undefiled,” and he appealed to her on the basis of her heart also being pure and undefiled.

Are our hearts undefiled towards our Lord? Towards our mate? Doubtless the husband would not have considered himself to have been “defiled” just because he was exhausted and dirty from labor. Was our Lord defiled by shedding perspiration like great drops of blood? No, that which arises from a labor of love is holy…like the tears of weary saints that God tenderly gathers up in his bottle (Psalm 56:8).

It’s really honoring to our mates to wash our bodies and be clean at night, but that’s not the most important definition for “undefiled.” The bride would not have gotten so dirty skipping across the floor to unlock the door that she would no longer appeal to her husband! Jesus denounced the Pharisees for washing the outside of their cups but not their minds (Matthew 23:25-27) and likened them to whitewashed tombstones: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” May we never grow so callous and indifferent to the needs of our spouse (heavenly or earthly; husband or wife) that we appear beautiful outwardly but are dead on the inside! May we be constrained by love to reach out and meet the needs of our spouses, even when it’s hard…and sometimes even sacrificially.

Bless Your Baby: (Ideas for Month 6, Week 26)

Big Lip. Sad Boy!177. Separation Anxiety

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4

PRAYER: Dear God, physical pain can be excruciating. Please protect us as much as possible from death, sorrow, crying and pain. But, truly the greatest pain is being separated from Love. The comfort of love makes the rest of life bearable. Without love, life loses its meaning. Thank you that you are love. May we always know your love, even in the midst of our deepest grief and pain.

THOUGHT: Once he understood separation, Aaron never liked being left…even into his teen years! Separation anxiety makes parting more difficult, but don’t be resentful or critical. Baby loves you fiercely! She would not leave you for a moment given the choice, and she feels rejected because you’re willing to give her up for a while.

ACTIVITY: On the other hand, don’t be discouraged and stop going out, because your husband needs your relaxed, undivided attention even more than your baby does (believe it or not). Although your husband is not as dependent on your care to meet all of his physical needs, he has a great need for your love and fellowship to keep him happy and motivated. Actually, you also need these times apart to be refreshed and refocus, but it is easy for a mother to get so intent on caring for her child that she loses sight of her own needs. So, keep planning outings and make sure your husband always remains your first priority under God. When you return, just give Baby lots of reassurance and cuddling to let her know that you love her deeply and are thrilled to be reunited!

Baby with toy on a high chair seat178. Keeping Baby Channeled While You Work

“So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.” Psalm 78:72

PRAYER: Dear Lord, I am reminded of the wonderful verse that likens children to being sapphire-polished arrows. Bless Baby, dear Lord! May he grow into a beautiful, straight arrow for you, one that you can fly fast and straight…one who will travel high and far for you and hit the mark of “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” May I feed Baby on what is good so that he will be healthy and have excellent habits (both in eating and in life), a taste for that which is nourishing, and a distaste for that which is bad! Bless me with skillful hands, so that I know how to guide him into integrity and health.

THOUGHT: Keeping Baby occupied during dinner preparation is always a huge challenge, but don’t wait for hubby to bail you out by entertaining Baby if you can help it! Most men come home roaring hungry and in need of a break themselves.

ACTIVITY: Here are a few more ideas for keeping Baby busy in his high chair. You can teach him to fish cheerios out of a shallow plastic container by putting a few in the bottom of one. Or, you can put a few bits of cereal under a clear plastic container that has been turned upside down over the food and see if he can pick up the container to get his tasty prizes out. You can take a set of nesting measuring cups and put a couple of cheerios in the bottom of each one, and then stack them. See if he takes them apart to get at all the cereal. You can set several small opaque containers upside down on the tray, placing a cracker under one but leaving the rest without any food. Keep that kid channeled, and he won’t mind waiting for chow time quite so much.

Father with son on lap179. Soothing Influences for Restless Babies

“In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.” Psalm 56:11

PRAYER: Dear God, we put our trust in you! We thank you so much for the wonderful reminder that you have not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, and of power, and of a sound mind, and that a blissful heaven of pain-free fellowship is promised in the future for all who trust in you. Thank you for reassuring us that perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment, and there is no torment in perfect love! How wonderful to trust in you and rest in you. May I model calm assurance, even in the midst of life’s nightmares, being anxious “for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplications with thanksgiving” letting my requests be made known unto you, and experiencing your peace that passes all understanding to keep my mind and heart. Bless Baby, precious Lord, so that as he grows up, he may also have a deep sense of peace, learning to cast all his cares on you because he knows that you care for him too!

THOUGHT: A small, familiar light that Baby can see if he wakes in the night can be a comfort and help him feel oriented and secure. We went through a series of nightlights over the years, and we also had a wonderful merry-go-round that hung over the crib. When I wound up the music box, the music played while the animals danced. This soothed our infants numberless times when they weren’t quite ready to fall back to sleep.

ACTIVITY: Do you have a nightlight and/or musical mobile in Baby’s room? Sometimes nothing works, but sometimes a little quiet music, soft light, and something to watch (even a ceiling fan with fluttery paper streamers hung from it) can go a long way toward helping a restless infant return to sleep.

Reaching for Glass180. Hand Coordination and Practice

“Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.” Psalm 119:73

PRAYER: Oh mighty God who holds the seven stars in your right hand, your hands have fashioned each of us! Bless us, Lord, with understanding so that we may learn your commandments. You have told us that if we love you we will keep your commandments. Help us to know your commandments, and give us the grace and strength to keep them.

THOUGHT: Concerning Baby throwing toys down and picking them up again—the place to practice that is on the floor where Baby can be responsible for picking up his own toys. At the kitchen in his high chair, don’t be too quick to retrieve toys that Baby has dropped, or he will think you are his personal valet. I tried to be compassionate whenever I thought the drop was an accident, but during the phase when Baby is practicing intentional dropping and picking up, if he starts throwing toys in an attempt to start a fetch game, keep in mind that you are his mother, not his dog. A merciful mother might supply a different toy if Baby runs completely out, or tie the toys to the highchair with strings so that they’re easy to place back on the tray.

ACTIVITY: If Baby hasn’t figured out how to pass toys from hand to hand, you can help him learn by actually putting a toy in his right hand, and then gently moving his right hand to his left hand with your hands over his, helping him make the transition. I never actually tried that with our kids (although I read about it), because they seemed to pick it up on their own so naturally, but as with all abilities, a sensitive parent can help teach and encourage where needed.

Can she crawl?181. Contentment with What We Have

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Hebrews 13:5

PRAYER: For the second half of the year, I thought perhaps you might enjoy writing out your own “Bless my Baby” prayers in a little journal not only to anchor and reflect your own spiritual journey and aspirations but also serve as a great spiritual treasury for Baby in the years to come. God bless you in your efforts! Even if you can only find time to write one prayer a week, or just a handful over the next months or years, it will be an invaluable part of Baby’s spiritual heritage.

THOUGHT: I used to say that until our kids were about three, they preferred their boxes to their gifts. It is amazing what simple items can stimulate a baby. Just remember, everything is new for her, so try to see the things around your home from her eyes.

ACTIVITY: How about letting Baby experiment with some of these items: a pot or pan; a rubber doorstop; a wooden clothespin (not the kind with wire springs that can come apart); coasters, both the kind for setting drinks on and the rubber or wooden ones you put under table legs.

Also, if Baby is just on the verge of creeping but hasn’t quite gotten the hang of it, you can give her a helping hand by putting your hands against the bottoms of her feet while she’s on her tummy trying to move forward. As she inches forward, keep supporting her feet with your hands, not pushing her, but giving her a surface to push against. Just a minute or two now and then can be the boost she needs to help her become a traveling lady!

Fun with Daddy182. Sharing What We Know and What We Don’t Know

“Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.” Job 42:3

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank you that in you are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Help me to understand true wisdom and be able to share my understanding of you with Baby. Counsel us, Lord! May we marvel at the mystery of your wonderfulness!

THOUGHT: Don’t you love all the exuberant sounds an infant can make? When was the last time you screeched and grunted? I mean, that’s not even considered polite in adult society, right?

ACTIVITY: Luckily, you are not in adult society when you and Baby are communicating, so let go and have fun! Screech, jabber, call, hoot, grunt, yowl, and babble. Imitate Baby’s sounds, and then see if you can get him to imitate yours. Sit right in front of him so he can see your face, and slowly make the sound you want him to imitate. Use sounds you know he knows, such as “ba-ba-ba” or “m-m-m.” Make faces! Wrinkle up you nose, puff out your cheeks, blow, whistle, raise your eyebrows, smile, frown, shake your head, nod, look surprised, excited, and sad. See if you can get Baby to respond to your faces or try to imitate them. If he can’t now, he probably will be able to if you try the same tricks in a month or two. Whatever you do, have fun, and always end with a good laugh and some happy affection. Remember, play and fun are actually crucial elements in healthy, happy living! “A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine.” If you don’t feel jolly, ask the Lord to help you figure out what’s wrong and how to correct it so that you can experience having a heart filled with joy.

Sucking on watermelon183. Healthy Food Options

“Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me.” Proverbs 30:8

PRAYER: Father, teach me to be grateful for every day that my family is blessed with good food, clothing, and a secure home. Help me to appreciate wholesome food and to be faithful in providing the healthiest options I can for meals.

THOUGHT: As a pretty hardcore naturalist, I never allowed myself to buy prepared baby food. After the rice cereal phase I went straight to grinding up “the real thing” from the dinner table on the theory that freshest was best and regular food contained no fillers or unnecessary additives. Most of my friends thought that was unnecessarily time-consuming and inconvenient. Perhaps my zealous commitment to purity in food practice was a bit more stringent than absolutely necessary, but I would still do it again for the health benefits. Also, today, organic foods are available and worth buying if you can. (Just as an aside, another benefit of avoiding processed foods is that it saved hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars over the course of seven infancies.) Processed foods are not only less healthy, they are more costly.

ACTIVITY: However you choose to select and prepare Baby’s food, make healthy choices while it’s your responsibility to choose for him. Consider getting a small baby food grinder so you can make your own purees from fresh foods you’re preparing for the rest of your family. Consider avoiding refined flour and sugar as much as you can. The first dessert Aaron ever tasted was his first birthday cake. Did it keep him from liking desserts as an adult? No. Is he health-conscious today? Yes.

The Ins and Outs of Jams: Redeeming Each Day

Wild Thimbleberry JamLast Friday I mentioned that wild Thimbleberry jam is very pricey, and part of this is doubtless because thimbleberries are hand-picked and hard to come by. Green thimbleberriesMany of you may not be familiar with thimbleberries, or perhaps you know them by one of their other names, such as salmon berries or snow brambles. Thimbleberry flowers They are native to North America and abundant in Michigan’s upper peninsula, but I don’t think they’re much different from raspberries. In fact, I personally think they tend to be mushier and have a less distinctive flavor than raspberries, so unless you have an unavertable penchant for thimbleberries, I’d like to offer an invertible counterpoint:
Make your own jam at home for a fraction of the cost using raspberries! Crab Cakes BenedictDo you ever make your own jams? Wherever we go, my kids tease me because I say, “We could do that!” when we’re served some lovely new dish, like the crab cakes Benedict I had the other day. Truly, if we can figure out the flavors and are willing to do a little experimenting (and/or searching online), most of us could make a lot of delectable dishes at home. Ripened thimbleberry For instance, most berries can be turned into jams by simply adding equal parts of fruit and sugar, and boiling the mixture down until it’s thick enough to please the palate. I consider this the perfect way to preserve the remains of my carefully picked seasonal fruits, particularly if I’ve already frozen enough fresh and fear the last of my labors may be lost. Jams at home As I was pouring out a pint of raspberry jam the other day, it occurred to me that there are probably many similar situations in my spiritual life…ways of preserving the last bits of life’s experiences (even ones that seem to be turning bad) so that even the remains of the day will be redeemed. Of course, it will take thought, the willingness to experiment, research and practice…a little sweetener, a little heat, and a little time…but that’s okay, isn’t it?

Poorrock Abbey Jam“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

So Many Changes! aka Absurd Jokes for Baby Boomers

65th BdayThank you bodiesJoel left Monday, and Grace’s family flies back to Texas tomorrow, leaving Alan and me as true empty nesters. This will be a remarkably uncomfortable feeling at first, although I’m watching my older siblings and have been encouraged that I will probably live, despite my fears to the contrary. My oldest brother and his bride of 50 years moved from their home into a condo this summer and seem to be surviving…even thriving. Ann Moving to MI Shut Up I"m talking.com My sister (2 years my senior) and her beloved husband, who just retired last spring, are in the process of moving from Oregon to Michigan to be closer to their kids (and incidentally, but thankfully, closer to me as well). Women After God Am I pleased or what? Overjoyed, I think is the right term, since we were inseparable buddies for the first 22 years and have missed each sorely other during the 42 intervening years. from "Shut Up I'm Still Talking So, their pain is my gain, but I’m definitely feeling empathetic pains as they sift through their lifetime of possessions, and choose what to keep. Thankfully, their home sold the first day it was on the market, so that’s great, but (of course) preparing to get their house on the market was a super stressful time.Happiness is good friends And, now they have to move halfway across the continent, find a new place to live, and reorganize their entire lives & social network. A daunting task at best! Crazy old ladies!So, in order to try to cheer up all those of you who—like me—are dealing with aging and change, I thought I’d pass along these cartoons! Hope you enjoy!  :) Happy People copy

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4)

For Those Who Love and Therefore Grieve

Protect your heartsI’ve been praying a lot lately for a friend who has an openly homosexual sibling who’s recently proposed to and is planning to marry their partner. Bad Things The point of this series of posters is not to give commentary on my personal views of the homosexual lifestyle (although I will if you ask), Care for one another but to encourage all those who find their hearts aching
over some decision that a loved one has made. Pastor Prince Thomas Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from my own heartaches:Speaking the Truth to Your Friends

Be honest, but speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).Love othersNever stop loving. Praying for one anotherKeep praying, and ask those who love you deeply to pray with and for you. Self examination Let God use your grief to cause you to search your own heart. Don't DoubtDon’t let the choices of others cause you to doubt or become discouraged.  The price of loveAccept freedom of choice as a God-given privilege because He loves us,
and accept grief as the price of loving those we believe have made choices that will ultimately bring them pain and unhappiness. God does this for each of us.Surrender to GodSurrender. Trust. Hope. Wait. Continue in prayer. Be still.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge”   (Psalm 46:10-11).

Fine Lines by Airline Stewardesses

There have been lots of comings and goings on airplanes to our home of late: Grace and the kids came Thursday, Michael came and went over the weekend, and yesterday I put my baby, Joel, on the plane to Boston. So, in honor of the flurry of flights, here are a list of great lines that were purportedly overheard on airplanes. I’ve included some pictures that were forwarded to me via email as well:

United flight attendant announced, “People, People — we’re not picking out furniture here; find a seat and get in it!
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On landing, the stewardess said, “Please be sure to take all of your belongings.  If you’re going to leave anything, please make sure it’s something we’d like to have.”
– – –Airplane crashes 1“There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane.”
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An airline pilot wrote that, on this particular flight, he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile and give them a Thanks for flying our airline.  He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment.  Finally, everyone had gotten off except a little old lady walking with a cane.  She said, “Sir, do you mind if I ask a question?”  “Why, no, Ma’am,” said the pilot. “What is it?”  The lady said, “Did we land or were we shot down?”
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As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Ronald Reagan Airport, a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: “Whoa, big fellow, WHOA!”
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Another flight attendant’s comment on a less-than-perfect landing: “We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal.”
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Airplane crashes 4On an American Airlines flight into Amarillo, TX on a particularly windy and bumpy day, during the final approach, the captain was really having to fight it.  After an extremely hard landing, the flight attendant said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo.  Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the captain taxis what’s left of our airplane to the gate!”
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“Your seat cushions can be used for flotation; and, in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments.”
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“As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings.  Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses — except for that gentleman over there.”
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This was heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City.  The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, “That was quite a bump, and I know what y’all are thinking.  I’m here to tell you it wasn’t the airline’s fault; it wasn’t the pilot’s fault; it wasn’t the flight attendants’ fault. It was the asphalt.”
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Airplane crashes 3After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the attendant came on with, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate.  And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we’ll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.”
– – –Airplane crashes 2Part of a flight attendant’s arrival announcement: “We’d like to thank you folks for flying with us today.  And the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you’ll think of US Airways.”
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Heard on a Southwest Airline flight: “Ladies and Gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing; and, if you can light ’em,  you can smoke ’em.”
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A man boarded a plane with six kids. After they got settled in their seats, a woman sitting across the aisle from him leaned over to him and asked, “Are all of those kids yours?”  He replied, “No.  I work for a condom company. These are customer complaints.” (This last one might not seem funny to you, but after hearing, “Are all of those kids yours?” about a zillion times in my life, with no appropriate response, I have to applaud the man’s wit!)

“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:31)

 

Jokes from Texas

Warning sign in pastureMike’s family is visiting us this and next week. They’re in transit from South Korea to Italy via San Antonio, Texas, so I’ve prepared ahead a few blogs for days when I’m too busy having fun to write. Today I have a series of cartoons about Texas, where Mike’s family has been this summer. I hope the humor makes you smile but doesn’t offend anybody. Forgive me if they’re not all P.C. Once the kids are gone and I’m home alone, I’ll resume attempting to write thoughtful posts about life. Blessings~ Steer on a CarTexas Rain GaugeHeart-shaped valentine steakHorse in oceanSpeed Limit Sign in TexaxSlow Down. The cop is hiding behind this signPopulation of Alpine TXMap of Texas. TemperatureWhat kills people in Texas. Joke!Texas Food PyramidTexas Tornado Joke      (Hope this doesn’t hurt anybody’s feelings; I actually like the Cowboys…) Warning sign about getting shot on sightMule and lady laughing togetherCowboy riding to Starbucks    (I mean, really…have you seen this at a Starbucks drive-through near you?)Horse looking down on you             So, what’s so funny about a horse stopping for a cup of coffee? Austin, TX tee shirt           And, if you think Texans are strange, be assured the feelin’s mutual!

“But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34).