Thursday, June 30, 2005

Shout-outs and Prayer Requests

Miss O'Hara and her sweetheart, Dear Companion, both have new jobs. Congrats, you two! Dear Companion will be moving as a result of his new job, so pray for he and Miss O'Hara to make it through the separation OK.

MauiGirl recently celebrated her 26th birthday! Yo, buttah!!! ;o) ¡Feliz cumpleaƱos a ti!

BrayMP of De Novo also celebrated his something-somethingeth birthday this month. You rock, Mack Daddio! ;o)

Another friend is looking for a job. Please pray for E.S. Scriptures you can pray on his behalf are printed below. (All Scriptures are HCSB® unless otherwise indicated.) Thanks!

Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us;
establish for us the work of our hands---
establish the work of our hands!
---Psalm 90:17

He led them by the right path
to go to a city where they could live.
---Psalm 107:7

Make my steps steady through Your promise.
---Psalm 119:133a

I will give You thanks with all my heart;
I will sing Your praise
before the heavenly beings.
I will bow down toward Your holy temple
and give thanks to Your name
for Your constant love and faithfulness.
You have exalted Your name
and Your promise above everything else.
On the day I called, You answered me;
You increased strength within me.
The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me.
LORD, Your love is eternal;
do not abandon the work of Your hands.
---Psalm 138:1-3,8

Also the entire chapters of Psalm 142 and 143---the enemies being any fears or anything that paralyzes.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Giving of yourself

It's a good thing, folks. And you're too blessed to be stressed, so don't stress over this. Just chill 'n' read.

Digital Cowboy has posted about masculinity and about what men want, over at his blog, which was partly inspired by previous blog conversations here at the Polka-dotted Sky.

DC says: Love gives. Until you've given, you have no right to expect.

That's the crux of the issue with most women, I'd say. God's been trying to teach me this lesson for a LONG time. "Give, Elena, and do not expect the return from the human. You cannot depend on the human to return your love. But you can depend on Me. Your expectation of Me does not insult Me, because very few expectations of Me are unrealistic. The limit is don't expect Me to follow your timetable. But you can expect Me to listen, to smile at you, to hug you, to laugh with you, to cry with you, to defend you, to teach you, to sing with you and to you and over you, to inspire you, to correct you, and so much more. I will be there when humans cannot. I will be there when the humans are there too. Let Me truly become your #1, and everyone else will take his or her rightful place in your life. When you seek from humans what ultimately only I can provide, you will be disappointed every time."

The woman who places God first will be enabled, equipped, and emboldened to love a man in such a way that her love creates a safe place for him...a wide open space in which he delights to respond by laying down his life for her...and I think this kind of love points the man back to God. (Nagging is not nurturing!)

Both persons in a marriage should fulfill Christ's command regardless of whether the other is doing what he or she is supposed to do. The wife should submit, unless she would be disobeying God or allowing injury to herself, even if he is not loving her as Christ loved the church. The husband should lay down his life, even if she is not submitting to him. Christ did what was good for us, even before we were doing right by Him. So...fulfilling our roles in a Christlike manner, whether or not the other person first acts in a way that encourages us to do the right thing, is living out Christ's life.

Expressing love without succumbing to fear of reprisal, of rejection, or of meeting with blankness or coldness is the challenge.

I believe that Jesus can teach us when the kind word will be timely and will be well received (that the person will take it in and be blessed by it, even if you see or hear no outward sign of the kindness being appreciated) and when the person is being like hard ground and cannot receive what you are wanting to say or to do bless him or her.

Lord, let me see the other person's need truly, not merely as an opportunity to have my need to help be fulfilled. Let this be about You and this person, not about me.

I think that kind of attitude and prayer is CRUCIAL to relationships, especially marriage.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Are they throwing down the gauntlet?

What is Elena to do when her male blog readers start attacking/insulting one another's brands of masculinity? Intervene? Slap their hands? Lay down the law? Let them duke it out and clean up their own blood spatters and apply their own cold slabs o' steak? Stand back and drool? I dunno...

Guys tease one another all the time, throwing barbs and insults, calling one another names... And among some people, the "yo mama" barrage back-n-forth is an art form! (The females indulge in that activity as well.) According to my friends over at Blogger Blaster's (see "Nate" in the sidebar), learning how to take insults and dish 'em back out is a rite of passage for guys, especially among brothers within a family. I've never experienced this myself, since I only have Ashpenaz (or Ashley the Blue Raider, as some of you know her). We didn't have a brother to pummel or to pummel us or to tell us we were stupid poopheads. We had enough of the teasing and name calling from the boys at school. And we decided we didn't like that behavior when it was directed at us.

Over the years, I've noticed that I and other women find men's fighting (physically or verbally) with one Maybe it's the displays of strength. But then again...the movie version is different from the real-life one. I mean, even if the guy looks like a hunk, do ya really want him name calling at the family reunion or throwing a large object through a restaurant window?

And what about in the body of Christ? Does the sarcasm, the teasing, the usual "manly" repartee amongst "the guys" have a place?

Are some guys being too agressive? Are others being too sensitive? I still don't know.

I think some individuals, both men and women, are struggling these days to figure out if their brands of masculinity or femininity are valid. Should he feel bad about himself if he's not white collar? Should he feel ashamed that he knows beans about car repair? Should he hang his head in shame because he doesn't own a gun or know how to shoot? Should she tease the guys like they tease one another and tease her? Should she be sweet and innocent, or is it OK for her to know about certain *ahem* things (if only in theory, not in practice)? Should she use her brain and go after a career (not necessarily climb the ladder for its own sake), or should she eschew the contemporary world and seek to build a lifestyle pre-1960s?

Who are we supposed to be? Are there only so many flavors of man or woman to be allowed and praised?

These are confusing times indeed.

The dating lesson, redux

Note: Edited from previous version

The story:

Helping a friend clean her apartment, I used a bagless vacuum cleaner for the first time the other day. It was discovered by her boyfriend that I had accidentally dumped not only the crud but also the HEPA filter into the trash....which had already been taken to the dumpster. Argh...

Friend's Boyfriend was astounded by my blunder. I didn't like his reaction. His tone of voice, facial expression, and body language communicated to me his opinion that I had NO brain whatsoever, just because I didn't pay attention to what I was doing and threw away an essential component to the piece of machinery.* Yeah, I got my feelings hurt and sillily thought I'd be vindicated if throttled him with the cable TV cord or brained him with the Mickey Mouse blender. But I refrained and made light of the situation. I offered to purchase the replacement filter, and he warned me it would be expensive.

"What?" I inquired, "Is it going to be, like, 50 dollars?"

"No," said he. "About 35."

"Oh, well, [my friend] can just count it as an early birthday present."

I ran to the conveniently located Tarzhay, found and bought the thing (and a cute hobo bag purse to assuage my ire--I admit it, I'm a shopoholic), and returned to the frenzy o' apt cleaning.

Props to the boyfriend--I felt he was nicer to me as the afternoon wore on. Maybe the new filter and the fresh package of toilet paper were good peace offerings.

I really deserved the second laugh I got from him when I sucked a shoelace up into the vacuum cleaner...and parts of the shoelace melted. And I did praise him for his application of muscle power when he vripped the remaining shoelace length right off the roller brush thingy. I get some points for being a nice gal. *grin*

He really was helpful---switched the hose to the right spot on the vacuum cleaner so that the machine was converted into Tim Allen "augh augh" power mode. Doggy hair and random plastic thingies were no match for that Dirt Devil!!

And he came over the next day and helped out his girlfriend some more, patching up a hole in the closet door. I may not like him, but she does. And that's what counts...

However, this experience made me think about men who consistently deride the women they date or are married to.

For the guys: Don't deride your gal every time she does something silly or careless or even downright stupidity. Likely, she already feels like an idiot. Don't be a turdbucket by making things worse.

For me, and maybe other gals:
DON'T date a man who consistently derides you. (If you feel like an idiot around him because you find him intimidating [eg. awed by his excellence in some area], that's different---it's not his fault.) A man who constantly treats you as if you have no brain, and therefore a worthless piece of dookey; who does not recognize and praise your strengths and abilities; who only feels strong if you are perceived by him and others as incredibly weak; and who needs to be in control 24-7 is to be avoided as a potential marriage partner.

Be nice to the guy, but do NOT date him.

Update: On further reflection and b/c of discussion in the comments, I admit that I overreacted in my emotions. And certainly, I exaggerated a bit and hammed it up here (which, for the newbies, is my writing style here)---it was a funny story b/c I did internally act like an idiot in my reaction and I did do at least two rather careless things. As I was driving to the store, after the original "moment" happened, I prayed about it and knew that no matter what I had said to him or did around him, he is a human being of value and worth to God--and not beyond God's ability to reach and to change him. Yes, I had operated out of my impression of who this guy is, having been around him several times before, but really not knowing him. He had acted like a jerk in the past, numerous times, and I assumed he'd be a jerk no matter what I did. I didn't give him the benefit of the doubt. He was nice to me, and the niceness may have just come from the goodness of his heart. I don't know.

I have been reminded (for the humpteenth time, over the course of my life) that I have to take responsibility for my part in situations, especially when it comes to emotions. And that I am just as tempted to say ugly things as any other human being is. Question for me is: Will I say what immediately comes into my head; or will I stop and pray and then say something kind or something to diffuse the tension or just keep quiet?