Thursday, March 30, 2006

Argus Leader Profiles PostSecret Blogger

I am a big fan of honesty. Though I don't always hit the mark in being 100% truthful (would you tell your girlfriend that, yes, she does look like she's gained weight?), I try my best to be open, honest and candid in my friendships, in my relationships and in my discourse with God. That's why I'm a big fan of the the postsecret blog. It was started by Frank Warren as an art project, but grew into so much more. People mail in postcards (anonymously) and reveal their deepest secrets. Here is a quote from the article:

"I've been surprised every step of the way," Warren says. "I'm just a typical suburban husband. I'm an 'accidental' artist. It's been quite a journey, quite an adventure."

And all because of his blog, postsecret.blogspot. com. It started out as Warren's temporary community art project. Now it's where thousands of Americans go to anonymously post their deepest secrets, and where millions of Americans go to read them. Secret-tellers - call them "confessors" - send their secrets to his home in Germantown, Md., in suburban Washington, on postcards they decorate themselves. Warren reads every one and picks 10 to 20 to post on his blog every Sunday.

I find it all so interesting (and refreshing) to look at the postcards posted on his site, because, though our society is supposedly so 'open' now, it's clear that many of us are hiding secrets ranging from innocent to mind-blowing. Why is it so much easier for some people to share their deepest thoughts in an anonymous forum? Perhaps because the people in their lives are not as accepting as they'd like them to be. Or maybe people are just not ready to reveal themselves in all their flawed imperfection.

Whatever the case, I think it's good that a site like postsecret exists. It helps us to know we are not alone (almost everyone has done or thought something that makes them feel ashamed) and hopefully inspires us to be just a little more honest in our own lives. And - to all my girlfriends - you look great! Even if you have gained 10, 20 or 50 pounds, you are still the beautiful human being you've always been! Trust me....


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Should You Financially Support Your Man?

Taking up a line of thought from a previous blog entry, I thought I'd present this question: Should you financially support your man?

Which leads me to further questions: Is it ever okay to financially support a man? Is this biblical? Is it practical? Could a man gracefully accept being supported by a woman?

My feelings on the matter are this: I think it's okay - depending on the circumstances. I think every relationship should be about give and take. And that each partner should contribute something to the relationship, whether that be money, time, housekeeping duties, child-rearing, organizing the finances, etc. So, following that logic, it would be okay (in my mind) to financially support a man as long he is contributing something equally valuable to the relationship. Just as it would be okay to financially support a woman who is contributing equally to the relationship. Nothing is worse to me than someone who sits at home doing nothing (man or woman) while someone else foots the bill.

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear stories from anyone who has supported a man (or has been supported by a woman) and how that worked out.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Should Women Be Allowed to Preach in the Church?

To start off our discussion on the possible differences between men and women, we will start with an old favorite - Should Women Be Allowed to Preach in the Church?

This oft-debated topic has its share of proponents and detractors, both groups quoting their own favorite scriptures. So who's right? We may never really know, however, I'm going to add my own voice to the fray in trying to resolve this matter.

Do I think women should be allowed to preach in the church? In a word - yes. Why, you ask? Here are five reasons why:

1. (And this is my favorite) God never said that women shouldn't.

Preach, that is. There are no scriptures directly prohibiting a woman from preaching, prophesying or ministering in any fashion in the church.

2. The Bible tells us that tells us that God is no respecter of persons and all are considered the same in Christ.

Peter, in Acts 10:34 (see below) tells us that God is no respecter of persons. Peter learned this valuable lesson prior to being sent to lodge with a Gentile (which was considered abhorrent to many Jews at the time). If God could accept Gentiles, then why not women?

Paul, in Galatians 3:28-29, tells us that God doesn't consider the religion (Jew, nor Greek), status (bond nor free) or gender (male nor female) of His children - all are one in Christ.

Scripture References:

Act 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

3. Israelite women were placed in leadership roles and were called upon to prophesy.

Deborah was appointed as one of the judges of Israel (Judges 4:4-5). In this position, she judged all matters of contention between the Israelites. And, not only was she a judge, she was a prophetess as well! In Joel 2:28, God speaks through Joel to his people and tells them, among other things, that their daughters would prophesy.

Scripture References:

Jdg 4:4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.
Jdg 4:5 And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.

Joe 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

4. Women were with the Apostles when they received the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room.

After Jesus was resurrected and had ascended to heaven, the Apostles, along with a number of women, gathered in the upper room. During their prayer (and when they were on one accord), the Holy Spirit descended upon all of them and and all of them spoke in other tongues. God did not differentiate between the men and the women who were present in the Upper Room.

Scripture References:

Act 1:13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
Act 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Act 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Act 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Act 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Act 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5. Women were only specifically directed to remain quiet in one instance.

For those who often quote 1 Corinthians, where Paul admonishes the women to keep silent in the churches and to ask their husbands questions in the privacy of their home - this scripture refers to one particular situation, one particular church and one particular instance. Reportedly, the women in the Corinthian church were being disruptive, and speaking out of turn. So, this admonishment was more about order than a general rule to be applied across all spectrums. God may not be a respecter of persons, but He does expect His people to be orderly!

Scripture References:

1Co 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
1Co 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

I would love to hear your opininon - for and against. So let me know what you think!

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Are Men and Women Really Different?

Are men and women really different? A recent conversation with a friend brought this topic to the forefront of my mind. Apparently, her pastor said that he didn't believe that women should pastor churches. Now, their denonmination already accepted women ministers, but he believed it was morally incorrect for a woman to lead a church. What do you think?

Over the next few days, weeks, or however long it takes, I'm going to explore the differences and similarities between men and women. What the Bible says. What society says and what science has uncovered.

Stay tuned for more....

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

How Do You Know He's the One?

We've all met the seemingly perfect man: he opens doors for you, he's polite and courteous. He has a well-paying job, he's truthful, open and honest. He takes you out to dinner and doesn't expect anything in return and makes all the right noises about his interest in being committed. You get along great, you're thinking about introducing him to your parents and, then, he changes on you! He goes from calling you five times a day to 'just say hello' to sounding peeved when you call because he's 'trying to work'. He's taken you out five times and doesn't understand why you're not putting out. He gets a great paycheck of which he spends every penny trying to finance a gambling and/or shopping addiction.

So, how can you tell when you've really picked the right guy?

Read on:

1. He doesn't overwhelm you with affection right off the bat.

Yes, we all want to be swept off our feet, but steer far clear of men who want to marry you by Date 2. If he were really so anxious to be married, don't you think he would be by now? Now, I'm not saying that all men are like this, but, most men who start out very intensely burn out very quickly. After all, you don't think you are the only one he's ever been that crazy about, do you? Settle instead for someone who calls, texts or emails you a reasonable number of times. And one who has reasonable expectations of your relationship. Allow your relationship to begin at a slower pace and develop naturally - this will help it to last.

2. He doesn't pretend his credit, his past dating history, or his past life is or was perfect.

Okay, he makes a lot of money, but he hasn't always made a lot of money. And he probably wasn't always the most fiscally responsible person in the world. So don't let him lead you to believe otherwise. Also, he's done both good and bad in his past, so be on the lookout if he colors all his stories in his favor. Look for someone he gives you a fair and balanced re-telling of past struggles, issues or relationships. And, speaking of relationships:

3. He doesn't blame his last girlfriend for all of their problems.

If he begins his stories about his ex with phrases like, 'she mistreated me', 'she was no good', 'I tried to make it work, but she refused to try', or 'she was nothing but a manipulator', run far, far away! As previously mentioned, he has done both good and bad in his past. And this goes double for anything he did in his last relationship. She may not have been perfect, but he definitely wasn't either. There are three sides to every story - his side, her side and the truth. Try to find someone who gets as close to the 'truth' as possible.

4. He's consistent.

Remember how he used to call you five times a day? It's okay if it goes down to once or twice (a day), but once or twice a week? That's something to worry about. And don't accept the excuse that he all of a sudden doesn't have time. Somehow, he found time before, right? It takes two minutes to place a phone call, send an email or text message. Hold him accountable. But, on the flip side, if he only called you once or fewer times per day, don't expect him to start calling three or four times a day now. Observe his original pattern. Learn it. And see how close (or how far) he strays from it. There are few things worse than inconsistency in someone of whom you have greater epxectations.

5. His actions follow his words.

This goes two ways: he doesn't make promises he doesn't intend to keep and he does what he says he's going to do. He doesn't promise to spend more time with you this weekend if he knows he's going to be tied up in meetings. And he remembers to bring you a cheeseburger from McDonald's on his way home from work (like he said he would). Don't trust a man that constantly breaks his promises or makes promises he doesn't keep.

This is my short and sweet list, but feel free to comment and let me know of other traits that I'm sure to have missed! I'm also interested in hearing success stories from others who have found 'the one'.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sex and The Single Christian

What does it mean to be Christian and single? In the best case scenario, it means living a life devoted to God, going to church regularly, fellowshipping with your friends and being a good friend, daughter, brother, mother, father, etc. And - let's not forget that all-important caveat - being celibate. It's a not-so-well-kept secret, however, that most single Christians are not - celibate that is. Most of us seem to have 'periods' of celibacy - lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a few years and then find ourselves falling right back off the wagon for a (temporary) fix. I have had my seasons of celibacy, watched my friends in their seasons and seen celebrities proclaim they will enter marriage a 'virgin'. And, what do most of us have in common? We fail, fail and fail again. (And hats off to those who have been celibate, remain celibate or enter marriage as a virgin.)

Let's face it - once you have had sex (and enjoyed it), it's really, really hard to go back to that pre-knowledge state. Where sex was an idealized fantasy and you would find true love (or, at the very least - release) and it would all fade out into a pleasantly fuzzy happily ever after. And then you wake up.

Once you cross that line, you realize that you will never be the same. You feel a combination of remorse and (this is what always trips you up) curiosity. Was that as good as it gets? Or - wow, that was even better than I thought it would be! Should I try again to be celibate or does this mean it's over? Well, I didn't immediately go to Hell, so maybe....just maybe...I can get away with this.

And you do. Time and again. Until it almost becomes easier just to continue having sex than go through all the trauma of trying to give it up. To date someone and spend long sessions at his house or yours instead of having long walks in the park. To just stop thinking about it and put it up on the shelf of 'I'll deal with day.' Just not today, right?

I am not here to preach to you, to tell you right from wrong or any of that stuff (and I'm sure you know all the same bible scriptures I do about remaining celibate). And the simple truth of the matter is that all Christians fall short in one way or another. We lie, we cheat, we are gluttons, we are judgmental - just take your pick. So, it's awfully hard to point the finger at someone else when we are not exactly shining examples of clean vessels ourselves. Sometimes I think a whole lot more good would be done in the Body of Christ if we were all just a little more understanding of one another instead of the way we are now. But I digress...

So, if the above describes you, do what we all find ourselves doing - pray. Ask for forgiveness. Learn from your mistakes. And maintain your relationship with God at all costs.

And you will be saved.

Friday, March 03, 2006

How Not to Cheat

Excuses, excuses, excuses. I cheated because my husband doesn't understand me. I cheat because we've grown apart. I cheat because I'm not in love with my wife anymore. I cheat because my husband doesn't pay attention to me. I cheat because my wife won't give me what I want in bed. I cheat because - well, because I want to, darnit!

We have all heard, said and read about reasons to cheat. We all know why it's okay, why it's justifiable and why we can get away with it. Cheating has, in fact, almost become acceptable. After all, how can you possibly expect to stay faithful to one man or one woman for 10, 20 or even 30 years. Impossible! Right?

Impossible, no. Difficult, yes. So, following is my short and sweet list of How Not to Cheat:

1. Don't find yourself in a private setting with a member of the opposite sex.

As I always say - it's really, really hard to cheat when you're at home, alone, by yourself! Don't give yourself any more reasons to give into temptation.

2. Don't build emotional relationships with too many members of the opposite sex.

Friends, shmiends, most friend-ships (for men) are just a holding pattern until you are willing and ready to take it further. And we women are no better - we often just like to have a man as a backup plan, in case our current relationship doesn't work out. Guard your heart and your time - and hang out with more of your same sex friends.

3. Don't confide all your secrets in a member of the opposite sex.

Yeah, I know, it's much easier to share sometimes with someone that has a different set of chromosomes, but this is definitely heading in the direction of building emotional relationships (and you know where that usually leads). Especially don't share everything that your significant other does that bothers you. Some unscrupulous friends can and will use this against you at a later date. Get a best friend who is the same sex as you. Trust me - it's much easier in the end.

4. Don't spend time fantasizing about 'what if'.

Yes, I know most people don't really consider it cheating unless something physically happens, but, here's a news flash - thinking about doing something is just one step away from actually doing something. Don't think so? Fantasize about ice cream for the next half hour, and see if you don't head to your nearest Ben & Jerry's!

5. Stop seeking external validation.

Make sure you already think that you are okay. Or that you are great. Or whatever it is you need to make it through the day. Because the sooner you believe it yourself, the sooner you will no longer need someone else to make you feel that way.

6. Stay Busy!

Do I even need to get into this one? Suffice it to say the less free time you have, the less time you have to get yourself into 'trouble'.

7. Think about your mate.

Hey, here's something that's probably fallen by the wayside. Remember when you thought your mate was absolutely perfect and could do no wrong? Okay, so you know that ain't true, but I bet he or she still does some things very, very right. Think about those things. Replay them in your mind. Repeat.

8. Spend time building your relationship with your mate.

Spend time planning things you would like to do. Spend time cooking for him or her, sending him or her emails, spending quality time or taking long walks in the park. Whatever it takes to build upon what you already have. 'Cause building a new one will take just as much work as you are putting into the relationship you have now. It's easier (and cheaper) in the end to just love the one you've got.

9. Follow your own passion.

Quit trying to live your life through someone else! And quit thinking if you've bedded three or four people other than your significant other, that this makes you some type of player! You are not. You just lack self-control. Find what you do best - and do it. Enough said.

10. Commit to Yourself first!

Forget about trying to commit to another person through thick and thin. 'Cause his 'thin' will be too thin and her 'thick' will turn you off. Commit instead to your own personal desire to be faithful, loving and attentive to the one you've got. People change. Feelings change. But, knowing (and sticking to) who you are on the inside never goes out of style. Then, when you have the desire to cheat, you will realize it's much more important to be true to yourself than indulging in a temporary fix.

So, go forth and be faithful!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Adrian's Blog: Blogging the gifts - the word of wisdom

I just ran across this article from a fellow Christian blogger, Minister Adrian Warnock. I think he has some pretty good insight on the spiritual gift 'Word of Wisdom'. Read it and let me know what you think! Adrian's Blog: Blogging the gifts - the word of wisdom