Amos 8:11, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.”
This verse seems unnervingly to apply more and more to our own country, though it was said first to Israel. I wonder, would we even miss it?
Consider first the state of the world now, and their resistance to all things godly, and the universal acceptance of sin. Such a thing is not unusual, since it was said of the men in the days of Noah that all men did that which was right in their own eyes. However, this disease has even found its way into the churches- including once-solid, fundamental, Baptist churches. The corruption and falling away from the old paths are symptomatic of a deeper malady: that of not listening to God’s message. If the churches paid more attention to the message in God’s Word rather than trying to accommodate unbelievers and wayward Christians, there would be less erosion in the integrity of the people of God. As they begin to more and more disregard God’s message, so the sin increases, continuing in a cycle of further disregard and leading to further sin.
Here in this passage, the people of Israel are obviously not paying attention to the message they are given. As punishment, God decides to send a message in the form of complete silence. Now, this may seem laughable, considering that the people don’t seem to care in the first place- but God certainly knows what He’s doing. We know from history and from the Bible that God had already sent physical famines of drought and other punishments, things that the people of God ignored completely. Now, He sends a famine of His message- the prophets which had once cried from the streets for repentance now fall silent, no longer urged by God to preach His Word. A deep, awful silence falls over the entire land, and while at first it may seem like a relief not to hear that irritating message yet again, before long someone takes notice.
Consider the very next verse- “And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” Though previously they had paid little heed, they were certainly listening now, and actively seeking God. When God speaks, they ignore the message. When God is silent, it’s noticeable- and, once noticed, it is very alarming, compelling them to “run to and fro” to seek God- and yet, still He remains silent.
I can’t help but wonder – what does this mean for the people of God today, who continue to ignore Him and push Him aside in favor of more immediate desires and wants? While it may seem a small matter for God to fall silent- “finally, no more of that irritating, meddling preacher hammering from the pulpit about my activities during the week, or pressuring me to give a little more of my time and money to the church!”- very soon the effects will be noticed, and even the most resistant to God will begin to feel the vacuum that is left. Where will the people of God, who are called by His name – where will we be then?
This is not a new post, it’s actually something I wrote a few years ago. But we just came up on the anniversary of it a few weeks ago, and I recalled both the passing and the funeral (though sadly I wasn’t there for either), and I felt it was appropriate to share once again. I still remember that bright smile, even now.
“They never knew how much a broken heart can break the sound and change the seasons. Now the leaves are falling faster, I believe in ever after. You gave me hope through your endeavors, now you will live forever.” – Shinedown
Yesterday was great, spending the day with friends. But then it all comes crashing down when I read the message on my phone this morning, and saw the posts. Now my heart spills out in an agony of tears. One bright star, smiling through the impossible cancer she faced. The star has moved on, but her light would not fade.
This is the second playmate that we have lost in the last year. My daughter, young as she is, won’t remember, and it doesn’t impact her life in any way.
But I remember.
I remember being at the Ronald McDonald House during our time in Seattle, talking with the other moms and sharing treatment stories, hardships, the progress we’d made – sharing in the collective burden of having a child with serious medical needs.
I remember coming together for the communal dinners supplied by volunteer groups, joining in the activities that were always provided. We shared about which group’s cooking we liked better, and about the difficulties in getting our kids to eat. I remember that as we got further into our own chemo treatment, my little girl would only eat chicken nuggets and, toward the end, nothing at all.
We rejoiced when one of our group got the okay to go home, whether it was just for a few days’ leave or they were done with treatment and leaving for good. There was one family who’d spent two years at Ronald McDonald, never even going home once for a visit. They finally got clearance to go home permanently, and we all cried. They were the longest running visitors at the Ron Don house.
There was a park nearby, where I sometimes took my little girl. Technically, because of her immune system, she wasn’t supposed to go to public places like that, but sometimes the little bit of joy it brought her was worth it. She loved the swings. Sometimes, a Ron Don family would join us. A few times, it was a dear little girl, six years old, who was Lanae’s friend.
That same little girl passed away last year – went home after treatment, and was back in Seattle in a month. In a cruel twist of fate, she had beat the cancer – only to succumb to a virus.
We’ve lost others, as well. And with the news of each one, I am reminded of the ferocity of the beast called cancer, and I feel a stir of fury and heartbreak, and I can’t help but feel the burden of the world. I look at my daughter, so strong and healthy, and I feel sad that she won’t remember these friends that she so loved to play with.
But I remember. I remember the laughter they shared, the shared struggles we faced. And I’ll keep that memory in my heart, along with so many others.
Izzy, you were a bright spot in a dark world. I’ll never forget it.
The question was asked to my sponsors, of which to share first, between a poem and a short story. They’re both the same story, the poem was written first and later adapted to a story. But I liked them equally and couldn’t decide which to share first. Well, now it’s clear what the sponsors picked! (If you want to cast your vote on future polls, plus get access to all sorts of extras and freebies, check out my page on Patreon and cast your pledge! It’s only a dollar for the first tier!)
Have you seen my love,
My fair love?
She is under the oak tree,
Her tresses flowing long,
Colored of the deepest black.
She is my fair love,
And forever mine.
I met her on a summer’s eve,
Dancing in the moonlight.
The silver moonbeams
Caught her swirling hair,
Falling on her white dress.
I heard her song’s sweet voice,
And I was entranced.
Such beauty I had never seen,
And in my heart I knew
She’d be my fair love,
And forever mine.
Have you seen my love,
My fair love?
A year she’s been gone,
Her eyes like starlight,
Pools of emotion, fae magic.
She is my fair love,
And forever mine.
Summer’s light began to wane,
But still I watched daily,
My love a burning fire
As her song filled the air.
She turned and saw me standing,
Her smile caught me there.
A mother’s voice called to her;
A brilliant wave and she was gone.
She’ll be my fair love,
And forever mine.
Have you seen my love,
My fair love?
She’d be always mine,
My heart hers.
Her skin like spider’s silk,
Polished marble set with gold.
She’ll be my fair love,
And forever mine.
I saw her on a winter’s morn
In the early sun’s soft ray.
Light gilded her hair
As her gaze watched the road.
A man who’d journeyed long
Made a shadow on the sun.
I watched him draw near,
She went into his embrace.
She’s not my fair love,
Nor forever mine.
Have you seen my love,
My fair love?
I’ll make her always mine,
Her blood flowing red,
Red through my fingers.
She’ll be my fair love,
And forever mine.
I laid her under the oak tree,
There forever to sleep.
Her song still sings
Ever in my beating heart,
And I remember her there
Under the moonlit night.
Another man she knew,
But I’ll make her mine;
She was my fair love,
And forever mine.
Some say that the woman in this chapter is allegorical, representing wisdom or something similar, but for the sake of the current discussion, I’m taking the application that it’s representative of a real woman – which I don’t think would be a misapplication of this passage at all.
The Proverbs 31 woman – she is the epitome of a godly woman. Churches point to her as the prime model of a wife and mother. She is the standard to which Christian women look to as the definition of what they should be.
Yet, in this chapter filled with all her good works, there is little mention of what her inner thoughts might be. Even those verses that touch on her attitude (“worketh willingly”) are still the outward appearance- what others see.
But isn’t it possible that this woman who does so much for her family… might she have moments of self-doubt, moments where she feels she is not doing enough? Perhaps in between verses 18 and 19, in the dark of night when there is none to see- perhaps she has a moment where she breaks down, feeling the weight of all that she isn’t.
“But she is perfect,” you say. “She always does what is right- she is the model woman.” So she might be.
But then, she might not be. What about those who blasted her for working outside the home, telling her she should focus on her family instead? The chapter is filled with examples of her business- “she maketh fine linen, and selleth it…” (verse 24). It doesn’t say that she does this at home. In fact, there are times when she must leave the home to conduct business. And of course, any amount of time spent working on the business is time spent not focused on your own family or household.
This woman is not the model of a stay-at-home mom, people. Is it good to stay at home with your children? Yes, it is. But at the same time, is it bad to work outside the home? God doesn’t seem to think so.
What about those that might have criticized her dress, saying that she dresses too fancy – she is “showing off”? “Her clothing is silk and purple.” (verse 22) How many times has a woman been blasted for what she wears, simply because people think she is strutting or showing off? I have even seen arguments presented by some that we should not wear brand name clothing.
To top it off, it’s not just her that gets to wear the nice clothes – her own kids are wearing scarlet, which is a color of nobility (verse 21). There’s no humble beginnings here, no sense of humility in how they dress. There is pride in their work, confidence in their dress, and the entire family gets to enjoy the spoils. How many times has a parent received a negative comment because their child wears name brand clothes? We can dress “appropriately,” but should never be dressed too finely. Maybe it’s immodest to dress nicely, stylishly. Maybe it’s vain. Is it?
Then there’s her strength. Many have this idea that femininity equals weakness – but this Proverbs 31 woman “strengthens her arms (verse 17)” She is not a weak woman, in any sense of the word. She is strong physically, emotionally, and mentally.
The company she hangs out with is not something to be desired, either. Sure, she brushes shoulders with the merchants and the powerful men of the city. Her husband sits in the gates, which is a prime leadership position. But then she turns around and mingles with the poor, the downtrodden- the ones you see on the street corners, in the back alleys. She crosses to the other side of the tracks, so to speak (verse 20). “Who knows what she could be doing in those dark parts of the city,” some sputter, aghast at the notion.
She also has servants, did you notice? “Goodness, that woman is so selfish! She has others do for her just what she could do herself! My, if only I had that kind of money to spend on such frivolous things!” It may be frivolous- but God’s model woman has them.
All of this might be okay if she would just keep it quiet, humble. Today’s Christian could accept that. But as if all her failures aren’t enough, there is no humility here – at least, not the way some people consider humility. There is no quiet blushing, no passing off honors on to someone else, there’s no amount of self-deprecating comments from this woman. None of that. In fact, the chapter ends with this thundering announcement: “Let her own works praise her in the gates.” These days, praise is not an easy thing to come by – if you accept praise, you must not be humble, and we all know that being humble is a key aspect of being a Christian. Yet that’s not what we find here.
The Proverbs 31 woman, the standard to which women in the church today should adhere to, is completely and utterly flawed. And yet, God points to her as the example; He singles her out among so many others. These are the qualities that He chooses, that He admires in her. Are they really flaws, after all? Maybe we’re the ones with the skewed perspective.
I’m sure this woman had her moments, those times deep in the night, when her tears fell freely; moments when she looked at all she had done for the day, and felt that it wasn’t enough. Or perhaps it was too much – in the midst of all this busyness, taking care of her household and business, did she neglect her children? Were they cared for, loved? Did she give them enough attention?
Or maybe it’s a different track entirely. Maybe she feels too burdened, too wearied by her duties. She has servants, sure, but she still has to manage them, and it doesn’t mean she gets to slack off on her work. And her husband, couldn’t he help out some, too?
These whispered thoughts- they aren’t real, any more than they were for this Biblical woman. The criticism you receive from those around you- it’s ignorant of what God is really looking for. So when these thoughts come, remember that your weakness is God’s strength. Remember that what others see is not what God sees. Where others see flaws, God sees quality.
Often, I hear adults talk about how they just can’t figure out the new gadgets these days, or keep up with all the social networks coming out. I’m telling you now, if your child has it figured out, then you had better learn quick. New phone? Learn all its tricks. New website? You better sign up.
Parents, pay close heed to what your children are doing. Become familiar with their interests, their passions. It is not only about getting to know them, but getting to know what draws them- for in doing so, you know them better than you would otherwise.
Don’t just censor their music, their reading. If they gravitate to a certain genre, or a certain style, look at it closely. Become familiar with the product, for in that you will find the message that your child cannot tell you himself.
The quickest way to lose your child is through what you do not know, do not understand. Many parents have heard the mantra of an angry teenager, “You just don’t understand!” Consider whether it may be true. Perhaps you remember what it’s like to be a teenager- but what is it like to be your teenager? To be the child that you have raised, suddenly finding themselves on the cusp of this brave new world, no longer a child, just becoming an adult in a new and sometimes frightening society?
If you do not understand the world that your child is drawn to, you will be sure to lose him. The more they discover, the further you are left behind, until one day, you find that they are gone from you – willingly or unwillingly.
The prime spot for predators is through social networking. He will befriend your daughter, provide a listening ear for your frustrated son. The social network that you do not understand becomes the channel by which your child is lost to you. The new gadget that your child knows in and out, but which you can only just turn on, is now an open door into a very dangerous realm.
As your child emerges into the independent teenage years, it is no longer enough to simply ban certain things from the house. If you have done well in the relationship you have built with your child, if nothing has happened to come between you, they will often (but not always) remain within the parameters willingly. But if they are not willing, then no amount of rules you have set will serve to chain them. A teenager will always find a way around the rules, that is a promise. And even the most solid relationship has strain at times, and it is those moments that provide the cracks which a skilled abuser can manipulate to widen into a chasm before you’re even aware of it.
What are you doing to stop them? Punishment is a vicious cycle of disobedience and arguments, and in the end nothing is achieved. Now, it will not be the rules that will keep your child to you, but your relationship to them, and in this is grounded your understanding of what draws them.
What is the music that they want to listen to? Listen to the songs on your own time, when they are not around. Look up the lyrics, find what the music speaks of. In music more than any other subject, you will find the answer for your child’s disturbances. But do the same for what they like to read, and the things they search online.
Many parents look at it with the mindset that the music influences the child, and while this may be truth in part, it also serves to obscure another even more important truth. The music may influence the person, but first the person must be drawn to that music – and to that, there is often something deeper at play, something in their psyche that calls to them. In the beat and the lyrics you may yet find the explanation and expression for your child’s emotional turmoil, something which they themselves are not able to put into words.
Set restrictions – it’s what parents are there for. Boundaries serve as a means of protection. But at the same time, be aware of what draws your children. It just may be your means of saving them.
Don’t read any further. If you’re expecting regular blogging and definite topics, this place is not for you. Move along, please, nothing to see here.
I’m not a blogger. I can’t remember the number of times I have started a blog for various reasons, only to have them dwindle away into the vast nothingness of cyberspace, lonely and forgotten. I’m sure that with the exception of those places that delete inactive blogs after so long an absence, those blogs are still out there. I couldn’t tell you what they are, but they’re there.
So if this is the case, why am I trying again now? I’ll tell you.
Because I’m not blogging. See, blogging has a connotation of regular updates. Sometimes, it’s weekly, or monthly, or for those brave few, even daily. Most have a subject that they revolve around- health and family, or publishing and writing, or politics. In fact, even the “experts” advise you to stick to one topic (and stay away from controversy!!) if you want to be successful.
Well, anyone who knows me understands that I’m a rebel. At some point, I’m probably going to break every single one of those rules, and then some. But, I’m not doing this just for the sake of blogging. I suck at it – I really do. So why?
Because I have something to say – or I think I do, at any rate. You decide if it’s something you want to read. But in the past few years, I’ve learned it isn’t about what others read – it’s about what I have to say. So that’s what this place is for. I’m shooting for an average of about a post a week, but there’s no hard and fast schedule. And the topics themselves – well, they’re a bit scattered. I am passionate about many things, and I’m always turning something over in my head. One week it could be as mundane as a book review, the next it will be a heavy-handed discussion on some controversial issue.
So what do I post here? Well, some of it will be business, of course, things like project updates, book reviews, business spotlights, etc. But more than that, it will be a place for me to spout off the occasional bursts of inspiration that come to mind, a place where my words spill over into a glorious puddle of concepts and ideas and half-formed thoughts. Sometimes, they may coagulate into something solid and concrete. Once in a while, they may interest you, the reader. And if you find yourself coming back here time and again, and that maybe it’s a little more than once in a while – well take a gander over to the “subscribe” section to the right here and add in your email address! You’ll get my blog posts, and you’ll also get updates when I add new items to my store. (I promise, I won’t spam you, I’ll keep my updates minimal and semi-regular. You won’t be flooded with new item updates.)
Special needs is…
Having a child who is five years old, tall enough to be six, has the physical strength nearly equal to a seven year old –
Who is highly intelligent (so, not cognitively impaired), which helps her pass off as “normal” since she finds her own way around things…
But still has the speech of a 2-3 year old at best, and the emotional stability of the same age, as well as developmental age…
This same child who is very energetic and outgoing (which also helps to mask her handicap), is also aggressive and a fighter when she gets upset. Sometimes it’s a normal “kid” issue, but a lot of times it’s because she can’t process the proper communication (either receptive or expressive), or because she doesn’t yet have the development to control her behavior when she’s upset, even to the normal level expected of her peers.
So you have this kid who looks older and intelligent, but acts out in ways that aren’t according to her age. And, especially since her handicaps aren’t immediately obvious, some people tend not to be very forgiving when she acts out in public. Most are gracious about it, but we do get comments sometimes. She can be aggressive and violent, and this combined with her size and strength compared to other kids in her age range (she easily tops the charts for normal ranges), she just looks like a bully.
I promise you, my child is not a bully. She does want her own way sometimes, but she also likes to share, and is happy to let other kids have their own way – so long as she actually understands what that way is. Breakdown in communication is a breakdown in relationship and behavior.
There’s also her tantrums, which themselves are considerable. Try holding a child who weighs 50 lbs, every inch of that is pure muscle with minimal fat, who insists on throwing herself every which way, screaming the whole time. Or, if you aren’t already holding her, she will physically THROW herself on the floor, careless of what’s around, careless of injury or what material the floor may be constructed of, whether hard or soft.
Add stress to the mix – kids get tired, they get hungry, or whatever else throws off their mood. Want more stress? Add in extra doctor visits to fill up the schedule, seizures that can affect behavior, or certain treatment measures that take up mental and physical resources. A couple weeks ago, she was going through CMIT therapy (they cast her good arm to force her weak arm to work) and she was cranky because it was wearing her out. And her cast arm became a weapon – not a conscious decision, but because her left arm is her default “strong” arm, when she’s upset she strikes out with it automatically. She gave one kid a bloody nose with it.
This is what it is in dealing with special needs.
“If God would just show himself, then I’ll believe.”
“If I can see God face to face, I’ll know he exists and I’ll believe.”
Most people want God to show himself, but here’s a thought for consideration:
The Bible says that when we finally do meet God face to face, that every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord (Phil 2:10-11). There will be no argument, no discussion – every single human being will unequivocally realize just who God is.
How does this come about? Many people have this idea of God forcing people to their knees. Maybe his angel soldiers marching behind the line of humanity, kicking them behind the knees and pushing down on heads until every person is prostrate before the Lord.
But that’s not how God works. Even in Judgment Day, he still puts free will above all else. We have a choice in how we see God, how we relate to him. Even in death, we are not forced to love or worship him. So why does the whole of humanity fall to its knees, if not by force?
By sheer presence alone.
Have you ever been in a place that fills you with awe, that makes you weak in the knees and bereft of words? Your chest is tight, your eyes wide, your mouth speechless as you take in the sight. Maybe it’s a grand cathedral or an ancient monument, or a breathtaking display of nature’s power and beauty. A storm, a mountaintop view, the Grand Canyon. Whatever it is, it’s something that forces you to stop and take it in.
Now imagine that experience, but amplified ten thousand times. Meeting God face to face is no piece of cake. This is a God who formed entire worlds with a single phrase, who spans the Universe with his hands. Every inch of our world, he created, from the smallest quarks and atoms to the vast nebula and galaxies picked up by the Hubble telescope. And as you take in the whole of Creation, note the diversity, the attention to detail. Very little is grayscale. Color abounds at every turn, and not just mild, bland colors we recreate with our artists’ utensils, but bold, vibrant, popping colors that take your breath away.
At the center of all of that is God himself, who we will meet that day in his very own throne room. And if he can create all of this, imagine how he is in person, as we stand face to face with all his power, all his authority, all his creativity… what would our reaction be? Naturally, it would be to fall to our knees, not through some measure of force, but as an inevitable reaction at being faced with something with so much greatness and majesty.
We’ll have free will, but we will be so overridden by what we see that we won’t even consider fighting it. We’ll be on our knees before we know it, giving obeisance to a God who is so holy and awe-inspiring.
Why doesn’t God show up? People say they would believe if they could just see God face to face. It’s true, they’ll believe – but not in the way God wants. God has always wanted an honest relationship, one fully determined by how much we want to be with him. He could force us, but he’d rather let us be the determining factor in what goes on and how far we go.
The moment he steps foot in the picture and we see him physically, all of that goes away. Our power to choose a relationship with him becomes tainted with our inevitable urge to drop to our knees before him. In not showing up, God allows us the greatest freedom he possibly could – a chance at an unbiased choice, one that is fully our own to control, to decide whether we want to come to him.
By the time Judgment Day comes and we all gather in that throne room, the dice will have been cast, fates decided. Our choices will be made. There is no longer any need to hold back – one way or the other, we’ve already made our choice. And so God steps out, reveals himself to the people of his Creation, allowing them to see him for who he truly is –
The God of the Universe.