Thankful for the blood.

I’m in a flurry of cleaning, baking, and cooking, but I did want to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  And this will sound…oh I don’t know, trite?  cliche?…but bear with me please.  What I want to tell you is to stop and just let your heart be filled with gratitude for the family you have, your blood relatives and your in-laws, however imperfect they may be. Yes, everyone says that, but the thing is to truly do it.  And then tell them how much you love them.

On Halloween, a young man at my daughter’s high school, a senior, died in a catastrophic car crash not far from school.  This is a small town and everybody pretty much knows everyone else, so not only the family but the whole community was pretty much devastated.

His obituary read, “[He] lived in Chelsea his entire life.”

My daughter told me that at the candlelight vigil, his sobbing older sister addressed everyone, saying:

“If you guys would do one thing for me: take stock of your life and tell everyone you love them. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Apparently she and her brother had had the typical sort of sibling relationship and didn’t exactly spend much time expressing their love for each other.  She had gone off to college in August and not seen her brother for some time.

And I know how she now feels.

On the evening of December 4, 2006 my mother called me.  I was irritated with her about something and when we hung up, I didn’t say, “I love you, mom.”

Ask me what the one thing is from life that I would change if I could.

No matter how irritated I am with my children, I try to tell them every day before they leave that I love them.

You may find yourself irritated, annoyed or offended by some family member or another tomorrow at Thanksgiving dinner.  Let go of the offense.  Tell them you love them before you leave.  The lie of modernity is that blood is no thicker than water, but that is utter horseshit.

Consumerism, politics, “careers”…it is all meaningless.  What I am truly thankful for is the family that I have by blood and by marriage and for the blood of Jesus Christ, shed for the remission of my – and your – sins.

Kith and kin and Christ – the blood you share with your people and the Blood of the Lamb – are the only things that mean anything.  Do you have these things?

If not, instead of heading out to that door-buster sale for another piece of crap, I entreat you to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.  And then call your mom or your dad  or your kid from whom you’ve been estranged, or whatever relative you have, and tell them you love them.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Despite the pressure to complain, there is a way we can be joyful.

I read a blog post recently about this WaPo article Why don’t dads complain about parenthood like moms do?  The authoress of the article complains about the fact that men are doing more childcare but aren’t complaining about it enough.  The blog post about the article calls this miserly feminist ugliness, and I mostly agree, but what the blog author might not realize (I don’t know if his commenters realize it or not, as I don’t have time to read blog comments anymore) is the pressure that women get from other women to complain about their husbands and children.  It’s not limited to feminists by any means, even though some feminists have perfected bitter complaining to an art form.

For an example of what I mean, consider this story Patrice Lewis from Rural Revolution shared several years ago:

“Now contrast this happy family with a news article that came out last week in which a mother called her children the “biggest regret” of her life. “[L]ike parasites, both my children would continue to take from me and give nothing meaningful back in return,” she says […]

This reminds me of an experience I had when I was pregnant with Older Daughter. Don and I spent a weekend as vendors at a craft show. In my excitement about the baby, I mentioned to many people that I was pregnant.

Toward the end of the day, the woman in the next booth turned to me and said, “So. I hear you’re pregnant.”

“Yes,” I replied proudly. “The baby is due in December.”

“You’re going to hate it,” she said flatly.

Startled, I replied, “Excuse me?”

“You’ll hate it. Believe me, I have six kids, and I hate them all.”

For the next half hour, as I slumped lower in my chair, she poured poison into my ear about how awful motherhood is. By the time she was done, I was crying.”

Instead of complaining, Patrice was filled with joy (and if you read Patrice’s blog, you know she’s hardly a woman who sugarcoats how hard of work life is), hence the poison that the other woman felt the need to pour into her ear. Any woman who shows too much joy in her husband and children will face this at some point; the pressure put on women by other women to complain and criticize their husbands, children, and family can be intense, as the WaPo article demonstrates.

Personally, I’ve experienced just about every situation at one time or another – working full-time, working part-time, being at home full-time, homeschooling, having my children in a Christian school, and now finally living somewhere where we feel okay about having the kids in the local public schools (because they are small, rural, and Christian-friendly; we even go to church with some of our children’s teachers).  And what I’ve found is that I’m tempted to complain just about as much in any one situation as I am in another. Sometimes I’ve complained because I had a legitimate need for help – for example, I had to ask my mother-in-law to come stay with us for several days this week because I just couldn’t keep up while my husband was out of town – but other times I was jes’ bitchin’.

Deciding to focus on gratitude for even having a family to serve is what has worked best for me in quashing my feminine tendency to complain about whatever situation I’m in and whatever people I’m around.  Because really, if women aren’t complaining about their children and husbands, they’ll just tend to complain about their co-workers and bosses. Of course, most men complain too (yes, they really do, despite the saints and martyrs routine some men spout), but men don’t pressure other men to complain the way women tend to do.

If I have any useful advice at all to offer my fellow woman here, it would be this: don’t complain about your family – not your husband, not your children, and not your extended kin – nor about doing your duty to them, and do your best to ignore the pressure other women place on you to be a bitter, grumbling complainer. There is no need to be fakey-fakey-everything-is-awesome! about it; it’s okay to acknowledge the reality that your duty may be hard and heavy in a particular season, it’s even okay to say, “I really need help because I am overburdened right now.” It’s okay to admit that sometimes certain family members (hey, teenagers, I’m lookin’ at you here) can be quite, shall we say, irksome.

No matter. They are yours, your very own people!  How blessed, how very blessed, we are to have our own kin!  There is hardly a greater joy than our own highly imperfect but infinitely dear kin and kith. If we love them well and look for the joy in serving them, surely, surely God will sustain us and bless our families!

…may the righteous be glad
    and rejoice before God;
    may they be happy and joyful.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds;
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
 God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

From Psalm 68

Or if you prefer, be encouraged by this gorgeous old Maria McKee song, my favorite lines from which are these:

Tell me why wasn’t I more grateful?
Why wasn’t I more grateful?
Why wasn’t I, why wasn’t I more grateful
When life was sweet, when life was sweet?

Some people want and want and want what they don’t have
‘Til it keeps ’em awake at night in their bed just twitchin’
Some people like to complain about every little thing
Some folks just never stop bitchin’

I had a good man, I took him for granted
And now I surely, surely, surely, surely miss him
Wasn’t it enough? wasn’t it, wasn’t it enough?…

Why wasn’t I, why wasn’t I?
And it keeps me wonderin’ what might’ve been
Keeps me wonderin’ what might’ve been, yeah
To the Lord more grateful

When it comes to urban farming and renewal, “left” and “right” are mostly useless political terms.

Recently I attended a lunch hour talk given by Drew Philp, a young man who is a fellow University of Michigan alum, a journalist, a home renovator, a teacher, and an all-around renaissance millennial man. His talk was based on an article he wrote last year which was published on BuzzFeed entitled Why I Bought A House In Detroit For $500:

After college, as my friends left Michigan for better opportunities, I was determined to help fix this broken, chaotic city by building my own home in the middle of it. I was 23 years old.

Being the young, idealistic, U of M educated sort, I’d say Mr. Philp probably considers himself fairly liberal, whereas I consider myself an orthospherian sort of reactionary. Nevertheless, I found much to admire in this young man and had a brief, interesting chat with him about urban farming after his talk. He told me that Detroiters he knows have had their goats taken away due to Michigan’s recently-passed (and signed by our Republican governor) regulations denying Right-to-Farm protections to small scale farming in urban and suburban areas (i.e. your backyard chickens are no longer protected by Right-to-Farm laws; also, see this interesting article: Right to Farm protection denied for Michigan farmer’s goats, greenhouse).

He also wrote about an incident that exemplifies something I too have noticed:

One of the [United States Social Forum] events I did see was a march staged by professional protest coordinators who had come in from California opposing Detroit’s trash incinerator, the largest in the United States. It’s located in Poletown. We have an asthma hospitalization rate three times the national average. If you would like an inside look at Detroit’s Third-World level of corruption, a good place to start is the incinerator. You can safely say there is a culture of corruption in your city when the top two politicians, including a former mayor and city council president pro tem, have been, or are currently in, prison for corruption, racketeering, and the like. One former city councilwoman allegedly requested a bribe including 17 pounds of sausages.

The protest would march down Detroit’s main thoroughfare and past the incinerator, presumably raising holy hell and sticking it to the man. They needed a place to stage the making of the props — hundreds of spray-painted sunflower pickets, miniature incinerators, signs. One of my well-meaning neighbors offered The Yes Farm, an abandoned apothecary where we occasionally staged art and music shows.

I guess no one saw the irony in cutting down real pine trees to make fake sunflowers. Or that a protest to demand clean air would use so much aerosol spray paint. But the real irony came when the Social Forum was over and it was time for the out-of-towners to leave for the next protest.

“What are you going to do with all this stuff?” we asked.

“Why don’t you just recycle it?” they said.

“Where?”

They left it all in The Yes Farm and split, leaving it for us to deal with. Now we had another pile of trash to clean up and nowhere for it to go. So while they were gallivanting off to the next good deed, that shit went into the incinerator and into our lungs.

Gee, annoying liberal white people, thanks for adding to the pollution of Detroit’s air. Image source

Our Republican governor had no problem removing Right to Farm protection from small scale urban farmers, and Democrats and other leftists have no common sense and are not only useless but actively make things worse, as Drew’s protest march anecdote demonstrates.

I don’t know the answer, but there’s got to be another way. The left and right – conservative and liberal – ideologies in this country are not serving us well. Conservatives have sold their souls to capitalism and liberals have sold their souls to debauchery and destruction, but both sides seem to love the rebellion against kith and kin that democracy always seems to bring wherever it lands.

What I admire about young men like Drew Philps is that they have become relatively apolitical; they no longer seem to trust that the government will necessarily make wise decisions, and they aren’t waiting around for government and capitalism to solve everyone’s problems. Drew told us at the talk that most of them try to stay off local government radar because it just ends up causing headaches and they just want to get stuff done. They don’t want to govern, they don’t want to march, they don’t want to protest.  They want to work, they want to build and rebuild, they want to plant and grow.

Christian women should be helpers, not careerists.

Deep Strength has posted a link to a thought-provoking essay by NYCPastor entitled 10 Women Christian men should not marry. I was particularly interested in one of the categories of women the pastor said Christian men should not marry:

9. The Career Woman. Now, I want to clarify something here.  There is nothing wrong with a woman who works (Acts 16:14), what’s wrong is a woman who puts her career ahead of her family.  Modern American society might hate to hear this, but God made men to be the providers and women to be the nurturers of the home (in most instances).  It’s okay for a woman to be a doctor, attorney, or any other professional.  However, if her career is coming at the expense of her home, then something is wrong.  If day-care is raising her young children while she’s working, then something is wrong.  I understand that there might be a season of life where the wife might have to be the main bread-winner due to her husband’s unemployment, but it should not be the desired norm. The woman ought to be willing (and even desirous–to some extent) to give up her job for the sake of raising her kids in the Lord.  “So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander” (1 Tim 5:14).

It shouldn’t shock my readers to hear me say I agree with him even though I am working full time at present. In The purpose of paid work for women, I wrote:

Feminists with their bloated egos tell women that their paid work is their path to personal fulfillment. This is a lie. Personal fulfillment is found in God and family – nothing more and nothing less. Chasing the elusive and incredibly selfish dream of “personal fulfillment” will leave you empty for the simple reason that – unlike God and your family – your job does not love you.

My advice to young women: prioritize family formation over education and career. Prepare yourself to earn money as a means of serving your family but don’t get wrapped up in worrying about your personal fulfillment at work because that isn’t why you are there.

 

Christian women should strive to be helpers, not careerists.

Now, on to a pleasant bit of related personal business…

As you know, I accepted my current full-time position for a specific reason: my husband and I want to purchase another ten acres of land that is up for sale across from us. In speaking to a real estate agent who knows this area well, he said undeveloped land around here is going for about $10,000/acre if the perc test looks good. The ten acres across the dirt road was listed at $70,000, then started dropping quickly because the owner is in a hurry to sell. It seems like he may have inherited the land and wants the cash. The price has dropped now to $45,000 and we don’t think it will stay up for sale much longer at that price – that’s only $4,500/acres.

We are thinking of making an offer, contingent upon the land perc-ing satisfactorily, but our conundrum is this: we don’t like debt. I’m driving a nearly ten-year-old minivan because I can’t stand the thought of taking a car loan and I don’t want to dip into what’s left of our savings after the big move we did in September. I’d rather my dinged up van than a car payment any day and I could give a rip about what people think of my scuffed up vehicle, since it’s clean and reliable. By being frugal, Philip and I were able to put a very large down payment on our current land and home, but even so we had to mortgage part of it. We haven’t yet saved up enough cash to buy the new chunk of land outright, so we’d have to mortgage part of that purchase price…and we loathe debt! But if we don’t move soon, the land will be gone, and it’s a gem. There are no other unsold, undeveloped chunks of land around us; we are surrounded by homes on 5-10 acre plots (except for the homes lining West Lake), some preservation lands, the Waterloo Rec area, and big 100+ acre farms.

So we’re really mulling this over – buy now by taking on debt or hold out while we squirrel away all my paychecks and pray no one else grabs it? But tomorrow Philip is calling our mortgage officer just to inquire…prayers for wisdom in this matter would be appreciated, as we view this land as part of our long-term vision for our family, if the Lord is willing, with hopes of establishing a base for a multi-generational kin network.  Recall that my husband’s brother and his wife live a fifteen-minute drive from us, his auntie is just around the corner from us, and his mother is looking to move from Dearborn to live near us as well.  Our plan for the land is to allow our children to build houses on it if they wish in the future when they marry.  Living near extended family is something that I have increasingly come to value and the idea of my future grandchildren, should God bless me with any, being able to walk across the street to visit me is very appealing.

But mortgaging it would mean I’m tied to a full-time job for the forseable future. I don’t mind this much, as I work in a pleasant school district with friendly co-workers, but I miss my family terribly when I’m away from them all day. Still, it seems I may have to accept being apart from my family now in order to have a place for them to live near me later on.