Author Archive | Everly Pleasant

in which I’m sheltered, close-minded and old-fashioned

It’s 2015 and I’m staying up late with the sixteen year old brother discussing people who go through sex changes. Sixteen would be an appropriate time to discuss appropriate sexual desires (preferably with my dad!) but this? It’s frustrating that this is even a topic. It’s frustrating that he’s not even on social media, he was just checking his email and this popped up, huge and unavoidable.

I’m frustrated because I know it’s not just a show for attention. That would be so much easier to handle. I know that it’s something deep inside a person, something possibly innate, but that doesn’t mean it’s not twisted. If you want to tell me that homosexuality and transgenderism and all else is “natural,” I will not argue with you. The Bible won’t argue with you. The Bible knows all this exists (it’s not the cheery, naive book some pastors would have you believe) and that it’s woven into our very nature. But it calls it something else, it calls it sexual immorality.

I know what some of you are thinking. She’s been sheltered, she’s still a little close-minded. She doesn’t understand how to properly interpret scripture. If she was really friends with more LGBT folks, she’d see that they’re just regular people, worthy of our love.

Yes, to all of the above. I have been sheltered (which I appreciate,) and I am proud of the fact that my mind is not so open my brain has fallen out.  I don’t claim to perfectly interpret scriptures or to be any kind of scholar, and I’m sure if I had more friends who identified as LGBT, I’d certainly find them more relatable. This isn’t about relating to them. I actually don’t have lots of trouble relating to them. I don’t have trouble nodding along as they explain that they’ve had these feelings since they were tiny kids, or opening my arms when they need help. Everyone is worthy of love, or rather–none of us are, but we all owe it to one another.

What I have a problem with is sick folks, hurting folks, broken folks, coming into the church for help, and the church telling them they’re perfect just the way they are.

That is so not Jesus. Jesus told us we were born crooked and contrary and had to be born all over again. Jesus told us we were far, far, far from our perfect father and had to be reconciled in a radical way. Jesus told us that even looking at another lustfully was enough to separate us from heaven. We’re cheating people when we tell “your sin is just what makes you “you” ” Jesus came to save us from depravity, not make us feel more comfortable with it with each passing year.

Surprisingly, The Bible hasn’t changed much in the past few thousand years. Arguing that it’s outdated is a bit of a stretch if you believe that God exists outside of time and inspired the words of the book with his very spirit. I understand that King James did not write the Bible, that everything has been translated from various languages into my own language and even then, is subject to interpretation, which always includes bias. With that said, 1 Timothy 1:8-11 is still what I would consider to be Holy Scripture, taken from ancient manuscripts I believe were inspired by God. That’s the only reason it’s worth reading, mulling over, sharing or discussing.

You and I know the law is good (if used in the right way), and we also know the law was not designed for law-abiding people but for lawbreakers and criminals, the ungodly and sin-filled, the unholy and worldly, the father killers and mother killers, the murderers, the sexually immoral and homosexuals, slave dealers, liars, perjurers, and anyone else who acts against the sound doctrine laid out in the glorious, holy, and pure good news of the blessed God that has been entrusted to me.

Can I be honest with you? It makes me nauseated to see all these sins listed together. I hate that sexual immorality is listed with slave dealers, liars, and people who murder their mothers. But it is. And that’s not about my own choice, or my political stances or feelings.

I believe that we are born sinful. I believe in mental disorders. I believe in sexual disorders. I believe in little boys who wish they were little girls and vice versa. I believe that sometimes it’s as natural as can be for those folks. But don’t all sins spring forth from our inner nature? Isn’t rape the perfect example of acting on one’s nature? How about crimes of passion? Adultery? Theft? Gluttony?

And that would include all types of sexual immorality. The Bible does not shy away from any topic, or any type of sin. There are accounts of every type of debauchery and God’s response to them. It tells us that when we sin sexually, we are sinning against our own bodies. Is that something we want to encourage or condone? It tells us that our bodies were not meant for these things, but meant for God. It tells us that God abhors sexual sin and takes great measures to eradicate it. We see that it’s God’s will for us to make better choices for our bodies, and consequently our hearts.

(Now, I know there’s debate about what “natural” means, so for the sake of clarity, I am referring to our “sin nature” which is inclined to do all sorts of harmful things. When scripture uses the term “unnatural,” I think it means the same thing Paul meant in 1 Timothy, “against the sound doctrine laid in the…good news.” Crooked, corrupt, twisted, outside of God’s intention.)

My little brother shakes his head in disbelief while mind wanders back to a place it’s settled frequently, Ecclesiastes. It’s all new to my brother, his naive mind can scarcely comprehend what the pixels tried to show him, but Solomon’s been dead many years, and even he knew there’s nothing new under the sun.

Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us. (Ecclesiastes 1:10)

I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

What is crooked cannot be made straight,
and what is lacking cannot be counted. (vs. 14-15)

Solomon was not old-fashioned and close-minded like his father David had been. David was a “good ol’ boy” who was sometimes blood thirsty and tempted by beautiful women. He made foolish mistakes in moments of passion and fear. Solomon was a playboy like the world had never seen. No one would’ve denied him anything. He was brilliant, powerful, filthy rich. He had “singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.” He himself said, “whatever my eyes desired, I did not keep from them.” His parties would’ve put Vegas to shame, but it didn’t make him happy.

I watched a piece from NPR yesterday about two folks who went through sex reassignment surgery. When you watch the video, you feel for them. I kept my eyes on the screen, trying to step into their shoes. But what really got me? What really disturbed me? When one person (female, now identifying as male) shared his life goal, post-surgery: “My main, over-all focus of my life is that I’ll be happy and fulfilled, and that I’ll have people that love me, surrounding me. I believe that that is possible.”

When our -main, over-all focus- is to

When our “main, over-all focus” is to make ourselves happy and to feel accepted, we will never, ever be happy and fulfilled. Maybe we will have a temporary happiness, just as an adulterous man has temporary happiness with his new lover, but we cannot be fulfilled outside of Jesus. (Yes, I really believe that!) If that sounds close-minded, it’s because it is. Jesus said of Himself, “I am THE way, THE truth, THE life.” That doesn’t leave room for many other options. We lean back in our lawn chairs and say, “Ah, this is the life.” But luxury and self-indulgence is a fleeting pleasure. Jesus is the life. Telling people anything else is a crock.

I love what Jen Hatmaker said about it, in her old post that still comes to my mind frequently:

…Laying next to them, bloodied and bruised, are believers whose theology affirms homosexuality and allows them to stand alongside their gay friends. (Again, you don’t have to agree with this, but there are tens of thousands of thinking, studied people who hold this conviction.) The spiritual gutting of these brothers and sisters is nothing short of shameful. The mockery and dismissal and vitriol leveled at these folks is disgraceful.

Also wounded on the side of the road are Christians who sincerely love God and people and believe homosexuality is a sin, but they’ve been lumped in with the Big Loud Mean Voices unfairly. Painted as hateful intolerants, they are actually kind and loving and are simply trying to be faithful. The paintbrush is too wide, the indictments unfounded.

She is mulling over the parable of The Good Samaritan from Luke 10, and I think that’s a perfect place to start. Put yourself in the place of the Samaritan, and imagine there’s a transgender person lying on the side of the road. Or switch it up, and try to accept help from a transgender person when you are the one whose bloody and bruised, and then ask Jesus yourself, “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus truly is our perfect example. I love that I’m always learning new things about Him. It was awesome when I suddenly saw how carefully and passionately Jesus cared for the women in His life. It was another revelation when I saw how He reached out to the sexually immoral. The woman who has been married for five times and is now living with a man, the woman who is caught in the act of adultery, the prostitute who found herself in the royal lineage…none of them go unseen by God. Each of them is offered mercy, compassion, and a place at the party.

I’m not intolerant of people, I’m intolerant of lies. True life comes when we see the truth about ourselves. We are sinners. Some of the most natural things we do are sinful. Some of the things that would give us the most temporal pleasure will keep us from “life to the fullest” that Jesus offers.

People who will do anything to make themselves happy, are not heroes. People who condone what needs to be condemned are feeding the fire that’s burning their own brothers and sisters. People with what Jen called, “Big Loud Mean Voices” look nothing like the Jesus they claim to follow.

My little brother was still shaking his head when he went to bed, and I was sitting on the couch staring into space, wondering how in the world Jesus stayed on that cross for six hours, taking on the sins in my own heart, and your heart and in the hearts of every person. It’s hard to imagine, but it must be true: God hated our sin that much, and loved us even more. Now it’s our turn to be known by our love. Not our love of comfort, happiness or approval, but of souls.

God hated our sin that much, and loved

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how to be the fairest of them all

I open the box the mailman just delivered and begin to grin. I pull out a beautiful bronze necklace and hold it up for my sisters to see. I think it’s charming, so I plan tomorrow’s outfit around it. I wear my new necklace to the office, post it on Instagram. necklace from FTFThe jewelry, along with the tote bag, are all handmade by women in developing countries. They create these accessories as a way to support themselves and their families. In 2007, The Ministry of Women and Child Development reported the presence of over three million female sex workers in India. 35.47 of these “workers” are thought to enter the trade before the age of eighteen. An estimated 1.2 million children are kept as sex slaves in India, though all prostitution is technically illegal there. Dignified work is hard to come by.

New jewelry complements my nice outfit, including the t-shirt I bought at Forever21 before I knew that Forever21 knowingly uses slave labor to manufacture their merchandise. Something new to wear can make you feel like “the fairest of them all,” but when I look at the dimly-lit image of my torso, toting those three pendants, my heart begins to beat a little harder. I think of the tawny hands, pressing those clasps together. The pendant reminds me of coins dropping into a worn palm, being carried to the market to buy food for her babies, her elderly mother, herself.

Sam Levenson Quote

Fair Trade Friday isn’t a gimmick, because 100% of the profits go straight to the hands of the artisans. If you believe in teaching a man to fish, do you also believe in teaching a woman to sew? Most of these women do not have a man in their life to support them in anyway, some of them were sold as slaves as children, all of them face extreme sexual discrimination, and those are the girls who survive the “gendercide.”

I’ve talked before about what fair trade means to me, and I still lie awake at night, shaking my metaphorical fist in the air, complaining that “life is not fair!” But what is fair? Paying for what we’re getting is fair. Being paid for your work is fair. Being able to use your wages to support yourself and your family is fair. There is a great shadow over our planet, but there are sunspots on the path, little spots of hope, little spots of justice, little spots of fairness.

FTF club tags

My fair-skinned hands hold the same cords that were crafted in the hands of my Indian sisters, Hem Lata, Yogesh and Karma, and didn’t Solomon say that a threefold cord is not quickly broken? So how about you become part of the cord? The three folds can be you, the Fair Trade Friday Club and a hardworking woman across the ocean like Hem Lata, Yogesh or Karma.

Does that sound fair? 

The Fair Trade Friday Club exists to empower the women at Mercy House Kenya, as well as women in Ethiopia, Zambia, Costa Rica, India, Uganda, Rwanda, Honduras, Bangladesh, Haiti, Swaziland and Nicaragua. 

When someone says, “where is that necklace from?” we answer with the name of a store, and maybe a quick mention of what a great deal we got on it. But that’s not where your necklace is from. We’ve long-been wearing slavery around our necks, donning oppression and adorning ourselves with exploitation. We have bought the poor for a pair of sandals, not stopping to ask how those sandals could cost us so little. The truth is, we aren’t paying full price.

The single mom in India is paying your share. The nine-year-old slave in Bangladesh is paying your share. The woman with AIDS, the woman who is pregnant again because her customers refuse to use condoms, the woman who just buried her fifth child—she is paying your share, and that isn’t becoming. It doesn’t wear well. It doesn’t flatter.

It’s time we paid for our products. Next time you see a great deal, think of Proverbs 22:16, “Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.” And when you see the true price of the product you want to buy, don’t balk. Think about Proverbs 14:31, “But whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors Him.”

A beautiful hand is one that reaches out and gives to the poor, a beautiful eye is one that sees the dignity in another, a beautiful body wears justice and the woman who doesn’t cheat and steal for the things she wears, she is the fairest of them all. 

Audrey Hepburn Quote

Would you consider partnering with us in this three-fold cord? The Fair Trade Friday Club is run by a handful of folks, so please forgive the fact that a waiting list is currently in use. Sign up now, and you’ll be notified when you can be accommodated. Also consider joining our Earring of the Month Club or donating to the empowering work being done at Mercy House Kenya

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random thoughts, 2007-style

Remember when blogs were described as “online journals”? I do. I’ve been blogging since 2007 and I have gone through as many phases on my blog as I have in my personal life. Remember the peasant skirt phase? How about the side bangs phase? Remember the phase where we only really listened to Train and Regina Spektor? There was the LOST phase (Charlie was my favorite character.) There was a phase when I followed dozens of bloggers, and a phase when I didn’t read blogs at all.

Then there was the beginning of the conference phase. The pages of notes, all the new Facebook friends, the gigantic goals to make Clickety-Clack the best blog ever. Let’s have a little laugh about that, shall we?

In 2007, I was a sophomore in high school. My dreams were to get married at nineteen and to have lots of children. I wanted to marry a farmer (perhaps a wee bit influenced by Ann Voskamp??) and homeschool my brood from a whitewashed house. I think I asked for sheep for Christmas that year. I was learning to cook, wishing I could sew and feeling very “domestical.” In less than two weeks, I’ll be twenty-three. Twenty-two was wonderful, so I’m feeling a bit sentimental about leaving that number behind, but twenty-three is undeniably mysterious. What happens when one is twenty-three? One does not know.

My dreams have changed a lot, but certain things still rise to the surface after stirring, and when they do, they’re meatier every time. I still want to marry, but I’m glad I didn’t get married so young. I would’ve missed so much, at home and in my own mind and heart. I still want to have children, but I know parenting is much more than something you can read in a book. Being a wife and mother will take a lot of prayer and wisdom and requests for counsel, even if I have been doing laundry and cooking and cleaning bathrooms and rocking babies for a decade.

I also still definitely want to write, and I think I want to illustrate, too…but I’m far from proficient in this area. I think it’s good for me to always be a  beginner at something, but it does take a toll on my pride! I am still working on my first children’s book, but I also have a lot of resources stowed away for a new, non-fiction book idea I’m really excited about. I think I will always write.

I work every weekday morning in an office, and it’s nice and quiet. I eat peanut butter crackers while I type and sketch, and then spend afternoons at home, with my family. It can be monotonous, but it’s kind of perfect.

2015 has already been so exciting. In two weeks, Simeon will be born and I’ll be holding my nephew for the first time! In about two months, Joey will be married and I’ll have a sister-in-law! I think the summer will be a strange mix of giant changes and slow, steady days.

I’ve actually written a lot lately, but none of it has appeared here. I’m hoping that’s a sign of maturity, and not cowardice. So many posts have flown through my fingers, and then sat there in the drafts. I’m not sure what I should speak to right now, other than my own life. So here’s a little 2007-style blog post, for your reading pleasure.

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Happy Birthday, Daddy!

I wrote a little tribute to my dad on Instagram for his birthday, and then I decided I should share it here. My dad is truly the best! So thankful to my Heavenly Father for my Daddy!

blog photo-pops

This is my dad.
It is pretty hard to catch him in front of the camera, but I found this shot from Amsterdam on my phone.
Some of you are already thinking about Father’s Day, but I’m going to get ahead by talking about my dad today, on his birthday!
My dad got married while he was in college and they had my brother Joey the next year. He finished college by taking several semesters off to work every job imaginable. He was a janitor, a pressure-washer, and a construction worker. He worked an assembly line, he went door-to-door, he mowed the alligator pen at the zoo!
My dad has not stopped working hard to provide for his family since then. By the time I was born, he was in med school, still working hard. From the moment Joey was born, he’s made sure my mom could always stay home with us.
My dad hasn’t ever had a lot of time “off,” but when he’s off, he’s at home with his family…or taking us on a “vacation” (adventure!)
He used to line us girls up on the bed with our hair hanging off to blow dry it, and then he’d brush it and sometimes even French braid it! He’s a man of many talents!
He builds houses, pins butterflies (but only those that die of natural causes, because he’s awesome,) cooks, bakes, takes beautiful photos (he taught us how to develop film in our own darkroom,) fixes All The Broken Things, and has great taste in music, coffee and cookies. smile emoticon
Now I realize that my dad was really young when he started his family, and was still a young child in the family of God at that point. Now that I’m in my twenties, I see what a remarkable man he has been to love his wife as Christ loves the church, to raise his nine children to follow Christ unapologetically and to otherwise never be a “follower.”
I still learn from him, I still sit on his knee and he still braids my hair sometimes. We definitely still go on adventures!
I love you SO much Daddy! Have a groovy birthday!
P. S. If I never get married, it’s all your fault. You’ve given me such high standards, the guys I meet just don’t usually measure up! That may have been your plan all along…

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