Monthly Archives: March 2023


The kids are back to school this week. Last week remains to me much of a blur as I could tell you what everyone else what doing but not so much of whatever it is I was doing. Dad and Ethan took a trip down to Florida. The left early on Wednesday and returned late on Friday. They drove all that way to watch a three hour baseball game, eat supper afterwards, and then drive back home. The Cardinals were playing for their spring training.

It was fun for me to watch their travel progress on my phone. I would kind of get emotional whenever I would see their little dot moving so determined down the road. For a time in there the boys and I just did our own thing. They made a sleeping area in the living room one night and watched videos of a some guy trying to beat a Minecraft world record. I made taco soup one night for us to eat. We made it to church on Wednesday evening.

I struggle to order and maintain basic life habits as it is but it’s amazing to me how it all falls apart when Dad’s gone. Within days the pile of books and clothes has re-exploded in our room. The boys grazed for lunch and eventually I eat something. I started a book on addictions. I wrote an entire post summarizing the first chapter of the book then deleted it because I was afraid of saying something wrong or not understanding right.

Thursday evening we had a board of directors meeting at church. After the meetings the pastor has been taking us through this evangelism series called Every One His Witness. I have often heard things about the apostle Paul regarding how well he was educated. He was trained in rhetoric and a student of the law, even a Pharisee of Pharisees as he calls himself. I was encouraged then to be reminded that what he had was something else.

Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit, which is something we all have as believers in Christ. It was the Spirit’s power by which he wrote all his letters, gave Acts 17 speeches, and bore witness to Christ. This morning it was chilly again when we stepped outside for the ride to school. I played a few songs from Kids Sing Praise 5: Psalty’s Camping Adventure. The big kids used to watch it some but the boys would’ve been too small to remember.


It snowed a little today. This morning I opened the window and it was bitter cold, the kind where you don’t go outside. I drove up I-55, then I-39 to meet my sister halfway. She’d taken Elianna to spend a few days of spring break with her cousins. The nieces and aunts ate lunch at a Subway. After that we had to get gas, something I don’t like to do when it’s windy and cold. I had to lean against the car door so I could even get out and when I stepped outside my sandal blew off to the other side of the van. I’d bought my boots along too.

After that I came home and went straight to bed. I rested for about an hour before heading over to the CGC where I was needing to make supper for the group here this weekend. I mostly never have to cook for camp anymore, but earlier in the week my husband asked if I’d do it. Even last year I found the kitchen work too much to do for too long. I would need to sit down and catch my breath. Tonight though wasn’t bad and I didn’t need to sit down. After several years of being here you get to know the repeat groups. This group is particular about their meals, but still nice.

I went to bed again soon after coming home from there. I still have the shaking that happens after doing more “stressful” things. I can control it and mostly stop it if I want to, but if I do that I will also get these almost body shocks that want to jump start the shaking again. So I let it go. It’s like this simultaneous form of decompression with a subconscious way of saying to myself, “It’s ok. You’re alright.” I have a video from 2021 I’d sent to my sisters of this same thing happening after folding a load of laundry. It’s doing a lot better.


The older boys moved back into their bedroom last night. It wasn’t the total room makeover I first imagined, but the room is put back together enough. After the big kids came home from track practice this morning, the kids spent some time straightening and vacuuming the schoolroom. One of the kids was having a friend over who is also a member of the opposite sex, and the approved and welcomed afternoon plan was for all of them together to play board games downstairs.

Before that Dad took us out to lunch at Harvest Market. We drove three cars. He drove one, my son drove another, and then my daughter, a licensed driver as of Saturday, drove the third vehicle into town with one of the boys in the shotgun seat. I walked out of the house, saw the sight of them, and gasped. Everyone else seems to think this is funny, and one of the roles I’ve learned to play in our family is letting people laugh at my motherly reactions, and at times, over-reactions. I mostly don’t have a problem with it.

While we were eating lunch I praised one of the boys. Out of my own mouth, for everyone else to hear, came the words “Be like _______”. I told a story about him. I recounted the many times I’ve seen him display this quality I was telling others about. I started to feel I’d gone overboard with what I was saying, because pretty soon there was a sense that I’d embarrassed my son by drawing so much attention to him, and stirred up a trace amount of jealousy in the other kids. The jokes were back, about Joseph and his brothers, and me presenting the son with his coat of many colors.

Dad had to run camp errands, so when lunch was finished he left with his car. My son had baseball practice, so he left with his. The rest of the kids came with me over to the supermarket section to pick up a few item for the guest who would also be joining us for dinner. The conversation about my lunch comments continued through the first part of the drive home. They all have wonderful and exceptional things about them. I finally had to revise my words. Be like Jesus, I said. This is the person who in the Bible we are called to imitate.

Last night I started my second 8-week class of the quarter. This class is called Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling. All of us are still waiting to find out how we did on last quarter’s final exam. I got an 89% on our major class paper, which puts my grade too close to where I don’t like it to be. There were some very personal things in there, which with a grade like that now sort of makes me wish I hadn’t written them. I knew when I was writing it that I was missing more of the needed parts and had included too much narrative.

Dad and the kids are on spring break this week. Every single one of us slept in this morning, he and I until 8 o’clock. Neither one of us have ever really been sleeper in people, but I am the one who sleeps later in the morning, and enough times for it to be normal am often up in the night. I will never understand how men on a regular basis can sleep so soundly. Here and there if I’ve been awake longer in the 3-4:00AM range, I will take my stuff downstairs to fall back asleep in the schoolroom bed so I won’t be awakened by the early alarm.

I straightened our room this morning. Throughout the goings about of today I’ve been listening to a song called “Momentary” by Olafur Arnolds and performed by VOCES8. This is one of my favorite vocal groups to listen to. The beauty of the music truly tends to my soul, and not only that, but allows me to speak and share in the realm of the heavenly voices. I wonder sometimes if I’d get more done if I turned it off, if songs throughout the day just slow me down. The way this sounds is the way I’d sing if I could, the way I’d write if I could.


“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord”
~Acts 3:19~

We left at 7:50 to travel down to Girard. Dad was filling in for a local pastor this morning. When we arrived inside the kids said it was like stepping into a doll house. It was so small and tiny that you felt instantly at home, like you could take your sleeping bag, pillow, and blanket and make a cozy sleeping space next to the altar. These Sunday local church adventures are my favorite.

There was Sunday School for little ones, three or four that I saw. We walked next door to the basement where they normally hold Bible class. There was a woman there. She said there’s usually at least an elder who comes. The four boys sat in the metal chairs at the table, and my daughter and I sat on the softer pew against the wall. The pastor picked up at the end of Acts chapter 2.

The elder did join us toward the middle of Acts 3. In church they had a lady in charge of running the iPad. They don’t have an organist so they use a special program. We caused a brief kerfuffle when the kids and I didn’t get up when it was our turn for communion. They dismiss themselves and were done in three passes. I was confused then at first but the pastor showed me where to go.


One of the things I heard while listening to a podcast in response to the TGC article is that Christ is now betrothed to his bride, but not married to her.* In this way, the article’s sexualized language regarding Christ penetrating his church is inappropriate. Christ isn’t having sex with his church right now. Furthermore, he isn’t going to be having sex with his bride even then, when he returns for her in glory at the end of all things.

I always thought it was weird that there wasn’t going to be any marriage in heaven. Why not let us share in the perfection of the holy state that we might know what it was meant to be when God created it in the beginning? And the same with the marriage act. Why take away something good that in the glorified state could potentially be even better? It surely seemed to me that to enter into eternity was like taking a giant step backwards.

I asked my husband about this, about Christ’s bride being a virgin. If in the Old Testament God’s people were portrayed as an unfaithful bride, always running away and going after false gods, is he perpetually making her pure all this time, so that she’s just gradually becoming more and more pure as time goes on? How is she finally presented to him without spot or blemish? How is she pure now? He said it’s because she is resurrected.

(*This insight was shared by Christy Hemphill on Season 3 Episode 124 of the podcast Where Do We Go From Here, 44:00-45:00, Ephesians 5 Gone Wrong in the Latest Evangelical Take on Sex. It might be better if I’d have said that while the marriage between Christ and his church has not been consummated, the benefits of this marriage are received and experienced now by faith.)


“For he knows our frame,
he remembers that we are dust”
~Psalm 103:14~

The first time I heard that men were givers and women were receivers I was at a weekend pastor’s wives retreat. At the time, I was very busy in the vocation of motherhood. Accompanying me on the retreat was my 5-week old infant, who I was happy to bring along and the other ladies were happy to have there. He slept with me in my bed where I was confident I could keep him quiet through the night while the others slept. I slept then too.

On an basic level the words made sense. Strictly speaking, using human anatomy to make the point, the male has a body part that is made to go inside a corresponding female body part. His going inside her is his giving himself to her. Men are the givers, women are the receivers. And it doesn’t stop there. Even once the man is inside there is more of him to give and more of him to be received. From the man’s sexual organ comes his seed set free to travel further up and further in.

I am not against looking to the creation as a way to explain things. From creation we are able to learn more about the Creator. Romans 1:20 explains it this way saying, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” God makes his glory known through his creation in many ways, with the ultimate way being in the incarnation of Jesus, the begotten Son of the Father, who entered his creation so that then, now, and at the end of time God might be with us.

I am still trying to figure out what I think about this TGC article that has now been removed. Besides making the discussed Ephesians 5 passage more about the act of sex in marriage rather than about the picture of marriage itself, the part of the original TGC article that stood out to me was when he started talking more about generosity and hospitality. Complementarian doctrine makes frequent use of happy adverbs. This is particularly true when talking about the woman and her roles. The way we fit, the way we come together, the way we fulfill God’s design for us as women is repeatedly seen in their descriptions of us gladly receiving, joyfully submitting, and now in this article, warmly welcoming. By God’s design a wife gladly receives her husband’s leadership, joyfully submits to his authority, and now with great hospitality welcomes warmly his generosity.

As far as the standard description of “roles” goes, I don’t even really have a problem with this. Yes I think there is more to marriage than the differences between us and this oft repeated emphasis on who is in charge. But whether it’s me as a wife, or just me as a person, or especially me as a Christian and child of God, I want to be associated with words like warm, joy, and glad. Sometimes though it sounds a little too convenient for men and as women we are not allowed to speak or have an authoritative say in any of this.

The president of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Denny Burk, in his response article Taking a Dog by the Ears provides an example of a common and related perspective regarding the roles of husbands and wives when he says, “The complementarity of head and helper in the covenant of marriage gloriously displays Christ’s love for his church (1 Cor. 11:9; Eph 5:25). This is the mystery that was hidden in ages past but that has now been most conspicuously displayed in Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection (1 Cor. 2:7-8; Col. 1:26). None of this sits well with the egalitarian spirit of the age, but it is nonetheless the message of Scripture.”

Complementarian theology stresses that men and women are different. We do have to be different in some way, and undeniably we are different. Our bodies display this difference as the original article pointed out. But the relationship between Christ and his church is not a relationship of boss and subordinate. It is far more personal than that. When Jesus left the Father’s side in heaven that he might be with us again on the earth, he did so by staying God but becoming human like we are.


“When cradling a baby, mothers tend to use the left arm, positioning the baby’s ear over the aorta and strongest heartbeat.”
~Gregg Johnson, PhD~*

This afternoon we met my in-laws for lunch at Red Robin. We tend to rotate between three different places. The waitress impressed me during our previous visit when she automatically knew what one of my sons wanted to order. She said the rest of us switch up our orders but he always orders the same thing. I’d never really noticed what he ordered myself. I took note of what it was, and today when he ordered, it was the same again.

We had a light snow over the weekend which didn’t stay long. By Saturday morning the roads were clear again. We had a busy day with camp things, first with a pancake breakfast and then an afternoon board meeting. The other kids stayed here while I took our son to one of his track meets. We had an enjoyable drive and the track meet wasn’t too bad. My tolerance for these events becomes more and more normal as time goes on.

I’ve still been borderline obsessing over the article I mentioned in my previous post. It’s easier to read other people’s thoughts about things than it is to try and write out your own. This afternoon when I went in to nap I ended up getting distracted with reading. I could hardly believe my eyes when the above lovely sentence jumped out at me. I then polled my sisters and a friend asking what side they cradled their babies on. They all said left.

*Chapter 16: Biological Basis for Gender-Specific Behavior, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood


During my Internet meanderings today I overheard someone talking about a recent article published by The Gospel Coalition. The referenced article was Sex Won’t Save You (But It Points to the One Who Will) by Josh Butler. I searched for the article, found it, and read it. In search of a few more comments I ended up on the Twitter page of Brett McCracken’s, who is senior editor of The Gospel Coalition. He had retweeted the article, describing Josh Butler as one of today’s best Christian thinkers on the theology of sex and gender.

The article is an excerpt from an upcoming book called Beautiful Union. Brett McCracken describes the book as “the Protestant magnum opus on sexual ethics we’ve been waiting for.” The majority of the commenters did not share his high praise. As to be expected on the internet, there was outrage and mockery. And perhaps a share of fair criticism. I don’t really know what I think about it myself, so I thought I’d take some time to try and figure it out. I’m going to go through the article paragraph by paragraph, with the original paragraphs bolded in order to set them apart. This isn’t meant to be an official review or commentary.


I used to look to sex for salvation. I wanted it to liberate me from loneliness; I wanted to find freedom in the arms of another. But the search failed. My college sweetheart dumped me. I found a rebound to feel better about myself—and hurt her in the process. I then fell head over heels for the “girl of my dreams” (at the time) and spent the next five years pining after this friend who didn’t feel the same.

I wanted to feel wanted, yet I wound up alone.

I think a lot of people can relate to this. Being that this is an excerpt from a book and not a solitary article, I don’t know what comes before this part. Is he talking about sex or is talking about relationships? He says he used to look to sex for salvation, and then goes on to describe former relationships in his life. He speaks of desiring freedom from loneliness. He admits to wanting to feel wanted. He says he ended up alone, which I take to mean that the relationships he describes did not produce for him the freedom he desired or salvation he was looking for.

Our culture looks to sex for salvation too. We want romance to free us from solitary confinement, to deliver us into a welcome embrace. But idolizing sex results in slavery. You can chart up your long list of ex-lovers and join Taylor Swift in telling the newest applicant, “I’ve got a blank space, baby, and I’ll write your name.” You can end up in the Egypt of a new romantic wasteland, more cynical and isolated than when you first began. Yet I’ve discovered a crucial corrective in the gospel that can lead us out into true freedom.

Sex wasn’t designed to be your salvation but to point you to the One who is.

He mentions looking to sex for salvation again. Then he speaks about romance. Then he goes back to talking about sex and how its idolization results in slavery. It does not appear that his references to sex here are mentioning anything related to the experience of physical pleasure. He uses the word “embrace” which implies the loving acceptance of another human being. He continues talking about sex in the context of past relationships, or potential but ultimately failing new ones. It isn’t entirely clear to me if he realizes he’s doing this, or in what way he sees the two (sex/relationships) as related or interchangeable. Ultimately, he sees “sex” as pointing to a greater divine being with the power to save.

Sex is an icon of Christ and the church. In Ephesians 5:31-32, a “hall of fame” marriage passage, the apostle Paul proclaims, “‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” (NIV; I’ve translated proskollao as “cleave”).

I’m not sure if “Sex is an icon of Christ and the church” is accurate, or if this is the best passage to use to make his point, which at the very least, I think, is to say that sex (in marriage?) has a deep and profound spiritual meaning. Without further clarification, this seems to reduce marriage to sex, when it is profoundly so much more than that.

Now, the context here is marriage. “Leave and cleave” is marriage language and the surrounding verses are all about husbands and wives, not hook-up culture. Yet that second part, about the two becoming one flesh, is consummation language that refers to the union of husband and wife.

Paul says both are about Christ and the church.

He is zeroing in on the “one-flesh” language. He uses this to confirm that to speak of being one-flesh is to also speak in some way of Christ and the church.

This should be shocking! It’s not only the giving of your vows at the altar but what happens in the honeymoon suite afterward that speaks to the life you were made for with God. A husband and wife’s life of faithful love is designed to point to greater things, but so is their sexual union! This is a gospel bombshell: sex is an icon of salvation.

This seems to be a very important point and discovery for him. I like this part–“that speaks to the life you were made for with God.” It seems to me that he speaks of the husband and wife’s life of faithful love and their sexual union as two different things, instead of the sexual union being part of a husband and wife’s life of faithful love. Here sex is set apart from the relationship, or at least emphasized as something special within it. The language is slightly different here. Before he said sex is an icon of Christ and the church, and now he’s saying sex is an icon of salvation. Does he mean the same thing or different things by this? I’m not trying to be picky, I’m just trying to wrap my head around what he’s trying to say.

How? I’d suggest the language of generosity and hospitality can help us out.

Generosity and hospitality are both embodied in the sexual act. Think about it. Generosity involves giving extravagantly to someone. You give the best you’ve got to give, lavishly pouring out your time, energy, or money. At a deeper level, generosity is giving not just your resources but your very self. And what deeper form of self-giving is there than sexual union where the husband pours out his very presence not only upon but within his wife?

I feel like things are starting to become more muddled. I like the generosity description. But then he equates the deepest form of self-giving as the sexual union, describing the husband’s role in this. In Ephesians 5, the giving mentioned in reference to Christ and the church is the fact that he gave up his very life for her. The life of Christ was given for us, poured out for us in a life of love as he walked the earth, and in the life he willingly surrendered when he died on the cross. His offering and gift was one of heart, body, and soul. Our salvation came in his shedding of blood.

Hospitality, on the other hand, involves receiving the life of the other. You prepare a space for the guest to enter your home, welcoming him warmly into your circle of intimacy, to share your dwelling place with you. Here again, what deeper form of hospitality is there than sexual union where the wife welcomes her husband into the sanctuary of her very self?

I have no hostility towards this man’s thoughts. I’m simply sharing what comes to mind. When a woman has sexual intercourse with a man, it is true that she is engaging in something very intimate and personal. There are no other physical instances that I can think of where you are that close to another human being in terms of nakedness of body. Their bodies do become one flesh through their joining and merging. Something very different, but similar, happens to a woman in pregnancy. While speaking in terms of hospitality, you could say that sex for a wife is surely in some way a taking in of her husband, women also experience this in pregnancy. In pregnancy a whole being grows inside her, receiving life and nourishment from the body that holds it.

Giving and receiving are at the heart of sex.

I want to say giving and receiving are at the heart of love, and sex in marriage is a part of that.

Obviously, a man and woman both give to each other and receive from each other in the sexual act. Sex is mutual self-giving. Yet, on closer inspection, there’s a distinction between the male and female sides of the equation.

The mutuality is what creates the union, yet in complementarian thought, the higher emphasis is placed on the distinction, insisting on keeping separate what is supposed to come together. I think the focus ought to be brought to where the two things happening in each of the partners becomes irrelevant as something new, an entirely different experience, is created for both of them.

The Bible makes this distinction explicit. The most frequent Hebrew phrase for sex is, literally, “he went into her” (wayyabo eleha). Translations often soften this for modern ears, saying he “made love to her” or they “slept together.” But the Bible is less prudish than we are, using more graphic language to describe what happens in the honeymoon tent.

I’ve never heard that this is the most frequent Hebrew phrase for sex, but I’ve not really paid much attention or given much thought to it.

One Sunday morning, I learned how graphic this language can be. My friend Karen was publicly reading Scripture for our church service, and we’d recently switched to a more literal Bible translation. We were in Genesis 29, where Jacob marries Leah and Rachel, and the phrase wayyabo eleha shows up (we discovered) a lot! Karen has, you might say, a “Rated-G” personality: very prim, proper, and polite. We all saw her cheeks turn bright red, with a lot of awkward pauses, as she had to continually read the phrase “and Jacob went into her” over and over again. After that Sunday, we went back to a less wooden translation and laughed a lot with poor Karen.

I’m back in junior high wondering if he meant to use the word wooden there. If he didn’t it’s kind of funny that he did. I also feel like the name “Karen” just sticks out negatively now no matter who it is.

The Hebrew language is onto something, however: there’s a distinction between the male and female roles in sexual union. Each brings something unique to the fusing of two bodies as one, and this distinction is iconic. On that honeymoon in Cabo, the groom goes into his bride. He is not only with his beloved but within his beloved. He enters the sanctuary of his spouse, where he pours out his deepest presence and bestows an offering, a gift, a sign of his pilgrimage, that has the potential to grow within her into new life.

I’m squirming because I really want this article to work for him. We’re getting to the parts where people started having problems, describing it as soft-core porn, an immature, male-centered view of sex, logically and theologically problematic, etc.

This is a picture of the gospel. Christ arrives in salvation to be not only with his church but within his church. Christ gives himself to his beloved with extravagant generosity, showering his love upon us and imparting his very presence within us. Christ penetrates his church with the generative seed of his Word and the life-giving presence of his Spirit, which takes root within her and grows to bring new life into the world.

The Bible says our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. In the Sacrament of Holy Communion, we take in Christ’s body and blood into our bodies. When we hear the Word of God preached and taught, we take in the Holy Word of God through our ears, which by the work of the Holy Spirit makes its way to our hearts. There the Word of God takes root and grows into faith in Christ.

Inversely, back in the wedding suite, the bride embraces her most intimate guest on the threshold of her dwelling place and welcomes him into the sanctuary of her very self. She gladly receives the warmth of his presence and accepts the sacrificial offering he bestows upon the altar within her Most Holy Place.

The most holy place is the heart God gave us, that he creates anew within us by the mighty power of his Spirit. From this heart flow springs of life.

Similarly, the church embraces Christ in salvation, celebrating his arrival with joy and delight. She has prepared and made herself ready, anticipating his advent in eager anticipation. She welcomes him into the most vulnerable place of her being, lavishing herself upon him with extravagant hospitality. She receives his generous gift within her—the seed of his Word and presence of his Spirit—partnering with him to bring children of God into the world.

Their union brings forth new creation.

I could write more, but it is now getting late. Lord, bless this man and the work he set out to do.