Life

My Song in Darkness

Say what? Mom has twenty different doctors. A cardiologist, internist, psychiatrist … I mean, she’s always going to the doctor. I’m sure she mentioned her mammogram to me. She says she did, but I guess I wasn’t paying attention.

Nanny had breast cancer in her eighties (several years before she passed) and said, “cut that stuff out and put it in a bucket.” My cousin was diagnosed in her early thirties with a baby at home. My aunt was in her sixties. (All survived!)

I suppose I knew the results before they came.

We only waited one day for biopsy results – which is amazing in itself. Mom called with her results and began with a complaint about how cold her ice pack was. I could hear it in how she was joking around, trying to be positive while giving the news her daughter didn’t want to hear.

I’m a mom now, too. I could feel it.

“Well, I have breast cancer.”

She shared what the doctor had said and assured me she was fine. I was disappointed, in shock, and at an odd peace. Considering she and I are the clinical definition of hypochondriacs, it was amazing I was still standing at that moment.

Instead, I began to sing. I plunged head first into this new journey embracing the strength of my Father … singing.

I sang in spite of great disappointment over unfavorable results, in spite of fear of the unknown. I sang, because I needed to know God was more near than ever.

God is still good when the waves roll high

God is still good all through the night

When I’ve done all I can and I don’t understand

God is still good

Clouds of doubt may darken the way

But showers of blessing may come any day

When I make it through, I’ll stand and say

God is still good

My heart began to preach the promises of God to me as I remembered a sick newborn in the hospital, abnormal fluid on my baby boy’s kidneys at his growth ultrasound, months where we didn’t have two nickels to rub together, days where I have wanted to scream in frustration.

I remembered those dark moments and how God didn’t erase them right away, but He gave grace to smile through them. I cried many tears and had moments where I couldn’t keep it together – but there were also those moments of deep peace when I knew it was alright. Those sweet moments of knowing my Savior was right there in the storm.

This sweet melody sung in the midst of darkness had nothing to do with my own strength. As I said, I freak over illnesses whether they be my own or someone I love. My doctor has literally banned me from WebMD. But I was calm. I was at peace. I was singing! Only by the grace of God, I was singing!

I trust He will provide His peace here as well. He already has. The day I received some of the worst news of my life was one of the sweetest, because His Spirit was comforting me. Isn’t that amazing?

My mom has stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma. We are still in the early stages of creating a battle plan of treatment, surgery, etc. There’s a long road ahead and I plan to be her biggest advocate, prayer warrior, caregiver, joke teller, and whatever else she needs. It is scary to walk into the unknown, but it’s comforting to have the Lord as we go.

He’s already provided by giving Mom peace and comfort. She has a great church family praying with her. Her employer has told her they are with her every step of the way, which is a huge relief! We also found out the surgeon we meet Tuesday is a Christian! God is in this every step of the way!

I asked Mom if she was comfortable with me blogging this from my perspective, completely understanding if she wanted to keep it private. She said, “share away!” Her heart’s desire is for God to be magnified even in the darkest of times. She’s even said she hopes others will come to know the Truth through it.

We covet your prayers for peace, grace, and for God to be glorified and magnified through every step. Pray for His strength to empower her in these coming months as she begins this fight. Pray for the mighty hand of the Great Physician to touch her body and guide the doctors as they begin her treatment. Pray for souls to be reached through her testimony of faith.

God has been so good and He is still good.

Marriage

Romance Novels & The Christian Woman: Part One

It’s time for another confession.

Y’all ready?

I love romance novels. 

Okay, okay. That’s not really news. But it’s true. I melt over a sweet love story. There’s something about two broken souls being drawn together and becoming whole. The best stories have quirky characters, imperfect pasts, and settings in places you’d love to escape to. Nothing compares to a page-turner keeping you awake until the wee hours of the morning.

As I began to re-discover my fondness for reading, specifically in this genre, I felt weird about it. I asked myself: is it okay for me to read these kinds of stories? Ever since I accepted Christ, my desire for certain kinds of music and movies had changed. I’m very careful about what I set before my eyes and ears. (And will know very quickly if it’s something unsuitable for me.)

Books are kind of different because you don’t always know what you’re getting.

So, my first question was this: Is God okay with me reading love stories?

The Bible says to think on good things. (Philippians 4:8) The love between a man and a woman is part of those good things. The Godly marriage was designed as a picture of the love Christ has for His church. The Song of Solomon is a book wholly dedicated as an expression of love.

Don’t lie. Y’all blush when the preacher announces he’s going to be preaching out of that book, too.

The goodness of marriage is often put on the back burner and see as an immature, youthful lust. However, God provided marriage and love to us. He blessed us with it.

Be assured. God loves a good love story.

With that said, the wonder of a pure love brought together by a Holy God is often perverted in today’s society. I recently saw TV previews about a divorced couple who lives together in an on again, off again situation. They have open sexual relationships with other partners (while their children are still living under their roof). This is supposed to be a unique and hilarious spin on a will they or won’t they relationship. The envelope is constantly being pushed to make marriage less about two people committing to one another and more about pursuing their own selfish desires.

Books that deal with these scenarios often push even further with explicit scenes which wouldn’t pass in a feature film. We could easily pick up a book about cute guy serendipitously meeting an innocent girl – only to get to chapter fifteen and have to skip pages of ….. well, yeah.

Psalm 101:3

“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.”

Pornography and movies with explicit scenes aren’t acceptable for the Christian. I think that’s a no-brainer. But let’s think about it –  how about reading scenes which are just as bad?

After much prayer and research, I came to the conclusion that the two aren’t different. I believe it’s easier to justify reading something like 50 Shades of Grey (which I’ve never read, but the synopsis gave a clear indication of why not) because the characters aren’t real. They are fictional, pretend – not flesh and blood. However, if you love reading as much as I do, these characters do become real in your mind.

Without proper discernment and boundaries, I feel we can enter dangerous territory with certain books. I am not saying all books in this genre are bad (obviously), but I want to provide some thoughts for the next time you select a book.

  • Some books create a false idea of what love is. These people hook up five minutes after meeting and suddenly fall in love as a result. (Romance authors call it “insta-love.”) It’s all about the chase and conquest. Real love is being in the trenches of laundry and diapers and finding contentment in spite of the crazy. Many women can become disillusioned thinking their lives are lacking because the romance in their lives may not match the seamless portrayal in their novel.
  • It creates discontentment with your partner. The guys in these books have rock hard abs and will say everything right to get a girl swooning. Your husband might be like mine and have a tendency to say the wrong things some days. (Or ruin a perfectly sweet moment with a well-timed fart.) It’s easy to compare your flawed man with this perfect fictional man and feel you’ve been given the short end of the stick. In reality, you’ve fallen in love with a dream and delivered a great insult to your husband. He IS human and will drive you nuts. There are also a million reasons you fell for him, though traits like these are often overshadowed by shallow lust in these books. The devil would love for you to dwell on his lack of comparison to fake Fabio guy and become annoyed with your husband’s imperfections. (Ephesians 5:33, 1 Peter 5:8)
  • Unreasonable expectations are displayed. The most common complaint about pornography is this: it places an unfair and unrealistic expectation upon the spouse. These books can do the same thing! I’m going to try and avoid an R rated post here, but all I’ll say is … it doesn’t always happen that way. But you’d be amazed how many women read these books and wonder if their husband isn’t their true soulmate because he isn’t as suave in the bedroom as her fictional love interest. Husband and wife time is supposed to be between only the couple. So many false illusions about the proper sexual relationship between a husband and wife are ruining the very thing God gave for them to enjoy.
  • Some books can promote an unhealthy/abusive relationship. One novel I read told the story of a relationship between a woman and a man who mistreated her. They had “mindblowing” sex, thus leading her to fall in love with the man in spite of his disrespect and blatant lack of commitment to her. It turns out the man was wounded from a past relationship and he needed to fall in love in order to change. Blech. Have you ever heard about women trying to change “bad men”?
  • The couples are rarely married. Why in the world are we, as Christian women, reading books where people are engaging in pre-marital sex? (Ephesians 5:11, 1 Cor. 6:18)

For Christians, there is obviously a sub-genre of romantic fiction we should avoid. Does this mean I believe we cannot enjoy a good love story or romance? Or that the characters are so squeaky clean you can’t relate? Absolutely not! As I said, I simply wanted to provide some thoughts and help for a person who thoroughly enjoys these books like I do. There are plenty of well-written page-turners that are still clean and acceptable for a Christian woman to enjoy.

Stick around for my next post and I’ll share how I look for those books, along with with a few author suggestions! 😉