Guest Writer: A Citizen of 3 Nations Ponders the American Dream

Since I am not a citizen of three countries, I cannot give you the perspective that this man gives. But it is worth your time to read his perspective. So, as a rare departure from the “Bless Your Heart” format, I recommend for your perusal the thoughts of Paolo Di Luca. cc

Guest Writer: Paolo Di Luca
Article taken from: Warren Christian Apologetics Center
P.O. Box 5434
Vienna, WV 26105

A Citizen of 3 Nations Ponders the American Dream

By: Paolo Di Luca
New Martinsville WV

November 6, 2012, is going to be a very special day for me. For the first time in my life, I will be an active part of the election for the President of the United States of America. I was born Italian, from Italian parents, on Italian soil. For 52 years, I have been proud to be an Italian citizen. I was a guest in the United States for three years as a legal resident alien, trying to adapt to American culture. Effective June 2, 2010, I was bestowed the honor and responsibility of American citizenship as defined in the Constitution (Art. 4, Sect. 4).

This will not be the first time in my life that I will vote. I have executed that right several times, but this presidential election has a particular weight on my heart. The actual situation of this country is not easy and is, in many ways, getting worse instead of improving. When I stop to consider all the changes I have seen since coming to America, I am surprised that man still does not learn from his past mistakes. The Roman orator and statesman, Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC), proclaims that “historia magistra vitae est”—“history is teacher of life” (De Oratore II, 9). Solomon considers: “Is there any thing of which it may be said, ‘See this is new?’ It has already been in ancient times before us” (Ecclesiastes 1:10). He then affirms: “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). For some inescapable reason, it seems to me that today, more than ever, history is no longer accepted as a teacher!

President Ronald Reagan boldly affirmed: “If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.” While I can understand some politicians want to remove God from life and politics, I cannot accept that “We the People,” especially “We the People of God” (1 Peter 2:10; Hebrews 4:9; 11:25) silently accept becoming a nation gone under, not because of a bad economy, bad policies, bad treaties, but because IN GOD WE TRUST no more! It is sad and discouraging when Christians are conforming to what is considered to be “politically correct” and allow the government of man to run their lives and limit their freedom, not only materially, but also spiritually speaking.

For most of my life, I have lived in the “bel paese” (beautiful country) of Italy where New Testament Christianity is in the very minute minority. The vast majority of the people are part of the Roman Catholic Church, whose influence is extremely strong in all aspects of the Italian’s life: social, political, economical, and cultural. This is the result of more than 1000 years of temporal power in association with spiritual power. History tells us that from the 6th century to 1870, part of the Italian peninsula was politically ruled by the Pontifical State. The citizens of that state were not only forced into the religious community as soon as they were born, but also were indoctrinated on how to belong to the “community of the majority,” letting the ecclesiastical hierarchy be in charge of running their life by taking care of them, not only spiritually but also politically. The general idea is that they cannot: (1) have a personal relationship with God and grow as a spiritual being, and (2) have individual identities and be active participants in the government of the nation, unless guided all their life by someone who “knows better” than them: the central government. Contrary to the principles of our Founding Fathers, many today believe this condition to be true, not only in the Old Continent, but also in this Republic. It is always more evident that our government believes that we must be told what to do, how to do it, what to believe, how to believe it—how to be taken care of!

In the eyes of most Italians, Europeans, and I believe most of the world as well, the United States of America is (perhaps was) a land of dreams. All my life I have heard about how Americans are better, because they live “il sogno Americano” (“The American Dream”), which has been well described in one of the most important and read Italian newspapers:

Locating an American is very easy, according to economist Robert Reich. In the group, he is always the happy and optimistic, positive and strong-willed. The American is solar and naïve, does not see any insurmountable obstacles in front of him. He does not know impossible challenges. He is the one equipped with an enthusiasm often with adolescent traits and sometimes even dangerous. Even in times of crisis, these epic elements of the American being remain well firm in the Yankee’s spirit. . . . Americans are like that, country, family and barbecue, even now that unemployment is at ten percent, the values of houses has fallen and cannot be seen the light at the end of the tunnel. The point is that the pursuit of happiness is not only a fundamental principle of the Declaration of Independence born July 4, 1776, but it is also a biological element engraved in their DNA, especially of those who arrived in America to seek fortune. “We hold these truths to be self-evident”—reads the text written by Thomas Jefferson—“that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The myth of the pursuit of happiness coincides with American optimism, with the pursuit of the American dream, with the awareness of being different from others, exceptional. Optimism is the driving force of economic power, the reason why the United States is a nation of inventors, innovators, experimenters . . . .” (Christian Rocca, trans. Paolo Di Luca)

For all my life as an Italian, I looked to what is America and who are the Americans as something different, special, something to look up to! But, when I came to live in the States, I discovered something very disappointing. Many Americans do not appreciate their being exceptional, part of a unique special nation built on different premises. Many Americans want to adopt the European style of government and become just like all the other nations in the world. Many have forgotten what the French political leader and historian Alexis De Tocqueville wrote: “the position of the Americans is quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one” (36-37). According to G.K. Chesterton, the exceptionality of the United States is based on the American Constitution, “that it is founded on a creed. America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature” (7). Unique in the world is the appeal of the Founding Fathers to the self-evident truths of “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” as reason for our liberty. America is an exceptional republic not because of what has been achieved or accomplished but because its foundation was based and dedicated to the principles of human liberty, grounded on the truth that all men have been created equal by God and endowed with equal rights; not opportunities as is demanded by some today.

As one who has been blessed to be given the opportunity to move from the “normal” forms of government to the exceptional one, it really hurts and upsets me to see how people do not want to learn from the failures of the Old Continent’s style of life. Some have proposed “hope” based on models and ways of government that history has proven ineffective. The proposal of a global government based on social redistribution is just a mere kimera that has never been obtained! To me, it is really frustrating to be a spectator of what I have seen NOT WORKING in Italy or in Europe, destroying the only possible alternative: The American Experiment.

However, I do not have to be a SPECTATOR! I can make the difference now! I can vote. In the Psalms is written: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12). President James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States and a gospel preacher, wrote in 1877: “Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand those high qualities to represent them in the national legislature” (486).

Yes I can make the difference by voting, not according to a party or a movement, but according to the values that are godly and biblical. As I have become more involved in living as an American, I have noticed that many Christians have forgotten that we have another citizenship which is much higher and more important: we are the people of God, the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven (Philippians 3:20). As a Christian, I am told that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). Patrick Henry affirmed: “Righteousness alone can exalt [America] as a nation. Reader! Whoever thou art, remember this: And in thy sphere practice virtue thyself and encourage it in others” (qtd. in Henry 82). As a Christian, I must make sure that the world hears what are the values of God proclaimed in the Bible. As a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, my goal is to influence the earthly nation of which I am a citizen with God-honoring values, that will make God-honoring policies, that will result in God-honoring actions that will exalt my nation! Unfortunately, many in the past have cast their vote in allegiance to a party or a political philosophy and that is why we have the present situation. It is time to change and to choose our representatives according to their ethical/moral/religious convictions. When we examine the declarations of the Founding Fathers, and of the framers of the Constitution, it is absolutely astonishing to notice how strong were their godly moral values, and how much those documents were based on the Bible. We must go back to biblical values in political choices. This is what made the United States of America an exceptional nation. This is what will restore the United States of America as an exceptional nation!

Paolo Di Luca was born in Milan, Italy, and grew up in Ferrara, Italy. He served in the Italian Army. For nearly 25 years, he ministered to churches of Christ in the nation of Italy. His father, the late Gilberto Di Luca, preached the gospel in Italy for a half century. Paolo now resides in New Martinsville, WV, with his wife Cindy. They have one son, Marco, of Henderson, TN. This article, written at the invitation of Warren Apologetics Center, brings a unique perspective to the literary contributions being made to the far-reaching cultural battle presently being waged in America.

Guest Writer: Sami Nicholas

To a Hero and Friend

While searching for something in my Dad’s bedroom the other day, I noticed this letter on his desk. In the hand, of my sister, Sami, it describes a hero. His generation has been called the greatest one, but the greatest of the greatest generation were/are its Christians. Thanks, Sami, for the reminder of some blessings of heroism that few families know. Happy Father’s day to the real heroes. Here’s the letter:

Dear Daddy,

I just wanted to let you know that you are one of the best men I know. You, in so many ways, are a hero in my eyes.

I’m so blessed that, as I grew up, I never felt afraid of my father like some children do. I am so proud that my father would come home and eat a sandwich in the car to make it to a gospel meeting instead of stopping by the bar. My father couldn’t buy me everything that some other children had, but he made me things that no other children had. My father taught me the value of pinching a penny and the responsibility of giving it away. My father taught me to love simple things, but not to be afraid of complicated things. Most of all, he taught me to love God and respect all things that pertain to Him.

I’m so blessed to have such a wonderful grandfather to my children…A grandfather who could make them believe that they were the best (and make them strive to be so) because he said it so often. In the midst of aging and physical difficulties, my children’s grandfather, maintained a twenty acre farm for them to enjoy. He kept a pool, built wagons and toy boxes, made basketball courts, and purchased golf carts, solely for their enjoyment. He encouraged them in every spiritual endeavor and inquired about their success. His home has been, and will be, a haven of comfort for them and me– not because of all these amenities (though they are so enjoyable), but because he is there….My hero is there.

I know you’ve never been a man to leave lights on, but when you get to heaven, should you go there first, leave the light on for me….After all, you helped show me the way. I can’t wait to see the heaven we will have there.

You’re my hero and my friend. I love you and I treasure our time together.

Sami

Does the Word Look Good on You?

I was recently asked by a friend to read some blog posts on the subject of modesty and offer my judgment about their teaching and tone. Below is an excerpt from those posts which were written by Debbie Heck:

To the Sweet Young Girls in my Life,

Yes, this post is just to the girls. Specifically to some young girlfriends of mine. I love you very much. I am constantly impressed by your kindness, your deep love for others, your caring example in looking to the needs of others, your desire to please the LORD. Your faithfulness in attending services. I LOVE YOU!!!But you, like me, are not perfect. I have my struggles and you have yours. I know one of those struggles put upon all of us is the pressure to conform to the world. The pressure to buy into the foolish idea that you must win a fella by your outward beauty and by showing off your lovely young figures. Sweet friends of mine, please do not buy that lie Satan is trying to sell you. Please look to His word for His idea of modesty. Do a word study on articles of clothing. Please do not come to church again (or anywhere else) in short dresses or with ANY cleavage showing, with skin tight T~shirts stretched tightly across your chests. Wearing a see through lacy undershirt under your too low cut t~shirt does not make your outfit modest. It draws the eyes right to an area of your body that is CREATED to be seen by ONLY your husband. It’s for your future husband’s pleasure some day, and for nursing whatever sweet babies God may give you (if you choose to do so). It’s not for my sons to view (unless one day they are your husbands…and right now they AREN’T). It pleases that old liar, the devil, and he couldn’t be happier that you have been caught in his trap. It saddens and angers our LORD, who continually warns us to be READY. To remain PURE. To stand fast always. To be watching for HIS return..

Your own dear mommas or grandmommas may not stop you. They may not have the Bible knowledge themselves. They may be thankful that you are improving in your dress, and be afraid to push you a bit farther to where you need to be. But sweet girls, immodesty is a sin. Immodesty can not only cause you to be lost, but others to stumble as well– other girls, because they see YOU as a good Christian girl and think it’s o.k. to dress like you are dressing, and boys because they can’t help but stare…and imagine. They are not bad boys. I am a woman, and I can’t help but see, and males are just more visually affected. That’s how God created them. That’s why it’s COMMANDED that as women we adorn ourselves in modest apparel. There will be a time when you get to bare all. It will be right, good, pure, wonderful, complete happiness…in your Christian marriages. But for now, keep those beautiful, lovely bodies covered up. Keep it a mystery and just shine with your beautiful smiles, your beautiful actions, your beautiful modest clothing.

I LOVE YOU SO VERY MUCH!!! I look forward to spending more time on this earth with you. You light up a room just by your very presence. I look forward to spending eternity with you, sweet girls. Will you please think about these things? Will you please be willing to die to self, and follow the LORD and His will even though it’s hard. Will you please try to have a humble heart and not be angered by this note to YOU? Will you please be brave and post this on your own page to encourage your own dear friends?

Have a super day my sweet young encouraging friends! Big warm hugs to all of you!

Love,Debbie

After reading the letter above and realizing there have been some who took issue with its content, I offer the following response. I hope it can plant a seed or encourage a soldier. In fact, God can do anything, so I’ll go ahead and hope Debbie’s words or mine will make a positive and practical difference in some mother’s example of modesty or in some teen girl’s closet or dresser drawer. Here’s what I think:

I know that my weighing in on the subject of modesty really makes no difference. What’s important is the Will of God for our lives and how we respond to that revealed will. There’s a clarion call for modest dress in I Timothy 2:9,10. The words are “modest” (not calling attention to oneself), “shamefacedness” (retaining the ability to blush with embarrassment) and “sobriety” (seriousness, viewing things the way they really are.) The way things really are today is that approximately eight out of ten of our boys struggle with a pornography problem when they graduate from high school. These boys are our brothers. They are family members. They sit beside us and our kids in worship. We are related through the blood of the Savior. Can we honestly say we are loyal to that cross when we know of a very effective way to contribute to their purity of heart and we, because of a desire to be comfortable, stylish or to fit in, choose (either purposefully or because of a lack of sober thinking) to be the “eye candy” that may divert a man’s thinking from purity to lust? “It must needs be that offenses come, but woe to the one through whom they come. It would be better for a millstone to be hung around the neck of the one who causes one of these little ones to stumble, and that he be cast into the bottom of the sea.” (Have you seen a millstone?…I would encourage you to google a millstone and it will take just a sec for you to realize that you would not want to be tied to one in the bottom of the sea!) Girlfriends, it is very possible to partake (have a part in) somebody else’s sin (I Tim. 5:22).

Now, about what Mrs. Debbie wrote…To be sure, only a woman knows definitively the motives of her own heart (I Corinthians 2:11). But, as a sister looking at the writings of another sister, may I just say that I can hardly see how her teachings could be construed as anything other than what older women are COMMANDED to be teaching in Titus 2. It’s not merely a good idea or even a suggestion that we teach the tenets of Titus 2:3-5. It’s a command and the reason given is so that the Word of God will not be blasphemed. It is my strong judgment that, had older women not taken a hiatus from teaching the principles of Titus 2 for about 30 years, that there would be no objection, no lashing out against such teaching, no such “blasphemy” against the Word as we regularly witness when teaching about chastity and discretion in our classes, in our writings and in our ladies’ and girls’ days today. Frankly, I am very glad for anyone, like Mrs. Debbie, who will help make up for lost time!

I know that my opinion weighs no more than any human one…nothing at all. But the Words of the Bible will judge me in the last day. “Whoso looks on a woman to lust after her commits adultery in his own heart”…”That the women adorn themselves in modest apparel with shamefacedness and sobriety as women professing good works.”… “Whoso causes one…to stumble…it would be better for that person to have a millstone about [her] neck and to be cast into the sea.” Do I really want to argue about why it’s okay for me to wear the low cut dress or wear the shorts or the short skirt or the see-through top or the tight leggings under a minimal dress or shirt? Maybe I’ve listened with my husband to too many men describe the pain of pornography in their homes. Maybe I’ve been privy to too many adulterous relationships that had their small beginnings in church related activities. Maybe I’ve listened to my son tell me he’s decided not to ask a girl out because he just thinks her dress is not going to help him get to heaven–too many times. Maybe it’s my husband’s classes with young men who often tell him the very most difficult obstacle to faithful Christianity that they face in this world is the way girls dress. Maybe it’s the combination of all these things. But each time one of these things is brought to my attention, I have to stop and think: “How is the Word of God looking to the World when the wardrobe choices of many of those who claim to be Christians mirror the look of street walkers, at worst, and average women of the ungodly world, at best? I believe the result is the one Paul warned Timothy about in the relevant passage: blasphemy of that sacred Word.

I have a tender spot in my heart for women who read Titus 2 and I Timothy 2 and seriously attempt to call women in an undressed society to modesty. We will make mistakes sometimes in our approach to the subject. We will make enemies, though unintentionally, when we cross the grain of the culture in such a blatantly Biblical way. We will be imperfect vessels of His truth. But I, for one, will not be found silent. The command is too clear and the price of silence may be pain and sorrow in this life as the short precursor to eternal loss. I love simple preventive measures when the potential ruin is so unimaginably final, yet never-ending. I hope your response to those who are willing to step out of a comfort zone and take the message of modesty to precious girls in hopes of guarding their happiness and protecting the equally precious boys from sin will be one of gratitude. But, if you can’t muster that, may it at least be one of tolerance.

Guest Writer: A Dear Friend – To Hannah, from a Younger Older Woman

In forty-eight hours she will be Mrs. Benjamin Giselbach. My daughter will be married. I’ve done lots of reminiscing throughout my day as I tied rings in pillows, made little bags for flower girls to carry, and put together a bridal bouquet. I remember a wedding in which Hannah was a flower girl. I think that was last week. 
One of Hannah’s dear childhood friends was about four years older than she. This friend was a great example for Han and made some great decisions for her to emulate. I hope you will take the time to read her recent letter to Hannah. Titus two enjoins older women to teach younger women. The older woman who wrote the following letter is still in her twenties. But she took the time to teach someone still younger some important truths from the Word and from her recent experiences as a newly married Christian woman. It’s a good read for married women of all ages. She makes me want to be a better Titus-two woman of God. She makes me want to be a good and non-intrusive mother-in-law. (Wow! In 48 hours, I will be a mother-in-law! Bring it on!)  Here’s the letter:  
Dear Hannah, 
I was so excited to hear about your upcoming wedding.  I am certain that you will make a beautiful bride. I must admit that it makes me feel pretty old that “little Hannah” is getting married. Or, maybe I should just feel old for making that statement.
 
Anyway, even though we’ve been out of touch for a while, you were always like the little sister I never had; thus, unfortunately for you, I have some “older sister” marriage advice that I’d like to pass along. Take it or leave it. I’m sure that you get plenty of unsolicited advice from people. Well, here it goes:
 
1) It’s true what they say, “You should never go to bed angry.”  Even though you couldn’t even imagine it right now in your current, blissful, bride-to-be stage, there will come a time when you and your hubby don’t see eye to eye (e.g., he’s left his towel on the bathroom floor for the 300th time; he spent all day cleaning the garage and you didn’t say “thank you”, etc.) These things may sound silly, but over time the little annoyances can really start to bother you. If something is bothering either one of you, talk to each other about it.  I’m sure you’ve learned by now that a man’s version of “communicating” must be “perfected” by his dear, loving wife.  All that I mean is that you must learn how to truly listen and communicate with each other.  Besides, my husband is NOT a morning person…I couldn’t imagine what he’d be like if he was mad in the morning (think the cyclone from the Wizard of Oz.)
 
2) Always laugh at his jokes–yes, even the stupid ones. Oh, husbands…they think they are soooo funny.  Sometimes they really are. You will laugh so hard that your stomach hurts, tears are rolling down your cheeks, and if you were drinking milk it would most certainly come out of your nose. Other times, our sweet, dear husbands are not funny. Their jokes are not even worth a polite chortle. Yet, as he looks at you, you have to smile. At least muster up a little giggle. What I mean by this is that you should try not to just love your husband, but also think that he is the most adorable man on the face of the planet. Coming in a close second is your dad, of course (whose jokes definitely require at least a smile.)
 
3) Remember that you are a Christian first and a wife second. These conversations can be uncomfortable.  Especially because your husband will hold you and your opinion in such high regard. As long as you are coming from a place of love and caring, love for him and care of his soul, these conversations will not cause guilt or resentment, but rather a higher admiration for you and your marriage. You were fortunate enough to be brought up in a home with a mother and father who taught you well. If you know that it isn’t right, then don’t do it. If you know that you should be doing it, then do it. Marriage can sometimes afford you an excuse to be a lazy Christian. It can also encourage you to be the best Christian you can be.
 
4)  Let him have the remote. You heard me. Just give it to him. Okay, this is only for those of us who are stubborn, independent, and strong-willed. If this doesn’t apply to you, then skip to the next section. So, the remote… What I mean by this is that you have to remember that your husband is the head of the house.  *Ahem* Yes, I said it. If he says that you can’t go out to lunch on Sunday because money is tight–then that’s what it means. Whining, pouting, and forcing him to make his own PB&J will not change this fact.  You are a smart woman.  I am certain that you are marrying a smart man.  If he has made a decision for your family then you need to support it.  This means that you won’t win every argument.  You won’t always get your way.  And even if you are 150% sure that YOU are right and your way is definitely the best way…just get over it.  Hand over the remote.  Let him watch what he wants to watch.  Your turn will come next. He’ll listen to your more earnestly and appreciate your input.  
 
5) You don’t always have to be in the same room with each other. When I first got married, for the first few weeks, I don’t think my husband and I were apart for more than a few minutes (to go to the bathroom, etc.) If he’s sitting in the living room and you want to go the kitchen, it’s okay. You can just go. It’s not weird. It doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be around him. It just means that there’s something in the kitchen that you need to do. This idea can be broadened: Don’t NOT do something just because your husband can’t go.  Depending on your husband’s schedule this may or may not be an issue for you.  For me, with him being at the hospital at all hours, if I waited until he could go I wouldn’t go anywhere until 2015!  Keep up with your couple activities, but also schedule some alone time.  A women’s Bible study, a visit to a girlfriend’s for lunch, babysitting for a family friend…any of these will do. Each of you will spend time making your relationship strong–just make sure to take time to maintain your individual strengths and talents.
 
6) Don’t call your Mother. Okay, so, that sounds bad. Really bad.  But, I don’t mean your mother in particular. I pretty much mean all mothers, but especially your own Mother. Ok, before I start to feel the wrath of your Mom, what I mean is that the first year of marriage is hard.  Those that say it isn’t are either liars or don’t remember…just kidding (sort of.) If you are close to your Mom, it will be really hard not to call her and complain/vent/whine about things.  I mean, after all, that’s what we’ve done our whole lives.  If something isn’t going right, if you’re feeling down, if you just need that extra “boost” from someone…you call your mom.  My advice to you is…don’t call your Mom about these things. Call your husband.  Hey, wait a minute, that doesn’t mean call your Mom and then call your husband and tell him the things your Mom said.  Talk to HIM about the things that are bothering you. If you still feel like you need to talk to someone, then call your Mom.  Don’t ever say negative things about your husband to your Mom.  Moms are like elephants…errr, well, they never forget.  Whatever fight you may have had will be over, you will be completely over it, and your Mom has stored it in the back of her mind.  Let me tell you, one of the worst things for a mom is to feel like her child is in pain (emotionally or otherwise) and she can’t fix it. Just wait until you have a baby.  When my son is upset or hurting it triggers some sort of reaction in me.  I just want to make it better.  To take the pain away.  When you complain to your Mom about things your husband has done/didn’t do, whether she realizes it or not, she’s going through this same process:  How can I fix this?  How can I make it better?  Help her (and yourself) by not including her in these issues.  Ok, so let’s fix this:  you CAN call your Mama.  Make sure to tell your Mom if she stopped reading after that last page.
 
7) Take care of each other.  Live well–exercise together:  go hiking, biking, or anything else that ends in “iking” will probably do. (Even though you will be tempted to cuddle up on the sofa and watch TV.)  Eat well–limit your fast food, sweets, and homemade lasagnas. (Even though you will be tempted to dazzle him with your absolutely FANTASTIC cooking skills.) Be well–pray with and for each other.  Make sure you are exercising those spiritual muscles, too.  (Even though you will be tempted to compare yourselves as a couple to other couples who may not be as faithful.) ?
Okay, this is WAAAAY too long. I don’t know if you were brave enough to read the letter this far. If so, congrats, again.
 
With love,

Your Dear Friend

 

Guest Writer: Lisa Waddell

The Wedding Vortex and Serious Thinking

If you have been anywhere in the proximity of the Colleys lately, you’ve  noticed that we are in what Caleb, my son, who is home for his summer break, refers to as “the wedding vortex.”  He, almost correctly, assumes that anything I am typing, cooking, gluing, painting, sewing, cleaning, polishing, loading, unloading or paying for (especially the paying part) is on account of the wedding. When the phone rings, he says, before he even checks the caller ID, “It’s for you, mom. It’s about the wedding.” We already know that next Saturday it will feel strange to wake up and not feel the urgency to do something to prepare for it.  That’s right. Next Saturday the wedding will be history and I will be having a head examination for not insisting on an elopement!  What were her dad and I thinking?!

Seriously, what we are thinking is…well, we’re thinking…seriously. Nothing will ever be the same in our world. She will never truly come home and be ours again. She really will go away with a man…Ben, and, when she comes back, she will not be sleeping in that little twin cherry rope bed that her dad built her for Christmas when she was two. That’s the reason for the gnawing feeling that has its way of edging into every conversation about the wedding.  It’s just that, like Anne of Green Gables, Jo of Little Women, and, more recently, Woody from Toy Story, we are wistful, sentimental and  a little sad about change.

So, my friend and fellow elder’s wife, Lisa Waddell, wrote me this letter last week. It’s from her heart. It’s real and it will give you an important perspective on life’s changes. Many thanks to Lisa for words I needed to hear and heed. Four more days!

Ok my friend…since we cannot get together for therapy before the wedding, I hope you will indulge me a few minutes to pass along something that happened to me that literally changed me…
It started almost 12 years ago when Cory was a senior in High School. Like you, monumental occasions in my children’s lives have always been very special to me…lots of emotion was always expected from  mom. Three days into Cory’s senior year one of his classmates and a very dear girl to this family was in a car accident that ultimately took her life. It was such a very, very difficult time for the school and that senior class that had been together for so many years. Cory was one of her pallbearers…they had been friends since cradle roll class at church.
Fast forward now to graduation: I was a basket case!!! Could not quit crying about how my family was changing and literally grieving over how my firstborn was graduating and going off to college. It was not a happy time for me. I remember walking into the gym that night for graduation, not doing very well emotionally, and upon entering the gym seeing that empty chair with a large pink ribbon on it. It hit me like a ton of bricks! I was upset and crying that my child was growing up, starting a new chapter in his life and starting to go into to the world to put into practice the things that his dad and I had tried to instill in him.  But, here in front of me was an empty chair and off to the side a set of parents who would give anything to have Kimberly there to do exactly what I was upset over. I am serious when I say it hit me like a two by four in the face! Not one more tear came out of me that night. My sister-in-law even commented afterwards that she “was really surprised” at how well I did and that I did not cry at all.
Cindy, all I can tell you is that it really changed the way that I have viewed all the “life changing” events of my children’s lives. Graduations became different. Weddings became different. Jobs taking them half way across the country became different. I keep in mind that this is part of why I was blessed to have had them given to me. It is my job and privilege to have had them given to me, by God, to help prepare them for this life and all the changes and challenges that it has to offer and so I proudly watch as the cycle continues and they move on to all the things that God has planned for them.
I am thankful that Cory, Lincoln and Melissa have all graduated…married….taken jobs away from me (well, except Melissa). When I think of Ray and Carolyn and what they no longer have with Kimberly, I will gladly watch as my children grow, learn and move on to their lives out from under the wings of home. And yes… while it means that MY life changes and will not be the same as what I have treasured for so many years, I thank God that my children have grown and moved on to start their own lives and that I was so blessed to be able to have been given the responsibility of raising, training and teaching those precious souls. MY life has been forever changed because of the blessing of…them. You know, the things I feared for so long about how my life would never be the same?…I do promise you, life just gets better through the years! I promise.
When I look at the children with whom God has entrusted you and Glenn to train and raise…I see wonderful children and parents who have given it their all to raise them as God planned. I have no doubt that the best for your family (different as it may be) is waiting for you around the corner!
I am in no way saying that these monumental times in your childrens’ lives should not stir up emotions. You would not be a mom if they didn’t. I am just trying to encourage you to look at this as a new birth in your family and not that you are losing something. You are about to get an amazing new son!!!
I can’t wait to see all the new, exciting times and adventures that are going to come to the Colley family!
This week and next will be a whirlwind for you all. Bask in all that being the “mother of the bride” brings and watch with pride as your daughter joins her life with such a wonderful young man as Ben.
You will do great. I have no doubt. 

With much love and prayers for you,
Lisa

Guest Writer: Caleb Colley – Profane and Vain Babblings, Part 6

Gossip 
Jesus said “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). Colley and Webster commented on Jesus’ statement: “What Jesus is saying, of course, is that we will be judged by what we say…which means that God is listening to all 450 million words” we say during our lifetimes.i We will be judged for the “idle” words—those words we say when we’re not thinking. This destroys the excuse “I didn’t mean to say it—I just said it without thinking.” Gossip often is a large part of our idle talk. No person, young or old, may gossip and follow the golden rule (Matthew 7:12).
You may be thinking “Quit blowing things out of proportion. Gossip is not that big a deal.” Gossip may seem insignificant when we gossip about others. But when we find out that others have been gossiping about us, then we see gossip for the terrible evil it is. Of course, if we’re reading our Bibles, we are well-informed about the problem of gossip. “You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people…” (Leviticus 19:16). “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter” (Proverb 11:13). “A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends” (16:28). “The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body” (18:8; cf. 26:22). “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips” (20:19). “The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue an angry countenance” (25:23). “Where there is no wood, the first goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife…. He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself” (26:20-21, 24). 
Some may say “We have to talk about people when we fellowship as Christians.” Of course, Christian fellowship is extremely important (Galatians 6:1-2,10; Philippians 2:1-2; Colossians 3:12-13, etc.), but we can talk about people in positive, constructive ways. In the first letter to Timothy, among Paul’s instructions about care for widows, we find this injunction: “But refuse the younger widows…. [T]hey learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not” (5:11,13; cf. 1 Peter 2:1). Many of us have some free time, but we must not use that free time for purposes of gossiping.

i Colley, Glenn, and Chuck Webster (2005), GET REAL: A Teenage Class Book for Now (Huntsville, AL: Colley Publications). p. 8.