Saturday, July 05, 2014

Starck's Motherhood Prayers

I'd heard so many wonderful things about the book

Even though the author is a pietist, I figured that wasn't reason to write off the book.  [Pun.  Bad pun.  Oops.]   I figure that a Christian who values piety so highly (even if too highly) may have some good things to say about prayer.

And boy oh boy, what mixed feelings I have!

On the one hand, I am amazed by the prayers.  They are drenched in scripture.  These samples are what fervent prayer is all about: speaking back to God what He has spoken to us, holding onto His promises, fitting those promises and those words to our situation.  Rebekah explains this superbly.  And I think this is why Emmanuel Press publishes the book.  (By the way, their cards are gorgeous!)

On the other hand, when I first opened the book, Starck and I got off on the wrong foot.

The first thing I saw when I flipped through the book to get an idea of what was there?  A prayer that God would guard me from seeing any deformed person throughout my pregnancy (pp 16, 19).  And if by chance I should see a deformed person, I pray that God would guard my child from being affected by the sight.   Maybe I'm being too touchy, but that really hacked me off.  As I crabbed about it to Gary, he asked who I saw without an arm when I was pregnant with Katie.  And he pondered how it happened that I "saw" somebody's heart defect and palate defect when I was pregnant with Maggie.

The next thing I noticed was the part about the churching of a mother, and how a mother will spend six weeks after childbirth at home resting.  I realize that people respond differently to childbirth, and I realize that some mothers appreciate this hiatus from work and being out among other people.  But to use Leviticus to make a law of this?  And to tell mothers that they are disobeying God to get out of bed and do some work in those first weeks?  No wonder Starck is talking about the mother's weakness and how she needs to pray for strength!  After spending two weeks in an ICU bed recently, I am weak.  Too much rest destroys a person's strength.  It is not "wantonness" deserving of "injury for wanting to be wiser than God" (p 53) for a woman to "move about" during this time. 

I understand and agree with Starck's comments about how it's better for mother and baby when the mother is cheerful and thankful.  But it's going too far to say that "an outburst of hot temper" during pregnancy indicates "impatience at her fruitfulness, and consequently an act of ingratitude" for which God may punish her (p 16).  

Similarly (p 64) we hear that God has placed children into our keeping, and if they be lost, "then shall thy life be for its life."   I see where such a statement could flow from pietism.  But those who believe in original sin and know that it is the Holy Spirit (and not we ourselves) who preserves us in the true faith, such people cannot believe that God punishes Christian parents whose children go astray.

So I approach the final chapter with caution.  The naughty perspective is such a small portion of the book.  So much of the book flows from scripture to another scripture to hymn stanza and back to more psalms.  What will he say about the barren mother?  I noticed that, in Rebekah's review, she said she hadn't read that concluding chapter.  In my opinion, that's just as well.  The dear friend who gave me the book said that the chapter on barrenness was full of information that helped her, and she said there was truth there which was hard to hear, but nevertheless the words were good.  My perspective was a little ... uh ... angrier.

I think Starck tries to delve into the hidden mysteries of God when he attempts to give reasons why God chooses to withhold the gift of children from some couples.  And some of those reasons can be very hurtful.  And untrue.  And can contradict what we so often say about the good gift of children to those expectant mothers who are distressed about finances or the future.  And again, he goes too far when he says that married people should beware of "importunate prayers" because God may just go ahead and give them a child that will make them miserable for the rest of their lives (p 72).  ("Take that, you peons.  Don't question Me.  Don't keep praying to Me.  Yes, I did say to pray persistently.  But don't be too persistent.  Because then I'll teach you a lesson.  Ha!  That'll show you not to keep begging."  Uh, yeah, that's not my God.)

Thing is, there's some truth there.  It's not good to keep demanding things of God as if we are the boss and He is the servant.  But the pietist apparently has a good knowledge of when he's praying in a holy way, as opposed to those who pray in grief and feel the accusations of Satan that they are Not Content Enough.

While there is much good to be found in this prayerbook [again, see the review over at Concordian Sisters] I really would much prefer Luther's Prayers or Gerhard's Meditations on Divine Mercy or even the Pastoral Care Companion.

One more thing:  Although the title is "Motherhood Prayers for All Occasions," it's not.  It's for the perinatal time; it's not for all occasions. The book is not for mothers whose kids are off in the army.  It's not for mothers whose kids are getting married or divorced.   It's not for mothers whose children have all died.  It's not for mothers whose kids have left the faith and/or left the family.  It provides prayers for the one particular niche, which is either a strength or weakness in the book, depending on your own perspective and place in life.

* Footnote:   Well, I guess in a way it's for all people,
no matter what the occasion, because the prayers use 
Bible verses which apply to anyone struggling.  But 
the specific application is only to that one portion of 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Such an Obedient Wife!

They're telling me stories of things that happened in the hospital -- things I do not remember.

They tell me that when the medical staff removed my breathing tube, I didn't exactly remember to breathe.  The machine had been doing the work for me.  I was weak.  Breathing wasn't on the top of my priority list.

So Gary would notice me go 20 or 30 seconds without a breath.  My oxygen level would go down.  "Susan!  Breathe!"

So I would.

Apparently, after one of these big breaths, I pointed out to him that I was a Very Obedient And Submissive Wife.  I breathed when he told me to!

Hey, I figured he should appreciate the "obedience" for those brief moments.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

the absolution

Jesus said, "Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."  And that rest is that He forgives your iniquity and remembers your sin no more.


A friend asked recently, "So what did you experience when you collapsed from the aneurysm?"

Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

The book/movie "Heaven Is For Real" has been popular.  Nearly all my life I've heard stories of near-death experiences.  So what did I experience?  Nothing.

Maybe I wasn't that near death?

Or maybe it was something else?

My pastor is diligent to visit those in the hospital in serious condition.  Coma?  The guy needs to be visited frequently!  Surgeries, drugs, and breathing tubes?  Pastor is there a lot!  He says such times of weakness (especially with the drugs and anesthesia) are prime opportunities for Satan to wreak havoc in a Christian's life.  It's critical that the person be receiving the Gospel ... even if the person isn't intellectually comprehending the words.  It's a battle of God's angels versus Satan's angels.

I've heard stories of horrible hallucinations while people were on narcotics.  Even though I did hallucinate, it wasn't ugly.  I remember having an argument with myself about talking to one of the people in my room -- a person I knew full-well was NOT there.  But that person-who-wasn't-there was talking to me, and it would've been rude not to answer.  I remember reaching out to brush away stuff that was hanging too close to the hospital bed -- stuff that wasn't there.  I remember reaching for a pair of scissors (who knows why?!) that I just couldn't get a good grip on ... merely because they weren't there.  I hated the narcotics and the unreality it foisted on my mind.  But looking back, I'm realizing that nothing was horrible.  Monsters did not chase me.  Nobody threatened my life.  And best of all, there were no demons. 

And I wonder if any of this plays into the lack of "near-death experience."

Death cannot destroy forever.
From our fears, care, and tears
it will us deliver.
It will close life's mournful story,
make a way that we may
enter heavenly glory.

Lord, my shepherd, take me to Thee.
Thou art mine.
I was Thine even e'er I knew Thee.
I am Thine for Thou hast bought me.
Lost I stood,
but Thy blood free salvation brought me.

Without Electricity

Can't clean. 
Too dark to dust or pick up.
No electricity for the vacuum.
Can't mop or wash; no water.

Can't call Mom or Paul to chat; phone needs electricity. 

Can't watch television or videos.
Can't chat with friends on the computer.
Can't write blog posts.

Can't soak in the bathtub.
(Can't flush either.)

Can't go for a walk (because it's still storming outside).
Likewise, can't do anything with the garden.

Can't play board games because it's too dark.
Can't play piano; it's digital.
Can't do baking-chores.

Can't work the garage-door opener.
Can't run fans or air-conditioning.
Can't get snacks or cool drinks from the fridge.
Can't leave the porch light on for the one still at work.
Can't have him microwave his supper when he gets home.

CAN read next to the west window, until the sun is closer to setting.
CAN talk to the other people in the family.
CAN go to bed early.

Hoo-boy -- we are dependent!

Thanks be to God that we had no damage -- only inconveniences.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Middle Age

Forty is the old age of youth.
Fifty is the youth of old age.


a French proverb
found in Jan Karon's 
"A Continual Feast"

Jesus, the Plagiarist?

Well, maybe it's not considered plagiarism, seeing as how the Lord wrote the Old Testament.  So if He takes the words from the psalms and "makes them His own" in the High Priestly Prayer, that's not really stealing words, is it?

John 17: Sanctify them in Your truth; Your word is truth.
Psalm 119 (resh): The entirety of Your word is truth.

What's extra-nifty, though, is that the bulk of the High Priestly Prayer is about Jesus' praying for the preservation of His apostles and other disciples.  They're about to face temptation.  They're going to fall away.  And He prays for the Father to keep them.

And that's what Psalm 119:153-160 is all about.  "Revive me."  "Plead my cause."  "Redeem me."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Katie's Kloset

What do you do with used medical equipment when Grandma or your dad no longer needs a walker or a shower-chair or a Cpap or whatever?  In Waukesha County, people can donate medical supplies to Katie's Kloset.  If you're in need of medical supplies, you can borrow it from Katie's Kloset (assuming the item you need is currently available). 

It's a great way to clear unused supplies out of your home and get them into the hands of people who need them!

It's a great way to save money if you need an item for only a few weeks or a couple of months!

A year or so ago, I was wishing there were a way for our congregation to set up something like this, but the space just isn't available.  And now I find out that there's no need, because somebody else in the county is already providing this match-making service.