Thursday, March 29, 2007

God Alone (Part 1) and My Husband (Part 2)

All alone, Lord, all alone
I serve you all alone
I kneel before your throne,
And I serve you
all alone.

I run by Your side
Or is it You
That runs by me?

I look to You
And You marvel back at me
Your grace is unknowable
You are a Friend to me

You are my Lord,
That is plain to see,
You are my passion,
my fragrance,
the power that is unleashed in me

Oh no!
Not of myself!
Not of my needs
You are the power
I find on my knees

You see the weakness in me
You take pity upon my frailty
You transform my mind
You create the life in me

So I will yield to You
And I will live
I will submit before You
You are Who I need

I come to You my Redeemer and Friend
Cleanse me now and let me see
the smallness of my ways
and the greatness of Thee

You share Your glory with no other
You are not pleased with me
Nor with anything I can do of myself
So live Your life though me

Live in me, Lord and sing
Dance Your jig with me
Satisfy my inward parts
With the truth of Thy word
And Your mere sufficiency

Nothing else do I want
Nothing else do I need
Forgive me for looking elsewhere
I pluck the eye out of me

Lay me bare and forsaken
Remove the “best” of my flesh
Reduce me to the ashes
And from there,
Lift me to nobility

For You alone are God
For You alone chose thrones
You alone see
and You alone determine victories

You alone create
And You alone kill
You alone wound
You alone heal

Take these bare bones
Remove the flesh from me
Give me strength in Your might
And I will stand
For all eternity

Andrea Bates 3-29-07

Part 2

My husband

My husband has fallen in love with me
I caught him looking at me
With a way only a woman knows to be
His heart is captivated
He's caught a spell of my mystery
He's held in God's grace
For there a man is gifted
When He recieves a woman from Thee

posted by An Ordinary Christian | 8:30 PM | 3 comments

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Two unrelated parts. Part 1: "Busy and sent," Part 2: "Tainted Love"

Busy and Sent:

Today I am busy, and I have been busy and I will be busy this next week. There is a difference between being "sent out" to do work versus trying in and of yourself to achieve something to satisfy your own lusts. When you start out as a person of the latter, and then over 24 years of seeking after Christ and giving up your own path, and then find you are "felt led” and find that you are working and accomplishing things, but you don't even care about the gains (not really care about the gains, although you thank God for the gains and enjoy them and give them up as a worship offering to the Lord) but you are only trying to be a good Christian example and do what you know best that you are supposed to do in and for the name of Jesus and for His glory because the other doors have closed and you are pushed through the remaining door and find the blessing of God and the support of others including your pastor and all family members and your workplace while working in that arena that the door led to, and then you find that He is having you go to the same places that you may have supposed that you would have liked to have gone if you were doing it in your flesh, which you aren’t, it is kind of a trip. (How did you like that California sentence?) Be strong in the Lord and in His might. Put on the full armor of God so that you may withstand the blows from the evil one. One tactic of the enemy is the lie that I am only working for my flesh. I need to ignore him, continue to do good and press on, to run the race that is marked out before me.

Tainted Love

One other thing, this week I had a realization and I just want to note it here, even though I am not discussing it in detail and that is this: I heard a person say this week that there are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents and isn't that so right? Also, it is wrong for a parent to put a burden on a child that says, "You owe me, because I gave birth to you," when it was God who created, who pre-ordained, who orchestrated and who gave birth. Also, what about the pain that the "illegitimate child" went through? There shouldn't be a yoke of guilt and burden around her neck to serve like she is in personal obligation to the parent in the first place. But to compound the error of the parental ways by not acknowledging that the parents' bad behavior caused a lot of undue suffering on the part of the child is arrogant, insensitive and wrong. There is a battle that have been going on for many years about these issues in my mind, and in the minds of many children, grown and otherwise, caught in the trap of parents’ who exploit them for their own gains, like they own the grown child, and do not release the child unto the Lord for His purposes. Also, it is the parents’ jobs to let their child grow into whatever God wants and intends them to be, to release her to Himself for His glory. It is wrong for the parent to take God's position. It is a trap for the child when the parent puts the false guilt on the child, because the unbeknown sucker just assumes the false guilt because she wants to honor, obey the parent, who acts so suave and smooth, like an angel of light as he or she sucks the life out and manipulates the poor grown child, like a parasite sent on a mission from hell.

Contrastingly, there is another type of sick child (grown or otherwise)/parent relationship that says, “You must be acceptable into how I want you to be or I won’t accept you.” This is called a narcissistic attachment. That type of parental exploitation is bad also, but isn’t pissing me off as much as the former type of relationship is, today.

I was raised in the latter type of style of parenting. Then I found my biological mother, about 7 years ago, and loved her and wanted her acceptance and she kept playing the same note again and again and still does and that single, perpetual note is this: “I am pleased when you give me sufficient attention and you disappoint me when you don’t provide everything possible to make me comfortable and happy. You exist to please me. I like to be happy and enjoy things and I want you to provide that for me, and you really ought to, because you have that obligation.”

My adoptive mother said a similar thing, ironically enough, when I was a child, but it was also different. It said, “I am pleased when you are successful (Oh, what a surprise!) and I can not accept you or truly love you, unless you are successful in the eyes of the world. But, if you are successful, be careful, because I am actually going to be jealous of you, so I guess I can’t really love you anyway. You are a disappointment because I was hoping you would save my marriage and the bad feelings I have in general. Also, success in the world means everything to me, and you don’t seem to bring me anything but problems. Don’t you feel badly that everything you require costs so much of my money and time and you really aren’t worth it.”

There. All my issues defined. Okay. I can deal with this. It is becoming so neatly organized and am beginning to be able to understand and articulate and deal with the associated emotions. God is good who heals and provides ability to forgive others. I am so glad that He made me for Himself. I am glad my adoptive mother is proud of me and I pray that my birth mother would develop understanding and perspective, but I guess I need to do what I needed to do with my adoptive mother, and that is to realize that she is never going to change. It is I who has to learn to, and who has to simply do it, and that is to accept the things I can not change. She is disappointed in me and so what? She is wanting what I can not and should not ever be asked to give, and that is my mind and my “being” submitted to a manipulation and a lie and a false way.

posted by An Ordinary Christian | 10:07 AM | 3 comments

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Be Strong and Walk the Walk

What is it like to be a doctor? What is it like to be a psychiatrist? What is it like to be high and lifted up? What is it like to raise your finger as in an auction and have your needs met, your wishes sought to be fulfilled?

Well, I wish I was all that, I suppose. I'm not all that, but I'm a little of that where I work, at a psychiatric hospital and it is cool and I like it.

Yet, I am no better, of course, than the patients, the housecleaners, the nurses, the various staff. I am tempted to think of myself as better than the employees who are obstructionists and contrary to the flow of the institution and organization, but before the eyes of God, we are all sinners.

When I go out to dinner with my husband, I am not the one acclaimed. When I lift my finger I don't get noticed. When I want a refill, I don't necessarily get one. My husband pays the bill, as is tradition and I don’t want to change that tradition, but maybe that is why I am not the one attended to. The servers are typically waitresses; the waiters are not as frequent, if that is part of the mix. My husband is attended to. He gets the coffee refills. He lifts his finger and the waitress usually comes right away.

I remember at a fine restaurant (Morton's) the waitress took my husband’s after dinner coffee and dessert order and forgot to even ask for mine. My husband is just normal. He isn't behaving in a way to provoke such dismissing behavior.

For me, it is a fascination. At the hospital where I work, everybody knows my name; they smile and desire to please me, generally speaking. My husband works in a quiet office and not very many people know him around where he works. Outside of work, I am not that much of a social person, but my husband has a lot of friends. When I am with my husband at a restaurant, I am invisible and he is the one seen. It is weird.

The thing that fascinates me, perhaps, about this little matter of attention given accordance with one's position/role in society is two-fold.

First, I think that it is okay that there is a small degree of laud given one who is in certain leadership roles. The laud should not be for the person, who is by nature a sinner like everyone else. The laud is a sign of respect for what that person has done, in part, but more so for the position itself. Therefore, I am becoming less self-conscious and trying not to be embarrassed by having a certain degree of respect given to me. I humbly receive it. I do not receive it in my person, but before God, I receive it unto His throne, for the role He has granted me, for which I am responsible. It is a crown I toss to Him. I stand up tall. Yes, God has placed me here.

For example, the husband in marriage is entitled to a certain degree of respect. Not as though he is a better person by nature, but because God has ordained a certain chain of authority and certain responsibilities fall upon him. (The husband would do best to remember the respect he is entitled is not due to his own personal worth but just because God has called it so, by nature of his position in the marriage institution.)

The second thing that fascinates me about the respect one receives according to the position he or she holds, is the degree to which I am drawn to it. And I don't believe it is according to my flesh. I mean, certainly I am drawn by my flesh to the respect I receive according to my position. However, I gave that up long ago (though it is a temptation before me, but I give it to Him and see it as it is - a temptation to my flesh that I have to forsake or I will die - for the most part I do this, thus far in my life, at this time, as far as I can tell).

Perhaps the Lord is drawing me to become a person of authority and leadership that receives respect more and more because perhaps more and more God will cause me to be placed in authoritative roles. I desire that. (Yet it scares me to death, well, not to death, but it makes me real nervous.)

You know, I've been thinking about how it would be fun to be driven around in the back seat of a black Lincoln Continental by a driver in a suit while I read magazines and drank coffee. Not all the time have to be driven around, but sometimes would be lovely. Wouldn't it be lovely? I know most people would simply not be drawn to such a funny case scenario.

I don't have an expensive-looking car (although for the same price I could have more of a glamorous car). At this time in my life I would feel funny, embarrassed, driving around in a showy car (when I am not being driven around)! However, lately, I've caught myself thinking, well, more accurately, I've caught myself picturing myself and trying to get used to driving around in a hot shot car, someday, in the distant future. I used to want a Corvette when I was young. Beige. However, then I wanted a Jaguar. Then I got that embarrassed feeling and discounted the idea (when it became a realization that I could actually get that kind of car someday). Now I think I like Jaguars best. But I'm not ready for that yet. I haven't earned it yet.

I was listening to Kay Arthur and she mentioned that if God does give you material possessions, you don't have to be embarrassed by it. I also tried that on for size, figuring out how to handle material possessions. Right now, I don't have to worry it about that much because I am not in the position to get a fancy car or a driver (obviously not a driver!). But what about the future? Will the Lord not only allow for, but actually put me in a position to receive such extravagance consistent with and in accordance with the particular role in which He places me? There is a Proverb in the Bible that speaks of the fact that when the Lord makes rich, there is no burden with it.

Is the Lord preparing me for a certain type of leadership? I want to cry out, "No! Unworthy! No, certainly not me Lord!" Yet, I feel compelled to be strong, stand firm, hold out my hand and say, "Give me strength, and thank you."

I think I can be more honoring to God to give it all up: the respect, the car, the leadership role, the driver and do something more befitting of the Lord's servant: a mother, a wife alone, a 4-H participant, a helper at the church nursery or toddler class, a Bible studier, a prayer. I am or have been all those roles and am those things.
However, in my heart and mind, deep down, God has placed a seed called, "inspiration" and "radical" and "amazing-that-it-is-actually-me" and He said, "Let's go girl - gird your loins for action - we're off! I got something for you and yes, you can have it - I made it for you, created you for it and it is for you and it is yours. Only be Mine. Run with Me. Look to Me. I will use you but you have to listen to Me and walk where and how I say to. Don't use your own wisdom or your own strength. Give up your common sense and trust in Me alone." (God didn't dictate these actual words.)

There is a verse that says, "His gentleness makes me great."

There is a man named Peter, who let down the nets for a catch at the request of Jesus and upon the boats filling up with fish laid down as a dead man said, "Go away from me! I am a sinful man!"

There is a part of me that was made to work as Peter was made to fish. There is all I can do in and of myself that will be completely unproductive. There is a God who creates fishermen and workers who says when and how to fish and work. When God moves and uses us, it feels out-of-this-world.

We humans tend to feel so miserably inept and unworthy that we can not see that it is God who is going to use us. That it is God who has put the desires into us. That it is God who carries us and guides us and wants to live His life through us if we will just listen and put down the net when He says to.

So in as much as I believe that the Lord has brought me to the place where I am now, I want to live for Him and breath for Him and go for Him and work for him. I can not sing. I can not dance. I have not been called to a life of “professional ministry” or a single life of professional motherhood. I am a doctor and a leader and a worker in addition to other roles God has provided for me to do. He has brought me to a simple hospital and says, so to speak, "This is your place of serve. Now work." Okay Lord, and everything in me says, “I will.”

The Lord will share His glory with no human being. Whatever He wants to do with my life is fine with me. Just be with me, Lord; just be with me.

posted by An Ordinary Christian | 6:31 PM | 6 comments

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Drea Drea-m, Dream

The last post I wrote I mentioned a Fleetwood Mac song, and I looked it up on Napstar. As I was trying to find the one of 500 selections from the Fleetwood Mac people, I ran through their old album, "Tusk" and noticed all of the songs listed there on that album.

So last week I asked my husband to please download that onto the Ipod Shuffle that I won at a raffle at Christmas, and he willingly did so because he is nice like that.

So I was on the plane flying to go get two of my kids from their boarding school to take them home for Spring break, and I was listening to the songs from the "Tusk" album.

Well, I hadn't heard those songs since I was about 17 years old and the memories that they brought back! Not only memories but the song brought me back to the frame of mind that I had back then. It was kind of weird. Kind of wierd how the brain works!

Anyway, one of the songs goes, "Could you really love me?" and "Could it really, really be me?" It was an optimistic song and it brought me to where I was when I was 17 and I was like too afraid to even dream that things could be...well, even okay back when I was 17!

I was really unhappy for quite a while in my childhood and the hardest part probably was the lack of hope! I didn't know that things could (and would!) be better. I didn't know that I could dream. That there were such things as dreams, and that yes, it could really be me.

So I was sitting on the plane on that window seat (I do not prefer windows, because I prefer isles so I can go to the bathroom whenever I want. But my loving husband got the seat for me, becuase he helps me out more and more these days, and that is nice that he thought I would want a window). The window seat turned out to be good, because a window seat is actually much more private. I turned towards the window as though I were looking out (but didn't look out because who wants to see that you are "floating" suspended 30,000 feet - it is a long way to fall). Tears rolled down my cheeks as I sat there is my little world. 17 years old again and almost 45 years old, all in the same brain. Two places as the same time.

Who would have dreamed! Yes, my husband does love me! God has taught him to learn to love me and he is loving me more and more and I am learning how to receive that love. Yes, he could love me. And yes, it could really be me. And he has been with me since I have been 18 years old.

When I was 17, I would never, no-not-ever, have dreamed that I would be a doctor and not only make it to medical school but through medical school and to where now I am on the faculty of a medical school and have served as Acting Medical Director for the hospital where I work and am the Chair of the Board of Trustees where I work. That I would head up a doctor's meeting like I did last week, telling a group of about 12 doctors who may and may not speak and who is and is not out of order.

"Could it really be me?" Tear. Well yes, it could.

And not only would I never have even dared to dream that I would be a doctor, but I would never have dared to dream that my children would be nearly 4.0 students and that my daughter is on the brink of maybe getting accepted into a accelerated program for high school students who get a combined BS and MD degree. That really blows me away. I know that it hasn't happened yet, and stories about your own kids do get boring, and success stories do get boring, but as I was sitting on that plane, as my tears that I wiped alternately with my hands and alternately with my green sleeves, I was not bored. I was overwhelmed. "Could you really love me? And could it really, really be me? over and over, could it really, really be me?"

The contract was the next song that came on. "You're never gonna make it, make it, make it, baby!" That was so funny because that was the funny joke everyone used to tell me, from my sixth grade teacher to my mother to my brother to my cousins. I would say, "and my friends," but I didn't have many. And do you know what? Sometimes people don't want to hear success stories. Yeah, it's true. Sometimes people want you to sit in your own crap and they can laugh while you try to figure out how you got here and how you can get out. "You're never gonna make it, make it, make it baby!" ha, ha, ha.

"Humble yourself before the mighty hand of the Lord and He will lift you up in due time."

And from a song, "He makes all things beautiful in His time."

And God receives all the glory. And to Him I freely give, what I did nothing to earn. Freely I have receieved, freely I give. And it continues to be an honor to work for Him.

posted by An Ordinary Christian | 6:07 AM | 7 comments

Friday, March 02, 2007

Pass the potatos

Look to the stars, little one, and dream.

My daughter is a lot like me. I'm not sure if she completely hates it, but sometimes she does. However, I think sometimes she likes it a little.

In 1988, after I had suffered the loss of my miscarriage, I was laying there in a little lonely room in Wilmington, Delaware. I was on call for the hospital where I was doing an internal medicine rotation during my third year in medical school. I had been married about six years or so, and my husband and I tried for about eleven months to conceive. When I was pregnant, I was very excited, but some relatives were a little worried, about the timing and all, that I was still in school. But they didn't bother us too much about it, since they knew us and knew me and knew that we were going to do what we were going to do and so that was that.

When I was supposed to be 18 weeks pregnant, I went in for my follow-up exam and there was no heart beat. The friendly OB/GYN MD kept looking for the heartbeat and couldn't find it. He quickly arranged for an ultrasound, when it was soon discovered that there was no heart beat to be found. I still remember the kind and perfect words he said. "It's okay to cry."

So a couple weeks had past, I suppose, and I was laying there on that little on call room bed thinking about my lost baby and my heart was heavy. I thought that the Lord was there, as I was thinking about Him also. The song went through my mind - well- specifically the word from a song, "crystalline" from Fleetwood Mac. The song is called, “Crystal.” (I just found it and pulled it up on Napstar while I was writing this blog.) The sentence from the song is: “Then I knew, in the crystalline knowledge of you.” I didn’t remember that entire sentence, as I lay there that night, but just the word, “Crystalline” swept into my mind, like a single and perfectly formed golden and beautiful leaf that blows into a kitchen on a fall day.

I thought, “That’s what I want to name my next baby!” The weird thing was, I didn’t think it was much my idea, but it was more like a premonition, a promise, a secret vow.

Crystalyn was born 18 months later. (It took another nine months to get pregnant. Turned out to be perfect timing really. The first child took therefore 33 months of planning and preparation to arrive. Each subsequent child came within 18 months, 23 months and 27 months, respectively.)

Anyway, while I was pregnant, I prayed and yearned for a child to be “just like me.” I wanted her to be like me because I knew no biological relatives. You see, I had been adopted and I wish I had someone that looked like me.

When Crystalyn was born, she had what I thought was black hair, looked nothing like me and had blue eyes. The blue eyes matched mine. I’m sorry to say, but I was disappointed, because I couldn’t recognize any similar features.

The child was three days old and I was in the bathtub. Hubby was home attending the baby while I was in a state of utter shock from a series of difficult changes. First, as I lay in that tub, my bottom was so sore because it had been cut what seemed like several inches due to the vacuum extraction procedure required to get the baby out fast enough since she wasn’t getting enough oxygen. Also, I looked at my depleted body. It had no beautiful baby in its tummy to carry around, but looked like a tire let out of all its air. There were stretch marks everywhere. There was fatness I never knew. It was a body I never met before. It was the new me. Third, I was weepy from the hormones, that I didn’t understand, that nobody told me about. There were other changes as well, like breasts that were full of pain. There was the heartbreak that I could not nurse my baby like I thought was supposed to be natural. There in my water of tears I prayed, “At least let Crystalyn keep her blue eyes.” (Silly, really. Boo-hoo tears.)

Okay. I need to move this along.

Bottom line. My little 16 and a half girl is so much like me, you would not believe it. She looks like me (doesn’t have black hair). She has the same voice even. She is so driven and I see the things in her that have taken me 20 years to begin to undo, yet they are the traits that also have serve me quite well, but in and of themselves can lead to a dependency on self, rather than the Lord.

Maybe another day I will blog a bit more about what is going on her life lately and with our relationship, but basically, I am helping her apply to colleges and it is so fun. She is a star academically and more gifted than I. May God be with us.

posted by An Ordinary Christian | 7:37 PM | 5 comments