Archive for February, 2010

East on Interstate 10

Hey, My Darling Siestas! How’s your weekend been? You guys that keep up pretty well know that I blogged last on Wednesday while we were on our way six hours northwest to our acreage in the middle of nowhere. We are now heading back to Houston so once again I’m writing you from Keith’s truck. My man of 31 years is driving next to me, singing to 60’s music and our two dogs are snoozing in the back seat. (He just stopped me and held my hand for a minute because the song was so sweet that he felt romantic.) We got to be away for four nights. The perfect amount of time! I wish I could say it was vacation but I had to take a ton of work with me. That’s ok. At least it was from a different venue and that can help a lot.

(I just got a text from Travis with a picture on it of his youngest son who just lost two teeth. Just living a little life here. Had to stop and text back and tell Levi how cool he looks.)

My heart is full where you are concerned and full with the last four days of life out in the country with Keith. And that’s why I’m going to share a little of it with you: because I love you and love how we can share so many parts of our lives with one another. This is going to be one of those posts when the girls (Amanda or Melissa) might say, “Are you sure you want to share that? You might get hit by somebody for that.” We, the girls and I, provide checks and balances for one another. If we’ve written anything at all besides your garden variety kind of post, we usually run it by one another. Sometimes we talk each other out of an entire post because we’re afraid someone will get offended or out of sorts or just take the opportunity to be ugly or critical. It happens in the blog world which many of you know from your own blogs.

Other times we just talk each other out of a few sentences or a paragraph or two. Most of you should wish you’d seen Melissa’s original Song of Songs Valentine post before I talked her out of a whole chunk. (Yes, we did have a few little words over it. Not a fuss. Just a good, healthy discussion. All four of us are strong willed and opinionated. We just speak our minds back and forth, work through our differences, and, a whole lot of the time, end up making a private family joke out of it.) Those who wouldn’t have wished to see Melissa’s original post are the reason none of you did. (Laughing and with much love.) There was nothing wrong with it. It was just extra colorful – kind of PG13 – because the Scripts happen to be extra colorful – kind of PG14 – in that particular book.

I’m not complaining one iota. To tell you the truth, we get so little ugliness from our commenters. You guys really are so loving and encouraging and patient and understanding and leave ample room for several generations to express themselves here in very different ways. We think we have the most amazing community in bloggerville but we’re not immune, of course. Sometimes we just flat out ask for it and don’t even realize it. Other times we expect somebody may take exception but we just decide it’s worth the risk.

This is one of those times. I’m about to show you guys some pictures – poor quality ones just off my i-phone – to give you a small taste of Moore life out at the acreage our family has. I know in advance that I’m setting myself up for someone to say sarcastically “Must be nice” but I’ll just sigh when I get it and, if it doesn’t get too ugly from there, post the comment anyway and wish she hadn’t misunderstood. The thing is, I love biographies. Glimpses of people’s real lives. Parts of their stories. For instance, every time I talk to Georgia Jan, I wish I could see her surroundings so I could picture her better. Know her in her own world. Every time Mom of Eleven (actually has 12 now, we learned at the SSMT celebration) comments I wish I could see a picture of all of them. It’s one way we, scattered all over the place, take a virtual stroll through a mile or two of one another’s worlds.

Actually, the world I’m about to share with you really isn’t my world. It’s my man’s. But once a couple has been married over 25 years, you really can’t know the one without knowing the other. You can no longer tell for sure where one stops and the other starts. This isn’t land I would have chosen in a thousand years but it’s what my man chose and I chose him. SO, when I talk about us heading to what I call our cactus land, this is the kind of place I’m talking about. I’ll describe it a tad first then I’ll stroll with you through some shots.

It’s a place where your cell phone won’t work and your land line is likely not to.

It’s the kind of place where Keith and I use (or misuse) English in a way we’d never do it at home. We don’t do it to make fun. We, for those few days, say it like we mean it. Like that’s who we are. Like, for instance, just this morning on an early ride with Keith in the old jeep, I heard myself say, “We ain’t seen deer one.”

It’s a place where men are not limited to inside facilities…but I’ll not elaborate on that.

It’s a place where our favorite show is “The Duck Commander.” We laugh our heads off…and, perhaps most worrisome to some of you, totally get it.

It’s the kind of place with a VERY small town nearby that I have fallen head over heels in love with. It has one real grocery story, a “Super S,” and just yesterday while I was picking up a few items, as I live and breathe and without one hint of exaggeration, the woman at check-out got on the microphone for the store and said over the loud speaker, “Mr. Brown, your wife called and wants you to pick up a bag of potatoes.” Ain’t no doubt in my mind he got some. I was so happy I nearly got some, too.

It’s a place with a LOT of these, hence the name:

It’s a place where a woman (even a non-hunter like yours truly) sometimes dresses like this on an early morning ice-cold jeep ride (with no windows in it) with no make-up on:

It’s a place where, if the temperature’s right, a woman would be wise to wear snake boots like mine:

It’s a place where your man’s taller than usual and where manliness can sometimes be gaged by how old and beat up your vehicle is: (For those of you who can’t fathom it, that’s a corn feeder on the front of the jeep for feeding wild life. You guys just have no idea what my life is like at times. Or his, because of mine.)

It’s a place where your man’s favorite hot rod looks like this:

It’s a place where the gate might latch with a horse shoe:

It’s a place where that tiny one hundred year-old German farm house that I told you about in So Long Insecurity resides. My man went to great pains to restore this thing back to its original look. Every window and door in it is a century old.

It’s a place where the sunrise this morning from my little porch looked like this and this one’s not even an especially good one:

It’s a place with, I reckon, my favorite place of all tucked right in it. I swing here and think about all sorts of things and sing hymns and pet Star:

It’s a place where a woman can take her spirals and practice them loud without a single soul hearing or caring:

It’s a place I wish all of you who wish you had one, did. Maybe one day, when you’re older like Keith and me, you will. It’s a place others of you might be bored out of your mind. Maybe your wish list would be a tiny little bay house instead. It’s just all a matter of taste. Sometimes not your own.

It’s a place where my man seems to love me a lot.

So it’s a place I love to go.

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Help Haiti Live Benefit Concert

Help Haiti February 27th – HelpHaitiLive.com from Compassion International on Vimeo.

See it online tonight (for free) at 7:30 CST at HelpHaitiLive.com.

Tickets are still available for those of you who are in the Nashville area.

Performances by Big Kenny, Alison Krause with Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas, Jars of Clay, Matt Kearney, Jon Foreman, Brandon Heath, Matt Wertz, NEEDTOBREATHE, and Dave Barnes.

Please watch, pray, and give.

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So Long Insecurity Discussion Group: Week Three

Hey, Girls!

I am sitting in the passenger seat of my man’s blue Ford truck with a bird dog’s head on my shoulder heading west to cactus country for a few days. Do you remember that place I told you about where I have to hike with a shotgun because of all the rattlesnakes? Yep, that’s where we’re headed. I don’t think I told you that Keith only lets me have one shotgun shell (thanks, Adrienne!) per walk so I only get to run into one snake at a time. For those of you who have been around for a while and are wondering, yes, we have Star, our Border Collie with us, too. She’s too busy looking out the window trying to herd the traffic to snuggle with me though. It would be tough to type with both on them on top of me anyway.

I’ve been thinking about you every single day. I have no idea how many of your comments I’ve read. Tons. Because we get the whole week to finish the assignments, I can read a certain amount almost every single day. I’m getting to keep up even better than I’d hoped. I really thought this would be a neat experience but you have surpassed my expectation in your answers and insights. The transparency is so incredibly refreshing. So many wonderful things have hit me in the last two weeks as we’ve gone through the first four chapters together. There’s one eye-opening and troubling thing I want to talk to you about before we proceed to our assignments. I’ve been touched by how many of you (thankfully) confessed that you even feel insecure about your comments and about whether or not the other women participating will think you’ve said something lame. Others mentioned being scared they’d misspell a word. As we seek freedom from God, let’s not let the enemy mess with us that way. Let’s not give over one inch of extra ground to the very issue we’re trying to escape.

What do you say we make this discussion stream a NO INTIMIDATION ZONE? What do you say we make a conscious choice not to compete with one another? Not to judge one another? Not to try to measure up to one another or feel less or more than the other? We have to put up with all that trash almost everywhere else a group of women meets up. We can make up our minds not to have to put up with that here. We are smart women. We can determine to share our struggles, challenges, and victories over insecurity without feeling insecure about them. Talk about double indemnity! In Jesus’ Name, let’s make up our minds to treat one another with respect but not give a rip about trying to keep up or compete. Even while we’re on our journey to freedom, let’s make this community a microcosm of what we hope, when it’s behind us, to find and to become. I can’t think of a better place for us to practice making up our minds not to let circumstances or people draw out our insecurities.

I esteem you highly and find you so entirely interesting. What I’ve learned from you already can’t be overstated. I have become increasingly certain over the last two weeks that God is up to something BIG among us. Bigger than I first thought. In fact, I can tell you this. There’s no way we came up with this. God is pursuing us. He’s setting us up to get sick and tired of our insecurity and to do anything we must in order to find wholeness in Him. Let’s not stop Him in any way.

Oops, I got distracted for a minute. We just stopped at a Valero’s near Llano, Texas, for a bathroom break and Star started barking her head off at a man minding his own business and walking into the store. “What on earth is the matter with you?” I asked. (To Star, of course. Not the man.) Then I saw what he was wearing. Short shorts with winter white legs and black socks. I think Star is terrified by black socks against bright legs. Somebody tell me why that dude didn’t feel insecure. Not really. Don’t get off on that. But admit it. It’s a mystery.

OK, so let’s get to this week’s assignments. We’ve reached a very important point in our journey. We’re about to dig up eight deep roots of insecurity. No, we’re not looking for excuses but a little understanding can go a mighty long way. Haven’t you ever wondered why it dogs you so? You may be about to find out. This week I’d like for you to give special attention to Chapters FIVE and SIX. Here are the two questions I want you to answer here on the blog:

1. After reading these two chapters, what do you believe to be the TWO primary roots of your struggle with insecurity? Keep in mind that more may apply but try to lock in on two that you believe to be most impactful.

2. What, if any, insight did you gain about the roots of insecurity and did you sense that God was trying to speak to you in any specific way through it? (This answer does not need to be limited to the two roots you identified in the previous response.)

These may sound like simple questions but I promise you we will have some interesting reading this week. Go to it, Girlfriends! I can’t wait to hear from you. Remember, you have until next Thursday morning to make your comment. By the way, a number of you have asked if women can jump in late with us. Absolutely! Any time. Everybody’s welcome.

Here’s a special challenge this week: Let’s still hear from all of you who’ve been commenting over the last two weeks but let’s ALSO hear from at least one hundred of you who have never posted before. Remember, this is a NO INTIMIDATION ZONE. Get in there and learn how to make a comment and if you find it posted later and see that you misspelled a word, who cares? This journey will mean ten times more to you if you get all the way into it. Come on in and participate. This is a really cool group of women.

Come, Lord Jesus, and minister to us. Open our eyes. Open our hearts. Grant us signs of great freedom and healing even this week as we discover where our insecurities may be coming from. We know, Lord, that no flesh and blood can bring us what we need. If we come out of this with liberty, all glory will go to You alone. I love You, Father. Do Your Thing.

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Monday’s Pop Quiz Winners!

Here are the random winners of Monday’s pop quiz. Congrats, ladies! You will receive a $20 gift certificate to our Living Proof online store. Email us at blog@lproof.org and we will get you all set up.

Rachel – Columbus, MS, 9:17 AM
Barb – Gainesville, FL, 9:49 AM
Debbie – Milton, FL, 10:05 AM
Candace – Kentucky, 10:13 AM
Aimee – Regina, Saskatchewan, 10:49 AM
Janice – Canastota, NY, 10:53 AM
Rebekah – Yuma, AZ, 11:54 AM
Pam – Campbellsburg, IN, 12:27 PM
Karen – Yorba Linda, CA, 1:11 PM
Terri – Waxhaw, NC, 2:50 PM
Melanie – Bellingham, WA, 3:54 PM
Fran – Jackson, TN, 6:15 PM
Brittney Thomas – Lexington, KY, 10:05 PM
Kate – Baker City, OR, 9:52 PM
Kristi – Glendora, CA, 12:22 AM

And in case anyone needs a little cheer in their day, here are some of Annabeth’s recent hairdos.

This was yesterdays’ post-nap bed head.

And here’s my boy. We were enjoying some leftover birthday cake with milk to wash it down, hence the mustache.

Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday! We’ll be spending ours at church. Does anyone else go to church on Wednesday nights? We go to fellowship supper and then Curtis teaches a Bible study class. What do you do?

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Siesta SMT Celebration Audio Downloads

I can hardly believe a month has gone by since the Siesta Scripture Memory Team Celebration here in Houston. We had a blast studying, worshipping, and fellowshipping with the 500 ladies who attended. We promised to make the messages available to all the SSMT participants who weren’t able to join us. The downloads were ready last week but we were just getting the SLI discussion group off the ground and I wanted to let it take root before I buried the posts. Thanks so much for your patience! I hope you will enjoy listening to the sessions this weekend.

Session One

Session Two

Commissioning Audio

Commissioning Document

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So Long Insecurity Week Two!

Hey, Girls! I have absolutely LOVED your discussions in Week One! I am so happy about the decision to take a full week for your responses because the comments come in at a slow enough pace for AJ and me to read a ton of them. You are such an interesting and diverse group.

There were so many comments that made me think, a few that made me want to cry, and several that made me laugh my head off. I have to mention two that brought a smile to my face because I had anticipated this very challenge and discussed it at some length with my friends at Tyndale House. Both of the responses that made me grin came from the question about the last time you faced our gender’s massive insecurity struggle. One of you said you confronted it when you immediately had to pull the book jacket off so no one would see that you were reading a book on insecurity. The other one said something similar but with even more detail. You described getting the book that very day, taking it with you to work to begin reading over your supper break, spreading your stuff out on the table in the break room, then covering the name of the book so no one would think you were insecure. I loved it.

BY ALL MEANS, pull that book jacket off if you need to! It’s what’s inside the book that matters. I’ll tell you why I begged to have the word “insecurity” in the title even though the question came to the table, “Will insecure women be secure enough to get a book with insecurity in the title?” My feeling – then theirs – was that it was worth the chance. If we’d just named it something like “Hello Security,” women would not have known outright that it dealt with healing from INsecurity. Big difference. We can talk about security all day long but we will never find ourselves in that beautiful place without letting God deal with our insecurity.

As I wrestled with how it should be titled, I became certain, I pray through the direction of the Holy Spirit, that the key word had to be in it. It had to be blatant. That moment’s resonance with that distasteful word insecurity might make a woman like me stop and think…then gather the courage to slap that thing on the counter and take it home with her. I am convinced that, if someone else had written it and I’d been in the emotional turmoil of last year, I would have seen that word, looked both ways in that Walmart or that bookstore, and, when the coast was clear, I would have run to the check out counter – then to the car – as fast as I could. And I probably would have read the first chapter in the car with tears rolling down my cheeks. That’s how desperate I was.

Anyway, the first real step toward healing is admitting we’ve got a problem. So, you see? The fact that we were secure enough to get a book on insecurity means that all 6700+ of us are on our way to healing! High five right here, Girls. God is proud of us.

OK, so let’s get to our discussions for Week Two. Read or thoroughly review CHAPTERS THREE and FOUR then answer the questions that follow this paragraph. Remember to add your basic bio information every time you comment: First name, age decade, married or single, city, state. If at any time, your answer is too vulnerable for you to want to identify yourself, just go with age decade and married or single status. Those facts themselves bring insight to your answers.

1. Based on Chapter Three, what tends to be your own “Prominent False Positive”?

2. What is the challenge stated at the very end of Chapter Three? (I want us to see this restated in our comments hundreds of times so it breaks into our belief systems. It is critical to our journey. SO, I don’t care how many times you’ve seen it written on this post, write it again for yourself. That’s your mama talking.)

3. Based on Chapter Four, what Biblical figure (or statement about him/her) resonated with you most and why?

That’s it for this week! I can’t wait to see your answers. Remember, you have until next Thursday morning to answer your questions.

I care so much, Ladies. You are a tremendous inspiration to me. May Christ meet you in your tasks and concerns today. He loves you lavishly.

PS. I had to hop back on here and mention another comment that I just saw under last Thursday’s post. In fact, I’m going to flat-out cut and paste it. I thought it was so funny in terms of the two earlier ones I mentioned to you about some of us feeling a tad insecure about reading an insecurity book in public. Dig this one:

One of our sisters wrote…

Well, I ordered my book online and really thought it should be in/getting close to last Thursday when we were supposed to start. I went up to the receptionist and to see if I had received any packages and then said, “sure wish my book would come in.” Receptionist had a funny look on her face and pointed to a package on her desk. She said she didn’t know whose it was as it came in the day before with just company name and not an individual. She said, “I asked every woman in this office if it was theirs. I didn’t even think to ask you….you would be the last person…” Well, it was mine and at first I said, “I’m not insecure” but later walked back up there and said, “[the woman’s name], I do have some insecurities but guarantee you when I am done, I’ll be set free from them.” She looked at me like I was crazy. Oh well.

Bless your heart, Sister! We love you, we’re feeling your pain, and we’re all cringing and laughing with you (you just might as well go ahead and think it’s funny). Honestly, that’s just like something that would happen to me. You are all so refreshing to me. Let’s stay the course in Jesus’ great Name.

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Dear Jackson

Good morning, Dear Siestas! We are still under reconstruction but it is taking longer than we hoped so we’re reopening comments until we get the heads-up that the switch really is about to take place. Thank you for your patience! I especially want those of you who have just now gotten your books and read your first three segments to be able to comment. Look back at last Thursday’s post and jump in there with us. Also expect your second week’s assignment tomorrow.

I wonder if I may beg your indulgence to be shamefully focused on one little person today. After all, I entered one of the happiest seasons of my life four years ago today. I’ve got a letter stirring in my heart that the recipient is way too young to read and probably won’t even see when he’s grown. We’ll have bigger fish to fry then. And if his Paw Paw has anything to do with it, those bigger fish really will have scales, slime, and fins. Still, a letter, because I can get some big feelings off my chest all the same. So, with your patience…

Dear Jackson Curtis Jones,

Today is your four year-old birthday! Yahoo! This is one of my favorite of all days! I have a few things I want to say to you, young man. Things you should be glad that I’m saying in print instead of in person since I’d probably bawl my head off and you’d find that pretty confusing. It will be a long time until you understand happy cries and, as the man you’ll surely one day be, you’ll probably never like them. All the same, you’ll have to put up with them to have women in your life. And, boy, do you have some women in your life. Mommy, Annabeth, Nana, Aunt Melissa, Aunt Lindsay, and me for family starters. Goodness knows, there’ll be more. Your mommy told me not long ago that she thought ahead about you getting your heart broken by a girl one day and got mad at her without even having a clue who she was or what she looked like. Woe be unto her. That’s all I can say. All six of us will be on her like mad, scratching cats.

But, back to today. Thank you, Jackson, for bringing a baby back into the life of someone drunk on babies. Thank you for reciprocating the happy love I felt for you by reaching your plump little hands out toward me by the time you were four months old. Thank you for a wild enthusiasm for life that has awakened every soul in your company. For things like pumping your fist in the air after we said “Amen” to grace over burgers. Jesus loves that. I’d also like to thank you for naming me Bibby. I just love it. Who would ever have thought of such a name but you? Thank you for saying it so many times. Thank you for being the reason why I found an old purse in the closet the other day that had a pull-up in it. (A clean one, thank goodness.) It sure has been a while since you needed a pull-up, hasn’t it? Mommy is so happy about that.

Thank you for bringing me a world of Hot Wheels and for teaching me how to race and how to make sounds like motors. Thank you for the love you’ve engendered in my heart for your lizard named Bernie. Thank you for bringing “Fruit by the Foot” back into my cupboard. For innumerable rounds of hide and seek and for the memory of the first time you really did count to ten before you said, “Ready or not! Here I come!” Thank you for giggling so loud wherever you hid that I always knew where not to look so we could make the game go a good, long time. Thank you for loving to be at Pappaw Keith’s and Bibby’s house here in Houston and at Nana and Pappaw Steve’s house in Missouri. You are a boy who has loved his grandparents and we are all four so much the better for it.

Thank you for the carseat in the back of my SUV and for crawling into it so often. Thank you for loving music and telling me to “turn it up, Bibby!” and for specially requesting David Crowder. Thank you for all the theological insights I’ve gained from your interpretations of the Bible stories your dad tells you. Thank you for wanting to grow up to be just like him and for actually putting it to words. He is a giant in your eyes…and in ours. Thank you for being firstborn to my firstborn. For making expressions that look just like her when she was your age. Thank you for thinking she’s so beautiful. I do, too. Thank you for helping her discover that she was really wonderful at something she’d never aspired to as a girl growing up. She actually planned to take care of animals. Not children. I will always find great amusement in the fact that yours was the first diaper she ever changed. To say you have changed her life in return is the biggest understatement we could make today.

Thank you for being the best big brother ever and to what is sure to become the next in a line of consummate drama queens. She adores you. She’s tougher than she would have been without you. And that’s a good thing.

Thank you, Jackson, for four of the most exciting, love-flooded years of my life. You, like your Mommy, your Aunt Melissa, your Sister and your Pappaw, have shoved your way into my every conscious thought.

We have waited all our lives for you, little Man-child. You were worth every second of it.

Happy Birthday, Jackson Jones. I’m playing hooky from work to play with you today. Let’s go buy a swing set!

I love you,
Bibby

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Under Construction

UPDATE 2/17 – I went ahead and opened comments back up since I don’t know when this process will be finished. I’m sorry about all this!

Hey Siestas! The web guys are working to get our blog moved over to the new platform. I temporarily closed comments so that nothing gets lost in the shuffle. It’s taking a bit longer than expected but I’m hoping we’ll be back in business tomorrow. Until then, please keep the prayers coming! Have a great day, everyone.

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Valentine’s Weekend Recap

Our family had such a delightful weekend together. I hope yours did too! It started on Friday evening when we picked up some Mexican food from Chuy’s and took it over to my parents’ house. I think we’d spent a grand total of one hour with them in the last week, so it was a fun reunion.

We had a couple of things to celebrate. The first was Valentine’s Day. Annabeth arrived in her red tutu. Can you tell she loved herself in it? Or maybe she was glad to see her Bibby. I think it was both.

Jackson and I had made strawberry cupcakes to bring with us.

Annabeth is looking very interested in the cupcakes. Bibby does not suspect that a plan is hatching in Annabeth’s mind.

Cupcake overboard!

I’m not really supposed to talk about the other thing we were celebrating. (Mom doesn’t want to wear y’all out with the new book.) Technically, I’m not talking about it. Just showing you pictures.

Like I said, lots to celebrate. God is awesome.

On Saturday the sun finally came out and we were compelled to go outside. We decided to get Jackson an early birthday present – his first bike! Then we found an empty parking lot and let him go for it.

This was his first wipe out. It wasn’t too bad.

He was thrilled to ride through this puddle.

I was trying to take a creative picture of Annabeth but she crawled away. Oh well, her outfit clashed with the trash can anyway. (What a weird sentence to type.)

AB and I cheered Jackson on from the Suburban.

When it got too chilly we sought shelter in a pizza joint.

On Sunday morning we went to church. The Holy Spirit was speaking to me through the sermon on Genesis 17 and I could not take notes fast enough. What a great thing.

We took some pictures to mark the day. Before I show them to you, I’d like you to see the brother-sister pic from last year.

Here are my little Valentines a year later.

Poor Jackson. I can’t look at these without laughing hysterically.

Last night we had a really nice date at a steakhouse with our best friends, Kay and Jerrell. The boys planned everything a couple of weeks ago, even down to the babysitters. Kay and I were spoiled!

Something weird is going on with my dress in this picture. Before anyone asks, it is NOT maternity. And, yes, I’m insecure.

If you’ll allow me to pack one more thing into this post, I have some important blog-related news. We have been working on getting the LPM blog moved over to a different platform. Blogger can’t really handle the volume of comments we get over here and it has been extremely frustrating. We are finally moving over to WordPress, where I believe we’ll be able to serve you better. Our web designers have been hard at work and the new blog could go live as early as today. Yeah! We would appreciate your prayers, patience, and support as we make this transition. I’m nervous – perhaps needlessly – but very excited. All of our old posts and comments will still be accessible. I will have more details and instructions when it actually happens. Until then, just proceed as usual and say a prayer that the move will be smooth and wonderful. Thanks, Siestas! We love blogging with you!

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Love is as Strong as Death: A Valentine’s Day Post


Dearest Blogworld,

[Sigh]

It’s Melissa over here on the other side of the World Wide Web.
Do you even remember me?

It has been FOREVER.

I’ve missed you.

So, what have you been up to?

I’ve been translating Hebrew. And Greek. And more Hebrew. And then even more Greek. And so on and back again. For now, since it is LOVE weekend, I want to tell you about my Song of Songs class that I recently completed. Without a doubt, my Song of Songs class was one of the most fascinating courses I have ever taken. I spent the bulk of the second half of last semester preparing for this class alone. Why the bulk of my time? Well, because the Song is composed of 9.2% Hapax Legomena. Hapax Legomena are words that are only used one time in a given corpus. This means that about one in every ten words used in the Song have never been used anywhere else in the Hebrew Bible. This makes translating the Song of Songs, well,

__Fill ___in___the_blank__with__your__own__Adjective__.

By the way, Hapax Legomena would be a really fun phrase for you to throw around on a date. Super dorky and dorky can be super attractive, right? I wouldn’t leave you without some dating advice on Valentine’s Day! Grin. Anyway, since several of you have been asking me to share some of what I am learning, I thought I would take the chance to walk you through a segment of the text I translated for my final paper.

So let’s just get right to it. If someone hasn’t broken the news to you yet, the Song of Songs is what most Scholars call “erotic poetry”. For some of you this is quite a thrilling thought, for others it is crude and crass. For those of you in either camp, what do you make of your own personal reaction to the Song’s place in the Canon? Or maybe this is a better question: do you think there are any significant theological implications that could be derived from the inclusion of erotic poetry in the Bible?

Rumor has it that ancient Israelites were forbidden to read the Song unless they were thirty years old or married. Oh and by the way, if you are either offended or irritated by me right now, will you please do yourself a favor and close out this blog immediately? I don’t want to upset anyone on Valentine’s Eve.

Now that I am dealing with the remnant, let me tell you, when you slow down enough to really dwell on the metaphors in the Song, things get super heated. I once had a Professor at Moody Bible Institute teach the Song of Songs with a garbage bag over his head the entire class period. He had cut out little holes for his eyes and mouth. Now I know why. Anyway, as I’ve been translating the Hebrew through this class I’ve literally had to fan myself on several occasions. I wrote my paper on the intersection between the erotic poetry in Song 8.1-7 and wisdom literature, like Proverbs or Ecclesiastes, for instance. I won’t bore you with all the technicalities but I do want to share with you part of the message of the passage I worked on. Here is my own English translation of a segment of the text from the Hebrew (vv. 3-7)

3 His left hand is under my head,
and his right hand embraces me.
4 I charge you daughters of Jerusalem,
Do not awaken or arouse love,
until it desires
5 Who is this coming up from the wilderness,
leaning on her lover?
Under the apple tree I aroused you,
there your mother conceived you,
there she conceived you, she gave birth to you.
6 Place me like a seal on your heart,
like a seal on your arm,
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as severe as Sheol.
Its flames are flames of fire,
An almighty flame.
7 Floods are not able to extinguish love,
nor can rivers sweep it away.

The passage begins as the main female character, the Shulammite, describes her lover’s embrace in v. 3. She says, “His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me” and then out of nowhere she gives the daughters of Jerusalem (and us, the reader!) a warning:

I charge you daughters of Jerusalem,
Do not awaken or arouse love,
until it desires.

There is a timeliness to love, she says. A right time and a wrong time. We must not prematurely awaken love. We don’t know what the consequences entail but we get the feeling there are indeed consequences. As the woman and her lover are walking away from the countryside from their private rendezvous toward the city they pass by a tree and the woman says, “Under the apple tree I aroused you; there your mother conceived you, there she conceived you, she gave birth to you.” That the woman has awakened her lover’s desire at the same place he was born hints that she has been bound to him all along, ever since he was born.

But having been bound to him from the past is not enough, for she commands him next, “Place me like a seal on your heart, like a seal on your arm”. In the ancient world seals were pressed down or rolled across soft clay to make an impression and that impression signified an association with or even an ownership of the object being sealed (Tremper Longman, Song of Songs in New International Commentary of the Old Testament, 209). When the woman commands the man to place her like a seal over his heart she is seeking to possess the man, or as Longman says, “to allow her to own him, but not in any cheap kind of commercial sense; she wants him to willingly give himself to her” (210). The seal imagery also suggests finality, for once her seal is placed on his arm and his heart, the impression is for good. She is seeking an everlasting love, one that has encompassed the past and promises the future as well. She gives the reason for her command in the next verses which are arguably the most famous in the Song:

For love is as strong as death,

Jealousy as severe as Sheol.
Its flames are flames of fire,
An almighty flame.
Floods are not able to extinguish love,
nor can rivers sweep it away.

Notice that she is not saying that love is a victor over death but that love and death are equals. She is not saying love is stronger than death but that love is as strong as death. Moreover, love and jealousy are allies in this verse, not enemies. This is strange, right? Not a line you would expect in a Hallmark greeting card. Love is compared to some dark images here. Indeed, some of the darkest images that the Ancient Israelite could have imagined: death, Sheol (the abode of the dead), flames, and even chaotic waters. The mightiest waters, the most chaotic cosmic forces, cannot extinguish love’s flames. What do you make of these kind of images and metaphors?

I don’t know about you but I can truly resonate with the woman’s desire to possess her man with a seal. When I was engaged I remember having this fear about what would happen when all the desire and anticipation started fading. It made me sick to my stomach to even think about. I would hear married women speaking about how it was an “act of worship” to be intimate with their husbands and I would literally feel ill. I would think to myself, is it really going to be that hard?! I had such a fear of the intensity of our desire fading that it made me dread marriage in a sense. I wished that I could have pushed some kind of imaginary hold button and frozen the intensity of our yearning for one another for the rest of time. Love is not only powerful in its budding but it is powerful in its fading or even the fear of its fading. To feel love and passion at such extreme heights is like being on a drug and to sense it fading even a notch is like a crash. Human love, like death, is mortal to its core and mortality is fickle. Colin might wear a wedding ring but my name isn’t inscribed on his heart and I have no promises that I will be the object of his desire for the rest of my life. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, I have his promise that he will remain married to me for the rest of time. I hear you. But I don’t have the security of knowing that I will forever be his one and only desire. And let’s face it, we’re just human beings. We’re human beings who are surrounded by a whole lot of men and women who have broken these same promises. It’s frightening stuff we’re talking about here. But, like the poet says, love is like death. And death is scary. Sexual love is one of the greatest triumphs of the human experience. Yet you and I both know (*or ourselves are*) people who have been scarred and marred by the tragedy of sexual love as well.

On Valentine’s Day, a “holiday” some of us love and some of us pass off as a silly day driven by Greeting card companies, we are supposed to celebrate the gift of human love, especially romantic love. And I ain’t gonna lie, I am a sucker for romance. Have I mentioned that Colin’s and my two year anniversary is on Tuesday?! You know what they say, time flies when you’re having fun. Romance is an incredible gift from God. Its power is true mystery. I’ll spend some serious time thanking God for the love of my life tomorrow.
But above all else, I’ll thank God for Jesus Christ because I know of only one feeling that is greater than being wanted and loved by my man and that is the rest and peace I have found in Christ’s scandalous love for me. The flame of his love for me can never be quenched. His desire for me is never dependent upon my youth or my (fading!) sexual allure. I don’t feel threatened but thrilled that He loves my beautiful female neighbor as much as He loves me. I don’t sense the panic to mark Him with any sort of seal because at last, He sealed me first. This isn’t about Colin’s love falling short in any way, shape, or form. This is about needing something more than any human being on this earth could offer me. Some folks call it a divine romance. I don’t have words for it. All I know is His refrain has been reverberating since He came in the flesh several thousand years ago to save this world He loved:
“You are my beloved, and I am yours.”

The mystery is great-

But I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the Church (Eph. 5.32)

And although you have not seen Him, you love Him. (1 Peter 1.8)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

You are so loved.

Melissa

P.S. Here are some semi-recent photos of Colin and me!
Remaining Photo Credit goes to Leigh Germy Photography…

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