Her Feet Abide Not in Her House

David Castillo Dominici

(Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

It has happened again: a young girl, alone and wandering around drunk after a late-night party, has disappeared. We don’t know yet exactly what has happened to her, but we can assume it was something horrible. What a tragic thing for her and her family. I have every sympathy for them.  And yet, more and more when this sort of thing happens, I find myself thinking regretfully, “If only she had stayed at home.”

Let me stop and make a few concessions and/or admissions before I continue:

1) No one deserves to be victimized by anyone simply by being alone or being in a public place, or even being intoxicated. No one deserves it for any reason. No one is “asking for it.”

2) In my young and single days, I partied and drank in bars on a weekly basis. Generally I was with a friend, but there were occasions when I went out alone.

3) It is entirely possible to be victimized anytime, anywhere (including your own home or workplace), and even while engaged in the most innocent of activities.

All that being said, let me admit in addition that I watch an inordinate amount of true crime TV:  “Snapped,” and “Suburban Secrets” and “Deadly Women” and all such as that. I don’t make a particular point to catch these shows; I think I just wind up watching a lot of them because unlike network TV sitcoms or dramas, there is no particular premise I need to understand and no characters I have to be familiar with. I can tune in at any point and pretty much catch on to the action, so I tend to watch bits and pieces of them. As I listen to the descriptions of circumstances that lead to murders and other crimes, I again find myself noticing a pattern. Much of the time, if she hadn’t been out carousing, she’d be alive. If she hadn’t been out cheating on her husband, she’d be alive. If she hadn’t been trying to enrich herself by hurting somebody else, she wouldn’t have gotten into trouble.

We’re all just trying to feel happy, aren’t we? The latest missing girl probably just wanted to have some fun that night. I know that’s what I was doing when I was in my twenties…trying to have fun and looking for a relationship. Thankfully, nobody ever harmed me, but I can easily think of DOZENS, if not hundreds, of times when they could have. How many dark parking lots could I have been snatched from? How many times did I enter a home or a car of someone I didn’t know well enough to trust with my life? One of the main verses of scripture that constantly pops into my mind is I Timothy 5:6: “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.”

This can be applied various ways. Obviously, it does not mean “don’t have any fun or you’ll get yourself killed.” I’m not saying that. I am suggesting that if the main thing on a woman’s mind is partying, getting drunk, getting high, finding some sex, getting male attention and acquiring money or possessions, she’s on the wrong path. If you’re single and this is what you live for—you might want to rethink your priorities. If you’re married and you can hardly WAIT for the next girls’ night out, bachelorette party, or whatever social occasion takes you away from your family and out into the street to relive your more hedonistic days, you definitely need to reconsider. She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. Your life should be about more than making yourself feel good.

I’d like to call your attention to the biblical phrase, “keepers at home.” (Titus 2:5.) This phrase is often used in connection with our more modern word, “housekeeping,” and is thought to refer to being a housewife, a stay-at-home mother, or a person who manages her home well and maintains a clean and organized house. Maintaining an orderly home is obviously a good and admirable thing to do (as opposed to, y’know, sitting around watching “Snapped.” :-) ) But I happen to think that the verse is actually stating that a good and chaste woman ought primarily to stay at home, rather than be out at the bar, the restaurant, the friend’s house, the country club, or the shopping mall.

Consider the description of the woman in Proverbs 7. She is not, you”ll note, a professional prostitute. She is a married woman, merely wearing the attire of a harlot in the episode described. (Hmm, what do you wear when you go out with your girlfriends?)  She is further described as “loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house.” (Emphasis mine.) There are several translations of that phrase available in the various versions of the Bible, but they all amount to the same thing: the woman described will not stay home and behave herself; she’s always out running the streets. Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible expands further on this passage with the following statement: “Her feet abide not in her house; to attend to the business of it; but she is gadding abroad to seek her lovers, and bring them in; it is the character of good women that they are keepers at home, but it is the sign of a harlot to gad abroad…”

stockimages (2)

(Image courtesy of Stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Getting pretty radical in here now, isn’t it? I hope no feminists are reading this, or their heads may have just exploded. SURELY I’m not saying you ought to be like a prisoner in your own home, am I? Surely I’m not saying that we shouldn’t venture outside the house unescorted by a male relative. Next thing you know, I’ll be saying it’s a sin to go to the grocery store, or drop your children off at school, or go to work, for that matter, since it involves leaving the house.

Well no, I wouldn’t take it that far. But there is a bit of a difference, wouldn’t you say, in going about your normal life doing good and necessary things, and in “letting your hair down,” escaping the responsibilities of being a wife and mother, and seeking your own pleasure by going places and doing things that a Christian woman simply ought not to do.

Compared with “gadding abroad,” chances are better that you’ll be safe at home. Chances are better that, in your own home, you won’t encounter someone who either wants to harm you or lead you astray. You have liberty; of course you do. But if you search the whole Bible, I am pretty sure you won’t come up with any description of a wise woman that says, “She hangeth out with her girlfriends and drinketh margaritas.” The world thinks it’s perfectly acceptable. But Christian women have a different standard…..don’t we?

Surprise! It Was Anemia


(Image courtesy of Stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Very few times in my life has a doctor told me something I didn’t already know. Not that I’m any sort of a medical genius, but I guess I’ve pretty much had the garden-variety ailments that are not very hard to identify. Once, though, a doctor truly impressed me. Out of the blue, my arm got sore, and then I found a big scary lump in my underarm. Of course that was fairly alarming so I went straight to the doctor. He didn’t think the lump felt like anything serious, but he wanted to pinpoint the cause, so he was asking me a series of questions–do you drink a lot of caffeine, and so forth. I was saying No, no, no….and he was stumped for a moment. Then he paused and said, “Have you been scratched by a cat recently?” That was a big YES, and he gave me a prescription for whatever it was I needed, and the lump went away. I never would have thought to connect one thing to the other, so I appreciated the doctor’s knowledge in that instance.

Well, now it has happened again.

I was having a NUMBER of problems…so many, in fact, that I often found myself thinking that if I were a car it would be time to quit wasting money on a mechanic and just trade the old clunker in on a newer model. (Luckily my husband didn’t get that idea! ;-) ) But there were so many things going wrong that it was hard to pinpoint one in particular. Was there something worth seeing a doctor about, or was I just getting older?

The problem that finally drove me to seek medical attention was ITCHING. I have never been prone to dry skin or allergies, but I was itching all over my whole body. At work, I reached for my scissors or letter opener a hundred times a day, to scratch my back. I kept a back-scratcher on my nightstand because no sooner would I try to settle down at night than a maddening itch would get me in a spot I couldn’t reach. Countless times, I sat down in front of my husband and begged him to scratch my back. Meanwhile, I was clawing myself to pieces in the places I could reach easily (arms, legs, and stomach!). It became such a serious aggravation that one day I had to actually leave work and go buy some not-very-good-smelling anti-itch spray and hose myself down with it; otherwise I would have had to leave for the day.

MEANWHILE, a similar problem arose. I had a nervous, hyperactive, “herky-jerky” sort of a sensation that made me feel like I wanted to jump out of my skin. I often had to get up from my desk and just go out and walk around the parking lot for a few minutes. I’ve had restless leg syndrome a couple of times during pregnancy or periods of extreme stress, but this was more like restless-whole-body syndrome. Friends, let me tell you, this was psychological TORTURE. My job mostly pertains to me sitting down and quietly concentrating on my work. But when this problem was going on, I would sit down and I would begin to ITCH, and then I would begin to TWITCH! (That is, to feel that hyper feeling that made me jiggle my legs and otherwise move around. I looked a lot like Ray Charles did in the movie Ray, when he was on heroin.) I was afraid my coworkers would suspect me of substance abuse, although I was pretty honest about what was happening. I still felt like a fool because I had no explanation for it and I could not stop it. When these feelings would kick in around 9 in the morning and I would look at the clock and know I had to sit there and suffer all day, then  I would feel anxiety on top of everything else.

I was worried to death, because what if this continued to get worse? You can call in sick but you can’t call in itchy, and besides, missing one day of work would not have helped anything when the problem was occurring EVERY DAY. It was scary. I thought the problem might be somehow hormonal just because I’m getting to be that age. I also thought it might be psychosomatic, because it seemed to strike me at work or at church, times when I needed to sit still. At home I was not bothered as much.

Although, it was keeping me awake at night. Itching and twitching don’t make for relaxing rest, and then if you’ve ever had insomnia, you know how it tends to snowball. You have one bad night, and then the next night you lie down and start worrying about whether it will happen again, so invariably it does. I was getting a decent night’s rest about every three nights, because by then I was just worn out.

Well, I felt too silly to try to tell a doctor about my herky-jerky feeling, but I figured at least something could be done about the itch. I went to a dermatologist who turned out to have some rather silly suggestions (i.e. “Get a colonoscopy to rule out cancer.” Um, what??) She did do one useful thing, though, which was to run some blood tests. As soon as she got the results, she called me herself to say she was alarmed by them and that I should go to my regular doctor.

The regular doctor noticed right away that I was very anemic.  As a matter of fact, she said I was SO anemic that she didn’t understand how I was upright and functioning.  It was kind of a surprise…I’m not exactly a frail flower, but I’ll say this much, I have zero energy! It’s kind of a joke in my office that after two o’clock, I’m done, but I must have been that way for so long that I thought it was normal.  Strange as it sounds, the doctor felt that every problem I was having could be chalked up to anemia. She ran a few more tests until she was satisfied that I wasn’t anemic due to internal bleeding or anything like that, and then she gave me a B12 shot and a prescription for iron pills. (Integra is the name of them.)

Voila, the problems went away! One day a week or so after I started the medicine, I reached for my scissors at work and realized I was no longer using them as a scratching tool. The hyperactive feeling disappeared, and I’m sleeping fine every night. What a relief, and what a blessing that I went to someone with the knowledge to figure it out! Imagine the expensive procedures I could have had to go through, or the useless drugs I might have been prescribed. It could have happened so easily.

Now, just one more funny thing I’d like to share. I am known as the Popcorn Queen, because popcorn had been the staple of my diet for a long time. I always liked it, but for at least four years, I had been eating it pretty much daily. Much of the time, nothing else sounded as good to me as popcorn. I ate a snack-size bag at work every day, and anytime we didn’t have a family dinner, I was secretly a bit glad because it meant I could have popcorn. I’ve wondered at times if such over-consumption might lead to any health concerns, but I did some research and never found anything to worry about. After I heard of this anemia thing, I was up late one night (the insomnia hadn’t gone away yet) and I thought I would just research and see if perhaps popcorn might be preventing iron absorption  in my body somehow. What a surprise when I found out that popcorn is RICH in iron, and that a craving for it is a good sign that you’re iron-deficient!  This makes me think that I may very well have been quite anemic for at least four years (coincidentally this was during our uninsured period when I was not having any checkups). No wonder my symptoms went so far beyond the norm.

I’m feeling much better now, and glad to have my mysterious symptoms all resolved.

This Week Around Here

Yesterday, I suddenly realized I’d only written one post for the upcoming week. Nothing’s worse than writing under pressure and trying to develop a fairly lame idea into something worth reading, so instead I’m going to cheat and do a more personal and photo-oriented post.

First of all, in case you don’t read this whole thing, I want to tell you that I have finally gotten around to reading a book I’ve been noticing for several years: Kisses from Katie.



Not many years ago, Katie Davis was a normal teenage girl from Brentwood, TN, who had a passionate desire to serve the poor. While other girls were applying to colleges, she was diligently searching for a place to volunteer. She wound up spending Christmas break of her senior year at an orphanage in Uganda (after having to beg her mother to accompany her). The experience changed her life. Though her parents were not in favor and her friends thought she had gone off the deep end, she chose Uganda over college, and moved there as soon as she finished high school, planning to teach kindergarten in an orphanage. Since then she has adopted fourteen little girls and founded Amazima Ministries, an organization that assists multitudes of destitute people. She has done all this, she says, because Jesus does not SUGGEST that we help the poor and the orphaned and widowed, he COMMANDS it. Katie believes that she cannot in good conscience do any less than she is doing, and what she’s doing is giving every ounce of herself, day in and day out. She is astonishing and you should read about her. Buy the book, or maybe you’d just like to visit blog.amazima.org to see a short video of Katie telling you about her own story.

Wow…after that I’m kind of embarrassed to even tell you what I’ve been up to. :-(

But OK, here goes. My in-laws are scheduled to come visit us next week.inlaws

They are very dear to us and we look forward to seeing them. One added benefit of their visits is that we always get a little excited and start sprucing up our home. It took me  awhile to get interested in decorating this apartment because I felt so displaced at first…plus I didn’t know how long we’d live here…plus after owning my last three homes, I felt keenly that this place wasn’t mine. But eventually it has begun to feel like home, and really we’re in no hurry to find any different housing, so we’ve been decorating.

My first order of business was to convince my husband to move several oddball, manly, framed posters that he had hung in goofy places when we first got here…when I was not myself. I’d rather banish them to some subterranean man cave that we do not currently have, but since that was not an option, we put them all on one bare wall in our dining area. It’s not ideal, but at least now I have one wall of goofiness instead of several rooms of it.

So, on our newly naked bedroom walls, we have put this:

BR walls Both the giant mirror ( which will surely decapitate us both if it ever falls), and the colorful metal birds are new. One morning I caught my cat perched on that black chair, tail switching, ready to jump up and eat one. I’m not sure if she could actually recognize them as representations of birds, but she sure seemed to!

The Kiss

I can’t manage to capture a good shot of this due to reflections, but this painting is The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. You will often see it displayed horizontally, as though the subjects were lying down. I admit it looks just as well that way, if not better, but we hung it vertically because that’s correct and because we’re all fancy and cultured like that. ;-) Oh and because we needed a picture that was taller than it was wide. (Hey…if you like this painting, I’ll put a link at the bottom of the post. You could order it from Art.com which is what we did.)

Then it was on to the living room, where there had been a blank spot over our TV for three years. We wanted something NOT rectangular,  and we hoped to find some kind of metal wall art, but we wound up with another giant mirror.     It was marked down because the paint was scratched, but that worked out fine for us because we didn’t like the color anyway. (It was originally silver, now it’s gold.)LR mirror The minute we hung it, I suddenly remembered a decorating rule that says when you hang a mirror in your home, you need to consider what it will reflect. That’s the problem, because in this case it only reflects more blank white wall. Oh well. I’m not in love with it, but it’s better than nothing.

One last picture…this is my coworker and friend Christina wearing a Lilla Rose hair clip! Christina's hair

I’m just getting started as a Lilla Rose consultant but I’m pleased that my friends have been excited to try the clips (and order some!) You can click the link in my sidebar to go to my Lilla Rose independent consultant site if you would like to look at more clips and try them for yourself.  www.lillarose.biz/sweetwaterandbitter

Excuse my shameless plugs, and have a great week! :-)

Buy at Art.com
The Kiss, c.1907
Buy From Art.com

Staying Home is Not the Hardest


I would love to stay at home.

Over the course of my years as a mother, I’ve done it all three ways: working full-time, part-time, and staying home. Staying home was by far the happiest, most fulfilling, most enjoyable time I’ve ever spent as a mother. I knew it was temporary, and I continued to pay my share of the household expenses by spending up the entire balance of a 401K account that had taken me twelve years to accumulate.  I have yet to regret it. Sure, I might want to retire some day, but I wanted to stay home right then, and it was a wonderful time.

I was aware, every day that year, of the luxury of time available to me. If I didn’t get to a task today–eh, well, I could do it tomorrow. There was no rush, no need to cram every possible errand into a Saturday morning. I had time to take my children where they needed to go, and time to chitchat with them. Time to sit out on the deck and watch the rain with them–you know, it rained today while I was in the office, but I couldn’t go outside and enjoy the smell of it and the feel of the breeze. My time belongs to my boss, and she doesn’t pay me to sniff raindrops.

I kept on top of the housework while I stayed home, and I was able to circulate around to several different stores to catch the grocery bargains. (That’s unthinkable to me now…my husband usually does the shopping while I stay home Friday nights to clean, but if I DO occasionally get drafted to go, after that one hour of shopping I’m totally beat, because I’m already running on fumes when I get there.) When I stayed home, I cooked for the family every night. My kids would ask me what was for dinner and I would have an answer for them. (Sometimes now my son gets a shrug.) I remember my husband remarking about how nice it was to come home and find there was nothing he needed to do. (Now he does a couple of loads of laundry every night, at least.) I joined a gym while I stayed home! They had free child care available for my little boy. Now, we have a free gym available in our neighborhood.  My son ( now twelve) asked me, this very night, didn’t we say we were going to start going to the gym? I groaned and said, “Let’s not.” Driving home and climbing the stairs is workout enough. Once I get in the door and get out of my work clothes, leaving again is not in the forecast.

I’ve been giving you a picture of my life. Granted, not everyone will experience working or staying home as I do/did. I’m sure lots of women think working full-time is a piece of cake, and they still have plenty of time and energy to do what they want in their off hours.

And I am even MORE sure that a number of SAHMs are chomping at the keyboard to tell me that their lives are not a breeze because they have ten kids, not two, and they homeschool them and live on a farm and churn their own butter and whatnot. Yes…that sounds much harder and more taxing than my stay-at-home time. But there were some choices made there, right? You did choose to have that many children, you certainly chose to homeschool them, and they do sell butter at the grocery store. I am not knocking you! God bless you in the life you chose.

If you would only stop complaining about it. That’s right…complaining. When you say, “It’s the hardest job in the world….oh, um, and the most fulfilling.” Or when you post those memes about “I work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.” When you commiserate about what a sacrifice it is to stay home. When you gripe about how your baby kept you up all night or your kids have been sick for days. (Try the agony of deciding whether to send a somewhat-sick child to school or face dire consequences at your job. Try being up with that crying baby and still having to put on your dress and heels and makeup, and then sit up straight and look at little numbers on a computer all day.)   What’s worst is when you describe your job as “thankless.”

Wow, I wonder how that makes your husband feel? In my eyes, the fact that you are allowed to stay home is an extreme PRIVILEGE. Have you lost sight of the fact that it is a GIFT made possible by your husband? Thankless? How about you being a little more thankFUL? If my husband came home tomorrow and said, “Hey, guess what–why don’t you quit your job and stay home. I’ll continue to drive in rush hour to work all day every day to satisfy customers and bosses who may or may not be reasonable. I’ll deal with the stress of knowing that at any moment, if I make an error or if I  don’t perform well, they could walk in and tell me I no longer have a job. I’ll pay for the roof over your head and the food in your mouth and every stitch of clothing you wear…and if you decide you need volumizing mascara or new cushions for the sofa because you’re just no longer “feeling” the old ones, well, honey, I’ll pay for that, too. I’ll pay for your mammogram and your prescriptions, and your glasses, oh and of course your car and gas. If you want to buy a birthday gift for a friend, I’ll pick up the tab for that, even though your name will be on the card and I don’t even know her.” Etc., etc., etc.  Are you kidding me—I would fall down dead of surprise.

I realize some of you have red faces and steam coming out of your ears right now, because you are wanting to say “I DO MY SHARE AROUND HERE. I WORK TOO, and my work is just as valuable as his.” All right. No argument. But suppose you (like me) were married to a man who felt that there were two able-bodied adults in the house, so why should he carry the entire financial burden? Just imagine it for one second…a husband who believed  that whatever contributions you might make around the home would be far outweighed by those you could make as an employed financial contributor.

Please understand that I am not bashing my husband. When I think of “do unto others,” then I must consider how I would feel if HE wanted to stay home while I carried the entire load. I tried it once, by the way. We had two kids at home and I had a great, well-paying job, when his company shut down. He drew unemployment for a while, attended school, did the housework and had dinner cooked every night when I got home. My response to this was to have a literal nervous breakdown. The idea that four people were depending on me made every moment I spent at work somehow magnified in importance, leading to terrible stress. And despite the fact that my husband was keeping things up at home, I seethed with resentment over the free time he had and the relaxed pace he was living with. It wasn’t fair.

I am not proud of that, because he certainly did not treat me that way when I spent my year at home, but that’s just the difference in the sexes, I think. While I felt embarrassed to have an unemployed husband, he felt a certain amount of pride at having a wife at home. The thing is, he was not willing to pay, indefinitely, for that feeling. After a while, enough was enough, and he was more than happy to return to pitching in with the laundry and groceries and whatever else needed doing at home, in exchange for the salary I could earn.

If you are a stay-at-home wife and/or mother, then yes–of course what you are doing is valuable. But take a moment today to realize that you, too, could be married to a man who would consider a paycheck more valuable. The fact that you’re home is a gift from him to you. Be thankful.


Also linking with:

Mom's Morning Coffee


Whatever’s going  wrong in your marriage today does not HAVE to be a deal-breaker. That’s the main thing I want to tell you.

When you’re going through something in your marriage that’s very hard, very painful…you can survive it, you can get through it, and you can come out happy and fine in the end.

It makes a big difference when you’re able to take the idea of divorce completely off the table. Yet I hesitate to make a broad statement and say you MUST approach it that way, for a couple of reasons–one being that certain things (such as child molestation) should probably never be gotten over. I haven’t been in that situation, thankfully, but I would think that would be a time to cut your losses and run far, far away. Most things, though, can be overcome if it is your desire to overcome them. If you’ve ever read the “About Me” section, you know that I am both a divorced person and a person who has been married nearly twenty years. I’ll give you some background info so you can know that I’m speaking to you from experience.

I married my first husband in haste, because I thought I was getting older (ha, 25!) so I grabbed the first candidate who came along. I was told later that he cheated on me, but I wasn’t aware of it at the time, so I can’t say we divorced for a biblical reason. We divorced because it soon became apparent that we could not STAND each other. Everything either of us said or did was wrong in the eyes of the other one, and we were miserable. Looking back now, as a Christian, I can see that I myself approached a lot of things wrong in that relationship, and maybe if we had both sincerely wanted to try and had received some strong Christian guidance, we might have eventually found a way to make it work. Maybe we’d be sitting here right now, happy as clams, saying “Remember those early days when we used to fight all the time?” I’ll never know, and like most divorced people I don’t exactly relish that thought, because he lives in my mind as somebody I do not like or wish to be around. But still. We could possibly have worked it out, if we’d wanted to.

When I met my now-husband, from day one it was clear that we were on the same wavelength, we spoke each other’s language, we were just sympatico right off the bat. Made for each other. Meant to be. There has never been an atmosphere in our home of disliking one another; never that feeling that I wasn’t accepted or that everything I did was wrong. But it has been no bed of roses, either. Both of us have done things wrong–and I don’t mean just a little bit wrong–I mean big, bad, Ten Commandment-breaking wrong. Bottom line, though, even though sometimes we screwed up big time, we just loved each other so much. It was always worth it to slog through the pain and get things hashed out and stay together. You have to be the judge of whether what you’ve got is worth saving.



When you’re going through a bad time, support from friends can be great. But friends are often so much “on your side” that they will advise you to do whatever they think will end your pain the fastest. He cheated? He ran up a bunch of debt behind your back? He hit you, God forbid? Get out of there, girl, nobody has a right to do that. You deserve better. That’s what friends will tell you, and they mean it in the best possible way. They are trying to look out for your best interests. But they may not be right. You don’t HAVE to leave, and you don’t have to apologize to anybody for staying. (A good way to avoid this dilemma is to not blab all your marriage troubles to your friends, by the way. Pray about them instead.)

I understand the pain you’re going through. Trust me, I wrote a whole book about the pain.

(You can get if from Amazon if you want to; click the link below.)



Like I said, we’ve BOTH done things wrong, but the first big occasion was my husband’s. Loving him as much as I do only served to make it doubly devastating. I fell to pieces for a while. I was a kaleidoscope of changing emotions for a good TWO YEARS. Did you read that? TWO YEARS, I’m telling you. Two years that it lurked in my mind, that it still caused pain, that I could not stop looking for it happen again, that I could not stop making digs at him about it. And I thought we were ruined, we’d never be the same, I could never trust him or even look at him the way I did before. (Incidentally I am not even talking about a sexual affair, here. It was something different, but that’s not the point.) I am just telling you that there was a HUGE incident that rocked us to the core–and there have been other incidents and rocky places–yet here we are. Happy. No, not just pretending. Really sincerely happy.

I can’t write down the “steps to happiness” for you, not knowing your particular situation. In our case, part of it was just sticking it out long enough that some things resolved themselves. Part of it was turning to God. We learned to apologize to each other sometimes. I learned to submit and he learned to return that gesture with responsible leadership. We learned to sometimes just swallow our pride and let the other person win the argument.

I just want you to know that if there’s love between you, if there’s a desire to work things out, it can happen. New and improved ways of living together can become the norm, and the pain can become a distant memory. I promise you.


Put Some Clothes On, Granny


I have read many, many, many a blog post on the topic of modesty. And not just blog posts…I spent a year or two seeking out every published article I could find, and I’ve read several books about it as well. If you are interested in the topic of modesty, you may very well have done the same, so I am excusing myself from presenting an exhaustive review of the following:

1) Modesty is a biblical principle, although the exact application of it to modern life is a matter that individuals may differ about.

2) Yes, what’s in your heart matters most, but many of us believe that there is a standard of decency that Christian women should follow, and that this standard requires clothing that is quite a bit different from what many women wear (and completely different than what most celebrities wear).

3) We should give grace to those who may not yet know what we have learned, and to those who interpret the scriptures differently than we do.

Are we mostly agreed? I sure hope so, because I’m about to bust right out and tell you that


OK, maybe I exaggerate just a bit, but I see a lot more skin than I want to, and my husband sees a lot more than I want him to. I can’t even count how many young women come to services in backless, strapless, and/or too short garments.  It bothers me, because I’m always wondering– even if these women choose to wear revealing clothes elsewhere, why don’t they have enough sense to put on something decent for church? Oh, wait…..it’s because their mothers and grandmothers are doing the same thing.

I’ll be honest with you, it hasn’t been that long since I went through what bloggers like to call a “modesty transformation,” but one thing that has made it extremely easy is the knowledge that I am neither a spring chicken nor a fashion model, and there isn’t that much of my body that anybody is dying to see anyway! Can I get an AMEN on that?? I mean really…it’s a blessing to me to cover up what needs to be covered, and I know a few trying-real-hard-to-look-hot grandmas who might want to give that idea a try themselves, and be a better example to their younger counterparts.

Can I say this plain and simple? We all have different ideas of what’s pretty and what’s appropriate. But church is NOT the place for any outfit that could possibly be called sexy. It’s just not. Stop advertising if you’re not selling, and throw on a cardigan or something.

And while we’re at it, do you really need to come to church in jean shorts and a graphic T-shirt? Do you really?  I get the idea that nobody wants to get all dressed up on a Sunday morning, especially if the weather is not conducive to that. As a society, we don’t do very much dressing up anymore…it seems we’ve all (except my boss, of course) agreed that we’d rather be comfortable.  I have to dress in “professional” clothes every day at work…like this:





….and you can bet your sweet patootie that there is quite a bit of the wailing and gnashing of teeth when I have to get up on Sunday and put on the exact same type of thing. It’s HOT here, and now I’ll have to come home after church instead of going straight on to whatever else I planned to do and I don’t feel like dressing up today and blah, blah, blah. Oh well, that’s too bad, and I have to get over it and put on something appropriate to where I’m going–just as I would for a job interview, a date, a wedding (to which people also go dressed in any old rag nowadays, and that’s extremely RUDE ) or for that matter, to work out at the gym or clean out the garage. You dress for the occasion, not just to suit yourSELF.

I could show up to my church in denim shorts (if I had any). Women do it every week. And I could wear a sundress, or bare my cleavage and give the pastor a heart attack when he looks down from the altar (no joke, women really are very inconsiderate of the pastor when they do that). I could wear a mini-skirt, or something peek-a-boo with a plunging bare back to give the men in the pews behind me a distraction. (Hey, I didn’t say a pleasant one…just a distraction.)

But I do none of these things, and I don’t think anybody should, and do you know why? Because, in the famous words of “Mammy” from Gone With the Wind…


… “It ain’t fittin’, it jest ain’t fittin.’ IT AIN’T FITTIN’.

Dealing With Your HOA


Where I live in Florida, it seems that every halfway “nice” subdivision has a homeowners’ association (HOA), often managed by a professional HOA management company like the one where I work. Living all my life (up until three years ago) in Georgia, I’d never even heard of an HOA management company. But here, possibly because too many people are crowded onto residential lots about as big as  postage stamps and homes are expensive, people tend to be a lot more concerned about what the neighbors are doing. The HOA is ostensibly charged with preserving property values in the neighborhood, and since the actual board is made up of volunteer homeowners who usually have full-time jobs and other commitments, they often hire a management company to handle the day-to-day business of running the community.

At my company, for example, we are hired–by the board of community volunteers– to do monthly inspections of the communities, deal with the vendors who handle such tasks as landscaping and lake maintenance, and (among other things) send out invoices and collect HOA dues.

By and large, we are not very popular with the average homeowner. :-(

In fact, we get cussed out on a daily basis by homeowners, for a variety of reasons. (Sometimes by Christians who snarl “Have a blessed day” after ripping us to shreds, which reminds me–I plan on doing a post in the near future about how anger levels seem to correlate with EGO SIZE, so keep an eye open for that.) Anyway, I think that in many cases, if  homeowners could keep their cool long enough to get a clue about how HOA management actually works, they could spare themselves a lot of pointless stress. May I offer a few tips?

1) Please remember that your representatives sought us out and HIRED US. We did not storm in and take over your community by force.  Also, we don’t make up the rules! We are hired to enforce the covenants and restrictions that have been in existence since your neighborhood began! Now it may be that we are enforcing rules that the previous management company did not, but guess what? That’s probably why your board hired us. We are trying to keep your neighborhood from “going downhill.” We are trying to help you.

2) We understand that nobody likes being told what to do. You may have every intention of cutting your grass or pressure washing your siding just as soon as you get a chance, and it makes you angry for someone to have the nerve to mail you a letter pointing out that you need to get on it. You know already! You don’t need us to tell you! Okay, that’s fine, but must you call and scream at our receptionist? We are not mind readers, you know. We drive by your house and we call ‘em like we see ‘em. We have no idea whether tasks have gone undone because you’re recovering from surgery or because you’re lying on the sofa eating Cheetohs, and no, we are not going to knock on each and every door just to inquire.  Give us a break, we’re just doing our job.


3) We don’t “grade on the curve.” There is one standard for the entire neighborhood, so it is really a waste of time for you to respond to a letter from us by stating that your neighbor’s property looks much worse than yours, so why don’t we send them a letter? Just so you know, if your neighbor’s grass is a foot high and they have a junk car in the driveway and a Lynyrd Skynyrd flag in the living room window instead of curtains, I’m pretty sure we HAVE sent them a letter. It’s just that they don’t care. Your trashy neighbor is ignoring us, and eventually we may have to take them to court to force them to comply, which may cost thousands of dollars of YOUR HOA’s money. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll pursue them to the ends of the earth, IF your board instructs us to. Why don’t  you go to the next meeting and let your voice be heard? One other thing: we are not harassing you because of your race or nationality. It’s not exactly a rarity nowadays for people of all stripes to live in the same neighborhood. Nobody is saying, “Oh, my word, we MUST get this black/hispanic/Muslim person out of the neighborhood!” Chances are, when we’re doing property inspections, we have no idea who lives in the house anyway. We are simply making a note that 123 Elm Street needs to trim their hedges. It’s no more personal than that.

4) We enforce the covenants, but we do not handle everything that happens in the community. If your neighbors are throwing wild parties or their kids are running wild through your yard, call the cops or child protective services. We also can’t do anything about the sexual predator who moved into the area or the Canada geese who soil your driveway. Think about what power we have. Do you want us to send the geese a letter? Also–and I am so serious about this–do not call us and complain that someone’s dog is pooping in your yard if you have no idea whose dog it is! What do you think we’re going to do, stake out the property with infrared binoculars to catch him in the act? Just because something is happening that you do not like does not automatically mean that the HOA management company is responsible for fixing it.

5) We understand that you own your property and feel you should be able to do whatever you want on it. However, you CHOSE to buy a home in a deed-restricted community, and I’ll assume you did that because you wanted to make sure the neighbors wouldn’t be able to do something tacky. However, please realize that YOU are someone else’s neighbor, and they don’t want YOU to do something tacky. Maybe you think a gazebo or a statue of Aphrodite or some fake deer in the front yard would be lovely. Maybe you think pink is a perfect color for a house, or maybe a tin roof is more to your liking than slate. But our job is to keep the neighborhood harmonious, so that one person’s idea of beauty does not became an eyesore to a hundred others. You want absolute freedom? Go buy some acreage where there are no HOA rules to restrict you.


6) The management company is not pocketing your assessment (dues) money. Your HOA has a bank account, and they vote every year about what it will take to run the community. The management company collects your money and  puts it in your community’s account. Out of that, they do pay us a set fee for our services, but they pay numerous other vendors as well, to maintain your community. Request to see the budget if you’d like to know where your money is going. And by the way, please do not call us and raise a horrible fuss if you fail to pay and then must face the consequences. We are not pocketing your money then, either, but a lawyer might be profiting somewhat from your failure to take care of your obligation. Sure, times are hard for lots of people, but what state would your neighborhood be in if nobody paid?

I’ll stop there for now, though I’m sure I’ll add another post on this topic at some point. In the meantime, please just try to keep your righteous indignation in check, and deal with your management company like a sensible adult. Lawn-mowing is great for stress-reduction, I’ve heard… :-)


This week in addition to my usual linkups I am sharing with:


If Your Tragedy Had Never Happened



(Image by David Castillo Dominici, courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.com)

In 1990, I was twenty-five years old and nine months pregnant. I went to my final doctor visit on December 5th, and while there, the doctor told me that if I didn’t go into labor over the weekend, he would induce me the following week. He also accidentally revealed that the baby was a boy. I floated out the office door and went down the stairs to where my then-husband was waiting in the car. We always wore our seat belts, but this time we were so busy chattering, so excited over the news,  that we both forgot.

We never made it home.


I am very careful when I write about my son, who was born that day. He was a real person whose life was snatched away from him (not just from me). I never write in such a way as to allow what happened that day to become a “story” with my son as a mere character. So there is no need for me to delve into all the details of our accident right now, because at any rate what I really want to talk to you about is the place of tragedy in our lives.

Relatively minor things are going to happen to everybody, right? Somebody breaks into the house and steals the valuables. The “love of our life” strays away. We lose jobs, we lose our looks, maybe we lose a few of our marbles. The kids grow up and do things we don’t approve of. And in all these things, we generally grit our teeth and keep slogging on, until eventually there comes a day that we can praise the Lord that we didn’t marry that person, that we didn’t get Job A because Job B was even better, and so on. Then everything comes into focus and it’s easy to talk about how all things work together for good and how the Lord had a wonderful plan in place all the time.

It’s very different when you’re facing a tragedy so cruel and so devastating that no matter how you turn it, no matter how you analyze it and try to understand, you can’t see anything but emptiness and horror.

I remember a day, it must have been close to a year after my son’s death, that I came home from work and was just sitting in the living room alone. I can still remember the light fixture that was above my head, because that’s what I was looking at when I burst out sobbing and crying, “Why? Why?” I got up daily and went about my life, but the grief was constantly in my heart. I could never make any sense of why a precious, wanted baby would form so miraculously inside me, day after day and month after month, only to die in a senseless accident. And I would have given anything, anything, to have him back. I will never stop being sorry for him that his life ended after eleven days.

But that was many years ago, and so I’ve had time to consider what my life would be today if we had made it home safely from the doctor’s office, and everything had proceeded as expected. I think anytime an accident happens, you ask “what if” in a thousand ways. For example, I remember the doctor’s receptionist offering me an early-morning appointment, but I thought I’d rather sleep in so I took a later one. And after the appointment, my then-husband wanted to go one direction but I reminded him of an errand we’d promised to do, in the other direction. What if? The slightest variation in anything that day, and we would not have been there to collide with another vehicle at that particular moment. Over the years, I have learned to ask “What if we hadn’t?”

I am not about to sit here and think up a list of positive things that happened because my child died; that’s not what I’m getting at. But I do sometimes consider my now-husband, my soulmate of twenty years, and realize that I would never have met him if my life had stayed on the path I expected it to. I look at my beautiful daughter and my precious second son and wonder if they would have existed at all. What if I were given the chance to reverse all these years? What if the Lord said to me that he would turn back the clock, give my baby back to me, but I would never know these other three that I now call my family? I might bow my head and cry, but I would leave things as they are. And that gives me faith that I can trust God to know what he is doing after all–no matter how impossible it might be to see it at the time. He understands what we cannot even fathom.

This week in addition to my usual linkup I am sharing with:


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 48 other followers