Monday, December 31, 2012

From the Depths of My Heart

This is a post that is has been a long time coming.  A farewell to 2012, and an ushering in of the new year.  I thank the Lord for newness, what a blessed gift.

Long have I held the belief that my writings must be in a form of code.  It is a precaution against exposing the raw feelings that are deep inside, that is, a precaution against others twisting my words or losing the explanation altogether.  For too long I have been afraid of writing at all.  The deep heart-wrenching pain has caused me to keep a tighter grip on letting anyone see.  Pain unimaginable had pierced me to such a point, I wondered if I would ever heal at all.  And words, words would not come to me, and I stopped writing and instead replaced the written word with tears.  I have always expressed myself through writings, even if I never shared them with others.  When I felt I did not have the courage to write, weeping was my release.  The year of 2012 holds close to none of my writings, for they were not immortalized into the written word, but kept with a tight grip close to my heart.

Part of the fear that has held me back from writing has been the notion of not wanting to cause dishonor to fall upon anyone.  But, I've come to realize that every single one of us are sinners and imperfect.  That includes me especially.  I have never tried to claim the title of perfection or the ideal Christian, but rather the more I encounter God through His word and worship, I am more and more humbled and realize how desperately I am in need of His grace evermore.  But Christ's words still says we are to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.  I am NOT perfect, but I am to strive for it, and oh how I often I fail.  We all fail.  The difference is, some are children of God and as the Psalmist (73) says, "My heart and flesh my fail, but God is the strength of my heart and portion forever."  To the word of God I cling, for I have found how others have forsaken me.

Part of me is compelled to write now, but the other part is still hesitant.  What will I say and how should I say it?  I feel as if I have been too silent.  But in that silence the most incredible thing has happened:  I have known God as the Comforter and Healer.  I am still being comforted and am still healing.  Knowing His love and grace in this way has slowly given me back my joy, laughter, smiles, and I've realized more than anything, how important it is to live and enjoy what God has blessed me with, though I have lost so much.  Once more in my life I have learned to say as Job said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD."  Our time here on earth is but a mist, a flower that fades, here today and gone the next.  What can we take from this world?  What do we gain?  God is absolutely sovereign, and in His good pleasure He gives and He takes away.  If we bless Him when He gives, then we ought to bless Him even when He takes away.  Are His gifts more precious than the Savior Himself?  It is easy to say yes, but it is harder to live the yes.  As His chosen child, how could I even dare to say His choosing for me is not good?-after all, He is the one who chose to save me before the foundations of the world in the first place!  Why would I not also trust His choosing what might best sanctify me in this life and what will draw me nearer to Him?  The precious words of Scripture have been close to my heart for these past few years, and only over a year ago did I know intimately how true they were, Phil 3:7-8 "But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,".

What did "all" mean for me?   My family.  I love my family more than anything else in this world.  They were the ones I poured my heart in prayer over, the ones who's prayerful tears were spilled for.  I wanted nothing more than to share the love of Christ with them every chance I had.  Yes, I often failed.  But God gave me that grace to continue to love them even when I failed... and by His grace, I grew and matured as the years passed, and as the years passed, my love was more selfless.  "All" was also the comfort of the familiar.  And yes, for the surpassing value of knowing my beautiful and precious Savior Jesus Christ, my Lord, I suffered the loss of many things.  Even my name as His child that He redeemed.  That is the worst of all, to have people that you love, and even people you don't know... to believe the worst about you and to either merely doubt you are a Christian, or to not believe you are at all.  As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:8b-9 "that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead"  Yes, to even despair of life, but it is trusting in the Lord, not ourselves that brings us through.  When I was so broken-hearted and felt as if it were impossible to live a normal life ever again, when I sobbed so deeply and felt my pain so acutely I thought it would never end, even when I felt I could not hold on in my own strength, I was comforted by the truth of God's word once again, as David says in Psalm 63:8 "My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.  Still, was I ever resolved to follow my Lord and Savior, and by His grace I could, for HE was the one holding me in His right hand.  All also meant my character, my image, who people saw me as, perceived me as, took me as.  All was the life I lived.  And it was a process, realizing that this "all" was loss.  It began years ago, and it felt like it lead up to one devastating loss of last year.  But even so, these alls were loss in view of the surpassing value of my blessed Redeemer.

Above all, even my dear husband, I love and treasure my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I am learning to live the abundant life he promised as He continue to heal the wounds of my heart.  After all, Christ says in His word in John 10:10 "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." Stripping me of all was/is a work of Christ, and in return He is showing and continues to show me more of His love, life and truth; piecing this broken heart back together one day at a time and giving me more abundant life.  What a wonderful Savior, what a wonderful God!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I must recount the horrors of the past couple of weeks. It all began with one Sunday a friend from church named Laura began to talk about spiders. *Shudders*. That word in and of itself makes my skin crawl, literally! I must swipe at every thing that feels remotely like a creepy crawly. So Laura instigated a long conversation at lunch after church on this horrendous topic. Of course, her sister pulls out her iPhone and finds images of these disgusting creatures as if it were show and tell story time! She promised to bring her spider book the following Sunday.

Fast forward to this past Lord's day, and my brother in law caught a LARGE and I mean gigantic spider. He then had the nerve to present the spider to my face, as in a foot away (way to close for comfort). This was at their house for lunch, not in church, mind you. It had an eggsac on the back, which was absolutely petrifying when you think of the implications! For example, this is not merely a squishable spider, for if you stop on it or whack a book on it... you release thousands of its tiny minions! Which is enough to make my heart stop. So it is not easy to kill. So she remained alive the whole Sunday, and he thought it funny to bring it up numerous times. After weeks of talking of spiders... all I wanted was the safety of my own home.

Though, the irony is, my home is not safe from spiders. I can handle small squishable ones, the ones that crawl on the porch and I can step on or whack with my shoe, but those large and detestable ones... they literally scare me still! So yesterday I decided to act on some of the money saving tips my husband encourages me in, such as utilizing the clothes line he put up for me in the backyard. I proudly did the laundry and hung them to try... when I had a wasp encounter! Which, by the way, we are battling a few wasps nests around our house, not quite as horrifying as spiders, but still scary. I reached to grab a clothespin and lo and behold a red winged devil snuggled its body next to my finger, out of pure shock and terror, I shook my hand violently and jumped to the side and quickly ran to the back door steps. When all was clear I finished hanging my assorted clothing and ran inside. I left shortly after to run errands... and when I came back, the real fear struck. I went out to put my naughty dog out in her doghouse. I looked to the sky, admiring the beauty of God's creation, when a paralyzing sight caught my eye causing me to literally run. A spider. Not just any spider, but one with a web spanning 2 feet in diameter and a body more terrifying than even the one I saw on Sunday.

I couldn't face my backyard after that. My plan was to wait til my husband got home and ask him to get his ladder and catch it. It was so big it was not squishable, but needed a well thought out death, such as death by drowning, or dousing it in a pool of poison. Anything but allow it to live! Spiders receive an automatic death sentence around me, and mercy is not an option. I am the judge, jury, and executioner all rolled up in one when it comes to these wretched beings. Unfortunately, he got home late so it was dark by the time we finished dinner.

Which brings me to this day. I mustered all the courage I could and went and let the dog off her leash. (The spider built its nest just above her dog house). I then ran inside and got the camera to document the horrors of the day. Upon further investigation I found it had orange and black legs with a yellow and black spotted back. I then turned to google images. The horrors have subsided, and I have found something miraculous!

It is a Black and Yellow Argiope. It turns out they catch and eat things such as wasps. I am left with the decision, do I spare my wrath and allow a one time mercy toward the much loathed spider in order to naturally rid our home of the wasps? Or do I turn to the death of the spider and spray the fumes of poisonous death upon the wasps?

This is a true account of my nightmarish reality of spiders haunting me in the form of conversation, pictures, and real life spiders.

Also, here is a picture. *Shudders violently*.

~~!!!~~MAJOR EDIT~!!!~~
Despite the automatic horror that wells up deeps inside me when seeing any sort of spider, I cannot help but marvel at the work of God's hand in creation.  Truly, His works are wondrous. (insert: But what a tragedy it is to live in a fallen world!  This is not the intent of our gracious and marvelous Creator God, for creatures to devour one another.  Oh, what misery it is to know the effects of the fall of man, for all of creation groans because of the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve!)   I could not imagine ridding my home of wasps other than poisonous fumes, but here (insert: is) God has given a natural solution.  I must be as Job, struck by God's wonders and humbled. Job 37:14 "Listen to this, O Job, Stand and consider the wonders of God."  Here is a chapter in the bible declaring God's power, majesty, and works of His hands!(Insert: I didn't even realize what an impact my whole worldview had by attributing a spider catching wasp to God's wonders.  Why?  Because God created the world and it was very good!  When sin entered into the world, it was "fallen" and death and disease entered in.  This is not of God, and to say so is to say God promotes death, but He doesn't, He is the life-giver.  It is inconsistent with a Christian worldview to attribute such things to the God of the bible.  I believe in a literal 6 day creation where sin entered in when Adam and Eve at the forbidden fruit and thus entered the fall and all that encompasses, prior, the wasps would not have been eaten by spiders!  I hope that makes sense, but if not, check out Answers in Genesis ministries to research more.  I thank the Lord for the means He has provided in killing our wasps through a natural process).

Thus ends this account of spiders in the life of Mrs. Allison. Living in the country has more interesting bugs than in my old suburb... but to be continued...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Who Defines Modesty?

For some reason modesty seems to be one of those topics no one wants to discuss.  If they do want to discuss it there are two mindsets that generally prevail: Legalism and Liberty.  But, of course, there is also a third option: the mindset of humility and really wanting to understand what biblical modesty is.
“Love for the beach and the “undressed Life” is so deeply embedded in modern American culture that to question its propriety is thought to be the height of legalistic Pharisaism, a return to Puritanical kill-joyism.” Jeff Pollard, Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America Pg 50

Bishop Vincent Aslop once said that a man must have “a very hardy spirit, that shall dare cross the stream or stem the current of a prevailing luxuriancy.  So that, to have a finger this ungrateful debate, must engage him in Ishmael’s fate,--to have every man’s hand lifted up against him; seeing it is unavoidable, that his hand must be set almost against every man.”

I found more of the Bishop's words to be humbling, for I had not thought of it in this light:

“[Love] will lend us one safe rule—that we impose a severer law upon ourselves, and allow a larger indulgence to others.  The rule of our own conversation should be with the strictest; but that by which we censure others, a little more with the largest.” (Emphasis mine) Vincent Aslop, The Sinfulness of Strange Apparel, in Puritan Sermons 1659-1689 in Six Volumes Vol III

I don't expect everyone to dress like me.  The fact of the matter is, just because stylistically someone may not dress the same, does not mean the standards change.  It is not entirely about the outward apparel, but when anyone says "modesty" in Christian circles most jump to that conclusion.  But what really matters?-The heart.  There is a difference between two ladies in the same exact outfit; for out of the heart the mouth speaks, you will know them by their fruit; one will be chaste, pure, and humble in both her apparel  and actions, the other will be modest in appearance but not in the heart/outward actions.  Does that mean you throw the baby out with the bath water and forget about dressing modestly?  I vehemently and boldly declare: NO.  The standard is not the culture it is the word of God.

I recently finished the book quoted earlier called, "Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America" by Jeff Pollard.  I found it quite insightful.  He begins by addressing biblical modes of dress, then explains what biblical shame and nakedness meant, and even assesses the modern day dilemma of immodest apparel, and the deliberate demise of being covered up.

So, it's not a matter of pointing to a verse and God saying, Thou Shalt wear garments of this likeness.  Jeff Pollard does a very good job at addressing the fact that God did indeed give the standard of dress in the Garden of Eden and by that, we can ascertain just what the typical garments were like in biblical times.  It's not rocket science.  But those of us who do not understand Hebrew or Greek miss some very important things, which teachers may help us to understand.  (Note: I said understand.  Not dictate our lives, but to teach us the word of God).  

Here is an excerpt of biblical dress:
"Though we have no 'snapshots' of Adam and Eve's apparel the word coats is consistently used throughout the O.T. to mean tunic like garment.  Coats in Gen 3:21 is kuttonet (Hebrew, keth-o-neth or koot-to-neth) from an unused root meaning to cover.  The kuttonet was the ordinary garment worn by man and woman as seen in the tunics of skin worn by Adam and Eve (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible Vol 2 s.v. "Dress").  This shirt-like garment usually had long sleeves, and extended down to the ankles when worn as a dress coat.  'Hard-working men, slaves, and prisoners wore them more abbreviated-- sometimes even to their knees, and without sleeves (Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary s.v. "Dress").  Several well known lexicons echo that it was '[the] principal ordinary garment of man and woman, worn next to the skin (The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon)... a long shirt-like garment usually of linen (James Strong, Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible)... Adam's was made of fur (Theological wordbook of the Old Testament)."
-Jeff Pollard, Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America.

For several pages his point is to show that from the neck to knees was standard dress, and even going down to the ankles.  For men AND women.  This was the design God gave.  He even designed the Priesthood clothes (Exodus 28:1-5).  God did design modest apparel.  

It progresses to man's design for clothes, and how the American public slowly undressed.  It is unsettling how blatant the agenda was in makings strides to more revealing swimsuits.  What is striking is not that he goes about this from a legalistic "lets condemn the secular culture" standpoint, rather, he actually lets the secular culture tell the story about how they achieved more and more revealing swimsuits/clothing.  So, when did the culture deem it acceptable for males and females to swim publicly together?  Was it ever scandalous for a man to swim with his upper torso exposed?  When did the bikini enter the scene?  If you want to understand the history behind modern trends in fashion and how we got here, read this book; all of these questions are answered in this little book with reliable sources and footnotes.

Why would we want to press the limits of modesty in apparel, when God has laid it out in His word that we are to be modest?  This is not limited to the outward appearance.  In truth, immodesty is actually quite selfish.  Modest apparel and modest behavior display humility, it is not seeking attention by its very nature.  On the contrary, immodesty is self-seeking and wants self-glorification as well as attention showered upon itself.  This includes so much more!  I find the Westminster Larger Catechism to be very helpful in teaching the "so much more!".

Q. 137:  Which is the seventh commandment?
A: The seventh commandment is, thou shalt not commit adultery.
Q. 138: What are the duties required in the seventh commandment?
A: The duties required in the seventh commandment are, chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior; and the preservation of it in ourselves and others; watchfulness over the eyes and all the senses; temperance, keeping  of chaste company, modesty in apparel... shunning all occasions of uncleanness, and resisting temptations thereunto.
Q. 139: What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A: The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks, impudent or light behavior, immodest apparel... unchaste company; lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays; and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.

What is more, the Westminster divines gave scripture proofs to their works.  If you are interested, you might find this website helpful.

As if that is not convicting enough, the men of old, brothers in the faith who faithfully taught the word of God to their congregations, have plenty to say about modesty.  I personally found, as I read through these men's words to be very humbling and convicting.  It was a sobering reminder that modesty is not all dress, but so much more.  I want to be a godly lady and I want to be a godly wife.  I don't want to stop short of what I wear, but to submit to my Lord and Savior as He works in me to conform me to His image... to honor and glorify Him with my lips, my actions, my heart, and my apparel. 

To address the notion that it is all the man's fault and women can dress however they want because of "liberty", I find Richard Baxter's words to be eye-opening.

Women sin when their clothing tends “to the ensnaring of the minds of the beholders in shameless, lustful, wanton passions, though you say, you intend it not, it is your sin, that you do that which probably will procure it, yea, that you did not your best to avoid it.  And though it be their sin and vanity that is the cause, it is nevertheless your sin to be the unnecessary occasion: for you must consider that you live among diseased souls!  And you must not lay a stumbling-block in their way, nor blow up the fire of their lust, nor make your ornaments their snares; but you must walk among sinful persons, as you would do with a candle among straw or gunpowder; or else you may see the flame which you would not foresee, when it is too late to quench it… You should rather serve Christ with your apparel, by expressing humility, self-denial, chastity, and sobriety,  to draw others to imitate you in good, than to serve the devil, and pride, and lust by it, by drawing men to imitate you in evil.”
Richard Baxter, A Christian Directory in Baxter’s Practical Works Vol 1.

Why do not more pastors teach on this subject?  Why do the youth leaders seem to have their vision blurred to this topic?

“garments were given to cover nakedness and the deformity that was introduced by sin; therefore the apostle saith, ‘Let the women adorn themselves in modest apparel’… the leaving the breasts naked, in whole or in part, is a transgression of this rule; they uncover their nakedness, which they should veil and hide, especially in God’s presence… yet usually women come hither with a shameless impudence into the presence of God, men, and angels.  This is a practice that neither suits with modesty nor conveniency; nothing can be alleged for it but reasons of pride and wantonness; it feeds your own pride, and provokes lust in others.  You would think they were wicked women that should offer others poison to drink; they do that which is worse, [they] lay a snare for the soul; [they] uncover that which should be covered… Christians should be far from allowing sin in themselves, or provoking it in others.”
Thomas Manton, Sermons upon Titus 2:11-14 in Manton’s complete works Vol 16 

John Bunyan (generally known for his book Pilgrims Progress) said this:
“Why are they for going with their… naked shoulders, and paps hanging out like a cow’s bag?  Why are they for painting their faces, for stretching out their neck, and for putting themselves unto all the formalities which proud fancy leads them to?  Is it because they would honor God?  Because they would adorn the Gospel?  Because they would beautify religion, and make sinners to fall in love with their own salvation?  No, no, it is rather to please their lusts… I believe also that Satan has drawn more into the sin of uncleanness by the spangling show of fine clothes, than he could possibly have drawn unto it without them.  I wonder what it was that of old was called the attire of a harlot: certainly it could not be more bewitching and tempting than are the garments of many professors this day.” (Emphasis mine)

What say ye?  I have not quoted scripture profusely because I believe the Larger Catechism Scripture Proofs will be immensely helpful in that process.

But again, I ask, What say ye?  

I say it is humbling and convicting all over again.  Is Christ my Lord?  Is Christ my trajectory?  Is Christ my aim in all that I say and do?  With shame and a heavy heart, I cannot say that is the case in all of my actions.  I sin. I do not always glorify Him with ALL my actions.  But how gladdening it is to know the conviction of the Holy Spirit!-How much comfort it brings to be brought to repentance.  I want to know the state of my own heart when I do sin against my God.  I am learning and growing ever more.  Even in this area, I have room to grow.  I praise the Lord that He is refining me, that He has chosen me, and sanctifies me!  I need it so desperately.  I am in need of my Lord so desperately.  His grace moves me.  His grace sustains me.  His grace alone is what took me from where I was, to bringing me to where I need to be, and not anything that is in me or of me.

So, by the grace of God, I believe He does work in His children's hearts.  Those ladies redeemed by the atoning work of Christ will heed the Holy Spirit.  It IS a heart issue.  But instead of looking the other way, why don't we have dialog going about this?  Not grace to ignore it, but grace to love.  Grace to be open and sisterly about it.  I would not point fingers, but I would charge (myself included) all born again ladies to examine themselves.  Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith.  Fall prostrate before the Lord God of heaven and say, Not my will, by Thy will!-and do not decide to do what is easy, but do what is pleasing to the one you love most. (And really and truly, read the book... I wish everyone would read it!).

Sola gratia

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Yes, Another New Blog!

As with most of my blogs, a new one has been created to flow with the new season I am in. (:

I included, as the header of my blog, an excerpt from Martin Luther's Bondage of the Will.  I was most delighted with his elegant language and description, and was drawn to his definition.  On another page, he writes to Erasmus more on assertions.

“The Holy Spirit is not a Skeptic, nor are what He has written on our hearts doubts or opinions, but assertions more certain, and more firm than life itself and all human experience." Pg 17

"But, (that we may not be mistaken in terms) by assertion, I mean a constant adhering, affirming, confessing, defending, and invincibly persevering… And moreover, I speak concerning the asserting of those things, which are delivered to us from above in Holy Scriptures." Pg 13

 To explain more about the title, I will indulge in past titles of my blogs. (:  The first I ever created I named "Incessancy"; followed by the second, "Two Roads Diverged"; the third was switched over to "Catching Mere Glimpses".

I must pause to reflect and point out, I have linked you to ALL of my blogs.  I have kept my Incessancy blog "private" for years, due to embarrassment by some of my own ignorant musings.  But, they show growth, they show the state of my heart and mind in those younger years.  It is most humbling to realize how far I have come.  By God's grace, He has moved me ever near to His heart and His truth.  From the rough and crude words I spoke, to anything edifying is but by His grace... and hopefully, this blog continues to show a more sanctified Leah.

The reasons I named them such?  I was enamored with the word "Incessant" and frequently latched onto to specific words that became my favorites, and used them at every chance I could!  I incessantly read, incessantly talked, incessantly analyzed, incessantly did everything (;  It was a blog of turmoil, of wanting to understand.  But, through much agonizing, Christ showed mercy on me in the midst of it all and began to open my eyes bit by bit.  So then comes along the next blog, Two Roads Diverged.  I memorized that poem by Robert Frost for a class in school.  I realized two paths were laid before me, and by God's grace... I began to tread upon the one less traveled on.  His path, the narrow one.  Not too long after that, I began to see how all of my life I had known nothing.  I was but a mere child, looking at God's creation with wonder, realizing I could not understand the depths of His glory and what I saw was but a mere glimpse compared to eternity.  Thus began, Catching Mere Glimpses. (: 

The point of this blog is to be more direct.  To assert.  I hope to post things I am reading, things that encourage me, and things I would wish to assert.  The root cause of all I do, is Christ.  His truth, His word, His love... all is Christ and I would humbly endeavor to live my life resting in His love and grace, glorifying and enjoying Him as I live and love.  The purpose is to write with the intent to assert boldly what it is I am learning, as well as humbly.  I don't want this to be more wasted space, but the point is to glorify God through the things that I post on this internet outlet.

Soli Deo Gloria