Category Archives: Blogging

Too Serious For A Blog About Roaming Around Boston In Power Wheelchairs

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Boston Public Garden May 2018

Blogs should have a definite focus. A purpose beyond merely writing for the pleasure of writing. Such vanity blogs (as I call them) do attract some followers, I admit, especially if disability features prominently in enough of the posts. But after a spell, the narcissism gets old. Christian bloggers, in particular, begin seeing the need to use their blogs as tools for advancing God’s kingdom.

Three years ago today, I abandoned a blog I’d maintained for nine years. Originally, I began that blog to showcase my digital art, chronicle day trips John and I made into Boston, and reflect on various things the Lord taught me as I transitioned toward Reformed Theology. Toward the end of that blog’s life, I wrote my first  Bible Study series.

In that final month, the Obergefell vs. Hodges decision legalizing same sex marriage gave me reason to believe that Google could shut down my blog, which they hosted on their free Blogger platform. It seemed to me that paying for a WordPress blog might prolong the time I had to blog about the Lord without censorship.

But, to be honest, I’d been contemplating starting a new blog months before Obergefell happened. As much as I delighted in having a blog which allowed me to write whatever struck my fancy, I struggled with a conviction that I needed a focus. And I knew that focus should be determined by the blogs I gravitated toward. That would be my niche.

The blogs I enjoyed most (Do Not Be Surprised, The End Time, Pyromaniacs and Michelle Lesley) all concentrated on exposing false doctrine and encouraging readers to rightly handle God’s Word. Of course, I understood that I’d need to add to their conversation rather than just echo their thoughts, but I felt confident that I could do so.

Over this past three years, the Lord has faithfully given me a unique blogging voice among the esteemed writers in this niche. Convinced the Obergefell has stepped up hostility toward the Gospel that will lead to the persecution of Christians, I’ve worked to equip women for that persecution by pointing to Scripture. I believe that only a firm grounding in the Word of God will get us through persecution, so I write about issues that either draw us away from Scripture or about the wonderful ways Scripture reveals the Lord.

Sometimes, yes, I miss my old blog. As John and I propel our power wheelchairs through the streets and parks of downtown Boston, I occasionally feel a desire to write a narration of our adventures. Boston by wheelchair is fun!

But we live  in serious times, ladies. As fun as it might be to take occasional deviations from the subject matter of The Outspoken TULIP, I remain convinced that we must stay within our boundaries. So we enter this fourth year anticipating more posts that draw us closer to Christ, honoring Him by honoring His Word.

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. ~~Romans 1:16 (ESV)

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I Remember Being 35

d2676-sunset03I’ve arrived at a shocking realization: I’m going to be officially elderly on my next birthday. When I advertised for a Personal Care Attendant last month, several applicants emailed back saying they enjoy working with elderly people. At first their comments baffled me, since I no longer think of being 64 as the precipice of old age.

I mean, really! I blog and use social media. I read books on Kindle. How much cooler could I possibly get? And that wedding anniversary that John and I will celebrate two months from now will only be our 16th. Now I ask you, don’t I sound closer to 35 than 65? Thank you. I think so too!

Except that I blog and use social media because typing has gotten too strenuous for writing magazine articles, more less that autobiographical book that so many people throughout the years have told me I should write. I know I’m supposed to edit and revise blog posts like I used to edit and revise articles that I submitted to print publications back when I used an electric typewriter (some of you have probably never even heard of typewriters), but I don’t. I read books on Kindle only because I can no longer turn the pages of a physical book. And I had no viable opportunity for marriage (at least for a godly marriage) until I met John. Now I ask you, don’t I sound old?

Well, I guess I am old. And lately I’ve noticed that  blogging daily has been growing more difficult. People don’t realize that typing with a headstick and Cerebral Palsy uses my entire body, not just my neck. Last night, after typing that 635-word blog post, I went to bed sore.

I haven’t been doing much digital art lately, as you’ve undoubtedly noticed by the graphics I use over and over to illustrate The Outspoken TULIP. I feel guilty about that, but blogging leaves me too tired to produce many new drawings. I rarely email friends, let alone write an actual letter. The Outspoken TULIP demands the bulk of my time and energy, causing me to ignore those other things.

I remember being 34 and writing counseling letters for work, plays for church, entries in my personal journal and 8-page letters to friends — all on (you guessed it) my typewriter. I’ll never be that productive again!

But I’m wondering whether or not blogging daily really honors the Lord. I take days off to go to Boston on dates with John, as I will to celebrate unFather’s Day tomorrow,  but maybe I need days off to draw, write letters or even play solitaire. Who knows? I might even revise some blog posts before I publish them.

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Segregated Women

3d383-ladies2bstudy2b03Yesterday I read a blog post by Lisa Robinson. Nothing particularly unusual about that; Lisa displays an excellent command of the English language and (more importantly) shows herself to love the Lord and have sound theology. But I disagreed with the way she defended Legacy, the special gathering for women of color at The Gospel Coalition’s women’s conference this year.

Lisa correctly pointed out that churches very often have various sub-groups such as Junior Church, Youth Group, Single’s Ministry and support groups for people in various types of addiction. And, while I see merit in separating men and women in certain circumstances, I question the wisdom of splintering believers into so many different factions.  Such segregation fragments the Body of Christ into special interest groups rather than encouraging it to unify around our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

I know some of you are scratching your heads, wondering whether I’m a blazing hypocrite or if dementia is setting in now that I’m mere months away from turning 65. You probably want to remind me of how vehemently I insist that the only men who should read my blog are my husband and the elders of First Baptist Church Weymouth. My parameters probably don’t make much sense, given that I don’t even write about women’s issues.

Okay, I’ve occasionally considered writing about menopause, just to discourage male readers. 🙂

I blog about matters that all Christians, regardless of gender (or anything else), need to understand. Nothing I write applies exclusively to women. Men could most likely learn from some of the things I discuss on this cute little spot of cyberspace. In fact, the men who ignore my pleas to close my blog in favor of blogs written by men indeed have learned things from my writing.

I have only one reason for trying to restrict my writing to women: obedience.

12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. ~~1 Timothy 2:12-14 (ESV)

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. ~~Titus 2:3-5 (ESV)

I realize that many people believe 1 Timothy 2:12-14 applies specifically to church settings, and they may well be correct. All the same, I prefer to err on the side of caution by confining The Outspoken TULIP to women. My policy is less about creating a separate group within the Body of Christ than about my responsibility to use my gift of teaching in a manner that honors Christ.

So, although Lisa Robinson made an understandable point, I believe breaking Christ’s Body into too many segments fosters unnecessary division. As Christians, let’s focus on our unity around sound doctrine that leads us to Christ.

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I’d Rather Trust My Readers Than Write A Successful Blog

Success

Lately I’ve been reading a blog about blogging. As far as I know, the writers don’t profess to be Christians, but the point of their blog has nothing to do with religion anyway. These bloggers simply want to show other bloggers how to craft good blogs and build good followings.

I like some of their advice, and I hope some of the things I learn will help me be a better blogger. I especially appreciate their encouragement to blog regularly and consistently. Although I occasionally skip days (most notably in good weather months when John and I can go to Boston), I try to provide my readers with a daily post.

As I read their suggestions, however, sometimes I can’t help equating them with tactics that seeker-sensitive churches use. This angle challenges me to ask myself whether I see The Outspoken TULIP as a business or a ministry. If it’s more of a business, then certainly I have every reason to embrace their pragmatic approach and tailor my blog accordingly. To be sure, I’d attract and retain more readers.

One of their recent articles caused me to consider the probability that adopting a pragmatic approach to blogging for the Lord might not be the best way to honor my readers, much less to glorify Him. The article insisted on keeping paragraphs down to one or two sentences (preferably one), and writing sentences that don’t exceed 25 words. Additionally, the article advised against using an expansive vocabulary that (horrors!) force readers to use their dictionaries.

The writer of this particular article explained that attention spans in this age of 280 characters are too short to put up with any sort of reading that challenges them. That reasoning eerily parallels the argument that hour long sermons that exposit Scripture verse-by-verse will repel unbelievers. In both cases, the assumption is that people no longer have the capacity to rise to the level of bloggers or preachers. Unless we cut up their food in bite-sized fragments that they don’t even need to chew, they won’t come to the table.

If The Outspoken TULIP is a ministry, I prefer to regard my readers as women who indeed can read a robust vocabulary, complex sentences and full paragraphs. I hope many of them also belong to faithful churches with pastors who fearlessly exposit God’s Word verse-by-verse without worrying about a 25 minute time limit. I trust my readers with be serious about God’s Word to the degree that you don’t require me (or your pastors) to dumb it down. Maybe my blog will never attract a large audience as a result of my writing style. But if it draws women who aren’t afraid to work at understanding and applying Scripture, my blog will be successful.

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Flashback Friday: Inconsequential Disability

 

This article originally appeared on October 20, 2016. Interestingly, I’ve been contemplating this topic lately, having forgotten that I wrote this post. Those of you who read it before might appreciate the reminder, while newer readers may benefit from my perspective.  If nothing else, you can enjoy my photo with Edge Allen Poe.img_0501Clearly, Cerebral Palsy affects every area of my life to one degree or another. I don’t really care for that fact, but there you have it. I’ve accepted the reality that my disability shapes and controls how I live in such a variety of ways that I could most likely write an interesting blog exclusively on that topic. If we throw John’s Polio into the mix, maybe we could get a good book deal going.

A lot of Christians with disabilities use their disabilities as platforms for ministry. Joni Eareckson Tada, of course, instantly comes to mind as the most notable example, although I’ve known others that also serve their fellow disabled people. Over the course of my life, I’ve made a few attempts at involvement in disability ministry…primarily because other people thought I should.

But, to be brutally honest, I’m simply not interested in disability. Not even my own disability, despite its pervasive nature. If I write about it now and then, I generally do so out of necessity, aware that I can’t totally avoid the subject. Even as a blogger, I need to help my readers understand why my posts are so short; typing with a headstick (especially in conjunction with the involuntary movements of Cerebral Palsy) means that I can’t produce 1,000 word essays every day. Yet, I only mention this fact because I need to.

Some people have suggested that I’ve always avoided disability ministry out of denial. I’ll admit that I want, in some ways, to distance myself from disability, but charging me with denial seems a bit ridiculous. C’mon folks, I married a man who also uses a wheelchair! I can hardly be accused of running away from disability when I deal with both his and mine. I married John, accepting his disability (just as he married me accepting mine), fully aware of the many implications involved.

Occasionally, yes, the Lord uses my disability (or John’s) to give me insight into a Scriptural principle, and I have no problem writing about those instances. If I can exploit my disability to bring glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ, I won’t hesitate to take full advantage of the opportunity. But, for the most part, my blog rarely mentions wheelchairs, headsticks, Personal Care Attendants or any of the oddities that come with having a severe physical disability.

My true passion is teaching women the importance of good doctrine. Writing a blog about disability issues might get me a bigger audience (particularly if I hinted here and there about my sex life, I suppose). But I see a much greater need in the Body of Christ than telling people how to handle temporal suffering. Actually, I seldom consider myself as afflicted anyway, especially when I remember Christians in other countries who are being tortured, imprisoned and killed for their faith in Jesus Christ. Those people suffer infinitely more than I ever have.

The disability I really want to blog about has nothing to do with Cerebral Palsy, and everything to do with spiritual health. With evangelicals increasingly minimizing the importance of the Bible in favor of emotional experiences and distorted ideas of Jesus, I desire to challenge the fads and false teaching that cripple God’s people. Believe me, ladies, these handicaps have far more eternal consequences than whether or not I can walk. Therefore, I reserve the right to focus on the clear teachings of Scripture, not on disability, praying that Christ will receive the glory.

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One Important Reason I Probably Won’t Blog About Butterflies On Subway Cars

Subway Butterfly

Because John and I met online,  we hold a special fondness for the movie, You’ve Got Mail. Meg Ryan plays a woman who carries on an email correspondence with Tom Hanks, not knowing that he’s the same man who put the children’s bookshop she owned out of business.

Throughout the movie, Ryan and Hanks do voice-overs of the emails they write to one another. Ryan’s early emails particularly interest me, as she reflects on an inconsequential thing (like a butterfly fluttering on and then off of a subway car) in a way that reveals so much of who she is. Her lines make me wish I could write as lyrically.

In another email, she comments on the strangeness of typing words into a computer, not knowing where they’ll go our who will read them. Since that movie was written long before blogs, Facebook and Twitter, I can’t help wondering if online communication has become even stranger now.

As a blogger, I sometimes wonder how my tenuous words have amassed the modest but growing following that The Outspoken TULIP  has developed in slightly less than three years. And would I have a larger or smaller following if I wrote about butterflies on subway cars and such?

Not that I can imagine anything as poetic as a butterfly fluttering on a Boston subway car. A dirty pigeon, perhaps. Though a pigeon would flap violently rather than delicately fluttering. Not the same.

Anyway, I once did operate a blog in which I wrote simply for the sake of writing. Yes, I enjoyed that freedom.  At times I regret giving it up in favor of this more focused blog. What harm could there be, I ask myself, if I occasionally departed from the main themes of this blog to have a little fun with writing? Although I seriously doubt I’d ever see a butterfly on a Boston subway car, I could easily find other interesting moments to develop into essays of little consequence.

A couple of verses I read in Ephesians yesterday stops me from allowing myself such liberties.

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. ~~Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)

Indeed, the days are evil. Outside the church, abortion and homosexuality are celebrated as human rights, not decried as murder and perversion. Truck commercials on TV assume that dating couples will move in together before (or without) getting married. Christian bakers and florists lose their businesses for declining to cater gay weddings. Public schools offer yoga classes, denying yoga’s connection to Hinduism. Christians receive warnings not to pray in public, and sometimes get banned from social media for proclaiming the Gospel.

Many of us anticipate much more severe persecution in the near future.

Inside the visible church, professing Christians compromise in numerous respects, from so-called “Holy Yoga” to advocating for women pastors. For all our talk about believing God’s Word, our fondness for mysticism and psychology betray our confidence in human philosophies. False teachers infiltrate evangelical circles in droves.

The Outspoken TULIP exists precisely because the Church faces so many external and internal threats. Christian women need encouragement to study Scripture so we can withstand the overwhelming pressure to compromise with the world. While writing about butterflies on subway cars and such would certainly be a lot more fun, I don’t have time for that. Rather, it wouldn’t be the best use of my time.

Do I have a big enough following to make a significant difference?  Of course not. But the scope of my blog doesn’t matter. My faithfulness does. And faithfulness demands using my time for His glory, not for floating inconsequential musings across the Internet.

My blog may not be widely read, but I still have a responsibility to use my writing for the Lord. Although writing fun pieces every so often wouldn’t necessarily be bad, I have to ask myself if it would be the best use of my blogging time. When I consider how rapidly Western society is hurling itself into rebellion against God, and how greater numbers of professing Christians compromise with worldly values, I can’t help concluding that writing about the Lord and encouraging women in their walks with Him is the best use of my blogging time.

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I’m Neither A Mouse Nor A Man, But…

Head Stick Pics 007“The best laid plans of mice and men.” Isn’t that a line from Steinbeck? Since I haven’t touched a Steinbeck novel since college, and didn’t much care for his writing even then, I wouldn’t know.

At any rate, my best laid plans to produce the next installment of our 1 Corinthians 15 Bible Study series got derailed  because I got either a stomach bug or food poisoning yesterday, and therefore had approximately 73 emails to wade through today. Because I’m still tired from all the emotional uproar of needing a new Personal Care Attendant, John’s doctor appointment and being sick as a dog, I figure I can publish the next Bible Study on Monday if I skip writing an original blog post tomorrow.

So, ladies, look forward to a Flashback Friday post tomorrow, a very interesting Saturday Sampler Saturday, and hopefully a Sunday Hymn for May 27 (I’m not promising the hymn, but I’ll try). I really want to finish 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 before taking a break to accommodate my June 11 doctor appointment.

I apologize for failing to write a study this week, but I guess if mice and men can lay faulty plans, then I can. Praise God that His plans never get thwarted!

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