Golden QuillJuly 2013 Newsletter

It has been a beautiful summer, with warm temperatures that aren't too hot here in Vancouver. The basement office where I work is comfortably cool, and the view of the backyard is lovely with its lush green lawn and the trees in the ravine that backs the house. A hammock hangs invitingly between two trees for me to enjoy on my break, but I'm usually too busy to go outside, as I usually allow myself only half an hour for lunch. I think I should just take an hour and finish work half an hour later, so that I get out into the fresh air more. It's wonderful to have a job where I'm allowed to have that kind of flexibility.

On the weekends, this year, I've struggled with my flesh regarding romance, indulging in watching romances on YouTube, even knowing the dangers of watching subliminal–infested entertainment, but I got it knocked down mostly to just reading romance stories, where there is less risk. They usually are fairly tame, innocent stories. Some have a small bit of sexual play in them, easy to skip past and not miss out on the interesting plot, but regardless of how funny the stories or intriguing the twists of the plot, still wastes valuable time. The weekends are short and I've got a lot of writing to do, and there are big challenges ahead that I need to have my faith ready to meet, so I should be listening more to Andrew Wommack's sermons.

I shored up my stumbling walk with uplifting posters that I ran off of the printer at work and pasted them to my wall. One says that Time is Incense and asks if I am burning incense to God or Self? Another is a poem that the Lord gave me:

Time is incense;
Time is gold.
Who do you offer it to?
To whom are you sold?

Do rainbow rays
Rise up from your soul?
Or do they descend
Down to Sheol?

Do you squander your time
Like a spendthrift wife?
Or do you sow it
Into Everlasting life?

The posters have helped to reduce defilement with worldly ideas and wasting of time, but not eliminated it all together. There have been stories that are so amusing that they take up space in my head during the week, when I could be thinking about more useful things. One of them was placed in the Georgian era where the father of the girl in the story, and his two friends, were apparently appalled that his daughter was in love with a fop. They wanted her to marry a "real man."

The friends had previously been in love with this girl's mother, but had graciously acceded to defeat when she married the man of her choice. She died in childbirth and the two friends became as doting uncles to the little girl. They said she had ruled all three of her slaves, the father and his friends, with a rod of iron.

They had planned for her to marry the nephew of one of the men, but she had refused to be dictated to as to whom she would marry, and had fallen for a delicate–looking, young man with dainty hands no larger than a woman's. He was all decked out in silks and lace and high–heeled shoes, and he took snuff. He was stubborn about the girl, when he was told to leave her alone. Instead, he entered into a wager with the three men wherein he had to undergo some tests in order to win the girl's hand in marriage. He had to do something that none of those three men were able to do, he had to make ridiculous a certain man with whom the father had a quarrel, and he had to take all three of the men by surprise.

At the end of the discussion, the bully with whom the father had an issue walked into the tavern where they were assembled and deliberately jostled against the young man as he was leaving. The young man apologized to him and went his way. It didn't look like he had the guts to win the hand of the fair maid. The father got into a quarrel with the bully and ended up accepting a challenge to a duel. This was not good; it was certain that he was going to die on Christmas day, the time that was set for the appointed hour.

It was highly amusing how the three friends fumed over that girl, referring to her as a "jade", but in her presence, they were putty in her hands. Among the daughter's possessions, the father had found a note from the young man that indicated that he had been meeting his daughter in the orchard. It was amusing how he railed about it to his friends, with the comments he made, scorning the poetry that the fop wrote to his daughter. The girl just laughed, and snuggled up to her father affectionately, and continued to insist that she was going to marry the fop.

One evening, when the three men were together, on their way somewhere, they ran into the bully with whom the father was to duel. It was not yet the appointed time, so they were all able to continue together on their ride, but, lo and behold, they were accosted by a masked highwayman who was waiting for them on a bridge. He got the jump on all five and divested them of their pistols, then demanded, in his peasant speech, the bully's money. This was handed over and, surprisingly, tossed into the stream, though he saved a locket that the man had been wearing around his neck. Then the bully was made to strip down to his shirt, his clothes tossed away, as well, and the highwayman made the whole party ride through the town. The townspeople thought it was hilarious to see the bully wearing only his shirt on that chilly day, and once they were through the town, the highwayman rode away.

The three friends thought it was a great joke to see their enemy so humiliated and never for a moment suspected that the highwayman was the cowardly fop. But on Christmas day, they assembled again at the tavern, and waited for the bully to arrive for the duel. By this time, it was settled that one of the friends was going to take the father's place, as the gentlemen was too ill to fight. Even so, it was certain that the friend was going to die, being no match for the skills and strength of the bully.

Before their enemy arrived, though, the fop showed up. He then proceeded to tell them how he had won the first test, having apologized to that bully, when it was the bully who was at fault, pointing out that none of the three gentlemen would ever do that. They agreed that he was right on that point. They had too much pride for it. That one had been an easy win for the fop.

The bully arrived and the fop announced that he was going to fight him. This was very surprising; who would have thought that he had the guts to engage in a duel? The bully agreed that he would fight him, but only after he had settled his prior quarrel.

The fop insisted that he had a better claim and took off his wig. Then he turned his back to put on a mask, and, lo and behold, it was the highwayman, his eyes looking at them "evilly" through the slits in the mask, while speaking to them in the coarse peasant manner of the brigand who had accosted them on the bridge. The description was so funny, as it portrayed their perception of his masquerade, whereas he was not evil at all, nor a fool, but rather a man of greater depth than they had known, hidden beneath his dandified appearance.

To cap it off, the fop threw to the floor the locket he had previously stolen from the bully. That firmly decided the bully to fight first the man who had made him the laughingstock of the county. The fop then told the three friends that he had also taken them by surprise in that, before he arrived at the tavern that day, he had married the girl. So, he had won his bet with them, and all he needed to do now was to win the duel. And he did, of course, proving himself to be an excellent swordsman. The bully ended up being carried out by his friends, too wounded to fight any more duels ever again.

The three men had to admit that the fop was a real man, and a clever one, regardless of his girlish face, his languid manner, and his vanity about his appearance. The girl arrived at the tavern and pleaded with her father for his forgiveness for marrying without his permission, telling him that she had persuaded her young man to fight the duel in his stead, and had married him so that she could mourn his death as her beloved husband. Of course, the father forgave her.

Then the young man referred to one of the three friends as "Uncle Bentley". It turns out that he was the nephew whom they had wanted the girl to marry, but, like the girl, he had refused to be dictated to as to whom he would wed, and had gone off to Italy. Uncle Bentley had come up with a scheme, though, knowing how stubborn the young people could be. Using reverse psychology, he wrote to his nephew and told him that he need not bother to court the girl, as she was very beautiful and the toast of the county. There was no shortage of men whom she could marry, and, besides that, she was too good for him.

That had brought the nephew back to England in a hurry, to see this girl for himself. Then the uncle told the girl that there was no use taking an interest in that young man, as he was penniless. She didn't know he was Bentley's nephew. Of course, being told to forget about him made her take much more interest than she would have otherwise.

So, Bentley had known all along who the fop was, and he knew that his nephew was an excellent swordsman. He was also a viscount with an inheritance, not penniless at all. Everybody was satisfied and the story made a point that a man doesn't have to look heavily masculine to be a real man. The three friends even admitted among themselves that, in their younger days, they had all written poetry to women they had courted.

It was such a cute story, and I've just demonstrated my problem with how it took up too much space in my head after reading it. I chuckled about it for days afterwards, in spite of my reservations about honesty and issues involving reverse psychology. It encourages rebellion, even if a person manages to get someone to do something that they wanted them to do.

Most might wonder, "Oh, where's the harm in reading such innocent stories?" The harm for me is that God has called me purify my faith to get it activated for miracles, and reading for entertainment is a distraction that takes me away from meditating on His Word.

I had a hankering to read some of the old Harlequin romance stories, such as I read when I was in my teens. I remember how I read so many of them when I was nineteen years old; so many that it bothered me. I mentioned it to my friend Ruby Beasley, whom I boarded with at the time. She said that she had noticed and knew it was because I wanted to marry.

At that time, I hardly ever dated. I had very picky taste in what I considered attractive–looking in a man (and still do), so there weren't very many men I knew whom I wanted to date. Also, I was very shy and tongue–tied when around men whom I considered attractive. Between those two situations, though I was a cute–looking girl, I spent a lot of Friday nights at home. Those books were my vicarious love life.

By the 1980s, Harlequin romances had gotten rather raunchy. I wished I could find some of the older ones, to relive the time when one hot kiss at the end of the story was enough to give me a little adrenalin rush. Up until that point, there were misunderstandings between the characters, which made the man rather stern and the girl a gooey mess of insecurity, but it all worked out in the end. One weekend, I found some of the older stories in a thrift shop and bought a pile of them.

I thought I would read a few of them on Saturday and then get down to some serious writing on Sunday, but it didn't turn out that way. I delayed my bookfest by visiting a friend on Friday and had a very edifying visit, discussing the Lord with her and her family, and singing hymns with her afterwards. It was fun. Before I left, she gave me some white roses and reddish purple hydrangea. They looked so lovely on my dresser in a crystal glass. I dove into those books as soon as I got home that night, and carried on into the wee hours of the morning, until the sun came up.

I've always been that kind of reader; one who can't put a novel down before it's finished. Even as a little girl, I would stay up until one o'clock reading and drag myself around the next day at school, feeling tired. My Dad caught me once, fetched a stick, and laid into me with it; the incident made me much more careful about not getting caught.

I didn't need harsh disciplining in that area. I needed someone to speak to me gently, with their arms around me, about getting adequate sleep, and checking on me periodically at night before they turned in to make sure that I was asleep. My parents, though, were fixated on squelching acts of defiance and keeping us under control, but this situation wasn't about defiance. It was about my curiosity and an overactive imagination, which was my "escape", because I was unhappy due to their emotional issues and out–of–control behaviour. There were many good things that my parents did, but, because of their problems, we didn't have a happy home. I needed my parents to be gentle and understanding, but they weren't wired that way.

All weekend when I read those books, I kept thinking, "Why am I depressed?" My behaviour was very much like the last year of my marriage, when I read romance after romance. I kept thinking about my ex–husband would think, if he could see me; how he would gloat that I was back in that swamp, though I was no longer with him. I thought sarcastically, "Well, I'm not with him anymore, (thank God!), so it's none of his problem and none of his business." It was surprising to see that little bit of bitterness arise, after all this time. I thought I was completely over my anger towards him.

Why, after all this time of not reading these stupid books, was I back into reading them again this year? I thought I was more reconciled towards waiting for the right man and God's time for him to come into my life. It has been only a few times per decade that I've said to the Lord, "Every woman is supposed to have her own husband, to avoid fornication, just like every man is supposed to have his own wife, for the same reason, so where's my husband?" I was sliding back into the fantasy ditch by feeding on these books.

Every now and then, I looked at the pretty flowers on my dresser and knew that the Lord had inspired my friend to give to them to me; they were a reminder that He was wooing me, inviting me to let Him be my romantic Lover, first of all, before He brings to me that man of His choice. Even so, I kept reading those novels, on both Saturday and Sunday.

Those older stories weren't as harmless as I had supposed. As I read them, I thought, "Man, no wonder women are so messed up! There are a lot of bad ideas in these books!" In the stories placed in Africa and Southeast Asia, men servants were referred to as "boys." At first I thought, "Are they talking about teenagers here? Are their only hired servants really young?" But sometimes the servants' wives were mentioned. The characters, even the ones who were supposed to be nice, were thinking of these grown men only as boys. Oh yeah, sometimes they were open–minded enough to find them interesting and acknowledge their intelligence and talents, but they still referred to them as boys, which didn't acknowledge that they were adults. Still, there was some indication that the good characters in the stories were coming out of their colonial mindset, encouraging the natives to be self–governing.

Cigarette smoking in those days was not subjected to the health issues that we are aware of nowadays. I found it a bit of a challenge to relate to the main female character, if she smoked, and I found it utterly disgusting if she was encouraged by the main male character to smoke. Such was the case in one of the stories, where a man of thirty–two gave cigarettes to his eighteen–year–old wife. I guessed it was to make her appear more adult to his friends.

When I was younger, I didn't see it as a big deal for a man in his thirties to marry a girl in her teens in these stories. Huh! I used to date men in their early thirties when I was sixteen. My perspective on that has changed a lot. With very few exceptions, it seems to me that a man who dates girls in their teens, when he is in his late twenties or older, probably does so because he is emotionally immature and can't keep up to women his age, and also because teen girls are easier to control. The exception would involve a girl in her teens who is very emotionally mature for her age and could competently handle marriage and motherhood.

The scenario in the books was of a girl of eighteen whose father suddenly died and one of his associates offers to marry her for her protection in a foreign land, as well as to save her from a life of drudgery and poverty, if she returned to England. It would be a marriage "in name only", until she felt ready for it to be consummated, if she wanted the relationship to be permanent. If they really cared so much, why not be her guardian, send her back to England, pay for her education so that she can get a decent job, and then court her when she's old enough to know her own mind as to whether she wants to marry an older guy?

The Bible tells us that Jacob, who was much, much older than Rachel when he met her (I calculated it out that he was in his seventies), served seven years for her and that every year was like only a day because he loved her so much. As the saying goes, "Lust is always in a hurry, but love can wait."

At first, the man seemed indifferent to her feminine charms, interested only in protecting her, and there would be some previous girlfriend, closer to his own age, who always stirred the pot and made the young girl jealous. In the end, when everything was sorted out, the men always confessed that it had been love at first sight. So, the upshot is that these well–to–do older guys snaffled up these young girls before they had a chance to look over the competition and form their own ideas, and make up their own minds about career and marriage, taking advantage of their grief over losing a parent, and confusion and insecurity about how they would support themselves.

Yeah, of course, in their thirties the men still looked handsome and strong, and the nice house and prestigious positions and big bank accounts were allurements, too, but when those girls were in their thirties, probably looking their best and at the peak of their sexual drive, their husbands would be in their fifties, on their way downhill. The girls never seemed to consider that, but I guess they were in such a permanent state of being turned on by their heroes that they would be blind to their sags and wrinkles. Either that, or the men, by then, would realize that they had to tone down their arrogant, overbearing ways, if they wanted to keep their pretty, younger wives from taking off on them.

How does it work out in reality? Recently, I talked to a woman who related to me a little about the problems in her parents' marriage. She said that her father was a very handsome man who had a lot going for him, and often made romantic gestures towards her mother, but her mother was bitter because she felt that he had rushed her into sexual activity, resulting in pregnancy and then marriage, when she was quite young, and she resented him for the rest of her life for it. Her mother wished that she'd had the opportunity to date other men and had more choices. Considering his good qualities, she might have ended up choosing the man she married, if he hadn't pushed her into having sex with him before marriage. Awakening sexuality before it's time is never a good way to begin a relationship. Premarital sex is never prompted by love; lust is not love; it's selfish. Women want to be loved, not used.

Another aspect of the teen bride scenario was that, at some point in the novels, the man observed how childlike his wife looked when he saw her with her hair worn in a certain way, or wearing fluffy, fleecy pajamas, which appealed to him very much. Hello! Fifty shades of grey showed up long before it was published in a book. I haven't read that book, but I read an article on it that exposed it as a cover for pedophilia, as it hints that the main female character is a young teen and the man she has an affair with is evidently in his forties. It's disturbing when a man feels that it's a turn on for a woman to look like a little girl. Those kind of books program women to be attracted to men who are attracted to children. It is an unhappy fact of life that some men marry single mothers because it gives them ready access to children. Ick! Older women with grandchildren need to be careful, too.

I have a friend who married a man who married her for her children. He was a young, good–looking guy and he sang along with her in their church choir. She was clueless that it was strange of him to take such an interest in her daughters, even having them stay overnight with him to get to know him better when they were engaged. She thought it was proof that he wanted to be a good father to them.

Every clue her daughters gave her that they were being molested went right over her head. When she was sorting through some things, she showed me a doll that had been carelessly tossed into a box in her storage room. It was a topless Hawaiian hula girl doll that had breasts like a twelve–year–old girl and she told me that her ex–husband used to shake it at her girls and laugh, to tease them. I was astonished. How much more of a clue did she need that he was a pedophile, and why did she still have that doll laying around, causing her daughters painful memories every time they saw it? It should have been tossed out long ago.

Single mothers need to be very discriminating about who they date because their choices are going to make a deep impact on their children. They should not put them at risk of being traumatized, or even killed, by their mother's boyfriend or husband. When I was in my thirties, I took into careful consideration all the stories I read in the news about abusive men who wouldn't let go after they got kicked out, and ended up killing the children to spite the mother, and frequently the mother got killed, as well. Women who look for "masterful" macho men who can take charge and make life easier for them with financial support, and keep the kids in line, might find out that they married a psycho.

I was always wary of getting into that situation when my kids were in their teens. I desperately needed a man to back me up with them, but I was never so desperate that I would take the risk of foisting a bully on them. I wanted a man who could motivate them, not one who was good at manipulating them into doing what he wanted them to do, and I also wanted one who was not likely to be manipulated by them. My kids were smart; too smart for most men to handle.

The only man I met when they were in their teens, who probably could have handled them, was a probation officer, but he wasn't a Christian and was probably married besides. I had to go to court a few times on my son's behalf because Andrew was accused of making a threat. He was just blowing off steam at the caregivers in the group home where he lived, but he had to learn that making threats of violence is not an acceptable way to blow off steam. The case ended up being dismissed because of a lot of delays, and, I think, also because I was there every time and the judge could see that my son had a mother who cared about him and would stay involved in his life. That's why I kept going to court. I figured that if I didn't, the court would assume that my son was going to turn out to be a habitual criminal, and the judge would be harder on him because of that perception.

After one of those times when his case was deferred, on our way out, my daughter saw a kid she knew whose case was about to come up, and she wanted to stay to hear his case. She took off looking for the room where it was going to be heard. I ran after my kids, insisting that they leave with me. It wasn't any of our business what that boy had been up to. The kids wouldn't listen and I felt ridiculous trailing after them because I was supposed to be the leader in the family. There was nothing for it but to leave and let them find their own way home.

I left the courthouse and headed for the bus stop. That brought them out of there because they had no money for busfare. When my daughter caught up with me, she said, "Well, that was rude!" I was always giving her lectures about manners, so she thought she could make me feel guilty about not living up to her adolescent expectations of what she considered courteous.

She proceeded to lecture me about manners, but I interrupted and said, "Hey, if you want to get after someone about their manners, why don't you talk to your brother there about not spitting on the sidewalk?" This led to an unruly display from her of that same behaviour. A couple of old ladies walked by and goggled at her. (Keep in mind that she was only thirteen and had come through a lot of trauma.I've written about it in my Tribulations and Triumphs series on this website, but I have not told the whole story, as the rest of it would not be helpful. There were many issues that needed to be sorted out, and I've never seen her spit on the sidewalk other than on that occasion.)

The kids were bent on acting like little jerks that day, so I figured, "Huh! If they want to act like that, they can find their own way home. I'm not going to let them ruin my day." The bus came and I got on, leaving them behind. I figured that Heather would think that was rude, too, but I had a very pleasant ride back to New Westminster, where I lived at the time. It was a beautiful, sunny, autumn day with the trees garbed in yellow, orange, and red. It was so nice to get to enjoy the view and not have to sit on the bus with two sullen teenagers, one of them sniping at me. Andrew rarely deigned to talk to me, or even look at me, but Heather is an extrovert and always had plenty to say.

I checked in with the probation officer and filled him in with what happened in court, as well as what happened afterwards. He looked at me grouchily and asked, "So, did you give them the busfare?" I said, "No," and he said, "Good!" It was great to get confirmation, from someone who knew how to handle problem teens, that I had handled the situation correctly.

That was the kind of man I needed in my life, one whom my kids couldn't twist around their little fingers and turn him to take their side against me. I realized that, even if I was married to a marvel of a man, there would probably be times when he couldn't do anything with the kids either, and he would have to boot them out of the house, but I'd have a man who would hold me in his big, strong arms, dry my tears, and assure me that I ought to be treated with more respect.

I never met anyone during that time whom I felt that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, but God got me through it. I didn't get to raise my kids myself the way I wanted to. I was small, my kids were big, and they paid no attention to anything that I told them to do, but at least I stayed involved in their lives to show them that I cared, rather than leaving it entirely up to Social Services to deal with them.

Harlequin books sure didn't help me pick a man who would be a good husband and father, or help me learn how to be a good wife, but I was making progress. I wasn't latching on to an unsuitable man, though I surely needed a husband to help me raise my children.

Reading those books doesn't mean that every woman who has used them to get her needs met vicariously will marry a pedophile, but most probably will get hooked up with a man who will put their wife aside when her physical attractions have faded. My ex–husband dropped me because he wanted a younger, prettier wife. I am sure that he would name a lot of other reasons for leaving me, but he gave himself away one time when he told me that he would never fool around on me, unless it was with a woman who was as beautiful as a model.

I figured that there was fat chance of a woman that beautiful wanting him; he had a beautiful body in his younger years, but the beer–drinking made inroads on his physique, and his face, if you just looked at him objectively, could only be described as average. It had taken me three years to notice him at church. And he sure wasn`t rich enough to get a trophy wife. I thought I was safe from having a husband who was a philanderer, but he had actually confessed to me that he would commit adultery. Once the devil had that hook in him, it was just a matter of getting him to lower his expectations.

It reminds me of a story I heard about George Bernard Shaw (a 19th century, British writer, for those who don't know), when he attended a fancy dinner. He must have been a really stimulating dinner partner to talk to. He asked a beautiful woman sitting next to him if she would sleep with him for a million pounds. She simpered a bit and said coyly that she might. Then he asked her if she would sleep with him for one pound. Indignantly, she asked him, "What do you think I am?" Shaw replied, "Madam, that's already been settled. Now we're just negotiating the price." Ouch!

The point is, if a person would commit adultery at all, they are an adulterer, regardless of whether they would do it with a supermodel or a $3.00 whore.

I don't think that the woman whom my ex–husband eventually married lived up to his fantasies. She is only two years younger than me. When he was still playing the field, he confessed to me that he was strongly attracted to a girl of seventeen, and that her parents would skin him alive if they knew. He was thirty–six at that time. He was trying to make me jealous, but I am certain that he was also telling the truth. My programming in my teens must have set me up to be attracted to a man who was emotionally stuck in adolescence.

It wasn't just the books, though, that did that. My stepfather, who is now deceased (or I wouldn't be saying this), had issues that messed me up. He never went after me, but he did go after my older sister when she was fifteen. I'm going to talk about this because what I figured out about it might help someone else. I know that in the place where he is now, Dad won't mind. If someone else can learn from his mistakes, he will be happy for it, just as people have been helped by knowing about how King David failed, but he repented and God forgave him.

I was devastated when I was fourteen and learned that my stepfather had molested my sister. It was a betrayal of our whole family. My mother didn't even flirt with other men, though Dad sometimes accused her of that, but he committed adultery in the worst way possible – not with a grown woman, but with her own child. It took the heart out of her when she found a letter to my sister in his wallet, telling her to be a good girl and not tempt him any more.

The temptation was a fantasy in his own mind. Why on Earth would a young, pretty girl in her mid–teens want to get it on with a man in his thirties who wore false teeth and was going bald, never mind that he had never said a kind word to her in her whole life? Pat was terrified every time he approached her. Poor, little thing.

I think that my stepfather's attraction stemmed from envy of one of his brothers. When they were in their teens, one of his brothers had a very pretty girlfriend, who let him use her as his sex toy. My stepdad always spoke of that girl with scorn and loathing about how vain she was of her beauty. He bitterly remarked one day about how he and his brother had been working on a carpentry project, and the brother's twelve–year–old girlfriend had been standing nearby, watching them in "her little knee socks." That explained to me why Dad went after my sister; he had a lot of unresolved jealousy. He wished to have a pretty doll, too, to play with.

Pat started acting very rebellious. A teacher commented that she was "surly." Mom and Dad got on her case about that. What could she do? She just stood there silently and looked surly at them, too. When Pat was a little girl, she had been our Grandma's dainty, little princess, quiet and shy, but very affectionate to her family, very protective of her younger siblings. After we went to live with our parents, she faded into the woodwork when Dad was around, to try to escape his notice, because he picked on her a lot. He blamed her as the reason why my mother had stayed with our father, due to Mom having gotten pregnant. It was only natural for her develop a jealousy of me, because my stepfather liked me and gave me compliments, while he left her out in the cold.

When the molestation started, Pat started to stand up to Dad and say ugly things. It shocked me how she talked to him, and even pushed back when he physically pushed her around, because I had no idea of what was behind it. I couldn't really blame her for it, though, because Dad was so bossy, and, one time, he even spit in her face. When you have a parent who would do something like that, it is a very unhappy home.

I think that my mother thought that Pat was just a slutty, little brat, and Dad was justified in getting upset with her when she didn't meet his expectations about staying away from boys and doing chores exactly the way he expected them to be done. My sister had normal feelings for a girl her age, though. Mom had a great dread of any of us girls getting pregnant before marriage and often harped about what an awful thing it would be, if that happened. She never told about any strategies for dealing with boys, if we were out on a date. She didn`t want us dating until we were sixteen, and preferablly not until we were eighteen, which was what Dad had in mind.

There was nothing wrong with their ideas about how old we should be before dating. My ideas about it now are even stricter; no dating without a respectable chaperone. But parents need to face the possibilty that their kids will disobey them, and it would have helped if she had told us, "If you ever find yourself alone with a boy, and he wants to take liberties with you, there are several things you can do." Dad told us about kneeing them in the groin, but they should have also told us to make sure that we had money to pay for our own meal and cab fare to get home, in case the guy figured that he was entitled to take liberties that rightfully belong only to our husband.

The approach my parents took was completely wrong. It was with the seeming conviction that we were sluts who needed to be bullied into behaving ourselves. They never said that we were sluts, but their approach implied it. They never once, that I can recall, taught us that we should value ourselves highly and, because we are very precious and matter a lot to God, and insist on being treated with respect. This is something that all children should be taught. But if they had instilled in us a healthy degree of self–esteem, us older children would have done something a lot sooner about how our parents treated us.

As it was, I was the only one of the stepchildren who talked to a guidance counsellor at school about getting put into foster care, and that was probably because my parent's praises of my intelligence and artistic ability when I was younger had given me at least that much self–esteem. I can't remember that they ever told Pat or Jim that they were smart or had done something well, though they are both quite clever, and Jim in particular when it comes to computers and memorizing poetry. It wasn't a matter of keeping their talent hidden as chidren, because they found it safer to stay in the background. They weren't even aware that they were bright, because they didn't have enough encouragement to shine.

Finding out that my stepfather had molested my sister was a huge shock. Dad had never given anyone a clue that he was meddling with Pat, and she never said a word about it to anyone else, until after she ran away from home one time, and Mom and Dad went after her to bring her back. I figured she did it because she was a brat; she had run away with another girl who had a reputation of being wild. Afterwards, when she was sitting on her bed crying, my scorn for her became too much for her to bear, and she choked out that Dad had been feeling her up when he got home from work in the morning at 5:30.

For the last few months, he had been coming upstairs when he got home from work, "to check on the kids." Whatever he was doing never woke me up and I didn't think it was odd that he would want to make sure that the younger ones hadn't kicked off their blankets. That he had never checked on us before in this way didn't strike me as unusual, because he might also have been looking for something to complain about, and he was doing that more than ever, now that we older kids were in our teens and he resented more than ever having us living with him. I don't feel angry about it anymore that he mistreated us; it was just a fact, and it furnishes the background of the problems that led to incest being committed in our home.

I didn't sleep with Pat in our room because, when I turned thirteen, I became afraid of the dark. I slept out in the hall with my little sisters, under a light that always remained on. If I hadn't become afraid of the dark, I might have become a victim of molestation, too, though it was less likely because I had an emotional connection to my stepfather when I was a little kid, whereas he had no emotional connection to Pat at all.

When Pat told me what he had done, it felt like he had done it to me, too, because I loved her, in spite of being a trial to her in many ways. My issues with men, which started with my father, really ramped up after I learned what my stepfather had done. I didn't tell anyone, though, about what Dad had done. As far as I knew, after she ran away, Dad backed off from touching her like that, because running away indicated that she might tell on him to an adult. She might end up having to explain to some counsellor to account for her behaviour, and they might know the right questions to ask.

After my mother found the letter, she took me aside and let me read it, then asked me if Dad had been meddling with Pat. I looked at her directly and said, "No." I figured that Pat didn't want me to tell her, seeing as she hadn't told her already, and that Mom didn't really want to know. I also knew that my younger sisters and brothers would be heartbroken, if Dad went to jail. He treated them much better than he treated us older kids, and I figured they needed him. I am sure that Mom was also concerned about how distraught the younger kids would be, if they didn't have Dad around, and Mom needed his paycheque, so that she could look after them. She looked very relieved at my reply and I despised her for it, because I knew she didn't really believe me, but she could justify to herself not having him charged on the basis of my answer.

Really, how would I know for sure that my stepfather had not molested my sister? I didn't wake up as soon as he got home. I wasn't around her all the time. And the belligerent, challenging way that I said no, and not expressing shock when I read the letter, should have invited some doubt and inquiry, instead of the matter being immediately dropped.

The only things that surprised me about the letter were that he was so foolish as put his illicit fantasies in writing, and that he thought that Pat wanted him to feel her up. To his way of thinking, though, he was covering up his tracks, if he was found out, by trying to undermine her credibility in advance. I think that, subconsciously, he intended for my mother to find that letter because he had a feeling that Pat was going to tell someone.

I was the only person who ever confronted my stepfather about what he had done to my sister (aside from my mother ranting at him about that letter). I wrote him some letters when I got older, telling him he should make amends to Pat, at least, with an apology. He threw the letters in the garbage without reading them all the way through, and my younger siblings thought it was nasty of me to write those letters to him, reminding him of past mistakes, but that was a really serious mistake, and he got off lightly with only having to read some letters, rather than going to jail.

My purpose in writing the letters was to point him to salvation, so that he wouldn`t go to Hell, and I told him in each letter about how to get saved. By the mercy of God, my stepfather did get saved, but not until he was on his deathbed, when he had my sweet, little sister Lorrie to witness to him, his own flesh and blood, whom he would listen to. She had become a Christian two years before, and I had spent some time making sure that she really understood that salvation is through Jesus alone, not through attending her particular church. I was greatly relieved when she told me what she said to him on his last day, and how she had urged him to tell God that he was sorry for his sins and to call on Him to save him in the Name of Jesus. He was too weak to say it aloud, but, for various reasons that confirm it to me, I know he said it in his heart.

After she found the letter, my mother packed my sister off right away into a foster home with some of her friends from church. Since having discovered that my stepfather had fantasies about my sister, my Mom wanted to get her out of harm's way, but from Pat's perspective, she was being rejected and punished, though she had done nothing wrong. I envied her, though. She wasn't being picked on by Dad anymore; Jim and I still had to deal with that. And she got to listen to Beatles' records! We didn't have a record player in our home; only a radio, which my parents must have used to listen to the news and weather. The only time music was played on it was when they weren't around and us older kids sinfully listened to the popular hits and danced to them.

My brother and I lived with our parents for another year and then we went into a foster home, too. It was a worldly one, where we were allowed to smoke cigarettes, if we wanted to, listen to secular music and dance, and I could wear make–up and mini–skirts. Pat wanted to live with us, too. Though she got to listen to Beatles' records, there were still a lot of restrictions because her foster parents attended my mother's church. She somehow got her social worker to believe that she missed Jim and me, and wanted to be reunited with us. Hah! She didn't pay much mind to Jim, and her and I fought a lot. I was so annoyed when she moved into our foster home and had all the guys running after her.

I hated all men my stepfather's age, after I found out what he had done to my sister. I couldn't stand for any man who was more than fifteen years older to touch me. That was when I figured that they were starting to be old enough to be my father. One time when I was sixteen, a gentle, kindly man in his sixties, who was very empathetic, playfully and affectionately put his hand on the back of my neck and I cringed away from him with intense loathing. Larry was shocked when he felt the force of my feelings blast him, though I said nothing to him. He wondered, "What has been done to that girl to hurt her so much that she would react like that?"

What a dear man he was. I wanted a Daddy so bad, and if I hadn't been so bitter about my father and stepfather, I could have found a surrogate father in that man. Larry was a really neat guy. He loved the Lord and had such a tender, humble heart. He talked to me like I was his equal in intelligence and worth (and he was a very intelligent, talented man), though I was a lot younger than him. I thank the Lord that I will get to see him when I get to Heaven, and that we can be friends there forever.

I was not a Christian when I met that man, but I am sure that he prayed for me and that his prayers helped me become a Christian. Right after I made that decision, I knew I now had to forgive my stepfather and stop hating all men his age. I stopped being hostile to my stepfather, and by the time I was eighteen, I moved back in with my parents, to try to be a better daughter.

I succeeded in being a better daughter (though far from perfect), but my parents were not ready to be better parents. The month I spent with them before they kicked me out demonstrated to me that, though when I left home at fifteen, I had not been a Christian who wanted to do the right thing, there had been good reasons for me to go into fostercare. To be fair, my mother didn't hit me anymore or speak as harshly as she used to, and she didn't toss out my make–up, though she objected to me wearing it. The big issue she had with me was that I didn't attend her church, and even worse, I went to other churches that she considered to be false because they did not belong to her denomination. She figured I was a bad influence on my siblings, meaning that I tried to witness to them about Jesus and would have taken them to church with me, if they had consented to go.

With a background like that, it isn't surprising that I wasn't very good at picking a good man to marry three years later, expecting to live happily ever after. I had forgiven my stepfather enough to talk to him again, and I would even have had him at my wedding, if Mom and Dad weren't divorced by then and he could have restrained himself from trashing her to others. I would have had my father there, too, but Mom objected to that. I was really annoyed with her because she told me in the beginning that I could invite him, and then after I invited him and he was so happy that I had done so, she called me up and said that, if he was going to be there, she wouldn't come to my wedding. Argh! What could I do? She was paying for the wedding, so I had to withdraw the invitation. And besides that, why would I not have at my wedding, the one parent who, though she had done it imperfectly, had tried so hard to be a good mother, to accommodate a man who had abandoned me when I was a baby?

When I was young, most girls were married by the time they were twenty–one. I was much too emotionally immature to make a good choice, and to be a good wife. My ex–husband had his faults, but he had his trials with me, too. Counsellors told me that there was something wrong with me because most of the people I associated with had so many problems. For some reason, people wanted to tell me about their weird stuff. It was probably because nothing surprised me very much and they could sense that. But, regardless of how likeable one finds people, in spite of their problems, if we want to develop character, we need to keep company with people who love the Lord a lot, and are earnest about always developing more character, and put effort into it by getting their mind renewed in the Word of God.

I eventually did stop hanging out with hooligans, and learn to find it enjoyable to be around people who are conservative, but I have to agree with what a co–worker once said to me, "You know, Lanny, everybody seems normal, until you get to know them better." He was letting me know that, though he wasn't willing to disclose any of his personal troubles, he had issues, as well. Who are these people who don't have issues? I've never met any. Even the really admirable ones have issues, and they usually aren't willing to talk about them to get them sorted out, but at least they don't have tons of issues.

My family's background, on both my mother's and my stepfather's sides, is that they tended to be in denial, presenting a good front to the world of having it all together. Maybe some of them actually do have it mostly all together, but the ones who are involved in the Cooneyite cult and New Age practices will never convince me of it. If they had it all together, they would be able to more easily see through those demonic deceptions.

Most of them aren't into analyzing their upbringing, to sort out the good from the bad, so that they don't repeat the bad, and getting things cleared up between them. That kind of attitude used to drive me crazy because I am the sort of person who likes closure. If something is wrong, I want to get it fixed. I want to talk it out and get it settled, but eventually I had to accept the fact that everyone isn't like that. Most people are quite content to pretend that things were better than what they were and sweep the garbage under the rug. When I swept things under the rug, it gave me a nervous breakdown, and I never want to go through that again. I had to get over my cowardice in order to stay sane and have self–respect.

The Bible says in Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" and in Proverbs 4:26, "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established."

My father's family was very different from my other parents'. One of my cousins on that side of the family (not blood relatives, but through marriage) said to me, "You know, most families are weird, but the Townsends are REALLY weird." That was saying something, because I picked up the fact that those cousins had big problems in their families. I couldn't deny the Townsends were a bit over the top where at least three, if not four, of the Townsend males were concerned. Most of the siblings had rampant alcohol and lust problems, though, as far as I know, except for the oldest brother, none of them spent any time in jail. I don't think that any of the problem siblings were interested in trying to fix anything. They liked themselves the way they were and the fun they had, except for my father at the end of his life, when he repented of his sins. I think that the way I dealt with him when he acted like too much of a jerk helped him realize just how bad of a sinner he was, and that his "good" would not outweigh his bad and get him into Heaven, as he had previously thought.

The thing that finally shattered his illusions about himself that he wasn't such a bad guy was that he came on to me over the phone one time, when he was drunk. It was disgusting and I had to yank the phone out of the wall, so that he would stop calling me. Then I wrote him a doozy of a letter, telling him what I thought of his behaviour. That made him really mad, but it also prevented him from conveniently forgetting what he had done.

He admitted to my stepmother that he had talked to me like no father should ever talk to his daughter. She told me this when I warned her against getting too involved with him, but discovered that she was going to go ahead and marry him anyway. The marriage lasted only four years. I phoned her stepson and talked to his wife, to warn them that they needed to keep an eye on Betty, because my father was violent. I got only a frosty reply, but, eventually, they realized I hadn't been trying to make trouble, that I had legitimate concerns, and her stepson offered to help her move out, if she wanted to leave my father.

Finally, after his evil behaviour towards me, my Dad could admit to doing something wrong. He never expressed remorse for anything else, though he had wronged a lot of people in a lot of ways. I told him in the letter that he was sick and needed to see a psychologist, and that I would not visit or speak to him again, until he did that.

He didn't do that, so I steered clear of him. It wasn't safe for me to be around him. Even if I came across him in public, I knew that he would create a scene because he wanted to get back at me. He'd already told me once that I wasn't his daughter, though it is really obvious that I resemble his side of the family. Except for my nose, I look a lot like his mother. I know that if I had even just said Hello to him in a friendly way, he would have started yelling at me, asking where I got the nerve to use his name when I wasn't his kid, and then I'd have to charge him with creating a public disturbance, and then my conscience would ask me, "Well, if you knew he was like that, why did you speak to him? Did you want him to be arrested?"

So, when I saw my father a couple of times in a mall, I just pretended I didn't know him. I saw the hurt on his face, and it made me sad, but I thought, "The Bible says that they who trouble their own house, inherit the wind. Sometimes it isn't because people want to hurt their parents that they avoid them. Sometimes it's because they are so toxic and controlling that they aren't safe to be around."

People think that it's with their family that they can let their hair down and let their ugly all hang out, because their family is obliged by duty to love them. There is also the natural feeling that children have for their parents of wanting to bond with them and they tend to ignore a lot of offences, in order to do that, but hope deferred makes the heart sick, and sometimes the kids just can't take the disappointment anymore. What that verse in Proverbs is saying is that, of all people, you should treat your family members the best. Friends might be around for a while, but eventually they die off, and if you outlive them, it's good to have children and grandchildren who think a lot of you and will take care of you in your old age, no matter how much it inconveniences them.

A couple of times, I gave my stepmother gifts to give my father, without telling him that they were from me. As she was a Christian, he wouldn't think that there was anything unusual about giving him an audio book with a Christian message. It was the testimony of Capt. Gerald Coffey, a fighter pilot who was shot down over Vietnam and spent several years in Hanoi prison. My father loved to fly his charter plane and had been greatly disappointed when he developed high blood pressure and wasn't allow to fly planes anymore.

Also, he had been in both the British army and the British navy, so he respected military people. (Though he grew up in the UK, he didn't speak with a British accent. He was born in Canada and spent his first seven years there, so he lost his accent after returning to Canada.) I expect that the tape had a good influence on him, as Gerald Coffey talked about having faith in God and in oneself. This has a lot of impact coming from a man who suffered as much as he did, which was worse than what my father had to endure from mean nuns in the convent orphanage where he lived for five years as a child, and had contributed so much to his bitterness.

The way I dealt with my parents isn't necessarily how everyone should deal with theirs, if they have similar problems. Each person is different and, though some principles apply to most, not necessarily to all. I've heard of situations where there was abuse and it was borne with, against all common sense, and things worked out very well, but in my case, I had to learn to not be an enabler, and not co–dependent, and how to be assertive, and to withdraw from bad company.

I actually think that., until you learn those things, you can never be sure if your patience with a problem is not because you're tapped into God's supernatural power, but because you're a coward, and that you're not likely to be firm about not letting satan walk all over you, until you've stopped letting people do it, when you have the option to do something about it, and you're willing to put up with being disliked because you won't put up with garbage.

There sure were a lot of garbage ideas in the vintage Harlequin romances that I read that weekend. In one of the stories, the girl (a teen bride) is married to a government official (in his thirties, handsome, and wealthy) and had to meet the Governor and his wife. The husband gave her a tranquilizer to help her get through her first meeting. Oh brother! Well, that was back in the days when Valium was in widespread use. Not that I ever saw my mother take tranquilizers, thank God. Actually, I didn't realize when I was a girl that so many women took Valium, but when I learned of it, I thought of how sad it was for women to go through their lives doped up, missing half of what was going on, to have only a vague notion of the weather when it's beautifully sunny, and to not look at one's children intently enough to remember in later years how they looked when they were young, or the cute things that they did.

These romance novels encouraged prescription drug use. In one of them, the husband gave his teen bride a couple of aspirins and a glass of alcohol to relax her. Now, that was dangerous. The women who wrote these books were messed up. And who knows how they affected other people's lives?

At one point in my business career, I couldn't figure out where successful people got the energy to attend all the board meetings they sat in on, in addition to their normal work and duties towards their families. Then one day, I overheard some of them talking about the pills they took to stay awake and/or stay calm. So that's how they did it! Not all successful people do that, of course, but it sure sounded like a widespread problem to me. If they don't have the Lord's direction in their lives, to tell them that they don't have to overextend themselves like that, nor His supernatural power to give them the strength to be involved in a lot of activities, this is one way that some people cope, but it's not my idea of what I consider success. It is better to adapt to a simpler lifestyle than to go through life drugged up.

By Sunday afternoon, I was just skimming through the books and tossing them aside. That's right; I don't normally go to church on Sunday, because I work for a ministry and it's like being at church all week, and especially if I go to a meeting on Friday night or Saturday, I don't want to go to one on Sunday, too. I like to get to stay home sometimes. Besides that, there's nothing particularly sacred about going to church on Sunday; that is an anti–semitic tradition of man that was passed on down through Catholicism. The Sabbath is actually the seventh day of the week, not the first day.

Anyway, those books were getting so boring. I read one of them through because it had a mean sister in it, who played a dirty trick on her younger sister. They had been to the beach with their mother, and the older girl, whom the mother favoured and spoiled, wanted to swim some more. The mother said no and headed home, but the older sister went back into water and then pretended that she was drowning, so that her younger sister would come after her. The younger sister did, and then the older girl swam back to the beach laughing, figuring that the mother would scold the younger sister for disobedience. The younger sister, who was only eleven at the time and not a strong swimmer, nearly drowned, but their father had gone looking for them, saw her dilemma, and rescued her. He, however, got pulled back by the tide and drowned, and the younger sister got blamed for his death.

The kid never told anyone what really happened. The mother wouldn't have believed her anyway, as the older sister was her pet. She was sent her away to be raised by relatives. The younger sister returned home when she was twenty–one, to try to reconcile with her mother and sister. She was a rather pathetic character, but I felt a bit of sympathy for her, and I wondered if the psycho sister would try to knock her off. The baddie was sure to get her comeuppance somehow. I wanted to know how that was going to happen, so I read the whole book.

The guy in the story was a pip. Oh sure, he was handsome and rich, but such a cardboard character! He kissed hard, instead of tender, told the girl how things going to be, instead of asking and getting her wholehearted consent. Masterful, oh yes! He turned that girl on, but, a number of times, I felt that, if I could jumped into the story, I would have slapped him up the side of his head. Bossy guys bore me. The kind of relationship that interests me is one where there is equality and both work together in a mature way to bring about results that are of equal benefit to each party.

In this story, the girl wasn't at the man's mercy economically. She had an inheritance from her relatives, and she won a Jag in a raffle, which really rotted her nasty sister's socks, so lover boy had to work hard to get her back when she ran away from him, but he was still was a boring character. There was no subtlety in his personality. The girls were boring, too. The nice sister was completely good and the nasty sister was completely bad. The evil one wasn't even sorry at the end of the story for any of the bad stuff that she did.

I threw all the books in the trash and hoped that was the last time I ever read romance novels. But isn't that what I thought all the other times after I had watched romance movies or read romance novels? I had a dream that night about a feisty girl who figured that she could take on an idol of Mary, which didn't look like a normal Mary idol. I can't recall what it looked like, except that it didn't look entirely human, but I knew that it was an idol of Mary.

This girl's strategy was to allow the idol to bind her and carry her away, because the idol would take her to where she wanted to go. Her assumption was that when she arrived at her destination, she would break out of her bonds. It put me in mind of how Paul the Apostle appealed to Caesar, and therefore had to go to Rome, which is where God wanted him to go because He wanted Paul to testify before Caesar. But it wasn't a free trip. Nowadays, the state pays to transport prisoners, but at that time, the prisoner had to come up with the money to pay for his passage and other expenses. Until he did that, so that his case could be heard, he languished in jail. In the dream, the girl thought she was getting a free trip.

The spirit that was in that idol played along with her delusions. Interestingly, it did not have a woman's voice, but rather the voice of a male transvestite, underlining the perversity of Mary worship. The spirit came out of the idol to put the girl in its net and carry her away, agreeing with her brave words, but smirking to itself. That girl had no guarantee that she would be able to get out of the net when she arrived at her destination.

I awoke and knew that this was about the idol of Romance, but wondered how the worship of Mary played into it. Did it relate to the fact that Mary worship is a facade for the worship of Semiramis, the Queen of Babylon? It doesn't honour Mary, the mother of Jesus, to perpetrate myths about her and have people kneeling before statues and praying to her. The real Mary who lives in Heaven hates that kind of thing. Because she is holy, she knows that worship should be reserved entirely for God because He alone is worthy of it.

She needed Jesus to die for her as much as anyone else, and she acknowledged in her prophetic song that God was her Saviour. She wouldn't have needed to be saved, if she hadn't sinned, and Jesus indicated that she, at the very least, sinned in the area of presumption. He didn't hop to do her bidding when she tried to barge in on His meetings. He made her wait until He was finished. And she was a bit of snob; she didn't like Him hanging about with people whom she considered riffraff. She and His brothers thought that He had lost His mind and had come to take Him home. That indicated the sin of unbelief, not that He was God, but unbelief in His wisdom. If she understood that Jesus is God come in the flesh, she certainly had no business trying to tell Him what to do after He was grown and no longer needed to demonstrate for children how to obey their parents before they became of age.

Semiramis, the real life figure behind the many of the myths about goddesses, was a very perverse individual who appears to have been attended by transvestites, among her other servants. She was famed for her beauty and her licentiousness. There certainly is an element of licentiousness in most romance stories, if for no other reason than it makes the reader a peeping Tom to intimacies that are none of their business, not even a kiss that is meant to be private, never mind stories that give details about pawing and more. There are things in a married couple's relationship that are meant to be only theirs and God's alone, but that doesn't include sexual abuse. If intervention of others is needed to get that to stop, then some details might have to be exposed. Privacy in a relationship sometimes includes even some of the sweet things that lovers say to each other when they are courting. As the Lover says in the Song of Solomon, his beloved is a garden enclosed.

Was there something in my background that was linking me to the worship of Mary? Consciously, I have no interest in worshipping Mary, but I was looked after for a short while by Roman Catholic foster parents when I was a toddler. I have no memory of them, but they undoubtedly took my sister and I to their church and we saw their statues. When they wanted to get us baptized, my grandmother changed her mind about letting us stay there and sent my mother to get us and bring us home to her to look after. So, their influence was short–lived, but the younger a person is, the more impressionable they are.

I don't think that the Lord wanted me to waste a lot of time trying to analyze the connection between the worship of Mary and the worship of Romance, to see how it parallels. Rather, I think His point is that it is very perverse. He knows that I abhor Roman Catholicism, though I do not abhor Roman Catholics. They are just people like any other who are caught up in a deception, the same way as anyone who thinks that salvation is through any other means than Jesus Christ alone are deceived, but God has called His children out of every kind of background to sincerely receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour.

I understand quite a bit about the dangers of Roman Catholicism, and I am deeply thankful that I was not raised as one and caught in its snares. That came close to happening due to my father having been Roman Catholic, which was why I was placed in a Catholic foster home. The two–by–two cult that I was raised in engendered spiritual bondage, as well, but not as dangerous as the other. If I had been raised Roman Catholic, I probably would have gotten suckered into becoming a nun. I've read some astounding accounts of what goes on behind the scenes from cloistered nuns who managed to escape their convents. One of the things that I think my father never considered was why those nuns who raised him were so bitter; they didn't have an easy life either. He probably did not know how terribly they may have been abused themselves.

Thinking of my father's Catholic roots made me think of the roots of the worship of Romance. How can romance be bad when God is the originator of romance and romance is a picture of the kind of relationship He wants us to have with Him? It's problematic when what God wants us to do is set aside, in order to give oneself to romance. That was what I was doing. Instead of doing my housework more diligently, or attending to my children, or studying the Bible, when I was younger, I let myself drift off into a fantasy world of romance through books and daydreams. Now that I was older and God had led me into writing on spiritual themes, and this is what I should have been doing, I was letting myself be distracted.

I finally realized why I was depressed. In Acts 8, the Apostle Peter rebuked Simon the Magician, who was also known as Simon Peter, and is the true father of Roman Catholicism, telling him that he was going to lead many into the gall of bitterness and into bondage. I knew that gall of bitterness is Old Testament language for idolatry, and that is what happened. Catholicism has many idols, which it calls "saints", and on that basis, excuses the statues that it displays in its temples. Idolatry is the result of being bitter against God.

What was I bitter about against the Lord? Then it came to me – disappointment in how our humanity undermines perfect romance. Every woman dreams of the perfect romance. Perfect romance doesn't look the same to every woman; it depends on her tastes and needs, but you can be sure that the object of her love is not selfish, nor ugly, nor uncouth, nor does he smell bad at any time. Also, she is not selfish, or ugly, or uncouth, or smell bad at any time; she is never at a disadvantage. But fallen Man does not have the advantages of Eden. Redeemed people can regain them, by faith, if they care to purify their faith to the point where those blessings can be manifested, but that seems to most Christians to be beyond their reach.

I was reading those books because I was looking for a hero figure that was perfect, which could not be attained in the real world. In the real world, disappointment is inevitable. Even if I met a man who had a high level of character, and who was interested in marrying me, he would eventually let me down in various ways. Hopefully, not in anything that would be utterly shattering, as I should hope that I've got better discernment about people's character than when I was young, but it's still unsettling to have to deal with conflict. I do it when I have to, but I don't like having to confront people.

Even more of an issue to me were my own shortcomings and hindrances to inspiring romantic attachment and sustainability. The roots of my depression weren't just passed on to me from my mother, who was deeply disappointed over and over in her relationships with men, nor of my grandmother, or her mother, and of my male ancestors, none of whom experienced perfect romance, but my disappointment was also in the human condition. I was railing in my heart against God, saying to the Potter, "Why have You made us thus?"

We burp, we sneeze, our noses run, we have to eliminate waste, we pass gas, we get sweaty and clammy and smelly, and all that by itself takes away from some of the glamour of romance. Our bodies age and this results in sagging, wrinkles, crinkly skin, unsightly spots, loss of hair, loss of vitality, yellowing teeth, loss of teeth, weight gain in many cases, and other depredations to our attractiveness. None of us like this and we all are crying out to God, "Why have you made us thus?!"

I considered the justice of it, though. Why should fallen Man have any lasting beauty, apart from implicit trust in God? We should stagger through life, stumbling over obstacles to satisfying all our desires, until we yield to the knowledge that God is unfailingly good and cannot be anything else because He is pure Love, regardless that sometimes our experiences in life are not all what we wish they were. Moreover, even those who have been redeemed should not expect to have all their desires fulfilled, if we do not have absolute trust in God's promises.

People might lower their expectations and be happy anyway. There are a lot of Christians who accept aging as a matter of course; they are soon going to go to Heaven and put it all behind them, so why bother to put their faith out to manifest the perfect health that is in the Atonement? But there are people like me, who feel that their work is far from finished and don't want to have to deal with diminishing health while engaging in more vigorous ministry activity than ever before. Also, if I can have perfect health that will make me more attractive for the man God has chosen for me, and easier for me to like my reflection when I see it in a mirror, why shouldn't I put my faith out for there for it?

I believe that Jesus suffered for us to give us perfect health, not just cures for cancer, or serious heart problems, or deadly diseases, or missing limbs, and to raise the dead. I believe that He suffered to release us from the effects of aging, as well as from deformity, right down to the last wart or mole, or freckles, if we have a problem with not liking our freckles. Some people think they're cute. I've never minded about having freckles, but after receiving this revelation, I've decided that I don't even want to have freckles because I don't believe that God made Man to have freckles, in their perfect state. Freckles are the cause of something that went wrong with our skin.

It wasn't really God who "made us thus" with all our imperfections. We made us thus. Adam and Eve got the ball rolling, but we carried it on by letting ourselves be controlled by circumstances and believing the devil's lies that God isn't good because He allowed this, instead of believing and embracing all that God has promised us in the Atonement. "For this reason was the Son of God manifest, to destroy the works of the devil." [John 3:8] Yes, sin is of the devil and Jesus came to set us free from committing sin, but every kind of disease, no matter how small it is, is also a work of the devil, and the Bible says that, by Jesus' stripes, we WERE healed.

Can you imagine how good you would look if you were healed of every inroad that the effect of the Fall has made on your health? If you have a receding jaw, you could be healed of that deformity. It is a liability to health; not just a variation of design. When people with an underbite get older, they tend to develop sleep apnea. Protuding eyes are the result of a thyroid problem. Grey hair, loss of hair, are likely due to a vitamin deficiency. Health breaks down due to loss of enzymes, creakiness in the joints is due to loss of some kind of jelly substance that pads them; if you get that stuff back, you'd be spry and look a lot younger than your chronological age.

I've heard of God healing people of things that have only cosmetic benefit. An evangelist showed me the photo of an Ethiopian girl who had a beautiful smile. She was a poor girl who couldn't afford dental care. She arrived at his crusade with her teeth in a terrible condition. He didn't pray for her. Just while she was standing in the crowd, watching what was going on, God healed her teeth, making all them straight and white and whole. This is a demonstration of the Father's love. A good Dad, who can afford to pay for dental care, most certainly does not withhold it from his children.

A woman who attended the Azuza Street meetings in Los Angeles was prayed for in regards to her broken nose. It was pointed and hooked, just like the conventional notion of a witch's nose. A woman who felt very sorry for the lady having a nose like that prayed for her and the nose straightened out, and the lady exclaimed, "But I've never liked my nose!" It didn't look attractive even when it was straight, because it was so pointed. The woman prayed for her some more, covering the lady's nose with her hand. When she took her hand away, she said it was to reveal the most perfect nose she had ever seen. Praise the Lord! God demonstrated that He cares about how we feel.

Andrew Wommack said that, in one of his meetings, God removed the bags from beneath a woman's eyes. When she was on her way to the meeting, God told her He would do something for her to show His love for her. She was in good health and said she didn't need to be healed, but God asked her what she would like for Him to do for her. She said she wished she didn't have bags under her eyes. Andrew got a word of knowledge that God was going to heal someone of the bags under their eyes. He thought that was weird, but spoke it out anyway, and the woman was healed, just to confirm to her that God loves her.

In my meditations, I have come to realize that it takes a more pure faith to believe for the healing of minor stuff than for major stuff. Everybody can see the necessity of God healing the big problems. If you don't healed of cancer, heart problems, or other diseases, you will die, and your ministry might not be finished, yet. God is looking out for His own interests, isn't He? He has work that He wants done. There are children to be raised, and husband or wife who needs their helper, a ministry to be fulfilled. You can do all that with missing teeth, or bags under your eyes, or with a pointy nose. But Jesus suffered to heal every disease, deformity, injury, and scar, to destroy the works of the devil, and give His redeemed people Eden on the inside all the way out to their skin, if they would dare to believe how completely He has removed the curses.

I believe that He wants us to live in an impenetrable bubble of His protection from poison, regardless of environmental contaminants, or of how our food has been compromised by chemical preservatives and other junk, and to not accept injury, but apply the Blood of Jesus to everything that tries to interfere with what Adam and Eve would have enjoyed, if they had not succumbed to satan's temptations. I am not currently manifesting this ideal, but I'm sure going to aim for it and see how close I can get to it. I'm not going to say, "Well, decreptitude is just all part of growing older, and God allows us to get sick as we age, so that we look forward more to Heaven and can make the break from this life to there." That's a lie that has been fed to us by the devil, so that the redeemed won't contend for their inheritance. Even if all the saints throughout all the ages experienced normal old age and died sick (this isn't actually true), I am still going to aim for what is available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Moses died at 120 years old, with sharp eyesight and his natural force was not abated. He had fabulous health and died through simply laying down and submitting his soul to God to gather it up, because it was time for him to go. It doesn't matter how healthy a person is, Heaven is always a better alternative. Everybody up there is really nice and you don't have to contend any more with the evil stuff that is going on down here on the Earth. If you don't want to use your good health to sin, there's nothing to hold you here, once your work is done. You don't need to have aches and pains in order to let go.

One of the loveliest stories I've heard is of a godly man who lived in the 19th century. He lived a comfortably successful life and enjoyed good health all the way through. When he was around 90 years old, he went out and chopped some wood, as usual, and did a few other chores, then sat down in his rocking chair for a nap. While he was asleep,he gently and peacefully passed away. Dying doesn't have to be traumatic.

Do you call yourself a Christian and not believe that a person can have absolutely perfect health? Then you don't really believe the Bible. You haven't spent enough time meditating on the Word of God and considering what it really means that, by His stripes we were healed, and that when Jesus said, "It is finished," He meant that the price of our redemption is absolutely complete. You haven't thought enough about what it meant for God Himself to come down to Earth and die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. As Andrew Wommack puts it, God MORE THAN paid the price. It was extravagant of Him to take our place Himself, but since He is the only one who is ABSOLUTELY holy, it had to be Him, in His visible manifestation as the Son of God, who got offered up as the sacrifice.

Somehow or other, you might be struggling with the accusations of the devil, telling you that you're not good enough to receive ALL that is available in the atonement, letting lies hinder you from being healed of every abormality to perfect health, keeping you from releasing God's power to heal others, and from having all that you are supposed to have in the area of provision. I know; I struggle with condemnation, too, which is why I apply myself to renewing my mind in His Word, in order to get rid of the bad programming and get the truth that my sins have been totally washed away more firmly embedded in my mind and heart.

I sure don't have time to waste reading stuff that God hasn't directed me to read, and I don't think that I am supposed to read romances, but have I stopped it altogether and concentrate only on reading good stuff? I've sometimes gone for many weekends without reading novels or watching a movie on YouTube, but I flunked again this weekend, reading some novels online, skipping over naughty bits, but carrying on because I found the story line interesting. I've still got more sorting out to do.

There are a lot of good things in my life. I love my job, I enjoy driving a car again, it's great to have money to buy what I need, and some things that I want, and to help my family out, the weather has been so beautiful, and I have some lovely friends. It was an astonishment to me, years ago, when I discovered that life is a paradox of being happy with some parts of it, and disappointed with others. I thought it was impossible to be happy, unless EVERYTHING was just the way I wanted it to be. Boy, I sure had to get over that notion.

As usual, once I got started reading those stories, I just carried on reading them for hours. This is one reason why I stay away from playing computer games. I very briefly indulged in playing backgammon about six years ago, and just kept at it all night a couple of times in a row, until dawn! That told me to stay right clear of computer games; when you know you have a weakness, it's wise to not skate where the ice is thin.

So, how did God manage to pry me away from the computer screen this morning around dawn? He is so gracious. In spite of how I grieved Him by not doing what He wanted me to do, He just sweetly said to my heart, "You need to get your sleep, honey." As simple as that, just like I had wished my parents would have talked to me years ago when I was a little girl, reading books on the sly late at night. We're never too old to need God to be our Daddy, and nobody knows how to be a Daddy better than Him.

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Scripture references on this website are closely paraphrased from e–Sword's King James Bible.