Apparently they aren’t just about saying *no*.

I pretty much have that down (despite it making me feel like a jerk sometimes), so I’ve not paid close attention to the topic when it comes up.

The study of boundaries (or rather, the person teaching about them) also suggests that I, like everyone, am continually teaching people how to treat me.

Last week I went off on an unorganized verbal riff with a total stranger (that is, we’d just introduced ourselves to each other as we worked in the same garage).  Toward the end I felt embarrassed at her patience and made a joke about how “I’m just thinking with my mouth open, feel free to walk away any time.”

But for real, that’s the worst thing she could have done.  That’s the sort of thing that completely burns me, and I only said it because I was trying to absolve my felt-foolishness.

Later that evening, in a different (and more organized) exchange, she did just what I had “taught” her and decided it was time for her to leave (albeit, more graciously than just walking away). I had “taught” her that I didn’t care if she listened (or participated) or not, and that was untrue.

But this also means I need to consider how I want to be treated, and subsequently how to convey that.

For me it means being not-flippant, and treating as serious the things that are serious to me.  I often criticize (or redirect) Natasha for using “baby talk” when something is disproportionately important to her, or she’s not sure how I will respond.  But I think I do the same thing: trying to hold lightly to something when I’m not sure my listener will equally share the weight of it.  I make a joke out of something important to me, then feel wounded to watch it tumble.

This is something I want to work on.

Another angle on boundaries that isn’t just saying no, it’s also not saying anything I’m not comfortable saying, or just don’t want to say.  The idea that I am allowed to not-share certain thoughts with anybody. (This in contrast within both Christian and the modern culture’s emphasis on being “real” or “genuine” at any/all costs.)

A commenter on this short and thought-provoking post called authenticity and transparency “the most important thing about social media.”  Yikes.

But it’s my tendency to agree, and not just about social media. I’ve always acted as though it was my purpose (or at least my job) to be transparent as possible.

A healthy sense of boundaries teaches that nothing about me is public property, or available for mistreatment.

An interesting aspect of The Perilous Gard is how the main character, Kate, refuses to push another character for the inner workings of his (obviously troubled) mind. She feels there ought to be one person in his world who lets him choose how much he’s willing to share. But it’s not like she enjoys it.

“Though she honored his privacy, she resented it very much, always to be shut out…”

This story was the first time I’d ever thought of feelings or inner battles as private property.

And I wonder a bit if any of that came from my time working with foster kids. “Use your words” was the cure-all/preventative for most behavior issues, so openness with everything was strongly reinforced.

But these two new ideas have made me curious to pull out my old book (that I’ve started ~ five times and never finished) to see what else I’ve missed.

The Bunny-Eared Lawyer

I have so much fun on

It’s a total fiction-geek corner.

I love how the introduction emphasizes the effort is to celebrate fiction through recognizing patterns, not to bash anything for being “unoriginal.”

After all, Everything is Remix.

The reason I love the tropes site so much is that it is a place and means of acquiring vast amounts of trivial (yet potentially useful) information that is not immediately actionable.

That is, I can indulge my interest in minutia without the compunction of adding to my to-do list.

I’ve found that’s my favoritest way to relax.

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 12)

Pockets of things to say, and hey it’s Friday. Thanks Jen!


My last 7QT on Untangling Tales was over a year ago. And yeah, a lot’s changed.  But that’s not what today is about.


The snow has officially melted here at our new house, and we’re finding all sorts of new work along with the expected stuff.

  • Expected stuff:
    • Maintaining house
    • Teaching children
    • preparing food for daily living
    • unpacking shed so we can make it into a garage for this winter
  • Discovered stuff
    • Painting cabin interior
    • building shelves for cabin
    • digging a run-off channel to divert seasonal flooding*
    • Cleaning out the junk yard behind the shed
    • building some sort of fox-proof duck run outdoors

* designates DS actually completed

Continue reading »

Why Euthanasia isn’t Merciful

Euthanasia has been defined as “mercy killing.”

What I was reminded of this week is that, for honest Christians at least, there can be no such thing.

Bible-believing Christians know that judgment comes after death, and how can hastening God’s judgment on an individual be mercy? We do not know their hearts, only what they’ve shown us. How can we know but God’s reason for allowing the suffering (and therefore, continued life) holds more mercy then throwing someone unready on the unavoidable Judgment?

Legislating Morality

This is an interesting video by an interesting guy who seems to make things interesting simply by talking fast and on-point.

(I realized recently don’t follow any vlogs largely because this is one of two people I’ve seen able to do both.)

It is entitled, Adorable Puppy Explains Health Care Bill, and in it John makes the impending bill-to-be-reconciled sound quite reasonable. Even the bit about insurance becoming required.

He compares it to car insurance, “Because,” he states, with beautiful and irreducible logic, “your stupid decisions affect people I care about– like me.”

And this, beloved public, is the whole (fully justifiable) point of “legislating morality.”

The same woman who cries, “Keep your laws off my body!” might as well be prepared to hear, “Keep your hand out of my wallet,” because issues of morality (i.e., sin) really do cost us money as a society.

And that was even before activists were looking for public funding of abortion.

Being Political Again

The letter I sent to my (AK) senators through American Family Association‘s political-action page.

For the record, I know I don’t go politico very often at Untangling Tales, but there are some things I feel I have to use what (even small forum) I have to distribute information.  And maybe model a little action beyond hand-wringing.

Doubtless you’ve received much communication about the Heath Care Bill, but I have to add my (forgive me, near-panicked) voice against it.

There are many reasons I oppose the Health Care Bill but stopping the taxpayer funding of abortion is the element that sparked my urgency.

The Hyde Amendment prevents Medicaid funds – and Medicaid funds only – from being used for abortions, but that restriction wouldn’t apply to the government takeover of health care, so protestations Abortions wouldn’t be funded are, well, misinformation is the nice word.

Under the Capps Amendment in the House bill, the public option would be *required* to offer abortion services, and every American would have to have access to at least one health care plan that included abortion.

It is immoral to fund the destruction of innocent human life, and I resent– even fear– being required to participate. I am fundamentally opposed to the Health Care Bill and any attempt at government take-over of the health care industry. I urge you to protect the life of the unborn (and the Right to Choice of all Americans– not just those “choosing” abortion) by opposing the Health Care Bill.

Sincerely, (etc.)

Until today I have been at the hand-wringing stage, and no matter which way this issue goes, I want to know I did what I could– however little.

Should Break 500 tomorrow. And might start a fight?

431 titles entered in the database, taped in 10 boxes, all piled by the garage door waiting for the transfer to the under-the-house (yes, it’s book-safe).


Anybody reading this blog identify yourself as a Christian?  Anybody in that group ever prayed (or heard someone at your elbow pray), “Lord let the people around me see my life is different and ask me about it”?

Does that make anybody besides me nuts?

Here’s the thing: I have never heard those words from someone whose life I would have identified as “different” (at least, not in an attractive way), and I can honestly say, I don’t *want* to attract attention because I’m different.


Let me try that again.

I have all my life been different.  Different is not the problem.

Here’s the logic/expectation I see behind that prayer:

If my life and/or attitude is good/blessed/happy/amazing/perfect (or at least more so than the lost around me) they will notice and want to be like me. Then I can talk to them about Jesus.

My problems with this idea:

  1. My life (or attitude) must be good/blessed/happy/amazing/perfect before I even get a chance to share the truth that is central to my life.
  2. You’re giving people a lot of credit for noticing.  It is my writerly opinion that the vast majority of humanity waits for things to be pointed out to them.  Not many have trained themselves to notice stuff (Sherlock Holmes/Monk stuff really feeds off this).
  3. You’re assuming that these people in dire straits/hard times/grumpy moods want to admit to themselves they’re unhappy with the life they’ve built.
  4. You’re assuming that these people in dire straits/hard times/grumpy moods want to admit to you they’re unhappy with the life they’ve built.
  5. You’re assuming they’d actually want to be like you. 

All of these problems can and have been gotten around.  I’ve heard the stories too.

But for someone who is ready, someone (forgive me for dividing believers into categories, but here I go) who actually wants to actively share his or her faith, I think this is the wrong way to pray.

If I attract people because of how I look or live my life, how do I know I won’t equally turn them off (or away) when I, as a fallible, sinful human being simply (or sensationally) screw up?

It can’t be about me.

I am not going to save anyone.

And while I want my behavior to reflect well on the Savior who ransomed my life from Hell, well, the fact that I need a Savior should be enough of a reminder I won’t always reach that goal.

I pray for opportunities to speak Truth, and the courage and sensitivity to create opportunities.

It’s not the only way to pray, but I’ve rarely heard it at my elbow, and have only just begun to do it myself.

The juxtaposition is hard for me: seeing the need to box books, teach my children, manage my home… and pray for a hurting world. Speak to hurting people.

It’s becoming overwhelming now.  It feels like too much. And that (as I told myself after the birth of #2 and again with #3) is likely the point. I think it is possible to become too “competent,” or confident.

Only when we recognize how inadequate we are do we seek God for what only He can provide.

Advice to Politicians from Davy Crockett

From David Crockett, Exploits and Adventures in Texas (1836).

The more things change…

If your ambition or circumstances compel you to serve your country and earn three dollars a day, by becoming a member of the legislature, you must first publicly avow that the constitution of the state is a shackle upon free and liberal legislation, and is, therefore, of as little use in the present enlightened age as an old almanac of the year in which the instrument was framed.

There is policy in this measure, for by making the constitution a mere dead letter, your headlong proceedings will be attributed to a bold and unshackled mind; whereas, it might otherwise be thought they arose from sheer mulish ignorance.

‘The Government’ has set the example in his [Jackson’s] attack upon the Constitution of the United States, and who should fear to follow where ‘the Government’ leads?”

The Blessing of Cluelessness

I just realized this morning that I was being insulted yesterday.

That is, I felt the interaction was unfair, and that I somehow wasn’t saying the right thing, but I was not aware until today how (basically) rude and provoking the people were being.

In their defense, they may not have realized it either. It might just be in their nature to go for what they perceive as an opening; in which case I’m doubly thankful I was clueless, because that precluded defensiveness on both sides.

Anyway, I mentioned  that life will be getting even busier soon since school will be starting, then added the clarification that we are homeschooling.

“Oh,” says Person-A, “Will Jay be teaching them math?”

“He could,” I said, surprised at the question and not wanting to make Jay look bad by saying he’s not currently planning on doing any of the teaching.

“I was just thinking he ought to be able to,” Person-A finished.

Then (this was my moment of lucidity) I realized Person-A had just insinuated it took an engineer to teach 1st-grade math.

“Are you implying,” I asked, genuinely hoping to embarrass him, “That I can’t teach 6-year-old math?”

Yes, that’s what he was implying.  He didn’t even try to defend himself.

I was surprised, but shrugged it off.  It wasn’t important to me what he thought.

It wasn’t until later that night, thinking again of the leggy Darwin fish on the car in his driveway, and remembering the sign during voting season for the local fellow I wasn’t voting for, that I began to feel something about our interaction wasn’t right.

And then this morning I realized that I had gone into the conversation utterly unprepared.

I had gone to admire a delicious new baby and prattle family small-talk and keep up positive neighborhood relations.

It was not in my mind that I was entering as an ambassador of Christ, and Homeschooling, and Conservative Thought, and Purposeful Parenting.

Lord-willing, that will never happen again.

I acted as though I was a friend among familiars, being sloppy in my explanations and imprecise in my reasons.  In short, I did more to reinforce any (diminished) view they may have of those things I represent than to correct it.

And maybe “it wasn’t that bad,” but the problem is that I didn’t enter as an ambassador, aware of what I represented.  If I’d had the right mentality going in, I know I would have done better (If I’d only know this was a job interview…).

I might have recognized the “playing” of me and my ideas before the next day, and maybe refused to play.  I want to think I’d still not be offended (it never serves a diplomat to be offended), but I could have been more “professional” and less of an airhead.

Again, not that I’m sure I was the opposite extreme, it’s just that I muffed a fine opportunity to muck up their stereotypes.

And I find that disappointing.

All the same, I haven’t yet learned how to respond politely to subtle insults, and it occurs to me that had I fully known what was going on I might have been a poorer representative of Christ than I already was.

I am thankful to have had a “learning experience” than didn’t cost too much, and find a renewed interest in investigating both the history and training of ambassadors.

It’s a study I feel could be beneficial even on a dabbling level.

Another “Coined” Something

As in, it’s new to me (like this one).

It’s kind of gross, but that probably reflects my attitude toward it.

Affirmation Bulimic

I’m sure you’ve met these people, because I have; I’ve occasionally fought not to become one myself.

These are those individuals, starving for affirmation– for words of encouragement and approval– who go around with their beggar’s cup outstretched then throw back everything they’re offered.

I surmise the psychology behind these emotional bulimics is parallel to that of physical bulimics.  I’ve heard the reasons may range from self-loathing or a feeling of unworthiness to a simple matter of habit or muscle memory.

Whatever the reason, I think it’s nearly as unhealthy as the more familiar form of bulimia.  This alienates people and cuts the “sufferers” off from their increasingly narrow source of all they are seeking…

Anyway, I’m sure there are more parallels that those closer to the affliction could draw, but this is enough for my purposes– a self-warning (that I hope others will take as well) that “simply swallowing,” accepting kind words as they are,  is the healthiest response to a complement– fished for or not.