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    Thirty by 30: Installment Seven

    May 6, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    I just realized how close I am cutting it with this list. First, there is the time issue. Since my birthday is Saturday, I have to keep up this pace all the way through the Big Day. But then there is the pressure. I didn’t have a complete list when I actually began this series.

    What if I didn’t actually learn thirty lessons in the last thirty years?

    I mean, I am sure I learned more than that, but I mean thirty lessons that would actually be interesting enough to write about. Hmmmm…

    If you are getting bored with this series, then head on over to KansasMom’s blog! She emailed me while I was out of town and let me know that she posted her review of Culture Makers. It is always exciting for me to see how different people were impacted by the book.

    Also, I poked around her blog a bit, as I do from time to time, and she has some great photos of her young family preparing their very first square foot garden. Square foot gardening is a technique we have used in the past, and one I figure we will use again once we have our own place {we currently live in a rental and garden in the empty “flower” beds}.

    Okay. Enough stalling. On to the list!

    1. There is no such things as a deep, meaningful, platonic relationship with the opposite sex. At least, I have never seen one remain platonic in a permanent sense. Si and I were great friends for a number of years. Three and a half, to be exact. But at one point, lightning struck, and now we are about to have our fourth child.

      See what I mean?

      Singleness is the only period of time in which girls will have true friendships with boys. In marriage, there is friendship, but it tends to be through your spouse, or at the very least through a friend. There is typically an intermediary. What I mean is, I am friends with men with whom I am actually friends with their wife. Or Si is their friend, and so my friendship with them is through Si. Or something like that. There is a reason for the connection.

      And, really, there should be. I’m not going to go into all the reasons why I believe that deep friendships with the opposite sex can be very dangerous for a marriage. The book Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It explores the subject in greater depth than any I’ve seen.

      All I can say is that when a wife talks to me about her “best friend,” and it becomes apparent that her best friend is a man who is not her husband, a mental red flag raises high in the air for me. Every time I have heard something like this, I have seen the marriage end in divorce, or go through a major storm that resulted in, among other things, the termination of that “best friend” relationship.

      In general, my husband is my best friend. There is no other word for it. However, we all need close friends. The key is to be wise in how we choose our friends.

    2. Sometimes, good men are unemployed. I used to think that the world worked according to certain rules. One of them was that a good man who worked hard would always have a job. I made, perhaps, a slight exception for some sort of world-shattering event along the lines of a second Great Depression. But overall, this was how I thought the world worked.

      And then I began to see men I knew lose their jobs.

      I saw the economy use men up and spit them out. I can think of three men right off of the top of my head who were “spit out” just around the time they turned 50. Coincidence, I’m sure. Actually, my new assessment is that when a man gets to a point where he is being paid a lot, and corporate realizes they can find a 30-year-old to do the same job for half the pay, a man loses his job.

      There is no loyalty in corporate America, and maybe that is the real lesson I’ve learned.

      I also saw my own husband be forced to resign at one point. Not that he never made a mistake, but what I witnessed was more of an oversight that needed a scapegoat so that the Big Boss didn’t lose her job. Guess who the scapegoat was?

      So I will repeat myself: there is no loyalty in corporate America.

      Reminds me of Jayber Crow {emphasis mine}:

      Also it seemed that The War and The Economy were more and more closely related…The War was good for The Economy. There was a certain airy, wordy kind of patriotism that added profit to its virtue. There was money in it, as Troy Chatham would say, who himself was being used up by The Economy like lead in a pencil or in a gun. After he was used up, he would not be given a second chance. There is no rebirth in The Economy.

    3. Everything can be thought about Christianly. This was a revolutionary concept to me when I first learned it. The interesting thing is that the feeling of revolution never totally wore off. I’ve been trying to think Christianly about everything {even my backyard fence} for years now, and I still feel that sense of war against the status quo.

      A great exposition of the idea that we Christians should actually think in a distinct manner is found in one of my all-time favorite books, Harry Blamires’ The Christian Mind. Excellent book, that one.

      Christianity becomes really revolutionary when applied to politics. For many years, Christianity was relegated to the “radical right.” To some extent, it belonged there, as the left is more devoted to abortion and a culture of death than it is to any other idea, which is completely antithetical to Christianity’s core ethics of loving God and loving your neighbor. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that Christians should be getting comfy with the neocons.

      I think Semicolon recently posted a quote that sums it up nicely:

      A conservative is one enamored of existing evils; a liberal wants to replace them with new ones.

      -Ambrose Bierce

      Since Christians should be enamored with God and his righteousness, to the extent that the above quote is true is the extent to which we should avoid being right or left. Christianity will prevail when it is transcendent.

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  • Reply Brandy May 6, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    I look forward to seeing your garden grow in your pictures! I know what you mean about healthier, cheaper food via gardening. It is so nice to be able to harvest the food ripe and know exactly how it was grown.

    I had taken for granted that everyone knew the opposite-sex friend lesson in the past. In fact, I sort of thought it was a rule. After all, my parents didn’t really have opposite-sex friends or anything. I learned it was a life lesson (sadly) by watching the ugly aftermath of folks who didn’t follow the rule. 🙁

  • Reply Kansas Mom May 6, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    We have high hopes for our square foot gardens. (We have two; one in front and one in back.) We also rent, but discovered last year that our soil is not up to the task of growing good food. Rather than put time, effort and money into improving soil that will stay when we buy, we decided to try the square foot gardening route. The wood, nails and twine were cheap. The soil was a bit pricier, but we’re hoping the healthier, cheaper food will make up the difference. (No pesticides, yay!)

    I agree with you on the lesson to not have an opposite-sex close friend. In particular, my husband and I have talked a lot about how you should always listen to your spouse if he or she expresses concerns about a relationship with the opposite sex. They know how that person is viewing the situation better than you do!

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