Monday, September 29, 2008

Drive-Thru Jesus

It use to be that I was a person who, not much different from now, found herself constantly busy with this activity or that meeting, or my family or...well, you get it. When things got a little hairy, a little messy, I'd think to myself that maybe what I was lacking was a little Jesus. I might have said a prayer. I might have cried and complained to Jesus about the challenges I was facing. I might have decided that this was the week I really needed to go to church and get some Jesus. Sound familiar?

The difference between then and now, is that I've realized the error in that thinking. There is no doubt about it, life gets busy and we get occupied with the various demands on our time. It's hard to multi-task and make sure that everything in our day planner goes as planned. It's difficult as a mom to juggle all the different "unimportant" (ha) things you have to do plus squeeze in a little me time in the form of night out with the girls, date night with hubs, spiritual meditation time, exercise, a productive prayer life...oh yeah, and a little Jesus.

In today's world, everyone wants a Drive-Thru Jesus. With kids in tow, Starbucks grande mocha in hand and blue tooth device on, we pull up and ask for miracles and answered prayers...and oh, "I'd like those Super Sized please." We have to remember that Jesus isn't an option on our menu, but so much more. Jesus makes all that we do possible. The God we love so much is the one who puts in overtime, never takes a day off, never enjoys early dismissal Friday's and certainly never takes a sick day...and all for us. Don't you think we owe God a little more than just a rushed order of things we want and a small payment for whatever we receive? And with this same analogy, how often do you thank the person in the drive through for your meal? So, how often do you thank God for those Super Sized blessings that have been given to you? Do you thank God, or do you just take your order and drive off not even acknowledging the service that was given?

I'm not much of a fast food kinda gal, but this analogy is perfect...especially where I am the Starbucks kinda gal. Take time to build your relationship with God. This should be the most important thing you do everyday. Your list should include many things, but always with God. Don't look to a Drive-Thru's those sins of ours that caused those nails to drive through Jesus. He deserves our love and our time. Make it happen and give thanks.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Of Faith and Football

If you're an avid football fan like I am, then you'll know that there are stadiums across the country on a beautiful Sunday as this, that are full of fans who have turned out for the passion of their team. Adorned in team gear, sometimes with faces painted, they turn up with spirits and hopes high and a prayer or two in case their beloved team has a run in with the turnover fairy.

I love football. I love it on Friday nights when the high school crowds are all jazzed up. Though I haven't been to a high school game in quite some time, I remember fondly the days when I would go just to be a part of it all. I love football on Saturday's when I proudly cheer for my OU Sooners! I love it on Sunday's when the Broncos are bringing their game to the opponent. I love the unity of fans around you...everyone cheering for the same thing, screaming and clapping for jobs well done and bowing their heads to pray when a team mate falls in pain. The OU Sooners call this Sooner Nation. It's a gathering of people who have come together for one goal and together feel the joy of the wins and the sorrow of the losses.

I think our faith families are like this for us. They are a group of people who show up, even when the weather is not so beautiful and icicles are hanging from their eye brows. No one screams louder when you succeed and no one prayers harder when you're down and out and need to get back in the game. The great thing about faith families, is that unlike football, you don't have an opponent of people really, it's an opponent of temptations. But like football, when we get together and are led as a team by God, the best coach imaginable, we are sure to win...even if we get knocked down from time to time. You see, we'll all suffer unfair blows, bad calls, turnovers, fumbles...but none of those really matter at the end. What matters is that you played with heart and that you played together. Christ was the greatest example of this frequently heard expression, "One for all and all for One." God's the coach, Jesus the captain and we, we are the team...and we're all for the One, because the One was all for us...and still is!

As a side note, a while back, hubs and I rented a movie about faith and football. It seemed like a no brainer since we love both so much. We truly enjoyed the film and I would like to suggest it to you. It's a great family movie. One must realize it is a little dry compared to the big Hollywood box office hits. Don't sit down thinking this is an Oscar winner, but sit down as if it were a Bible will truly be touched by the film Facing the Giants.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What Goes In Your Chest?

Photo by: Steve Bingham
"The Hope Chest"

There is no surprise that with the current shape of the economy, that most people and families are really struggling. My family is no different. Things are so tight right now that I need to take out a loan for my own two cents...lucky for you I offer it here for free.

I'm so blessed and beyond grateful for all that God has given me, but I cannot help but feel hopeless when Hubs's medical bills keep rolling in from his recent back surgery, when the daycare bill comes due, when I stand in the grocery story worrying about how I'm going to afford that gallon of milk this week with the cost of pull-ups. The only thing that gets me through is knowing that God will provide, my Lord always does. God helps me to overcome the moments of shame I feel when I can't buy something and I start to get down on myself. For the first time in my life, I have shoes that talk to me.

This has been an incredibly humbling experience. It's highlighted my insecurities and challenged me to face those things and to face my pride. I like to think I focus on much more than money, but the sinner in me can't help but want that new pair of shoes, or the trip to Maui or the rest of the things that I don't 'need' to survive. Since I'm in survival mode, I've decided it appropriate to make a list. (Sorry, I'm a big list person). This is my survival list; the items I need to survive. Think about it...what things would you really need to survive?

My mom is really into genealogy. Her and I were talking a while back and she told me that our ancestors, who traveled to the States from Germany, had to pack all of their belongings in one 'hope' type chest. Everything that was important to them, the entire family which often ran over 8 members, had to be packed in this one solitary chest. Can you imagine having to do that now? What if your spouse came home tomorrow and told you you had to move and the only things you could take with you for the whole family were what fit into that one, single, solitary chest...what would you take with you?

Possessions can't be taken with us. No matter how much I lOvE me some shoes...they aren't worth what I pay for them, let alone have the lasting value that I need. The most important thing I can pack in my chest or put on my survival list, the one thing I can't live without, is my faith, my God, God's word. I know that this too shall pass. It has to, right? Of course it does, but then something else will happen. I need to remind myself that it does me no good to stand at the edge of the water waiting for the ship to come may never. Instead, I need to get my feet wet, play in the water and thank God for the grace that's showered upon me.

So...what goes in your chest or on your survival guide? Warning: You may find that in examining this part of who you are, that you need work on priorities...welcome it, don't run from it. God knows the pressure's of the world and we're loved anyway. What a Wonderful God we have!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thank Heaven for Little Boys

Two and a half years ago, hubs and I were blessed with the birth of our amazing son, "Hambone" (his bloggy name because he's such a comic). Hambone was my miracle as I have PCOD and I was told I'd never have children. Anyway, bla, bla, bla...I LOVE him deeply.

Today, I got a phone call from the daycare he attends, which by the way doesn't mean I'm a bad mother because he's in daycare (just needed to say that), that he had fallen from the playground slide and gashed his chin open. Lord knows that those scary words are not easy for any mother to hear. Anyway, I calmly packed up my stuff, grabbed my mother (who I work with) and drove as fast as I could to get him. So I'm thinking that when I walk in his chin is going to be dangling off, he'll have a concussion and more than likely a broken arm. Have I mentioned I have an overactive imagination and a slight flare for the dramatic (my inner Scarlett O'Hara)? Praise the Lord, the poor little guy just had a small gash under his chin. It's wasn't bad, but it was rather deep, so we took him to the ER. About an hour, an "I don't want this" armband moment and a little bit of medical glue...we were all calmer and happier. The doctor said that had the gash been a little further up his chin and on the front, Hambone would have needed a stitch or two, but the glue would work fine. Thank God it was nothing more than that.

Last year, about this time, "Loretta", a long time friend of mine, had a daycare incident with her son but he broke his little leg, needed lot of medical attention and had a lower body cast for the better part of several months. I admired her so much, and still do, for the strength she had to persevere through that to be stronger for her baby. I think it's something all mothers do; love so deeply that nothing else really matters.

So, a sigh of relief today for this momma, but God help me as I have a feeling this is only the beginning for me and my little boy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just a Woman and Her Will to Survive

I started thinking about all the things God has asked me to do in my life, especially lately. I feel very challenged, very overwhelmed and very ... did I mention challenged.

I'm a sporting gal and I dig a good gauntlet when one worth my time has been thrown down, but come on now, my life lately is starting to feel a bit like American Gladiators meets Survivor. You know your path is taking a different turn when you start to wake up with the 'Eye of the Tiger' in your head and the Christina Aguilar's 'Fighter' as most listened to song in your iPod.

So, I've decided to stop being the booger eatin' kid (not that I now or ever ate my boogers) at school that keeps getting knocked down at the bus stop...heck no momma, I'm gonna get me some street cred., build up my stamina, punch the life out of some pillows and get to it. I've got work to do. I refuse to be beaten. I am a fighter, a champ...I am strong.

Rocky had Mickey. I've got God. I'm gonna take it to a new level and give a new meaning to "you rock". I'm not gonna loose my grip on my dreams. "It's the thrill of the fight and rising up to the challenge of the fight." This is about survival. This is about fortitude. Bring on Apollo Creed! After all, we're all just men and women with our will to survive.

Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
Risin' up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance, now I'm back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive

So many times, it happens too fast
You change your passion for glory
Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive

It's the eye of the tiger, it's the cream of the fight
Risin' up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he's watchin' us all in the eye of the tiger

Face to face, out in the heat
Hangin' tough, stayin' hungry
They stack the odds 'til we take to the street
For we kill with the skill to survive


Risin' up, straight to the top
Have the guts, got the glory
Went the distance, now I'm not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive


The eye of the tiger (repeats out)...

McCain Suspends Campaign

John McCain's Remarks on the Economic Crisis
New York, NY
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

America this week faces an historic crisis in our financial system. We must pass legislation to address this crisis. If we do not, credit will dry up, with devastating consequences for our economy. People will no longer be able to buy homes and their life savings will be at stake. Businesses will not have enough money to pay their employees. If we do not act, ever corner of our country will be impacted. We cannot allow this to happen.

Last Friday, I laid out my proposal and I have since discussed my priorities and concerns with the bill the Administration has put forward. Senator Obama has expressed his priorities and concerns. This morning, I met with a group of economic advisers to talk about the proposal on the table and the steps that we should take going forward. I have also spoken with members of Congress to hear their perspective.

It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the Administration's proposal. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.

Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative. I have spoken to Senator Obama and informed him of my decision and have asked him to join me.

I am calling on the President to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself. It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem.

We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved. I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday night's debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.

I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so.

Following September 11th, our national leaders came together at a time of crisis. We must show that kind of patriotism now. Americans across our country lament the fact that partisan divisions in Washington have prevented us from addressing our national challenges. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.

***The above statement was sent out via email from the McCain Campaign. For more information, go to

Do you think McCain made a wise decision? And what do you think of Obama's decision not to follow McCain's lead? Who is smarter and why?

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Cup of Hot Chocolate Runneth Over

I received an email today from a dear friend of mine titled Hot Chocolate. Attached to the email was a PowerPoint that melted my heart with faces of beautiful children...of course, the music by the Carpenters always makes me sentimental. As touching as the moving slide show and music was, the words moved me even more.

The story involved graduate students who went to visit an old professor. They discussed their hectic lives and career stresses. The professor went to the kitchen and grabbed a pot of hot chocolate and various different cups. Everyone selected a cup from the array provided and accepted the hot chocolate. The cups ranged from fancy, to expensive, to antique, to plastic and cheap. The professor than noted that the cups that were left over and unused were those less desirable, cheaper, not so ornate cups.

What was moving to me was that the professor in this story identified the hot chocolate as our lives and the cups as our possessions (homes, cars, etc.). His moral was that it didn't matter what cup the individual chose, the cup in itself did not change the contents...meaning, the hot chocolate was the same for everyone irregardless of its packaging. How profound!

It doesn't matter how much we have or don't have, what matters is the content of our cups. God gives all of us the same hot chocolate, we are the ones who error in thinking that the most expensive and fancy cups change the value of the drink.

My question is in the hot chocolate that is our lives, who are the marshmallows? To start, my friend who sent me this email is definitely a marshmallow. My hubs, my son, my parents, my other wonderful and priceless friends and many more significant people. My hot chocolate wouldn't be complete without my marshmallows and it's because of them, that my cup runneth over!

"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over." - Psalm 23:5 (KJV)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Attack of the Rats!!!!

I HATE spiders, I HATE snakes and I HATE RATS!!! I don't care what purpose they may or may not serve, I simply do not like them Sam I am!

A couple of days ago, we received a notice in the mail of a hearing set for a builder who wants to construct two commercial structures directly behind our home. The hearing is this coming Thursday, however, they have already mowed and cleared the land down to dirt and have placed gas lines back there. The problem with all of this is that when they cleared the land, they removed natural habitat for a colony of field rats...and trust me...these are no country mice. Granted, they are not exactly sewer rats...but their rats just the same.

With no habitat left in tact, these rats are scouring the neighborhood for places to live before winter. This is like a bad horror movie because they are absolutely everywhere. A bunch of us neighbor's got together and decided we would get a ton of poison and traps and we were going to get the little buggers. My redneck hubs decides that putting out the poison is great and all, but nothing finishes this like a .22. So hubs and my neighbor 'P' get together like two over grown 7 year old's; one armed with a rifle and the other with 'the claw' know the gardening tool from the TV infomercials. HILARIOUS!

Our other neighbors dog has killed 17 to date already and our neighbor across the street has gotten 9. Our other neighbor five houses down has three dogs and between them they've caught 11. We've gotten 6 so far and 'P' has gotten 7. Do you see how crazy this is? That's a ton of rats. You should see them at night...simply horrible. I didn't want to get out of my car when we got home last night because they were running everywhere. I make hubs stand out side and make noise before I go in or out of the house.

Needless to say, we plan on calling the city tomorrow and the HOA and hopefully we can work together to get this fixed. There are so many animals and children in our neighborhood and these things carry diseases. It really worries me. Anyway, I just had to share this horrible happening with ya'll. about the heebie jeebies!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Black Liberation Theology and American Grace

As the presidential election draws nearer, just 44 days now, politics as we know them in the United States, are getting edgier, brisker and well...uglier. Over the course of the next six weeks, the American people will be inundated with propaganda; a media explosion on our every day lives. We will become desensitized, if not already, to the blazing bias of those around us and will almost assuredly want to move to another country. However, irregardless of how utterly obnoxious this election is going to be to our senses, it is imperative that we at least make a concerted effort to get through it all for the betterment of our future, not just nationally, but globally.

There is no way, whatsoever, that we can agree on all things with all people. Families, friendships, classrooms, churches, office break rooms...will all be divided and we must remember what the point to all of this is; it's not to divide our country, but to unite our country. That being said, I, as I'm sure many of you, have already started to be inundated by the steady flow of email forwards and political jargon via social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. Of course, most of what you will get will be things sent by those of in your 'circle' who share the same views, if nothing more than the same choice for candidate. I will outwardly declare myself now as ..... nope, I'm not going to do that. My political affiliation doesn't necessarily decide who I'm voting for. I use to be an Independent before I realized I had no say-so in the I switched to what I am today. That being said, I cannot find myself whole on either side of the isle, but definitely more on one side than the other. Aaaah...what does this have to do with the title? Well, I have chosen to challenge myself to listen to several different types of media outlets as there is no such thing as unbiased news and I want to get as many views from as many perspectives as possible...even though I do favor one particular network. Likewise, I have made the effort to listen to various opinions of those in my circle who may not see things exactly as I do. Now, that being said, I received a video message via MySpace that was roughly 13 minutes long and it was very anti-Obama. I watched the entire thing and afterwards did extensive research on the claims from the video as I was deeply concerned post viewing. As it stands, all of my research finds the facts in direct concordance with the statements of this video.

The video is accessible on YouTube if you search for and look for the item that discusses Black Liberation Theology / James Cone. Most of the video highlights some directly connections between Obama and Black Liberation Theology. As a Theologian and Missiologist myself, I found this very interesting and I wanted to know more. I would like to invite you to view this video and then do research on your own about what Black Liberation Theology really means, is, stands for, etc. As a woman, a feminist philosophy / women's studies major and a Divinity masters and PhD academic, I am familiar with the concept of Liberation Theology. In fact, James Cone, the founder (said father) of Black Liberation Theology, stated that Jesus taught Liberation Theology, and in many ways, I would agree with him. However, I do not agree with the notions of Black Liberation Theology, which in terms of Obama's preacher, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is in itself, oppressive to white people. Nothing Jesus did ever taught oppression on anyone. I do agree that humanity must embrace the idea and action of liberating any and all of God's people from oppression, but not just in our country and not just for Black Americans. In a previous post this week, I discussed that nothing can be gained by harming someone else. This is very much the case in Christianity and in the theology of global Christians. God is not just for white people, or black people, etc. God is a god of all people.

Why this concerns me enough to say something is that our Democratic presidential candidate was mentored by Rev. Wright for over 20 years and if this type of thinking (please do your own research to understand more) is fundamental to the thought processes of Mr. Obama, I am personally deeply concerned. You can not be a leader if you believe in dividing people. The whole Robin Hood mentality if stealing from the rich to feed the poor is, cute movie aside, not okay. We can all appreciate the sentiment, but at the end of the day, you're still stealing. If you catapult one nation to greatness at the expense of another, how great is the first nation? If we prosper one race of people over another, what have we gained? This is where I'm questioning Obama do you, Mr. Obama, find yourself in terms of the thoughts of Black Liberation Theology?

Theology, by Oxford American definition, is the study of the nature of God and religious belief. Black Liberation Theology takes the definition of theology and relates it directly to Black culture, experience, spirituality and ties it all in to the suffrage of the Black people. Note: This is a very brief and not an all inclusive definition. Again, I urge you to take some time and do some research on this form of thought.

I will leave you with this parting thought and that is of Grace. Grace is something we are given without earning it. It is what God gives us...all of us...irregardless of our social context or connection. God does not love me anymore because I'm white than he loves my sister who is black. We are all one. God has given the United States much grace as well. If we are trying to build a culture on grace, than what part does any form of Liberation Theology play? And is it really liberating if we are only focused on the freedom of some over others? Who is being liberated at another's expense and what is the total cost to our country?

Lastly...whatever you read or hear, make sure you know the facts. Challenge everything. Seek truth first. Care enough to have an educated opinion. And for the love of!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Feeling Like a Failure or Failing As a Feeler?

Photo by: Madelyn Herring

So I have this small group that I'm apart of through my church. I love it. I enjoy the people in it greatly. I appreciate the fellowship. Lately me and Hubs have been going through a lot, mostly with his ailing health. This week has been exhausting, he's not getting home until late this evening and I have Hambone to take care of. Tonight also happens to be our small group meeting night which occurs once every other week. Most of the time I look forward to this evening, but today I simply couldn't get myself to go. I'm so overwhelmed and, well, pooped.

I know how important it is to make sure I stay in the circles, like this small group, which keep me accountable, faithful and supported. But you know, sometimes its just hard to be the person who keeps having to ask for prayer because instead of things getting better they keep getting worse. It's hard to show up with this 'I'm stronger than nails' facade and keep up a smile that only wants to melt into tears every time someone asks how your doing. What's even harder is when people know your a leader in faith; your expected to be a survivor and to be strong and resilient.

My small group is wonderful and they have been nothing short of supportive. They have done nothing to make me feel the way I do, its my own insecurities with where I'm at in life. I'm confident that I'm right where God wants me to be as far as my ministry career and education. I know that I'm answering that call and following God's lead and that keeps me in His will and not mine and that is exactly where I want to be. But even still, I can't pretend that everything is okay all the time. I can't keep trying to talk myself out of the fact that major stuff is happening in my life and I need to deal with the emotions its pulling out of me.

Needless to say I didn't go tonight because I just felt like I couldn't smile today. I can, but I can't to the point where I can have a good time with others and I didn't want to be the 'Debbie Downer'. I know that's what a small group is for, the relationships and fellowship, but I really don't want to be the person that brings everyone down. I want to find God in things, to be optimistic as my Godmother taught me to be, to find the sun even when its's not denial, it's just a choice in how I choose to live this life. But every once in a while, I need to just be the emotion I'm feeling and's overwhelmed.

Where in the World is...GOD?

Photo by: Madelyn Herring

My friends, I have great news. God is everywhere! I saw God yesterday in the face of a child, and on TV in the images of Scotland and in a book, through the voice of a teacher and the song of a lost soul.

Some people spend their whole lives looking for God. They try to find El Shadai in mountain ranges, concertos, yoga, writing and so on. The thing is, God can be found in anything, anywhere and at anytime. We don't really need to look for God, we just need to keep our eyes open and God will come into view. We're never alone and we're always in the presence of God, unfortunately, we're often too preoccupied to know that what we saw was indeed our God.

The other day I was asked to meditate on my day. I closed my eyes, took deep breathes. The instructor told me to think about my day and the things that happened, the people I spoke to, the places I went and try to identify where God was. Where did I see God today? That was the lesson of the meditation.

As I took deep breathes and visualized myself walking through my day, I could easily identify moments, people, places, things that had to have been God. I remembered things that were said, hugs, challenges. It was so strange to me because it seemed so simple. Why hadn't I thought of this before? Why hadn't I practiced this exercise of spiritual worship before? It wasn't hard or complicated. It was simple, basic, easy. Just close my eyes, think of my day and find God in it.

This happened two days ago and since then it has really transformed how I look at my day. Not only do I take a few moments at the being of my prayer time with God to do this type of reflection, but I am now more aware of the presence of God throughout my day and I can identify God when things happen. I've noticed too that God is found not just in the 'nice' things, but you can find God in the hard things too. When someone says something that hurts, I find God comforting me. When I get a big bill in the mail that I'm not sure how I'm going to afford paying for, I feel God's peace. When I get frustrated with my son, I see God pointing out his beautiful smile or innocent eyes or tiny hands. All of this makes me think about life and when things seem hard or easy, I can't forget that I'm not alone and I can truly give the glory to God.

Try doing this an see how it transforms your spiritual life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Little Interference and a Whole Lotta' Feedback

Why is it that the world seems so bent on knocking people down in order to elevate itself? It doesn't take long to find evidence of this in mainstream media, global political affairs, domestic issues, university classrooms, scholarly writing, our pews.

I personally think the world has got it all wrong. Nothing, let me repeat, NOTHING, can be gained through the destruction of another human being. I don't believe it matters what form this destruction takes, it cannot be justified because the word justified indicates some form or action in the realm of justice and there is no justice in the annihilation and disfigurement of another person's well being.

The title of this writing includes the word interference, which in Physics means the combination of two or more electromagnetic waveforms to form a resultant wave in which the displacement is either reinforced or canceled. In Football, interference can be defined as the action of illegally interfering with an opponent's ability to catch a passed or kicked ball. It is interesting to note that the word is also used in other sports such as baseball and hockey, but in the terms of the 'illegal hindering of another player's ability'. *All definitions came from the Oxford American Dictionaries.*

We can start to see a very clear image here and that is the negative undertone, overtone or simply just the plain tone of the essence of the very word. Thus, when applied to our every day life, how do you think it translates when we find ourselves interferring in other people's lives? Don't get me wrong, there is a distinct difference between 'being involved' and 'interfering'.

Interference, in itself, can be the cause and affect of destruction. We may not like a particular person, we may love a particular person but not like what they are doing; the bottom line, is that we find ourselves ordaining our own beliefs as gospel and thus try to impose our thinking upon others and if others don't want to readily accept our dose of how things should be done, then we will systematically annihilate what they are doing.

Not agreeing with someone's point of view is NOT a good reason to keep them from getting a job, from saying things behind their back that false and destructive in nature. Getting in the way, 'hindering' a person's ability to make a difference in the lives of others in order to serve your own personal socio-political agenda is NOT okay. Contrary to popular belief, putting others down in order to lift yourself up is a counter constructive measure. You have nothing to gain from doing that and in fact, you put yourself in a position of great loss.

I urge you to be mindful of what you do, the words you say and how you treat your neighbor. If you stood before God and tried to 'justify' your actions against your brother or sister, what do you think God would have to say back to you? If you shutter to think of the answer, maybe you should shutter to think of the question. Don't interfer, don't hinder, don't be a stumbling block to others. As we produce interference, we get great feedback, and the great feedback is seldom 'great' but rather greatly disheartening. Do something to give back even when you don't want to. Find away to fill yourself with the water to nourish others personal growth, not with the poison to kill them.

"Love your neighbor as yourself" - Jesus
Matthew 19:19 (NIV)

"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self" - Jesus
Matthew 19:19 (KJV)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Holy Post Baby Bod Batman

It doesn't matter what city, state or country you live in, there is an epidemic sweeping the globe and try as we may, we cannot escape it. It is the looming virus of the 'post baby bod' epidemic.

As a woman and a mother, I must tell you how incredibly awful this epidemic is. Hollywood and its extension into mainstream society is jolting minds with the notion that our bodies must miraculously morph into Heidi Klum within two weeks post delivery. For anyone who has ever given birth and experienced the miracle of another life transforming your body, you will attest that this concept is ludicrous.

Do we not know better yet? Experts and concerned members of society have been speaking about the grave influence of the entertainment media on global body image for generations now and yet we continue to push our bodies to unattainable extremes. I suppose if we all had our own Gunther or Sven, no job and a nanny, we might be able to get back to a size double negative zero in two weeks. But for most, it is an impossible fete to try and accomplish in such an unreasonable time frame.

As a result, what are we telling mothers?'s okay that you might get a little chubby while having a baby, but the second the baby comes out, you need to start doing sit ups because we just couldn't possibly have a new mother with a little baby fat around the gut. I hear now not so much about the benefits of breast feeding other than as an effective weight loss tool. Have we lost our minds? The last thing I wanted to do after having my son was think about loosing weight. I gave birth via c-section and had no a difficult, but more challenging just took a bit longer for those muscles to recover and strengthen. In fact, I was told not to do any physical activity for at least six weeks. how would I get to my double negative zero if I can't do anything besides, gasp, spend time with me new miracle baby?

Here's the thing, we spend too much time focusing on the things that don't matter. Health is important, yes, but worrying about super heroing yourself into your skinny jeans immediately upon birth is unrealistic and frankly its unfair. This beautiful gift deserves your beautiful attention. You can't get those moments back so don't spend them on the scale. And as far as society is concerned, remember, that just because something is splashed across every Hollywood magazine in the grocery line...doesn't make it fact. Don't let anyone, especially the media, tell you how to live your life. I just wish we could leave women and the weight loss issue alone. Enough already people!!!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Styrofoam Coffee Cup Filled with Old Chocolate Chips

Praise the Lord for another Monday and for the start to yet another week. I suppose I should start my week with gratitude that God has blessed me with the ability to enjoy yet one more Monday.

It's almost the end of the day and I got to thinking while I looked around on my desk. There is the typical array of paper work in its lovely 'organized mess' display. There are books I need to read and haven't. There is an iPod I'd love to listen to, but can't because the phone won't stop ringing. I see my schedule which needs updating but forget that, I'm too busy trying to figure out what I have to do next. Oh yeah, and there is a Styrofoam coffee cup filled with old chocolate chips.

WHAT?! I have a what on my desk filled with what?'s a Monday...but why, why do I have this environmentally sadistic container of stale fat sitting on my desk? There is no deep theological answer here. To be honest, I have no clue.

Am a pregnant? Am a about to be visited by dear sweet aunt flow? What about depression - who does depression if I'm eating the horrific morsels of ungoodness. I felt like a little sugar, a little pick me up in the middle of an exhaustive Monday afternoon. I found an unused disposable coffee cup and the only thing in reachable 'free' distance that didn't have nuts was an old bag of unopened chocolate chips. Was I really hungry for them? No way...I would have never craved that. But why...why would I listen to that obviously deranged voice in my head telling me this, of all things, is a good 'decadent' choice?

Could this in anyway be a metaphor for my life? Could be. Am I the cup, the old chips or the moron who thought it was remotely appetizing? You know what I think? I think I've lost my ever loving mind. As I ate a few of these kisses of grossness, I thought to myself "these are gross, I can hardly choke this down". But then...I went back for more. Does this possibly relate to my accepting nature of tolerating whatever there is that fills my cup?

Why do I accept the things I do? Why do I passively tolerate that which leaves a bad taste in my mouth and then try and convince myself I enjoy it? Why do I sit back and swallow the world's hate, the world's old stale bitterness and yet do nothing when I could do more?

Maybe that's just too deep for the start of the week. But think about it? What is sitting in your cup that would be better off thrown away than ingested? What in your life could use a bit of cleaning out in order to make room for the real goodness God wants to fill you with?

By the way - I just threw away those awful chocolate chips. They aren't worth the calories and ingesting other people's hate and words of judgement...isn't worth the stomach ache. I promise.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Grace and the Teenage Waitress

Something that has always bothered me is the hypocrisy that lurks in human nature. We are all guilty of this and can think of several times where we, in whatever capacity, "preach a sermon" if you will and then fail to "practice what we preach".

As an example, I particularly enjoy getting flipped off by a road raged induced 'crazy' person who...has a cross dangling from their rear view mirror. The other day, I was in traffic and I got cut off by a mini van that had a WWJD - what would Jesus do, bumper sticker. Here's about the lady with the cross necklace who pushes you in Toys R Us so she can get the last toy that you've been waiting in line for over two hours to get and then smiles and says 'sorry' as she walks away. I know this sounds sorta funny and you're probably nodding your head and can think of at least one or two instances of this happening in your line of vision. I can think of this happening weekly and more than likely, daily.

The thing is, it's not worth getting mad about, but definitely worth reflecting over and giving it the appropriate little chuckle. At the end of the day, we are all these people. I can think of several times when I've done something just as, if not more hypocritical as above. You see, I'm not perfect. I'm flawed. There are things I do that I don't really know why I do them as I know they are bad but I do them anyway. Anyone else ever experience that? No? I beg to differ! Ever been on a diet and then some how, though you knew you shouldn't, you convinced yourself it was OK to eat that cookie because you could work out twice as hard tomorrow to burn it off? Or...I'll just eat this and I'll start my diet on Monday or after vacation?

My pastor gave a great sermon this morning about Grace. Grace, is God's love for us even though we don't always deserve it. He loves us anyway...even though we're not perfect. I think we ought to try to give ourselves this grace from time to time. Love yourself, your neighbor, your cranky in-law, that dog that keeps using your front lawn as an outhouse even though there is an empty field across the street (oh wait...that's me rambling again)...ANYWAY. There are going to be so many people who walk in and out of our lives who need our love, who need to be shown God's grace...even though they may not seem to deserve it.

So when you leave church and go out to lunch and you find yourself being rude to the 14 year old waitress who got your order wrong...remember to give her the grace that God gave you that morning when you were asking His forgiveness. Grace isn't just for the perfect person, or the perfect's for everyone.

As my pastor said, God accepted all of us "AS IS". Which means, even with our flaws, we can't be returned and He wouldn't return us if He could. It's the Grace policy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

R.E.S.P.E.C.T the Communication!

Upon the first day of my Introduction to Ministry course, my new professor handed out a sheet on respectful communication guidelines. As I read over it, I realized just how profound this little bit of writing really was. Recently, I've been faced with some rather unusual encounters of communication. What I mean, is that I've been faced with conflict that I have not experienced before and I've thought a lot about how much easier things could be if everyone just knew how to properly communicate. Anyway, reading this came at just the right time. Maybe this is one of those "God things". I had been praying for weeks that I could just get some kind of validation that I wasn't from another planet for thinking that people should know how and choose to act maturely during a disagreement. Like I said, when I read this, I could have just screamed, "YES!!!! THANK YOU!!! THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT". What do you think about this?

By Eric H.F. Law

R = take RESPONSIBILITY for what you say and feel without blaming others
E = use EMPATHETIC listening
S = be SENSITIVE to differences in communication styles
P = PONDER on what you hear and feel before you speak
E = EXAMINE your own assumptions and perceptions
T = TRUST ambiguity because we are NOT here to debate who is right or wrong

Maybe if we all take a clue from this, we won't have so many "failures to communicate."

Funny, but True

Christian One Liners

Don't let your worries get the best of you; remember, Moses started out as a basket case.


Some people are kind, polite, and
sweet-spirited until you try to sit in their pews.


Many folks want to serve God,
but only as advisors.


It is easier to preach ten sermons
than it is to live one.


The good Lord didn't create anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes come close.


When you get to your wit's end,
you'll find God lives there.


People are funny; they want the front
of the bus, the middle of the road, and
the back of the church.


Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your front door forever.


Quit griping about your church;
if it was perfect, you couldn't belong.


If the church wants a better pastor,
it only needs to pray for the one it has.


God Himself does not propose to judge
a man until he is dead. So why should you?

Some minds are like concrete thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.


Peace starts with a smile.


I don't know why some peoplechange churches; what difference doesit make which one you stay home from?


A lot of church members who are singing
'Standing on the Promises'
are just sitting on the premises.


We were called to be witnesses,
not lawyers or judges.


Be ye fishers of men. You catch
them - He'll clean them.


Coincidence is when God
chooses to remain anonymous.


Don't put a question mark
where God put a period.


Don't wait for 6 strong men
to take you to church.

Forbidden fruits create many jams.
God doesn't call the qualified,
He qualifies the called.

God grades on the cross, not the curve.

God loves everyone, but probably prefers 'fruits of the spirit' over 'religious nuts!'

God promises a safe landing,
not a calm passage.
He who angers you, controls you!

If God is your Co-pilot - swap seats!

Prayer: Don't give God instructions -- just report for duty!

The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.

The Will of God never takes you to where the Grace of God will not protect you.
We don't change the message,
the message changes us.

You can tell how big a person is
by what it takes to discourage him.

The best mathematical equation
I have ever seen: 1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Skipping Stones with Lady Liberty

Photo by: Doug Beasley

It was seven years ago today that the tears on the face of Lady Liberty were infused with ash. The heat of despair burned her cheeks and the world wept. Ms. Liberty and I have decided to take a moment to sit on the dock of life and skip stones.
As we sit on this old wooden dock, we look beyond our dangling feet into the waters below. There we see the glimmer of sun glittering on the surface. But when we dare to look deeper, breath deeper, we see our reflection. The faces staring back at us tell stories from times past and time present. It tells of the worries written on our foreheads and the laugh lines crinkled in our cheeks. But today, today we see the dew in the corner of eyes and in the moisture of heart break, we skip stones.
It wasn't a day all to long ago when life was humming as usual. The children of Lady Liberty were playing in the streets and life was safe. But it was on this day that a new wind flew in and burned our security to the ground. It crumpled, in moments, the walls that centuries built. We use to think we were the global Superman, the world super power; we were invincible. We had adequate strength training, intelligence, charisma, wealth, health, ingenuity and freedom. But what we failed to realize, was that it was these same things that we used to spell our freedom, that were indeed our very shackles. As we heard the clanking of chains and the struggle to break free loomed on, we skipped stones.
There are voices from somewhere in the distance. These voices are speaking of peace and change. The voices are speaking of peace and change and yet there is no peace in their change and no change in their peace. The words that are coming from speakered boxes are trying to memorialize this day. We cry and pray with these words today as the voices merely hum on.
When we look back at our reflection beyond us, we see faces we vaguely recognize. We see eyes that yearn for hope but gloom that resembles devastation. What's different today than what was on that yesterday? What change has brought peace and what peace has brought chains? What really has changed when the talking mouths say peace and their actions say war? What really has changed when our ego's are as big as before? What semblance of change can we possibly muster from a country that spends weeks on lipstick luster? Are we safer today than that fateful one? Are we happier today with what we've done? Red or blue, D or R, it doesn't matter if we don't know what it's for! We can make promises of change or promises of peace, but when all we're doing is giving political dogs their bones, then our hateful empty words are just skipping stones.
On the reflection of yesterday, our words are just skipping stones. We disgrace this place, this day, yesterday, with words of hate. Why haven't we yet figured out that it's not us against them. It's just US. We are all just US...the United States...not the divided states. This isn't a notion of blissful thinking, it isn't a mere pipe dream - this is a human thing, a people thing and at the end of the day, its all a God thing.
Two Stanza's from Otis Redding's, Sitting on the Dock of the Bay
So I'm just gonna sit on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay
Wastin' time
Look like nothing's gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can't do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I'll remain the same, yes

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fall Air and Clean Sheets

As my life continues to grow difficult and more stress enters every day, I wonder how I can some how survive all that is trying to break me down. It would be so easy for me to just give in to the pressure, buckle and give up. But...I don't want to give up. I'm a fighter in spirit and by nature. I don't have to win at the 'Game of Life', but I'd like to say I at least played a few good rounds. So, to keep my head above water when I'm drowning in my own tears, I think of the simple things, the intangible things in my life that I'm grateful for. When I get down under the pressure, I start to list these things off and suddenly, it is these things that matter that I'm focusing on and not my challenges. This weeks quote fits this perfect, "Instead of telling God how big my storm is, I tell my storm how big my God is." Isn't that the truth.

Blessings and Things I Love(a condensed list)
  • Family that loves faithfully and unconditionally
  • The soft feel of my sons breath on my cheek in the middle of the night
  • Crisp fall air that comes through my windows on a sleepy morning
  • The smell of clean sheets - especially when I'm wrapped up in them
  • The peace I feel after Holy Communion
  • The warmth of the Christmas season
  • The love of a good friend
  • The knowledge that I'm never alone and that God is always with me
  • A cleansing rain storm trickling down my soul
  • My grandma's kisses

What are your favorite things? What things are you blessed by? If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you thank God for?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Married at 9, Slain by Parents at 17

~ The following article is from The Australian, written by Bruce Louden. I saw this article through and was astounded. It bears to mention that this is exactly why women in our very country need to be grateful for how progressive our nation is. I can't imagine having been subjected to an arranged marriage, let alone at 9, let alone murdered by my parents for wanting out of the marriage they set me up with, with a 45 year old man. This poor child!!!!!
DESPAIR among human rights workers in Pakistan over a rash of so-called "honour killings" intensified yesterday when it was disclosed that a girl forced into marriage with a 45-year-old man at the age of nine had been killed by her parents because she asked for an annulment.
The girl, 17, who had been fighting a lonely but successful legal battle, was coming out of court in the Punjabi city of Sahiwal after being granted the annulment by a judge when she was surrounded by a group of men and shot in view of police.
The death of Saira Nusrat Bibi has added further to concerns among human rights campaigners already outraged over the case of five women - among them three teenage schoolgirls - buried alive in the province of Baluchistan because they wanted to marry men of their choice in defiance of the wishes of tribal leaders.
The Baluchistan case was worsened by an attempt by a member of the country's national parliament, senator Israr Ullah Zehri, to defend it, telling colleagues that "these are centuries-old traditions and I will continue to defend them", The Weekend Australian reports.
Members of the religious Jamaat-e-Islami party rounded on Senator Zehi, declaring: "We condemn this barbaric act. This is against Islam, against humanity and against civilised culture."
Yesterday, the Government bowed to pressure and ordered an inquiry into the killings.
Details that have emerged from the village of Baba Kot in Baluchistan indicate that the three girls -- aged between 16 and 18 - and two of their elderly relatives were "shot at" before being buried alive."When the fuming elders of the Umrani tribe came to know about the intentions of these girls, they picked them up from their homes along with two of their elderly relatives," one account said.
"The crying girls were pushed into official cars and driven to a deserted area. There they were pushed out of the cars, made to stand in a queue, and volleys of shots fired at them. As the bleeding girls fell to the sand, the tribesmen dragged them into a nearby ditch and levelled it with earth and stones.
"As the two shocked elderly women tried to rescue the hapless girls, they too were gunned down and buried in the same manner. The killers after burying these women returned to their tribe like conquerors without any action taken against them."

New Sun Arising

Photo by: Charles Deakins

Here we are at Monday again. A new week; a new day. It's still dark outside as I'm up early this morning. The sun is breaking through the morning clouds and the cool air surrounds me with a humbling peace that everything is going to be okay.

Someone once told me there is never a sunset that isn't followed by a sunrise. There is never an ending that isn't followed by a new beginning. There is never a door shut without God welcoming you into a new one.

Today, I'm going to forge forward with a heart of hope and embrace this new sun arising.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Impatiently Awaiting the Gift of Patience

I have observed numerous people who seem to have been gifted with natural patience. It comes as easy to them as breathing. But for me, its much more complicated. I hate the purgatory of not knowing. That time where you can do nothing but wait. You realize you have no control over your situation anyway, so all you can do is...wait.

In these moments of waiting, I tend to torture myself with what if's and negativity. Honestly, I try so hard each day to push myself to be as positive as I possibly can be, but even on my best days, I'm a bit too much of a realist for my own good.

A long time ago, I prayed that God would give me patience. Since I prayed that prayer, I have been faced with various different opportunities to strengthen my 'patience' and in turn, my faith. The biggest one for me was trying to get pregnant with AM. It has taken other people much longer than it took us, but ever month that fell off the calendar brought more tears and desperation with it. Finally, we conceived after two and a half years. Well, AM is now approaching being 2 1/2 and we have been trying for another one since January...obviously no luck. Up until this point, I've been pretty okay. This past week, however, has been unusually hard as I haven't been able to escape all the baby momma's every where.

Family, friends, co-workers...everyone is getting pregnant...except me. This is such a heart wrenching experience. I wish it could come as easy for me as it does others. I'm just praying for God's strength to help me stay positive and to continue to give me peace until the time that His ultimate plan is revealed; whether that be me getting pregnant or me realizing that I won't have any more.

At the end of the day, I just thank God for the wonderful miracle He gave me in AM and if I'm lucky enough to have more, I'll be blessed. And if not...I'll still be blessed. I'm just having a down day about it today and hate this depressy feeling. I'll get over it, I always's just a funk.

That's all for now.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Quadrilateral of My Life

The United Methodist Church was founded by a man named John Wesley. Wesley was a man of great theology and thought. One thing we get from Wesley is known as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. The four parts that make up this quadrilateral are: Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience.
  • Scripture: Holy Bible (Old and New Testaments)
  • Tradition: The history of the Christian Church
  • Reason: Rational Thinking & Sensible Interpretation
  • Experience: A Christian's Personal & Communal Journey in Christ
Why am I mentioning this? Well, I just learned about this and since being enlightened to this theology of how we as humans come to know our 'faith' or beliefs, I can't seem to stop thinking about it and frankly, it makes a lot of sense.

I mean, how do I know what I know? Where did I get my thoughts and beliefs? Some from scripture, yes. Some from tradition both in the church and how I was raised. Some from reason; because I have to be able to wrap my head around major concepts. And, some from experience; I would say a lot from experience - those moments when you know it's a 'God thing'.

As I begin this exploration of my own personal faith and start to critically (not used in a bad term) challenge the concepts I hold to be true, I hope to find a deeper sense of self in the shaking of my foundation. One of my professors said this to the class this week, "if your faith can't stand a little shaking up from time to time, you don't have a very solid foundation to start with." Wow! That just hit me...she's so right. If my faith is solid and on solid ground, then it won't matter how hard the wind blows at me, or the hail hits me, or how much the ground shakes...I can stand any storm.

This is a great revelation as I begin to discern exactly what is my faith. Since going into seminary, so many people have challenged my way of thinking. This hasn't thrown me of course in terms of me not believing, but it has given me cause to looking more critically at why I believe and think the way I do so that I can have solid answers and explanations when confronted with future questioners. I have to be able to be self aware enough that I can identify what thoughts and beliefs come from scripture, what comes from my family and church traditions, what comes from my simple reasoning and of course, what I have derived from my own experiences. Never-the-less...this ALL makes sense. It really makes sense when I look at others who may not see things the same way I do. I can look at them with an eye of discovery and understanding rather than of judgement. I can really see the person for who they are and what they take out of their quadrilateral and then, better see them.

In our small group this week, we talked about the Blind Man and Jesus. Jesus healed this man's eyes from blindness with spit and dirt. It's not the act itself that I'm really thinking of at this moment, rather, its the notion that there are many people we encounter every day who are spiritually blind. People who believe things, right or wrong, simply for no good reason. I have to challenge myself to remember that these people have not yet been given the ability to really see. This doesn't make me better than them. Rather, it helps me to realize and remember that we're all on this journey together and if I walk 30 paces ahead of someone who is blind and I get there first, I'm the worse for it because I should have stayed behind who he/she that is blind and walked with them. The true sin comes out of being given the ability to see and then denying what you see. This is hard for me to swallow because I do this all the time. I see things, I know better and yet I choose to do things as if I've never seen or known. Then I wonder, how does that behavior help those who are spiritually blind, to see?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Is Doing the Right Thing, Always the Right Thing to Do?

A couple of weeks ago, I turned in my two week resignation to my ex-employer. The EX didn't do anything wrong. In fact, this was a wonderful 'dream' job and I would have probably never left it had I not received my calling. I decided with the demanding work load at this job and my impending class load from seminary, that it would be best if I resigned and picked up a more flexible job somewhere else.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with the realities of the business world, but let me vent a bit. It is very rare, first of all, for someone to actually turn in a two weeks notice. Most people simply resign effective immediately. Further, most employers find its usually best for the immediate termination. Even though it would be nice to have the two weeks for training and cleaning up the soon to be ex-employee's files, etc., when said employee announces their impending departure, moral goes down, work product reduces significantly and quality is less than scant.

When I turned in my two weeks notice, I wanted to do 'the right thing'. I wanted to be respectful and not leave any unfinished business to fall in the lap of any of my co-workers/friends. Not only did I stay positive and come in early for two weeks, but even put in, wait for it, overtime. This is unheard of! But, I really did want to do right by the company as I felt they had treated me well. Needless to say, all of it went unacknowledged.

Prior to my final day, I had requested from HR information on getting Cobra - the insurance supplement. Hubby has medical issues and we simply cannot afford to have a lapse in coverage. This would be catastrophic to us. First, my HR director informed me she knew nothing about Cobra. Then she tells me that my family will be covered for 30 days past my last day. My last day was last Friday.

Over the weekend, my son got sick and we took him in to the Dr. yesterday. When we get there, we are informed that our insurance policy has been CANCELED. Can you believe this? So I have a medically challenged spouse and a sick two year old...and NO insurance. Unbelievable. To top this off, my EX didn't pay me for my last two weeks - it is always direct deposited.

So, I contact my HR director and she tells me that she had cut me off with payroll - thus I didn't get paid. "Oops." She said I could drive the 35 miles to come pick the check up from her though. How kind. Then I ask her about the insurance and she proceeds to tell me how much my family cost the company every month and that she turned paperwork in back on the 15th of August to have me dropped from the policy by the first.

Needless to say, I'm really frustrated and more so simply let down. You know, I went above and beyond for my EX. I was salaried and never told of the enormous work load prior to my hiring. I worked 70+ hr weeks on a small salary and was never acknowledged for all the unpaid overtime. The health insurance was a part of my benefits package - which I convinced myself made up for the lack of salary compensation. Then, I not only turn in a two week notice, but I actually stay the full two weeks and work overtime up until my very last day.

I don't understand why when I try to do the right thing, do right by people, that I always end up with the short end. I did this for MR, I did this for my EX...the list goes on and on. I'm so frustrated about this. So many people told me that I would be treated poorly once I turned in the resignation. They told me it would be in my best interest to just quit and leave. I didn't want to do that to my EX or co-workers. I wasn't selfish and I was thinking of them first. Now this???????? It's obvious that the consideration didn't go two ways and now my family is suffering.

So I ask you...Is doing the right thing always the right thing to do?
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