Thursday, November 6, 2014

What do we cheer for?

On Sunday, my family ventured into the city to watch the New York City Marathon.  We were in Central Park a bit under 2 miles from the finish.  The path was lined with a variety of people cheering the runners on.  There were teams supporting their runner or their charities and little children high fiving every random runner.  But, what stood out to me the most was a young female 30 something cheering for each runner and ringing her cowbell as loud as she could.  Who was she?  Was she there with a team?  Maybe she was a runner?

As the afternoon passed into early evening, it became clear she was there on her own.  Now, out of superficiality some of you are picturing the sad lonely New York female.  You couldn't be more wrong.  She was a hair under six feet tall, athletically thin, shiny blonde hair, and a porcelain complexion.  After briefly speaking with her, I learned that she herself had been a marathoner and that her friends had finished hours ago.

Depspite her friends finishing, she was still there on the sidelines rooting for every pariticipant that came by.   If a runner had their name on their shirt she would scream their name.  If they were struggling she would holler loudly  "you're lookin' good" or "great job".  This woman was in the park when we got there and she was still there when we left.  Her enthusiasm never relented. And it really got me thinking what do we cheer for?  What gets our encouragement, our effort, our enthusiasm?

We all have a favorite sports team we support. But, sometimes the way people express that support is more antagonistic than supportive.  This past Wednesday, you were either happy or upset with how the political landscape changed.  As the news trickeled out, the responses were hostile.  It was either the sore winners (in your face) or the sore loosers (let's just throw you under the bus).  What do we cheer for?  

You see selfless cheering when a pitcher is one inning away from pitching a perfect game.  Or when an Olympic athlete has set a new world record.  Those are the best moments.  Everyone focussed, holding their breath, hoping, wishing, and praying. Then it happens and the universe screams in total joy.  Last Sunday, that is what I saw in that woman.  And now I wonder what the world would be like if we could all put a bit of ourselves aside to just simply cheer.  J.. R. R. Tolkien said, "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Kids and Voting


My children haven't missed a single election since they we're born.  Whether they walked or were snuggled into the double stroller, they were there.  They will go with me again tomorrow. As the girls grow up I want them to understand that participating in elections is not an optional activity - but a responsibility as a citizen of this country.  Simply put by HIllary Clinton, "Voting is the precious right of every citizen."  

Raising children to be good citizens is vital.  Helpling them to understand how their actions impact others is a major goal of mine.  My hope is to teach them how to make good solid decisions. As years give way to years and they find themselves on the doorsteps to adulthood, I have no interest in telling them what to think.  And I have no desire to tell them who to vote for.  In fact I rather enjoy watching them argue their points of view.  Even if the debate is presently about who plays fairly at recess time.  The debate is important.  The best characterization comes from Margaret Thatcher, "I love argument, I love debate.  I don't expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me."  


In 1989, I remember registering to vote for the first time.  It was in the hallway at Jamestown High School. I was excited and thrilled.  My parents never told me what party to choose.  When it came time for my first election, they never told me who to vote for either.  Their restraint is commendable, because I registered as a Democrat.  It is safe to say that in my family immediate and extended - I am the only Democrat among them.  However, I have often wondered if my parents anticipated that as I matured I would switch parties.  And in there interest of full disclosure my mother and I do toss the issues back and forth from time to time.  

However, my hope for my children is not just that they find their voice - but that they use it.  Voting will allow them to speak on issues that matter to them, their household, and their neighbors.    Ronald Reagan once said, "We can't help everyone.  But everyone can help someone." Compelling them to use their voice at the voting booth is the first step.  


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Parental Denial

We all have difficulty embracing hidden or dark truths about ourselves.  As we mature, we try to become more comfortable in our own skin by rolling up our sleeves and getting to work on ourselves.  However, when it comes to our children there is a type of denial if not kept in check can be very blinding.

We know the cliched example - Sally does something awful. Parent is confronted. Parent denies it and is offended at the assertion.  Time passes and the parent begins to wonder could Sally do that?  Is it possible?  What if she did do it?  What should I do now?  Have I waited too long?

What a waste of time!  Just as we know ourselves, we also know our child's inclinations.  We know what our child has the potential to do.  When confronted we know full well that it is possible that Sally is guilty of the crime.  Maybe we are embarrassed and think that Sally's behavior is a reflection of our parenting.  Maybe we are mad (oooo yes - I said mad - we are human yes?) that our child's behavior caused a conflict between ourselves and the class supermom.  The reality is our children will participate in behavior we are not proud of.  Especially when they are outside of our influence.  There isn't a parent on earth that has not had this happen to them.  You are not unique.

The faster you rebound from the initial confrontation the better.  That parent who is taking the risk to speak with you regarding Sally, should feel at the end that you heard her.  She doesn't need to know what you will or won't do.  Just simply that you heard her.

Your ability to quickly rebound will give you time to plan "next steps" regarding your child's behavior. I am a real proponent of "sooner rather than later."  But you know your families pacing and should work accordingly.  However, you may not want Sally to think that she has gotten away with something.  

A few weeks ago, I was approached by a mother from my daughters school.  My daughter and hers were classmates.  Recently her daughter had felt harassed by my daughter .  My daughter, every single time this young girl scratched her head, would tell her, "I think you have head lice."  This went on for a few days.  I felt terrible.  This young girl was new to our city and new to our school. And I knew that my daughter was fond of her.  But, boy did I know that was parent was telling me was true.  My daughter had struggled with head lice last year, due to another child in her class that went untreated.  The last thing my daughter ever wanted to face was another treatment for lice.

Immediately, I apologized to the mother.  I assured her, that I would handle this and should it happen again - she should let me know immediately.  As the mother put her daughter on the bus for the day, she deserved the peace of mind that she had been heard.  She didn't need to add a mothers hesitance or resistance on top of the child's feelings.  At the end, I got all the information I needed and she got the assurances that she needed.  

This type of confrontation is not just reserved for parents.  It can also occur with your child's teacher.  Maybe it was a social interaction in class or poor test performance or an uncovered learning disability.  In this instance rebounding needs to be immediate.  Your time is best spent asking questions and learning all you can.  You may not necessarily agree, but understanding all you can about your teachers assessment will help you decide what to do next.  As you wrap your discussion with the teacher,  you don't have to be in agreement.  All the teacher needs to know is that you will look into this further.  Then later you can do your own research and reflection to determine what actions are necessary.  

Regardless of how hard we try, we cannot know every single facet of our children.  The opportunity to learn whether at the hands of a teacher or another adult is a gift.  We all know that our children act differently when they are outside of our care.  This is when they make independent decisions and we can can see in those decisions, who they are and what they value.  

As parents we are always putting parts of our lives on hold for our children.  We work so hard to raise good and smart children.  When we get feedback like this, we feel a sense of failure.  By, putting our pride aside to approach our children with an open mind is much better than pretending Sally is a perfect flawless child. Eve Ensler puts in rightly, "I think the greatest illusion we have is that denial protects us. It's actually the biggest distortion and lie. In fact staying asleep is what's killing us."   

Now for those of you who are concerned about the annoying mom who always has an opinion, a critique. Well you  know who they are, and what you should do with them.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why so glib?

Patrick J. Kennedy characterized the effects of terrorism saying,  “Terrorism is psychological warfare.  Terrorists try to manipulate us and change our behavior by creating fear, uncertainty, and division in society.”  After 9/11 my initial reaction was like most, fear.  Having stood on the fire escape facing south watching the towers as they fell – I was shaken.  It took me nearly 12 months until things started to feel even slightly normal.  Now, some thirteen years later, my greatest fear is that I have grown cold.  

The recent string of be-headings made me very aware of how glib I had become.  One day, the news had broken that a mother had reached out to the kidnappers without success.  In a conversation with my mother regarding the news, I just flipped off my tongue, “He’ll be dead by the weekend.”  There was no feeling, no horror – just a simple calculation 1+1=2.  Where did this come from?  These men were loved. These men were brave and selfless. These men were gone.  

My fear is that after over a decade of wars, bombings, kidnappings, and be-headings, I had grown far too accustomed to this “new normal.”  Part of my post  9/11 routine has found me very attached to the news.  For example, if I wake up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break – before my head hits the pillow, I will have read every single news item that has collected in my feed.  And yes, my phone is kept nearby.  I wonder if all of this has created numbness.

After 9/11 we were all encouraged to get back to business as usual.  We were to shop, go out to eat, and get back on the subway.  We were not to allow the terrorists take away our freedom to live the life we were to live.  As the year moved on we all did just that.  However, we all clearly know now that the threat has not dissipated - the body count keeps growing.  The articles, the footage, and the pundits placing blame on the party across the aisle – we just tire of it all.

Our minds are full of details to follow, new religious sects to keep straight, and new geographies to explore and understand.  Then there are the new rules whether you travel by plane or by train.  We have to say something if we see something. We have to remember to wear easy to remove shoes when we travel.  At the end of it all, I wonder if I have been lulled into an apathetic coma or if I have run out of bandwidth and I am in overload. Or worse, that in an effort to protect myself I have stripped emotion from fact.  

When lives are lost or are in the balance, there is no room for apathy.  Diligence and a commitment to truth must be tantamount to my desire to "feel safe."  Because in reality, the feeling of safety , does not guarantee the actuality of safety.  Emiliano Salinas wisely said, "Fear is better than apathy because fear makes us do something."  Maybe the lesson learned here is not to be so afraid of fear.  Especially if we can no longer appreciate the full weight of what is upon us.  

Why God?

We all at one point or another ponder the “why”.  Why did this happen to me? Why today?  Why now?  Why ever? Encountering difficult passageways is a part of lifes journey.  No one difficulty is the same.  Each one hits at a different time in a different way.  In most cases, we aren’t ready for it.  We grapple with so many questions along the way.  But one always persists – Why God?  Why?

Now if you are smart, you will only utter that thought when you are alone and never out loud.  If you do, and certain personalities are around to hear you, brace yourself because you are likely to be told either:

1. God never gives you more than you can handle


2. It is the mystery of God.  We may not understand until we get to heaven.

After that sage advice, you might have a second question – Why did I even ask? Being left wondering “Why?”  

At this stage in my life, when I am in the midst of a crisis, I have learned that pondering “why” is the most unproductive thing I can do.  Regardless of the situation I am in, there are details that require my attention and tasks that need to be done.  Those details and tasks can only be accomplished if I remain focused.  And every day I trudge through the hardship, I must awake with some hope.  And if I am consumed with the unanswered “why” I am distracted and hopeless.  And I get it.  Somedays we just need that escape because the reality of what we are facing is so hard.  But, the reality is that we all wake up the next day in the same spot. 

A year before I headed to college my fathers eyesight began to depreciate.  It was the beginning of a series of mounting challenges to his health that would lead him to eventually require a kidney transplant.  My heading to college and remaining focussed was a challenge.  I'll admit at times when the phone would ring and the call was from home I would panic.  The letters I got from my father with the 2 inch characters deepened my concern.  Of course I wondered why.  Why did I have to spend my first Christmas break with a sick dad? Didn't he deserve better? Why did I have to return to college two days after my dad got his kidney transplant? Why couldn't I stay with him?

But, I had to stay focussed.  In the midst of all my parents were facing, I could not become another issue.  Also, I had gotten a fantastic financial aid package. If my grades slipped - slip away would go my money.  I had to trust that God would take care of everything that was going on at home. This wasn't something I mastered right away.  But, I had to keep trusting.  I had to believe Gods promise that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love God....(Romans 8:28).  At some point this would all make sense and the "why" would come into focus.

It wouldn't be until the Summer of 1998 that one of my "why's" got answered.  At that time my husband had begun to have some interuptions to his vision.  Ironically he and my Father had been diagnosed with diabetes in the same year.  As it turns out my Fathers vision complications gave us great insights and helped us get the helped we needed very early on in the process.  The normal anxiety wasn 't much of an issue because we already knew so much going in.  I never would have known back then that it would all work out this way.  There would have been no way.  I didn't even know my husband  yet.  

Making the pondering of “why” into a religious exercise would have been so easy.  A simple change the question from “why” to “what is God trying to teach me through all of this.”  It is indeed critical to be listening to for Gods voice.  That is a daily practice as he reveals himself in the simplicities and complexities of our day.   But, we needn’t be so consumed with hearing him that we don't hear him at all.  It's like those picture with the dots.  You stare and you get really close looking for the image to pop out.  It doesn't and you get frustrated.  Then someone walks by and says step back and then look. And just like that you see it. 

Now God isn't that instantneous - but sometimes we really can't see the forest for the trees.  Being in my 40's now I can tell you that some of why's have been answered. And at times I have been blown away.  But, I still have a long list.  And I have learned to not wait on answers, but to wait on God.  I wait - by trusting, by obeying, and by knowing that he does hold all things together (Colossians 1:17).  Just imagine if the Israelites had refused to cross the Red Sea. What if they had stopped and asserted "Why did you bring us out to just send us back" Instead, they took a step forward and saw God move. The words to "Oceans" as penned by Reuben Morgan sums up the truth of trusting and obeying, "And I will call upon your name.  And keep my eyes above the waves.  When oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace. For I am yours and you are mine." As we at times enter the dark shadow of "why" feel the warm glow of the Fathers love knowing "I am yours and you are mine."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ebola: It's A Small World

It’s a small world after all
It’s a small world after all
It’s a small world after all
It’s a small, small world

That is the refrain of one of the sweetest songs .  It conjures up images of pristine children in national costumes holding hands and singing cheerfully.  Each child singing with their own particular accent – we smile.  We will allude to the concept of a small world, when we find common connections between old and new friends.  But, let’s face it when a nation meets a disaster there is deep gratitude for the oceans that divide and make the world a bit further away

On Tuesday, September 16 President Obama pledged 3,000 troops to assist with the battle against Ebola in West Africa.  He declared that it was a threat to global security.  So many political pundits publicly called his action into question.  They didn't see the Ebola issue as an American issue.  ISIS (ISIL) was seen as a greater threat.  There is no doubt that ISIS (ISIL) is a massive threat to not just to the Middle East, but to our nation and Europe as well.  However, if we have learned one thing from ISIS (ISIL) that we could apply to the fight against Ebola, is that it would be in our best interest to not underestimate the threat. 

Fast forward to today, and my Facebook feed is flooded with articles updating us on each detail as the Ebola story out of Dallas unfolds.  There is fear, concern, and outrage.  Blame is being placed on Liberia, the airlines, the governments, the hospital, and the patient in peril.  Schools are getting decontaminated and a family is being quarantined.  For the next 21 days as the 80+ people who came into contact with Thomas Eric Duncan are monitored by the medical community – the media will be reporting each detail.  And there are many who are just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Since December of 2013, the continent of Africa has been fighting Ebola.  It started in Guinea, where as of today they have lost 710 citizens.  Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia combined have lost 3,300 lives.  We have had three Americans contract the disease and survive the disease.  And we all hope that Mr. Duncan and all those he came into contact with survive and go on to live a long life.

However, I hope that we now realize as Ebola has come to our nation, and that this world is small.  It is impossible for America to eradicate every evil from this world.  But, when an epidemic has gotten this large and has prevailed for so long – we had no choice but to offer the best we have to stand with our brothers and sisters as they fight to preserve life in Africa. 

It became clear in the inaction of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital medical staff, that there was a false sense of “it can’t happen here” when Thomas Eric was sent back home to his family.  After he had alerted them to his country of origin, it was just ignored.  There is a clear line of thinking that divides us.  There are “our” problems and there are “their” problems.  However, as we become more globally connected a greater understanding that all problems belong to all is imperative.  Indeed, we can’t fix them all. But, we can no longer live in such blissful isolation either. 

As the tsunami in Japan in March of 2011 occurred, I lied in bed just captivated and alarmed.  I could not fall asleep.  In the months to follow, we learned how small the world was when debris from that tsunami arrived on our west coast.  Citizens began cataloging the items online in hopes of returning them to their owners in Japan.  There is now growing concern in the U.S. about consuming fish from the Pacific due to contamination from Fukushima. Our world is small.

As the song “It’s a Small World” reminds us….

It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears
It’s a world of hope, it’s a world of fear
There’s so much that we share
That it's time we’re aware
It’s a small world after all.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

It Is Well - A Life Lesson

“Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say
It is Well
It is Well
It is Well With My Soul”

As a teenager that loved History – the more I learned – the more I felt I had missed out on. I wanted to see history made. In my mind we had come so far in our evolution – casting prejudices aside, learning economic lessons, liberating the enslaved, and striving towards peace.  I wasn’t so deluded to think that there wouldn’t be issuesleft for my generation to deal with – and I understood the cost of those lessons as I was surrounded by elder men and women both in my church and family that carried in their life the lessons learned along the way.

It would be on Sunday nights at the church Hymnsings in Milton when the congregation could select the songs we sang - that you heard the truth from these enduring men and women.  They would share testimonies of deep substance and select a hymn for the congregation to sing in response. And as the congregation sang with all its might – it was as if we all understood the truth – as if we were right there on the road beside them.

A hymn sang frequently throughout my childhood was “It is Well.” Suffice to say this hymn remains one of my favorites to this day.  It wasn’t until I was in college that I learned the history of this hymn. The hymn was written in the 1870’s by Horatio Spafford a Chicago Lawyer who after the Chicago Fire found himself in financial ruin.  Horatio, his wife and four daughters were to travel to Europe in 1873.  However, Horatio had to send his family ahead as he was delayed due to zoning issues as a result of Chicago fire.  As his family crossed the Atlantic on the SS Ville du Havre there was a collision with a sailing ship the Loch Earn.  Horatio’s wife Anna survived to find herself having to send her husband a telegram that simply said “Saved Alone” Prior to this – Anna and Horatio had also buried a four year old son in 1871.  It was as Horatio crossed the Atlantic and came to the spot where his daughters perished that he penned the words to this hymn of tragedy and triumph.

In 1989, this hymn would take on special meaning for me.  As a college freshman, I returned home from college for Christmas break.  During that break my father had to be hospitalized. He was a diabetic and his doctor in an effort to not mince words, declared that my father had five years left to live and would never be eligible for a life saving kidney transplant. Suffice to say the next several years were filled with one medical mountain after another – congestive heart failure, diminishing eye sight, partial leg amputation and so on.  Through all of this my father held to his faith with a disciplined understanding of who God is regardless of what was going on around him and to him.

My father’s faith found its roots in a church full of great teachers - men and women who had lived through the Great Depression and World War I.  They taught the scripture and its enduring promises. My Father’s decision to become a Pastor came as no surprise to his Sunday School Teachers.  It was during those times of trial in the 1990’s that he stood on what he was taught. He had his moments of worry - mostly grounded in his concern that his two daughters would eventually lose him too soon.  At times my father would quench his worries with the words of a hymn that found its roots in the loss of four daughters.

“Though trials should come – let this blest assurance control. That Christ has regarded my helpless estate and hath shed His own blood for my soul.”  It is interesting here how the hymn writer addresses the issue of “control.”  In essence he relinquishes control and submits to the truth laid out in God’s word.  Let’s take Proverbs 3 for example.  We are told “My son, do not forget my teaching..keep my commands in your heart ….Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..(Verses 1 and 5)”
It would have been so easy for Horatio and his wife to dwell on their loss and not look heavenward and move.  But they seemed to grasp Philippians 3 “…but one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”  Philippians 3: 13 -14.  In the years to follow, Horatio and Anna had two more daughters (Bertha and Grace). They eventually moved to Jerusalem to found a group, “American Colony” whose mission was to serve to the poor.

In 1991 my Father found himself the proud recipient of a kidney transplant. This transplant dramatically improved the quality of my Father’s life.  Despite the discouraging words of his physician in 1989 he found himself standing on God’s word and in three years in possession of a fulfilled promise.  In 1999, my father passed away due to an undetected brain aneurysm.  His kidney never failed him and was in good working order until that fateful day in August.

It would be in July of 2011 that this song would embed itself further into my heart, when my dear friend Idilio slipped into heaven after a valiant battle against cancer.  During his battle he said this, “For whatever the reason, I am not afraid of what is soon to come - sweet death. I am in such peace that it is almost scary. I hope and pray I am not being overly confident in myself but instead putting my hope in Christ alone. When the moment comes and I take my last breath, I am assured I will no longer see things with my earthly eyes but with my spiritual eyes…” Indeed with his last breathe (he could barely speak),surrounded by people who loved him dearly he was singing “It is well with my soul”

Sitting here today I am fully aware of the trials I and my generation have to face. ISIS/ISIL is slaughtering men, women and young children on a daily basis.  Syria has been turned upside down and Ebola is consuming West Africa.  Scotland is considering secession from Great Britain.  The Ukraine is being picked apart and has been in a state of unrest for months as Vladimir Putin tries to reunite Mother Russia. There seems to be so much going on that I can’t seem to stay on top of it all. But, regardless of what we have yet to withstand I know this for certain “Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is Well, It is Well, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Never Forget

Never Forget. Yesterday,  that phrase was peppered throughout your Facebook and Twitter feed.  You even see it on the bumpers of cars and trucks.  It is a call to action.  Every time I see one, especially when I am outside New York City, it reminds me of the unity we had as a country after that terrible day.  The cliche so fit back then - It was the worst of times....It was the best of times.  As funerals were on a never ending rotation here in New York City, the rest of the country were filling their towns with the American Flag.  They stood with us.

Now, some 13 years later "Never Forget" remains - but for New Yorkers, it is not a call to action.  It is a way of life.  Everyday in one form or another we are reminded of that day.  You leave for work and there are police in the subway station conducting random bag inspections.  You secure a spot on the train (not always a seat) and you glance up from your smartphone and you see a poster that instructs you "See Something, Say Something."  As you get off the train - the police presence can be thick.  Especially if your station is a major hub. And most assuredly if the nation is a level orange.

Commuting by bus, you can't escape the hole that remains in our skyline.  And despite the glorious rise of the Freedom Tower into the skyline - you still see one building and not two.  You might lay your eyes on the Hudson River that helped the terrorist navigate their way to the tip of Manhattan.  You might even be reminded of the vessel you took to cross the Hudson that day to get home.

Despite how communal 9-11 was to New Yorkers, it was also very individual.  There isn't a New Yorker who at this stage in their life hasn't answered the "Where were you?" least 50 times.  And our stories take us past places, puts us with people, and surrounds us with sounds.  Those places we still encounter from time to time. For some those people remain in their life.  And those sounds persist.  Oh, the sirens!  For months after 9-11 if I heard a siren my heart would leap and flutter.  And would be consulted if there were a bevy of sirens heard below.

After 9-11, I had a very difficult time getting back to normal.  My husband came to work with me the first day back.  I was on medication for several weeks thereafter. I even insisted that we drive to work.  And we did so for the next year.  During that time, I received two gifts of love - a red fleece blanket covered in hearts and a woven bamboo box full of items that would help one to relax. They were from friends and co-workers and were meant to encourage me and they did.  The box (with new contents) and the blanket are still in my bedroom.  I see them everyday and am reminded of the need to live on and move on.  Yet, I don't forget. I can't forget.  I live my life as a tribute to the lives cut short.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Few Lessons For My Daughters

The idea of raising daughters always freaked me out.  There is so much to teach them.  Today, as justice final came knocking on Ray Rices door - all I could think of was Janay Rice-Palmer.  She is someones daughter. And like any  mother - I would hate for my daughter to find herself in this position.   Sadly, none of us even knows what will happen to her next.  But, here is what I hope to teach my daughters.

1.   Respect yourself.
2.   Never let a man hit you.
3.   Always be able to take care of yourself.
4.   Don't make excuses for a man.
5.   Don't remain in an abusive relationship.
6.   Don't become anyone's scapegoat.
7.   Always tell the truth.
8.   Always be your best advocate.
9.   Respect in a relationship is mutual.  It is to flow equally and in both directions.
10. If you love your child, are in an abusive situation, the best thing you can do is to leave.
11. Stand up for yourself regardless of the cost
12. Our children learn from what we do. Act as they should act.
13. If there are red flags in your when you date, don't expect them to improve after married.
14. Don't ever be afraid to admit that you made a mistake.
15. Don't  allow your spouses bad behavior lead to your bad behavior.
16. If the person you need protected from is sharing your bed, you need to leave.
17. Love yourself.
18. If you can't be brave for yourself, be brave for your child.
19. Understand and embrace your worth.
20. Justice does come.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Are We Proud Of Ourselves?

We (the church) for decades have worked very hard to make our faith and our churches approachable.  Whether it be a mash up of church and Starbucks or elaborate family programs.  Maybe it is carefully crafting our Sunday service to be more seeker friendly.  Or maybe it is banning christianese from our vocabulary.  These past two weeks have proven we just don't get it.

As the pile on of Victoria Osteen has persisted the words whether carefully chosen or vile, the cause be it noble or otherwise - what the world outside the church saw was that we eat our own.  Cannibals if you will, failing to show the grace and love we profess exists in the body.  Will they know we are Christians by our love?  Is it "Blest Be The Tie That Binds?" Or the noose I justifiably hang you with?

Now to be be completely forthcoming, I too like Ms.Osteen, lived in a glass house. I wasn't a preachers wife, but a preachers daughter.  And I've had criticism leveled in my direction, and accusations that cut deep eventually severing relationships.  I was told "that sweater is a little sluttly" and "God isn't glorified with the drums in your song." etc.  I had to learn to forgive as a discipline (despite my heart conflict) before I was a freshman in high school.  Criticism stings like a bee. Not having a body of support to fall gracefully into when you have stumbled or are in pain is rattling.

I now live on the other side of that glass house and have learned that when you don't agree or your theology doesn't match up you simply need to make adjustments (this was an ugly hard lesson and i will tell you about it later). Maybe it is the need to walk away from a church. Maybe it is the need to agree to disagree.

Knowing some of those who are on the Victoria pile, I know you are lovers of the Lord, imperfect, and busy trying to live and work out your faith.  I don't judge you - I am looking at us as that Family of God. That place folks are to turn to.  And if I were looking in from the outside I would fail to see how the body of Christ differs from the politicians you would find on Meet The Press on Sunday morning as they rip apart the latest political figure to stumble.

Ms. Osteen isn't the first to have put her neck out there, to have it promptly chopped off.  Just a few weeks ago, the same thing was happening to Mark Driscoll.  And decades before that it was Sandi Patty, Amy Grant, Joyce Landorf etc.   This behavior has prevailed for decades.  For those of us who minister, small or large churches, we are always objects of criticism.  It is a sad occupational hazard.

These simple verses sum up how we should we should try to act.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:4-8 NIV

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40 NIV

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

James 4:11-12 NIV

I'll leave with this example, of how I wish we all could be.  When I was a young ministers daughter one of the most ostracizing ministry scandals (and there was more than one) was that of Jim Baker.  It was a terrible thing to watch.  My heart broke for his kids.  Maybe we can all learn a little something from how Billy Graham and his now departed wife Ruth Graham acted towards Jim Baker.  Having just returned from toilet duty Jim Baker was informed that Billy Graham had come to visit him in jail.  Billy Graham hug him, told Jim that he loved him and they had a visit that ended in prayer.

Not even 48 hours after Jim's release from Jail, Ruth contacted his halfway house requesting permission for Jim to join her family at church the next Sunday.  Permission was granted. That morning he arrived at church to be greeted by the Pastor, escorted inside to sit with the Graham family. After the service was over, Ruth invited Jim to Sunday dinner  As the meal came to a close Ruth caught a glimpse of Jim's "wallet."  It was a very worn envelope.  She excused herself to return with one of Billy Grahams wallets and gave it to Jim.  It is known, that the Grahams became his sponsor, purchased a car for him and even paid for his home for a time.   This is what those outside the church are looking to us to be. This is the type of person I aspire to be.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Recipe: Yellow Tomato and Feta Salad

Forgive me for posting another tomato recipe. I am a bit tomato obsessed.  I eat them every day.  However, right now...these beauties are in season.  The follow recipe is very simple yet delicious.


8 medium yellow tomatoes quartered
1/2 pound Feta cubed (Arahova is preferred)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/3 cup white balsamic vinaigrette


1.  In a bowl combine the yellow tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano and vinaigrette - lightly toss

2.  Add the cubed Feta cheese  - lightly toss and serve