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Why Voting Matters

Americana, pixabay user jill111

 

On the 4th of July, when I was a little girl, I remember decorating my tricycle with streamers and riding down the middle of main street in a sea of red, white, and blue.

We ate cherries until our fingers were stained and didn’t notice the sun tanning our noses or shoulders as we spent hours running through the sprinklers, doing wheelbarrow races, and eating hot dogs and watermelon until our bellies were round.

Despite the exhaustion a normal day might have brought, we pressed on as we threw sweatshirts over our stuck-on swimsuits and headed to the river to take in the fireworks up and down the banks, getting twice the show as the bright bursts reflected on the water’s surface.

Finally, after the excitement came to an end, my dad would peel my sleepy body off his shoulder and tuck me into bed, for what had easily been an epic 18 hour day in the mind of a child.

The memories are wrapped up in all sorts of warm feelings, thick with nostalgia, happiness, and the carefree existence of a kid growing up in middle-class white America around the day this nation celebrates its independence from a world across an ocean where our ancestors either faced existences worth escaping or sought new lives worth living apart from oppressive monarchies.

However, this nostalgic remembrance is not the whole story of how I was born into a “free country,” where I have the right to vote and continue making it free for everyone. [Read more…]

X Does Not Equal Y

“I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them.” 
 – Bob Goff, author of “Love Does”
(mandatory must read for the summer…)

Recently I had a conversation with someone who was creating doctrines out of “one-liners,” essentially judging the behaviors of others with consequences they saw fitting from the Bible based on one single sentence in Scripture.

X = Y.

This is dangerous business, the doling out of judgments, biases, and “God’s” reprimands.  This is what denominations and religions and cults and cliques and exclusive clubs within Christianity have been built on for ages and in more recent years, I personally see it gaining momentum.  A momentum which is building even in light of all the free love and acceptance that’s preached on any given Sunday.

This business alone is God’s.  Just God’s.  God revives hearts.  God’s mission is all of us.  God is the miraculous.

How very helpful we must feel to point out the imperfections of others…you know, because God can’t see them on His own and all.  And what we have to show others in being right and proving their wrongness will sure teach them and inspire them to want to be more like us…urrr, God, I mean.

Sin is real.  And sin is painful.  And we all sin.  And the truth is, we don’t sin exclusively, meaning, it doesn’t only affect us, it affects our relationship with God and our loving relationship and connectedness to other humans.  Sin is a big deal.  But not so big that God can’t forgive it…and never so big that we can’t go to Him and receive renewal in His grace, every day, fresh each morning.

It seems it’s only the humans who want to keep pointing out one another’s suckiness…

I can think of two specific examples where God gave “X = Y” a swift kick in the pants.  There are tons more, but these two I’ve been chewing on more recently.

  • One is when the super spiritual people of the day approach Jesus and ask him about this blind guy, stating, “Who sinned, the man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”  The Message answer reads, Jesus said, ‘You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines.”
  • Another is when the spiritual ones brought to Jesus a woman who had an affair.  They pointed out the laws written stating she should be stoned because of her behavior.  Rocks would hurt.  They would definitely kill her.  I wonder how many of the spiritual ones said stuff like, “Well, she deserves it, I mean, she’s the one who had the affair…” And then Jesus said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.”  And then it says, “Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone.”

Then let’s just chuck it all.  I mean, pointing fingers and segregating throughout the course of church history has clearly made the world a better place.  Either chuck it all, God, baby, and the bath water, or, better yet, because this has definitely been more effective:  let’s surround ourselves with people who believe the exact. same. things. we do and then let’s point out all the ways in which everyone else doesn’t measure up to what it is we believe.  Yep.  That, for sure, will convey God’s supernatural, unconditional love, grace, forgiveness, and Sacrifice to a hurting world.

How is it, then, that we should live?  ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’  These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” – The Message, Matthew 22:36-40

So then what?  Just love God with all your guts, and love everybody else and yourself as #2?  Is it that simple?  

And yet it’s almost excruciating at times, because usually what we hate the most in others and are able to see blatantly in the behavior of others is what we most readily recognize within ourselves.
  
Radical love isn’t pointing out one another’s shit.  It’s walking through it together.

Knee-Jerk Reaction

I’m nauseous. 

Sick to my stomach.

There’s a pit deep in my guts that hurts and aches.

Part of it aches and mourns for the families of the sweet Kindies and staff in Connecticut who were brutally shot down by a guy who was really just another kid, only taller.  

20 years old.  What were you doing when you were 20?  I was studying Spanish III, Humanities, and Major World Religions.  I was laughing with friends, in the dorms, at the cafeteria, over at the gym.  Every Thursday night I was leading a small group of girls in Bible study and prayer, just trying to figure out how to navigate college and life.  I was heading out on date nights with my then boyfriend, now husband, and having girls’ night out with my 30 closest “BFF’s”.  I was “being” 20.

Another part of my heart aches for all the “leftovers.”  I hate that fear and despair and nightmares and only memories and empty places at kitchen tables are now reality for some families on the East Coast.  I hate that kids just lost their playground playmates.  

Planning a funeral for your kid is a heart wrenching thing.  

I also know what it’s like to be in 3rd and 4th grade and lose friends.  It sucks.

Our Country needs a priority check.

Last month people left and right were warring with words and signs and sentiments about how our Country needs change.  I was physically sick some days in my guts, deep in the pit of my stomach, at how much hope and hopelessness was being placed, or not placed, in political figures and laws and policies, in humans.  Really?  

As if ONE MAN or WOMAN has that much power or influence…

Our World needs a priority check.

Tragedies happen like tsunamis and earthquakes and fires and floods and hurricanes, and shootings, and people join together to help for a time.  Hug a little tighter, share possessions, wipe tears.  And, from my observation and personal experience, fear then sets in.  For some it is crippling to the point of isolation, for others it produces paranoia, still others violence as a protective measure.  I’ve literally stared at my son for 2 years.  I get it.

But the only knee-jerk reaction that we as a Country and as individuals need to take is the kind that bends our knees and bows our heads and hearts.

Because ONE MAN or WOMAN does have that much power and influence…to literally change the world.  But it has to happen in our hearts first.  It must happen with our knees physically bent, heads bowed, hearts laid bare before God, the ONLY ONE WHO CAN BRING HEALING IN THIS BROKEN WORLD.


We need a priority check that places God back as the number One priority.
I’m sick of the political “correctness” and spiritual “correctness” in our attempts to “build” bridges.  

So far, the attempts have done nothing but bring out our ugliness.  People are fighting for their right for this or that, freedom to do what they want, say what they will.  The choice to do whatever, whenever, wherever, with whomever.

Me, me, me, me, me, me, me.  But that’s fine for you, you, you, you, you.

YES!  ONE MAN or WOMAN does have that much power and influence, and we’ve seen it can be for either good or evil. 

I think the words were, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

None of this is God’s will.  None of it is His wrath.  Stop being pissed at Him.  He has never stopped being good.

The shit hits the fan because we think we want to be in charge.

I know in my own life, it’s not working for me…the part of me being in charge.

Our Country needs a knee-jerk reaction, that’s for sure.  But it’s not for or against guns and it’s not in a mass exodus towards homeschooling.

Every.  Single.  Knee.  All of them.  Both of mine.  

Bending.  Bowing.  One man, one woman changing the world, two knees at a time.

We need revival.

God’s a gentleman…

…it’s only when we are stubborn that He allows us to feel the consequences of our choices…

For anyone who thinks that God is a big meanie, exposing things in our lives that we’d rather have hidden, this has been on my heart and I really want to talk about it…we’ve all seen it on TV. Preachers, evangelists, public leaders, pastors, politicians, even private citizens…our private lives exposed in a public fashion, at least the choices we think we make in private. None of the choices we make in secret are truly just that…there is no such thing as a secret.

And when we try to keep things hidden in our lives, things that we think would actually shock others because it would reveal our imperfections, our temptations, our deepest, darkest longings, we actually believe that we’ve ‘got it under control.’ We’ve got it together. I am not trying to call anyone out on their sin. We all know that isn’t fun! But that’s what I’m talking about here…God first gently tugs at our hearts. It’s like a gentle tap…you know someone touched your shoulder or called your name, but you turn around and you’re alone. He lovingly will tell us privately, through conviction from the Holy Spirit, that something in our life does not line up with His divine plan for us. Sometimes, when we are listening and not too busy trying to perform, we obey His gentle nudge and experience grace and freedom. Too often at this level though, we take the grace for granted. Or, if we don’t, we continue to press forward.

If we ignore His gentle nudge, the next one is probably through a friend, family member, or someone else we love and trust that would never want to damage our heart. God allows them to sense something in our life, not even necessarily telling them specifics, just leading them in a certain direction for prayer, and in their obedience, they talk to us, or just ask us how we are doing. Do we answer? Do we just say, “Fine.” What do we do with that? Again, it’s God nudging our hearts, convicting us of choices that don’t benefit us or bring glory to Him, and, because we don’t make choices in a vacuum, He’s allowed others to pray for us so our eyes are opened. Do we pretend that everything is fine or do we take responsibility for our choices? Do we confide in our friends or do we try to work out our problems on our own, even when God opened the door for them to walk right into it…to walk with us? If we humble ourselves, we repent, admit our weaknesses and imperfections to those people who know we aren’t perfect for all obvious reasons, our hearts are restored to God and healing begins to take place. Again, grace. But will our pride for posing as a perfectionist pose a problem?!

We all know how God has gently nudged us. We, the viewers, are the only ones shocked or surprised when TV announces publicly someones secret choices made in private. I guarantee that the party spoken of wasn’t shocked in the least. It wasn’t the first time God revealed that person’s sin to them, but because the person desired it to be private, and God hates sin in our lives and wants it as far away from us as possible, He’ll do what it takes to expose it so we can move on and begin living a life of grace, as He designed.

Only the Enemy of our hearts will tell us to hold onto our sins. Only the Devil will tell us that “it’s not that big of a deal…everybody has struggles…no one needs to know about this one incidence…you haven’t acted on it, you’ve only just entertained the thoughts…this is our little secret…hold onto that anger, they deserve your wrath…my choices don’t affect others…it was only once, twice, 100 times…” Only Satan thinks it’s a good idea to try to keep secrets from God. God, however, knows there is no such thing as a secret. He doesn’t convict our hearts to be a big meanie or rule maker. He convicts our hearts because He hates sin and knows its effects on our lives, on our souls, in our minds, our spirits. He tells us, gently at first, because He’s not shocked by anything we do, nor is He looking to run the other way…that’s us…we do that…He’s STEADY.

None of us have to experience public exposure of our sins if we are quick to listen to God’s many warnings and gentle nudges. God really loves us that much…Do we really think anyone expects us to be perfect? He knows we aren’t, that’s what the cross was for…

Before my girlfriends and I became friends, I put this out there: “I’m not looking for friendship that is fluffy and shallow. I want you to tell me hard core truth, even if it hurts. That’s the only kind of friendship I’m looking for, so if that’s what you want, too, great…if not…” I’ll admit it weeds it out for itself, but the women in my life that I love and love me in return know better than to blow sunshine at me. Even if it sucks to tell me that I SUCK, I want them to do that so that I can grow, change, seek forgiveness, seek God’s will more hotly. Yes, I disappoint. I make poor choices. I hurt feelings. But the more quickly I get on my knees before God and humble myself to the person I have hurt, the more quickly I experience God’s grace.

God said He will expose those things that are hidden, He will bring things hidden into the light. His heart behind it is so we can be close to Him…close to the very One Who created us, close to the God of the Universe that loves you more than life itself, therefore allowing His Son to die specifically for you

Tell God about it…since He already knows…

I’m sorry.

I am not sorry for exercising my First Amendment Right, but I want to apologize to anyone who might read this blog. This blog was started as a means to update on Noah’s health, or lack thereof. Then, God showed me that we weren’t the only people on earth to experience tragedy and loss, so it has been a means by which to encourage others on this difficult journey called life. It has been a place for us to communicate with family and friends by sharing pictures and stories, as well. But, my original intent, and the way I try to live my life day to day, was for this to be a place where God is glorified and where hard truth be wrestled with, out loud, because I know I am not the only one that wrestles with God.

I know, like everyone else in America, I have the right to speak my political opinions. But quite frankly, politics aren’t the most important thing/topic in life…AT ALL. So, I am sorry for my former posts on politics, not for the opinions I hold or convictions for which I stand, but for wasting your time. By that I mean, political freedom of speech is inundating all of us at every turn and if you want to hear/see/read it, you have ample opportunity. We can all exercise our choice to find it elsewhere. Your time, and mine, is important. That’s why I don’t post everyday…not because if you do, your time isn’t important, but because we all have lives to live and I don’t want to post something just so I’m popular or have lots of readers. That’s not important to me. You are important to me, not as a cyber person but as a real person with a real heart who is loved by a REAL GOD!

I want to be true to my heart and respectful of anyone who might read Noah’s blog and write here about perspective, eternal things and my imperfect pursuit of knowing God in His grace. Yes, there will be days that I don’t post because my heart is blank, I have writer’s block, or I don’t see a need to waste your time with cyberbabble. And, there may be days where I post about something that has nothing to do with anything spiritual or deep because I’m sharing with family and friends about an Em story or something funny that happened. But, in all, I want to be a good steward of this blog and of the time one might spend reading here, as well as the time God moves in my heart to write.

It’s been on my heart to apologize for wasting your time, and God’s. I am sorry.