Monday, July 2, 2018

A Mother's Secrets

you're going through life 
you don't know what you're missing 
but you think you're OK 
(cause that stuff ain't real anyway)

then your eyes get opened get opened real good 
you know what love feels like...it's better than good

you don't know what you're doing
don't know the way 
learn a lot of rules while you're finding your way
and you pray and you pray
do everything they say
to do...believing that it's true
teaching what you know
trying to show
them the way

then one day
your kids start to stray
soon running away
from this love that you've found...
you can't understand how so much pain can stay 
around
and injure your heart
tearing you apart 
when you've been trying
so hard
to do it all the right way

now you're feeling ashamed 
you weren't right after all 
and of course it's your fault 
and you just hit a wall of confusion and doubt 
so you back away from it all

but something inside of you knows that it's real
something bigger than you 
and all of your trying 
to get something right 

so you cry out loud 
and get real in your gut 
and you scream for help to get out of this rut 
cause you feel like you're dying

then it happens and love breaks through 
(it happened to me it can happen to you)
suddenly you know something more than before
you know that you know that you know that there's more

still hurting inside because everything's broken
with all of your mess-ups 
and wrong words spoken
you wonder if anything ever was real 
and you try not to feel 
and you're not gonna kneel
and you're not gonna pray
anymore because well what good does it do
he's just gonna do 
what he wants to do
...anyway

so you go back to living 
but now that you know 
that you know what was missing 
you can't get away from this knowing inside
that love is alive 
you just wanna say
there's a much better way
of living
today

out of the blue hope rises back up 
and you dare to believe 
that the thing you messed up 
he will retrieve
 
and those whom you love so much that it hurts 
will some day wake up to the love that you've found

and you hope deep inside that you'll still be 
around...

Monday, February 26, 2018

Guns and Jesus

Let me start by saying I don't know. I don't know and I'm OK with that. Now let's move on.

It seems to me that there are a lot of fearful and angry Christians. I don't blame them. It is scary and awful when we don't feel safe. Especially scary and awful when we don't feel like our kids are safe. We want to feel safe. Secure. Sure of tomorrow. That is how we live in peace, right? But is this truly a peaceful existence? Should our security depend on our exterior circumstances? Is that what Jesus taught?

Christians seem to be all about guns and our "right" to carry them. In basic Christianity 101 (no class, just life lessons) I learned that as a follower of Jesus, "My life is not my own". This is a very tough lesson to learn, but when I began to get it I experienced such freedom. When I learned how to let go of things, and what I planned, and how I wanted everything to happen...and I learned to trust God, even when awful, scary, bad things happen to me or my loved ones, freedom came. When I learned I could still trust in His goodness...freedom came. I was no longer waiting for the other shoe to drop, or fearful of the boogie-man (or a devil that I had made bigger than God.) Peace came. Inner peace came and remains today.

Many Christians want to see teachers carrying guns in schools. To keep our kids safe. To ensure safety. To feel secure again. Not being on board with this popular opinion makes someone like me very unpopular. But it's OK. I don't know anything. I have read my Bible (Bibles...because I read them a lot and they fall apart) for many years, and I especially like to read about Jesus and His teachings. I don't know much of anything, but I don't see where He teaches us about our right to carry guns or even our right to defend ourselves. I do remember reading somewhere how He taught us that if someone slaps us, to turn the other cheek and let him slap it too. Radical. That Jesus, He's such a radical. 

I think about Martin Luther King and others whom we admire, and name streets after. So many of our heroes became such because of their radical ideas and principals. Ideas of fighting hate with love, and violence with peace. Stuff like that. Jesus stuff.

Where does this leave us? I was asked a question about Hitler...and what should the allies have done in WWII against him? I think about that. I think about a lot of things...and I talk to Jesus and ask lots of questions. It seems to me that He already gave me so many answers in His teachings. He taught about losing my life to gain it. Then He showed us by example. When the religious and political nut jobs formed a lynch mob and went after Jesus, He went along with them. He didn't pull out a pistol and defend Himself. He so powerfully showed us that there is a better way, and even if we die believing that love is the better way, we don't really die...we live forever.

So, when I think about Hitler and all of the Jews being herded up and taken to camp, I wonder what we (Christians) could have done? I wonder what would have happened if instead of believing that our only recourse against evil is to shoot and kill it with guns and weapons...we acted on what Jesus taught? What if we truly believed Him? We believe so many other things we read in our Bibles. What if all of the Christian people insisted on going with their Jewish friends and neighbors to these camps. What if we stood with them, demanding to be taken too? "If you take my brother, neighbor, friend...take me too!" What would Hitler's men have done in that situation? After all, they were trying to create a "perfect" race...what if we didn't allow them to have their evil  illusion? What if we were truly willing to die for what we believe? 

Is God's love, and grace, and mercy what we believe? Are we so fearful of death...our own or a loved one...that we will arm ourselves and take the life of another? Have we become the judge of the world? Is who gets to live and who must die...all up to us? Is the life of a mentally deranged and grieving young man of less value than another? 

Maybe the problem goes all the way back to the beginning. Remember the two trees in the garden? 
There was the "tree of life" and the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
Maybe we're still eating from the wrong tree...

Monday, December 11, 2017

Silence

We watched a film last night that was so unusually deep I'm still thinking about it.

The movie is called Silence. It is the story of 2 Portugese Jesuit priests who travel to Japan to search for another priest. I won't give any spoilers here. But I will say that the underlying story is the story of my journey...and hopefully the story of all of us and our journeys into true faith. It is the story of what Christianity is and isn't. But at first, you might miss the story because you might think you know where it is going and you might think you know what Christianity is. You might be someone who thinks you have it all figured out. You might even be thinking a little bit deeper and still you could be missing the point. I know for years I did and I was. But at the time, I didn't know it.

At first we believe that our current "experience" of God is exactly who He is. The God inside of our church is the true God. No one else has Him figured out like we do. And we go along following all he rules and thinking how well we are doing in our "Christianity"...and then God sneaks up on us. Jehovah Sneaky shatters our paradigm. I think that's where true Christianity starts. Because at some point we become disillusioned or disappointed when we realize what we were hanging our hats on was just a tiny fraction of his personality. We realize that we didn't have Him all figured out...that He is way more than a shallow scorekeeper or a strict taskmaster or a genie who gives us what we want. At this point we might dare to step out of the boat to seek Him for ourselves.

I have not been part of a Sunday morning place of worship in a long time. And at first I felt wrong, bad, and worried as if somehow I was going to slip out of God's sight if He didn't see me in pew on Sunday mornings. As time went on, I began to discover a freedom I had yet to experience...the freedom to explore with God and discover more about Him. I discovered He is so much more than a list of dos and don'ts. My prayer became "Jesus, I want to know You. Not who other people think you are, or say you are...but I want to know You!!"

Then my prayer expanded to "Lord, what do You say about this? What are Your thoughts on that?" It was exhilarating and liberating to be outside of the confines of what a certain Pastor taught was truth. I discovered that Truth lives in me and I can rely on him/her to teach me. Scripture says we have no need of another teacher. Yet we believe the Scripture more that warns us of being deceived. So we live in fear of having a thought of our own, or of searching Him out on our own with only the Spirit to help us. And it's very sad to me. I don't believe it's how relationship grows.

Anyway, Silence reminded me how intensely aware of us our God is, every little detail of our lives. He is fixed on teaching us, and revealing Himself to us. His true self. And He never, ever gives up.

The question the movie asks is deep. It is the same question He asked of me a few years ago.

The question is not would you betray God? 

The real question is: "Would you betray religion to find Him?"

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

God Is Good

I ran into someone I know at the grocery store. She was getting out of her car, wearing a large back brace contraption. I asked what had happened? She shared that she'd fallen, and broken a vertebra. I responded with "Ouch, I'm so sorry." and she replied quickly "God is good!" I was taken aback at first, and in hindsight wish I would have said "I never said He isn't! But broken backs are painful!!" Instead I moved the conversation along and walked away...pondering.

Why do we think we have to defend God? Like if we feel pain or any type of suffering, and anyone else knows about it, we have betrayed Him? Why are we so quick to try to appear strong and perfectly faithful? Why are we ashamed of our humanity? Humanity which includes weakness and frailty and brittle bones as we age? Why did her comment make me feel the opposite of the warmth of God's grace and love for her? Why did her "faith statement" bother me?

I came into "Christianity" or whatever the current term is (got saved...came into the knowledge of Christ...whatever) later in life. I was in my early thirties. I was a mess. I'd lived a lot, and been through a lot of ugliness and heartache. Fair to say I was a really broken woman who had denied her heart in order to survive. After being welcomed into a wonderful church family, I continued to deny my heart and my past and my pain and my wounds...because I was so thankful to find grace that I didn't want to mess it up. As if I could...ever...mess it up. But what I was being taught said to not be ruled by my emotions, to pray hard and God would answer, if He didn't I was doing something wrong, I was given a new life and the old had passed away (even though thoughts came up to torment me)...all of the usual good Christian teachings. Just praise God and power through.

This all worked perfectly for me for a few years. Until I started to have anxiety attacks (even in church) and one day found myself screaming in the shower (at first not knowing where the sound was coming from...)

Up to this point, following all of the rules and being a good Christian girl had worked. Until it didn't.

A couple of years of sickness, tears, brokenness, submitting to SOZO (deep healing ministry) and getting to all of the pain so that it was dragged into the light instead of hiding inside me in darkness, brought me to a place of understanding who I am, and understanding I Am in ways I never had. This healing empowered me to endure even more tragedies and pain in my life. But now I was different. I was able to feel the pain, to cry the tears in the appropriate moment, and to trust that even when I am a complete mess God isn't. And He loves me!

I prefer this kind of testimony. I prefer the real, sometimes snotty...angry...weak...broken yet leaking glory kind of faith I have come to know.

Yes, God IS good. And even when we are hurting He remains good. He doesn't need us to defend Him. He's OK with our weakness and pain and transparency. His goodness shines anyway.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Not Every Hour is Happy

Well, it's been almost one month since we left our beautiful home behind for motor home life. It has been great so far. We have stayed in some beautiful RV spots, had some great Happy Hour food. But lest you think that retiring in an RV is all wine and roses...there are some things you should know.

THERE ARE YAPPING DOGS. DOGS THAT YAP FOR NO REASON. AND THEY WILL LIVE NEXT DOOR. ALWAYS.

Sometimes your neighbor might work swing shift. And when he comes home anywhere from 11:30-1:00 and decides to talk on his phone...outside...loudly, he quickly changes from "that nice guy next door" to "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THAT GUY NEXT DOOR?"

Other animal noises can be expected. Or the occasional skunk roaming around outside your rig. There is currently a bullfrog living in the wet area behind us. He is a loud croaking bullfrog. He is quite proud of his croak, and likes to share it all...night...long. If I had a BB gun and could find him we'd be having frog legs for dinner. (OK, maybe not because that would involve frying. I don't do frying in the RV "kitchen" and I use that term lightly.)
I love all of God's creatures, so I really wouldn't shoot a frog. It's just that living in an RV could possibly turn one into a sniper. (Yeah, that's right. Better stay off your phone at night, noisy neighbor. Never know when I'm gonna snap!)

It is interesting hearing people's conversations so clearly...even when we are in our home and they are in theirs. The whole illusion of personal space and privacy quickly gets thrown out the window. (No, don't actually throw anything out the window, it could very well land in your neighbor's living room.)

The RV is smaller some days than others...depending on what activities are going on inside. If hubby and I are both home and both trying to do different things, it is a true test of marital endurance. I find that my quick wit and loving nature are true assets.

Other days, when the weather is nice, are lovely. Sitting outside in lawn chairs snoozing has become a favorite past time. We aren't lazy, mind you. We are relaxed. We have no lawn to mow, yard work to do, home repairs, painting, cleaning or any of the myriad of chores which keep the homeowner busy. We laugh with sinister delight at the thought of the busyness of others. Then we clink our wine glasses and toast "the good life." Then we nod off again until we wake ourselves up with a loud snort.

We really do appreciate the perks of living in this frugal manner. We are thankful for our vacation home in Arizona and look forward to wintering there. We look forward to other adventures which might not be affordable at this stage of life.

As I type this, I realize that phone-talking neighbor hasn't gotten the "no yell-sneezing" memo. And I'm smiling to myself...

We do love to go to Happy Hour though...is it 3:00 yet???









Sunday, May 28, 2017

What Do You See?

I'm thinking this morning about Portland's most recent violent murders. Men who came to the defense of 2 young girls who were being harassed and terrified by some wacko's fearful prejudice, were stabbed and killed..

When I first heard of the incident I was rocked to my core. I have 3 sons and a husband who each would have done the same thing. And I became thankful in that moment, realizing how beautifully amazing it is...that these men whom I love so much, are each men of deep character.

In Christianity, at least the stream in which I was taught, there is a huge focus on praying a prayer and asking Jesus into your heart, or inviting Him to be Lord of your life or some such thing which must be done in order to secure one's place in the hereafter. I'm not saying this is bad. I just wonder, all these years down the road, if this has become the "thing" taking our eyes off of seeing Jesus in the people all around us? I can even imagine conversations regarding these Portland heroes, where Christians might be thinking or saying to one another "I wonder if they were Christians? I hope they were saved..."

And it causes me to pause. Scriptures say, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends." What kind of love then, would quickly jump in and lay down its life for a stranger? Wouldn't this kind of love, the life-risking kind, have to originate from a source outside of itself? Doesn't this kind of love originate in God and flow from God?

Some of the men in my life, whom I love so dearly, do not openly profess Christianity. Some have potty mouths, or drink too much, or party too hard. To many on the outside, they would be judged "ungodly." Yet I know them as loving sons, husbands, fathers, and friends. And I take great comfort in the certainty that each of them would quickly jump in to defend any woman, man or child who is being abused or mistreated. I know each one would lay down his life for a friend or stranger.

And I certainly see God in them all...

Sunday, May 21, 2017

RV Life

Now that we are back living in an RV, we thought we might share some tips for anyone who is considering this lifestyle.

1. First off, get rid of anything you haven't worn in a year...(better yet 6 months)...because you will find out quickly how very little storage space you have. You will end up packing the storage space you do have with so much clothing that you will never see the things that end up toward the back of cupboards and drawers anyway. Most of your previous wardrobe will become lost forever. You will quickly adapt, learning to wear the same things over and over. Having no washer and dryer, you will also learn how many times an item of clothing can be worn before washing. (This number varies between the male and female RV'er.)

2. You will soon find you have a lot of extra time on your hands. With such small living quarters and no yard maintenance, the hours in your day seem to multiply. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on where you are parked, and what there is to do nearby. You will also find looking through your cupboards and closets to locate things takes up a lot of your newly discovered time. Your mantra soon becomes "I know it's in here, somewhere..." and rarely will you locate the searched-for item on the first try. Do not despair. You are sure to remember where you put it at some point, usually during the night when you no longer need it.

3. We like to come up with little nick-names for other people in the park. We don't do this to be mean, it just helps identify the people around us in conversation. Example: Instead of saying "The people in the Airstream" we simply refer to them as "the Twinkies." You will find there are "Twinkies" at every park. Different people...yet very similar...and they seem to have their own secret club. (This is a club in which we will never belong, since one of us cannot even stand up in an Airstream.) We do admire their shiny metal exteriors from afar.

We like to call the people who have the nicest RV, matching outdoor chairs, BBQ, matching rugs, canvas hats, canvas vests, matching shorts..."the Patagonias." You will often find them (when they aren't out hiking) cleaning up around their RV. Mr. Patagonia can usually be seen on a step ladder cleaning the windows of their $100,000 rig, sometimes daily. We find the Patagonias to be friendly, but not overly. I choose to believe that it isn't because they are judging us...but only because they have much to do keeping their beautiful new RV sparkling.

4. There is always one person in the RV'er relationship who rises up as the "leader." Some would call him bossy, but for the sake of keeping the peace, let's say "leader." This person is very helpful with many suggestions about how things should and shouldn't be done, throughout the day. Especially anything in the kitchen or cooking realm. I have found ignoring the "leader" can be helpful in maintaining one's sanity.

5. Learning to sneeze without yelling is something that can be practiced before setting out on your RV adventure. If not, you might alienate any possibilities for future pleasantries with your neighbors. You may even alienate your co-RV'er to some extent. Yell-sneezing and RV life just simply don't mix.

6. Showering is an art, depending on your RV amenities, such as size of your hot water tank. If it is on the small side, your best bet is to get wet, turn the water off, soap up, turn water on and rinse. Be warned that the water usually turns back on cold, and has to heat up again. Yelling after being caught under a cold tap is frowned upon. Shampooing hair is also tricky, but it can be done applying the same method as above. Go easy on the conditioner. The hot water tank isn't that large, and remember yelling is frowned upon.

7. Bugs can be an issue. You will find different bugs at different locations. It is nice to have 2 fly swatters, so each person has their own. Keeping the screen door closed is most effective. Reminding your other RV'er to close the screen is a fun activity that can help to utilize the extra time.

8. Cooking is a learned experience also, depending on your particular set up. The more of your cooking that can be done outdoors, the better. Whatever you do cook indoors will likely permeate your towels and clothing with it's sumptuous aroma.

9. It is nice to have an ice chest to fill with beer and other drinks you would like to stay icy cold, since your RV refrigerator won't be too spacious, and also won't keep things quite as cold as you are used to. This might surprise your co-RV'er the first time he tries to drink a less than ice-cold brew...and complaining will ensue. Better to be prepared with that ice chest than to endure this...for the next half hour.

10. Finally, resist the urge to begin drinking early in the day. The danger of RV life is that cocktail hour becomes the focus. It is a nice and relaxing part of the day, but if abused you can leave the realm of full-time RV'ers and enter into the realm of "old homeless drunks" in which case RV life will lose its glamour. Self-control and restraint must be used in the area of alcohol and also snack foods. It may take some time to find your perfect balance. Resist the urge to monitor your co-RV'er in these areas, your loving suggestions could cause animosity. Remember, tight quarters require tight-lips.

This concludes today's tips. We are less than 2 weeks in, on our current adventure. We will revisit this subject as we grow in greater knowledge and experience. Please feel free to contact us with any questions, and the one of us who knows everything and is always right will be happy to help.