05 December 2014

Sigh. Sanctification.

Sometimes the world gets the best of me and by that I don't mean the world wins.  I mean the things I like best about myself are offered to the world while the church gets the plastic me; the retouched by extreme holiness and grace me, the "other" me.  What I can't work out is why.

Am I concerned about what the church thinks about me? Do I fine tune the facade in an effort to fit in? Perhaps it's just the opposite. Perhaps I show you the parts of me that I am willing to discard, the parts that if they are damaged won't bother me. You know, like scratch paper for you church people to doodle on while keeping the good stuff pristine for myself.

I am not all that safe. Maybe I am protecting you? You're not all that safe. Perhaps I am afraid of you?  Or maybe... just maybe the things I like best about myself have no business in the church?

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Sigh.  Sanctification.

30 September 2014

Crumbling Rosemarie

I am nothing if not a broken woman. I sit here at my computer wondering where the tipping point was. I am more than off balance, I am smashed to bits. Somewhere back there I should have emphatically said, "No" or its opposite, depending on the situation. Whichever case it was, I missed it. Completely.  There is nothing left to do but take the red pill.

Reality.  How did reality ever become so convoluted? It can be so difficult to work out what is true and what is perceived as true. They are not the same thing. Perception is not reality- it just behaves that way.  Multiple views of the same landscape render different results. I thought I was standing up for myself for the first time in years, sure wish I had remembered to serve that with some grace and humility.

I am leading a group of women through the book of Philippians aided by a workbook entitled, "Joy! A Bible  Study on Philippians," by Keri Folmar.  If you're not up to being humbled, I wouldn't really recommend the book. If your idea of encouragement is being told how wonderful you are, I'd leave it alone too. I am sorely convicted. How can you read Philippians and not be? Paul  calls us to humility and obedience.  Humility goes against my prideful arrogance.  I guess that's the point though, right?

That's all I have for now.

22 August 2014

Worldview vs View of the World- Topic: Ferguson

Facebook is a community unlike any other. I have friends I have never met. Friends I love not just because we are siblings in Christ, but because I have come to know them from their posts and subsequent our conversations.  Saiko and Sharon Woods (and their children) are an example. We've never met in person but they are welcome at my door anytime. I consider them friends and family in Christ.

One of the wonders of having friends you've never met in person is the way it expands your view of the world. I have friends all over this globe that live in different political climes, under different laws and with different perspectives.  As believers in Christ it is perfectly acceptable to have a different view of the world as long as we share the same biblical worldview. There is a very distinct difference between the two and too often that difference gets lost when my view of the world looks so different from theirs.

Back to my friend, Saiko, he has a program on Blog Talk Radio titled His Word His Way. He has tackled a myriad of issues,  no subject is off limits. He has even invited me on this program to discuss my passion: Biblical Counseling.  Saiko and I don't always agree, but we always have the bond of Christ and work through our differing opinions from a biblical worldview.

This would probably be a good time to tell you that Saiko is a young(er) black preacher living in Texas and I am an older white woman who was born in Oakland, California, raised in the San Francisco Bay Area where I worked in Law Enforcement and then Student Development at a Christian University before retiring and relocating to rural Kentucky. We have, by virtue of our life experiences, different views of the world. Saiko often tags me on Facebook to see what my reaction to a particular topic might be. We discuss our view of the world within the context of our biblical worldview.  I enjoy these exchanges tremendously. The Bible says we are like iron sharpening iron.  Iron sharpens iron because of friction, and both objects are changed in the encounter.

Saiko recently tagged me on Facebook for an opinion on a song done by Bizzle.  Yes, you saw that correctly. This woman, approaching 60 much sooner than she would like to admit, has had her view of the world expanded to include Christian hip hop. I actually enjoy most.... ok, some of it, but I digress. I am sorry I wasn't around when Saiko posted the link because it was the subject of his show on His Word His Way. Saiko posed this question:  "'Same Team,' Different Lanes? Or Just Going the Wrong Way?" He has been asking questions in his FB posts about what has been occurring in Ferguson, Missouri.  If you're reading this post, I cannot believe you are unfamiliar with the events in Ferguson but if so, please do an internet search on your own. I am afraid if I provide you with a link, you will think I selected one that fits my view of the world.

In these United States, some people are of the opinion that any time a black person encounters a white cop they are in danger of losing their lives. This danger is exponentially greater if you are a black man- especially a young black man.  It is a racially motivated encounter. If this encounter concludes in arrest or, God forbid, death and/or grave injury, the officer is a racist and should be punished by the law.  These people are also of the thought that the problem goes deeper. If any white person has a conflict with a black person, especially a black man, the conflict is racially motivated- no matter how the conflict ends.

In these United States, some people are of the opinion if a black person encounters a white cop and they are detained, shot, injured, or mortally wounded,  they got what the deserved. This opinion is amplified if the person encountered is a black man- especially a young black man.  They were up to no good. They shouldn't have broken the law.  These same people often extend this opinion to any white person in conflict with a black person and for any reason. Especially black men and more specifically,  young black men.

These two groups of people tend to hold their particular opinions over the same incident.  They cannot both be right.  Something cannot be true and untrue at the same time. Opinions aren't necessarily facts. They can be, but they do not have to be. So we have two diverse groups with contradictory opinions. This results in  incongruity or conflict.  Enter the media. The media only makes money if you give them your attention. To get your attention they are willing to make even small conflicts look large. When there is a genuinely large conflict that results in tragedy, it is received as manna.  They media knows they have our attention and they will do anything to keep it. Their manna is salt poured in our open wounds. We react in pain and they receive more attention. The cycle continues until we are too exhausted to care or another tragedy occurs.

How are we, believers, brothers and sisters in the family of God, supposed to react when this cycle of tragedy erupts?  With a biblical world view; measuring our thoughts, attitudes and emotions to make certain they line up with the Word of God.  We are not to react on the basis of our view of the world.  Our feelings are of no value in the search for the truth. Feelings lie.  Jonah felt perfectly fine in the hold of a ship going in the opposite direction from what Almighty God had told him to go.  "Nineveh?  I hate Nineveh and all those mongrel Ninevites. You want me to go to Nineveh?? I am on the next ship to Tarshish." Never forget that Jonah felt fine about getting on that ship and sailing in the opposite direction.  He was so at peace with his decision he went and took a nap. He slept through the storm that had the others on the boat afraid for their lives. The events in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent outcry and debate among believers is proof positive that most of us will first react from our view of the world and not a biblical world view. And so, my brothers and sisters, we must repent.  We are not only sinning against each other, we are sinning against Almighty God.

And for my sweet siblings of color. I know you are frustrated. I am frustrated too. It breaks my heart to have this tension in the body of Christ. I may not know what it is like to be black  anymore than you understand what it is like to be white. I don't think we need to focus on that. Our focus should be on the sovereignty of God. Nothing else.

 I do not know if  "Big Mike"  was shot and killed in cold blood. I don't know if he was a thug who died as a result of his choice to go after a cop's gun.  I don't know anything except that he was shot dead and it was a white cop who pulled the trigger. One young man sent to his judgement, the other has to live knowing he took a life, justified or not. No matter the outcome of the investigation there will be those who are displeased. What happens then? More riots? More death?

My black brethren, I know that you want to see equality in treatment for the black communities in America.  I do too. Perhaps I will write another post about what I see as an obstacle for achieving that goal. Bizzle's song has made me do a lot of thinking and soul searching.  It's something that is really on my heart.  As for the shooting in Ferguson. I don't have enough facts to glean the truth.   However, I do know that whatever the truth is absolutely nothing happened that was not the will of Almighty God. He makes his sun rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45B)

Psalm 115:3 Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

12 August 2014

Collective Memory / Culturally Afflicted

November 22, 1963 I was sitting in my first grade class. The telephone that hung on the wall rang and my teacher answered it.  That was back when children were taught telephone manners and when the phone rang, especially in your classroom, it was a big deal.  We all got quiet and most of my classmates put their heads together to whisper. I would have too but out of the corner of my eye I saw my teacher's face. The look of confusion and horror caught me off guard so instead of stealing a moment to whisper something silly to my friend, I watched her every move.  She slowly hung up the phone and told us in a trembling voice that we were all going home a little early because something terrible had happened. President Kennedy had been shot.

April 4, 1968 I had run home from school I hate two hours of watching television that I could get in before my parents got home. If I ran, I could catch whatever movie was playing on Channel 2 during the Dialing for Dollars show.  I got home, turned the TV on and by the time it warmed up, the news was on. Martin Luther King had been shot.

June 5, 1968 my dreams of having another Kennedy in the White House were crushed when Robert Kennedy was assassinated.. It only seemed fair to me that the country would vote for him to be president since his brother never got to finish his job. Again, it was on television and preempted what we were going to watch.

July 20, 1969  I was sitting in the back seat of my grandmother's Chrysler 300. It was white with red interior and it had a push button transmission. We had set out earlier to drive to Florida so my grandmother could visit her brother, my Uncle Nick.  We had just crossed into a Florida checkpoint and the young man working at the booth gave me a cardboard model of the lunar lander to put together. I was thoroughly disappointed that he thought I was a kid who needed toys. I wanted him to notice that I was a girl.  Later in the hotel room we watched on TV and saw people hopping around the moon. Sometimes what we saw were reenactments. I wondered what it was about adults that they could watch that over and over again. Eventually I went for a swim.

January of 1977 we were all young adults and gathered around the television watching Roots.  It was a big deal socially and culturally. It was a bigger deal to me because my current crush kissed me for the first time during a commercial break

August 16, 1977 I was sitting on the banks of the Russian River about to go for a swim. We were listening to the radio and we heard that Elvis was dead. I wondered how big a deal it was going to be historically. When rumors abounded that Elvis wasn't really dead I knew we were a country in denial and his death was bigger than I had anticipated.

January 28, 1986 I was in the dispatch center working. One of my co-workers took a call, probably from her husband, she turned around and announced to us that the Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded shortly after take-off.

September 11, 2001 I was home and in the shower preparing for work. The phone rang and my roommate answered. She yelled, "Turn on the TV, we're being bombed!" It was the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and the failed attack on the White House.  Ever since that day the first thing I do when getting up in the morning is turn on the television.  

June 25, 2009 Michael Jackson is dead.  There have been so many social media changes and advancements I thought I might run amok if I heard one more story about his death.

August 11, 2014 A newscast is interrupted to tell us that Robin Williams is dead. In stunned disbelief I looked at my Face Book account. Sure enough people have already constructed memes and made comments regarding his passing.

These are the highlights. The dates I actually remember.  There are obviously more stories. Charles Manson, Watergate, The Zodiac, Son of Sam, Oklahoma bombing.... etc.  My deaths of my parents and my sibling.  I remember them all. I still remember the Preamble to the Constitution, the Gettysburg Address and the combination of every locker from 7 grade on.

Here's my problem. I don't remember the day I was saved. I don't remember coming to faith, the day that should stand out above all others. I don't remember when I was baptized.

Clearly my priorities are askew.

31 July 2014

Confessions of a Love Struck Gramma

I've been thinking big thoughts. I am normally a pensive person. Over the last few months that habit has intensified to the point that I have been lost in my own head. I enjoy being lost. I find it exhilarating. I know that people fight being alone.They kick and yell and scream and for the life of me, I don't know why. When I am alone  I am expending energy but I'm not struggling to find a way out. I am looking for a way deeper in.  I am busy looking for the road not taken; the reasoning to the rhyme and just what information all those synapses contain.

When I am like this every thought is an adventure. I seem to notice things that would normally escape me. I hang on to them. I cherish them. I replay them over and over until like a shard of glass tumbling in the ocean they are smooth and comfortable to hold.

My grandson was sitting behind me in the RAV4 while I was driving. He was playing his Game Boy and it had him totally focused. Whatever game he was playing, he was trying to put some body English on his moves- just like I used to do when playing pinball games as a child.  The flipper would send the ball zipping across the game, pinging more productively off the bumpers if you used a little hip action when you hit the ball.  Like me, my little buddy was contorting his body to try to help out his score. I could feel his feet kicking the back of my chair. Right exactly where my lumbar spine hurts, his foot pushed against the chair as his body twisted and his 8 year old fingers pushed buttons to a fare-the-well.  The feeling of his foot in my back was magic to my soul.

Almost 26 years ago, his mom and auntie sat behind me in my Pontiac Grand Prix.  They squirmed and wiggled as children are wont to do and if they had the misfortune of kicking the back of my seat they would have been yelled at with gusto. I can hear my authoritarian voice kicking in, "Do NOT kick the back of my chair, do you understand me?!"  Yet now I was relishing the feeling of his foot pushing against the back of my seat. It didn't feel pleasant but at the same time  I found it oddly comforting.  What's up with that?

Have 25 + years of maturity given me more patience?  Have I suddenly re-prioritized my need for comfort? What was so special about Junior having a foot pushing against my kidneys?  I thought about these questions for the 7 hours we were in the car. How could I be deriving joy from something that used to be a pet peeve of mine?  

The time in the car left my question unanswered. I was lost for several more days rummaging around in my brain trying to find answers for these questions. It wasn't found in the typical responses that  people would give me. I didn't enjoy the foot to my spine in some weird way to make up for yelling at his mother and auntie.  I haven't matured to the place that being uncomfortable is OK with me.  I think the comfort for me was in knowing exactly what he was doing. It may have been an old fashioned pin ball machine I played as a girl, but we were sharing history between us. It was a sweet communion between the memories of an old woman and the competitive nature of a young boy. I knew exactly what he was feeling when I heard him say, "Yes!" and when he groaned and said, "Oh, man!"

In that brief moment I was overwhelmed with love for my grandson. He kicked my kidneys and wrapped me around his little finger in one fell swoop.  I never saw it coming and he has no idea it happened. For the rest of his visit each time he kicked the back of my seat, my heart skipped a beat. I also lost a few heartbeats when I found his rubber scorpion on the floor, but that was an entirely different story.

I miss him.

27 June 2014

Therapy for Pointless Score Keeping

 I write for therapy. It soothes my soul to put words to the gnarled thoughts and anxieties that pop around in my brain. Things get stuck for me sometimes, like a pinball that has found that perfect spot between the bumpers. Stuff pings back and forth, mostly unpleasant memories, moments I wish I could take back or fits of anger flash in short bursts of light and obnoxious noise. I am a score keeper. As I try to get through the agonies and annoyances of life, batting at balls with with flippers that are almost enough to keep things going, I am keeping score and remembering the faces of the folks who have wronged me. It is nothing if not exhausting and pointless.

Pointless score keeping. How is that for irony?

I can recite chapter and verse on the topic of biblical forgiveness.  I know that God's forgiveness of me and my sins is my model for forgiving others.  Love covers a multitude of sins. How many times should I forgive someone? Seventy times seven.  What does granting forgiveness mean?  That I can never again bring that offense up against the person forgiven. I must choose not to remember the transgression.  What happens if I do not forgive?   I fertilize a root of bitterness that will grow ever stronger,  tainting the fruit in my life and leaving those whose lives I touch with bad taste in their mouths. Unless of course they practice forgiveness and forgive me for my sins, faults and shortcomings.  I want them to. I expect them to and if they don't, I'll add that to my scorecard of offenses against me.

I can be a real jerk. The smile on my face and placid exterior are hiding the seething anger against those who have wronged me mixed with absolute contempt for myself for playing at being a "good Christian woman."   I don't  want to be a liar. I don't want to be a pharisee,  but it feels so good to go over and over in my head what I would say to someone who has been unjust with me. Humility is for people who aren't smart enough to come back with a retort that will slice an offender to ribbons, right?

What an ugly self-portrait. Honesty is as black and grotesque as the sin it confesses.

11 May 2014

Why I Hate Mother's Day

Often God's mercy feels more like a swift kick to my  backside than the "There, there, little one!" pat on the head that I would prefer. So it is this morning as I skipped church on a day I was physically able to attend, opting instead to stay home and feel sorry for myself, that I once again feel a Jehovah sized boot print on the place with the least amount of padding; my ego.  I am a slow learner. We go through this every year at this time. Is it any wonder that I hate Mother's Day?

I don't hate Mother's Day for any of the legitimate reason to despise made up holidays. It doesn't bother me a bit that Hallmark is making a killing on cards or that florists everywhere are being delivered high voltage shocks on their last nerve trying trying to get out orders. Trust me, I was a florist once upon a time. Valentines Day and Mother's Day test the soul of every florist. I hate Mother's Day for much deeper reasons.

When I was a kid I hated Mother's Day because when I was about three years old my mother left me.  I hated Mother's Day because of the things that kids in school made for their moms and I didn't have a mom at home to give them to. I was living with a grandmother who probably made a better grandmother to my siblings than a primary caregiver to me.

I was in second grade when my father married my step-mom, a woman who happened to be my mother's sister. I loved my aunt/mom.  When my father insisted I call her "Mom" I rebelled in every way I could, while still calling her Mom.  That consisted of perpetuating my disdain for Mother's Day.  You see, I idolized my mother. I thought if I was good enough she'd come back for me and how on earth would I appeal to a woman while bestowing gifts and love to her sister for being a great mom? I wasn't exactly consistent, my step-mom/aunt was very good to me. I started calling her "Mom" because that's what she was. She wasn't perfect but she did go to bat for me on more than one occasion and that meant the world to me.

When I graduated high school, I went to live with my Mom. I wanted to be a part of her life. I wanted to belong to her. Then Mother's Day left me with new reasons to dislike it.  How do I call two women "Mom" and give two women gifts and adoration without making one of them feel slighted?  I couldn't work it out and so for a few years my mother got first priority. I felt bad no matter what I did.

My mom died nearly twenty years before my step-mom aunt would pass away. As I mourned her it really felt wrong to call my step-mom aunt "Mom" so she became "Auntie" thereafter.  I  even had the audacity to drop Auntie from her title and call her by her first name.  What a shameful thing to do. I regret it. It's like I demoted her from "Mom" to "Hey you" and didn't even recognize that it might hurt her feelings tremendously.

When my sister died, I ended up raising two of her five children. It was a complicated situation. I remembered what it was like to grow up separated from my siblings.  I remembered what it was like to miss my mother desperately. I remembered what it was like to feel as though I did not belong.  I set about to love these two girls as if they were mine.  I never wanted to force them to call me "Mom" and I never wanted them to forget their mother.  That does't mean I didn't long to hear them call me "Mom" or think of me as their mother. Neither of which ever happened.  I love them with all my heart and would gladly exchange my life for theirs....or that's what I tell myself.

The truth is having the girls come to live with me exposed every character flaw I have.  I am selfish, self-focused, impatient, unkind, abrasive and pretty awful as a parent.  All that and I have the temerity to feel sorry for myself because my kids seldom, if ever, acknowledge me for Mother's Day.  I freakin' hate it.  I hate to be wished "Happy Mother's Day!" I hate to be ignored, I hate that I don't have children I birthed myself to love and to love me back.  I just don't see anything redemptive about this day.   Each year I cannot wait for it to be over. I feel so abused and unappreciated and then God reminds me about what a jerk I was... and am... and I realize I have no reason to complain. But wait, that's not all....

A couple of days ago I stumble across this video and it enumerates every mistake I made as a parent. Yeah, God really poured the boots to me with this one. It made me realize again the depth of my need for admiration and attention. I am still all about me.  I hate Mother's Day because it demonstrates for me how selfish I am, it forces me to see myself pouting because of the lack of accolades and attention I think I deserve.

I shouldn't hate Mother's Day. I should hate my sin. Watch the video and learn. Take wisdom like this and plant it deep in your heart.

Phil 2:3-4
3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  ESV