The Perfect People Are Liars

ImageI would love to be one of those moms that was able to post beautiful pictures of my perfect children having a happy and harmonious day.  Exactly how does that work in other homes?  It seems that everyone on every social media outlet have this perfection … every single day.  The picture above is one of two pictures I’ve ever taken of all three of my beans somewhat looking into the camera.  It was a glorious day because there is one other photo that was also acceptable.  It has been blown up and printed.  It now hangs in several rooms in our home with the idea that there will never be another that comes even close to “print worthy.”  These photos were taken eight years ago.  Although I try and try again to get them all in one good and happy photo … it fails almost every time.  You would believe (as I have fooled myself to believe) that as they get older, this process would get easier.  This is nonsense.  As they get older they can fight more about the picture taking process.  I have great pictures of the girls by themselves and with one other sibling but trying to get all three of them together in one photo (all smiling and looking happy) is something I’ve considered impossible.

There were two other acceptable photos.  One from last summer and one from Christmas two years ago.  I cherish these pictures because they are so rare.  Then I see pictures of other family sibling groups on social media.  Their day is filled with sunshine and perfection everyday.  They post pictures of their angels smiling into the camera and doing cute things that only perfect children who are part of perfect families can do.

My pictures consist of silly kids making crazy faces doing awkward dances for the camera.  The chaos is evident even in the photos.  There are dogs walking by, an article of clothing in the background, a dish that did not get taken to the sink … you get the picture?  If not, here are typical examples.

The crazy kid dancing the silly dance with wacky clothes and makeup (note the blue Wegman’s bag on the floor) …Image

The girls decided to put on Dad’s shirt and disassemble their old My Size Barbie’s arms and legs for use as their as their arms (random shoes and water bottle on floor) …

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And we can’t forget Wacky Wednesday from school spirit week …

ImageAs I look at these pictures, I think that we are a completely normal family and all those other people are liars.  Their life can’t possibly be THAT perfect.  For me to get the angelic pictures like the ones that others post, I would have to bribe and scream for hours pay someone else to have their children pose for my family pictures.

I’m so thankful for all these crazy fun memories.  We do live in a certain sense of chaos but it’s a happy chaos.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Not even like the perfect people.  It’s just not worth it to lie.

 

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Just Delivered … Giddy with Excitement!!!!

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Fred Phelps is NOT Dead and Other Thoughts on World Vision

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I am a woman.  I am a woman in seminary.  If you believe that these are two strikes rather than two strengths, we might not agree on some things.

The World Vision debate.  Why is this such a mess?  First let me say why it’s not a mess.  It is NOT a mess because some people have more conservative beliefs concerning LGBT rights within a Christian organization.  It is NOT a mess because some progressive or liberal Christians support LGBT rights.  It is NOT even a mess because World Vision supported certain LGBT rights and then unsupported those same rights.  This is what religious freedom is all about.  We get to believe what we want to believe on certain issues.  It just happens to be the issue of homosexuality under the spotlight for our generation.  Now back to the real mess.

The hate that was spewed was the equivalent of any Westboro Baptist funeral protest.  Some of the hateful words I’ve read “in the name of Jesus” broke my heart. I don’t want any of these “hate-scripture-hate” spewing people to ever represent me as a Christian.  Scripture should never be wrapped in hatred.  I know not everyone is going to agree with me.  It might even be that only a very few people agree with me.  The hatred started and the “love your neighbor” concept was thrown out the window.  And then there were the “I love the sinner, I just hate the sin” people.  It annoys me that I even have to type it on this computer.  Every time I hear it, I let out a blood curdling scream on the inside.  Sometimes I even let people who say it know what I really think.  So now you have the reasoning for the title of this post.  Fred Phelps is NOT dead.  His legacy of hatred toward our homosexual brothers and sisters will live on as long as we wrap scripture with hatred.

Hate spewing turned to sponsor pulling.  What about the children?

More of us on the “liberal” side of Christianity rejoiced.  It was a step forward for the LGBT community.  What about the children?

More hate.  More sponsor pulling.  What about the children?

For conservatives it became more about the homosexual sinner than about the children.  For liberals it became more about LGBT rights than it did about the children.

I agreed with World Vision’s first decision.  I support my LGBT friends.  I’m not one to quantify sin.  I have enough of my own to account for, so I don’t have time to worry about every other person’s sin. Where’s that doughnut I just had in my hand?

I also agree with the reversal.  It breaks my heart, but I agree with it.  Why?  Because it’s about the children.  The lost sponsorship was destroying everything that the organization had built.  Some call it pandering to the conservative right.  Yes, but no.  In my heart of hearts I believe that World Vision executives hate that they had to reverse that monumental decision.  They did what they had to do to make sure that their organization would be able to fulfill their mission.  They remembered the children.

If you dropped a sponsorship on a child please, please, please renew that sponsorship now.  World Vision did what you wanted.  It’s about the children.  If you have sponsored a child because of the first decision and are angry about the reversal, I get it, but please don’t punish the child.  World Vision is a good organization in which to send your donations.

Please don’t spew hatred in the comments, I won’t post it.  Don’t make it a scripture battle.  For every homosexuality-is-a-sin verse you have, I’m sure I can come up with a feed-and-take-care-of-the-orphans or a get-the-plank-out-of-your-eye verse.  I refuse to do a scripture battle.

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“That all thing…

“That all things are possible to him who believes, that they are less difficult to him who hopes, they are more easy to him who loves, and still more easy to him who perseveres in the practice of these three virtues.”

Brother Lawrence quote from The Practice of the Presence of God

The Ten Commandments with a Positive Spin

Thinking of the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, put forth by God in Exodus 20, with positive wording is enlightening as well as refreshing. If “rewritten” positively, the Ten Commandments might appear as such: 

1) Worship Me and only Me
2) I AM, all that you need to worship
3) Speak of my Name in reverent and loving ways
4) Rest for everyone and all creatures all day every seventh day
5) Honor your father and mother
6) You will promote life in all that you do in every situation
7) You will be faithful to your spouse
8) You will give all that you are able
9) You will always tell the truth in everything you do
10) You will be content with all that you have regardless of how much anyone else has.

This list not only represents what may be considered a positive spin on the list of the Ten Commandments, but it is also a list of the characteristics searched for in a potential spouse, family, teachers, friends, spiritual leaders and anyone in which a considerable amount of time is spent.  Commandment 8, you will always give and commandment 10, you will be content with all you have are the 2 commandments I would like to discuss.

Do ALL that you can and give ALL that you can. This theory is that if everyone gives all that they can and does all that they are capable, the world would be a different place. Turning the commandment “do not steal” into a commandment of “give all that you can” speaks volumes. Paul writes about this very positive nature of the eighth commandment, “Thieves must give up stealing … work honestly … so as to have something to share with the needy” (Eph. 4:28). Giving to people in society who cannot support themselves is a repetitive command throughout the Bible. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God … to care for orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27) is a description of this giving nature that God loves. Giving of oneself is not always defined as a monetary measurement.  Some things that can be given in place of money are time, advice, help, knowledge and friendship. These are just a few of the many things that can be given with a missional attitude.

As for the tenth commandment, the idea of turning “you shall not covet your neighbor’s house” (Exod. 20:17) into “be content with all you have regardless of what anyone else has” turns an anxious situation into a peaceful scenario. It is so easy to fall prey to the American expression of keeping up with the Joneses.  Someone may think, I see it, I like it and I want it too. If I do not get it then others are somehow superior to me within the culture that we live.  These are thoughts that may cause uneasiness within the realm of discontentment with possessions. If someone is content with all they have, how could they possibly want more? It is written, “there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment … but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these” (1 Tim. 6:6-8). With discontentment there also comes unnecessary cultural pressure to be superior. Wanting something that is not already owned, if there is not the means to acquire the particular desired item, may cause undue anxiety. Being content with everything that is currently under stewardship gives a sense of calmness and tranquility and keeps the godly person from sin. It is commanded by Paul to “keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have” (Heb. 13:5). With contentment comes peace.

It is amazing that the Ten Commandments are relevant in today’s American society just as much as they were in the ancient Israelite society.  Although the people of today’s American society may not treat the Decalogue with the same reverence as the ancient Israelites, it does not take away from the fact that these commandments have shaped the fabric of our culture, legal system and social morays. They have been passed down through the ages in these areas of every society and culture. Giving to the oppressed and being content with a simpler lifestyle, are just a couple of many trending topics in religion, politics and among social justice advocates.  It makes sense to put the positive spin on them from a theological point of view so that society is capable of appreciating the forgiving love and mercy of the sovereign God who wrote the laws.

Andy and Ace … Dogs from the Rescue, to the Rescue

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Meet Andy and Ace.  They are both rescue dogs in once sense or another.  Andy was rescued by very good friends of ours approximately 6 years ago.  It was a story of the owners moving and not being able to take him with them.  Our friends already had 3 dogs but took him in as well because they couldn’t stand the thought of him going to a shelter and possibly not making it out.  They couldn’t find a home that they thought was suitable for him so they kept him until they met our family.

Our family was not ever going to own a dog.  We have no need for another mouth to feed.  We always said that we love dogs, we’re just not dog people.  Our decision to get a dog came when I had been working a job over a hundred miles away.  I left on Monday morning and came back Friday evening every week for 2 years.  Our daughters needed extra love.  A dog was the perfect solution and our friends had an amazing dog that they wouldn’t give to just any family.  Yes, if you are reading this right, I, working mom, was replaced by a dog.

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Andy (rottie, lab, bloodhound mix) turned out to be the best decision that we ever made.  The girls had found an unconditional love that they desperately needed while Mom was gone.  He is a patient snuggler, always listens and a protector of the family.  He is 14 yrs old though and we know that the blessing of having him with us will not last forever so we began our search for a younger dog to join our family.

I saw Ace (mastiff shepherd mix) online through a dog rescue.  His picture seemed to speak to me.  I inquired about him.  He comes from a rough background and has diabetes insipidus which leads us to believe that he was hit very hard on the head.  The rescue is closer to Ohio.  I called to find out if they would consider adopting to me even though I’m about 3 hours away.  Come to find out, Ace was being fostered 7 miles from my home.  This was taken as a sign from God that this was meant to be!  From the first day that we had Ace I couldn’t imagine our family without him.  He is playful, loving and an extreme guard dog.  If someone is physically ill or emotionally distraught, he WILL NOT leave their side for anything or anyone.

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These dogs have provided my family, and especially my daughters, with so much love.  They went from the role of being rescued, to the role of rescuer.