Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chick-Fil-A & The Gay Dilemma

I am sure most of you have been mulling over the whole Chick-Fil-A issue like I have. Some of you have the belief that if you love Jesus you have to take a strong, loud & aggressive stand against all things related to gay marriage. Others believe that regardless of your personal views, you don't want the government deciding who is allowed to marry. Many fall somewhere in between. 

I am not here to tell you what to think about the issue, but to encourage us in the way we discuss it. 

This afternoon I found myself very worked up over this whole situation & the responses of some people. Then I was reminded of a story in the New Testament. The story where Judas hands Jesus over & Peter cuts off a servant's ear in an attempt to protect Jesus.

In situations like this I think it is easy to respond like Judas & Peter. To either throw our hands in the air & go home or to react & attack. 

And then there was Jesus. He didn't react like Peter, but loved & served unto death. He also didn't cower like Judas and give up. What did He do? He loved. He told the Truth. He saved the world.

Like it or not, Chick-Fil-A opened up a significant conversation in America. Our nation is eagerly listening to what we say over the coming days. 

Truth without love is abrasive and indigestible. Love without truth isn't love at all. My hope for the Church  is that we blend the two well. That whatever we say is done with a motivation of love not defense or fear.

My prayer is that each of us would get with God & decide exactly where we stand on the issue. Then communicate it in a way that is humble but not compromising.  

I hope that no matter what you believe about this issue you are full of grace.
If you are reading this and don't believe in God, I hope you know He loves you anyway.
If you consider yourself a homosexual, I hope you know you are valued. 

In the end people won't remember who yelled the loudest, but who loved the most. Our job is not to defend the Gospel, but to share the Gospel.

I pray we share it well over these coming weeks. Our world is dying to hear it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Speck & The Plank

It is Throwback Thursday people!!!!!

Today, I would like to re-tell the tale of the speck and the plank. If you have ever been in Sunday school you have heard it many times. The story comes out of Matthew 7. I'll summarize it for you now. There are two men. Each have a foreign object in their eye. The first man throws a fit about the other guy's eye problem and is trying to fix it for him. Jesus then says at the end of the story that it is hypocritical to try and fix the other person's problem without addressing the issue with your own eye.

Why in the world am I telling you this? Well, here is the rough part. Rough, but real. Happening now. Before I go further, here are some things I think you should know:

* More than 2 million children are exploited by sex trafficking each year
* On the planet today 27 million people are slaves.
* 1 in 5 women today are victims of rape or attempted rape
* 1 in 3 women today have been beaten or violently abused in some way.
* The market value of the sex trade is estimated at over $32 billion dollars.
* If you adjust the price of a slave in the 1850s it would be $40,000 in today's money. Right now in the world the average slave costs $90.
* Many slaves are "paid" only enough rice to keep them alive and able to work.
* Due to all of the advances in today's technology, transportation and international relationships people are much easier to exploit. It is easier to gain access to the poor and vulnerable, making people more 'disposable'.

The roots of these injustices are control and an overall belief that another human doesn't hold the same value...pride at it's grandest.

These facts enrage me. I want to walk into a brothel and declare their freedom. Find the lonely child making bricks and carry him away. We were made to execute justice. Part of the Church's calling is to right that which is wrong. To bring order to God's earth.

So, why the Sunday School lesson at the beginning? Well, if we are going to be effective at winning this battle with injustice we better get our planks & specks out. Sure, we don't have slaves. We aren't engaging in sexual exploitation...I have never beaten anyone & most of you haven't either.

But, I have snubbed my nose at the homeless person annoying me with their requests for money. I have gossiped and said things which abused the emotions of others. I have controlled people through manipulated words.

Control, abuse, thinking I am better than the poor... Perhaps I am a slaveholder in my own right? Perhaps you are too? It seems like much easier offenses to overlook. But they are the same root problems. Yes, its big scale vs small scale. A speck vs. a plank.

The passage ends with these words "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." As followers of Jesus, we need to address the "planks" and injust actions of others. Millions of people's lives are counting on our action.

But, it isn't only signing petitions, giving money, and serving in various capacities. We have to fight this war. According to this passage, the key to doing so effectively lies in getting rid of the enemy's desception in our own lives.

Injustice must stop. Slaves must be freed and the broken are destined to be made whole. That is how Jesus works. Lets do it with Matthew 7 strategy. Let's remove the speck from our brother's eye but only after tending to our own. Love people today. It's part of the battle. An Epic Battle.

Monday, July 23, 2012

How To...Act Eco-Friendly When You Aren't

I am at a conference in Colorado at the moment. Several conversations I have had reminded me of this post. So, I am sharing it again!

I grew up in Texas and have always been pretty conscious about being 'green'. But then I moved to Seattle and --hello-- I was out of my league. I quickly realized I was not as eco-friendly as I thought. Perhaps some of you will someday find yourself in a situation needing some assistance with a very 'green' crowd. Sure, you want to learn, but your home isn't solar powered yet. So, how can you fake it till you make it? Here are some thoughts...

1. Know the Lingo. You aren't an expert yet, but there are a few words you can sprinkle in that will elevate your credibility with the enviro-crew. Try and drop the words 'thinking globally' , ' sustainable' ,  'carbon footprint' and if you are feeling really confident ' genetically modified organisms' or GMOs for short.

2. Grow Something. Basil, flowers, tomatoes ... it doesn't really matter. Just grow something. Having pots around your house gives you street cred... and if you need to escape a convo about growth hormones in meat you can always say "Excuse me, I need to tend to something in the garden." Who can argue with that?

3. Divide by Two. Not four wheels, two. Roller blades, bikes, scooters, two feet...If it involves two instead of four then you win. Unless of course the four wheels are a Prius...then they win.

4. Get Your Meat From A Local Butcher.  This helps you on two fronts. First, its just plain good for you. Knowing the source your meat comes from gives you the opportunity to know what went into it and how it has been handled. Second, your vegetarian friends will give you a pass if you tell them your meat is locally & sustainably raised. Win, win.

5. Grow a beard. This obviously only pertains to men ( I hope). A beard is an outward manifestation of your inner beliefs. Plus, beards are in style.

6. Throw An Earth Day Party.  Everyone loves a party. If you throw an Earth Day Bash then you are pretty covered for the rest of the year. Just make sure you use actual dishes & not styrofoam. Thats a dead give away.

7. Bring Up The Polar Bears. A lot of conversations regarding environmental issues and stewardship can be a bit complex. Some scientific terms you may not be familiar with. If a discussion should go beyond your realm of understanding,  I suggest bringing up the polar bears. They are endangered and their plight is pretty straightforward. If global warming increases that means that the ice will melt. If the ice melts the polar bears will be in serious trouble. It's a pretty obvious plot to follow.

8. Join the Sierra Club. You can put the newsletters straight in the trash...err, recycle bin...Just place the decal on your car & the card in your wallet. Voila! You have just joined the Eco-Fraternity.

9. Take Lots of Supplements. It seems that the environmentalists I know take gobs of supplements. Fish oil, omega 3, herbal vitamins. If you grow your garden (see #2) large enough and start a small fishery in your yard, then you will eventually be able to skip this step. Until then its up to the supplements. Keep a stash around and pop them when your friends are looking.

10. Get a Tarp. I can't exactly tell you why you need a tarp. It just seems like the perfect prop for an eco-friendly person. It says " I go camping" , "I collect my own firewood", or "I have shelter in case of a natural disaster".

Hope these tips are useful as you 'green' up your life.  The environment isn't just for hippies anymore. Jump on the bandwagon. Reduce, Reuse & Recycle.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lessons From My 20s: Do The Crazy Thing

This week I am at a conference in Colorado, so I will be reposting a few of my favorites from months past. Enjoy!

You know. That 'thing'. We each have them. They never go away. It is the idea, the dream, the passion, the vision that stays ever before you. The 'what if' scenario that resurfaces in your imagination. I have had several in my 20s. I have learned to do the crazy thing.

I fell in love when I said I wouldn't. So in love I married at age 21. The thing I was too young to do.

For years I dreamed of Seattle. Going and living in that vibrant city which sits at the edge of the next-big-thing in culture. When I was 23 I went there to plant a church. And I did.  I did the thing that looked impossible.

I have a passion for travel. So, I became a travel agent. The dream job for me in some ways. I made no money at it and didn't renew my license. I did the thing that failed...and it wasn't that bad.

God told me to it was time to leave Seattle. I wanted it to go away, but the voice of God was clear. So, despite many tears...I moved. I did the thing that should have killed me, but it didn't.

Graduate school has been a passion of mine for years. I decided to study for the GRE...hours I studied and then never took it. I did the thing that never went anywhere but taught me so much anyway.

I have two kids and am adopting two more. I am doing the thing that seems beyond my capacity.

I am trying to write a book. I am doing the thing that intimidates me.

I am pursuing my passion to see the Church respond to the injustices of our time. I am doing the thing that seems too big for me. The dream that has always felt intangible and distant. The dream that scares me the most.

So many things. Crazy, beautiful, motivating. Ideas & dreams I couldn't shake. Thoughts that didn't seem to matter to anyone else - they were the thoughts that wouldn't leave me alone. I did things that seemed impressive to others and things that people found trivial. I did things no one else understood but God and myself. Some things I did well and other things I fumbled. But I did them. Do them. Do the crazy things.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Day I Decided NOT To Be A Guru

This would have been a great Guru profile pic.

Today I decided not to become a Guru. It all started when I signed up for Klout. If you don't know, a Klout score is a way of measuring your influence. You can set up an account & it shows you your score & compares you to other people you know.

Great, another way to compare myself to those around me. I understand a tool like that is useful for companies or individuals whose jobs involve social media. But, for the rest of us?

I sat there & looked at all my friends who had higher scores & were listed as having expertise in a certain area. There was no expertise next to my name. Bummer. I guess there isn't an expertise field for Mongolian horsemanship or babysitting for murderers. Maybe I should quote more books?

Next I saw a barage of articles on how to improve my Klout score. A list of topics people respond to & how I can work to gain influence. I read all the articles on how to be a social media Guru. I felt the pressure to fix my lame score. How can I get more followers? How can I increase my retweets??? I was in a tailspin of social media depression. Gee gosh.

Fine, Klout. I'm not an expert. I don't tweet leadership tips or recipes.  I'm just a normal person. Is that so bad?

Charlie Sheen has a really high Klout score, but I don't know that many people would say he has influenced their lives. Having a lot of people know you makes you famous. Having people actually take what you say to heart & follow your advice...that is influence.

 I think about the people who have influenced my life the most. They probably aren't even on twitter. They didn't gather a massive following, instead they sat down with me one-on-one.

I'm not saying that Klout is bad. I do want to know how to maximize social media. But knowing your neighbor's name is pretty important too. Remembering a friends birthday (without facebook reminding you) is a rare form of relationship these days.

Do I still want to beat my husband to a million twitter followers? You betcha.

I want to make a difference.

But, I'm not going be a Guru. I'm gonna influence, but I'm not keeping score. Sorry Klout.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Deaf Man With A Blindfold Almost Ruined My Marriage

My wedding.

It sounds like the beginning to a bad joke, but it is true.

We were at our engagement retreat & all the couples had to play these games that show the importance of good communication. All the girls took off our shoes, mixed them up & put them in a big pile.We then made a huge circle around the pile. The boys were blindfolded & had to find their fiance's shoes, bring them to her & put them on her feet. 

My job was to give clear directions to Jady so he could find my shoes among the chaos of blindfolded men. His job was to listen to what I was saying. This was a dumb game from the beginning. To top it off one of the guys was deaf and he was getting a blindfold too. How is a guy with no sight & no hearing going to stand a chance? Poor guy.

So, the game begins. I quickly realize we are in trouble. 

I need to pause to say that if my husband was telling the story it would be completely different. This is my blog so I am telling my story. Sorry sweetie.

I was giving clear, slow & deliberate instructions. He was not listening. As soon as a shoe was in his hand quickly he tossed it aside to keep looking for the 'right' shoe. Before he had heard if it was my shoe or not he had thrown it across the room & moved on to another shoe.

My husband is very competitive. He really doesn't like loosing. He really really doesn't like loosing a communication game to a deaf man wearing a blindfold. We did lose. 

We are both very headstrong & stubborn people. He felt I left him to dry out there & gave him no direction other than an occasional whisper. I felt that he didn't even try to hear was saying & it was a stupid game. Who cares if we lost? Yes, I actually looked him in the face & said "Who cares if we lost?". 

This opened up quite a few issues & we actually discussed calling off the wedding. In the end we decided that our love was strong enough to endure losing to a blindfolded deaf man. Jady learned to pause a bit longer to hear what I was saying. I learned never ever to say the phrase "It's just a game, who cares if we lost?".  And we were married a few months later.

God reminded me of this story yesterday. He used it to illustrate the point that I have a problem tossing things out of the way while trying to find the 'right' thing. I move on too easily without really listening to hear God tell me if I should hold onto it or let it go. When I rely solely on how it feels in my hand I unusual end up missing it.

Point taken.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lets all KISS

My sweet simple son.

When I was in 10th grade I took geometry. I don't remember my teacher's name & I don't remember geometry. Something about shapes? Clearly it was an effective educational experience.

I do remember two things from that class. First, I missed the entire first week of class because I got stuck in Egypt, but that is another story for another day. Second, my teacher (whatever her name was)  started off class by telling us to K.I.S.S. 

Keep It Simple Stupid. She said that the reason most people can't find a solution in math is because they over complicate the problem. That one phrase is probably more helpful than geometry anyway.

Most of us feel stuck and overwhelmed by some problem because we over complicate the foundation of what the problem is. 

Financial budgets + (marriage - moving) x whatever the heck God is saying + a prophetic word someone gave me in 8th grade / something not feeling quite right + new job offers < deep heart dreams + my kids needs x everything I'm afraid of = WHAT I AM SUPPOSED TO DO. 

We try and calculate these ridiculous components. Take the above equation & K.I.S.S. it. It simplifies into questions more like these:

Who do I want to be?
What do I want my life to look like?
What is God saying?
Do I want to marry that person?
If I wasn't afraid, what would I be doing?

Simplifying the problem isn't minimizing the problem. Complexity doesn't equal importance. We should all be doing a bit more geometry in our lives. Let's all K.I.S.S. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Throwback Thursday - Worst Song Lyrics Ever

It's Throwback Thursday people...enjoy. 

My little man.

 I thought tonight I would jot down a few lyrics I have heard recently that cause me to question the intelligence of the music industry. Not some weird obscure song, but mainstream songs we have all heard. It was hard to narrow it down, but here are the finalists.

1. "Coast to Coast
      L.A. to Chicago "
                   - Sade 'Smooth Operator'

Hmm...yeah, not quite. Keep going east just a big further.

2. "I don't like cities, but I like New York
      Other places make me feel like a dork."
                     - Madonna "I love New York"

Well, it rhymes I suppose.

3. "There were plants , and birds, and rocks, and things.."
                - America 'Horse With No Name'

Things??? How about coyotes, snakes, sand...I dunno, but things??? No wonder your horse doesn't have a name.

4. "If I was a sculptor , but then again, no. "
                    - Elton John "Your Song'

I had an Elton John's Greatest Hits CD in high school. (I will pause while you laugh and
jest at my expense) This song always bothered me. If "no" then why mention it at all.
Just delete the line.

5. "She's a brick house. She's the one, the only one built like an amazon."
                    - The Commodores 'Brick House'

It's not only the lyrics I wonder about...but why do white people still dance to this at

6. "I don't care who you are, where you're from, what you did...As long as you love me."
          - Backstreet Boys
Set the standard a bit higher boys. Its lyrics like this that caused me to go to the
NSync concert instead of the Backstreet Boys. Oh, yeah. American Airlines Center in
Dallas. Spring of 2000...I was there.

7. "If I was invisible, I would be the smartest man."
           - Clay Aiken 'Invisible'

I'm really, I don't get it.

8. "I'm turning Japanese , I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so."
                      -The Vapors 'Turning Japanese'
No, no you're not. You aren't turning Japanese. Stop saying it.

9. "MmmBop. Bop. Bop. MmmBop. Dibby Dop Dop. MmmBop..."
              -Hanson 'MmmBop"

If you can pronounce the lyrics of a song without needing any teeth, it's probably not
the best idea.

10. "Your lipstick stains, on the front lobe of my left side brains..."
- Train 'Hey Soul Sister'

I don't actually hate this song, but left side brains... you lost me there.

Okay, this is my top ten list. Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I Used To Be Interesting

Just readin my paper in the middle of nowhere 

I used to be interesting. I used to think all my stories were funny and all my experiences unmatched. Until I met you. Really, all of you are amazing people. I hear your stories about how you grow your own food and am challenged. I think it is interesting the way some of you travel around the world for work.

You makeup artists blow me away with your ability to create beauty. You counselors are mind blowing in your ability to lead people through their experiences. Those of you who can sing & play music just make me plain jealous sometimes. 

You who homeschool kids are fascinating with your organization. You bloggers challenge me with your creative content. You nurses have my admiration as you are able to remember anatomy. 

Really, you are all so interesting. Sometimes I get jealous of your 'interesting'. I think you are more impressive than I am. 

But then I celebrate. I celebrate that we are different. I celebrate that when we all come together we are one huge mass of awesomeness. I celebrate that God has so much creativity He had to spread it all out among so many people.  

I celebrate you. I celebrate me. I celebrate that we all make life more interesting.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Runaway Mongolian Cowgirl

I was once a runaway Mongolian cowgirl. Before I start, lets clarify a few things. I am not Mongolian, but I was in Mongolia. Second, I didn't actually run away, my horse did.

When I was eleven my family moved to Irkutsk, Russia. Yep, I spent my junior high years living in Siberia. For our family vacation one of those years we went to Mongolia. I loved it the moment I saw the mountains out the window of our propeller airplane. It was beautiful and felt strangely like home.

One of our days there we went with some friends out into the most rural of places. Eventually we pull up to a ger ( a ger is a type of portable housing similar to a yurt). The rolling countryside was dotted with white gers and the nomadic families who live in them. Herds of animals were roaming the hills all around.

We visited a family in their ger, ate some very interesting food & absorbed stories of their nomadic lives. Then came the fun part. They were going to let me ride one of their horses. This was fun until I saw the saddle. It was made of wood. An uncomfortable sport just got more uncomfortable.

There were no fences. Just thousands of miles of rolling hills. My incredibly adventurous parents told me to go wherever I wanted , just don't loose sight of the ger. So I did. I roamed free and it was grand.

The ger where my family was waiting had become just a white speck so I decided to go back. But along the way something happened. I heard a yell from a herd on the next hill over & my horse took off. It soon became evident that the families assist each other in gathering their livestock & this guy needed some help. He recognized the horse I was on and called for us to come help him. Clearly the horse knew the drill and soon I was herding goats with an old Mongolian cowboy. Wish you could have seen his face when a 12 year old American girl showed up instead of the horse's owner. I would venture to say that this nomadic herdsman had never seen a white girl in person. At least that is what his expression communicated.

I was completely useless. The cowboy kept giving me instructions but I had no clue what he was saying (this was most likely due to a combination of my not speaking Mongolian & his not having many teeth). Thankfully my horse knew what to do. I just sat on him & held on for about 10 minutes while the horse did all the work. Round & round until all the goats were gathered.

How do an old Mongolian cowboy & an adolescent American say goodbye after rounding up goats? Neither of us knew, so there was a very painfully awkward attempt. I bid farewell to my perplexed Mongolian cowboy buddy and rode my horse back to my ger. It was one of the most unusual experiences of my life.

I was thinking about this story the other day & I realized something. I realized that it is how God works. When He asks us to do something, it doesn't mean go figure out how to do it. I could never have figured out how to herd goats with a stranger in Mongolia. But I was riding on a horse who did.

All we do is hold on to God while He does it. We simply go with Him wherever He takes us. He knows how to do the things He has called us to.

Our job is to go along for the ride.