Saturday, February 22, 2014

When you and church disagree

"I need your help".
"Oh no" was what shot through my mind. Who am I to offer help, to see what might need to be done, to come up with ideas that might aid my friend.
I am not a wealth of knowledge. I might have some ideas, might even have dealt with some hard things, but I am not always right, don't know everything and hopefully, don't pretend to either.

After a long discussion, and thoughts and questions and feelings stated and heard, we came up with an idea of what she might do.

How does one stay involved in your local church body when they won't address certain issues? Now days, the big issue is homosexuality, and wow, does it illicit all types of responses when brought up. But not bringing it up and trying how to navigate the muddy muddy waters of how to deal with this issue is just wrong.
It is also wrong to leave the church because they won't take a stand or you don't like their stand.
Change comes from within. Not from outside.
Change comes from LISTENING; to each others views, to the LORD and WAITING until the LORD makes it clear to you of how you are to respond and continue.
I am saddened by today's churches rejecting the Gay community.
Frustrated that we label one sin as more heinous than another because we don't agree with it.
I am definitely a heterosexual woman. I love my husband. I don't understand the connection, the attraction of the same sex in a sexual manner. But as time has gone on, I have come to be horrified by how some in the Body of Christ have seriously maligned and defamed the character of gay people.
I am a sinner. In need of a Savior.
We all are sinners; in need of a Savior.
When Adam and Eve decided to do what they wanted, when they were enticed in to caving into their temptation, life on earth was forever changed- for the worse.
God created the universe and created man for us to be in a relationship with Him. When we (or specifically Adam and Eve) chose to follow their own whims, we all suffered. The perfect world that God created and envisioned was gone. We have all suffered the consequences since. Life has not been the same.

I agree with God's vision that a marriage is to be between a man and a woman. But after "the fall", sin entered. Sin is basically doing what we want to do and not listening to what God says. We care about ourselves more than God. The natural relationships became unnatural. Some men desired men and some women desired women. This wasn't what God originally intended. But does it mean that being a homosexual person is a worse sin than any other? Maybe with the exception of murder?

I don't believe so. I believe that sex is to be sacred. That it is to be saved for marriage. In God's eyes, all sex outside of marriage is wrong, whether it be sex between people of the same sex, extramarital sex, which most of us all know to be wrong and hurtful, but also sex prior to marriage. Sexual intimacy is best shared in marriage.
For even if you don't understand the connection, attraction etc, gay people engaging in sexual activities is no different than teens engaging in sex, or one night stands in the 20 and 30's crowd, or a couple who love each other, but are not married, engaging in sex. All sex outside of marriage is wrong in the eyes of Our Creator.

I want to be an example of what it means to love others as Jesus loved me: without conditions, without criticism, without judging.
A gay person is no different in the eyes and heart of God as I am.
They are dearly dearly loved and valued by God. Their worth is meant to come from Him. He sent His Son to die for them, just as much as He sent His Son to die for me and for you. There is absolutely no difference in how God loves all of us. We all are His children, valued and precious.

As I have written before, I firmly believe if Jesus were alive on earth today, He would be hanging out with the LGBT community, with drug and alcohol addicts, with the abused, the elderly, with those suffering from mental illness. So many of the rest of us would probably considered the Pharisees of our day, we are the ones who think we know what to do, and act like we have it all together. I have to admit, I don't have it all together. Altho I am not gay, I have lied, I have gossiped, I have held hatred and bitterness in my heart. Being attracted to the same sex isn't my issue, but man, do I have plenty of others.

What we need to do is come together and see what we can do to make Gays feel welcome, feel unthreatened and un-judged if they walk in the doors of our churches. We need to love and not cast stones. We have our own failures, mistakes and sins to keep us from having piercing eyes on them.

PLEASE CHURCH of GOD, let us love one another as He loves us.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Remember those days in grade school when you were asked what you wanted to do when you "grew up"?  Sometimes, I was reluctant to share because the girls in class always seemed to say they wanted to be a teacher or a nun. After all, I went to a catholic school and we had nuns all over the place. I for one, did not ever wish to wear the black and white habit that looked like a penguin.

I was afraid to admit that I only wanted to be a mom. Were my aspirations too small?? Could I really have thought that being a mother would be the best job ever?  Honestly, at seven and eight years of age, I had no idea what I was saying.

Now having finished raising my children, I can honestly admit that it was a very noble goal. It was by far the hardest undertaking I ever tried.
Yes, there were amazing times of joy and laughter and making memories, I loved having my babies and watching them grow into toddlers, and then facing my fears of sending them to school. Alone.
 Wondering if they would be ok.
 Somedays were easy and relaxed and wonderful. Other days were incredibly hard, wondering if I could make it thru till the father appeared home.
Being a mom to four kids is the best thing I ever did. Nothing compares to it, but seriously, I haven't experienced anything that has brought me more tears and  unbelievable heartbreak as mothering these four amazing, incredible people.

And even with the trials, the frustration, the confusion, the unknowns of parenting, I would not trade a minute of it.
My kiddos have taught me innumerable lessons. How to persevere when you think it could not get any worse, how to love without reason or logic and how to keep loving when you didn't feel like it-at all. My kids taught me the joy of discovery- again and again. There is something about watching a child discover something new-something so wonderful and fresh. My children taught me how to keep going, to keep trying, in the midst of failure. They taught me how to care for the underprivileged, the least of those.
My kids fought for the underdog, and made friends easily with those who had disadvantages. 

One of the best things they taught and reminded me is the reason I fight fiercely for what I believe to be right. In those teenage years when rebellion reared its ugly head, we fought for what we knew to be best for them. Even if it meant for them to hate us. Parenting is not easy; the tenacious, are the ones who struggle through and finish the course.

Now as I sit on the other side; the side where I am reaping the benefits of being a grandparent, I have the privilege of encouraging younger parents to persevere, to keep loving those little lives that have been entrusted to them for a short time. To help them see that even in the messiness of our lives, the times where we fail miserably, that mothering is an endeavor for the strong, the ones who won't give up, those that will love  when they don't think or feel or even want to love anymore. 

In case you have not been a mother, do not want to be a mother, or are a precious one who wants to have children, but as of now, it has been denied you- this is just my story.

I have had other "jobs" that I have loved tremendously.
I was a nurse for over 31 years and that was one of life's most precious blessings I have ever received.
The past six years I have walked alongside college women trying to figure out how to navigate thru life and have been challenged and blessed beyond my wildest expectations or imagination.

My dreams though are not over. I haven't finished one "job" and quit. There is so much more I want to do and will attempt to do, if God keeps me alive.

These are dreams I'm not sure I can share. Dreams that want to come alive, but seem hard to achieve. Dreams that want to honor God and man. These are the dreams for the rest of my life. 
Dreams that if said aloud or putting pen to the page is very scary.  Because then you will know. Then you can ask me about them. And what if nothing has happened? Will you wonder if I have given up? If I was afraid to try?

We all have those dreams, those not yet achieved thoughts, ideas, and plans we have for ourselves. Yet being vulnerable is one of those hard things to do. Because what if we let ourselves be known and then you don't like us. Or worse, you laugh at our dreams. Then we shrink back and keep to ourselves. We don't let ourselves speak our hopes and dreams. We try and become invisible to avoid what others might say or think. Then, we might become defeated and never get back up again.

What are your dreams? Can you share them with at least one person? So that you can be encouraged and cheered on? Where your motivation might kick in a tad bit sooner?

Are my dreams and your dreams the ones that God has instilled in our hearts because He is the ONE who truly knows us? 
He is the One who knows what drives us, what tickles our hearts, what gives us passion.
For me, I can't pursue my dreams at this stage of my life without consulting God. For He is the One who knows if it is reachable. He knows how long my life will be-and how long yours will be as well. God is the One who knows my heart, knows my gifts, knows my failures and short-comings. And He is the One who will allow me to succeed.
All I know is that I want to keep dreaming, until the day He calls me home. Because dreaming is what keeps me hoping. Dreaming is what can change our world.
Keep dreaming.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Sometimes, life is unpredictable.
Who am I kidding, often times, life is unpredictable. It catches us completely off guard and we are thrown into uncertainty and confusion; questioning life, questioning God.
We don't know how to navigate this course. We are often unable to think clearly and we cannot begin to comprehend what has taken place.
We wonder how we will ever get through what has happened; or what might happen. We try not to conjecture what will happen next, because we can't even comprehend what has just taken place.
Our minds often deceive us and thoughts that never might have occurred to us, are now occurring almost non-stop.
Our world has been turned upside down and we don't know how to keep going. Or if we even want to keep going.

This happens all across our world-not just in our own individual worlds. When natural disasters occur like earthquakes and tsunami's, we ache for those whose lives have been lost or those who have lost everything they had.
When atrocities happen globally and locally, we can be shaken into realizing that this is our world, our neighbors, who have been enslaved to others evil and we wonder what would happen if it happened to us or someone we love.
It is so easy to just be involved in our own little worlds, that we forget that abuse, abandonment, child slavery, sex slavery, addictions and war wreck havoc on our brothers and sisters around the globe. How do we live in our world and then also care about others as well?

But what happens when sickness and death affect us personally?
We are shaken to the core of our beings.
The fragility and tenderness of life captures our attention in ways that it never had before.
To hear that you have a life threatening illness, causes one to wonder and question what life is really all about. 
Priorities are re-fashioned. It is not about the work we do, the acclaim we seek or crave; life becomes about what really matters: people. The People we love. The people we need to be reconciled to. The forgiveness we need to extend-and receive.
We care about our loved ones and the legacy we want to leave.

What happens when we lose someone we love?
Our world turns upside down. The world that we have known changes; it will never be quite the same again. 
We experience overwhelming sadness and grief. We wish it was all a very bad dream. We don't know how to carry on, how to go on.
There is absolutely NOTHING that compares to losing someone we love. Our lives are changed forever. We have to endure a "new kind of normal", that doesn't include the one we lost.
Grief can crush us. Grief can overwhelm us. Grief changes us. And not in ways that we ever wanted to experience. 
One minute we cry uncontrollably, the next we laugh at stories of our loved ones, then the tears return and we wonder how many days and months this lasts.
Life is a cycle and we tend to forget that. We are born, we live for however long God deems, and then we die. Why is that so hard to write for me? Because I tend to forget that life, that living is only temporary. That there is an "eternity" out there that awaits us. One that we don't understand. One that we often want to put way off.
Unfortunately, most of us don't get to choose how long we will live. 
But we do get to choose HOW WE WILL LIVE.
Will we live for just our own interests? or will we choose to live to make others lives better? Will we be concerned for our own selfish wants or will we be selfless and give ourselves to others.

This past week, again I was reminded again of the brevity, the frailty of life. Three deaths in less than three months seems too much.
Robby, Nancy and now Mark.
Lives that didn't last as long as we would have wanted.
Lives that made so many of our lives so much better.
Lives that have left marks, that have taught us to love better, lives that are so deeply missed.

I don't get it. I don't understand death; except that it seems so final, so empty, so sad.
And yet, I know, that for Robby, for Nancy, for Mark, it has been the beginning of their eternity. The beginnings of their forever with Jesus. One that they would no doubt ever trade. But for those of us left behind, our lives change forever. We will miss them, we will long for them, we will be forever sad that they were taken from us too early.
I don't get it-because my mind just can't comprehend the enormity of death. I just know how it affects me; how it has changed me.
How I want to love more like Robby and Nancy and Mark. How I want to treat everyone with the respect and love they deserve and how way too often, I fail at that.

I want to be, at the end of my life, someone, who can be said that loved well, that cared for others deeply.
I know eternity awaits us all. We don't know when it will come.
Today I choose to be like Robby, like Nancy, like Mark. One that will love others and care about our world. To try to make someone's life better-even if its only one person. To give freely. To extend mercy and forgiveness. To be a Grace giving person.
I am grateful that my life intersected with these three amazing people. I am sad but choosing to keep going.
Life, for sure, isn't always easy.
Life allows us the opportunity to change as we have been changed by others.
Today I hope that I will choose to love well. To live and love as if today could be my last day. To give to others what they deserve and need. Just like Robby, Nancy and Mark did.
Thank you for your wonderful examples.
THANK YOU JESUS for gifting our lives with these friends who are now with you.

Friday, February 14, 2014

What is True Love

I have many misgivings about Valentines Day. 
To me, its a Hallmark holiday.

Getting a card. Getting flowers or candy. Or even a nice piece of jewelry. Although those things are nice; they are not love. They might be expressions of love. But they are not the things that tell me my husband loves me. 
Valentines Day is called a "romantic holiday". Maybe it is, but it certainly is not the end all-be all version of how to love someone.

This day brings pain to so many people; for so many different reasons.
For a gal, if you aren't dating someone at this time, the media makes you feel forgotten and un-loved and this SHOULD NOT BE.

What if someone you loved so deeply is no longer alive? Today brings up such sadness as you are again reminded of the loss you grieve. For a spouse, or a mother or father or sister or brother, or a dear friend, this day can be awful.

And  the person who has endured the break up of a relationship, whether it be a dating one or a marriage, this day brings the feelings of loneliness and rejection.

The many elderly who are in nursing homes are so forgotten today. Today can be a day like most any other where they are alone, without any visitors, feeling forgotten and unloved.

The single moms: they are doing their very best to stay afloat. Some can't even afford to buy the valentines needed for their child's class party. They work hard and are so often under appreciated for their many sacrifices.

The homeless-they are often so shunned. Instead of receiving love, they often are shamed by how we think of them. I wonder if they if know that today is "Valentines Day"?

REAL LOVE to me is described in the Bible (the book that is one LOVE story of how much God loves us) in 1 Corinthians 13 as:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

PATIENT-enduring support through the hard times. Giving grace often.
KIND- doing random acts to show your love. Doing the dishes when your spouse is tired. Giving unconditional love when it is undeserved.
NOT JEALOUS- rejoices in your loved one's successes. Encourages them on to be the best version of themselves.
Or PROUD- thinks more about the other person than oneself.
Or BOASTFUL- doesn't brag unnecessarily. Realizes that love is a give and take and our job is to encourage our loved one.
Love is NOT RUDE- it is being polite and courteous and extends grace instead of criticism.
Real love DOES NOT DEMAND ITS OWN WAY. Wants what is best for the one you love. Compromises. knows you aren't "always right".
It is not IRRITABLE- does not use being tired as an excuse for what you do or say. Tries to understand what the other person is going thru. Goes the extra step in being nice.
Real love keeps NO RECORD OF WRONGS- forgets the past mistakes and doesn't keep bringing them up. Gives each day a new opportunity to keep loving.
Real love does NOT REJOICE ABOUT INJUSTICE BUT REJOICES WHENEVER THE TRUTH WINS OUT. Love looks out for the injustices in our homes, our neighborhoods, and far away places. We are all neighbors in this universe and we need to care about others.
LOVE NEVER GIVES UP-even when we want to. Even when we have been ridiculed and feel like nothing is going to work out. Real love endures-especially in the most difficult times.
Real love NEVER LOSES FAITH- especially when times are tough and so uncertain. Real love stays the course, through the tumultuous ups and downs of life.
Real love is ALWAYS HOPEFUL, because without hope we are lost. We must believe that love will help us, carry us through and be willing to accept the changes or lack of them that follows.
Real love ENDURES THROUGH EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE. It doesn't take the easy way out. It keeps fighting for your relationship.

In marriage, real love takes so many forms:
Its the husband who doesn't complain when the wife clogs the toilet.
It is taking turns getting up in the middle of the night when your kids are sick or are scared.
It often means sacrificing "your time" to be a partner in housekeeping chores.
It means supporting each other thru the roughest, toughest challenges you face.
It means holding the other up when a loved one dies; helping each other cope thru the loss.
It is often sitting at the bedside of a spouse whose body is wracked with cancer.
It is not complaining about such petty things.
It means trying your best to stay within your means, when you really want to buy something.
It might mean countless trips to the doctor to find out what is wrong.
It allows one another the freedom to grow, to try new things and be supportive in the process.
It has the freedom to say "go spend sometime doing whatever you want, I will care for the kids".
It is being comforting when one of you has lost their job. Letting them know that "you always have their back".

Real love is wanting THE VERY BEST FOR THE ONE YOU LOVE even if means you have to sacrifice something for them to get the very best of you.

It is not the flowers, cards, candy or the date night. Those are the expressions. Real love is one that keeps giving, keeps hoping, keeps believing and keeps being sacrificial. Real loves says "I am sorry" over and over again and real love forgives-even in the midst of deep hurt. Real love works and works to keep the love alive, year after year-sometimes in the midst of boredom, sometimes in the midst of pain and often in the midst of joy.
I pray we all know this love in our lifetimes.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Psalm 17:14
"But as for me, I will always have hope."

Really? Always have hope? Is that even possible?
What about when death has robbed you of someone you love so deeply?
What about when you have lost your job and can't take care of your family and your obligations?
When you can't find a job and you have graduated from college and you keep waiting and trying?
What about when you sit beside the bed of someone ravaged with cancer?
When you see a loved one addicted to drugs and there is nothing you can do to help them?
What about when you lose the person who is most important to you?
When your marriage fails and you are alone and feel rejected?
What about those failed relationships and what the loss has cost you?
When you are failing in school and will have to give some answers very soon?
What about when the choices you make causes you to lose friends?
When your reputation has been damaged and looks like everyone is against you?
What about when your children go a completely different direction in the values you raised them with?
What about the loneliness you bear as you come out as "gay"?

These are REAL questions that at some point-some of them will probably intersect our lives.
Then, what are we to do?
Where is it you go when life crumbles about you?
Do you go to family or friends? 
Do you turn to alcohol or drugs to escape?
Do you take a trip to avoid the questions?
Do you avoid people?
Or do you keep so busy that you won't have to deal with what is going on?

HOPE is something we ALL NEED.
The word "hope" can be both a noun and a verb.
As a noun, it means: the feeling that what is wanted, can be had or that events will turn out for the best.
As a verb, hope means: to believe, to desire or to trust.

We need hope to survive. To survive the trials that life brings.
It has been well documented that people with life threatening illnesses fair much better if they have hope that things will change and get better. How else would one endure the horrors of chemo and radiation that cancer often requires?

As we go thru life, not one of us will go unscathed.
We each will battle things that will cause us to question, to wonder how we will go on?
If nothing has happened to you so far, be so so grateful.

But for those of us who have endured deaths, addictions, cancer, suicide, the end of our marriages or other endearing relationships, lost our jobs, watched our children go astray, had our dreams crushed; to go on in life requires that from somewhere, we need to find hope.
I have had my share of trials and mishaps that shook me to the core of who I am.
My mom died unexpectedly when I was 21 and I was lost completely.
My dad died years later, but that too was painful.
I have watched dear friends suffer and die with cancer.
I have had cancer.
I have watched different forms of mental illness wreck havoc on loved ones.
I have suffered the demise of friendships.
I have lost people I love dearly.
I watched my husband lose a job he loved.

Yes,  life hasn't always been easy for me, for our family.
When I was younger, I tried alcohol to ease my pain. It might have worked for awhile, but clearly, it was a temporary "fix" that didn't help at all.

The HOPE that gets me through the pain that life brings at times, is my faith in God.
HE  is the ONE who promises us: "I will never leave you or forsake you."
That is one of the MOST comforting words of Scripture to me.
GOD will be with me through EVERYTHING.
And He will provide me with HOPE that will endure.
Hope that doesn't disappoint.
Hope that will give me courage to go on, when that is the last thing I want to do.

In the hardest times in my life, I go to the book of Psalms in the Bible.
They are the ones that are so real to me. Where we find real honest despair and wondering where God is in the midst of our troubles, and then coming to the realization that He has always been there.
Sometimes He remains silent for awhile, often causing us (me) to question if He really cares and is interested in what is happening. 
Slowly, but surely, He begins to reveal Himself to us.
To help us understand He has never left us.
To remind us that HE is the ONE who will enable us to go on.
That HE knows what our future looks like.
I need that hope. The HOPE that things will change. That life will get better. That I will survive. That I can trust and believe and have faith in a God who won't let me slip away from Him-no matter how hard I might try.

Indeed, we all need hope.
Next time you are in the throes of despair, or the pain of life has completely overwhelmed you, I would challenge you to go to God. To seek Him, to see Him in the Psalms, and to wait for Him to give you the kind of hope that you really need and want.