Dare to Believe

Truth takes root in the mind and in the heart, facing many challenges along the way. Often this seed takes root in the mind more quickly than in the heart. The wounded heart fears the risk that comes with new ideas that challenges prior, well established behaviors. But for the brave, the truth can take root. Eventually, what the mind knows becomes what the heart believes.

Belief is a challenge.

Belief is a commitment.

Belief is a battle.

No promise is realized without belief.

The reward of the promise is predicated by the commitment to belief;  so, dare to believe.

Dare to believe in the promise within yourself. Believe your worth. It is ordained by your Creator, not your critics. Believe in the hope that is longing to find a home in your heart. Believe in the sufficient strength that fuels you today and will be waiting for you tomorrow. Believe in the purpose that is calling to you. Dare to believe in the gift of tomorrow as you’re fighting to survive today.

Dare to believe in the dreams and love for you that has taken root in the others around you. They see a vision of your potential that isn’t clear to you yet.

Challenge your doubts.

Nurture your hope.

Fight for your promise.

Dare to believe.

Mary’s Christmas

 

It’s a great journey even thought it doesn’t always feel great. Don’t give up!

Obviously, growing up as a church kid I’m not stranger to the Christmas stories, songs, traditions and over all “holy bling” of the holiday that was established to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I still remember several tunes from “365 Days of Christmas” – a children’s Christmas program that I participated in when my age was in the single digits. It wasn’t until decades later that I really took a real look at Mary, the mother of Jesus. It seems silly now to think that I would focus on a new born baby without giving any thought to the mother that birthed him.

What a fascinating character Mary is. Looking at what she herself says, what is said about her and the fact that she was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus, quite a resume indeed! I heard an excellent sermon in church this week about taking a closer look at Mary and seeing her as more of a “mover and shaker” than we typically think. Of all the things about Mary that I’ve heard, read or thought, my mind comes back to one verse that just challenges me no matter where my life is when I read it.

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” (Luke 1.45 NRSV)

This was spoken of Mary to Mary by Elizabeth. Elizabeth was certainly no slouch either. She was chosen to give birth to and raise the strong willed John the Baptist who would grow to be a force to be reckoned with in his own right. (Can you imagine those bed time battles?) First of all, this is not an impressive statement at first glance. It’s basically saying, “You go girl! The Lord told you something and you believed it.” It’s a simple statement. But like many simple statements, it’s not easy to live out.

  • “Trust God,”
  •  “God will supply all your needs,”
  •  “The Lord will be with you always,”
  •  “Don’t worry, God is going to take care of you.”
  •  “The Lord loves you.”

These are not complex ideas. They’re quite simple to memorize and recite. They are not so simple to believe. Sometimes your brain knows things before your heart believes those things, and vice versa. I’ve had very few times when my heart and brain were on the same page at the same time. I think that’s part of our human struggle as we “work out our salvation.” It’s our daily task and privilege. Some preachers and church people like to throw out those simple spiritual statements to sound holy (in my opinion), without ever wanting to admit to the fact that belief is a struggle for them too. (And if they say that belief is not a struggle for them at least occasionally, I think being self aware and honest most certainly is.) I heard an elderly women once admit that temptation was more of a struggle for her as a senior adult than it had been earlier in her life. (Imagine my disappointment. I had hoped that once you joined the gray haired committee that you would graduate from those spiritual battles.)

It seems like everyday of my life I’m trying to train or nurture my heart to believe a truth that my head knows about God. I have to practice believing those things. That means I have to be honest about where I am emotionally and spiritually, but I need to work and create an environment in my inner world that fosters belief. How do I do that? I make my voice say things like, “God is going to be with me on this hard day,” (even when my insides are all in knots), I need to sing spiritual songs about promises and faithfulness (even when I’m not quite convinced). I need to think about scriptures where people who were struggling saw God fulfill promises. Finally, and sometimes most difficult for me, I have to put myself with and talk with people who are struggling and seeking God, people who want to grow in faith along with me.

Disbelief is not a sin or something to be ashamed of. It’s a part of being human. God is not nearly as uncomfortable with our humanity as we sometimes are. What’s a simple spiritual truth that is on your mind? Do you believe that truth in your heart? If not, admit it, own it, work it out and……………..be blessed! It’s a great journey even thought it doesn’t always feel great. Don’t give up!

An Open Letter to My Pastor

I'll tell you what, when your brain learns and your heart believes that you are loved and accepted by God just as you are, it's a game changer.  

 Many years ago I found myself in a place where a decision was made that would change my life forever. I knew I was committed to the path I was choosing, but just as many people find themselves before marriage or before the birth of a child, I had no idea what I was signing on for. I remember the evening like it was yesterday, I can take you to the exact spot where this conversation happened. I was putting gas into my car and there was a gentleman at the pumps beside me who was clearly distraught. Somehow our eyes met and I inquired about what was upsetting him so. I figured he was going to ask me for money or something. I have learned to expect that at gas stations or parking lots. He began just pouring his heart out to me. Yes, he also needed money for gas. His life was a wreck. He lost someone very dear to him. He was desperate. I think I put $10 worth of gas in his car, by the way. He was elated about the few gallons of gas he received but he still kept pouring his heart out to me. I am very skeptical of people, all people, strangers or not, especially those asking for help. This guys struck me very differently than other situations I’d been in. He was a mess, he was broken and he knew he needed help. As has been my practice for years, I wanted to direct him to a church because “there are people there who will love you and help you.” I believe that. I know from experience the healing power a church family can have on broken people. I’ve been on both sides of it. As I began speaking to him and trying to offer him comfort, I realized that I couldn’t invite him to the church I was attending. He was very honest about being a gay man. This is the same time when I was not quite sure how to let my loved ones know that I was a gay woman. I was trying to come to grips with how to tell that to the people in my life. I looked at him and thought, “I can’t invite you to my church because you will always be treated like you have something wrong with you. You will be loved but never accepted, tolerated but never affirmed.” It sounds like I’m pronouncing judgment on churches but I’m just being real. I grew up in the Evangelical church all my life. I know what is said about gay people by church people who are speaking freely because they don’t think any gay people are around. I’ve heard the, “We’ve got to do something to help those gay people,” conversations by very sincerely concerned but short sighted congregants. So, back to the gay guy at the gas station, I told him about another church in town that I knew he could find help in. It was an open and affirming fellowship and would help him with his difficulties and give him a place to get connected to God’s love.

That night driving home I knew I had to leave that church, my church. It broke my heart. I had committed to live in a Christ like integrity, and that meant that I couldn’t continue to hide this very essential part of me. I don’t think I would have been treated horribly had I stayed, but I knew as I grew in Christian maturity and emotional wellness, that I had to surround myself with people who accepted all parts of me. I’ve got to tell you, I went from being a church “insider” to being a church visitor very quickly and it rocked my world in lots of different ways.

Fast forward many years, many church visits, many days of feeling angry and rejected, many harsh comments from people who thought I was possessed by some evil spirit or had just lost my mind, lots and lots and lots of moments, prayerful and otherwise. It’s Advent 2018 and we’re just days away from Christmas. I was sitting in my current church, a very different congregation from my earlier years. There were instruments and songs, carols and prayers. I just closed my eyes and let it soak into my soul. On Sunday mornings in that sanctuary, there is a gathering of very different people. What I mean is, not only are we very different from each other, our congregation is very different from most congregations. For Example: Earlier in the fall our Pastor invited the transgender people from the congregation to come up front and she prayed a prayer of blessing over them. After that the congregation clapped for them to show them support. My heart was about to explode. I thought to myself as I was driving home, “I can’t believe I get to be a part of a church where a group of people who would be labeled as misfits by other churches, get prayed over, loved and applauded for living out their lives and not hiding who they are.” On Sundays I get glimpses of what the kingdom of God is like. So thanks Pastor Beth and everyone who role models the love and acceptance God has for all of us. I’ll tell you what, when your brain learns and your heart believes that you are loved and accepted by God just as you are, it’s a game changer.

Why I March

I march because I’m Human, a member of a society of humans. We will all be treated with dignity.

I march because I am a Woman. All life is born from a female’s womb. Every she is valuable and as precious as every he.

I march because I am a Sister and an Aunt. Those who come behind me will be greeted with opportunities that will allow their unique and beautiful gifts to blossom.

I march because I am a Friend. Since childhood my life has been flavored with the differences of people who look and sound different than me. Those who season our world with their beautiful diverse presence will have protection and fair treatment.

I march because I’m Gay. Equal rights are my American birthright and I will love those whom I’m drawn to without fear or shame.

I march because I’m a Nurse. The gift of healing and care will be within reach of every person in our nation. We will endeavor to make healing and care within the reach of every person within our global community.

I march because I am a Christian. All who seek will have a sacred space where they can gather with likeminded individuals and worship in a manner that allows their spirits to soar.

I march because I am an Heir. Decades before my birth strangers marched, fought, lived and died for my opportunities.

We don’t have to agree on everything. There is enough room in the human heart to embrace those who are different. There’s enough room in our families to cherish each member. There’s room enough in the church to rejoice in the knowledge that we are all loved and accepted by our Creator. There’s enough room in our communities that our children can run and play together, and all our neighbors can find a warm welcome. There’s room enough in the United States of America that there can be liberty and justice for all.

This is my hope.

This is my passion.

This is my relentless pursuit.

This is why I must march.

I Protest No One, But Stand For Many

There are so many emotions around the inauguration today, and for me, all of the days leading to today since November.  It’s a little odd that my birthday falls on January 21st. So every 4 years immediately preceding my personal “holiday” I’m either very happy or sad in the face of a new inauguration. This is an odd time for sure. I’ve never felt so strongly. I’ve never cared so much. I think part of it is my age and I’m leaning to be aware of others more as I mature in my life and in my Christian walk.

Like I said, this is an odd time in history, and in someways it feels like some undesirable chapters of history are trying to repeat themselves. I try very hard to keep my political views off of Facebook because I want it to be an avenue for me connect with friends from across the country. I do utilize Twitter primarily for news and political information and opinion sharing. One of the reasons why I waited so long to begin blogging was because I didn’t know how to approach divisive issues in this format. When I rang in the new year I decided that I should just feel free to speak my mind on my own blog. I’m always very careful not to offend people because I’m a protector, not a fighter. Being a protector is my greatest strength and greatest weakness at the same time.

Here’s my take on the election. I have no expectation that Trump will change who he is at this stage of the game. I did listen to his swearing in and speech today. I thought a lot of things and said to myself, “OK Mr. President, in your first speech as President you made big promises about how All Americans will be heard and taken care of. I don’t trust your wotds so I am watching your actions. I am holding you accountable beginning today.” Since Congress has been sworn in a few weeks ago I’ve been holding them accountable to represent their citizens instead of their fellow party members. I’ve written and called more congressmen in the last 3 weeks than I have in my entire life. I will continue to do so.The government holds me accountable. I pay my taxes and obey the law. The road goes both ways.

I have been very fortunate in my life to have met so many great people. I’m not joking. I’ll go to my grave knowing I’m the luckiest person alive because of the family I’ve been given and because of the incredible people who have crossed my path these past 4 decades (that makes me sound a little younger than if I said the past 46 years).Many of those people voted differently than I did. I know these people and have loved them for years. They’ve loved me well for a very long time. They’re not ignorant. I’ve witnessed their interactions with persons of color, LGBT persons, the elderly and the poor, lots of people. They treat others with respect. We all have room for growth and that most certainly includes myself. This is my opinion of the election and this will be my only comment on it. Most Americans are yearning for a better country. That doesn’t mean that I think that the US is a train wreck, but for sure there are many areas that we need to continue to improve on. I put my faith in Hillary Clinton. I felt like she had the know how and skills to bring about a lot of positive change to the country. I agreed with her on most issues. I really believe that a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump was speaking from a place of economic pressure and social frustration, as most of us are feeling, and they placed their bets on him to make things better. In my opinion I think it was a bad bet. I think his supporters were able to look past his personal flaws because they believed that he was going to get the job done. It all remains to be seen. Like I said earlier, beginning today I acknowledge him as the President, but I’m also holding him accountable.

Tomorrow I go to Washington with persons from around the United States and from around the globe. I will march with them. I protest no one but I stand for many. I stand for myself. I am stronger when I am motivated by purpose and not by anger. I always lose when I dwell on anger. Believe me, I  will work to be heard by all branches of the government. If someone else were sworn in today there would still be reason to stand up on January 21st.  The shamefully partisan congress who has ignored the will of the American people for years still has some answering to do. Throughout my life people have told me to stand up for myself. I’m sometimes perceived as a pushover or a bleeding heart. So I’m taking a lot of people’s advice and standing up for myself and those I care about.

Here’s A List of A Few Things I Care About:

  1. Equal rights for all
  2. Accessible healthcare for everyone
  3. Compassion for the poor
  4. Honor for the elderly
  5. Protection of the environment
  6. Hospitality for strangers
  7. Fair taxation
  8. Security for children and the oppressed
  9. Respect for Veterans
  10. Economic policy that safeguards the future
  11. Educational opportunities for all who want to learn
  12. Safe communities

Yes we can afford it. We actually can’t afford to eliminate any of these things. It’s all about balance and smart spending and being resourceful. Many of us middle class people are very good and well versed with creative financing. That’s why we need to be represented. That’s why we should be listened to. That’s why more of us need to run for office. So, I’m going to Washington tomorrow.

 

 

Tis The Season?

Those of us in non-educator jobs will have a twinge of envy on January 16th as schools are closed and most of the rest of us will be going to work. Let it be known, holidays are usually the only time that educators are envied. Schools are closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr Day. In the public schools that I grew up in MLK Day was celebrated before it was made into a national holiday. So all though my years of school we were taught about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As a child I learned the facts about Dr. King. As an adult I’m learning the character lessons about Dr. King. Now before we go any further let me just save you the argument– I know Dr. King was a leader with shortcomings. In retrospect many have, with great glee, pointed out the reports of infidelity and other short comings. My response to that is– I don’t go through life with rose colored glasses. There are many people I admire because of their great accomplishments while also being imperfect people. Let’s just be clear: I’ve broken more of the 10 Commandments than I’d like to admit to and yet I’d like to hope I can still be considered a valued adviser and  friend to those in my life.

OK, as I was saying: As an adult I’m still learning lessons from Dr. King and those who stood up for their rights throughout history. Harriet Tubman, those involved in women’s suffrage, people who covertly protected the Jews from the Nazis, and communities who gave their lives and possessions to fight for our independence against England, our history is full of fighters in the face of injustice. I’m so just naming a few examples– from the beginning of time we have examples of persons who fought for change in their world. This time we’re living in, it’s a strange time. Over the past year I’ve felt like I’m finding myself in a really weird movie about an insane world. Here’s the thing: I’m not a fighter by nature. I joke with people and say, “I’m a lover not a fighter.” That’s really true. I am a protector, but not a fighter, and they’re not the same thing. However these times are necessitating a change in my heart and my life.

I’m thinking of the strength that it takes to stand up for what you believe. I’ve done it before…………… leading to lost jobs and friends along the way. I’m wondering about the commitment it takes to stand and speak out when your safety may be threatened. Worse than that, where does the strength come from when your family’s safety may be threatened? That’s what I’d like to ask Dr. King. How much time did he spend thinking about those types of things or did he just stay so swept up in the current situation that his mind was always busy with details. That’s where my mind likes to go when I’m facing uncertainty. I like to drown my mind in working out details because it keeps me from thinking about other less pleasant things, I guess the things I really don’t have any control over. I’m such a —-human. I have often thought that I’m glad the God is much more comfortable with me being completely human than I am sometimes.