Category Archives: Christianity

What’s Wrong With the World? I Am.

I was in the 8th grade on April 20, 1999 when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris massacred their fellow students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. We were shocked. Nothing like this had happened in our memory. For my classmates and myself this was our introduction into the violent evil of which the world is capable. Two short years later 9/11 happened, and it seems as if the chaos has not stopped since then. That happens when you become aware of evil.

An interesting thing occurred after the Columbine shooting. The habits and lifestyles of those two boys were dissected and analyzed by the media and given back to us as some sort of warning. They listened to this kind of music. They wore that style of clothing. And on and on.

It seemed as if the media and our parents were trying to find the triggers that led them to such a degree of evil. If we just avoided A, B, and C, we would not be capable of the same. Evil and hate became this idea that we could control and avoid.

Fast forward to today, our country is threatening to lose its ever-loving mind. A sociopathic narcissist is coming closer and closer to the presidential chair. The media would have us believe that predators are suddenly lurking inside every public restroom. Beyonce just dropped an album that exploded the internet and has led to hate-filled arguments about racism and sexuality on just about every Facebook mommy group I’m part of. Hatred and fear rule the day.

Here’s the thing though. It’s easy to look at this hair here: and say that he’s created racism and violence among his supporters. It’s easy to look at those with opposing viewpoints on the Target bathroom issue, or any LGBT issue, and call them names. They are evil. They are wrong. The problem is out there, right?

Here’s the problem, and honestly, it scared me for years as a teenager after Columbine: I am capable of evil. Those people who are outright racist? Those people spewing hate in internet comment threads? Those people who I simply disagree with? They aren’t that different from myself.

These issues don’t create hate, they just reveal it.

This makes me uncomfortable, to be honest. I’d much rather believe that if only I was on the right side of every issue (and of course, my side is always the right side), I would be incapable of evil thoughts and words. But I’m only doing what our parents tried to do in the late 90’s following Columbine, trying to control evil through outward appearances.

This doesn’t work.

There’s a story (probably true, although apparently never actually documented) about the great G.K. Chesterton, where he, along with other famous authors were asked by The Times what was wrong with the world today. He simply responded,

“Dear Sir,

I am.

Yours, G.K. Chesterton.”

Chesterton recognized that evil originates in our hearts and the only way to fight against it is through change from within. He also recognized that the only person he was capable of changing was himself.

I can’t change anyone but myself.

In light of this, what if we stopped arguing online? What if we stopped sharing fear-based articles on Facebook? What if we truly loved our neighbors? What if we had face-to-face conversations about these issues with people we care about instead of just filling social media with controversial topics?

What if we committed to change ourselves first, by the grace of God?

I’m making drastic changes in my life, more on that later, due to the amount of crippling anxiety I’ve been experiencing throughout my pregnancy. I’m changing what voices are speaking into my life and heart. I’m done with hate. I’m done with fear.

What’s wrong with the world? I am. And I know the One who can change me, and to him I run.

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Saturday: The Day of Silence

Good Friday is over. Now it’s Saturday.

Saturday. As Jesus’ friends awoke, the day after they watched their dear friend violently die, I imagine it took some longer than others to remember. As the morning sun streamed in the windows, bringing the promise of a new day, their memories of the night before caught up with them. The morning sun no longer held promise. Just defeat.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to end.

How could Jesus leave them like this?

Where do we go from here?

I’ve been there. I’ve lived through a “Saturday” filled with hopelessness. My life wasn’t supposed to look like this. I was supposed to have purpose. Things weren’t supposed to look this way. It didn’t feel as if I would ever find joy again.

Friend, are you stuck on Saturday? It looks different for all of us. Depression. A soul-killing job. Illness. Divorce. But one thing is the same, we feel as if God has abandoned us. He’s stopped speaking. Or at least, we’ve stopped hearing. He’s silent. Maybe even…dead.

Saturday.

But oh, the best part of all, is that no day lasts forever. Even Saturday. As Sunday dawned, so did the hopes of the world.

The women came to the tomb. The only ones strong enough to face what had happened. Women, look in the cracks of history, and you will always find us. Doing hard things. Being present at the most glorious moments. He isn’t here, he is risen! Go, tell the others.

He is risen!

Everything I believe hangs on this historical fact. He. is. no. longer. dead.

Sunday brings life. Sunday brings hope. Sunday brings the answers to Saturday.

God will not remain silent. Death could not contain Jesus. Sunday will come. And when it does, you can look back and praise him for his faithfulness, even on Saturday.

His love is relentless.

Easter is coming.

 

2016: The Year of Grace

2015 was the Year of Healing for me. Like a lot of you, I choose a word for my year to pursue and meditate on. My year of healing ironically led to quite a bit of medical issues. I got diagnosed with a thyroid disease, ended up in the E.R. two days in a row with stomach pain, and my normal cycles stopped completely.

That wasn’t how my year was supposed to go.

The more I dug into my health, the more my diet and lifestyle changed. Good changes, of course, but hard to do when the rest of my family has a love affair with carbohydrates.

When I finally started to feel like my normal self (I haven’t felt great in about 7 years), I saw a gynecologist who in response to my issues of the last couple years told me I was probably done having kids without medical intervention.

So that was fun.

I left her office in tears and never went back, determined to prove her wrong.

Our word for this year is Grace. God freely giving us what we don’t deserve. My health. My children. My patient husband. Jesus.

Grace.

We will explore God’s grace in 2016. What will your word or theme be?

There is a happy ending to 2015, as hard as the year was. In the late fall, my doctor (who I love, and who listens to me, and who values nutritional medicine) suggested we do some bloodwork to find out what my body was lacking hormonally. I had 3 periods in 2015. That’s not normal. And she knew our desire to have another baby.

5 weeks of bloodwork.

The day of my appointment to talk over the bloodwork, I took a pregnancy test on a whim.

You guys. Positive.

I fell on my knees, crying and thanking God.

What a gift!

What grace!

Over a year of trying to conceive. Thank you, God.

As 2016 starts, I watch and feel the evidence of God’s grace growing in my body. July will bring a baby to this family that has been waiting and praying for so long. I am overwhelmed by this gift.

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Some of us are more shocked than others.

Happy New Year!

Do Not Fear. Breathe. Repeat

You guys. These last two weeks.

We went from the War on Xmas to watching a literal war unfold across the entire globe.

Twelve years ago. I went to college in Florida with a sweet blond girl who loved Jesus in a way I had rarely seen in my 18 years. Last week. Her sister was attacked and shot in her home. A short coma later. She is no longer with us.

I met with a dear friend this morning for coffee. She talked about police knocking on her door last night in the late evening. Asking her if she’d seen anything unusual. She was alone with her kids. There was an armed man on the loose in the neighborhood. There were gunshot victims.

The media keeps telling us that terrorists are walking across our borders disguised as desperate refugees. So much hate. And racism. And fear as a result.

It’s easy to be fearful.

It’s tempting to lock my doors. To turn off all the sources of information. To pretend we’re safe. I want to wrap my babies in figurative bubble wrap. Never join the real world with all its killing. ugliness. hate. It’s okay, babies. Nothing’s wrong. Stay here.

But what good would that do?

I have a secret for you. Come closer. I’ll whisper it. I’m not going to make it out of here alive. Neither are you. So far the mortality rate of humans is 100%. Those aren’t good odds.

In 2008 and 2009 I was in college. We had begun to see the economy collapse around us. Futures were uncertain. We were students with degrees like Women’s Ministry or Biblical Studies. These would suddenly be no longer marketable. We didn’t realize it at the time. I remember a professor who saw where we were headed. He told us things were going to be worse for us, for our nation, in the coming years.

But, he saw this as good. He said that our faith carried the only answers to disaster. To hardship. To a violent world. When the world is searching for an answer, we have it.

Do not fear.

Jesus reminds us over and over. Do not be afraid. I have already conquered evil. Death is not the end. I’ve defeated it. There is more than this.

I wish this meant that I knew everything will look better in a minute. But we know this isn’t true. Look at the world! Sweet, innocent children fleeing war are looking for a home. They are met with hatred instead. We watch as child after child is killed with a gun. Senseless acts. We pretend our threat comes from “outside.” Yet we’re killing our own. Our “safety” is not a thing. It’s an illusion.

No. I don’t offer easy answers. I can’t say, “Come over to my side, we’ll cling to our faith and ignore reality. But at least we’ll be happy.”

No.

But I can say this: Friend. Don’t fear. Jesus defeated death. We know this is not the end. He died in place of me. In place of the ugliness inside my heart. My worst enemy. I don’t have to stay there. I can live in that freedom. I can give grace and refuge to those who need it.

Don’t fight terror with fear. Fight it with boldness. With love. To those around you. To those across the world.

Friend, don’t fear. Breathe. Find peace within the hope of Jesus. It’s only going to get worse. That doesn’t change the fact that he. is. in. control.

Turn off the news. Look for ways to help. Practice peace and love. Breathe. And repeat.

The War on Christmas is Not a Thing

Every year around this time I consider writing this blog post. Every year I see, read, or hear Christians get upset about Christmas, and how this nation is not acknowleding CHRISTmas to the fullest extent. I see people get upset over seeing “Merry Xmas” who then yell, “Leave Christ in Christmas!” The media responds with terms like “The War on Christmas,” or “Why Conservatives are Upset over Starbucks.”

This past week Starbucks brought out its red cups, which they do every holiday season. I saw the plain red cups and I guess I liked them. They are simplistic…and honestly that’s all I thought about it because the purpose of the cup is to get the coffee from the urn to my mouth.

As you probably know, the internet lost it’s mind, as it does. How dare Starbucks leave Christmas off their cups? Last year they had reindeer, and Christmas ornaments, and we all know that’s what Christmas is about, and this year their plain red cups are clearly meant as a slap in the face toward Christians everywhere.

Really, people?

Shame on us.

Now, my theory is, that there were a few upset people, and the media has gotten ahold of this and blown it way out of proportion (shocking, right?). Some of my facebook friends have passed around different ways to “trick” Starbucks into writing Merry Christmas on their cups.

Really, people?

I am here to tell you: the War on Christmas is not a thing. Stop trying to make it a thing. I realize this might be hard for some of you to hear, but this is not a Christian nation. This is a nation made up of just about every culture, religion, and ethnicity. Shame on us if we are trying to force others to say “Merry Christmas!”

Every year I see at least one person brag on social media about how their cashier/waiter/neighbor told them “Happy Holidays!” and they rudely responded with something like, “Well, MERRY CHRISTMAS!! to you!”

Really, people?

Could it be that the cashier is not allowed to say “Merry Christmas,” and she just wants to brighten your day and you responded rudely? After you left the store, she shook her head and thought, that must have been a Christian.

Shame on us.

While we moan and complain about red cups, our brothers and sisters in Christ are being literally killed for what they believe. While we get upset about people writing Xmas instead of CHRISTmas, the rest of the world is experiencing the biggest refugee crisis it’s ever seen.

Shame on us for being so self-focused in the name of the Christ we claim to celebrate.

Shame on us for treating people with pettiness for not believing exactly like we do instead of loving them as Christ does.

Shame on us for thinking that really, truly celebrating the birth of the man, Jesus, who was God, and would change the world forever, and has the power to change our hearts, comes down to what we do or don’t see on a Starbucks cup.

The War on Christmas is not a thing. Just stop it.

50 Shades of What Are We Doing?

My last post made for a very interesting week for me. I wrote about why I won’t be watching 50 Shades of Grey, and appealed to all women to reconsider watching it this weekend. Since I published it, I’ve had conversations all week long both online and off with women who have either defended the position I took or defended the movie. 50ShadesofGreyCoverArt.jpg

Women, I’m saddened. When I wrote the post on Monday, I confess I was a bit angry. I was angry with the thought that our girls, our young girls, are going to grow up thinking this kind of “love” is normal. That we’re just sitting by while society tells us BDSM and abusive relationships are normal and even sexy. I was disgusted.

But now, I’m just deeply saddened.

I’m saddened that our marriages and relationships are broken.

I’m saddened that we think erotic films will fix them.

I’m saddened that pornography is so prevalent that those who don’t view it regularly are in the minority.

I’m saddened that I have already had to talk to my 5 year old about porn. Because it’s everywhere.

I’m saddened that we look at Christian Grey as an example of a real man.

I’m saddened that 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence.

I’m saddened that our feminism has brought us here. We’ve almost come full circle. We told our men they couldn’t dominate us, we are equal. And now we’re telling them it’s okay to dominate us, it’s a turn on. A group called Fight the New Drug did a study which concluded that up to 88% of the most popular porn contains violence against women. That should disturb us. This is what our kids will view by the time they’re 8.

This breaks my heart.

Ladies, let’s take sex back.

Let’s stop romanticizing violence and abuse.

Let’s stop giving money to the machine that perpetuates this garbage.

Stop reading these books. Stop watching these movies. Let’s teach our kids what real love looks like. It’s messy and hard and not always beautiful. But it’s selfless. And it gives life.

Here are a couple articles that I found interesting this week. The co-stars of 50 Shades of Grey were even disgusted by the movie they made. Read about it here.

And this great article  by Jonathan Van Maren which starts out, “It’s pretty depressing when you realize that, in 2014, many people seem to think that destruction of human dignity is a small price to pay for an orgasm.” That’s a great opening line.

And finally, Lisa Wilkinson, co-host of Channel 9’s Today Show gives her review of the movie.

I won’t be seeing the movie this weekend. I will be loving on my husband. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Why I Won’t See 50 Shades of Grey

Ladies, let’s talk. Valentine’s Day is coming and with it, the movie so many of us have been waiting for: 50 Shades of Grey. I won’t be going to see it, nor did I read the book, and I’m going to appeal to you not to see it either. I’m going to appeal to you on two counts, first as a woman, and second as a follower of Jesus for those of you who have made that choice.

Women
First of all, let’s just call this what it is, all right? It’s pornography. Look up any definition of “pornography” and 50 Shades will fit into it. It’s even been labeled as “mommy porn,” which I find offensive and disgusting. As if “mommys” are in a category all our own desperate for an outlet such as this.

50 Shades is not friendly to women. It’s just not. Porn is never women-friendly. Porn objectifies women, even when it’s written by and “for” women. Porn is never healthy. Porn destroys relationships and skews our views on sex. The porn industry is horrible to women and the idea that we, as women, would support that is disgusting. I don’t want my husband watching or reading porn, and I’m sure he doesn’t want me doing it either, so let’s stop pretending it’s not porn. Call it what it is.

I’ve read enough reviews and several excerpts of the book to know that Christian Grey is not a healthy individual and his “relationship” with Anastasia is not a healthy one. It’s abuse! I would even go as far as to say that this kind of thing is highly offensive to those who have been in abusive sexual relationships. Abuse is not normal. Not in any circumstances. Women, stop buying this garbage! We deserve better. We are worth it. Our daughters are worth it. Let’s turn away from this crap before our young women grow up thinking it’s normal to be taken advantage of as long as the man is smokin’ hot and has a sweet soul underneath.

I don’t have a daughter but I do have two boys. I want them to grow up to be nothing like Christian Grey. They will be gentlemen. They will be kind. They will be respectful of women, treating them as equals. Let’s demand more of our children and for our children.

Followers of Jesus
This following section is for those of you who claim to be followers of Jesus, who have taken in his free gift of abundant and eternal life through his death and resurrection. In doing so, we have a higher standard, a higher calling.

I’ve been surprised again and again over the last year or so by the number of Christian women who have matter-of-factly talked about this book and movie without any shame. Ladies, porn is never okay in the life of a Christian. Porn is sin. The Bible is so clear on marriage and sex and we have no question that sex does not belong anywhere except in marriage. We are told to flee from this sort of thing, and here we are reading it and discussing it with giggles. Shame on us!

We must not go along with the culture and normalize this kind of thing. As followers of Jesus we must not read about or watch sex for entertainment. As followers of Jesus we mustn’t condone abusive sexual relationships, even if “consent” is involved. Throughout the history of our faith the Church body has been different from the surrounding culture in terms of sexual immorality. We are to be holy, “set apart.” This kind of “entertainment” has never been okay and we need to be disgusted by it.

I realize we all have different standards as to what is allowable in our own lives. For example, my husband and I grew up around people would pass out at the idea of Christians drinking alcohol. Yet, I really enjoy a beer now and then. This difference is okay; I don’t force alcohol on those who don’t drink, or even drink in front of them, and they don’t force their abstinence on me.

However, the standards of sex are not like that. The Bible calls us to a higher standard concerning sex. This doesn’t come from me, so don’t argue your point with me if you disagree, it comes from Jesus. I can find no interpretation of the Word of God that allows for sex outside of marriage or condones this kind of unnatural behavior that we read in 50 Shades.

I won’t be going to see this movie, and I beg you not to either, as women, or as followers of Jesus. Let’s set a higher standard. Let’s demand better for ourselves, and from our men.