And the beat goes on…

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I get all kinds of requests for money, you know, you make one donation and the scent of blood is sensed for miles.  Some of the requests are causes with which I would agree, some not so much.  But even the ones I would tend to support, well, let’s face it, there’s only so much to go around.

Which really isn’t the point.  The real issue is the fact that it’s not “my” money anyway.  Sure, it’s in my name, my account with my beneficiaries and all that.  It goes to pay my bills, my taxes, and my retirement (such as it is).  It puts food on my table and gas in my car.  It’s not that I haven’t worked hard for it all; sure I have.  And yes, some of that hard work has taken a toll I’d care not to admit, but there it is. 

Still, the truth is, it’s not mine.

Not any more.  Because I actually belong to a larger government than any on this planet—the kingdom of God, (which is, I might add, far more just than the IRS…just saying.)

Yes, it’s easy to get to a point in life Continue reading “And the beat goes on…”

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Preserving more than berries

garden lastMy first attempts at gardening several years ago were pretty funny.  The bunnies, as much as I love them, kept helping themselves to my tender tomato plants.  I’d come out to check my little lovelies, and DRAT!  There went another one!  So I started to concoct various creative boundaries and kept replanting.  I even tried that trick of putting a garden hose around the area so the furry thumpers would think there was a snake lurking about.

It was less than effective, except to amuse Bob, who christened the area my DMZ. 

My friend, Louise, has a garden.  I mean, a real garden.  My garden is more of an adult re-living her childhood of playing in the dirt.  Louise and her husband—they actually know what they’re doing.

When they moved in a few years ago, there was no Continue reading “Preserving more than berries”

God’s “love language*”

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280In the part of the Christian pool that I tend to swim in, corporate and private worship takes on many different forms.  Personally, I not one to dance, but I don’t begrudge those who find that particular expression of worship fulfilling.  I do like singing, as well as “dinging, shaking, and otherwise banging” on various instruments.  And generally, those swimming around with me don’t begrudge me that, either.

I was very, very blessed to grow up in a deeply authentic denominational church with a L-O-N-G history of evangelical mission-oriented Continue reading “God’s “love language*””

Who, me??

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And I quote…

“But please listen to me when I say this: America is worth it.”

“It’s up to each and every one of us to keep working to make America better and stronger and fairer.”

“…stay engaged on every level.”

“We need you.  America needs your energy.”

                  –Hillary Clinton*

That pretty well sums it up, no matter who we did or did not vote for.  So yeah, the truth is that, regardless of the 40+ hour work week or lack thereof, the car in the shop and the dishes in the sink, the kids’ activities, the bills, the aging parents and/or concern about the how to deal with the in-laws…somewhere in there, our country needs our involvement, our voice, our help. 

I love the story of Moses when God first called to him from the burning bush.  The short version goes something like this:

“Who, me!?!”

“Yes, you!!”

About five times, in fact, and answered by some practical strategies that necessitated Moses’ (as Mrs. Clinton puts it) “energy and engagement”.  In other words, it cost him something.

Obviously, there is no disagreement about the American right to disagree, and in that view, the most current presidential election was not unique.  (The Brits have their own version…)

Pugnacious verbal blood-letting is a time honored tradition in all the colors (not merely red and blue) of the political spectrum.   Unfortunately, school children are not the only ones adept at playground bullying; they learn it well from us adults.  What seems to be passion for “our” cause can easily go beyond true activism into irreparable damage.  Advocacy becomes practical, however, when I choose to step in and confront the day-to-day “adult-bullying” which takes many creative forms, some of which can be couched in seeming sophistication, much of it in my own backyard.

There are also other ways to stay engaged, regardless of whether or not your candidate of choice won the election.  Here are a few practical suggestions, and I hope you may add more in the comment section:

  • Maybe your thing is political advocacy. Here’s good comment from the interaction with my oldest daughter:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             “A way to be involved is to not only confront any hateful actions or remarks you personally come across, but also to hold your representatives accountable. Be in contact with your state and federal lawmakers. When I was a lobbyist (for lack of a better term), constituent concerns were the most important thing, hands down. As few as 20 phones calls from constituents could sometimes sway a lawmaker’s vote. If you disagree with them, tell them.”

Here’s the place to start:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

  • To find a good match for your skills and time availability, take a look at these sites for help.

http://www.volunteermatch.org/

http://www.createthegood.org/

  • For someone who’s passion is housing, try Habitat for Humanity. It’s kind of hard to stay mad at someone when you’re focusing on hanging sheetrock for a good cause…together.

http://www.habitat.org/

  • Now for a challenging word for us bloggers, tweeters, instagrammers, snapchatters, and otherwise connoisseurs of fine social media. Try reading some writings by those from the opposing side of the argument. True debaters are taught to contend on each side; it causes them to learn the age-old skill of walking a mile in the other guy’s shoes. Another wise quote from my progeny:

“If you want to see a perspective firmly lodged in the liberal camp, look at Shaun King’s Facebook page. I’m not saying I agree with him, but it might be a place to see another side of things, or at least to see why people are worried. My newsfeed has a decidedly liberal slant, so I intentionally continue to follow more conservative folks so I’m not unaware.”

I love her word “intentional”.   I’ve followed Pied Type since I started this blogging thing.  We are obviously divergent in our worldviews, which is good for me.  It’s a beautiful site, so check it out!

And while we’re at it, how many of us are guilty of initiating and/or forwarding unseemly and unsubstantiated emails or posts about “the other side”, hmmmm???

Moses became instrumental in delivering God’s people from tyrannical rule.  Now, you can apply that allegorically however you wish, but the point remains—you are needed, not merely to advance the policies dear to your heart, but also and at the same time (please hear this), to help maintain the “indivisible” part of the pledge most of us grew up with. It is, in fact, the American way.

Here are a few other quotes from another famous American who had his share of personal and political vilification, and eventual made the ultimate sacrifice.

While we must, by all available means, prevent the overthrow of the government, we should avoid planting and cultivating too many thorns in the bosom of society.
–March 18, 1864 Letter to Edwin M. Stanton

I have desired as sincerely as any man — I sometimes think more than any other man — that our present difficulties might be settled without the shedding of blood.
–April 26, 1861 Address to the Frontier Guard

I appeal to you again to constantly bear in mind that with you, and not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with office-seekers, but with you, is the question, “Shall the Union and shall the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generation?” 
–February 11, 1861 Speech to Gov. Morton in Indianapolis

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…”
–March 4, 1865 Inaugural Address

Thank you, Mr. Lincoln.

http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/quotes.htm

*Quoted from FoxNews online

Harmony, in any language.

wood 2One of Bob’s brothers was a army paratrooper out of Fort Bragg.  He then went on to get his M.Div. from Fuller in California.  So somewhere along the way he was dubbed “the warrior priest”.  (We still have a couple of his army jackets—your tax dollars at work…)

Evidently, English is not an easy second language to learn, but Richie mentioned how difficult it was to learn Greek and Hebrew.  I can only imagine the hours he spent at a desk pouring over books and notes.  It had to be an intentional positioning of his body and mind to make sense of all those squiggly marks!

So I have an increased respect for those who delve into the classic languages, and those who have sacrificed much more than time to bring us the Bible in our own tongue.  Through the years, even I have picked up a few words here and there. I have a sweetnecklace gold necklace that Bob’s mom brought back to me from a visit to Israel that is my name in Hebrew.  (At least, that’s what she was told; for all I know it could say “go home, Yankee pig”, but that’s beside the point.)  Years ago, I Continue reading “Harmony, in any language.”

Expecting bird poop

bird picmonkeyAt this writing, I’ve just come in from sitting on my patio before going to church on a beautiful Sunday morning.  I mean B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.   The sky has been swept clean (wish I could say that about my patio…), the birds are singing, the sun is coming up over the horizon, the trees are sporting their new greenery—I even have some new things planted in my garden.  And I had a special treat this morning—two Canada geese flew overhead!  Great!

We live in southern Missouri in what’s called a “fly-over zone”, so the geese are frequent residents in transit.  But we also have a Continue reading “Expecting bird poop”

B-o-i-n-n-g!!

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On the Sunday platform with the worship team, first song (no, it couldn’t even be the LAST song, had to be number one!), upbeat tempo in full gusto, and there goes a string!  As it starts flapping in the front of sound hole, I somehow manage to keep the beat and finish the song, after which I just wrap what’s left of the sting around the head stock, thankful that I somehow didn’t go horribly out of tune (maybe a little), and that I didn’t get slapped in the face with a thin piece of steel. 

This is not the first time I’ve popped a string during a set, and it’s really not a serious problem, especially since I play a twelve-string guitar.  Shoot, I still have eleven strings.  But then it hits me—this is exactly what the phrase “koinonia” is about. 

Koinonia is a word that has its origins in the ancient Christian community.  It indicates shared experience, which can be applied on several different levels.  It includes my participation and contribution to the whole.  I have a part to play, however small it may seem (at the time), and even if that contribution is not acknowledged by others, it is a stand out to God my Father. 

So back to my Fender fiasco.  A few other considerations:

  • When one strings pops, the others can still continue the song. And when one member of the Body of Christ “over-stretches”, the others can continue the work while the wounded one is gently wrapped around the Headstock until the situation is repaired.
  • Of course, some don’t want to be repaired. Their “break” is, unfortunately, with fellowship altogether.  This is particularly tragic, but offenses still happen and the work of building God’s kingdom is still our mandate.
  • Now, this kind of break generally throws the whole instrument out of tune. Out of tune is just ugly.  It’s best to just STOP, admit the problem regardless how interruptive or awkward, and with the help of others to get back in tune before starting the next song.  Otherwise, the whole song is pretty well useless and distracting.  (I won’t insult you by explaining the obvious comparisons…) 

Admittedly, I can be a bit of a procrastinator.  Some of the team members are gone this coming Sunday, you know, ones that helped cover the distraction of my worn out string.  I finally got the rest of the strings replaced, and now they are s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g so that they will (hopefully) stay in tune tomorrow.  New strings take time.  But that’s for another analogy.

Koinonia is a powerful thing. 

Are you in tune with the rest of the band?    

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

(by John Fawett)

Fit as a Puzzle

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All right, ladies, ‘fess up.  How many pairs of black shoes (boots included) do YOU have?  Never mind the excuses of why you absolutely needed that third pair of spikes.  The point here is that we like our choices, and when we’re tired of one pair, we can get rid of them (because, see, that’s when I like to buy them, once your shoes hit the second hand stores….okay, there, I ‘fessed up) and easily purchase another.

Unfortunately, that same “unalienable right” of choice—at least, that’s how we tend to see it in the 21st century—plays out in many other facets of our lives, and even more unfortunately, in our church relationships.  We can Continue reading “Fit as a Puzzle”