Sunday, June 28, 2015

Four Things This Christian Wants to Say About the Supreme Court Ruling:

I have been mulling the Supreme Court decision of this week. You would have to live under a rock not to know that the US Supreme Court ruled that marriage between two men or two women is now legal across our land. I have four things to say about that, and I might surprise you!

1) We do not have to agree to be kind and respectful of one another.
I have read and seen some very unkind things from both sides of this issue. There is no need to hate others because they believe something different from you. We do not have the right to demand that everyone agrees with us!

2) This is not a theocracy. 
Thank God! (Irony intended.) The United States of America is not a theocracy, and I'm glad. There is no guarantee that the people in power will agree with me! And I believe that I should be free to believe in the way that God moves me to believe. This is the same reasoning that allowed me to be a committed Christian, but teach in a public school. I wouldn't want MY children taught someone else's beliefs; therefore, I shouldn't teach mine either.

The final two statements are more from a Christian perspective than the first two. In these, I assume that Christians may hold positions on both sides of this issue. In fact, I purposefully do not reveal my stance because it does not matter!

3) A sin is a sin is a sin.
Even for those Christians who believe firmly that homosexuality is a sin, this should make a difference. One sin is not worse than another. Romans 8:23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Jesus tells us that just being angry is as much of a sin as murder! (Matthew 5:21-22) There is no distinction. Should Christians spew hate at gluttons? At people who cohabit prior to marriage? We Christians should not be in the business of condemnation. Period. Sin is between the person and God; the rest of us should stay out of it.

4) Jesus told us to love one another. 
John 13:34 says that we are to love one another as Christ first loved us. Jesus didn't hate sinners! He loved us. And then he told us to love each other. He didn't say, "Love your neighbor as yourself, unless he's ___________." ANY word can go in that blank because Jesus didn't exclude anyone. And neither should we.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Left Behind

This piece is called "Good." It represents God's creation as depicted in Genesis. A dear friend's husband bought it for her on their fiftieth anniversary. It has brought me much joy to know that she had it!

That dear friend died this week. She lost her fight with cancer and went to join her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have no doubts that this beautiful sister in Christ is out of pain and praising our God.

It is the third significant loss I have faced in 2015. Most of  you know about our 2 year old granddaughter's tragic death in February. And in March one of my mother's sisters passed away completely unexpectedly.

At this time, between my husband and me, we have one aunt, one uncle, and one parent suffering from a terminal illness. One is in hospice care. One is continuing to do well. And one is failing at home. Blessedly, each of these ailing family members is a Christian, which gives me hope of being with them again. But it still sometimes feels overwhelming...

I know I'm not alone. I hear people talk about their losses. Sometimes multiple losses. I know people who have lost many more loved ones than I have at this point. And I know that I will lose more as time goes on.

So how do we, as Christians, process these losses? How do we face a future without our child(ren), without our grandchild(ren), without our parent(s), without our sibling(s)? It seems so bleak to be left behind.

Our hope is in You, Oh God. In You. (Psalm 39:7) Even our nations put their hope in Jesus Christ! (Matthew 12:21) "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful."(Hebrews 10:23)

The key is in that last Scripture: "...for He who promised is faithful." Not US. He who promised. Our Lord, Jesus Christ. We can depend on Him. We can hope in Him. We can be assured that what He promises is true.

So on these days when we feel overwhelmed by loss (or potential loss), let us hold tightly to He-who-promised. To Jesus. Emmanuel. God with us.

We are not alone. We will never be alone. He walks with us. To that we cling in times like these.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Happy Fathers' Day.

It's not a punctuation error that the title is "Happy Fathers' Day" instead of "Happy Father's Day." I hated Father's Day with a passion until my youngest daughter made my new husband a father with me six years ago. My current husband is a GREAT father to our little one, but even that didn't completely take the sour out of my heart about my own father, and therefore about Father's Day.

My biological father was abusive to me when he lived with us. He has been an erratic presence in my life as an adult, and more than seven years ago told me he didn't want to be my dad anymore. When we moved to New Mexico, I sent him a Christmas card with our new address. His response? To send every. single. thing. I had ever given him (or my children had ever given to him) to me in an unmarked box with a note saying basically, "Don't ever bother me again."

So you can see why Father's Day hasn't been a banner holiday for me. I took solace in my Heavenly Father, which soothed most of the pain, but I still didn't like the day. I always called my stepdad and wished him a happy day, but I was still holding something back.

Two things have happened to change this for 2015:

1. My mother's husband of 27 years wrote a note in my birthday card: "To My Daughter~." When I opened it, tears of joy filled my eyes. My stepdad has always been kind and accepting of me and my kids; he is definitely their grandpa, but he's never referred to me as his very own daughter till now. It filled my heart with gladness.

2. My first stepdad (my mom and he were married during my teenage years) stopped by our home on his way to the Grand Canyon. We have always maintained a relationship, but it hasn't been super-close, even though I've always thought of him as one of my dads. Anyway, in spending a day and night with us, we rekindled our relationship. We talked about my childhood, and I guess I surprised him when I said that he changed my life.

He did. He opened my eyes to so many things! He's the guy who taught me to fix cars and use tools. He's the man who took me camping and taught me to love nature. He's the guy who sparked my interest in geology. He's the father who taught me to trust some adult men.

After my first stepdad returned home, he sent me a heartfelt email, apologizing for not fulfilling the role of father after my mom and he divorced (not that he was obligated to do so!!). He also said that he'd like to be a grandfather for our daughter, if we would let him. Our daughter has a bunch of grandfathers, but as my mom always said, "The more people who love you, the better!" I responded positively, and then said that I knew he wasn't really even old enough to be my dad (He's only 13 years older than I am!), but that I have always thought of him as a dad. He accepted that role, too, and we welcomed him into our lives. It has been wonderful in many ways already!

So this year, 2015, I am not fatherless. I have an abundance of fathers! I am blessed by my Heavenly Father, of course, but He has also fully opened the door to my heart for two more fathers. I am blessed in so many ways, and this has filled a hole that has been in my life for a very long time. Shopping for Father's Day cards was a joy instead of a burden. I have two phone calls to make on Father's Day, and both men think of me in some way as their very own daughter.

I have two things to add to this:

1. If you are a father in any way to any children (young or grown), please reach out to them. Even if it's been years since you've been in their lives. Even if you are part of their daily life and family. Reach out. You may be the father that can heal their hearts of great pain.

2. Happy Father's Day! And I can really feel that honestly this year. Thank you, God. Amen.