Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Reluctant Tadpole

This is Tad. He lives at our house and has since we did our "Life Cycles" unit in Science in August. Our cats enjoy him very much! (Thank goodness the tub he's in has a lid!)

Tad is a reluctant tadpole. He will eventually go through a metamorphosis and become a leopard frog. According to the directions that came with him, it should take 12-15 weeks for a complete metamorphosis...

Count that out... He's been here since August...

Tad is apparently a bit reluctant to go on to the next stage of development. His back legs are minute. He has a bulge on one side for his supposedly-developing front legs, but not on the other. His back legs have not grown at all.

I started feeding him fresh salad in addition to his commercial tadpole food (Yes, there is such a thing!). I figured out a way to warm up his water a bit, hoping that he would eat more and develop. And he IS eating more; he loves the lettuce leaves! He's more active, too.

But he's not developing into a frog.

I was joking about the tadpole being reluctant to mature when I realized that at times I've been reluctant to mature, especially as a Christian. Maybe  you have, too?

When we choose to skip reading our Bible daily, but we have time for Facebook, Twitter, etc, we are choosing not to mature as Christians.

When we attend church passively, attention drifting through the service, we are choosing not to mature as Christians.

It takes intention to mature, at least for us. I'm not sure that Tad needs to want to turn into a frog...

But for us, we have to make choices that lead the direction we want to go. We have to choose to attend Bible Study, even if there's a big game on. We have to intentionally set aside time to pray. We have to consider the consequences of a flippant remark on Facebook.

I don't want to be a reluctant tadpole Christian. Do you?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Hanging On

It just took me 2 days to make a phone call... and 15 minutes to throw away a post-it note. The note had just this on it: "Weertz Funeral Home, Thursday 4-6." It also had the phone number of a local florist. I ordered flowers for my dear aunt's funeral visitation and funeral this coming week.

And it was hard.

Oh! So. Hard.

We're not the only ones suffering from this particular loss, nor is this loss the only one happening today. I have a friend who lost her brother this week, after losing both of her parents within the last year or so. There are many here on the reservation who grieve. Grieving seems universal.

And it's so very difficult.

This morning, in my tears, I asked the Lord to comfort my grieving heart. I turned to the Bible for a word about grief. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16 came up when I searched for "grief." These words from those verses bring me relief: For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

My aunt knew her Lord and Savior. She was a living example of faithfulness. I know she was received into the arms of Jesus when she closed her eyes. This promise in Thessalonians reminded me that she is God's first, not mine. And that she will be raised with the saints when Jesus comes back.


I am still sad saying good-bye to my aunt, ordering funeral flowers, and throwing away a post-it note. Canceling the phone line we've carried for her for several years brought me to tears again, but I know she is with our Lord.

And that is comfort indeed.

Peace, comfort, blessings, and sure knowledge of our Savior is what I pray for each person grieving.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Aunt Della

My Aunt Della passed away this morning. 
Everyone should have an "Aunt Della" in their life. Aunt Della was my mother's oldest sister. She was in her teens when my mother was born, and her older children were about my mom's age. 

She was no stranger to tragedy; her second child (her only daughter) died of cancer when she was five years old. My Aunt Della had two more children, both boys. I was the next girl born in the family (13 years and many boys later!), and my aunt doted on me. I was so very blessed to be her niece.

My Aunt Della was a woman of deep faith, and she lived it. She spent many years studying God's Word and serving others. She was a mentor to many, and always had wise words to share. Until the last year, she was still sewing clothes and diapers for a mission in Haiti!

She was also a woman of great joy. She was still doing cartwheels regularly when she was 74. When people visited her in her 90s, she insisted on giving up her bed to the guests. She always seemed to "roll with the punches" and come up praising God.

We knew Aunt Della was failing; she was 94 and had a brain aneurysm. We had visited her in August of last year, and I'm so glad we did. Even then, she was witty and happy. She asked about my brother, and talked about silly things we had all done over the years. It was bittersweet to hold her hands in mine and tell her I loved her so very much. That she was a joy in my life.

One of the highest praises I could receive in this world is to be told, "You're just like your Aunt Della." I pray that I can be a beacon of light to the world around me like she was. I pray I can be helpful and loving and serving through all my years. I have been greatly blessed by having her in my life, and I am buoyed by the sure knowledge that she is with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Monday, January 18, 2016

MLK in the Days of #Black Lives Matter

I was born in 1961, which means that Martin Luther King, Jr. was alive and actively working for civil rights during my early childhood. I remember seeing him on TV with crowds of people surrounding him.

I also remember my (White) police officer (birth)father standing by the door in uniform, beating his nightstick into his hand saying, "I'm gonna go beat n*%$#* heads in!" (c 1968)

And I remember my (White) mom sharply reprimanding him, "Don't say that in front of the kids!" And I started paying more attention.

I remember learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. in high school history classes and seeing photographs that were in my memory from live TV. And I remember teaching about MLK, naively assuming that the "Civil Rights Movement" was history.

And then I became a mom to two African American children.

The world shifted as I realized just how much prejudice there still was in the 1980s and 1990s. I started seeking out and listening to people of color. I began to teach more children of color and realized that their world was vastly different from mine. And my world changed as I raised children of color; when I was with my growing AA children, I was treated with less respect, with more suspicion, and sometimes outright discrimination. And I know this was nothing compared to what my children have faced as adults.

And then came Trayvon Martin... Michael Brown... Eric Garner...Walter Scott... Sandra Bland... Tamir Rice...

The #BlackLivesMatter movement has become the new Civil Rights Movement. People of color and their allies are organizing protests to the institutional racism that permeates our society.

The thing that "gets" me is the almost universal backlash from the White community. I know (and love) many people that think that #BlackLivesMatter is frivolous. That there isn't racism anymore; after all, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement "fixed it all." Right?

Sometimes I am infuriated by the unwillingness of many Whites to accept the testimony of people of color who are living the discrimination. How can so many refuse to believe the personal testimony of people of color?! The privilege of ignoring racism belongs only to those who don't experience it.

I find myself wondering today what Martin Luther King, Jr. would say about #BlackLivesMatter. So I looked back through his speeches, quotes, and writings. Here's  a bit of what I found that seems to be relevant(MLK quotes are in red; my comments are in black):

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. It is not easy to respond to accusations of racism with an open mind, but that is the challenge for the White community. Yes, it's controversial, but the least we can do is listen. So, I challenge you to open your mind and read one of these posts from Black writers: Why I'm Absolutely an Angry Black Woman, Make it Personal, After Ferguson, or watch this video. Or read and listen to activists of your choice.

One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. MLK would completely support the BLM protests in Minneapolis and St. Paul which closed roads and the Mall of America. King would be in jail with the organizers. He would not condone the violence of rioting, but he would certainly understand the anger behind it.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Martin Luther King Jr. was not a warm-fuzzy, "let's all get along now" kind of guy. He knew the price of resistance, and he paid it in full. The problem is that the "bad check" marked "insufficient funds" from the "bank of justice" still is not paid. (references from King's "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963) King would not be satisfied with today's racial statistics in education, poverty, and incarceration, not to mention the pattern of violence directed toward Blacks from police across the nation.

Shallow understand by people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Read that again. King condemned shallow understanding by people of good will. He would condemn #AllLivesMatter. He would condemn those who believe being "color-blind" is the answer. He would condemn feel-good commemorations of his life. He would demand that the injustices were seen.

I don't have any easy answers. I don't think there are any easy answers to institutional racism, generational poverty, and police violence toward people of color. But I do think we need to listen, to actively resist racism, and to work for justice.

Start by listening.

Really listening.

Not to me. To the oppressed.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Guard My Ways

In our youth program, AWANA, we memorize scripture. The very best help I've ever found for memorizing scripture is DVDs from Seeds Family Worship, which are full of songs that are word-by-word scripture. One of our AWANA favorites is Psalm 119:9-11: "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word. With my whole heart, I seek You. Let me not wander from Your commandments. I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You."

I've been convicted by this verse! It's so easy for us Christians to look at our lives and say, "I'm doing a pretty good job at this following-the-rules thing!" No, I'm not a murderer. I don't steal things. But the Bible tells us that "...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 8:23) I am a sinner, which separates me from God just as surely as if I were a murderer or thief.

So I need to guard my way according to God's Word. I need to read the Bible and apply it to myself, not point fingers at others. I need to study my life and learn to love God with all my heart, with all my strength, and with all my mind. I need to ask His help in doing these things because I am incapable of succeeding on my own.

This message came home to me this week in an unusual way: My habit of late is to watch a show on Netflix while I complete other tasks, like washing dishes or working on glass. Occasionally, I get "hooked" on a show and watch several episodes in a couple of days. I'm not watching "bad" shows, by any measure, but I realized that I was watching instead of reading insights into the Bible and God. I realized that I was watching instead of listening to Christian radio. I realized I was using my time to follow the story of the TV show instead of using my time to follow Christ.

Now, I don't believe that TV is evil, in and of itself. I don't believe that the shows I watch are evil. But I do see how watching these shows is eating up time I could use to learn more about God. And I do see how my mind is churning to understand what's going on in the shows instead of churning on what is going on in the Bible, in my life, or our world.

So, my plan at this point is to spend more time listening to Christian songs, reading Christian books, and studying my Bible. I'm not planning to give up Netflix, but I am limiting myself to one show per day. No more binges. I'm going to be intentional about pursuing Christ. With my whole heart I seek You.


Sunday, January 10, 2016


These masks are a symbol of the theater, and I created them as a gift for our 9-yr-old's wonderful theater teacher. After I took this picture, I realized they are symbols for our lives, as well.

See, the smiling mask is "Comedy," and represents those times in our lives that are not simply comedic, but are happy and feel good. And the "Tragedy" mask represents those inevitable times of personal or corporate tragedy or darkness in our lives.

The most important thing these masks reminded me of is that through good times and bad times, God is with me. My husband and I recently had a conversation about the phrase "God is my Co-Pilot." He asked me what I thought of that statement. I looked at him for a moment, and then I said, "God is my Pilot, not my Co-Pilot. I'm not even in the cockpit!"

In good times, God is my Pilot.

In bad time, God is my Pilot.

I haven't been writing much lately. But this is worth writing: When God is your Pilot, all things work for your good.  ALL things, even those we'd rather avoid. Cling to this during those trials that inevitably come in our lives. And cling to this during the wonderful times that we'd love to have stay forever.