It's twofer tuesday!

I didn't really want to put this in the last post, so aren't you lucky that you get two on tuesday?
The halloween party is tomorrow. All the eggs are finally done, stuff is coming together. I'm pretty stoked, I think it will be great.
There have been so many people helping, families serving together and people on their own. There are two families in particular that have been there every step of the way and will be with us on Wednesday. I don't want to call them out so I'll just say their awesome.
Last Friday the grown ups were all sitting in one room stuffing eggs and the kids, 5 of them total, were in the other room. The grown ups were telling me about 1 of the kids. We'll call her S. They said that S didn't really want to get involved. That S was having issues with the other kids and S and the other kids would just fight like cats and dogs.
I saw S on Sunday. I would talk to her, joke with her and the sort. It took awhile, but she started smiling and talking, and once (maybe on accident) laughed. Monday we were stuffing even more eggs. When I got to the offices where they were doing this she was sitting on the floor with her legs pulled to her chest. She looked......dejected, rejected, and more then a little angry and sad. She looked like I felt for many many years. Dutifully going places my parents dragged me, not being outwardly hostile unless provoked. S has been tugging at my heart. She's only maybe 14 or 15. But I so understand that simmering anger and sadness. So I went over and asked her if she wanted to help me with some eggs. She smiled and said yes. She helped me get chairs around and while we were putting eggs together we chatted about our favorite color of starburst, or our favorite hershey's mini bar.
I don't know exactly if it's me, or if it's just that someone is taking the time to single her out. I don't know the story behind her life, or if I'm even accurate in my assesment of her "attitude". All I know it, I'm so glad that I know her. I'm glad that even if it's her laughing at me, she is laughing.

To me, this is the crux of serving. It's great and tangibly does things for other people. But the collateral effect is that the people that are serving are changed. S and I probably would have never said more then 2 words to each other without this. I wouldn't constantly be humbled in realizing what I have, instead of what I have not.
I am constantly amazed at the way God has worked in my life, and is still working. If you would have asked anyone less then 5 years ago if I would have turned into an optimist, into someone that wasn't seeking out things to be angry about, they would have been hard pressed to say yes. Most of them would have laughed and said who on earth do you think you're talking about.

The least I can do for a God that big, that loving and awesome, is love and serve others. The least.

Am I allowed to just bitch?

Because apparently I'm not. Apparently everything is just always my fault. I know, you feel so terrible for me right?
Maybe having a blogger that I can access at work is not a good idea. Because now it is my lunch break and I am so damn infuriated with someone and I know that it will calm down, but I don't even want to look at them let alone speak with them at the moment.
When someone comes to me with a way that I have hurt them, offended them, or wronged them I apologize. Whether I agree with what they're saying or not. I just apologize because I think that it's terrible to be so dismissive of someones feelings about something. Case in point my entry several posts ago about the same person I'm talking about here. They feel very comfortable letting me know when I've done something that makes them feel bad, feel like they're not being handled with kid-gloves. I apologized, and none of that "I'm sorry you feel that way" crap because that's almost worse then not apologizing at all.
However, today, I had a reason to be blindly filled with rage towards this person. Whether they agree with my reasons or not is beside the point. So I calm down enough to ask the person about this situation, because that's the fair thing to do right? Not just run to "mommy" with all my complaints....in the words of this person. What happens? I'm dismissed. "There is no real reason for you to be upset, you're blowing this out of proportion". I mean seriously. It just irritates me.
What else, what else. I hate just bitching. I feel like if the options are for me to get over myself and to start banging heads with people I"ll just get over myself. When I say that though people always assume that means I'm swallowing my feelings and not feeling anything again...and that leads no where nice for me. But I'm not sure that I am. I'm just trying to correctly interpret what is worth getting all worked up over and what isn't. It really has saved a lot of time in the last few years.....time that would have been spent just pissing and moaning about how unfair life is and it changes nothing. Does that make sense?
Hmmm....examples maybe would help.
My friend and her best friend had a falling out, and the next time they "saw" each other was when my friend was dead and at her viewing. Now, the reason they had gone separate ways was right, was worth the "trouble". But it still made a ridiculously huge imprint on me. I have 5 uncles, all my dad's brothers. Two of them have fought, and I mean fought like dogs over who has done more for each other. They're OK now, it's been 6 or so years since that fight. But at the time, they weren't speaking to each other at all, unless it was with fiery sharp words intended to hurt. One of them was getting ready to move to UK for almost 2 years. What's more important, being right or knowing that if someone happens to someone you love that they know, inspite of everything, that you love them? To me, being right is hardly ever worth a broken relationship, a rift that will take years to repair, and will still probably leave things worse then they were to begin with.
So I don't really know. I"m not pretending for even a second that I have the answers to your reasons for broken relationships. But the bottom line question that I ask myself is, "If I or this person (people) were to die today, would being right really matter?" With no exceptions in the last 2 years, the answer has been a resounding no. It's just not important.
The other thing that comes to mind in these situations for me is this: what is the image that I'm giving of a Christian when I bitterly hold on to being right instead of loving? How does that question reconcile itself with everyday situations? The situation that I "just want to bitch" about is really not that important. The person I'm upset with is an acquaintance and we're friendly, but I wouldn't say we're friends outside of situations that we're not both required to attend. My communicating to her that I "love" her isn't necessarily the driving point behind this issue. The issue for me, and is most of the time, is this: if this person doesn't have a relationship with Christ, and they know I do, what message am I sending to them? I know that many of you may think that it's not even an issue because they will realize that I'm not Christ. But do I not represent him?
Before I was saved I would look at these "Christians" and I would stomp my foot, cross my arms, and vow to never believe in God because of those douche bags. So I KNOW that there are people that will seek out Christians to see what Christ is like. How could I do that to the image of Christ? How could I misrepresent him in such a grotesque angry way? I just can't.

So if that means that I don't "get" to be angry, that I don't "get" to throw a temper tantrum when I feel slighted or treated poorly then so be it. That and so much more is worth it if it encourages even one person to step one step closer to salvation in Christ.


Is it worth the cost?

I was watching 60 Minutes last night and they were doing a series of interviews with people in Afghanistan about one specific bombing that happened. US Defense said they bombed because they had Intel that OBL's second in command was there with his family. Well, they were partially right. The second in commands family of 10 was there. Only 1 survived, a son that was about 7 maybe. Understandably the Afghans view on the "saving grace" of America has changed a bit. I realize that my cynicism of America is coming out a lot on here as opposed to other places, and I'm not entirely sure why. Most days I don't think about it to much, but lately I'm just weary of the complaining about how hard it is to afford coffee and technology we don't actually need. But I digress.....
The interviewer was talking to the DOD or some super important thing like that, and was asking him about the aforementioned bombing. The interview guy said the cost of the bombing was analyzed to make sure the cost wasn't to high for the chance to kill this second in command. The 60 Minutes guy said, "but is it worth the cost?" My question exactly.
Do you ever have those moments when your ears prick up and the rest of the content fades away and all you can focus on is that one clarifying question, statement, thought? It happens to me a lot. Where do you think these blogs come from?
Is this anger, this vengeance, this blood thirsty need to get even worth the cost of our separateness, of our hatred, or our broken families, friendships, and relationships? Is the lust and instant release (sorry) worth the repercussions of an accidental baby that ties you to someone you loathe for the rest of your life? Please please I'm not saying the baby isn't worth it but I am pressed to come up with 3 examples of people that make that scenario work and work well. For that matter, is it worth the gratification when you look in the mirror and see someone that you loathe because of the actions you partook in the night before?
The cost is to high to traipse through life all accidental like, it's to high to storm out of the room tossing hate filled words over your shoulder. The cost is to high to not be kind, patient, generous.
Ah yes, how easy it is for the girl to say I think. I have this perception that people think so little of me, that they think I can't be on this soapbox because I don't have a lot of strife in my life. But why don't I?
I have been working on this Halloween party for church this week. Late nights at the end of a day started super early, followed by another day just the same. It's just stuffing eggs people, it's just candy and eggs. What matters is the conversations that were started. Meeting Joan, getting to know the Burtons more. Serving others. This keeps me from focusing on my not having a computer, on my not having someone warm waiting at home (well that isn't a kitten).
The fastest way I can think of to get out of the dumps is start serving others, it works 100% of the time for me.
If servant evangelism is reaping you large rewards, can it still be considered servant evangelism?

Haves and Have Nots

So since last week I have been computerless at home. I don't have the money to buy a new one, and probably won't for about 1-2 months. I have been FRANTIC trying to manipulate my budget, talk myself into applying for credit cards that will grow out of control because I have little credit card willpower, and the like just to get a computer at home. Really? I mean, it's a computer, it's just a computer. I still have one at work that I can use to chat with you fine folks and email. My sister lives 3 miles away so I can use hers if needed. So what is all this bitching in my head about?I went to the shelter today and served. It was about 37 degrees in Cincinnati today. All I could think about as I shook those cold hands is that even though I am computer less, I HAVE. I have a car with working heat and a full tank of gas. I have a job that pays me better then necessary for the work that I do, I have a home that has heat, a warm bed, food in the cupboards, and two maniacial kittens in it. I have a coat, blankets, sweatshirts, cash, parents that love me, friends that get in touch with me when I disappeer from the computer for long periods of time. I HAVE.So what is all this bitching about in my head?Slowly and surely the constant focus on what I have not is fading, and is being replaced by focus on what I have, have for myself, and have to give to others.God is so good.


Life is so Hard

I really wish people would grow thicker skin. I'm tried of pussy footing around people that get their feelings hurt everytime you don't cater to their every whim. I mean c'mon...are there not better things to worry about in this world then if you're feeling appreciated by every single person around you?
So many people just withdraw into their shell of self-absorption and cry about how hard their life is in America. Really? I get that you have problems, but could you maybe understand that our life is not the hardest, that our life here in America has running water, relative safety, and all sorts of other things. Do you think your feelings could get out of your way for a minute and you can realize you are not the only person to get their feelings hurt?
You know I'd like to say this makes me feel better, but it doesn't. Complaining like this just makes me feel self-absorbed and like I'm crying about how hard my life is....


Amahoro: The word means peace

I'm reading "Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope" by Brian McLaren. If you've ever been around me when I'm reading a book that I love, you already know my propensity to reading parts aloud. Well, if this is as close as I can get then so be it!

"But most of what I had heard religious people say about Jesus related to (a) how some inividuals could go to heaven after death, or (b) in the meantime, how some individuals could be more personally happy and successful through God and the Bible. Jesus, as someone focused on individuals and the afterlife, seemed to have little to offer regarding, pressing global matters. This common assumption, I hope to show, is false. Additional questions flowed from the tension between the original two: Why hasn't Christian religion made a difference commensurate with its message, size, and resources? What would need to happen for follwers of Jesus to become a greater force for good in relation to the world's top problems? How could we make a positive difference?"

I was talking to one of the baptists serving at CGM this morning. Talking about the lip service that is given to God, the preaching of his word but no living it. Worse yet, what about those that live it only when the rewards of living it suit their needs? Why are some Christians only drawn to helping others when it benefits them, when it makes them comfortable, when it smells nice, doesn't get them dirty, and doesn't come at inconvenient times? Why aren't more family units that are able to serving others as a family? How can parents complain that their kids don't have any idea how good they have it, when they don't show them how things can be different?I'm in no way saying the message of the saving grace of a relationship with Jesus Christ is unimportant. That is the important part of the equation. But, say someone enters into a relationship with Christ. Then what? Should people stagnate, stay still and not grow, or dare I say, evolve in their relationship with Christ? Not to mention, how can people that believe in the Lord's prayer that reads, "Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven" (well and then some but this will already be long enough as it is). But, how can people repeat that prayer as if it's just words, just a routine saying? How can you look around this world, your community, your neighborhood, your own home and not be moved to help, to serve, to improve the lives, the hopes of people?Brian McLaren writes of a time he spent in Barundi Africa. It's the sister country to Rwanda, which should ring a bell to most of you. The friend that he went to see was a Pastor named Claude.

Claude said, "Over the years, I have come to realize that something is wrong with the way we understand Jesus and the good news. Something is missing in the version of the Christian religion we received from the missionaries, which is the message we now preach ourselves. They told us how to go to heaven. But they left out an important detail. They didn't tell us how the will of God could be done on earth. We need to learn what the message of Jesus says to our situation here is East Africa."

I was blown away, and then I read Brian McLaren's thoughts on that statement...

"As he spoke, I thought, this is not just an African problem. The same has been true here in the Americas where I live, as it has been in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and Asia. Did North American church leaders teach the early colonists to treat the Native Peoples with love and respect? Did they consistently and with one voice oppose slavery because it was an assault on the dignity of fellow human beings? Later in our history, did they express outrage over the exploitation of factory workers or the second-class status of women? Did they stand up for refugees and immigrants? Did they oppose white privilage, segregation, anti-Semitism, stereotyping of Muslims, and other forms of ethnic prejudice? Did they see the environment as God's sacred creation that deserves to be cherished and conserved? 'Well,' you might say, 'some got it right'. But you would have to agree: too few, and too late. most were preoccupied with other matters-arguments about religious esoterica, fights over arcane biblical interpretations, fanciful escapes into theological speculation, heat and fury over drinking or gambling or playing cards or using tobacco, controversies over whether guitars and drums can be used in worship gatherings or whether only pianos and organs produce holy music, and other matters that-in comparison to racism, genocide, carelessness toward the poor and various minorities, exploitation of the environment, and unjust war-seem shamefuuly trivial, weapons of mass distraction."

We spend so much time espousing on things that have little consequence. Tearing each other down, judging and picking apart other peoples beliefs and lives. Why? What purpose does it serve? Most of the time, it doesn't even make the person tearing others apart feel any better, and that's about the only purpose I can think of.But you know, there are days that I don't want to be kind, days I don't want to even speak to other people. On those days, when I extend to others what I think I don't have to give anymore, it shows up. Somehow, the energy, the love, the passion, it shows up and it is always worth focusing on someone other then myself.

"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."-MLK jr


The American Way

Is it terrible that I'm weary of the American way and that I can't even stop myself from gorging on it?