Saturday, July 30, 2011

The margarita and how church fanatics sold me down the river

We are all an elder to someone...
 The dictionary defines an elder as someone older or higher in rank.  In that case, we are all an elder to someone and someone is always an elder to us.  I was in my late 30's when it occurred to me that I am now an elder to teens and twenty-somethings.  To be honest, I wasn't too happy about it. I think it's easier to eat of the buffet of wisdom than to serve it properly to others.  It got me thinking of things I had not thought of in a long time.  I was so ignorant in my 20's and I have lots of rejection slips to prove it.  Today I'll mention one of them.

Not everyone has an honest mother, father, or even friend in their life who will say the hard things like, "You talk too much and dominate conversations.  Please chill out because you are driving people crazy."  Yeah...not everyone has one of those iron sharpening iron people in their life.  There will be times when we need to lovingly approach a person.  We can't assume people are doing things just to make our lives aggravating and then proceed to tell everyone.  It's really not all about us.

The margarita and how church fanatics sold me down the river
When I about twenty years old I was asked to teach an aerobics class at a local church.  I enjoyed the ladies and everyone was very friendly.  I enjoyed the Bible readings and prayers at the end of class.  At the time, I was not attending a church.  I would go out with my "friends" to the Mexican place and have drinks.  One day in class I mentioned that I had a margarita over the weekend as we were chatting before class.  I wasn't married with kids so that's about all I had to say about what I'd done.  It was my contribution!  About a week later, I get a call from the head over the aerobics, super nice lady inviting me to come visit at her house.  I was so, so excited!!  She wants to be my friend!  She likes me!  WOW!  This is so amazing!  She doesn't want anything from me other than to just visit - with ME!  Thank you Lord for bringing me to these people!  

I remember driving to her house and gawking at how big the homes were with their bible named roads.  I thought that was so neat that such a nice Christian lady lived in a neighborhood where the streets were paved with Bible heroes.  It must be great to be a Christian wife, mother, and leader of the aerobics department at church.  And so, after we sat down she complained about her husband a little but I just figured she liked me so much she could easily share that, right?  And then, at the end of this long friendly overture, she brought up the (drum roll please) MARGARITA!  I was dumbfounded and stunned.  The color drained from my face as all I could hear after that was, "This was a joke.  She doesn't like you.  She is just relaying the message from the ladies in the class.  The ladies in the class don't care about you, in fact they are too chicken to even tell you this so they asked her.  Super Christian lady, aerobics leader, in the fancy house, probably resents having to waste her busy time on the likes of you and your drinking and partying ways.  How dare you mention that in a church?  Are you crazy?  Everyone *knows* this religion doesn't allow drinking!?!"
I left the house feeling so very small.  I stopped teaching the class not long after that and have never gone back to that church.  Church lady never called or invited me to her house again.  There was no one in my life to say, "I love you.  We love you.  Keep teaching our class even though you have a margarita."  I wasn't even mad at them, I was just so hurt because once again, I had broken one of those unspoken and unwritten rules.  The rule is "Be sure to follow the rules we don't tell you about."  I realized that to be with them, I had to be *like* them and I wasn't.

Today God warmly reminds me of a truth articulated here:
..even in the midst of rejection, you know you are valuable.  You are worth what was given for you.  God gave Jesus for you, and you are worth that much to him.            
   Friendships for Grown-Ups by Lisa Whelchel

Please know that your witness is more powerful than you think.  Never count yourself and the love you have to give as a small, insignificant thing.  Love everyone and if you need to guide someone pray to do it lovingly and then invite them to your house - again and again.  Prove they are more to you than a call to the principal's office. 

Dayspring Back to School Set Review! WOO HOO!

The entire six piece set! sent me this wonderful set of school supplies.  The opinions about them are my own.

The 3 ring binder folder is very nice.  It's very polished, shiny, and big enough even for my  music.  This is definitely my new worship music folder for church!
When I saw these on the Dayspring site I thought it was more for teens.  But now that I'm holding them, I am seeing so many uses for myself and I am, ahem...38!  Yes, the pink set is for my bible study work at church, home prayer time work, etc.  The black set will hold my music for the praise team.  

Friday, July 29, 2011

Still - Five Minute Reflection

8:53 – 8:58am
I still like to write even though I have less time to do so. I still love to eat even though I have lost 80 lbs. I still have more left to lose and the battle feels brand new some days, almost as if I am back at 306. I laid in bed this morning remembering when my 306 lb sized body took up so much space. Mentally, I still feel I take up that space. It’s amazing how our brain grows to think my new size is as big as my old size. I think that’s why I still stress about weight. Until my mind sees me as beautiful, I will still feel overweight. Of course, there are times I am still proud of my accomplishments, just not as often lately. Trying to lose those last twenty pounds is nothing short of ridiculous. My eating is emotion driven. My big cue is when I have gone a few days and not really felt hungry. That’s my goal this morning – to not eat lunch until I am hungry, no matter what time that might be. Not just eating because I’m bored or because it’s so much more exciting folding my son’s clothes or mopping the floor. But, I will wait until I am hungry, then I will not be beating myself up afterwards. Yes, I still think about and obsess about weight. Not all the time and not every day, just when life throws me a curve ball. I still want to learn how to make true friendships. I’m reading a book on that. Yes, a book on how to be a friend. I never thought I would need one, but the more I read the more I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner. Why didn’t anyone teach me these principles? Thank the Lord for good books.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Even as a parent, I don't decide God's annointing

I keep asking for wisdom from God because the wisdom I can understand and grasp changes.  It's not because God is holding back me some wisdom!  When reviewing the DVD session on David this morning I realized something I had not when I first viewed it.

So David, from the Bible, the guy who wrote many of the psalms?  The one, who with his guitar and probably flowing locks, changed worship in the temple in a radical way?  Well, did you know he grew up pretty humble?  I realized something today about little David.  He was *not* his father's favorite like Mr. Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat.  No, he didn't even make roll call when anointing king time came.  I think this is why his big brothers didn't throw him in a well.  I'll bet his brothers thought it was a big joke.  They likely assumed Saul (the annointing person) was just old and didn't know what he was doing.

I think David remained humble and repentant throughout his life because he wasn't raised to be puffed up.  Oh how I love this!  It goes to show that no one can stop what God wants to use!  As a parent, there is so much pressure to send your kid to this school, that church, hang around those people - not those, spend lots of money on them so they are afforded every extra curricular activity this side of heaven - of course!  But, look at the people God used!  I see affluent people spending THOUSANDS of dollars on their children in the hopes, in the prayer, that they get to play a little big of God by using their nepetism to launch them into jobs, careers, and high society status.  But then, along comes a kid from the projects, single parented, who goes to state college on government loans who proceeds to kick butt and take names.

I want a heart like David!  I want God to use me.  I want to trust God to ignite my paths ablaze.  Let me not be fooled into thinking I can buy or network myself  into man's graces.  It's a masquerade.

Monday, July 25, 2011

An easy life is not the goal, a peaceful life is

I am somehow coming undone this afternoon.  It feels I cannot get enough time and space to just breathe.  I have had a very busy, although fulfilling weekend.  I walked my husband through his baptism, visited a friend, had time to enjoy a nice breakfast and coffee, washed clothes, exercised - all those good and necessary things.  But somehow, the day went by so quickly and I feel like I need more.  I need more time. 

I know what the real culprit is.  I know what it draining my energy like a tiny hole in a bucket.  All my bible studying today doesn't want to fill me like usual.  I am bothered that there are people who are gossiping about me.  I am upset because although I am choosing to love in this situation, there is a part of me that wants to hold a press release and tell the real story, broadcasting it on the nightly news.  Man, I would feel so much better.

I took a free sample read of  Antagonists in the Church.  I guess I will have to buy the thing to figure how to deal with it, but so far they nail my gossipers on the head.  It's kind of uncanny how well personality types can be put in boxes.

I did a little reading in my Made to Crave book because when my wounded self comes out, the food wants to go in.This helped me get out of the kitchen.  I refuse to overeat.

This discussion by Father Robert Barron seems to be nailing it for me.  It's hard to be one of those real, live, Christians.  It's so warm and fuzzy when I can be there for a friend, when I can love those around me the way they deserve.  But then there are days like these when I can hear Jesus saying, "Are you sure you want to be a Christian?"  He brings us to Job where his suffering is based in God's permissive will.  I recognize that a  lack of prosperity, even emotional, is a way for God to "rightly order my soul."  It makes my life, "in a spiritual sense, joyful."  St. Thomas More, an important player in the court of Henry the 8th lost everything!  His home, his status, and in the end, his life.  However he was PROSPEROUS and understood the true treasures that come from heaven.!  Another scholar,  St. Thomas Aquanis would ask, "Why do wicked people seem to prosper?" Aquanis reaches to God's perspective.    The wicked person might even be punished by their prosperity which I will call today - a free pass to gossip with no seeming consequences for themselves.  Why?  The material things could take him away, or make it harder for him to understand the spiritual things.   It's worth a listen.

Note:  If you aren't Catholic, these names might be unfamiliar.  I'm not trying to say that St. Thomas More should have killed Protestants, but he died because he was not allowed to practice his faith in God and that boldness is inspiring.

In this I rest my head and move on with my day.  I move with a sense of enlightenment about pain and suffering.  In my weakness, God is made strong.  May the words of my mouth (public) and the meditations of my heart (private) by acceptable to God.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Community- I really don't like it but I get it.

The clear teaching of the New Testament is that the body of Christ is to be people deeply connected to each other, supporting each other, and filling each other's hearts.
                                               Friendship for Grown-Ups  by Lisa Whelchel

Community.  Yuck.  I rebel against it.  I don't want to need it.  Yet everyone time I turn around I read about it or it's the topic of the sermon on Sunday.   I know what evil things a community can dish out.  Sadly, I saw this in so many ways throughout my childhood, and later in adulthood. 
Our words become the mirror in which others see themselves
                                       The Power of a Woman's Words by Sharon Jaynes

My identity was not in Christ and what He did for me.  I had my arms and legs wrapped so tightly around the approval of others that their rejection just broke me in a thousand little pieces.  Their words were my daily portion.  And yet I somehow could not learn the healthy balance of needing community and needing approval.
God made us to need Him and each other.  We need God.  We need his Word.  We need each other.
                                                   Friendship for Grown-Ups  by Lisa Whelchel

When I was around someone who gossiped I took it as a personal challenge that I could be a person that was so wonderful, so good, so great, that they would never speak ill of me.  Geez, that is so ridiculous just typing it!  It's that same game that comes from movies where the hunky, jerky guy always falls for the awkward girl and he totally changes his ways.  I think that's giving we humans the power that belongs to God. Only God can rearrange our souls.  No one can to it for me nor I them.  So, how do I live in community with all these expectations?  With all these fears of judgement?

Grace.  And lots of it.

Grace is nothing more nor less than the face that love wears when it meets imperfection, weakness, failure, sin"
                                     Friendship for Grown-Ups  by Lisa Whelchel
I never thought of grace this way.  I need it not only for others, but when looking at my own faults and shortcomings.  The only one with enough grace to cover all of us is Jesus.  And so, daily I pray and work towards losing my dependance and slowly loosening my grip on the approval of others.  In doing so, I find the most glorious freedom through Christ.  This freedom is not the same as the freedom of my own "Hey who cares what anyone thinks because I'm me so take THAT!"  No, this freedom is knowing that God loves me the way I was, the way I am, and the way I will be.  He loves me more and he knows me best.  No human can out do that, it is just not possible.  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Revelation Song - Revelation Moment

I teach piano.  Although most of my students attend some kind of church, most of them have little to no interest in learning the music of their faith or even see themselves playing for church.  Although I don't mind, not all of us are meant for church playing, I can't help but remember how playing for the church was the only reason, the one thing, that made me want to learn to play piano.  My family saw no separation between what I played, including my ability to play, and the One for whom I played.  I never knew who ACDC was until I was in high school.  My days were filled with bible songs and going to singings.  My heroes were Debbie Van Huis of the Twin City Singers who could sing and play on an electric piano!  It was a red head named Katherine at Davis Crossing Baptist Church who could play by ear and read music with fingers as quick as lightening, never missing a beat as she yelled the key to the guitar players who scrambled to keep pace.  It was my Aunt Doris and Cousin Tammy, self-taught,  who showed me how to transpose keys if a song was too high.  These were my heroes and the only job description I wanted was the one that said "pianist" in the church bulletin.

This week I asked a student if there was a worship song she might like to learn.  She said "Revelation Song" by Kari Jobe was on her ipod.  She was hesitant because she knew some of those songs can be hard for her level.  She's a sixth grader.  I told her I had recently come to find more places to find music and I would look for a good arrangement.   I found a fantastic, simplistic, arrangement on Lifeway Worship for $1.49 and I grabbed it.  Well, it was actually free because for following them on twitter I received two free downloads.  Nice. I printed the piece and sent her home to go for it.

She came back to the next lesson with the entire song in nice sheet protectors and a new worship binder.  She had learned the piece and kind of blew me away.  While listening to her, I started crying!  I was almost embarrassed.  I mean, I was so caught off guard by the tears and my own reaction.

I have played for every religion you can name at least once and I can tell you with certainty that liturgical/church/worship musicians are becoming fewer and far between.  Even more, truly qualified musicians, you know the ones that can actually read music, know their theory, and can sight-read,  are even harder to find.  My colleagues and I scramble to fill in for one another on a Sunday just so we can have a break.  I'm sure you have heard that churches are in decline?  Well, the musicians of those churches are in a worse dilemma.

With this new found revelation, no pun intended, I am seeking God that those children, teens, and adults who feel the call of God will pursue it.  I pray they will look away from the American Idols and look to the God of the Universe.  I pray they will want to play the music the feeds their soul in the most genuine, lasting way.   I feel God leading me strongly in this area as now I'm ready to give back what was given to me by Kathrine, Debbie, and my family - the love of the music of God. 

My adult students have said sometimes they were too upset about something to practice.  I tell them, "Give me a hymn and I'll sing and play in the middle of many tears, allowing those waters of music filled with praises to soothe my soul."  Guess what?  It really does.  Music is a blessing to be shared.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Gossip, Type II

(From Latin detrahere, to take away).
Detraction is the unjust damaging of another's good name by the revelation of some fault or crime of which that other is really guilty or at any rate is seriously believed to be guilty by the defamer.

 Oh boy, this is a tough one.  It's easy to rationalize my own opinions of something and keep them to myself.  But what if a person really did me wrong?  What if I really did catch my son stealing that cookie?  Or, what if I'm pretty sure he stole the cookie because he was the only one in the house!  All signs point to his guiltiness!   Don't I have a right to tell the other people who have cookies to beware?  That my son is a thief?  Hmmm...

Russ Rentler's Blog on Detraction says it so well:

What is the sin of detraction?
Detraction reveals something about another person that is true but harmful to that person’s reputation.
The fact that something is true does not justify its disclosure. We may not reveal another person’s secret faults or defects unless there is proportionate good involved.
Detraction is a sin against justice because it robs a person of his reputation. Each person has a strict right to his reputation, whether deserved or not.
Because detraction is a sin against justice, it requires reparation. The detractor must try to repair the damage to the victim’s reputation, and also to restore any temporal loss from the detraction, such as loss of employment or customers.
The Catechism teaches:(2477) Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
- of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
- of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
- of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

As much as I would love to add some pithy, enlightened comments, I really can't.  I think this says it all.  
I will say that I find that anger seems to be when I, and most people, are most prone to the detraction gossip.  In other words someone has done some thing to me and I am fightin' mad!  So, what do I do with the anger?  I tell everyone who will listen, and then some, everything I can find wrong, a little wrong, big wrong, and maybe wrong about that person so they will be as angry as I am.   

I actually found out about the sin of detraction because I had a person come to me who was very upset that said child did not enter the private school of their choice.  This person was convinced, whether true or not I don't know, that it was a conspiracy by the staff of said school.  The anger spilled into detraction and information regarding staff was spilled onto the floor.  I just stared with my mouth agape.  How could I defend all these people?  How did I know if what she were saying was true?  I felt sorry for those she maligned, true or not.  This was when I looked up detraction and I think the posts mentioned here give us a very clear idea.

 My husband told me his Mom would give him this bit of wisdom before he left the house.  It was "Don't tell everything you know."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fasting from Facebook

Fake Intimacy

Why I am fasting from facebook

Reason #1 - I am tired of thinking I'm closer friends with someone than I really am. Someone is my friend on facebook. They share details about their life so I think "Wow, this person really likes me. This person really considers me a part of their inner circle. I am so humbled." Then, I see them in public and they have either nothing or very little to say to me. The are acting like they always do and so I stand there, wondering to myself, "But I thought we were closer friends now. I mean, I know where you went to eat, I know what your kids got for Christmas, I saw your vacation photos. Isn't that why you wanted to be my facebook friend? You don't just show that to everyone. Right?"


What I've realized is people only gave me more facts about their life. There was never a face to face exchange of feelings, ideas, and thoughts. I want real, live, relationships. I want friends who give me more than their google calendar that includes photos. I want more than cute quotes. I don't want to know who is friends with you and who isn't. I want friends who want to know more about me. I want to be iron that sharpens iron. I want someone who isn't afraid to rebuke me if needed and lend a shoulder when I'm crying real tears, not just making sad faces. :-(

Facebook did not gain me any friends, but it did give me lots of ways to hack off the ones I already have. It also gave me useless information that seemed only good for breeding judgements over people. "Did you see their new car? How are they affording that?" It served for only more gossip breeding ground...worse than a pitre dish.

2 Kinds of Gossip - Type 2

I'm sensitive to gossip. Having been the gossiper and the gossiped I've developed a very bitter, sour taste for it. I like to really digest and dissect things so here is something I discovered about gossip.

There are two ways, although there may be more, to gossip. One is just spilling someone's personal business, their past, their personal life - you name it. You have some kind of access to this person's confidential file and you want to share it. The second way involves sharing your own private thoughts/judgements regarding a person. "Say, Susie Q is like the WORST dresser ever!" Now, it's only an opinion, but it's judgmental and inappropriate. Is it necessary? Kind? True? And you must answer yes to all three, not just the last one! Also, does it spur one another on to good deeds? Does it give encouragement to say it?

Today someone said the person leading music at their church had a horrible voice. What? I am a musician for Pete's sake! Does she not know that I have battle scars she can't see all over my body from people who make pithy comments such as those? Does she not know that my post-op wounds are still healing, still raw to the touch? Oh I wanted to yell, "Let's see you do it sista! At least somebody stepped up to the plate despite people like you!" And the worst part, in today's desperate need for Godly, church musicians, she is turning people off to even consider her church.

Calm down.

My response was that the church was blessed to have someone who offered to lead their music. It is hard to find people so let's not bash the ones we have. Okay, I didn't say the last part. I just mentioned that it's important to build the musicians up. So her response was, "Oh I do tell them!" LOL Well, it doesn't help if you tell them one thing and say another behind their back.


Here is the part where I can see slow, painful, growth in my character. At one time, I would have felt so flattered that this person would include me, overweight, not that cute, little old me, in her innermost thoughts about other people. She dothed me as Princess Special! Now I realize, if they will gossip to me, they will gossip about me. My specialness comes from God. My security in myself and acceptance is being a daughter of the Lord Most High! Yes, I want to be accepted among my peers, but not by disobeying God. To be accepted while following God's will for my life is the pinnacle, for me, of peace.

So I did it! I made it through round 1 of gossip in post-op condition! Take that devil!

Stay Tuned for Type 1!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Where is our security?

Here I was, seeing the flesh-and-blood results of the kind of parenting that my peers and I were trying to practice with our own kids, precisely so that they wouldn’t end up on a therapist’s couch one day. We were running ourselves ragged in a herculean effort to do right by our kids—yet what seemed like grown-up versions of them were sitting in our offices, saying they felt empty, confused, and anxious. Back in graduate school, the clinical focus had always been on how the lack of parental attunement affects the child. It never occurred to any of us to ask, what if the parents are too attuned? What happens to those kids?


Where is our security today? What is it we consider security? Is a strong sense of self the result of sheltering, feeding a child challenges and struggles that are carefully and cautiously tuned to their budding personalities and abilities? Do we equate an upset child as being ruined and scared for life?

As a Christian, it seems that we have a gold mine in answering these questions. You see, what most people fear is their child having scars. But what we forget is that Christ takes our scars and makes them stars. Okay, that sounds completely and utterly cheesy. In an attempt to sound more credible, I suggest that it is in the curve balls thrown at us that we learn where our security lies. If I don't get the job I wanted do I blame the employer for not seeing the benefits of having me on their staff? In turn, if someone is angry with me because I don't give them what they want do they have the right to slander me to anyone who will listen?

Psalm 25:4

New International Version (NIV)

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.

In my daily prayer life I can bring God's daily portion directly to my needs. In this I find security for today and my tomorrows. My happiness and my disappointments are short-lived compared to the lasting peace I find when I realize there is a bigger plan that I cannot see. I don't know who holds tomorrow, but I know who holds my hand - and yours, too.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ingratitude can be interpreted a rejection

I'm looking for a good, active, Christian women's forum. Does anyone know of one?

I've been thinking of the gratitude. I am referring to the kind of gratitude where you pick the phone, type a sincere e-mail, or tell face to face, a person why you are grateful for them. It is not enough to tell others you think so and so is the bomb.

Another aspect if when we offer praise or a thoughtful note to someone and not only do they not respond, but we see them post on facebook that their toilet is leaking. Huh? I'm not saying do things to get thanks, but I am saying GIVE THANKS!

I was inspired by this sermon by Andy Stanley of North Point, which I cannot find now to save my life!

Anyway, I sat down and wrote to e-mails to Christian women who live it and in turn, help me to live it too. If it weren't for their witness, I would think everyone was secretly cranky and all they need was one little straw for things to blow.

Take some time today to thank someone that has meant something to your life.