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This Life of Faith

Where Does Your Strength Come From?

It may surprise you to know that many people did not like King David. And often it was nothing he did but rather a product of his circumstances.

King Saul hated David while he was still a poor shepherd because God anointed David to be the next king. David didn’t ask to be king.

The Philistines despised David because he was a powerful warrior. David was only following God’s instructions into battle.

His wife, Michal, felt contempt for him because he danced before the Lord in praise as the Ark of the Lord was returned to its righteous place. David was only responding to the joy he felt.

Nathan chastised David for committing adultery and murder…Ok, that one was on David’s head.

But the Bible tells us that David was envied, mocked, mistreated, and misunderstood plenty. Many of the Psalms he wrote tell of his anguish, his fear, and his frustration with the people and the situations around him. He was hunted by Saul like a dog and there was a price on his head. David lived on the run and in fear for many years.

In 1 Samuel 29-30 we find yet another moment in which David was afraid for his life because of a situation over which he had no control.

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On Welcoming The Stranger

Today the sacred touched the mundane and simple obedience was rewarded by a glimpse of the loving care our God places into the most common of our endeavors. Today the kids and I experienced a divine encounter we didn’t expect when we got up this morning.
 
A couple of weeks ago we signed up as volunteers with Lutheran Services of the Carolinas to help refugee families adjust to their new life in the USA. Today we received our first assignment. We met with other volunteers at the offices of LSC downtown and were given instructions to pick up our clients and take them to the Department of Social Services to set them up with temporary food stamps.
 
I confess that I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect.

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On Defining Patriotism

I am what you call a naturalized citizen. I am not US-born but I have been here longer than I have been anywhere and I have a certificate of citizenship and a blue passport. Bone fide American. As such, I have come to love this adopted land as much as I love the place that saw me be born. All this to say that I humbly admit that I may not completely understand the issue I want to tackle here and I hope you will be understanding and, if you choose to comment and share your perspective with me, please be kind and gentle if you disagree.

I’ve been watching the media discuss Gabby Douglas and how horribly she has been bullied. There have been many ugly things said about her on Tweeter but I want to focus on one in particular which has puzzled me and confused me since this whole mess started: the claim that Gabby Douglas is not “patriotic” because she failed to put her hand over her heart during the playing of the national anthem of the USA. Let me put aside for a minute all the concerns about race and gender that have plagued our discussion about the way Gabby Douglas has been treated and deal with this as a general issue.

I’ve been thinking about the word “patriotic.” What does it mean, anyway? It has been defined as “having or expressing devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country.” So, is it measurable? How do you measure devotion and support?

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On Sharing That Post.

The climate in our country is tense right now. Everyone has their opinions, their thoughts, their “side” on many issues. And social media allows us to make them known through our statuses, the pages we “like,” and the things we choose to share on our wall. Thank God for the first amendment, right? We can say how we feel freely!

But Paul, wise and discerning, reminded the Corinthians of his time that, while they had the right to do anything, not everything is beneficial or edifying. Some of the things we see on Facebook and Twitter are the opposite of beneficial or edifying. As Christians, we ought to make this our business and our concern.

So, Christian friends, before we hit “share” on that video/picture/meme/quote, can we ask ourselves these questions?

Continue reading “On Sharing That Post.”

On Being A Peacemaker.

I’ve been quiet thus far about last week’s horrible events, not because I had nothing to say but because I didn’t know how to put into words what I felt. I’ve been scouring the internet and I have found that other people have done a far better job than I could ever do at unpacking my same thoughts on their blogs, quotes, and interviews.

It’s been said already that we cannot let this divide us. When things like this happen, we tend to take sides when we should not. There is no right or wrong when it comes to violence. It’s all wrong. It is wrong for white police officers to shoot unarmed black men and it’s wrong for a black man to shoot eleven white officers. It’s all the same side of the coin of racism and hate.

It’s also already been said that we can believe that #bluelivesmatter and that #alllivesmatter and still understand why #blacklivematters. They are not mutually exclusive. We can believe in our police officers’ honorable and commendable service and sacrifice and still expect them to be accountable for their actions. We can advocate for all life and still understand why there is a need to discuss specific groups at times when they need extra attention.

All of that can fit into our hearts without conflict. But anyway, all that has been well discussed already.

My thoughts turn to our responsibility as Christians in this messy world and the one call I keep hearing and reading about is the call to be peacemakers.“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God,” we are reminded by the Word we hold dear.

In response, many Christians, like me, do what we can to be peacemakers. Or at least we try. Because even Jesus-loving, good hearted people can often misunderstand what it means to be a peacemaker.

Continue reading “On Being A Peacemaker.”

Three Magical Words (or how to deal with a pre-teen girl)

I’ve been at this parenting thing for a decade now. I don’t know about you but I struggle almost daily and often feel like a total failure.

Parenting is hard, man, and anyone who says otherwise I’m willing to bet does not have kids. And the most bizarre thing about it is that, unlike most skills or processes in life, this one does not seem to get easier with time and you don’t necessarily feel like you are getting better with practice. In fact, it seems to get harder in some ways.

Sure, the kids are more independent and you don’t have to change their diaper, feed them, watch their every move. But they are smarter, sassier, require logical explanations, ask difficult questions, call you on your junk and are, overall, more difficult human beings to live with.

It can be exhausting.

My 10-year-old daughter has entered puberty. (Run for cover!) I never knew it could start this early but the pediatrician says it is not unheard of for kids as young as 8 to have signs of going through “the change.” Isabel is fully emerged in this metamorphosis from little girl to demon child teen. I told her she is like a roller-coaster: one minute she is happy, affectionate, interesting and the next minute, literally the next minute, she is grumpy, moody, defensive.

She told me I’m the same way. The nerve!

But, really, she is just. like. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The other day I was chatting with another mom. Isabel came up to me, laced her fingers with mine and laid her head on my shoulder. By the time I turn my head to kiss the top of hers, she let go with a “Humph!” crossed her arms and stomped her foot. The other mom and I just burst out laughing (which didn’t help, by the way) because it was an epitome moment: the epitome of living with a pre-teen girl.

Not long ago, after a day particularly difficult to navigate, I was begging God to spare me the next eight years of my life and bargaining about what I would trade with him (I’ll be willing to go all gray, Lord, if I could wake up one morning and it be 2024) when the Perfect Parent reminded me about the power of words.

Continue reading “Three Magical Words (or how to deal with a pre-teen girl)”

Do Tell Your Tell

There’s a woman in my past who hurt me deeply. Let’s call her Alfreda.

I thought we were friends. I wanted to be her friend. But she betrayed me and discarded the friendship I offered and sadly, we are no longer in relationship.

She never apologized to me but, being a good little Christian, I uttered the words: “I forgive you, Alfreda,” years ago.

And being a good little Christian, I wanted to mean them. And I guess I did, but the truth is, in most cases, if we are really honest with ourselves, forgiveness is a process of time and commitment to the idea, not a single moment or a fuzzy feeling that fades when we remember the wrong done to us.

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