Sometimes the little things…

Evy loves playing with my toothbrush.  She does.  It happens.  I know I should think this is gross and I know we’re exchanging germs, but in the scheme of things, I don’t really care if she’s playing with my toothbrush.  She’s not using it to clean the toilet or scrub the floors so that’s a plus.  Both the kids had strep throat about a month ago and the 10 days of antibiotics and trying to get those things down them, was a challenge.  Enoch finally starting taking the medicine like a “big boy” hallelujah but we had to practically hang Evy upside down to get her to take it.  Oh the fun of parenting!

A week after that low and behold Mommy wasn’t feeling well and my throat was just plain gross.  Strep throat it was.  Immediately the doctor asks, has anyone you know been sick with strep throat?  Yep.  The two kids.  Did you change out their toothbrushes?  As soon as he asked the question, I know for sure and for certain how I got my lovely strep.  It’s crazy how a simple, small thing like letting your two year old play with your toothbrush can cause something that makes you not want to get out of bed in the morning and feel terrible.

It’s not like Evy did it to intentionally get me sick and it’s not like I thought about – hmmmm, let me give myself strep today.  Not at all.  But sometimes the small decisions we make that seem to have no impact on our lives at all, can creep up on us in major ways.  Eating those couple little hershey kisses every day can add up to a lot of chocolate and a lot of pounds over the year.  Putting off quiet time alone with God, intentional prayer, Sabbath and time to refresh, or times of reconnecting and quality time with friends, family and our spouse/significant other can seem like a lot of small decisions, but the impact over time can really knock you off course.

I’ve been doing a lot of premarital counseling sessions lately because there are 4 Winthrop Wesley related couples getting married this summer.  Very exciting!  I love officiating at weddings.  I did the premarital counseling for another couple in grad school here at Winthrop who are getting married in Florida and they really wanted to do the 5 Love Languages quiz.  Most of the quizzes or exercises or things we talk about center on communication and being intentional with time and priorities.  These and the 5 Love Languages show that the little things really do add up.  It’s the small decisions that we make every day that paint the big picture, not just the grand gestures.

So in essence, instead of just looking at the big decisions like jobs, houses, and marriage prayerfully and with wisdom and care, we should apply that same amount of discernment to how we choose to react to the everyday.  A lot of these little things have to do with our mouth – are we showering forth blessings or curses.  In Proverbs 12:15-23 there is all sorts of wisdom about our words and the power that our mouths can have.  Maybe sometimes it is best to not say anything at all.  Maybe sometimes to not speak up and say something is an injustice or cowardly.  It really does depend on the Spirits leading.

May we today be mindful of our actions, even the little things.  May we feel peace and wisdom as we go through our day so that our hearts and minds aren’t off to the races and reacting before we’re thinking.  May we acknowledge and confess that sometimes things that we don’t think are a big deal at all, can have profound affects on our lives and the lives of others, and may we reflect and purposefully go forward spreading the love of Christ, the joy of grace, and the meaty thanksgiving that comes when we are in pace with God’s Spirit.

Easter?

He is Risen! The cross still looms to remind us of the sacrifice and the promise that death and sin are defeated by the love and grace of God!

We say that as Christians we’re an Easter people, a Resurrection people.  I believe that and have given an enthusiastic “He is risen.  He is risen indeed!”  I don’t know if it was because Easter was so late in the season this year but I started off pretty well at the beginning of Lent in trying to be intentional about this journey to the cross, but as the semester began to draw to a close and the to do list piled up, our car was totaled and we were depending on just one car, three of us had strep throat, and we moved everything out of my grandparent’s house, Easter somehow got lost in the shuffle and all the upheaval of life.

A clergy friend of mine posted the other day that Lent and Holy Week are her favorite time of the year.  I love spring and the flowers and the sun out more (even though we haven’t seen that as much yet).  I love the smell and feel in the air as people begin to come outside and play volleyball in the sand at Winthrop Lake, go on walks in the evening, and enjoy time on your front or back porch.  The transition from winter to spring is an amazing one and I know that very easily makes a symbolic leap to death and the resurrection.  So don’t get me wrong, I love this time of year, but I can’t say that I enjoy Good Friday.  It’s like Saving Private Ryan or Schindler’s List where it’s not something that you watch every day to lift your spirits, but it’s something you know you need to watch at least once to recognize the sacrifice and the weight of what was cost.

I hate to pick favorite anything’s but Advent and Christmas are probably hands down my favorite time of year.  It’s such a powerful witness to me that the great God of the universe decided to come as a baby and dwell among us.  Emmanuel, fully human and fully divine, is such a super big deal.  You can’t have Easter without that in-breaking of the kingdom where God became a vulnerable baby right here in all of our human frailty and all the kaleidoscope of human experience.  In some ways it’s the same reasons that I love watching The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston  the night before Easter every year.  There’s something about when Moses says,” I want to know God,” as he longs to go on the mountain, and something sacred and special about this God who speaks and delivers the people.  There’s something about Ramses in the movie when challenged to cry out to his gods for help saying about Moses’ God, “His God, is God.”  A God that could have anything or do anything God wants, that chooses to be in relationship with God’s people, that chooses to bring deliverance and justice, and that chooses to be present in the midst of suffering – that is something more powerful than any adjective could describe.

In thinking about Easter, I think a lot of my unease is around Good Friday.  It’s easy for us to lift up the tiny baby Jesus a la Ricky Bobby or in pictures and greeting cards, but you don’t see people sending out greeting cards or putting giant pictures of Jesus still hanging on the cross, crucified with the nails and the blood and the crown of thorns.  It’s easy to believe in this present and loving God that chooses to be with us, it’s a little harder to take the responsibility that all the suffering he did on the cross was for us.  That’s a little more weighty and pricks our pride a bit for those that think works or merit or self-seeking is what makes things happen, which is why I think we often rush straight from Palm Sunday right on to Easter and the resurrection.  We know it ends well and it’s all good and grace for us, but it’s hard to hear the words from Gethsemane, “Father, take this cup from me.”  It’s hard to read about the suffering much less watch anything like the Passion where we get an up-close and personal look.  If we really believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  If we believe that this innocent man was martyred for us, how does that change how we live our lives?  Does it?  Sometimes Easter makes the sacrifice look easy and the grace that’s thrown out in bushel-full’s seem simple.  But then I think about Peter and the other disciple running as fast as they can to the tomb and Mary weeping there.  This was real and personal and not something just long ago, but something that affects each of us as Jesus calls our name.

How would you describe Easter?  How would you describe what Jesus did?  Using real life language, what would you say?  In thinking about how to describe the Easter story to Enoch and Evy in ways that they understand, do I just pop in a Veggie Tales video on Easter or read them a children’s book or hope they pick up something at church?  How do we explain to the world what Easter means, not just the cute little baby Jesus, but the full scope of the story?

There’s a line to a song that I heard the other day that says “there’s no hope without suffering.”  There’s no hope without suffering.  I don’t know if that’s wholly true all the time, but I do believe that the hope born from suffering is a real and sustaining hope indeed.  What kind of resurrection hope are we offering our world?  This isn’t a hope that tells you that everything in life is going to be easy or rainbows and butterflies.  It’s much like our South Carolina motto, “While I breathe, I hope.”  This is a hope that says that no matter what, even on the darkest of days, that God is with you.  Sin and death have been conquered and new life, eternal life, abundant life, is offered in Christ.  No more do we have to make the same mistakes over and over, but through the power and grace of God and the Spirit that intercedes for us, we have the promise of something more in this life and a story unfolding far more magnificent, magical, and miraculous than any royal wedding, any Lifetime or Hallmark movie, or anything we may try to do on our own.  Beyond any “greatest story ever told” this God of Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter, and everything in between – this God is seeking us and calling us to live this resurrection life out loud in the world by loving God, loving our neighbor, and loving ourselves to know that we don’t have to do it all, but we just have to depend on the One who did it for us.

Still love this song for Easter…

Want to see a fun Easter flashmob RISE UP?  http://blog.lproof.org/2011/04/glorious-resurrection-day.html

One Day

Today at lunch, Adrienne and I were sitting talking over the Wesley to do list and everything that needs to happen before the semester ends including our Human Trafficking cultural event, Imagine No Malaria event and the Harlem Mission trip.  We were enjoying lunch and then Matisyahu’s song “One Day” came on the radio.  We both stopped and listened and sat there wondering where we had heard this song.  Finally we remembered that we heard it on the Tom’s One Day without shoes video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BitShRujoeA

It is a really catchy song and something that is saying really great words.  Below is a video that has the words and I’ve also included them below.

Right now, my amazingly wonderful sister-in-law is in labor for my niece.  We’re all really excited.  Josh picked me up at 5:45 this morning for all of us to go over there.  I was honored to be apart of it and I’m looking forward to heading back over there.  When I think about the world that baby KLM (they haven’t told us the names, just the initials) is going to grow up in, or the world where my children will grow up, so many thoughts run through my head.  I would like to think like this song that one day there will be no more war.  One day there will be no more fighting.  One day there will be no more hungry.  One day there will be no more malaria.  One day there will be no more modern day slavery or human trafficking of any kind.  One day…

Outside of the Church Center building across from the UN is a quote from Isaiah on the wall.

Isaiah 2:4 says what is written on this wall, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, netierh shall they learn war any more.”  Micah 4:3 echoes this.

I remember in a meeting long ago, some clergy using Jesus’ words “the poor are always with us” as a reason for us to not work as hard as we could for justice, because they believed the poor were just a natural part of life. (Yep the verse is in Mark 14:7, Matthew 26:11, and John 12:8)  Yes, Jesus said it.  And if you want to take things out of context, I guess you could justify a pompous and self-righteous attitude about it, but Jesus didn’t work to bring about a kingdom that is just to come, but one that is also alive and well right here.  The already and not yet.  Jesus brought release to the captives and healing to the sick.  And part of what we do as disciples of Jesus is work to bring light and love and God’s grace to all that they may see and know that the Lord is good. 

I had dinner with a couple of students last night and they were asking me about some of the things they’ve learned in one of their Human Experience classes about faith.  They asked about doing mission trips and service and if that was what Jesus wanted and if that would make them a better Christian.  We talked for a while about work’s righteousness and how you don’t “earn” your salvation, but that in my mind acts of justice and mercy naturally grow and flow out of a love of God.  We even talked about the lovely Wesley’s personal piety and social holiness.  Yep, there’s something about that thing between us and God – that devotion, quiet time, meditation, getting away and centering on God, prayer, scripture study – that’s important.  But that social holiness aspect is equally as important.  They were saying that people in their classes questioned their faith and if they were hypocrites for believing both evolution and creationism.  You could argue for days on personal belief/piety.  Both personal piety and social holiness are things that the world can clearly see.  They can see if we are at peace and content.  They can see if we’re centered and grounded.  They can see if we’re leaving out what we say.  They can see if we’re offering a coat or a meal or a hug with a string attached or not.  They can see if there’s an ulterior motive or a justification or a rationalization on our part.

To me, what the world is hungry for, is not just people shoving beliefs down their throat but people living it out.  To the people that are going to be hesitant, unbelieving and sometimes obnoxious – that’s their opinion.  Maybe they’ve had some bad experiences with “Christians.”  They can’t tell you how you feel or what you believe and they can’t take your God/Jesus/Holy Spirit from you.  But we can answer honestly and openly with humility and confidence that the God we know and trust and love is One who is calling us forth to new life.  The God we know and trust and love is one who knows that one day there will be no more war, no more tears, no more struggle, no more disease, no more fear, no more….  One day.

May we work for this “One day,” not because we “have to” or we won’t be “good enough” Christians if we don’t, but because we want to and we’re called to and if we believe this Jesus is who he says he is and if we believe that this kingdom of God is happening right here all around us, let’s make it a reality.

What do you hope for one day???

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl9voSKJmEU

 

One Day by Matisyahu

sometimes I lay
under the moon
and thank God I’m breathing
then I pray
don’t take me soon
cause I am here for a reason
sometimes in my tears I drown
but I never let it get me down
so when negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around
because
all my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
for the people to say
that we don’t wanna fight no more
they’ll be no more wars
and our children will play

one day

it’s not about
win or lose cause
we all lose
when they feed on the souls of the innocent
blood drenched pavement
keep on moving though the waters stay raging
in this maze you can lose your way (your way)
it might drive you crazy but don’t let it faze you no way (no way)
sometimes in my tears I drown
but I never let it get me down
so when negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around
because
all my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
for the people to say
that we don’t wanna fight no more
they’ll be no more wars
and our children will play

one day

one day this all will change
treat people the same
stop with the violence
down with the hate
one day we’ll all be free
and proud to be
under the same sun
singing songs of freedom like

one day

all my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
for the people to say
that we don’t wanna fight no more
they’ll be no more wars
and our children will play

Truckers Against Trafficking

A huge thanks to Bob Paulson for sharing this video with me.  Bob and some of his colleagues at Triad Ladder of Hope are going to be sharing in a cultural event at Winthrop University in Dina’s Place, the campus theater, on Apirl 18th at 7 pm.  We’re going to be hearing from Bob about human trafficking in our area and what we can do and we’ll also be watching the documentary, “Very Young Girls.”

While on our human trafficking seminar in New York City we watched some of this documentary and it was one of the most haunting and disturbing things I’ve seen.  I don’t know how you could watch it and not feel something.  Human trafficking happens all over the world, but it also happens right here in the United States.  This isn’t some far away problem, but something that we can educate, advocate, and work to stop right here and around the world.

Sometimes, like you see in the video above, it just takes a phone call.  A phone call could save a girl or a boys life.  Call 1.888.373.7888, the Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline, if you think you have encountered a victim of trafficking.

Some questions to ask:

*  What type of work do you do?

*  Are you being paid?

*  Can you leave your job if you want to?

*  Can you come and go as you please?

*  Have you or your family been threatened?

*  What are your working and living conditions like?

*  Where do you sleep and eat?

*  Do you have to ask permission to eat/sleep/go to the bathroom?

*  Are there locks on your doors/windows so you cannot get out?

*  Has your identification or documentation been taken from you?

This cannot continue happening while people sit by and go about our day to day.  Help spread the word.  Make the call if you see signs (evidence of being controlled, evidence of inability to move or leave job, bruises or other signs of physical abuse, fear or depression, not speaking on own behalf, no identification or documentation with them).

This is a justice issue.  This is a faith issue.  This is something that the church needs to step up and take a stand on and actively pursue the things we say we believe like freeing the captives and walking alongside the poor, helpless, and trapped among us.

If you have any questions or would like more information about human trafficking, a good website is www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking.