Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The big lie

I had a situation occur recently that really made so happy. This was all stemming from a falling out I had with a fellow church member over 3 years ago, over a disagreement.

I know we can't agree about everything with everyone, and I don't expect to, not even my husband. We don't sever ties with those who matter to us over disagreements however, at least not without exacting great personal cost.

A few years ago our church decided to have a yahoo discussion group so that we could communicate info, discuss interesting things and as an adjunct to expand means of fellowship. It sounded great and you'd think that would have been a Good thing.

I think we forgot that 1)our church is about as diverse as you can get, in the good, real sense. We really do span a wide range of ideas, backgrounds, geography and values, yet we gather around the table that Christ sets for us and we try to love each other. There is no clear cut example of the typical member and there is no defining example, the glue that holds us together is Christ and Christ alone. 2) The computer, as a means of communication really functions best as a benevolent dictatorship to disseminate information, rather than a free exchange of ideas. There is something that is entirely too easy spouting off to a faceless crowd, when one is not face to face with the people one is talking to, that allows one to say things on screen that one would never say in person. It's riduclously easy to be a much bigger jerk, because one does not have to look the person in the eye and see the effects of their words. The damage happens later. It is a souless medium.

The argument was silly, and it started innocently enough. One person posted about a matter concerning kids in CA having to observe Muslim beliefs, customs and such as part of a social studies class. Not an outrageous posting for a church discussion board. One person took offense at the news source and began a flaming rage that lasted for several weeks. I had jumped in the middle to defend the original poster and ended up bloody and bruised, suffered very public very personal attacks. No, I don't think what was done was right, and yes, I didn't have to jump in.

In effect, the first injured party had not spoken to me in the intervening years once, not even to say hello, not looked me in the eye, nothing. There was a big wound there. Now, in all honesty, we were not great friends before, not do I think we need to be. But there is something about being in community, sort of like being in a marriage, where we understand that although we don't agree, the covenented relationship is so important, that we overlook each others faults and failing, because that is love. I don't have to like this person, but I have to love them. And thats within my community. I even have to love my enemies, I love how the bible put this, even the non believers like people who are nice to them, your task is to be nice to those who are not nice to you.

Yes, this man did wrong, and he hurt me. However, I do not have the option of living in that, I am obligated to try for reconciliation. It bothered me the whole time, and finally, when asked to assist with the healing service offered during lent, I refused until the problem was addressed. I said, how can I lay hands on this person and pray for their healing when I know they hate me (I also said, ironically looking back, that it probably wouldn't be a problem because he would avoid me like the plague, and the chance of him coming up for prayer from me would be nil)? The priest agreed, but we decided that I would try to address it with the person first, if nothing else than to make a token effort. We prayed to that effect, and I agreed that at the right time I would bring it up and offer the opportunity for reconciliation.

I never really got that chance, God had a better plan. This person who had not looked or talked to me for 3 years came up to receive prayer for healing and laying on of hands. He placed himself right in front of us, the priest and me. I was able to lay hands on him and pray for him and it was very powerful. After church we chatted and joked, and it was as if the whole black cloud had just lifted. The anger and hurt were gone. See, God had found a way to heal the relationship without anyone being pulled out, set aside, brought up or otherwise embarrassed, in a moment it was done.

I'm still not best buddies, but the spirit of anger and hate are gone. That is real healing and I have seen God do this kind of thing time and again. All it took was me recognizing that the relationship was more important than my hurt feelings, and being willing to be reconciled. I had to decide to forgive him no matter what, and to pray for his blessing. The rest God did.

It is so easy to be right, and a lot harder to love. I used to think that if I was right then it was ok for me to be right at the expense of other's feelings. In God's world, it doesn't matter who is right. We are supposed to defer to others, to bend over backwards to put others before ourselves. As to who is right and wrong, he's the only one who really knows and will sort it out. The path that we take when we say "I am right, and I need to set everyone else straight" leads to loneliness and isolation. It ends relationships, destroys trust and wounds those around it. It is not God's heart to have us all be set straight (by each other). There is a time and place for that, and he will do in his way, we are to love one another, love our enemies. Boy that's hard. Take from one who is a slowly recovering control freak, letting someone else be wrong even for a little bit takes a supreme act of will, or an act of God. But sometimes we can be right, and be wrong, if we are right at the expense of relationship.

I hate politics, that's what led to that whole blow up in the first place. It has made me leery of entering the fray. It's not that I don't have opinions or even that I don't think my opinions matter, but it's so easy to get into the "i'm right, you're wrong, and that's the way it is", mentality. No one is going to be swayed by being told how wrong they are. I guess I ask myself, what am I trying to achieve; correcting every perceived misconception, or learning how to love?

Anyway, it has been such a blessing and a powerful example for me of the power of prayer and agreement, as well as the value of relationship. That took a great deal of energy over the past month, but was well worth it.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Intercessors- please read


If you are at all called to be an intercessor, and you have a heart for Terri Schaivo's situation, please read this prayer alert, pray for her with all your heart.

How then, should we live?

There are so many things going on right now, they swirl around my head, sometimes leaving me feeling confused, disoriented, suddenly needing to sit down. Weighty matters and the not so weighty.

I am at war within myself. On the one hand, I realize I am not giving God the time and attention he deserves, he often comes in decidely last place, in how I spend my time. Often (as a parent this has often been the case) the first quiet moment comes at night, when my head hits the pillow and suddenly I say Good morning God! because it is the first time I've talked to him today.

Lately I have found (since I don't have to immediately spring from bed to launch myself into a job), I have a moment of two to say Good Morning, when it really is.

This one thing is important, assembling my schedule around him and not the other way around is what I want. But it is hard! Unlike most things of this world that clamor for our attention and reward us for quick response, he is quiet, he does not demand (well, not usually) my time and attention, he waits for me and hopes that I in turn will wait for him. He is patient, he does not shout and brag, demanding thatI attend to him. Which is what makes me want to attend to him.

But the war, ah that is a constant irritation. I am so grateful for the simplicity of the day, finally feeling I have a handle on things, the incredible busy-ness of our lives wears me to a dull point. I love having the day stretch out before me and know that I am going to accomplish something, be it folding the clothes and ironing, washing the floors, weeding the flowers. Something will get done. This is my burden and perhaps my gift, I try to attend to everything, and so I attend to nothing really. I spend hours shifting gears, not completing anything, being pulled from distraction to distraction. I am good at concentrating, at giving something my whole attention to the exclusion of all else. I resent the intrusion into whatever I am doing and have had to train myself, albeit poorly, to not snap at the poor soul who happens into my line of fire.

So I welcome the reduction in entropy, staying home, making this my work and focus.
Then, then I ask God, I know I should not be completely wound up in my own life, I need to turn my attention outward, what is on your heart and mind, what will you share with me today, what can I pray for, help me to be more aware of the needs of others, less introspective. And he does. But sometimes, the weight of what we see in the world is so great. It is so sad. I feel so helpless in the face of things.

Here I sit and watch as Terri Schiavo (the laughing, crying, emotive individual who is being starved to death by court order and her husband, because she is unable to speak for herself) dies a slow death and I wonder, will she die tomorrow, does she know it's Good Friday? Her parents do and the irony cannot help but be apparent to them. Is this the right thing? Is it what God wants or is it him allowing those in power to exercise free will? I don't fear for Terri's death, she will finally be free from the ravages of a long struggle. But the burden of allowing her to die falls on the shoulders of those who were entrusted with her care, and they will be judged by how they treated her. Just because God can make good come out of bad does not excuse the bad.

As I sat for my hour of the vigil last night, along side my dear friend and cohort Ruth, we chatted and she shared some poetry from a book of womens religious poetry. One of the poems was taking the individual lines spoken by Jesus as he was dying on the cross, and weaving poems about them. The one which struck me was regarding the line "woman, behold thy son!". The poem describes Mary's anguish that, for the soldiers, she could do nothing to comfort him, give him a drink, that she would gladly take him place that he would live. The cries echoed for me the cries of Terri's parents, who are kept at bay by armed guards, who cannot hold their daughter, moisten her cracked lips or wash her failing, frail body. That is the cry of helplessness and it is heart breaking.

That's just one drama, one corner of the world where people are crying tears of sadness, instead of tears of joy. How can anyone stand to open up to the sadness in this world, when we are helpless to take it away? We can pray, and I do, but part of prayer is a helpless appeal to God, to change the heart of another. And simple, loving man that he is, he says, I will help them but they have to be willing. So many people are not willing. Maybe that should be our prayer, not that God will change them, because he will, but that they would be willing to be changed. I have a sister and now, a neice, that struggle with substance abuse. The worst part is not that they have no other choice, it's the apathy that stops them from making any other choice. It's not that they can't, they wont. They are offered every help possible, and they walk away and say "no". That is truly the hardest part of all for me to accept. We are all, everyone, free to say yes or no. A forced yes means nothing. We must all make choices. If only our choices affected only ourselves.

I am not, surprisingly enough, depressed today. I am affected, perhaps maybe afflicted by the weight of things. Sometimes that happens. I don't want to roll up into a little ball and make it go away, that only dulls my spirit and makes it harder to hear God. More than anything, I want to be able to hear, and to respond. How can I respond if I am not touched by the need? How can anyone respond to a need with detachment? Anyone who has had a cold fish Doctor knows they can't really respond, they can only act. So, today, make me more of a butterfly and less of a hermit crab. Just for today, I will deal with tomorrow when it comes.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Well, now I get to rant a bit about a big peeve. My daughter is in 6th grade. This is the year they do outdoor school. They've been touting it all year and pushing fundraisers on the kids all year.
I've spent 40-5o dollars so far on candy, pepperoni and other assorted junk, which I definitely do NOT need.

Come to find out now, at her parent teacher conferences, that in order to attend outdoor school, she has to meet several behavioral goals, one of which is to get at least 3 "gold slips" (what they get when all work is turned in on time for the week), before the 1st week in May.

Now this may not sound like much for most kids but my daughter is struggling mightily and has done so all through school. She has not received a gold slip all year long. They don't tell you this until 2 months before the event. IMHO, outdoor school (especially since we are paying out of pocket for it, to the tune of 110 bucks) ought to be a part of their experience, or not. It is either worthwhile enough for all to participate or it isn't. It's not a reward.

To make matters even worse, when I inquired about the amunt of money I had already spent toward outdoor school in the form of fundraisers, I was told since the money was earmarked for outdoor school, it had to be spent for outdoor school, we would not see it again even if my kid didn't go. It would be spread out among all the kids to help offset the cost for those who do go. If I had just paid money toward that purpose directly, I would have gotten it back.

SO... I spent 40+ bucks of which maybe 50 cents on the dollar went toward outdoor school, to pay for someone elses kid to go and my kid won't benefit at all. I guess this makes sense to someone, but it sure doesn't to me.

Monday, March 14, 2005

past few weeks

I know that I mentioned that things seemed crazy as soon as I quit my job. They were, and they have been. However, I can honestly say that, other than the lack of paycheck, this has been such a good thing.
I am:
1) surprised-I am much busier than I imagined Iwould be, it turns out there is a lot more to do around the house that, evidently has not been getting done.
2) beginning to relax a little, and realizing how much energy and attention was going into work and worry, I am a lot less worried.
3) enjoying finding new ways to do things and trying new thing out. I have discovered that you can make tapioca from scratch. I really didn't know that, much to my mother's chagrin. She was very surprised that I hadn't been making it that way all along. It is good, there is something very soothing about a big warm dish of home made tapioca pudding with a dollop of whipped cream on top, just melting.
4) I am NOT bored, also a surprise.

I am planning to teach my daughter to sew, which she has wanted to do for several years. We'll go to Joann fabrics and pick out an easy pattern, some material and walk her through it. I could have paid 40 dollars to let the school do it as an afterschool class but it's more fun this way. I am planning what we'll do for Easter, I am trying to get away from the candy fest it always seems to become. I have started a tradition of Easter story cookies, which as a lot of fun and pretty good to eat. As you add each ingredient there is a reading and lesson about that item and what they mean, and at the end you put them in the warmed oven, turn it off and tape it shut. In the morning you open up the tomb and the cookies, which are like a meringue, are cracked on the top and hollow inside. Very fun and very cool. The kids like to do this one.

We are not going anywhere for spring break so I will look for things we can do here. There is a pool in Portland that has lots of kids stuff and is very cheap. There is usually doings at the local library and community center, we'll find something.
I am glad to see that I am able to give my family more attention, something I think they need, and I have not been able to do. I am enjoying their company more. I am not tired all the time, what a concept.

Well, that's al for now, there has been lots more and I will write some of it later.
Life is good -----^------,---<@ -------,-----'----<@ ------'---,---<@

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Just an observation, driving home today from dropping off my oldest daughter aat her dad's, we noted a huge, very spectacular fireball falling fromt he sky, about 7:30-7:45'ish. It was quite bright white at hte head and it's tail was a bright green color, it travelled from east to west, jsut to the left of the moon, and to the right of Orion. It seemed to fall nearly straight down with a slight angle maybe 10-15 degrees, and a very bright flash when it hit the ground. I haven't seen anything on the news so far, so it must not have hit anyone's house, or whatever. Still, very beautiful and an amazing sight. I will be on the lookout for any news about it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Summer Trip

I just (JUST!) got my pics downloaded from a trip we took to Port Angeles this past summer, I have a few more somewhere I will hopefully locate. I had a great time taking them and while I am not any great artiste, they look pretty good. Enjoy!

Olympic National Forest Posted by Hello

Olympic National Forest Posted by Hello

Olympic National Forest Posted by Hello

Cresent Lake, WA Posted by Hello

Port Townsend Posted by Hello

Port Townsend Posted by Hello

Huckleberries, Port Angeles Posted by Hello

Lavender-Port Angeles Posted by Hello

Port Angeles Posted by Hello

An honest question

I am a registered independent. That way I don't have to wade through piles of propaganda to get at the truth, I would rather study and make my own decision. As a nurse, it's bad enough, I have to belong to a union, and they are overwhelmingly liberal, I hate being mailed stuff telling me how I ought to vote, I know, I know, I can ignore it and I do, BUT it is annoying, that's all. So, as an independent, I wander a bit on the ballot issues, I feel that personal responsibility is our first responsibility as citizens and humans. On occasion I lean toward Libertarians, for that reason. Why should any government need to tell me how to conduct my daily affairs? Then I realize that reason they do is because sometimes we don't They take it too far sometimes but that has more to do with our schizophrenic, litigious (sp??) society than anything else. I do think that if something is successful the govt does not need to crush it, to allow less successful things to flourish, that's silly. And if something is failing miserably, why should the govt step in to make it work better? On the other hand, human nature being what it is, sometimes the govt does have to step in to make people do what is right, or stop doing what is wrong, it's just a fine line when and I am still working that out in my head (what that line is).

So the thing that I wonder is this (I really do have a point), why does the gay community complain that the govt isn't doing enough regarding AIDS research, when they themselves do not appear to be changing thier own behavior? If anyone can give me an honest, non-hysterical, well thought out and reasoned answer I would be grateful.

I am not judging, condemning or criticising, and I am not broaching the wider questions of Gay rights, etc, just this one question, because it bothers me and I have never gotten a good answer.

If I knew that a certain behavior was potentially deadly, would it not behoove me to avoid that certain behavior? Would I have anyone to blame but myself if I refused to avoid that behavior and so endangered my health? Would I be right in accusing the govt of not doing enough when, when I know something is harmful and I fail to stop doing it, and as a result hurt myself?

I may be alone in this, but I have a sneaking suspicion that what is underlying the accusation that enough is not being done, is a desire to find a treatment that allows them to continue to do what they want, and not suffer any consequences. I can relate, wouldn't it be great if the govt could invent a fat pill so that I could eat all I want and not be fat? Am I going to blame them if they don't and I develop health problems due to my weight? How could I? No one holds a gun to my head and says eat. I use this as an example, because, some might contend that having sex is a need, one can't just not have sex. I have to eat, the question, what choices am I going to make about how I do that?

Do men in the gay community even discuss this among themselves? Is it one of those things that they want to present a united front to the world, so they can't mention it publically but within their own circles they really discuss honestly? Is there such massive denial that they really believe it is the govt job to fix for them? I figure there is going to be some knee jerk "jerk" who is going to shout at me about being a right wing conervative pig-dog for even asking such a question, but maybe someone will step up and offer meaningful thoughts.

It does matter to me in a wider sense, because as we have seen, AIDS has not been confined to a small group, it spreads to a number of other demographic groups and it is a huge economic strain to manage, it affects the whole society, and how the largest group of sufferers deal with it affects more than just themselves. The money poured into research is not going to other, just as pressing, health issues, and so I would like to know that it is money being well spent. If millions of dollars are being poured down the drain so that people can ignore the facts and continue to engage in risky behavior, it doesn't matter who they are, I would rather see that money go to better uses.