Tuesday, February 28, 2012

pondering broken mirrors and amendment one

Son: Hey, mom, do you think they'll ever let us have mirrors in the boys' bathrooms? I mean, it's really getting old, not having them...we have to find alternatives like windows and stuff...

Mom: Well you know son, it's not natural for a boy to want to look in a mirror, so there's a school rule that says "No mirrors in boys' bathrooms"

Son: Yeah, but mom that doesn't even make any sense. I mean, if there were just mirrors in there, those of us who wanted to check out how we look would use them - and the rest would just walk right by like always. How would it hurt anyone to have them in there?

Mom: You know, a lot of the mirrors in the girls' bathrooms have been breaking-

Son:  Hey, that's not our fault - we don't even go in there!

Mom:  -so the student council has actually written a proposal to ban mirrors in boys' bathrooms permanently, to amend the student handbook so this issue is settled once and for all.

Son:  What???

Mom:  And to also ban all students from using windows , or other alternative ways of checking their appearance.

Son:  That makes NO SENSE!  Just because they keep breaking their mirrors, we can't have any?  That's crazy!

Mom:  Well, they were worried people would say that, so to make it right and fair, they decided to put the measure to a school-wide vote.

Son:  A vote?

Mom:  Of course. What could be more fair?

Son:  But mom, there are more girls than boys in our school.  WAY more.  How is that fair?

Mom:  Who can argue with democracy?  Let the students vote, right!

Son:  No!  No, NOT right.  That's crazy.  They're all in a tizzy cause their mirrors keep breaking, so they are going to take that out on us.  Now we'll never get mirrors in our own bathrooms.  And whether or not we have mirrors in our bathrooms has nothing - NOTHING to do with them!

Mom:  hmmm.... so what are you going to do?

Son:  We're really voting on this crazy thing?

Mom:  Yes.

Son:  And if it passes, we really won't ever get mirrors - we won't even be able to use alternative "mirrors", not ever?

Mom:  It's true.... what are you going to do?

Son:  Well.... I guess the only thing TO do, is convince enough of the girls to vote on our behalf.

Mom:  Hmm...

Son:  I mean, surely there have to be some girls out there - a lot of girls - who think this is crazy, too, right?

Mom:  Maybe so.

Son:  Yeah.  Surely there are some smart girls in this school... some compassionate girls.  I'm sure there are...


Monday, February 27, 2012

pondering slippery slopes with women who have been there

Anna Woofden writes, "If you open yourself up to revelation being alive and moving, letting it be more than a moral code or a patriarchal history lesson, then you slide.  You slide and find that you’re surrounded by revelation." More here, at The Slippery Slope

Rachel Held Evans writes, "I was pretending that things that didn’t make sense made sense, that things that didn’t feel right felt right.  To others, I appeared confident and in control, but faith felt as far away as a friend who has grown distant and cold. Now, every day is a risk."  More here, atThey Were Right (And Wrong) About the Slippery Slope

And Reverand Dr. Nancy Kraft writes, "Come to think of it, is there anyone who ever did anything worthwhile in the history of the world who didn’t spend a lot of time navigating what many considered to be a slippery slope?" at

Warning: slippery slope ahead!

pondering a quaint Mardi Gras

Last Sunday we had a Mardi Gras party in the fellowship hall.  Inter-generational events like this just make my heart all kinds of happy!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

pondering music for Lent

my lenten song (and prayer)

Create in me a clean heart, a clean heart
For I have turned my face from You
Teach us of Your ways oh God, oh God
For we have turned away from You
Lord have mercy

We will run to you, we will run to you
Turning from our sin we return to You
Father heal your world, make all things new
Make all things new

Your love and mercy build and shape us
Break us and recreate us now
Lord have mercy

Oh, bring us back to you

Friday, February 24, 2012

pondering a response

I recently received a very gracious email from someone who was speaking from a place of concern and love.  This person is worried that I am on dangerous ground, I and our family, both theologically and in our choice of place to worship.  I spent so much time and thought on my response - and because I know many others share this person's thoughts/feelings, only won't say so - that I wanted to post this as an open letter.  

Hey ________, 

I've been pondering how to answer this. 
First of all, YES - I know beyond any shadow of doubt that your words come from a place of love. But I'm not sure I can tell you not to be concerned, because your concern is a logical result of your theology/understanding, so it makes sense. I get that.  What I will do is ask you to realize, if you can, that I'm not going in with my mouth wide open, blindly taking in whatever theology is given there, either.  No - I don't do that with anyone.   
However, there are reasons I've landed where I have for the time being.  If there's anything I've learned on my journey, it's that theological constructs can be wrong.  As I read the New Testament, I see people getting stuff wrong right off the bat.  It's actually funny to me, to see how long this has been going on.  I wore myself out with this for some time, but I believe that I've been led by the Spirit to give up trying to figure out who's right, at least for a while. I do not see that as a worthy use of my time/energy. The message of the Spirit and what is being revealed to me from scripture is that I am to seek to KNOW one thing:  CHRIST, and I am to DO one thing: LOVE.  I could sit here and list all the passages that affirm this, but I won't do that.  I do believe the harvest is ripe for followers of Jesus committed to that sole focus.   
Now, as to the elephant in the room here, gay people - a bit more on that... I spent a couple years researching/reading, trying to figure out who's right or wrong on that.  I spent a lot of time in solitude praying Psalms like, "show me the right path and make me walk in it" and "never withhold truth from me, ever!"  This was no small issue for me.  
I came to the conclusion that it was foolhardy to wrestle with this as an abstract concept.  The only way to know anything about it was to immerse myself with real people living this reality, and so I began to do that in various ways.  In the process, I was blessed to encounter many dedicated Christian gay people who have same sex partners - some I've known since high school and reconnected with, some I've only met in the past year.  In the midst of those relationships, something happened - which is why I suppose you would think it dangerous of me to hang around with them.  I began to realize that I could not doubt that the fruit of the Spirit is alive and flourishing in their lives, that they are convicted of sin just as I am, that they repent of it, that they hunger and thirst after righteousness, that they dig into the scripture just as I do.  They answer my questions with grace and humility, more than I can say I've always shown to them.  More by far, actually. 
It doesn't make any logical sense to me, that someone who is basically flipping God off in such a significant area, who lives in unrepentant blatant sin, could carry the fragrance of Christ so beautifully in their life.  And so the only conclusion I can come to is that my idea of sin is flawed.  That it's not a specific behavior but a heart motive, and so, sex and partnership is beautiful or ugly - righteous or sinful - based on the heart intent of the person, based on the SPIRIT (of good or of evil), and that no "law" can adequately capture that, which is one reason why we are repeatedly told the law was inadequate.  Jesus seems to capture this essence often, in His teaching, does He not?  
Now, you can quote me the "black and white" passages from both the Old and New Testament and I can quote for you all the scriptures that both the Catholic Church and people like Martin Luther and John Calvin used to dismiss Copernicus.  You can tell me about Adam and Eve and I can tell you that the one thing God called "not good" was for man to be alone, so He created a helpmeet, a suitable partner, so how can I in good conscience ever speak for God by imposing lifelong alone-ness on another person?  We'd go round and round and nothing would change except that we might understand one another better and, I hope, respect each other even more. 
My point is I'm not sure I'm right on this topic.  What I am sure of, what I've learned in almost 40 years (not quite as long as you, ha ha) is that either way, I could be wrong.  And that is enough reason for me to fall over into love, rather than knowledge.  If I'm to err, let me err on the side of grace and mercy.  I know no other way to respond.   In all my relationships, I strive to treat people as I want to be treated, to Love people as they discover and live out their role in God's story.  That hasn't changed ... I just see that as a more open-ended statement than you do, right now.   
I hope this helps relieve some of your concern.  And I'm not sure I've expressed all this as well as I'd like, in fact I'm sure I haven't.  Certainly there are other theological issues you have in mind but in my experience, but this is the one that causes people the most angst - even more so than the whole hell question - which is frankly quite interesting to me, why that is... 
I look forward to more from you, if and when you can or care to. 
Much love always,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

pondering lent: sometimes sacrifice comes to you

Eric and I have been thinking about what we will "do" for Lent. We enjoy seasons like Advent and Lent - we don't see them as empty rituals, but as "good excuses" to draw near to God, as a family.  We were trying to think of something that would be meaningful for the kids to sacrifice, and how to connect that to loving our neighbor(s).

Nothing came to mind, and now I know why. Lent has come to us. Luke had some blood-work done and to our surprise, he is off-the-charts allergic to many things.  He obviously doesn't react anaphylactic-ally (thank God) but he has several other symptoms that might be related.  And so, with these extremely high numbers, we see no choice but to remove the offending foods.

So, for Lent this year (and beyond? who knows...) the entire McConnell household will stand in solidarity with Luke.  None of us like it, but we all agree that he should not have to go this alone or watch any of us eat things he can no longer enjoy.  So the pantry and fridge have been fully cleaned out and refurbished with acceptable replacements.  We aren't even going to the Ash Wednesday service tonight.  We'd love to (okay, fine, I'd love to!) but it's been a long day.  Instead, we are about to have a little "service" here of our own... to talk about this more, pray, sing a song, read a scripture.  Our hope is to do this as many evenings as possible, culminating with Easter.

So... Lent begins:  starting today the entire family is giving up wheat, corn, soy, and peanuts - not because they have to, but because their brother has to.  I call that dying to self for the love of the other.

And I can't think of a better way to live out the Lenten season.

Monday, February 20, 2012

pondering praying with Bonhoeffer

I do not know if this is meant to be a Lenten prayer, but it "hits home" so I think this is the one we will pray together as a family during this season.  My hope is that we gather daily as we did during Advent.  I'm very much looking forward to it.  Of course, we gather in the evenings so I'll have to reword it a bit...

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you;
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me….
Restore me to liberty,
And enable me to live now
That I may answer before you and before men.
Lord whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised.

pondering a prayer for Lent, with Henri Nouwen

"How often have I lived through these weeks without paying much attention to penance, fasting, and prayer? How often have I missed the spiritual fruits of the season without even being aware of it? But how can I ever really celebrate Easter without observing Lent? How can I rejoice fully in your Resurrection when I have avoided participating in your death? Yes, Lord, I have to die — with you, through you, and in you — and thus become ready to recognize you when you appear to me in your Resurrection. There is so much in me that needs to die: false attachments, greed and anger, impatience and stinginess.... I see clearly now how little I have died with you, really gone your way and been faithful to it.O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again. Amen."

and another...

"The Lenten season begins. It is a time to be with you, Lord, in a special way, a time to pray, to fast, and thus to follow you on your way to Jerusalem, to Golgotha, and to the final victory over death.

I am still so divided. I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, pleasure, power, and influence. Help me to become deaf to these voices and more attentive to your voice, which calls me to choose the narrow road to life.

I know that Lent is going to be a very hard time for me. The choice for your way has to be made every moment of my life.
I have to choose thoughts that are your thoughts, words that are your words, and actions that are your actions. There are not times or places without choices. And I know how deeply I resist choosing you.

Please, Lord, be with me at every moment and in every place.
Give me the strength and the courage to live this season faithfully, so that, when Easter comes, I will be able to taste with joy the new life that you have prepared for me.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

pondering church change

Our nine year old - the third of four and the oldest of the girls - has always been the most opinionated of the crew. The most strong willed. The most vocal.  The nonconformist.  I try to value this in her, recognizing that what makes my life harder now will serve her well in her own life, later. 

On the way to school this morning, seemingly out of the blue, she asks,

"Are we ever going to go back to our old church?"

Sigh. Here we go again.

I remind her that we've been through this - that I'm sure we'll go back sometime, but it will be to visit.

The flood gates open.

"WHY??? It was FUN there!! Not just the kids' stuff, even the grown up service was fun!  I hate this new church! You can't force me to like it there!"

Oh, the drama...
I draw in a deep cleansing breath... hold it a moment... then blow it out slowly, before I respond.  I'm getting pretty good at this.  Thanks (mostly) to her.  Whew.

I remind her, first of all, that when we were still attending there, she complained - every single week - that she didn't want to go.  Once there, she'd enjoy it - yes - but the entire morning leading up, we had to listen to her balk, just like we do now (she has a true gift for selective memory).  I also point out that she's (we've) been a bit spoiled; that the point of church isn't to "have fun".  Our family LOVES to have fun, but we choose to spend one or two hours a week focusing on worship.  I concede that yes, we're shifting gears - big time - from a hip contemporary service to a more traditional one.  But, I add, it's good to develop an appreciation for a different style.  I mention how small the congregation is, how kind and welcoming they are, how good they've been to us and to her.  I remind her how we go forward for communion every week, now, how we share the peace with one another, and how we all hold hands to recite The Lord's Prayer - that these are special, meaningful practices.

She's not buying it.

I decide not to mention that her Dad and I sometimes miss the music at the old church, too, but because her oldest brother has a form of autism, it had become impossible.  He could hardly stand to be in the sanctuary during services, the loud music and the lights were so overstimulating for him.  So we were spending Sunday mornings out in the lobby, watching on a big screen from a sofa (wondering why we'd bothered to come at all, since we have a perfectly good sofa and TV at home).  The calmer environment and more predictable liturgy at our new church are much better suited to his needs, and that's been an important factor in our decision making process.  But I definitely don't mention any of that to her right now - no point in adding blame for big brother to her repertoire of grievances.

Growing exasperated, I pull the "There are some things you just can't understand right now, you'll understand when you're older" line, hoping to end the discussion there.  But she's not buying that, either.  I seem to have forgotten who it is I'm talking to!  This girl doesn't let things go.  Besides, hadn't I sworn to myself that I wouldn't condescend to my kids that way?

"Just tell me, mom! Tell me why!"

This girl is no fool.  She knows there's more to it.  We loved it there, it was home - she knows what that meant to us.  We have memories there, and we love those people - deeply.  So it must have taken something serious to push us to make a move like this - something more than size and style.  

She senses all this.  And she is right. 

"Okay.  Here it is."  (another of those deep cleansing breaths)

"You know how, when Dr. King was marching during the Civil Rights Movement, there were white people who marched with him?  They didn't have to.  They could go to school wherever they wanted, sit wherever they wanted on the bus, drink from any water fountain ... But they stood with their black brothers and sisters.  They did that because they wanted to identify with their friends who were being marginalized, who weren't able to enjoy the same benefits and freedoms they did."

She doesn't answer.  She's trying to keep her "I'm mad at you" face on, but I can see she's thinking...

"Well, that is a big part of why we are going to this new church.  Remember a couple of weeks ago, when Pastor Nancy baptized baby L?  Remember how she had us gather round, up close to the basin so we could all see?  Remember how tiny he was?  You know, L has three older brothers, cutest little guys you ever did see, and he has two dads.  Remember how we talked about that?  They love God and they love each other and they love their kids, very much.  They want their kids to grow up in the church, learning about God's Love and worshiping together with others, the same way Daddy and I want that for the four of you."

I stroke her cheek with the back of my forefinger.  She glances my way, waiting for more.  

"Well, here's the thing, baby ... L's dads probably wouldn't have been able to baptize their son at our old church.  Their family would not feel welcome there.  I've been thinking and praying about this a lot, and I ... I'm just not okay with that anymore.  We can go to church anywhere we choose, but they can't - and I think Jesus wants us to identify with our gay friends and their families, right now.  This new church is a place where everyone is truly welcome, no matter what.  And that's really, really important to me."

Granted, there are other contributing differences - stuff I've pondered on this very blog - and I'm sure one day she and I will talk about those, too.  But this - this is tangible, it involves real people she can see.  And maybe I should have talked to her about this before now... I probably should have talked to all of them about this before now, but I've been hesitant to.  The last thing I want to do is paint our friends from the other church as bad people.  They are not bad people.  I love those people.  I have no desire to sever relationships with them - none.  And yet, awkward and even painful as it is, there's no way around the divisiveness of this issue.  I wish it weren't like that, but it is. And we have to deal with what is ... at least until what is becomes what will be.  (oh blessed hope!)

She is quiet.

"Hey?  I know your heart, baby - I know your compassion. But I also know that right now, you wish we could stay at the old church.  I get it - I do.  And we can talk about this as much and as often as you want.  But ... (I swallow hard) ...we aren't going back."

She sighs, and finally speaks again, "Well, can I at least help in the nursery every week? I really liked playing with the babies and little kids." 

I smile and tell her I don't know about every week, but that I promise to look into it.  I remind her how much she loved playing Mary in the Christmas pageant, and offer a few more ideas about how she might participate.  Since it's a small congregation, kids her age are encouraged to be involved in a variety of ways - one lady there has already told me she's been known to alter the acolyte robes so children can wear them. And I've already read about an upcoming Mardi Gras celebration!

She shrugs, signalling, "I'll think about it."

We're at the drop off point now.  She gets out of the car, but turns to face me before closing the door.  Her eyes have softened.

"I love you, Mom."

"I love you, too, baby - very much!"

A smile as the car door slams.
A quick wave bye.

And she's off,
to do some pondering of her own...

Friday, February 3, 2012

pondering a hijacked story: taking back the good news

I'm pretty tired of the insinuation that those of us who profess a gospel of Love are somehow juvenile at best, heretical at worst.  I'm putting my foot down with a, "Says who?!" (or, as Phyllis Tickle is famous for asking, "Who told you that?")  I'm done feeling intimidated by Bible Bullies. I've been reading this book quite a bit for quite a long time, and you know what?  I'm ready to push my sleeves up and challenge the best of them - they've hijacked this story long enough.

Case in point: Pastor Nancy recently asked us to help contribute to a Lenten devotional called Loving, Not Judging.  If I'm honest, I have to admit that there are still voices in my head that scoff at the very title with a sarcastic "Really?" (implying that this obviously won't be a serious Bible devotional).  To those voices, I offer exhibit A (see below).  In less than an hour's time, and with only a high level scan, I gathered the following passages - and these are only from the New Testament (I haven't even touched the Old, yet).

This is meat, folks -  grown up stuff.  So much so, that I'm beginning to think that's what's really going on here.... this Good News stuff is so serious, so hard, asks so much of us, that it's easier to hijack the story.  It's easier to maintain control.  It's easier to judge.

The problem with Loving, Not Judging isn't that it's too shallow ... it's that it's too far over our heads.  We need major Holy Spirit Energy to even scratch the surface of a Life of Love!

That's humbling.

Not surprising that those who resist being humbled, won't like it ...


Exhibit A

Matthew 543-47"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.48"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."  
Acts 6&7: 8-10Stephen, brimming with God's grace and energy, was doing wonderful things among the people, unmistakable signs that God was among them. But then some men from the meeting place went up against him...they were no match for his wisdom and spirit when he spoke...15As all those who sat on the High Council looked at Stephen, they found they couldn't take their eyes off him—his face was like the face of an angel!... 57-58Yelling and hissing, the mob drowned him out. Now in full stampede, they dragged him out of town and pelted him with rocks...59-60As the rocks rained down, Stephen prayed, "Master Jesus, take my life." Then he knelt down, praying loud enough for everyone to hear, "Master, don't blame them for this sin"—his last words. Then he died.
Romans 129-10Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.11-13Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. 14-16Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.17-19Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."20-21Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
I Corinthians 131 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Galatians 5:   13-15It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom.
Ephesians 5:   1-2Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Philippians 19-11So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 214-16Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I'll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You'll be living proof that I didn't go to all this work for nothing.
Colossians 312-14So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
I Thess 5:  Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other's nerves you don't snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.16-18Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
I Tim 15-7The whole point of what we're urging is simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven't the remotest idea of what they're holding forth with such imposing eloquence.
Hebrews 131-4Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when it's needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it! Regard prisoners as if you were in prison with them. Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you.
James 3:   13-16Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here's what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It's the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn't wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn't wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn't wisdom. It's the furthest thing from wisdom—it's animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you're trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others' throats.17-18Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
I Peter 47-11Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
I John 2:   9-11Anyone who claims to live in God's light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It's the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God's light and doesn't block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn't know which end is up, blinded by the darkness.
I John 47-10My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God.11-12My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!

(all passages from The Message)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

pondering a timely story

Luke's Language Arts homework was to read a story called Jeremiah's Song. It's about a young boy who has a lot of conversations with his grandfather before he passes away.  When I realized the grandfather was going to die, I was like, "Really? We're reading this NOW? Do we have to? The poor kid's heart is raw from loss!"

But it was good. It really was.

He understood lines like,
"I was the one who loved Grandpa Jeremiah the most and she didn't hardly even know him so I didn't see why she was crying." Seemed to sum up how he feels about a lot of the hoopla at the school ... (not saying his feelings about that are right or wrong or fair, just saying they're his)

Later came this line,
"She was crying but it wasn't a hard crying. It was a soft crying, the kind that last inside of you for a long time."  He just sighed ... like someone had put his very feelings into words.

One of the questions was:  Who do you think the narrator learned the most from? Luke answered, "I think he learned the most from Grandpa, because he loved him and he had a lot of chats with him. This makes me think of Dr. Bowe, the principal of my school, and having a lot of chats with him before he passed away."

Later, this question: Has anyone influenced your life the way Grandpa Jeremiah touched the lives of those around him? Luke had to use one of the vocabulary words to answer the question. He answered, "I used to interact with Dr. Bowe a lot of times until he died."

People with autism process emotion differently. They express emotion differently. Sometimes this makes other people uncomfortable - sometimes it makes THEM uncomfortable. But don't ever make the mistake that they don't feel. I'm of the opinion that they feel more than most...