26 March 2014

Loaded Questions

These questions appeared on my Facebook page today, from someone whom I absolutely adore. But they are loaded, so I wrote a blog about them.

  • "Can you tell me your secret? How do you not walk away from Christianity? How do you still go to church? Excuse my language but I am so fed up with this bull shit."

Where to begin...

Over the last several months I have been faced with quite a few experiences that have been... rough. Everything from a misinterpretation of something I said, a flat out contestation of my faith, and, of course, all of "us versus them" happening within the broader Christian faith right now. So why have I not abandoned my church, my religion, my faith? How do we maintain our walk? How do we stay unified as the body of Christ? How do we join hands with people so blatently different from us? People we maybe see as "wrong?"

I read an article yesterday about how "liberals" and "conservatives" will never be able to come to the table - and this article was just discussing "liberals" and "conservatives" within Christianity! Not to mention those with varying relgious beliefs within our communities, our nation, and our world.

But I whole heartedly disagree.

If we are unable to come to the table to discuss issues, it has nothing to do with whether we are liberal or conservative or any other label you can think up - it has to do with pride.

The truth of the matter is that I am furious with Evangelicals deciding to withdraw sponsorships from children in need based purely on who the company hires, the Good Samaritan was not a believer and yet he was the one who was able to do the right thing - but here's the deal: just I as I don't believe those withdrawing from World Vision should do so based on judgement of individuals as "sinners," I should not judge them. I should call them to action and encourage them to continue to support those children that they previously made promises to, not because of World Vision, but because God calls us to care for the least of these. And if they truly feel so led to no longer support World Vision? I would encourage them to seek out another organization.

I can think whatever I want about their decision, I can be frustrated with how this makes our LGBT community members feel, I can even express anger about how this is protraying our faith to the rest of the world - but I am not ultimately the one who anyone will answer to. I don't have the corner on the Cornerstone. I don't have a backstage pass to morals and ethics. I don't get to judge. Thank the Lord Almighty, that it not my job.

If we can't come to the table and discuss this and other issues, that makes us equally pharisaical. "Truth in love" can only come through relationship, so we need to stop using it as an excuse to say hurtful things. Both to our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as our brothers and sisters in humanity.

When I was younger, I made a lot of poor decisions (let's be honest, I still make some poor decisions). These decisions created rumours that ran rampant throughout my childhood church and youthgroup which led to some very serious judgemental statements made about and to me. Because of that, I walked away from the church, which I thought meant I was walking away from God. But here is what I found: 1. God will always come after you, even when you can't see it and don't believe it. And 2. Love always trumphs judgement.

Sometimes (a lot of the time), the church misrepresents Christ. And that sucks. But God does not need us to fight the church to protect Him, because that sends more mixed messages than helps and because He is God - He can fight His own battles. What God needs us to do is to love and care for people as He has called us - including those we disagree with. I know, for me, it is so much easier to love and care for people who do not call themselves Christians - but that doesn't give me a free pass to walk away from what I believe. I don't get to just distance myself and say "I'm not with them!" I get to love them, or at least to try vigorously.

Loving people doesn't mean not having hard conversations, it doesn't mean total consensus, it doesn't mean finality - it just means love. That is our call. To love. To love God, to love each other, to love the world. There will always be disagreements, there will always be frustrations, there will always be misrepresentation - but there also always needs to be love so that we can come to the table and discuss these things. Not just as Christians, but as humans.

It's hard.

(but luckily there's grace)

13 March 2014


There is too much happening and I cannot for the life of me catch up to the number of drafts I have created, so I will give you the gist.
Rory is one and a half. He talks to us in his own language, which mostly satisfies him, except when it doesn't and he gets upset that we can't understand him. He is animated and active. He loves to play the drums and count and read books. He likes berries and gummy vitamins, he cleans up after himself if he knows we are going to leave or go outside, he hates children's music. He rolls his eyes with gusto and can throw a ball almost too well for his own good. He likes to put hair clips on his head and pretend to wear my earrings, he loves trucks and cars and anything that goes "brrrmmmm," especially airplanes.

Mark continues to surprise me with all of his interests - from sustainability, to wood working, to fixing dishwashers - the man is simply amazing. He works at the Maple Valley Signs and is somewhat interested in his work there, but primarily loves the opportunity to work on his graphic design skills. He volunteers with me at Life101 youth group and is a crowd favorite. Between his long hair, straight forward manner, and hatred of closed-toed shoes? I'm not surprised that kids love him. After all, I love him!

I am have applied to North Park University and take the ACT in April to hopefully begin taking courses in May. I am applying to scholarships left and right, studying like a fiend, and still trying to work as many hours as possible. Thankfully, we have hired a new Youth Director, so I can pull that off my plate. But as Mark and I continue to plan the Mexico Mission Trip for our Youth Group, we are still so busy.

How goes our own missions funding? Well, our initial boom of support was wonderful, but with our busy schedules over the Holidays, we fell behind and are stuck at about 22% of our goal (if you want to support us, check out our giving site!). I had a meeting last Thursday with a church that is considering sponsoring us - if they decide to sponsor us, we will have the opportunity to visit their church at some point this Spring to see if people would like to sponsor us individually as well. We are praying hard for that.
This Sunday we will visit residents at a Covenant retirement home. We have small hopes for individual financial support, but most of the residents are on a fixed income. Our main goal in visiting is to share our love of missions and build relationships with residents.
We are trying to set up times to visit other churches and organizations as well, but it often seems overwhelming. In May we will be attending our conference's Annual Meeting as delegates and will hopefully have the opportunity to speak briefly during the weekend. In June we will visit another church for them to decide whether to support us as a church as well as whether to allow us to visit their congregation. Pray for all of this, we need it.

But what will you do in Oaxaca, you ask? Well, Mark would like to primarily be involved in sustainability; both for businesses started up through Fuentes Libres as well as agricultural sustainability (rooftop gardens, beekeeping, etc). I will be focused on Rory, but Mexico has a family based culture, so I will most likely be able to be involved in a lot of things with Rory in tow. I'm eager to check out Casa Hogar and be involved with Semillas de Salud, local youth groups, and support local churches outside of Oaxaca.
But the truth is, a lot of what we will be doing specifically is up in the air depending on what is needed from us by the missionaries and churches already present in Oaxaca. We are there to learn and grow God's Kingdom and what He is already doing. We hope to be mentored under Erika and Nils Clauson in order to become Long Term Missionaries after spending time as Short Term-ers. There's nothing concrete or sexy to sell you about why we're going or what we will be doing. We are decidedly unsexy.

What else?

"I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God."
Psalm 69:3

Here is where I am at mentally: I just want something different. I am tired of waiting. This has been my sentiment for the last several weeks, months even. I just want to be done waiting. I have tried. I have tried to embrace patience and I was even mildly successful for a short while. But I am weary. I am parched. And my eyes grow dim. Waiting for funds, waiting for a new youth director, waiting to go to school, waiting to grow our family, waiting to hear from churches, waiting... there's more, trust me.

"What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient?"
Job 6:11

That's right, I'm quoting Job! I have been experiencing overwhelming frustration with the fact that our circumstances just have not changed. I feel caught in the middle of a hurricane, the eye of the storm. Everything around me is moving at a pace I can't seem to keep track of and life continues, but it is also so still. I don't like it. I was not okay with being patient, then I was okay, now I am not again. It's confusing and infuriating and I just want a respite. I want a moment to not be overwhelmed by the work, one second to feel like we are moving at an acceptable pace, a single breath to believe that we will make it to Oaxaca. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? I'm not really sure at this point. People continually ask "When do you leave?" And I smile and say "Oh, well it depends on fundraising," and then explain the surrounding circumstances. What I really want to say is... well, it's not appropriate.

But here is the kicker.

"And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you."
Psalm 39:7

My hope is in God. It's fuzzy and sometimes it falters. It's fuzzy, faltering hope. But it's there! Most of the time...

This is where I'm sitting. On a ledge, at the start line, waiting for the gun or the champagne bottle to break. My life is steadily turning into a Dr Seuss novel - yes, novel. Pray for me. I'm ridiculous.