***Thanks to Sara Cunningham for allowing me to use this picture. Check out the notes at the bottom of this post to find out more about Sara and her book “How We Sleep At Night: A Mother̵…
Source: Activist Mommy
***Thanks to Sara Cunningham for allowing me to use this picture. Check out the notes at the bottom of this post to find out more about Sara and her book “How We Sleep At Night: A Mother̵…
Source: Activist Mommy
This Christmas Story was first published in Women’s Day magazine in 1982 and was written by Nancy W. Gavin. The original title was “For The Man Who Hated Christmas.”
“It was just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years.
“It all began because my husband, Mike, hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it – overspending and the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma; gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.
“Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
“Our son, Kevin, who was 12 that year, was on the wrestling team at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy red and black uniforms and sparking new wrestling shoes.
“As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the opposing team obviously could not afford.
“Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. Mike, seated next to me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have lots of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.”
“Mike loved kids – all kids. He so enjoyed coaching little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came.
“That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed a small white envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done, and this was his gift from me.
“Mike’s smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year. And that same bright smile lit up succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition — one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and so on.
“The white envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children — ignoring their new toys — would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.
“The story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was wrapped in grief. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree. And the next morning, I found it was magically joined by three more. Unbeknownst to the others, each of our three children for the first time placed a white envelope on the tree for their dad. It looks like this family tradition will continue.”
This month’s synchrblog asks bloggers what they would write about if this was thier last blog.
It’s sort of like asking a person to think about what they would want their last words to be.
As I pondered this idea I knew that I would want my last words to be about love because imo love is the main thing, the biggie, the thing that trumps everything else. If someone was to try and remember something I once said I would like it very much if it was something about love.
So, here are some Last words about love …. from me.
Loving is risky and requires us to be vulnerable. That’s scary stuff but it is worth it.
People accept the love they think they deserve.
We can love others without loving ourselves but the love or lack of love we have for ourselves does impact the way we love others and the way we receive love from others.
If we hurt someone with our words or actions we shouldn’t demand that they love us well without taking time to regain their trust and demonstrating our love to them in better ways. Forgiveness, regaining trust and being vulnerable enough to love again after a relationship suffers a blow is a process. Love is patient.
The opposite of love isn’t always hate … sometimes it is indifference or silence or polite but meaningless interaction.
When it comes to faith the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:6)
Loving requires us to be generous. Loving is more than a feeling. Love is an action we choose.
If we keep having to declare that our actions are loving we may not be loving well. If what we call love is consistently seen as unloving we have to examine what we are doing and why. We can always justify our actions and words by calling them “tough love” but most of the time if someone consistently feels unloved by us it is because we aren’t loving them well.
Real love is worked out in the details of life. Real love enters the world of another person and feels what it is like to be that person. Real love sees through the eyes of the other. If you want to grow in love focus on the details.
Say “I love you” to your friends and family. Of course our actions mean the most, but adding those three little words to loving actions is a priceless combination. Don’t miss out on the opportunity. And add a hug when you can! The human touch is very important when it comes to showing our love.
Love is powerful – but more than that – love is enough. It gives so many the courage to stand up against injustice and for the goodness and protection of others, it causes us to give generously of ourselves and our possessions, it helps people open themselves up to new understandings and perspectives, it motivates us to check on our neighbors, to give to the poor, to visit the sick, to take care of our children, to build a life with someone. Love changes those who love and those who are loved … and as a result it changes the world.
Spread your love everywhere you go! You won’t regret it. It is worth it. It is enough!
I hope you will check out the other synchroblog posts this month (I’ll add links as they become available).
50 years ago religious freedom arguments that are being made today to discriminate against LGBT people were being used to justify the discrimination of black people and interracial relationships.
At that time scripture was misused to support the exclusion and oppression of black people and interracial couples. Today we have people doing the same thing to justify the exclusion and oppression of LGBT people and same sex couples.
Most people have never taken the time to study what scripture says about same sex relationships for themselves. Most people read scripture with preconceived ideas that have been formed by believing what they have been told by someone else.
If anyone is willing to set their preconceived ideas aside and take the time to study original language while also taking historical context into consideration they will be able to comprehend that there is nothing in scripture that clearly condemns a loving, healthy same sex relationship. NOTHING!
I know!, because as a parent of a gay son I was diligent in my effort to find out FOR SURE what scripture did and didn’t say about same sex relationships. I loved my son enough to go to the trouble. Do you love anyone enough to go to the trouble? If you do, I would be glad to help you.
In fact, there is more evidence in scripture to support slavery than there is to support the condemnation of all same sex relationships.
Scripture also doesn’t put forth the idea that marriage is to be only between one man and one woman or that it has anything to do with people falling in love.
Scripture proves one thing about marriage … that marriage has been changing since the beginning of time. As society progresses, learns and improves, our institutions change.
Traditionally marriage was not between one man and one woman. The idea of marriage as a sexually exclusive, romantic union between one man and one woman is a relatively recent development. In the ancient world, marriage served primarily as a means of preserving power, with kings and other members of the ruling class marrying off their daughters to forge alliances, acquire land, and produce legitimate heirs. The purpose of marriage was primarily the production of heirs. Often times peasants wouldn’t even bother with marriage since they had no property or position to worry about.
The church didn’t even get involved in marriage until the 5th century. It wasn’t declared a sacred sacrament until the 12th century. And it wasn’t until the 16th century that weddings were performed publicly by a priest and with witnesses. A license to be married wasn’t commonplace until the 17th century which was around the time when romance began to have some involvement. As the middle class formed in the 19th century only then did young men begin to select their own spouses and start marrying without the consent of their parents. The idea of women having rights and not being a subordinate to their husband didn’t become common until the 20th century. It was 1965 before the Supreme Court ruled that a wife could be raped by her husband. Until then husbands who forced themselves on their wives were not guilty of rape, since they were legally entitled to sexual access.
The institution of marriage has always been in a constant state of evolution.
“Marriage, like transportation, has always been a part of human existence. But riding a donkey is very different from flying in a jet, and modern marriage has only superficial similarity to what went before. Just as we embrace each new mode of travel that enhances human welfare, no one should mind adapting marriage to the needs of modern people.” – Steve Chapman
Extending matrimony to same-sex couples advances the same interests cited in support of heterosexual marriage. Legalizing same sex marriages encourages stable commitments that offer a framework for procreation and upholds the interest of children in a legally protected family.
The evidence before us is that same sex marriage offers the same benefits to individuals and society that opposite sex marriage does.
And finally, there is nothing in scripture that would support the idea that Christians should not sell their services or products to someone who is, in their eyes, sinning. In fact, that would go against the very tenets of Christianity. Any use of Christianity to justify discrimination is evidence of a misunderstanding about who Jesus was and what his good news was meant to convey to and about humanity. Discrimination and exclusion were not values of Jesus and are in conflict with the precepts of the Christian faith.
Oh – and one last point – the First Amendment does not guarantee us the right to discriminate based on our religion, it instead guarantees us the right not to be discriminated against based on our religious beliefs.
This post is part of the July Synchroblog which invites bloggers to post about “Same Sex Marriage.”
As someone who has a gay son and who owns and facilitates a Private Facebook group for more than 500 moms of LGBT kids I have a LOT to say about same sex marriage “stuff.”
In fact, I have so much to say, I don’t know where to start.
But, I guess a good place to start is with my own story about how I went from believing same sex relationships were sinful to believing that condemning same sex relationships is sinful.
When my son came out he told me he had come to the conclusion that the bible did not condemn loving, committed same sex relationships.
I fully expected to be able to prove him wrong.
I was accustomed to “studying” scripture as I taught women’s bible studies for years. I knew what it meant to dig into original language and consider the historical context of the verses I was studying.
I was shocked to find that my son was right … none of the “clobber” verses were speaking about a loving, monogamous, healthy same sex relationship.
In fact, after a lot of studying and searching I had to admit there was no sufficient evidence in scripture that “clearly” condemned or supported same sex relationships.
One would have to put their integrity at stake and make scripture say more than it does in order to claim that scripture clearly condemns or supports same sex relationships.
(I could go into greater detail here about what I found and didn’t find in scripture, but instead I would like to share a link to a message by Pastor Stan Mitchell of GracePoint Church in Franklin, TN. The message is “Dialogue On Full Sacramental LGBT Inclusion.” This message includes almost everything I discovered in my own journey. I personally think this should be required listening for all Christians living in 2015 but I will just say “if you are a Christian who loves anyone – ANYONE – who is LGBT, you should take the time to listen to this message right away.”)
In light of discovering there was insufficient evidence in scripture to condemn same sex relationships I then had to ask myself, “What should I do?” and “How should I respond to something if scripture doesn’t clearly condemn or support it?”
The only thing I could think is I needed to find out if there was any evidence to indicate same sex relationships hurt people.
I searched and I couldn’t find that kind of evidence either – in fact, the evidence I discovered showed healthy same sex relationships had the same healthy effect on individuals and society as opposite sex relationships have on individuals and society.
Two more things happened which ended up playing a significant role in my journey.
First, I ran across this quote:
“A traditional religious belief is that “grace builds on nature,” in other words religious life depends on a good foundation in human health. Therefore we can legitimately evaluate the validity of a religious belief system by its psychological consequences. Good theology will result in good psychology and vice versa. Accordingly, bad theology will have negative psychological consequences. This is nothing more than an application of the biblical norm: “You will be able to tell them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16) If Saint Irenaeus proclaimed, the glory of God is humans FULLY ALIVE [emphasis mine], then clearly a belief system that results in the destruction of human health cannot serve the glory of God.” ~Dr. John J. McNeill
And second, I kept bumping into Micah 6:8:
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
The quote by Dr. McNeill made so much sense to me and supported what I had always believed in my heart … which was the tenets and beliefs of Christianity should mostly lead to a person’s health and wholeness. In other words, our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health should all be “better” if we are embracing good theology. Like Dr. McNeill explained, good and right theology should mostly lead to good psychology (good fruit).
As I considered this idea I began to understand that when our theology about something is resulting in a lot of bad fruit or bad psychology – such as hopelessness, depression, self hate and self harm – we have an obligation to re-examine what we believe and ask ourselves why we believe it.
And Micah 6:8 became like a guiding light for my journey. The words reminded me that justice (doing what is right) is a very high priority to God and led me to ask, “What would it look like, in light of what I have discovered, to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God?”
Everything combined together led me to the conclusion that it would be unjust, and lack mercy and humility, to condemn a loving, monogamous same sex relationship.
There was nothing in scripture to clearly mandate the condemnation of same sex relationships, there was no evidence that same sex relationships caused harm to anyone (in fact, the opposite was true) and the theological position of condemning same sex relationships was not producing good psychology (good fruit).
Those things together have given me peace in my heart about being a Christian who affirms same sex relationships. Those things have led me to believe that condemning same sex relationships is a sin.
The transition didn’t happen overnight. Although I was able to see right away that what I had believed wasn’t right, it actually took somewhere between one and two years of study, prayer, learning, listening and thinking for me to officially change my position/belief.
I’ve been accused of letting my love for my son blind me to the truth, but nothing could be further from the truth. My love for my son made me study more than ever, it caused me to ask tougher questions and to carefully consider all the evidence before me. I love my son too much to mislead him in the wrong direction if I can help it.
I’ve been accused of disregarding scripture and the Christian faith, but nothing could be further from the truth. My high view of scripture, my determination to not make scripture say more than it says, my commitment to study in a thorough manner, my deep devotion to being a follower of Christ and to do my best to live into the kind of radical love that he demonstrated and calls me to imitate … those things have led and guided me to where I am today regarding same sex marriage. I do not affirm same sex relationships in spite of my faith. I affirm same sex relationships because of my faith.
And as I have talked to other Christian mothers of LGBT kids I have witnessed them going through the same sort of process … digging deep, not accepting easy answers, wanting to make sure as much as possible.
As mothers our love doesn’t let us off the hook … instead, it is the reason we must be even more resolute and thorough. Our love is that great.
Like I said … I have a LOT to say about same sex marriage “stuff” and this is just the beginning … but I’m a firm believer that blog posts shouldn’t be too long … so stay tuned for part two of “Same Sex Marriage Stuff” coming soon. (Go here for part two)
In the meantime, check out the other July Synchroblog posts about “Same Sex Marriage
I wrote this prayer for the June synchroblog which invited bloggers to write about Christian Hospitality.
Give us eyes to see the deepest needs of people.
Give us hearts full of love for our neighbors as well as for the strangers we meet.
Help us understand what it means to love others as we love ourselves.
Teach us to care in a way that strengthens those who are sick.
Fill us with generosity so we feed the hungry, clothe the naked and give drink to the thirsty.
Let us be a healing balm to those who are weak and lonely and weary by offering our kindness to them.
May we remember to listen, to smile, to offer a helping hand each time the opportunity presents itself.
Give us hearts of courage that we will be brave enough to risk loving our enemy.
Inspire us to go out of our way to include those in the margins.
Help us to be welcoming and inclusive to all who come to our door.
Let us be God’s hospitality in the world.
Here is a list of all the links to the other synchroblog posts about hospitality:
A Sacred Rebel – Hospitality
Carol Kuniholme – Violent Unwelcome. Holy Embrace.
Glen Hager – Aunt Berthie
Leah Sophia – welcoming one another
Mary – The Space of Hospitality
Jeremy Myers – Why I Let a “Murderer” Live in My House
Loveday Anyim – Is Christian Hospitality a Dead Way of Life?
Clara Ogwuazor Mbamalu – Have we replaced Hospitality with Hostility?
K.W. Leslie – Christian Hospitality
Christine Sine – True Hospitality – What Does It Look Like?
A beautiful prayer to guide us through the week:
A Prayer on “Knowing” God and Humbling Ourselves by Mark Sandlin
Good and gracious God,
There are so many understandings of you
and yet there is only one you.
So many faiths.
So many denominations.
So many differences
even in the Gospels we read about you…
even between theological experts…
even between well read followers…
even between me
and the others who read this prayer.
You are so ineffably difficult
to pin down,
to know fully.
Yet we sometime become
full of ourselves,
acting as if we
the “Truth” about you —
Believing that we have done
what thousands of years of history
have not been able to do,
we sometimes think
we have the final truth and understanding
God of all times and all peoples,
humble our hearts.
Silence our sometimes haughty souls
and lend us perspective.
Guide us closer to you.
Teach us how limited our knowledge is.
Give us spirits which seek more of your truth.
Instill in us
a willingness to admit what we don’t know.
to not only share what we have learned
but to open ourselves
to what we can learn from them.
Plant within us spirits which revel
in the reality
that there is more to learn
spirits which celebrate
what we don’t know
because it means we can still
grow closer to you,
spirits which are willing
to toss away
what we once knew
for new understandings
which grow us closer to you
and all of your Creation.
We joyfully give thanks
for all of the possibilities
which lie in front of us
to know you more fully
and to share
your love more abundantly.
You can follow Rev. Mark Sandlin on Facebook here.
Jesus was a carpenter, if a same sex couple asked him to make them a table he would have built it and it would have been as good as any table he had ever built, and then, when it was finished and sitting in their home, he would have sat with them and had dinner on it…..
but before they ate he would have probably washed their feet.
I believe this because of the way Jesus treated those the religious people excluded, because of the way he defended and befriended the ones the religious people called sinners, because of the way he chastised religious people for the way they misconstrued God’s way of thinking and because of the way he was always pointing out that the very people the religious people were railing against were a better example of God’s love than they were – more likely to enter the kingdom of heaven – more likely to have their prayers heard.
On this Good Friday I am remembering a Jesus that would have hung up a sign in front of his business that said “All are welcome here” – because he wouldn’t want anyone to have to walk in wondering how they would be treated.
That is what I’m reflecting on this Good Friday.
The Welcoming Prayer by Father Thomas Keating
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and
God’s action within.
This post is part of the February Synchroblog “Renewal”
I run across a lot of people who wear their exhaustion, lack of sleep, over scheduled life as a badge of honor and more times than not the excuse is connected to them taking care of others … their kids, parents, friends, spouse, neighbor, the sick, poor, imprisoned, orphaned.
It’s good to care for others but we can’t offer much, for long, if we don’t take care of ourselves first.
When you fly on an airplane, flight attendants always tell you to “put your oxygen mask on first” before trying to help others. Why? Because if you run out of oxygen you will not be able to help anyone else.
Putting on our mask first is a great metaphor for reminding us to take time to care for ourselves so we are healthy enough to help others.
We need to be renewed daily or else we risk becoming burned out, over stressed, anxious or extremely fatigued which can result in physical, emotional and mental health issues.
Two basic things we must do daily is make sure we get enough rest and eat healthy … however, we need more than that to be whole and healthy. Getting enough rest and eating healthy keep us renewed physically but doesn’t meet our emotional, mental and spiritual needs which are just as important to our well being.
I’m a people person so spending time with my family each day helps to keep me refreshed – but spending time with them is not the same as doing things for them – so, each day I try to make sure we have some time to just be together … talking, laughing, sharing a meal together are enough to make a huge difference.
I also try to get together with good friends several times a month. Spending some leisure time with close friends, sharing our stories and listening to one another, laughing together, encouraging each other and caring for one another are all things that renew me emotionally, mentally and even spiritually.
Some other things that are like a breath of fresh air to me include reading a good novel, listening to uplifting music, having a good laugh, being physically active and engaging in a creative activity.
I don’t think the problem is a lack of things that can help us as much as the fact that we get busy and end up not taking the time to do the things that can help us. We have to be intentional about caring for ourselves just the way we are intentional about caring for others.
Part of being intentional includes us taking the time to identify what works for us … to build a menu of things that are like oxygen for us.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Clean, fresh air
3. Meaningful relationship
4. Fulfilling career
5. Rest and relaxation
6. Spiritual practice
7. Creative hobbies
And remember … it isn’t selfish to take care of yourself first … it is the responsible and loving thing to do. So, put your mask on first!
What is it that renews you?
Be sure and check out the other February Synchroblog posts:
Abbie Waters – It is Well with My Soul
Done With Religion – Renewal
Mark Votova – 30 Ways the Church Can Find Renewal
Jeremy Myers – I am Dying … (So I Can Live Again)
Phil Lancanster – The Parable of the Classic Car
Susan Schiller – Renewal by Design
Glenn Hager – Repurposed
Wesley Rostoll – Why I no longer pray for revival
Liz Dyer – Put Your Mask On First
Clara Ogwuazor-Mbamalu – Renewal of the Spirit
K. W. Leslie – Those who wait on the Lord
Lisa Brown – Momma’s Kick Off Your Shoes and Stay For A While!
Jenom Makama – …Like An Antivirus
Leah – Renewal!