Tag Archives: Lent

30 Days of Gratitude – Day Twenty One – Soul Force

soulforceER2012

Today I am thankful for Soul Force.

In case you don’t know, Soul Force is an organization devoted to changing the hearts and minds of religious leaders who engage in anti-homosexual campaigns.

One of Soul Force’s programs is the Equality Ride. The Equality Ride is an annual civil rights bus journey across the United States led by young adults who travel together to schools with policies that discriminate against the LGBTQ community. On these campuses LGBTQA students and faculty are forced to suffer in silence. If they come out they are subject to expulsion and can even be forced into harmful “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy programs.

The Equality Ride was conceived of in 2005 and hit the road for the first national trip in 2006. Since then, the buses have carried over 100 Riders to over 50 schools.  The message of Equality Ride is clear: discrimination against LGBTQ may be legal, but it is unjust.

In 2005 my son was a Freshman at a Christian college in Texas.  The Equality Ride came to his campus and played an important part in helping him to come out and live an authentic life as a gay man.  They held symposiums on campus (fortunately the campus allowed it) and helped my son discover that scripture did not condemn him or healthy same sex relationships.  They were the beginning of my son thinking about himself in a healthy and loving way, which eventually gave him the courage and confidence to come out and live authentically.  And that was the beginning of me re-examining what I believed about same sex relationships.

Organizations like Soul Force aren’t just changing campuses, they are also changing families and individuals.

I am thankful for this organization and other lgbt social justice organizations such as GLAAD, PFLAG, and HRC.

What lgbt social justice organization has had a positive impact on you or someone you know?

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30 Days of Gratitude – Day Nineteen – Podcasts

podcasts

Today I am grateful for podcasts.

I love listening to a good podcast!  Some of my favorites are This American Life, The Breaking Bad Insider Podcast , Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and Stuff You Should Know.  When Lost was on TV I used to listen to a podcast called The Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack!  It has two episodes per week and it made watching that show even more fun.

And now the IPhone has a separate app to manage my podcasts!

What podcast do you recommend?

30 Days of Gratitude – Day Two – My Hubby

Today I am thankful for my hubby. He is a great husband and a great father.

We have an interesting story. We married in 1984, divorced in ’93 and remarried in 2000. So, we were apart for 7 years. We weren’t on great terms when we first divorced (duh) – but after a couple of years we ended up having a good co-parenting relationship and eventually we remarried.

This time around has been great because we both took our experience and used it to be better people and better spouses.

We have both been more aware of our marriage this time around. We are both better about trying to recognize what is important to the other person and making that a priority. We take more time to have fun with each other. We consciously try to put our best foot forward for each other.

This time around we don’t look at marriage as being so much about what makes “me” happy – we look at it more from the point of “what can I do to make my spouse happy” … and when we mess up we offer each other grace and forgiveness.

Listening During Lent

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

~ Mary Oliver ~



It’s lent and I’m focused on prayer a bit more intensely than usual.  I want my time during this season to be transforming and so I am more conscious of my spiritual life….

There is nothing wrong with that, and, yet I find that my “striving” can get in the way of what I desire.

I was thinking about this as I tried to sit in silence before God today when this poem, Praying by Mary Oliver, came to my mind …

And I was reminded that prayer is not a test that I am trying to pass or a contest that I am trying to win.  It doesn’t have to be perfect or eloquent or a particular length.

A few simple words strung together, a grateful heart and some silence make a good doorway to enter through … into a place where I might hear another voice speak.

Beauty In The Wilderness

“the wilderness is still one of the most reality-based, spirit-filled, life-changing places a person can be.” Barbara Brown Taylor

I grew up hearing sermons and bible lessons that talked about God leading us into the wilderness in order to teach us something – about Him, about ourselves, about the world we live in. The “wilderness” was another word for suffering and the reason (they said) God led us into suffering was because in the midst of suffering he was able to get our attention, to cause us to trust him and to make us teachable and transformable.

I believed it and it made me very afraid of God.

Whether it was a relationship problem or an illness or unemployment I didn’t just have the anxiety of the problem at hand to deal with – I also had the emotional and spiritual agony of believing that God was making me suffer in order to get my attention so I could be transformed.

I don’t believe that way anymore.

Now don’t get me wrong – I believe there are things I can learn in the wilderness and I believe my wilderness experiences do change me.  I even believe God can bring good out of wilderness situations – I just don’t believe God is causing or orchestrating my suffering. Of course I still battle those beliefs that set God up as my adversary but after I talk myself into remembering God isn’t causing my suffering I can more easily trust God in the midst of my wilderness.  And for as much as I dislike wilderness experiences and spend a fair amount of time and energy avoiding wilderness experiences it is in the wilderness where I have found out the most about who I really am and what my life is really about.  Not so much because of the suffering that takes place in the wilderness but because of the self awareness and self examination it causes, because of the focus it produces, because of the questions it births, because of the humility it generates.  And that is why I am willing to create a sort of prototype wilderness for myself during the season of Lent.

By eliminating some distraction, creating a situation that forces me to focus, giving up a habit or convenience that typically acts as a painkiller and keeps me from entering the wilderness of the present moment where I can know what it is really like to be living the life I am presently living … and, if I am willing to push myself to stay with it for 40 days (because it takes a while to transition from being in a deep sleep to being fully awake) while remembering to connect with God through prayer and contemplation… it is there, in my prototype wilderness, where I just might discover (or rediscover) how to get free of something keeping me from being who I was meant to be, of living the life I was created to live, of realizing my place in the world I am living in.

It was during one of these prototype wildernesses when I discovered God wasn’t the perpetrator of my suffering – that I didn’t need to be punished for who I was and it was okay and good for me to be me.

Not long after that particular experience I ran across the poem Wild Geese by Mary Oliver and fell in love with it … not just because it is a beautifully crafted message but because it reminded me of the beautiful truth I had just discovered while wandering in my prototype wilderness with God.

I leave you with Oliver’s poem in hopes that you too will discover something beautiful about yourself, about God, about the world you live in during this season of Lent.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver, Dream Work, 1986

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This post is part of the March Synchroblog “Experiences In The Wilderness” (in the spirit of Lent).

Here is a list of other stories from the wilderness:

Patrick (at Dual Ravens) was prolific with a four part series called “Musings” and they can be found here:
Part OnePart TwoPart Three and Part Four

Katherine Gunn at A Voice in the Desert writes What is Wilderness?

Wendy McCaig giving us a View from the Bridge brings A Voice Calling in the Wilderness

EmmaNadine who describes Life By List wonders about Life in the Wilderness

Tammy Carter of Blessing the Beloved is taking a rest as she Puts down the axe

Jeremy Myers writing at Til He Comes ponders The Gaping Chasm of Suicide

kathy escobar shares the carnival in my head and writes about belonging

Steve Hayes of Methodius describes Anatomy of exile

Marta Layton at Marta’s Mathoms writes On Sabbaths, Mountain-Tops… and Brothers’ Keepers

Liz Dyer at Grace Rules discovers Beauty In The Wilderness

Christen Hansel of Greener Grass offers up Snapshots of the Desert

Lent and Everyday Life

It’s the second day of following the Fast, Pray, Give Busted Halo Lent Calendar and I’m loving the way it is connecting with my everyday life.

Yesterday focused on being aware of beauty in my everyday life.  I was to fast from rushing and take time to notice the beauty around me, I was to pray that God would show me something beautiful that I hadn’t noticed before.  My day wasn’t particularly busy so it wasn’t that hard for me not to rush but I did have to make a conscious effort to notice my surroundings and look for the present beauty.  What beauty did I notice?  A clear blue sky, a friend encouraging a coworker who had lost his job, two dogs playing together, a husband and wife sharing chores – she cooked and he cleaned up, horses grazing in a large field, and some amazing feats performed by some amazing athletes in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

For the giving part I was instructed to give some time to enjoy a piece of art or a nature scene.  I chose to give that time to some photos that a friend of mine took during our recent Tx. Snowpocalypse.  As I took time to enjoy her photos I prayed for her, thought about what is beautiful about her and gave thanks for her and what she had a hand in creating.

It was a good first day of Lent.

Here’s one of her photos:

For today, the second day of Lent, the calendar says to fast from self-pity and complaining, to pray for God to help in dealing with a difficult situation and offer a kind word to someone who lacks confidence.  Wow, that’s so practical! I love the way these entries are connecting with my everyday life!

It reminds me of Romans 12:1 from The Message:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Lent 2010 – Fast, Pray, Give

I am participating in Lent 2010 by following the Fast, Pray, Give Lent Calendar from Busted Halo. Each day they offer examples of how you can fast from something, a guided way of praying for something specifically and a way to give that is connected to your fasting and praying.

Here are some links if you are interested:

Busted Halo’s Lent 2010 Fast, Pray, Give plan.

Busted Halo on Facebook

Busted Halo on Twitter