Friday, January 28, 2011

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee (and two broken arms and temporary blindness)

"I see dead people."  I know, out of nowhere, but that is what I feel like is ringing in my head.  I feel like I did after I saw the movie "Sixth Sense" and what I felt like for days after watching the incredible "Black Swan."  What is real?  What is not?

This cyber culture that our kids are growing up in...are incubating in...is a world of really not knowing who is real and who is not real.  As an almost...choke, cough, spit, chew...40 year old, navigating in my own little social network is difficult enough.  The need to let someone know my thoughts or ideas and then my obsession of wanting their immediate response can be extreme.  Trying to analyze the tone of the message in an email is mental gymnastics.

Our kids DO NOT have the developmental coping skills or mental capability to navigate their cyber world they are living in!  Now, my son is no social butterfly, and I really don't think he cares to be...not now.  He has around 8 friends in his contacts for google buzz compared to the few hundred of that of his friends.  I check out his buzz, texts, etc. every now and then because those are the conditions with which we allowed him to make an account.  OH MY GOOD GRIEF!  Kids are cruel, they are immature, have no concept of respect, their brains have not caught up with the strange happenings of their bodies, and have I mentioned that they are cruel?


The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel is by far one of the best books I've ever read.  It's a beautifully written book using Jewish teachings to raise kids who are self-reliant.  The tendency is to protect them from getting hurt, or from failing, or being disappointed, and heaven-forbid  from being unhappy!  As parents, that's what we do, right?  But the reality is, that's life.  We fail, we're disappointed, we get unhappy, life goes on.  We must allow our children that great opportunity to mature and learn coping skills so that they can go on with their own life.  As elusive as it can seem, that's what our job is.  We guide our children through life, sometimes with dictator-like control, sometimes haphazardly, but at the end of the day we raise them to leave us.  That is a hard pill to swallow.  At this point, our kids...I need...much more than scraped skinned and blood!

I'm thinking about how The Blessing of Two Broken Arms and Temporary Blindness would go over. My kids' time on the computer is limited, but if both of their arms were broken, it would just be a relief AND funny!  Sorry...mothers can be cruel, too!  Also, the fact that a box in our family room tells my boys what elderly gentleman need to do if they can't get it up, is obnoxious!  (Can I say that?  I tend to be blunt) The billboards the size of my house we pass going downtown is ridiculous!  We pass one that is advertising shoes.  I THINK it's advertising shoes because that is the only accessory on the chick's body!  Imagine what this little screen shakes at them?  I'm just over it!

The Blessing of Two Broken Arms and Temporary Blindness...that's what we need to wish upon our children until we parents stop seeing dead people!






Sunday, January 23, 2011

Picking up Butch...What ESPN taught me about serving others


"Picking Up Butch"...What ESPN taught me about serving others

     

http://search.espn.go.com/middlebury/videos/6

      I walked into the kitchen on Saturday to find my sweet husband cooking breakfast and watching ESPN. I poured my coffee, my source of kindness in the morning, and then complimented him on what a very fine job he was doing.  Minutes later we were glued to this story, and both us were a little teary.
     OK, so ESPN didn't really teach me anything in the literal sense, but this video certainly got me to thinkin'.  It's worth 10 minutes of your time. It was featured a few years ago, and won SportsCenter an Emmy and a prestigious Edward M. Morrow award.  It's a true story that exemplifies how to serve others.
      I admit I’m not so great at being a servant.  I want to be, but Selfish-Self seems to take over and she has a much more domineering personality than Selfless-Self.  I wrestle with her and she usually wins, but my hope comes from the fact that I know God is way bigger than Selfish-Self!  I’m reminded that Christ came not to be served, but TO serve.  Even if you don't believe in God - or maybe you believe but just don't like him - you have to admit the whole "love your neighbor as yourself" thing would be a great mantra by which to live.  Surely it would reduce prison overcrowding and reality tv...not that there's anything wrong with that...I do love those Kardashian crazies!
      However, we live in an extremely self-centered world, and we go against our proper design when we esteem ourselves more highly than others.  Jeffrey Lancaster, my pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Memphis TN, has been teaching a series on love.  Just yesterday he encouraged us to love and serve all mankind, like Christ.  We are to love and serve those who have different beliefs, different faiths, those who don’t look like us, those who don’t think like us, those who are difficult, and even when it calls for us to sacrifice something, and oh, goodness…even inconvenience us!  We’re supposed to love and serve not only when it’s easy, and not because we get something in return.
      I admit, I need to be more intentional about serving those who live under my very own roof!  How often do I push my own agenda because it pleases me?  How often do I tell my kids to "be quite" simply because I'm tired of hearing their voices or that I'd rather hear what Ryan Seacrest is saying?  We have such a warped view of what it really means for us to "serve".  It has become some passive little duty that ones does subserviently.  Really, "serving" is something we actively and intentionally choose to do!  How often do I serve my sweet husband?  Does my (your) "I am woman, hear me roar" attitude keep me  from serving this great guy that I love like crazy?  How messed up is that?  He loves me!  Husbands, how do you serve your wife?  How do you serve your kids?  Does your time trump time spent with your kids?  Do you consider yourself above your wife and kids because you are "the man of the house"?  Way messed up!  But you know I'm a big fan of hope!  The good news is, not a single one of us is beyond repair.  We'll never be so far gone that we're beyond God's grace.  
     Let's all try to see where there are needs in other people's lives, in our city,  in our own homes, and do our best to serve.  I'm thinking I'll start with the 3 little Gillys!

Interior of UAMC/ JFK


http://www.flickr.com/photos/carlfoxiv/sets/72157624783227476/ - a set on Flickr  by Carl Fox of Memphis, TN  Union Ave. Methodist Church

***These photos taken by me, fall 2009.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/53254535@N07/sets/72157625573508220/

Please take time to view and enjoy them.  Next Thursday, December 16th, a court will decide the fate of this historical landmark that anchors the landscape of my neighborhood in Midtown Memphis,TN.  The legacy of The Union Avenue United Methodist Church will be put to death if CVS is allowed to purchase and demolish this building.  Local organizations have expressed serious interests.  I hope they will be given the opportunity to purchase it and the honor of restoring it to a place of worship for the Midtown community.

***These photos were taken by TN Representative Steve Cohen, when he was 12 yrs. old.  It was the only day in which Kennedy and Nixon were campaigning in the same city.
(The building in the background is the Union Avenue Methodist Church.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Words of Three Kings: Jesus, MLK, and Elvis

So many times, we think about the will of God and what it means for us as individuals. What does God want me to do? What is His will for my life? Some of us wait for a peaceful, easy feeling, and some of us wait for a phone call from the man Himself.  Sometimes I think I act like the character played by Bridget Fonda in the movie "Singles" as she's desperately waiting for a sign letting her know if she should call her boyfriend.  She's throwing balls of paper in the trash can, and the determining factor is whether or not she hits the basket.  I think I'm like that when I just want to be absolutely positive I'm doing the right thing...but I didn't make the layup...so...I'll make my move when I'm answered according to my guidelines and, of course, if it goes my way.

These words were spoken by Martin Luther King in Memphis, TN the night before he was assassinated.

"I just want to do God's will.  And he's allowed me to go up to the mountain.  And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land!  I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.  And I'm happy tonight.  I'm not worried about anything.  I'm not fearing any man.  Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

I live in Memphis, TN so driving by the Lorraine Hotel is always haunting because we see the balcony where his blood was shed.  Yes, Martin Luther King was a Christian man who desired to do the will of God.  What humbles me when I read about his life,  is that his main interest was not just doing God's will, but in the will of God itself.  His desire extended well beyond himself as an individual or a single race.  It was for all humanity, because it is the will of God.  King's dream was not racial or political, it was spiritual. He was a man who loved his Bible and understood its story. His hope was not in an ideology but a promise.  Martin Luther King stood with King Jesus in the surety that wounds would be healed and broken lives restored.  He knew man's brokenness.  He knew our hearts are more prone to be motivated toward our own selfish gain.  His hope was not in man but for man.  Regardless of where we stand politically, without a standard of measurement outside of ourselves, how can we honestly admit that our standard is not prejudiced?   In Engaging God's World, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. explains, "Martin Luther King appealed to the righteousness of God because he understood it as a transcendent standard of right and wrong."  The righteousness of God is much bigger than the prejudice of man and calls us to "do justice." We're not to hide our beliefs and pull them out of a hat only when it suits our advantage or agenda, right?  King quoted from Amos and declared it high time for "justice to roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream." He fought for truth in love, not by the sword.  Although he called for political change, his agenda was not to hijack the political process.  He didn't demand that everyone have the same religious convictions as he, for he didn't fear those who believed differently.  He didn't wait for a sign. He didn't expect a phone call, for people to agree with and be nice to him, and he sure as hell didn't wait for a peaceful, easy feeling.

No, Martin Luther King's story did not end on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel.  His legacy will live. Scripture says to be a "doer of the word." So, in the words of Elvis, "A little less conversation and a lot more action" is needed.  The baton has been passed down to us, to pursue justice and mercy.  We're to continue to run the good race.  We still live in a world where all people are not treated with dignity, respect, and equality.  Silence is acceptance of discrimination.  But there is hope because where there is humility, there is repentance and forgiveness.

I hope that I can honor him by believing in that dream, and striving toward the righteousness of God to see that dream in actuality.  It is promised that there will be a family, a heavenly culture, who dwells in the Promised Land where the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and all will be free and find rest.  I hope that I extend my interests beyond my little world.  I hope I struggle with questioning my beliefs and asking myself how they play out in my life.  I hope that I will fear less and do more, and quit waiting to make that layup!