Just change your thoughts. Is it that simple? What if…

Aside

I am having a rough day.

I cried all the way home from work yesterday (after a 13 hour day).

My best guess is simply that I’m exhausted, but it comes across in thoughts about life not being where I want it to be, and the tendency to focus more on the problems than on the good stuff.   I’m tired. I’m cranky. I’m angry. I have no right to complain about my life.  Most people think I have everything I ever dreamed of, but I feel like everything is off course.  I really have nothing to complain about.

When I am having a day like today, I turn more toward G-d.  It’s the only thing I know how to do.

My Course In Miracles Lesson today is a review day:

“G-d is but love, and therefore so am I.  Let not my mind deny the Thought of G-d.
G-d is but love, and therefore so am I.  I am entrusted with the gifts of G-d.  G-d is but love, and therefore so am I.”   (I think it’s lesson #178)

I thought about that.   I am a teacher.  Children certainly are gifts of G-d.  I am entrusted with  a lot of them.   Woah!   That’s quite a responsibility.    That’s kind of overwhelming, in fact.   Maybe that’s not what it means.    I meditated on it for awhile.   Then I grabbed my bible.

The lesson says, “let me not deny the Thought of G-d.”   Thought…Word… it just seemed logical.   Unfortunately, the last thing I was reading was Chronicles, somewhere around Chapter 11.  I spent about 10 minutes reading the names of all the men who helped David when they wanted him to take over the known universe.  I think that’s what I read.  I don’t really like Chronicles – it’s hard for me to pay attention.

After two chapters, I closed the book and wondered, “what has THAT got to do with ANYTHING?”     and then I got ready for work.

I cried all the way BACK to work this morning, too.   I also prayed a lot.  I asked for forgiveness for the ugliness in my thoughts.  I prayed that my words and thoughts would speak life and only life.  I asked for forgiveness for losing help, and thanked Him for the restoration that is working in my marriage.  I asked for patience, and wisdom, and for some idea how to get out of this funk.

Fortunately, I only had to be at work for two hours before getting to come home.  I called my mom on the way home.  I didn’t really want to talk, but I owed her a phone call, and she wanted to tell me something.  I figured I could listen.

…and a funny thing happened…

She started telling me about what’s going on in her life, and it was like G-d was talking to me through her.

“Mother is the name for G-d in the lips and hearts of little children.”― William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair

My mom told me that she thinks I’m the most spiritually connected person she knows.  She thinks I have achieved almost everything I have ever wanted, and she thinks my Faith and discipline are beautiful, driving forces in my success.   And she told me that in the context of talking about HER life and what SHE is learning right now.

She also talked to me about refocusing negative thoughts because what we ask for we receive.   That every time we have something in our lives that isn’t what we think we want, it’s the result of resisting what G-d has planned for us.  OH!  “Let me not deny the Thought of G-d.”

The last thing my Mom said was that I should take some time to myself today.  So I wrote this post.

I don’t know about Kind David, but I do know that G-d had a message for me today.  Did it come from the Bible?  the Course?  My Mom?   maybe all three …

What I read in Chronicles today showed me that David didn’t feel worthy of all of the people who supported him, but I didn’t realize that until I typed it just now.  It wasn’t enough to read the Word, I needed to hear it and decide to share it before I understood it.  But here’s the point that I got today:

I can measure my life by a list of sacrifices or by a list of successes.   I can worry about how much of a burden I carry in my day-to-day life, or  I can look up to the loyal people I have drawn into my life, and acknowledge not who *I* am or what *I* have done, but who they are and have done as a part of my life.  Perhaps, like David, I may even realize that I am only worthy of that loyalty as a reflection of G-d.

Whatever I focus on, I will bring more of into my life.
“For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)

Joseph and Mashed Potatoes

Before I get into this, I want to give you an update about my search for a new church.   For the past four weeks, I’ve been attending the same one.  I’ve even made a new friend who has so much in common with me it’s spooky (in that hand of G-d sort of way).   It was a good experience for me to have gone exploring.   I met some really cool people.  I learned from some great pastors.   I even went to church in a temple.  (It was weirdly wonderful to know the ark was right there with the Torah inside. It was like a secret between me and G-d as I sat there.)  Most importantly, I figured out where I wanted to be and what kind of church I wanted to be in.

After all those years of “why this church,” I got it:  I don’t want to go to a church every Sunday where the person in front of me agrees 100% with my world view.  I don’t want to sit there thinking, “yes, that’s what I think.”  “yes, I know that already.”   How does that help me grow?  Where is the challenge?  Where is the learning?   I much prefer to hear sermons that make me think, “huh… that’s new.”   or “I never thought of it like that.” and sometimes…. “um… no!  sorry.  I can’t go there.”   Because those are the times that I grow.   I don’t want it to be so easy that I don’t get value out of it.  I want to be challenged from time to time.  I want the unexplainable to be part of my experience of G-d, and I want to be around other people who are not frightened by.   So I guess it’s not surprising that my  new church is the same type of church as my old one.  After all that, I was where I belonged in the first place.  I love that about G-d!

But what about those mashed potatoes?

Well, February was a rough month for me.  I am growing, and that’s not always easy.  I realized, as I started my up-turn from the difficult month, that I am wrapping up my 42nd year.   Biblically speaking that’s a generation, I’ve been told.   It’s also six complete cycles of life according to some Celtic systems.   AND, of course, it’s the answer to the question of the meaning of life the universe and everything (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).  So I suppose it’s just a matter of timing that I am feeling shoved into a new level of being.   Should it be any surprise, then, that I feel uncomfortable.. even a little unhappy?

Okay.. a lot unhappy.

Most of February sounded like this, “This is NOT what I always imagined for myself.”   “I never planned for it to be like this.”  “I don’t want to live my life this way.  I want to do (insert whine of the week here).”   Yes, very mature as I just told you I’m a generation old.

And then I heard two little words that made me both laugh and start to understand what’s going on.  “Mashed potatoes.”

Remember that Associate Pastor I mentioned in “Why this church?”  The one who had PowerPoint slides and talked about battling the enemy and kind of scared me off?  Well, the next time I remember seeing him speak, he got up in front of everyone with props.  He had a pot, a bowl, potatoes, a cutting board, a knife, and he announced we’d be talking about  Joseph.

When I was little, Joseph was my favorite bible story character.  Either because he was his dad’s favorite or because he got to take revenge on his mean older brothers, somehow my five-year old brain really connected to him.   But this day, I learned a lot more about Joseph.  I won’t do this as well as Pastor did, but I’ll try to paint the right picture.

In case you’re not familiar:  Joseph has this dream saying he’ll be greater than all his big brothers.  Silly boy, he brags to his brothers who feel a little threatened and plot to get him out of the way.  They toss him in a pit, sell him into slavery, and tell pop he’s dead.  Joseph does the best he can in everything he does, no matter how awful the situation seems, and each time he makes the best of it.  Finally, after all is said and done, he become Pharaoh’s right hand man, saves Egypt and his family.  (The full story starts around Genesis 37, if you want to read it yourself.)

Pastor used mashed potatoes as the metaphor for what we can learn from Joseph.  He had this dream, and basically G-d showed him that one day he’d become garlic mashed potatoes, worthy of a 5-star dinner.  But.. at the time he was just a little spud.

Joseph the spud loved the idea and bragged he’d be mashed potatoes someday.  What he didn’t realize is that the process of going from spud to creamy delicacy takes some time, some intervention, and some things that are not so comfortable.   First, he had to be ripped out of the ground, scrubbed clean, and then pealed.

OW!  That’s my skin!

You wanna be mashed potatoes, right?

 Uh… yeah.

No skin on mashed potatoes.

Then… the little spud has to be chopped up…. and boiled… and …

well I think you get the picture.

We all want to be mashed potatoes.   Most of us don’t like the scrubbing, peeling, chopping, and boiling required to get there.  Who would?  It’s pretty normal to want to jump out of the pot of boiling water, especially if you don’t know the end game and why you’re there in the first place.

So there I was last month, whining away, when suddenly it hit me:  mashed potatoes.

I was whining that the pot was hot and that I want out.  I no longer had a vision of what it was that I was supposed to become.  If I *knew*  I was destined for the plate with a lovely garnish, next to the juiciest piece of roast beef, it might easier to deal with the discomfort of the peeling and chopping and boiling … and oh yeah!  the MASHING.   But here I found myself, so mired in the day-to-day that I had forgotten or lost sight of where it was that I’m going.

I have no idea WHY my life is the way it is today.  It may feel off-track to me, but what if it’s not?  Do you think Joseph planned to be a slave, a house manager, and then a prisoner?   I’m guessing not.  But he knew that G-d had shown him something good, so he just buckled down and did his best.

What if all these worries and concerns of mine are simply the process I need to go through to become who G-d has planned for me to be?

Maybe I’ll just stop trying to climb out of the pot.

Why this church?

For most of my life, I would have described my spiritual path as very personal.  I neither attended church nor temple.  I studied A Course in Miracles but only once in my life ever participated in a study group.  It didn’t take.

Sometime shortly after I was married, I started longing for fellowship.  My husband and I have different spiritual beliefs, and though he’s a wonderful listener, I often feel like I shouldn’t talk too much about it with him.    At one point I tried going to temple.   It felt alien to me.  The one service I liked best was at a temple that didn’t have an transliteration for the Hebrew anywhere.  That meant when they prayed or sang I couldn’t follow along because I can’t really read Hebrew. I felt left out.   I also never really felt like anyone cared that I was there.  Nobody introduced themselves to me and nobody wanted to talk to me.

When I became born-again, the first thing I did was start reading A Course in Miracles daily.  It was a wonderful way to connect with G-d, but I still really needed fellowship.  I needed to find a group of people who I could talk to about G-d and not worry that I would say something “too weird” for them.   I wanted to be able to talk about praying and about how G-d was moving in my life.

One night, my husband and I took my mom and grandma to our favorite restaurant in town for dinner.  Our waitress was incredible.  She treated us as if we were guests in her home and it felt like she was serving us more than just our food.  I asked what her “other job” was.  (I assume all waiters and waitresses have either another job or a dream of another job… I did grow up in L.A.)   She told me she and her husband were youth pastors at a local church and gave me her card.

It took a couple months, but eventually I walked into the church.  I was greeted warmly, and she introduced me to one or two other people.  They were genuinely interested in me and were extremely welcoming.  The music before the service blew my mind.  I didn’t quite know what to make of it when they started to pray.. OUT LOUD… ALL AT THE SAME TIME.  The sermon was delivered by the Associate Pastor.  He had power-point slides, and LOTS of information. I felt like I needed to take notes.  The message was way too much of the things I was worried I would find at an evangelic church:  putting on the armor of G-d and battling “the enemy.”   I liked the people, but I just couldn’t do this.   Apparently, I said something like “too much for this Jewish girl” when I said good-bye to my waitress friend afterwards.  Several months later, I found myself back in church.

This time, the service was delivered by the Senior Pastor.  It was called “Chutes and Ladders.”  how cute!  He had 5 different sized ladders on stage.  He spoke about being in different stages of our walk with G-d and how the view is different from different rungs.  He cautioned not to try climbing a ladder you weren’t ready for, and also not to try to see things from a rung you couldn’t reach.   He talked about how sometimes we need to slide down from our perch in order to really understand things.   He said a lot more.  In fact, it was a two-parter.  Really!  That meant I had to go back the next week.

Well, the people I had met the FIRST time remembered me a little the second time I came back, and they were happy to see me.  The THIRD time I went, they really made me feel like I was at home.  So I stayed.

I never thought to ask about their “statement of faith” or what doctrines they held to.  I never stopped to wonder how many of their beliefs matched mine.  I didn’t care.  I was looking for fellowship. I was looking for a community that put G-d first in their lives, that believed in praying, and didn’t think you were strange when you gave credit to G-d for good things in your life.

So I found myself attending a “charismatic” church, and all I could tell you about it was: they’re evangelists.  They take communion once a month (using matzo as the bread.. super cool!).  They think the bible is the definitive Word of G-d.  They do baptisms, believe that prayer can heal, and speak in tongues.  But we don’t play with snakes.”

Many times I prayed and asked G-d, “why this church?  why not something easier to explain?”  Usually my only answer was laughter.  I remember writing about it once in a journal, and I came to the decision that I could wonder about the why’s and how’s; I could question the little things like “is the bible literally true?”; or I could simply take what was there before me and find value in it.

I attended regularly for over 4 years.  I was very active and participated in every way I could.  I sometimes went to the pastors afterward and said, “I don’t get it.” or “I don’t like this.”   They would point me toward a place to explore and encourage me to work with what I was struggling with.  Every time I grew.   My personal beliefs strengthened.  I came to my own conclusions.  Sometimes I didn’t agree with what I was learning was the basic philosophy of my church.  I was okay with it.

Last September I found myself thinking it was time to leave my church.  After all the times I questioned “why this church” and came up with the answer of “stay and find out,”  I was really surprised to keep thinking “you need to move on.”   I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want it to be true.

I prayed very hard.  I prayed for clarity, wisdom, some explanation of what was next if this weren’t it.   The answer came in early November when our lead pastors announced they were moving their family back home to St. Louis.  The next week we learned that the administrative pastor (my closest friend at church) was also going to St. Louis to be with her daughter and new-born granddaughter.   The following week, the two couples who were in charge of the children’s and high school ministries also said they were leaving.   By the end of November, the entire pastoral staff would be gone.

I went to the meeting to meet the new “on-site” pastors and the new senior pastor.  I sat and listened to what they had to say. I listened to my friends ask questions and to how the new pastor answered them.  I ministered to friends who didn’t know what to do.  I shook hands with the new pastor and introduced myself.  All the while, I kept hearing in my head, “he is not my pastor.”

Answered prayer?

I tried not to let “he is not my pastor” be a reason to leave.  It’s not supposed to be about the teacher as much as it is about the lesson.  I know better than to think of my teachers as anything but human.   I thought maybe I didn’t want to go to the televised services, so I tried one.

The message was about seeking “wise counsel.”   There was a lot to it. I wrote it all down like I always do.  I sat in AWE as I listened to this message that was taylor-made for me.  It showed me clear as day that it doesn’t matter WHO the pastor is, the message is what matters.  It also showed me loud as thunder that I wasn’t listening.   The pastor was talking about how we so often pretend we don’t understand or ask for clarification because we don’t like the answer we get when we pray.   I don’t remember all of it now, but I do remember laughing as I realized this pastor was the chosen messenger to make me see  I had to leave his church.

So why this church?  Because it had so much to teach me.

I learned about studying the bible and how to be a member of a church.  Two things I’d never done before.  I learned to question and challenge what I hear, and to ultimately make my own choice.  If I had been going to a church that totally aligned with my beliefs, I would not have been as challenged and I would not have grown as much.   I learned to pray with people and for people.   I got over my fear of talking about G-d.

I also learned great things for my business:   I learned about leadership by watching how our pastoral team worked and how they were trained.   I learned that making someone feel welcome is the most important thing to do if you ever want to see them a second time.  I learned that the new person, no matter how out-going, is not likely to talk to existing members of a group; I teach this first to my leadership team.  It’s their job to make others welcome in our school.

I also learned what I want in a church.  So as I go out looking for a new one, I have some criteria.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first church experience.  Right now, my church experience is wandering.  I am on my first pilgrimage, so to speak.   I’ve met some nice people so far, and have discovered lots of churches.   I don’t know how many I’ll explore before I settle down, but I’ll keep you posted.

Unanswered Prayers?

One of my favorite Garth Brooks songs has the line, “some of G-d’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

What if they actually WERE answered, but the answer was not what we wanted?  What if the answer was what we NEEDED even though we didn’t like it?

I think there’s a natural evolution to how people pray.  I think when we first learn to pray we ask for things we want to get or things we want to have happen.  Over time, we start to understand that prayer about other people has great power (maybe greater power), so we start to ask for things to for someone ELSE to get or to have happen for SOMEONE else.

Then one day we grasp the idea that G-d has known us since before time and has made a plan for us.   If we’re lucky we come to know that it’s all handled already.  That’s when we learn to hear His voice in our hearts and to let that be our guide.  That’s when our prayers have real power.

When I was a teenager I was boy-crazy.  I don’t remember who gave me the idea, but I wrote out a list of all the things I wanted in a boyfriend.  I read it every night in prayer before I went to bed.  Eventually I met a guy, and he was EVERYTHING ON MY LIST.  He wasn’t interested in me.   So I looked at my list and realized “He likes me, too” was missing.  My prayer was answered exactly as I had written it.

For years I modified this list.  It also included, “this or better G-d.  Your will, not mine.”  Just in case I missed something.   I learned to include things like:  honest, faithful, no drug abuse, …each change the result of something I had learned I didn’t like.   Every version of that list became an ex-boyfriend.  Except one.

The day I met my husband, I had heard his laughter through a crowed of 18,000 people.  I saw his smile from a balcony a story above the throng.  We were introduced… and he went out to smoke a cigarette.   I was crushed.  I went home and looked at my latest list.  I was SHOCKED to see that I had not put “doesn’t smoke” on the list.  I immediately wrote it in RED INK across the top.  Four months later, we were out in a group and he informed me he had quit smoking the day before.  Three weeks later we started dating.

How many times was G-d ready to put us into each others lives when my prayer told Him that I wasn’t ready?  Or maybe my husband wasn’t ready?  Not that either of us needed to be punished, but… we just weren’t ready.

I can’t say my prayers were unanswered.  They really really were.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that EVERY prayer I have ever prayed has been answered.  I don’t always get what I want in the time table that I expect, but I always get an ANSWER.

Last night, our prayers were answered and President Obama was re-elected.  It doesn’t matter if we voted for him or Governor Romney.   It doesn’t matter what we THOUGHT we were asking for when we prayed.  G-d doesn’t hear us the way we think he does.  He listens to our hearts, not our words.  He knows what we NEED.  He knows how we fit into the fabric of each other, and He knows what has to happen in order for things to unfold according to His Will.  He answered according to what He wants to bless us with and according to what we need to learn in order to accept it.  It was not the result of “the enemy’s schemes” as someone commented on a friend’s Facebook page.  It was, as everything is, G-d’s will.

So WHAT IF…. G-d heard all of us in both parties and as a result of this election, ALL of our prayers were answered?   What might that answer be?

The person in office is less important than the process that puts him there.  Ultimately, all leaders change.  Our trust does not belong in any one individual.  Our trust belongs in EACH OTHER.  We are all one.   If Romney had won, the Republican politicians would have received the message that the way in which they play the game works.  It doesn’t.  The game needs to change.  The conversations need to change.  Labels need to change.  We are not Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, Churched and Unchurched.    We are the neighbors hosting friends who are still without power after the storm on the East Coast.  We are the fans who celebrated in the streets when our team won the World Series. (oddly on the same day).

We all want the same things: safety, security, a future of hope.  We want jobs for the unemployed and homes for the homeless.  We want affordable medical coverage for our families.  We want a sense that the world is fair.   We want to protect women and children (yes, even the Republicans want that).  The thing is that we don’t see the same answers to the questions we ask.  Ani DiFranco once said, “If you don’t ask the right question, every answer seems wrong.”   So maybe we’re asking the wrong questions.  Maybe we think our prayer was unanswered because we didn’t ask the right question.

Instead of praying that everyone else learns to see it my way, what if we prayed that each of us could see it G-d’s way?

Instead of praying for smaller government, what if we prayed for the willingness and ability to take care of our own so that it wouldn’t matter what the government offered because it was all handled already?

What if instead of praying, “Hey G-d, here’s my list.  Please fulfill these needs/desires in the way you best see fitting,” we said, “Today is Yours G-d.  You’ve got it covered.  Help me to recognize your hand in every aspect of my life, and to understand my role in your plan.  Help me to see You in the eyes of each person I meet and to extend to them the same grace and forgiveness I’ve taken for granted all my life.   Give me the courage to boldly do what you ask of me, even if it scares me to death and may be unpopular and may mean I lose something I think is important.  I am content to be wherever you lead me, knowing you go there with me.”
What if….

Superstorm Sandy

Grandma lives on the 12th floor of a high-rise in Fort Lee, NJ . She has a view of the Hudson River and the NYC skyline. Her building has doormen, repairmen, and people to assist you with whatever you need, from carrying your groceries to plumbing repair. When I spoke to her on Monday afternoon she told me they were taping up windows, and that she had a fridge full of food. She wanted to get off the phone so she could go to her bridge game early, as everyone wanted to be home before the storm hit.

She’s in a good area, and her building was lucky. They have power. She said at 6 pm on Monday, when the storm hit, the power flickered and went out for a moment, but then it came back on. She said her cable came back on within the hour, too.

None of her windows blew in. Lots of windows in other apartments did, but hers were okay. But the NOISE was terrifying. Grandma said she has never heard anything like it. The wind was pounding on the building like it wanted to get inside. It lasted from 6 pm to midnight, and it was the most terrifying thing she can remember (and she was there for 911). They were warned not to open their apartment doors during the storm because when you open the door, it creates a “pull” from the patio. She thinks some of the apartments that lost their windows may have lost them because they opened the door. She didn’t open her door yesterday at all, either.

“There’s so much we usually take for granted,” Grandma said to me.  Some of those things are obvious – like having power and mass transit.   She also commented that there hasn’t been anybody to help the people who need it.  The maintenance staff couldn’t go home and had to stay at the building because of road closures.  There’s so much to be done, that the people who really need help are having to wait.  She said they even ran out of the plywood they were using to cover broken windows.

Grandma said if you look to the right of her building, toward the Hudson, all the buildings were dark, right up to the one just next to them. “It’s like we were right on the edge of where the power went out.” What was really frightening was that Manhattan was totally dark.

Yesterday they played bridge. “There wasn’t much else to do.” Everyone was so exhausted from the whole experience. Last night, she slept a little. Today it’s sunny and 50 degrees in Fort Lee. She could see cars moving across the George Washington Bridge as we talked. She said she was going to try and get some fresh air today, if the debris outside isn’t too bad. They have a curfew in Fort Lee because there’s no power and not street lights. Grandma said things are calmer today, and that in her building it’s almost normal. “I still have my flashlights and a bathtub full of water, just in case. I’m not taking any chances.”

I also got updates from my Grandma about my Aunt and Uncle in Mountain Lakes and my cousin who lives in Jersey City. There’s no power in Mountain Lakes, and lots of old (i.e. LARGE) trees have fallen everywhere. I assume that means the roads are closed. My aunt and uncle, both doctors, stayed at a hotel before the storm hit because they knew there’d be trouble with the roads at home, and they wanted to be able to get to the hospitals if they were needed. I think my grandma said they couldn’t get out yesterday, anyway. Speaking of hospitals, Grandma also said that NY University Hospital lost their generator and had to evacuate patients! Wow!

In Jersey City, my cousin lives in a high rise with a view that apparently beats my Grandmother’s view. He told her that it felt like they were ON the ocean during the storm. Grandma wasn’t sure how high the water came up. So we don’t know if his car garage was flooded or any details. I just know he’s okay, his home seems to be okay, and he’s planning to go to work today.  He posted a few photos on facebook of the NYC skyline without power.  Odd.

On the other side of my family, my uncle reports that they have power and no damage to their home. “Our condo is made of brick, and the roof is relatively new. We didn’t lose any shingles. We turned the patio furniture over, and the BBQ was too heavy to have been moved. We got lucky.” My aunt was at work because they had power. She did report a lot of detours on the way. My cousins in Union and Springfield are without power. Apparently a substation in Newark is flooded. They expect 3 days to pump it out, and then time for it to dry out. That means no power for about a week, most likely. My uncle commented that there is going to be a major economic impact as a result of the storm. Small businesses will feel the effects of being closed due to long power outages. There may not even be a season at the Jersey Shore next year, he said, because it just got ripped apart.

Hearing the reports on the news this morning, I learned that the NY stock exchange was closed for 2 days. It’s the first time since the 1800s this happened due to weather. The PATH trains and subways in and out of NY are closed. Somewhere between 6 and 7 million people in the tri-state area are without power. They expect it to take “more than 3 or 4 days, but less than 2 weeks” to get everything moving again. There are photos online to show the damage and reports try to share the emotion of what happened, but the impact is really felt by talking to people. It’s in the small things that my uncle and grandmother told me.

They’re calling it a “superstorm.” Grandma said it was a combination of “a hurricane, a nore-eastah (I loved the accent coming through when she said that), the full moon, and something else.”  Twenty-one states are listed in the cbsnews article that gives a “state-by-state snapshot” of what’s happening as a result of the storm.   Photos show flooding in Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Repbulic, and Cuba. This is so huge, and yesterday life was completely normal in Northern California. Strange how the world can feel so small and connected, and still feel so far apart.

It may feel like we’re worlds away and there’s nothing we can do to help, but we know that at the very least we can help fund the relief effort.   An article on newsnet5.com says:

“This will be a large, costly relief response and the Red Cross needs help now,” Shimanski said. “People can help by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief online, by text or by phone.”

 

Financial donations help the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy. To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org , call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

According to this article at abc7, you can also donate blood to help, even if you’re in a different state.

 

Bettter late than never

10/29/12 — I logged on today to write another post, and I saw this.  It’s been sitting here, unpublished and untouched since 8/12/12.  I don’t know why I wouldn’t publish it, but I didn’t.   We’re a week away from the presidential election.  I am sure most people have made their decision.  I still feel this needs to be said.  So here are my thoughts… better
late than never.

*******************

8/12/12

I created this blog because I wanted to write this post.  I’ve been putting it off.  Inspired by the movie I just saw (which one is irrelevant to the post) and by the news of the new Republican candidate for VP, I feel like I really need to bite the bullet and use my voice. (The one I realized in the last post I am somewhat afraid to use.)

WARNING:  This is EXTREMELY political.  I recommend you skip it if you aren’t into political discussion.

We, especially women, have got to get this abortion thing figured out.

First off, the fact that I am PRO-CHOICE neither makes me anti-Life NOR pro-abortion.  Allow me to clarify:  I believe that LEGALLY this choice is up to each individual woman. Whether we call it an invasion of privacy or some other issue, our government should have NO SAY in the decision.   MORALLY, it’s really between a woman and G-d, what the result of the choice is.   It’s not up to any of us to say for another person what is or is not a sin. … and if we are of a faith that does define which things are sins, then it’s important to remember that it is not OUR place to judge – only to love and forgive what may or may not be mistakes.

Having said that, let’s talk about WHY I am pro-choice.  Because this REALLY scares me:
I was born in 1970.  Roe v. Wade passed in 1973.   This means I am really not old enough to remember life before legal abortions.   What scares me is that my generation is now in charge of this country.  That means that MANY of the law-makers today are TOO YOUNG TO REMEMBER life before legal abortions.   It’s very different to discuss a THEORY than it is to remember girls you went to high school with who had horrible experiences at the hand of back-alley “doctors.”  So let me give you some statistics:

According to the National Organization for Women,

  • Estimates of the annual number of illegal abortions in the 1950s and 60s range from 200,000 to 1.2 million, even though abortion procedures were unsafe and often life-threatening, in addition to being illegal
  • During the 1950s and 60s, each year an estimated 160 to 260 women died from illegal abortions, while thousands more were seriously injured
  • Today, … less than 1% of those who undergo abortion procedures experience major complications
  • Since 1977, there have been over 59,000 acts of violence at U.S. abortion clinics, including 7 murders, 41 bombings, 343 death threats, and 942 acts of vandalism

Do we REALLY want to go back to having young women die or be maimed at the hands of people who CAN’T be doctors because they’d lose their license?

I have a mentor who once said that abortions are part of the Enemy’s (aka Satan) attack on children.  I disagree… it is an attack on WOMEN.

Since the garden of Eden, the Enemy has singled out women as his target.  Why?  Well, either because the bible is part of a patriarchal plot to keep women down, or… because Satan is jealous of G-d’s crowning jewel.   Each thing he created was better than the last, and Eve was the last thing He created, as the story goes.  Either way, women have been under attack since the beginning of time.

And as the women’s movement grew in strength in the late 60s, abortion became the wedge that divided us.

Smart women (and smart men) will vote in major elections based on this single issue.   They will draw a line in the sand, saying, “I like most of what this candidate stands for, but I am pro-choice/pro-life and I won’t vote for someone who isn’t.”    Is this really the best way to choose a president or a governor?  Shouldn’t we be looking at a range of issues when we choose who we want to govern us?

My big problem is that I only have these two choices: fight to keep it legal or fight to make it illegal.  The truth is that I wish I could assume that abortion will always be legal (and therefore safe) so that I could work to help women see other options that are available.

If there were not this great rift…  If our FREEDOM weren’t threatened by the discussion of this topic… smart women could have more honest conversations.  Instead of talking about whether or not any one of us should be ALLOWED to make this choice, we could talk about whether or not we really WANT to make this choice, or talk about OTHER choices that could be made.

If we had more choices open to us, we could have liberal women discuss alternatives to abortion without feeling they’ve betrayed their gender.  Christian women could pray with a woman who is questioning what she just did, and help her find the forgiveness her heart is screaming for.  (Yes, I believe ANY woman who has an abortion feels the need for forgiveness – how could she not)

Just because something is illegal doesn’t mean it won’t happen.  By the same token, just because something is LEGAL, doesn’t mean everyone will suddenly do it.  The abortion rate has been dropping since Roe v. Wade was passed.   Just because your daughter will have access to a CLEAN, SAFE, LICENSED facility if she ever has to make the horrific decision to terminate a pregnancy, doesn’t mean she WILL make that choice.  She is still YOUR daughter.  She will act based on what YOU taught her.  If you raised her to believe this is NOT an option, she will look for another one.  But if for some reason, she DID feel she had to have an abortion, wouldn’t you rather she was in a DOCTOR’S OFFICE, with STERILE equipment, and less than a 1% chance that she’ll have complications?

What if… Pro-life activists stopped picketing the clinics where women go to have abortions and instead volunteered to work in them, honestly disclosing their beliefs?   What if, for example, a clinic had someone on hand to pray with a woman before or after a procedure – not as a requirement, just as an option?

I know it sounds way out there.  Maybe even impossible.  Just ponder it for a second.  Let go of your beliefs about the other side.  Stop assuming that every Christian is going to call a woman “murderer” because she can’t see any other option.  Erase the picture of counselors at clinics trying to convince a woman that her only choice is to abort.  Let go of the extremes and look for the middle ground.  Just open up to the idea that maybe the question, “should abortion be legal?” is the wrong question.

What if we could ask a different one?

A little irony

I wrote this last month.  Then I left it sitting as a draft.  As I wrote about not being willing to use my voice, I just left it as a draft.  That’s irony, right?

So here it is…

Stardate July 15, 2012  (hehehe)

Pastor said to “find our song” today.

We’re talking about learning to worship in our daily lives.

I could take that literally… in which case their are a LOT of songs right now that really resonate with me:

“Jesus Friend of Sinners”  says “what if we laid down our signs, crossed over the lines and loved like You did?”   that works for me.

Also, a new song out says, “this is love.  this is hate.  we have a choice to make.”  Wow!  Let’s be pro choice in THAT way!

And then there’s For King and Country’s new song that’s basically 1 Chorinthians 13, and it says “let my life be proof of your love.”

My biggest problem isn’t finding my song… it’s SINGING it.  It’s taking the ONE STEP that lies between me and breaking through to the next level (whatever level that may be).