Tag Archives: religion

Peace to you.

            

 

Peace.

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I wish you peace, not just for the holidays. Not the peace of religion, but the peace of faith.

What I wish for you is awareness of the PROCESS that is the life and faith of you and others. I wish you both comfort and growth, knowing that they are not often simultaneous, but can be.

May we all hear past the memes, ads, and rants to the heartbeat of every other – which is essentially one life shared here and now.  May we speak words that enlighten and connect so that understanding will make our dwelling together easier as we share our time on this global patch.  May we listen beyond anger and hard words to the underlying fear expressed there, then answer that fear with compassion. May we guard our own hearts, without guilt, but with increasing wisdom, from those who don’t understand and so believe they prevent fear by creating fear.

May we see past the glitter and lights to see people as individual treasures, not stereotypes or cultural caricatures. May we see that this world does not define us…we are already part of Someone much greater and already nestled in eternity, and we define ourselves within that greater belonging.

May we begin to end violence by ending it toward and within ourselves. Then in all thoughts and words. In all responses to others. In all of our wishes and prayers.

I love you. I just do.

Happy Holidays.

Peace.

 

Lighten Up! How Simply Christian Is That?!

Every day, a woman stood on her porch and shouted, “Praise the Lord!”

And every day the atheist next door yelled, “There is no Lord!”

One day she prayed, “Lord, I’m hungry. Please send me groceries.”

The next morning she found a big bag of food on the stairs. “Praise the Lord,” she shouted.

“Ha! I told you there was no Lord,” her neighbor said, jumping from behind a bush. “I bought those groceries.”

“Praise the Lord!” the woman said. “He not only sent me groceries, but he made the devil pay for them.”  Found in Reader’s Digest

******

“And so,” the speaker concluded, “God will always provide for your needs, explain His will for you, and give you peace.” At our divorced/widowed recovery group, she had just related her glowing story of divorce and God’s care for her…money in the mailbox, direction and divine peace, in spite of her dire financial situation while raising children. I spoke to her, and expressed gladness that it had worked that way for her, but noted that it wasn’t always that smooth and clear for some others, including me. She squinted at me past her halo’s glow and stated, “Then you have a LOT to learn, honey!”

Her ex tells good-humoredly that he paid her $1000 a month alimony — the best money he ever spent!

******

god hates figs 2

Original reference unknown. Found in Google Images, multiple sources.

Funny:

WE CAN SEE “IT” ANY WAY WE WANT.

But what about quoting the Word accurately and not misrepresenting God?

If we aren’t sure what is the exactly, specifically, technically, perfectly, doctrinally, theologically, formally, denominationally right, letter of LAW….

…why not err toward love, peace, patience, gentleness, wisdom, common sense, compassion, intelligence, safety…….LIFE!

Really, what will be lost if you quote deliverance verses to an abused person rather than admonition verses, and don’t take a hard enough line with the Word of God????

Nothing, because he/she may live and believe long enough for you to discuss it again later.

Even better, he/she will live and believe long enough to discuss it with her Savior in a place of safety.

How simply Christian is that?

Blessings!!

Diane 

I Believe

The cold wind nipped at my face and hands. The air was thin and my breathing deep. Beneath my feet was rock; around the rock, vulnerable, ancient tundra. As far as I could see were range after range of mountains – bare of trees. I was above the timberline,  at 14,000+ feet elevation, near the highest point of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA. DSCN1442I have been many BEAUTIFUL places,  and I inhale the beauty of trees and water and mountains like my life’s breath.  But even without trees, and somehow beyond the sheer visual input around me, this was the most beautiful place I have ever been! In the thin air, where my daughters become altitude-sick, and my husband’s heart slows him down, I was energized!  It was a different, higher perspective than I had ever known! Magnificent! I RAN up the summit and scaled the rock. Raised my hands to the perfect blue sky, and said “God….can I hear you NOW?!”  2012-12-17-ImageofGod

I have been asking, “HOW do you believe?!” After you HAVE believed, but learned that what you believed could not be trusted, could no longer be believed. You have said, “just believe.”

I have been talking and writing about this with you and Graeme Schultz since December. Graeme has spent untold hours and many thousands of words ever so kindly sharing his faith and talking through understandings of Christ, faith, God, Adam and Eve, suffering, the nature and effect of faith, crucifixion…always back to Christ and the cross.  He didn’t blow away my doubts, or even chip away, or refute, or prove them false. They began to melt away, ever so slowly, as I was able to trust the patient, quiet thoughts of a friend in dialogue that conveyed, “Rest in Christ. Trust Him. Let Him fill your screen. He’s that good. Expand your view. The cross is that powerful! This is how it works for me. This is what has changed for me. This is how I see things now.”

I read or recalled scripture, info on the origins of the Bible, intention and prayer, time and the universe, and most of an interesting book, “God’s Lunatics” by Michael Largo. Added to years of believing and living out….I don’t know what it was , searching, and loss. I didn’t push…stayed open, but not to others who push. My conclusions? There are arguments and counter-arguments about EVERYTHING! No two Christians (or any other group), even with strict doctrines or analytical criteria, have identical beliefs. imagesCAM2Y74B

We ALL pick and choose what we can and will believe, for myriad personal reasons. Which verses we elevateimagesCAMOA0XL to law, and which we reduce to analogy. Which sources we trust. How much we really BELIEVE we can hear from God Himself. We will never PROVE it absolutely, whatever IT is. Misunderstanding even when different words state the same idea, or illumination when the change of phrase makes them suddenly “believable.”  Yes, I could believe the wrong thing. Yes, I could be disappointed again. Yes, I could miss it. But then again, I am already missing too much by living in profound mistrust. Starting with my basic God-fact, the magnificence of creation through my senses and theories via science, I have asked and answered enough practical and scriptural questions, laid ENOUGH doubts to rest. And I WANT to believe. It just had to be something I CAN believe. Someone I CAN trust. Beyond expectations and rules. More about the Person and the reality beyond my senses and understanding. And the beginnings of thoughts about how powerful BELIEF or FAITH really may be.  A different, higher perspective than I’ve known. Magnificent!

There was no jump from a cliff. No burning bush, or voice from heaven. Still no blinding light, or overwhelming sense of love. No deep knowing. No tears. No choir, or brush of angel’s wings. No moment of desperation. No flood of warmth.

I wrote this to Graeme a couple of days ago:

“G, you need to know this: I found myself responding to Joe Pote’s post (Redeemed!) with conviction about who Christ is, and what He did on the cross. From the stance of a believer. Surprised myself!  I find myself riding my waves or feeling fear and anxiety, and say to myself, rather as I’ve heard you say…”wait, this can’t be right…this was fixed 2000 years ago…the reality is the hybrid creation Jesus/Diane that I’ve become.” I started by testing out how that feels, whether I could visualize and believe it…and I guess I do.  I’m considering that the earth manifestation in blood, and painful nerve endings, flesh, suffering, torture – perhaps even of crucifixion, may….I don’t know… no words, sorry. Something just outside my ability to get to it! But I’m open to even the cosmic meaning and consequence in that…which is what you grasp so clearly without the recoil I feel so strongly.

I find myself WANTING to believe more than I fear to believe, as I carefully and quietly (almost sneaky as to not trigger myself!) set aside my beefs and disagreements, hoping that as I rest, I will understand better, but through loving union not a spirit of intellectual debate. And I am perceiving, sometimes almost feeling, the love. My past experiences with religion are becoming irrelevant to my beliefs – fading in my mind like images from a scary movie.  I find myself more interested in talking with God than talking about Him. And when Christianity does come up (as it has with atheist Emily, and my nephew and niece), I find myself responding carefully – saying “maybe it is like this…” as I describe some (safer) aspect of our conversations or your book.  I have previously been incapable of sustaining faith but, as you have said, it doesn’t require years of restoration but rather turning my gaze back to Jesus who will never have left me, even if I am being freaked or inconsistent myself. And the renewing of my mind will continue. And I’m feeling traces of the security and freedom you describe.”

So quiet I can hear. A different view than I’ve known. Worth believing. Magnificent!

life-and-the-universe

By commenting on this post you are giving permission to me to quote your comment in subsequent writing, blog or article. Please indicate in your comment that you want any quotation to be referenced to you; otherwise, I will include no reference.

A few Diane-style references:

Powers of 10 – Original 1977

Powers of 10 – Redo, just the universe

Hardwired to Christ by Graeme Schultz

God’s Lunatics by Michael Largo

The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggert  (Don’t do an auto-trash on this because it sounds new age. A lot of good stuff on prayer, and the power of our thoughts and words. As in BELIEVE, bless, heal, pray, do good. Points TO God, or away, depending on YOUR paradigm. I suggest take what you want and leave the rest.)

Wikipedia on Bible and History

More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell

A Crusty Old Cactus

Dust powdered my feet as I stood at the top of Piestewa Peak Summit Trail, overlooking the city. My eyes raced across the panoramic view, taking in the generalities, but missing the specifics. That was because my mind also raced across the panoramic view of my life, taking in the overview of successes and mistakes, joys and losses. I glanced to the side and all the scanning stopped, inward and outward.IMG_0859

I stood beside a 20 foot Saguaro cactus. It looked as though, over its lifetime, it had been so bumped, kicked, assaulted by human or nature, that it could hardly stand. Its base was shriveled and darkened, covered with scars. Farther up, less so.  Two thirds of the way up, it was green, robust, round, and thoroughly armored with the spines that are normal for the species. And at the top – a FLOWER! It was blooming!

This, I thought, is me! I liked the looks of that crusty old cactus!  And my life, however imperfect.

I am no longer a victim.  I NO LONGER FEEL LIKE A VICTIM!

I’m breathing, sleeping, jumping off cliffs, taking one day at a time, and laying my heart wide open before God.

After being frozen for months, for years, I am profoundly, utterly grateful for a number of things:

A friend who talks with me about God, Christ and faith without judging me, and without control or arrogance. A number of bloggers who very, very quietly, in words of peace, encourage me to faith like theirs…no hype, no insistence on words or doctrine, maybe no doctrine at all….more like a whispered, “this is what freedom smells like…follow the scent, breathe deeper, and also live in the One Who gives us breath.” The clamor and control of abuse has left me deaf to louder voices.

A way of seeing God and Christ that is gradually melting my sad heart and moving me forward to a place some rest and some faith. Progress.

Your prayers.

Friends I have lost touch with many moves (and moons) ago, but who have had a sweet effect on my life by their sincerity and support, and by the example of how they live their lives.  They are the Christians I went on walks with, shared kids with, shared my heart with – and who responded by being steady, sincerely loving God, knowing me very well and still loving me, seeing and hearing the parts of my situation I shared with them, admitting it wasn’t OK…and leaving it there…as displayed confidence that I would make the best choices possible. Hello, Cathy T.!  Michelle J., Rosa P., Terri H. and Karen J.? I love you, and I will be getting back in touch to tell you so!

Medical intervention for perhaps bipolar issues (perhaps not) – that has turned the volume in my mind and heart down from rock concert screams to loud conversation. Medical intervention for adrenal depletion and nutritional deficits. Therapy.

Love. Beauty. Peaceful moments. Generous thoughts and words.

Those beautiful, beautiful people in my family who love, trust, communicate, accept each other (and me!). Safety from those who don’t. And a husband who is a diamond in a world made of stones.

Hugs, kisses, touch, laughter, funny faces, odd habits, mispronounced words, photographs.

If this is manic, bring it on! If this is faith, more and deeper! If this is normal….sigh… it’s about time.  The problems are not all solved, the wounds are not all healed, the questions are not all answered. But life is looking better the longer I grow.  Maybe I am looking better the longer I grow!

Like a crusty old cactus.

Flowers

Blessings to you,

Diane

Like Sun Sparkling on Water

Picture a river, wide and crisply cold. A magnificent, white hot afternoon sun. A gentle breeze. Look at the water, alive with fireworks, a million dancing reflections of that magnificent sun. Tears sting your eyes, from the painful brightness of the dancing light, from the heart-rending beauty of the sparkling  water, yet you don’t want to look away. If you try to catch a pinpoint with your gaze, it flashes and is gone, replaced by a million more, all laughing. They have you. But you don’t have them. LOL

I’ve been pondering ideas so sweet and new that my mind and heart can’t quite catch them, but I’m mesmerized, and don’t want to look away. They have me. God has me. I keep testing these out against my questions and rearranging my mental file cabinet, adding new folders to accommodate what I can’t assimilate into my current ineffective  paradigm. Sometimes calmed, sometimes angered by what I still can’t “take on faith.” There are so many directions I could go with this, that I just have to start somewhere.

We’ll start here: BELIEVE.

I believe in God. No matter how trashed my faith, I say to Him, “Wow…You are such an Artist!” I am touched by beauty in nature and between people, and animals figure in, too. I am awed by the immense complexity…off the chart, utter, beyond belief ORDER and artistry in nature. Even a blade of grass has millions of intricately connected parts functioning together. One blade of grass among billions. Among millions of other species and non-living things. On one celestial sphere among millions. I believe in God. In God the wildly artistic and intelligent Creator. And I can’t imagine this being done without love.

But these are things I can see and touch and smell. I find it easy to believe scientific researchers, and it is no big deal if they disagree or their statements prove false. To date, it just doesn’t affect my life on earth all that much.

Christianity is another issue. I spent 25 or so years as a devout Christian, happy going to church, teaching, studying, praying, bringing up my children “in the Lord.” From a place of need, I chose to believe what I didn’t entirely understand – like the Trinity, the need for crucifixion as the only way to be restored to God’s fellowship, and the like. I took them “on faith” and fully believed that I was “saved” and that I would receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Wonderful Counselor, to help me know how to do life with an abusive husband. I had EXPECTATIONS, derived from church and the Word, and I BELIEVED God  would operate, with me, as described. He didn’t. So, I listened to the legalistic rules, and learned to look at my flaws, pray more, be more holy, “have faith,” wait, listen for a still small voice, rebuke satan…….ad nauseum. He still didn’t operate as I  believed He would. And  I was more than disappointed. It affected my life on earth A LOT. The rug was pulled out from under me. And I have become very, very wary of who and what I hear from others, un-trusting of my own discernment, and of God’s willingness to make Himself heard by me. I wanted to just bag it, but I can’t stop listening for something I CAN believe. My friends Graeme and Angela call that a string, a connection between God and me, and that He is holding on to me. That I have a “God fact” (more later) that won’t let me let go of Him, either.

And I’m hearing something!

Graeme (Hardwired to Christ, MyBroom), replied to my comment on his blog: “My own situation is challenging, tho’ quite different. I was a victim of the Global Financial Crisis and lost my life’s work in property development. I heard all the well meaning rhetoric about what God would do for me too — and it was like trying to make a pie out of dirt, it was beyond me I didn’t have the inner resources to exercise faith. Then followed several years of wilderness struggling, I knew God was there — I just didn’t know Him well enough to have any confidence in Him — so I prayed and studied and prayed because I knew there must be a way to live by faith, to really have the word of God work for me — I came up with one key ‘fix your eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of your faith’ ….I began to see Jesus, I began to believe that irrespective of my circumstances I was safely hidden in His work on the cross — this became my primary truth — I had little else theologically resolved in my mind, just that one thing — Christ had proven himself to me on the cross. I don’t exercise belief to get through a situation — I rest in the work of the cross — it is not a process that I have to get right…, it is a fact that Christ got right already and I am just sitting in His work.”

It’s the darndest thing! I had given up on having a “relationship” with Christ, as Christians say, but this presents something truer. Being so one with Christ – one being, one creation – that I don’t pray to Someone out there somewhere, but have murmured conversations with Him to lives and dwells in me. To be so secure in God’s love and approval, which would be because of Christ not me, that everything else is secondary to that reality (perhaps just as basic as everything earthly is secondary to my next breath). For starters. This hits me full in the chest and I cry big tears.

I  just have to believe. It all happens by faith. But I don’t know how to get around the things I have to believe first: Does God love me? Is God good? Can I trust His Word?”

I know the following verse well, and have not found it to “come true.” But it’s possible God wants me to revisit this, and so I am:

Matthew 11:28-29  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

More soon.

Blessings!

Diane

The Big “D” and Malachi 2:16

Malachi 2:16  God hates divorce……

Ever heard that one? Ever quoted it? I included a survey of this verse in an earlier post, but got only two answers. One respondent answered “other” but I couldn’t access a comment. The other respondent said they had never heard the verse. One of the multiple choice answers was, “have you ever heard the SECOND HALF of the verse?”

Have you?

I found the complete verse, book, and context when I read through the Bible cover to cover the first time. Trying to see God and Jesus in context. The version I remember reading is different than what  pops up when I access Bible Gateway. So I went to other, older versions (like me), and voila! Here it is! So, let’s look at Malachi 2:16  in several versions:

    • New International Version 1984
      “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
    • New Revised Standard Version
      For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.
    •  New International Version
      “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

NOT ONCE in 20+ years was this verse quoted to me, in its entirety or in context, by friends or clergy. Just the God Hates Divorce part.

Why was that? When so much care is taken to quote some other passages in context? Was it because the “God Hates Divorce” part came first in the verse, and was therefore more important? If God hates divorce AND he hates a man who covers himself with violence as with a garment….which does He hate most? And reading the entire book of Malachi, I saw that this related not only to a husband and wife, but to Godly offspring, and God’s covenant with an entire race. And what should I DO based on that? I chose caution, conservative (legalistic) interpretation, that man meant person, and didn’t want to take any chances with Godly offspring. And, aside from any Biblical admonition, to protect my kids from their dad and the court system.

Then I wondered why, if marital unfaithfulness (meaning sexual unfaithfulness as defining adultery) was the only acceptable reason for divorce, did marriage ceremonies (which sanctify the covenant of marriage) include words such as “love, honor and cherish?” I wondered why we didn’t just stand before the preacher and say “I promise not to have sex with another till we die,” and leave it at that…since that is what seemed to be the actual substance of the arrangement. Since meanness, coldness, fear, financial ruin….verbal and physical abuse, are often considered non-sufficient grounds for divorce. Or for accountability within the church. And since Ephesians marriage verses seemed to be recommendations, rather than contractual requirements.

Matthew 5:32  But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 19:9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

******

At the time of my divorce, I understood it this way: I will go to hell more surely by taking my own life than by divorcing my husband.  I was shocked and bewildered by God’s silence, my unanswered prayers for healing (not just of Peter; I was willing to change, too) and for guidance. And had come (from a start of open-hearted faith) to believe that God was a harsh taskmaster, demanding colossal sacrifice and endurance in the form of testing and somehow displaying His glory, demanding no shrinking back or He would be displeased, and that fearing Him is a good thing (even after checking out the word “fear” in Strong’s Concordance for many verses hoping it really meant “respect” or “honor”). And that once divorced, I would, Biblically speaking, be forever in a poor plan B. These are some of the ideas, views of God, that come from some skewed interpretations of scripture and Christian counsel. And formed part of the gauntlet I ran.

I didn’t understand much about covenant, Biblically speaking. Thanks to Joe Pote (http://josephjpote.com/) I understand much better NOW. I wouldn’t dream of trying to express the content of Joe’s book, So You are a Believer…Who has been through Divorce…, because I could in no way accurately abbreviate the points he so clearly makes. But I will say that I have now been introduced to a kinder view of God’s interest in my former marriage and my life, which gives me greater peace in the present. This is what I learned (my understanding): God doesn’t use covenants to enslave or abuse – He redeems us from bondage, including that of marital abuse (and the word redeemed means a lot more than I thought it did); divorce isn’t sin (treachery IS sin); I have not missed God’s best plan for my life because I have been through divorce; I am not to blame for my divorce (it is not always the fault of both parties);  “divorced” is not an eternal condition that overshadows me or defines me – I am not Peter’s ex-wife – the marriage covenant no longer exists, so I am just Diane; my second marriage is not sin (my covenant with Peter no longer existed; there was no covenant to violate); my husband and I are each married to one person – the husband of one wife – the wife of one husband (we are not bigamists married to each other AND to our previous spouses – our former marriages no longer exist) and any evaluation for ministry can be made on that basis.

(If you want to do a very good thing, buy this book for your church library.)

There were two sides as I Ran the Gauntlet: my abusive Christian husband with his destructive and misinformed words and control on one side, and the Church with its destructive and misleading scriptural interpretations and control on the other.

As I am blogging and listening, both sides of the gauntlet are beginning to disarm and go away. Some of the harmful ideas used by both sides are now useless weapons, rusting on the grass. I’m listening. And feeling the breeze of freedom and the sun on my face.

Good Sabbath, my Blogger Church.

Covenant Abuse – by Joseph Pote

Joe Pote is a fellow blogger (Redeemed!) and author of the book: So You are a Believer Who has been through Divorce.

With Joe’s permission, I have included the link to his excellent post about domestic violence in marriage, from his blog “Redeemed!” I REALLY hope you read it. In fact, skip my posts for the rest of the month if it will give you time to read his!! 🙂 Watch the video, read the post, and all of the comments.

http://josephjpote.com/2012/10/covenant-abuse/#comment-3522

I read his book. I wish I had read it before my divorce. I wish ALL of the churches I had attended had read this book! I’m probably more suspicious than many about scriptural interpretation, but I found new and credible perspective, expressed with balance and wisdom.

FrontCover

Click photo for more information.

“Emily” and I talked about changing public opinion in my post “Why I Squawk” (http://wp.me/p2GxIs-58) I guess I still see such potential for change change coming through knowledge, empathy, and commitment .. passed on one to one. So please talk, squawk, teach, encourage, admonish with the information you glean. Pass the word, so you may help spare another abused spouse from being abused a second time by incorrect and defeating scripture. So they don’t have to “Run The Gauntlet” (http://wp.me/P2GxIs-2) but instead grow in faith and hope.

Thanks!

Sorry, It’s About the Salad Suppers!

I’m again at my parents home as we travel together the road of aging and adjustment and leftovers from the past. While here, where resources are varied and relatively plentiful, I am looking for the help I need.

My first inquiry was at the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence. I asked about ways I could help and be helped. The dear woman who spoke with me listened, very still, as I described my mental stall and the decisions needing to be made and why I feel so divided and trapped.  Very quietly, like a gentle ripple on water, she said, “You don’t trust yourself.” This wasn’t news to me, but the way she said it…so gentle and direct, was soothing. I nodded. She added, “I am a survivor, too, and I don’t trust myself either.  I would like someone else to make the decisions. It’s been a while, and it doesn’t go away….I’ve just learned ways to cope.” Oh my.

I told her I had encountered much pain, frustration and loss of faith as a result of the teaching and counsel of my church communities. She said she hears that all the time. I asked if there was any training being provided to faith-based communities to help them stop giving such damaging advice. Yes, she said. There is a woman who started her own shelter, with full support of her Baptist church, and that she has formed a team of survivors who share their experiences and teach faith communities about domestic violence. She said that when she was abused, her pastor and church responded ABSOLUTELY APPROPRIATELY! Oh! Oh! How absolutely, positively, wonderful!

I have the contact information for the Baptist shelter founder, and three resources where I can have counseling and attend support groups for DA survivors. Today, I contact the counselors and find the times/places of the support groups. I will be asking the following questions, recommended by two generous fellow bloggers after I requested personal input about PTSD.

Questions to Ask:

1. Are you trained specifically in trauma?

2. If so, do you have experience with trauma patients?  How many years?

3. Are you in your own therapy?

4. Are you under supervision?  (I forgot to mention this and it is very important – you don’t want someone who goes rogue, on their own)

5. What is your training/approach type?  (Cognitive behavioral focus is more coping skills vs. Psychoanalytical which is more about getting to the root)

Would EMDR be helpful and are you trained to do that?

And I picked up an information sheet based on a 2010 survey of 35 out of 39 domestic violence programs in Arizona in a 24 hour period:

1,622 victims served (1,180 in emergency shelters or transitional housing)

442 adults and children received non-residential services (legal, counseling, children’s support groups)

336 hotline calls (more than 14 calls per hour)

131 unmet needs for services (short funding, short-staffed, lack of space)

105 of the unmet needs were from victims seeking emergency shelter or transitional housing

83% of respondents reported higher demand for services, attributed to job loss, decreased community resources, and decreased funding

For consideration:

1 John 3:16-18   This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Titus 3:14   Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.

“Salad Suppers” and retreats were the ESSENTIAL women’s group activities at my previous church…so much so that any alternative ministry to women outside the church was superseded by these lofty priorities (which is why I resigned as WMs president after an ultra-short term). Wouldn’t it be nice if…instead of party decorations for the next salad supper…the money and time were donated to a nearby family violence shelter or program? And, instead of the usual paid speaker for the next retreat…advocacy training was provided by a survivor…or domestic violence professional?

And, if a church REALLY wanted to go for it, they could involve the MEN’S ministries, too! Since men are the Christian “authority,” and since domestic violence is so ruthlessly damaging to women and children (also known as families), maybe their speaker could be a professional who could address MEN’S roles in abuse, prevention of abuse, and recovery. OF FAMILIES – men, women, children.

Abusers and victims.

And, instead of manufacturing functions and campaigns to entice un-churched people into the building, creating relationships to serve them outside the building to heal their hearts and souls? Which would Jesus choose?

I am very, very grateful for funding sources and dedicated people who are making it possible for me, and others, to receive help. But there aren’t enough dollars and people to get it done  given the magnitude of the problem.

This isn’t just a women’s problem. It isn’t just for government entities and secular non-profits to address. Maybe, within the church, there could be less energy spent on indignation about prayer and the Ten Commandments in (or out of) schools (and other hot topics) and more energy spent on learning about and wisely addressing domestic violence (and mental illness, sex trafficking, neglect, homelessness, etc., etc.).

It’s not such a huge mental shift, really, is it?

The influence of Christianity and churches on the world is HUGE, for positive or negative. Representing Christ, or not. Can you imagine how beautiful this could be?

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Let’s play “Gee, Ain’t It Awful!” — It’s US vs. THEM!

“Gee, Ain’t It Awful” is one of the games listed by Eric Berne in his book, The Games People Play (1964).  The version I’ve seen most goes like this:

 Isn’t it just awful! The divorce rate is 50%!

Oh, just look at that outfit!!!It’s just awful the way those people dress. They must just TRY to be ugly.

Well, you know how those Catholics are….they live like hell all week and confess on Sunday! It’s just awful.

Well, you know how those AG and Foursquare people are….they wave their arms, and dance and carry on like Fiji Islanders!  Just awful.

Well, you know how LUKEWARM all those mainstream church people are.  JESUS says that’s just awful.

Those Muslims are ALL a bunch of murderous fanatics….just awful!

Those awful atheists! It’s just awful how they complain about God.

I think it’s awful how Pastor has switched from the Hymnal to a PROJECTOR!!!

Isn’t it AWFUL how those UNBELIEVERS just REFUSE to accept God and His Word! And how they say RELIGION is a dirty word! Awful!

It’s US vs. THEM.

Which makes it important to be RIGHT (sing…My God is better than your God, my view is better than yours!)

Which makes US better than THEM (more knowledgeable, insightful, CLOSER TO GOD!)

Which becomes US bearing TRUTH that we must impart to THEM.

Which creates DOGMATISM and CONTROL.

AND HOW DOES THAT SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF AN ABUSED WOMAN, OR SEARCHING SOUL, A CHILD OR ADULT SEX TRADE CAPTIVE, OR POTENTIAL MURDERER, OR MURDER VICTIM OR FAMILY? OR?

IT DOESN’T. It’s JUDGEMENT. It’s SIMPLISTIC. It’s DEHUMANIZING. It’s addictive.

If you want to get really judgmental…..it is sin.

I am really, REALLY, R E A L L Y tired of some Christians, with wide gaping mouths, who speak absolute trash as if they were the Oracles of God. Not because it is my right to return their “righteous indignation.” Because it HURTS PEOPLE. It pushes them farther from faith in a God they can trust to love them, care for them, be patient with them while they deal with the suffering of life, and who might even SAVE them. It ADDS to suffering, and isolation, and FEAR. It is love of DRAMA, not love of God or of people. It is defense of ego, at the expense of unity.

I know they have their own hurts and illusions which motivate this behavior. I’ve done it too. But PLEASE, let’s educate and support one another so we can do much better! Christian or non-Christian, there is no law against learning to be more effective AND more kind.

Sounds kind of like I’m trying to persuade you to switch to MY team, doesn’t it?  (I have to laugh!)

We hang with others “of our own kind” for a variety of reasons, among which are comfort and support, as in “fellowship of believers.” But when we only hear one another’s voices, opinions, testimonies, life experiences – all through the same filter or paradigm, our thoughts become inbred, probably magnifying the strengths we cultivate, but also weaknesses we don’t.  We are protected from negative thoughts (theoretically) but also from really good information from others. We reinforce each other’s errors in logic; we play the game.

What I advocate is refusing to play.

So I’m listening to different “kinds”. And the “some Christians” a few paragraphs above? The ones with the “gaping mouths.” Sorry, I have to laugh again – at myself.  I hearby renounce my intensity and reaffirm my respect.

I’m not an US or a THEM, if I can help it. I’m just ME. And I’m listening for God/the universe. And for the first time in decades I can accept that maybe I don’t  have to reconcile the “merciful, but JUST…REALLY JUST, potentially angry and punishing” God I have perceived Him to be. Maybe I don’t have to reconcile confusing scriptures. Maybe I can BE, be open, and learn something new from the One Who knows.

A couple of refreshing posts by Judy whose blog is Connecting Dots….to God:

http://wp.me/p1xX5U-1cm  Would You Vote for Jesus?

http://wp.me/p1xX5U-1cL   Would You Still Vote for Jesus?

I welcome your comments.

Kina powerfully hits the nail on the head over and over. Listen up. The topic is mental health and gun violence, but the application is universal. We so need to stop the blame game, look at the discrepancies in our own logic, correct ourselves and teach our children something better. Christians – look for yourselves here – If I titled this for you, it would say, “Got Grace? Pay it forward.”

Human In Recovery

I find it very ironic that there are so many people talking about how there is a huge need for accessible mental health services and a need to provide nurture and care for the folks at risk of marginalization due to mental illness and personality disorders, when many of these same people forward memes with quotes suggesting that removing people from one’s life who bring pain and discomfort is what needs to be done on a personal level.

Another irony is how many people I know or suspect who are dealing with a mental illness or personality disorders, diagnosed or not, who all but demand that others around them accommodate and accept them, as they are, yet turn around and treat others with criticism, rejection, and judgment.

I find it ironic that in a country where we hold such contempt for politicians and the modern mockery of the legislative process…

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