“We are all patriots first”

December 7, 2007 at 9:58 pm (Uncategorized)

I was listening to the radio on the way home from work last night.  Being discussed was the speech Mitt Romney had given regarding his faith.  During this discussion they were interviewing different people on their thoughts about the speech, Romney and the role of faith and politics.  A phrase caught my full attention.  One responder who was being interviewed as a devout christian, stated “we are all patriots first”.

I believe this is very true in 2007 in the United States of America and I think that is why we are in so much trouble in the world.  The U.S. christian church – including Protestants and Catholics, mainline denominations, evangelical denominations, etc. have all embraced this sentiment.  How many God Bless American bumper stickers, checks, cut out flags from the newspaper, etc. especially following Sept. 11, 2001, have we all seen.

I want to stand up against this patriotic version of church and say I am not a patriot first.  I am a Christ follower first and a mom,  second.  I believe the United States has gotten itself into a poor position in the world and I believe in God’s eyes because of this patriotism first.  The U.S. Church is remembering John 3:16 as only the “that He gave His only begotten son.”  and have forgotten the “For God so loved the world”.  My bible does not say for God so loved the United States of America or democracy or the developed world, etc.

I have been reading about this topic since I became inflamed last night and like a lot of what the Mennonnite faith has to say about this topic. 

A Christian pledge of allegiance

I pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ,
And to God’s kingdom for which he died—
One Spirit-led people the world over, indivisible,
With love and justice for all.

By June Alliman Yoder and J. Nelson Kraybill

It is time for the church to take back its faith and to stand united under Christ and for the first time in a long time I am actually filled with a desire to work with the church and to love the church and to call it to repentance.

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Social Justice Sunday School Curriculum?

December 6, 2007 at 4:33 am (Social Justice) (, , , , )

Does anyone know where I can find a preschool or elementary age sunday school curriculum that has social justice as an integral part?  I am also looking for a more authentic religious education/sunday school curriculum – I have recently started letting Sab go to Sunday school ( I am freaked about letting him go, and of course he LOVED it when he went) and I want to be able to talk with him more about all the cute-sy bible stories he will hear in a more authentic way.  i.e. Noah’s ark not really about animals on parade, the story of Joseph really had little to do with a rainbow coat.  I want to help him understand these stories in a way that relates to our life, relates to the way God wants to interact with us and wants us to interact with others and help him see further into those stories than what the mainstream curriculums will teach – but I need help doing that in an age appropriate and engaging to a preschooler way.  Not really sure I want to completely dive into God’s wrath and the dessimation of the world, but I feel we do our kids a huge disservice by making these stories about cute animals on parade.  If we do not feel our kids our ready/old enough to hear the true story of Noah then why not just not tell it until they are ready – why cutsy it up into something it has very little to do with?  Then we expect them to unravel all that later and deconstruct it and come out with an authentic relationship.  As Chelsea, a pastor’s wife once said to me (before I had a kid and had given any thought to this) I don’t want my 3 year old daughter running around saying “Jesus is my best friend”. – until it could be a statement about genuine relationship not just some cutsy regurgitated meaninglessness that will one day have to be explained why it was different than their imaginary best friend, and the monster in the closet.

So blah blah – does anyone know if something like this exists maybe at an “emerging” church or perhaps a mainline denomination – I can ‘t be the only person who has wanted something more.

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loneliest time of the year…

November 27, 2007 at 4:50 am (Uncategorized)

Has any one else ever been annoyed or frankly pissed off at the advice for the lonely this time of year?  Have you ever read this advice or paid attention to it?  Have you taken the time to take it apart a bit?

If you are alone during the holidays you are to give more of that single self to the world.  The rest of the world- the “real” world is to bake cookies, give gifts, laugh and bask in each others company in front of a warm and toasty fire with family.  If you are alone, you should go be with the other outcasts at Christmas (or any other holiday).  Give to someone less fortunate than yourself, serve a meal in a shelter, visit a nursing home, etc.  Now these are all very worthwhile things to do, but why, I am asking should the person who is already alone, will recieve few gifts, can’t wait for this time of year to be done, etc. be told to give more of their already deflated self?  Why is the advice not to all the happy and full couples and families to give out of their fullness and thereby satiate all? Again I think we should all be investing in the lives of the least of these, I just think the advice is more a revelation of how unacceptable it is to be single in our society than it is a real belief that we should be more inclusive and thoughtful during the holidays.

I have just always thought it was a boatload of crap and since this cyber world is for the blogging, I thought I would throw it out there.

Speaking of loneliness and darkness, I have been reading the book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light.  I am quite fascinated by this book and really don’t know what to think about all of it.  I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it all.  Partly because I have not been raised with much awareness of the Catholic faith and so much of that portion is so foreign to me.  To wait for a priest, pope or other church leader to give the ok to and bless a work I knew was from God is something I can’t grasp.  Can any of you who know me see me waiting patiently for an elder to give the green light on a work I knew was from God?!  I chuckle.  I still don’t get that, but it worked for her.  

And as much as I try I can’t relate to the sacred devotion she has to Mary.  I try to understand it, but it eludes me.  I realize most protestants are repulsed by it and find it creepy at best.  I have really tried to grasp it but am unable to understand it.  If someone is Catholic, was Catholic or gets it, I would love to hear about it/gain insight into that area.

That aside I am enthralled by the darkness and loneliness that consumed her.  I had no idea – which is how she wanted it – and its not like we were close.  I know my blog has become quite dark, so it won’t come as a huge surprise why I am so intrigued by Mother Teresa’s dark inner life.  Through out the whole book – ok I haven’t finished it yet but its not written by Nicholas Sparks so I doubt in the last pages the heavens will open, choirs sing and she becomes Sister Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm – she talks about this darkness, emptiness, loneliness and longing for God and the evidence of God all around her and through her but yet she is dark inside. 

She is probably the most amazing woman to ever live on this earth.  She embodies all that God asks of us – feeding the sick, giving cups of cold water, visiting those in prison and taking care of the least of these and being completely in love with Jesus/God.  That was her call, to take care of the lowest of the low, the ones no one but Jesus wanted.  Yet the whole time she feels completely empty, knowing this is what she is called to do, knowing she is pleasing God, fulfilling her calling, etc.  but inside an empty dark cavern. And she keeps going on faith that it is right. Amazing.

How often do we hear that times of trial, spiritual wilderness times, dry times, etc. are our fault – we have sinned, we are not seeking hard enough or praying hard enough, anyone for a round of “read your Bible, pray every day, pray every day and you’ll grow grow grow ” from sunday school?  How many times have people said – “well it wasn’t God that moved” either directly or indirectly stating that obviously you have walked away, turned away etc. or somehow are at fault for the darkness inside you.  but as Mother Teresa’s devotion grows the darkness becomes more pronounced, the loneliness more intense the seeking and longing for a God that seems just out of reach intensifies.  Now of course many in the protestant crowd will say of course, because she’s Catholic and isn’t really a Christian so she is filled with darkness.  I don’t buy that.  So lets get that out of the way and continue.  Because when the fire is called down I would like to be standing next to a lot of the Catholics I know versus a “born again” Benny Hinn and the like.  for once a reason to be proud to live in Iowa- go Grassley…but I am off topic.

The author also references many of the spiritual greats like St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, etc. and similar darkness that consumed them.  I have run out of steam for tonight, but I am perplexed and intrigued as I have said.  Darkness doesn’t actually mean you have lost your faith, it is perhaps a part of the Christian faith.  I had also meant to talk about her not only embracing suffering but craving suffering, asking for more suffering.  Again so anti-American christianity.  I have been taught you should rejoice in it and hope its over soon – not want it and hope for it and view it as a gift to and from God.  We believe in the gifts of houses, happiness and a good 401K.  So I will give this gift of a good nights rest to God and pray for a happy tomorrow while christians in other parts of the world pray to suffer for Christ tomorrow – do we have the same God?

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The Road Less Traveled

October 8, 2007 at 4:10 am (Uncategorized)

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I…I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost.

a fairly famous phrase for most of us.  And for some how we have chosen to live at least a segment of life.  yet know one tells you the rest of the story,as Paul Harvey would say.  That fairly quickly the road less traveled that you have chosen or that was chosen for you or just happened to you or however you got there it just becomes the road you are on.  And there is a reason it is less traveled.  I see the images from the movie Big Fish.  The road probably isn’t really a road at all, its often hard to tell if you are even on the path anymore.  It has been a really long time since you have seen anyone and you get tired and beat up.  But then you meet someone, or you sit down to rest for awhile and find a discarded piece of humanity – a gum wrapper or some other insignificant item and realize that someone else has gone this way before you and you get enough energy to keep going.  The tricky thing is, you think its the road less traveled for just a little while.  There is a hidden “perfect” little town – like in Big Fish, or that actually the path will widen if you just get up over this hill and will become the highway for those who perservered.  But it is the road less traveled.

You get angry, hurt, disappointed and confused because there is no one around and you can’t figure out where everyone went and why they are not there.  you forget it is the road less traveled.  you want them to celebrate with you that you got up and kept going that you fought your way through the brambles, past the twisted ankle and up to the top of the hill.  But you get there and there is no one there to celebrate.  It is just that spot that ironically, diverges with the road much traveled.  And there is a huge parade of people passing you by on that road.  The road less traveled and the much traveled road intersect at a number of points – after all you got on at some point and others are getting on and off, as well.

Maybe you take the road much traveled for awhile or maybe because you are so “other” from your time spent on the road less traveled you either leap back to it or are shoved back by the parade.  And eventually even if you took the much traveled road for awhile there is something about the road less traveled that calls to you.  Where that voice goes when you are on the road less traveled I do not know.  We read books, watch movies and hear stories of people who took the road less traveled, usually after they are dead.  These are the voices that call, that dropped the gum wrappers along the way.  but they become magical and saintly not just beat up, tired, stinky “others” like us.  They didn’t plant the gum wrappers for us, they ate their last scrap of sustenance like you just did.  They didn’t leave behind their story or their coat to encourage you they just became to tired to carry it anymore.  Their road was less traveled, too.  They tripped over that root, and got slapped in the face by a thorny branch and hoped that this was finally the hill that held the promise.  But it wasn’t, it held another hill most likely in sight of the chair lift on the much traveled road.

I guess I just found another scrap of paper that let me know someone has been here before and it’s enough to help me keep going.  My road is not a refugee camp in Darfur, or my fifth foster home this year.  My road is not in the midst of a gang war in a LA, Detroit or Miami.  Its lonely, it is not an easy path but for today and tomorrow I will continue to pick my way along and hope that I am on the right path for me.

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Dear John Letter to Birth Mom

August 15, 2007 at 3:14 am (Foster Parenting)

Today I sent the dreaded “Dear John” letter to my son’s birth mom.  I had pictured in my head since early on in this process that we would have an open adoption.  I would be the pick up the socks, give you a curfew everyday mom, our network of friends would be grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles and his birth family would be in that mix.  It would certainly be awkward at times but no more so than I imagine many family’s holidays and get togethers are especially the other more traditional blended families (divorce, etc.). 

In many ways I don’t think society is up to speed on open adoption yet so that wasn’t helpful.  Aside from our first social worker who I think through spending time with birth mom as I have, grew to really care about her – everyone else has been appalled I guess is the best word to use.  No one in my life has thought this would be a good idea.  I have done a fair amount of research on how it is and isn’t working for other families through the adoption blogs, etc.  And felt it was what was best for the adopted child, especially since for our situation with foster care where I have interacted with birthmom regularly through out a good portion of his life – we have done joint doctor’s visits, all the court and DCFS stuff, celebrated his birthdays together, etc.

My adoption social worker has not liked the idea from the very beginning and has been condeming it and trying to convince me to stop having visits with birthmom.  Back in probably January, my son started getting really distressed at the end of visits.  He had been seeing his mom for over a year, multiple times a week that first year in foster care and was never distressed.  At first I dismissed it as being over-tired, hungry, over stimulated etc.  However, the distress continued to increase to the point that I have now decided to stop visits.

I am not 100% confident that I am doing the right thing but I have gathered information, talked with lots of child development people and been objective through out the decision and this seems to be the right decision.
I am now waiting for the hate mail and calls to start from birth mom and family.  I will need a lot of strength to get through this time.  Especially since I can not be sure that I am doing the right thing so that will be a fairly easy veneer to chip at.

To date, this was definitely the most emotionally difficult thing I have had to do.  I sure hope I made the right decision and that I can endure the coming attacks with grace and love.

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Confused…

August 13, 2007 at 7:09 pm (Foster Parenting, Solo Parenting)

Once a month – now that is much more my style.  Leaves lots of room for “midwestern do better” guilt that can paralyze you from writing because the next one should be really clever to make up for not writing.   But I have enough mental vomit to dump into cyberspace that I am not going to let a little guilt cause me to assure cleverness. 

We have had lots of happenings in the past month.  Not such a great month, truth be told.  I have battled DCFS and am now holed up, wild eyed and licking wounds…more on that later-  

We have moved.  We have a 2nd court date for terminating parental rights since it wasn’t done correctly the first time.  Little man has a new baby sister (half-sister, technically).  I haven’t spoken to my parents in over a month since they made it clear they will never accept my adopting a son and I let loose the claws.  Don’t poke the stressed out mamma bear. 

So, a question for the reader.  I think my parents are wrong, but I was an ass in my email.  Do I make the first move – is that the christian thing to do?  Or do I just leave it and when they decide it is important to be a part of our lives they can open the door.  It feels like for years I have taken their emotional abuse and turned the other cheek and just kept going back for more, continuing to make them a priority in my life even though I am not a priority in theirs.  If I don’t call -even before all this- we don’t talk.  I feel like I have wasted so much energy into this relationship and even in my 30’s I was thinking things would change.  I would finally be enough, as is – not married.  For now I have let their approval go.  So am I just being stubborn and wounded by not making the first move or am I setting boundaries?

On a completely different note…

I have read a book that is really messing me up.  The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne.  I heard him speak a few years ago, have checked out the Simple Way blog from time to time and have listened to a few online sermons by him from my virtual church but for some unknown reason – other than my skepticism and irritation of all things God related lately – I went into this book reluctantly and with a bad attitude.  The book really spoke to me, re-opened my eyes to that fact that I do kind of dig God, just not what christianity has become.  Seriously do not read this book unless you are ready to get messed up. 

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Spiritual blonde moment

July 2, 2007 at 3:51 pm (Uncategorized)

I just realized a name for my cluelessness the other day – it was a spiritual blonde moment.  I wonder if you can get it in a bottle – like Clairol Number 5?

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Saint Idiocracy

July 2, 2007 at 2:31 am (Social Justice)

So, I need to just stay away from the river front.  The last time I was there, I tried to be Saint Sara Lee with the bread and homeless.  Last night I took the little guy for a walk along another stretch of the river.  We were watching the local sailing school students launch and sail boats.  Very interesting and I was quite envious! 

We are watching one boat that had been doing fairly well as it came back to the levee and the woman’s face had a very large port-wine birth mark-it covered the entire right side of her face and part of her left.  It was practically fluorescing against the white sail.  My mind began to race with how this would be an opportunity to teach the little guy compassion and start to work on how you answer the very honest yet totally un-PC questions kids loudly ask.   Plus I am going to show this woman that she is a beloved child of God (and how nice I am!!) by you know, pretending it’s not there. 

So, I am watching-slightly interpret that as unabashedly staring, with my best casual interpretation of a “you are lovely” smile on my face.  They had a hard landing into the levee-sheesh-they definitely need a few more lessons!  And then I notice that the port-wine birth mark goes all the way down her arm and the back of her hand.  Her left hand is held up half shielding her face-probably a self-conscious gesture she has perfected after what must have been intense years of being teased by kids.  She is out of the boat quickly and just as she turns to walk briskly toward the clubhouse, our eyes meet.  I am sure the heavens opened ever so briefly and she felt God’s love pour into her soul from my smile, except I missed it because she was covered in blood!

No birth mark, no tormented childhood, not an anguished soul looking for someone to finally look at her and not turn away like she is Quazimoto, pehaps she was wishing for faster reflexes when the mast must have swung during a jib and smacked a 2 inch gash in her forehead causing blood to pour all down her face.  I was too stunned at my idiocracy to move, and by the time I was able to break the stupid spell she was half way to the clubhouse.

So, I had stood there and stared at a woman with a huge gash in her forehead instead of offering to help her out of the boat, or to the clubhouse, or tie down the boat so her husband could go with her…Or even ask if she was ok.

Seriously, the bizarre thing is I don’t even have to work at being this-I can’t even find a word to encompass it-clueless, stupid, self-absorbed, weird…good grief.

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Jonathan Lipnicki

June 30, 2007 at 4:02 am (Foster Parenting, Solo Parenting)

img_7047.jpg 

Have you spent your days wondering whatever happened to Jonathan Lipnicki?  You know, the “human head weighs 8 pounds” kid from Jerry Maguire.  Well, turns out the kid freakishly has not gotten older.  I found him in a sleepy little river town last friday…

So everyone keeps telling me he looks adorable with them.  And he is adorable no matter what sort of freakish apparatus is strapped to his sweet face, but I am still in mourning.  The kicker?  I have been pushing the Lion’s Club Coming to Our Senses program – which truly my own silly pain aside is an awesome service.  They are able to screen small children 6mo’s-48mo’s for vision/eye problems – with my local child care centers and of all the kids I have lined up for screening, mine comes back in need of referral and now the coke bottles.  The other thing that stabs me is, I thought once when I was looking at one of his portraits that the light refractions in his pupils were slightly off and then I blew it off as one of my “know just enough to be dangerous” made up nursing diagnosis.  Now whenever I look at a picture of his I instantly see the left light refraction is slightly medial and higher…

I need to get over it and I will – I was sort of hoping the power of the blog would take care of it…

Oh and Jonathan’s mom got a little carried away with her ebay purchased hair razor thingy – sorry buddy I will let you have hair again some day.

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Vacation a Beautiful Thing

June 28, 2007 at 6:10 pm (Solo Parenting)

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How refreshing a vacation with loved ones can be.  My little guy and I have been adopted by a fantastic family and we are so blessed by their graciousness, unconditional love and kindness.  The little man got to spend some much needed time around men, you will notice he likes to try to walk just like them, con them into taking him for a bike ride and exploring the beach at their side.  He also took part in his first “men’s breakfast” a midwestern christian ritual. 

We both enjoyed the time away from the day to day grind, the gorgeous scenery and sand between our toes.  While I can’t speak for my son, I have always wanted to be a part of a large family, thought maybe I would marry into one, not looking near on the horizon so adoption, a very good thing.  And who can resist a luau on the beach, grass skirts, coconut bras and hula hoop contests.  Not us!

 We went tent camping in Michigan, the other members of our family were a little wiser than us (we are young, we will learn) had campers or cabins.  It only rained one night, and we had so wiped out the little guy that he slept right through the thunderstorm.  I was able to keep him dry, I did not fair quite so well.  They do not make tents like they used too!  Apparently I am now 75 and talking about the good old days.  I actually felt 75 after the first night sleeping on the ground.  It occurred to me that my great childhood memories of camping on the “mossy hill trail” were more than 20 years and a hundred pounds ago…

I had a great time and it wasn’t a mirage…again the power of the blog??!

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