Category Archives: Spirit

Stressed? Who Me?

Words of Wisdom: De-Stress Your Day

By | Local Phoenix, Spirit, Uncategorized | One Comment

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? …” – Jesus

Stressed – Who me?? Never.

Ok, I jest. I might feel a leeeetle stressed from time to time.

Or maybe a lot.

While it’s important to acknowledge that kind of feeling so I can figure out what is causing it, I’m at the “change it!” phase of the process.

Who’s with me?!

Stress, aka FEAR, steals life because we spend so much time worrying that we forget to actually LIVE!

Life is so short already and so precious. I intend to inhabit every moment – BE in the thick of it. I’m not willing to let fear have it. Are you?

Stressed? Who Me?

Thankfully, I’ve had some wise people speak into my life over the years and offer ways to find the joy in life.

This is my prescription to myself!

When I can remember who suggested it, I’ve given them credit.

He who brings sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from himself. – Dad

If you want to be happy, love and serve others. -Mom (not just spoken, but lived)

Better yet – start the day in the sunshine and frequently revisit it throughout the day. – Pam

Turn on some music and dance wildly. Laugh at yourself -Nichelle

Count your blessings. – Jan

Open the blinds and let the sunshine in. – Dad

Exercise vigorously.

Read encouraging Scriptures.

Recite poetry.

Remember. If you think you’re having a bad day, just try missing one! – Dad

Laugh. A lot. At kids, awkward family photos, dumb jokes – even if you don’t feel like it. Laughter is contagious and healing.

Eat dark chocolate. Preferably after a great meal.

Take a nap. – Mom

Read something funny.

Watch a lighthearted movie.

Have sex. A lot. At least daily, if not more. – Robert (he was only thinking of my benefit, I’m sure)

Listen to music that lightens your heart. And sing to it.

Go outside and plant a garden or at least stick your bare toes in the dirt.

Celebrate your mistakes. It means you’re alive.

Clean your house.

Finish your list.

PRAY.

Sit in the grass and stare at the beautiful blue sky.

Make a schedule and stick to it! – Me

Speak words of love and kindness to someone else. You’ll begin to realize that you deserve that love as well.

Remember. Life may be hard but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.

It’s also short and worth living.

INHABIT every moment.

Meditate on Truth. – YOU are valuable and worth of love.

Here’s what’s in my mind for the day. Advice from the wisest person I’ve studied.

Matthew 6:25-34 (The Voice)

25 Here is the bottom line: do not worry about your life. Don’t worry about what you will eat or what you will drink. Don’t worry about how you clothe your body. Living is about more than merely eating, and the body is about more than dressing up. 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They do not store food for winter. They don’t plant gardens. They do not sow or reap—and yet, they are always fed because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are even more precious to Him than a beautiful bird. If He looks after them, of course He will look after you.

27 Worrying does not do any good; who here can claim to add even an hour to his life by worrying?

28 Nor should you worry about clothes. Consider the lilies of the field and how they grow. They do not work or weave or sew, and yet their garments are stunning29 Even King Solomon, dressed in his most regal garb, was not as lovely as these lilies. 30 And think about grassy fields—the grasses are here now, but they will be dead by winter. And yet God adorns them so radiantly. How much more will He clothe you, you of little faith, you who have no trust?

31 So do not consume yourselves with questions: What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? 32 Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions; they don’t realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need. 33 Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too.

z34 So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today.

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Read more: The Jesus I No Longer Follow

Read more: The Spaces Between the Wildness

 

tree_down

the Spaces Between the Wildness

By | Spirit, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Life doesn’t go

According to plan

Along with the sweetest dreams

The worst nightmares

Manifest

In

Nasty divorces

Sick children

Homes foreclosed

Loved ones dead

Jobs gone

Trust violated

Bodies crippled

The changes come

As rapidly as

The monsoon

In July

The wind whipping

The breath

From your lungs

The scream

From your throat

The thunder shaking

The foundation

Of everything

That seemed sacred

And safe

You lose

Your footing

Like an

Uprooted tree

The rain

Pours down in sheets

All over your head

None of you

Is untouched

By its power

A surprising moment

Of chill touches you

As the icy grip

Of FEAR

Wraps around Your heart

Like a vice

What will happen

Next

You wonder

If anything

Will ever be the same

Once the storm stops

All is blown

And soaked

And ruined

But such is LIFE

Unpredictable

Wild

and

Your OWN

Though it is

Nothing

Like you imagined

It can be

Even more

Than you dreamed

If you look

For the beauty

and the healing

The storm

Brings

In the spaces

Between

The wildness

If you stop

To catch

That breath

You thought

Had escaped you

And notice

The gifts

That the storm

Imparts

And the life

That continued

In spite of it

The full moon

Framed by majestic

Clouds

The scent

of rain

and creosote

The space left

For something new

to grow

where the uprooting

happened

Look around

If you purpose

To find the beauty

and the healing

The storm brings

In the spaces

Between the wildness

You will find your heart

And your thoughts

filled with gratitude

A prayer of thanks

Because Life

Is nothing

Like you imagined

But

So much better

Than you dreamed

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living god's love in the heart of the city

Kids in the Main Worship Service. A Distraction or Essential for Lifelong Faith?

By | Local Phoenix, Spirit, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

What is the most effective way to live God’s love and grace with our kids in a formal worship setting (i.e. not home)?

Should kids attend services with their parents or spend their entire Sunday mornings in age   appropriate classes with their peers?

This is important to my own spiritual community because this is our mission.

For some time, I’ve opposed the presence of kids in our morning church service. We have FA-BU-LOUS children’s classes (like awesome, wonderful, can’t-say-enough-good) but the main service has never been geared to grab their attention. Thus, they wiggled in their chairs with no idea what the speaker was saying.

Some of you are thinking, “Children need to learn to sit still, etc” or “They will understand it eventually.”

Well, let’s back up a moment and talk about that, shall we?

Jesus defined the two greatest commandments as –

loving God with all your heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself.

Those are the TWO “main things” that should concern us as we approach ours and our children’s community worship experience.

We who follow Christ observe these two values by regularly meeting to worship God through song and the spoken word. And, we are supposed to encourage each other to remember those two main things. When the content of a worship service is adult comprehension only, kids feel left out and BORED. Kind of like how you’d feel if you were to attend a Barney movie. Eyes burning, skin crawling, ears bleeding…Get me out of here!!!!!

We need to pay attention to that feeling in our kids!

What children experience in church will influence their long term interest in loving God and remaining a part of the church as an adult.

Just like the “birds and the bees” talk should happen over time, starting from the time they can talk (Uh-oh – you didn’t know this? Another talk for another time!), we can’t wait till they’re teenagers to interest them in a community worship experience. We need to engage them NOW.

How can we show love to people (children) we haven’t bothered to address?

How can they feel encouraged to participate in a community worship experience when they don’t even understand what we’re talking about?

Or is making the spoken message accessible to the younger members of our community not important? Isn’t real love taking the time to understand AND MEET the needs of the person we’re loving? It was for Jesus.

The thing is, a lot of the people who followed Jesus in His day – were children.

Loud, noisy, messy children. They wanted some attention – just like our kids!

Jesus didn’t minimize the importance of his youngest followers. In fact, as he did with most marginalized members of society, He showed them great love and emphasized their value to Him. (I LOVE that!)

Jesus said anyone who didn’t have faith like a child wouldn’t enter the kingdom of heaven.

His disciples told Jesus those noisy kids were distracting the adults. Jesus told them in no uncertain terms that the children following Him had an all access pass to Him. And He didn’t “shush” them. I imagine they were so captivated by His love and accessibility, they were captivated by His words.

In Matthew 18:1-5 He says a person who welcomes a child in His name welcomes Him.

In Matthew 18:10, He says “their [the children’s] angels in heaven always see the face of my Father”. Somehow I missed that verse before. THEIR angels ALWAYS see the face of the Father? No way do I want to ignore or mistreat someone who gets God’s full attention – and who has angels (plural!) on their side.

And in Matthew 21, after Jesus had Rocked the World of that time’s religious leaders by tearing up the vendor tables, they expressed irritation because the kids were shouting in the temple – “Hosanna to the Son of David,”

So Jesus told those kids “Sit down and be quiet, the adults are talking,” right?

No way! He critiqued the religious leaders, “Have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants, you, Lord, have called forth your praise’[a]?”

As with all the people He lived to love, Jesus took the time to meet the needs of children in a loving, direct and personal manner. He spoke to them with the same (if not more) respect than adults.

If Jesus treated children with such love and honor, shouldn’t we do the same if we follow Him?

This is the approach we should take with our children in church. But wasn’t happening in our service.

A few months ago, I asked my oldest child what they were learning from the service. “I really have no idea what he’s talking about, Mom,” followed by a nonchalant shrug.

Would you be ok hearing this from your child? I wasn’t!

Fast forward to this weekend. New pastor. New processes.

After announcements and music, Pastor Jason spoke to the kids in the room. He said he’d be talking about how Jesus is a “big deal” and wanted them to draw a picture about it and count the number of times he said it. After the service, in exchange for showing him their notes and pictures, he’d give them a prize from a bag he held.

This was HUGE for the kids in the room! Throughout the service Jason addressed them and asked, “Jesus – big deal? Or little deal?” The kids shouted back  – “Big deal!”

The energy in the room was palpable.

After the service, kids surrounded Jason, proudly offering their “homework” in exchange for something from that bag.

I asked my oldest at lunch, “What did you think of the service today?”

The answer – with a big smile, “I LOVED it!!!!!” (Exclamation points – a direct quote.)

“Why? What was different about this week’s service?”

Here’s a hint: It wasn’t “We got a prize!”

“Cause Pastor Jason was talking to US!!!!!!

(Seriously. Straight up dictation.)

PEOPLE. Here’s why I’m writing this.

Are we serious about our kids experiencing God WITH US in community worship? Are we serious about mirroring Christ’s love?

‘Cause it wasn’t hard to make our children a true part of that service. The simple act of noticing the kids and speaking straight to them made them feel relevant. They understood the “message” AND the leader of our service, Jason, communicated they are important to him, and by extension, our faith community. Man, it brought tears to my eyes!

After the service, I mentioned the service on Facebook. Over 50 people engaged the post, passionately commenting about their own experiences either in this service or in their own church.

It made such an impact on our whole congregation.

Oh yeah. This is Jason.

This Sunday was such a “big deal” that someone made him a t-shirt.

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So to answer my title question – As long as we’re actually talking TO our kids in a main worship service, including them in the main service can be a great way to build a life long faith.

I can’t wait to involve our kids even more in future worship services.

What about letting them share part of the spoken Word? Or singing in the beginning of the service? Or memorizing scripture to share with us? Or creating art to decorate the lobby as part of worship?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What does your church do to connect your kids to the regular observation of formal worship?

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Interested in more posts about faith? Read Rob Bell – Heretic or Herald?

Is this your image of a racist?

Think Paula Deen’s a Racist? You Might Be Too If… ~ A Tutorial for the “Accidental Racist”

By | Politics, Spirit, Uncategorized | No Comments

Is this your image of a racist?

This weekend, we were all bombarded with reports of  racist comments made by Paula Deen, the Food Network’s former Queen of Southern cookin’.

She and her brother are being sued for sexual harassment and racial discrimination. According to Deen’s deposition, she used the “N” word (long ago) and expressed the desire to throw a plantation wedding reception served by “middle-aged black men” wearing “beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie” to mirror a by-gone era in the South. I bet her lawyers were sweating while she answered the questions. She did not do herself any favors.

People who hold racist ideas or use racist language don’t necessarily have neo Nazi tats, shaved heads or sport giant Confederate flags on their pickup trucks.

Racists can dress modestly, own successful businesses, go to church and believe they have good intentions toward the neighbors, even the ones they just insulted with the “N” word. They might be relatives, friends or even *GULP*, us.

Unfortunately, racist ideas are still deeply imbedded in our culture and often unrecognized by those who hold them.

Racial discrimination is not a problem whose time has passed in America. In many ways, its influence is more insidious than in times past when racial discrimination was legal.

In fact, I hear racist comments all the time from people who don’t even seem to notice that they’ve made them. So, I’m compiling a few for you today with the hope that this post will cause us all to examine our words and our attitudes as they relate to the equality of ALL people. 

These are some comments I have heard only recently. I’ve included a tutorial to explain why the statements are racist for those of you who don’t understand why it’s not ok to say things like this. 

You might be racist if you say…

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

“He was a black man but he was very intelligent (or) kind (or) good looking.” 

I’ve heard all of these in their various forms. The problem in this statement is in the “but”. To describe someone by their color and add that “but they’re still ok” infers that you somehow think they are usually inferior in these areas solely based on their color.

A better compliment?

“He is a very intelligent/kind/good looking man.” Just skip the race observation, ‘kay?

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

“She is black and from the South. I don’t know if this has anything to do with her not performing well at her job.”

See #1. If you have a problem with someone’s job performance, address it apart from race.

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

“They are such a friendly/generous people.”

“They may be poor but they’re so much more content than we are.”

or

“I love ‘the people’ of Mexico”

(or Africa, or any country where the majority are not the same color as you).

Really? ALL The people of Mexico? Stereotyping an entire group of people – even with attributes generally considered positive, belittles the complexity of who they are as individuals and reduces them to simplistic, almost “friendly pet” status. In every people group, there are the good, the bad and the indifferent. Don’t lump people together based on their color. That’s like saying all Asians are great pianists. Yup. That is racism.

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

“There are a lot of drunk Indians living in that area. You know they can’t hold their liquor.”

Yes. Someone actually said this to me lately. I almost fell over in shock. Are we living in the Old West? Who still thinks this?

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

This weekend, a friend shared a comment she overheard while working as a makeup artist,

“Your makeup looks really good! No offense, but most Native Americans I see don’t do much to fix themselves up.”  

My response to this besides open-mouthed shock? If you need to say, “No offense” at the start of your comment, it’s probably wise not to finish it.

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

All of these kinds of comments are born out of an outdated, never true, pseudo-scientific belief that a person of color is somehow intellectually, morally and socially inferior to the person making the statement.

Note the use of the word “pseudo”. Meaning, there is no basis in fact for this belief!! Ideas like this motivated our forefathers to enslave people based on their color, to push Mexicans and Indians off their land and imprison Japanese in containment camps during World War 2. Those are just a few shameful examples of the racism that has tainted our history.

From the perspective of a person of faith, I don’t want to be guilty of treating people in any way other than the one Jesus defined for us – with love. In Luke 10, He identified the two greatest commandments  – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself. I encourage you to take a minute and read the story. As I read it, I asked myself, “How can I say I follow Jesus teachings and example if I think I am better than another person?”

A final note on Ms. Deen…

She did take the time to make videos apologizing for her comments to her family, her customers and her many fans. I truly hope she is sincere. But her story is a reminder to us that we all have the opportunity to face, sometimes painful, moments of truth about ourselves. We can either dig in our heels and insist we are right or we can humbly choose to learn a lesson that help us grown into a better version of ourselves. It’s possible that this will be one of those moments for Ms. Deen. It certainly is for me and I hope it is for you too.

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It’s hard to love others if you don’t love yourself first. Take a moment to read a lesson in self love.