Saturday, October 08, 2016

Distractions




Distraction.  Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a distraction as: something that makes it difficult to think or pay attention; something that amuses or entertains you so that you do not think about problems, work, etc.; a state in which you are very annoyed or upset.  I was distracted this week.  While not a new occurrence, I usually handle my distractions exactly as Merriam-Webster describes!  I had a hard time thinking and paying attention to what I needed to (school and research project) and I was very annoyed or upset (not that uncommon either).  The difference this week, though, was what I did while “distracted.”  Instead of spinning my wheels and wasting time, I read verses over and over again.  I re-read emails sent as encouragement to me as a Quaker woman called to pastoral ministry and others reminded me of God’s provision.  I looked up things I had prayed for and saw some AWESOME answers to prayer that I had not gone back and thanked God for.  So, I did it this week.  I looked for ways to remind myself of God’s provision and care in my life and the lives of those I love and care about.  I claimed them as assurance and promise for the plans He has for me.  One lesson I learned this week was while some distractions are negative and serve no other purpose than to take our eyes OFF Jesus, some distractions are needed to stop thinking about unimportant things and focus ON Jesus!  Not all distractions are bad – this week the rabbit trails I went down took me down paths of hope, assurance, affirmation, and calling. 

Like others, I can get caught in a cycle of selfishness, thinking if something is connected to me in some way then in must be about me in some way.  Thankfully, I learned another lesson this week in which the Holy Spirit stepped in and made it very clear to me that what I was worried about was not about me at all but about Satan fighting for me.  It was AMAZING to hear the Holy Spirit say, “This is my battle.”  I am not sure I have ever felt the Holy Spirit physically stand between me and Satan but I did this week.  There was a physical barrier and I just have to say, it was “goosebumps” awesome! 

I John 5:18, “I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me!”

“I have been rescued from Satan’s domain and transferred into the kingdom of Christ” (Col. 1:13).

“I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God” (2 Cor. 1:21, 22).

At the end of the week, I can say, with assurance, the words to the song I have been singing, “It is well!”

 
 References

Distraction. (n.d.). Retrieved October 8, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distraction
 
#HolySpirit #QuakerWomen #Deliverance

Sunday, September 11, 2016

This is My Song - A Song of Peace



This is My Song - A Song Of Peace 

(Finlandia)

By Sibelius and Stone


This is my song
O God of all the nations
For song of peace
For lands afar and mine
This is my home the country where
My heart is here are my hopes
My dreams my holy shrine
But other hearts in other
Lands are beating with hopes and
Dreams as true and high as mine


My country's skies
Are bluer than the ocean
And sunlight beams
On cloverleaf and pine
But other lands have sunlight
Too and clover
And skies are everywhere
As blue as mine
O hear my song
Thou God of all the nations
A song of peace for
Their land and for mine

I will never forget 9/11, and the aftermath that occurred.  I believe the same God who holds me in the palm of his hand is holding my brothers and sisters of every nation in the same palm.  

Falling to my knees.  Break this spoiled American girl so she can see through humble and loving eyes to the hurting people in her path each day.  

#peace #anthem #myprayer

Friday, September 09, 2016

Worship - Our First Response?

(Bible journaling by someone else)
Job 1: 10-12: Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”  12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

I'll call this next section, "Round 1."  Messenger after messenger came, before the previous one was done speaking another arrived and told Job of yet another calamity - each one being life-altering experiences.  Three different occurrences against his livestock where they were either stolen (Job 1: 15, 17), or burned (v. 16); his servants were killed at all three of these blows and finally, a monstrous blow to Job, all of his children were killed (v. 19).  


There is no preparing for some news: the dreaded call from the doctor, the news your family is being broken through divorce, death, expected is hard; unexpected death is debilitating.  





For some of us, we see different seasons of our lives as times of hardship, growth, or misery but for most of us, the season ends and with it, we find new life.  Some of us have one long season of pain - chronic pain with no end in sight.  


I am in a new and different place right now.  It is unknown and uncomfortable and honestly, I like the known and I am a tad embarrassed to admit it, but I am partial to comfort.  


I am strategically praying for God to move in some mighty ways regarding this crazy financial situation we find ourselves in (broke; not poor), and I selfishly pray that I will not succumb to asking God, "Why?" and question His ability to care for us.  You see, what Job does right after hearing that all of his children are dead, is worship God: 


20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,    and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;    may the name of the Lord be praised.”
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
While all of these verses are worthy of attention, particularly worship being the first response when we are hit with life-rocking news, God keeps drawing me to verse 22, not charging God with wrongdoing.  While this little bit from the entire book is not an exegesis by any form, it is where God spoke to me today and reminded me what I should be doing now:

1) WORSHIP GOD


2) Do NOT complain to God about what He is doing - this would be charging God with wrongdoing. 


3) PRAY


4) Give thanks - live eucharisteo!     




I do not know where you are today, but if you, like me, have been knocked down and are trying to figure out where your life is going, just stop and spend time worshiping God.  You will not regret the time spent in worship; at least I don't.  Even though I have a list that needs done a mile long, worship realigns my heart to God's and if nothing else changes, that is more than I could ask for and more than I deserve.   


Here is a two-hour set of worship songs (with lyrics) for you to sing along with.  Just click on the arrow:


 #worship #eucharisteo

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Speaking Up

This post serves to do several things: share my personal reflections from Northwest Yearly Meeting 2016 Annual Sessions, call attention to misuse of voices speaking on behalf of others, invite people to read the Faith and Practice and know what they agreed to support, and question the use of social media during business meetings.  

I walked into the second Friends college dining hall just days after leaving the previous one.  It took me a minute to realize what I was feeling and then it hit me - I could sit at any table WITHOUT fear for my beliefs.  My heart opened to feelings of life, peace, excitement, and unity!  I was among like-minded Friends and it was the food my soul needed.  

In order for you to understand what a life-giving experience that was for me, you have to feel the constraints I had felt less than a week prior.  My heart was in a vice that tightened with each passing hour.  Hours where I listened to Friends speak their peace about the Elder's decision to release West Hills Friends Church (WHFC).  Hours with an upset stomach and head hurting over the tension and turmoil among my church family.  




It was clear from the first meeting that there was not a fair representation of our yearly meeting present.  This is one of the hardships of having a yearly meeting span three states with 400+ miles to travel to attend these annual sessions.  This is the reason we have the Council of the Representatives - "members of local faith communities who have been chosen, prayerfully, on the basis of spiritual maturity, respected judgment, and acceptance of Friends beliefs and procedures as set forth in this book of Faith and Practice" (NWYM Faith and Practice, 2011, p. 41).  These representatives of the local meetings provide equality throughout the entire yearly meeting; preventing meetings closer to the meetings to have a louder voice.  

Read the Faith and Practice!  A requirement of being a representative is, "acceptance of Friends beliefs and procedures as set forth in this book of Faith and Practice" (p. 41).  You appear ignorant when you stand and speak things that are contrary to the description - and I know you are NOT ignorant!  You are intelligent and want to speak factually so make sure you are.  It is easier to hear what you are saying when what you say is true.  

One thing that appalled me was how many of the representatives, of which I am one, were ill-informed of what the representatives "job" was!  They spoke of things that were not true and when I spoke to them personally, the responses varied from "I guess I need to read that" to "I did not know that is what I agreed to,"  

Read the job description before agreeing to it.  Churches - make sure the people you appoint meet the requirements!  

Another appalling thing was how many people stood and spoke on behalf of an entire group but they were not that group's representative nor had they taken the time to speak to other people in that group.  For example, youth would stand and say that "the youth...." and when I asked other youth including my children if there had been any discussions regarding this, they said no.  In reality, the person speaking was only reiterating what they and their like minded friends talked about; this is not representation or making sure each person has a voice.  It is misleading to people to say a group feels or believes something when you have only addressed a specific population of that group.  I am not picking on youth here.  Young adults stood and said that since they had been involved in youth ministries they felt led to share what they had learned from youth.  Later, I asked these people if they had attended any camps in Idaho and the answer was "no."  

Same thing with young adults.  Young adults would stand and speak as if they were representing an entire population!  An Idaho pastor, also a young adult, stood and testified, "We don't fit the narrative that younger minorities would leave the yearly meeting if WHFC is released."  Idaho has an active young adult group who meets and studies the Bible together.  They did pages worth of discernment and in the end got signatures affirming their statement of affirmation of the Elder's decision.  This group has a representative and she was there.  She was allowed 3 minutes to speak on behalf of this entire group and when she ran out of time, there was not another Idaho young adult to stand and continue the dialogue - something Oregon young adults did not face.  They live close enough they can easily attend and having lopsided representation does not benefit our yearly meeting.  It hurts it.  

Do not speak for other people! Unless you are an official representative for a specific group, PLEASE stop speaking on other people's behalf!  

An extremely disturbing phenomenon this year was the role social media played in our business meetings.  People, mainly from the Newberg area, tweeted (one live tweeted) what they wanted people to hear.  This was grossly misrepresented and makes me sick to think that while I was doing my best to listen to others and more importantly, the Holy Spirit, people were busy tweeting and allowing their bias to reflect what was said.  

Example:  Eric M. tweeted that Julie P, clerk of WHFC, stood and said she had never felt more loved than she had this past year.  End of tweet.  What he never followed up with was what she said next; which was most pertinent to the conversation at hand, "If we want people to honor the process we went through then we need to honor their (the Elder's) process.  I AFFIRM THEIR DECISION!"  Please just sit on that for a minute.  This was a monumental testimony of trusting our elders and honoring the process they went through for years.  

If you search #nwym2016 you will find many tweets.  On my 8 hour drive home I scrolled the feed and was dismayed and offended by the distorted slant a member of the Administrative Council, Eric M., took on our meeting.  Of these many tweets, you will find some from me.  One voice on twitter among many different voices crying out for people to realize that the twitter feed is NOT a representation of what took place this year.  In fact, one tweet was particularly offensive:



It took me a minute to realize I was being labeled homophobic!  I looked up the definition in Merriam Webster, just to be sure I really did know what it meant (I did): "irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals."

I was (and am) offended that my affirming the EIGHT YEAR process the Elders went through, walking along side WHFC, and that I believed they followed the procedures set forth in the Faith and Practice, would make me homophobic!  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  I have good friends and family that I love dearly who are gay.  This decision was not about changing our faith and practice, it was about confirming the Elders followed procedures and did not do anything outside of faith and practice in releasing WHFC to minister as they feel led and called to; which happens to be outside the parameters set in our Faith and Practice.  Until such time as that changes, I believe our Elders acted in the best interest of both parties, WHFC and NWYM, by releasing WHFC to minister and calling NWYM to do the hard work that is before us; and I do not believe this makes me homophobic and I refuse to be labeled one.  

Social media did not reflect the diversity in our yearly meeting.    

For a different perspective than mine, Brandon Baker shared his reflections here. While he is grateful for the live tweets, I am not.  I feel they were biased and misrepresented what happened.  Only quotes that aligned with what he wanted portrayed were used and I could not find one quote from the number of people who stood and affirmed the elder's decision.  


Brandon is one of the only ones who asked me to share my reflections from yearly meeting - after he saw my tweets.  Thank you, Brandon.  I hear the request to speak up but in the past when I have done so, I leave the conversation feeling attacked and belittled for sharing.  But I will speak up.  I will stand up.  I will speak for myself and not allow others to speak on my behalf without my permission.  I do not have to be strong because 
"He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).  





If you comment, be respectful.  I maintain the right to delete any comment I perceive as rude or offensive so please keep that in mind should you chose to comment.  Thank you.

#nwym2016 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Make Your Own History



God keeps reminding me that how I live each day right now is me writing my history.  A history that will be shared with others in the future.  What do I want to be able to say?  That we were miserable, discontent, and questioned God's plan OR that in spite of all the unknowns, we trusted God, made the most of our circumstances, and chose joy? Being a place we do not want to last long is fine but how we handle that time is up to us.  


Each day I have choice to make: "Do I trust God to take care of me?"  Will I chose to keep my eyes focused on Him rather than focusing on the problems at hand? Especially the significant problems that appear life changing to me in this moment?  

How will I spend my time?  Stressed, unhappy, and caustic or will I cast my cares upon God, spend more time in His word, and on my knees in prayer? 

At the end of the day, what do I want my testimony to be?  That is how I must I live!  Some of the most meaningful testimonies I have heard are of people going through hard times, choosing joy, trusting God, doing hard things, and staying faithful.  Through deaths, financial stress and/or ruin, divorce, cancer, chronic pain, or relationship issues, people I know testify to God's goodness and the life they lived revealed the Holy Spirit at work in and through their lives. 



I want that.  I have that.  What I chose to do each day is on me, and me alone.  What do you want your history to say?  You are already writing it so think about what you want the remaining chapters to say.  

#preachingtomyself #queries #walkthetalk #makehistory

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Man Chasing After Jesus

In the movie "War Room," Priscilla Shirer, aka Elizabeth, says, "I would rather have a man chasing after Jesus than a house full of stuff."  When I heard this, tears sprung to my eyes, because it is exactly what I needed to hear in the midst of our transition.  YES!  YES!  YES!


I do not tell Roy or others often enough what a wonderful man I am married to.  If you moved, there is a a 99% chance my husband assisted in some way - usually in the form of a trailer, pick-up, and muscles.

Church work days?  He's one of the first ones there and last to leave, gathering all the supplies to make it possible to actually do the needed chores.

Quaker Hill Work Weekend?  When not attending a graduation for our little school, he is the one you'll see on the roof tops.


 He has taught all of our children the value of hard work and doing things the right way the first time:


What's more is he build things for his wifey, me, that he does not even want!  Like this chicken coop, here.  He hates chickens... but loves fresh eggs, so we compromised and got chickens.



Beyond work, he is the one encouraging and supporting our children's sense of adventure:


I was thinking this morning that on Mother's Day people rave about single moms and how hard it is to be a single mom and how they have to be both mother and father... when I married my husband, he was a single dad.  He has always been a wonderful daddy and I am so honored to journey with him in life as we parent all our children and learn how to be better parents as we grow up, too.

Thanks, Roy.  Let's Hear it for the Boy!  You are my man!


Happy Father's Day, honey.  As we transition into a different phase of life, I know I can do it because you are at my side.  Home is where we are.  As cheesy as it sounds, it true - we make a house a home and I think we do a pretty good job of it no matter the building, or how big or small it is.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Shatter the Silence - Sexual Assault Awareness Month


I needed to watch a training video (complete Sexual Abuse Safety System for Camps and Conference Centers) to volunteer at camp...

My case was nearly textbook in every example. From the grooming, to the keeping secrets, to accidental touch, to the long term effects it had on me: depression, mood change, and alcohol abuse, the list goes on. I was crying while watching it and as I started to sink into “stinking thinking,” I was prompted to claim the blood of Jesus and His power. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39, NRSV). I am thanking Jesus I am restored, healed by him and no longer controlled by the actions of a man I had no control over.

I have grown so much spiritually and am grateful that I am able to hear the softest voice prompting me to remain in Him.

Ministry Safe provided the training I took and it is extremely well done and "spot on" from my perspective and experience.  They include a section about the "gatekeepers," the people responsible for keeping the children safe and again, textbook example of my experience.  

Family Watchdog allows you to search for  offenders in any area you chose (city, zip code, school zone, etc.) and is FREE.  However, as Ministry Safe says, "Checking for criminal convictions alone will not protect children in children's programs. Statistically, less than 10 percent of sexual offenders are ever criminally prosecuted, because children do not report abuse until years later, if ever. As a result, approximately 90 percent of offenders have no criminal record to check."  Yet another reason careful screening of volunteers is important.  

If you are a volunteer and are required to go through training, have a background ran on you, and character references, not to mention interview questions that are unexpected, PLEASE submit to the process with the understanding that lives are at stake and whatever measures the ministry deems necessary are for their protection, which is what we should all desire: safe places for our children to grow up.  

Here is an excerpt from my biography, 
Things took a bad turn for me when I was 15.  Unfortunately, the choice of another hurt me deeply and I became a rape victim.  For five years, I kept this incident a secret but my behaviors and personality took a turn for the worse.  I was no longer content and joyful.  I lived with knowing that God could have stopped it from happening and chose not to.  I resented Him for that.  
 By the time I was 20, I was faced with helping someone else who had been raped by the same man and I released the burden I had been carrying alone for years.  My family was supportive and loving through the whole process.  Through counseling, I slowly was able to see that God still loved me and had not given up on me.

There are many sites for you to go to for professional help and suggestions.  These are my own.
What to do/not do when someone tells you they were sexually assaulted:

  1. Do NOT suggest in the slightest that they did something to provoke the attack!  
  2. Do NOT ever say:
    "What did she expect when she dressed that way."
    "If she hadn't gone to that party then she wouldn't have been raped."
    "She shouldn't have drank so much."
    "She should have been paying better attention."
    "What did she think would happen?"
    "I hate to say it but, I'm not surprised."
  3. Do NOT compare rape stories to someone else's experience.  If it is your own story, you will have a better idea of what they need to hear.  If it is not your own experience, do not offer someone else's story for comfort.  
  4. Do NOT sympathize with the offender with statements like, "He is sick," "He was drunk," and never say, "Boys will be boys"!  
  5. Know that you are a special person in which this survivor is trusting you!  With that in mind, DO say empathetic statements like, "I have no idea what you are going through but I am so sorry." 
  6. DO offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.  Healing takes years and knowing people won't tell you to "move on," "let it go," or "I wish things were like they were before" is a very powerful tool for the survivor to have.  
  7. Just be there.  Don't try to fix it, solve it, or treat the situation as a problem that needs addressed.  Listen, empathize, love, and support the survivor and their families.  
  8. Remember the family but focus on the survivor.  
If you are in a position that requires you to report the incident, NEVER promise you won't tell.  Report the abuse to your supervisor immediately.  If you are not in a position that is require to report abuse and it is has not been reported, offer to be there with them when they report it, stand by their side, and encourage them to report the abuse.  (This is not legal advise, this is a non-professional survivor speaking).

I could go on but focusing on Sexual Abuse Awareness Month, be aware!  Watch this video by a mom and BE AWARE!  

#notavictim #survivor #morethanconquerors #shatterthesilence