Tag Archives: Christianity

Beyond Holy Week

While I was on my spring blogging break, I checked the feed during Holy Week to discover the internet was in shambles.  

window bride

window bride

Lines were drawn in the sands across America. The days leading up to Easter saw pundits throw off their gloves to strangle each other in hand-to-hand combat. Facebook profiles hemorrhaged red equal signs matched by a flow of crosses. Twitter burned with the carnage of our civil discourse about gay marriage.

People ridiculed the Bible and took cheap shots at my faith. Folks in some religious circles seemed to suggest Christians just sit this one out. Political strategists advocated surrender, declaring the issue a lost cause in a zero-sum game. Do we want to be right or win elections? 

Scant little was said about how we might address the actual issue: Can we as a nation find a way to extend legal protections to long-term, monogamous gay couples while at the same time protect the religious liberty of those whose faith prohibits homosexuality? I could have missed it, but I haven’t heard much from either side about an equal-but-different, civil-union-type solution.

Maybe we don’t want a solution as much as we want a fight and a Supreme Court verdict like Roe v. Wade. Forty years later, we all know how well that settled the abortion debate.

My sweet father-in-law served two terms as a county commissioner. During his first campaign in 2000, we discussed Roe v. Wade. He expressed to me the frustration of pro-life Christians who felt blindsided by the 1973 Supreme Court ruling. “It happened,” he said, “and we did nothing.”

I naively thought this marked his generation’s legacy with silence and inaction. After Holy Week this year, I think I understand a little more of how he feels.

Proponents of gay marriage think they’re right and that this is a question of equality. If you express a different opinion, you’re labeled a bigot. On the other hand, many Christians think gay marriage is a threat to First Amendment freedoms and that this as a question of religious liberty. If our federal government “redefines” marriage to legally include both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, where does that leave the church? Where does that leave religious schools and institutions?

Will there be exceptions? Or will the state cross the line and require all churches to perform same-sex marriages, hire homosexual staff, and censor the first chapter of Romans or face prosecution for discrimination and hate crimes? Think it could never happen? Private sector examples like Hobby Lobby, Sweet Cakes Bakery, and Arlene’s Flowers show how eagerly religious liberty is being challenged. Is this too a zero-sum game?

The tidal wave of little equal signs and crosses on Facebook and the tumult of mainstream media bias during Holy Week chilled the dialogue of regular citizens. This debate has instilled fear in people to voice their convictions.

But bullying the opposition into silence isn’t progress.

rick warren quote

image from Pure Purpose on Facebook

Some of us are straight. Some of us are gay. All of us defy GodWe’re all guilty; that’s why we’re all in need of Christ. No one is in a position to condemn. But what does it say about my faith if I’m scared silent to speak what I believe?

EstherShadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and Daniel are in the Bible for a reason. So is the account of Jesus before Pilate. There is Truth that stands alone and isn’t relative to our whims, preferences, culture, courts, or circumstances. 

flag in Reagan National

flag in Reagan National

I disagree with the idea that engaging in the political process and conversation means you’ve traded faith in Christ for faith in government. God has blessed American believers the gifts of freedom of speech and religion, among the many other gifts of our Constitution. We are called to be good stewards of those gifts as much as we are called to be good stewards of all the resources God has given us. Use it or lose it.

No one enjoys being the object of ridicule, spite, and retaliation. We hope bullying doesn’t happen and we answer it with grace as best we can when it does. Christ promised that people would hate Christians the same way they hated Him. In all this, God is sovereign; His plans will be accomplished.

Americans may never unanimously agree on social issues like gay marriage and abortion. But I hold out hope we can find ways to live alongside each other in peace, with respect for our different beliefs, and under the protection of our Constitution. 

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. John 18:36-38 NIV

How are you processing the events of Holy Week?


Filed under America, faith

Merry Christmas from everyday epistle

snowy Christmas

first snow of winter, 12.20.12

He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John 1:10-14 NLT

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Filed under faith

Jesus and the Bicycle

Jesus didn’t have a bicycle. If He had, I wonder if He would have used it to teach us how to follow God and help others do the same.

bike on the path to follow God

on the path

You can’t ride a bicycle for someone else. You may steady them as they start and run alongside until they pedal. But you can’t push them all the way.

Once they get going, you may ride behind them to watch for cars, in front of them to cross streets, beside them to buffer against traffic.

You might catch your breath when they nearly collide with trees or learn to use the hand breaks or jump off before a complete stop.

They’ll have spills and accidents.

They’ll have boo-boos and band-aids.

You’ll encourage them to get up and try again.

Sometimes you’ll fall, too. You’ll remember, and they’ll see, you’re imperfect like they are. You’ll get up again. So will they.

In an unexpected moment, you’ll notice they’re tracking with you. They don’t need your help as much. You’ll stop by the water and enjoy the view together.

bike stop by the water, follow God

rest stop

You don’t easily forget how to ride a bike once you learn. You carry it through life and it carries you.

Pass it on.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV

I’m With You by the sweet voices of Nichole Nordeman and Amy Grant.

Who helps you follow God? Who are you helping?


Filed under faith

The Parable of the Toner

Clinique Step 2 Skin Type 1

step 2

Riddle me this. What does toner do exactly?

Not the laser printer kind. The skincare kind. I know it’s supposed to exfoliate. Every skincare program includes it. But it’s way too harsh for my very dry skin.

I tell the whitecoats at Clinique I won’t use their Clarifying Lotion toner. I’ll skip Step 2 in the 3-Step.

“Oh, no! You can’t do that!” they say. “You just need another formulation. You must exfoliate with a Clarifying Lotion in Step 2.”

Must. A small but mighty manipulative word.

There are skincare lines that boast of a kinder, gentler exfoliation. A-thousand-points-of-light toners, smelling of orange blossoms and chamomile. Might as well splash cold tea or rose water on my face.

Seriously, what does toner do? Is it necessary when an occasional 7 Day Scrub does the trick to get rid of dead skin cells?

Daily cleansing and moisturizing is what my skin needs to be healthy. Like confession and restoration. Toner is optional. Like legalism in a bottle.

very dry to dry

very dry to dry

It’s an added step. An upstanding thing to do perhaps. A requirement by those who added it. Usually does more harm than good. Absolutely not a deal breaker to get the desired results.

I don’t want to get by with less than what I need or less than what’s best. But I don’t want the unnecessary, heavy, drying burden of add-ons either.

I can’t earn salvation with add-ons. I can’t earn salvation with faith plus add-ons. Faith alone brings salvation and inspires actions of courage and obedience. There’s no earning to it on my part.

My time’s too precious to succumb to legalism. My skin’s too dry to use toner.

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NLT

You tell me I’ve been made Free, by Dara Maclean. Sing it, sister.

Have you ever encountered legalism? How did you let go of it or have you?

Disclaimer: I’m not being compensated to promote Clinique, nor do I mean to pick on them. Personally, I like and use Clinique products. Just not the toner.


Filed under faith, humor, women's studies

Get on the Bus

Some things should go without saying. When in doubt, you can usually find a sign to help like this one I spotted last week.

no boarding after bus leaves curb

no boarding after bus leaves curb

Cracks me up. Of course there’s no boarding after bus leaves curb. Theoretically, it would be moving! Doors closed. Game over.

Life’s like that.

We have one life and one death. No reincarnation. No do-overs or second chances from the grave. We die and face judgment. We face God.

But Christ also died once. In Him there is salvation without condemnation, the assurance of eternal life.

What? No one ever told you?

Consider this is your sign. Your ride is parked at the curb. The doors are open. Get on the bus.

And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27-28 NLT

Funk musician Frankie Smith says, “Get on the bus!” The Double Dutch Bus.

Will you sit with me on the bus?


Filed under faith

A Taste for Cat Food

My dog Ella loves cat food. To her it’s a delicacy.

Gracie the princess cat

Gracie the princess cat

Ella went with us to Kansas City where we visited a friend who owns a cat named Gracie. Ella approached Gracie, tail a wagging. The feline was reserved.

As the humans visited, we lost track of our animal children. Then we heard it.

“Hiss! Spat! Smack!”

We turned to see the cat retract as the dog slid across the entryway floor. An investigation told the story.

Ella had sniffed out Gracie’s bowl of cat food and devoured every last morsel. She was still licking her muzzle to erase the evidence. But the cat knew the dog’s crime and was not pleased.

There’s something in cat food Ella finds irresistible.

The higher protein content? The smell of fish? The fact that it’s not for dogs?

She’s been known to raid litter boxes and ingest deposits left in our yard by cats traveling through, all for trace amounts of that something. We stop her the second we catch her in this undignified behavior. We scold her. But the temptation is too great.

She gets dog food. Good dog food. The expensive kind we have to buy from the veterinarian. She ignores it until she’s sure there will be no table scraps, no milk in the bottom of cereal bowls after breakfast, and no cat food.


Ella the baby dog

Gracie’s mom Janis thinks I need to get a cat. All true writers have a cat, she says. Low barrier to entry. I can do this one.

Besides, my son wants a Siamese cat named Bill or an orange tabby named Teddy. I could probably talk him into a gray named Louie. If only we could convince my husband, the cat magnet who insists he doesn’t like cats.

Ella votes with her eyebrows (terriers have eyebrows) and ears.

“Would you like a puppy?” No response.

“A bunny?” Slight ear prick.

“How about a cat?” Her eyebrows and ears stand at attention.

“Yes,” they say, “with cat food, please.”

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. James 1:14 NLT

S.O.S by Rihanna, the woman with more than 57 million Facebook likes to date.

What’s your cat food?


Filed under faith, humor

The Curious Case of Transferential Homesickness

Homesickness must be a result of The Fall. How else did it become so ingrained in my psyche?

Welcome to Wichita, Kansas, All-America City

welcome to Wichita

I haven’t cried much over our move from St. Louis to Wichita. That is, not until we visited St. Louis two weeks ago.

I cried in church and at the hotel. I cried for the people we visited and the people we missed seeing this trip. I teared up at Ladue Nails, the zoo, and the Galleria.

When I lived in St. Louis, I couldn’t wait to leave. Whistle me Dixie and send me packing to North Carolina where I was raised. Where life is normal.

Now that I live in Wichita, I’m still homesick for The South. But I also long for the Lou, where life is normal.

“I’m homesick,” I said to my husband. “But I’m not sure for what!”

“You’re homesick for everything and everyone we’ve known,” he said.

Well, that about covers it.

Sometimes I think my husband could be happy living in a van down by the river. Or on a farm. Or in a city. Or a small town. Or just about anywhere else you can imagine. His parents gave him luggage for graduation if that tells you anything.

But I pine for a sense of place. I feel a need to belong somewhere.

Chicago downtown river view

my kind of town, Chicago is

I’ve belonged several somewheres on our tour de relocation, and now I miss them all. Even Chicago looks inviting.

If there ever comes a time when we leave Wichita to go home, where will that be exactly? Will I miss Kansas then the way I miss my former homes today?

Transference is a psychoanalytic concept meaning the inappropriate redirection of feelings from one relationship to another. Sigmund Freud came up with it, so take it with a grain of salt.

Transference occurs between people. I wonder if it can happen between a person and a place, too. Like Scarlett O’Hara and the red earth of Tara.

Those struck by locational transference struggle through life in a never-ending episode of homesickness. Missing, missing, always missing. A framework of loss their only constant.

Reframing is another therapy concept. It dares to find a different way to look at things.

Maybe the never-ending episode is really a pursuit of Home. The people and the familiar. The smells and seasons. The moments of contentment, love, and belonging taken for granted. The state of normal once found in a place and time.

We forge new relationships as life moves along—we have to. But this lingering homesickness accompanies us. It reminds us to embrace contentment where we find it because things may change tomorrow. It drives us on to recapture a place we left behind a long time ago. A place called Home.

They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that… from Hebrews 11:13-16 The Message

me and Steven Curtis Chapman at the airport in Nashville

me & Steven Curtis Chapman

Long Way Home is the latest from my favorite singer with three names Steven Curtis Chapman. Remember the time we were on the same plane to Nashville?

Have you ever been homesick? How did you move forward?

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Filed under faith, life