Archive for January, 2010

Hey gang it’s a looooong one, but it has some great news for me.
 
Sunday, June 8, 2008 (5:01pm)
The Space Between…

The older I get the more time seems to fly by. Part of that is due to my somewhat crazy work schedule. I get up every day and work at making it through. The next day I do the same. I try to really live in the moment while I’m there with each person I encounter. But still the months race by… the years race by. More and more I’m becoming convinced that time is the most precious commodity of anything we possess. To be continued.Sunday, June 29, 2008 (1:05am)
Ah… see what I mean. 21 days went by… in a heartbeat. For me, the lack of writing normally doesn’t mean “no news.” A lot of times it’s because there are so many things going on that are so meaningful, that I can’t figure out how to condense them into a few phrases. My private journal is considerably more full. Even there sometimes it’s hard to put into words the inner working of my warped brain, or my spirit. I looked back and realized that for the most part, since February, there’s been only silliness in my blog with the exception of a heartfelt prayer for peace and a remembrance of a dear friend.

I think we all have those things that occupy the space between. They make their presence known late at night when we can’t sleep, or we are weary… sometimes they are fleeting memories that show up in the midst of great joy. Sometimes for me they happen in one on one encounters here in my teaching room, late night at Barnes and Noble or out to eat with someone. Sometimes it’s triggered by reading someone else’s blog.

So many times lately I’ve had those kinds of people encounters where I wished that I had a video camera running to record the moment. Some of those moments I wish I could share with all of you. There are times when the things that come out of my students mouths (especially the young ones) take my breath away at how they see life… how they get what’s important about living and God and loving people.

There is one little boy whose father has to travel a lot for business. Most of the kids I teach like that are almost always angry at their fathers for their not being around. This little boy loves his dad though… and more than that, he knows how much his dad loves him. Every week he tells me about the stuff they do together and the trips they make together. I hear stories of his dad moving heaven and earth to get back early from business trips to make it to his talent shows and activities. I wish his dad could hear him talk, and I made a mental note to call his dad and thank him for being a great father and let him know I see it all over in the life of his son.

This time in the space between, something amazing has happened in my life. That’s what originally caused me to start this blog back on the eighth. Anyone who’s known me for any length of time knows my sketchy church history. I’m like the Typhoid Mary of Churchdom. I’ve been in more churches that have had horrible things going on… both dealt with and swept under the rug… with sin and corruption and pain and pastoral flameouts… you name it… I’ve been there right in the middle of it. At the end of the day, much more than being angry or bitter, it has left me on one hand with a lot of grief for all the brokenness and loss, and a sense of thankfulness on the other hand for the mercy of God and His ability to bring new life out of the pain.

There aren’t many things in my life that I deeply regret… but there was one that left a huge pool of grief for years. In the early 90’s, due to some circumstances out of either of our control, I felt like the best and most loving thing I could do was to step away from a relationship with one of my best friends, music partner, and also a partner in ministry, who happened to also be a pastor’s wife. For me, and other women in our close knit group, it was hard because we so wanted to be there for her and her son. Through all these years I’ve continued to pray for her and her family and I’ve missed her. I’ve missed having the chance to see her son grow up. Every time I’ve gone out to play, I’ve thought that she would have totally loved what we were doing. And for all these years I’ve hoped that one day there would be a way to make it right.

Recently, I heard that there were some major changes getting ready to happen in her life… and I knew that I knew that I knew that it was time to contact her again, although I had no idea how she would respond. When I called her, she called me right back… and on June 8th, at nine in the evening at Barnes and Noble, we saw each other for the first time since around 1993.

In all these years we never ran into each other. To me when I was contemplating calling her I was blown away by how long it had been when I stopped to do the math. For me the space between 98 when my husband became ill and now has been one huge blur of work and medical bills. It seemed like yesterday when I saw her last. It was like the years just melted away and we had a great time catching up on a lot of missing years. We are both older and grayer and more tired, and yet, even with everything I think we are both at a point of looking forward to this new season in our lives. Last night we went to dinner at a place I eat at all the time… and it turns out her son, who’s now in his twenties works there and I have talked to him before. I remember looking at him and almost asking him if he was her son.  Perhaps I’ll have a chance to spend some time with the young man I loved so much as a young boy. There’s so much more to the story, but it’s still in process… to be continued.

All of it though has made me really stop and think about a lot of things, including why we who are a part of the “Christian subculture” will allow things from pastors we would never allow from people who were just showing up on Sunday mornings. Pastors these days only get canned if they get caught in some heinous act. The last few weeks have made me think that maybe we should start with really looking at how they love and care for their families. If they can’t do that, then maybe it doesn’t matter what a “gifted speaker” they are. Perhaps instead of bowing out, I should have stayed at my friend’s side and become an even bigger pain in her husband’s back side. There’s no way of knowing for sure. But I did apologize to her for not being there. I know too that I need to write her son too and apologize for not finding a way to let him know what was going on and for disappearing out of his life… and to apologize too for all the crap he had to go through at the hands of the church.

I am so thankful for that opportunity. I’m happy to be able to see her reconnecting with other old friends. I know they are so glad to see her too. In the end, real church is about being family… and continuing to love.

So, I’ve rambled on long enough for now. There’s so much more I could say… and probably will somewhere down the line. Let me just say that I am one thankful girl. And such a weight has been lifted.

I’m reminded of one of my favorite portions of the Bible, that has been so true for me in Psalm 126…
1 When the LORD brought back the captives to
Zion, we were like men who dreamed.

2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

Advertisements
This was first posted on a strange Bible disussion group I have on myspace called Bible Blah Blah… it is quite the wacky group of people who participate This is a subject close to my heart though so I thought I would post it here too. I would love your feedback… thanks!

Sunday, February 17, 2008 (3:56pm)
FROM MY MYSPACE BLOG

What I Long For…
Hi everyone… this will be long… sorry about that… but if you can, please read it though and see what you think…

Here it is Sunday afternoon. I slept in this morning. Frankly, I didn’t have much choice. Sometimes the combo of the 60 -70 hour workweek and the exhaustion I have wins out over waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed to go to church. Exhaustion will do that to me. I was thinking today that it’s been who knows how many months since I’ve actually made it to the church that I call myself a part of. I like the people… heck I love some of the people a lot. The music guy I consider a good friend who’s like a little brother that I love and pray for, and try to help when I can. In the last few months there have been a precious few weeks where I woke up early enough feeling good enough to go. I even got ready… and I sat here and evaluated. When I really thought about it, I just couldn’t bring myself to go again to a big building, hike in from the parking lot, and sit there with a bunch of people listening to one guy talk and then leave again without any real human contact. Lest you think I’m just being some anti-social curmudgeon standing around waiting for someone to make the effort to talk to me Me ME… that’s no the case. Anyone who knows me knows that complete strangers tell me their whole life story on a regular basis and that I know half the people on the planet. There’s just not a lot of place for that to happen. There’s not a culture there that says that maybe we should really enjoy hanging out with each other.

One of our Bible blah blah gang named Laura wrote a great blog a little while ago about going off to church and ending up sitting somewhere listening to music and reading instead. Laura often writes blogs that are wonderfully raw and poignant at the same time. In her quest to connect with God in a more real way she manages to put her finger on so much of what’s been rattling around inside of me for a long time too. I’m thankful that sometimes she manages to give voice to something that is such a part of me but hard to communicate.

I think when it comes down to it, Laura and I, and probably some of you too are really longing for a sense of community… of family… of having some people that you can just be yourself with and talk about those things that really are going on in your soul. I have some friends I’ve known for years. Some of us have gone to hell and back together… horrible church experiences… normal life things… we’ve grown up together… we’ve suffered loss together… we have shared funny or bizarre experiences together. We’ve fallen flat on our faces… or even run away from God and/or each other… and yet there’s that bond that’s still there. It’s probably stronger because of all the crap. When I see their lives, I’m reminded of a good God who still holds on to both of us. I see the depth of their lives and our lives together because of all the good, the bad, the horribly painful, and the wonderful and crazy things we’ve shared.

That’s the way I feel about pretty much everyone here, except for the few of you who I haven’t had a chance to get to know yet. (And I’m sure that’s only a matter of time.) When I think of the church I think of that kind of group… that’s lived through so much together that they are more comfortable being with each other and being human. I love my friend that I know will love me regardless of how screwed up I am at any given moment and who, as it says in 1 Corinthians 13 “hopes the best” from me. I personally think you are all amazing people for a bunch of reasons. You’re bright and creative. Most of you have lived through a lot of stuff and still have amazingly good senses of humor. A lot of you, like me, have sort of a tenuous relationship with the traditional church at best. But all of us have a hunger… a desire to connect with God in a real way… and with other people as well.

I would like to propose that we ARE the church when we meet each other… whether it’s on each other’s myspace pages or late at night at a restaurant, or at Chuck E. Cheese with a giant rat running around, or in the parking lot after some get together, freezing out butts off but enjoying our conversation and laughing with each other… or on the phone… or via email… or… or… I would like to propose that here on the Bible blah blah page we can discuss anything that is stirring in our hearts or is troubling us. That can be stirred up by the Bible reading or not. As most of us talked about… I don’t expect any of us to be up on the reading, although we can always discuss that too. But I would love to be able to meet here and talk about the real concerns of our souls and to enjoy each other’s company.

So, what do you guys think? You up for that too? I just know that you guys would enjoy each other as much as I do. Anyone else feeling sort of adrift in the church department? I know that for me, when I do have that sense of connectedness with some people, it’s easier for me to brave the institutional church a little more too.

Many times my little music students will ask me what church I go to. I always find myself telling them about the church I go to. What I would really like to tell them is that I get to be a part of the church each week, here at my house with some of my students, online, etc…. Anyway, I would love to hear from you guys about all this too.

RESPONSES TO THE BLOG
 
LAURA POSTED
Hey Linda B – thx for the blog mention. 🙂 Raw and poignant – I’ll have to use that in my press release. 😉 Seriously, glad you dig it.I’ve joined Bible BLah Blah but have yet to make a contribution, I know. Be patient…I’ll get to “church” eventually…. 🙂 I am still working out my connectedness issues on many levels.

RHONDA POSTED…
This was Rhonda’s quote on the blah blah page:”Linda, I feel exactly as you do. I rarely go to the traditional church these days even though Dennis was a priest who served faithfully until his death. I find more Christian community in my online and in-person friends. For me as the token Anglo-Catholic of the group, my biggest reason for still going to the Big Building is to receive Eucharist. (It was easier when I was married to my own personal priest!… lol) But as for community, I don’t find that at all “in church.” Yesterday was Sunday, and I found myself at a jazz in the garden concert here in Phoenix. Some of the musicians are God-oriented and I found them weaving bits and pieces of hymns into sections of the music. Sitting outside, surrounded by nature, listening to people offer up the gift of their creativity to God, I felt like there was more heartfelt worship taking place in that setting than inside the Big Building.”I was thinking about how much I enjoy that kind of thing. I was thinking about the church I’m a part of. I love the music. I enjoy the sermons. I like the leaders. I think the leaders really want more interaction taking place too, and for people to connect more. Maybe it has to do with the culture we live in some and how we view large meetings. Also, because I go to a church that’s primarily gen-x, the whole way they do connectedness is different… they’ve grown up connecting via technology. I’ll see if maybe I can have my friend Jobey, the music director join in the discussion and see what he thinks.

BRIAN POSTED…
Linda,I agree that church is not only more than the music and sermon, I argue probably that it is NOT the music and sermon, but human interaction to spur us to interaction with a living God. That’s why I concur with you that we are the church no matter where we are. I do, however, believe that without some tangible human touch, we don’t stand a chance just to be the church ourselves. Where people can help us with our troubles, push the enemy of our soul away, and encourage us to engage in this life of enjoying our heavenly Dad. In this kind of interaction, we find many things probably too deep to discuss here right now. I don’t get to myspace that often, but I will try to throw my 2 cents worth in. Love you, Brian

MY RESPONSE TO BRIAN…
It’s true that we do need that tangible human touch too. There’s nothing better than being able to really talk and communicate… especially face to face… especially with people that you have a bunch of shared spiritual history with. There are some of my online buddies that I would love to be able to just sit with for hours and really discuss things… since the nature of blogging especially is limited to choppy communication. Although sometimes I do communicate better in written form, especially with topics that are raw or painful. The best of both worlds I guess is both.

ANA POSTED…
“longing for a sense of community”, “just be yourself” — YES!! and AMEN to that. that IS church. “we” ARE church, wherever we may be. but it’s definitely not what i’ve found in the buildings with the big signs out front. i’m walking right beside you in the “tenuous relationship with the traditional church”… i’m meeting up with more and more of us, and finding encouragement there. we are NOT alone, and i believe we are growing in numbers. the “business” of “church” and the status quo won’t hold up much longer. i’m believing in/for that, and looking forward to what is to come…

MY RESPONSE TO ANA…
I agree that there are a bunch of us who are all in that process of transitioning. For me too I think that it’s not even a matter of either or… I think there’s a place for a traditional gathering too. The thing that’s great that’s come out of people’s discontent with the status quo is that people are beginning to realize that they don’t have to wait for a church organization to structure some “program” for them to take responsibility to seek out real fellowship and connectedness that is more organic. I have real, heartfelt communication all the time here on the net and on the phone with people I’ve never even met face to face… but with some we’ve known each other for years and talk just about every day. With the expansion of the net and cheaper phone rates, our world has expanded. Our band of oddballs has grown and we’ve had more chance to find each other. I look at that as a great gift. 🙂

ANA POSTED…
it IS a GREAT gift! i’ve been more and more thankful to find that i am not alone in how i feel about it all, nor am i alone in the journey of discovering the balance. thanks, linda b…

Friday February 1, 2008 (12:22am)

One of my myspace buddies tagged me and this was origionally published there…
Tag… I’m it….

Rose has tagged me and now I’m “it.” from her blog:

Once you have been tagged, write a blog with 10 weird, random things, or goals about yourself. At the end choose 10 people to be tagged, listing their names and why you chose them. Don’t forget to leave them a comment (tag, you’re it) and to read your blog.

and you can’t tag the person who tagged you.

Rose just tagged me. Those of you who don’t know her would really enjoy her. She’s another creative/techno person who writes great grousy blogs, and is really a very tenderhearted softy. All of that I find very endearing. So here are a few rambling thoughts in no particular order…

1. As a child I loved the cartoon Gigantor, and wanted a multi-ton Robot as my best buddy… thus began my love/hate relationship with technology.

2. From the age of 5 to about 10 my next door neighbor and I would put on shows for the other neighborhood kids, complete with functional curtain. We did a lot of Motown songs and Beatles stuff. As an adult, I’ve done a disproportionally large number of gigs playing in corners with poultry (either live or on the menu) involved.

3. My mother had short stubby toes. My father’s two toes next to his big toe were grown together. I have short stubby half way grown together toes that are funny to look at and probably resemble hobbit toes. As a child I saw a drawing of an Eohippus, a prehistoric horse and my toes resembled theirs.

4. I repel technology. I can kill off technology just by being near it, especially during a hormonal swing. My techno geek husband didn’t believe me at first and now agrees it’s downright creepy. I need to figure out how to hire myself out to do industrial espionage. Things I kill off on a regular basis includes, but is not limited to, a bizillion cash registers, multiple voting machines, airline ticket machines, video cameras, audio equipment and COMPUTERS. Needless to say this causes a lot of problems with my chosen profession where I’m using technology every day. On a related note, I have to wear a digital watch and not one with mechanical parts. I stop regular watches. (It must be my magnetic personality.)

5. I attract organic life forms. Animals and small children love me. Even wild and feral animals with normally hang out with me. “Vicious” dogs will normally also be perfectly tame with me. Even highly trained agility dogs will break from what they are doing and come over to hang out with me. It’s very odd. I actually ran a children’s ministry at a church for awhile and the kids would follow me around like I was the pied piper. I also was able to instantaneously get the screaming babies to stop and calm down.

6. I am the goose whisperer. Even though they are the thugs of the bird world I love to go feed them. They come up and stand around me calmly waiting to take the food out of my hand, which tends to freak out anyone else around who might be trying to feed the birds at the local pond. (Please see my photo album titled blog illustrations or journal illustrations for proof.)

7. When I was a small child I wanted to leave home as soon as I could to go live on a farm and raise animals. By the time I was starting middle school I had my whole life planned out… I was going to either become a psychologist or a sociologist. As a fluke I took a photo class in high school because I thought it might be a good tool in case I did field studies etc. As it turned out I had a very high aptitude for it and did my first album cover when I was 18 or 19. I still end up doing a lot of lay counseling / mentoring etc. .. even more now teaching music than I did working and counseling at a church… go figure. One of my friends calls it teaching guitar- har -har -har.

8. In teaching and in mentoring, I love working with middle school students. .. especially the really bright ones. I love the way they are still inquisitive and are engaged in figuring who they are and what they want to accomplish in their lives… and they aren’t completely cynical yet! One of my favorite things is having the privilege of being in my students lives long enough to watch them grow into adulthood. My goal is to encourage them to be their own people, to be as creative as possible, and to stand their ground for what is true and important and to make a difference in their worlds.

9. I believe it’s great to do a major career shift every decade or so. It keeps life interesting and makes for a lot better batch of weird stories. Who knows what I might do next… or again.

10. I dream in cinematically in mixed media. Sometimes I dream in a mixture of live action and cartoon. Sometimes my dreams have a narrator. Sometimes they are very movie like with different camera shots and angles… and sometimes I have dream sequels at the same location.

… AND ONE EXTRA FOR GOOD MEASURE!

11. I have a very weird mixture of friends… so weird in fact that some of you guys probably couldn’t stand to be in the same room with each other. I love the diversity. I love the different ways you challenge my thinking. I love the things I learn from you about life, and relationships and God and what’s really important in life. By nature I’m actually pretty shy and pretty much of an introverted loner. I’m incredibly thankful that you guys help drag me outside of myself and remind me again and again that we are family.

January 7, 2008
FROM MY MYSPACE BLOG

The Flip Side of the Coin…
(Or How I Spent My Christmas Vacation)
I had two weeks off in a row for the first time since then. And, while I did spend the first week feeling pretty sick and horrible, it was still nice to just have time to rest and recuperate in peace. I had a chance to just sit and read for long periods of time. I got to work on learning to run my new multi-track recorder. I had a chance to input the music/lyrics and chords for about 30 new songs into the computer, which is very time consuming but wonderful to have. I got a chance to just hang out and goof off with my husband. We had a nice, peaceful, calm Christmas, which was a wonderful thing. The second week I felt better and I got to see some friends that I have been missing, and have some great meals with them.

Nancy and I got a chance to record and work on music, which has been good for my soul. I got a chance to just go outside and breathe the air and stare blankly. We also got a chance to go feed the geese (more about being the goose whisper in another blog) and enjoy nature. Those things might not seem like a big deal… but they were very precious gifts to me. Given the new year, it’s probably good I got a chance to rest up some.

I also got a chance to read A Widening Light, a poetry anthology put together by Luci Shaw of wonderful contemporary poets writing on the Life of Christ. I think that, mixed with all the good and bad Christmas memories brought back for me just how thankful I am for God’s mercy and redemption in a real way. Some of us have been reading through the Bible this year together… and this verse from Matthew 4:17 in “The Message” version jumped out at me…
“People sitting out their lives in the dark saw a huge light;
Sitting in that dark, dark country of death,
they watched the sun come up.”

It’s late and I’m way too tired right now to adequately describe just how much that is my story. When I was young I lived in the middle of horrible darkness. Even then I knew that there had to be a better life for me. Hopefully one of these days I’ll find the words to explain. But I was reminded again how thankful I am to be alive and to know the mercy of God… even in the midst of breaking, dripping things. I know I’ll get through the other stuff. I’m thankful I have some help along the way.

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t get much down time. As a matter of fact, the last time I had any time off without someone dying, Ken and/or I being sick, or some major natural disaster/crisis was about ten years ago.

Backhanded Thankfulness …

Posted: January 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

Sunday, December 09, 2007

FROM MY MYSPACE BLOG
Backhanded Thankfulness…

It’s been too long between blogging…
Thanks for stopping by to read this.

Most people who know me well know that I’m a grousey realist at best, and sometimes downright cynical when it comes to my trust of the human animal. But no matter how many times I’ve gotten the snot knocked out of me over the years from an unexpected source, there’s still that part of me that remains very hopeful when it comes to humans banding together to do good. My husband normally finds that aggravating. Even thought it is certainly formulaic, and shamelessly panders to people’s emotions, there’s something about the Sunday night show “Extreme Home Makeover” that I enjoy. Of course the show makes my husband want to vomit, and I do use the DVR to record it so I can fast forward through the precious annoying bits. Ken always retreats to the man cave when the show comes on. Even with all the contrived preciousness, there’s something about it that resonates in a really deep place for me… almost in spite of the show. Tonight I figured out in a deeper way what it is.

At the core of my being I do believe that we are on this planet to make a difference in other people’s lives. That we are called to be connected and to dare to care for each other. Sometimes that caring means to wade into the pain and the suffering of others and to share it and find a way to make it a little better somehow. Recently some of my friends did a home makeover themselves on a smaller scale for a family who needed a little extra help. Not only was the family blown away and touched… but so were their neighbors and friends. The people who helped make it possible were incredibly touched and energized by it all. My friend said they felt so alive while they were working on the project and doing exactly what they needed to be doing. I believe she was right.
There was a family here locally who received one of the extreme makeovers. When it came time for the show to get volunteers to help, they got a good majority of them from their church. This deserving father with a bizillion kids who’s wife had died ended up with a new beginning for his family. We can come together in big ways and small ways to bring hope and healing to each other. We can choose to show up for our lives and really live them in community.

Maybe I’m more sensitive to how important that is because it’s so hard for me to get out of my house at a normal time to see anyone. Somehow though, a heck of a lot of living happens here. A lot of connecting and a lot of mutual support. I have dear friends who stagger out to the few places that are open late and meet me for dinner and great discussion from 9:30 to 11:00 pm on week nights when sane people would be sleeping. But I’m aware that love motivates them to do that… to loose a little sleep and to be family for me… in the same way the Extreme Makeover volunteers are probably pooped at the end of their week, but there lives are fuller for the experience.

Traditionally this time of year is hard for me. I have to fight back the inner demons of depression and a lifetime of painful memories… but each year I’m reminded in a million different ways of how much I am loved… and that family isn’t just people with shared genetics… family in the truest sense is really those people who you share your lives and your experiences with. It grows with each of those encounters and shared experiences… and the history we share together as it unfolds.

I’m thankful for how rich my life is and for the people who make my life richer and who help hold me up when I’m weak. I’ve had some amazing conversations with longtime friends lately and I realized how thankful I am for them and to see them living through their own struggles and tragedies, and through it all growing stronger and becoming even more amazing people.

On a different note, the other day I had to go pay my property taxes… and as I was standing there, forking over 1500 bucks for six months, I was suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude to have the money to pay it and to have a home to live and work in.
There’s so much else I could write about tonight but it is almost 2 in the morning and I have a full day tomorrow. I know I’ve said it before, but I can never say it enough. Thank you all for being a part of my life. Don’t forget in the midst of all the holiday busyness that your life makes a difference to the people in your world. You guys do ROCK!

RESPONSES TO THE MYSPACE BLOG…


RHONDA POSTED…
Your definition of family certainly resonates with me. Thanks for being a part of my own family… my life is the richer for it!
 

JUANITA POSTED…
I’ve meant to say it since Thai.. but, thanks for being my sister where otherwise I have none 🙂
And P.S. You Rock!
NANCY R. POSTED…
You rock with penguins and I don’t see how anyone can top that. Interesting I just had a talk with my sponsor telling her I was grateful to have enough money to pay the locksmith and the heating guy today (the house was broken into the other night…will explain later).The more we try to do good for others the more we grow. At least that’s what I’m told.
JORDAN M. POSTED…
I can almost remember the moment I met you. Everyone in that place became instant family. Brian,Gin,Patty,Janet and so on. And to this day with everyone all over the place you, they, are still, family. Sending the thanks right back to you. Love you. J.
KAREN POSTED…
Ahhh, you do so have a way of speaking my mind…:-) Thank you, my dear Voice of Reason!

MARIA POSTED…
You rock more. I’m on your side–I so want to believe that people at their very core are awesome and just let life put up too big of a wall (and sometimes pretty damn ugly one, at that). I’ve missed you. I hope your holidays were well.

Grousing … Part 2

Posted: January 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

Grousing, Part Two…

November, 13,2007
Grousing Part Two…
Religion… Current mood: Determined

As an addition…

Don’t get me wrong with the stuff about the pastors and people in authority in the church. I do believe in mercy and redemption. I do believe that God can forgive them, and they might be able to change… Just like I’m sure that if I murdered someone, and asked Him to God would forgive me too. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t spend the rest of my life in prison for what I did.

Trust has to be earned. When trust has been violated, it takes a lot longer for it to be earned again the next time. I think it was Spurgeon who said that a man shouldn’t be allowed back into a pulpit until their repentance was as notorious as their sin. And even then, I think if I guy (or a woman) has a severe enough problem with inappropriate sexual involvement where they are having to step down, perhaps they should decide to no longer do ministry with people of the opposite sex. If a worship leader gets involved with women who are not his wife, then let him ONLY do worship with men for men in the future… and even then not until he’s proved without a shadow of a doubt that he’s ready with a system of accountability in place.

COMMENTS FROM THIS MYSPACE BLOG…

ROSE POSTED…
i think my head just exploded with your last two blogs!!!!i love it. i have to process it and then i’ll post more. keep grousing. grousing is good!! 🙂

MARIA POSTED…

My only caveat is that trust and respect are given unconditionally to kids until they unearn it.Adults are a different matter (and I’m sad to think this, but I do). Adults have to earn it. Don’t get me started about those in power (whether it’s a minister, teacher, parent) who misuse it or violate it. Abe Lincoln had the best words for the issue: “Any man can handle adversity. If you truly want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Good Natured Grousing … Part 1

Posted: January 24, 2010 in Uncategorized
Monday, November 12, 2007
Good Natured Grousing… Current mood: Grousy Category: Grousy
Life
From my myspace blog.

Monday, November 12, 2007 (11:01pm) Veterans’ Day
Good Natured Grousing…
It’s been almost a month since I blogged last. It’s certainly not for lack of material. Since the last time I blogged, half the state of California has been on fire and I’ve seen up close the impact it’s had on all of us in one way or another. Several more dear friends have lost their parents, or have recently found out they are very ill. I’ve lost some students due to the state of the economy out here and people’s lives being impacted by the high cost of gas and housing etc. I’ve also had to spend a huge amount of time and energy reorganizing my work schedule thanks to all the lovely kid’s sports programs which I will grouse about later. In the mean time I have some great new students to go with the great bunch I already have. Once again I’ve learned a lot about life, and faith and not being afraid of creativity from the younger ones. I’ve learned to keep pursuing my own creative dreams from my older ones. I’ve written songs and poetry. I’ve experienced my own share of grief, and relief and have several epiphanal moments along the way. I guess you could say it’s been a time of toooooo much stimulus overload and too much stuff to process. And since I haven’t had a chance to process it all yet I thought I would just whine about a few things and just dump what’s rolling around in my head at the moment and hope I’ll be able to sleep when I’m done. I’ll leave the quest for deep insight for a time when it’s not 11:00 pm and I’m not exhausted. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to develop some of these thoughts more. For now just some quick random thoughts…

The modern religious system in America…
I’ve seen way too many guys that I have known personally who were either pastors or worship leaders have to step down from their positions because of sexual impropriety of various sorts and degrees, end up back in pulpits, or given new churches in a few years or even months later. When I’ve questioned the wisdom of letting men who have MULTIPLE times proven themselves to be prone to falling that way, have access to people’s lives in those positions, I’ve heard all sorts of justifications for it.. “but they are so gifted!” “God’s gifts and callings are without repentance.” “They are such a great teacher” etc… etc… blah blah blah. My response to that is when does “talent” and “gifting” and “anointing” trump character???? Frankly I think God’s a lot more concerned about my character and how I treat the people that He loves and cares for more than the fact that I can play guitar and lead worship. What has happened to cause us to so casually condone that? What makes that any different than a Catholic Bishop moving a priest who’s molested children to a new parish when people find out… so that other innocent kids can suffer the same fate. What kind of message are we sending to our children and to the world, when we don’t even require any moral integrity from our leaders? Do we really want them to be the people our kids look up to as models for living their lives? Frankly I find it appalling. Anyone else care to comment on it?

The modern educational system and after school sports system…
Once again… I’m appalled. I teach privately and I see kids of all ages and from a bunch of different schools. The common denominator most of them have is that they are stressed out, exhausted, and are growing to dislike their school experience. Thanks in part to the “No Kids Left Behind” legislation, teachers are constantly playing beat the clock to just get through material. They assign way too much busy work homework, and most of the kids tell me they are up late desperately trying to just get it done. Added to that is the whole after school sports program. It used to be that kids on teams would have one or two practices during the week and a game. Now a lot of my students have practice 5 days a week mandatory for two hours plus one or two games a week. You mix that with way too much homework and suddenly you have a kid who has no life, who’s grades suffer and who’s family don’t even see him except for schlepping them to around. I thought my generation was the most neurotic, crazed generation ever but no… we are raising a new generation who is even more that way. I can’t believe we as a generation don’t intervene on our kids behalf and say like that guy in the movie Network “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more!!!!” You can be sure if 90% of the parents promised to yank their kids and their money from the programs unless something changed and the craziness ended, things would change in no time. Same thing with the schools. It’s going to take parents making a tremendous stink for anything to change. It makes me sad to see kids who have loved learning and who are bright with a bunch of promise tell me again and again that they hate school now.

Ok, it’s much later now and it’s time for me to get some sleep. I would love to hear your thoughts on such things… more to come.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE COMMENTS FROM MY MYSPACE BLOG…
 
POSTED BY STACY…

oooooooh Honey….do you really want my comment?I’m not perfect. I will be the first to admit that. I see myself as a David more and more each day. My heart is after God, but my flesh has issues. But I’m also grateful for the Nathan’s in my life as well. Linda B. you are a great Nathan in my life. But thank you for not speaking in parables and telling me straight up that my sh!$ smells!!! So I guess the question is where are the Nathan’s for those in positions?I feel as if we are putting on the wolves clothing ourselves or that we are clothing others to be wolves…anyway….I have so much more I could say, but my brain is scrambled and can’t put it into sentences. Thanks for writing this Linda…..You Rock!!

MY RESPONSE TO STACY…

agree Stacy… part of the reason it’s a problem is that there is not the support network for leaders most of the time where they can really get help with stuff when they are first starting to struggle with things. By and large, the church could learn a lot from AA by creating a safe environment for people to say… I’m really struggling… and for there to be people who love and support them to make sure they get the help they need. I’ve spent a good deal of my ministry life helping people in ministry put their lives back together after they have been torn apart, either at other people’s hands or by their own doing. That’s one of the reasons I’m pretty willing to wade into people’s lives sometimes with both feet and to really look at the tough issues and work through them with them. On the other hand though too, there are some guys who I think are more predatory who have no intention of getting help, or wanting to change. They abuse their power and their position of trust, and won’t take responsibility for their actions or own their own crap. I personally know several people who had people who loved them including friends family, their church staff and the elders of their church trying to get through to them and they still chose to go their own way. Those are the kinds of people I’m talking about in my blog.I’m willing to go to hell and back for people who are willing to deal with the broken places in their lives. One of the things I also try to model is a willingness to take responsibility for my own actions, my own sins, and my own stupidity. I also try to be willing to live out my life in front of people in as honest a way as possible, so that they can see the broken places in my life, but also have a chance to watch the healing and the transformation that will continue until I die. When we let each other close enough to be family and to be able to be there for each other… both to encourage and to nail each other’s butts to the wall if needs be… Then there will be good coming out of the brokenness and pain.

POSTED BY VICTOR CHARLES…
 
i think it’s about time people started standing up for the kids these days. i have friends who have kids who are around 9 and 10 years old and they freak me out when they tell me how much homework they have. they’re constantly complaining about how much stuff they have to do, some of the kids have trouble finishing it all. my friends are freaked out too, but they feel like there isn’t anything they can do. what can a parent do to help this situation?

MY RESPONSE TO VICTOR…

Hi Victor… thanks for stopping by! I’m not sure what the answer is. I think part of it is going to take parents being proactive, and I’m not sure it’s going to happen. I think I would organize a letter writing campaign first to the school board and to our elected officials. Part of it too probably comes down to the parents making some tough choices. In the case of all that homework and the coach who won’t back down on 5 2 hour practices a week, I think I would just have to talk to him and explain that my child still needed to have a life and that his schooling was more important than their particular sport. I do believe that if parents started pulling their kids out and not funding the activities, that the leagues would probably reevaluate. One of my students said something really interesting last week… he was currently dying from the home work at school and playing not one but two time consuming sports a week. He said… “I wish my dad would just let me play my one sport and then go to the park with me and play ball with me instead of playing baseball.” What a novel thing. Out of the mouth of babes.

POSTED BY RHONDA…

Wow… where to even begin with such a complex issue?! Candidly, I struggle with much of American evangelical Christianity. We hold our leaders to a higher standard, yet make it unsafe for them to seek help for issues they struggle with. If they recognize the warning signs and ask for help, their church boards look at them as a liability and find a reason to fire them. Even worse, there are few counselors who make it safe for a pastor to speak honestly about their personal lives. I know from firsthand experience that many “clergy treatment centers” claiming to offer “confidentiality,” often share information with church boardmembers and fellow clergy under the guise of “accountability,” often without the consent of the pastor/patient.As a result, pastors typically suffer in silence, trying to keep their churches, families, and communities together — while they fall apart. When the private failures become public, pastors end up losing their churches, careers — and often families — anyway. Damned if they get help, damned if they don’t. I’ve seen it happen over and over in the lives of far too many now-former pastors.I’m not sure what the answer is between accountability and authenticity. We absolutely need leaders that demonstrate ethical, moral lives. At the same time, we have to recognize that our pastors are people which means they are not perfect. Like us, they need safe places and people to be honest with about their own fears and foibles. In my humble opinion, however, until we stop treating our pastors as spiritual superstars we will continue to put them on pedestals only to relish knocking them off when they fail to live up to our expectations.As for education… I am going to leave that for another day since I’ve already pontificated enough about your first grousing!

MY RESPONSE TO RHONDA…

You touched on a lot of what I was planning my next blog to be about. Like I mentioned above to Stacy, I do think a big part of the problem is the who dynamic of how we do church and what we expect. I agree that pastors are in between a rock and a hard place a lot of times. It would seem to me, after working at churches with all sorts of stuff going on that was unhealthy, that there is a fundamental breakdown of how to really deal with our broken lives bumping into each other. One of the local churches here has a very low tolerance level for pastors participating in illicit activities. They know going in that there is a zero tolerance policy. But they are also one of the most compassionate churches around when the pastors do fall or struggle… they make sure they get counseling help, they also have a transitional program to help them transition into another job, helping to provide for them while the process is going on. They also provide that for pastors who are fried and feel like they need a change. Rather than leaving them hanging and feeling like they have no other options but to keep things hidden, and keep pastoring, they help them walk through the stuff. They are also great about reaching out to other hurting pastors and their wives. In a perfect world, denominations or loose church groups would have pastors to pastor the pastors. If one of the pastors was exhausted spiritually, or struggling… they would take care of them financially while the pastor and his spouse could get the rest and help they need. They would provide someone to assist at the church if need be, and make sure the pastor and his wife got the counseling and any other help they needed to really deal with the issues facing them. Unfortunately, as Tonio K sang… “this ain’t no perfect world.”I agree that we need to have a realistic view of pastor’s and their families as human just like the rest of us and in need of love and family and care just like the rest of us. That’s the way I always try to approach my friends who are involved with ministry. I want them to feel safe and like they can just be themselves with me. I think most of them would tell you they do… (even if I am a bad influence on them.) With my current pastor, I expect him to be human, to do stupid stuff, to have truly inspired moments sometimes, and to not be sleeping with someone who’s not his wife. (which thankfully he’s not doing and he loves his wife like crazy.) He’s young and still in the middle of his own pastoral learning curve, but he’s moving forward and he’s not afraid to let people see him in process… and I love him for that.Having said that, I’m torn a lot of times between loving my friends in ministry and caring for the very real people in the church who are impacted by the pastor’s careless activity. I’ve seen first hand the devastation that kind of turmoil causes in the lives of the people in the church. I have scores of friends who won’t go to church any more because of being in a church that was torn apart by scandal. I have seen several pastor’s who saw the damage they were doing to their churches and their families, stepped down and found a job doing other things. Some of them never went back but discovered that a whole new world of ministry opened up to them while they were going about their business, living their lives like the rest of us. Some of them eventually really worked through their issues and ended up back in the ministry. And then I’ve worked with pastors and had pastors who refused to take any responsibility for anything and went on with the behavior. Those guys I have no patience for.