Category Archives: Church

Are Christians embracing the LGBT community?

I agree with most of what this article says..though for a full ACCEPTANCE of LGBT to happen from the Christian community is quite different. Agreeing that a person who is LGBT is still a person (of course they are) or that they need protection from bullying (again, of course they do) goes without saying. Even loving them as children of God I would dare say ALL of Christians should hold this bibilical stance. Where the line is drawn for most is the acceptance part. There is a difference between “I’ll love and embrace you and oh, here’s a pamphlet on how to pray away the gay” and full acceptance. Of course that’s where you get the different interpretations of different bible verses. But for the most part..a good article. Just don’t be led into thinking the LGBT community has yet gained full acceptance from the church for who they are, who God created them to be.  Go read it. 🙂

Homosexual play, Twilight Zone and Jesus

“Students at a public high school in Hartford, Connecticut, recently walked out of a controversial play that was welcomed by school officials who feel students need more exposure to homosexuality to address the issue of bullying. The production titled Zanna, Don’t! depicts an alternate universe set in Heartsville, U.S.A. where homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuals are “outcasts” who are forced to keep their relationships hidden.”  One scene in particular disturbed the audience and sent many climbing over chairs and screaming in an effort to leave the building. It was asked to be removed from the play beforehand but the Principal, Adam Johnson, decided to leave it in and just warn the  students about it. The scene in question shows two male actors embraced in a passionate kiss. The premise behind the play reminds me of an episode of Twilight Zone (“Eye of the Beholder”) In that episode, a woman is thought to be hideous by the pig-faced society around her. When she is actually quite beautiful . Similar to Ayla’s struggle in Jean M. Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear. Where the play went wrong, however, was the passionate kissing scene. I don’t see that as being acceptable in any high school, even if the two kissing were heterosexuals. It appears that Principal Johnson pushed it a bit too far. Maybe he did have the best intentions in his attempts to knock out their problem with homosexuals being bullied. Unfortunately, it fell on deaf (deaf = screaming/ running) ears. Is bullying a problem? ABSOLUTELY. Regardless of the subject. Should it be dealt with? ABSOLUTELY.  I appreciate Johnson’s efforts but I wish he had thought it out a bit more carefully. But, just as the homosexual community shouldn’t be forced to live their lives in a way that someone else believes is correct..so should they also allow those who do not agree, to live their lives. Let me be clear, there is an enormous difference between simply preferring/believing in another way of life (heterosexual Christians, for example) and displaying hate and contempt for those that choose to be different (unfortunately this sometimes also includes heterosexual Christians).  

 There is a story in the bible of a Samaritan woman at a well (John 4). Jesus has been traveling and is tired and thirsty when he comes upon her. In doing so, he breaks several Jewish customs. 1. He speaks to a woman. 2. She is Samaritan, a group the Jews traditionally despised. 3. He asks her for a drink of water, which makes him “unclean” from using her cup or jar. Jesus then talks with her about her previous husbands and that the man she is currently living with is NOT her husband. When the woman says that the “Messiah” is coming, Jesus answers that it is him. At this, the disciples come on the scene. They are shocked to see what Jesus is doing. The woman then returns to her town and invites the people to come see Jesus. The Samaritans come to the well and beg Jesus to stay with them and teach them. So He does.  

 Knowing she was socially unacceptable, Jesus still treated her with respect. He didn’t come up to her with a picket sign proclaiming “I hate whores” or “Samaritans Suck and are going to Hell”. He asked her for a drink of water, which she gave him. He spoke with her gently, not perspiration inducing/fist pumping holy rhetoric. He didn’t force his views on her, nor did he force his way to her town to “tell all the sinners how to get right with God”.  They invited him into their village, eagerly. It’s hard for us now to understand how strong the hatred was that Jews had for Samaritans. Samaritans were a mixed race people (intermarrying with Assyrians centuries before). They were hated for this, and for having their own version of the bible and their own temple. The woman at the well was even shunned by her own people. Evidenced by her act of drawing water at the hottest part of the day, instead of the usual morning or evening times. She was rejected because of her own immorality (several divorces, living with someone who was not her husband). So here is Jesus, not only speaking to a Samaritan..but a woman that even the Samaritans shunned. She would have been considered by the Jews as “the lowest of the low”. And not only speaking to her..but drinking from her cup.

 The bottom line is this: Do not force someone to live according to your beliefs, whichever side of the fence you live on. Whether that is making a play containing a scene with 2 males kissing passionately a mandatory event, or displaying hate and anger to those who are marching in a Pride parade. Those for homosexuality, let it be a choice for those who are not. ..and for those against it…if you want to act out of anger and hate in the name of Jesus, you really need to check your resources. If you want to draw lines in the sand and refuse to associate with those living outside of your beliefs in the name of Jesus legalism, check your resources. I will leave with the frighteningly fearful and small minded words of “Leader” from “Eye of the Beholder”. Words that, although sometimes tweaked, are heard too often from the pulpit…

 Leader: We know now that there must be a single purpose! A single norm! A single approach! A single entity of peoples! A single virtue! A single morality! A single frame of reference! A single philosophy of government! We must cut out all that is different like a cancerous growth! It is essential in this society that we not only have a norm, but that we conform to that norm! Differences weaken us! Variations destroy us! An incredible permissiveness to deviation from this norm is what has ended nations and brought them to their knees! Conformity we must worship and hold sacred! Conformity is the key to survival!

NEVER read what will make you look good if you die in the middle of it

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. ~P.J. O’Rourke”

With all due respect to Mr. O’Rourke….umm..no.

 I love to read and encourage everyone to read what makes you feel (happy/sad/angry/scared), read what challenges your beliefs and what pushes the boundaries of your imagination. If I have the misfortune of becoming deceased in the middle of a book (I say misfortune because while reading is the best way to go I would much rather have just finished the last page than still be in the middle) I would like to think I would not give a flying flip what anyone thought of my chosen material. There will probably be lots better things going on at the moment. You know, streets of gold and all. “Oh,” but you say..”what about the legacy you are leaving behind? What about your loved ones who have found your body hunched over a rather embarrassing copy of a pre-teen vampire romance thriller?” Again, who cares? You are dead. And I doubt those that have known you all of your life will be swayed in their opinions of you because of your final choice in reading material.

When my children were first learning to read I encouraged them to read what they were interested in. That meant a lot of different books for my daughter as she explored different subjects, and a lot of dinosaurs and Jacques Cousteau for my son who loved exploration.  For myself, I go by the 90/10 rule. 90% of what I read is what I know I will like. And the other 10% are books that I try out. Either a genre I’m not typically attracted to or a subject I’ve never explored before. Sometimes I am surprised, other times I don’t go past the 3rd chapter. But at least I’ve reached past my comfort level. If I only read books that would impress someone upon the event of my death..my literary history would be severely lacking. For what impresses one person, may not impress the one standing next to him. Okay, so only read award-winning books, only read New York Time’s Bestsellers..only read “Oprah’s choice” books..(please don’t). How about…”Never read something only because it will make you look good if you die in the middle of it” .

 Read what you love, read what you hate. Read authors who agree with your political/sociological/religious beliefs, read those that adamantly do not agree. Read the books that are easy to read, providing you a brief respite into another realm. Read the books that are hard to read, and take a bit longer to get through. Challenge yourself. But please, do not care what anyone will think if you die in the middle of whatever it is you have chosen.

 If I were to die today I would be caught 2/3 of the way through The Autobiography of Charles Darwin on my Kindle (to the shock, I’m sure of my pastor. What is a Sunday School teacher doing reading Darwin?), 3/4 of the way through the “Reader’s Digest” I keep on the back of my toilet and at the beginning of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on my nightstand. And this weekend I am certain to pick up another novel, an easy-reading non-fiction whatever..probably a crime thriller. Because sometimes my mind needs a break from the seriousness of Darwin’s mental struggles and in-depth research. Sometimes I need a break from the HeLa cells. Sometimes I want to read just to relax and let my mind drift into another world. Even if I am not challenged at the time by anything. Any of these 4 bits of reading material would be judged quite differently if they were in my hands the moment I passed (please Lord, don’t let it be the “Reader’s Digest” for that would mean my passing would occur on the toilet).  Feel free to judge me. 🙂

“Biblical” Divorce and Homosexuality

I’ve long struggled with the church’s stance on same sex marriage myself, so I was interested to see this article by Jonathan Dudley.  While in no way do I agree with everything Mr. Dudley has ever said on the topic (or others)..some of the things here I most definitely DO agree with. One of them being the issue of divorce. The bible very clearly states that divorce is wrong:

Jeremiah 3:1, “If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he return to her again? Would not the land be completely defiled? But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers – would you now return to me?” declares the Lord.

 Malachi 2:16, “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.

 Matthew 5:31-32, “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

 Matthew 19:8,  Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

 Luke 16:18,  “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.  And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? “

 Mark 10:11-12, He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

Yet..the divorce rate among Christians is exactly the same as that among non-Christians. Why? I’ve heard differing opinions on the validation of divorce. “It was a culture thing back then..culture has changed”, “that was Old Testament..the New Testament is all about forgiveness and redemption through Jesus..the old laws are not in effect” (guess they are ignoring the New Testament scriptures themselves..and if God is “the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” how could He change his mind on that? And then there is “Yes you left your husband/wife unscripturally, but there is forgiveness and renewal in the blood of Jesus. Man is not meant to be alone.”

When I remarried, I got attacked by someone in the church (I’ve since parted ties with her) who proclaimed loudly (via Facebook) that it was wrong to do so..how could I pick and choose which scriptures I followed? And..I have to agree with her..the bible is very clear on the issue of divorce and remarriage. Some people share her views at my church but most were very supportive of my remarriage, excited even at what “God had brought together”. What then of homosexuality? Why is divorce/remarriage accepted in the church but not that?

If I am an “adulteress” and “unclean” for remarrying..according to the bible..why is that “sexual sin” any less than the “sexual sin” of homosexuality?  If all sins are the same. And if even thinking of sinning is the same as the actual act. Are those with homosexual feelings born that way? Or do they choose their path? That’s a silly question I think. We ALL choose our paths regardless of what goes on in the womb. We all choose to either act or not act on our sexual feelings. Now where those sexual feelings come from or which sex they are projected towards, I believe that is something that you do NOT get to choose. Yes some have the “college experience” where you “dabble” and “experiment” but that isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the love, the chemistry and desire you have for someone else…is it better to be alone and long for the companionship and family? Or to admit what you were created to be? If God “knew us in our womb, created us perfectly” and “doesn’t make mistakes”…did he create the homosexual person to desire the same sex? Did he create a “weird” personality in me? Did he instill in Einstein his theories long before birth? (though..there are differing opinions on whether Einsten actually accepted this as a gift from God, or pretended to for the sake of one of his wives who was a believer) Did he purposefully create the child with Downs or the conjoined twins that way? The church says the “imperfect” happenings in utero are a product of “living in a broken world, full of sin”. But they also say “He is in control, nothing happens without His hand in it”. Which is it? Did he create me the way I am? Was any of it a mistake? Is it a mistake because someone else claims it to be so but was really His intention all along? Do we really know His plan for us or do we only know someone else’s interpretation of His plan for us?

My dear cousin is getting married tomorrow. Her and her girlfriend have lived together for many years and have to travel outside of their home state to obtain a legal marriage. Would it have been better for them to “live in sin” unmarried? Or to never live together at all? Or to never have dated? I think….no. And I may get bashed for this by my Christian brothers and sisters. But..it is what I believe. She has found companionship and love..acceptance and trust. She just wants to celebrate that. And I fervently pray that their special day is filled with joy. That their life together one of peace, adventure and unconditional love. Unmarred by those with differing opinions. Standing strong in the waves of discontent that are splashed upon them  in the name of “God”.

And no..I do not feel convicted or condemned for my divorce and remarriage. I do not choose to follow those verses. Is that wrong? I guess it all depends on who you ask. Whose interpretation of the Bible you believe. Until I learn Hebrew and can decipher the original scripts myself..I’m not going to live my life believing I am “covered in sin”.

Enough about me..let’s read what Mr. Dudley has to say… 

 http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/21/my-take-bible-condemns-a-lot-so-why-focus-on-homosexuality/

My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?

Editor’s Note: Jonathan Dudley is the author of Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics.

By Jonathan Dudley, Special to CNN

Growing up in the evangelical community, I learned the Bible’s stance on homosexuality is clear-cut. God condemns it, I was taught, and those who disagree just haven’t read their Bibles closely enough.

Having recently graduated from Yale Divinity School, I can say that my childhood community’s approach to gay rights—though well intentioned—is riddled with self-serving double standards.

I don’t doubt that the one New Testament author who wrote on the subject of male-male intercourse thought it a sin. In Romans 1, the only passage in the Bible where a reason is explicitly given for opposing same-sex relations, the Apostle Paul calls them “unnatural.”

Problem is, Paul’s only other moral argument from nature is the following: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” (1 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Few Christians would answer that question with a “yes.”

In short, Paul objects to two things as unnatural: one is male-male sex and the other is long hair on men and short hair on women. The community opposed to gay marriage takes one condemnation as timeless and universal and the other as culturally relative.

I also don’t doubt that those who advocate gay marriage are advocating a revision of the Christian tradition.

But the community opposed to gay marriage has itself revised the Christian tradition in a host of ways. For the first 1500 years of Christianity, for example, marriage was deemed morally inferior to celibacy. When a theologian named Jovinian challenged that hierarchy in 390 A.D. — merely by suggesting that marriage and celibacy might be equally worthwhile endeavors — he was deemed a heretic and excommunicated from the church.

How does that sit with “family values” activism today?

Yale New Testament professor Dale B. Martin has noted that today’s “pro-family” activism, despite its pretense to be representing traditional Christian values, would have been considered “heresy” for most of the church’s history.

The community opposed to gay marriage has also departed from the Christian tradition on another issue at the heart of its social agenda: abortion.

Unbeknownst to most lay Christians, the vast majority of Christian theologians and saints throughout history have not believed life begins at conception.

Although he admitted some uncertainty on the matter, the hugely influential 4th and 5th century Christian thinker Saint Augustine wrote, “it could not be said that there was a living soul in [a] body” if it is “not yet endowed with senses.”

Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic saint and a giant of mediaeval theology, argued: “before the body has organs in any way whatever, it cannot be receptive of the soul.”

American evangelicals, meanwhile, widely opposed the idea that life begins at conception until the 1970s, with some even advocating looser abortion laws based on their reading of the Bible before then.

It won’t do to oppose gay marriage because it’s not traditional while advocating other positions that are not traditional.

And then there’s the topic of divorce. Although there is only one uncontested reference to same-sex relations in the New Testament, divorce is condemned throughout, both by Jesus and Paul. To quote Jesus from the Gospel of Mark: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.”

A possible exception is made only for unfaithfulness.

The community most opposed to gay marriage usually reads these condemnations very leniently. A 2007 issue of Christianity Today, for example, featured a story on its cover about divorce that concluded that Christians should permit divorce for “adultery,” “emotional and physical neglect” and “abandonment and abuse.”

The author emphasizes how impractical it would be to apply a strict interpretation of Jesus on this matter: “It is difficult to believe the Bible can be as impractical as this interpretation implies.”

Indeed it is.

On the other hand, it’s not at all difficult for a community of Christian leaders, who are almost exclusively white, heterosexual men, to advocate interpretations that can be very impractical for a historically oppressed minority to which they do not belong – homosexuals.

Whether the topic is hair length, celibacy, when life begins, or divorce, time and again, the leaders most opposed to gay marriage have demonstrated an incredible willingness to consider nuances and complicating considerations when their own interests are at stake.

Since graduating from seminary, I no longer identify with the evangelical community of my youth. The community gave me many fond memories and sound values but it also taught me to take the very human perspectives of its leaders and attribute them to God.

So let’s stop the charade and be honest.

Opponents of gay marriage aren’t defending the Bible’s values. They’re using the Bible to defend their own.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jonathan Dudley.

 

God’s promises..but did He really promise this?

I used to work with a woman who left her job to follow God’s plan for her life in the Mission field. Then..she has a baby with special needs and her world is turned upside down. Following her blog, you see the ups and downs of being a Mom to a special-needs little boy. A Mom who is so desperately holding on to what God has promised her..but then..has he? I love her honesty, and hope that she doesn’t mind the copy/paste action here..

http://lindseymichelle.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/faith-and-all-that/

Faith and all that

I’m starting over a Bible study that I got half-way through several years ago and never finished. Believing God. Not believing in God. Believing God. That He wants to bless us and all that. That if we have faith that He will heal us, then He will heal us because we have faith.

And I know Abraham had faith and it was credited to him as righteousness. But… Abraham had something I don’t. A specific promise from God. God told him he would have a son, so Abraham believed (although it seemed impossible) that he would. God told Noah that it would rain, so Noah believed (although it seemed impossible) that it would rain. You know?

I mean, I know that the bible has lots of promises for us. It says in general that God works out all things for good, that He is always with us, and on and on. So, in general, I believe those things. But… because of my life experience and the experiences of those around me, I don’t think God’s picture of good always looks like our picture.

I had lots of people who, after hearing about our pregnancy, came up to me in the last months before Patrick’s birth and told me with absolute certainty that they just wanted me to know that they knew Patrick was going to be born perfectly healthy without any issues and that they were just believing God for that.

Um. Ok. Thanks? I really didn’t know what to do with that then. I knew they just wanted me to know they were praying for me and wanted to tell me something to make me feel better. Which was nice, I guess. But… I mean, obviously the thing that they believed with absolute certainty didn’t happen. I know too many people to have believed God would do something that they wanted to happen and it hasn’t happened the way they wanted it to.

I do believe God. I believe that He wants good for me. And I believe He is healing Patrick. Quicker than the doctors thought. It’s just… differently than I would have wanted… and slower… and sometimes agonizingly slow and not the way I wanted.

So I want Patrick get his trach out by this fall. Great. SO… I should just have faith and believe God will do it and just expect it to happen?

I mean, I haven’t heard a specific promise from God that that’s His plan for Patrick and me.

Not in a loud booming voice.

Not in a whisper.

Not even in a stirring in my heart.

So really it’s just something I want. Actually, I want him to get his trach out today. I don’t want to suction anymore. I don’t want to worry about trach care anymore. And I want to take the kid swimming. And to the beach. But I think it would be foolish to sit here and say, “Ok, God, today is the day – I’m believing you that today is the day you are going to heal Patrick and magically remove his trach. I’m believing. I’ll just sit here and wait for the doctor’s to call and give us the go ahead.”

That’s not believing God. Because God didn’t tell me that today was the day for that.

That would be like me saying “Ok, honey, I’m trusting and believing that you will bring me home a diamond bracelet when you come home from work today just like you said.” He would look at me like I was crazy and say, ”Uh… when did I say that?”

Am I making any sense? I feel like I’m rambling and going in circles.

All I’m saying is… I’m having a hard time understanding this concept of believing God for specific blessings in your life… and how it’s different from trying to manipulate God into giving you what you want with a bunch of rhetoric.

And I do know that God does sometimes give us very specific direction on what His will is. He’s done it for me before. But I just don’t think we should put words in God’s mouth if He hasn’t given us that direction.

Ok, I’m done rambling.

 

Boundary God?

I have to preface this with a “this is absolutely NOT my opinion and is here solely for the fact that I think it is one of the most ridiculous things I have read lately regarding spirituality” tag. No disrespect intended to Mrs. Patchett. I started to type that I am sure she is a lovely person..but in fact I do not know that. She could be quite lovely, or she could be quite grotesque in character. Or even worse, she could be -gasp- bland and void of any character. Though I seriously doubt the latter. If I only judge her on this one article, character she does not lack. She says at one point: “Having a talisman, even if it is your toaster, that reminds you to be honest with yourself, can save you untold suffering in the future.” One could question her sanity, as she admits to talking to an inanimate object..imagining it hears her and speaks back to her regarding various issues. One could argue that this is an atheist’s biggest argument against God being real. That when they pray to inanimate objects, say..a flying spaghetti monster (yes..there is actually a group of people who do this..mockery of course..but they do it) that they get the same results as if I were to pray to my God. That when healing or miracles DO happen, that it’s because of something we have done ourselves..mind over matter..I think therefore I am…I am my own God, etc. And honestly, I’m not sure what could be said to convince them otherwise. As much as I believe my God is real..such is their passion that He isn’t. Mrs. Patchett approaches spirituality with a sort of “choose your own adventure” outlook. When she is talking to her Boundary God, she is talking to herself. Her subconcious, her inner child, her inner adult even. She is doing nothing more than taking a few minutes to think about an issue before making a decision. Definitely a smart thing to do. (though, I’m wondering what the Boundary God REALLY said about publishing this article). So, Mrs. Patchett..why must you converse with a toy? Why can’t you call it what it is? Because the consequences wouldn’t be as personal? If the B.G. says I should do it..and it turns out unpleasant..then there is no personal accountability. If the B.G. says I should not do it..and it turns out that I should have…again, no personal accountability. Should you NEED a reminder to “be honest with yourself”? Shouldn’t we ALWAYS be honest with ourselves…and each other? And while we’re being honest, I pray to God…not a toy or a toaster or a flying spaghetti monster. God. And sometimes He speaks to my heart, and sometimes He doesn’t. He gives me wisdom and courage and the words to speak when I have none of my own. He is my God but also my friend. And when I speak with Him on a situation and it doesn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. I believe it is for a bigger purpose than I can see. I’m okay with not having all of the answers, or understanding all of His ways. I am not Him. And He is not a toy.

What I Know for Sure About My Boundary God
By Ann Patchett
June 01, 2011

I do not envy my friend Liz “Eat, Pray, Love” Gilbert for her blockbuster success or even her swell dog. What I do envy, though, is her ability to give presents. No matter what the occasion, Liz sends something that is both thoughtful and utterly original. She has sent me a floor-length wrap skirt printed with leaping emu, a good-luck chicken, and a carved wooden beetle box. But the best thing she ever gave me, which is really the best thing that anyone has ever given me, was an Indonesian boundary god.

My boundary god is carved from a pocked gray stone and is the size of a medium grapefruit with a neck. His facial features—two dots for eyes, a slight shelf of a nose, a straight line for a mouth—bring to mind a tropical snowman. He has no batteries. He does not sing or glow. He sits on my desk, quiet and wise, and protects my personal boundaries. He does a very good job.

For example, when asked if I would go to San Diego to give a talk in September, two weeks after returning from book tour in Australia, I sat for a minute and stared at my boundary god and, together, we had a nonverbal conversation. “Will you want to get back on a plane so soon after your 20 hour flight?” he asked (without asking).

“What if they really need me?” I (didn’t) reply. “How can I let down these people I don’t know?”

“You think there are no other writers?” the boundary god asked (without asking).

I nodded, quietly awed by his wisdom, then I called and declined the invitation.

The boundary god arrived, via the postman, when I was having a particular problem with houseguests. I was averaging about two sets a week. I didn’t invite any of them, nor did I ever say no. They just kept coming. But my little stone friend made me stop and focus. He encouraged me to think about what was actually best for my long-term mental health, and that’s when I got the situation under control.

The more I consult my boundary god, the more I realize a person could empower almost any household object with his insightful qualities. You could, for example, start consulting your toaster or your toothbrush or your parakeet. When someone asks you to take on another responsibility, excuse yourself for a moment. Go to your personal boundary god and ask the question, “Is this really something I’m going to want to do three days from now? (Three months? Three years?)” If the answer is no, then let it be no. Having a talisman, even if it is your toaster, that reminds you to be honest with yourself, can save you untold suffering in the future.

Just remember, sometimes the boundary god says yes. “Take a chance,” he tells me. “This crazy thing that’s being asked of you is going to be worth your time.”

I always listen.

Ann Patchett is the bestselling author of Run, Bel Canto, and, her newest novel, State of Wonder.

http://www.oprah.com/spirit/What-I-Know-for-Sure-About-My-Boundary-God-Ann-Patchett

Mega Grande Espresso please, extra caffeine

Thursdays are usually harder-to-wake-up days..but this one was especially so. Last night was…ummm…(how do I say this and still stay positive)…oh who am I kidding…it was bad. Really bad. Not a we-lost-a-kid or had-to-call-911 kind of bad…but right up there. It was a Field/Game day to celebrate the end of school/beginning of summer. Every class had fewer kids since it is the end of school/beginning of summer and mid-week church attendance always goes down. Which actually surprises me since some parents don’t bring their kids mid-week because we get out at 8:30 and by the time they get Suzy home and bathed and in bed it’s “too late on a school night”. So then we would expect to see them during the summer, yes? No, not really. Regardless, there we were celebrating end of school. And..we still had about 50 kid 4th and 5th graders (usually 65-70). And 4 teachers. My husband got off work late so he ended up being the 5th teacher about halfway through. I think technically we were covered with the kid-to-teacher ratio.However…my mistake was trying to do anything organized when school had just let out. The excitement level was through the roof. Impossible to contain. About 1/3 of the class didn’t listen or follow directions. It was like trying to get a squid to play checkers. Just not happening. So, frustration abounded. We were also too short-handed to do most of the things we had planned (obstacle courses with teachers at different stations).

The night ended with a discussion  with a Mom who was extremely rude and disrespectful to me (in front of her child). So really, how can I expect any more from her child when that is his model of behavior?

My body is tired, my feet hurt and I’m on my second cup of coffee. I’m exhausted mentally and physically. And that’s AFTER passing out in my bed and sleeping for 7 straight hours. Just another day on the battle-field. But I wonder, am I even making a difference? Am I being effective? Do we need someone else to step in/up to teach? I don’t know, some days I doubt that I can do this effectively. Can keep the class in control so the ones who DO want to learn…can.  I wonder why God placed me here, when I’m obviously not trained or the best choice. I know he spoke through donkeys so he can speak through anyone…and he “equips the called” not “calls the equipped”. But some days I wonder. Is that my faith weakening? Or my humanity showing? I guess if I thought I was a rock star, that would be bad also…but I do so wish I was better at this.