Thursday, August 18


My pastor recently put something on Facebook about an upcoming sermon he's preaching on when religion hurts.  Now, this is all I have heard or know about the sermon - as he hasn't preached it yet - so I have no idea which direction he's taking this topic.  But it got me to thinking this week how religion can be hurtful.  For the past couple of days this has been on my mind, and while I still cannot come up with a neat bulleted list, I have come up with a lot of ways that religion hurts - but they are all incredibly specific ways.  When there is fighting between Christians about doctrine or belief, or when there is fighting between different faith traditions about who is "right" and who is "wrong" and who said what and what really happened.  Regardless of whether or not you would agree with anything I have to say, and vice versa, the whole point is that there is freedom in religion.  I know that not all places in the world have "religious freedom" as we would call it in America, but I'm talking about something much more transcendent than basic human rights.  There is freedom in religion.  In religion, there seems to be a deeper sense of self and a moral compass that guides one throughout life.  Again, whether or not we want to agree with people or throw them under the bus, the freedom that comes from religion is a beautiful thing - because it's universal. At least, in the way that I view religion.

And this is the problem.  Freedom in religion.  It's the beauty and the curse.  Because, as a human being, I have an enormous about of pride. Whether I realize it or not, I value myself more than I value others - I truly think that at the core of my being, I value myself over everyone else.  Of course I tear up when I see the starving children on the commercial.
The commercial that I just forgot to fast forward through using the DVR - which has 15 tv shows that I just haven't had time to watch yet because I've been shopping at Hobby Lobby, or meeting friends for drinks at Starbucks, or working at a job that pays well and puts food of the table every night, but of course, I always buy too much food at the air conditioned, over-stocked, too much food for anyone grocery store, and it goes bad before I eat it all, and then I have to throw it away - because, "oh well, next time I just won't buy $100 worth of groceries, I'll just buy $75 worth."

While thinking about the idea of "religion hurts," I keep coming back to pride.  Is it pride that drives the conflict?  Is it pride that cause the schisms?  Is it pride that segregates different faith traditions?  Is it pride that says, "I'm right, so that must mean you're wrong"?  Is pride the root of it all?  Because I know that I get myself into a world of hurt sometimes...

In various instances throughout my young adult life, I have come in to contact with a wide array of people who believe various things - contrary as well as similar to myself.  I find myself lucky to have been shaped and molded by these circumstances and situations. However, religion does hurt sometimes.  The most sincere person can be offensive.  I've often thought that intentions are incredibly important.  That, as long as you didn't intend to be hurtful that it's okay.  And I've mulled this idea over for quite sometime, but I find a dichotomy.  I think that intentions are incredibly important and sincerity is something that you should strive for.  The outcome of the actions, however, are a different monster all together.

It's like when Hubby and I have an argument, I don't intend to be hurtful when I say certain things, but it comes off as being hurtful.  There is no "right" or "wrong" in this scenario - there is one person who did not intend to be hurtful, and one person who is hurt - and that's a problem.  How to fix it?  I don't know, I've only been married for 4 1/2 years - maybe don't say hurtful things?  I don't know.

But with religion, I feel like the hurt is a deep hurt.  Because religion reaches down deep into your soul while also soaring into the highest realms of your world, when religion hurts - it rocks your psyche.  It shakes your core and tears pieces away from your being.  They say, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."  Well, what doesn't kill you, doesn't kill you.  I guess you become stronger because the other choice is to "be killed," but I would rather not have that mentality about life.  I don't want to be a hurtful person.  I don't want to judge other people's actions based on what I think they should have done, or what I think is the best thing for them.

I do not want to fool myself into thinking that I know everything about everyone and that I need to be their spiritual mentor without ever really getting to know them.  I do not want to over-spiritualize myself so that I become a holier-than-thou voice of God for those (obviously) less fortunate.  I believe in a sovereign God - a God that transcends humanity and everything that I could ever hope to comprehend.  My God is BIG and I cannot contain God within the confines of my feeble existence.  I want the freedom that comes with religion to be experienced by all, and I don't want to get in the way of others experiencing the freedom for themselves.  I do not want my pride to hurt others.  I do not want my pride to get in the way of potential relationships with people that might think things different from me.  I do not want my pride to get in the way of God doing whatever it is that God does.  I do not want my pride.

Religion hurts because pride. Religion hurts because pride hurts. Religion does not need to hurt, but pride hurts religion.

Thanks, Brother Pastor.  I'm glad I saw your Facebook status. :)

Tuesday, May 24

In Five Days...

...I will be making last preparations to move to Turkey.

Maybe, I will have a fitful nights sleep (no matter how tired I will be from the past several days of seeing people, dining with friends and family, hanging out, and making sure things are in order to move).  Maybe, I will wake up really early Sunday morning, it will probably be humid outside (because that's just my luck), so my hair will be a mess for our last Sunday at church.  Maybe, the dress I have picked out to wear on Sunday which is currently in the "don't-touch-because-these-clothes-are-not-ready-to-be-packed-just-yet" pile will likely be moved, or I will have misplaced it in a fit of frazzled-ness.  Maybe, it will be raining on the way to church, and I'll freak out a little because I hate flying, and it'll be stormy when we fly out later on in the day - and then be an anxious wreck.  Maybe, church will be droopy and sad since it's our last Sunday and we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our church and everyone there.  Maybe, during church, I will be so distracted about thinking of all the things we MAY have forgotten, that I'll miss Mitch's wonderful series and the wonderful hymns we'll sing.  Maybe, at lunch, we'll have a really terrible server and it takes forever to get our drinks, and food, and then we don't leave in time for us to do the last-minute things we need before we have to load up our things and go to the airport.  Maybe, everything that could go wrong will go wrong.  Or...

Maybe, everything will be fine.  We'll have a great 5 days spent with friends and family.  Maybe, nothing else will really be a big deal, because so far we've been fine, and we'll have to trust that it continues to be fine.  Chapter "next" is about to begin and we will be excited, nervous, anxious, nostalgic, and humbled.

Bring it, Turkey.  We're as ready as we'll ever be!

Sunday, May 1

I'm sick to my stomach...

Bin Laden is dead.  The news broke a couple hours ago and I have been watching the news reports as they have been streaming into the stations, videos on repeat, reporters rejoicing...

Every time I refreshed my facebook page, there were five more people who had something to add to the rhetoric that has been circulating the internet since the news broke.  People are rejoicing, people are happy, praising God that this man is dead, relishing in the knowledge that justice has prevailed...

And I'm sick.  I'm absolutely disgusted.

Bin Laden did terrible things.  There is no fiber of my being that thinks he made good choices with his life. I do not condone the things that were done or the things that will be done.

But I'm sick.  And I am absolutely disgusted by the rhetoric that people are using.

As a Christian, as one who has faith and hope in the sovereignty of God - HOW can I rejoice in the death of any individual?  He was loved by God, just like I am.  How is his death any different?  Because he killed a lot of people?  Because people took it upon themselves to join a cause fighting the antithesis of the ideology of Bin Laden and they happened to be "our people"?

How is rejoicing in the death of someone a good thing?  How is this different from those of Westboro Baptist, who go and protest soldiers' funerals?  Because Bin Laden was bad?  We're all bad - just go read facebook from the past two hours.  People are celebrating because someone was killed.  People are celebrating because someone was killed.  People are celebrating because someone was killed.

And it's the most disgusting thing I have ever witnessed.  Someone posed the idea:

Would you wash the feet of Bin Laden as Christ did for you?  

Because this is what we're called, as Christians, to be.  We are to be Jesus to everyone.  Everyone always says this, it's a nice little thing to say...pretty, nice, dainty even... If I had to wager a guess as to whether or not people actually buy in to this by the gross display that was facebook's newsfeed tonight, I'd have to say that we're full of...well, a word I typically try not to say.

Grace is for all.  For all.  Christ died for all.  Not: everyone, except those that I don't think deserve it, or could ever deserve it because I said so...

For all.

God be with our nation.

Wednesday, March 23

Going through crap...

I need to start blogging somewhat daily...unfortunately I'm not very good at doing this in the first place, so I need to get exponentially better! :)

Over the last couple of weeks I have slowly been going through things, in fact, if you came over to our house right now it would look as if we had a gaggle of toddlers come through and pull things off shelves, stack things in the hallway, etc.  We have given 3 car loads of clothing and miscellaneous items to good will, and still have TOO much random crap.  Also, in this process, we have been buying nicer "teaching" clothes for our big move in ten weeks...most of these clothes coming from Gap Outlet or the Clearance rack at Gap...if we're being honest.  I feel less terrible about buying a bunch of new clothes when we're buying them at 50%-70% off at all times.  Even though there is so much more to do, I've gotten a little accomplished, and feel pretty good.

Going through our things has gotten me thinking...How did we acquire so much's random stuff, too.  I went through an obscure "junk closet" just yesterday and I found things I bought months ago, still unused and in the packaging....and I have no pragmatic use for it anymore.  How much of the stuff I have is actually worth the money or time I spent acquiring it?  I guess it comes with moving halfway across the globe - this perspective has made me wonder loads of different things: How will I parent?  What important ideals will I hope to instill in my children?  How will living abroad affect the way I parent?  When we move back to states after we have lived abroad, will I be considered frugal?  Will I be the "crazy" missionaries who were never really "missionaries"...that everyone smiles at but makes fun of behind closed doors?  Will I still find shopping at Hobby Lobby an enjoyable experience?  And I know these are silly questions, or may seem insignificant, I still wonder about them.  I don't lose sleep over them, but I wonder.

Wonder.  There are so many unknowns in moving, regardless of where you move.  Wonder is the one thing that is making me anxious and excited all at the same time.  I can't really explain the feeling, but wonder is at the center of it all.  Slowly getting rid of things has been an eye-opening experience.  These things I can't take with what is important?

At the end of the day...what are the things I don't want to be without?  Superficial and insignificant to others...but what are they?  It's a weird thing to think about.

Friday, December 10

Last Day of Class...

...for THIS degree.

One of these days, I have big plans to go to graduate school - no idea when, where, for what, or how...but one of these days.  Hubby is cool with it, too. :)

Today is the last day of my undergraduate classes for the rest of my life.  It's a weird feeling.  It's seems silly to be excited about it, mainly because it's taken a long time to get here.  When I graduated high school, I had NO desire to continue going to school for a higher education.  Growing up in a small-ish town, there are a different set of "worldviews" involved.  I am, by no stretch of the imagination, saying that growing up in a small town makes you small-town minded (maybe a little) and, therefore, means - insert list of derogatory things - here.  All I am saying is, there are different expectations, and I experienced this firsthand.  When my parents forced me to go to college after graduation it was with the BEST of intentions.  And I appreciate  At the time, I rebelled.  For the year I was away at college, I managed to receive 9 college credits while failing 21 credits. You do the math - not good.

With a 1.5 or so GPA, I quit college and got a job for the next one in a half-two years.  Living at home, my parents were gracious enough to allow to stay living with them free of charge and comfortable.  Looking back, it seems weird to have done that (where I am now in life), and I am grateful to them for letting me work out my life in the comfort of their home.

Rich and I were married January 6, 2007 - and I continued to not want to go to school (Rich, who would be a career student if it paid the bills, could not understand).  I had taken 3 or 6 hours at the community college here and there, and had gained a few more credits to my name, increasing my GPA just a little.

In December of 2007, after talking with my sweet hubby about continuing my education, which he was THRILLED about, I told him I wanted to go to the University of Oklahoma.  He plainly said, "Ok."  Nervous and excited, I sent off my application, was accepted as a transfer student with 30-36 hours (don't remember), and talks began about moving to Oklahoma.

We moved to Norman, OK, June 2008.

OWC (stealing this from Autumn, as "Our Wonderful Church") became Rich's place of ministry and we both got other jobs as well to supplement our income (I hold to the idea that no one becomes a paid minister because it's going to make you wealthy...just an observation - and those that GET wealthy, I would suggest that maybe what they're doing isn't ministry...but that's a tangent for another blog)

I enrolled in classes for the Fall of 2008, one of them being "Intro to Religious Studies."  If I had only known what doors this one class would have opened, I think I would have walked in to the class feeling like I was going in for an interview - nervous, and not myself at all.

Professors B and T Boyd have been instrumental in my degree - and I am indebted to them for their kindness and willingness to work with students, to talk with students, to open up their home to students, and really do anything that can for students.  I can honestly say that they live for their students - for the challenges that students have, the sharing of intellectual conversation, the evolution of a student's worldview into something broad, etc.  Best professors, ever.

In this entire process, I have had the pleasure of meeting great groups of people in every "life" I have had in Norman: school life, church life, work life, sister life, hubby life.  Each group of people I come in to contact with changes me for the better.  I have learned much, experienced much, and and grateful for everything!

Norman, OK: I didn't expect much when we first met, and I'm still not sure about you as a geographic location (WHY can't you just be in Texas), but you house some of the greatest people I have ever had the please of meeting, and for that, I am eternally indebted.

"I have been changed for the better...because I knew you, I have been changed for good."

Hundreds of people have gone unnamed, but there are too many names to list you all - just know that I cherish each and every one of you.  Thank you for shaping the person I am becoming - and challenging me to grow into something more.


Sunday, December 5

Hope & Joy

There are certain moments where I feel like I could burst into tears with joy.  Not because something good has happened to me, or something works out in my favor - just random outbursts of joy.

As I was driving to work the other day, I had my iPod playing a random "Shuffle" of my "Christmas" genre music.  It was anything from Josh Groban to N'Sync (who, btw, sing a mean a cappella version of "O Holy Night!")  But back to the story - a Michael W. Smith song popped up, it was "Sing Noel, Sing Hallelujah."  It is a song that has a huge orchestra, and what seems like a 500 person choir.  It is one of the most beautifully moving songs I have heard this holiday season - and the mixture of the lyrics that gave me such hope along with the masterful was truly ineffable.  This post really doesn't even make sense to you - because you have no idea what I'm talking about.  Ineffable.

There is such a sense of hope in the holidays.  Not because there are things to look forward to, but because the world seems to get smaller as we realize that there are others less fortunate and realize all that we have been blessed with - material and other.  This time of year, at least in this part of the world (which is all I know), there is a spirit of hope and glimpses of joy in everything from a religious experience, a song on the radio, a raw and honest blog post about prayer, or a good home-cooked meal.

This post is not trying to be inspirational and convicting - enough of that will be portrayed during the holiday season.

I was brought to tears by the beauty of music - and it is something I found hopeful with a replenished sense of joy that seems to fade at times.

What gives you hope?  What revitalizes your joy?

Monday, November 29

Books I Want...a blog for myself

Thanksgiving has gone, and now it seems like there is no time at all before Christmas is here.  Which is a happy feeling as well as stressful.  I graduate on the 17th, and I keep thinking - I have so much to do before then.  I have 5 tests.  That's it.  It doesn't seem like much, but they are in the span of 7 days - that's the kicker.  Stress levels are high, but the Christmas trees in my living room help to elicit calm - even when there is none is the foreseeable future.

Hubby and I decided to get gifts for each other this year.  This seemed like a good idea at the time we decided, but I have no idea what to get him.  Unlike me, he does not have perpetual lists of things that he wants (to my knowledge, anyway).  I have a list on the Notes App of my phone and it even has two categories: Things & Books.  I love books.  If I could just live at Barnes & Noble, or at my imaginary's would be a happy day.  I know there are libraries, but libraries smell after some time...couldn't live there.

There is one book, in particular, that I have my eye one:


This seems to take all the books in the Hebrew Bible, arrange them in the order that the Hebrew Bible is in, and then puts on verse-by-verse commentaries for the passages.  It also includes different rabbinical interpretations and texts, articles from Jewish Scholars, and a few articles on the different ways to interpret the bible! :D

Call me a nerd, but this is exciting! Other's I am interested in are:

I read the back of the cover at a professor's house once and the book has stuck with me.  It refers to the one verse in the Qur'an that talks about the crucifixion of Jesus. "But they killed him not, Nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjunction to follow, for of a surety they killed him not." (4:156-159)  This is the verse that the text deals with - and it seems absolutely enthralling! :D


Just sounds interesting - I love Borg & Crossan books, own several of them and am currently reading The First Christmas which discusses what we know about the Infancy Narratives and how this gives them a different/deeper meaning because of this knowledge.

Just a few things I have had my eye on - in the Book column of my list, haha.

One of the reasons I have been putting off buying this i because of the possibility of getting an eReader for graduation.  I don't want to bog myself down with pages and pages and pages if I can have digital we'll see!

The end.  Class is starting.