A Cautionary Tale: afterward

As I mentioned in my comment on the last post I had planned on doing a follow up to it, to sort of wrap things up.

I  figured that there would be questions and comments that would need to be addressed. I didn’t know how my posts would be received.

I hit “publish” and then held my breath.

The feedback immediately started via comments, emails, dms, tweets.

Thanking me.

Because apparently, a lot of people have experienced the same sort of tale or their own personal BackStreet, and didn’t know if or how to express it. They saw themselves in my tale.

Since I hit publish, I’ve learned and been reminded of many things.

If I’ve learned one thing about the internet (and thank you Jesus for the fact that there is more to it than this) it’s that people do not like to hear things that they disagree with, don’t understand, find unbelievable or haven’t experienced.

No matter how I shared this, there would be people who wouldn’t like it.

I was mean for writing what I did.
wimp for not naming names and “setting it up so that it would be done in comments“.
Even the style I used to tell my tale was criticized.

But all I heard from those responses was: I didn’t really read your post.

Because it wasn’t about outing people. It wasn’t about being mean. It wasn’t about bringing someone down. There are at least 50 bajillion more effective ways I could have written my post if that had been my goal.

It was telling a tale that others obviously needed to hear.

And hear it, they did. Over and over and over again, people opened up and shared their own stories, as we shared a collective exhale.

So instead of wrapping this up in a nice and tidy package and storing it away, I’m crafting a couple of  posts that deal with some of the general feedback I received: ie: what’s appropriate vs what’s not; wearing masks; the truth about our new transparency.

You know — light, fluffy reading.

image credit

Merry Christmas

We’ve been trying to simplify this Christmas. Boil it down to what it’s really about. In searching for things to share with the kids, I’ve come across several interesting, well-done videos. I’ve passed these along on my Facebook page, but I know that not everyone enjoys going on there. So, I’m cross-posting here.

Enjoy. And Merry Christmas.

Retooning the Nativity (Igniter Media):

The Digital Story of the Nativity (Excentric Media):

A Social Network Christmas (Igniter Media):

Jesus and Santa (Igniter Media):

As you can tell, I like the work that IgniterMedia does. You’ve probably viewed some of their work at your church. If not, pass along their link to your pastor, or church media people.

Sojourner

(Please ignore my unfinished, unorganized, undecorated mess… I just feel the need to write, and it’s overriding my usual desire to not let anyone visit my house unless it’s “just right”…)

So I’ve been on a journey of sorts for the last 14+ months. Oh heck. Who am I kidding — I’ve been on a journey all my life. We are all on a journey; sometimes we get sidetracked from the journey, or get too comfortable with where we are and stay in the same place for a long long while. Or we just flat-out forget that that we were headed somewhere. Or looking for something. We are no longer excited about what is around the next bend. “I’ll just sit on this bench and rest a little while, thankyouverymuch.”

Regardless of why mine stopped (that is a post that may never be published), I finally picked my journey up, albeit with shaky nerves, wobbly knees and little confidence.

All that to say: I’ve been reading a book. Don’t laugh. It had been awhile. It’s hard to find the time to read when you are doing things like, oh I don’t know… trying to survive. And even though my circumstances are now different and I’m no longer treading water, there are relationships, business, and kids, and the house, and OH.MY.WORD The Laundry! Reading a book is a luxury these days. I love to read. I especially love to read about other people’s journeys.

So I started with something light, fluffy and easy*

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

I’ve read this book before, but I’m reading it again with different eyes. When it first came out, it was quite the controversial book in some of the circles I ran with. To the point where I was almost afraid to read it. I finally read it for myself. It’s not without flaws, but he’s not claiming to be a schooled theologian.

I’d love to just post the entire book on here for you to read, but then the copyright attorneys would be banging on my door. And I don’t think they’d appreciate my “But I love my Internetz” excuse… Plus, Donald Miller seems like a cool guy (<— for those of you who have read the book, this is a play on a part of it) and deserves to make any profits from it. So go to the library and check it out or click on the link above and get your own copy.

Until you get your hands on it, enjoy some of these thoughts. And share yours with me in the comments.

Some of my favorite thoughts from the book (so far; I’m sure there will be a part 2 to this post)

From Chapter 5, Faith: Penguin Sex:

Love, for example, is a true emotion, but it is not rational. What I mean is, people actually feel it. I have been in love, plenty of people have been in love, yet love cannot be proved scientifically. Neither can beauty. Light cannot be proved scientifically, and yet we all believe in light and by light see all things. There are plenty of things that are true that don’t make any sense… (God) doesn’t (make sense). He will make no more sense to me than I will make sense to an ant. (p. 54)

From Chapter 7, Grace: The Beggar’s Kingdom:

(I realized) I was too proud to receive God’s grace, I was humbled. Who am I to think myself above God’s charity? And why would I forsake the riches of God’s righteousness for the dung of my own ego? (p. 85)

From Chapter 8, gods: Our Tiny Invisible Friends:

I felt as if believing in God was no more rational than having an imaginary friend. They have names for people who have imaginary friends, you know. They keep them in special hospitals. Maybe my faith in God was form of insanity. Maybe I was losing my marbles. I start out believing in Christ, and the next thing you know I am having tea with the Easter Bunny or waltzing with my toaster, shouting, “The redcoats are coming!” (p. 87)

From Chapter 9, Change: New Starts at Ancient Faith:

I said to a guy the other day ‘God bless you’, but what does that mean? I have been saying that stuff all my life, but what does it mean? Then I started thinking about all the crap I say. All the cliches, all the parroted slogans. I have become an infomercial for God, and I don’t even use the product. (p. 97)

From Chapter 10, Belief: The Birth of Cool:

I don’t think any church has ever been relevant to the culture, to the human struggle, unless it believed in Jesus and the power of His gospel. If the supporsed new church believes in trendy music and cool Web pages, then it is not relevant to culture either. It us just another tool of Satan to get people to be passionate about nothings.(p. 111)

From Chapter 11, Confession: Coming Out of the Closet:

(this is such a good one, and it’s long, and I wish I could just type it all out…)

Upon being asked to defend Christianity and telling the questioner (a radio host) he couldn’t:

Of the hundreds of thousands of people listening to his show that day, some of the had terrible experiences with Christianity; they may have been yelled at by a teacher in a Christian school, abused by a minister, browbeaten by a Christian parent. To them, the term ‘Christianity’ meant something that no Christian I know would defend. By fortifying the term, I am only making them more and more angry. I won’t do it. Stop ten people on the street and ask them what they think of when they hear the word “Christianity”, and they will give you ten different answers. How can I defend a term that means ten different things to ten different people?… “I would rather talk about Jesus and how I came to believe that Jesus exists and that He likes me.” (my emphasis)

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality **

*Yeah, that’s sarcasm…

(**disclosure: the Blue Like Jazz links above are affiliate links on Amazon.com. If you purchase the book, I receive a portion of the sale. Which is kind of like a tip in a jar, no?)

Christmas, where are you?

 (originally published December 21, 2007)

I’m usually very transparent on my blog. I figure, if I can’t tell it to a group of strangers who I probably won’t know this side of Heaven, who can I tell? It is harder, now that I know some of you and have established friendships with many of you.

That’s my round-about way of saying that I’ve gotten a little more opaque lately and good at keeping things more fluffy.

Not today. Today, I am hurting and trying to work through some things. I know that as I write this, I will keep wrestling with myself, telling myself to just delete it, once I write it and get it off my chest. But I wonder if others can relate?? So, I’m rushing through it, misspellings, poor sentence structure and all… before I can change my mind.

The best way to explain, is to sum up how my morning went:

Abbie was allowed to not wear her standard school attire to school today because she has had no violations in her dress this year. The note home said “jeans and/or a holiday shirt”. Abbie had no holiday shirt. She was upset, but she worked hard to get over it. I was frustrated because I would have loved for her to have a holiday shirt. But, even a cheap one wasn’t in the budget. I raced her to school. She got out of the car and ran towards the school.

Suddenly, she went down. And landed in thick gooey mud… I got her to the door and then raced home to get her clean clothes.

In the meantime, her teacher called and said that Abbie was crying and embarrassed. My poor, sweet, forlorn girl.

And I barely had enough gas in my car to drive back over.

I started crying because of the frustration of the gas, the no-holiday-shirt, the mud and the child trying to be okay with it all.

But I wasn’t okay with it.

Why? Because this Christmas we’ve struggled with getting presents, let alone extras. We’ve got medical bills that have to be paid and we are still trying to take care of bills that went to collections when we lived in Maryland. We’ve been poor stewards of our money in the past. We’ve been trying to catch up from our year of constant errors and times are especially lean. When we do have extra, it’s like a gorging feast that gives you indigestion when it’s all over. It’s not frivolously spent – but in the lean times, our list of things we need when we have extra money grows longer and longer.

So I’ve cried this morning. I’ve cried for my daughter who is so sweet and tender and wants to be wearing a cheery Christmas shirt at school today, but isn’t. I’ve cried over the fact that were it not for other family members thinking of us and sending gifts, the tree skirt would be showing all of its un-hemmed glory. I’ve cried over the simple frustration of day-to-day life.

And then I remember Jesus.

And I remember His words.

And I remember what He gave me and what He did for me.

And I remember that Mary and Joseph and the shepherds didn’t have festive holiday attire at that first Christmas.

Rather, they were in a smelly, cold stable. And it was still the most perfect Christmas in the history of the world. No festive lights (other than that shining star), no shiny bows and trimmings, no Ho Ho Hos… 

The Gift that was laid in that manager so long ago is still my gift. It is far better than anything that could be under our tree or that my daughter could be wearing to school. Because of Him, I am redeemed and justified. And no one can snatch me from His hand.

Not bill collectors.

Not grumpy holiday shoppers.

Not advertisers that tempt me with all of the things they say will make my holiday perfect.

I am beginning to remember the real reason for this Holy day. The reason my home is decorated and presents are wrapped.

And I’m praying my heart will be filled with His peace and love.

And I pray the same for each of you.

Merry Christmas, friends!

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

~ Luke 2:8-14 (the Message)

If you are a girl or know a girl – please read

I came across an article by Nichole Nordeman on her site that I just had to share. It is such a good read. And I love the transparency and authenticity of these women.

Armed with a guilty conscience and CCM’s permission, I was compelled to ask some other artists if they, too, might wrestle a bit with the irony that we are trying desperately, through our music, to point to the liberating love of Jesus while packaging that music in a way that points to…well…us. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if anybody wanted to talk about that pressure. I feared silence. I feared the Jerry McGuire office memo moment. Would my fellow artists talk about real life?

Thirteen interviews later, to say that they were honest is an understatement. I awkwardly asked for a couple inches…and miles later, was humbled by the transparency of my peers.

read the entire post here.

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