Navigating our current culture the last couple of weeks has been almost unbearable as a woman who has spent most of her adult life ministering to, studying, observing, and fighting for women. The unbearable part for me has been watching the assault women are launching on each other. The lines have certainly been drawn. There are millions of women hurting, angry, and scared about where our country might be going….and there are millions of women who are thrilled. Verbal grenades are being thrown back and forth, leaving relationship casualties in their path. I have never seen so much carelessness with words – so much lack of concern about who may be hurt – so much assumption that surely everyone must agree with one’s opinion – so much apathy towards those that may disagree. My main concern is really with the church and the seemingly collective desire to demand behavior modification from those who do not yet love Jesus in order to make the world a nicer place to live in for those who do. This, my friends, is not the gospel.
A million years ago, when I was fifteen, I was able to visit New York City with several friends. While there, we went to the Broadway musical, “42nd Street.” I don’t remember much about the show at all, except one scene. The scene was mimicking the hustle and bustle of the city outside, while a woman in center stage was mourning the loss of the one she loved. No one stopped. No one mourned with her. Life had to go on. It was hers to bear alone.
I remember it affecting me profoundly, most likely because I was facing some sort of teenage drama at the time, feeling no one saw my pain while they enjoyed their trip to the Big Apple. But those feelings resurface today for someone else’s pain.
Three times in my life, I have sat and read a book cover to cover in a 24 hour time span. This is one of those books. It was just that good….and I recognize today as I review some of my own highlights, that it will be one that needs more than one reading. The message is so basic, yet so profound – so contrary to culture.
This year, my husband and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary. As most couples, we have had our share of highs and lows. We stumbled through the years of raising littles (four in six and a half years). We’ve been through financial pressures, career changes, and seasons where discouragement and depression took a painful toll on our relationship. With our oldest married now, and the ability to leave others home and go out whenever we want, we face a new challenge: taking each other for granted. Truth is, we still don’t go out very often. We struggle to prioritize our relationship. We don’t depend on each other to survive like we did when the kids were younger. We are comfortable. …Comfortable knowing that a fight will be resolved, and it will all be okay. ..comfortable knowing that even if one of us has a bad day, we are secure with each other…comfortable knowing that when the world crumbles around us, we have a good survival rate. Honestly, it’s pretty nice. But speaking for myself, I know a missing element is in the one word title of Gary Thomas’ new book: Cherish.
Anyone who has lost someone precious to them undoubtedly replays their last conversations over and over in their mind, clinging to those last words they shared. For Kim, the last words of her three year old son led her on a life-changing journey. Before her son died unexpectedly of a common childhood illness, Kim was on her own path, building an admirable career, enjoying her family, and living the American dream. Though her life was pretty much all she had wanted it to be, it was being lived apart from Jesus.
As tragic as it was, her son’s death was the life marker that led her on a new path. She discovered the gospel, and everything changed. As she began to read the Bible, she was struck by the conversations in John 13-17. These were the last words of Jesus…the conversations he shared with his disciples before his death and ascension back to heaven.
Like everyone else in America, I cannot wait for this election to be over. I have hoped for months that someone would eventually say, “Just kidding. It’s all a joke. Here’s the real candidates.” But, alas, the day is here, and apparently this is for real.
What I want to remind those that claim the Christian faith as we anticipate the results of this election is that:
- No president cannot single-handedly change the face of our nation.
- Our past presidents have not been the cause of our nation’s destruction.
I’m not saying they don’t have influence or power. But we still have more than they do. I apologize in advance that this post will be brimming with generalities. There isn’t much of a way around it. If the shoe fits….
This isn’t a plea to vote a certain way or even whether or not you should or shouldn’t vote. This is a simple reminder that our government has very little to do with shaping our culture. Our culture has shaped our government.
A million miles or so from Idaho, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is a ministry dear to my heart called Sak Saum. Sak Saum “is a ministry dedicated to the rescue, restoration, transformation and rehabilitation of vulnerable and exploited women and men” (Sak Saum). Through both a full time program, and a vocational training center, Sak Saum is fighting against human trafficking, “one person, one family, and one community at a time.”
The vocational training center teaches men and women to produce beautiful products, mostly from reclaimed fabrics, discarded coconut shells, recycled tires, cement bags, and scrap metal. Every product represents a rescue, and the materials used metaphorically represent Sak Saum’s mission to make “something beautiful from things that would normally be discarded.”
There are a couple of reasons I wanted to share about Sak Saum’s ministry with you today, because you might want to get involved. You can support this incredible ministry by:
Tomorrow you will be leaving my nest forever. We’ve had a trial run. You came back. But this time is for good. You are building your own nest for you and your bride. In twenty-four days, you will pledge your life and love to Anna forever, and a new family legacy will begin.
We told you tonight, in the middle of another one of our long talks, that it is hard to send you off with so little. We wish that we could bless you monetarily in ways that we cannot. But as we send you off with the stockpile of hand-me-down furniture and dishes we’ve been saving for you, there are several things on my mind.
It is true that you were our guinea pig. You have the privilege of being our first born. We have tested all of our parenting practices on you. Sometimes we failed. You will leave here not knowing everything you need to know. We know that there are so many things that we probably haven’t taught you. Some things we just haven’t thought about teaching. Some we didn’t know how. Some things you weren’t interested in learning, and we didn’t force it.
But there are a few things we hope you leave home having unshakeable confidence in:
Pre-teen years are hard. Brains are re-wiring. The appeal of toys is going away, but the ability to go wherever and do whatever has not yet arrived. Every year, as we enter summer, we do a massive room cleaning with the boys. This year, our twelve year old decided he was ready to sell all the Nerf guns. Sigh. I’ve watched his hobbies become increasingly more screen dependent, so I began to encourage finding a hobby.
What about fishing?
What about building stuff with wood?
You could read more!
I hate to read.
It seems we’re all picking colors these days. Colors of skin or occupations or sexual identities. Everything seems to have a color, and everyone is fighting for theirs. Blue lives matter. Black lives matter. Rainbow lives matter.
But the bottom line is that LIFE MATTERS. Every life matters.
When we forget this, we fight the wrong fight, start the wrong conversations, and trumpet the wrong horns. We start asking if the life pinned to the ground is more or less valuable than the life in uniform. We ask if the life in the night club is more or less valuable than the lives tucked in the beds of our home. We tell ourselves that the meth addict that just lost custody of her kids is less valuable than the stay at home mom that takes hers to church every week.
We do this because at the very core, we have forgotten the cause of our value.
In my previous post, I said that I would share some of the resources that have been helpful for me this year in discerning and finding confidence in my gifts and callings. So here goes….