What Christians Are Forgetting About November 9

electionLike 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:

  1. No president cannot single-handedly change the face of our nation.
  2. 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. 

Party with a Purpose – Sak Saum Ministries

Fearless Key Necklace

Photo Courtesy of Sak Saum

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:

To my son on your last night at home….

Clayton and MomTomorrow 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: 

What You Should Know About Pokemon Go

pokemon goPre-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?

Fishing’s lame.

What about building stuff with wood?

That’s dumb.

You could read more!

I hate to read.

Are You Picking A Color?

Gazing from mountainIt 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.

I agree.

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.

Wildflower – A Story of Exposed Trauma and Recovery – DVD Review and Giveaway

wildflowerChloe is a young college student who has worked hard to earn a scholarship at a prestigious art school. She is struggling with her relationship with her mom, the pressures of producing good enough work to keep her scholarship, and the internal nagging that something is just missing in her soul. Life is not perfect, but it is what she knows. She is settled in her routine of going to class, working on her art, and going home alone. When the pressure of producing her final semester project increases, swirling images, voices, and blackouts converge on her. Her unknown, blocked-out past has decided to reveal itself at the most inconvenient time.

When You Don’t Know Who You Are

Used by Permission - Clay Thomas Photography

Used by Permission – Clay Thomas Photography

A barrage of voices shout at me.

“You just aren’t made for this.”

“You’re better at that.”

“I don’t know if you’re called to this.”

“Here is a list of things you need to change about yourself to fit here.”

“This just isn’t your gift set.”

I wasn’t sure what to do with all of these voices. They came out of nowhere, and it seemed that the rest of my life had spoken differently.

“You were made for this.”

“This is your calling.”

“God has called you and equipped you for this.”

When my last paid ministry position ended because I was “no longer a good fit,” I found myself battling more than just hurt and anger, but questioning who I was. The irony stung, as I had spent the previous year leading our women through an entire series on identity. I thought I knew.

Whiter than Snow

The rain is drizzling outside, then pouring, then drizzling again. Our beautiful snow covered yard has surrendered to the downpour and given way to thick, sticky mud. Beach buckets, garden gloves, and basketballs reveal themselves in the places they were left before the snow, giving and eerie appearance of an abandoned village.

It is ugly, dreary, and sad.

I miss the snow.

Snow doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you have a well manicured lawn, or if you never finished raking your leaves. It doesn’t care if your roof is high and new, or low and flat. It doesn’t care if you’ve left a bunch of stuff in the yard, or if you carefully put it all away.

When It Is NOT Well with Your Soul

Photo Credits @claythomasgifford

Photo Credits @claythomasgifford

I walked into church yesterday and ascended the bleachers to our “regular” seats, like I have been doing for the last six months. I sit down, take a deep breath, and hope that today will be a day that I can worship….that church hurts won’t overwhelm me…that I won’t spend the next hour dwelling in my personal resentment and frustration with the men who may be pacing the stage that day. The music begins. I feel numb. Numb is usual these days. I wish it wasn’t, but it just is. After a couple of songs, I hear the music beginning to a personal favorite; but as the chords progress, I know something is very wrong. Her voice is beautiful and clear. The words should be true….but they aren’t for me. Not today. “It is NOT well with my soul.”