If Not You – Who?

I’ll be honest. The first draft of this post was a lot longer and more impassioned.  We had to say no to a placement this week and I was feeling emotional about that. There are a lot of reasons why we cannot take another child right now into our home and an equal amount of reasons why we really, really wanted to welcome this child into our home. We had the rare opportunity to have a few weeks to make a decision and we tried to talk ourselves into it in many ways but, in the end, we both came to the conclusion that we knew was the right thing to do for our family at this time. But, I’m not going to lie, it totally sucks.

As you may know, D proofs the vast majority of the posts for me (especially ones that fall under the “ranting” category). Here is the conversation that took place at our house:

Me: I wrote a blog post. You need to read it.

D: What is it about?

Me: How people should become foster parents.

D: I think everyone already knows how you feel about that.

Luckily, this video was posted by Bethany Christian Services the same day I wrote this post. It says it better than I can.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubBfXc3UOrw&feature=player_embedded]

This week I heard about a 16 year old who has had nearly 30 placements in foster care since he was five. I also heard about a girl who has aged out of foster care and is now having her children removed and put into the same system she has grown up in. It breaks my heart and I know it breaks God’s heart too. These are stories that I hear too often and that is why, every once in a while, I have to ask you to consider how your family might help these kids.

Correcting Other People’s Kids

In the last few weeks I’ve been at public locations and witnessed other kids behaving really, really badly. (In the past few weeks, I’ve seen my kids behave badly too but I usually know how to do deal with that).

  • At a coffee-house/play-scape place a few weeks ago, a little boy around the age of 4 or 5 was taking the bouncy balls from the “basketball court” and throwing them at the faces of other children (including my two). I asked him to stop and he did initially but then picked up again with the same behavior. This time I went “Supernanny” on him, got down to his eye-level and firmly told him to stop throwing balls. He stopped but called me some names (you know, “poopy-head” or something of that vein). When he started up again, I simply walked over and took the ball from him. He was shocked but his parent was nowhere to be seen so I was not sure what else to do. Eventually, I told DIB & AIB to go play somewhere else because it did not seem like this kid was going to stop.
  • Today we were at the library and two little boys (probably around 4) were having the time of their life trashing the puppet stage area. They were taking some cards intended for a matching game and throwing them up in the air and then, eventually, in people’s faces (other adults). Their moms were in another little section of the library chatting away. The woman they threw cards at was sort of timid but then they started throwing books at her and her daughter. I walked up to the little boy who threw the book and told him to stop. The woman asked him where his mother was and both little boys replied, “We don’t have mommies.” The woman walked away while another woman kept observing the yelling and general chaos. Their moms were not far enough away not to hear them but they simply were engrossed in conversation. They eventually came over and saw the mess and cleaned it up. DIB & AIB were observing this and had these shocked looks on their faces. I know it is not because they are above this kind of behavior (they are not); I just think they could not believe the kids were getting away with it.
What I wanted to do at the library today was walk over to the two moms and tell them, “You kids are being a little rowdy.” But I have no idea how people would take that. I want to believe that if I was them that I would not react defensively and would go deal with my kid. I hope I would. I hope that my friends and family know that if they see my kids acting crazy they should definitely say something to me or them. I totally get that kids have bad days (my four-year old had one this Wednesday which meant I ended my night with a Mini-Heath Blizzard from DQ). I hope other parents would understand that if I mention something that your kid was doing that it does not mean I think he/she is a bad kid altogether; just misbehaving in that moment. But these circumstances are really awkward and I wonder how others deal with them. Do you just find the parent right away or try to correct the kid on your own?

Matt Chandler’s Rose Story

This was posted at 22 Words earlier today. I thought it deserved being posted here as well. It nearly brings me to tears each time I hear it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-zR3h2UsR4&hl=en&fs=1]

Amen.

I Just Need to Say This…

Attempts to be less wasteful and have less of a negative impact on the earth are not direct attacks on you, Jesus Christ, or Christianity.

A few months ago I heard a Christian respond to a list of suggestions that a movie star made about simple things you could do to benefit the earth. He scoffed at this celebrity’s list including the suggestion to only run your dishwasher when it is full. To this suggestion he replied, “I will run my dishwasher whenever I like.” He called the celebrity out on his use of private jets for travel. That is probably a legitimate gripe. However, the list was intended to suggest simple things – as to not cause you inconvenience or the need to alter your lifestyle – which could help the environment. And, in my opinion, in a country where we pretty much get what we want, when we want it, we could all use the experience of being inconvenienced every once in a while.

Not only was his comment foolish, he was taking pride is being wasteful. In “churchy terms” that would be “not being a good steward.” It seemed incredibly irrational to me to take such personal offense to a list of simple suggestions, none of which were heretical. The man was mostly offended because this person was probably of a different political party than he was and, therefore, not interested anything they had to say. This is just one of several instances over the past few months in which I have seen a Christian take offense to a reasonable suggestion to be more environmentally friendly.

I am not endorsing the worship of nature but a simple respect for creation. I would not really call myself an environmentalist but I do think that conserving energy, recycling, and being less wasteful in general are good principles. I think most Christians understand this but there are a few who have embraced an anti-earth stance because the “tree-huggers” are on the other side of their politics.

This is just another example of what happens when faith and politics get confused. When we overly identify our faith with one political party, it becomes very difficult to see truth. In a world that we are supposed to be in but not of, it is hard for me to understand why Christians believe there is a “correct” party. Nothing about what Christ taught makes me believe that we belong in this world. One of my absolute favorite verses is Colossians 2:8:

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

I pray that every time I am considering my opinion on something, that I would measure it up against that verse. The teachings of Jesus Christ do not fit neatly into the platforms of a major political party. Why? Because they are the philosophies of man. I understand that this makes voting difficult but I don’t really care because it is not supposed to be easy for us to live here. We should not be surprised when our beliefs and our morals are challenged in politics and popular culture.

Because posts are much better with pictures: This is me and my bike-riding, energy conserving, recycling, hippie brother standing in front of God’s glorious, amazing, and wondrous creation. We both love Jesus.

Semi-Related Post: Consistent Ethic of Life

Weird Updates and a Rant

A few quick weird updates:

  • Unfortunately, “The Renewed Mind is the Key” video was taken down so we can’t watch it anymore. Very sad because that video was awesome.
  • Unless you click here and you can stream it.
  • Also, it’s not funny cheesy Christians who made this, but a cult like group called The Way International. They are from somewhere in Ohio and, according to there Wikipedia page… have some weird crazy views. For example, Jesus is Savior and the Son of God, but not actually God. They also believe in two different Holy Spirits (one is capitalized and one is not). They also have some views on things that I don’t even understand how they came up with. I’m not commenting on it, because it’s that weird. Plus this is a family friendly blog.

On to my rant:

Please know that I do not consider myself extremely smart or better than others (now you think this is going to be some rant about how awesome and smart I am). I just want to make that clear. Here is my problem. The entire nation seems to be very involved, interested, passionate, etc. about this upcoming election and I think it is ridiculous. My problem is that we (Christians) seem to get so excited about political candidates (no matter what side you fall on) thinking that they will make the change needed. We buy in to everything they sell. It really is ridiculous.

In Luke 20 the scribes and high priests send spies to try and trip Jesus up. They ask him whether they should pay taxes to Caesar. I have heard this used before to talk about how we should vote as Christians. Sure. However, I don’t believe the overall point of the passage is about voting or being involved in the nation we find ourselves in (politics included). Jesus responds to the question by saying in verse 23-25,

“Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?”
“Caesar’s,” they said.
“Well then,” He told them, “give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

Jesus asks whose “image and inscription” are on the coin. The obvious answer is Caesars. But the greater point is that those who were listening, as Jews, when they heard “image and inscription” would know that they are the image and design of God. They are completely God’s. Give to Caesar his small coins as tax, but give to God your complete life because you are His.

I just think that we get so excited about politics when it is clear that God has called us, His Church – a body of believers – to impact the world. God deserves to get the time, attention, excitement, passion, etc. that we are giving the political scene. I want to care far more about the role of the God’s Church in the world (not just America) than I do in which political candidate I think will produce the most change (which the cynic in me thinks is not all that much anyway). Personally I think, for the most part, we’ve done a really bad job of this.

Consistent Ethic of Life

I just read through “Principles and Policies for Christian Voters” which is essentially a voting guide put out by Sojourners. My O’Pa (grandfather) was a fan of Sojourners and I have been familiar with the group since high school when he began sending me articles from their magazines. He even signed me up for Christian Ethics Today, a small magazine similar to Sojourners, in which, his poetry was occasionally published. Whenever I get my issue of CET in the mail, I think of my O’Pa. He was known for his somewhat lively Christmas letters which usually gave his opinion on some “hot topic”. He passed away last summer and many times I have found myself wishing he was still here so I could ask him a question about something. He was incredibly wise.

So, I read through this voting guide and thought it made a lot of valid points. I could talk about a lot of them (and maybe I will in another post) but I will just touch on one because it is so close to my heart. Here is what Sojourners has to say under the section titled “Consistent Ethic of Life.” I have added emphasis on certain words because I am going to discuss them.

All life is a sacred gift from God, and public policies should reflect a consistent ethic of life.

“Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you.” (Isaiah 42:5-6)

“The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4)

1. Dramatically reduce abortion. Our society should support common ground policies that dramatically reduce the abortion rate by preventing unwanted pregnancies, providing meaningful alternatives and necessary supports for women and children, and reforming adoption laws.

2. End capital punishment. Our nations’ use of the death penalty should end. We should not take life to punish wrongful death. There is no evidence that it deters murder. It is easy to make fatal mistakes, as DNA testing has shown. The death penalty is biased against the poor, who cannot afford adequate legal representation, and is racially disproportionate.

3. Stop genocide. In Darfur and other countries, around the world, persecution and mass killing continues. Selective intervention by multilateral peace-keeping forces under the United Nations that can protect and save lives should be supported and strengthened.

Does anyone else notice the difference in language between #1 and points #2 & #3? Do you really think God is hoping we just “reduce” abortion? If we are only seeking to reduce abortion, please tell me when it is acceptable?

I found this section of the guide very frustrating. Although titled “Consistent Ethic of Life” Sojourners is blatantly inconsistent.

Abortion needs to end; it needs to stop. It deserves the same strong language they used for capital punishment and genocide. In fact, abortion is “racially disproportionate”. In this country, an African-American child is nearly as likely to be aborted as he/she is to be born. Abortion is “persecution and mass killing.” Abortion takes the life of a child and since 1973 it has taken the life of more than 45 million children in the United States alone.

Christians definitely need to be more consistent in their pro-life message. We need to create more aid and assistance for women facing unplanned pregnancy. We need to show more compassion and acceptance for women in these situations. We need to step up and be the ones adopting children. As people against the taking of a life, we must do all that we can to support those who choose life. As Christians, we must be consistent in our ethic of life but saying we need to just “reduce” abortions is not consistent. In fact, what it is, is Sojourners bending to the political party that they lean towards. They are being cowards. They know if they take a strong stance on abortion people may vote for the “other party.” If Christians want their votes to be taken seriously, then they cannot bend on Christian values. They need to stand firm so that elected politicians (who are supposed to represent the people) bend to us.

If you are sensing my anger, then you are getting the correct feeling from this post. Maybe this is my “lively Christmas letter.” But I hope in my seventies I am still as bothered by injustice as my O’Pa was and that I am still writing blogs like this. This is not my post against Sojourners; I agreed with many things in the voting guide. This is me begging them to not sell their souls to a political party. There are too many Christian organizations who have already done this on the other end of the political spectrum. It is of no use to have one on the left end as well.

Please see the following sites for more information:
Feminists for Life
Abort73
Protecting Black Life

Grocery Shopping Woes

I really enjoy cooking and do so even more now that I am planning my meals out ahead of time. Coming home from work and cooking is pretty relaxing for me. But what I really do not like about the cooking process though is grocery shopping. I make a list with everything I need for my meals ahead of time so I can get out of Meijer as quickly as possible. The only real free time I have to go to Meijer is on Sunday afternoons and, sometimes, on Saturdays. Either way, these are terrible times to go grocery shopping. I always seem to end up with a slow cashier or someone in front of me holding up the whole process. Recently, D and I ran into the store to pick up a few items so we got in the Express Lane. We quickly noticed the woman in front of us had much more than the twelve item limit. Rather than change lanes, we just waited. The cashier politely gave her the benefit of the doubt and said, “You must not have noticed that this was the express lane,” and the woman just said, “Oh no, I did but no one was behind me when I got in line.” We were not quite sure of her logic on this one. She then went on to argue over the price of five boxes of pasta she buying. Now, I’m all for a good deal, but she had already slowed down the express lane. I calculated the amount she was arguing over…it was just over $1.00.

The other problem I have run in to, especially at Meijer, is their dislike of my reusable grocery bags. I bring them in on every trip and try to have them unfolded and ready for packing when I get to the end of the lane. Several cashiers have been visibly annoyed by these bags. One even tried to educate me on the topic by letting me know that my bags were probably also made by trees and therefore, were not really that helpful. I let him know, politely, that by using them I only had 10 bags, rather than hundreds accumulated throughout multiple grocery shopping trips.

Today, when I headed to the check out at Meijer, I noticed that they had added about ten “No Item Limit” Self-Check Out Lanes with long conveyor belts. I thought I would give them a shot since the cashiers seem so bothered by my bags. I waited for the couple in front of me to bag up all their food and then started scanning my items. As I paid for my items, the guy behind me in line got way too close for comfort, overly eager to use the new machines. Apparently I was not quick enough for this family, because before I could bag up all my groceries they just started scanning theirs and sending them down the belt to crash into my items. Until people learn, “Self Check Out” Etiquette, I think I’ll just go back to the regular lanes. Or I’ll just start sending D to the grocery store but then all we would have in the house is cereal, whole milk, bread and American cheese.

Also, I’m realizing this is probably the longest post I have every written and I apologize. I’m just really annoyed. On a side note, I never have such problems at Trader Joe’s where they embrace my eco-friendly bags and have wonderful customer service.