Sunday, January 28, 2007

"God has helped"

John 11
The Death of Lazarus

1-3 A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. This was the same Mary who massaged the Lord's feet with aromatic oils and then wiped them with her hair. It was her brother Lazarus who was sick. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Master, the one you love so very much is sick."
4 When Jesus got the message, he said, "This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God's glory by glorifying God's Son."
5-7 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed on where he was for two more days. After the two days, he said to his disciples, "Let's go back to Judea."
8 They said, "Rabbi, you can't do that. The Jews are out to kill you, and you're going back?"
9-10 Jesus replied, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in daylight doesn't stumble because there's plenty of light from the sun. Walking at night, he might very well stumble because he can't see where he's going."
11He said these things, and then announced, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I'm going to wake him up."
12-13 The disciples said, "Master, if he's gone to sleep, he'll get a good rest and wake up feeling fine." Jesus was talking about death, while his disciples thought he was talking about taking a nap.
14-15 Then Jesus became explicit: "Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn't there. You're about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let's go to him."
16 That's when Thomas, the one called the Twin, said to his companions, "Come along. We might as well die with him."
17-20 When Jesus finally got there, he found Lazarus already four days dead. Bethany was near Jerusalem, only a couple of miles away, and many of the Jews were visiting Martha and Mary, sympathizing with them over their brother. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house.
21-22 Martha said, "Master, if you'd been here, my brother wouldn't have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you."
23 Jesus said, "Your brother will be raised up."
24 Martha replied, "I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time."
25-26 "You don't have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?"
27 "Yes, Master. All along I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world."
28A fter saying this, she went to her sister Mary and whispered in her ear, "The Teacher is here and is asking for you."
29-32 The moment she heard that, she jumped up and ran out to him. Jesus had not yet entered the town but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When her sympathizing Jewish friends saw Mary run off, they followed her, thinking she was on her way to the tomb to weep there. Mary came to where Jesus was waiting and fell at his feet, saying, "Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died."
33-34 When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, He was deeply moved in his spirit and was overcome with intense emotion
34-35 "Master, come and see," they said. Now Jesus wept.
36 The Jews said, "Look how deeply he loved him."
37 Others among them said, "Well, if he loved him so much, why didn't he do something to keep him from dying? After all, he opened the eyes of a blind man."
38-39 Then Jesus, once again deeply moved, arrived at the tomb. It was a simple cave in the hillside with a slab of stone laid against it. Jesus said, "Remove the stone."
The sister of the dead man, Martha, said, "Master, by this time there's a stench. He's been dead four days!"
40 Jesus looked her in the eye. "Didn't I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
41-42 Then, to the others, "Go ahead, take away the stone."
They removed the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, "Father, I'm grateful that you have listened to me. I know you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here I've spoken so that they might believe that you sent me."
43-44 Then he shouted, "Lazarus, come out!" And he came out, a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over his face.
Jesus told them, "Unwrap him and let him loose."

Right now, in this life with its stones and potholes, sicknesses, disappointments, and despair--
when Jesus looks you right in the eye and says "If you believe, you will see the glory of God!"

What are you going to do?

Stand in front of the stone and process? Or get out of the way?

What death linens bind you and blind you? And are you willing to release the security of them and embrace Him?

"And you will come to know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:36

Lazarus--"God has helped"


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Just when you think it's safe to go back in the pulpit...

Remember when the Southwestern Theological Seminary stuck their noses in private prayer a while back?

In October, seminary trustees drew criticism within the Southern Baptist denomination because they voted not to tolerate promotion of “private prayer language” at the school. Two months before, the Rev. Dwight McKissic of Arlington said during a chapel service at the seminary that he sometimes speaks in tongues while praying.

This theological Jabba the Hut is now doing the zeroing on women.

Posted on Fri, Jan. 26, 2007
Prof: Seminary made her leave because women can't teach men

FORT WORTH - An Arlington pastor says Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary committed “a moral injustice” by denying a female professor the chance for a tenure review because of her gender, and he has filed complaints with two accrediting agencies, asking them to investigate.
The Rev. Benjamin Cole of Parkview Baptist Church filed complaints Thursday with two agencies — the Association of Theological Schools and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools — saying that the Fort Worth seminary’s treatment of professor Sheri Klouda violated its own policy and jeopardizes its accreditation.
At issue is the interpretation of a Southern Baptist doctrine statement that says the office of senior pastor is limited to men, and Southwestern President Paige Patterson’s interpretation that it also means that only men should instruct future pastors, Cole said.

A follow-up article on Jan. 27 (Pastor says prof hit glass ceiling
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER) contains the well-rehearsed pious PR spin --but it still smells rank to me.

Patterson could not be reached for comment, but he has said his interpretation follows "the biblical pattern that we need men in that capacity."
Cole said the seminary's handbook advocates gender equality for tenure review in all its schools, including theology.
Van McClain, chairman of Southwestern's board of trustees, declined to comment. In an e-mail to The Associated Press, McClain said that the seminary has not changed its policy but that there was "a momentary lax of the parameters, and [Southwestern] has now returned to its traditional, confessional and biblical position."

PEE--EEWW!! Somebody take out the trash!!


Saturday, January 20, 2007

This was an interesting assignment: read the assigned novel and analyze the passages that affected you the most. Write about why they affected you. My book was "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac.

Little Boxes
Malvina Reynolds

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,
Little boxes, little boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.
And the people in the houses
All go to the university,
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
And there's doctors and there's lawyers
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf-course,
And drink their Martini dry,
And they all have pretty children,
And the children go to school.
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university,
And they all get put in boxes
And they all come out the same

And the boys go into business,
And marry, and raise a family,
And they all get put in boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same.

Ah, the American Dream—according to the WASPs who governed the nation in the beginning of the 20th century (and still wield a powerful amount of guilt and judgement). The dreamers, the poets, the mavericks—well, they just needed to conform, because the American Dream is about being successful, and success is defined as having the right amount of money, working 40 hours a week, driving the right kind of car, living in the right place, being married by the right age, having 2 kids (one of each gender), going to the right church once a week, and paying your taxes. Sal Paradise, having attempted to live the American Dream and failed, has nothing to lose and everything to gain by following his star, or any star, across the country to breathe life into his dead, cold life ( Kerouac 5). Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road documents his journey across the United States in search of “girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me (11).”
What makes a person up and walk out of a life that has already been written? Was there a day when Sal woke up and decided it’s time to go (10)? Did someone tell him “You can’t,” and in a moment of heathenism he thought, “Why not?”
There was that day that someone pounded the table in front of me and yelled, “You don’t matter! What you want doesn’t matter! How you feel doesn’t matter! What I say matters! What I want matters! How I feel matters, what I say matters, what I want matters because I am the man and God made me the master over you!” My life had been written by a religious psycho and I was the only one who could rewrite it. And so I did. I followed Sal on the road. I got three daughters, visions, everything; somewhere along the line, the pearl was handed to me.

When mavericks and dreamers are pasteurized and canned into ticky-tacky spaces, they eventually explode like a bad batch of jam, catapulting across existence into spaces where they can dance and sing and jam and just dig everything that is going on around them. I sing the same song as Sal when he confesses that when “they danced down the streets like dingledoodies, … I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue enter light pop and everybody goes ‘Awww (9)’!” I looked at my mother, my two older sisters, my grandmothers, my aunts, the church ladies, the mirror and saw “her great dark eyes (that) surveyed me with emptiness and kind of chagrin that reached back generations and generations in her blood from not having done what was crying to be done—whatever it was, and everybody knows what it was. ‘What do you want out of life?’ I wanted to take her and wring it out of her (200)….She was eighteen, and most lovely, and lost (201).” It didn’t make sense until someone screamed it in my face and in a moment of heathenism, I thought for the first time, “I matter.” And I ran like my hair was on fire.

My mentor was a midwife who had been divorced twice, had lived with numerous men, had one baby out of wedlock, encouraged sexual experimentation, and questioned the existence of God. She smoked pot, drank when she felt like it, and was the head of her household. She was hellbound for sure. She fascinated me the way Sal’s hitchhiker friend fascinated him, “not because he was a good sort, as he later proved to be, but because he was enthusiastic about things (17).” I married her brother—after getting pregnant and being kicked out of my church. Then I met her sister-in-law, and we were all sisters now, a sister and two women married to her brothers who were asses in their own right by loving their children to distraction but having scars from their own crazy ranting bipolar mother and seeing us as crazy harpies when we would say “Why won’t you listen to me?”

God, what were You thinking when you made us blind with desire? Sal’s aunt could teach them a lesson; she believed that “the world would never find peace until men fell at their women’s feet and asked for forgiveness (101).” Don’t men get it? But, no, Sal's friend Dean speaks for the all of the men I have ever known when he declares that “I’ve pleaded with (his lover) Marylou for a sweet peaceful understanding of pure love between us forever with all hassles thrown out—she understands; her mind is bent on something else—she’s after me; she won’t understand how much I love her, she’s knitting my doom (101).” And Sal, a man raised by his wise aunt, nails it when he replies “The truth of the matter is we don’t understand our women; we blame on them and it’s our fault (101).” The hassles Dean hated were monogamy and responsibility. After he encourages Sal to “hook up with a real great girl if only you can find her and cultivate her and make her mind your soul as I have tried with these damn women of mine… (154),” his current girlfriend and mother of one of his four babies kicks his ass to the curb, as did both my sisters-in-law did their husbands. My husband did fall at my feet and ask forgiveness. I think I’ll keep him—for now.

Is this all just smoke and mirrors? Do we make up a story about God to answer our own egocentric questions of existence? Can we find Him? If nobody loves us, God will. If we feel like shit, guilty and ashamed, unforgiving and hopeless in our own life, God will redeem us. Really?
I wondered until met my daughters. “Look at those eyes….notice how (s)he will come into
(wo)manhood with (her) own particular soul bespeaking itself through the windows which are (her) eyes, and such lovely eyes surely do prophesy and indicate the loveliest of souls (234).” Dean and Sal encounter this new life and move on to a whorehouse, their definition of glory. They find their “pornographic hasheesh daydream in heaven (238)” in Gregoria, Mexico, but there it stays with those pubescent multi-racial girls.
I encountered this new life and it stayed my heart, kept me in my life where I belong. When my hope couldn’t stretch any further to catch me, my children’s innocence and need became my hammock, my soft place to fall until I could get up again. To this day, when I can’t do something for myself, I can do it for my girls. Even when those “friends” have gone away, waving good-bye and handing out the standard "All that again, good buddy. Gotta get back to my life. Wish I could stay with you. Pray I can come back (249),” like Dean said to Sal when he left him sick in Mexico, I can do what needs to be done all by myself—because that’s how I got here anyway.
I look at my yellow tattered teddy bear that kept me company in the hospital when I three years old—he is the only thing I have from childhood that doesn’t make me cringe—and I hear Sal ask “Don’t you know God is Pooh Bear (253)?” and laugh, and say the same thing to someone who will laugh, too. She looks a lot like me, only innocent.

Kerouac, Jack. On the Road. New York: Amereon House, 1983.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Morning Glory

Miriam in the morning
Yes, that is my robe that she wears every morning.

I attended my first training class at the local CASA and have been reading different books on child advocacy/foster care system/healing childhood trauma. There's a monster eating our children and spitting them out. Glory, Jesus, help us slay the monster and save our children.


Thursday, January 11, 2007's about time!

Codepoke recently linked the Barna Group on home church. I heard an interview with George Barna and did some digging. J Lee Grady reviewed Barna's book Revolution and the discussion that followed lasted for months!
This is a book that I need to read asap.

I haven't regularly attended a traditional church for a few years. The thought of "going to church" makes me break out in excuses, but it really is time to get over it and get into the community.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bush to send more troops to Iraq

Psalm 62
5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God ;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.


Monday, January 8, 2007

For My Grandmothers

My grandmothers--my goodness!
My namesake--Edith Alice--was a nurse. She raised six children as a single mother in the New Mexico desert. Remember the song "A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down"? My grandmother gave medicine with a spoonful of whupass.

And my other granma--we shared a birthday. She once told me that I was her best birthday present.

This is the granma that I knew best--Iantha Nadine. I know she loved me--but her love wasn't the cookie-baking cuddly granma kind of love. Get this--she showed her love by telling me how disappointed she was in me. This was supposed to encourage me to be better person. But she never forgot a birthday, calling all four of us early on our birthdays and singing "Happy Birthday my darling!" every year until she died. She made sure we had school clothes and winter coats and Christmas presents.

Both of my grandmothers were born and raised in small Southern towns. both were daddy's girls. Both were swept off their feet by men who moved them away from their families.

Edith went from being a nursing student/flapper who flirted and danced and sang "Alice Bluegown" on Saturday nights with her friends on Saturday nights to a newlywed in Santa Fe, NM. Santa Fe in the thirties was very different than it is now. It was simply a desert with a few buildings and beautiful sunsets. She had one son and nine months later gave birth prematurely to twin girls at home. The first baby was born inside of the amniotic sac. While she labored with the second twin, she instructed her husband to sterilize his pocket knife with a flame and cut the sac open to save the baby. He did, she recovered and had four more babies in eight years. While property was cheap she bought real estate in Santa Fe. (Can you imagine? She owned parts of downtown Santa Fe. I should be on a yacht in the Meditarranean right now...) Of course, the deeds were put in her husband's name--and he lost them in poker games. Ultimately, she was a single mother, married to a gambler and a drunk who died when my mother was 14 years old.

By the time I knew her, she was worn out. My own mother remembers her as tired all the time--how exhausted she must of been by the time her 13th grandchild was born. She did not like me, not for a minute. My neediness and insecurity completely irritated her and she dealt with me accordingly. Sometimes, though, she would tell a story about her mother playing the piano, or sing "Alice Bluegown," and here face would light up with the memory. Her smile was so rare that it caught me off guard with its joy.

Nadine stayed in West Texas with her husband. West Texas is just barren. (Some see a desolate beauty in its plains--I think it's just plain ugly.). She had been so poor and shared so much with so many siblings that once she had something of her own, it was going to be perfect. When she had visitors in her apartment, she would get down on her hands and knees to wipe thier footprints off the floor. She had one child, and she was determined that he would be clean ALL THE TIME. She put Joan Crawford to shame with her cleanliness. It wasn't next to godliness--it was godliness. Her husband was a man of few words--I think I heard him speak maybe a hundred words or less in the 28 years that I knew him--and I'm being generous.

Both of these women confused me. I wanted so much for them to be the cozy, cuddly ganmas that I had read about--with hugs, and aprons, and laps to climb onto, and cookies--always cookies--but neither had it in them be these things. It was only after we switched roles and I stopped wanting something from them that I truly got to know them. My granmas stood alone through disappointment and hardship and heartbreak with no one to lean on--until they had to trust me. I finaly found the strength that had borne them throughout their harsh lives that left no room for joy.

In her last days, Nadine sought me out to hold her hand while she prepared to move out of her home of 30 years. After a lifetime of independence, she was being told what to do, where to live, how to spend her money. She really, really didn't want to move--and I told her she didn't have to. We talked about her new little mobile home until she was satisfied that she could be happy there--then she went HOME the very day she was to leave her house.

Edith couldn't tel me anything--she died of Alzheimer's. The last time I saw her, she didn't understand why I was saying good-bye. Her confused, hurt look haunted me until a few days after she died. She came to me in a dream, laying her soft cheek on mine and said, "I understand."

So, grandmothers,

Unsmiling Pillars of Strength,

You have given me the gift of never give up.

You have given me the gift of never look back.

You have given me the gift of making the best whupass pie.

You have given me the gift of your regrets in order to forge joy in my own life--and I have.

My life honors you.

My daughters honor you with their strength and freedom to sing and dance and be.

And I know wherever you are, you are finally smiling.


Thursday, January 4, 2007

The Bumpy Road Home

Part I needs a Part II, so...

Did you know that John Wesley preached his first sermon on American soil in Georgia? I didn't either!

And Santa showed up at Fort Pulaski!

He's fast...I have three of

this view!

Welcome to the newest Reality Show! What shall we call it?

Real Men Don't Sleep--Can one man drive from Georgia to Texas with no rest?

The Limit--how many miles can girls go without a bathroom break?
Torture Chamber--the mom is down with a killer cold, the Dad has a toothache and is determined to make it across the Gulf Coast without stopping; the oldest daughter has downed a Red Bull without telling anyone, middle daughter hasn't taken her earphones out for 3 days, youngest needs Dramamine--NOW!!!

And to this is added:

Yes, the tire practically exploded seconds after Mom said,"Do you hear that rattling? What's that rattling noise? Honey, don't you think you should pull over and find out what is coming off the back of our tru..."
But it doesn't end there! A few hours later, the the other rear tire started vibrating. Can Mom and hyped up oldest daughter talk the Real Man into avoiding a crisis instead of getting a few more miles out of a tire about to blow?
(yes, they can. Especially when one uses the stink-eye.)
WE WON! And the prize is all of us getting home alive.


A Picture is Worth A Thousand Praises