Tag Archives: Religion

Please Stop Telling Muslims to “Go Home”

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I confess: I spend far too much time on social media. I’ve cut back but, even so, it’s not hard to find me sitting in the passenger seat of the car, scrolling through my newsfeed.

A worse confession: I read the comments. Sometimes I only read the comments. I rarely comment, myself. I’m a stalker.

I like reading the comments, especially when I know people are going to oppose my set opinions because, how else can we learn and grow? How else can we understand those who are different? If we never listen to those who are passionately opposed to us, how we can we love our neighbor? As a Christian, that’s a big deal to me.

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So I stalk. I read. I hopefully learn something.

But when it comes to the subject of Muslim Americans I notice those who stand opposite my view point are getting louder and more extreme (ironic, really). I want to say so many things, but there are only so many hours in a day and  my blood pressure can only withstand so much irritation, so I refrain.

Then, today, I slipped a little.

I read an article (not just the comments) on the youngcons.com facebook page entitled “SICK: Female Muslim-American Olympian Slams USA Because She…”

A few quick notes. First, yes, I know it was total click bait. It worked. You got me. So be it.

Second, as far as I can tell the article has been taken down. I can’t find it again and the link from Facebook will no longer open to my computer (see the original FB feed, here).

Third, I’ve never looked at the “Young Conservatives” website before. They had a lot of articles that seemed unbiased and well researched, though every article that mentioned a Muslim from any nation painted them in a poor light. Apparently, hating Muslims is part of being conservative, in the opinion of that particular group of people.

Since I can’t open the article, I’ll give you the gist.

Ibtihaj Muhammad competed in the Olympics. She was the first American athlete to compete in a hijab. She has publicly discussed her feeling that it is difficult to be a black, Muslim woman in America. She feels she has been frequently discriminated against. For example, one day after practice a man followed her, telling her she looked suspicious and asking if she was going to blow something up.

The writer took a stance along the lines of, “This is America. Quit complaining. Suck it up or get out.”

My first reaction was to re-read the article. Maybe I missed something?

A week or so ago I read another article (I think it was on NPR) that discussed the incident of the man following her. As a woman, I felt that weird, frightened, annoyed, creeping sensation that comes when men harass us. It’s not pleasant. Add in the weight of basically being accused of being a terrorist… well… I thought she handled the whole thing with a great deal of grace.

But, according the author, the fact that this encounter was upsetting to her is SICK. (His caps, not mine.)

She’s downright un-American because she didn’t like a stranger accusing her of being a mass murderer.

Uhm…

What?!

I clicked on the comments.

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I really need to stop doing that.

There is no way I could have the time or motivation to change the world one Facebook comment at a time (sarcasm intended), but I’d like to use this space to address a few of those I read. Because it’s my blog and I can rant if I want to.

It’s not so much that THIS guy’s post pushed me to write something. It’s because the sentiments I read in his post and in the comments have been expressed in connection to other news related to Muslim Americans. I’ve even heard a few people say these kinds of things in person and I would be in the wrong to sit in silence.

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A few comments, of the many:

“when someone comes to America…. they must become American. Not force us to become muslum! She needs to take off the head gear… wear skinny jeans and use her middle finger like a New Yorker! That is the American way!” – Timothy

First: If being American means wearing skinny jeans and using your middle finger, most of the people in my circle of acquaintance are thoroughly un-American.

Second: No one seems to have an issue with “Greektown,” or “Little Italy,” or “Germanfest.” A guy down the road has an Irish flag on his porch. Nobody is freaking out about that. Why do we hold one particular group of people to a different standard? We are ALL from somewhere else (unless you are one of the very few indigenous people left in this nation). We all celebrate our cultural past. My father-in-law is as Irish as Darby O’Gill and is a die-hard patriotic decorated war veteran. No one accuses him of being un-American. Not that that applies in this case anyway since Ibtihaj Muhammad’s family has been in this country since just about as long as any of us.

Third: Muslim is not a nationality. It’s a religion. Like Christianity, or Judaism, or Wiccan. Would you tell an Amish woman to “take off that stupid bonnet and act like an American!” Would you rip the yarmulka from a Jewish man’s head? Her modesty, including the hijab that covers her hair, is part of her worship.

You want to restrict her worship? OK. Then I hope you are the LAST person to complain when someone comes after YOUR faith. 

If you are reading this, and you’re all upset and ready to do battle with me at this point, I’m guessing you’re a big gun-rights supporter. (Yup. I’m psychic.)

You know how you get REALLY ANGRY when the government tries to create gun control in any form? That violates the second amendment, right?

Well… when we discriminate against ANY religion, we are violating the first amendment. The first amendment doesn’t protect Christianity, exclusively. It protects freedom of religion, in all it’s many varied forms. If you take away a little bit of rights from a certain group of people, you have created a slippery slope on which no person of faith is safe. Same reasoning as the second amendment stuff, right?

Except, Islam existed when the constitution was written, and fully automatic weapons did not. So there’s some differences. But, for this example, we’ll say it’s the same and move on to another comment.

“If all those who hate American please leave. But leave behind what you got from America your freedom, the money you gained from working here, your homes, and etc. Tired of all the complaining. If America is so bad please leave! Let people who love America live in peace.” -Diane

I’m assuming that this commenter believes the athlete in question “hates American” because she complained about being discriminated against.  Let’s use that logic and make a list of people who clearly hated America over the years: Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Jackie Robinson, John F. Kennedy, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King…

Nonsense, obviously.

Those who love their nation, the true patriots, will constantly and consistently work to call out injustice and correct it to the betterment of their country.

And really? Peace? With that attitude? Good luck with that.

“Send this pathetic excuse back to where she came from and see how safe she feels. How dare you come to our country and complain about this great country and that you feel unsafe when you have the privilege of all the benefits that Obama is giving you on the taxpayers expense.” -Abby

Uhm… She came from New Jersey. Her father was a police officer in New Jersey. Her family has been in the United States for several generations.

She IS unsafe, because of mindsets like this, and she’d be foolish not to try to address the issues that create that mindset.

Her early fencing career was sponsored by former Olympian, Peter Westbrook. She attended an ivy league university on a full academic scholarship. She is currently sponsored by Nike, among others. No tax payer money was involved in her success.

“Maybe if she didn’t dress like a terrorist people wouldn’t be so quick to judge her!!!” -Jim

Well, Jim, I bet you dress just like every single serial killer who has ever lived in the USA. Perhaps we should take a double look at how you spend YOUR free time, eh?

“I am so sick of hearing that’s it’s ok for Islam faith to say what ever the hell feel , but God forbitt for a Chrisitain to do the same .” – Carmen

This one was a little hard to read. Literally. (Please work on your spelling and grammar, Carmen.) I’ll do my best to explain…

wait…

*sigh*

You know what I’m realizing?

The other day my children had a conversation that went something like this:

5 YO: “I don’t like potatoes.”

11 YO: “Why not? Potatoes are delicious!”

5 YO: “They’re too salty.”

11 YO: “Well, don’t put salt on them.”

5 YO: “Food without salt is gross!”

11 YO: “Can’t argue with logic like that!”

I want to offer a bit of logic and solve all these disputes but the fact of the matter is, there’s nothing logical about hatred. People aren’t being logical. People are being hateful and there’s no counter for hatred outside of love.

So I will stop trying to reason with those who have no desire to see beyond themselves and I will stand in love.

Well done, Ibtihaj Muhammad. America loves you. You held your head high in the face of discrimination, and you competed at a level most of us dare not even dream of. Most of America is incredibly proud of you. The rest… well… they’re a little confused. Since you, as a Muslim, and I, as a Christian, pray to the same God who created us all, perhaps we can pray together that peace and reason will prevail in our lifetime. I wish you the best of luck in the team events later this week. Thank you for being an example to my daughters of what a strong, determined woman of faith should look like.

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CREDIT:  VALERIE MACON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

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Religion And Politics. I Went There. (A Theological Thursday Post)

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Christians in America are quick to cite scripture. We celebrate the Good News by wearing, “John 3:16” clothes. We can tell you which verses condemn homosexuality, which verses point out that we have all sinned, and which verses support our belief that Jesus was literally the son of God.

Heading in to this election season, it seems that Christians in America are also extremely political–at least those in my little circle of association are.

I noticed something interesting: No matter which end of the political spectrum my friends find themselves they say very similar things.

Those on the far right will insist that they are the party of true Godly Love because they support the right for all persons to have a shot at life (through the pro-life movement).

Those on the far left will insist that they are the party of true Godly Love because they support the right for all persons to have a shot at life (through “social justice” programs).

Those on the far right will insist that Jesus is coming soon. We have obviously born witness to the beginning of the end (in the presidency of Barak Obama).

Those on the far left will insist that Jesus is coming soon. We have obviously born witness to the beginning of the end (in the presidency of G.W. Bush).

Those on the far right will insist that our Christian nation is failing (from the influences of foreigners with different ideas regarding worship).

Those on the far left will insist that our Christian nation is failing (as evidenced by our lack of willingness to help those who are hurting, because their ideas regarding worship are different from our own).

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Regardless of their personal political beliefs in regard to individual political issues everyone seems to agree on two things:

  1. Our nation is hurting right now. We are not a healthy people, in any sense of the word, and something needs to be done about it.
  2. God is on their side and, obviously, strongly opposed to the other side.

Some days the things I see are thought provoking and make me want to learn more so that I can carry out my responsibilities as a voter with wisdom.

More often, the things I see hurt my heart. People invoke the name of God, who is Love, when speaking hate against people who may view a situation through a different lens of life.*

All of this has been weighing heavily on my heart. I think division within the church–especially the kind of division where people begin saying, “God is on OUR side, NOT yours,” is the single most harmful thing that can happen to this nation and, indeed, this world. We are one body. God is OUR father. Period. He created every single one of us.

Including the president and every one of our elected leaders.

 

EVERY one of our leaders. Not just the ones you voted for.

If you’re a Bible believing Christian, you have to acknowledge that not only did He create them, He chose them specially–hand picked them from the crowd–to be in a position of power.

Why?

I don’t know. Was I there when he set the stars in the sky? God’s ways are not my ways. Be thankful for that!

See, I think that Christians are quick to throw scripture around, and I think that is good. I have found, in my own life, that there is extraordinary, truly miraculous power in knowing and citing scripture. Having a solid foundation of scripture gives you a guide in life.

 

HOWEVER, in all those scriptures I see thrown about on social media like darts aimed at our supposed enemies, I have never once seen a single person quote Romans, chapter thirteen.

13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

If the authorities that exist have been established by God what possible right do we have to make cruel jokes about them or speak disrespectfully of them? In doing so, are we not mocking what God himself has ordained?

I would argue that these verses make it clear. We are to go on about our business, which (if we call ourselves Christian) is the business of loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us.

While we’re on our knees, begging blessing upon those who have hurt us, we must consider one more bit of scripture:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Check out that first line one more time (with a little emphasis).

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession AND THANKSGIVING be made for ALL people–for kings and all those in authority…”

Not most of the people. Not the ones who agree with us. Not the ones who obviously follow Christ. PrayerChangesThings

ALL.

All does not leave a lot of room for negotiation.

And before you work yourself up over the war on Christians or how some other culture will be the downfall of our fine American nation (which, I will remind you, was founded upon the destruction of other cultures), take a moment to consider the authors of the words above.

The men who told us to submit to authority and pray for the king are were living in a time when the authorities were nailing Christians to crosses and feeding them to the lions for entertainment. So cry a tear, if you must, over the fact that your boss requires you to say, “Happy Holy-days” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Then tuck your hanky back in your pocket, put on your big kid pants, and pray that God’s love and blessings may reign down upon that person.

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*This is a total tangent so I tagged it on the end but, if you want some seriously interesting political discussion (Not argument. Discussion.) follow Anne Rice’s Facebook page. Ms. Rice, whose beliefs fall left of center, often asks her followers, many of whom are quite conservative, a political question and she moderates with a velvet-covered iron fist. People may question, debate, discuss and suggest but “haters” are immediately banned from the thread. It’s astonishing how interesting and informative a political discussion can be when no one is allowed to use the words, “stupid,” or “idiot.”

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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Not In My Name

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Not In My Name | LazyHippieMama.comThis is not my usual post. I know that many of you come here for gardening tips or homeschooling support and I love that! I hope that, even though this is different it is a benefit to your spirit. I also hope that you will stick with me, regardless of your religious beliefs. Consider it a personal favor to hear me out. It would mean a great deal to me because this is heavy on my heart to the point where I’m literally dreaming about it at night. It’s high-time I say what I’ve been choking back for a long time and, since I’ve got this little corner of the blogosphere to call my own… here it is.

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law shared an extraordinarily powerful story about a close friend of hers who is Israeli. I won’t go into all of the details here but it came down to a moment when this young woman, along with a small number (relatively speaking) of her like-minded countrymen very literally placed themselves in between two armies. Both armies were committing acts of unspeakable violence against civilians and the true battle between the opposing forces was about to commence. These protestors stepped out into no-man’s land and said – to both sides – you will not do this in my name. I am a citizen of Israel and I stand for peace. If you want to kill each other you will need to kill me and all of these peace loving people between you first. 

They did not end the war, but they stopped that battle. It could have gone very differently for them, but thankfully, that day, the voice of peace prevailed. That day, in that place, lives were spared.

I have thought about that story for weeks.

“You will not do this in my name.”

I think about that every single day.

You see, I call myself “a Christian.” I truly believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God.

You believe differently, you say?

I have no beef with you.

I love the part in the movie, The Stand, when Nick Andros tells Mother Abigail, “But I don’t believe in God.” And she starts laughing and embraces him and says, “That’s OK, Nick. God believes in you.”

See, as a Christian, I accept the Bible as the message of God. Today’s post isn’t to debate how literal the stories of the prophets were meant to be taken or whether or not the correct number of gospels were included. Frankly, for what I have to say today, none of that matters because the Bible has one over-arching theme: Love.

When asked to choose a single commandment, out of hundreds (thousands?) that stood out as the most important, Jesus answered, “Love God with all of your heart, your mind, your strength.” Then he offered the runner up as well. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” His next statement was immensely powerful. “All of the other commands are hung upon this.”

You simply can’t, in good conscious, call yourself a Christian – a follower of Christ – unless you accept that loving God and loving others is the most important thing we can do.

“But who is my neighbor?” The guy in the story asks.

And Jesus goes on to tell the parable of The Good Samaritan. If you haven’t read it before it’s worth a glimpse so I linked to it here. Basically, it’s a story about a Jewish man who is badly beaten and robbed. He is then left in the gutter to die by the religious and political leaders of his own country. Finally, a foreigner from the nation most despised by the Jews – a people considered so spiritually filthy that to converse with them meant ritual cleansing would be needed – picked him up, clothed him, took him to safety and provided for his ongoing care. That foreigner was the man’s true neighbor.

So Jesus was saying we are supposed to love not just those who think and act and look as we do, but even those (especially those?) who are completely different from us in every way.

And what does love look like?

The Bible tells us this:

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

It does not envy.

It does not boast

It is not proud.

It does not dishonor others.

It is not self-seeking

It is not easily angered

It keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. 

(From 1 Corinthians 13)

If you call yourself a Christian then your entire spiritual belief system is based upon the belief that God Himself loved THE ENTIRE WORLD with such a powerful, all-encompassing love that He took on flesh, was born as a man, took on the failings of EVERY person, died and conquered death, creating a pathway for EACH of us to be restored to right-relationship with the Divine.

Not some people or American people or good people or most people.  ALL people.

“Christian” means, “a follower of Christ.”

“Leave your nets and follow me,” Jesus said.

“Take up your cross and follow me,” Jesus said.

There is a whole universe of stuff that is open for interpretation and debate in the Bible and in Jesus’ teachings but that one message was given again and again in simple, clear, unmistakable terms.

God’s love is immeasurable. It is universal. It is eternal.

God’s love is for every person of every time in every place.

God’s love is consistent, selfless and without bounds.

AND

We are to love as God loves.

A quick glimpse at history tells us that Jesus lived in a time and society where many were worshipping other gods in ways that were very different from the way that the Jews worshipped. He was surrounded by people who didn’t follow the God of the Old Testament. He often encountered prostitutes and “loose women,” thieves, liars, cheats and other “undesirables.”

He showed love to all of them. He was no moral relativist. He stood firm in telling them, “what you’ve been doing is wrong. Don’t do it any more.” But he didn’t shun them or yell at them or berate them. He didn’t order them to be imprisoned or killed. On the contrary, he invited them with dinner, visited them in their homes and socialized with them. He loved them, even while disagreeing with them.

He loved them.

Do you know who he yelled at and berated on a pretty regular basis?  Those who thought they were so clean and righteous and generally wonderful that they had the authority to pass moral judgement on those different from themselves.

Hmmm….

So… here we are in “The Year Of Our Lord, 2014.”

Every day I see and hear people who put on their pretty clothes and go to church on Sunday and proudly call themselves, “Christian,” spewing hatred.

There are a lot of versions of this. Hatred toward abortionists and those who have had abortions. Hatred against homosexuals and those who are advocating for equal rights. Hatred toward illegal immigrants. Hatred toward drug addicts. Hatred toward Muslims.

So much hatred toward Muslims!

In this swirling sea of hate, I occasionally see this pop up on social media. It’s just a t-shirt, but the message is extraordinary and powerful – because it is the MOST IMPORTANT bit of instruction God ever gave mankind.

Not In My Name | LazyHippieMama.com

Jesus held people to a high standard of clean living. He told them, “it is wrong to have adulterous relationships. You’ve sinned in stealing. You must be truthful in your business dealings.”

Because otherwise you’ll burn in Hell?

No… because if you love your neighbor as yourself you won’t sleep with your neighbor’s wife or steal from your employer or cheat your client. Love doesn’t act that way.

And there is NO GREATER COMMANDMENT than to love.

If you are living as Christ lived you will love your neighbors. ALL of your neighbors. Not most of them. ALL of them. Every. Single. One.

Love the neighbors who are a little dislikable – the ones who are obnoxiously political, the ones who are bossy, rude and selfish. The bullies and brutes and the jerks.

Love the neighbors who are truly despicable – the rapists and the murders, the child molesters and the terrorists.

Does that mean you have to smile and hug them and say, “what you’ve done is perfectly OK.”

OF COURSE NOT!

That’s not what Jesus did.

But neither did Jesus wish anyone dead and gone. He didn’t cheer for their destruction or pray for their death.

Instead, he prayed for their restoration to God’s own heart and cheered at their salvation.

This is the core of my faith. It is the rock-hard, solid, center of what a life time of spiritual seeking has brought me to.

It seems that there are clear sides being drawn up. On one side are “Christians” who are opposed to anyone with a different view having so much as a voice to express their own opinion and who are screaming for the blood of the infidel.

On the other side are those who denounce anyone with a faith in a higher power as an ignorant buffoon at best and a hateful warmonger at worst.

And I feel that the time has come for me to stand, as my SIL’s friend stood, between warring factions, and say, “I am a Christian and you will not do this in my name.”

Just to be clear, no, I’m not saying that me sharing my faith on Facebook from the safety of my living room is in any way on the same level as what those protestors in the Middle East did.  I’m simply saying this:

To those who call themselves Christian while cheering at the destruction or suffering of any member of God’s creation I say, “Do what you will, but do not count my name among your numbers. I am not with you.”

To those who have been hurt by “Christians” I say, “Not all ‘Christians’ are like those who hurt you. In fact, most of us aren’t. Most of us are trying hard to live a life of love. Sometimes we fall a bit (or significantly more than a bit) short. We’re only human after all. But, really, truly, most of us believe that Jesus loves you and so do we.”

And love never fails.

*After I published this I came across an article on Huffington Post talking about the massive number of Muslims creating a #NotInMyName movement. I LOVE THIS! My heart is buoyed by the idea that, all over the globe, men and women are standing firm for peace!

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The Importance of Preparation – Thoughts About Lent

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There is no mountain under that snow. That's just how much snow the plow pushed to the edge of the parking lot.

There is no mountain under that snow. That’s just how much snow the plow pushed to the edge of the parking lot.

This week millions of people all over the world will begin the observance of Lent.  Of course, first we’ll stuff ourselves with fried dough and powdered sugar, but then the 40 days of preparation begin.

If you don’t already know, Lent is, basically, just a reference to the 40 days leading up to Holy Week.  It is meant to be a time of prayer and fasting and preparing the heart for the most sacred celebration of the Christian year – the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Since my personal focus lately has been so much on gardening and wildlife and caring for the earth I can’t help but constantly tie everything back to that.

I am one of the weird ones. I like winter.  I love the cold and the snow and the short, dark days.  Not because I want to be freezing and stuck in my house all the time, but because nothing in the world feels more safe and snug and wonderful to me than wearing my softest, fuzziest clothes and being in the shelter of my warm little house with golden lamplight glowing while the sparkling snow falls and the wind howls.  I love how excited my children get when we take them sledding or ice skating at the local park. I love that giant fuzzy hoodies cover more chub than shorts and tank tops.  OK – so maybe driving in it is awful and, yes, at 35 degrees below zero, I was complaining about the air hurting my face, too but, overall, I like winter very much.

And I’m over it.

This winter has, literally, been the harshest of my whole life. We have broken all sorts of weather records including the snow record and the record cold temperature.  At one point my husband asked his routine morning question, “Do you know what the weather is supposed to be like today?”  I snapped a little and told him, “at this point you should probably just assume that every day for the rest of eternity we’re going to get another foot of snow and it’s going to be really really cold.”

But even as I type this and the snow falls, yet again, outside my window I know that’s not true.  I know that spring is coming.  I doubt this year will be like last – when I was outdoors with a spade in March, wondering if I could get away with putting my peas in a little early.  But even if it’s still snowing in May (as it’s occasionally been known to do around here), the snow will stop.  The ground will thaw.  The trees will bud and the flowers will bloom and, before we realize what has happened we will be enjoying a sunny day at the lake.

Image via freedigitalphotos.net

Image via freedigitalphotos.net

Knowing that, wise gardeners all over the state are beginning to start their seedlings and take stock of their tools and draw out grids of just where their plants will go when the time is right.  We prepare because, despite all appearances to the contrary, we know that winter will not last forever.  If we don’t prepare then we are frustrated when the ground thaws. The stores are out of what we need or the tools we require are rusty when we reach for them or we buy too few or too many seedlings and end up with wasted money or wasted space.

But even if you make no preparations, spring will come.  The sun will shine over your home once more. The rain will fall and the flowers will grow.  Spring comes for everybody, but not everybody makes the most of spring.

Just as this is the time of year when gardeners begin to prepare themselves for the special time of spring, which brings new life, so Lent is the time when we should prepare our hearts for the special time of the resurrection and new life in Christ.  I think that can mean different things for different people. My experience of faith may not resemble yours in many ways but, if you are a follower of Christ the one experience that we share – the crucial thing that binds us – is that we are restored from our own brokenness through Jesus’ death and through his victory over death.  Jesus overcame death that we may have life; truly abundant, joyful, wonder-filled life!

IMG_2059In the coming 6 weeks we have time to prepare our hearts. We can pray and meditate, study the scriptures, serve the needy, fast or “give up” something that we feel is in the way of our spiritual growth.  If we prepare now, then when the days of observance and celebration come, we will be fully ready to see, with open eyes, the truth of the miracle of life that has been given to us.  If we use this time wisely, that time will be even more wondrous to us.

What about those who don’t prepare?  Well, just like spring comes for everyone, God’s love and His Good gifts are not limited to those who follow a certain set of observances.  Jesus’ death and resurrection was for all people of all places and all times.  Not most people or people like me or people of a certain class or race or culture.  All. Every. Each, without exception.

The question is, will you make the most of it?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates?

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

What Makes A Sacred Space?

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When you think of a sacred space, do you think of a church? A special room in your home? A place in nature?

What Makes a Sacred Space?Sweet Hippie Daughter has been involved in a drama program at a nearby university for the past 4 years.  When we started she was in the first grade and she was getting in trouble Every. Single. Day.

She wanted to be a robot or a martian or (this one lasted quite a while) a wolf.  She would not accept her teacher’s statement that she was, “a little girl pretending to be a wolf.”  She would dig her heels in a demand, “No! I AM a wolf!”

Personally, I sided with SHD. Be a wolf. Why not? You’re only 6 years old once. Live it up!

But we hadn’t taken the homeschool plunge yet and teachers don’t have time to deal with 30 kids who walk on all fours and bark their math answers and she was coming home, every day, devastated that she’d gotten her “card pulled” again and I was one exasperated mother.  No doubt everyone else involved was feeling exasperated as well.

And then we had the first day of “college theater class,” as SHD called it then.

We walked in and the teacher said, with a huge smile, “Well, hello! Have you come to play with us?”

SHD smiled back. “Yes!” Then her smile faded a little and a look of suspicion crossed her face and she said, “I’m a wolf.”

The teacher gasped and put her hand on her heart, “Are you?”  She leaned in closely and stage-whispered, “I’m a skunk. Pleased to meet you.”

I could literally see a physical change occur in my child at that moment.  Her eyes light up and she stood a little taller and the tension in her tiny shoulders relaxed and she went loping happily into the classroom where she would spend one afternoon a week for the next several years.

She never got in trouble at school over the “wolf” issue again.

What Makes A Sacred Space?

Over the past few years people have asked me about the drama program and I always rave.  It is a place where children are drawn into imagination. It helps kids have the confidence to stand in front of a group. It teaches them to stand tall and project their voice to an audience.  It fosters friendships. It helps them think on their feet. They learn how to memorize.

But I was frustrated because, while the class is/does all of those things, it is something more.  And that something is what makes it so much more than just another class or club that we are a part of. I just couldn’t quite put my finger on how to express that.

Then, this past weekend, the program held their 50th anniversary reception and my daughter’s teacher stood on the platform and said this:

I was getting ready for today and I asked someone how I should decorate – what we should do to make the room special – and she said, “That room is sacred space. You don’t need to do anything to it.  Just returning to the space where, as children, we could come and be ourselves and express ourselves completely without fear of judgement will be special enough. It is sacred space. It does not need decoration.”

I had tears streaming down my face and, as I glanced around, I was not the only one.  That was it!  That was what I had been trying to explain to people for the past 4 years.

That big, empty, plain, gray, cinder-block room was holy ground for my child because, in that space, she was free to shed the armor that we all instinctively wear and shine with the light her Creator had given her without worry that anyone would try to put it out or change her to fit their idea of who she should be. It wasn’t the building, of course. It was the love and acceptance of the people she interacted with in that space.

It is how I feel in my church.  I am me. I am broken and forgetful and flakey and creative and loud and I have different theological beliefs than many of the people there.  I am striving to learn and grow and be a better person but they love me today, just as I am. I felt it the first time I walked in the door.

In that space, I don’t need to pretend. I can be me and I can give my love freely and it will be received and returned.

The Bible says:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John, chapter 4, verses 7-8)

For me, the love that I experience in church is what makes it a sacred space.

Handsome Hippie Hubby loves our church too, but for him, sacred space is found in the most remote spaces in nature.

We all have those places that speak to our hearts and make us feel connected to that which is greater than us, not because of anything special about the physical location, but because of… something more.  Which is kind-of what “sacred” is all about, isn’t it?

And so I wonder. What do you think? What makes a place sacred?

What Makes A Space Sacred?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates?

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

All Hope Is Dead…. But That’s Just The Beginning

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From the other blog:

…..Now Jesus was dead and they were locked in this room and they were utterly helpless.  All hope was gone.  They couldn’t even take care of his body properly.  Saturday was the Sabbath day and all work was forbidden.  They had no choice but to let the corpse lie in the tomb and rot until Sunday morning.   They didn’t have a single thing to do for an entire day and night but to sit in that room with their thoughts of death and betrayal and failure and loss and hopelessness….

read the rest: All Hope Is Dead…. But That’s Just The Beginning.

What Twilight, Breaking Dawn Part 2 Taught Me About Witnessing

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I grew up in a conservative evangelical church.  We were told all the time that it was our duty to “witness.”  People “went witnessing.”  If I said I knew a non-Christian I was asked, “Did you witness to her?”At some point, as I got older I started to question all this “witnessing.”  What exactly does that mean? What if they don’t want to hear about my beliefs? Who am I to tell them what they should believe?  Witnessing seemed an awful lot like Bible thumping and, as I’ve written about before, I’m not a big fan of the thumpers.  Somewhere along the line I just sort-of struck that word from my vocabulary.  I didn’t want anyone telling me why I should leave my faith for theirs. It seemed I should… you know… do unto others…

read the rest here:  What Twilight, Breaking Dawn Part 2 Taught Me About Witnessing.

Busy Hippies, Earth Hour and Sabbath Rest

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Do you ever have those times where you just know that God (the Universe, Fate, Karma) is trying to tell you something?  Perhaps you wake up thinking about your Uncle Joe. And then you see a commercial about a guy named Joe. When you get to work someone in the break room asks you, “want some Joe?” You go to Yahoo and see a headline, “Where is Joe?”    It starts to occur to you that you really need to call your Uncle Joe.

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That’s been happening to me.

I can’t get away from “the Sabbath.”  Everywhere I look, there it is.  People send me articles about the Sabbath. My daily devotional is about taking Sabbath time. My youth group kids ask me about the Sabbath.

God is stalking me.

I have learned the hard way, over the years, that I need to pay attention when this happens.  Things work out better if I listen to the still, small voice, rather than waiting for the brick over the head.

So I’ve been thinking and praying about what the Sabbath is supposed to look like.  I found a great website that talks about how Orthodox Jews honor Shabbat.  Here is a snippet:

The rabbis who wrote the Talmud established 39 categories of work that cannot be performed on the Sabbath according to the Hebrew Bible. These include cooking, washing clothes, constructing, repairing, writing, making a fire, cutting, fishing, and so on.

The Sabbath restrictions do not prohibit everything that takes effort. On the contrary, Jews are encouraged to play games, take a stroll, study the Torah, sing, attend lectures, or make love with their spouse on the Sabbath. It is work that is forbidden on the Sabbath – play is encouraged.

The idea of Shabbat comes from the Book of Exodus, chapter 34. This is where God gave Moses the 10 commandments.  He tells Moses, “I made the earth in six days and then I rested.  Likewise, you should work hard for six days and rest on the seventh.”

It’s a gift! God knew that our lives would be full of busy-ness.  He wanted us to give us a break.

Now, being a bit of a hippie (in case you haven’t noticed), my mind wandered a bit further down the trail.  Maybe it’s not just meant for US, as individuals.  Here we are, hunting and gathering and tilling and buying and selling and wandering to and fro…  maybe God wanted us to give the earth – all of creation –  a regular period of rest.

That thought made me think about the upcoming Earth hour (read last year’s Earth Hour post here), which is coming up next Saturday, March 23 from 8:30-9:30.  Earth hour is an annual event, where everyone is asked to turn off their lights and other electric devices in order to save a bit of energy and raise awareness about how MUCH we all consume. (Go to www.earthhour.org for details)

What if all 314 million Americans turned off their power and refrained from driving, not just for an hour, but for an entire day each week?  The positive impact on our planet would be vast! (Or at least the negative ways we impact our planet would be vastly diminished.)  I can’t even fathom the impact of a large portion of the other 7 billion people on the planet following suit!  What if all those people “unplugged” and spent that day talking, laughing and playing with their loved ones? Whether you agree with my religion or not, surely you can see the value, to us as individuals AND to our lovely planet, in a time of sweet, beautiful, rest from the chaos of every day life.

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I talked with Handsome Hippie Hubby about all this.

If I haven’t said it before, he is a kind, generous, gentle, infinitely patient guy.  He has never once sighed or rolled his eyes or smacked his forehead when I’ve come to him saying, “So, I’ve been thinking…”

If you had any idea how often I say that you would have massive respect for HHH.

He agreed that he was willing to “honor the Sabbath” with me… sort of.  We don’t have a day in which neither of us work and Sweet Hippie Daughter doesn’t have any lessons or such she needs to be at.  The best we could do was Tuesday – starting after band class – until Wednesday morning.  HHH was willing to give it a month and “see how it goes.”  I lobbied for six weeks but got the raised eyebrow.  OK. I know when to quit. One month it is.

So, starting tomorrow, we will be “off the grid” every Tuesday afternoon and evening.  We will turn off the lights, the TV and the computers (this is a very big deal in a house where everyone old enough to read has their own blog) and the cell phones.  We will park the car and put away the lawn mower and we will just… be.  Maybe we will take a walk or play a game or read a book together or just sit around the table and tell silly jokes.  We will rest.

I suspect it’s going to be a great experience.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

What do you think? Would your family benefit from “a Sabbath rest?”  Would the earth benefit?  What do you think Shabbat should look like?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

God Has No Use For Your Chocolate

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Originally published on 2/13/2013 at http://www.thecurioustheologian.wordpress.com)

Someone I know recently made me laugh when he said, in an extremely sarcastic tone, “Oh! I’m going to stop eating chocolate for a month and that will help me identify with the sufferings of the crucified Christ!”

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It can be funny, when you phrase it like that, but there is a much deeper truth….  (CLICK HERE to read the rest)

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!