Monthly Archives: September 2011

The First Step is Admitting You Are Powerless…

Hi, my name is Pam and I have an addiction to…books!  I love books.  In fact I love reading material in general.  Books, magazines, blogs, newspapers etc.

I was reading before I started kindergarten.  I remember reading the encyclopedias during the summer because I couldn’t check out books from the school library and we lived too far away from the public library to walk to it.  Those were back in the days when we were all one car families and dad took the car to work every day.

I’m not saying I’m smart or anything because of this.  I just LOVE to read and to learn.  I love to lose myself in a good novel, especially if it is historical fiction.  I love theology books that teach me something new about Jesus or a new skill that will help people.  I love decorating magazines but I also sometimes sneak a read from Kevin’s magazines and newspapers from the Ag world (I am especially fond of Hoard’s Dairyman).  I’ve learned a lot about our food resources from these mags.  I read the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post on my iPhone and I follow an eclectic variety of blogs.  I’m powerless over the written word my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

The Library was my first dealer and their books were my gateway drug.

Amazon.com became my supplier for much headier stuff and I never had to return what I was using!

Then the iPhone added a wonderful app from Amazon that allows you to search for a book and purchase it and within two days, if you are an Amazon Prime member, the book is on your doorstep.  OMG!  My iPhone goes EVERYWHERE with me.  I could access books at a moment’s notice.

 

 

 

 

 

Then, my wonderful husband Kevin (did you catch that word I used for you Mr L?) gave me a Kindle and it has been like crack cocaine!  My tolerance level for books has increased.  I now only have to push the “buy” icon and within seconds my latest fix is literally in my hands.

Currently on the table by my reading chair in my office are:

Leading with a Limp by Dan Allender
The Bible Jesus Read workbook by Philip Yancy
God Guides by Mary Geegh
The Courageous Life by local author Ron Brown
To Kill A Mockingbird (I’ve read it every year since I was about 12)

And in my Kindle are:

The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva
The Bible Jesus Read (the book) by Yancey
The First Dissident by William Safire (Who Yancey quoted often enough that I had to get his book)

The One Year Bible

Oh, and I also have the new InStyle, Traditional Home, Elle, Travel and Leisure, Fine Cooking and Kevin’s business magazines to keep me company as well.  Sometimes I even like the articles in his SI or Golf Digest.

Not to mention the Blogs in my google reader

Other than the 1-Year Bible and the Yancey book, I don’t read every book every day.  But I do get to every book within a week’s time.

This may explain why my blog is so ADD at times.  I am often inspired by the authors I read.  And for an extrovert who has lived her life out loud, for me to learn something is for me to want to share it with you as well.

How about you?  What are you reading right now?

 

 

 

 

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Sticks and Stones and Words…

Who ever said “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words won’t ever hurt me” was

S T U P I D

I was recently in a conversation with some women: bright, intelligent, educated women, about the whole Jaycee Dugard story and one of them says something along the lines of “well I just think that at some level she, Jaycee, must have enjoyed or liked the affection.”

Two things happened inside of my head and heart as I tried to take in what she said with such confidence.  One was “What the heck are you saying?  You really believe that a twelve-year-old defenseless girl LIKED a creepy, disgusting older strange man touching her much less raping her?!  Think about what you are saying woman!”  But the other was a weirdly visceral flashback to a time when I was eight and someone said something similar to me.  A flashback to a series of events that I have had great healing in so I was surprised at how much of a direct hit I felt.

At eight I was molested by an older teenage boy in our neighborhood and as he was stealing my innocence, my sense of safety and my childhood he was telling me that I wanted this and that it t was my fault because I tempted him on the school bus.  I didn’t even know he rode the bus as I was eight and he was in high school.  I wondered for years how it was possible that I wanted that and what I had done to tempt him.

I have spent more time healing and recovering from the words, shameful, evil words, spoken to me with authority and power, than I have over the actual physical molestation.  The words he spoke that day and subsequent days haunted me for years and tainted every relationship and every decision I made; they tainted my early years as a wife and mother and as a follower of Jesus.  Those words hurt me and shamed me more than the physical violation.  Those words were a constant critical, abusive “parent” in my head for over two decades.

Words have power.  Words can build us up or tear us down.  The Bible has a lot to say about the power of words, but here are a few:

Proverbs 12:6
The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them

Proverbs 12:18
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 16:24
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

James 3:3-12

3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

As Americans one of our most precious liberties is the right to free speech.  As a human being we have the gift of free will from our Creator.  As a woman and a Christian I do not take either of these freedoms lightly.  In many other countries both women and Christians have the fewest rights and certainly do not have a voice or the freedom to speak or the freedom to make their own decisions.

But the right to free speech and free will are liberties they are not license.  It is not license to say or do what ever we want without consequence or repercussion.

With great freedom comes great responsibility.

Yes, that boy was given a free will by God to choose to do whatever he wanted with his life.  He chose to be  a perpetrator in my life.  He was also free to say whatever he wanted to me.  But that does not mean he is free from the responsibility of the consequences of his actions or words.  Hi is fully responsible for the weight of his words in my life.  He will also have to bear the consequences of what he did to me.  He will have to bear the weight of guilt and shame and the knowledge, one day, of what he did to me.  He didn’t count the cost of his freedom to use shame-filled words or his freedom to choose to abuse another human being.

Words have power.  Words can bind us to shame more than shameful actions bind us.  The tongue is a powerful weapon and we can use it for good or for evil.  Our choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As human beings we MUST learn to be responsible with our words because words can rob of us our childhood and taint our future.  Words tear and rend and hurt.  Words can shame.

Or words can:

  • be like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones
  • be from a wise tongue that brings healing
  • instruct, build up and encourage another person
  • give life
  • envision
I am a firm advocate of freedom of speech and freedom of choice but the older I get and the more I interact with people, people who are near and dear to God’s heart, people who are bound by shame because of words spoken over them, the more I am an advocate of responsible speech and responsible choice.  I believe we must count the cost of our words and our actions and then be willing to accept the consequences of our words and choices.  Both good and evil consequences.
I’m just gonna think out loud with you for a moment because I’ve been pondering this idea as I’ve prepared this post.  As I’ve Considered the issues of freedom of speech and the gift of free will, being responsible and counting the cost of our choices, I’ve wondered about God and His choice to give us free will.  Was He responsible?  Did He count the cost?  Certainly He had to count the cost of this choice for humanity and then be willing to pay the price for it right?  Certainly He must have known we would fall and that the consequence of our fall would be much greater than our getting kicked out of Eden.  The cost He counted and the price He was willing to pay for our freedom of choice and speech was the life of His Son Jesus.
As I’ve been pondering this idea it has made all the more grateful for this amazing gift of freedom but it has also made me more sober and thoughtful as I’ve tried to embrace the enormity of what God did for us in risking it all to give us freedom of choice.  Knowing how much forgiveness, grace and mercy God has extended to me when I’ve used my tongue for evil rather than good has humbled me but it has also caused me to be quicker to forgive those who have used words to hurt and shame me.  AND it has freed me to accept that those who have shamed and hurt me with words will bear the consequences of those words, but only as God allows and as God sees fit.
The bad news is sticks and stones my break our bones but words can kill, hurt, bind and shame us.  The good news is Jesus IS the word that became flesh and walked among us and He took the shame and guilt and pain of those words upon Himself so that we can be healed and free.  As THE WORD he redefines the power of the spoken tongue.
I know this to be true because Jesus has healed me from those words that bound me at eight-years-old.  I know, without a shadow of doubt today, that I NEVER wanted what that boy did to me. I DID NOT tempt him and it was NOT my fault.  It was his fault.  But I have forgiven him and I have repented for believing such malevolent and evil lies and chosen to believe the truth that Jesus reveals to me every day.
I don’t know if this is making a lick of sense but it was just something I had to get out of my head and into words.
What are your thoughts on this?

 

English as a Second Language

Having just completed my first full week at my new job I’ve discovered something: I need to learn how to speak the language!  I don’t mean the language of cosmetics and skin care, I think I was born knowing about those things.  Nope, after a week working with really great people I’ve realized that I have spoken “Christianese” for so long that I have forgotten how the rest of the world talks on a daily basis in real life.

This has been a revelation of sorts.  I really thought that I had done a pretty decent job of staying relevant to the culture.  I really did.  In my former job with the church one of our values was to be culturally relevant, and we worked really hard at it.  We really valued people living on the earth now, trying to do the best they can with what they have in today’s culture.  We talked regularly about not being religious, not using “religious code language” that would alienate people, people precious and dear to the heart of God.  We worked hard at staying relevant in all areas of church life and ministry.  We wanted to be a warm, safe and welcoming place for hurting and seeking humanity.  A place where people felt heard and understood and where they understood the language of love.  It was a deep heart commitment for me as a pastor and leader to be approachable and safe.  But they came to me.  They were on my turf as it were so I really wasn’t pushed to hard to speak a different language.

But dang, when you are suddenly out there, right smack in the middle of culture, it is a totally different story.  And I’m not someone who has lived in a “holy huddle” ignoring the world.  I have always been interested in pop culture, in media, in fashion and trends.  I’ve raised teenagers  people!  I knew in junior high that there was no way I could be a nun!  The clothes were boring and the shoes were worse.  Ugh. No offense to the women who have dedicated themselves to serving Jesus in this way.  I just knew at a visceral level I would never be able to submit to those  clothing restrictions.  I would make a cult leader weep and beg for me to leave because I would challenge the conformity of dress and social rules all day long!

For the past 16 years in my career I was my job talk about Jesus, healing, forgiveness, the power of the Holy Spirit, confession, etc.  I was immersed in an environment where we talked about Jesus like most people talk about getting a cup of coffee or what their weekend plans are.  Jesus was just a part of every day life and conversation.  It was my normal and I loved it!  I thrived there.  I felt comfortable there.  I felt safe there.  I felt like I was really making a difference and helping people there, and I was.  All are true and all are valid.

But God.  But God.  OH, BUT GOD!  He is on the one hand, the same yesterday, today and forever and on the other hand, the bend in the road, the shifting tide, the sudden wind blowing in from a different direction.  I have been meditating on this quote from Dan Allender’s book Leading with a Limp all week:

“Crisis is the eruption of chaos, the cloudburst that ruins the beautiful day.  We want fair winds and a safe run from our port to the destination ahead.  We may have secured a favorable weather report and prepared the boat for every possible problem, but as sure as the sun will rise, tides will change, and entropy happens, few of our plans will go as we design.  There is no way to plan for all the contingencies or have all the knowledge we need to navigate the strange waters of life.

Crisis is not a bump in the pavement that causes us to hold the steering wheel more tightly; it is the wall that we hit while we’re steering with everything we’ve got–and it leaves us wondering how we will survive.  Crisis is the context for opportunity and growth, but it also takes us to the edge where some don’t survive.”

But God.

I do believe that I have been running the race that Jesus has marked out for me.  Frankly, I was pretty smug in my confidence in knowing my destination and how I was going to get there.  I just didn’t see the sharp left turn in the road that Jesus had marked out.  And I am positive that it is a very good thing that I didn’t see it ahead of time or I would have done everything in my power to fix what would have been, in my thinking, a divergent path. I just couldn’t plan for all the contingencies and now I find myself in strange waters and it is an opportunity for growth.  It is taking me to the edge and I can only pray that I WILL survive.  That sounds pretty melodramatic doesn’t it?  But some days it feels just that dramatic emotionally, spiritually and mentally.

So I continue to put all my eggs in my one basket: Jesus, trusting Him to help me learn the language and become even more relevant to my generation, the emerging generation of leaders and to the culture I am living in.  My daughter Kayla put it well when she told me it’s just learning how to say the same things I’ve always said only using different words.  I am so glad that Jesus knows all the languages of the world!

Already Jesus has shown me opportunities ahead to minister life and hope to this new team I am a part of.   I just need to listen closely to how the He would have me share the same things I always have but with different words.

This is a whole new way to live out loud my friends!

When Leaving is Cleaving

Our son Daniel married Monica Sal Zachar this past Saturday.  It was a beautiful wedding and a fun and festive reception in the heart of downtown Chicago along the Gold Coast.  We couldn’t have asked for a lovelier day.  Our hearts were full to overflowing with love, gratitude and anticipation as Daniel left us and cleaved to Monica.

In my years as a pastor I have attended, officiated or coordinated probably hundreds of weddings; counseled countless engaged couples and met with as many parents of the bride and groom.  Kevin and I are at that stage in life where many of our friends have preceded us in the “becoming in-laws” stage and we have listened very carefully to their advice as well as the stories of the lessons they have learned on their in-law journey.  But nothing really prepares you for this momentous leaving in life until it actually happens!

As Daniel’s mom I have experienced many historic leaving moments:

  • The first time we left him with a babysitter
  • His first day leaving him at pre-school
  • First day leaving his at  kindergarten
  • Leaving him at his first sleep over
  • Leaving him at his first Boy Scout camp for a week
  • Leaving him at his first day at a new school when we moved to Illinois
  • Watching him leave the house for his first days of Jr and Sr High
  • The day we moved him to Millikin for college and left him in his dorm room
  • The day we moved him to Chicago after graduation and left him in his first post-collegiate apartment
  • The first Thanksgiving he didn’t spend with us as he left to be with Monica and her family
With all of these leaving moments we, his dad and I, were still his most significant relationship and we were always the home and center he came back to.
On Saturday that all changed, as it should.  On Saturday Daniel declared before God and Monica and his friends and family that he was forsaking all others (mom and dad included) and cleaving to Monica.  He declared that the only third person who will ever be in their marriage was Jesus.  He declared that Monica would always be first in his heart.  That is as it should be and we rejoice and bless Daniel and Monica to become one.
I have counseled hundreds if not thousands of couples that “the marriage should always win and that tending to your marriage and your spouse is the best investment you will ever make.”  I want nothing less for our son and daughter-in-law.
During the weeks leading up to the wedding I, as I’m sure most moms do, reflected upon the 27 years we have had with Daniel.  I still recall the snowy, February day in Minnesota that he was born with something akin to liquid love flowing through my body.  I vividly recall gazing down at that tiny little face and my heart squeezing with joy and amazement that he was “ours.”  That God would entrust us with the care, nurture and development of this boy-child was overwhelming.
From the day he was born I began to pray several things over him not the least significant was praying for his future wife.  I prayed for Kevin and I that we would raise Daniel in the way that God had created him to go.  I prayed that we would raise up a strong man who would some day leave our home fully able to transfer his obedience from us to God.  I prayed that we would raise Daniel to be the kind of man who would be a strong, wise, kind, loving and affectionate husband who would lead his family with grace and mercy.  I prayed for his future wife that she would be someone who would share his faith and be a strong support for him.  I prayed for Daniel’s future wife to be a good fit for him and vice versa.  I prayed that they would understand and appreciate one another and “get” one another; that each would work to lift the other one up and that they would rejoice and support one another’s gifts, calling, personality and makeup; that they would be one another’s biggest cheer leader.  I prayed that Jesus would prepare them for each other and always be at the center of their marriage.
Daniel and Monica dated for seven years so we have been able to observe them together in all sorts of life circumstances and I think I can say that they are both better people, better artists, better friends, a better son and daughter and stronger followers of Jesus because of one another.  I believe that she is the answer to 27 years of prayer.
On February 14, 2011 when Daniel called Kevin and I to say he had proposed to Monica I began to give Daniel to Monica in my heart, mind, will and emotions.  I committed in my heart before the Lord that I would let him go so that he could fully cleave to Monica.
Can I just say that all the conversations with friends and family, the prayers I have prayed and the commitment I made to let him go doesn’t ease the ache that is in my heart today?
Don’t get me wrong!  I, we, are delighted that Daniel has married Monica.  We love her as a daughter already and couldn’t imagine him with anyone else.  I am excited for them and the life they will build together.  I thank God every day for the way He has answered my prayers.
But every beginning has an ending; even celebratory, God-blessed beginnings.  And endings are sad.  Even good endings.  It’s sort of like coming to the end of a great book that you don’t want to finish but you know it needs to end and you want to know how it ends but you wish it could also go on and on.
So, as the Bible so aptly puts it, joy and sorrow are often intermingled.  Today the joy of Daniel beginning a new life with Monica is intermingling with the sorrow of the end of having him all to ourselves.
Saturday, September 3, 2011 Kevin and I also committed to leaving our son so he can cleave to his wife.
Here is a picture of them on the steps outside the church.