X-Plan: Giving your kids a way out (#xplan)

A good plan… Pass it on.

Bert Fulks

Friends, as most of you know, I get to spend an hour each week with a group of young people going through addiction recovery.  Yes.  Young people.  I’m talking teenagers who are locked away for at least six months as they learn to overcome their addictions.  I’m always humbled and honored to get this time with these beautiful young souls that have been so incredibly assaulted by a world they have yet to understand.  This also comes with the bittersweet knowledge that these kids still have a fighting chance while several of my friends have already had to bury their own children.

Recently I asked these kids a simple question:  “How many of you have found yourself in situations where things started happening that you weren’t comfortable with, but you stuck around, mainly because you felt like you didn’t have a way out?”

They all raised their hands.

Every single…

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Eye on the Prize

Recently, I ran across a quote in book I am reading on “pastoral health” titled “The Myth of the Shiska” by Edwin Friedman. (You may recall that I used one of Friedman’s Fables in a previous blog post.) Just so you know, a Shiska is a derogatory Yiddish term for a Gentile woman who seduces a Jewish man into marrying her so that she can take him away from the Jewish faith. Friedman shows that not only is this idea a myth within the Jewish community, it is a myth across all cultures and religions. Marriages happen for lots of reasons, but seldom do United Methodists marry just to get their spouse to give up being a Baptist – or vice versa. Friedman shows that family dynamics have more to say about interracial and interfaith marriages than anything else.

The quote that caught my eye was this one:

“The world would be far better off if, instead of being concerned about our own bodies and other people’s souls, we watched over other people’s bodies and our own souls.”

That is a truly deep thought. I couldn’t help but think of a parable told by another Jewish Rabbi that goes like this:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,] you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25 :31-46…Jesus speaking.)

In a very real and concise way Jesus is telling his followers that they MUST pay attention to the condition of the fellow traveler’s “body” in order to be able to minister to Jesus. Looking out for one another is looking out for Jesus.

In our world today, there is a whole lot of discussion going on about caring for some of the least and last in the world. We live in a time when there are more people displaced by war and turmoil in their own countries than any other time in modern history. And we don’t know what to do in order to balance caring for those in need with our own “safety.”

I just hope and pray that we don’t lose sight of what Jesus and this other rabbi are telling us. Looking after the bodies (caring for the safety of others) is a very important indicator of how much we trust Jesus with our own lives and care – in this world and in the world to come.

I know these thoughts aren’t totally complete and I hope they give us something to think about since we are all “Not Quite Home” yet…

Real or Fake?

Wisdom from my daughter!

The Words I Have Thus Far...

I’ve always thought of myself as an open-minded person. I’ve never thought of myself as one who would shy away from having conversations with those that I did not agree with. I even spent my past summer in conversation with people about disagreements within the Christian faith community. I was always one at the table trying to be engaged with those that I did not quite understand.

Yet, recent political events have changed my self-perception and my world perception.

This political season more than ever before in my life, I caught myself thinking things like,  “Those people must be crazy to believe that way!” or “How could any sane person really think that?”

It wasn’t until this week that I understood the severity of my thoughts and why they might be happening.

One would think that these little thoughts would not be all that harmful. However, they display a lack…

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Creativity Intervention, part 1: Suzi Blu

We do have every right to be creative! Do it!


image Artwork copyright SuziBlu. Used with permission. Cool, huh?

It’s almost like there’s a script. I’ll be sitting in a public place sketching and someone will wander by, eye my sketchbook with interest and . . . longing. And then tell me about how they used to love drawing, or coloring, or painting, or some other creative endeavor. And how they realized they weren’t good enough, or were unworthy, or made to feel ashamed in some way for the simple act of picking up a pencil or crayon and letting themselves create.

Time for an intervention.

There’s more going on here than a lack of belief in someone’s creative ability. There’s a vulnerability around the SELF. You can feel it . . . grief and regret, a longing for that simple immersion into art. This is someone who used to find such a happiness in art. What happened here? Sometimes, if…

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Not Quite Home

I bent over and tied the strings of the shoes and took my first couple of tentative steps in these new dress shoes. Well, new is not right. They are used but they are new to me. A color that is somewhere between Oxford and brown. Soles that are made to last or shoesat the very least be replaced when they wear out.

The first step was a bit odd. There was some tightness on the top of my right foot and I wondered if this was going to be a permanent rubbing spot of if the shoes would mold their way over from their old owner to me. I knew before the day was done, the shoes were still pliable.

What I really wondered about was whether the new owner was pliable as well.

These original owner of these shoes was not a pastor, but I have to say…

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