Saturday, November 28, 2009


We ran away to the mountains for thanksgiving with Roger's parents. They paid for our hotel room, our thanksgiving dinner and everything else they could manage beating us to the cash register for. It was a great 4 days spent with the in-laws and out-laws (paul and anna).

Here are some highlights:

Wednesday was the travel day so all morning long I packed up the lugage, took care of the kids and tended to the worker dude that was putting in our new windows. By the time we actually got everyone in the car at noon I was exhausted but alas I had to drive all the way to the mountains because Roger had to work on his sermon on the way there.  Needless to say a 4 hour drive took about 6 hours with the kids.  But we expected that and checked out a book on cd from our local library!!!

Thursday we slept in until, get this, 9am!!!!!    WOW!!!!  It was AMAZING.  Then I was able to waller in bed and read until 10:30am because we sent the kids to the grandparents hotel room. I thought to myself "this is why people with small children travel with the grandparents."  Around noon we walked down to a local restaurant that the in-laws had reserved for us to have our thanksgiving dinner at.  Great food. No mess to clean up but there sure was a mess made thanks to Anna.  The rest of the afternoon was spent with Paul and Roger visiting the grandparents while I watched Anna sleep in our room with a good book in my hand.  That afternoon we all went for a big walk on the strip and ate some really nasty food from a guy that I am pretty sure had meth mouth. 

Friday was exciting!  We went to the Aquarium.  It was Paul and Anna's first time and they both were so happy that I had to hold back tears.  It was adorable!!!  We even got to see the divers feed the sting rays and the multicolored fish. At one point Anna ran up to the glass, banged on it and the diver dude took out his breather thing and gave her a big toothy smile. Her response was a BIG kiss on the glass.  My heart melted.  It was just one of those moments where you feel at peace being right where you are, in the moment. I have had a lot of those lately.   After the aquarium we ate at the lovely Applewood Restaurant.  YUMMY!!! But by that time the kids were NUTTS.  sorry people at the tables around us. I should have backed ear plugs for ya.

Roger and I were also able to spend friday night ALONE!!  We did lame things like snuggle in the bed to watch Super Nanny, walk the strip while sipping coffee and giggling at crazy things, and eating cake together at midnight while watching Sleepless in Seattle. We were going to enjoy the hot tub after the movie watching/cake eating but we fell asleep.  I guess having kids makes the lame dates seem so much more exciting.  And you know what?  I am ok with that!

Saturday we took the kids to see the bears!  While there Paul saw some go carts and I just HAD to take him for a ride.  We got one with two stirring wheels so he is convinced that he drove a race car and I am convinced that I am an awesome mom for letting him think that he was driving.  When we got finished with the ride he looked up at me with those big blue eyes, smiled and said "That was super fun mom!!  I'm a FAST race car driver!" 

Now we are at home and EXHAUSTED.  Traveling with two small children is a challenge. At one point this weekend paul walked out of the bathroom with blood on his face. "umm I was shaving" was the response I got when I mentioned the blood. I knew the day would come when he would attempt the shaving.  I still remember my first attempt.  Do you?

Oh one more thing.  Paul walked up to a Santa Clause in the store and said "Hey, my names Paul and I'm a super hero."  Then he walked away.  My 4 year old is hilarious!

Monday, November 23, 2009

letter from Shane Claiborne

A letter from Shane Claiborne.  A letter that was needed to be written.

To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.

Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of God.

The other night I headed into downtown Philly for a stroll with some friends from out of town. We walked down to Penn's Landing along the river, where there are street performers, artists, musicians. We passed a great magician who did some pretty sweet tricks like pour change out of his iPhone, and then there was a preacher. He wasn't quite as captivating as the magician. He stood on a box, yelling into a microphone, and beside him was a coffin with a fake dead body inside. He talked about how we are all going to die and go to hell if we don't know Jesus.

Some folks snickered. Some told him to shut the hell up. A couple of teenagers tried to steal the dead body in the coffin. All I could do was think to myself, I want to jump up on a box beside him and yell at the top of my lungs, "God is not a monster." Maybe next time I will.

The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination. But over the past few decades our Christianity, at least here in the United States, has become less and less fascinating. We have given the atheists less and less to disbelieve. And the sort of Christianity many of us have seen on TV and heard on the radio looks less and less like Jesus.

At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, "I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ." A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That's the ugly stuff. And that's why I begin by saying that I'm sorry.

Now for the good news.

I want to invite you to consider that maybe the televangelists and street preachers are wrong — and that God really is love. Maybe the fruits of the Spirit really are beautiful things like peace, patience, kindness, joy, love, goodness, and not the ugly things that have come to characterize religion, or politics, for that matter. (If there is anything I have learned from liberals and conservatives, it's that you can have great answers and still be mean... and that just as important as being right is being nice.)

The Bible that I read says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it... it was because "God so loved the world." That is the God I know, and I long for others to know. I did not choose to devote my life to Jesus because I was scared to death of hell or because I wanted crowns in heaven... but because he is good. For those of you who are on a sincere spiritual journey, I hope that you do not reject Christ because of Christians. We have always been a messed-up bunch, and somehow God has survived the embarrassing things we do in His name. At the core of our "Gospel" is the message that Jesus came "not [for] the healthy... but the sick." And if you choose Jesus, may it not be simply because of a fear of hell or hope for mansions in heaven.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe in the afterlife, but too often all the church has done is promise the world that there is life after death and use it as a ticket to ignore the hells around us. I am convinced that the Christian Gospel has as much to do with this life as the next, and that the message of that Gospel is not just about going up when we die but about bringing God's Kingdom down. It was Jesus who taught us to pray that God's will be done "on earth as it is in heaven." On earth.

One of Jesus' most scandalous stories is the story of the Good Samaritan. As sentimental as we may have made it, the original story was about a man who gets beat up and left on the side of the road. A priest passes by. A Levite, the quintessential religious guy, also passes by on the other side (perhaps late for a meeting at church). And then comes the Samaritan... you can almost imagine a snicker in the Jewish crowd. Jews did not talk to Samaritans, or even walk through Samaria. But the Samaritan stops and takes care of the guy in the ditch and is lifted up as the hero of the story. I'm sure some of the listeners were ticked. According to the religious elite, Samaritans did not keep the right rules, and they did not have sound doctrine... but Jesus shows that true faith has to work itself out in a way that is Good News to the most bruised and broken person lying in the ditch.

It is so simple, but the pious forget this lesson constantly. God may indeed be evident in a priest, but God is just as likely to be at work through a Samaritan or a prostitute. In fact the Scripture is brimful of God using folks like a lying prostitute named Rahab, an adulterous king named David... at one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. Some say God spoke to Balaam through his ass and has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves. And if upon meeting someone we think God could never use, we should think again.

After all, Jesus says to the religious elite who looked down on everybody else: "The tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom ahead of you." And we wonder what got him killed?

I have a friend in the UK who talks about "dirty theology" — that we have a God who is always using dirt to bring life and healing and redemption, a God who shows up in the most unlikely and scandalous ways. After all, the whole story begins with God reaching down from heaven, picking up some dirt, and breathing life into it. At one point, Jesus takes some mud, spits in it, and wipes it on a blind man's eyes to heal him. (The priests and producers of anointing oil were not happy that day.)

In fact, the entire story of Jesus is about a God who did not just want to stay "out there" but who moves into the neighborhood, a neighborhood where folks said, "Nothing good could come." It is this Jesus who was accused of being a glutton and drunkard and rabble-rouser for hanging out with all of society's rejects, and who died on the imperial cross of Rome reserved for bandits and failed messiahs. This is why the triumph over the cross was a triumph over everything ugly we do to ourselves and to others. It is the final promise that love wins.

It is this Jesus who was born in a stank manger in the middle of a genocide. That is the God that we are just as likely to find in the streets as in the sanctuary, who can redeem revolutionaries and tax collectors, the oppressed and the oppressors... a God who is saving some of us from the ghettos of poverty, and some of us from the ghettos of wealth.

In closing, to those who have closed the door on religion — I was recently asked by a non-Christian friend if I thought he was going to hell. I said, "I hope not. It will be hard to enjoy heaven without you." If those of us who believe in God do not believe God's grace is big enough to save the whole world... well, we should at least pray that it is.

Your brother,


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Episode 1 of "Spiritual Journey"

I have always been told to "let go and let God" but I never really got it until these last two years. These last two years have been no less than a spiritual transformation, a journey towards a Higher being that I feel I have  no control over. I feel compelled to write about it. A feeling that I have been pushing away since it began but that keeps surfacing during moments of anxiety that are brought on by a need to put into words what has been taking place deep within my soul. 

There is so much to write about, so much to explain. I know where to start but I have no clue where to end. There is no ending. The transformation is continuous. So, with a little nudging from my Husband I have decided to start writing about the inner dwellings of my soul and the transformation that has been taking place, well, all my life, but that I have just recently become aware of. Funny how that happens isn't it. How when our soul is finally given the ability to reach out towards the Light and be touched, it is given a voice that has long been silenced!

I pray that in writing these blogs someone else's soul is aided on their journey towards wholeness. If there is one thing that I have learned throughout this awakening it is the power of the human story. Listening to the stories of others has not only given word to my feelings but as helped lead me through the muck that so often times we find ourselves in.