Confronting Injustice?

Since when did social media become political media? I’m not against sharing ones political views, but I find my Facebook newsfeed has become inundated with posts and links for all sorts of diatribes and I’m starting to feel annoyed.

Yes, I know I can skip them, that I don’t have to read them. I also know that I value my friends’ opinions and want to keep current. (I have a hard time sitting and watching the news and don’t care to purchase a paper since our small town doesn’t offer much.) So I read some of the posts. Then I read some of the comments. That’s where I start to feel sick to my stomach. People denigrating others because of their opinions has become the norm, and it’s getting out of hand.

I realize that many of these issues are very personal for some, but that does not give anyone the right to resort to name calling and violence. If I consider something unjust but act unjustly in the expression of my resistance, am I just as guilty of injustice as the person against whom I am resisting? To promote an agenda of love and tolerance toward one group of people, but then respond with violence when the opposing side makes a statement, does not benefit your cause!

Sharing our views is part of what makes this country great, but can we try and be more civilized about it? And how many minds have been changed because they read something on Facebook? How many policies have been reversed because enough people shared the link? I have appreciated those who have shared information on how to contact their representatives when bills are up for a vote. That seems to me to be a great way to use social media in a positive way, but just getting on to rant about the latest thing done by this or that group seems less then productive.

Many people feel that the current political climate is bad, to say the least, but if all they do is sit at their computer and complain, it will not get better. Passive resistance is one thing, passive observation is quite another. So let’s get off our butts and do something! (If you’re wondering what I’m doing, I’ve started attending more school board meetings, since that is where my passion lies, and I am active in helping youth in my community).

 

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Cleaning the Cat Box

I love cats. I have three. I only wanted two, but the third one just followed me home from a walk one night, and I couldn’t turn him away. These cats are indoor/outdoor cats, which means they have a litter box in the house, but have the freedom to go out when the weather is nice, or they want a little fresh air.

When we got the third cat, we found that it was necessary to have a second litter box, otherwise the one would fill up too quickly. But even with a second box, it has become all too easy to let them go too long in between cleanings.

So the last time I cleaned out the boxes, it got me thinking… cleaning the cat box is like dealing with sin in our lives. There are large pieces that are easy to see and easy to remove. But the clumping cat litter causes the liquid to turn into large chunks that stick to the bottom of the box if you let them sit too long. And it really starts to stink.

How often have I allowed a sin to sit and get buried in my life instead of dealing with it right away. It becomes hidden under a layer of busyness and is soon forgotten. But when I leave it there, it starts to smell and stick to the sides of my heart. When I finally try to clean it out, it’s much more difficult.

And then there’s the cats. They want the box clean, so they can do their business. If anything else upsets them, they will let you know. My oldest cat has decided that if the box is not clean (or even if it is) he might just pee on my husband’s side of the bed (we recently got a dog, and the cat is not happy about it). So it can be with sin. If we don’t deal with it, it can affect not just us, but the people we love, as well.

So for the sake of my family and my pets, I’m cleaning the box twice a day, and I spend time with God so the work of spiritual cleaning can happen as well.

 

 

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Isaiah’s Admonitions

I started reading Isaiah today and came across some really great stuff. Chapter one, verse 17 is an admonition of Isaiah to the people of Israel.

Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.

Boom! Just like that, Isaiah lays it out for the people who were making bad choices – do this instead. “Learn to do right”… it’s not something that just comes naturally to us humans. Doing “right” is a learned skill. Now I realize that in our post-modern world, there are a lot of different definitions of the word “right”, and I’m not going to try and pick that apart, but the rest of the verse gives us some help on that – seek justice, defend the oppressed, advocate for the orphans and widows. If we could manage to do those four things, we would well be on our way to doing “right”.

So how do we do them? Well, we have to seek justice, it’s not going to just show up on our doorstep. Some of the other instances of the Hebrew word dirsu are translated “inquire”, and are often preceded by the word “Go”. So it’s not a passive thing, justice is something we need to get off our backsides and actively pursue. Clicking “like” on a Facebook meme about your favorite political hot topic will not suffice!

When I looked up the Hebrew for the “defend the oppressed” phrase I found some interesting comments.  The word hamows is also translated as “ruthless or oppressor”, and asseru is also translated “reprove”. So the admonition is to either stand up for those being bullied, or stop the bully. Either way, it’s another active thing… we need to get up and do something about the injustices that are happening around us!

Finally, we need to advocate for those who have no voice. In Biblical times, the man was the chief provider for the family. The wife and children were completely dependent on him for basic needs. If the father was killed, and if no other family members were willing to take on the burden of his wife and children, they were left to fend for themselves by begging or worse. Isaiah’s admonition to the Israelite people was to plead for the case of the widow and defend the orphan. There are many today in our society who’s voices are drowned out by the cacophony of noise from politics, media, and even the religious. If we truly want to do what it right, we need to speak up. Liking a post on Facebook is a good start here, but we need to take it a step further and make sure that our voices are being heard by the people who can make changes, not just by those who believe the same way we do. Does it take too much more time to send an e-mail to our lawmakers? When we pass the “please sign this petition” people at the store, do we even stop to hear what they are proposing? I know that I often walk right by without taking the time to listen. I have some friends who are adamant about animal rights, so much so, that they started their own animal rescue and are doing amazing things for creatures who cannot speak for themselves. I know students who are helping those being bullied by standing beside them. This election season is a great time to speak up for what we believe by voting intelligently; not just following party lines.

So my goal is to learn, to seek and to advocate; to actively do for the kingdom of God instead of sitting back and hoping for it show up; to be the person that God has called me to be. Who’s with me?

 

 

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post season

I am a HUGE Seahawks fan! Ask my husband. I’m the one who sits in front of the TV every Sunday afternoon, yelling and jeering and talking to the TV screen as if the commentators and players could hear me. My kids know that from the end of August until the beginning of January you don’t bug mom during a game… they’ve learned to fend for themselves for Sunday dinner. My love for the team stems from spending time with my dad when I was growing up. We would sit and watch the Seahawks games and he would teach me the game.

Today, the Seahawks won their first post-season away game since 1983. It’s a huge deal. Especially considering how hard they have had to prove themselves over the last few years. That is something I remember discussing with my dad so many years ago, “Seahawks get no respect.”

But we did it! We won the first round of play-off games and we are going to play for a title. Notice I said “we”. Something happens to some fans after while. They become a part of the team. The Seahawks even have a ceremony at the start of every home game for the “12th man”, with the raising of the “12th man” flag. The team considers us a big part of the success of the game. Sure, we don’t have to work out with them or put on the gear, but we are every bit on the field with them. (I even work up a sweat watching sometimes.)

While watching the game today, I was also making comments on Facebook about the game. Some of my friends, who I haven’t seen for years were watching the same game and making similar comments. It was fun sharing our opinions and thoughts in real time, miles away from each other. When the game was over, many more friends posted their excitement for our team as well.

There is something about being a part of something bigger than myself. I feel closer to my friends on Facebook when we all share about the team. I feel as if I know Russel Wilson, the quarterback, and smile knowingly when he is interviewed, thinking, “that’s my boy.” We’ve all fought this battle together and we have all returned victorious. It’s inspiring.

I find myself wondering if I am this excited about Jesus? Am I as proud of letting my light shine for God as a I am to wear my team jersey? Do I post things on Facebook about my faith and read others’ posts about their faith journey, our do I skip past them and look for the cute animal posts instead? Do I study Scripture as closely as I check out the teams statistics? Am I really going to skip church next week because the game starts during Sunday school?

I could write about all the changes I want to make this year, but let’s be realistic, I’m no good at keeping New Year’s resolutions. Instead I will just try to be more intentional in my faith walk; to listen to the coach, to get to know the playbook better, to follow the lead of the quarterback, and to stay in the game. Maybe then I can inspire others to join God’s team.

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a puppy’s death

There are several neighbor girls who come to our house and play with our girls on a regular basis. We have a slide and monkey bars plus a huge grassy yard. Some of the girls are sisters and at the beginning of summer, their family adopted a puppy named Cookie. Cookie was a sweet little thing that came over with the girls any time they came to play, and even our old dog, Grayla, enjoyed playing with her.
Yesterday, Cookie was run over and killed. The girls came to our house and asked our daughter , Jandica if they could pick some flowers to put on Cookie’s grave. We were all devastated. Not more then an hour earlier, we had walked passed their house, and Cookie came out to say “hi”. We went with the girls back to their house and watched as their older brother held back his tears while he dug a grave. Ed said a little prayer and we all stood around a cried. It was so sad.
I am learning more and more about what it means to minister in a small town. These neighbor girls will come to Ed with flat tires on their bikes, they borrow board games from our girls to play together. They are all of hispanic background, and will sometimes speak in Spanish to each other and leave Jandica out of the conversation…. But we are sharing Jesus with them.
Many of them participated in VBS this summer, and a few of them are old enough to join our youth group. I feel so privileged to be their youth leader, neighbor and minister’s wife, and I am grateful for the opportunity that my girls have to be their friends and learn about their culture (my girls have eaten and actually enjoyed tongue tacos!) and share Jesus with them as well.
I am looking forward to the fall when I will be starting a Bible Study for the youth group girls, and I really hope that some of these girls will want to join. Many of them are from a Catholic background, and I hope to learn who Jesus is to them as well as to share who Jesus is to me.
I know that God has led me to this place and I am so grateful for the opportunity that God has given me to be a part of the lives of these girls. I look forward to watching them grow and to helping them through other experiences of significance, whether it be more pet funerals or victories on the sports field, or recognizing God’s call on their lives…. I cannot find the words to express how I feel, the high privilege of being allowed to share in their sorrow and knowing that God has placed my family here for just such a time as this…. It is all overwhelming and poignant and I am so touched by God’s grace.

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Spring Morning

The girls have started spring break, and I woke up before 7am this morning… and couldn’t get back to sleep. So I decided to go for a walk (I’ve been trying to get some exercise at least three times each week, and I was behind). What a beautiful spring morning! There was a bit of frost on the windows of the cars as I passed, but the sun was just starting its ascent, and the sky was bright. The birds have made their way back to town and are starting their spring routine of nest building. It was peaceful and quiet and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

As I was walking I was reflecting on my family’s last year. We have been through quite a bit. It was just about a year ago that we found out we would be moving to this wonderful new community and I was not as receptive to the idea as I could have been. I was looking forward to continuing to teach musical theater at the alternative school that my kids were attending, and the girls were not too happy about leaving their friends and their lives. (We had just moved 4 years prior and were feeling settled where we were.) But I can now look back at how the experiences of previous ministries have led to me to where I am today.

As a pastor’s wife, I’ve moved from north of Seattle to Omaha, NE; back to south of Seattle; the south of Olympia, then back north (to the house I lived in when I was in high school) and now to a small town in Eastern Washington. And each move has been a part of my journey to finding out who I am in Christ and what my role is in God’s kingdom. Sometimes the road has been difficult… my father’s passing last fall was probably the most painful experience to date, and the emotional scar is still raw from it. But I’ve also learned that each move has been the right one, at the right time, even if it wasn’t always the most enjoyable.

So here I sit with the sun shining through my window (that needs to be washed) and I am so very thankful for this spring morning and for a God who has been directing my steps. I know that each day is another opportunity to experience God’s love and grace and direction for me and I look forward to what this spring day and each following day has for my family and me as we walk the path set before us.

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Dad’s funeral

Dad passed away on October 2, 2010. This is the eulogy I shared at his memorial service…

First, I just want to say thank you to all who wore their sports teams jerseys. Those who knew my dad know how pleased he would be to be honored this way.

I know there are so many wonderful stories about Dad’s life that I couldn’t pick just one, and I know all of you are here because he touched your life in some way. If you have a story or memory, please share with one another during the reception. We want to celebrate his wonderful life.

Many years ago, Dad attended a “How To Win Friends and Influence People” seminar, and I think he really took that philosophy to heart. Everywhere he went he was always intent on making others feel good about themselves, or to just have a better day, or to feel appreciated and cared for. He was a quiet man of faith, and shared God’s love with those around him, just by being kind and loving.

We learned to cherish the time we had with Dad, and that is why we can celebrate his life together today. Over 30 years ago, Dad was diagnosed with a rare, incurable disease called dermatimiasitus. There are 3 outcomes for this disease- an early death, severe muscle degeneration, or remission. Dad’s went into remission, and we gratefully looked forward to each day with him. Then, 15 years ago, almost to the day, he had a heart attack. His disease had weakened his heart muscle, but again he came through fine, and again we gratefully took each day as a gift.

Then 2 years ago, he developed a lung condition, and because of it, contracted staph pneumonia. He was in the hospital for a month, but he fought back and we celebrated his retirement. Mom and Dad were able to travel after that and enjoyed many trips together and with family, again grateful for our time.

But because of the medications he had to take for his lung condition, his immune system was no longer able to fight off even the simplest of illnesses… and this time his body couldn’t fight off the staph pneumonia.

So we have to say goodbye to a man who loved life and loved people.

My dad had a saying when I was growing up… whenever “tragedy” occurred, like getting a pimple right before a date, or the meatloaf burned, Dad would say, “400 years from now, who’s going to care?” Well, Dad, I’m pretty sure that you have left such a legacy, that 400 years from now, people will still care about Jim Wallace.

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