Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I Will #CelebrateIndiana because #WeAreIndiana

I clearly disagree with the RFRA legislation.

Here's the important thing that people need to hear - a LOT of people and businesses and organizations and smaller governments disagree with it as well.

Do just a little bit of digging and you will find colleges making statements, city and town governments making statements, businesses making statements.  Indiana is a state that is open and welcoming.

We aren't perfect - but no state is perfect. You will find close mindedness in any part of the country.

But Hoosiers are hard working people. Our state, like all the others, is filled with history and beauty and uniqueness.

I understand the initial inclination to "boycott Indiana."  I really do. And in some ways, I applaud it. Because it has obviously captured the attention, on some level, of our state government. Because a national response does mean an impact on dollars - and economics is what truly speaks the loudest.

Instead of boycotting this entire state and all of the good that it does offer, I'd encourage people to come and visit. And make a point to stay in hotels and eat in restaurants and shop in stores that have stood up against RFRA.  Do what so many Hoosiers are already doing - letting our money speak for us.

Don't damage the people and companies that didn't have anything to do with this legislation.  In fact, support the towns and cities and businesses and events that are speaking against this legislation, that are demanding change, that are showing up for rallies and sending letters and voicing opinions and issuing statements. Because when you look at the long list of people inside Indiana who are voicing their anger, their disapproval... Indiana becomes a much more acceptable and open place to visit and support.

In a couple of weeks, I will be attending an annual event on Indiana Tourism. I love this event. I get to meet people who work for the tourism division of their city or town or county. People who are passionate about introducing people to their part of Indiana.  There are so many ways that I enjoy celebrating Indiana - everything from Vintage Indiana to the Indiana Artisan Marketplace to DigIN to the Indiana State Fair.  Here in Indiana, we celebrate wine and beer and food. We celebrate the arts. We celebrate people and diversity - we actually do!

Here are some things I am looking forward to in the coming months - places to go, events to attend.

Columbus


I also want to plan a family weekend to Columbus, IN.  I want to make (and buy and eat) marshmallows from one of my all time favorite sweet spots - 240Sweet.  I want to go to The Commons and KidsCommons and Zaharakes.  Columbus has some fantastic walking routes, too, which seem like a great way to see parts of the city and surrounding areas.

Indiana Dunes


Indiana has a beach!  No - really!  This would be a long weekend family trip.  Time at Indiana Dunes, a visit to Kosciusko County and Marshall County.  I want a day on the beach.  I want to hike and explore the dunes.  I want to visit the statues in Kosciusko and maybe catch a show at the Wagon Wheel Theatre, and I want to see a few barn quilts in Marshall County.

Richmond


This would be a weekend with Christy.  A couple of days filled with the Wine & Ale Trail, the Chocolate Trail, the Tiffany Window Trail, and a stop at Warm Glow Candles.... sounds perfect for us!

Indy Pride


It seems that I am always out of town when Pride happens in Indianapolis. This year, in light of recent current events, I want to make it a priority to attend parts of Pride.  While the dates may be coinciding with possible vacation time again... I think I can make at least some of it work.  June 6 is the Rainbow 5K Run/Walk. June 13 is the Pride Parade. And lots goes on the entire week!

Indiana State Fair


My love for the State Fair is well known. So you can certainly expect that I will be getting more and more excited as we get closer and closer to Aug 7. This year's theme is Year of the Farmer. Agriculture is a big part of Indiana - both historically and currently. 

Indiana has a lot to offer. Please don't judge this state and the people in it by the bullheaded good ole boys currently in office in our state government. These people did not listen to the people who voted them in to office! Don't punish an entire state of good people for their poor actions - actions that we are fighting. I love my state. I love my city. I love the people of this state.


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Sunday, March 29, 2015

I'm Pretty Disgusted

OK - this is one post that may cost me some fans or followers or maybe even friends. But that's ok.

I've been somewhat vocal about my opinions on Indiana's Religious Freedom crap.  But I've also been sitting back and reading and taking in opinions on both sides. Reading the actual bill. Reading what supporters of the bill have to say about it. Stuff like that.

A lot of people are very angry over this new legislation. Lots of big names across the country have called for a boycott against Indiana - cities have prohibited government travel here, conventions are considering cancelling, sporting events are looking elsewhere.

The supporters of the bill are angry that people are "over reacting" to the bill. They say that other states have almost identical bills. They say that this just prevents government over reaching. They say this has nothing at all to do with discrimination.

I call bullshit.

I'm just going to point out a couple of reasons why this is total BS.

1. Other states have primarily passed these bills 15-20 years ago - not in current years as a response to the legalization of gay marriage.  And other states have legislation in place to protect the LGBT population from discrimination - making them a protected class.

2. One of the big supporters and lobbyists of this bill is Advance America. This group has a CLEAR homophobic slant - it's a group that was founded in 1980 by Eric Miller.  And you can find posts from 2 months ago about the Religious Freedom bill and why it's "important."

"SB 568 will help protect religious freedom in Indiana by providing protection forindividuals with sincerely held religious beliefs, along with Christian businesses andchurches.
SB 568 will help protect individuals, Christian businesses and churches from thosesupporting homosexual marriages and those supporting government recognition and approval of gender identity (male cross-dressers).
Here are just 3 examples:
  • Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage!
  • Christian business should not be punished for refusing to allow a man to use the women’s restroom!
  • church should not be punished because they refuse to let the church be used for a homosexual wedding!"
And it is clear that Advance America was an important part of this legislation as Eric Miller was one of the invited people to attend the private signing of the bill.

3. The context, as evidenced by the Advance America postings, makes it clear that the legislation is created to support the specific views of a specfic brand of Christianity. It does not represent all faiths. And that is pretty damn dangerous.  I get that it isn't written in that way specifically. But again - read the spewings of Advance America.

4. Final straw was interview Pence did on ABC News this morning.  When directly asked if he opposes discrimination against gays and lesbians - and he was directly asked TWICE - he hesitated and then avoided a direct answer of the question.

Maybe discrimination isn't written into the bill. And maybe anyone who tries to use this legislation to protect themselves will fail.

That isn't really the point. The bill itself isn't why people are so angry.  The legislation is, of course, carefully written so that the supporters and authors can raise their hands and claim innocence and good intention.  But the pretext and context is what is causing the issues.

We're angry because this bill was pushed through as a response to the passing of the legalization of gay marriage.

We're angry because the people fighting to support this legislation are clearly homophobic and discriminatory.

We're angry because the picture of Indiana has now been painting with a hugely bigoted and hateful paintbrush because of the clear context of this situation.

Anyone who wants to defend this legislation - go right ahead. But please own it. Please be honest and say that you want a way for businesses and churches to be "protected" from the evils of homosexuality. At least with Advance America, I can clearly see that they are not ever going to be a group that I would support or give any credence to because they are so far away from the values that I hold dear.

Values, by the way, that are completely based in my faith. Because I believe strongly in that most important commandment that Christ gave us.  Love God, love others.

And I won't be arguing about this topic. If you want to unfriend me or unfollow me - that's probably better, honestly. The divisive nature of this legislation is bringing about ugly sides to people - sides that I don't need to see. If you want to be anti-gay, go right ahead. It is your right, after all. Just like people have a right to be racist. But just because you have the right to be that way doesn't mean that it is actually right to be that way.

Meanwhile, I'm just going to be over here doing my best to love all of you - even the haters and close minded people.  I'll be praying for all of you - especially those who seek to make others "less than" in any way, those who feel injustice is allowed. I'm sure there will be those who feel like they need to pray for me - that I might see the error of my ways, that I might be more open to seeing God's will in all of this. Y'know, that God's will thing about loving others.  Maybe we have different definitions of love - but that's a different post for a different day.



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Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 Indiana Artisan Marketplace

I am very excited for this weekend! One of my favorite events is here! I love discovering and enjoying and supporting Indiana businesses.

Indiana Artisan Marketplace

This will also be an interesting event given the current news in Indiana and all of the backlash happening in the state and the nation regarding the "religious freedom" legislation that was signed this week.

My hope is that the artisans who are "Open for Service" will have their status displayed because I am certainly one who wants to support the businesses who are committed to not practicing discrimination based on ignorance and hate veiled behind religion.

I am very excited to see what the following artisans will be offering (and I'm excited about the artisans I've yet to meet, of course)!

Frittle Candy
Kristy Jo Beber Stoneware
Woven Dimensions
Captain Jim's Hot Sauces
240Sweet
Sage's Simple Syrups
Winzerwald Winery
Best Boy & Co.
Chocolate for the Spirit

That's just a small sampling out of the couple hundred artisans that I am excited to visit. I always discover new artisans at this event and I love to try new things and stock up on the products I don't find in my everyday shopping.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Her Heart

So much of parenthood is filled with challenge. It's easy to get caught up and bogged down by the weight of being a parent. You hear people talk about the joys but there are days that the joys feel spread so thin that you wonder if it's all been worth it.

Teagan is about to turn 10 years old.

Be still my heart.

She is in 4th grade. And in the past few months, her heart has been showing more and more. And it makes me fall in love with her all over again each time she shares it with me.

4th grade, like 3rd grade, is filled with a good share of girl drama. Who sits with what group at lunch, who played with what kid at recess, who said this to that boy, and so on. I recall one of Teagan's little friends explaing to me that "Mary is trying to steal Susie's best friend because Susie is trying to steal Betsy's best friend and Betsy is trying to steal Ann's best friend."  As a wise friend of mine pointed out - in a few years, that sentence will be all about boys instead of best friends.

Be still my heart.

This year, Teagan has been trying to step outside of the drama. This is a challenge because she is not only naturally attracted to drama, but she also naturally attracts it and has a gift for stirring it up when she chooses to do so. And sometimes without even intending to do so.

This year, Teagan has been asking me a lot of questions about drama. About why kids can't all just be kind. About why it causes so many problems if you sit with a different group at lunch.

This year, Teagan is seeing behavior in other kids and recognizing things she doesn't like, she thinks is in appropriate, she knows she doesn't want to be part of.

Be still my heart.

My first glimpse into the compassionate heart of my little girl was early on in the school year. As 4th graders, the kids have opportunities for leadership in the school (4th grade is the highest grade). Teagan was disappointed to not be voted in to Student Council and to not be chosen for the Spelling Bowl team. Both of those things turned out to be a blessing. By not doing those other things, she could be selected to work once a week with the "life skills" students (kids with various levels of physical abilities that keep them from a mainstream classroom). This is where her heart is. She has always had compassion for these kids and sought ways to be friendly and connect with them in the lunchroom or hallway. She wrote a letter to her teacher, explaining why she wanted to be selected for this special job.

Be still my heart.

More recently, Teagan's heart has been showing in regards to a boy in her class who is here for the school year because his dad is doing research at a local hospital. The family is from Seoul, Korea. Teagan's heart was sensitive toward him for a while but it broke open in a big way when she saw classmates laughing at him because he didn't understand something they had said to him. Not only has she made the ongoing, daily effort to truly be a friend to him, she has also rallied other kids to be friends with him and be kind to him. Her efforts haven't gone unnoticed as I received a lovely email from his mother, expressing that her son is happier because of her friendship.

Be still my heart.

Last night, Teagan was wondering why a friend of hers, who goes to church and says she loves Jesus, would then also express being "creeped out" by the Life Skills kids.  Teagan's heart tells her to love them all, to be kind to them all. She sees differences but doesn't find them to be weird - her heart is leading her to see the beauty in the differences that God created. Whether the difference is the color of your skin, the language that you speak, or the way your body or brain works, my daughter has a heart that wants to love you.

Like all of us, her heart gets clouded. She is a little human, afterall. Jealousy and selfishness can certainly block that heart of hers.

But in these past few months, I've been seeing glimpses of the purity of her heart. I've seen proof that the things we try to teach her, the values we try to live in front of her - those things are settling in her heart and guiding her.

Our job is far from over. And we are going to have many more hurdles and hiccups as the journey continues. But for today, I'm holding on to faith. Faith that she is learning to love, to serve, to be kind. Faith that something we are doing as parents is right. There will be a lot of big challenges ahead of us - I don't doubt it. But I want to always remember her heart. To always know that she is capable of loving others in big ways.

On the days when I feel like I'm failing, when my temper flares and my heart races, when I am flooded with love for my children...

Be still my heart.

I pray that reminders of the beauty of her heart will help me to see clearly what love really is and parenthood is really all about.


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Friday, February 20, 2015

Why I Don't Leave My Church

I've seen a lot of articles floating around that talk about why hipsters leave the church or why teenagers leave the church or why families leave the church.

And it occured to me that part of why there is a culture of leaving the church might be because we talk so much about leaving the church!

This post is kind of hard to write. But if I'm one thing, I'm authentic, right? I try to be honest with anything I put out into the world.

I've been struggling in my church for a little while now. And it seems to get better and then it gets worse and up and down. I've done a lot of internal soul searching - seeking God inside myself, making sure I was doing my personal best in the circumstances.  I've done a lot of praying - listening for God to help me see the path.

I think that some people see church kind of like choosing a restaurant. You try it out and you like it. The food is good, the service is good, the atmosphere is pleasant. You might even become a regular. But then you have a bad experience and you stop going. And we tend to do that with church - afterall, there is always some other church right around the corner or down the street to try instead. Churches are everywhere so it should be fairly easy to select one that meets your "wish list" for a church.

But unlike a restaurant, once you've joined a church, you've joined a family. Membership in a church isn't about priveleges - it's about commitments.

At least for me.

I'm not saying that any church should be forced into your life as The Church for you.  It can take time to visit churches and find a place where you feel comfortable, where you learn from the preaching, where you enjoy walking in the door. But once you've found the place and you've committed yourself and you've become part of the congregation...

You can't just break a connection by walking out the door again.

For me, church isn't about showing up on Sunday morning, singing some songs, hearing a sermon, and going home.

Church, like my faith, is part of my life. Church family is a very real thing to me - I wouldn't walk away from my husband and kids to shop for a new ones. The people in the church I attend are important to me. I don't walk to my car after church on Sunday and then forget about those people that I just joined in worship. After years of supporting people through health problems, faith struggles, celebrating new babies, kids growing up, tragedies and joys... the people in that building become connected. We care about each other. We love each other. God brought us to that place and forms bonds between us.

I'm also not saying that you must stay in a church at all costs. If the preaching has changed and you disagree with what is being taught, time to go. If an area of ministry has changed so significantly that you feel it negatively impacts your overall church support, it might be time to go.

But I think there should be a strong suggestion that you never leave a church without talking to someone, most likely the lead pastor, about why you are leaving.

Needs change over time, too. But here's the thing - I know that as my needs change, God is going to work to change my church, to change me, or to use me as an instrument to bring about change.

In my recent struggles, there have been 3 things that have kept me firmly planted.

1. The People
I love the people of my church. I have friends there. But more than that, I have people who love me and my husband and my kids. I have people that I love and care about and pray for and want the best for. There are people there who have shared insights in a Bible study that profoundly deepen my faith. There are people there who have demonstrated incredible love and patience and faith that I know I can lean on and learn from.

2. I Made A Promise
I love the way we do baptism and affirmations of faith in our church. We don't do a big open call and invite anyone to come forward and be dunked or sprinkled. Baptism is a serious choice made by the individual or by a child's parents. Baptism is a promise being made to commit to God and to commit to the church. As a member of my church, when there is a baptism, the people sitting in the pews make promises to that person, to that family. We promise to be involved in our church and we promise to set the example for this person being baptized and we promise to raise them up in the church.  I take the promises I have made at each of those baptisms and affirmations of faith very seriously.

3. I Got Over Myself
Part of the foundation of my current struggle, since I'm being honest, is my own hurt feelings. And when we get down to it, most any struggle comes down to our own personal hurts, doesn't it?  Most of the time, people aren't leaving a church because they suddenly disagree with what is being preached. Most of the time, there isn't a deep philosophical or theological reason for leaving - it's because we're unhappy with something, our feelings have been hurt, or we feel like we aren't being served or appreciated or noticed or whatever.  But I recently had a bit of a wake up call when listening to a sermon by Francis Chan on the subject of "Tired of Church."  You should click over and at least listen to the first few minutes because me trying to tell you what he says won't have as much impact. But the bottom line is... if there is a possibility (and there is always this possibility) that this is my last breath and I am about to be face to face with the God that I have worked for and worshiped and praised and turned to and chased after and run to... if I might possibly be right in His presence in the next moment... do I really care what so-and-so says about me or thinks about me?

I'm not saying there aren't good reasons to leave a church or to shop around. I'm just saying that there are probably a lot more reasons to stay.  I'm saying that leaving a church should be a heavy decision, shouldn't be made in an emotional state, and that you should talk out the concerns prior to actually walking out the door. You can always change your relationship within the church - cut back on involvement, ramp up your involvement, find a new group to study and learn with. Shake it up. But if there is something you don't like, something making you want to run away... maybe you need to step up and face it.  Think about the reasons why you go to church and why you've stayed there so far.

Maybe that will be enough.


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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hey, Youse Guys, All Ya'll

I won't pretend that I think anything I have to say is truly important. And I won't pretend that I think the numbers matter - followers on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.  I don't measure success by number of clicks or anything like that.

Nothing personal against youse guys...

But ya'll aren't really the reason I write.

I write for me. I'm terribly selfish that way. Sometimes, I need to work through parenting stuff or faith based stuff or touchy-feely stuff. Sometimes I need my soapbox.

And if someone else happens to read it and they get something from it, I think that's fantastic!

But today, it suddenly hit me that if everyone on those lists of followers were to actually click on a blog post, I'd have a lot of people reading the things I write.

And that's a little intimidating.

It's funny, this whole blog thing. I think of it like a journal with the potential to reach someone who might share in the feeling or thought or experience. I've enjoyed the connections made from back when I first started on this journey - like Mim and Garret and C. Beth and Joanie and Hallie.

But when I tell people that I blog... I still feel... vulnerable? Exposed?

I put it out into the atmosphere to be read, to reach someone, and also to just help me sort out my thoughts. So sharing that with someone face to face feels kinda weird.

I have also become keenly aware of my audience.  I know that my mom sometimes reads my blog. My brothers sometimes read my blog. I know that my husband reads. And people in my church. And some people I work with. And parents of my kids' classmates.

That's the part that sometimes causes me to pause. That makes this place less of a journal, less of a soapbox. Because sometimes knowing who is definitely going to click over and read means that I can't share about what I'm going through or thinking or experiencing.

It blows my mind sometimes when I start to tell someone my thoughts or opinions and they say... "oh yeah, I read that on your blog."

Woah.

I don't write just FOR ya'll but I sure am aware of youse guys.

But I also have to say that exposing one's soul at any level... it requires being willing to grow. To stretch. To consider. To be ok with being wrong. And even ok with being right.

So... hello. Whether you've been reading for years or you just somehow wandered around the blogosphere and happened upon this post... feel free to say hello from time to time!


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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

He Held Me

On Monday, I posted a letter to God. A prayer.  I was hurting and overwhelmed and frustrated.

Throughout that day, God reminded me that He was holding me. And that He is embracing all of those people in my life that ar ehurting or scared or struggling.

It took most of the day to realize that He was reaching out to remind me.

I love to sing. I love worship music and I love to lead people to come closer to Christ thorugh music.

However, I don't listen to music on the radio as often as I used to - mostly because I just don't have much time to have the radio on. In the car, I'm often on the phone or listening to an audio book or just enjoying silence and prayer time.

Yesterday, I ended up being in the car more often and I ended up listening to the radio more often.  In addition, I had popped over to YouTube to look something up and there were some music video recommendations for me.

At the end of the day, as a song played on the radio, it hit me. Many of the songs that I'd been hearing were precisely about God being with us. Always. That we are never alone.

You might think... well, don't all Christian songs have that theme? Actually, no. Some songs are about how we love God and some are about how God loves us. Some are just joyful celebrations. Some are specific responses to grief or hardships. There is a huge variety of praise music on the airwaves these days. But yesterday, each time I heard a song or found a song, it related specifically to being reminded that I am never alone.




When I walk through deep waters
I know that you will be with me
When I'm standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
Oh I will not fear

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

In the midst of deep sorrow
I see your light is breaking through
The dark night will not over take me
I am pressing into you
Lord you fight my every battle
And I will not fear




You were singing in the dark
Whispering Your promise
Even when I could not hear
I was held in Your arms
Carried for a thousand miles to show
Not for a moment did You forsake me

After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Not for a moment will You forsake me

And every step every breath you are there
Every tear every cry every prayer
In my hurt at my worst
When my world falls down
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Even in the dark
Even when it's hard
You will never leave me
After all



Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far weve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much Youve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful


Our prayers are always answered. Not always right away, not always the way we want them to be. But when you open the lines of communication... those lines stay open. We have to be willing to listen. We have to be willing to observe. To be open in return. Answers come in music, in Scripture, in church, through friends.


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