Tag Archives: violence;

Is This War?

Sometimes I think we are at war. At war with the environment. At war with each other. At war with other countries. At war with whoever disagrees with us. At war with those who are different…even with those in our own families.

Yesterday, we all got word of another mass shooting, in another place where people are supposed to be free and safe. Shortly after that, the predictable war of words started because no one can agree on what to do. People immediately started criticizing one another about Why This is Happening Again. Someone even lashed out at the fact that someone else invoked prayer because “if prayer helped, people wouldn’t be shot in worship.”

All I know is it feels like more than any one of us can bear. It is too much. It is wrong. We are wrong. Nothing we are currently doing is working. Tearing one another apart is certainly not working either.

This Texas church shooting hits home for me because I’ve served the last 30 years as a pastor in a variety of churches in Texas. In the last decade or so, I sat in on meetings where we talked about what to do if this kind of unthinkable violence happened during worship. The sad truth was that no amount of security would help because churches are such open and welcoming places, filled with all kinds of people with all kinds of issues. Our doors, lots of them are open. I believe the same could be said of concerts, sporting events, parks…well, everywhere.

One expert said, “The best thing I can tell you as a pastor on the platform is to hold up a Bible or a hymnal and maybe you can deflect a shot…and then run.” I remember thinking, “I’m pretty sure I could not deflect a shot nor would I run from my people if that was happening. Never.”

I can’t even find words. I’m writing today to say, I can’t even find words.

In Isaiah, there is a glimpse of how it might be without war and it has to do with living more into the way we were created. As a person of faith, I still believe in that vision…where God’s reality includes no war. Swords, spears and even guns, vehicles and other things that destroy us turn into shovels, plows and hoes…tools for growing things and feeding people. Isaiah 2:4

God, today, I have no words. Can you please help us stop these wars? We cannot do it on our own.

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Living Prayer

I wanted to write about pumpkins today. I wanted to celebrate October blue skies and the hope and golden orange crunchy nature of fall finally arriving, or at least the hope of it.

Instead, like you, I awoke to heartbreaking news of a mass shooting in Las Vegas. My Twitter feed filled with bad images and violence and of course, chatter of all types.

I made my husband turn off the news because I actually felt the hurt and horror deep in my heart. I couldn’t bear it.

On top of this unbelievably awful thing, there are Other Things, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, politics, racism, sexism, discrimination, mistrust, a violent destroying of each other with our words and our angst.

Not to mention the Personal Things: normal struggles of life, death, disease, relationships, finances. Things that do not go as planned. Layers of Things, bombarding us and the people we love.

Any one of these Things is enough, too much actually. Instead they are coming these days in waves and clumps and avalanches, literally.

As I walked today, I asked God to guide me about what to write about. I almost just published a fourteen word blog, “Lord, have mercy on us. We are tearing your world and each other apart.”

Instead, a word of hope came in a song by Alison Krauss with these words with a twist from an old hymn, “Take my life and let me be a living prayer my God to Thee.” (A Living Prayer)

Let me be a living prayer.

To me this means we fall to our knees in prayer. We acknowledge that there is evil in our world and we are a part of it. We confess that our hearts are breaking, shattered even. And then we stand up and live a prayer.

We work for gun control or to increase awareness and action around mental health issues. We give blood, We mentor an at-risk child. We raise our kids with more love and compassion and less bigotry and divisiveness. We run for office or try to change something, somewhere because guess what? Whatever we are currently doing is not working too well. And, when we argue endlessly and hatefully about what to change and how to change it we, ourselves, set everything back.

Last week, I cried watching the beginning of a football game, (a football game!)  because I could see very real generational pain on the players’ faces. That whole thing was about so much more than patriotism. It was about how we are tearing each other apart–word by word, violent action by violent action, personally, systemically. It is about our culture…in this country. It is about how we treat human beings. Lord have mercy, seriously, have mercy on us.

I am heartbroken today. I’m also praying. I’m also asking God to help me be a living prayer. I hope you will join me in falling to your knees and then in getting up and doing something different, something better.

Just Do Something

We’ve all been saying it. We’ve been shaking our heads at the events of recent weeks and months. We seem to agree that we hate the violence. We hate the division among races, religions and cultures. We hate what is happening in politics right now. We hate floundering over which phrase is wrong or right to say. We hate that people are dying. We hate that there are no easy solutions and on and on.

I like it when people just start acting, don’t you? I like it when someone takes a food basket to the police station. I like it when someone puts flowers at a site where something bad happened. I like it when someone writes a note or says a prayer or marches peacefully for what they believe in. I like it when someone sends a card to a grieving family. I like it when someone offers a word of support to those in leadership during these trying times.

Do we really live in a society where young people can get guns easier than computers or books? I pray not. I want to be able to act in defiance of all that has happened lately. I want to do something positive. I know we can’t solve it all. So what, then?

In our community, thankfully, we have worked together for years to help economically disadvantaged children, especially around the issue of education. We seem to share an understanding that if these students in need are fed, clothed, healthy and equipped with school supplies and resources; we are all better off.

For the last four years, our school district, faith-based organizations, civic organizations and lots and lots of concerned citizens have worked together, in spite our differences of theology, politics, race and culture to provide backpacks, school supplies, resources and love to our struggling families at an annual Back to School Fair.

This is something positive we can do. We need new backpacks for the Connect/GCISD August 6 Back to School Fair which will be held at Grapevine High School from 9 a.m.-noon.  We love having a variety of backpacks and letting each child carefully choose the one he or she wants. Almost 1400 students are pre-registered to attend this year, the most we’ve ever had.

It seems like a small thing, buying a backpack. Could it make a difference?  I know it does. I’ve seen the children picking them out; wearing them proudly.  I’ve seen them when they receive those school supply packs supplied generously by the Women’s Division of the Grapevine Chamber. I see the relief on the faces of the moms and dads. It matters.

New backpacks can be delivered up until August 5 to the GCISD Administration Building main office at 3051 Ira E. Woods, Grapevine, TX, 76051.  Or, you can volunteer. Come to the fair and help us take positive, community-based steps for good. Sign up here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0b4eaeac23a5f49-5thannual or go to www.connectgcisd.org for more information.

Just do something.

Amenities, Not Necessities

“Be glad you exited your ministry job right now,” the voicemail from my pastor friend said.  “…It is really hard to know what to say as a pastor when every time you go to church there has been a new tragedy.” I could hear the pain in her voice and I feel it in my spirit too. The last two tragedies in Nice, France and Baton Rouge; I haven’t even been able to assimilate into my soul yet. It is too much.

About a year ago, when something absolutely unimaginably sad happened, I remember crying out to God, “I cannot bear this.”  And then, God silently whispering back, “Don’t bear it. You can’t. Just hold it in my light.”  That is all I know to do right now with the string of violence in our world. I’m lifting it to God’s healing, transforming light. I’m praying for peace in my spirit because I need it. If we all prayed for just that, surely things would be better for all, right?

Meanwhile, the way life is unfolding for me now, I keep learning lessons. I’m in a season of release and being stilled. I let go of a ministry job. I fell in a hole, broke my ankle, lost  mobility and the ability to drive.  I went from an important set of keys to no keys.  Something also happened to my phone in the last weeks and I lost all calendar events. My contacts quit showing up as names only numbers. It created a season of adding back and reflecting about what things to put on my calendar and what contacts did I actually want or need. I told a friend, “I’m in this season of being kind of downsized and stripped down…and it is actually okay.”

This past weekend, our family headed to our friend’s lake house for an annual gathering of two families. Packed and on the road we got the call. A big storm had passed through the area.  Power lines were down.  Trees were down.  Likely, there would be no power for days. We stopped the car and talked it over. If we went it would be more like camping. No air conditioning, no electricity, no hot showers or lights or refrigerators or freezers or kitchen appliances that work. Our vote was “let’s go for it.” I surprised myself and everyone else with my good attitude.

Since my breast cancer diagnosis five years ago, the medication I’m on has made me perpetually very hot (temperature-wise that is).  Once, in a meeting, someone asked me if I thought the room was too warm, before I could answer a colleague said “You’re asking the sun if she is hot?”  Yes, I’ve become the sun. When I cleaned out my office, there were 10 fans in there. I’m not kidding. So, subtract the ac, the lights, the ceiling fans from my life and what do you have? Lessons learned.

I learned that the things I think are necessary are really not. It was fine.  It was fun.  It was bearable. Even I don’t need everything I think I do.

I became grateful…for a breeze, some shade, a passing cloud, cold water, an unexpected cooling rain shower.

When I thought I might not make it, I changed something, like my location or my clothes or my activity. It helped.

We got creative. The gas grill became our friend. We made Monkey Bread and coffee on the grill as well as pancakes, breakfast tacos and other foods you would not expect to see grilled. We were proud of our ingenuity.

We let go. My high school son, his friend and I all lost all our cellphone charge the morning after we arrived. We had no phones and no way to plug in those chargers we brought. We had to do something different with our free time. We had to tell time a different way. We couldn’t check the radar. We had to look at the sky. Guess what? That works. It was nice. It was freeing.  So was not worrying about how we looked or what we wore.

The power never did come back on. We had a most memorable, sweaty time. On the way home yesterday, soaking up the ac in the car, I realized I have been guilty of making amenities necessities. They are not.

Recent events show us, if nothing else, that life is so fragile, precious and fleeting. Our moments are so short. I pray I will keep learning what is truly necessary and stay grateful for all the amenities and blessings I have. I pray for peace in my spirit and yours.

Stilled, stripped, downsized, humbled, grateful. I wonder what else this new season holds?