Monday, July 31, 2006

Great Weekend

Tdub and I had a great weekend. It was one of the last weekends of summer as it's all coming to a speedy end. Tdub is usually quite anxious for the start of school so that the rest of the house will get back to a normal bedtime routine.

The highlight of our weekend was the Goatneck bicycle ride. Tdub and a friend did the 41 mile route (there was also a 100K). I was SO proud of him! I found a picture of him that I'll link to if I get his permission when he gets home later. It was exciting to be at the finish line and cheer him on as he made his way across. We've been looking for an activity we'd enjoy together and we both think this would be a good one. I'm not anticipating doing a 41 mile ride to start, but, there was a shorter 27 mile route I could have taken if I'd been ready. The 41 pushed Tdub really hard but he made it in fine shape with only a bit of soreness to show for it.

After the ride, several friends joined us at our house for an evening of food, drink, and lots of laughter. We were all reminded, yet again, how small our big world can be as we found all sorts of common friends and connections among the group we had gathered together. Sometimes I sense that God works in themes, or maybe I just relate to Him that way, and the theme of our life for the past several months has been COMMUNITY. We have been blown away by the blessing that God provides and continues to provide through the bonds we share and continue to build with our brothers and sisters in Him. We are not meant to journey in isolation but, in the Spirit, ministering grace, love, admonition, and hope to one another as we go along.

It seems to me that the very popularity of blogs and online communities are a testament to this sort of God-infused drive we have to operate within that sort of framework. It's something worth thinking about.


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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Salvation Revisited (briefly)

If you read here much you know that I can't stand boiling Christianity down to heaven and hell. But....I was thinking about this question that a friend of mine asked me a while back.

"So, do you think gays will go to heaven?"

My answer was and still is....

"I hope so."

I can only be certain of my own salvation, and love others as I rely on Christ to continue to transform me into a greater reflection of Him. And, truthfully, I believe that the my reflection of Jesus IS my and now. It's not something I'm waiting to pass into at the time of death. I'm not sure why, but I felt sort of led to share this today.

Have a great weekend everyone!


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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Family Update

I haven't updated on the fam in forever. I'll start with the youngest and work my way up....for reasons that will make sense later.

#4 Oh...#4! What a nut he is. To refresh your memory he is the OCD child of the bunch. Fortunately, for him, he's moving into junior high next year so a lot of that OCD behavior will blend right in for a few years. He "lucked out" and got moved into the youth group a year early (our school district is moving 6th grade up to junior high this year). This was a great blessing for us but sort of a bummer for #3 who lost out on getting to "move up" and be one of the cool kids all by himself. #4 is LOVING life as a youth grouper. A little too much at times in that he is often way to cool to speak to his mother and things like that. But, all in all, he's doing well.

#3 #3 is typically the easiest child to deal with. He's the most laid back and requires less maintenance over-all than the other children. Of course, you have to watch a kid like that lest he emerge in public wearing completely different shades of green....but hey, with this we can deal. He's all into girls and is insisting on inviting "only" 5 to his upcoming birthday party. I hate the idea of inviting girls at all and would almost agree to another sleepover if we could nix having them there. Almost.

#2 #2 enters high school this year. 10th grade. We are hoping against all odds that this will be the year that he actually attends school. Mind you, he's never missed a day, bodily, since kindergarten. But, somewhere during his 7th grade year he stopped actually going to school and in his mind he's been attending 10 minute social events interrupted by 50 minute classes. No one is more distraught about this than Tdub who received every award his tiny little school offered for being responsible, making good grades, and having school spirit. High school, for Tdub, was one long string of affirmations and he achieved them all. #2....not so much. Will be interesting to say the least.

#1 Awww....#1. How could one who once brought so much joy........? I'm not going to finish that. I'm believing this is just a phase and at some point, my #1 will emerge, frontal lobe securely in tact and working properly. I won't even begin to describe the torment my mind has gone through over #1. Here's just a TINY snippet of what we are dealing with. Last night, we let him borrow the car (the fact that he's car-less is just one of the ordeals we have going on). This morning, Tdub gets in the car and there's a 3/4 full Keystone Light Beer sitting in the cup holder. This disturbs me on so many levels that I think I'll make a list.

1. Keystone Light??? What depths has a child plunged to that he'd even consider drinking that sort of swill???
2. Leaving it IN THE CUPHOLDER! I mean, was he that drunk or is he really that stupid??
3. Drinking and driving.
4. Underage drinking.

Needless to say, #1 will be getting a ride for a while or just staying home....which seems to suit him way more than we'd like. He's supposed to start school down in Waco next month. We'll see how that plays out. He is getting no more assistance from us as far as helping him make arrangements, etc. *big sigh*

There's the update! Feel free to pray for any one of these causes as you feel led.



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Monday, July 24, 2006

Thomas Merton

Kurt was telling me in the last comment section that I might enjoy Thomas Merton and I commented back to him that one of my favorite quotes (it's actually a sort of lengthy passage) is a Thomas Merton one. Thought I'd share it. This pretty much says it all for me.

"My Lord, I have no hope but in your cross. You by your humility and sufferings and death, have delivered me from all vain hope. You have killed the vanity of the present life in Yourself, and have given me all that is eternal in rising from the dead.
Why should I want to be rich when you were poor? Why should I desire to be famous and powerful in the eyes of men, when the sons of those who exalted the false prophets and stoned the true rejected you and nailed you to the cross?
Why should I cherish in my heart a hope that devours me - the hope for perfect happiness in this life - when such hope, doomed to frustration, is nothing but despair?
My hope is in what the eye has never seen. Therefore, let me not trust in visible rewards. My hope is in what the heart of man cannot feel. Therefore, let me not trust in the feelings of my heart. My hope is in what the hand of man has never touched. Do not let me trust what I can grasp between my fingers. Death will loosen my grasp and my vain hope will be gone.
Let my trust be in Your mercy, not in myself. Let my hope be in Your love, not in health, or strength, or ability or human resources.
If I trust You, everything else will become, for me, strength, health, and support. Everything will bring me to heaven. If I do not trust You, everything will be my destruction."


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Thursday, July 20, 2006

When Did You Get Saved?

In the particular church I'm affiliated with, almost without exception, folks can name you a day and even moment in particular when they "got saved". I've often felt (my own bias, i'm sure) shamed or weird in some way that I'm not able to do the same. I can't tell you exactly how old I was or commemorate that date in any way. (the whole blogging birthday thing got me thinking about this) I know I was a child, somewhere between the ages of 6 or 8, when I first genuinely believed that Jesus was God's son and He died to forgive me of the wretchedness of my sin. I'm not being sarcastic here. I knew, that early, that I was lost without Him and that I was sinful. I do remember knowing and having a full grasp of that fact. At some point later, when I was maybe 11 or 12, I knew, I just KNEW, that I needed to continue my journey in Christ with baptism. I felt called to be baptized, or, as we would say, "convicted" that I needed to be baptized. I knew that it was time to identify fully and publicly with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Most in my current church circle would say that it was at this point when I was truly "saved". And some, on the fringes of the circle I'm a part of now, would say I've yet to be saved because of the order in which I believed and a few other specifics about my baptism. So....take heart gay readers....there are those out there who think I'm going to hell right along with you! (please laugh heartily at this point)

Anywoo....I do have a point in all this.

Later, sometime during the middle of my first marriage, I began to question everything I'd ever been taught or thought I knew about being a Christian. At the low end of that journey, I even questioned the existence of a personal God who cared even one iota about the lives of any of us. I believed at that point that I was basically on my own, just battling it out one day at a time and trying to make the best of things and treat others fairly. I believed in God, but not as a personal sort of God who cared about my day to day life. My day to day life at that point was really great in many ways but totally SUCKED in so many other really important ways. Que sera' sera'. (i'm a child of the 70's and I hear Doris Day singing right now....bear with me...hehe!)

I'll cut the journey short here and make my point. It was during the time that I was divorced and on my own that I began to really search and seek God. Yet again. Why I would seek a God who I'd decided didn't care about me personally, I can only attribute to the wooing of the Holy Spirit. I do believe that He sought me; pursued me. (i've been thinking along this line as well due to kevin beck's recent post about a book i intend to read)

Finally, my point in all of this, is that salvation is a journey. It is not a one time event. It is certainly not within our realm of judgment to decide who is "in" and who is "out". We can only proclaim truth as we have it revealed to us (by way of scripture and the Holy Spirit) and keep on truckin'. (i told you i was a 70's child)


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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Shoot....I Missed It

I was sitting here thinking about the fact that it's been about 1 year since I started this blog. I checked. Yesterday was my blogging birthday! Oh well. It's only fair that since I'm horrible about remembering birthdays of anyone outside this household, I'd miss that one.

Nevertheless, I feel compelled to somehow commemorate it. I started the blog as a sort of "therapy" then went to visit our therapist about 10 days later and he suggested I start a blog. He asked, "Have you ever thought about writing a blog?" I replied, "I've thought about it." For some silly reason I didn't tell him I'd just recently started one! I have no idea why. It's not like I haven't shared many more intimate things with him. I guess I just took that as a confirmation that I was on the right track. And...apparently, I was (and he was) because I haven't been back to see him since! haha! Isn't that hilarious??? Don't worry, Tdub has contributed fairly regularly to the coffers of mental health and Dr. Austin's bottom line.

I think I will start a little tradition. I entered this quote on my first blog. I think I will repost it every year in honor of my blog birthday.

"Being in love is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other." C.S. Lewis

Isn't that just so very apropos? Now, Tdub and I are in a really good place right now. But...I'm not going to think all of you so gullible as to not know that there have been moments when the "like" left the "love". :) Not for a long time...but hey, it happens. I also love the use of the word "will" in this quote. It goes along with my "willful grace" name in that I must at times "will" myself to show grace.

I appreciate those of you who read and I'm way more affirmed than I like to admit over those of you who comment. Tdub and I have made at least one life-long friend (in the flesh!) because of this blog and many others who are still "virtual" and on the way to becoming life-long. It's been a good thing.


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Tuesday, July 18, 2006


It's VBS week. With much help from others I turned our church parlor into an undersea coral reef by painting big murals on blue butcher paper. It's pretty cool, I guess. (that's my Napoleon Dynamite impression)

Tdub and I are in charge of an activity for tonight and we've done (well, tdub did it) something every kid would dream of doing in your church auditorium. Our church has these connecting chairs instead of pews so that you can arrange it in various ways. Tdub has created a giant maze (like a hedge-maze but with sturdy upholstered chairs) . Several different openings converge at a gigantic banner with a humongous red X labeled "x marks the spot" and then, "Where your treasure is there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21". Many paths result in dead ends. They can run through the maze multiple times from various entry points and each time they make it to the X they get a "gold" coin that has a little picture on one side and a scripture reference on the other. Fun fun. At least that's our intention. We're encouraged by the fact that our youth pastor had a bit of difficulty making it through, which could mean absolutely nothing about the children's skill level regarding the maze. (hehe!) We'll see. We'd like for it to be just challenging enough to provide 15 full minutes of fun before the next group arrives. We want to avoid at all costs the nightmare of down-time in the presence of 20 to 30 young children.

Maybe I'll post some pictures of the maze and the murals later.


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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Everything Is Spiritual

We saw Rob Bell last Thursday night. If you are in or near one of the cities he's visiting through the end of the month.....GO! Just go. The lesson he's teaching is titled "Everything Is Spiritual". It's incredible. If it helps even one of you to spend $12 and 2 hrs. listening to him I'll add that in the venue we saw him in you could buy a beer or a mixed drink....and I think all the venues are like that. Also, the 2hrs. felt like 30 minutes. That doesn't hurt either.

That's the best I can do right now as far as a review. I'm still processing all of it. Oh....and know this; there is no heavy or light-handed emotionality to the event. Just a guy, walking onto a stage, in front of a giant whiteboard, and teaching. And it was riveting. There's no singing or altar call or anything churchy about it. That helped ME quite a bit since I don't care for frequent side dishes of manipulation offered when it comes to my spiritual food. I suspect it makes it more palatable for others as well. :)


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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Comment on a comment

Something Peterson (Toscano) wrote as a comment to my post about Tdub having a metaphorical pink stripe on his luggage has prompted me to write more. Since I'm bereft of ideas lately (for some unknown reason) and I don't think Peterson will mind, I'm going to just "go with it". Note: I can't tell you how happy it makes me to be able to have open dialogue and friendly relations with guys like Peterson. He's about as against ex-gay programs as one can get. And yet, I believe he operates mostly in a spirit of love and concern for others. I overlook things that could offend me on his blog because I'm an intelligent woman with my own blog on which to spout my beliefs. I have no patience for silly blog wars....let alone the time to conduct them.
Here's his comment:

"I know men with same sex attractions who remain married to their wives. One man, who identifies as bisexual, lives with his wife although they no longer have a sexual relationship. They remain companions in every other sense of the word. He says he is content, but adds that he is not sure about how his wife feels because she prefers to not discuss the issue. "

Apparently this approach works for this couple. But I'm telling you right here and now it would NEVER work for me or Tdub. It's messed up on so many levels as it pertains to our shared view of what marriage is all about.

#1 being the lack of sexual relationship. whoa! I'm good with the "companions in every other sense of the word" part but for us, it's that part of the relationship that keeps us wanting each other more and more sexually. As we continue to learn about each other, to know each other more deeply and fully in all sorts of situations, our sexual relationship continues to grow/deepen (whatever word i put there is full of innuendo ha!) as well. It's like the icing on a cake, the whipped cream on a sundae, a great highlight job after an awesome cut, or having your dentist offer to whiten your teeth at his cost. It's just SWEET.

The #2 way this scenario is a "no go" for us is the part of about not being sure how the wife feels because of not discussing the issue. Tdub and I discuss everything. We talk about everything from the lack of brownie chunks in our Blue Belle ice cream (appalling) to conjecturing over how many times and in what rooms we're afraid #1 has had sex with his girlfriend. We may have some catching up to do during extremely busy weeks...but...nothing is off limits. If we can't talk about it....then it's a discussion we need to have with the therapist either individually or together. End of story.

I'm certainly not picking on Peterson or his comment here. Not at all. Just using it as a springboard to share and write about how things work for us. I sometimes get the impression that my virtual gay friends may think we have just learned to be content with less and that's why this whole "ex-gay" thing works for us. Not so. My real life gay friends can certainly attest to this since they actually see us in living breathing color. Tdub and I are not settling for less, we are enjoying God's finest. In Him and in one another.


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Saturday, July 08, 2006


It's good to be home. And yet, there's something I all ready miss about being at Casa. It's a sense of simplicity and purpose as well as the physical satisfaction of a hard day's labor. While we are there, we get up, work (digging ditches, shoveling dirt, mixing and pouring concrete, tiling bathroom walls, etc...), eat in the dining hall with the children (the food is good but no one cares what it is or complains because real work makes us truly hungry), we shower(or not) then play with the children for two hours in the afternoon (these children need nothing more than a ball, frisbee, or jump rope to have a really great time). The day at Casa concludes with a gathering together of the entire group where we sing a few choruses (some Enlish, some Spanish) and listen to a teen, youth intern, or other leader, give a short devotional reminding us that we are indebted to our creator for the opportunity to live, breathe, and just BE.

The first time I traveled to Casa I might've believe that I was bringing something to the children. I may have felt that they needed me or that I had something to offer them. I learned quickly, during that first visit, that the children had more to offer me than I could possibly bring to them. How could I ever impart strength, wisdom, character, or eternal knowledge to those who've been so blessed. I consider the children at Casa to be among the very elect, favored by God. While I am enslaved to all that surrounds me and must be purposeful about finding God's truths in all that I see, these little ones bask in the joy unspeakable that comes from relying fully on Christ. I must remind myself daily, even hourly, of God's hand in my life and of the fact that there's nothing I can do in and of myself. The kids at Casa learned early in life that they are at the mercy of something greater than they are able to control. They've been blessed with a keen understanding of the love, compassion, and mercy of a God who has not abandoned them in their time of need. I fail miserably when I find myself becoming discontent or wanting more in this life, when my Father has richly blessed me with so much more than I need. The kids at Casa have taught me that all my blessings are as a curse when I allow them to pull my focus away from the one from whom all blessings flow.

My mission now is to seek the simplicity and purpose here that I find when I travel to Casa. It's a physical trip. Tiring in a really good way. But the value in the journey is spiritual as I begin to apply these truths to my life back home.


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