Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Gay Christians

I remember a time when I'd hear the term gay Christian and sort of bristle a bit. Those words sounded oxymoronic to me based on everything I'd been taught. Then, life started happening and I began to frame the things I'd been taught against the reality of what's going on around me.
It's important to me for my belief, attitude, and action to "jive". Otherwise, I feel like a little boat with no rudder, moving around in circles.

When I say I believe there are gay Christians, I'm saying that I have brothers and sisters in God's kingdom who are gay. They pray with me, fellowship with me, and if the opportunity presented itself, I'd share bread and the fruit of the vine at the table with them in the name of Christ.

In addition to all this, I'll assert that I don't believe God ever EVER changes His mind about what sin is. I believe without a doubt that the same things that are sin now have always been sin. So, it's either always been possible to be a divorced and remarried (even *shudder* 3 times) Christian or it's never been possible at all. I believe it works the same with being gay.

In my thinking, it comes down to intent. I believe there's a TON of stuff going on in our world today that is contrary to God's original intent. The biggest change in my belief about being gay and being Christian is that I used to believe gays couldn't be Christians because God didn't intend folks to be gay in his original design. Now, this same way of thinking is the very reason I've changed my mind. I still don't believe that God originally designed folks to be gay. I also believe that he designed us so that the most optimum way to live is with one other person of the opposite sex in a commitment that lasts till death.

But, because sin entered the world, God's original intent for everything....and I mean everything, got screwed up. Some gay folks take great offense at this notion because basically I'm saying that they are a product of sin. Well, I am saying that. But I'm also saying that I'm a product of sin. My sexuality, in and of itself, is laced through and through with sin. In the Old Testament days, it was vital for folks to follow long lists of dos and donts in order to remain holy in God's sight. And even then, they needed the blood sacrifice, another list of stuff to "do", to keep their place in God's kingdom. I think God went through all of those examples with the children of Israel for a reason. They are an example to us of how God works with folks within their sinful state of being. So many of those great heroes of the Bible struggled in ways that were contrary to God's original intent. In fact, there are very few of them who don't have some sort of "black eye" of sin. Yet they continued to turn their hearts toward God. God tolerated all sorts of things back then that would never make it with today's Christian Right.

I'm not saying that Christians who are gay don't have some changing to do, but in the end, they don't have any more changing to do than I have. I believe that they can turn their hearts toward God and He will take care of changing what needs to be changed. I believe that when Jesus said to lust after someone in your heart is the exact same thing as committing adultery, he meant it. Literally. This means that sin takes place in your heart, not in your actions. Yes, there are certain actions that are impossible to commit unless your heart is turned from God. However, there are situations when those actions could be committed with a heart that IS turned toward God.

I struggle with sin. Real LIVE sin. It weighs on me heavily at times. Right now, I'm struggling mightily with not coveting things that other folks have. When I see a family together or even hear my friends talking about what they did over the weekend with their husband or kids, I struggle a great deal with not coveting those things. The Holy Spirit has made me aware of this sin and I'd actually appreciate your prayers with me to overcome it. There is no difference between me struggling with this sort of sin than if I were struggling with sexual impurity. Absolutely none. If there is a difference, in fact, it is that the coveting of my neighbors' family life is actually something more real and dangerous to my life in God's kingdom than sexual impurity simply because of the possibility of its occurrence being so frequent. Fortunately, I don't have good-looking men bolting through my door trying to seduce me on a regular basis. In fact, that's never happened! haha!

I also don't have James Dobson decrying my existence, politicians comparing me to terrorists, or an entire industry dedicated to "saving" me from myself. It's just me with God, figuring this stuff out as I go along. Basically, I believe there are Christians who are gay because I'm a Christian. I figure if He'll let me in, there's gotta be a way for every one else.

love and grace,

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Staying Put

I've made a major decision based on some doors being opened that I believe are the right opportunities for me.

There's a Master's Degree program being offered to a class of 20 candidates from a few counties surrounding the one where I live.'s FREE! I talked to my principal and he assured me that I can get into the program. This means a two-year commitment to stay put so that I can finish the program.

So....I'm staying. Stinky smell and all. I'm moving over to 6th grade to teach reading which will be a nice change since 6th grade is fully departmentalized. This means only one plan a day with modifications depending on each class. A nice perk for me since I'm sure to have tons of reading and writing to do for my own classes.

I have some other things in the works to live more economically. A fellow teacher and I (she's young and single...this past year was her 1st year to teach), are going to find a house and split expenses. I've also been building my little sewing business as the word continues to get out in this little town that I do that sort of thing.

I do appreciate all the prayers. Be assured that they've been answered and I'm at peace with the decision to stay here. It's actually quite exciting to have the opportunity to get the Master's Degree free of charge. What a blessing!

I've got some other things stewing around in my head to write about, and with the long summer days ahead I'm sure I'll crank out a few things to ponder soon.

love and grace,

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Battered Skillet seeks Fitting Lid

In my efforts to save money I've given up cable TV for the time being. It's sad, but not having television has amplified my loneliness. A friend of mine told me about TVLand online where I can watch entire episodes of Andy Griffith and The Beverly Hillbillies. Other than Lost, I mostly watched TV Land when I did have cable.

So, I'm sitting here sculpting little doggies, painting some other craft projects, and listening to the wisdom of Granny Clampitt.
She spoke this nugget of wisdom in reply to Jed who was questioning the fact that she keeps a hope chest. According to Granny, "No skillet is so battered you can't find a lid for it."

I can't think of a more apt description for the way I've felt during the past year. A battered skillet. I guess there's a lid out there somewhere for a skillet like me. I liked being married. I liked having someone to figure out when/where/IF we'd be having dinner altogether or separately each day. I liked being accountable to another person, even in small ways like making the bed. Tdub always helped by fixed his side up and I fixed up mine and so the bed was made every day. I never make my bed anymore. It's just not the same when you're alone. I liked checking in with someone and them checking in with me. I liked having shared history. I liked fixing meals for someone and sometimes making them special in small ways. I liked coming home and talking about my students, sharing frustrations, joys, and sometimes things that are only funny between the two of us because of our shared history. Sure, there were lots of things I didn't like, lots of things I don't miss one bit. The things that battered my skillet, mostly.

But, according to Granny, there's hope.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Motherless child

Believe it or not, I have an M.A. in English Literature. I don't mean through the internet or anything like that. I actually had to go to classes for two years and take sixteen hours of comprehensive exams and everything.

And that's why it might appall you to know some of the things I haven't read. Moby Dick, for instance. Got through the first ten pages or so and just gave up. Paradise Lost? Why would anybody actually read that? There's a summary at the beginning of each chapter. That's all you need to pass the test.

But one thing that really bothered me that I never read was Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe's anti-slavery novel that's often credited with helping to ignite the American Civil War.

But guess what. I read it. A couple of weeks ago. I guess it's never too late.

And then earlier this week I was listening to Nina Simone's version of the old spiritual "Motherless Child," and I never really understood the significance of that expression "motherless child" before. To me it was just a figure of speech.

But it dawned on me as I was listening to the song that the motherless child was a very real part of the American slave experience. That's a theme that comes up in Cabin repeatedly, slave children sold off and permanently separated from their parents.

Now, not to change the subject, but here's something that has always puzzled me in the Gospels. Jesus says "I am the Way and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

I want to say "Wait a minute, Lord. You're going to need to find a higher-tech method to get that message across. Just telling a handful of people in ancient Palestine ain't gonna cut it."

You know what I mean? How many people since the time of Jesus have lived and died without ever hearing that message? That's got to be a problem for you, whether you're a Catholic or a Presbyterian or a "born again" evangelical. You've got all these people out there who have no way of working out their salvation.

And that's a theme in Cabin too. All these slaves who live and die without ever hearing the Gospel message.

But what that puzzling saying of Jesus' has always meant to me is we live in a world that is so corrupt, that the example of Jesus is the only way to overcome all that corruption. And when we live out that example, that is a kind of salvation. Not an individual salvation. Not you got your ticket punched, so you get to go to Heaven salvation, but a salvation that happens on a grander scale than that, a salvation for the whole world.

Your salvation is salvation for the whole world. For China, Burma, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan. For that motherless child who lived and died without ever hearing the gospel message. I think that's what Jesus meant.
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Friday, May 09, 2008

Found It

I found my home as far as a school goes today. Now....if they'll just hire me. I was up in OKC this morning having the air-conditioner fixed in my car (thank the Lord I had sense enough to buy the big warranty), and I got a call to go and interview for an elementary art job. Since I was in town, they agreed to look over the fact that I was dressed in jeans and we set the interview up for the afternoon.

OH. My. Goodness. As I sat there talking to the group of teachers, the principal, and the assistant principal, I found myself fighting back tears several times. This is a low-income 56%black, 24%white, and 16%Hispanic populated preK-5 campus. I heard teachers and administrators speaking with passion about teaching kids. The principal (a calm and assertive black man) told me that he and the teachers had just finished a book study about middle class teachers teaching poor black kids. Most of the teachers at the school are white. He told me that he doesn't like to hear candidates haphazardly say "there's no difference". There is a difference and we need to acknowledge it and do what we need to do to educate kids in the middle of it. They've implemented a program of uniforms this year and the teachers participate as well, wearing various colored school t-shirts and different sorts of khaki pants or, I assume, skirts. The teachers talked about it taking an extra level of commitment to teach at this school because there were activities going on after school and on weekends that they participated in with the kids. Most of all, these teachers all looked and sounded happy to be a part of what was going on there. At one point, the principal used the word missionary to describe his teachers. He made it clear that he hires only the best and brightest and that his school is staffed with what he considers to be the finest group of teachers anywhere in the world.

Would it sound racist to say that I felt like I'd stepped into the middle of a living breathing Denzel Washington movie today? I hope not. Because I want to be cast in that movie. So much. I interviewed for the art position. I did my best to let them know that I'm cut from the same cloth as them and that I have the level of commitment to kids and learning that they're looking for. Prayers please. Thanks!

love and grace,

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Turned Down

Ok, I've officially been turned down for one job. By letter. I'm not a fan of the rejection by letter process. It seems so impersonal, particularly after these lengthy interviews where you sort of bare your soul as to what you believe and practice every day as a teacher. This one was for a middle school position. I had a feeling, even as I was talking to them, that they might be sitting there thinking "how in the heck would this person who is so idealistic and positive be able to handle a cynical middle school child?" I also really bombed the discipline question in that one. For some reason, I drew a complete blank as to what I actually "do" as far as establishing routines and procedures and then following through with hopefully a school-wide plan. It was the first interviewer that's actually asked that question. Makes sense for middle school. Next time, I'll have to be more prepared for that one. As I recall, I rambled on about establishing a relationship of trust with the kids....blah blah blah. All important stuff, but probably not what they were looking to hear. Routines, procedures, and follow-up are pretty key to middle school discipline and I didn't use ONE of those words.

I've been busying myself making costumes for elementary kids for an undersea music program being put on next week at our elementary. I've done an angel fish, a hammerhead shark, and my last one (as far as I know at this point) will be a swordfish. Making costumes is one of my favorite things to do because it involves so much creative problem-solving. The word has gotten out in town that I do sewing projects and I'm making a bit of extra money here and there with this sort of thing. I'm doing some alterations on a prom dress for my next project. Scary. Alot of these girls drive to Dallas to get their dresses which means some of them (likely the one I'll be altering) cost more than my entire wardrobe for the year. They have this promenade thing outside the front of the school where the girls are escorted down a long walkway while everyone takes pictures. Very small town and old school.

Please keep praying that I'll find a job in the City soon. All this applying/interviewing/waiting is not only expensive, it's emotionally draining.

love and grace,
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