7.08.2015

On Rehab and Rainbows

I recently got back from a sabbatical, a four week reprieve from my crazy life where all I did was take care of myself. No job demands, no dinners to make or chauffeuring to do. No emails, no Facebook, no internet. No responsibilities other than to think about what makes me sink and what makes me fly. It was a soul-searching, month long time-out. Okay, whatever. It was rehab.

I realized that I had some addictive behavior that was self-destructive, and I put myself in a program called Life Renewal at Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge. It was an incredible experience that I will forever be thankful for.

One of the things I experienced there has been at the forefront of my mind as my Facebook feed continues to explode with posts and profile pics with stances for and against the recent decision by the Supreme Court allowing homosexuals to get married.

While there I experienced God's love. Specifically His love for people whose behavior would not be welcomed in some churches. That's what I've been thinking about while scrolling through my Facebook feed lately.

Like I said, I was in rehab. While there I met some pretty wonderful women who had done some pretty sinful things. Heck, I was there because I did some pretty sinful things.

On the "outside" I would probably never have run into any of these women. I was not familiar with the drug culture and jailhouse slang that many of them spoke fluently. I don't frequent crack houses. I've never had my kids taken away because of my addiction. I've never sold my possessions to get money for my drug. Or sold my body for a chance to get high. I haven't spent a night in jail. I haven't had everything taken away from me.

I have three children by one baby-daddy who I've been married to for 21 years. We were in ministry together from 2000 until 2009, when I had to get a full time job. (He's still in ministry.) I graduated from Wheaton College, Billy Graham's alma mater. I can quote scripture when applicable. I don't swear (much). I am a missionary kid, pastor's kid, ministry wife.

What I am trying to say is that I have a good Christian pedigree. I look and -- for the most part -- act like a good Christian by churchy standards.

I don't usually talk about how churchy I am because I don't think it's really that big a deal. But I have to admit, I sure was aware of my churchyness when I got to rehab! Never really having hung out with meth addicts or felons before, I felt very different at first. But then I felt very the same. What struck me as I got to know them and love them was that I am no different than they are. Not really. Not where it matters.

Churchy people are no different than un-churchy people where it matters: at the foot of the cross.

Sure, our addictions and life choices are different. My drug of choice is legal. It's even acceptable -- served in some churches as a sacrament. My other addiction -- perhaps even a more destructive addiction for me -- is love. It's a real thing, love addiction. Wanting to feel loved, making bad choices because you want so badly to feel loved. But it's not love at all. And it only leaves you wanting more. Fake love is a bad drug. Real love, God's kind of love, satisfies. It never fails (1 Cor. 13).

I think if we are honest, we all have addictions. Some are legal and some aren't. Some are socially acceptable and some aren't. We all at some point turn to something or someone and let them take the place that God should have in our lives. I bet if a lot of Christians are honest with themselves, they could benefit from being in rehab too. Right next to the drug dealers, meth addicts, prostitutes, homosexuals -- and me.

So, there I am in rehab, sitting in the 2nd floor lounge, hanging out with some of the women between sessions. And we're talking about God and how He loves us and wants to help us overcome our addictions. How we need to give up trying to control our lives and understand that we need Him; we can't overcome our addictions on our own. Then I'm listening to them talk to each other about their cravings and what they did to satisfy them, and I'm getting an education of sorts that a churchy person like me would only get in rehab.

I'm also thinking that if this conversation were happening in any number of churches who excuse judgmentalism as "truth-telling" these women might be told that they shouldn't be talking like this, they shouldn't laugh about dancing at stripclubs, they shouldn't wear nose rings, they shouldn't get tattoos of skulls, they shouldn't be craving a hit, they shouldn't say "fuck" or "bullshit." And they would almost certainly be told that they shouldn't be married to a woman.

I think that's sad, really. Because I wonder if Jesus wouldn't rather hang out with the women in that 2nd floor lounge -- even the woman with a wife -- than in some Sunday School classrooms. I wonder this because it reminded me of the story of Jesus eating at a tax-collector's house with a bunch of sinners:
"When the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, 'Why does he eat with such scum?'
When Jesus heard this, he told them, 'Healthy people don't need a doctor -- sick people do. I have not come to call those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.' (Mark 2:16-17)"
Those women and I were at rehab because we knew we were sick and we wanted to be healed. We knew we were sinners. The starting point for healing wasn't our behaviors, it was our relationship with God. And in that context -- where we were all equally needy before God, encouraging each other to go after the fullness of Him, loving on each other -- I felt God's presence.

I experienced God's love in rehab in a way I hadn't experienced it before.

Which is why, when I heard about the SCOTUS decision and saw some posts that weren't terribly loving, I chose to make this my profile picture on Facebook:


It's not a position statement on the SCOTUS decision. But it is a position statement:
Jesus died for everyone, including those who are celebrating the SCOTUS decision. 
This ruling doesn't change God's Truth. It's a ruling on whether gay marriage is constitutional in the United States of America, not whether it's a sin.

I'm not going to even get into whether it's a sin or not. Because, guess what? There are Christians on both sides of the matter with bible verses to support their opposing persuasions.

What I do know is that I am a sinner. And I am responsible for my sins. My own sins. No one else's.

We are all sinners responsible for our own sins. Churchy or unchurchy, "we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)."

I think it's interesting that the rainbow has become a symbol for for the LGBT community. Way back before they embraced the rainbow as their flag, God set a rainbow in the sky as a symbol of His covenant to never again flood the earth and destroy mankind because of our wickedness (Genesis 6-9).

What would happen if Christians -- no matter our position on the legalization of gay marriage, no matter our persuasion on whether homosexuality is a sin or not -- what if, whenever Christians see a rainbow in the sky or on a flag, we remember that God sent His Son to die because of our wickedness? And then thank Him for our forgiveness?

What if whenever we saw the rainbow flag, instead of asking 40 questions, we remembered that Jesus didn't come to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:16-17)?

That's what I thought about when my Facebook feed exploded into rainbow colors after the Supreme Court's ruling.

There are many courts in this land, even a supreme one. But God is the Supreme Judge. There will come a day when we will stand before Him and answer for how we lived.

Regarding that, Jesus liked to tell stories that have a spiritual meaning. In Matthew 25 he told a story about sheep and goats. What he was telling those with ears to hear was this: there are some people who think they will be saved at judgement time, but actually won't be. Why? Because of how they lived -- and how they treated, or loved, those around them. What they did revealed what they believed.

To be sure, there will be political and social ramifications of the SCOTUS decision. But it's not going to impact what I believe or how I live or how I love people around me.

Jesus was once asked which command in God's law is the most important. He answered:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.’ All of the law and the writings of the prophets take their meaning from these two commands.”(Matthew 22:35-40)
Be loving, Church.

1.23.2015

just for fun: the 5 most visited blog posts on anne b. good

Most of my posts lately have just been photos and the stories behind them. 
It's not that I don't have anything to say, because I do. 
It's just that I need to figure out how to say it. 
Or even maybe if I should say it.

It's somewhat safe to post pictures from Instagram and write the stories behind them. 
So that's what I've been posting lately. 

Did you notice? 

I wouldn't even be posting those except that my daughter told me that she likes it when I blog and she didn't want me to stop. 
Good thing I'm not blogging for traffic, 
because those family album type posts don't bring people to my blog.

Still, I get consistent traffic. 
At first it excited me, 
but then I realized that it was mostly spiders and spammers
and strangers landing here from google searches looking for expert advice.

Still.
It's interesting to see which posts get the most visits.

I thought it might be fun to share my most visited blog posts.



1. 

Beginning sometime around October traffic to my blog spikes because of this post:


2. 

The rest of the year this is the most frequented post. 
I still put honey and oil on my face, but I've been experimenting lately with different kinds of oils.


3. 

It's so ironic that my third most frequented post is about laundry soap. 
Because I don't like doing laundry. 
But I do like making laundry soap.


4. 

Amazingly one of my week in review posts made it into the top five, 
though I think it has to do more with "Mall of America" and "American Girl Doll" searches 
than anything else. 
Reading back on the post, though, 
I can see why my daughter likes me blogging these 
family-are-the-only-people-who-are-interested-type posts. 
They preserve memories. 
I guess I'll keep posting them. 


5. 

Have you noticed that banners are everywhere? 
I am so on trend right now:


::


1.02.2015

snapshots & thoughts: #epicNYEsleepover

For New Year's Eve I booked 2 rooms at a local hotel for $29 a piece.
For $60 and a couple pizzas we had an #epicNYEsleepover.

 I brought tag board and markers for the girls to make a 2015 sign.
I was hoping it would keep them occupied for a while.
It did.
The party girls.

Ahh, relaxing in the hotel's hot tub.

As much as I can with five girls screaming "MARCO!" "POLO!" in the pool next to me.

Kaitlin and her friends were my roomies for the night.
I enjoyed hanging with them.
But not hanging with them TOO much, because I'm cool and all but I'm still mom.

  The big girls made a poster too.
I read it and I said "We run 2015? Where are you running?"
And Kaitlin was like "Mom."

This is pretty much how the big girls spent their evening.

The next morning the girls had one last pool session before their parents picked them up.
And while they swam, I drank lots of coffee.

What a fun way to end 2014 and ring in 2015.

***
Linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.

12.31.2014

snapshots & thoughts: christmas pjs

Traditionally the only present the kids get to open on Christmas Eve
is their present from the Elves.

When they were old enough to be impatient about waiting for Christmas morning,
we told them they could open one on Christmas Eve.

"But how will Santa get us a present on Christmas Eve if he doesn't deliver them until Christmas morning?" my very astute preschooler asked.
"Why doesn't he just bring them all on Christmas Eve if he's going to bring one?"

The answer of course is The Elves.

Really I just wanted to make sure they had pajamas that fit them
for any photos taken on Christmas morning.

The kids in their Christmas pajamas.

Don't they look sweet?

 
Except this is what really happens when I try to get a sweet photo of them.

[bonus feature:]

It reminded me of another Christmas pj photo where Sarah got smothered and wasn't too happy about it:
2006 in Kansas City, Missouri

This was also the year that they figured out that the Elves gave them pajamas EVERY year.
On second thought, maybe that's why Sarah isn't looking too happy.

[end bonus feature]

Kaitlin and Aunt Bethany are sock-monkey-pajama twins. 
Let's take a picture. 

 
 But first... "let me take a selfie."

 
Oh, Opa!

Aunt Betty and the kids in their Christmas pjs.

***

And finally, while not having anything to do with Christmas pajamas,
I have to share this snapshot:

I just took re-purposing to a whole nother level.

The TV was too heavy to remove myself.
Besides, it won't fit in my car even if I could move it.
So it became our coffee table...

... until we can recruit some muscles with a truck...


12.30.2014

when getting is giving

Christmas came and went. The older I get, the more bah-humbuggy I feel about the Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I love the real meaning of Christmas. And I love the family time and the traditions and the mulled wine. But I get a little sick thinking about the consumerism and materialism - not to mention narcissism - that seems to drive the holiday these days. Even when you try to avoid it, you can't avoid it.

At Christmas I find joy in giving. This year I also found joy in getting.

***

When my missionary parents traveled to Mongolia as a part of their ministry, they would bring back items made by Mongolian women at Mary & Martha Mongolia as gifts to the people who supported their ministry.

I longed to have some sort of a global impact (after all, I am a missionary kid) even in the midst of my somewhat suburban American life. It occurred to me that I could help these women in Mongolia by selling their items here in the United States.

Unfortunately I didn't have the resources or the know-how to bring it to pass, and soon my parents returned to the United States to live, which made acquiring the items a little more difficult.

Fortunately now there are many companies and stores and ministries who help people in less fortunate circumstances make a fair wage for their work.

Like TOMS, for instance. I have to be honest, when I first heard about TOMS I was not at all interested in them. All I knew about the company was the shoes, and that the college-aged hipsters in my church were all like "TOMS. TOMS. OMG, TOMS!"

As an aside, if you know me you know that I don't like to be told what to do - or what to like. I want to buy something because I like it, not because it's trendy. This, in itself, is not a bad thing although I may have always been completely out of style. But I was out of style on purpose!

This attitude is caused by, and has caused, some things for which I am currently in counseling. Obviously.

That said, I avoided TOMS because they seemed trendy. Plus, I thought they were a little bit plain. What's the big deal?, I wondered. Then a friend of mine let me borrow some of her sandals for an evening out:
I was like, "What the what? These are TOMS?!"

Now that I'd worn them, I wanted a pair of my own. I got on the website and read about their "One for One" philosophy - for every TOMS shoe you purchase, someone who needs shoes also gets a pair. Not only that, but for every pair of eye-wear purchased, someone gets their sight restored. And for every bag of coffee purchased, they help someone get clean water.

TOMS. TOMS.

OMG, TOMS!!!

So when Santa asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I decided that if I was gonna get something, I wanted someone else to get something too.

 
I can't tell you how much joy I got when I opened my present and found these Indigo Knit Women's Classics. Not because I got some shoes I want, but because someone else got some shoes they need.


I gave Santa several different items to choose from, including this bag from JOYN at TOMS Marketplace.


I choked up a little bit when I saw this tag that came with it:


Dolli, Raja & Mamta made my bag with their own hands and they wrote their names in their own handwriting on the tag that says:

"Each set of hands touching a product creates another job. Another livelihood."

To that I would add:

Each set of hands purchasing a product made by those dear hands creates a demand. 

A demand for better jobs. Better livelihoods.

Sometimes I wonder, does it really make a difference? In the grand scheme of things... in the world economy... in my tight budget... is it worth it?

Then I remember it's not really about the economy or my budget. It's not even about bags or shoes. Those things are temporary. It's about people. Souls.


When we give, we get. I believe this to be true.

Now I know that when we get, we can also give.

Raja

Mamta

12.28.2014

I got another hole in my head



I hadn't planned on getting my cartilage pierced this week. Or ever, really. It's not that I don't like piercings because I do. I admire someone who can rock piercings (and tattoos) tastefully - especially if they are 40something.

It's just that I'm a little self-conscious about being that one 40something who's trying to be all 20something but comes off like a pathetic sit-com character. My kids laugh at this fear of mine and assure me that I will never be accused of that. Well, not a pathetic one anyway.

They won't let me. Once I bought some crazy patterned leggings and the first time I wore them in public, Kaitlin told me "girls in my school wear clothes like that, not moms." I promptly donated the not-mom-leggings to Sarah's closet.

When Kaitlin texted me saying she wanted to get her cartilage pierced, I texted her back with LOL and a crying/laughing emoji.

Incidentally, Spellchecker does not like the word "texted." But in this day and age, I find texting (also a word Spellchecker balks at) a great way to communicate with my kids. We text. We are texting. We texted.

Kaitlin said it would be good mother/daughter time, we could get it done together. When I realized she was serious I told her to wait two years until she is 16.


I don't know why I decided she needed to wait until she is 16 any more than why I chose to raise the time she waits in increments of 2 years. It just sounds nice I guess. Truth is, I didn't have a good reason. Since I believe it's important to have a reason for fighting your battles, I chose not to fight this one. I deferred to her dad, who of course deferred back to me.

I told her we would talk about it, not text about it. Because texting is nice, but talking is better.

The idea of having a mother/daughter piercing appealed to me as long as it was in my ear, so I told her I wouldn't make her wait until she was 16 if she paid for both of our piercings. She was happy to accept my offer. I felt a little bit guilty when, after we were pierced and about to pay, the woman told me the total as if I were going to cover it.

I didn't make her wait, but it did cost her something. For that, I hope she appreciates it more. I know I do. Every time I see my unplanned cartilage piercing, I think of her.

"You'd better never let that close up, Mom," she said. "I paid good money for that."

We've already discussed mother/daughter tattoos. If Sarah follows in her sister's footsteps, I might be one pierced & tattooed mamma.

***

[bonus features:]

I chose to get my right ear pierced because Kaitlin wanted her left ear done. That way when Kaitlin and I take selfies, both our piercings will be in the picture. We took a selfie as soon as mine was in, forgetting that I still had the clip in my hair. I almost walked out of the store with it in.

Kaitlin chose to get her left ear pierced because her left ear has a little bump on it (you can see it in the picture) and she likes it, so she wanted to emphasize it. When she told me that, I told her when I held her in my arms as a baby, I loved rubbing that little bump on her ear. I also loved tracing her two little cowlicks on the top of her head - with their swirls, they looked like an angel. (She doesn't like her cowlicks though.)

[end bonus feature]

12.13.2014

snapshots & thoughts

 OMG.

The last time I posted my snapshots and thoughts I ended it with Halloween Flo, 
fully intending to bring you up to date before this.

Halloween also happens to be the same day that I moved in a certain tenant of mine who I now have a restraining order against.

In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, "Let me explain. No there is too much, let me sum up."

After only a week there, I knew I would have to evict him.
He would do things on purpose to make people upset.
It really was bizarre behavior.
I can't even begin.

Suffice it to say, this is pretty much how I felt every night after work.
All the old ladies were afraid of him.
All the old men wanted to fight him.
It's been the longest 1-1/2 months of my career in property management.

We evicted him, then he super-glued my office door and two of our exterior doors' locks.

We decided to get a restraining order against him so that he couldn't come near the property..
It wasn't so much for me - though it's filed on my behalf. 
It's more for those who live there because it includes my place of work.
Unreal.

 During my lunch hours I needed to get away from the craziness.
One day I found this great spot back in the woods, so quiet and peaceful.
It's my new favorite lunch spot.

::

Here's some other stuff that happened since my last post:

John got his driver's license! Now he drives himself & Kaitlin to school.
This photo was taken their first day going to school together.
I was probably more excited for them than they were.
"Mom! We're just going to school!"
"I know, but you're going to school without a parent! That is, like, a huge milestone."
"It's just school."

Now I have to call shotgun.
I never used to have to do that.

Sarah (#35) started basketball season.
She loves it & she has some friends from school on the team, which is really fun for her.

Sarah loves to draw.
And she loves coffee.
She's a girl after my own heart.

Bedtime homework snuggles.
Yay!

::

Thanksgiving happened.

Someday I might write about how hard it was, but not today.
My highlight was spending time with these three.

I'm so thankful for my children.
In the history of the world, there haven't been three children better than these three.

::

Kaitlin came to work with me on the day we had to go before the judge on the eviction case.
She wants to be a lawyer, so she asked if she could come to court and watch.
She and I had some coffee while we waited for the judge to sign the Writ of Recovery/Order to Vacate. 

It was fun hanging out with her for a day.

Dear Favorite Blue Scarf That I Knit Last Winter, 

I haven't seen you in a while. I think I may have left you
behind somewhere. I didn't do it on purpose, I promise! 
I am so sad, but I trust you are making someone else
really happy. 

I will always remember you fondly,

Anne


It wasn't all bad at work.
I decorated the lobby for Christmas.
I love seeing my residents' faces light up when they walk through.
So many of them don't have the energy to decorate anymore - or the visitors to decorate for.
I get so much joy from putting smiles on their faces.

Listening to the "Traditional Christmas" channel on Pandora, reading my book in front of the Christmas tree.

All is well again.

::

Linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.


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