Saturday, April 22, 2006

Growing Grace-fully

“I asked God about his plan to save us all from Satan's slaughter.
If I give up one of my lambs will you take me as one of your daughters?
'Cause I want to get right with God.
Yes, you know you got to get right with God.”
--Lucinda Williams

It was pretty hard for me to get my head around the idea that I did not have to “get right with God”. He had this big scorecard with my name on it and I had to be very careful to keep a sufficient number of marks on the good side.

Grace was a word that I knew. We said grace before we shared a meal. We sang the song “Amazing Grace”, although I always had trouble seeing myself as a wretch. When I felt particularly blessed in comparison to another I would say to myself, “There but for the grace of God go I.” But I really did not know Grace.

Come to find out what I had, at 48 years of age, was a very elementary understanding of my faith and of God. Things that did not make sense, which I knew were illogical, I figured I was supposed to take on faith. Jesus loved the little children but God was going to send me straight to hell in a hand-basket if I wasn’t dutifully obedient. The only Good News was that I would have been in good company, depending on who you talked to. In particular were family and friends of mine who had not been “bathed in the spirit”, not to mention a homosexual or two.

The first time I heard the word Grace in the context of universal salvation was at an adult study group. It was life changing. I did not go gently into my “age of enlightenment.” Thankfully there was a very patient teacher and friends, who stuck with me in my effort to fully understand that the Grace of God is for everyone, unconditionally, with no eligibility guidelines and definitely no scorecards.

My faith has grown stronger and deeper. The more I learn on this journey, the more questions I have, and then I learn some more. You could say I am growing in Grace.

"God loves everyone
Like a mother loves her son
No strings at all
Never one to judge
Would never hold a grudge
'Bout what's been done
God loves everyone...

...There's no need to be saved
No need to be afraid
Cause when it's done
God takes everyone
God loves everyone"
--Ron Sexsmith

"God Loves Everyone" was written by Ron Sexsmith as a response to the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student. "The crime itself was horrible enough," says Sexsmith, "but I remember reading about the trial, where there were these folks standing outside with signs saying, ‘God hates fags' or ‘Burn in hell fags.' I couldn't believe that people could actually have those kinds of thoughts.” For the complete lyrics follow this link: God Loves Everyone.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Miss you mom

There is probably some thought provoking topic out there just waiting for me, but tomorrow is Easter Sunday and I'm thinking about my mom. She would have celebrated her 88th birthday in February. I wonder what she would think about the way things turned out for me and my family. 1993 seems like such a lifetime ago, so much has happened in 13 years. The kids are grown and Sarah will be married soon. I still feel the urge every now and again to share one of those inconsequential things with her that I know she would have gotten a kick out of. You know, that feeling that you have in that split second before you realize they aren't there anymore. Geez.

My mom would have liked John and so would my dad for that matter. They both would have been happy that we ended up in the house that they built... although maybe not so happy with our color choices. But then again I have some questions too. Like, what's up with the plumbing? And why isn't there a good wall to put a couch up against in the living room? And I know you never much liked using the fireplace, but boy we love it. There are an awful lot of stairs and the house does get bigger as I get older. Now I know what she meant about that. We cook the same mac and cheese in the same old GE oven that she used. We always eat dinner family style even when there is only two of us. That's the way I was raised. Thanks mom.

She would be pleased that we have found a family in the church she loved so much. It has changed quite a bit since she was there last... drums and guitars in the sactuary and all... but she was a tough bird and she would have stuck with it. I'm not quite sure what she would have thought about Crossan and Borg... although she would not have hesitated to tell me, or anyone else. I give Jane and Lee and Nancy hugs for you mom and for me too. And yes, the sewing group still meets.

Wonder what would she think of the war in Iraq? Undoubtably there would be some interesting political commentary were she here. She may not have agreed with my thoughts. She would not have been surprised by them either. These are trying times we are living in. But then she saw her share.

Better that the die-hard Cub fan missed the World Series. Enough said about that.

Well the world keeps turning. Tomorrow is another day, and another, and another... but tonight I'm thinking about my mom. All in all, I think she would be pleased.

Happy Easter, Mom.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I can do this...

My mom told me never to put anything in writing that I might want to take back. That was back in the day when you put pen to paper and it took at least two days, and a dime, to arrive in the snail mail…particularly agonizing if you had decided that some things would have been better left unsaid. I figured out for myself to leave a heated e-mail sit in the draft folder over night. After sufficient venting and suffering through the prerequisite cooling off period I am generally relieved in the morning that I didn’t hit send.

One time my daughter Sarah, now 27, wrote a note to self on a tiny piece of paper that said “My teacher sucks” and buried it in her desk. A fourth grade classmate tattled. The teacher dug it out of her desk and I found myself explaining to the principal that it should not have been taken literally. Although literal interpretation is a subject worthy of debate, the real lesson here is, don’t put stupid stuff in writing.

“Don’t write it if you can say it, don’t say it if a nod will do” came from my husband. My friend Bob was heard on occasion to tell Charlotte, his wife of many years, “You would have sounded better if you hadn’t said that”. And someone at some point, although I don’t remember who, told me to taste my words before I spit them out.

So having been duly advised, and in full acknowledgment of all the aforementioned life experiences, I am throwing all caution to the wind. The blog intrigues me. It has sucked me in and I am venturing out into the vast unknown. I can do this.

And there is always the delete button, right?