Andyouinvitedmein’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Current Issues

I know what happened to John Paulk in terms of logistics, because we are Facebook friends. I know he’s gone from a nerdy looking man to Chef Cuteness in the last 13 years. I know I’d like to cook like him. I know he’s a dedicated father and has gone through deep pain with recent changes in his life. But I’m here to talk about what happened to him…

You see I’m an unofficial expert in the way things look. I can see print and know if it’s off by a fraction of a millimeter. I’ve been given a good eye for balance and what looks right: too many words in a sentence, the balance of flowers in a centerpiece, too much fabric in a dress, and too little grace in our churches.

My Twitter account has been blowing up with all kinds of religiously negative words about John. Everyone has their input, so I’ll tell you what happened to John Paulk: In 2000 he walked into a drag bar, if my memory serves me right. It was in DuPont Circle in DC, I know for sure. He was there for about 45 minutes before he was recognized by someone who told the press. Because of John’s position with Exodus it was a big deal. After that a series of official statements were made by the board of Exodus International—a board from a ministry based on high Christian standards.

This isn’t about Exodus, because I’m very impressed with the willingness of Alan Chambers to listen and embrace the hurt. No, this post is about the board that was overseeing the program in 2000 and what happened to John Paulk…

For a moment I will digress. We conservatives love to point fingers. We say our problems would be solved if only we had an Evangelical President, hadn’t let gay people marry, hadn’t legalized pot, and on it goes. Ironically our fingers never point to ourselves. There’s nothing ever said about getting before the Lord with sack cloth and ashes, and repenting for our sins. The top of our sins should include not being Jesus to others.

Where would John Paulk be today if one of the male humans on that board had been a man and washed John’s feet? What if they hadn’t sent him off into the vast wilderness called “excuses”. I have no idea what happened outside of all their weekly missives of “what really happened that day on DuPont Circle”, but soon John disappeared from our lives. These men went right on with their lives believing they had been the voice of God in the matter. Instead they abandoned him in his hour of greatest need. How could they sever ties as casually as one would unfriend someone on Facebook? But Jesus tells us a story like this in Luke 10. The priest and the Levite have nothing to do with the man wounded on the road, but the Samaritan comes along and helps.

Just recently John Paulk issued a statement about that time and the years since. His words were raw. As I read, I could feel the beat of his heart. Suddenly a new decade of gossips rise up to try to take John down: their words are condemning; their fingers are pointing. Some are close relations and some are self-proclaimed experts, but none are seeing through the telescope of grace. They offer no edification. I suggest they don’t know grace. The grace we saw when the Amish embraced the family of the shooter. The grace we love to see when the Bishop gives Jean Valjean the candlesticks.

What happened to John Paulk happens to countless others in our churches. They probably aren’t associated with Exodus, but they have hurts and stumble, and then we continue to pour salt into their wounds. We must remember that there’s only ONE difference in our faith and countless other religions: Jesus took our sins in an act of grace. We are told to walk in His Steps. Consider the verse below. Consider what would say if it means grace and grace only…

Matthew 28:18-20…Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

I wanted to add this little bit of personal information. I’m part of that group of 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 5 boys who are molested. There were no books in those days to help ease the pain, since it happened when I was a youth and now I’m 55. I was the victim of countless nightmares and would come almost nightly until I told the secret. My violater never was punished and I never got a financial reward. As well, when I reported it I was told “if we do something then it will upset so many people.”

About 15 years after it happened I visited my doctor who was also a church fellow. I explained that for each of the last 15 years the season when I was molested was black and I felt lifeless, depressed and dead for a span of three months. He did pray for me and then he told me this: You have no choice but to forgive. Whether you ‘feel it’ or not, you have to start speaking it out forgiveness.

I can remember leaving his office and looking into the clouds saying: I forgive you (I saw looking up there to tell God I forgave the perp). Just a little note here: there were no registered sex offenders back then. There was no group to sit around and discuss it, and no going back to get my day in court. It was simply God and me.

Realize now I had already been praying for at least five years about getting emotional healing from this, and it would take another seven more years….actually the Sunday before I got married…when our church had a time when people were asking forgiveness of things in their heart. I later fictionalized and wrote that service into my book And You Invited Me In.

It seemed that everyone was confessing hurt and pain and asking forgiveness during that extra long Sunday morning service. If you come from a tradition of three hymns, prayer and a 20-minute sermon, then this spontaneous service might seem a bit odd. Yet in a flash that can only be God, I knew my hurt and pain was gone, and I had truly forgiven the person who had violated me.

For over 20 years I had lived in deep emotional pain and suffering—not only from the abuse, but the lack of help from those who couldn’t help me when I asked. There were moments during those years when I had wished I could open my skin and let out the pain because it was so deep. I knew I’d done  nothing wrong, but I felt all messed up because of this physical assault and wondered by God had permitted it to happen. However, there in that Sunday service after seven years of speaking forgiveness each time I didn’t feel like forgiving—in a flash it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. It was no longer scar tissue over my heart and mind, but just another event I lived through like breaking my leg.

Therefore, the following post entitled WW(y)CD and registered sex offenders operating with the church is more than blog-lite. I’ve been there, and I know that no amount of money or prison would have done what God did for me when forgiveness for this man became real. I had to embrace forgiveness before it ‘felt okay’; I had to speak forgiveness each time the waves of darkness rolled over me in the day and night.

My doctor said: you will never be the same, but God can make you better. And it happened. Grace works…it’s the only thing that heals. Forgiveness is difficult but it is imperative.

“…a good and decent man who saw wrong

and tried to right it, saw suffering

and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.”

Ted Kennedy speaking at the funeral of his brother

This week we lost Ted Kennedy. I’m a conservative, but many times I’ve felt he was a little too liberal. When all was said and done, Ted was my least favorite Kennedy. However, I’ve gotten a different picture of him this week, and I’m now very impressed with Ted. Here’s a man with money and power who never forgot people who were suffering. From all accounts Teddy Kennedy was the first person to call when you lost a family member or were sick. In speaking the Southern conservative talk…he’d be the first at your house with a casserole or cake in your time of need.

I believe that Ted Kennedy lived Matthew 25:35-36. Ted gave his time and energy to help the less fortunate; he was a voice to those without a voice. For example, he was concerned for a baby in Russia who had digestion problems, and used a diplomatic trip to get her and her family out of that country. Why? The baby’s grandmother was a resident of Massachusetts, and Ted served his people well. Too many politicians (and preachers) live to be served. They love their power and abuse it—nothing else needs to be said about this.

Certainly in the early years he was reckless and Chappaquiddick will always be there for people to point a finger. How many of us have had our Chappaquiddick moment where we lied not to get caught for something?

As conservatives we need to take stock of the noble things this Ted Kennedy has done. He was a strong supporter of civil rights—that’s a good thing. He wanted people to have an opportunity to have health care (today’s issue that has conservatives up in arms)…but have you ever sat without insurance and without money to take your child to the doctor? Back seventeen years ago I prayed that the Lord would send me money to take my daughter to the doctor because of a severe ear infection. I’ve made health benefits a priority since that time. This week I need benefits because my younger daughter is having major health issues. If I had to pay the medical bill out of pocket it would be many thousands of dollars by the time we finish…everyone needs access to good health care and health insurance. I don’t know what the solution is, but I can’t imagine people suffering for lack of insurance.

The liberal agenda of Ted Kennedy included getting us portability of insurance (i.e. when we’ve had health insurance we cannot be denied insurance for pre-existing a condition—the new company has to insure us); Family Medical Leave Act—so when you have to attend to sick family you won’t lose your job; and finally making the pharmaceutical companies offer generics (to cut through it all) so you can have affordable meds—don’t you just love those $4 generics from Walmart? So far I’m glad Ted Kennedy was my champion because we needed all those things. This blog isn’t about health care.

This is a tribute to the good of Ted Kennedy. In Philippians 4:8 God told is to look on what is good, noble and pure. Today I suggest we look at the good of Ted Kennedy and learn. He served America. In turn we should serve God in the same way: from being there first with a casserole to being a voice to those who have no voice.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,

I was a stranger and you invited me in,

I needed clothes and you clothed me,

I was sick and you looked after me,

I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Matthew 25:35,36


0214091038 Supplies available to clients are those necessary items that can’t be purchased with food stamps.

There is something wonderful going on in Dallas. It is an AIDS Service Organization called White Rock Friends…an outreach of the White Rock Community Church and its mission is to support the HIV/AIDS community by offering a variety of programs to assist individuals in their day to day lives. It is more than just your bag of groceries and a pat on the back until next month…

I don’t know who began the program years ago, but right now Douglas Shaffer is the go-to man with all the facts. It was his vision to take this from government red-tape into a program that’s available to meet peoples’ needs. Clients become friends who come to the church facility on Tuesdays (for the store, only) and Saturdays to get their supplies like Pinesol, bandaids, and toilet paper. They can also get clothes and have a wonderful lunch. Daniel is the head chef of these lunches and he has only missed one Saturday in eight years. That’s dedication! Everyone there is dedicated.

0214091037Another thing that Douglas realizes is that many times our friends who are HIV+ or have AIDS need food for their pet. Pet food is in abundant supply at White Rock Friends (and so is Emma, the Maltese and mascot of White Rock).

The word in a nutshell for White Rock Friends is caring. Everyone who serves cares for the clients. The clients feel the love. For Valentine’s Day there was an elegant meal of chicken cordon bleu, green bean casserole, dressing, salad (with nice greens), fresh fruit salad, chocolate covered strawberries, cheesecake with caramel or strawberry sauce…and it was YUMMY! My family got the honor of serving food that day. We also got the honor of meeting many of the clients.

If you are ever in Dallas visit White Rock Community Church and find out how you can help this wonderful ministry.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra by Michael Tyler

Trans-Siberian Orchestra as photographed by Michael W. Tyler

On Sunday we went to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and with all the lights and acoustics I suddenly felt like I could be on that stage performing. I was dreaming like when I was younger and it seemed like the sky was the limit on what I could do and who I could become. When you are young you don’t think about not seeing a loved one again.

The last twenty-four hours has been nostalgic in that I longed to be back at my grandparent’s house. There were certain things that could only happen there with them like my grandfather calling Santa “Santy”. Or my grandmother always burning the bottoms of cheap biscuits–those you buy in four pack for around a dollar for the four.

Everyone was welcomed at their home. Family members who might not be welcomed anywhere else were welcome to come and have a bite to eat and fellowship. Because my grandparents were peacemakers, no one who had an ought with another got mad at Jewell and Ercie for befriending the other party. This gift has been passed down to my parents as they could have hostile acquaintances come to their table and peace would take over everyone…there was no more family or friend “war”.

This is Christmas Day…the day our Savior was born and it was through him that our sins are forgiven and we are reconciled to God. Today is the day you need to find that loved one who has been outside the warmth of your embrace…if you can’t find them by traditional means search through Google, Facebook and MySpace. Make this a “Lost Sheep Day” and welcome them home.

I started this blog by talking about youth and things we don’t think of such as losing our loved ones. On Christmas Eve morning I lost a friend named Jack. He was a beloved pastor who had the heart of a child and embraced everyone. I’ve known Jack for eight years and suddenly time was gone: time to tell him how much I loved him or how much embodied the grace of Jesus in his everyday life.

On Christmas Eve night a close friend became a grandmother. That baby is just like the baby that comes to everyone. Remember that special love the first time you saw your child, sibling, friend? If you are not in touch…reach out and get in touch TODAY!!! Blessings…

Read a review of my book by American Library Association executive council member, Diane Chen. This is from her blog on the School Library Journal: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/blog/830000283/post/700031070.html

…are the words to a popular Christian song. We sang it at CFO. As we sang I started thinking about grace being enough. You know it’s great to have grace extended to us, and (at those times) grace IS enough for us. Grace was and is all about the work that Jesus did on the cross. Yet in our neck of the woods we tend to enjoy meddling in other people’s business. Call it what you will, but we have an opinion on everything and how people need to do it. It might be the dress Sister Bessie is wearing. It may be the way our friends are raising their children. 

Does a worship service consist of three songs and a prayer, or is it an hour of rocking, jumping and swaying as we become deeply connected with the Lord? I personally don’t care much for Southern Gospel genre of music. Last night I went to a concert that was the Southern Gospel equivalent of Country Music’s Fanfare.  There in the middle of rose-scented talcum powder (no doubt applied with a fluffy puff) and Old Spice After-Shave, I found myself experiencing a little bit of heaven on Earth. I was caught up in the richness of harmony that’s sung (generally) with family.

In our Christian homes, sometimes there is a disruption of harmony. Family will be at odds over the silliest things…my closest friend’s sister-in-law was mad at her mother for four years because of dish detergent. Sometimes it is big: a child or sibling or friend announces (s)he is gay. Oh my…then we get all structure and legalistic on our dearest gifts from God. Then grace isn’t enough. At least grace from us—the grace that says “I’ll love you no matter what” to “until you change you can’t come home”. Maybe there’s even a hint that it would have been better had we died.

So if grace is enough, then grace is enough. Grace isn’t “love the shoes, love the dress” when we honestly hate it. That’s lying. Grace is laying down our expectations, desires, wishes and loving beyond reason. That’s what Jesus did, and it was enough.

I think if it was enough for Jesus, then loving beyond reason and when it is most difficult should be enough for us. And when you love beyond reason…heaven will open no matter where you are. Corrie ten Boom was able to tell the world: “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” Grace isn’t subtly wrapped in rules or ultimatums. His grace is enough!