Saturday, February 23, 2013

rights, firearms and me

As I've previously stated in my blog, I'm part of the responders to the Lexington Herald Leader's Faith and Values Questions of Faith.  Their latest [question] has to do with the Second Amendment, guns, our rights, etc.

This was a particularly hard question for me to answer, mainly because I do not like to offend people.  And for whatever reason, [actually, I suppose we know most of the reason] sharing one's thoughts on gun control can open up a proverbial can of worms.

I have friends, close family members and I'm fairly certain neighbors who have guns and believe strongly in the right to [bear] them.  I cannot recall ever touching an actual gun in my entire life.  I have no desire to fire one, own one or even look at one.

In May of last year, a young man was shot and killed across the street from our home.  My son walked home from his bus stop on a Thursday afternoon to a crime scene.  Whether or not the guy killed was involved in something he should have been, is beside the point to me.  Someone fired a gun and killed him.  Life over.  Wasted.  Done.  Another young man sent to prison.  Another life most likely wasted, at least for quite a few years.

Last fall I stood in front of a middle school while a group of school staff, a couple of my coworkers, and a lady from an apartment complex across the street gathered to pray for the school and neighborhood.  A young man had been shot point blank at the apartments a week or so before.  Another life wasted.  People left behind.  Kids who think having a gun is the answer.  Revenge.  RIPs on Facebook.  Domestic issues someone wants to take care of, but ends up creating a gazzillion more.

Just yesterday, a youth was shot in the neighborhood in which my husband works.  He's employed at the Lexington Rescue Mission.

Yes, I realize these are [urban] cases.  Violence in the [not so great part of town].  Kids involved in stuff they shouldn't be.

Bad guys are going to have guns whether they're legal or not.  We hear that all the time.  We have a right to guns.  We have a right to protect ourselves and our families.  We hear that all the time too.  But at what point do we decide enough is enough?

Here's my contribution to the Herald Leader.  The italicized section was left out by the newspaper.  I guess that's their right. [as long as we're talking about rights.....]   Or you can read it at the HL site:


If you own a hand gun or assault rifle, or basically anything beyond a rifle used for hunting, and have ammunition for the gun, I would surmount you are prepared to wound, if not kill another person with it.  You have already made the decision you are willing to take a life, most likely in a split second decision.

When I compare that scenario with the Sermon on the Mount, I do not see the parallels.  When I look at the words of Jesus, I read nothing that encourages me to grab a literal weapon and be prepared for a shoot out.

People often bring up the issue of 'rights'.  There are those who don't care to own a gun yet still believe they have a right to, and of course, those who do own, often preach on and on about the Second Amendment.  If I believe in living life aligned with the teachings of Jesus, I have to be willing to give up my 'worldly' rights.  As followers of Jesus, our citizenship is to be in heaven, so our rights here don't matter all that much.

This past spring, my son walked home from his high school bus stop to a crime scene.  At approximately 3pm on a May Thursday, a nineteen year old was shot across the street from our home. He died a few hours later at a hospital.  While arming our home might seem like a safe and reasonable response to such violence, I choose to disagree.  Teaching our 18 year old honor student with excellent hand-eye coordination from years of drumming to defend the family with a hand gun might seem the smart idea, but I differ.  I choose an example of peace and reconciliation.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

gratitude vs comparison

This season of Lent, I am trying to meditate on gratitude.  As I consider gratitude and whether or not I'm living a life filled with thankfulness, my mind is conflicted with thoughts of comparison.

I know, I know.  Comparison is the root of inferiority.  Comparison is the root of much unhappiness.  Yet, when I think of what I'm thankful for, I confess I often compare my so called [blessings] with others.

Sure, I'm thankful for the income our family receives monthly.  But, comparatively, shouldn't we be making more?  We're middle aged, educated.  My husband has a master's degree, for gosh sakes!

I'm thankful, likewise, for many material things, as well as for many non-material:  my husband, my children, extended family members who love me.  Yet, I sometimes compare relationships; I sometimes look into the windows of others lives and compare.......

There are also times when I go the other way.  Asking why I have so much and others have so little.  I sat in my office last week and talked to a man who, with his wife, escaped The Congo.  I simply cannot relate to his stories.  He's dealt with survival at its primal.  I've had problems, issues, setbacks, but frankly, nothing like what he's gone through.  So I question the fairness.  Sure I can be grateful for what I have.  But how about him?  I'm sure he's thankful to be here now.  But there's a different degree of gratitude in a refuge camp than at my dinner table.  He wasn't sure if he'd survive.  I know I have everything I need and much more.

I suppose what it comes down to is:  Choice.

Gratitude is a choice I can make.   And I need to make it without comparing.  Simply be grateful.  Be thankful.  Be content. 

Colossians 3:15 [AMP]
And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].

...and be thankful

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

not the end

This is just a chapter. Not the entirety of the rest of the story. In other words, a season, not a lifetime.

Though not especially original, I came up with the above during one of those days when my mind thinks:
  • I went to college for this?
  • Is it really going to snow again on Saturday?
  • Am I the mother my 14 year old daughter needs?
  • Etc.etc.etc.
I'm currently reading Anna Karenina.  Apparently there are those who venture to say this is the greatest work of fiction ever written.  It is extremely long, over 900 pages.  I'm reading it on my Kindle [it was a free download since it's a classic], so it's a bit difficult to monitor page wise how much I have remaining.  My Kindle tells me I'm 82% through it, so yes, I could obviously do the math. I'm roughly on page 800.  It is a well written [IMO] , expansive novel that incorporates numerous characters and themes.  Yet, I'm ready to move on to something outside the realm of Russian imperialism.  Plus, I know how it's going to end.  At least for Anna.  Therefore, I'm more than anxious to be done with it.

It's interesting to me that we so often think we'll end up somewhere, whether an actual place or a place in our psyche, and we never quite do.  The best laid plans, so to speak.  My husband and I are not doing today what we thought we'd be doing when we married.  Or what we thought we'd be doing today when we looked ahead in 1998.  Or really even what we thought we'd be doing today in 2004.

For many years I truly believed [probably rightly so] that I was to give my working life to a specific cause and/or movement.  I gave many volunteer and working hours to this particular cause.  I thought I always would.  I thought my professional life would grow in that direction, finally leading to a position of leadership.  Yet alas, I'm not even on a close track.  Whether or not I will eventually, I don't know.  I honestly doubt it.  I think that season is over.  A door closed.

Today is Ash Wednesday, and as I begin the Lent season, I'm reminded it's time to move on.  In other words, it's time to get over it.  Get over the past.  All the plans and expectations.  All the closed doors and disappointments.  So life didn't play out exactly as planned?  Focus on what has turned out great.  Focus on the family I love.  Last night I had the chance to serve spaghetti to families in one of the programs I work with at my job.  [I apologize for the excessive use of prepositions in that last sentence.]  My daughter Allie came along to help.  I should focus on positive opportunities like this instead of all the past ministry experiences that didn't work out.

Likewise, I'm reminded this is a season.  This isn't how things will always be.  It's winter, snow flurries are flying.  It's cold.  But in a few months, it will be warm.  I'll sit on our back deck and read in the sun.  Metaphorically, a new season will arrive.  Life will change.  What's great about today might not always be; what's gloomy about today will possibly change to joy.  Today's not the end of the story. 
I am reminded:
this is not the end
I encourage you to listen to this song.  Here are the words:

This is not the end  
This is not the end of this  
We will open our eyes wide, wider
This is not our last  
This is not our last breath  
We will open our mouths wide, wider
And you know you'll be alright  
Oh and you know you'll be alright
This is not the end  
This is not the end of us  
We will shine like stars bright, brighter

Happy Ash Wednesday.  Happy Lent. 

I am meditating on this today:  

 But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation:
 It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not.
They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.
  The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.
 Lamentations 3:21-24  Amplified Bible (AMP)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

are you ready?

Why do we frequently ask people, in December:  Are you ready for Christmas?

Yes, obviously, we ask for a few reasons.

We genuinely want to know.
We're making conversation.

Yet I'm curious why we don't ask the same questions in regard to Easter.  Are you ready for Easter?  I realize we don't put the same effort in at Easter time.  There aren't the gifts to buy, parties to attend, cards to mail.  We don't decorate in the same manner.  Sure, if we have small kids we might buy them a new outfit.  We might decorate eggs.  We might plan a nice meal and we're more likely to attend church on Easter Sunday than any other day [at least I think we are....].

The last few years, I've put in an honest effort in preparing for Easter.  The Catholics and the more liturgical Protestant types call this season Lent.  People give up something, or try to focus on the sacrifice of Jesus and what the death.burial.resurrection really means.  I find this to be a good practice.

This year, I've decided to concentrate.  I want to practice the discipline of meditation, specifically focusing on gratitude.  Why gratitude?  Well, for a number of reasons.  Mainly though, because I've heard in the past from people I'm close to, that I'm not a very grateful person [ouch].  And because I want my kids to learn to show gratitude in a more deliberate way.  So I suppose they could use an example.  Also, I've recently been reading about gratitude and have learned studies show those who are grateful are healthier, happier and live longer than those who are not.

Meditation will not come easy to me.  I have a wandering mind.  My concentration is not the best.  I am rarely alone.  But, I pledge to give it a shot.  And I also pledge to not hold myself accountable to another's standards.  If I decide to meditate while walking around the neighborhood, so be it.  It might not be the text book example of meditation, but it will be mine.  And who knows, maybe I'll come up with a whole new theological.philosophical methodology and become a guru of sorts.  Doubtful.

I am also making myself listen to more worshipful music.  Truth be told, I had all but abandoned this genre personally.  Mainly because what's popular today seems to have a lot of personal commands [ie "lift it up, Church" and "shout it out" and "raise your hands" and on.and.on]  Too much yelling, or at least what I deem as pseudo yelling.  So I researched and now make myself listen to a few groups.  I am particularly liking The Brilliance [they're related to Gungor, literally and figuratively] and All Sons and Daughters.  And my newest musical find is Rend Collective Experiment.  RCE is from Northern Ireland.  I like their style, again no yelling.  I'm also a big fan of good musicianship, as in musicians who are actually quite talented instrumentally.

My husband Chip is giving up a great deal of his social media outlets.  He is no longer utilizing Facebook.  While I'm not giving it up, I have decided to not connect my Tweets with FB.  While that might not seem a drastic measure to you, dear reader, I have grown tired of the constant Facebook looks throughout the day.  I don't need to keep up to date with a person I barely knew in high school or some guy who might or might not have had a crush on me in 1985 or even relatives that don't really care to truly keep in touch.  So, I will continue to check in on some close college friends and local people and the bakery down the road.  But I must stop updating and checking to see who's responded and looking at endless pictures of children I do not know.  I also cannot allow myself to waste thought energy getting annoyed at the purity author/specialist who insists I do not read Fifty Shades of Grey, but constantly has typos in her statuses.  So if you care, and I doubt you do all that much, follow me on Twitter.  I will continue to post my blog updates on FB for my compadres who do not tweet.

This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday.  I considered becoming a vegan for Lent, but I like my other plans better.  Besides, I'm already a vegetarian.  Now for 40 days I'll be a meditating vegetarian.  My workmates already call me a hippie.  Now they have even more reason to.  Except I wear cardigans from Ann Taylor Loft and own a J Crew denim jacket, which I don't think are typical hippie apparel.   Although they were either given to me or I purchased them at a thrift store.  Yes, my mind wanders.........

Happy Lent!  I hope it's a unique and uplifting season for you.  And me.  And I hope when Easter comes, we're ready.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


First of all, happy Groundhog Day!  If you're a believer in a groundhog predicting our future weather, may the odds be {ever} in your favor.

Secondly, and more importantly, happy 18th birthday to my first born, Jamie!  I cannot believe he is now a legal adult.  That is way too crazy to comprehend.  But, mathematically it is so:


Thirdly, today is an eventful day.  Not simply because it's a minor holiday or even because it's Jamie's 18th birthday.  Today Jamie and his dad will traverse to the University of Louisville for his auditions into their music department.  Specifically, he'll be auditioning on classical guitar and jazz guitar.

We will celebrate tonight upon his return.  We will celebrate tomorrow with an enchilada fiesta.

Today though, today will be a long day.  A good day, but a long day.

I read recently,
"The days are long, but the years are short." 
Oh, the truth in that statement.  Eighteen years can fly.

An infant, then a toddler, then a kid who can actually swim across a pool. 

He plays basketball.  He plays street hockey out front.  He knows every Russian player in the NHL by name. 

Then a fourth grader then a baseball catcher, and a kid who can play piano pretty well. He decides to try percussion, you realize he's pretty good, he can make a full meal for the family. 

You miss the bike rides and the magic shows and the comic strips he created.  There was the long hair phase and the percussion ensemble phase when he watched youtube snare drummers for hours on end.  You realize he has the self initiative to learn Chopin on the piano and think he might end up living in a Spanish speaking country. 

AP tests happen and he passes.  College looms ahead.  Good bye marching band, the years of drumming are drawing to a close.  A serious guitar student.  A call on a Thursday saying he'd made Governor's School for the Arts.  Meetings with professors and professionals and a week in Cincinnati at a conservatory.  Taking the ACT, retaking the ACT, retaking the ACT and BOOM!  Good enough.  Pomp and Circumstance in May gets closer.  A college decision will be made before that.  Life moves faster and faster.

Yes today will be a long day.  A nerve wracking day for the birthday young man.  And for the rest of us, because alas, not only is our James headed to his most important auditions to date, the weather is inclement.  It's snowing here, in Louisville, and in between.  All this makes it a day we'll never completely forget.  Then tomorrow, fun with the family, followed by a Super Bowl we don't care so much about. If you do, again, may the odds be......

We'll wake up Monday, get ready for school and work, with three adults now living in the house.  Mondays are generally long days.  But gosh, the years are short and few.

Happy 02.02.  Happy Groundhog Day!  Happy birthday to our James {best.son.ever}.
A boy and his guitar.

Jamie loves a cardigan.

Jamie looking tough, or at least trying to.