Monthly Archives: May 2015

And Now For Something Completely Different

This is going to be an outlier from my usual blog posts. I definitely don’t have the majority view, and it’s definitely going to be a Christian view.

Recently, a little rural farming community skyrocketed into local news. It wasn’t for the good they do for the homeless or the poor. It wasn’t because of the latest sports or movie star that used to live there. It was because of a scandal involving a teacher and alcohol on school property.

I could respond as Kittie, the awkward recovering ex-teen nerd. I could decry the system that creates easy targets for bullies through rewarding students and teachers alike based on schmoozing and popularity and ignoring (perhaps even ridiculing) those who have strong intellectual and technical skills and those who have artistic or musical talent and those whose sole talents are compassion and mercy.

I could respond as Kittie, the outraged community member. How dare they hire someone so dysfunctional? How dare they wait so long to notify the parents? Why should the administration be trusted to deal with this openly instead of turning a blind eye and sweeping this under the rug?

Instead, I am going to respond as Kittie, the very weary and tired working Christian mom. I am going to share exactly (well, almost exactly) what I have shared with my children about this situation.

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I know this is all very hard for you to understand. I’m going to try to explain it for you. Then I want you to go away and think about it at your own speed and at whatever time God tells you to. Our God is not the Author of confusion, but in working all things to our good, He helps us bring order to the chaos.

I know this teacher made some unwise decisions.  The good thing is he was caught before any other students or faculty were harmed. I can’t tell you why he made the unwise decisions he did; maybe there’s some dark part of his past he can’t talk about or process, or maybe he has a family member who needs more help than he can give.

The reality is we all make unwise choices in this dark world. We are all broken, the world is broken, and sometimes, we make broken choices that break us and our world even more. Some people never get caught in this life by their unwise choices; they either never know their choices are unwise, or they get to learn from their unwise choices without anyone they know ever knowing any better. Others get caught in the consequences of their choices. Unfortunately, some have to deal with very real and public results from the consequences of their choices.

Regardless of the choices of others, this teacher included, we need to work together as a community. We cannot hide unwise choices in the darkness and pretend that they don’t happen. Instead, we need to snuff out the dark light of gossip, slander, and judgment, even when they masquerade as prayer request or small talk required by social rules. We need to squelch the noise of public attention and interviews to focus on the good we do as a community without ignoring the good we fail to do and still need to.

Then, we need to choose to serve the Light of Truth. We need to stop hiding behind our denominational pews and choose to live a life of authentically following Christ. This includes disciplining our tongues to avoid the quagmires of gossip, slander, and judgment and to ardently and passionately seek prayer.

In this case, I think the following things are probably pretty wise, reasonable prayers that our Heavenly Father would find acceptable:

  • That the Father’s Will be done in this teacher’s life
  • That the teacher’s family is strong in the Father and strongly supported by the community
  • That this teacher’s co-workers hold no shame or guilt for unintentionally missing any warning signs and that they would choose to bring good from this situation by learing new skills and ideas to be applied to the school and community at large
  • That all the leaders of spiritual homes in the community begin to work together to share resources and contacts, not only for this issue, but for all the issues facing this community
  • That all community members remember all the addicts in their social networks, both those addicts not yet ready to begin to heal and those addicts struggling for recovery each and every day of their lives
  • That the community shrugs off gossip, slander, judgment, bickering, and self-absorption; puts on the agape love of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and prayerfully notices the broken and hurting around them, not to shoot the wounded in the foot but to circle the wagons and strengthen the hurting and broken

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one strand within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.

Chief Seattle

If my mind offends you…

Author’s Note: This is going to be a blunt, in-your-face post that probably won’t be suitable for church lady types and those under 18. It will be full of irreverent realism and might even qualify as satire. Stop reading now, or get a trusted adult to supervise your reading of this post. 😉

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One of the scariest passages in the Bible to me when I was a child was Matthew 18:7-9. In it, Jesus tells his followers to radically remove from their bodies any part that could lead them to hell. Between the idea of how often I’d have to harm myself and the number of zombie-like deformed, maimed sinners I would see, the resulting nightmares were truly frightening and went on for weeks. I was quite a literal child.

I wish I were still so literal. You see, I’m at that age where my uterus and ovaries don’t cooperate with my mind and the rest of the body to which they connect. I would love to take that literal interpretation and speed up the process for a hysterectomy by skipping all the hoops and turning the hysterectomy into a religious experience.

My uterus offends me. Cycle after cycle, it zealously and enthusiastically cramps causing great pain. I can’t take anything for the pain because the meds either don’t work or can’t be processed by my body at war with my uterus and ovaries. The pain then creeps into my voice, making me sound like an angry drill sergeant. Everybody heads for the hills thinking I’m such an angry young woman when all it really is is pain creeping its way throughout my body.

My ovaries offend me. They refuse to release or respond to proper hormone levels so if I don’t sound cranky I really am cranky. I need to push everyone away so the crankiness and resulting lost self-control don’t cause me to issue words from my mouth that I regret and can never take back. I need to keep to myself so the exhaustion doesn’t cause me to make bad jokes that add to everyone else’s cranky meter.

The ovaries also offend me by causing or participating in changes to my brain chemistry that affect the way I think and learn. They actually work to steal my memory! Nothing is ever where I leave it. Keys, words, sentences, glasses, web sites, passwords… they never seem to be where I saw them last… or was that where I saw them last? Which time?

Then the uterus and ovaries offend me by working together to cause discomfort by preventing me from achieving homeostasis. I like a nice steady state of internal stability. I don’t like irregular bleeding, bleeding off schedule, bleeding at varying intensities. I just don’t like bleeding. It’s gross!!!

These objects in my body also offend me by refusing to submit to chemical means of achieving homeostasis and routine.

Therefore, since all these parts offend me and cause me to be unspiritual, I immediately challenge my insurance company to review my medical records, authorize skipping all prior procedures and tests, and preauthorize one emergency radical hysterectomy to be followed by recovery time… in a private room with a view… overlooking a beautiful tropical beach…

And I’m sure they’ll do that… right after reviewing an anonymous request for a lobotomy… and sending a letter to the Vatican requesting exorcism of the demons of stupidity…

Post Modern Take on Francis of Assisi

Author’s Note: I’ve always been intrigued by the biography of Francis of Assisi. To have the whole world and its riches before you and then choose poverty and simplicity and devotion to God is as stunning and perplexing today as it was then.

I wish I were a screen writer (wait–it’s not a non sequitur, it is truly related). I would love to take the biography of Francis and bring into the 21st century.

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Francis would be born in the US with a senator as a father and a brilliant psychologist as a mother. They would give him the best private prep schools and take him around the globe to experience culture and high society. He would have Kobe steak and Beluga caviar as afterschool snacks.

A terrible disappointment, he would struggle with school and end up hanging out with the bad kids, sampling alcohol and maybe a little pot. Although well dressed, he would always be in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong picture snapped by the paparazzi.

His father naturally expected Francis to follow him into law and politics, but Francis would enjoy computer hacking and fashion design and gourmet cooking. This created great tension between the father and son. With turmoil in the Middle East, Francis would join the army in a last ditch attempt to win his father’s respect and learn some discipline.

Although mostly adjusted to military discipline, Francis would have a rebellious streak and often participate in bad pranks on newer team members. This character defect landed him on the worst patrol ever. He would be wounded in an IED explosion and sent to an Army hospital in Germany to deal with physical wounds and PTSD.

In this hospital, he would repeatedly see visions of Jesus on the Cross at Calvary. Of course, that’s not the kind of thing you tell an Army doctor. Hitting a plateau in his treatment, he would be honorably discharged from the Army and returned to civilian life in the States.

He would wander aimlessly from city to city, never quite fitting and always just on the edge of insanity from the PTSD. It was in one of the lesser, seedier cities that he would take shelter for the evening in a skid row boarding house. As Francis approached his room, he would see an older man, disheveled and passed out in front of another door. Maybe the man was a drunk, fallen off the wagon one too many times. Or maybe the man was a drug addict, collapsed after receiving a bad formulation of the latest designer drug. In either case the odor was foul–a bizarre combination of urine and sweat and vomit and maybe even a bit of feces.

Usually, the man would have been an object of ridicule and derision, a future story for friends at a party. But on this occasion, something in Francis would break. He would look at the homeless man and see Jesus in the flesh. He would pick up the man, carry the man to the man’s room, wash the man down, and give the man a set of his (Francis’) own clothes. As he was leaving the room, Francis could smell an alluring mix of lavender and lilac and roses; none of which were anywhere near the tenement row.

Francis would spend the next decade of his life thoroughly exploring Christianity. He would sit in different denominations week after week. He would take lecture courses from seminaries and Bible colleges and even comparative religion courses from secular liberal arts schools.

None of it would satisfy him. He would hear the voice of Jesus telling him to love Him by loving the people with the least worldly possessions, thus rebuilding the Body of Christ. He would be told by Jesus to avoid things because people are often used to get things instead of things being used to get people in love with Jesus.

Francis would spend the rest of his life seeking and expressing an authentic expression of Christian faith and devotion. He would build numerous domestic violence shelters and halfway houses for addicts in recovery. He would stop and make small repairs on the homes of widows and single mothers. He even helped renovate animal rescue facilities and no-kill shelters.

A legend would even be handed down that he stole a Rolls Royce from his father, intending to sell it in a black market auction somewhere in Bangkok to build homes for orphans and children ransomed from the sex trade. Hauled before a judge, he was informed by the judge that stealing was not really something Jesus would do. Humbled, Francis would give the car back to his father silently with great humility. As a result, the judge liquidated his retirement accounts to fund the new charitable ministries of Francis in the foreign mission field.

Most of proper Christianity would eschew his lifestyle and choices. However, a few humble souls from every denominational pew as well as some non-Christian faiths would love Francis and be in his network. Everyone would work together on his projects.

At the end of his life, Francis would not hold the Nobel Prize or the Congressional Medal of Honor. He would not be nobility or business leadership or academic greatness. He would just die a simple man full of great love for the Jesus he saw in others. And others would love the Jesus Gospel they saw in his life.

Buckwheat Breakfast Bash

This is a nice breakfast cake. The recipe originally appeared in a cookbook for food allergy sufferers, but since we didn’t like (or have) all the recommended ingredients, we put this version together instead. I especially like that you sneak a half serving of fruit into an unsuspecting teen or child. In addition, if the proper type of molasses is used, you can increase the intake of calcium in a lactose intolerant individual.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot or tapioca starch (flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon stevia powder
  • 1 1/2 cup applesauce (we use organic with few or no chemicals)
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 cup molasses

Equipment

  • Oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 8×8 baking dish, greased (we use grapeseed oil)
  • Mixing bowls

Instructions

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl
  2. Mix all moist ingredients in a second bowl.
  3. Add the moist ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix until dry ingredients are barely combined and moist.
  4. Put the mixture in the greased 8×8 baking pan.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes in oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The cake is done when the top is dry and brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serves 4-6.

The Post-Modern Serenity Prayer

I have always loved “The Serenity Prayer.”

I can remember being very little at my mammy and pappy’s house and reading the prayer on my pappy’s decorative plate; the words were interwoven with hands clasped in prayer; the script was very fancy and reminiscent of the calligraphy in centuries old Bibles.

I know people in recovery who walk day by day trusting that prayer and its simplicity (as well as their Higher Power) to stay on a straight and true path and avoid the things that so easily snare them in futility.

In the spirit of that prayer, I have chosen to give up Facebook for the summer. I did not deactivate my account. I simply left a breadcrumb trail of favorite or meaningful songs ending in an “until we meet again” post.

I appreciate the importance of connection, and I love keeping in contact with family and friends. However, time after time, I would sit at that screen, mostly discouraged and disconnected, over-advertised and marketed into a mind-numbing oblivion, unable to truly train my feed to show me the people and ideas that matter most.

So, for the summer, I am foregoing Facebook. I will connect in real time with my kids and my husband, my dog, my neighbors, and my friends in my new denominational pew. (Don’t worry; the blog stays! =) )

One of the last things I posted before I left was a modernization of “The Serenity Prayer.” I hope I’ve done it justice without violating copyrights. I consider it a reminder of why I need this Facebook vacation.

Jesus, please grant me the serenity to accept that I cannot change social media; the courage to change my own habits and attitudes; and the wisdom to know it will make a difference in me!

Salmon Loaf

Recently, we had lactose intolerance thrown into the mix as a food issue in our home. Yeah, I was real thrilled…not! But I love the child, so I started looking into non-dairy sources of calcium, and I started reviewing our favorite recipes to see what we could modify.

This recipe is one of our favorites, and its modification ranks right up there too. The trick is to leave the bones in the salmon.

Ingredients

  • Two cans salmon (usually our weight is 14-15 ounces per can)
  • One cup cracker crumbs (we typically use Matzah meal)
  • One small onion, chopped
  • One clove garlic, pressed (sometimes we may use a second clove depending on size and desired spicing
  • One cup orange juice (we use low acid and high calcium)
  • Two slightly beaten eggs
  • Two tablespoons dried parsley (feel free to adjust for taste or to use fresh to your family’s tastes)

Equipment

  • Oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Loaf pan or other shallow baking pan, greased (we use a little cold pressed extra virgin olive oil)
  • Food processor

Directions

  1. Prepare the salmon.
    1. Open the salmon cans.
    2. Drain the salmon and rinse it.
    3. Remove the skin. Let the bones in the meat.
    4. Place the salmon in the food processor.
  2. Add all the other ingredients to the food processor.
  3. Process all the ingredients until everything looks well mixed. The bones should be finely ground and not crunchy bits.
  4. Dump the mixture into a greased pan.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Usually serves six with extra servings for seconds or brown bag lunch later in the week.