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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Being Thankful and Confused...


Life and Death…And What Is In The Middle…


We lost another loved one in our family this week. Thanksgiving is tomorrow. My mind is not on turkey and dressing, my mind is not even on the best sweet potato casserole ever made that my sister brings every year or the nanner puddin’ my niece has become famous for or trying to make my dressing taste as good as Mama Bess’ like I do every year. My mind is on the sorrow and pain that comes from that empty chair that will be at a table tomorrow. So I guess my mind is on what Thanksgiving is all about…each other.

 I come from a HUGE family, I mean when God said “be fruitful and multiply” we took that stuff very serious. I love my big family. All the uncles and aunts and cousins and second cousins and third cousins twice removed (whatever the heck that means). All I know is that we are all very close and I would not change a thing. Most of us grew up in the same community and even though many have moved away, we remain very close.  Every place I have worked over the years has said, “Girl, you have more funerals than anyone we know.” And it is true. The advantage to having a big family is there is ALWAYS someone there for you when you need them. The disadvantage is you have more wonderful people that you will eventually lose one day. And it never gets any easier.

Whether we lose one of our beloved matriarchs or patriarchs who lived to be 90 or the sudden death of a young person, there is a void, an emptiness that somehow we fill later with good memories, laughter and peace. But today, I am sad. Today I don’t understand and I want to be a little mad and I want to cry and maybe scream. Today I want to question “why?” Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do children have to hurt? Why do we not know what to say or what to do that might have changed things? I want to ask all the questions and no one judge me or say I don’t have enough faith. I don’t even want all the answers I just want to know it is okay for me to ask “WHY?” Mama Bess always said she would not worship a God that would not let her ask questions and she certainly wouldn’t teach her child to love a God that had an ego so big he couldn’t be ask questions. She said we can bring anything before him …even our questions, even our doubts.  He knows our hearts and he already knows we don’t understand. It is almost an insult to think we can hide our hurt and disappointment from an omnipotent God.

So I will come right out and say it. I am hurt and I am disappointed and I wish I understood it all. I may never understand everything in this life, but I find comfort in the fact I am not afraid to ask the questions. That I feel secure to say, “Dear God…we are all hurting and we don’t understand and we are asking for a peace in our hearts to accept what is and not dwell on what could have been.”

Words lack any power to help anyone’s pain but oh how I wish they did. I would write and talk all the sorrow away. For now all I can do is keep the faith that was instilled in me in as a young child. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrew 11:1

We are all born and one day ..we will all die and all that will matter is what we did in the middle. And that is happening now..right now as I type these words and as you read these words. We all have the power to write our own story and determine how that story ends. God be with all those who are struggling today with questions and loss and may we all learn to control our reactions to each chapter in the book of our life. When the time comes...may we all be able to say.."I made the middle count." 

Happy Thanksgiving, peace, love and comfort to everyone!

~Squirrely Girl

Sunday, November 11, 2012

How Great Is Our God??? Seriously...how great?


How Great Is Our God?

Sing It With Me….or not

There has been a whole lot of uproar about traditional music vs. contemporary or “Praise/Worship Music” in churches over the last decade or so. I really don’t care one way or the other as long as you are making a joyful noise to the Lord and mean it. But I must say some of the “Praise/Worship Music” or whatever it is called does repeat the same words a whole bunch of times over and over and over and over and over and…...well you get the point. As a songwriter who fidgets and contemplates every lyric I write, I kind of think that is cheating, but I am  probably just jealous and bitter that I haven’t found the perfect words for a praise phrase to sing over and over and over and over and over and over…..

But I really do like that one song, “How Great Is Our God"

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God”

You can hear it hear and sing along here…it is a wonderful song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKLQ1td3MbE

I love the song because when you sing those words it lets you do what we are suppose to do. Praise his name. Not just ‘worship music’….but assisting in the worship of God. I love that. But let’s say that someone who might not know “our” God. hears us singing about how great he is but they have never experienced his ‘greatness’ yet..they might be a bit confused if they have not yet heard of our God.  The only thing they have to go on is what ‘our’ God does for our everyday life, right? The example of His power in our lives and the lives of others is really the only way they can understand the words of “How Great is Our God" until we have shared the actual  message. 

So after the election when some of the same people I have heard sing that song so passionately have been so angry, sad, disappointed and downright ugly about how the election turned out, I have to wonder…what God were they singing about? I mean if you prayed, as many did, that ‘our’ God’s will be done and it turned out a different way than you thought was ‘His Will”…it means one of two things. Either you didn’t really care about ‘our’ God’s will OR.. ‘our’ God wasn’t powerful enough to rig an election.  And this is why (although I have practically been stoned) I have been saying for a year.... keep “our God” out of “our politics”. Because I can guarantee you not all Christians prayed the same prayer, so at least half of us were going to be disappointed and sometimes we need to thank God for unanswered prayers in the words of Garth Brooks..(or whoever wrote that song).

And another thing…. how great IS our God? Is he not great enough to take us through anything? Did we really need the ‘right political party or human being’ in a place of authority to have faith that God is still in control? Do you really think if one man wants to ‘destroy this country’ he can do it no matter what God wants? How great IS our God?

Have we become so selfish and so elitist that we think we can ‘put in our order’ to God for what we want in this country and he will serve it up like a fast food restaurant? I think God may have looked at the whole hate filled, fear mongering, scare tactics done in his name and said, “These kids need to be put in time out until they can learn to at least pretend to act Christ-like”.  Our mission is to spread the love and mercy of Jesus Christ, not to promote one political ideology over the other. If you can find the words “democrat and republican party” in the bible, please message that to me ASAP. I have got to to see that.

Now I hear there are five states that have started petitions to withdraw from the United States of America. Ooooohhh…kayyyy. Can we help you pack??? Where ya gonna go? And what ya gonna do when ya get there? I heard a bunch might go to Canada..but that can’t be true because they have that HORRIBLE socialist health care system there. I heard a couple who were going to Australia where they have a white Christian President…which is actually a female atheist..but whatever. Or maybe you could go to some of the poorest nations in our world and be a missionary there and see how bad we have it here. I bet things will not look so sad, scary and desperate then. 

From Psalms 146… “Hallelujah! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, for there is no help in them.”

A lot of this madness and fear has been preached from our pulpits..so How GREAT is our God??? Not great enough to handle the problems of America? Not great enough to change the heart and lead any human no matter how much you hate him? How GREAT is our God? If you are singing it with confidence and not fear, if you are singing it with love and the compassion of Christ and not hypocrisy and judgment..then sing it loud and sing it clear and share it from  the top of your lungs. Otherwise, sing it in your sanctuaries quiet and self serving and leave the rest up to our Great God.

May the peace and power of  God be with us all…

~Squirrely Girl


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Let's Give 'Em Somethin' To Talk About


And we REALLY need to talk about this...


Dear Squirrely Girl,
Before you read this long, boring, and sometimes sad note, I want to clarify that I am not gay.
And so we begin.
Somebody asked me politely this week the following question, “no offense, but are you gay?” Out of respect of the person who penetrated the awkwardness into my lunchtime, I lightened up the mood by stating, “If I were gay, don’t you think I would dress better?” Obviously that might be stereotypical because I know some gay people who dress just as bad as me, but I digress. I have heard that question, oh I would say, about a 7 times in my life. I actually don’t mind people asking because it does allow me to actually speak for myself as opposed to the whispering lips through the grape vine. It is a question that I have grown to hate and love over the years. I hate it because obviously I speak, act, or move a certain way that give people the impression that I am into men. I love that question because it shows that there are people left in this world who value honesty better than rumors; therefore, this long, boring, and sometimes sad note is not to bash the people who think or ask the question. This is a note that I feel God is calling me to write because there may be someone who is struggling with the same situation . . . or maybe I am writing it because I am bored and refuse to study . . . I think it is a combination of both.

This all started back in middle school. Picture it, January 2004, A small town high school. It’s lunch time and everybody is either eating, walking around outside, or lounging around the entranceway into the building next to the gym. I don’t remember the moments before this incident, all I remember is this tall guy (I would never give names) shoved me out of the way and said the following, “Move you f------g faggot”. Obviously, a chubby little twelve-year-old is not going to stand up to a strong 6’5 junior or senior. Thankfully, I saw a friend (who was a girl) standing nearby so I obviously gravitated toward her. (She was a little older than me so she had a few choice words to say to the foul mouth Neanderthal).

That whole ordeal of calling me a “faggot” is not what upsets me. What upset me so much about that day was a minor detail of that moment that I didn’t mention. See, during lunch we have what we like to call “chaperones” that usually consist of school personnel. On that day, two of them witnessed this little episode. After witnessing this little (and yes, in the grand scheme of worldwide bullying, I would consider a little bump and name calling to be ranked kinda low on the bully spectrum) incident, the words that stick with me to this day were spoken from the lips of one them, “if you’re going to have girls sticking up for you then you might as well be one [faggot].”

Again, this long, boring, and sometimes sad note is not to bash the outspoken school personnel or their silent companion. In my heart I have forgiven the harsh words, the bully, and the two in authority. But since that moment, I know that obviously there is a reason why God made me . . . well . . . not so John Wayne-ish.
You see, I see people constantly bash others who are different, and since we are on the subject of homosexuality I might as well use it for example. We have all seen news segments about teenagers committing suicide because they were bullied. I can hardly listen without my blood boiling and my heart breaking. I am ashamed to say that I have also bullied gay people. Whether it was by physical words or in my heart, I had judged and condemned homosexuals for no purpose other than to mask or somehow justify the sins and struggles I hide in my own closet so to speak. 
(I swear this long, boring, and sometimes sad note gets to a point) 

The point is (told you) WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT DAMMIT!!!!

Nobody is perfect! Nobody is cookie-cutter. Nobody without the grace and forgiveness of Christ is worthy to even clean the golden rimmed toilets of Heaven. 
I say all of that to say this. If any of you are going through Hell every day at school, work, or home . . . talk to me. I’m no Oprah, but I’ve been there. I’ve been there when grown, educated adults who not only fail to protect you, but push the thorn even deeper in your side. I’ve been through it all (ok not all, but sometimes you have to say that in order to make a point). . .but I didn’t do it alone. Thankfully, shortly after that incident I had the opportunity to have a quiet time with God for me to just vent.(and yes, I vented while sitting on a toilet seat. . . get over it). I didn’t know if I was going to move schools, rob a candy store, or sacrifice a puppy. I just knew that whatever I did, I needed to talk with Him first. Thankfully, in my heart He told me to push through and continue on, and so I did.

I finished school, I moved on, and BOOM! I run into this guy at Walmart. He didn’t even recognize me. (Go figure). I hate to mention karma or any Adele type scenario, but between you and me, he is not sporting the same body he had in high school. . . or hair . . . or teeth. And the school personnel.... I don’t hold anything against them. I can come up with a bunch of excuses and explanations for what they did. . . and at this point in my life I don’t care. I am glad that event occurred. Now when I am faced with the temptation to judge, condemn, or bully somebody, I can picture in my mind those two ladies and pray on the spot that I don’t repeat what happened in that school house.

Ok, maybe this long, boring, and sometimes sad note doesn’t really have a point, a plot, or a message. . . but it’s just what’s on my heart at the moment. 
To truthfully answer the girls question, no I am not gay. I don’t support homosexuality, but I also don’t support, adultery, fortification, lying, drinking, pride, or any of the 667 sins listed athttp://www.wogim.org/sinlist.htm 

But I do support the people behind each and every sin because in today’s world we cannot rely on teachers, adults, or even families sometimes for protection. We need God. And when someone doesn’t know God personally, that is where we come in. 
That is the end of today’s lesson. 

Squirrelly Girl, do with it what you like.
Keaton

Dear Keaton,
Well the first thing I would like to do with this is go kick some adults’ ignorant beeeehinnnds..but since you are being so forgiving and insightful about the whole thing and have so much more maturity now than they will have when they are 103 years old, I will contain my need for violence and the satisfaction of making them feel as helpless as you did back then because you are right….we have to accept people where they are. Maybe they really were too immature, uneducated and untrained to be teachers and hopefully have learned some lessons since then.  
And what I learned also from your “long boring, and sometimes sad note” (which was not long, certainly not boring and really not sad…and I will tell you why later) is that the kid who bullied you probably grew up being bullied and more than likely from his own family and his only defense was to strike out at someone he considered weaker than him. He wanted someone else to feel what he was feeling. Sometimes when people feel the need to intentionally hurt and abuse someone else they are not just evil (there are plenty of those too I am sad to say) but they just want someone else to feel as bad as they do. And it worked didn’t it? You had a glimpse into a little bit of the pain that comes with not truly being loved. I am so thankful to know for a fact that you had enough unconditional love in your life to recover from that temporary pain. The saddest thing about your letter is that you and I both know there are so many who do not have that support and when they face being bullied every day, they do feel worthless and see no reason to continue.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people and bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to commit suicide. http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/bullying-and-suicide.html THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE!

I wish I knew the answer but I think you just made a very good start. I think people who have been bullied have to share what that feels like, they have to make themselves available to those going through a similar events so they do not feel so alone. Teachers and anyone else in a position of authority must be trained to deal with these situations and be easily approached without fear of being bullied further.
In plain language: If you are being bullied tell someone ANYONE. Feel free to message me and if you would like to talk with Keaton I will get you in contact with him. If you are a teacher or principle, any adult that deals with young people and you do not feel comfortable dealing with bullying or have never received proper training in how to deal with these situations and you never want to read this type of story about yourself. Please we beg you, let someone know.. seek out resources to assist you. Do not let your pride stand in the way of not knowing the best way to deal with a bully. Some child’s life may very well depend upon your actions.
Keaton, my precious nephew, as far as people asking you if you are gay…from now on just say something like this… “Can I ask you  about your sex life, like who, when and what and how many?  Oh, I can’t. Yeah that would be rude wouldn’t it?  Good, glad you agree… that means it shouldn’t really matter now should it?” Cause they are idiots and it doesn’t matter what they think.
So your note was not sad at all because it opens doors to the unspoken problems many young people find themselves in today and you have just proved that no matter what…they too can overcome the stupidity of others.
With Much Respect and Love and Gratitude to You
~Squirrely Girl