Sunday, October 1, 2017

Who (or What,) has Stolen Jesus from You?

* I was provided an Advanced Reader Copy of Stolen Jesus in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

"We tend to see ourselves primarily in the light of our intentions, which are invisible to others, while we see others mainly in light of their actions, which are visible to us; we have a situation in which misunderstanding and injustice are the order of the day. -E.F. Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed

Us humans are pretty good at distorting the truth. Not intentionally, mind you, but everyone sees things according to their own experiences, biases, upbringing. The biggest problem with "religion" is in the application of this quote-we put qualities and characteristics on Jesus that should't be there and don't allow Him to be who He is: All Good, All Loving, All The Time.

Jami Amerine, author of the new memoir Stolen Jesus, writes about the different ways that Jesus was 'stolen' from her by putting characteristics onto Him that were never intended to be there. And, Oh my, can I relate.

Do you only know an Americanized Jesus? "Who is this Jesus who funds trips to water parks with a payment of a ham sandwich to a homeless guy, and destroys a doctor who laid down his life for the least of these?" I sure hope not.

Or what about certain denominations or practices that requires more of us than He does? "...I would almost instinctively question any doctrine that was "cross plus." Jesus saved you on the cross... Oh, and you also need to do this and this and this to earn that salvation. The work depends on you, not Him." Our salvation is not up to what we do, it's about what He did for us. Period. Full stop.

This book has me undone. In a period of uncertainty and change, reading Stolen Jesus was a sweet moment of "Me too," a coffee date with a real friend, a heart to heart with a sister who just gets it, a Q&A with a Christian mentor who has more answers than I do. For me, it boils down to this:
"Failure Is an Option. The first step was to simply succumb to my broken state. I was and am a wreck. Admitting this was both liberating and humiliating. I knew I wanted to change, but the profound epiphany was that I didn't have to."
The love of Jesus compels us to change but doesn't require us to change. The blood worked. We are free if we choose to believe. That's all.


You can purchase Stolen Jesus from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite local retailer. It's officially available today!

I also highly recommend following Jami's Facebook page Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors and the blog, Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors. And as a bonus, here is a sampling of what you'll read each week on her blog: An Open Letter to My Children: You're not that Great

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Getting Ahead of the Holiday Crunch

The holidays are upon us, whether we like it or not. Like you, it seems to surprise me every year despite the fact that I absolutely LIVE by my calendar. When the kids were little I was busier with the little things and had to micro manage their lives. Now that they are older I've had the luxury of getting ahead on some things better. Mind you, I'm SO not perfect on these things, but there are a few that I have a grasp on. Here's my list of things that are easily taken care of ahead of time- whether you're hosting a crowd or traveling, or both!

Things you can do well in advance of holidays:

  • Do your Costco run early-buy all of your toilet paper, paper towels, canned goods, extra butter, etc. at this time. Also buy a few things to keep in your freezer for those "Oh crap, I forgot about dinner" nights: lasagne, pot pies, etc. If you have to go back for fresh meat or perishables it will only be a few items and the trip will go much faster than trying to get it all done during the last minute rush, when you also have a house full of people that you would rather spend time with instead of standing in an hour long line to check out. 
  • Shop online for gifts and have them sent to your destination. You can usually add "Attention: Your Name" somewhere on the mailing label so that the resident of your destination will know to put your things aside rather than opening them and spoiling the surprise. Do it early, save the emailed receipt in a special folder in your email so that you can make sure each one arrives before you do. Do this as soon as you finalize your gift list so you don't forget something or have to figure out how to travel with an odd-shaped gift or have to pay double shipping to get it to where you need to go.
  • Do a deep cleaning of your house early. Lift the pictures and tchotchkes when you dust so when you are putting out your holiday decorations that you don't find surprises! This helps because you can do a quick swipe/vacuum just before company arrives rather than realize at the last minute that you can't remember the last time you scrubbed the toilet. I speak from experience here. Ahem. 
  • Shop NOW for special items for holiday parties or performances. I used to get so frazzled when a teacher would send home a letter about the kids needing a white shirt, or black pants, or whatever, for the holiday concert. I try to shop early for those items that I know that they (or I,) will need so that they can be washed, ironed, and set aside for the special day. This also eliminates the inevitable "OMG HOW CAN THEY BE OUT OF THIS!" moment when you have to run all over hell's half acre looking for a size/item that you have to have. 
  • Wash/iron your linens early. Do you take pride in setting a gorgeous table? It's so much easier to do it when you already have them laundered and ready. Take an evening to catch up on Grey's Anatomy and iron while you watch, then hang in a closet. 
  • Don't forget to take stock of what you have on hand before you make your shopping list. Do you always have mimosas on a holiday morning? Do you keep champagne and orange juice on hand always? Or do you need to grab some? What about the butter? Holidays always require extra so buy it now and toss it in your freezer. It won't go bad and you'll have extra when Aunt Carol forgets it for her super special secret recipe.You can freeze fresh cranberries too! Remember to look at the full list of food/meals to be served and grab what you can early.
  • Order holiday cards NOW. It's easy to address envelopes, write a letter, and stamp them later. It seems that choosing the photos and designing the cards takes way longer than anything else, and if you're behind on that they may never get sent. If you have little ones they can help with the stamps, folding letters, and stuffing envelopes, too.
What have I forgotten? What do you do early to avoid the crunch?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Being a Kid

We all have memories of being a kid. Some good, some bad, but mostly we just remember 'things'. Amirite? I was lucky enough to have a great childhood; I know some aren't as lucky. I wanted to share some of the random things that I remember from being a child. I suppose some of them will feel quite tame nowadays, but hey! that's what happens when you're getting closer to 50. Ahem. I grew up in Southern California and in the mountains of Colorado, so some things might be specific to those areas but I'll bet there are many that are universal, especially for someone around my age.

Things I remember from my childhood:

  • We lived on a cul-de-sac and I remember riding bikes long into the evenings, especially in the summer. The greatest part of this memory, though, is that we would practice 'tricks' on our bikes. Standing on the seat, not holding the handlebars, that kind of thing. And, of course, no helmets.
  • Watching the fireworks at Disneyland from the corner next to my house.
  • Having a crush on the neighbor boy who was a few years older than me. 
  • Playing "Pong" on the tv in the basement and thinking it was the coolest thing in the world that we had a video game in our very own house.
  • Not having cable and needing rabbit-ears to get even a passable signal way up in the mountains. We watched scratchy tv for so long that I was even used to the static!
  • "Party line" telephone lines. We didn't have one, but many of my friends did. That certainly put a damper on talking on the phone for hours for us as teens. 
  • Getting a box of Twinkies (or similar treat,) was a BIG DEAL in our house, and saved for a special occasion. Certainly not an every day thing. 
  • I thought that disco was the coolest thing/music EVER, and wished I was (more than) a few years older so I could go to the bars and dance like that. 
  • I lived about a 1/2 block from my elementary school and don't remember my mom ever walking us to school. (I'm sure that she did at least a few times when we were in kindergarten, but I have no memory of it.) Granted there were at least a half dozen of us from the same cul-de-sac all walking at the same time, but still. (And that's totally ok!)
  • We didn't have a cafeteria or hot lunch program at my elementary school. A few days a year we would have a special lunch day that you could pre-order McDonalds. Later, after moving to Colorado, I loved being able to buy hot lunch. Hmmm. Now that I think about it, maybe that is where my dislike of sandwiches comes from!
  • One time, in the winter when the mornings were still dark, I thought someone was following me as I walked to the bus stop. Turns out it was just the paper guy doing his route. 
What random things do you remember from your childhood? Share them in the comments!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Random Acts of Kindness

We all need kindness in our lives. We all have, at minimum, a smile to give. But what little things have we received that made us smile? What things do we give that make an impact, small or large?

We all need new ideas in our repertoire. I'm going to share a few of the things that I try to do on a regular basis but this post is about YOU. Please share, in the comments, the little things that you do for others that cost you little to nothing and make the day or world a little brighter for someone else. If we share our ideas, then put them all into practice, maybe, just MAYBE we'll all be happier tomorrow, and the next day, and so on, and so on.

My (not exhaustive) list of smile-inducing things:

  • Buying coffee for a friend
  • Making my kids blueberry muffins on a random school morning
  • Making dinner for a friend/family when they are "in the weeds"
  • Giving the homeless guy or gal not just A dollar, but enough for a full meal, or that hotel room that they need for the night so they can sleep well and get a shower, etc.
  • Doing a chore for my husband to lighten his load
  • Buying a candy bar from the kid selling them outside of the store for their soccer league 
  • Holding the door for someone
  • Letting someone go in front of you at the grocery-whether they look like they're in a hurry or just have a single item
  • Write a hand written note to someone and send it by USPS
  • Sharing flowers from my garden with a teacher/friend/elderly neighbor, etc.
  • Welcoming my children's friends into our home unconditionally.
  • Saying hello and smiling at someone who you do not know

What would you add? Share your ideas in the comments, then share this post on social media so we can all come back to it and get fresh ideas to brighten the days of those around us! (Full disclosure-I never ask for people to share my posts, but this one is important. We all really, really need to smile.)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Musical One

One of the greatest pleasures of being a mom is getting to watch your kids find their passion. #1 is all about the music. All kinds. I am so impressed with how thoroughly he pursues this passion. If it was up to him, he would play his saxophone 8 hours a day. This is the third year that he has been in the marching band and while he isn't as passionate about marching as he is about jazz or composing, he does enjoy it. And, he has just enough competitive spirit in him that he really, really wants to win. Early this season he came home from practice saying that this year's show could be really good-He was right. Their show is based on the movie Coraline. (I've never seen the movie, so if you have, you may understand the color guard portion a little better than me.) The music is outstanding and the character in the marching, the moves, and the 'visuals' is just so compelling. Please forgive the crappy video quality from my phone, but I hope you enjoy their show. They use the whole field, so there is usually stuff going on outside of my shot, and I'm not sure how the music will sound, but I really wanted to give you a peek at what my boy spends a crazy amount of time on. Oh! And by the way, he is marching a tenor sax this year, not an alto. He wanted to get good experience on a tenor to develop good sound. This performance secured their spot in the finals next weekend. Only 12 bands of over 20 qualify for finals and they qualified in 6th place. We're so proud!