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Family is family, in church or in prison
You get what you get, and you don't get to pick 'em
They might smoke like chimneys, but give you their kidneys
Yeah, friends come in handy, but family is family
The above lyrics are the chorus to the song "Family is Family" by Kacey Musgraves. I love her music because it is very real--especially the lyrics of this song! We are born into families that we do not choose. Some families are the picture-perfect families with the big, fancy house in the suburbs, the two car garage, the cat and dog, and the 2.5 kids. Other families are the ones that live in a smaller home, either brick, wooden, or mobile. They don't have the fancy cars to go into a big garage. Their pets run around their homes, making messes to be cleaned up. And their kids? Well, let's just say they are what we would call, "Hell on wheels!" Stock photos of families (such as the one pictured above), families in television and in movies, are typically portrayed as the first families described above--picture-perfect. Pristine. Put together. It makes us look at our own families and say, "We are all kinds of screwed up!"
This was why, as we near the holiday season, I wanted to do a sermon series on family. It's too easy to look at what a family is "supposed" to be according to the media and Hollywood, compare ourselves to them, and feel as though we have come up short. Even the families in the Bible aren't perfect--proving that our families aren't supposed to be perfect either!
The book of Genesis is, hands down, my favorite soap opera! We've got...
This is far from a picture perfect family!!! In fact, when I hear these stories from the Bible, I often feel comfort and relief because even my family isn't that twisted and messed up! Even though these families are not perfect, notice that God still uses them and all of their imperfections.
So as you prepare to gather around a table or two with your family next week, take comfort knowing that your family doesn't have to be perfect. That cousin that is always in jail? That brother who can't stop stirring the pot and causing drama? That parent-in-law that drives you crazy? Totally normal and yes, God can still use each of them and you in His mission to help all people know they are loved by God.
I hope you take some time to celebrate your perfectly imperfect families this next week! The love that is there in spite of the imperfections is there--don't take it for granted!
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Last Wednesday, I took my dog, Cocoa, outside right after waking up. As I opened the door, the first thing I saw were about 4 baby deer, playing in the yard. They were eating grass, enjoying the cool weather, and the early morning sun. Cocoa was not happy to see these animals in her yard. I opened up the gate to the small fence that I placed up around the covered patio in the backyard. She jumped over the opening, hopped along the concrete steps, and she took off in a sprint toward the deer. As I realized she was moving at a faster-than-normal speed, I quickly tried to get my body over the opening in time to be able to hold on to the leash when she reached its end. I had one foot over and, as I was trying to get my other foot over, she reached the end of her leash. It propelled my body forward and, although I fought to stay upright on both feet, I let my body give in to the momentum pulling me forward and fell, screaming on my way down.
As I laid on the ground, I looked around at my surroundings. Cocoa was still far away, at the end of her leash. The deer were running away from her. No one was driving by the house and my neighbors weren't out to witness me scream and fall. I began to then examine my body--was anything hurting? Yes, but nothing was sprained or broken. I just had some new bruises to add color to my fair skin. Cocoa finally came running up to me and she gave me a look that said, "Mom, why are you on the ground?" She still didn't understand what was going on. I gave her a look that said, "You're lucky you're seven months old and don't realize you're strength."
While I was on the ground, I thought about all the things on my to-do list for the day. I had a run I was supposed to start around 6:30AM. It was a spaghetti lunch day at the church. My brother was coming in to town for lunch and to spend some time with Cocoa in the afternoon. I had youth to go to that night. This was not the time to fall and stay down. There was a lot to get done, a lot of people to see, and an exercise to get in. With no injury, and just a few bruises on my skin (not to mention my ego), I got up and continued on in my day.
I've reflected on this fall a lot since it happened...mainly because by the end of the day Wednesday, the heel of my right foot started hurting a lot from when I fell (and would continue to bother me the rest of the week). I could have chosen, while sitting on the ground Wednesday morning, to sit out on my run, to be frustrated by the fall, to let it be in the back of my mind all day, making me angry that it happened to begin with. I could have complained about it all day long to anyone who would listen. I could have chosen to see the entire day in a negative light because of one incident that started out my day.
The danger in our world today is not what the media or your friends on social media would lead you to believe it is. The danger is not found in our political beliefs, the COVID-19 crisis, or in anyone else the media tells us is "bad." The danger in our world today is all of the negativity we choose to entertain.
Think back on this last week. What did you think about the election results? Were you happy or disappointed? How did you show your feelings about the results? Did you brag about it? Did you spread rumors about the other side? Did you get in an argument with a family member in person or via social media? Prior to the election, I saw many posts from friends voting for Joe Biden that if Biden didn't win, the world would continue to be a bad place. After the election, I saw many posts from friends voting for Donald Trump that our world is doomed now that Biden is president-elect. All of these are constantly negative voices that are on our televisions, on our phone screens, and in our conversations with others. And these are just some examples from this week!! For the last couple of years, we have become a more polarized society and it is because of negativity that we willingly (and sometimes unknowingly) spread.
No matter how you feel about the election, its results, or its candidates, there is another way to deal with an election than with negativity. We can ALL get back up, dust the dirt off of us, and continue on with life. No matter who the president is and no matter who we voted for, God calls us to something higher than this earth. We are not of this world. We live in it now, trying to spread the Good News that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior of ALL people and that we ALL can be a part of God's family if we so choose. We say in the Lord's Prayer that we want God's Kingdom to come, God's will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Since we have free will, we are the ones being called to listen for Christ's will, to do Christ's will, and to make this earth more like heaven than it was before we got here. An election does not change that call. We can still reach out to those who do not know Christ loves them. We can still look for those in our community who do not have proper clothing and who go to bed hungry, and try to find ways to help empower them to meet their needs. We can still worship God. We can still read and study our Bibles. We can still pray. We live in a country where those are basic rights that CANNOT be taken away, no matter who is in charge.
I hope you will join me in moving on from the events that happened last week (as well as all the negative words that were said and spread in the lead up to it). Let's get up off the negative ground we all stand on and negative world we live in and get to work. Christ doesn't want us to stay down--Christ wants us to get up, move on, and do the work He has called us to do in this world. So let's go do it!
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Today is the day--election day! In case you didn't know this, I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to politics! The day of the presidential election is, normally, a fun day for me. I follow some last minute polls, try to get my work done in a timely manner, and then I prepare for an evening of switching between CNN and Fox News to watch the results come in. Each channel has a different perspective and it is even more so on election night!
This presidential election feels very different for me, though. While I am, overall, still excited that it is election day, I am worried about what this evening, tomorrow morning, and the rest of the week will bring. Each election has gotten more and more negative. This election, though, there is a real possibility of violence. Walmart has pulled guns off their shelves ahead of election day. I have had a friend cussed out by a parent based on who they did not vote for. I've seen more and more negative posts about both of our main party's nominees. I've heard so many people say, "This is the most important election in our lifetime." I've heard people saying, "If you vote for __________, you are voting for __________, so you must not be a Christian." Fear, anxiety, and polarization is the name of the game. Politics has torn apart friends and family and, I must say, it threatens to tear our country apart.
At the end of the day, there will be a winner and there will be a loser. This is a fact.
Perhaps the potential results stir up those feelings of fear and anxiety. Maybe you are hoping for one outcome and will receive another. But here's some good news...
No matter what happens in this election, Jesus Christ is still King of Kings, Lord of Lords. Jesus Christ is still Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus Christ is still in the business of freely giving grace to each and every person on this earth. Jesus Christ is still in the business of changing and transforming lives, no matter who the president of the United States, the members of Congress, or any other public official that is elected into office.
What would happen if we share this good news today instead of fear, anxiety, or bragging that our person we voted for won? What might the world look like if we chose to focus less on the earthly powers and more on the powers that matter for eternity? Every time we say the Lord's Prayer we ask, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven." What if we truly took those words to heart and worked to be Christ's representatives of love, grace, hope, and peace here on this earth? I have a feeling that the walls of polarization that separate us would fall down, the cuss words we throw at family members during political debates would fall away, the name calling and the platform generalizations would all go away. Instead, we'd see a world of people who may disagree, but still respect one another; people who may be angry, but don't use violence to take out their anger on others; people may be upset about the results of an election, but wouldn't let it completely get them down. I hope we can all share the Good News of Jesus Christ today and every day, so that maybe, just maybe, some real healing can come upon our nation and we may truly be united again.