Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Liking this post from J. Lee Grady....thought I'd share. Thinking today of all the relationships that made me cry...but I wouldn't trade the experiences. Lee is right. It is about relationship.

Christianity Is All About Relationships#readmore#readmore#readmore

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Prayer for Today

I love this prayer from Mother Theresa.  Every line contains a powerful thought on which to meditate. 

Dear Jesus, help us to spread Your fragrance everywhere we go.
Flood our souls with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess our whole being, so utterly,
That our lives may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through us, and be so in us,
That every soul we come in contact with may feel Your presence in our soul.
Let them look up and see no longer us, but only Jesus!
Stay with us, and then we shall begin to shine as You shine;
So to shine as to be a light to others.
The light O Jesus will be all from You, none of it will be ours;
It will be You, shining on others through us.
Let us thus praise You without preaching, not by words but by our example,
By the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do,
The evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to You. Amen.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Women Still Treated as Objects on Big Screen

From The Pentecotal Evangel, by John W. Kennedy

A new study of Hollywood films reveals that women are depicted wearing little or no clothing more than one-fourth of the time on the screen, with younger females showing even more skin.

Stacy L. Smith and Marc Choueiti, of the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, analyzed the 100 top-grossing fictional motion pictures of 2008. They discovered that 25.7 percent of the females in the movies were shown wearing sexy, revealing attire. For teen girls, the rate rose to 39.8 percent.

In addition, 23.7 percent of females depicted in those films were partially naked, including 30.1 percent of teenage girls.

The study authors said the high ratio of hypersexualized female images sends the message - particularly to the large number of young males who buy movie tickets - that females are valued most for their appearance.

Los Angeles-based Nicole Clark, who spent four years making a documentary called Cover Girl Culture, says it's part of human nature to desire to be acknowledged, recognized and loved.

"Sadly, the media has force-fed our society the notion that overtly sexy, vacuous, skinny girls - often behaving badly - garner accolades from men and peers," Clark told World View. "There is little else in a girl's life that can compete with the media's endless barrage of this delusional ideal unless they are blessed with extremely conscientious parents who act as gatekeeper and educator of what is truly valuable in a girl."

Clark says well-meaning parents often feel overwhelmed and helpless, yet marketers and advertisers often count on apathy taking over.

"The media relentlessly undermine parents, knowing they will eventually give up," Clark says. "There is another way. Parents need to educate their children about degrading portrayals of women and girls."

Candy Tolbert, director of Assemblies of God National Girls Ministries, urges parents to use Ephesians 6:4 as a guide in training children about the Lord.

"We must do our utmost to direct girls away from the degrading, over-sexualized message of moneymaking clothing and advertising industries that place the marketing of sexy merchandise ahead of the overall well-being of young girls," Tolbert says. "Using sexuality to sell product to girls is inappropriate and demeans intelligence."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9-11-01--and Wondering What has Happened to the USA

I may have been one of the last to know.

I was working in my church office, alone in the building on a quiet day. About noon I took a break from sermon preparation to go to the post office.  The car radio was on, and as I heard unbelievable words about the twin towers and planes....and...I thought I was listening to some strange kind of radio drama.  I pulled to a stop in front of the post office and paid closer attention. 

Could this be real?

I don't know why I did not immediately head for home, but instead I went back to the church and turned on the radio in my office and listened, slowly beginning to understand the news that had been unfolding all day while I was unaware.

I stood at my office window and gazed eastward, towards New York and Washington, D.C. I tried to picture the scene at the Pentagon, a building I saw many times in the years we were stationed at Headquarters, Marine Corps.  The bright blue sky and sunshine seemed wrong.

I felt guilty in my little town in the midwest. Insulated and removed.

The phone rang, and the voice on the phone was a friend and fellow-clergywoman from a small Presbyterian church.  In a 2008 blog post, I wrote about what happened.  Here is a little bit of that post,

A few hours later some of the area clergy hastily put together a prayer service for the evening, and phone calls went out to invite the community. I sat with two other clergy women in a sun-drenched room at St. Peter's UCC. We had been given the task of writing a litany for the service. We sat in silence, looking at one another sadly as we listened to the tolling of the bell at the Roman Catholic Church across the street. It seemed to go on and on, each somber ring striking our spirits like a blow.  Where to begin? How could we encourage anyone when our own hearts were stricken and afraid? I remember thinking how incongruous the sunshine was. It should be cloudy and raining.  The three of us joined in prayer for a few moments, began to brainstorm a bit--and then it happened--not with bright lights or trumpets or any sort of excitement. The litany came together in a matter of minutes. The one taking notes almost could not write fast enough to get our thoughts on the paper. When we finished, three pastors--a Presbyterian, a Methodist and a Pentecostal, looked at each other in a sort of wonder. Finally, someone said, "The Spirit of God came in the room with us."
I remember wondering, as we prayed together that evening in St. Peter's beautiful sanctuary, where the terrorists would strike next.  I remember the unity, the shared sorrow, that brought liberals and conservatives together, and I can picture a photo of several congressional leaders holding hands with bowed heads.  I remember discussions with fellow clergy about what would happen to America and specifically what would happen to the American church.  Many people expected that attendance at places of worship would rise in the days, weeks and months following 9-11. 

Preparations were made.  Everyone was concerned, but beneath it was a flicker of expectation that perhaps our nation would repent of our national arrogance and pride, learn some humility, and begin to acknowledge what many of our forefathers called "Divine Providence."
There was a blip of repentance, of sorrow, of prayer.  I remember vividly a prayer circle in my little church sanctuary, where several of us sang the words of a Kyrie, (not something typical for Assemblies of God people), "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy...." and tears rolled down our cheeks. 

Church attendance did rise--for a short time. There were alarms, anthrax scares here and there....but mostly our fears were unrealized.  And things went back to normal in a very short time.
But I found myself saying, many times, "Something...something undefinable has changed."  I still cannot define it or understand it or explain it, but I still believe that something fundamentally changed on this day ten years ago.  Whatever happened, I think we Americans changed as a people.
Ten years later, what do we find in the United States of America?
We find a nation that is angry.  The partisan rhetoric is vicious on both sides.  We are embroiled in not just one but two wars that seem to have no clear purpose, and no end.  Many have died.  We have lost faith in our elective process, in the government, "of the people, by the people, for the people" to an extent that I have never seen in my lifetime.  Cynicism and hopelessness seem to have the upper hand.  The econmy is stalled. Republicans and Democrats seem more interested in party politics than in solving problems.  Church attendance continues to decline.  Our educational systme is still mired in inertia as test scores continue to be alarming.  No one is exactly rejoicing at the array of possible candidates for President.  There is a sense, and this saddens me deeply, that our greatest days are behind us and that we may be on a irreversable path to oblivion.
I hope this is wrong.  I hope that we can cry out, in the words of David, Israel's greatest King,

 Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit...
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

Excerpts from Psalm 51

It seems like a good day to remember these words, attributed (perhaps incorrectly) to A. Tocqueville. 
"I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce and it was not there; in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.

Whether the quote is his or not, I recommend his book, "Democracy in America.")

Did something happen to us? If so, what do you think it was/

Saturday, September 10, 2011


It has been far too long since I've posted anything, and I hope to do better.  Life has sort of exploded.  

The BIG news for our family is the arrival of another grandchild.  Our son, Josh, is the new dad of a baby boy, Noah Kenneth George, born in June.  Here are a few photos.

Josh sheds a tear as he holds the new little guy for the first time.

Josh, Stephanie and Noah.

Trinity and her new cousin.

Isn't he sweet?
We saw Noah when he was three days old, but not since.  So excited that he'll be visiting on Sept. 17th!

More updates soon about other changes.