Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Let there be love

There are days that I wish I could see this world through the eyes of others so that I could possibly understand why they are the way that they are. I wish that just for an instant I could know what is going on in their heads.
Today was one of those days.
I grew up in a small town. You know, the kind where everyone knows everyone. You know each person's first, middle and last name. You don't give directions by street names but by land marks, such as "Go to the CO-OP and turn left" or "Turn right at the stop sign on Main Street." It's a town where when one person passes away, it's like losing a family member. It's that little town that completely shuts down when the basketball team makes it to the state playoffs. That's my town.
And in my town, there is a church. It's the church that raised me. The members helped me to grow in my faith and to know why I believe what I believe. They have supported me for 26 years. I love each person like a mother/father/sister/brother.
But today caused me to feel like I don't know those people at all.
There is a youth program at that little church on Wednesday nights. In the past months the numbers have tripled. It started out with 20 kids and there are now around 60 active children who show up. It's a beautiful thing. During the time that the kids are there they sing and play and learn about Christ and love. Several adults who haven't gone to church in a while have even started volunteering because they see what an amazing program it is.
Many of the children who attend have never stepped into a church building. They haven't been raised to respect that buildings walls or contents. They don't know what "praise", "worship", or "prayer" is. But they are learning. They are being taught. It's a good thing. They feel safe and loved.
But, some people in our congregation have voiced that they have a problem with this program. They think the kids are too rowdy. They think that some kids are too "angry" or "hyper" or "wild" to be there. They want to shut the program down.
This was one of the most dissapointing times I have experienced. These people, who I thought I knew; who I thought knew what love was and what it meant to be love are now saying that love is only for those who sit still and are happy? What?!
They have lost all grips with the concept of Christianity. The church is not the building. The church is the people. WE are the church. WE are what the world looks at. WE are what the world judges. OUR attitudes will make us or break us.
The kids will look at us and will learn from us.
We are all that some of these kids have. They go home to families who don't care if they come home.
They come to that building and for an hour and half of their week, they are safe and happy. How dare someone try to take that away from them because they feel uncomfortable.
I am absolutely appalled at those that are causing such a fuss.
But then I take a look at my life and my own attitude and have to admit, I am just as appalled with it.
I am not always explemplifying the love of Christ. Most of the time my attitude is terrible. I whine and complain and am hateful.
We Christians, at many times, are our own worst enemies. We are the ones who turn others away from us.
We forget that our job is not to judge but to love. We can change so much more if we are kind and patient and gentle.
hmmm...I do believe a wise man spoke of that once upon a time a long time ago.
Thousands of years ago, love was brought into this world in the form of a child. That love grew and that love was sacrificed. And that love is still here. And, it is offered to not a few, but all. Love isn't particular of who it chooses. Why should we be?
Why should we stop it?
Let there be LOVE.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Letters

My nephews got their "letters" last week.
In my family, we know what that means. No explanation is needed.
"Letters" is a word that can tear your heart in two and can cause fear to rush through your veins.
It makes my palms sweat and my knees weak and my mind race.
But, it also makes me proud.
It makes me realize that when I am sitting in the living room with those two boys that I have known my whole life, I am really sitting in the midst of two heroic men.
The notice letters, to let them know that they are being called up, don't scare them. They don't cause them to want to run or abandon their country.
They are proud of their "letters".
I listened to the President's address not too long ago and he spoke about men and women of valor. Mr. President spoke of his plans to remove troops but he also spoke of how the troops who would remain and who are going will protect the people "over there".
He reported how our men and women are rebuilding a country, an economy and a government. Mr. President read a letter from a young soldiers family. They wanted to express their pride for their son for serving his country. Their son did not come home. The letter stated though, "Freedom is not Free."
No, it's not. Every right that we now have as American's came at a price.
You can believe that.
Following the President's address, was the Democratic Response. The chosen speaker responded saying he was a veteran. He stated that the president didn't have a plan and how we needed to bring our troops home.
I have to admit, I was immediately angered. But then again, I was more frightened by his response than angered. Frightened because there are so many people who share his opinion and feelings.
Am I excited that my "boys" have to go to another country? No.
Am I proud? You can be sure of that.
Do I see the need? Yes, I do.
We as Americans should be proud and honored that we can help the Iraqi nation. We have the chance, the ability and the means to make life better for millions of people, and what are we doing? We are complaining. We want our desires and needs to be met.
Come on people, let's get over ourselves. We sit in our nice houses with a.c. and running water, with little or no threat of being harmed or injured except we might possibly wreck our nice shiny car.
Those people, "over there", suffer daily. They have no idea what it means to have "freedom" of religion, speech, etc. Their children have no idea what it's like to play a game of touch football freely in the front yard. They can't just ride their bikes around the neighborhood or go over to a friend's house to play.
They live in fear daily for their lives.
Our troops are doing something about that.
And we are going to take that away from them, because it's too tough for us, here at home, to watch the nightly news; to hear the statistics(which might I mention are often times skewed).
There is a motto, I heard it was the Coast Guard's but I'm not sure, that goes "So other's might live." Now, my nephews are in the National Guard, but I think that that particular motto is one that lives in the hearts of all military. They do what they do, so that others might have a chance at life. So that you and I might have a chance at life.
We Americans, well, we do alot of complaining. We complain that certain people and parties are too stingy with their money. That it should given to those in need. But, then, we complain about the budget and how much money we are spending on the war. Okay folks, let's make up our minds--do we want to be generous or not? Do we want to help those in need or not? Do we really want to pick and choose who we help? Don't others deserve our help just as much, if we can offer it?
If and when my boys go, they will do what they have chosen and were chosen to do. And they won't complain.
I find it funny how the ones doing all of the complaining are the ones who have never seen the fields of battle.
They are the ones who sit in their nice corner office or in their homes and go on with their day, taking a few minutes of their precious time to complain about the job that others are doing which they themselves, in all actuality, couldn't possibly handle .
So the next time you watch the news or a presidential debate, really think about why you are reacting the way that you are.
Is it because of a political or personal bias that you were raised with?
Is it because you are misinformed or uniformed?
Is it because of your own selfish desires?
We could all learn a lot about selflessnesss from our men and women who boldly serve this country.
I'm scared everyday for my boys and what they might have to see or do. But more so I am frightened and scared by the thought of what this country would be like without those men and women like my nephews.
Compared to that, the "letters" don't scare me at all.