Monday, May 28, 2007


A prostitute makes 'her corner' at the end of my street, tonight. She flashes her smile and shows interest to anyone slowing down.

My first thoughts were of anger. Of punishment. Of jail.

My second thoughts were of fear. Are we living in the right neighborhood? Is crime really on our doorstep? Are our kids safe? Do we need to move?

But most troubling to me is this:

I realized I know her. She's sat right across from me, in my home, on my couch. We've talked and eaten together and laughed.

She's a real person.

She's not the sum of her actions tonight.

Sometimes life seems neater when that stuff stays on the other side of town. Or when it only happens in the movies.

I don't know a lot about it, I realize. I imagine she gets hungry. She wants out. She wants to be numb. She won't think about it. She'll do what she has to do.

And she still has the capacity to wonder if God could love her. Will she find out? How will her story end?

I'd love to say I know what to do tonight, but I don't. I don't want to contribute to the white picket fence version of Christianity. But I sit here nervous as I think about walking out my front door and down to her "workplace" to talk.

I don't know how successful her night will be, but I know at the end of it, she will still be hollow.

And I know that the God she's at least sometimes seeking understands prostitution. After all, His people have prostituted themselves for years.

His concern for us as prostitutes, while at times did involve punishment, never involved fear. He wasn't compelled to move away from us...but rather to pursue us. I now realize it wasn't coincidental that God led me to read the book and retelling of the story of Hosea recently.

Now's the question:

Will I choose to look like my God? Or will I just theorize about it?

Will I be that "minister of reconciliation" that He calls me to be? Or will I just seek the healthy, the safe, the reasonable?

Will I let her know that He offers "freedom for the prisoners, and release to the oppressed", though I fear she'll not believe it for all she's experienced in life? Will I trust Him to answer for her the questions I can't?

Do I risk my own safety to do so when there's another man across the street, likely watching her and making sure she does her job?

It's comfy here in front of my computer.
It's past midnight.
It won't make a difference, really.
I have kids to think about.
No one would blame me for not going out. Some would call me stupid and unwise if I did.

But if I don't go.... if WE don't go.... "crime" does creep up to our doorstep. Crime in the form of people, making desperate choices, missing out on something more. On Someone more.
Because we're too scared to offer the name of our God to transform the "lawbreaker". Because we've decided the prostitute probably wouldn't be open to Him changing her life. Because that's just a bit more messy than we like to deal with.

A reminder to myself, and to you, if you need it.

The gates of Hell will not prevail against that Name... so we have nothing to lose.

"He is no fool, who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what He cannot lose."

And she has everything to gain. Such is the preciousness of the gospel.

She, though she doesn't believe it yet, and may consider me a fool to suggest it, is the target of Christ's affection. I don't have to prove it to her... He has, and will.

But He has entrusted the telling her of that to me. To let her in on it. To show her. To help her believe He could love her by showing her I can and do. To love Him more than I think about myself so she has a shot of receiving all He offers her. To invite her back into my home... back on my couch. To eat together, and laugh together again.

And maybe, to give her a chance for freedom.

If she doesn't take the offer... I've nothing to loose.

If I don't make the offer... she's got nothing better than the corner at the end of my street.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I thought that was a boy thing....& other paradigms turned upside down...

About a week or so ago, we got together with a few couples to explore an opportunity to serve together in a ministry at Memorial. At the end of the evening, all of our kids were playing or asleep and so the adults gathered around on the floor to pray together over the discussion and possibilities.

Little did we know, while we were praying, Julia, of all people, was (VERY!) quietly tip-toeing planting fake spiders, bugs and scorpions all around us. It was when we finished and opened our eyes that we learned Shane May doesn't like spiders very much. :-)

I have to admit, I was half way impressed with her practical joke skills, until today. I was cleaning out a few closets to make a room ready for my brother-in-law to come and stay with us for the summer. Then I ran into a few of the fake spiders myself.

I decided I might prefer her being afraid of them after all.


I had said on the previous post that I would share some of the conversations that Eli and I had surrounding the discussion of "many gods" in the first grade classroom. The last week hasn't afforded extra time to do so until now.

It was an interesting discussion, to deal with Eli's convictions and doubts that the class at presented at the same time. His simple questions included many deeper ones that we grapple with in trying to either believe in or understand God. Sometimes we fear the questions. I have learned though, that fearing the questions results in shallow faith, which isn't what I want to hand on to my child. I won't share all of the questions that came up... but I encourage you to hear the other questions encompassed in the ones your kids ask. And I encourage you to not be afraid to explore for the answers. What I learned from this discussion is that God is right.. His word is living and active... and sticks.

"Mom? The teacher said that the Indians prayed to the rain gods and it rained?"

It just doesn't make sense, does it? We are tempted to think the best move on God's part, if He's trying to convince the world He's real, would be to make every experience like Elijah's...(1 Kings 18)- to only pour out rain to the one who asks the right God. But thankfully, God doesn't fit our shallow mold. We opened Eli's bible and read in Matthew 5:45:

"He causes his sun to shine on evil people and good people. He sends rain on those who do right and those who don't."

There is such depth for our kids and for us alike to understand in that simple verse. If our God can pour out the essentials of life to those who despise or disbelieve Him as equally as to those who love Him...we can too. Ironically that would be one indicator of this God not being created by man... He doesn't fit any paradigm of ours. Those who believe in Him spend most of their life submitting themselves to being transformed to His way of thinking because it doesn't at all come naturally! (I loved someone making the point once that we never have to be taught to sin...but we do have to be taught not to.)
... God takes us far beyond the superficial "being good" that people first think of associating Christianity with. If we let Him, He moves us into absolutely illogical realms of self denial and love that don't come "naturally" to anyone. It is an other-worldly love.

In the conversations we had, Eli became conflicted about feeling that the truths we were reading needed to be shared, and yet he felt a little afraid that his teacher would get mad at him. I told Eli that Jason and I would go in and talk to her about the discussion.

"No Mom... I want to talk to my teacher about this. By myself."

I wondered why he became very adamant at this point. So I asked him, at which point he began to flip through his Bible to explain himself. He flipped throught Proverbs and searched for a minute before pointing me to Proverbs 12:1 and said "Here - this is it."

"Anyone who loves to be trained loves knowledge. Anyone who hates to be corrected is stupid." - Prov. 12:1

I laughed out loud and then explained that while that verse had great truth and merit to it, I didn't think it would be the one he would be taking in to his teacher. But he was already looking again, realizing it wasn't exactly what he had meant.

Finally, he found Proverbs 12:24:

"Hands that work hard will rule. But people who don't want to work will become slaves."

Now this was the interesting thing for me. About 3 weeks earlier I had explained to Eli the concept of plagiarism while he was researching and writing a little report. I walked away, only to come back to a completely "copied and pasted" work he tried (intently) to pass off as his own. The consequence of the action was to spend a little time each day on the report until it was due, (about 5 days later) and in addition he had to write this verse out each day.

And this was the verse that came to his heart... uniquely applied to a different situation ( which is huge in the Asperger's realm of thinking!!). It was not for him to pass off a difficult situation to mom and dad. It was for him to own it.

I hadn't counted on the verse sticking and making an impact like that. But what an incredible lesson I learned when it did.

We talked a lot more, and finally he went to bed.

Eli woke up the next morning, agitated and angry. I quickly realized from conversation it was because he was conflicted... wanting to share truth of his understanding and wanting to avoid tension he felt he would encounter. So he was caught somewhere between wanting to not go to school and wanting to leave and go straight to her room.

Been there too?

We had also poured over his conflicted emotions the night before about encountering someone you like and yet believing their teaching to be in error. How do you balance conviction and truth with respect and love, especially in the culture we live in today. It's not easy. It is a balance, (especially with the way Eli's mind processes things), to teach why we firmly believe the existence of God is undeniable, - and worth sharing with others, and still help him navigate social interaction with confidence about those beliefs and genuine love and respect of others. One doesn't have to have Asperger's to blunder in that department, (!) but it does make teaching sensitivity a little trickier without watering down convictions.

We drove to school having decided he would wait until Jason and I could set up a time with this teacher to talk together. We arrived at school and as he was getting out he changed his mind, and grabbed the bible out of my purse, intent on showing her what he'd learned right away.
(Again, the beauty of Asperger's is that it doesn't have to wait for a rational moment to discuss what's important. That's one thing I honestly love about him...:-) So I parked and came back in to the school to take him and find the teacher . It was a great experience. It was a real experience. And we continue to grow, and learn.

Overall what I learned again was this: don't be afraid to put the Bible in your kids hands at every opportunity. Don't be afraid of their questions. They might ask one you were afraid too. Don't be afraid of the God who will answer and don't be afraid of where He might take you with the truth or His timing. You may learn your fear was holding you back from the best reality ever.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Eli was in a class at school where they were making rain sticks, and in learning about the culture, learned that the Indians called on the rain-gods by using these sticks to ask for rain. He challenged this idea, saying that he believed in only one God. And he came home having to grapple with the voices of our culture, even in 1st grade.

That’s okay for you to believe, but others believe differently, and they are right too.”

“I believe in many gods – whatever you believe is fine, but don’t try to make others believe what you do.”

“Well, the Indians prayed to their rain god and he answered them, so…”

Eli was really troubled by this, especially since it had come mostly from a teacher. (Not Cindy, for those of you wondering, but another teacher we love and appreciate greatly….) And honestly, as he recounted the phrases that stuck in his head, I was troubled too.

The questions the world will ask of our faith are hard. And legitimate.

As a momma, I, like everyone, felt conflicting feelings.
I want to protect him. I revisited considerations I’ve had of private school and homeschool. I wanted to confront the teachings…and remind the staff member that separation of church and state means they can’t teach my child what to believe or not believe… I wanted to avoid. Because I hate confrontation altogether. And, I wanted to take advantage of a great opportunity.

Eli had conflicting feelings too.
I don’t want to go back. What if she gets mad at me again? I want to teach her about One God! I don’t think I should learn anything from her if she teaches a lie. I don’t like her anymore…

Ever been there? It doesn’t just happen in 1st grade.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… (1 Peter 3:15)

The problem is that too often, we settle. We tell God He’s not worth the fight. Or we let culture tell us it’s not polite to assert our faith in the presence of others who think differently. Or we run over people so fast with our beliefs that they can barely catch their breath, let alone catch a glimpse of where they fit in it all. Sometimes we hide behind law, or we let others tell us we have to. Or for some of us, the conflict is so intimidating, we let the struggle be killed by worries and anxieties in our mind before it ever has any effect on our actions at all….

This led to some pretty insightful conversations between Eli and I that I will share over the next few posts… they may not be profound to the world, but the two of us learned a lot from God’s word and His spirit…and had some funnies happen too. All good things from Him are worth sharing. So are weaknesses sometimes. None of us are superheros. Raising our kids to be “in the world but not of the world” can be painful, challenging, confusing, and rewarding...but it's a worthy pursuit.

1st grade’s not to early … to be asked hard questions, or to learn that faith really can answer them.