You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Faith’ tag.

My mother with my brother and me.

Life is complicated—and included within that expression is the understanding that human life is complicated. I understand that many people, including dear friends of mine, think of life in black and white terms. For me, there is no way to ignore the varied shades of gray. It is simpler to say something either is or is not—and, yet, I cannot do so. I have listened to Bible lessons and sermons all my life—and I’ve dug into the Bible on my own and through study with others. God and Jesus and their Bible are also complicated. My heart and prayers tell me to look for the love within the rules. If God and Jesus are love—and I believe they are—then wrestling to find the love in the complications is part of that commandment to love one another.

When the rule is defined as life begins at conception—despite the science on the matter—and when there are no exceptions, then we are saying that emerging life is primary to existing living beings, and that any effects on other humans are secondary.

So when the young mother in the 1920s is in labor with her first child—it will be discovered the infant is a son with such severe hydrocephalus that he will not survive and his delivery will kill his mother. The decision is made to lance his head so she will not die. The sorrow at this loss will follow her to her grave—as she spends the rest of her life decorating his grave every Memorial Day. But she will go on to give birth to 5 living children, who will have 22 who live past birth, to 42 in the next generation to a number near that in the current generation.

Another young mother in the 1920s will have ectopic twin pregnancies, growing outside the womb, until they burst and destroy both her fallopian tubes. There was no chance for those fertilized eggs to grow safely, given a fetus cannot survive outside of the uterus. Unlike most women of her era, the woman survived the infection that followed. She recovered, but she had forever lost the opportunity to be a mother. (And the Depression years that followed turned out to be a hard time to find babies to adopt—somehow surprise babies were rarely born.)

Enter the 1950s. A married mother of two young children finds out her current pregnancy will kill her. A doctor (not a back-alley doctor, but a respected local physician) terminates that pregnancy. Years later, the woman who assisted with the hush-hush procedure will see that mother out with her children and realize just how different those children’s lives could have been.

None of these situations addresses the ability of a woman to control the size of her family—these were all women who had welcomed those pregnancies—and were devastated when the pregnancies did not end with a healthy baby in their arms. But with 1960 came the introduction of “the Pill.” And with Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965, married women around the country could turn their focus to the children they already had. Thirty years later as I reveled in the births of my miracle twins, I would listen to these women talk about the relief they felt when they could raise the three to five children they already had—and not worry about the cost, time, and possible physical complications of having more children.

Of course, unmarried women still had to wait for a decision on the right to birth control until the early 1970s, which was followed by Roe v. Wade in 1973.

I have known women who bore little responsibility for preventing unwanted pregnancies and who took a casual approach to abortion. But, so many more weigh the decision against a lot of those gray factors. And how do we as a society show love for women who do choose life in difficult situations?

The same people who would deny abortion (and many forms of birth control, should precedent also be thrown out against the privacy laws guaranteed by the 14th amendment) are often stingy about helping those in need. Education, medical care, food, and housing assistance are all called out as socialism—and admonishments to take personal responsibility come from political leaders and media sources. There is little recognition for how poverty affects the parents and those lives that were saved. It’s as if society’s own responsibility to care for life stops at birth.

Which is exactly the opposite of what Jesus says in his Sermon on the Mount. He doesn’t say, “Blessed are those who take personal responsibility.” And, instead, he continues to provide parables that show he is not so concerned with personal responsibility as are so many in our current times. The older brother in the “Prodigal Son” story is not the hero—despite how responsible he has been. The first workers in the vineyard are not praised simply because they have always done the right thing. These kinds of people are called out because they lack compassion for those who have made mistakes. And they are reprimanded for not thinking they should share with those “others.”

If you’re pro-life, then you really need to also show that by supporting a society that provides a safety net for those who need help to raise that life. But, really, pro-life should be pro-God, which means trusting God to be in the details. Jesus didn’t address abortion in any way. But he did address topics such as loving all your neighbors (including your enemies), caring for the poor, forgiving 7 x 70, and “judging not lest ye be judged.”

Lest we forget, our country was founded with a separation of church and state. Not as a Christian nation nor as a nation where Christians get to tell everyone else how to live. The best way Christians can promote Christian values in this nation is by following Jesus’ mandate—to love one another. And empathy is a huge component of love. Taking baby steps in others’ shoes is a way to begin to understand how complicated life is. Taking away someone’s choice is oversimplifying all the repercussions of continuing life at all costs. In the gray, we can take circumstances into consideration.

But with the current push toward legal changes with their all-or-nothing application, I fear my whole large family’s future existence would have been erased in the moment when the doctor was required to let my grandmother die.

Advertisement

In these harsh times of unprovoked war in Ukraine, we see images of sunflowers everywhere: in Facebook feeds, artwork, and artificial blooms placed outside homes. Ukraine is a land of blue skies and fields of yellow—grains as well as sunflowers. But what is a sunflower? A plant that grows without fuss—one that can thrive with little watering, added nutrients, or pampering of any sort. It can grow sideways, through cracks in the pavement, or in other harsh conditions. Sunflowers can be planted by birds, squirrels, or wind. These plants that were once considered only a weed by farmers who deliberately planted other crops are now a commercial crop and not just another weed. But, no matter—sunflowers grow regardless of whether we intentionally plant them or not.

In Spanish, the word for sunflower is girasol: turns toward the sun (and, yes, sunflowers do follow the sun). As these days and weeks of great destruction and uncertainty have gone from one month into the next—when it seems so much hangs on the decisions of one person with evil intent—it is time to keep turning to the Son of God. To pray without ceasing, and to send resources—monetary, equipment, or the kinds of human support that operate from without—whatever can be shared. With so much light shining from corners all around the world, how can darkness prevail? Gire al sol—and turn to the Son of God.

And, so I pray:

Lord,

We turn to you and implore you to wrap your arms around the Ukrainian people—those who defend their homes as well as those who have left behind their homeland as they seek shelter and safety. Comfort those who mourn. We know that you judge between the nations and settle disputes for many peoples. Sow seeds of peace now—so that those currently under siege may safely beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks (reference: Isaiah 2:4). May the sunflowers of Ukraine push through yet this spring.

Amen

(c) 2021

This morning I returned to the river—more in need than last Sunday morning. The river, she greeted me with the peace I so crave. The air was crisp, the skies blue, the snow white, and the birds plentiful.

As I got out of my car, I saw heads swivel and look up. I could hear the “oohs” as a bald eagle flew off into the distance.

I started off at a pace I couldn’t maintain, trying to beat back this winter of my loss. But to persevere, I needed to slow down. Soon after I crossed the bridge, I encountered a hawk perched in a tree above me, closer than I have ever been to what I consider my spirit animal—and a sign of continued protections. I stopped for a moment and thanked the hawk for its beauty, presence, and proximity.

Despite the barren season in which I find myself, as my feet again renewed their journey, I sensed the approach of spring.

God’s peace to all trapped within a landscape that appears empty of hope—may renewal arrive when you least expect it.

Kazoo and Furgus, (c) 2021

Furgus—who had surgery on his right knee on January 18—returned for another checkup on Wednesday. Recovery is going as planned, but there’s still another four weeks to go before he’s released from restrictions. And that’s pretty hard news for a guy who loves snowstorms like the one that happened that day. The good news for him is that we live in Colorado and there’s a reasonable chance we’ll still get some snow in late March and April (and—that’s where I’m going to stop—for now).

Furgus is a sweet boy—unless you’re a squirrel or the kind of malefactor who walks your dog on the sidewalk in front of our house. Even the squirrels and said malefactors are catching a break from Furgus this winter. But, don’t worry—he’ll be back, barking at the fence as soon as allowed.

For now, Furgus spends his days snuggled up with Kazoo, who turned one two weeks ago. Lazy days, but filled with much love from his admiring brephew (Furgus is genetically Kazoo’s uncle, but lives as his brother—or Bruncle Furgus, as he’s called here).

Like Furgus and Kazoo, I’m finding it hard to be patient waiting for better days. But, if we can’t get out much, at least we all have each other here, which includes my husband Sherman—as well occasional visits from our kids and their dogs.

These are the dog days here—which is a pretty decent way to wait out a pandemic, if that’s what you have to do.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

My prayer today is that my words will be heard as a message of love, not as an incitement to fight. As of today, our country has lost over half a million souls to a virus. Yes, God is sovereign—and, yes, He also sends help through human means. I am confused that some of most faithful people I know believe that God can’t be behind the science or behind government leaders’ attempts to put protections in place for our society.

What if all these restrictions aren’t part of some evil plot to lessen our faith, but are God-given methods for us to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves?

God created the whole world. And that means He created people who are driven to help others through our current challenges, whether that’s through doing research, applying their knowledge to understanding and abating this novel coronavirus, caring for others in medical situations, leading government policies that help reduce the risks, or lifting up others by speaking God’s truths.

God doesn’t want us to live in fear during these times, but to trust in Him. But what if trusting Him means performing simple acts that help mitigate our chances of infecting others with this disease—that while not dangerous to many—is deadly to some? And that it also means trusting Him enough to refrain from declarations—such as “only” a small percentage of people die from this—that minimize the risk of harm to a great number of people.

God is in control here, but we still can choose to control what we can control. When Jesus went out into the wilderness, Satan sought to tempt him. Though Satan suggested he throw himself from up high, Jesus replied that it was not right to test God. Wearing masks over our noses and mouths or following social distancing doesn’t show a lack of faith—instead, we show respect for God by not testing him.

And when those behaviors protect so many other than ourselves, I don’t quite understand the fight. I really don’t.

I pray we are turning the corner on this—and I pray you all stay well. As for me, I will do what I can to protect myself—and anyone who might be around me.

Sunday mornings used to be time to sit in a pew, so I never made it to my running club’s Sunday morning runs at the river. But now I can run and do church—well, by “going” to church at home while sitting in my own chair instead of a pew—and by not needing to change out of my running clothes.

I have to go down to the river as we live on the hill above the South Platte valley. I started attending the now socially-distanced and masked Sunday runs in July when, even early, the river was alive with action—of the human, canine, and avian kinds. Being by the river and the birds was soothing even as the trails were full of activity.

But as the weather turned colder and certain birds flew off to warmer spaces, peace became the river’s language. Fewer humans and dogs ventured out during the chilly morning hours, but more ducks and Canada geese claimed the waters.

In a way, my pre-church runs by the river have become part of the liturgy that is my church worship in these winter days of 2020/2021. With the now later start of the group runs, I have little time once finished before I must jump in my car and drive the ten minutes back to my home up the hill.

I take that peace—like the river—into my corporate worship—or what counts for corporate worshipping these days. Even if we aren’t all together as physical bodies, I feel the pull of the congregation as I see the familiar faces of the pastors and other leaders in our sacred space.

One day I will return to the good old way of in-person worship with my church community, but, for now, I appreciate going down to the river with my (running) sisters and learning new ways to pray.

Last weekend brought about dangerous temperatures for running outside, but skipping my run gave me extra time to get ready to run—especially since members of my running club had additional discounts last week at Runners Roost Lakewood.

Today I stepped out wearing my new purchases: visor, support gear (!), and shoes! Although the afternoon’s weather is already turning as the next storm arrives, on my travels this morning, I felt a balmy breeze caressing my neck. I haven’t seen so many people out in weeks—it’s as if we all know to appreciate the current conditions more after last week’s frigid temperatures (short-lived for us)—as well as the horrid conditions that have lasted longer for others.

As always, I was grateful that I was able to get out. Even if some runs are harder than others, running teaches you is that you can do tough things—and get to a better place. Last year I battled heel pain—in previous years it’s been my back or my hip—it really is always something for me. And as much as it seems these pandemic days will never pass, running tells me otherwise.

Stepping out is one activity that helps me on my Lenten journey—or through any time in my life that feels like it might as well be Lent. Thank God for running—especially now.

What a great metaphor—this puzzle that I’m really sorry I insisted we buy. Sometimes you think you know what you want, but it doesn’t turn out to work out as well as you’d expected. Nothing like working on this puzzle to humble me.

All I can do is string puzzle pieces together—I can’t even figure out where to put them. But, luckily, I am not working on this puzzle alone. It’s good to have a partner who can pick up where I leave off.

Lots of lessons in this puzzle. How very appropriate for Lent.

How do I calm my raging heart—on any given day, but especially in times such as these when my activities and comings and goings have been pared down in this time period when we await abatement from the virus’ relentless effect on daily life?

Since March 16, 2020—when I came home to work—and the week when everything on my normally busy calendar was erased, my main solace has been time spent in exercise. First, solitary running, and then, bit by bit, electronic classes—both with my regular local fitness teacher and classmates and with sources beyond my neighborhood. And, from time to time, I have ventured out to run close—but not too close—with others.

Still, what was immediately stripped from my life last March was singing in community in my choir and church. The night of March 11, I was engaged in the risky business of going to a Lenten church service (complete with communion!) and singing in choir practice. By the Sunday that followed, church had been reduced to my laptop screen. While my spiritual needs are often met by connecting to the messages from the ministers and other leaders, it’s not quite the same singing harmony by myself along with the sounds projected from the few people allowed in the sanctuary.

My voice has become husky with disuse. Of course, I can sing by myself at home, but with my naturally limited range, I don’t have much of a voice for singing melody. My strength lies in singing harmony. I can—and occasionally do—sing harmony along with music I play for myself. But I miss singing in church—with other people. Almost every Sunday since I was 10 (give or take several during college and in my early 20s) until March 15 of 2020, I have been singing harmony from the hymn book—with others.

So, I asked myself, what can I do to sing, even if I can’t sing in the way I want to sing? Well, for Lent, I’ve broken out my copy of Bach’s St. John’s Passion, and I plan to sing along with Cyber Bass or YouTube. Tonight, I gave that scratchy old voice of mine permission to sing out—badly or not. To tell the truth, I had an easier time singing the notes than I did singing the German words. Sure, I might have scared the puppy a little bit (in all fairness—he’s scared of most everything the first time he experiences it!), but not the older dog, who heard me practice those songs often throughout Lent 2015.

And, you know what? My darkened heart—along with my lowered voice—felt a little bit lighter for singing harmony—even with the tinny background sounds coming from my laptop.

Isn’t it time I stopped keeping myself from singing?

As March 2021 approaches, we’ve been hitting landmarks that continue to remind us of what we didn’t know at this time last year. And how unaware we were that we were living through the end of an era. Oh, we were getting some pretty good hints by Ash Wednesday of 2020, but it seems that most of us just didn’t get what was going on or what was coming.

I’m not even sure how to pray this Ash Wednesday. What is appropriate when over 2.4 million people worldwide have died from COVID-19, including over 488,000 of my fellow Americans? As a people, we are diminished by the loss of so many. Grief tears at our hearts. If there were any doubts that from ashes we came and to ashes we will return, 2020 put a whole new emphasis on that statement of mortality.

Yet in this time of great loss and fear surrounding physical health, I am especially reminded of how human I am otherwise. Even as I am so grateful that I live and breathe, I am aware that my heart has hardened so much in this past year. Yes, I am sad at all we have lost—especially those people I’ve lost (not due to COVID). But when I sat down to write tonight, I was confronted with how angry I am. All. The. Time.

And not just angry, but also unforgiving toward those who do not approach the pandemic the way I do. More so lately as one in my own circle has been engaged in battle with this deadly virus.

This Lent I will sit with this anger and my God—and try to hear a way back to loving others.

Recent Comments

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 304 other subscribers

Blogging AtoZ Challenge 2012