Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Yes, he IS MY president

I have a problem with the whole “Not My President” thing.  To be clear, I didn’t vote for President Obama, nor President Elect Trump (or Hillary).  But for the past 8 years Barack Obama has been the president of this country, and in just a few days Donald Trump will be the president of this country. By extension, because I am an American, President Obama has been my President, and in a few days, President Trump will be my president.
         Have I agreed with everything President Obama did? Absolutely not. Did he do some things that I think were beneficial for the country? Of course he did. Do I agree with everything that Mr. Trump has put forth during the campaign? Not in my strangest nightmares. Does he have some good ideas? Definitely.
              To put it in perspective, I was in the Air Force, and many of you have had jobs. I never had a say in who the commander was of my assigned unit. There was one there when I arrived, often there was a change of command ceremony while I was there, and nobody ever asked me for input. In fact, at one time I was appointed as the commander of a squadron, and I don’t remember that there was a vote before hand, but I was still the commander. And our military is the strongest and best in the world, because people learn to work together, and to follow the orders that are handed down from commanders that they may or may not like.  

  (And unless you own your own business, you probably don’t get much input as to who the boss is- that doesn’t mean that he or she is not your boss.)
           Even in the church where I serve today as Pastor, there is an election every year to vote in a new church board. Is everyone happy with the results? Maybe, maybe not. But we the church body learn to work together. I’ve never heard anybody say “that’s not my board”. And the church congregation can certainly vote to release me and call a new pastor, but in the meantime, I do serve as the pastor. How foolish to say I am a member of the church where he has been called to be the pastor, but he's #notmypastor.  It's divisive and disruptive to the well being of the church, the community, and the people who are interested in serving  and loving God,  loving and serving others. 
        BOTTOM LINE:  The duly elected president of the United States, whether or not I voted for him, whether or not I agree with him, is my president. If I am so strongly opposed to the process, I can work within the system to change it, or I suppose I could find a country that wants me, renounce my citizenship, pack up and move.  But when that happens we all lose.

          I didn’t vote for Obama or Trump, both of them have been or will be my President. I was born in 1951 so there have been 12, going on 13 presidents in my lifetime. Each of them is my president. I couldn’t vote for some, didn’t vote for others, and did vote for a few. Like the person or not, agree with policies or not, as an American, I am privileged to be able to say “Yes, he IS my president!”

Monday, January 9, 2017

You Carried Me- heartfelt and passionate.

Sometimes you pick up a book knowing, or at least thinking you know what to expect; but it doesn’t take long to realize that you were wrong. And by the end of the book you’re left wondering how you could be so far wrong. You Carried Me: a daughter’s memoir by Melissa Ohden (Plough Publishing House, 2017) is definitely one of those books. I would like to summarize the whole story, but I promise I won’t need to include spoiler alerts!

This is the story of Melissa Ohden, founder of Adoption Survivors Network, and an outspoken advocate for the women, men and children impacted by abortion.  Melissa has a story, and she knows part of it, that she was adopted, but suddenly she finds out that there’s more to it. She was the survivor of a botched abortion. She shouldn’t be alive to tell the story, but a nurse heard the child, supposedly dead, cry out and rushed her to the NICU.

The story is one of a search for answers, a growing process, redemption and forgiveness, and lots of surprises along the way. Her journey takes her to hospitals, schools, and even the floor of the U.S. Senate.

I consider myself pro-life, but recently I’m finding that pro-life is more than just being anti-abortion. It means being against the death penalty, but it also means giving people a chance to live. Pro-life takes on a new meaning when it goes beyond protesting at abortion clinics, to being willing to adopt a child that would be otherwise aborted. It means more than crying because of the atrocities being committed in other parts of the world because someone is a different race, religion or political persuasion- pro-life means being willing to support, sponsor, volunteer with and be a friend to refugees being forced to flee their homes.
          And reading this book gave me a different perspective on the feelings that are likely to well up years after an abortion. Not just the women who underwent the procedure, but the father and grandparents of the not to be baby.
       Melissa has a story that has been needed to be told for many years, and the fact that as she speaks around the world she meets other survivors, the fact that there is a network of survivors, means that this is one more reason that there needs to be changes to the way the public views abortion.  It’s about so much more than women’s health issues, it’s about the long lasting effects on everyone involved, effects that impact people for years or decades.
   Melissa is lucky to have undertaken her journey, it’s not one that everyone would be willing to take, but with the support of her adoptive family and her husband, it seems to have turned out well—for her, for the family and for countless others.
    I cried as I read this poignant story, the history of a woman who was not supposed to be her to write the story. But I also laughed, and prayed for this brave woman and her quest to help others heal.
     As we start a new administration in this country, an administration which has a stated goal of overturning or at least changing ROE-v-WADE, Melissa Ohden is sure to be a prominent voice. I wish her well.

One of the best books I’ve read in months!  5/5

             I received a copy of this book from Plough Publishing in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

miracles then and now

A lot of people believe in miracles. Some people see miracles all over the place: a parking space opens up just as they’re ready to leave the Wal-Mart parking lot after circling around 3 times. Some people see miracles when a loved one is healed of cancer. For others the miracle moment is the dream job, or the perfect baby 10 fingers and 10 toes, after years of trying to start a family. For others it’s the miracles of Jesus, 2000 years ago. And even then it’s hard to say if they really believe in them. For some people that Jesus kind of miracles still happen today, but for others, those miracles died out years ago.
The miracle that God has in store for you today may just be understanding that those miracles of long ago might just have some bearing on your current reality. Find Your Miracle: How the Miracles of Jesus Can Change Your Life Today (WaterBrook, 2016) is Kerry and Christ Shook’s picture of that ‘miracle map’ that gets you from point A to Point B—in other words a connection between the Jesus miracles of those long ago moments to “our needs today for revelation, transformation, and restoration.”
The book covers 9 familiar biblical miracles as performed by Jesus and recorded in the Gospels, and applies them to life circumstances such as when you’re stuck, overwhelmed or discouraged, afraid, hurting or longing for something new. And somehow this new ‘take’ seems to work. At least most of the time.
It was easy for me to get caught up in the miracle, and in the telling of the story and how it applies, but forget that I should be seeking Jesus rather than the miracle. That fact is mentioned, it’s pointed out, but I would have liked to see it accented a little more heavily.  We live in a world that doesn’t always want to see Jesus as the source. We live in a world that doesn’t want to conform to God's laws. We don’t want to do the work, just reap the reward.
I’m glad I got the book, and there is definitely good material here for someone trying to understand why we have to read about Jesus making a mud plaster out of spit and dust and using it to bring sight to the blind.
I received a copy of this book as part of WaterBrook’s blogging for books program. I was not required to write a positive review.