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Tag Archives: Family

To Be One in the Body

What if your hand decided it didn’t like being attached to your body? It thinks your stomach is a little too flabby or your armpits need better deodorant. It thinks it would be better off on its own. So your hand decides to sever itself. What would happen?

Obviously, it’d die.

With the body, your hand can paint a masterpiece (more or less) as well as feed the body (for better or worse). But a severed hand is useless (excepting Thing). It can do nothing. Not even sustain its own life. Your hand is dependent on your body and cannot function alone.

Further, my pastor added in church that a hand disconnected from the body is, by extension, disconnected from the head. The Bible calls Christians the body of Christ while Christ himself is the head. Each Christian makes up one part of his body, just like a hand is one part of yours. Therefore, if we want connection to Christ, we have to be connected to his body. If we want oneness with Christ, then we must be one with his body. There is no having Christ without having his church (which just means other Christians).

stockvault-people-walking-on-the-beach132394Christians also like to call each other “family.” Once upon ages past, family had a weightier meaning than it often does in today’s American culture. The majority of the world has kept this “traditional” style of family, where the family is the most basic social unit, not the individual person. Families are there seen more like a body, and I believe this is the way families were seen in biblical times. But American families now look increasingly segmented and estranged rather than a united and close-knit body.

Sometimes I wonder which of the two kinds Christians refer to: the modern American family or the more globally historical one. If the first, that would explain many issues now present in the American church. A family that is not a body is easily divided, easily weakened, easily destroyed. If the second meaning of family is used, then the church is full of hypocrites, which we already knew.

What we need is a resurrection of the family body. May all Christians live as if other believers are actually part of the same body. When one part of your body hurts, the whole body suffers. I’d like to see my brothers and sisters stop being ashamed of each other or setting themselves up as judge. Stop criticizing; start encouraging. We need to stop attacking and start defending. As one body, we belong to each other in Christ. “Be devoted to one another.”

Once we can stand up for each other, we need to also lay down. Lay down our pride, our self-righteousness. Let’s be courageous enough to be vulnerable. Let’s admit that we are dependent on each other. Let’s humble ourselves in front of our family and confess to one another that we don’t have life together and that we do need help. No one is immune to discouragement and stumbling. God works through his people, so let him use his people to answer our prayers. Care for the body, and let the body care for you.

After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. Ephesians 5:29-30
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Posted by on September 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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NaNoWriMo 2013: Another Month, Another Book

2013-Winner-Facebook-ProfileAnother NaNoWriMo has finished. I still feel crazy to have gone through with it, but the greater feeling of accomplishment pays off in the end. The resulting book has the working title of Foster, though I’m still brainstorming other options. A mother-daughter drama, the book covers broad themes such as identity, family, and the need to be loved.

This story begins in Spokane, Washington, a mid-size city on the border of Idaho. A 15-year-old girl named Angela comes home to find out she and her mother are about to be evicted from their apartment. Then her mother is arrested for drunk driving, and CPS picks up the girl to take her to foster care. Everything in Angela’s life depends on whether or not her mother, Cynthia, can take care of herself and her daughter. Angela tries to be independent and responsible for her own life, feeling forced to grow up early. But despite her façades, she still waits for her mother to grow up too and be the adult for the sake of their family. If Cynthia doesn’t, Angela may spend the last three years before legal adulthood in foster care, bounced from family to family, house to house, until she can live on her own outside of the state’s guardianship.

“The eviction notice wasn’t a surprise. I was used to moving. I couldn’t remember spending longer than six months in one location. Such a childhood makes it hard to ever feel settled. You have to stay on your toes. One tip: keep everything precious to you in a backpack. Then keep that backpack in your sight at all times. All times. You never know when you might need a quick escape or when you’ll come home to find the locks changed.”

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2013 in Books

 

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Adopted by Our Abba

With Halloween over, that means NaNoWriMo season has begun. This is my second year participating, and I’m hoping to start a winning streak. As you might remember from last year, I bent the rules and wrote a nonfiction book of rambling essays rather than a traditional novel with characters and plot. The first week of writing is done, but I still haven’t got into the swing of fiction.

Each time I sit down to work on my book … well, let’s say we are not on good speaking terms. I have about half as many words down as I should by this point. And I still need a title. It’s a young adult book about a teenage girl who struggles for independence and control of her life despite living in state foster care. So far, I just call the book “Foster” for short.

I grew up knowing both foster and adoptive parents. I saw personally what it meant for the children they would take into their homes. The children had hard lives since birth, suffered abuse in many forms, and felt the pains of abandonment and loneliness. The parents I knew offered shelter, security, and the love of a family, blessings other children take for granted. Like I did. Not every foster care situation is healthy or beneficial for children, but when the parents genuinely love the children who are not their own, that is beauty in my eyes. It calls to my heart because it reminds me that I am adopted too.

If you are a Christian, then God has adopted you. He rescued you from abandonment and abuse, bringing you into his loving protection and care. Paul says, “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father'” (Rom. 8:15 NLT).

My adoption by God is a more powerful truth to me than knowing he also created me. Adoptive parents struggle with difficulties unique from parents raising biological children. Children in foster care or adoptive homes do not come fresh out of the package. Other adults have already left their marks, even when parents take home a baby girl the day after her teenage mother gave birth to her. In choosing to adopt, parents have to recognize that their new child has been hurt and broken. The longer the child has lived in foster care or in bad family situations, the more apparent the damage from an unstable, unhealthy childhood. Parents with biological children cannot guess the faults of their children. But adoptive parents can see beforehand, and they willingly choose a child who may struggle with ADHD or self-destructive habits or a tendency to violent anger. They see the faults and choose to love anyway.

God does the same when he chooses us. He welcomes us into his family, knowing well our every wound and scar. He knows the faults and weaknesses that we try to hide or ignore. He knows every part of us and yet wholly loves us.

Paul continues, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39 NIV).

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Books, Other thoughts

 

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What Christmas Means to Me

My two favorite Christmas movies are Miracle on 34th Street (1994) and The Polar Express (2004). Both movies are about young kids who don’t believe in Santa Clause. In Miracle, little Susan’s mother wanted her to know only the truth and so didn’t tell her about fairy tales such as Santa. In Polar Express, a boy grows out of believing in Santa.

Maybe I like these stories because I can relate to the children. My parents chose to not teach me Santa exists. Instead, they told me about Jesus and how Christmas celebrates his birth. When I asked them why other kids believed in Santa, they explained that Santa is just a children’s story but not a real person. Rather than being disappointed, I felt as if I held special knowledge, a well-kept secret, that other children were not privileged enough to know. I remember challenging a classmate in first grade to prove Santa’s existence. I told him that he should stay awake on Christmas Eve to see if Santa brought his presents. I never heard after Christmas Break whether his parents had let him stay up or not.

The presents under our Christmas tree always had tags saying, “From: Mom and Dad.” My siblings and I would thank our parents after opening each gift, giving our gratitude to whom it was due. Usually, the tree had one or two gifts addressed to the family from Jesus. One year, the gift was a set of Veggie Tales movies. Other years, we received cards and board games to play as a family. We all knew even these special presents for the family were from Mom and Dad, too, but we enjoyed the gift together as a reminder that Jesus loved all of us.

My parents would remind my siblings and I each Christmas that the holiday was all about Jesus and his gift to us when he was born into the world. I’m at my childhood home again this Christmas with my whole family, even though all of us children have gone our separate ways to live on our own. Coming back here, I think about how Christmas is a time for me to see my family and enjoy time together. This is a time for peace, rest, and love. And all of that comes through our mutual love of Jesus, resting in peace because he is God who became human to save us from pain, distress, and separation. He came because he loves us, and for that, we love him in return.

I think it’s funny how almost every Christmas movie asks the meaning of Christmas. Is it really that much of a mystery? Does Christmas still puzzle people? These Christmas movies make it clear that Christmas isn’t about material gifts and receiving everything on your list. They will tell you that Christmas is about family, home, generosity, love, and faith. In Miracle and Polar Express, the young girl and boy learn how to believe. They learn faith. Not without evidence, mind you. They believe in Santa because they have reasons to believe. And so do I to believe in Jesus.

Have a merry Christmas.

 

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Other thoughts

 

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