Why is God mad?

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Until I was in about second grade, my family was Catholic. We attended the local Catholic Church, St. Kilian. It was on a hill-top at the then edge of suburban civilization.  Other than the sit-stand, stand-kneel, kneel-sit drills and memorizing various prayers there’s not a whole lot I remember about St. Kilian. My family left and became born-again Christian believers shortly before I was old enough to attend CCD and take First Communion. It is not the only princess for a day white dress ceremony that has eluded me to date, but I digress.

Shortly before we switched to the evangelical section in the camp of Christianity, a statue was installed on the grounds of St. Kilian. A giant, towering, gold, gleaming statue of God; and He looked pretty ticked off. At least that’s what my young elementary school mind perceived. One evening there was a fund-raiser spaghetti dinner out on the lawn. There was plenty of time to visit and loiter, so I had a great opportunity to go stand close to the likeness of God and stare up at Him. He didn’t have the long hair and beard and flowing robe with lots of folds in the fabric my little brain picture God having. And, what was up with that hat?

But, why is God mad? Why doesn’t he smile? I was very concerned about God’s demeanor and how he felt. But, as a little girl with very limited exposure to the nastiness possible in life on this planet there weren’t many highways of explanation to drive down- especially when you don’t have a license.

Recently, I’d been thinking about the statue, which, as it turns out is not a likeness of the Creator at all, but rather St. Kilian. I  chuckled myself to sleep one night remembering how I mistook the representation of a saint for my Maker. Wondered if it was even there any more. Considered driving back on the property to check it out. Turns out, someone gave me a gift card for a coffee shop down the hill from the church. As I walked out with my gratis latte (thanks, Dad!), what to my wondering eyes should appear, but that statue. A different location and slightly more yellow shade of gold than I recall but there it was!

I parked my car below and snapped this photo. Kilian was large, but not as gi-normous as he was to little me back in the day. He was thinner and not the angry guy that I recalled. He didn’t look angry, so why would I have thought as a child that God was mad?  There were and are legitimate reasons for Him to have righteous anger, but as a young girl these were not yet on my radar in a serious manner.

Pondering the turbulence in my relationship with God over the years a lot lately, it occurred to me why I am not exuberant and excited about sharing my faith with others when they inquire. The love part of my walk has been a struggle. It’s tended to be more of a duty, honor, service kind of thing. Calling God Abba (or Daddy) didn’t/doesn’t feel comfortable. Freaks me out a bit to be honest.

The light bulb went on and I realized I really don’t feel in my heart that God loves me, even though I intellectually know it to be true. He’s Holy, Righteous, Eternal, Infallible, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, etc. I am just a chick, who while feeling protected and provided for, feels she didn’t live up to the potential she was told she had. Who is still single and without a child surrounded by married friends with children. Who is starting over again in the career field.  Who… doesn’t feel good enough for God.

I shared this with two friends three weeks ago as a prayer request- that I want to really know the love of God for me and feel it in my heart.  Then last week, it was a point made in a bible study I was in. This morning in church, it was the point of the entire message. The time has come. God is not mad at  me. He really loves me. I will finally let that sink down from my head into my heart and live in that love. God has adopted me as His own beloved child with all the rights and privileges that includes. This year I will learn to live in that love. If you have had the same struggle, I hope you will too.

As for St. Kilian, I went home and looked him up. He was a martyred seventh century Irish missionary to what is now a part of Germany. He and two friends were beheaded on the orders of the wife of the local prince for advising him his marriage was outside the parameters of church law. If the statue portraying him looks angry to someone, maybe it is. There are two large white streaks of bird droppings (aka: nuisance) on the front of his robes.

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A Predator’s Prize

P1040196The remains of a pigeon in a tree on a local green belt. Eerily enough, I first noticed them a couple nights before Halloween while walking the dog. This is what they looked like this morning. Can’t believe they’re still there looking like the remains of some sort of  fallen angel.

Bitches, bites, nouns, and other nuisance

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It’s always interesting when individuals, the government, or the press feel the need to find a euphemism or replacement for a word that doesn’t really need one. One of my favorites was the media changing the American English pronunciation of harassment to the British “hair-ris-ment” a few years back. Seriously? Are we all so immature we can’t hear ass as a syllable in a word without going all junior high? Good lord! Ass is even in the King Jame’s version of the Bible. Are you kidding?

That’s almost as disagreeable as the more commonplace misuse of your vs. you’re; or there-their-they’re on facebook. Another favorite: the use of the word product in the salon world. Once upon a time, it was more specifically referred to as: hair spray, gel, mousse, leave-in-conditioner, etc. Now there is one sweeping generalization to obscure all those specifics.

Recently, the soiled (euphemism) side of canine ownership has intersected with euphemistic grammar in new ways. Having recently acquired a puppy that now has some obedience training under her collar, I have become more familiar with local dog parks and the admonitions posted in them regarding fecal disposal. It seems there is a movement (no pun intended) by agencies running parks in south Orange County to make nuisance the newer, sexier, slicker fill-in for feces or droppings. Heck (euphemism)! I’m no fan of poop or crap ; but, if they don’t want to use a more accurate and proper word, would rather they’d use the colloquial ones than buy extra consonants and vowels for their signs.

Yes, you could make an argument that nuisance might apply. But, the most appropriate word feces is more to the point and droppings works about as well. Nuisance is more ambiguous like product. If you chose those over the others on the S.A.T. you’d be wrong as they are not the optimal options. I dare venture to say that the folks doing the copy writing for the nuisance signs for the sundry cities and HOA’s (home owners’ associations) love and use lots of product.

Now on to bitches. Did you think that word in the title referred to this rant? Actually, it refers to dogs. Yeah, that’s how we roll in the dog world. Calling female dogs bitches. The non-euphemistic name for females of the species not to be confused with what rappers call chicks (excuse me, women not poultry!). I snapped a photo of a well-worded concise “doggie bag” sign this morning and got the silly nuisance sign tonight on the way to the dog park. Thought I’d treat my dog to a run with friends.

Normally, Luna is very friendly and a bit on the submissive side with other dogs. This evening when we got to the gate she went all bitchy for lack of a euphemism. The two bitches inside the gate reciprocated and went ballistic and the three got really amped up until we owners corrected them. Not only was this atypical but odd, because these same four-legged friends had played happily together in the past.

Twenty minutes later all is well. Tails are wagging, balls are flying (tennis balls for you junior high types who think harassment is a bad word), everyone is happy. Happy until yours truly throws the saliva saturated ball of a bitch not my own. Luna runs over all nutted up (no reference to the balls-calm down!), hair on end, and growls at the dog that had the nerve to let said Luna’s owner throw for her. Two other female canines came over to help school my pup. Bummer for me! The dog originally offended tried to go between my legs to bite my pup but ended up biting my left ankle. Bwa bwa bwa bwaaaaaaaaaaaa! Blood was drawn. Tears were imminent from shock and pain, but were forced down into my bladder for a more proper private exit at a later time.

I saw only one puncture wound, but one of the men, who helped by grabbing and detaining my naughty pet, told me he could see four contact points. I didn’t see or truly feel them until I got home. D— and Luna were schooled and taken home by their respective owners. When we got home I got a little secret revenge by giving my dog a much-needed bath- which she loathes. I took a good long shower and did a lot of lavage with hydrogen peroxide followed by applications of lavender oil and Neosporin. Oh, that D— can bite! Thank the Lord it was not good enough for stitches.

Low-ri-der posing as Thunderbird

For the Cormorant fans: Was leaving a meeting in San Juan Capistrano Saturday and was fortunate to come across three cormorants on this small inland lake. May not be National Geographic-worthy but was the best possible with the zoom maxed out from the car with the bird sitting on a bobbing fake alligator head intended to keep birds off the water.

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“I Want to Know What Love Is”

I’ve got nowhere left to hide
It looks like love has finally found me

In my life there’s been heartache and pain
I don’t know if I can face it again
I can’t stop now, I’ve traveled so far
To change this lonely life

I wanna know what love is
I want you to show me
I wanna feel what love is
I know you can show me  – Foreigner

Corny quoting old pop song lyrics again so soon?  Oh yeah!  But corn can be good. Especially if it’s non-GMO blue corn, made into nachos with raw jalapeno cheese and served with a nice bowl of tomatillo salsa or some fresh guacamole with lemon, and minced garlic. But, I digress.

Since about junior high, walking with God has been anything but smooth sailing for me. Outsiders may not have noticed, but under the surface there has been all manner of churning and turbulence.  The intellectual component of belief in a Creator and the fulfillment of  Scripture have, for the most part, always made sense to me. The protection, provision, and providence of God have been real in my life. What has been difficult for this individual to grasp is the love of God for me.

I know He loves you and the rest of the 7 billion or so of us on this galactic carnival ride around the sun. There is just a part of me that struggles with the love of God for this imperfect person. I wanna be one of those smiley sunshine and rainbows kind of chicks who always has sparkles in her eyes and an ear to ear smile every time she hears the name Jesus. But the love of God for me, for whatever reason, is something I have struggled with and still do.

Theology, all the Sunday school lessons, and Bible verses tell me (and I believe) that He loves me.  But, I want to really feel and know it in my heart and guts not just in my mind. “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.” Like Jacob, I am struggle with God.  (Unlike Jacob, I do not have two wives, two concubines, and at least thirteen children.) Jacob whose name God changed to Israel which is typically translated as “wrestles or strives with God” (and some have suggested: he will rule with God!)  That God’s chosen people go by the name “Strives with God” gives me hope.

So, back to Foreigner. One afternoon, driving south bound again with the radio on scan as I am praying, “Lord, help me get it. I want to really love You and know who You are.”  This song comes on. What?  What’s that these 80’s rock band guys are singing? Hey!  It’s  pretty much the same thing  I am praying (and still am praying.) “Lord, show me what it means to love  others and to love You. I want to know what real love is. Show me, please.” (And, that point I was singing along, crying and vying for a Tammy Faye Baker televangelist tear-jerker award.)

About five years have passed since that afternoon.  The wrestling has not ceased but seems to be less intense and futile with more frequent bouts of assurance in my heart and guts. I want to uncover the root of the lack of assurance so it can be weeded out for good. As Paul encouraged the Philippians, I will “continue to work out my salvation with fear and trembling.”

The Message puts Paul’s words differently than most:

Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.

God is love. Love gives Him pleasure. So I will trust that He will continue to work the first hand knowledge of the height ,depth, and breadth of His love to me. Lord, help me to cease striving and know (in my heart and in my guts-not just in my head) that You are God. (Psalm 46:30) I do believe, please help me with my doubts. (Mark 9:24)

Duty, Honor, Contrast

Today was, for me, a study in contrast. The second inauguration of a man hailed by many as a hero and the harbinger of hope and change. A Harvard man. The toast of Hollywood and Europe. Whipping up the kind of devotion and fervor among liberal Democrats that they abhor in conservative Republicans who wax sentimental over Ronald Reagan.

A man who has spent a lot of time hanging with dirty birds and funneling money to them. “You are known by the company you keep.” The Reverend Wright. Marxist terrorist types. Appointees to financial positions who couldn’t remember to pay their taxes. Fast and Furious types, etc. No way they can tarnish this man. He is the uber-Teflon President.

He moved to a great position of power in a relatively short period of time considering the gravity of the office. And in this person’s humble opinion has an under-appreciation for the weight, duty, and honor the office should carry with it. Today, he took an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

On the day the nation honors this man, we have a holiday honoring a man who for all his human faults was more honorable and who paid the ultimate price to advance real hope and change.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -a true American hero if there ever was one. A man of conviction. A man of honor. He did not merely ask others to make sacrifices. He made them himself.

I have a dream that one day this nation’s leaders will not merely be judged by the color of their skin or for their political party affiliation, but by the content of their characters, and the consequences of their actions.

“Shut Up and Drive”

God has myriad ways of speaking. As a young evangelical girl growing up in conservative non-denominational evangelical land, I would have choked on what I am going to write next. Sometimes, in the last few years, He speaks to me through the lyrics of songs. Not hymns or pop-Christian music songs. Regular old “secular” you could hear just about anywhere kinds of songs.

Two especially stand out.  Things had seemingly spun out of all control.  I couldn’t see how my life would ever be right again. How could this mess be fixed? Driving south bound in a half daze with the radio on, I suddenly heard the proverbial line that had been there many times before but now became the vehicle for Providence. Ready for this? Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The line: “You don’t have to live like a refugee.”

More recently, this single chick got quite disheartened over a guy. Finally met someone who seemed to be an eligible Christian single male with no children and a lot of common interests. Icing on the cake: curly dark hair and blue-gray eyes, and looks that could make you smile. Not Jake Gyllenhaal pretty. All-American boy handsome. And kind, educated, etc., etc.

But then, things start not adding up. Behaviors that don’t seem to make sense in view of what one thought were the facts. Maybe it’s just an anomaly. But, then there’s another.  And another. And another. It’s _____ (insert whatever possible excuse or explanation here.)

The hopes, wishes, possibilities, and fairy tale endings you always try so hard to suppress start wailing and gnashing their teeth and you can’t help but hear them- and feel their pain. He’s not Mr. Right. He’s not Mr. Right Now as that’s outside your moral code. He’s Mr. Something Doesn’t Add Up Here. It’s time to move on.

Contained grief. Sadness.  A little binge eating. Book bingeing.  How could he do this to me?  What’s going on here?  How could I be so enamored with someone who’s not who I thought they were?  The radio is scanning stations and lands on Chely Wright’s “Shut Up and Drive.”  Line du jour:”And you’ll only miss the man that you wanted him to be.”

It’s not him you’re gonna miss. It’s the dreams, hopes, and desires temporarily dashed by a case of mistaken identity. He’s not who you mistook him to be.  Move on, sister. Put on your big girl pants and get over it. (If only it were really that easy.)  Tell those hopes, wishes, possibilities, and fairy tale endings to stop wailing and gnashing their teeth. Shut up and drive.