Monday, June 30, 2008

Time for a few redneck jokes

I decided it would be good to have a lighter side to my blog too. So, you will find some funny jokes and anecdotes interspersed with the "deep thoughts" posts. I am a lifelong Texan, and if you read my June 26 post you know that I have finally realized a lifelong dream of living in the country. Here in rural Texas, redneck jokes are especially common. I think it’s good for all of us to be able to laugh at ourselves (I think all of us Texans see ourselves in at least a few of them!)I think most of them can be attributed to Jeff Foxworthy, but there are a few I haven't heard from him.
Anyway, here are a few for today:

You might be a redneck if:
- Your wife can climb a tree faster than your cat.
- You pack in Wal Mart shopping bags to move or go on vacation (me!!).
- Your grandmother has "ammo" on her Christmas list.
- You keep flea and tick soap in the shower.
- You've been involved in a custody fight over a hunting dog.
- You have a complete set of salad bowls that say "Cool Whip" on the side.

(slap overall-clad knees and guffaw with laughter!! LOL)
Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Maybe there is a loving God

My distaste of a lot of today's contemporary Christian music has come out from under the rug along with other things in seeking God outside the box. As a result I have chucked a lot of my "Don't worry, be happy" contemporary Jesus music. But there are a few artists who I feel truly have more substance than form, rather than the other way around. Sara Groves is one of them. I thought of this song from her CD "All Right Here" which is a reflection of how I feel at this point in my journey. The sound on the music is a bit distorted on this homemade video someone did, but you might check out that whole CD - she has a gentle yet solid voice, and real substance in her music.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Who am I Created to Be?

Darin Hufford’s blog is great. You can find it at His June 24 blog, "Into the Wild," got me to really wondering about who I am created to be. It’s funny how many things we’re told in the institutional church about who we are in God’s sight that make no more sense while you’re there, than table manners being taught to a bear. Many times, I went through motions and mouthed words that I was told are true, but they didn't make sense even in my head, let alone my heart.

The truth is I never really liked going to church. I hated the feeling of always having to perform hoping it would merit affection, both from God and from others. I felt like I’d been set-up. Why exactly was I supposed to do all these things at "church" that felt unnatural and uncomfortable, which left me feeling depressed and hollow inside? I was told by people there, "This is who you are in Christ, isn’t it great?! Now you are expected to do all these things every Sunday and Wednesday" … that I really mostly felt useless doing! If I was supposed to be someone wonderful in Christ, why did I often leave church feeling at best empty and dissatisfied, often like a failure?

Now, you could say I’m out in the wild, and pondering a question: When you take away all the "shoulds" and "supposed to’s," what exactly is left? If I never again tried to walk the Christian walk using either of these terms again, what would happen? I don’t really know. I think this is what Darin was referring to when he wrote that people come to him with "fear that they don't know enough to survive in the wild…. More than anything, I find that people don't trust their hearts to carry and lead them."

Trying to absorb the idea of trusting my heart to carry and lead me feels like handing my 3 year old my credit card and telling her to live it up. Sadly I’m a product of the institutional church. Presumably we need to be elaborately managed every step of the way or we’ll royally screw up. Getting out of this thinking is going to take a while.

To quote Darin again, "There's a point in every Christian's life when they have to just trust that they are a Christian….It's not a question of what to do! It's a question of who you are. Settling in and trusting what you are is what it's all about."

Quoting from Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit…it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Darin’s "Wild" blog hit me like this verse says the Bible does. And I feel like God is asking, do you want to come with me and find out who you really are, what I made you to be?

Is this really allowed? Is someone going to call the doctrine police and tell them to come get me, drag me to a pew and tie me there until I repent? This whole thing makes me nervous. But in a good way. I feel like Forrest Gump in the movie, when he was given his release papers from serving the U.S. Army. I’m looking over my shoulder to see if I’m being followed as I’m running for the door as fast as I can..

Quoting Darin again, "When a tiger that has been raised in captivity is released, there is one important skill to learn. He has to first learn to do NOTHING, and do it well. For most Christians, this sounds like heresy. It feels totally wrong because all we've ever been told is to produce, produce, produce. The moment we stop producing, we begin to feel guilty and condemned."

I felt like the world had stopped in its orbit when I read this. Could this be what God is trying to tell me? It has been heavy on my heart. Step one: trust your heart, because Jesus lives there. I’ve had my fill of splashing around in the shallow end with my stupid plastic blow-up duckie routine of show up, sing the songs, act like you’re bubbling over with spiritual connection as a result of singing the songs, listen to someone else tell you what God is saying, let someone else tell you where to sign up and help the institution, write out your "tithe" check, get in the car and go home. Repeat next week, and next week, and next week… until one day you’ll die and hopefully make it to heaven, if God thinks you did good enough. Drawing a deep breath, I now plunge in a few feet deeper and start floating on my back, noticing that the water is cooler and more refreshing away from the heat and noise of the shore.

These last few months have been wonderful in many ways, but unsettling. I have things I "prostrated in prayer for," over a period of several years. I have a new daughter. I have a new country home. I have a thriving flower and vegetable garden. I have chickens. I have two cute little dogs that are going to grow into big dogs. My husband is home a lot more. We are spending most of our time together just as a family.

These are such incredible blessings that I think I’m still in shock at having received them. I’ve attributed "happy shock" to part of why I feel I’m having trouble enjoying all I now have. But that’s not all of it. After all God has done for me, I have often felt too guilty to enjoy his blessings. We all know the IC's teachings, that God only gives it to you so you can turn around and give it away. In the institution’s eyes, I’d be labeled a total failure. I don’t go to church. I don’t tithe. I haven’t met many new people yet so have few interactions blessing others outside of cyberspace.

But I’m starting to actually get comfortable in my own skin for the first time since becoming a Christian. I love being alone with my family, animals, plants and God. I’ve been encouraged by my friend Aida, who wrote a blog you can read at I am an introvert by nature and I am asking Father to help me "just be an introvert" as a bear is just a bear.

What does it mean to be an introvert? Well, on the rare occasions when time permits, I can stare at a bird feeder for an hour without moving, watching the birds. I have been known to gaze at a tree for several minutes doing the same thing. I have spent happy hours planting flowers and planning what I’m going to put in the garden next. Earlier today, I sat down with my big puppies, or little dogs, and looked into their eyes for several minutes. I am trying to tame my young rooster, Clyde, and get him to like me. I catch him, scoop him up and stroke his head and chin, clucking as best I can imitate and crooning to him. Sometimes my only reward is getting pooped on. Once in a while, he’ll close his eyes and stretch out his neck.

These are non-people related things that I deeply enjoy doing. Institutional church has taught me that these things are not only a frivolous waste of time but among the wood and straw that will be burned on Judgement Day. At each of the charismatic churches we attended, the message was clear: whoever runs the fastest, produces the most, and keeps the widest smile on their face wins the most prizes. So for months, each time I would indulge in one of my "introvert" activities, it felt like sneaking a double brownie fudge sundae when I was supposed to be on a diet. I would feel happy for a minute, then sad and guilty as I pictured God shaking his head and frowning at how little I had to impress Him before the throne. One of the favorite "Scripture Slaps" of the institutional church seems to be 1 Cor. 3: 12-15.

But again, my friend Aida to the rescue! During a discussion we had about her "Being Alone" blog, she told me, "Amy, religion misses the whole point of that scripture. It’s not the "secular" things we do that will be burned up. It’s the things that are done outside of relationship with God. Actually, it’s only the works that Jesus does through us that will last. If he happens to be picking up seashells at the moment and we join him in doing that, then it’ll be a work that survives. However, if he doesn’t happen to be going door to door passing out tracts, then that work will be burned up."

Could my Father God be blessing me to have the time to take joy in simple things, such as thriving petunias, puppies chewing on my shoes, and trying to gain the affection of a formidable-looking young rooster? Could I actually develop a real relationship with the One who loves me by doing such simple, "frivolous" things?

After having been chased with the IC "production" whip for years, it feels at times like heresy. But I think of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. What did they do? They tended the garden, petted the animals and communed with God. They didn’t worry about what God wanted from them - they just "were." They were living as they’d been created - as human beings. (Somehow, in our culture, we’ve gotten the idea that we’re human "doings," and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the Church.) They were doing what Darin is urging us to do - to get back in touch with ourselves and live in the Wild.

Hello out there!

Hello out there! This is my second attempt at blogging. The first one was lost after a hectic fall last year. I hope that everyone who reads my blog will enjoy it and be blessed! I'm Amy, happily married mom to three wonderful children, one cat, two dogs, seven chickens, and a partridge in a pear tree. (just kidding!)

One focus of this blog will be my journey as a Christian. Another will be living life as an introverted Christian. Being an introvert is a subject I believe the Lord is really encouraging me to think on (ha ha, something we introverts most love to do!) and share with others about.

Y'all have a blessed day,