Being Known

Nothing drives home the need of being actively involved in a small group at a large church so much as experiencing a life-altering event and having your posse mobilize on your behalf. Or, likewise, the opposite.

As a small group leader, I spend some amount of time encouraging members to attend our meetings. Life gets in the way, of course, travel, work, activities, family…you name it! Our lives are busy.

Still, there are those who stop coming, for one reason or another, and they fall off the radar, yet they don’t want to be taken off the roster.  Just in case. The other members soon forget they’re a part of the group, or new ones join having never met them. Their names take on a distant ring not a familiar tone.

In their minds, they’re still “part of the group.”

My heart breaks for those people, because they aren’t known. They might be remembered, but no one really knows who they are. They aren’t sharing in the intimacy happening weekly. They’re simply a name on the roster.

I had one such woman contact me today. She got some devastating news and she was distraught. She asked for prayers and I immediately sent out a group notice. And, I have zero doubt that our group, whether they remember her or even know her, will pray for her.

But, how much more valuable would it be for her to reach out on her own? To speak directly to the women she knows, loves and spends time with? How much more reassuring would it feel to personally receive their heartfelt responses?

One might get a Meal Train started, or offer to take and pickup her kids from extra curriculars.  Another might invite her out to lunch or coffee. Someone might start taking donations for gift cards.  Any number of things might occur when the group is involved.

I’m not saying those things won’t happen. Our group is full of caring, loving women who pitch in to take care of others. But, we have only so much bandwidth to give to this, that, and a hundred other things. Many noble things that require attention.

The desire to help is there. It is. We help strangers all the time.

But, how much more impactful could it be to know without a doubt that your group has your back?

And, they tell you that personally.

P.S. I just received two inquiries from my prayer request email to my group as to how they can help me and what can they do. I was pretty clear that the request was from the other woman, not me. However, there would have been zero doubt if the woman had contacted the group herself… 

Alfie Evans, My Take

Peter Byrne – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Backstory: Alfie Evans is a little boy in England who has been on the front lines in a life support battle between his parents, health officials and the British government. Alfie, like Charlie Gard, has been used as a symbol for those preaching against socialized medicine. Alfie is suspected as having a degenerative mitochondrial condition which is terminal.

My own concerns with Aflie’s situation, beyond the heartache and tragedy, are thus:

1. His parents are barred from seeking a second opinion outside of “the system.”

2. The hospital has police guarding the boy, so the parents can’t take him out of the building.

The first matter just doesn’t sit well with me. We hear all the time we need to seek a second opinion. A true second opinion is not another doctor in the same medical facility, but one outside of the facility/hospital/practice. Locally here, the Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem is coming under fire now for performing mastectomies and lumpectomies on women who were diagnosed with cancer but didn’t actually have it. Second opinions can mean life or death.

The second matter is such a violation of human rights I can’t see straight. I liken it to a police state. As of today, the parents are going to court to see if a judge will allow them to take their little boy home to die.  I. Can’t. Even. The hospital and has fought and won the right to refuse further treatment for the boy, and now, they won’t let him leave the building. They won’t care for him, but they won’t let others care for him, either.

The one thing good to come of this—even with its hijacking of causes from the anti-socialized medicine groups and the anti-vaxxers—is that we’re talking about these issues. We’re having conversations about the right to refuse treatment, the right to give treatment, and the right to die with dignity, et. al.  These are discussions that we need to have. These affect us all.

My own opinion is that life is precious. People have a right to not suffer. Parents have a right to care for their young. It’s at once very simple and extremely complicated. 

Why Kanye West’s Tweets Matter

(image via Billboard)

In a country that promises freedom for its people we have anything but. The thought police have taken over, and, because their voices are so loud and their demands so “righteous,” we have most of the nation cowering and second-guessing their every sentence, every word. Those who don’t fall in line are labeled and shamed.

And, yet here comes Kanye. Tweeting that he has a right to think for himself—gasp! Doesn’t “Ye” know that you just can’t do that these days? Speaking the current party line with approved talking points is not only encouraged but expected. Anyone who falls out of step, especially a celebrity, is castigated and shunned. He must be out of his mind.

I was so stunned at first that I thought for sure his Twitter account had been hacked. Or, I reasoned, nah, this is some joke, he’s punking us. But, no, he’s sticking by his tweets that people are free to think for themselves. It’s not a novel idea, but it certainly hasn’t been used in a while.

Maybe we can all take a cue from Ye. Maybe we CAN think for ourselves, instead of regurgitating popular opinions presented by the media, celebrities and politicians.

Ye’s own words could be our next step toward gaining back our freedom as a people. He said, “I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.

And, so we do.

Why Universal Basic Income Will Fail, Every Time

NEWS HEADLINE: Finland To End Universal Basic Income Pilot Program

Of course this doesn’t work. It’s human nature to take the path of least resistance.

Just look at teenagers and kids and they’ll show you human nature at work. Parents provide for their necessities, as they should, but when it comes to work and chores, there is much prodding that must be done. When a human’s needs are provided for without conditions, there’s no impetus to pursue toil and labor. The detriment is that the benefits of toil and labor that go beyond monetary gains, namely the self-confidence and esteem garnered through self-provision, are lost. We teach our children to work hard for their goals whether studies, employment, athletics, arts, clubs and organizations, or other pursuits, because we know that by working toward goals and meeting them, it enriches their lives.

Likewise, a life spent in laxity and inactivity leads to depression, hopelessness and self-doubt. Esteem cannot be given, it can only be earned.

I always look to Spongebob as my example: cheerfully work at something you love. He was born to be a fry-cook, and so he is the best fry-cook under the sea. He’s not Mr. Krabs, he’s not wealthy, he’s not Sandy, he’s not particularly intelligent, he’s not Squidward, he does not seek luxury, he is Spongebob, happy with himself and his life.

Maybe if we stopped thinking that money solves all problems, and we looked to what truly solves all problems, God and purpose in our lives, we wouldn’t be quick to think handing out money will take care of the deeper issues. Yes, give to the poor, give to those in need, that is vital, but realize that many needs transcend money.

I once lived on a $5 for a week to feed a roommate, a dog, a cat and me. Chicken livers and onions lasted the whole week, PTL. But, I was happily pursuing a degree in dental hygiene, I was living in beautiful New Hampshire overlooking a creek and woods, I was working in retail helping people, I had time to run in the field with my puppy, it was a great time. I could have asked my dad for more money and he would have given it, but I wanted the independence. I wanted to do it as much on my own as I could because I know the difference between earning something on your own, and having it given to you.

You cherish what your sweat has delivered.

Another Protest Today

Two MORE protests today for the kids—one at school (during school!!) and the other in downtown Raleigh after school.

I think having high school students leave the classroom is hardly a “protest.” How about a protest where they have some skin in the game, like at 8 a.m. on Saturday? Skipping school and having news media fawn over you, everyone cheering you on, is hardly a protest. My sister protested the Vietnam War–I was too young–and those were protests, difficult and violent, quite unlike today where protesting is some sort of activity of self-indulgence.

I grew up in a place where the guys and some gals brought their guns to school so they could go hunting after class. They left them in their trucks on campus and no one thought anything of it. I don’t think it’s a gun issue alone, I think it’s a multi-faceted issue and when we spend the entire time talking about guns, the other factors get zero attention and the issue will never resolve. We’re not going to solve this by banning guns.

We’re going to solve this by starting at home. Who is the kid who laughed at my kid yesterday? Who is the kid that stole part of my kid’s lunch in the hallway? (I mean, really…smh.) Maybe we ought to have heart to heart conversations with our kids about their behaviors in school and elsewhere. Maybe we ought to start looking at heart issues. Maybe we need to start teaching compassion.

As a gun owner married to a competition shooter and hunter, I know that guns have zero power on their own. They cannot load themselves and shoot. Only a person can do that. And, the heart of the person is the key to any behavior, as all behavior comes from the heart. When you kill a deer for organic, natural meat, you are feeding your family and providing a service in animal control as designated by the government. When you kill a human without the reason of self defense or public safety, you are acting out of hatred and fear and loathing. A black heart will find a way.

Look at London, they are now banning knives because there have been so many knife killings. It’s not a gun issue. It’s not a knife issue. It’s a heart issue…and it’s a multi-faceted issue regarding mental health, lack of gun safety training, lack of compassion training, et. al., and, lack of God.

Build Bridges; Don’t Spray Gasoline

Regarding Gun Control…or any issue: 

Remember, we have to work together. Fake town halls with scripted questions and hit news pieces are roadblocks to any solution. It’s like adding gasoline to the flame. We need to find common ground and engage in conversations. Build bridges. Let’s figure this out. Let’s hold politicians accountable that they’re not going to make money through this. Let’s hold news organizations accountable that they’re not going to promote political agendas with this. Let’s talk among ourselves and tune them both out. Let’s all write our representatives and tell them to not make this political, but to get to work and solve the issue. Bridges, people.  Bridges.