Monday, September 1, 2014

I Frown Upon That

We've had a good Labor Day weekend. Holly and Aaron got in last night from Auburn...they went to watch Arkansas play (we lost, don't ask). Logan and Morgan got in here last night, after spending a couple of days with her family.

Anyone remember the "Everybody Loves Raymond" episode where there is a clash between Amy's family and Robert's family...and Amy ends up locking herself in the bathroom? Ray tries to talk to her through the door, and one thing he says is "nothing good can come from family." When his mother, Marie, looks at him and repeats his statement, "nothing good can come from family?" he whispers, "her family." And she nods.

So, anytime we have to say "her family" about anyone, we say it like that.

Because we don't think badly of Morgan's family at all. They are a wonderful family.

Her family.

Heeheehee...

Last night, we all ate out for dinner and got Pineapple Whip (which is totally awesome) for our dessert. At one point, Clark's girlfriend, Faith, looked over at me and said, "are you happy that everyone is here?"

Yes, yes I am.

This morning, Jim and I made a big breakfast, and we have basically done little else all day but eat and hang out. I took Logan and Morgan out shopping, and we didn't buy one thing. Most everything was closed, which...RATS...but I get that it's a holiday.

The biggest thing that happened this weekend is that our pastor resigned from our church. We knew it was coming, because he had send us an email about it. We chose not to tell Joshua in advance. Because with all of the changes going on with him, we just weren't sure how he would handle it in the days leading up to Sunday.

So, we were sitting in church, and it was time for the sermon. The pastor came forward and started talking. I had wondered how much of it Joshua would pick up on, but he "got it" right off the bat.

And he folded his arms across his chest and stuck out his lower lip defiantly. He was not happy.

Our pastor is not leaving because our church is unhealthy or because he's unhappy here. There's nothing going on in his life or in his family's lives that would necessitate his resignation. There's nothing with the staff or deacon body that would make him want to leave.

No. He is leaving to be the Associate Vice-President of Pastoral Leadership for Lifeway Christian Resources in Nashville. It is the PERFECT job for him and his personality. Our pastor has a heart for other pastors, and has life-experiences that make him the perfect candidate for this position. I only hope there is a way that he can get me a discount at Lifeway...I love to shop there!

It is hard to be sad, because I am just so excited for him and his family.

Joshua does not share this sentiment.

The pastor and his wife stood at the front of the church after the service and everyyyyyyybody went up to speak to him. When it was out turn, Jim and I told him how we would really miss him, and how excited we were for this awesome opportunity for him.

And Joshua said, "I frown upon that."

"A joyful heart is good medicine..." Proverbs 17:22

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Weekend Links for you: August 30 Edition

It's Labor Day weekend and the first weekend of college football here in Arkansas! Yippee!

Here are some posts over the past week or so that have touched my heart. Hope at least one of them speaks to you as well.

This post from Kelly Minter on why unity in the church matters is so, so, so good. Loved this quote:
"We need one another in the body of Christ, not just because this is a nice sentiment; rather it’s essential to the mutual enrichment of the body of Christ."

This post on freedom in our pain. I. can't. even.
"Freedom in the midst of our pain is what Jesus died to give to us."

This from Kelly Stamps on what to say...what not to say. Something to think about because we all just want to make things better. Added this link to a post I wrote back in 2013.

This on the one thing you need to know about Down Syndrome.
"It is something people have, not something people are."

"Your faithfulness surrounds You..." Psalm 89:8

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Game Day, Baby! It's Football Season!

Well, it's Saturday and it's GAME DAY, BABY! I woke up so excited, because...not gonna lie...baseball is about to wear.me.out.

Except for the Texas Rangers. I love them, and I love my family who loves them. :)

But I'm just kind of a football girl.

And on Saturdays and Sundays, I enjoy having football on the TV in the background. It's soothing to me.

Hey...my Grandmother used to "put on golf." She said it was so peaceful watching golf on TV. She loved the landscaping of the golf courses and the quiet way the announcers talked. She would find a channel that was showing golf, and promptly take a nap.

My boys have always laughed at my love for football. They are not impressed with a girl or a MOM who spouts off scores and stats and things like that. Just fix us some dip, woman!

I'M KIDDING.

It's like I've always told my boys, I don't claim to know everything about football. I don't even claim to know a LITTLE about football. But I make up for my lack of knowledge with lots of enthusiasm!

I have a few college football teams that I really like, but I will always cheer for the SEC teams.

Except LSU. I will never cheer for them.

Please don't take that personally.

I'm kidding.

And Kentucky. I will never cheer for Kentucky in a basketball game.

I live in Arkansas, so I cheer for the Arkansas Razorbacks. And our son, Logan, graduated from Arkansas State University, so I always cheer for the Red Wolves (they aren't in the SEC). I also love the Ouachita Baptist University Tigers.

This weekend, our daughter...and Aaron-the-son-in-law, went to Auburn, Alabama for the Arkansas vs Auburn game. We stayed here to watch Marley, their Yorkie. Jim calls him the "half-a-dog."

The half-a-dog is (apparently) nocturnal. Or maybe it's just that he's not in his own environment. I'm tired today.

I had high hopes for our team.

Scratch that. I had highER hopes for our team than last year. And they did look better. I was impressed by much of what I saw.

But will all of that make for a winning season? Time will tell. I'm hoping for 5 wins, which is stretching it. A LOT. Especially since one of the teams we play, Northern Illinois, just stomped on their opponent the other night 55-3...and I was sure counting on us beating them. Ruh-roh, Raggy.

"Shout to the Lord, all the earth; be jubilant, shout for joy, and sing." Psalm 98:4

Friday, August 29, 2014

John the Baptist and How Black Men Look Good Bald

So, three mornings this week, I drove Joshua to Little Rock to Therapeutic Recreation. To help with his nerves on the drive, I have tried to get him talking...anything to distract him and keep him calm.

This particular morning, for some reason, he got on the subject of his hair. Of course, he had styled it himself and the front part was sticking straight up. Straight.UP.

(I post pictures of him regularly on my Facebook wall: Marty Logan Garland, on my Instagram: martythemoose, and on twitter: moosethemarty).

He said, "well, I get my hair from PawPaw Skip (my Dad), and I hope I keep it for a long time."

I told him that men go bald at different ages, and that it's okay. He wasn't having it. He said, "I like my hair. I want to keep my hair."

He said, "Look at Aaron (the son-in-law), he's pretty much the only member of his family with hair. His Dad? Little hair. One brother? Little hair. Other brother? Bald. PURE SKIN UP THERE."

Then he went off (again) on how Black men look good bald. He listed them on his fingers, "there's Michael Jordan, George Foreman, Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu...all Black men, all look good bald. White men, NO."

At some point in  our conversation, he started talking about when he was in high school. Even tho he and Holly are over 2 years apart in age, they were just one grade apart in school, because we ran Joshua through Kindergarten twice. Joshua said, "I never really thought about it, but I was a trailblazer for Holly...I set the pace. I did something, and then Holly did it the very next year."

I said, "You were like John-the Baptist...preparing the way."

He said, "yeah...pretty much."

"I will sing continually about the Lord’s faithful deeds; to future generations I will proclaim your faithfulness." Psalm 89:1

Thursday, August 28, 2014

When The Hardest Place Is Church

This post shook me to my core. Especially this paragraph:

If the church truly wants to serve the “least of these” – whom Jesus urged the Church to make a priority, are they not the disabled? Now ask yourselves this: How many people with disabilities come to your church? Where are all the people with handicaps anyway? Sure, they seemingly have little to offer the church — no money, no volunteering, no inviting their friends, they may be unlovely to look upon, make weird noises, have improper behaviors, spit more than normal, throw up routinely, and do not even offer “acceptable” praise and worship.  Many of them are unwanted even by their own parents. They are a group who cannot speak for themselves, cannot go where they want to go, or even eat or go to the bathroom without help , and accordingly, they ought to be honored as the most patient among us! The disabled who have been brought to the church are among the blessed few. First, they are blessed to be alive, cared for, and well enough to attend; and second, they are blessed to have a parent or caregiver who love them enough to battle the process of getting them to the church. And so, I implore you — please do not send them out into the lobby or to an empty room to sit alone after all they have struggled with and endured just to make it into your doors!

Because that's where we are...lots of us. 

First of all, I love our church. We knew from the get-go that there wasn't any sort of out-reach for adults with disabilities, or a Special Needs class for him or anything. The one thing we were looking for...it didn't have. But we really feel like this is where we are supposed to be.

Joshua has not been shunned in any way that we know of at our church. Most people smile and nod at him. Some people will speak to him. A scant few will intentionally engage him in a conversation.

Which, I'd like to say is just their loss, because Joshua has a lot to say. He is wise and witty.

Why don't people take time to get to know him?

Fear? Busyness? Apathy? Because we're new?

He doesn't bite. Well...anymore.

(long story!) (wink!)

But it's also kind of HIS loss, too...because, like most of us, he craves connection.

I remember a friend of mind from years ago. She had a daughter who had CP, and she was pretty much non-verbal. She did make sounds, but her mother could usually tell what she was trying to communicate. When they were out, her daughter would try to "speak" to everyone she saw...but it didn't come out as "hi!" It came out as "UHHHHHHHHHHHHH." People would drop their eyes or turn to walk in another direction. My friend was, like, "can people...grown adult people...not say HELLO to her? I don't get it."

Me, either.

Not at all.

I have to echo the writer of this article and ask, "where are all of the disabled people?" Because I know they're out there.

And side note: I don't really like the word, "disabled," but you know what I mean, right? I can't really think of another one to use at the moment, other than physically/mentally challenged.

And, before we jump on the "how dare they not include and accept our 'challenged' friends and family members" band-wagon and picket outside of Bible-preaching churches full of God-fearing people...and before we jump on the band-wagon of "we can't let those people disrupt our service," I think it would be good to realize that there are valid points to be made on both sides.

Yes, our churches SHOULD have a place for the intellectually and physically challenged. They should be searched for and targeted, just like every other demographic group in our community. They should be accepted and involved in worship. There should be a class for them, and they should be taught a lesson during the small group hour, just like everyone else. And they should be treated with care and intention.

It should start with the staff. Or maybe with someone who is experienced in this area.

And then I think the congregation will follow.

And yes, we don't want our worship services disrupted to the point where the message is not heard and people are frustrated and tempers flare. What does that even accomplish?

There is a relationship between preaching/teaching God's Word...and living it out to "the least of these" who are right in front of us. How that works in a worship service...I don't know. I think in some churches, it would totally not be a big deal. In other churches, it would require a planning committee and several meetings and maybe a weekend retreat and a casserole dinner.

Definitely a casserole dinner.

And accommodations need to be made that enable everyone to participate in worship to the best of their ability...and accommodations need to be made that enable the ministers to effectively lead the worship service without serious distractions.

I don't know. I'm no expert, but I feel like these changes start with how we view life. As in, the sanctity of life. As in, our definition of "fearfully and wonderfully made."

Because you know what? We are all a stroke...a heart attack...a brain aneurysm...a degenerative disease...a sports injury...a serious car accident...away...from being disabled.

We are. Think about it.

WE might be the ones in the wheelchairs and WE might be the ones whose mouths don't work right when we talk or sing and WE might be the ones who can't control our bodily functions and WE might be the ones totally dependent on the care of others to sustain our lives.

How would we want to be treated?

How would we want to be treated...in CHURCH?

 "And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” Matthew 10:42