Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Back to Silliness

For our official return to all things silly, I thought I'd kick it off with a few random photos.

This is me (okay, no, it's Justus) but it is the result of me

refusing to pay $40 for a Bumbo.

A laundry basket and a couple of pillows and the boy is set.

This is Bella after her brother (Isaiah) offered to diaper her for me.

Notice the onesie is inside the diaper. Nice.

Mamoune's class recently read "How to Eat Fried Worms."

She decided to cook up a batch and try it out.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Grand Finale

Tempted to Love
By Amie Sexton Copyright 2009

If we who believe would lay politics down
Step away from the marches and mantras that sound
What could God teach us of those we oppose?
Which of our own sins would He painfully expose?

Would I see the young woman who denies her child birth
As the vilest of creatures to walk on the earth?

Or would I see in her eyes the desperation she bears
As she forces her way past the shouts and jeers
Being hurled on God’s behalf of her impending doom?
But does God love her less than the child in her womb?

Or just as she chooses to end life for one more
Have we slaughtered her soul on the way out the door?

If for once we could see her the way Jesus does
Perhaps seeing her truly, we’d be tempted to love.

Would I see the homosexual as a formidable foe?
Quickly hoisting a sign to make certain they know
That my “God hates fags!”
Oh, really. Is that so?

And if it were true that God hates these “fags”
Upon which of your sins do you suppose He gags?
Is it the gossip that spews from your lips with great ease
Or bitterness that grows like a cancerous disease?

Do we think their deeds are more heinous than our own?
That apart from His grace we could dare face His throne?
Or could we halt our disgust long enough to explore
The soul that’s within; perhaps searching for more?

If for once we could see them the way Jesus does
Maybe seeing them truly, we’d be tempted to love.

The single mom on welfare, the addict at his worst
Do they get compassion or do they “get what they deserve”?
Popping pills like it was candy? Sniffing, snorting, who can tell?
And having babies sure is handy when the check comes in the mail.

Don’t act like you ain’t thought it, even if you’ve checked your words.
God knows the thoughts inside your heart, even those that go unheard.
“Government shouldn’t do the church’s job.” I’m glad that we’re agreed.
So, how many of her babies are you offering to feed?

“Well, she shouldn’t have so many kids!”

Which brings us right back to the top.
Perhaps she should have aborted them

So the welfare checks would stop.

“You’re twisting my words; that’s not what I meant.”

No, but if you really thought it through
You might find that your box of what’s right and what’s wrong
Conveniently encompasses you.

Now, sin must be dealt with; God’s Word makes that plain
But love precedes truth, not judgment and blame
What is standing in the way of the work He would start;
The sin in their life or the hate in our hearts?

Could we finally see people the way Jesus does?
Because seeing them truly, we’d be tempted to love.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Homosexuals Are Born That Way

Okay, okay put your eyeballs back in your head so you can read the whole post. Do I really believe that homosexuals are born that way? Yes, but let me explain. Here is my opening argument:

We are created in the image of God.

What? You already knew that? And here I thought I was being profound. But you're still not convinced? Well, let's dig a little deeper into what that statement means. What do we know about God? Many things, hopefully, but I'd like to narrow our focus to two. The first being that-

God loves us.

He demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The second thing is this-

God desires our love in return.

It's been said that God is a gentlemen and will not force Himself on us, BUT He does woo and pursue us, and He is delighted when we reciprocate affection through our prayers and praises. And so it stands to reason (and is clearly illustrated in all of history and humanity) that as His image-bearers, we all are born with a God-like, God-designed propensity to give and receive love. I believe the ideal expression of that love is between a man and a woman as illustrated in Scripture.

Okay, now we have to shift gears for a second. What do we know about Satan? Perhaps most importantly, we know that he is the father of lies. But this is where it gets tricky. You see, Satan isn't some amateur liar. He's not like the kid who has chocolate all over his face but swears he wasn't dipping into the cookie jar. No, no. He's much more cunning than that. Satan is the originator of the half-truth. He loves to take just enough of the truth to give his counterfeit scheme a nice glossy shine on the outside, like a piece of wax fruit -so close to the real thing but never as satisfying. And so, knowing that we have been fashioned with an innate longing to love and be loved, he has dangled the counterfeit in front of us.

This alluring imitation of God's ideal comes in many forms, the most common being pre-marital sex, adultery, and homosexuality.

Please understand, I'm not asking you to compromise the Word. I'm not asking you to excuse or accept homosexuality as an appropriate lifestyle. But I am asking you to think more deeply about it. To avoid the knee-jerk reaction that wants to label sin by the level at which it offends you. If God's ideal for sexual relationship is defined by one man and one woman in the confines of marriage, then any deviation from that plan is a perversion of it. Not just the one that makes us uncomfortable.

I'm amazed by how tirelessly we rally the troops, so to speak, to keep gays and lesbians from getting married. "Abomination!" we cry. But at the very same time, Sarah Palin's pregnant teenage daughter gets the support of the evangelical community because she didn't abort her child; and the boy who knocked her up is hailed as noble and responsible. Huh? Everything in me wants to scream "Abomination!!!" They didn't do it God's way either. Well, I'm not as grossed out by two heterosexual teenagers having sex before marriage. Is God?

Do I think homosexuals are born that way? Yeah, in so much as we are all born in the image of our Creator and desperately seeking love. And we are all born into a fallen world where we are constantly tempted to accept the counterfeit--any counterfeit.

And this brings us right back to the same conclusion I've been making all week. Somehow, we have to quit letting our politics define the Gospel and start letting the Gospel define our politics. To see people, all people, for who they are...the object of God's desire...first and foremost.

Coming soon...the conclusion of my political rantings and the return of all things silly. =)

Welfare is Not Evil

In regards to abortion, I'm afraid this is the sentiment of many believers:

Dear Teenage Mom,

We want you to give birth to a baby that you may not be prepared for (which, btw, was a huge screw up on your part) and NOT have an abortion because that is the right thing to do. However, we do not want the government to help you provide for this baby through housing, food stamps, or welfare because that is not their job. It is the church's job. Unfortunately, we cannot assist you at this time because our dish network bill is due and well, truthfully, we don't want our kids exposed to the likes of you.

God Bless,

Joe the Christian (not to be confused with Joe the Plumber)


Anybody out there...out there....out there?

;-) Hoping that a few of you are left. I'll explain my view on this touchy topic.

There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that it is inherently evil for a governing body to provide assistance to it's people. I'm not sure that anyone would argue that point because I don't think the existence of welfare programs is the real rub. I think our dander gets up when it comes to the distribution of these services. Who gets real help and who is working the system? And let's be honest, the average white evangelical conservative believes that MOST recipients of government hand-outs are simply taking advantage of our tax dollars. The government is the ultimate enabler and the recipients are all lazy, unemployed, drug addicts.

But let's also be honest about this: the average white evangelical conservative has never personally invested in a family who lives in a government housing project; never gotten to know them; their names, their children, or their story.

Are there those who sit on their heels and collect a check every month? Sure. Just like there are those who do the least amount of work possible at their corporate job or take an extra twenty minutes for lunch on company time because the big boss is out of the office. The ghetto doesn't hold the corner market on cheaters, users, and slackers. Need I mention Wall Street?

Maybe it's true that "one bad apple spoils the bunch" and because anyone abuses the system, no one should be helped. Seriously? We all hated that philosophy in elementary school. You know the one kid who wouldn't shut his yap and the whole class gets silent lunch. blah.

As our dear friend Joe the Christian would say, "The bottom line is that the government shouldn't do the church's job." Well said. Easily said. Easier said than done. Not. being. done. My response is always the same, "Okay, which family are you willing to take into your home?" Oh, but that's where the proverbial rubber meets the road.

So, what can be done? You won't be surprised that my advice on this issue is the same as the previous topic: if you are convinced that welfare reform is of utmost priority, then vote to reflect your conviction. Then get over it. Love people the way Jesus does, serve people the way Jesus did, and invest in people regardless of politics.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Part Two: God is Pro-Life

What is the value of life? Whose life is worth valuing? Certainly, we are called to stand in defense of those who have no voice but what do we do with them after the fact? How much value do we put on that same life once it passes from the womb? Is there evidence that our concern for the sanctity of human life extends beyond the labor and delivery room? Should there be? Are you tired of rhetorical questions? ;-)

In 2006, there were over 11,000 children in the foster care system of North Carolina. ELEVEN THOUSAND! In NC alone. Let’s suppose for a minute that Roe v. Wade is overturned. Ah yes, Christians everywhere are rejoicing but um, excuse me…where will all those babies go? There is a lyric in the finale of Into the Woods (Broadway musical) which says, "Careful the wish you make, wishes are children. Careful the path they take. Wishes come true -not free." The ultimate wish fulfillment of the pro-life movement has a very real, very tangible result...children. And children demand a very real, very tangible response.

Are our highly politicized churches ready to become highly provisional? I hope so. Well, what does it look like? First, I'd like to suggest that any and every believer who considers him/herself to be pro-life should also strongly consider him/herself as a potential adoptive parent. Strongly. consider. it. At the very least, it only makes sense that we should give as much vocal and financial support to adoption and reputable agencies which provide this service as we give to the opposition of abortion.

Otherwise, we are demanding that every woman choose life for her child and then washing our hands of them both when she complies. There's a word for that. Actually, there are a couple of choice words for that but in an effort to appease my editor I'll go with...hypocrisy.

Even James wondered what good it does to tell someone to be "warm and well fed" but do nothing to meet their physical need? He declared that "faith without works is dead." Some Christians have perfected the art of standing on their principles while sitting on their duff. Dead faith.

And yet, many of those same people have STRONG opinions about government "hand-outs" and whose job it is to care for those who in need -like the now single teenage mom who chose life for her baby. Which leads us to tomorrow's topic...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Part One: God is Pro-Choice

Choice. We make hundreds, thousands of choices everyday: eggs or cereal for breakfast? Red shirt or blue shirt? Slow down, speed up, turn left, turn right, etc. Fortunately, few, if any, of these choices are matters of life and death. Most hold little to no consequence, either good or bad. But there is a choice that bears eternal significance. It is a choice between life and death. It is a choice between obedience and disobedience. It is a choice between self and selflessness. And it is a choice that yields perpetual consequences or enduring blessings.

I'm not talking about abortion. I'm talking about the choice between accepting the payment for our sin and walking in relationship with God through Christ OR rejecting the sacrificial love of a Holy God. The soul of every human is at stake -- yet God in His desire for real relationship has given us the freedom of choice; to choose Him or not. How crazy is that? And everyday someone chooses to reject their very Creator. Given this knowledge, is there any atrocity that is beyond the scope of human capacity? Abortion is just another disturbing example of our God-given ability to choose.

So, how does God respond to this freedom of choice? He loves us. Pursues us. Died for us while we were still sinners. Forgives us. hmmmm.

So, what should be our response to the freedom of choice regarding abortion? Vote against it? Okay. Is that enough? Is that where our obligation ends? What if voting alone doesn't effect change? Might more be required of us than just a check box on a ballot? I think so. It might become necessary (and perhaps much more effective) to forge real relationships with women who are considering choosing or have already made a choice that seems horribly wrong to us.

We might have to love them. Pursue them. Forgive them. Sound familiar? We might have to be Jesus to them. We might have to realize that changing, amending, or overturning laws in and of itself is not a complete solution because aborting children is just a symptom of the problem.

And are you ready? Because we might have to do even more than that.

Politically Correct

Have you noticed that within the body of Christ we have created our own version of political correctness? It is the expectation that every person who names the name of Christ will mark the same box on an election ballot; that we will all vote for (or more often against) the same issues across the board. And that if some of us vote differently, there is the obvious implication that some of us may not be as "saved" as some of us thought.

I have rarely, okay maybe never, been accused of being politically correct. If you've read this blog for long then you are probably nodding your head and thinking "yeah, I can see why." And by the end of this week many of you will think that not only am I politically incorrect but I may be completely off my rocker. I hope that a few of you (I'll settle for one or two) will think: dang, I want to be off my rocker, too.

We are just two weeks from an election. I have no intention of telling you how or for whom to vote. As a matter of fact, I'm not trying to persuade you in your political view at all. BUT the current political atmosphere has driven me to present a few ideas for your consideration.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tidbits from the Table

Every night at dinner, Tim asks the kids a leading question about their day such as... if your day were a color what color would it be? Or if your day was a pizza what toppings would be on it? It demands a certain level of abstract thinking and it's taken awhile for them to catch on to that concept. Many days we get answers like "my day was red because I'm wearing a red shirt." uh, okay. Even so, it's a fun little game and offers more information than the typical "how was your day/good" exchange.

Last night, he pretty much stumped the panel. The question was "If your day was a presidential candidate, which candidate would it have been?"

Mamoune and Isaiah were at a loss. Nathan however, surprised us by saying, "Well, it could've been like John McCain 'cause I was thinking about gas prices." I couldn't help but chuckle. "Really, you were thinking about gas prices? Did you come up with anything?" I asked. "No. I just thought about it...I was still listening to my teacher at the same time."

What a fix -solve the nations gas crisis or pay attention to third grade math?

Then it was my turn and I was having a hard time figuring out which candidate most represented the last 8 hours of my life but I think Tim hit the nail on the head:

"Yours was like John McCain because you spent the day trying to keep up with younger black people."

Ha. Ain't it the truth.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Brain Dump

Two posts in one week -what a treat! Maybe I'll finish the story before our next anniversary. It's a goal.

Click here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Brain Dump Blog

I have added another segment to the Tim and Amie dating saga on the literary brain dump site. Click here or see the link to the right. I know this seems to be the slowest love story ever but in all fairness, this particular romance results in 5 kids and total insanity. What takes me weeks to write takes you only moments to read. Oh well. Thanks for bearing with me.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Results Not Typical

I am a dope when it comes to well, many things, but specifically today -infomercials. I love them! No, I hate them! No, I love hating them. Whatever the case, I find that I almost cannot NOT watch them. They suck me in like a black hole.

Just the other night, Tim and I were flipping back and forth between Survivor and a football game. Since both happened to be taking a commercial break, I decided to zip through the other stations. And there it was, the infomercial for the GT Express 101. I've seen it a hundred times and yet every time I am mesmerized. I swear I could watch her pop that little sucker open and scoop out leftover meatloaf sandwiches over and over again. I thought it might be the food connection. If there's anything that can get my attention and hold it, it's food. But the problem is bigger than that. It really doesn't matter what the product is: mineral makeup, shampoo, work out videos, rotisserie ovens, etc, etc, etc. I will sit and watch the entire infomercial.

Maybe it's the lunacy of it all or my innate desire to mock and be cynical. Of course, your vacuum cleaner can suck up dirt that was obviously laid one crumb at a time on top of that carpet. Try grinding it in like my seven year old does and then I'll be impressed. But even knowing how silly it is doesn't make me change the channel.

Okay, so simply making you aware of yet another of my psychological idiosyncrasies was not the point. The title phrase got me thinking. You've seen this at the bottom of those infomercial/commercial screens in small print with the little asterisk. The ad is telling you "this woman lost 72 pounds in three weeks." The small print says "Results not typical." Meaning the odds of this best case scenario working for you are slim to none.

Question: How many times have you read about someone doing amazing things for the Lord...Stephen speaking to the Sanhedrin, Lottie Moone sacrificing her life for the gospel in China, Jim Elliot, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa...and you think "wow, God really used them!" But the fine print in your mind reads, "results not typical." The program, as it were, will never work for you the way it did for them. Why not?

Not only do I watch infomercials, I have actually made an infomercial purchase. ONCE. TurboJam. That's right, the exercise/dance/tae bo sort of routine that is meant to shape and sculpt your body into supermodel style. Those of you who know me personally can attest that I have indeed taken shape -that of a mushy pear but whatever. I made the call to the 800 number where "operators are standing by" to help me and guess what I found out? Those people who experienced the greatest results (the ones who are NOT typical) did not just use the standard workout DVD that I was hoping to buy. No, no, no. They also purchased the $20 weights, the $40 resistance bands, the blah, blah, blah, for $$$. You get what I'm saying. Mind you, I'm not judging the system or assuming that the results were not real. I'm sure they were. BUT the ones who actually got results were the ones who completely sold out to the program. They bought into it lock, stock, and barrel and took advantage of everything it had to offer.

Back to that question...do we really think that a life lived fully charged, with total abandon, that pushes back comfort and rational thinking even to the point of ultimate sacrifice is a-typical of Christ's followers? If so, why? Is the "program" a farce in which only an elite few reach the pinnacle of their faith? Or is it because we aren't completely sold out to God?

Tim and I have just finished a book by Erwin McManus called "The Barbarian Way." We highly recommend it. As believers and as parents, we want our kids to see that God actively using His people, using us, to do great things is par for the course. That usefulness, sacrifice, obedience, danger, and amazing accomplishments* are normal when you love and walk with Jesus; not the exception.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mommies are Allowed to Poop

Just in case you weren't clear on this point.

Should a twenty month old who decides for some unknown reason to start her day two hours earlier than usual rob a mom of the ability to poop in peace and privacy? I think not. I think a twenty month old who has plenty of books to look at, toys to play with, and a big brother to entertain her, should be otherwise unaffected by my need to escape to the bathroom for a few minutes. The twenty month old does not agree.

She believes that her right to be glued to Mommy's leg supersedes a moms right to poop...alone. She thinks my attempt at privacy is the perfect moment to scream at previously unreached decibel levels and to shake as though her entire body will explode if a distance greater than two feet passes between us. The probability of which seemed fairly low, though I must admit the dark and menacing side of me was willing to test the boundary just to see. Can you imagine that police report?

Officer: And so then, the child just exploded?

Me: Yep. I gotta tell you, I didn't think it would happen but I took one step toward the bathroom and BOOM, there she went.

Officer: Okay, just a couple more questions Mrs. Sexton.

Me: yeah, could you just uh, hold that thought. I really still need to poop.

Okay, I realize that there are places and people who don't have the luxury of indoor plumbing much less a good book to read while taking care of business. Maybe they just drop it right there in the field without a second thought as to who is watching. But I, like most of you, have been raised in a culture that builds special rooms, nice rooms with decorations, lighting, candles, and mirrors so that we can slough off our dead skin cells and dispose of bodily refuse like truly civilized people. It all seems a bit frivolous when you put it that way, doesn't it?

And yet, I have a highly developed sense of privileged justice which tells me that I deserve, no, have the right to, five minutes of solitude while maintaining regularity for my inner workings. Solitude meaning not having to hold conversations through a closed door, not having to scream threats at children who are taking advantage of the opportunity to disobey, and above all NOT having a twenty month old standing at my knees saying, "poopie, Mommy. Naaashty." yeah, I get that Bella. But you're killing the ambiance of the beautifully decorated room built for this purpose so shut up and get out kid. ;-)

I repeat. Mommies are allowed to poop.