Friday, February 10, 2012

Just to Clarify

I recently posted an article on Facebook:

along with my added comment "for your prayerful consideration".

I rarely put anything like this type of article on my page, it's just not really my thing. And the point of me posting it was not to place myself in a conclusive stance on a very impassioned topic. Some of the responses have led to amazing conversations, and other responses have been quite different from that. So I wanted to offer some clarification about where I am coming from.

I have some very deep convictions about a few things, and am trying to learn and grow in them. I value grace-filled dialogue in the community of Christ-followers I am blessed to know well. 

Elderly people and the Homosexual community- these are two groups of people that I get a kind of pain in my heart toward. I don't know why completely. But I wanted to pay attention to it and what God may be speaking to me about here.

I just want to encourage with this:
1)  The conversation about the fairness, equality, and worth of homosexuals is being had. NO MATTER WHAT YOUR POSITION IS ON THIS: IF you feel that you even need to part of these conversations, and IF you are a follower of Christ Jesus, I implore you to make careful and prayerful consideration of what God's word does day, and what His aim may be in this during our present age. What is HE doing? What is and has always been his goal? Is what we are communicating congruent with that?   Being "right" is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Earning a label of "Liberal Christian" or hanging on to old conservative rhetoric that you haven't prayerfully studied for yourself, are both rooted in ego. 

This is my conviction, and one I am praying about.

So again, I am not "choosing a side" so to speak. What is important to me is that we are being GRACIOUS with each other to have these conversations and invite Jesus into those times. 

2) Why are issues of morality also linked with being issues of American legislation? We have agreed, as a country, to commit to equal rights for ALL who live here. Is this something that we need to bring our judgement in to? Not whether or not I agree with someone's sexual orientation, but whether or not I agree that everyone is valuable and under this country's law, deserves the same rights as me.

3) The "church" has a LONG history of highlighting a particular sin or group of people, using scriptures to back up their loud stance and oppression, and then in the end, having been shamefully wrong: attitudes toward women, toward integration, toward divorcee's, toward women who got pregnant out of wedlock. The over-all fruits of these efforts were shame, oppression, disgrace, and inequality. And a lot of us can look back and see how that is not what Christ did at all to the "sinners" in the Biblical accounts of his interactions.

4) I am not questioning the power and reality of the Word of God. And I am not wishing to get in to a debate on interpretation. But within the exact same passages of scripture used to highlight this particular sin, are other very clear instructions we have dismissed as culturally irrelevant. This doesn't seem quite right to me. 
I believe in holy living as God instructs;  "holy" means separate, set apart for Him. 
I do not believe that God's message from Genesis to Revelation is a list of "do's" and "don't"s. Again, just something I haven't landed any kind of definitive conclusion on.

I really try to listen to people, especially when I don't agree with them initially. Especially people I am blessed to have in my life who have proved trust-worthy and loving. I ask for the same grace in our dialogue, if you want to talk with me about any of this. If not, no biggie:)

God is so amazing, holy, and real. And how great is love toward us, mere flawed humans.

With humility and love,

Mary Ann

Monday, February 6, 2012


1. I am WAY too hard on myself in a lot of areas.
2. I am WAY to easy on myself in a LOT of areas.
3. It doesn't matter.

Trying to remember that today.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

seeing clearly.

I have this amazing mindset that when I fail, or slack off, I tell myself I am starting ALL OVER AGAIN. Like a bad round of "Mother, May I?". This thought is so daunting that it paralyzes me; thinking of past progress as something I once achieved, and now have to go back to the beginning and start all over again to gain that same victory.
A friend of mine recently told me to cut that crap out. She said "you aren't starting all over again, you are just continuing. Trying, succeeding, and failing are all part of EVERYONE'S goals.
Hmmmm. I never thought of just keeping going. 
I was also whining to this friend about lack of motivation, needing a partner to help me succeed and hold me accountable. She told me to motivate myself and keep my own self accountable. Genius. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

beginnings. endings. in-betweens.

I have come out of a calendar year that was chock-full of transitions and growing pains. I do realize that life is change, blah,blah, blah, but this past year was exceptionally change-y for me. I am looking back on some regrets and achievements. Brian and I are looking ahead with some big question marks, and some big dreams. Beyond the wonder of success or failure lies the blessed assurance that Jesus is with us always, and that God is real. Beyond the traffic jam that tends to be my mind, trying to know God, share God, love people, love myself rightly, failing in all of that, reorganizing priorities, wandering through milky ambiguity of aspirations- lies the peace that the Holy Spirit works in meaningful and relevant timing. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hunger Pangs

So, I have been working pretty hard for this past few years on becoming healthier physically. This has definitely been, and continues to be, quite the expedition. My weight has gone up and down. I have spent a lot of time educating myself on which veggies bore which nutritional benefits. I have trained for and accomplished a half-marathon. Some days I feel like I have made no progress at all. Some days I can definitely tell the positive results of the healthful eating and exercising. Some days (and days and days) I don't go to the gym and I scoot slowly back toward my starting line. 

NONETHELESS: This holiday season, I made a choice to set up some clear guidelines for myself so I wouldn't screw this all up and hate myself in the morning. I decided to eat as much whole, fresh, nutrient-rich vegetables as were available. THEN have an enjoyably small portion of all the fun foods I lllloooovvveee (i.e. Cecelia's mashed potatoes with cream and butter).

I realized something about my spirit and God's Spirit during this whole thing. 

 I still have a strong desire for things that are yucky for my health. When I am not taking care to be a grown up and eat the right stuff, you just better not try to get between me and those mashed potatoes, (or block or cheese, or bowl of olives, or back of gummy bears...) When I haven't stopped to eat during the day, and I am super hungry, I'll fall for just about any temptation. When I eat my plaing fat-free greek yogurt and spouted wheat bread for breakfast, I don't dive in to the box of donuts at the office. When I am eating healthfully, based on the understanding I have gained, I know that the real satisfaction my body needs when I am hungry can be satiated by healthful sources. 

So (and you may already have run ahead of me to this conclusion), the spiritual parallel, be it ever so obvious, has been resounding with me these past few weeks. Back to the whole ABIDING lesson, God approaches our spiritual need for His Spirit with words that apply to our physical need for food and drink.

Psalm 145:16
You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Psalm 90:14
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Matthew 5:6
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Isaiah 55:1-3

 1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, 
   come to the waters; 
and you who have no money, 
   come, buy and eat
Come, buy wine and milk 
   without money and without cost. 
2 Why spend money on what is not bread, 
   and your labor on what does not satisfy? 
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, 
   and you will delight in the richest of fare. 
3 Give ear and come to me; 
   listen, that you may live. 
I will make an everlasting covenant with you, 
   my faithful love promised to David.

God is the source for all our heart hungers for. His wisdom and love guide us in the choices that will truly satisfy.  My spiritual hunger pangs are very pronounced when I am neglecting this. Deep-fried jealousy or comparing myself to everyone's EVERYTHING (always seeing my lack). Wickedly delicious processed, corn-syrupy Entitlement starts creeping into my thoughts and words.  The cream puffs and mashed potatoes of selfishness and pride are very attractive to me when I haven't taken time to be satisfied by His Word, by LISTENING to him, spending time to quieten the world around me and my own mind to hear the Words that will give me life- that will in turn give others life around me. The only words that are truth, that are trust-worthy. 

Choosing maturity in my physical health is not constant, but has come to have a more regular presence in my day-to-day. These are not always easy or popular choices, and I don't always make them. Also, this knowledge and progress are NOT about judging other people, but rather the benefit is that I have more energy to give and be involved in those around me, possibly encouraging healthy change by what they see me do. But they won't change anything if they don't see a real difference in me. Why would they? 

Of even greater magnitude, God cares about our spiritual (mental, emotional, AND physical) wholeness and health. He has made a way for us to be free to give grace because of the vastness of his love and mercy toward us. God's Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful (Gal. 5:22). This is the evidence that you have really been feeding from the Right Place. And what a gift you will be to those around you, being free to share His Spirit freely.

Happy feasting (both spiritually and otherwise) this wonderful celebratory season!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

DIY Christianity, er...

We are full-on in the era of an amazing revival of self-expression and the arts. Writing, sculpting, composing, thinking, discussing.  Crafting, cupcake-baking... oh, wait.

What I'm hearing and seeing are so many people trying to find their DIY-ness, their individuality through what other people are doing. It almost seems as if people are trying to "out-cool" or "out-individualize" eachother (i just made that word up, because I am so creative). Feels a LOT like ego.

To which I have something to say:  
Our uniqueness and individuality are to be explored and celebrated, certainly developed. But for this end alone: bringing glory the very God who made us in such an inventive, miraculous way. We do this through SERVING EACH OTHER.  Great, you make cupcakes. Make them for a friend who is going through a really tough time, or for a homeless meal in your community.  (For example). 
1 Corinthians 12
Spiritual Gifts
 1My friends, you asked me about spiritual gifts. 2I want you to remember that before you became followers of the Lord, you were led in all the wrong ways by idols that cannot even talk. 3Now I want you to know that if you are led by God's Spirit, you will say that Jesus is Lord, and you will never curse Jesus.    4There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. 5There are different ways to serve the same Lord, 6and we can each do different things. Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do.
    7The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others. 8Some of us can speak with wisdom, while others can speak with knowledge, but these gifts come from the same Spirit. 9To others the Spirit has given great faith or the power to heal the sick 10or the power to work mighty miracles. Some of us are prophets, and some of us recognize when God's Spirit is present. [a] Others can speak different kinds of languages, and still others can tell what these languages mean. 11But it is the Spirit who does all this and decides which gifts to give to each of us.
One Body with Many Parts
 12The body of Christ has many different parts, just as any other body does. 13Some of us are Jews, and others are Gentiles. Some of us are slaves, and others are free. But God's Spirit baptized each of us and made us part of the body of Christ. Now we each drink from that same Spirit. [b] 14Our bodies don't have just one part. They have many parts. 15Suppose a foot says, "I'm not a hand, and so I'm not part of the body." Wouldn't the foot still belong to the body? 16Or suppose an ear says, "I'm not an eye, and so I'm not part of the body." Wouldn't the ear still belong to the body? 17If our bodies were only an eye, we couldn't hear a thing. And if they were only an ear, we couldn't smell a thing. 18But God has put all parts of our body together in the way that he decided is best.    19A body isn't really a body, unless there is more than one part. 20It takes many parts to make a single body. 21That's why the eyes cannot say they don't need the hands. That's also why the head cannot say it doesn't need the feet. 22In fact, we cannot get along without the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest. 23We take special care to dress up some parts of our bodies. We are modest about our personal parts, 24but we don't have to be modest about other parts.
   God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable.25He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others. 26If one part of our body hurts, we hurt all over. If one part of our body is honored, the whole body will be happy.
    27Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body. 28First, God chose some people to be apostles and prophets and teachers for the church. But he also chose some to work miracles or heal the sick or help others or be leaders or speak different kinds of languages. 29Not everyone is an apostle. Not everyone is a prophet. Not everyone is a teacher. Not everyone can work miracles. 30Not everyone can heal the sick. Not everyone can speak different kinds of languages. Not everyone can tell what these languages mean.31I want you to desire the best gifts. [c] So I will show you a much better way.

Let's not get so lost trying to individualize ourselves, that we find we are only looking at OURSELVES. Praise our God for ON-PURPOSE placing individual passions and gifts inside of you, so that you can express another part of who He is to OTHERS.

So, grab your sewing machine or glue gun or writing apparatus, or microphone, and SERVE ON!!!

Monday, October 3, 2011


The thing about being a habitual people-pleaser is that you can hide who you really are. You can act one way, and it could either be sincere or it could be motivated out of fear or passive-aggression. But really truly being a God-pleaser involves a relationship of FULL DISCLOSURE. He shows us who we really are, and the lack we have chosen to live in. Sometimes the DEATH we have chosen over HIS life. 

Ezekiel 37:11-14
The LORD said:
   Ezekiel, the people of Israel are like dead bones. They complain that they are dried up and that they have no hope for the future. 12So tell them, "I, the LORD God, promise to open your graves and set you free. I will bring you back to Israel, 13and when that happens, you will realize that I am the LORD. 14My Spirit will give you breath, and you will live again. I will bring you home, and you will know that I have kept my promise. I, the LORD, have spoken."

Today is not the day to "Live my best life now". Today is the day to allow Jesus to bring real life into the places I have allowed to dry up, the places I am so prone to COMPLAIN about. 
I don't want to strive to be "My best ME". I want to strive to know Christ and Him crucified, to know him in his death and resurrection. 
Surrender to His life. Abide in His word.