Thursday, June 2, 2011


Part 3 of my reflections about women's retreat are going to be delayed by this post regarding other matters we are currently facing in our home.

Yesterday on the family blog(click to see), and over the last few days on Facebook ,I have been sharing about what has been a pretty disappointing experience as a parent. Summary, my oldest son Jacob's high school drama team group class program presented a production that I found really offensive. Even Jake, specifically, said a word that I didn't approve of coming out of his mouth.

Long story short, I made myself heard. I wrote a letter to both his teacher and his principal. In all honesty, I got a really cruddy response from his teacher, and wasn't thrilled even with his principal's response. The teacher's bottom line was annoyance, and the principal's was basically that he could not speak to the matter because he wasn't there to see the production. Don't even get me started on that one.

I am not naive, and I know that our strong Christian standard isn't held or really even respected in the public school system. I know the stand for "righteousness" is against the grain, and the flow of norm in society today as a whole, specifically on a high school campus.

My first response was to pull Jake, my extremely talented actor of a child, from the drama program for next year his senior year. I don't really want his teacher to be a strong influence in his life, and he is schedule to actually take two classes with her next year, just as he did this year. It goes beyond even what she allowed on stage last week, it was something about her and her attitude as she was forced to interact with me as Jake's mom. (She called me "because her principal asked me to" not because she was actually interested in the dialogue.)

Now, I can already hear the peanut gallery in my head, and have heard a lot of it on Facebook and in personal conversations. There are those who would respond and say that Jake is almost 18 years old and an adult and it's not really up to me. There are also those who would say to yank him out and sheltre him completely from the experience. And I have to say, I can't agree with either. I will always be Jake's mom, and it will always be a part of that role to be wise counsel for him, but especially at this stage of his life, he still needs to be parented. The decisions are not in his hands yet. But, it's also foolish to think I can guard him completely, how strong will his faith and conviction be if he never has to stand up for them?

Neither of these responses actually throws me though, the one that does is the somewhat prevailing attitude that this particular area, of acting and entertainment, is impossible for Jake to work or participate in without any compromise. I have had that response from almost all Christian angles, the former participant, the young (newer) Christian and even the more mature and seasoned Christian. From each of those angles, I have heard it labeled impossible for Jake to make an impact or a change.

At this point, as a family, the way we are headed is to allow Jake to continue in the program, and even under the teaching of this woman, of whom I do not approve. He stumbled last week in his participation, two-fold, one in a word he let be uttered from his own mouth, and also from his endorsement of the rest of the program without knowledge of what was going to be on stage. He wrongly (in this case) gave his teacher the benefit of the doubt about what she would allow on stage, and in that error he exposed us, particularly his younger siblings, to things they should not have seen and heard. As a mom, I too made an error when I let me kids remain instead of walking out when I saw what was going on. We both have to learn from that.

But the prevailing message I am hearing that things will never change, that the theater industry is too liberal, and the entertainment standard too low so there is no purpose in even trying, makes me really, really sad.

We have challenged Jacob to evaluate what he really believes. We have asked him to take stock as to whether his actions and words are lining up. In this incident, they did not. I talked to him this morning about how open I have been with this situation among our friends and family and even in the blogging world, and please know, Jake is aware, and he knows that standard of accountability is there, and he is fine with it. But I am disheartened by the hopeless response of so many Christians.

I am saddened by a Christian writer deciding they had to put a word of profanity in a one act play, just because.

I am saddened that my 17 year old missed the check in his spirit when he agreed to say it.

I am saddened that as a whole, this group of young people is convinced that filth equals entertainment.

I am saddened that people don't think there is any point for Christian kids to try to take a stand and hold a standard that will be an uphill battle in Jake's "arena."

What I am not, is convinced. I am not convinced that Jake cannot take a stand and make a difference.

My pastor has been talking about "Faith the Changed the World," and we've been studying the book of Acts. It gives accounts of many who stood up against persecution for their beliefs. As I look around and this topic of discussion is ongoing about how it's impossible for Jake to make an impact, I can't help but note that that kind of "faith" might just be exactly why thing shave become what they have. Too many Christians unwilling to take a stand because of fear of the backlash or because they don't believe one person's efforts are enough to make a difference.

What have we as Christians given up because we don't want to fight the system, or worse because we don't want to be rejected by it?

The more I think about it, the mor eI am inclined to think that Jake will be in those two classrooms next year. I am becoming less and less concerned about what impact the darkness there will have on his light, and more and more hopeful to help my son shine in such a way that he will overcome the darkness.

No, maybe he won't change the whole system, but what if one person reconsiders how they express themselves, or his teacher reconsiders next year what she allows on her stage because of our efforts to call foul.

All I am certain of is I do not want my son to go out into the world believing that he cannot take a stand for righteousness and make a difference. I don't want him to decide it's ok to hide his light "under a bushel." I do want him to believe his faith can change the world, and more importantly, I want to help him learn to exercise it.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Unscheduled - Retreat part 2

When I went to one of my very first retreats, some 19 years ago or so, I roomed with three "older" women. It's funny as I have been thinking about that retreat over the last few days, and I realized those women were probably about the age I a now, if not even a little younger than I am today.

It was a typical retreat, and Saturday afternoon brought "workshop time." My three roomies, only one of whom I actually really knew at all at that point had decided not to participate in the workshops. The roommate I knew was an "older" woman who was making an effort to be a mentor in my life. She had teenagers at the time, it's just so funny thinking back over my perception, but I digress.

I went off to my workshop obediently and when it was over, I headed back to our room. When I opened the door to the room, it was a profound experience for me. There was such a thickness of the presence of God in the room, it was like walking into pea soup. I could feel the weight of it all around me.

I was a new baby Christian, and I had NEVER experienced anything like that before. I remember quietly crossing the room and crawling onto my bunk bed and just soaking it all in. I listened as the women prayed passionately and I just soaked in the sense of God's presence. It was so sweet.

I'm going to be honest, one thing that disappointed me with this year's women's retreat was the lack of "ministry time" that didn't go on. I remember past retreats where the worship would continue after the message and the women would minister to one another in prayer. There was some of that after the Saturday morning service, but both the evening services ended very abruptly and didn't have any time like that. It made me a little sad.

There was an option of signing up for a prayer time prior to the Saturday night service, but to me t seems the "need" for ministry can be hard to plan for, and I didn't sign up, in pat because I wasn't sure if I needed it or not, not to mention some other challenges the formality of it presented for me personally. I think I have been to too many youth retreats where the Lord completely leads the service, worship and ministry. Young people are far less formal and far less concerned with schedules and agendas, and I think they've ruined me a little for the concept of retreats.

All throughout the weekend I carried my prayer journal with me, and unlike most of the time where I set aside specific time to sit down and journal to the Lord that weekend I was "in and out of it" all weekend, even in the middle of worship at the retreat when I found myself struggling or having difficulty focusing. After dinner Saturday night I made my way back to our cabin and found myself there alone and was crying out to God in my prayer journal.

After a time one of my roommates made her way back to the room and we talked about the difficulty we were both having with the formality of signing up for prayer, but she was considering "crashing" even though she hadn't signed up in advance. As we began to talk and share, we decided instead to just seek God there together.

It began with just the two of us, long time friends on our knees and seeking God together, for ourselves and for each other and for all of us up on the mountaintop last weekend. As we continued to pray we heard our roommates milling about. Eventually they came in to the room and bowed down with us. I wondered if when they walked in the room they could feel the thickness of the Lord's presence. I wondered if they felt the sweetness the way I did, both that Saturday evening, and on a Saturday afternoon nearly two decades before.

It was a wonderful time of prayer and though it wasn't a "scheduled" appointment, God met us there. He spoke strongly words of hope, words of encouragement, and words of life. It was amazing to me how he touched each one of us, and touched each one of us differently. For one, rest; for another, courage; for another, direction; For me He gave me a very specific word of encouragement- a word of life to hold onto.

If you want to hear more about it, I invite you to come back soon and read part 3.