(Un)Follow, (Un)Support, (Un)Sponsor : What does our response to World Vision say about our Faith?

I'm a feeler. I get that. 

I feel my way through life and faith, and every little thing in between. I don't have theories, I don't get ideas, I don't analyze or deduce or conjecture. I make a lot of decisions, even the big scary important kind, based on what I feel. “I feel like eating hummus.” “I feel like painting the kitchen.” “I feel like selling everything and moving to another country.” It's true that my theology is heavily influenced by how things make me feeeeel, and I have oft been reminded by friends who are legitimate for-real Bible scholars that this is a flawed way to approach an ancient text and its teaching. I can see why, but I just... don't care. I feel. That's what I do. I divine my path by intuition and accident, stumbling along with my arms stretched out in front of me, half reaching for the unseen Encourager who coaxes me along. This is how I follow Jesus; eyes up, limbs outstretched, wobbling forward on the balls of my feet...

Feeling my way around has worked out pretty well for me thus far. I mean, yeah, there are a few exceptions, problems do crop up from time to time. For example, when I feel like I'm right and you're wrong, I can get a little stabby. I have been known to make sweeping statements and proclaim bold judgements because I feel a certain way. It's like this: I feel like pooping in the downstairs bathroom is a sin - like a really bad, totally offensive, almost completely unforgivable sin, that makes even Jesus shrug his shoulders and shake his head like “nope, not dying for that”. So when my kids poop downstairs, I lose my mind. It's terrible. I am aware that arguments can be made for both sides of the 1st floor poop debate, but I AM RIGHT. and I will not stand by while my boys stink up the entire downstairs with their crap.

I speak my feelings with a sense of power and authority because, as far as I'm concerned, all of my feels are facts.

But, at a core level, I understand this can't actually be true and that I am... *ahem*... not always right. The beauty in knowing this (and really owning it) is that it allows me to live with a certain level of flexibility, even around issues that I feel very, very strongly about. Truly. If a guest in my home takes a dump downstairs, I'm cool with that. I'm not going to shove a box of matches under the door and spray air-freshener through the key hole. No way. That would not be kind or loving or gracious, and it would make my friend feel awful. As for me and my house, we will poop upstairs – but that's where it ends - I am comfortable letting my friends and acquaintances decide where to drop a hot one, and letting God sort out the rest.

Are you starting to wonder where this is going? Because I totally am...

Oh, yes. I remember.

World Vision.

And then the internet was all “WHAT?!” and everybody's brains exploded

It was a mess; there were feelings everywhere! Hurt feelings and happy feelings; some people were angry, others were elated, some were confused, a few were afraid. Arrogant Academics and Ignorant Morons on both sides of the equation weighed in heavily, while others leaned, less sure, one way or the other. These conversations are always hard, but good and necessary. Sadly, much of the rich, challenging dialog that can happen when we share strong feelings about our tightly held beliefs spiraled into the kind of club-house circle-jerk we've become accustomed to on the World Wide Web. That part didn't surprise me because I know how easy it is to come off like a real douche when we treat our feelings like they're facts. (Been there. Done that.)

What did surprise me was how the knee-jerk reaction for many Evangelical Christians in opposition to the policy change was to withdraw their support of World Vision by canceling their Child Sponsorships.

And I just...I mean.......I don't......*sigh*... I guess... Ok, fine. I HAVE FEELINGS ABOUT THIS.

Friends, we may not agree on the big fat gay debate at all – we may have super different feelings about whether or not World Vision made a good choice or a bad choice, a right or wrong choice – but at what point does this (or really any) disagreement absolve us of our God-given responsibility to care for the least of these? Is it ever ok to withdraw our promised, life-giving support from a community in need? We all remember 48 hours ago, when we believed our $35 a month was important, right?!... If you are among those who don't agree with World Vision, I get that – maybe I can even respect that - but your sponsored child did not stop needing the food, water, medicine, and education they needed yesterday. We picked these children, we pray for them, we know their birthdays, we keep pictures of them on our fridges, we talk about loving these kids and their families – How then can we so easily abandon them to make a point?

What does it say about our Faith when our response to a corporate policy change is to kick a needy child in the teeth?

What kind of hypocrisy is this, which ardently defends ridiculously bad missions practices with self-righteous platitudes about how “God can use anyone to do anything!”, but pulls support from a child in need because it might be administrated by the wrong person?

When did impoverished children become products to be boycotted and replaced with the click of a mouse?

If our “gifts” to others are actually about us, then this all makes sense; You sponsored a child to make you feel good, and you'll unsponsor the kid if the global aid org does something that makes you feel icky. Classic. “My service/gift/mission trip isn't about them, it's about teaching/changing/affirming me (or my kid).”

I'm just gonna throw this out there, but perhaps our Christian priorities are a little bit fucked up when we decide that a humanitarian-aid worker's private life is more important than the actual survival of humans they are aiding. I know, I know. There I go again, feeling my way through the Gospel. But it just feels wrong to let a child suffer while we stand on a soapbox. It doesn't feel like a very good expression of the Faith, Hope, and Love we claim to value as followers of Jesus.

Our response to World Vision will tell bold truths about our Faith.

Can we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God? Will we...? 

.....         .....       .....

Don't tell us how you feel about homosexuality (No, seriously. Don't.), instead let's talk about what people who are conflicted should do...

Do you feel like it's ok to drop a sponsored child in response to World Visions hiring amendment?

.....        .....       .....


Apparently, World Vision has reversed the scandalous amendment to their hiring practices and wishes to resume global aid like yesterday never happened under the new monicker; Waffle Vision. I'm not even kidding. *sigh*

So, if you need to switch "Evangelical" for "Progressive" in my blog post, go ahead. 
The premise is the same. 


A Voice in the Desert.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a man I didn't know that basically said, “Hey, would you like to come to the desert outside of LA to visit the set of some famous person's movie next week?” Since I knew nothing about the guy, or the movie, or why I'd been invited, or what I was being asked to do, I said yes

Meet you in the desert? ...Ok!
Then, when I told El Chupacabra about the invite, because he is obviously cautious and protective and overly concerned for my well-being, he said “DO IT!”

It was an easy decision.

There was no good reason for me to go. It wasn't great timing. We had a lot going on at home. I wasn't getting paid. I'm not really interested in meeting famous people. I never loved the desert. If I went, it wouldn't be to advance my career or provide for my family or rally my cause. And I didn't have anything to wear.

If I went, it would be just for fun. WHAT?! I KNOW!!

So I went for fun. I really did. I hit the road one morning with a full tank of gas, a triple venti skinny caramel latte, the address of a hotel in one of those dusty towns south of LA, and no plan B.

I drove 8 hours alone. I howled along with the radio like a wolf howls at the moon... but, like, a rabid wolf...a tone deaf, rabid wolf...with a head cold... that's what I sound like when I sing... a sick, tone-deaf, rabid animal... Ok. Anyway. I sang. I turned the air conditioning to whatever the hell temperature I wanted. I thought my thoughts. And I peed. I stopped so many times to pee - even if I only had to pee a little, I stopped. You know why? Because.

When I got there, I met the guy (who, it turns out, is not an ax-murderer) and a few others. There was a little posse collecting to head out to the desert and see how Hollywood makes its multi-million dollar magic. And I still wasn't sure why I was there. I mean, usually when I get invited to do cool stuff it's because somebody wants me to talk about it on the internet. But this was not the case. This was like the exact opposite. They actually said, “You can't talk about this on the internet.” (Which I am currently doing while also abiding by the specifics of the NDA. So relax.) But my confusion grew. As I learned who would be joining us, it became clear that a mistake had been made. These people were theologians, PhDs, seminary professors - there was a fancy Priest, like, in a collar - and some media execs. Apparently, we were there because they wanted our faith-based opinions about their film; the story, the script, the audience. I think?

So, basically, it was a bunch of smart people who know what they're talking about. And me.

Um... yeah.
Cool people. Fun people. Very nice people. But these folks were out of my league. When they talked about Bible-y things, they said words I've never heard before. Not words I don't know – words I've never heard – it was like they were talking about God in a different language than the language I speak. Except they weren't. They were expounding their theological positions and I was kicking the dirt just outside the circle, muttering, “I dunno... I just... really love Jesus and stuff. ...Don't look at me."

To get us to the set, they put us in a giant, crazy ATV thing that appeared as if Disney designed a ride where you go into the desert and eat sand until you die. We climbed into this monster truck/short bus from a freestanding ladder – I am not kidding. Then we bounced out to the middle of nowhere, with wind whipped hair and watery eyes, making our way up some isolated river bed. And the whole time I was shrinking inside. This is what I do when I feel out of place. I put on a straight face and play along while doubt eats away at my crooked little heart.

“They're all wondering why you're here, too.”

“These people know you're stupid.”

“You have nothing to contribute.”

“I mean really... who do you think you are?”

“Your words don't matter.”

Into the desert, I carried my own. A dry spirit. An empty cup. An impressive expanse of cracked and broken foundation. Unknown and unlovely. The tiniest signs of life, waiting for rain. Waiting for water. Thirsty and wanting.

No one could have known how lost I'd been when we arrived. No one could have known how small I felt. No one knew, as I climbed down the wobbly ladder, that doubt was shaking my soul.

And then a steady hand reached up and took mine.

She was on the ground, guiding each of us to the sand with warm words “Welcome, we're so glad you're here!” I wrapped my hand firmly around hers for those final steps, and as I made my descent I thanked her and told her my name.

And, you guys?

In the middle of the desert, this incredible stranger of a woman grinned and said, “JAMIE - I love you! I read your blog!”

And then she gave me a squeeze. Yes. A squeeze. I believe she's a hugger and a forearm brusher, an affectionate arm grabber, maybe even a waist wrapper arounder. She is a soft squeezer. I do not know this woman, but I know this is her love language - and I felt so very loved when she gave me a squeeze and looked me in the eye - in the middle of effing nowhere - to say, yes, I know you and I love you...

When we made introductions, she said kind, generous, embarrassing things about the words I write on the internet, and I totally didn't know how to respond because I don't know how to act in public, but I hope she could see that I was grateful. Beyond grateful. I mean, super embarrassed, but really, really grateful.

When you're in the middle of a desert,
it feels like it might never end.

And just like that, she flooded my desert.

It was so entirely unexpected and so encouraging and so exactly what I needed, what I'd been needing for a long time - a voice in the desert to remind me that sometimes my words matter... 

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth feels like sand spilling into your moccasins,
while Love sets your weary soul adrift.

On the 400 mile drive home, I ugly cried. A lot. I listened to “Oceans” on repeat and sang along even worse than normal because when you add squeaky cry voice to my normal (sick, foamy-mouthed wolf) voice, it's pretty terrible. But I don't care. I mean, really, I was literally overflowing with thanks, I couldn't be bothered with singing pretty or looking non-hysterical or any of that crap. I just drove and sang and thanked God over and over again for the people who meet us in the desert, who take our hands, and who speak gently to us, and remind us of our purpose.

This is how God gives me life in those dry spaces, this is how He whispers, “Well done, Baby Girl. Now, keep going.”

And I will, because maybe I have the words that will walk you out of your desert. And who am I to hold the flood gates closed?


The Weekend Roundup Roundup

I am lazy. This is a tested fact.

But some people aren't lazy. And some of those non-lazy people take the time to round up the best of their interneting and post it in one spot so that others may benefit from the deep thinks, big feels, and belly lolz they experienced throughout the week.

Very nearly inspired by their hard work, I rounded up the round ups. You're welcome, it was nothing.

Here's A Weekend Roundup Roundup (Surf smart, kids!):

Rachel Held Evans Sunday Superlatives never disappoint. Deep thoughts and challenging challenges abound. (Also? Rachel decries the practice of stealing link round-ups... *ahem*)

Take a break from all that smart people stuff with Tastefully Offensive. (Guarantee you'll find a cat gif or a pig meme that will change your life.)

Buzz over to Sarah Bessey's space for a fat dose of cyber courage. Her links make my heart grow.

Need more lolz in your life? Pleated Jeans.  Just... trust me.

Photo Cred - kleine_moewe flickr
Ok. Over to Bronwyn Lea for a smattering of stuff for anyone from mommy bloggers to Christian culture connoisseurs.

And if you're still not lost down the rabbit hole, there's more good stuff to be had on On Pop Theology 

One last thing.

I'm showing up a bit late (per my M.O.), but I'm participating in Micha Boyett's Community Lenten Instagram series. I love the idea of paying attention, like actually looking for the moments throughout the day where God finds us. I'll be posting my #foundgrace instagram pics from @jamiethevwm, if you want to follow along, and I'll be looking for your #foundgrace moments, too.

...       ....      ...

Your turn!
What's the best thing you read this week? 
What's the best thing you wrote? 

Don't be shy. TELL US!


Please, Lord, let him be funny.

I dropped my iPhone in the toilet and it did not like that. 

I mean, it was a clean toilet, as far as toilets go - it's not like I dropped my phone in an actual turd or something - but still, my phone gave me the finger. It quit. Just turned its back on me in my hour of need. Or, more specifically, my hour of Oh-crap-I'm-driving-to-LA-tomorrow-and-I-need-a-flippin-phone! (But not a flip phone, because lame.) 

So here's what happened.

I switched my number to some borrowed, old, cheap, dumb android that I haaaated from the moment it came to life and laid its creepy red eyeball on me and shouted "DROID!" I seriously could not get along with that phone, so I used the Force to trick my 16 year old into switching phones with me. "This is the droid you're looking for.", I said, and he was all, "That's the droid I'm looking for."

Done and done. 

We switched and then, when I got back from LA, we switched back (because we love our lives to be as messy and complicated and nonsensical as possible). I walked out of Verizon with my new (old/used) iPhone and handed my son's phone back to him, thanking him profusely for letting me borrow it. And here's where I made the third biggest mistake of my life - I didn't even think about wiping my data off his phone. Yeah. You heard me. I accidentally gave my 16 year old boy an open door to all my stuff... my pictures, my email, my Facebook... all of it.

We went home and I took my sweet stupid time to sync the new phone and we left for church before it was done. So that kid had an all access pass to every corner of my internet world and several hours to mess around with it before I'd even know what was going on.

That's how the hostile takeover happened.

Egged on by 1,000 likes and 45 comments...

... he posted the one thing he knows I hate the most. A teenage bathroom selfie. Yeesh. 

Then the meme's started...

And the hashtags! Can't forget the hashtags. #DontTellJamie 

Drunk on power, emboldened by a steady stream of likes, he got brave. Like, real brave.

*ahem* That is a lie from the devil and I will dispute that statement until my last day on Earth. Thankyouverymuch.

Then there was this.

And before the night was over, he had snapped a picture of me unhinging my jaw like a boa constrictor and terrorizing a green salad. I will never eat in public again. Ever. I had no idea.

Then the kid took a bow and departed like a true pro. 

Facebook wept. 

The people of the World Wide Web feared for Dylan's future. #FreeDylan. But when I found out about his tomfoolery, I was like a picture of grace and love and forgiveness...

It was payback time. Putting a horse head in his bed seemed a tad extreme, so I went with posting a half naked baby pic.

When that wasn't satisfying, like, at all, I did this. Because I'm mean.

This is exactly when the internet turned its collective back on Dylan, and "liked" that amazing pic over 2,500 times in about 5 minutes. (It's a cruel digital world, son. Time you knew.)

Of course it wasn't over. ... Honestly? It might never be over. 

Dylan may pay for his transgressions for the rest of his natural life. But I think he'd say it was #WorthIt.


Maybe not.

The truth is, I'm sort of exploding with pride right about now. I mean, he could have done and/or said anything, ANYTHING, but he was cool and appropriate and at least he wore a shirt in that dumb selfie. But, more importantly, he was funny

I LOVE that he was funny. It's like the answer to a prayer I've long said for each of my boys, holding them in my arms as warm, squishy babies, knowing their futures would be bright and beautiful, but also hard, because life just is. ...Let them smile. Let them find humor. Please, Lord, let them be funny. Amen.

My boy knows from whence his funny comes. 

Dylan wrote that. And he's totally right. #HisMomWins. #TrainUpAChild

***No Dylans were harmed in the making of these shenanigans. Relax.***